Friday, March 18, 2022

So Much More than Good Customer Service

In the late 90's and early 2000's, my parents would accompany Keith and I on anniverary trips. As odd as that may sound, it was fun to have them along. Because the trips always fell in January, it was difficult to find somewhere non-beachy that had decent weather. Most of the time, we would go to the Grand Hotel in Point Clear, Alabama. As an event planner, I also had the privilege of hosting many conferences at the Grand so I had become very familiar with the property. The Grand Hotel was once a civil war hospital and sits perched on the shores of Mobile Bay like a grand dame -- with twisted, moss-covered live oaks adorning her like strands of beautiful necklaces.

A favorite spot, especially for my mother, was the main lobby with its unique wagonwheel-shaped ceiling and stacked-stone fireplace. Here, my Mom would claim a big comfy chair and settle in with a good book and a bag of Skittles. This was a common thread among the many trips and has become my most vivid memory of this property.

In 2003, my Mom passed away from an 8-month battle with cancer. Naturally, it was pretty tough for me to visit the hotel 6 months after her passing since every nook and cranny seemed to whisper my mother's name. As I checked into my room, I couldn't help but notice a huge package on the bed wrapped in brown craft paper. I opened the card and this is what it said, "We know how much the Grand meant to you and especially your Mom. We're so sorry for your loss. We recently renovated the main building and researched the last room your mother stayed in. This painting (a watercolor of Julep Point-- a noteable spot on the property) hung above the bed in the last room your mother stayed in. We'd like for you to have it." Tears filled my eyes and I was overwhelmed with gratitude at the thoughtfulness of the gift. It truly was a priceless piece of art.

Well, it's been 19 years since my Mom died and I hosted my first event since that day just last week. I had shared the touching story with current sales manager and she, too, was blown away. But, of course, she had her own way of honoring those memories. At our pre-conference meeting, she presented me with a coffee table book about the Grand. It was wrapped in a ribbon and, you guessed it, a bag of Skittles. Once again, tears filled my eyes at the sheer thoughtfulness of the gesture.

You see I am a customer service fanatic. I teach classes on the subject. But the way that the team at the Grand Hotel worked to personalize my experience while honoring my Mom was so much more than good customer service. It's an example of the lost art of being human. Of seeing me as more than just a client but a person that was able to take a much-needed trip down memory lane instead of just hosting a business meeting. And that is what makes them a very Grand Hotel indeed.

Now if I could put my hands on those Skittles...

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Precious and Few...

We stood in the dark at the end of the driveway in our bare feet. In that sliver of light where the street lamp cuts through the trees, arms stretched wide, we let the gusts of wind bathe us as we watched the rain-soaked leaves dance in the air.

You’re an adult now. Between school and work and a girlfriend that now occupies your attention full time, there’s not much room left for a moment like this. Yet here we are, 5 in the morning, sharing the rush of remnant tropical storm winds together. 

Although neither would like to admit it, we’re similar creatures you and I. Rather than be tucked inside where there is no sign of storm, we crave the rush of the wind blowing through our hair and the sounds of the trees swirling all around us. It’s the thrill, the excitement of the unknown, if only for a few moments. We laugh, make a few comments like “oh that was a good one..” or “that was the best one yet” before scampering back inside to warmth and safety and the comfortable security that the walls of a home provide.

But I’ll cherish those few precious moments in the dark. The ones where we were unencumbered by expectations, by the tension that exists between a parent and a child soldiering toward independence and continuously pushing the boundaries to get there. In those sacred moments at the end of the driveway, it was just me and my kid delighting in the rush of the wind in our hair. 

Although he doesn’t know it, he gave me a gift. The gift of just being a mom with her son, arms wide open, scanning the trees around us for any sign of an impending gust. Those moments, like the wind gusts we worked so hard to capture, are gone as soon as they come.  But I’m sure glad I was there, bare feet resting on a bed of soggy leaves and pine needles, to soak it all in. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Slivers of Sunshine

It's been a while since something in my life prompted me to write. And suddenly "prompted" doesn't even seem like the right word. "Drove me to my keyboard" may be a more fitting description. Regardless, it was one of those little nuggets in time that you wish would freeze and suspend mid-air because it was just so utterly perfect.

My son will probably never understand why a 25-minute ride home from a restaurant would have such an impact on his momma. But it did. After a particularly stressful day spent at the office preparing for an upcoming conference, I met Keith and Jacob for dinner. Afterward, Jacob elected to ride home with me--not out of preference as much as proximity of my car to the front door of the restaurant. 

On the way home, my 11-year old decided to assume the role of DJ and cranked up the radio as we got onto the highway. Normally, my somewhat-shy child would just coast along in the passenger seat observing the world around him (or a game on his phone). But not this night. 

As an upbeat song came on the radio, I couldn't help but move my shoulders up and down and semi-dance as I drove. I then noticed he was watching intently, mimicking each move that I made. With an ear-to-ear grin on his face, he giggled as I taught him the "crank the lawnmower" and the "shop for groceries" dance moves and he even made up some pretty impressive ones of his own. Each time we'd pull up to a light, I would call out moves and he would break out into dance while belly-laughing at his newfound confidence.

If age has seasoned me at all, it has taught me that there will be a lot of not-so-happy hurdles to leap virtually every day. Whether it's non-stop negativity pouring forth on the news, the fragile health of a friend or family member or just the stressors of "adulting," looking for the little rays of sunshine creeping in can salvage even the most disheartening of days. And glancing over at my shotgun rider this evening, I saw just that. Sunshine. And joy. All on the face of a pre-teen that is, at times, too cool to let me be momma while simultaneously clinging to me with every last string of little boy left in him.

I have no doubt Jacob won't remember anything significant from our ride home tonight. But, for me, it was much more. Those precious 25 minutes were a lifesaver for me. The smile on his face, the laughter, but most of all, the dropping of the "I'm too cool to dance with my Mom" facade was just what I needed to get through another crazy week ahead.

You never know when those slivers of sunshine are gonna peek through the wall. But, when they do, you better bet I'm gonna write about them. That's the only way I can figure out how to make time stand still. And, for me, that is priceless.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

An Unexpected Blessing

I knew the moment I spotted them, we were destined to meet. He was clad in a faded plaid shirt, blue jeans, and black suspenders that matched his well-worn black dress shoes. His gray hair wasn't much more than a suggestion atop his head and his glasses were thick as a soda bottle. He ambled along pushing her wheelchair-- not out of obligation -- but in a nurturing, almost-protective manner. I overheard her ask him if they had made it to the ladies department yet which tipped me off that she was without sight. He leaned down, spoke loudly in her "good ear" and said "yes! but I don't see any dresses or pants for that matter."

I've always been drawn to the elderly. As a young girl, I volunteered in nursing homes; but, instead of handing out magazines or adjusting pillows, I emptied bed pans, fed the residents and rubbed lotion on weathered skin. There is a certain entitlement to dignity that comes with living to a ripe old age and as I watched this man navigating his beloved through the maze of overstuffed clothing racks, I felt compelled to assist.

"Sir, can I help you find something?," I asked.

"Well, I wanted to buy my wife a dress and I'm not really sure where to look."

I asked her size and told him he could follow me as I led him to the right section. As we walked, I asked him how long they'd been married and, with a gleam of pride he responded "well, we're goin' on 63 years now. She went blind four years ago and I've been getting her ready ever since."

As I surveyed her outfit, my heart smiled. Her hair was neatly coiffed and she was wearing a nice black and white blouse, pressed black slacks and simple black flats. What I found so sweet was her jewelry. Her earrings were long, dangly and sparkly matching her equally fancy necklace. I told him she looked like a million dollars and a smile stretched clear across his face.

As we approached the rack of dresses, I selected a navy one with little yellow flowers and a short-sleeved yellow sweater. He placed it in her lap and let her feel it with her hands. She ran her delicate fingers over the fabric and smiled exclaiming, "ooooh, this is niceeeee!" I told her she would look so pretty in it that he might get a little flirty with her. She giggled and smacked my hand in mock embarrassment.

Meeting William and Susan this afternoon changed me. I had spent the better part of my day in dressing rooms trying on bathing suits and feeling anything but beautiful. After cataloging all my flaws in the mirror, I stepped out, saw those two and realized that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. He looked at her with such adoration that I couldn't help but fall in love with them myself.

We stood and chatted a while as they shared about their 60-yar old son battling cancer, their friend at church that is deaf but can quote the whole sermon just by lip reading and the fact that she had worked at that very department store 40 years prior. They were simply delightful and I am a much better person for having crossed their path.

I witnessed pure, unselfish love today. A man pushing a wheelchair to help his blind wife of 63 years find a new dress to make her feel pretty. As I hugged them goodbye, she said "God bless you for helping us."

Believe me, Susan, helping you blessed me more than you'll ever know.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I turned to walk away.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mother's Day 2016

As I leaned down to kiss my sleeping child on his forehead tonight, a tear fell as a flood of emotions welled up inside. Over the past few weeks, I have struggled to stay composed when the longing for my own mother hits. I lost her 13 years ago to cancer and the missing had gradually gotten a little easier until recently.

As a Mom, I often fall prey to the realization that, contrary to my belief as a coming-of-age young woman, my mother actually DID know what she was talking about. Whether the topic in question involved boys, clothes, sibling spats... she really did have my best interest at heart when dispensing sage tidbits of advice. But back then, I would have just as soon changed my name and moved to Mars than to admit that she was right.

And she was almost always right.

Now, my daily encounter with a 14-year old son that thinks I am the possibly the UNcoolest person he knows makes me want to shake my teenage self and scream "LISTEN TO HER. She's NOT ancient and out-of-the-loop. She sees the bigger picture a lot clearer than you do!" If only I could.

Perhaps the biggest part of the struggle is wanting to share Mom-stuff with her or ask for advice when the boys are fighting or I feel like a failure trying to find balance each day. But she's not a phone call away. I long to commiserate on the challenges of parenthood as much as I would give anything to see her at my son's field day in her big floppy hat and sandals. I want to post a current picture of my Mom and me on my Facebook profile instead of a grainy image from over a decade ago. I want to give her yellow roses and share recipes and go to Mom & Daughter functions at church and all the perks of having an adult relationship with the woman that raised you.

I'm pretty sure the recent struggle goes deeper than the melancholy of a Mom-less Mother's Day. It is a soul-gripping ache for her to know my children and know me as a Mom. She would devour my oldest child's sarcasm and quick wit as much as she would cherish my youngest son's sweet hugs and tender heart. And they would love their Grammy, too. Her creativity and the cackle of her laughter would draw them in as much as her warmth of her hugs. I want them to know what an amazing woman their Grammy was.

So as the onslaught of this holiday rolls around in a matter of hours, I pause to reflect on the blessing of not only being a Mom but having so many fond memories of my own mother. I miss that selfless, artsy-fartsy, giving, funny, piano-playing, Skittle-and-sunset-loving woman. I was blessed to have her for 31 years and, for that, I celebrate this Mother's Day.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I may not have realized it at 14, but this 44-year old woman knows all the sacrifices you made for me. I realize that you knew so much more than I ever gave you credit for. He wasn't right for me. That skirt was too short. I really can do anything I set my mind to. And, yes, being a Mom is the hardest--yet most rewarding-- thing I'll ever do.

Get ready for this Mom.....

You were right.

In loving memory of Patricia Trotter
June 3, 1945 - March 13, 2003

Thursday, February 25, 2016

We Need Your Help!

My youngest son's school, Poplar Road Elementary, is in desperate need of a playground overhaul. Over the past 13 years, various parts of the equipment have been removed due to safety concerns. The entire set is nearing the end of its lifespan and needs to be replaced. Please click on the donation link and help these kiddos build an enjoyable (and, more importantly, SAFE) place to play! Every dollar counts! Thank you!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Cowboy Cutie

Did a Western-themed Spirit Night at Texas Roadhouse last night for Jacob's school and this was my date for the evening. I must say he looks mighty cute as a cowboy!

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

One Foot In Front of the Other

Life change is hard. Period.

That fact was making its presence known at 5:45 this morning as I struggled to get out of bed to do my morning walk. As I lay there compiling all the reasons I did not need to go, my phone buzzed and my accountability partner in Nashville had issued a FitBit challenge for the day.


So, I toss the excuses to the side and peel myself off the mattress and walk, ever so begrudgingly, to the closet to change. With shoes laced up and earbuds in, I took my first steps down the driveway into the darkness. The air felt like October should-- crisp and clean and inviting-- and the sky was a palette of deep blue with a smattering of stars waiting to greet me. I knew this was a good decision.

Often when my mind is amuck (which is all of the time of late) losing myself in music is a welcome distraction. This also proves to be a helpful remedy when I'd rather be snug under the covers (one foot out for good measure, of course) than pounding the pavement in the name of health.

As I made the final stretch back to the house I glanced at my FitBit and it read 3,175 steps rather than the 40 or so with which I started. I gave myself a mental pat on the back and decided that starting off my day with a sky full of stars and my favorite songs isn't so terrible after all. All it took was a little willpower and putting one foot in front of the other.

We'll see if I am this motivated when that alarm sounds tomorrow morning.... :)

Monday, October 05, 2015

One more for today...

I love the harmony of their voices.... a great mash-up of some of my favorites.

Lay Me Down

I'm in a music mood. This song soothes me with its raw emotion.

Also, how the orchestra is situated and the way the graphics billow up behind him... this video is close to perfection. As is the song.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Pure Love

On the floor of the animal hospital today. She's back home now and resting. Feeling a little better.

My Sweet Girl

Taking my Cassie girl to the animal hospital.  She's been sick for a couple days and I'm pretty worried about her. As much as my heart is breaking with worry, my son Jacob is sick with concern.  Cassie is lethargic with no appetite so she's definitely not herself.

Praying she'll be ok...

Monday, August 03, 2015

Pardon Me? I Don't Speak Idiot.

In the interest of full disclosure, there are some, well, physiological reasons that I might be a little on EDGE today. But, even if I am not in the perkiest state of mind, I should be able to expect even the most basic form of COMMON SENSE when dealing with others.

I took the boys to lunch today at a local deli. Their soup of the day was potato which is Daniel's favorite. And there, atop the cash register, sat two sizes: Regular and Large (two cups of slighty differing capacities.)

So I ordered:  "I'd like a regular potato soup, an order of nachos, and a large drink. Thanks."

"We're out of the regular soup," the rocket scientist behind the register informed me.

"So, do you have any other soups?" I inquire.

"Oh,we have the potato soup. We just don't have it in regular."

What about unleaded? I'm so confused. The room is starting to spin a little.

I take it a little further. "So, you have the potato soup but I can only buy a large portion?"

"Yes," she replied.

"Is that because you ran out of regular-sized cups?"  This is beginning to entertain me.


My left eye is now twitching.

"Well, do you THINK that we might be able to buy a regular-sized amount of soup but you just use the larger container so that I won't have to buy $5.50 worth of soup that he won't finish?"

"Fine."  SHE is now annoyed with ME.

But it gets better.

She rings up my order and, as she is scanning my credit card, there is a coupon for today's special laying at the counter. FREE NACHOS with purchase of a large drink. (A $3.00 savings).

"Ma'am. Um, if today's special is a free nacho with a large drink and I just bought an order of nachos and large drink, wouldn't my nachos be free?"

She looks at me as if I just landed on the counter in a spaceship. 

"Well, it would but I just charged your card."

"Yes, I SEE that but could you not undo that considering I bought those two things and it's today's special and the nachos should be free?"

"My manager is not here."

At that point, I seriously looked around for a camera crew thinking I was on an episode of Punkd or What Would You Do?

You know, there are times in life when it's just not worth the fight. When the difference between fighting for what is right and curling up in the fetal position underneath the first booth on the left is nothing but a fine little line. There are times when stupid is simply stupid (Yes, Jacob I said the S-word) and you just decide to go on with life.

I'll just consider that $3.00 a small price to pay for a ringside seat at Are You Smarter than a Gnat?

Sigh. Pass the Midol, please.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Building More Than Pirate Ships

I had found my solution to the doldrums--curling up on my bed on a Sunday afternoon and losing myself in my favorite Netflix show. The boys were content watching TV (so I thought) and, as my I slowly drifted off into my own little world, my door opened and there stood my wide-eyed seven-year old child.

"Will you play Legos with me, Mama?"

Nooooooooooo my inside self screamed from a deep, selfish place.

"Um, do you mind if Mama finishes her show and then we'll play?"

"OK, Mommy."

Guilt. That sweet little voice. They're only young once. Trace Adkin's voice blaring from the radio in my head, "You're gonna miss're gonna want this back..."

Oh for Pete's sake
I think to myself as I begrudgingly peel myself off the bed and walk upstairs. The show can always wait, I guess.

"Lego time!," I announce in my best faux-enthusiastic voice as I reached the entrance to his bedroom.

Just the look of excitement on his face was enough to make me want to crawl under a rock for being so self-absorbed just a few minutes before.

"Yay! OK, here is the plane I've been working on and I really need some help making it look nice. OK, Mommy? OK?"

That sweet little voice.

I stretched out on my tummy as he poured the box of Legos out in front of me--a cascade of colorful squares, Lego-man body parts and the occasional miniature Lego weapon.

That's when it began. All of the thoughts of what I was "missing out" on by giving up my "me" time dissipated as I carefully constructed gun turrets, outfitted my pilot with the latest in Lego head gear and debated whether or not the sides of my plane were even. I was having a ball.

Pretty soon, my thirteen-year old came in, plopped down and said "You can go if you want to. I'll help him. I'm sure you're not having that much fun." With a sly smile I replied, "There's no place I'd rather be." And that statement couldn't have been truer.

I mean, I'm sure the lead characters of my Netflix drama are somewhere tapping their foot waiting on me to return. But they can wait. Because this afternoon the "me" time I thought I so desperately needed was actually me, my boys and a mixed-up, scattered pile of little colorful pieces of plastic.

And you know what? I couldn't have been happier.

My building partner

Will he do it? We Emmett run down these innocent people just lying there minding their own business???

My version of a forklift driver :)

Don't mess with the one-armed Lego lady! She's one tough cookie!

The captain of our plane, pirate ship-thingy.

The full-sized view of our ever-so-impressive construction.

And, perhaps my favorite pic of all... two brothers playing quietly in the soft sunlight of a Sunday afternoon. Pretty soon, the six years age difference between them will be a chasm. But, for now, Legos unite them and it's a sweet memory indeed.

Saturday, August 01, 2015

At what point will this dork learn to slather on the sunscreen?! Lobster city.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Sleeping with the Fishes

I thought it was such a safe choice. What did I know?

As we strolled through the Halloween carnival last October, my animal-loving 6-year old spotted the neatly-lined rows of fishbowls containing goldfish and he lost his heart forever. He paid the man at the booth a crisp one dollar bill and proceeded to chunk ping pong balls at the orchard of shiny bowls only to come up empty handed with each toss. So, being the oh-so-gullable Mom that I am, I found myself perusing the aisles of PetsMart the next day helping Jacob find the perfect aquatic pet.

Little did I know at the time how involved and complicated fish ownership can be. Do we want a goldfish or a betta? Then there are the tanks and filters and the food and the chemicals and the rocks and the plants not to mention the education on water temperature, tank size, feeding schedules, pH balances and so on. What I had assumed would be a quick trip to the pet store quickly turned into a crash course/ Masters degree in Aquatic Chemical Engineering. What had I gotten myself into?

Having selected the red and blue betta fish and a tank where we could keep them separated and unable to eat each other (huh?!), we headed home with the new additions to our family-- Spike and Henry. Spike lived up to his name with his feisty swim patterns and bold electric blue color. Henry, on the other hand, was a much more docile fish with a deep red color and a reserved demeanor. Jacob instantly fell in love with his new "fishies" and, surprisingly, kept up with his every other day feeling schedule and took great delight in his new responsibility.

Then things started going downhill for poor little Henry. Somehow, Spike made it through a small gap where the rocks and the tank divider met and he tried his best to take out Henry. He successfully chomped part of Henry's left fin leaving him to list on one side most of the time. Valiantly, Henry still ate and swam around but it was clear his war wounds left a deep psychological scar. (You can't be too dramatic when it comes to the mental wounds caused by your brother trying to eat you.)

That's when we began Death Watch 2015. Poor Henry. That was one month ago. This morning, Jacob awakes me to tell me that Henry is face down in the rocks and looks like he's sleeping. (Oh no. Here we go. The DEATH conversation is here.) I go upstairs to find Henry indeed nose-down in the rock but breathing. "Look, Mommy, his little cheeks are puffing in and out. He's breathing." GREAT. Just great. What am I supposed to do now? I can't go all Finding Nemo on the thing if he's alive. Flushing him into the unknown while he's alive would haunt me forever and my child would think me a monster. So, what's a girl to do? The Manual on Dead Fish Protocol clearly states:

1) Fish is toast if he's floating at the top of the water.
2) Scoop and flush.
3) Alternate: place his tiny little dead fishy body into a matchbox and bury him with a little ceremony that honors his contributions to the family and how he was such a special little fishy, blah blah blah.(Personally, I think option 2 is much better)

But, NOWHERE does the manual say anything about a fish trying to off himself by sticking his little fish face down in some rocks. WHY ME? Why can't I just flush the sucker, sing the theme song from Free Willy 2 and be done? 

Oh well, the Death Watch continues......

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

When October Goes

Yes this video is from the 80's and does not catapult me to the top of the chart of People That Post Cool and Trendy Videos-- but I could care less. I love every lyric of this song. Every single delicious word.

I miss you, October.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

All I Dream Is You

El Mulrooney is a very talented long distance pal in Canada. 
This is his original song and it's beuatiful.

"All I Dream is You"

Take me back to where we started,
Take me back to where we end;
I was alone and empty hearted,
All I needed was a friend.
There was you.... there was always you,
To guide me through my darkest day;
Such a fool.... I was such a fool,
To watch you walk away.

With words left unspoken,Promises broken;
I had but one thing to lose,
Now all I dream is you.

Sometimes I sit and wonder,
Where would we be today,
If our hearts weren't torn asunder,
If we hadn't gone our separate ways.
All this time.... all this precious time,
Moments sinking in the sand;
I was blind.... why was I so blind,
To let love slip right through my hands?

If I could go back to that moment,
Then I would hold you close to my heart;
And I would let fall those paper walls around us,
And we would never be apart.

These memories hold me like a prison,
But there ain't no bars around my cage;
Though our story may be written,
I can't turn the final page.
In this heart.... in this foolish heart,
There's a place you can run to;
Worlds apart.... though we're worlds apart,
I'll always keep a place for you.

Words left unspoken,Promises broken;
There's nothing left I can do,
So all I dream is you.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

A Need for Nature...and a Taco

The branches of the oak tree drooped precariously
Above my cracked windshield
Each one of its burnt umber leaves
Dangling as they danced in the breeze

This spot suited my need for nature
Ironic as the cars and buses on the highway
Buzzed by just feet from the nose of my car
The perfect place for my hurried fiesta

Crunchy taco in hand, I delighted in this little haven
A solitary spot in an otherwise urban landscape
A lone tree in an empty parking lot
Providing a pastoral backdrop to my lunch on the go

The dark clouds on the horizon brought with them
A strong breeze and, dare I say, a nip in the air
A far cry from an unseasonably warm yesterday
A signal that my autumn had finally come?

Windows rolled down, I follow a leaf now detached
As it swirls in the air, finding its resting place
Atop a slightly ajar manhole cover nearby
Others dangling above watching, anticipating their fate

Crunch, crunch goes the salty taco shell
The breeze whips through my hair, I exhale
An unexpected respite in an overly scheduled day
A caravan of school buses hustle by

All too soon my time here is finished
The car rider line beckons, I am soon on my way
I will recall with fondness my time here
A cool autumn breeze, the dance of brown leaves

And one crunchy taco
With just a dab of sour cream
Licking the salt from my lips
As the world rushes by

--kt  10/29/14

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Autumn Leaves

Never has a song nailed it like this one. Each image. Each lyric. 

Monday, October 06, 2014

New Camera... New Pictures

I love the camera on my new phone. My boys? Not so much since I turned an outing Saturday into an impromptu photo session. :)

Jacob absolutely adores his big brother

One of my favorite signs of Fall... MUMS.

My little water bug enjoying the waterfall at Stars Mill

Daniel being very patient with Mom snapping his picture :)

My Toothless Wonder

"Look what I drew in church, Mommy! I drew things that God made
like the trees in the Fall, our house, the sun and the stars."

Thursday, October 02, 2014


After months of using a little bitty phone that had a fondness for swimming, I have finally gotten a new phone. It actually works and it actually takes pictures and, although it feels a bit like I'm holding a laptop up to my ear after using that tic tac of a phone, I love it.

Needless to say, I have a lot of picture taking to catch up on. :)

Sunday, September 28, 2014

James David Carter-- More Than a Memory/ Making Memories of Us

JDC performed his Voice performance "Nobody Knows" at church tonight. There were less than 100 people there so it really felt like one of those intimate CMT performances. He is simply amazing. I've always loved his worship style but now his voice transcends that and is one of my all-time favorites.

Actually sat a few rows behind him at the Garth Brooks concert Friday night and could see him singing along...I'm sure he got plenty of performance ideas because it was a phenomenal show.

Here are a couple that both happen to deal with memories. Hope you enjoy as much as I did discovering these...

More Than a Memory (Garth Brooks)

Making Memories of Us (Keith Urban)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Big Al's Job Is Safe...

I have marked one job off my list of potential careers...mascot. As Pounce the Panther in yesterday's homecoming parade, I learned first-hand what it's like to have throngs of kiddos dancing from each leg, the sun beating down on your furry 100 pound head and viewing life through the mesh of an open animal mouth. :-)

But, dont tell anyone but I actually had fun dancing and high-fiving and posing for pictures. And Jacob loved walking through downtown holding my hand as the official mascot of the mascot.

But, as fun as it was to be Pounce for a day, I can assure Big Al that I won't be clamoring for his job anytime soon!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I Bless the Rains

As I was riding through the back roads that lead to my house this morning, a song came on the radio and I realized that it is quite possibly my favorite song. I have approximately a thousand that have earned that distinction throughout my life but few songs have the effect on me that "Africa" by Toto does.

As I rounded a curve it came on the radio and a smile instantly crawled across my face. The opening chords so familiar and comforting, I sang along as the cool, refreshingly fall-like breeze whipped through my hair. So many of the lyrics are favorites...
"her moonlit wings reflect the stars that guide me towards salvation..." 
Maybe it's the poetry of the words and the way they dance on the beat of the song. I have always felt something when listening to "Africa" though I've never been quite sure I've known exactly what that something is. Other lyrics simply strike a chord with me:
"I seek to cure what's deep inside, frightened of this thing that I've become..."
And then, of course, there is the comedic relief I feel each time I listen to the main chorus:
"It's gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do..." 
For some reason, I had this vision of a slave ship steaming toward Africa and all these strong men rowing as the lyrics sang "there's nothing that a hundred men ON BOARD could ever do..." Why a slave ship? Heck if I know. It just seemed to fit the cadence of the song and, well, I still giggle each time I think about how I have belted out the wrong lyrics since I was in elementary school.

Of course, there are many other contenders for this top title. "Fields of Gold" by Eva Cassidy moves me with its subtle, almost angel-like melody. Sugarland's "Fall Into Me" is one of those songs that is both soothing and soaring and there are others by rock bands and country singers and even a few rap artists that I crank up whenever they're on evoking a range of emotions. But few have matched the timeless "feel good feeling" that I have by listening to "Africa."

And here is one of my favorite covers:

"There's nothing that a hundred men OR MORE could ever do."

Not quite as funny but still an amazing lyric all the same.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

James David Carter-- Nobody Knows

So excited that the worship leader at our church got a four-chair turn on The Voice last night! He is an amazing performer and killed this song (which is a favorite of mine anyway). He chose Blake as his coach...I can't wait to see him progress through the season.

Monday, September 08, 2014

We Interrupt This Blog...

I know this breaking news will surely be on TMZ within the hour but I'm taking a break on Ye Ol' Blog for a bit. I know that seems somewhat funny considering I'm not churning out life-changing editorial pieces on here daily or anything. But, to quote one of my favorite bands, "everybody needs a little time away...."

Sunday, September 07, 2014

A Visit With the Devil

Written Sat. Sep. 6

The Devil and I had a little chat today. The fiery furnace blazed all around us and the waves of heat singed my brows as rivers of sweat cascaded down my neck. I squinted my eyes before snapping to as the strains of the fight song began. Where am I? My thoughts swirled like the crimson and white shakers all around me. I realized I was not in Hell but attending a college football game in the deep south at 11am on a 97-degree day. Guess it's hard to tell the difference.

The first home game of the year was a scorcher for sure both in temperature as well as yards of offense for the Crimson Tide. With 621 yards, Bama nearly broke its all-time record set in 1973. But Mother Nature took pity on us and decided to open up the skies causing the game to be called due to weather with just over 7 minutes remaining.

Now it's back to Lake Lurleen, an ice cold shower, more football and a golden retriever to snuggle with. Roll Tide.