Welcome To All The Excitement

I actually thought that there would be a podcast post up right about now, but Melanie and I attempted to record a podcast this past Saturday, and y’all, it was the most boring thing you ever did hear. And I know some of y’all are probably thinking, No, I get it – because I listened that time y’all talked about under-eye concealer – but our problem this past Saturday was that we were both super low-energy. Melanie was tired from a quick trip to Houston, I was on the back end of a headache, and neither one of us could muster much enthusiasm about anything (Melanie, God love her, gave it her best, but my reaction to everything was somewhere between “Eh” and “Maybe?”).

All that to say: about 40 minutes in, we decided that we’ll try again later this week. Maybe something will happen by then. Or maybe Melanie won’t have to try to fill my silence by elaborating on why sunshine can be good for us (true story). Thankfully the anvil that was lodged behind my right eye for a couple of days is now completely gone, so I have high hopes for being a productive podcast partner in the very near future.

As for the rest of our weekend, I’m a little sad to say that the headache was probably the biggest part of it (for me, at least). I spent most of Friday afternoon camped out on the couch in my office – which is the darkest and coldest room in the house – and when my head finally started to cooperate with the rest and the essential oil blend and the Advil, I finished the last little bit of my newsletter and clicked a few buttons to send it out. Then David took me to dinner and I ate some soup.

In other words, it was a very exciting evening here at the retirement home.

On Saturday I ran a few errands, fought off round 2 of the headache, then recorded the aforementioned podcast attempt. I tried to get some writing done, but after I tried to write the same sentence about 11 different ways, I gave up and surrendered to the Netflix. Sometimes that is all you can do.

But yesterday, after church and Chuy’s, I sequestered myself in a corner of my beloved Panera, and the change of scenery did me a world of good.

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I don’t think the bottomless caffeine source hurt, either.

I wrote for about four hours, which is about as good as an afternoon-o-writing gets for me, and then I decided to run by Target to pick up some groceries on the way home. I have no idea what the temperature actually was when I stepped outside Panera, but I immediately wondered if the parking lot had caught on fire and I had failed to notice. My car had just barely started to cool down by the time I made it to Target, so once I stepped onto the blazing hot pavement and started making my way into the store, I felt a little bit like this.

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It took me a little while to round up everything I needed inside the store because MOVING SO SLOWLY, and after I paid for my groceries, crossed the desert-o-asphalt, put the groceries in the trunk, and sat down in my car, I had my first official August Moment.

August is the cruelest of the months, you know. Because HOT.

I should really be ashamed to complain; David worked outside with the pressure-washer most of yesterday afternoon, and Alex starts football practice tonight. Something tells me that my frustration with, you know, WALKING ACROSS A PARKING LOT will probably pale in comparison to whatever Alex endures when he’s running sprints and trying to take down a tackling dummy.

Be near, Lord.

And stay cool, y’all.

While I Was Away

So. Regarding last week and all the not blogging I did.

1. Our air conditioner went out Monday afternoon. Alex and I had been running errands and came home to a house that was unexpectedly stuffy. There was still air blowing out of the vents, though, and it wasn’t warm air, so I kept trying to tell myself that it was just really hot outside and the A/C was having to work extra hard. By the time David got home, though, it was clear that we were in a legitimate A/C trouble, so we called the repair people and were surprised that they could get to the house early that same evening. By 7:00 we were back in business, and the repair cost was mercifully reasonable. So that was a delightful turn of events.

(If you subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll recall that week before last I was somewhat prideful about the effectiveness of our A/C.)

(Apparently pride goeth before the burned out capacitor.)

2. I made a quick trip to Mississippi last week and made it back to Birmingham late Wednesday afternoon – just in time to see The Oh Hellos in concert Wednesday night. They are so talented and such a joy to see and hear live. If they are playing in your area, you should totally go see them. Such a treat.

3. We finished the dotMOM opening video Thursday afternoon. There was a small part that they filmed at our house, and that means I spent most of Thursday morning trying to get the house ready. I threw out mail / magazines and took all the junk off the refrigerator and wiped down the all the surfaces and put everything away in its proper place. In other words, I made the house look like no people actually live here. I also had to run Hazel to the vet since I thought the video equipment might freak her out (the vacuum cleaner nearly gives her a heart attack, so I couldn’t fathom how she’d respond to the tall lights). It turned out to be a really fun day, though; we finished the video, and Alex even got to make a little cameo. (By the way, early bird pricing for dotMOM lasts until August 1, and then the regular price kicks in).

4. Book #3 is in the works, and I am ALL ABOUT writing right now. I know that summer will be over before I know it, so I am trying to make as much progress as I can while I can. I don’t know if I can really explain it, but there is something about the new book that has been such a joy to work on. Don’t get me wrong – I loved writing the first two – but this one is a little different in terms of content and structure, and I am loving the shift. I keep telling David that my brain is so happy this summer, and this new book has been a big part of that. Timing-wise it has worked out so that I’ve had a lot of time to think about how to organize everything – which means I’ve been more detailed in terms of mapping out chapters – and I’ve enjoyed it so much. Having the time and space to focus has been a gift, I tell you – A GIFT.

5. Yesterday I went to Hobby Lobby in search of a new bulletin board to go above my desk, and I was so tickled when I found one I liked and then the cashier told me how to find a coupon for 40% off on my phone. Honestly, I was flat-out relieved when she told me about the coupon because I was thinking on the way to the check-out that based on the prices, Hobby Lobby sure did think a lot of their cork board inventory. But 40% off made it all better. As it tends to do.

6. This afternoon I framed a print that I ordered from Pen & Paint, and now it’s my new favorite thing.

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Makes me happy.

7. One last thing. When I was at Home Goods and Hobby Lobby yesterday, I saw lots of mamas and daughters shopping for dorm stuff. It made me SO nostalgic and a little teary-eyed, too; I’m so excited for the girls I know who are about to be freshmen, but I know their mamas are gonna miss them like crazy. I thought about this song the rest of the day; I’ve always been a sucker for a coming-of-age anthem. :-)

Happy Monday, everybody!

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 51

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After a couple of weeks away, Melanie and I finally found a good time to sit down and podcast and talk about all the things. We rehash our magical Thursday with Christy Nockels, we discuss Piper and Mabel’s new doggie daycare possibility, and Melanie shares a frankincense update along with a new and exciting skincare product.

On top of all that excitement, there’s the latest with Martha, our continuing efforts to develop an organizational method for writing books, my complete inability to write fiction, and our mutual fascination with Alicia Florrick’s eye make-up.

Alicia Florrick is not in fact a real person, but her smoky eye is fantastic.

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):

Christy Nockels’ Let It Be Jesus album – it is so very beautiful
Evian Facial Water Spray
NARS Sheer Glow foundation
– My friend Anne’s organizational method for writing fiction
– A picture of Annie’s organizational method

Also, the book winners from podcast #50 will be notified this weekend via email. We were waiting until we recorded a new podcast to turn off comments on the last one.

Enjoy y’all!

Covers & Comedians & So Forth

I don’t know if “creativity geek” is any kind of official term, but even if it’s not I think I just might be one. I get the most enormous kick out of seeing creative people operating in the straight-up center of their giftedness, and if I happen to see a memorable moment/performance/interview on YouTube or some other corner of the interweb, you’d better believe I will WEAR IT OUT and watch over and over. Same with stuff on the DVR. I can’t explain why, exactly. It just makes me happy to see people do something really well, regardless of what their specific talents happen to be. After all, I have been known to watch the final round of a Top Chef competition, then rewind the whole thing and watch it all over again.

All that to say: here are three of my favorite creative moments right now. I have a sneaking suspicious that there are a few of you who are creativity geeks, too, and you are about to be FILLED WITH JOY.

1. Kelly Clarkson singing Tracy Chapman’s “Give Me One Reason”

Could Kelly Clarkson please do a whole album of cover songs? THAT WOULD BE SO DELIGHTFUL. I just love the way her voice sounds here; plus, this song was one of my late-90s favorites. Reminds me of driving from Jackson to Memphis and Jackson to Baton Rouge. So basically, I guess, this song reminds me of I-55.

2. Jerry Seinfeld interviews Julia Louis-Dreyfus

One of my favorite web series is Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee. Jerry Seinfeld is a great interviewer, and it really is a blast to listen to conversations – sometimes about comedy, sometimes not – between comedians. I’ve probably watched this particular conversation with Julia Louis-Dreyfus three or four times just because I love the dynamic of their relationship and their appreciation for their Seinfeld days. There is a little bit of language scattered throughout, so just FYI in case you want to be mindful of little ears.

3. NEEDTOBREATHE singing “I Want You Back” & “Hard to Handle”

No kidding. Before I ever listened to a note, I saw the two songs listed on the video and nearly had to take a pill. Favorite band + two of my all-time favorite songs = good times ahoy. The “Hard to Handle” part of this is almost more than I can take. Reminds me so much of Starkville and my friend Daphne and my Eagle Premier with the horn that I could pop off the steering wheel and honk while holding it in my lap.

I may have crossed the need-to-know line with the info about the horn. But still. That cover is pretty great, isn’t it?

Happy Wednesday, everybody. A new newsletter will go out tomorrow, hopefully with laughs-a-plenty!

For The Love: A Giveaway

I have been emotional today. I’m not exactly sure why. But I knew that I was a little on the tender side when I was in a meeting this morning and someone asked me a very simple question about work – and all of the sudden I felt tears well up in the back of my eyes followed by a big ole lump in my throat. And then I was sitting there trying to say words while tears ran down my cheeks and all I could think was “WHY AM I SUCH A WEIRDO? I NEED TO FIND A GRIP AND THEN MAYBE HOLD ON TO IT, MY WORD.”

I still couldn’t tell you what made me weepy. So I guess I’ll just chalk it up to hormones because hormones are my favorite objects of blame and scorn right now.

Right after lunch, though, I remembered that I wanted to pre-order Jen Hatmaker’s new book, For the Love, so that I could go ahead and download the PDF and start reading (the book doesn’t release until August 18, but a preorder PDF download is available until July 15). Jen is one of my very favorite writers, and she’s also one of my favorite people. She’s crazy smart, deeply funny, and effortlessly encouraging.

These are delightful qualities, don’t you think?

I’ve been looking forward to For the Love since the beginning of the year, and I have said several times that I’ll probably want to quit writing after I finish reading it. I mean, I don’t know if you’re aware, but Jen really has a knack for this whole writing thing. It comes sort of natural to her. She just might have a future if she sticks with it.

Feel free to enclose the last three sentences from the previous paragraph in a complimentary pair of *sarcasterisks.*

Anyway. I ordered my book. Filled out the pre-order info on the For the Love website. Clicked on the confirmation email. Clicked on the PDF link in another email. Started reading. And by page xvi – not even the real page 16, mind you – I was in tears all over again. There is so much grace on those pages, y’all. And there’s also a whole lot of funny (I have clapped my hands more times than I can count). But there’s so much grace. SO. MUCH. GRACE. And my word – when the political climate and the cultural climate and the social media climate are chock-full of meanness and bitterness and impatience and anger, all that grace feels like a balm.

Because it’s hope. And it’s Hope.

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Given all of that, I’m going to give away THREE copies of For the Love before the pre-order offer ends, but TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE, my friends.

SO.

If you’d like to enter to win, leave a comment on this post. And then tomorrow night – probably around 9:00 central time – I’ll pick three winners. I’ll notify those winners by email, and they can choose the hardback version or the digital version. Then I’ll order the books, which you’ll receive on or around August 18, and I’ll submit the receipt info on the For the Love website.

The winners will be responsible for responding to the confirmation email by July 15 and then downloading the PDF. I can’t do that part for you, unfortunately. But it’ll only take a couple of clicks for you to claim your PDF, and you’re going to get the biggest kick out of reading it. I’m just as carried away with it as I can be.

The giveaway is only open for 24 hours-ish, so remember that time, it is a-wastin’.

Y’all are in for such a treat!

By the way, nobody asked me to give away these books. This is nobody’s marketing strategy. It’s just for the love of For the Love.

See what I did there?

This giveaway is now closed. Winners have been selected by random.org and notified via email. Thanks, everybody!

In Which We Are In Fact A Very Grateful People

I can’t say for sure that filming the dotMOM intro video with Melanie and Christy Nockels was an adrenaline rush, but I can tell you that when I finally got home Friday afternoon around 1:30, I hung out with Alex for a little while, visited for a few seconds with some friends when they came by to pick A. up to go see Minions, then stretched out across the bed in the guest room and slept for three solid hours. I didn’t even hear David when he got home from work. However, I did wake up around 6:30 that evening wondering where I was and if I’d missed Friday completely.

Even still, I managed to go to sleep at a perfectly normal time Friday night because WIPED OUT.

And to be clear: we had a blast in Nashville. It was all kinds of fun. I think this was probably the first year when Melanie and I were both (mostly) comfortable with being absolute FOOLS in the video, and since Christy was such a great sport, we laughed a whole bunch. My friend Erin wrote the script, and oh my goodness she outdid herself. She capitalized on the fact that Mel and I have both enjoyed a certain degree of fascination with the lovely Mrs. Nockels for, I don’t know, the better part of a decade, and as a result I got to touch and also sniff Christy’s hair.

It was all for the sake of my acting craft, people. ALL FOR THE SAKE OF MY CRAFT.

My own hair was actually fairly well-behaved, and that was a little bit of a wonder considering that I got to Nashville and realized that I’d left my shampoo and conditioner in Birmingham. By that point it was too late to run back out to Walgreens or wherever, so I went with the hotel products and fared pretty well. I’ll put it this way: it could have been much worse. It didn’t hurt that I had your powerful hair-related prayers working in my favor.

It took most of the day for us to get the video done, and it never occurred to me to take a single picture except for this one when Melanie and Christy were sporting some sah-weet costumes.

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That is a lot of good hair in one photograph, people. The fact that Melanie’s is pulled back with several tiny clippies doesn’t do a thing to diminish its wonder.

Our friend Paige made supper plans for us Friday night, so we left the church where we’d been filming (shooting? making? I do not know the lingo.) the video and headed toward a trendy gluten-free restaurant in East Nashville. The traffic was terrible (TERRIBLE), and my enthusiasm may have been suffering since I had mixed feelings about the gluten-free restaurant and couldn’t help but picture a lot of mashed cauliflower and also kale (nothing against cauliflower and kale, you understand – but it had been a long day, and Mexican food sounded really good). Paige is typically a good restaurant-picker, though, so I decided that stepping outside of my gluten comfort zone might be a very fine thing and WHY NOT. Eventually we made it through the worst of the traffic, and I didn’t know it at the time, but Christy snapped this picture from the back seat.

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Y’all, I love it so much, mainly because I don’t have any idea how many cities Melanie and I have driven through together over the last 8 years, but it’s a lot. For some reason I am almost always the driver, she is almost always the navigator, and somehow – through the power of Google maps and no small degree of sarcasm – we manage to find our way. So this picture is totally a framer for me, not to mention that these two comments from Christy’s Instagram cracked me up:

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It was such a fair question.

The food at the gluten-free restaurant turned out to be pretty tasty; however, they were definitely having some A/C issues, but I’m choosing to be merciful about that at this juncture because I’m listening to Watermark on my headphones and snarky feels all wrong. So, even though it was, um, a little on the warm side, it was great to hang out and visit with friends I don’t see nearly enough.

It was also great to get back in the car and turn up the air to full blast and sit there and just REVEL in it, amen.

Hallelujah.

Praise His name.

So, to recap: Christy was as genuine and wonderful as we knew she would be, my hair mostly behaved, gluten-free restaurants are a real thing, and air conditioning is a blessing from on high.

I believe that just about covers it.

Hope y’all had a wonderful weekend!

p.s. Download Christy’s new album here.

p.p.s. Get your dotMOM tickets here.

p.p.p.s. Go tell your air conditioner or your favorite fan that you love it a lot. You might even want to make it some chocolate chip cookies to show your appreciation.