Archives for February 2014

Hiding In Plain Sight

I have a lot of very good reasons to explain my absence.

But I can pretty much sum up all my reasons in two words: BOOK DEADLINE.

What this means is that I’m going to be totally unreliable with the blogging for the next six weeks or so. I’m trying to work on the book in whatever little pockets of time I can find (last night, for instance, David and Alex went to Scouts, and I started a blog post that got up to around 1500 words, at which point I thought, Oh, I believe we will go ahead and call this the beginning of a chapter). Plus, my real job – which takes up a significant chunk of my day – is extra time-consuming during this part of the year. And since my people developed what may be a lifelong aversion to the phrase “Hey, do y’all want me to just pick up something for supper?” when I was doing this whole book thing the first time, I am trying to be intentional and mindful about the purchase and preparation of things like fresh vegetables and real-live bacon and substances that aren’t French fries.

But you know what’s neat?

Why, I will be glad to tell you.

When I was working on the first book, David and I laughed about how much more social it made me. It was sort of ironic considering that I am never more content than when I have changed into a t-shirt and yoga pants and I know that I don’t have a single thing on the calendar for, like, FOUR DAYS. But when I was smack-dab in the middle of A Little Salty…, I craved face-to-face conversation like crazy. So once-ish a week I’d run off to meet up with a friend who was passing through town, or I’d go to supper with girlfriends and talk for hours, or I’d ask somebody to meet me at Starbucks so we could visit before I hunkered down for some writing. There was even one time when I met my friend Pattie for lunch, and – I kid you not – we stayed in that restaurant for five hours (we were there so long, in fact, that we tipped two different waiters). It’s almost like the writing made me crave the sound of other people’s voices (other than the ones that run around in my head, of course), and I’ll be doggone if the same thing hasn’t happened this time around.

So here’s the neat part – or at least it’s neat to me. That whole phenomenon is totally at work again, and I’m starting to think it’s the Lord’s protection against isolation because staying in my head so much can make me a little, um, weird (I feel certain that my husband will vouch for me on this one). Last week I got to sit down with one of our neighbors and talk for two hours – something that is oh-so-rare. Then this past Friday night, my sweet friend T-Riels (that is not in fact her real name; it’s just what we called her in college and continue to call her even now) was in town for a soccer tournament, and we went to dinner and laughed our heads off. Sunday after church my fellas and I went to lunch with one of our most favorite families before they drove home to the town where they live now. My friend Katy will be in town tomorrow night – she has some work stuff here – and I’m going to get to hang out with her for a little while. And then this weekend I get to see some friends who have known me since I wore high-top Reeboks with peasant skirts (oh yeah I did – it was my nod to edgy when I was a senior in high school, never you mind that I was about as edgy as a butter knife).

It’s weird. Because under normal circumstances, I’d probably be completely overwhelmed by All The Activity. But as it stands, I’m just as tickled as I can be.

So. That’s all a very long-winded explanation of what’s going on around here: lots of writing and lots of time with my people. As far as the interweb is concerned, I’ll still be on the Twitter and the Instagram (they’re mighty fine ways to document my ongoing obsessions with sunrises, sunsets, and Hazel the dog).

(For example.)

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(I can’t help it.)

(It’s like a sickness.)

But. For the next few weeks, I’m gonna try to put most of my words into the book instead of here.

Please know that this entire strategy will be flung STRAIGHT OUT OF THE WINDOW if anything even remotely memorable happens with Mississippi State sports and/or American Idol.

I’m mighty grateful for y’all.


What I’ve Managed To Read And/Or Watch In Light Of, Well, The Puppy

— We are watching American Idol right now, and I am enjoying this speedier approach to the festivities. I think it’s a nice change that the preliminary rounds won’t take as long, and I like that we’ll be in the heart of the competition a little faster. It’s also fun seeing more of what’s going on behind the scenes with the mentoring and the coaching and the “mic-ography” and the styling.

— Dave Barnes’ new video for “Good,” his latest single, is just about the sweetest thing you’ve ever seen.

— I can’t remember how I ran across this blog post by Mo Isom called “I Just Got Engaged And Immediately Doubted My Decision,” but oh my goodness. I so wish I’d had this kind of wisdom when I got engaged 17 years ago. Such great perspective on marriage.

— Jessi at Naptime Diaries has such well-designed, original printables every month. I am such a fan of having fun, colorful, encouraging stuff to put on our walls, and for only $5 each month, you can download all sorts of great printables (and in lots of sizes). You get calendar pages, scripture memory cards, wall hangings – all sorts of goodies that will brighten whatever month it happens to be.

— This is different from normal linky material, but last week my friend Amie Beth linked to this video, and while the subject matter is interesting, what I love the most is the way Ravi Zacharias responds to the man who asks the question. He’s respectful, logical, pointed, and gracious.

— This post by Nester is so great: “Why You’ve Got to Have Guests When Your House Isn’t Perfect.”

— I hope y’all have a great Wednesday!


And so does Hazel.

Alternate Names Include Little Bit, Helen, And Sweet Baby Angel

Last weekend my sister-in-law Rose texted me to let me know that our niece had found a puppy on the side of the road. They’d spent the better part of the week trying to find an owner, but nobody claimed her. And Rose was also kind enough to attach a couple of pictures with significant “awwwww” factor.

I had just started to reply to Rose’s text when she called me. She went on to explain that they felt like they couldn’t keep the puppy because they have two dogs already, and one of those dogs was none too excited about having to share his space with another animal.

SO, Rose said. She sure would be a great dog for Alex. Plus, we’ll still get to see her if y’all keep her.

I tried my best to IGNORE, IGNORE because I have told myself (and my people) over and over again that this summer would be a much better time to get a new dog. But there was something about that puppy in Rose’s pictures that just grabbed my heart. D was immediately on board because, well, DOG LOVER, so we decided that he should probably sleep on the idea and then, if he still felt like it was a real possibility, sit down the next day and have a serious talk with Alex about the fact that Dogs Require Responsibility.

So he did and they did, and by Thursday of last week we were all on board. And Saturday morning, the fellas drove to Mississippi to pick up the newest member of our little family.

Y’all, she is the sweetest. Rose’s vet said that she is part bulldog and part rat terrier. All we know is that she is about thirty-seven kinds of cute.




Her name is Hazel.

We are understandably smitten.

I’ll Be Where The Eagle’s Flying Higher And Higher

I am probably not what you would call a sentimental person.

It’s not that I don’t treasure my memories and all that stuff. Obviously I do because I write about them, well, A LOT.

But I’m not really somebody who holds on to another time in my life and thinks, “Well, THAT WAS THE BEST ANYTHING COULD HAVE EVER BEEN.” I don’t sit around and reminisce a lot. And I absolutely, positively don’t romanticize the past. I’m much more of a here and now kind of girl.

So when it comes to music, I typically don’t listen to certain stuff over and over just because it reminds me of a certain time in my life. Oh, I might give in to a minute or so of nostalgia (Buddy Jewell’s Sweet Southern Comfort, for example, ALWAYS reminds me of when Alex was a baby), but by and large I don’t hold on to music just because it’s from a specific time period. I still listen to some 90s music because, well, I think that lots of the 90s music is awesome, but I generally don’t listen to 80s music because, well, I think that lots of that music is terrible.

(I am not talking about the duets.)

(The 80s did duets better than anyone ever has.)

(I am also not talking about old George Michael music because every bit of that is classic – at least in my mind.)

I’ve been kind of obnoxiously vocal about my disdain for most 80s music, and whenever my husband leaves the car radio on 80s on 8, for example, I might / occasionally / perhaps / sort of roll my eyes and think, “WE ARE NOT TEENAGERS ANYMORE – IT MIGHT BE TIME TO LET SOME OF THIS STUFF GO.” I don’t have an 80s playlist on my iTunes, I don’t look up old videos on YouTube (well, maybe this one or this one – because DRAMA), I don’t miss the days when the marks of a good song were a whole lot of saxophone and random distorted sounds from a synthesizer.

So all that to say: yesterday I did something completely unexpected.

For the last couple of days I’ve been thinking about high school a lot (because of some stuff I’ve been working on), and early yesterday afternoon I had the strangest, almost visceral need to hear the St. Elmo’s Fire soundtrack. It is like NOTHING ELSE WOULD DO, and I wanted to listen to every bit of it: the upbeat songs, the ballads, the instrumentals – THE WHOLE DADGUM THING.

And fortunately, iTunes was able to help me in my time of need.

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Y’all. Listening to the St. Elmo’s Fire songs has been like crawling in a time machine and traveling back to the late 80s. I don’t think I even saw the movie until I was out of high school (I wasn’t old enough to get in an R-rated movie when it came out), but the songs – OH, THE SONGS. I am alternately fascinated and horrified by the fact that I remember all of the words, and it makes me laugh when I think about listening to all of the angst-y lyrics when I was 15, 16, 17 years old. There were just SO MANY FEELINGS.

And somehow, over the last 24 hours, I’ve managed to listen to the entire album three times. I’ve wanted to call my friend Ricky and ask him if he remembers when we drove up to our high school the summer after our freshman year of college and listened to “Young and Innocent” in the parking lot. I’ve pictured my friend Merritt singing “If I Turned You Away” as she drove around Starkville in her little blue Honda Civic. I’ve wondered why we found the sound of saxophones so appealing. And I’ve been so grateful – so deeply, incredibly grateful – that when I was teenager, I had pretty much the sweetest friends on the face of the planet. No drama. No meanness. Just genuine, sweet, loyal friends.

And if you can’t tell, it has made me SO SENTIMENTAL I CAN HARDLY STAND IT.


Do you have a favorite “time machine” album? Is there any music that makes you a little sentimental and nostalgic for your younger days?

I’ll be right here listening to “I Turned You Away” if you need me.

A Gas Can By Any Other Any Other Name Would Smell As Sweet

Well, first of all I’m just as relieved as I can be that Matt Lauer is subbing for Bob Costas tonight. I talked to Melanie late this afternoon, and when she made the comment that she hoped they finally got Bob Costas some salves and some ointments to make his eyes better, I said that I didn’t think they’d be out of line to try some shots and some steroids and some drips, too. Bless him.

And second of all, the weather turned out to be pretty much exactly what we thought; we only got rain here last night. That is fine by me, though, because in addition to the fact that we didn’t have to deal with any really nasty weather, we had a day off from school – which means that I got to do some real-live writing. Alex went to a friend’s house mid-morning and didn’t come home until about 5, and while it was totally unexpected, it gave me the biggest wide-open stretch of writing time that I’ve had in about six weeks.

That doesn’t mean that the writing flowed effortlessly, mind you. It took me awhile to get going, as evidenced by the fact that I cleaned my kitchen sink with Clorox around 11 this morning. It was the most immediate stalling technique I could think of, especially after about an hour of awkwardly staring at that blasted flashing cursor on my computer screen, and afterwards, I actually became slightly more productive. Oh, I found solace in the Twitter from time to time, but by the end of the afternoon, I’d finished a chapter, so I feel a little bit better about life in general and the book in particular.

(Here’s a nerdy fact nobody cares about: I have a hard time writing anything without editing it to death.)

(This is a terrible strategy if you’re trying to, you know, move forward.)

(It’s ACES, however, if you’re hoping to drive yourself crazy.)

Anyway, during one of my Twitter breaks this afternoon, I replied to a question about cleaning with Clorox and confessed that I actually like the smell of it. I can only take it in small doses, but there is something about walking in a kitchen or bathroom that’s been cleaned with a little Clorox that just screams, “EVERYTHING IS CLEAN HERE” to me. I don’t really know if it’s normal to like the smell of Clorox or not, but the more I thought about the stuff that smells oh-so-delightful to me, the more I started to feel like my sense of smell might be slightly off-kilter.

After all, I am a person who will change seats in a movie / in church / on an airplane to get away from someone who’s wearing a lot of floral perfume (IT IS MY NEMESIS), but I could spend an entire afternoon just soaking up the various smells in a nail salon. Because that’s normal.

So, for no particular reason at all, here’s a list of my most favorite smells in the whole wide world:

1) gasoline
2) manly soap (preferably with some sandalwood in there)
3) rubbing alcohol
4) lavender (specifically Hummingbird Farms lavender body lotion)
5) baby lotion
6) peppermint oil
7) the old-fashioned magic markers that were in a metal-ish tube
8) Paul Mitchell Tea Tree Oil shampoo
9) Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Tingle body wash
10) all the nail salon smells
11) Mentholatum
12) Icy Hot
13) freshly mowed grass
14) rosemary
15) fresh greenery at Christmas

Now – admittedly that is a pretty odd list. Because apparently I am drawn to herbs, vapors, and a very specific sort of chemical smell that is strong enough to remove paint (ooh, paint thinner! I forgot about paint thinner!). It’s not exactly a recipe for the newest perfume offering from Chanel, is it?

So what about y’all? What are your favorite smells? And please don’t be self-conscious if they’re a little on the strange side because, um, I HAVE GASOLINE ON MY LIST.

Fire away.

Intermittent Rain ’14

There were places in Alabama that apparently got hammered by snow and ice last night, but our little neck of the woods was (thankfully) not one of them. However, since the forecast was dicey enough to merit some caution, we have a day off from school today. I’m going to try to finish a chapter in the new book that has been stuck in the same place for the last month, and I can’t talk about that part of my life much more right now or I’ll have to grab a paper bag and pretend like it keeps the anxiety at bay if I breathe into it. Truthfully I think the only thing that could alleviate my book deadline-related anxiety would be either 1) horse tranquilizers (medication for humans can’t touch it, I don’t think) or 2) non-stop sleep between now and the end of spring. However, if last night is any indication, I’d just dream about the deadline instead of panicking about it in real life, so the non-stop sleep might not be such a great option after all.

And listen. I don’t mean to bother you with my writer’s block woes. Because what I’m really wanting to talk about is Bob Costas’ eye infection.



I haven’t been watching that much of the Olympics because, well, BOOK PANIC (I may have mentioned something about that), but last night I flipped over to NBC, took one look at Bob Costas, and immediately started rubbing my eyes. I mean, bless his heart – that is what you would call a severe case of the conjunctivitis, isn’t it?

And my goodness – it must hurt something awful. One time when Alex was little I had a really bad sinus infection that went north on me, and my eyes looked about like Bob Costas’ do now. I will never forget how they throbbed and burned and made me miserable. In fact, the night before I went to the doctor, my eyes kept me awake all night, and all I could do to alleviate the pain a little bit was to cover them with a freezing cold bath cloth. I cried and wailed and tore my clothes and gnashed my teeth and woke up my husband throughout the night to remind him of the degree of my pain. It was something else.

But last night I was reminded that in the midst of all that discomfort, I WAS NOT IN FACT TRYING TO HOST AN INTERNATIONAL BROADCAST OF THE OLYMPIC GAMES.

I think it’s safe to say that so far Sochi isn’t really agreeing with Bob Costas.

And, like I said on Twitter last night, I really hope that somebody will FedEx Bob some antibiotics because SWEET MERCY THAT LOOKS PAINFUL.

Clearly I am very concerned. Or overly concerned. Or disproportionately concerned.

Any or all could apply.