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

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

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

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

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

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

See y’all next week!

Tuesday Still Needs A Title

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

So. The things.

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

A photo posted by Sophie Hudson (@boomama205) on

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

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

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

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

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

That Garth Brooks Is Quite A Teacher

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

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

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

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

And here’s the thought that I cannot shake:

We can all learn a few things from Garth.

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

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

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

Here’s why.

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

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

2. He’s loyal to his team.

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

3. He’s excellent at what he does.

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

4. He puts first things first.

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks for that, Garth Brooks.

We sure did have a blast in your class.

Friday Dance Party

As most of y’all know, I love me some music. Granted, I talk / write about TV all the dadgum time, but if I had to pick between music and TV, music would win every time. Hands down. No question, no contest, no doubt.

We listen to all sorts of music in our house – country (well, the guys do, at least), pop, rock and roll, praise and worship, and 90’s music OH MY WORD I LOVE 90’s MUSIC. And when it comes to music that makes me want to sing along / dance / make a high-level fool of myself in the car, I tend to keep a little playlist-o-favorites on my phone so that I can hop aboard the dance train at any given point in time.

I will confess that most of those favorites involve a whole lot of trumpets.

So. Since it’s the weekend, and since it’s summer, and since I’m all wound up about seeing Garth Brooks & Trisha Yearwood in concert Friday night for the first time since 1998-ish (IT’S BEEN TOO LONG), here are a few songs to get you moving and send you right on into your weekend. Just please don’t dance in your car when you’re traveling at high speeds because SAFETY FIRST.

All righty. The songs. I think they’re delightful.

And you know what?

I think you’re pretty delightful, too.

Happy Weekend, everybody.

The Big Boo Cast, Episode 48

Melanie and I definitely want to record podcasts more frequently this summer, but even still I’m a little shocked that we managed to put together one last week and one this week, too.

IS THIS WHAT PRODUCTIVITY FEELS LIKE?

Continue to keep your expectations low, though. It could very well be next April before we get our act together again. We’re gonna try to do better, but it’s always good to keep in mind that we kind of pride ourselves on our consistent inconsistency.

On this podcast we answer more of your questions; we talk about Melanie’s experience with Mr. Pillow, our favorite summertime breakfasts, Melanie’s new couch, and my brief foray into obsessive scrapbooking. We also address Melanie’s Aggie baseball heartache and discuss our commitment issues when it comes to our calendars.

And of course we talk about Sheerlume. However, we fail to mention either Amy Grant or Christy Nockels, so we probably need to pay some sort of podcasting fine.

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):

Casco Bay Furniture (where Mel got her couch)
Sheerlume’
Past Tense Essential Oil Blend (what I have used for headaches / stress)
Mr. Pillow
Melanie’s Chicken Cakes Recipe
Newk’s Pesto Chicken Salad sandwich
Washi Tape

Enjoy, y’all.

Fire Is The Only Thing That Would Make This Better

I have tried and tried to embed this video because I know some of you don’t use Facebook, but I can’t get the video to work on my blog. So I’m just going to pass along the link and hope you can see it.

Here’s a hint.

It involves baton twirling.

And just FYI: the part where the guys start hollering as soon as they hear the first few chords of the fight song? This is exactly what it’s like to live in the state of Alabama.

Also, I’ve never been more grateful for this state’s deep, rich, and storied baton twirling heritage.

Please do enjoy.

Amen.

Edited to add: here’s the YouTube version. Apparently the bride was a Crimsonette, the groom was an Auburn drum major, and they had a friendly showdown at the reception. WE CAN’T WAIT FOR YOU, FOOTBALL SEASON.