My most important performance

I brushed a strand of hair from my face and added oregano. I moved my glasses and dabbed a tissue at my eyes, still watery from chopping onions. I thought there was a way to chop them without tears? Was it to cut off the bottom first, or maybe the top? Whichever, clearly I had cut the wrong end.

I stirred the sausage and onions. The shuffle on my iPod picked a Sara Evans song and the opening bars played through my ear buds. I sang along as always, and somewhere in the first verse I lost myself in the song as I always do. My voice rose to hit the high notes and my tone was lovely and strong. I felt pride in my heart, at the talent I possessed in that moment. I said to myself, I could have done that song. My mind raced back to the audition some 15 years ago when I was offered a development deal. It wouldn’t mean a record contract but rather 6 months of development on the road working with a band and writing songs with the goal of recording an album at the end of the road tour. My oldest was 3 then and without even thinking about it I declined on the spot. Leaving him for 6 months was never, ever an option. I left the club, got in my car and cried. I was not disappointed, I did not feel cheated at all, I was thinking of how it would feel leaving a different club every night and missing my sweet boy everyday. I have never regretted not taking that deal for one moment.

It was at that moment when I caught a glimpse of myself in the glass on the microwave over the stove. My hair was pulled back haphazardly in a hair clip, and each unruly hair was pinned in place with about 74 hairpins. Still wearing smudgy glasses, and no make-up I looked down at my wardrobe selection for the day. My husband’s paint stained sweatpants, and an oversized ‘Mall of America’ tee-shirt I slept in last night with a bit of spaghetti sauce on the bottom rounded out the look of harried housewife.

I looked like the most unlikely country music star on the planet. 15 years ago I was a size 4. Now I am a size 14. Then, young men held doors for me because they wanted to impress me, now they do it as a courtesy to a mature woman, and they call me ma’am when I say thank you.

When I took off my headphones, the sound of music continued to ring through the house. I smiled and more tears came to my eyes. This time not from onions but from the talent swirling through my home that was not coming from me.

I climbed the stairs and sat on my oldest sons bed, he’s 18. He was excited to play for me. He counted down and began playing the drums. As he moved a few bars in I saw him close his eyes and his whole body began to experience the music. He was not just playing beats but he was feeling the music and performing. When the song was over he hugged me and I told him how proud I was of him. It was an extremely difficult piece with several fills. He played them very well. He smiled and hugged me again.

I walked across the hall to find my daughter, 13 also practicing. She was at the piano, her guitar propped up beside her. She could not play for me just then, she was composing and writing sheet music.

I told her I didn’t want to break her concentration I just wanted to watch her for a moment. She looked so beautiful. Her hair is the softest thing I know. She always smells like sweet fruit, and I love to hold her and breathe her in. I watched her for a short while doing all the things I could never do, write the music to my songs, and play the guitar and piano.

My youngest, my 8 yr old son, was playing in his room as well but it was Mario Bros. He plays the violin, as a beginner, but hates practicing worse than liver. He has a natural bow hand, excellent form over all, but whether or not he has a passion for this or any instrument remains to be seen. He was happy to be having video game time in the middle of a school day. He shot me a huge smile and asked if time was up. I said no, and asked how his game was going. He gave me lots of details I neither understood nor could follow but I grinned, asked questions and responded enthusiastically so I don’t think he noticed.

I returned to the kitchen to finish the sauce for dinner.

All I could think about was the girl I was all those years ago heading into the parking lot having walked away from the first dream I have ever had in this life, being a singer. A few minutes later I walked in the door and held my son. He squeezed my neck and said I missed you. I said, “I will never miss you”.

I haven’t. I have been here for every moment, I haven’t missed a thing and I have no regrets. There couldn’t be more happiness, more joy, more satisfaction, more love, more passion, more life… more, anything, anywhere else in any other experience for me than in being their mom. Being a mom was my second dream.

I created some beautiful music in my life. But my finest works grew in my body and flowed right out of me into the world. My children are my most beautiful songs. They are recorded in God’s Hall of Fame, in the story of my life. I shudder to think that making a simple choice for myself might have caused me to miss this life, their lives. Their verses may never have been written.

The world does not know me, there is no star with my name on it in Hollywood but to these children I am their whole world. They are God’s glory and as a co-creator with Him in bringing them into the world they are mine too. What achievement could rival that I ask you?

So I am off to stir the sauce, let the dogs in and change out the laundry. In a bit the kids will go to their music lessons and I will sit and pray that God continues to bless and prepare me for this my most important performance.


I'm not this anymore...

but I wouldn't have missed this for the world.

Who is this clown and why is he following me?

Who is this clown and why is he following me? This is my beloved. We went to the circus in full, professional looking clown make up. Kids asked for his autograph and the clowns from Ringling gave him respectable nods and clowned with him very cool. This was a few years back but I recently recovered these and I had to share. I loved it. We had a spectacular time.

This is how we do things. We don't just "go" to the circus. First of all we were at the train when the circus train came to town. We sat on the side of the road while all the elephants and so on were marched down the road about a half mile to the coliseum. We went to the base and met the clowns, and enjoyed a special military preview for miltary kids. Then my husband of many talents fixed our make-up and off we went. Okay, that's my actual make up - which some may argue I wear like a clown but here is the back story. After William was all ready he freaked out a little. He decided he didn't want to wear make-up or the frilly collar I made him and he didn't want me to either, he couldn't recognize me. So, mine came off too. You can still see my too rosy cheeks, and I wore a nose (not pictured).

I can't express to you what it means to the kids to have a dad that is so much fun. He can be in full dad form when he needs to be but he also (clearly) knows how to have a good time. They were so cute!

Corey was a rodeo clown, he soaked it up. Taylor a lioness (her costume and tail shown), William was a baby clown and I was a hillbilly clown in overalls. Again some might argue where was the costume in that...

I love going through pictures, memories are very sweet and photos help so much as the ol' memory gets fuzzy. Thanks mom for emailing me these, all the rest from this event were lost in the hurricane.

Clowning Around,

I have the best cook/books!

Susan is another living, breathing cookbook for me. Mom you are not replaced so don't think you can rest on your laurels. But as I a trying new recipes Susan has had to tell me all the details a cookbook doesn't tell me like exactly where will I find barley or capers in the grocery store. Laugh if you will but I grew up on cornbread, deep fried things and moon pies. I was very picky. Mom has had to talk me through the first many years. Like how do I know if the hamburger is cooked, or the pasta is done. Susan is now sharing the responsibility, she is (unfortunately for her) the one I call from the grocery store asking what I need and where I will find it. She tells me what to try, shortcuts, substitutes, what it should look like and she is on call when I can't remember what step comes next.
She has inspired me to do more in the kitchen that I enjoy so much. Below are a couple offerings for my family this week. Home baked bread (without aid of the bread machine!) It was Susan's recipe for sweet bread it was awesome! This loaf is half-eaten. I was not fast enough to get any pictures before everything was devoured. All the cookies, and treats are gone too. I'm working on more today.

I made an apple pie because I am awaiting the dumpling recipe that Christina shared. I have several things on tap too that I might get around to sharing this week.

I don't know who was eating the whole pie with a fork but I guess that is a good review huh?

Susan has been good enough to post several recipes on her blog that I requested this week. I request them because I have had the chance to sample them and had to have them! Another perk only my living cookbooks offer.

Susan's Kitchen Blog is your Online Cook On Call. Visit it, try, enjoy, report back.

Bon Appetit,



Elves Learning Families

Some Elves live in trees and bake cookies, others work for Santa in the "big show". You may have learned these tidbits from the movie Elf but what you might not know is how an Elf goes through training. They come to live and learn about families. Before an Elf can set about toymaking they must first do some field work.

They visit a family during the Christmas Season to observe. They learn all about what toys children enjoy, how they handle their toys, durability, taste testing for infants, noise considerations, and equally important is how to help Santa determine who is naughty and who is nice. Through field training they come to recognize good habits, good behavior and noble traits in children. This information is incredibly important to Santa, he could scarcely run the workshop without it.

We have been chosen as an E - L - F (Elves Learning Family) and so this adorable little fellow arrived at our home at beginning of December. His name is Buddy. He turns up all over the house, sometimes in very strange places - studying, learning, observing our family and keeping a watchful eye out for their best behavior.

William was thrilled.

I'm working on Buddy's story about his time with our family, which I have a feeling he will leave for us on Christmas morning. If the kids did a good job we might get another Elf next year to help train.

So you know, Buddy surprised me a time or two. He was in the bathroom, the pantry. Do you think he was watching what I was eating? yikes.

Merry Christmas!


Nothing new there

Barack Obama promised change, something new in politics. It seems to me what he has done is precisely the opposite. He has dusted and dragged out Democrats whose ideas have had their time, and that time has passed. He has resurrected the careers of the likes of Daschle (ugh) for example who couldn't be more partisan if tried.

It really is Christmas - Hillary, Richardson, all get nice gifts of power and prestige. Where are the new ideas? The fresh air, the new politics?

My prayers will continue for the next administration but whatever thread of hope I was clinging to has snapped. I can not even bring myself to watch the news. Everyday it is something else, everyday they chip away at any shred of confidence I could have had in this man.

With his every decision I see corruption. Does anyone remember when Hillary withdrew? The reports were swirling that a deal had been brokered to make her Secretary of State. They were hushed up and poo- poo'ed. Yet here we are, Madam Secretary. Bill Richardson, long time Clinton supporter who caused the bald wonder, James Carville's eyes to bug out when he came out in support of the Obamination candidate, gets a cozy place in the administration.

These political payoffs are so bold, so obvious, yet it seems no one cares. This is good ol' boy politics at it's finest. He just scratching the backs of those who scratched his.

Nothing new there, and they are getting a puppy. Seems to me having one person on a leash is enough for one household, even a White House.