On Domestication...

Dear Becky... Thank you for inquiring as to my whereabouts!

I am living in a strange and foreign land.

I have a real live toilet (not a nasty tour-bus toilet). My daughter has a semi-schedule. And I have slept in my own bed more in the last three months than I have in two years straight. In this strange land, I have friends that I actually share meals with, and I am realizing this is a lot more sweet than sharing text messages. In this land, I cook my own meals; there is no maid to make the bed and clean the bathroom while I'm away for the afternoon. I clean baseboards, teach my daughter how to spell her name, and I touch chicken guts more times during a week than anyone should ever have to do.

In this land of suburbia, I am learning a new normal. And when my heart aches to get on an airplane or I worry about losing my frequent flyer status; I crave to sleep in a Hilton bed or I miss being on stage telling my stories and singing my heart out; I remember, this will not always be my normal. This is just normal for now.

And for now, I am trying to fall head-0ver-heels into this new phase of life because it is a gift to be here. To be now. To be all that I can be for my daughter and my husband. For so long, I have given so much of myself to so many people that it seems foreign to pour all of that into a small circle of people. But God is showing me, in a multitude of ways, the beauty of sewing seeds into my family during this time in our lives.

I admit, I have days where I fight it. Days where I want to crawl back into my tour-bus bunk bed and get back to the life I was once living. But then I see Annie look at a bug. Nose to nose with a little bug. And her eyes light up and she says, "Oh my goodness! Buggy is sleeping!"

I don't have the heart to tell her that buggy is as dead as a doornail.

Right now I am taking the time and space to pour myself into her, Ryan, my family, my friends, and my church. Oh yeah, and myself. Having the gift of  being still, present, and available to the ones I love the most is amazing. So I am trying to fight my own selfishness; and I am embracing domesticity. For a little while, I will put my own dreams on hold while I teach my daughter and watch her explore the world. And in a little while- when she wanders the hall of her kindergarten- and I find myself back to singing, writing, and traveling- I will wonder how she grew up so fast and I will ache for these days once more.

I have missed writing and missed my sweet blog family that has joined me here on my journey the last few years. Now that we have established a "new normal" I will get back to writing out the stories that make this life great. And I hope you will join me once again...

Here are some pictures of my journey into domesticity.

This kid is only smiling because she is not the one who is actually cooking.

In the land of domesticity, I made my first ever chicken. I had to pull its stomach guts out and that was disgusting.

The end product was beautiful. And, in my attempt to be a real Marth Stewart, I took the carcass and made my own chicken stock. Wow. I never thoought I would utter those words.

My favorite cooking attempt has been a series of homemade muffins. I like watching Annie press her face to the oven to watch them "grow."

There is the "sleeping" buggy. No, she is not eating it. But she likes to get nose to nose with buggies and talk to them.

Some things are changing. In fact, some days I feel like my whole world is changing. But if you find yourself in the midst of change like me, remember, some things never change.

Like my love for taking pictures of clouds.

Clouds. They are always moving and reshaping. But ultimately, they do not change. They always exist. Always have. Always will. Sometimes they just look different. Sometimes they take on a new normal. Sometimes we take on a new normal.

Here's to living IN the new normal...

Dear Girl Scouts of America:

Dear Girl Scouts of America: Why are you hiding from me? I get it. It's freezing cold outside and snowy and a bit icy and school has been cancelled for a few days and the driving conditions for your parent's minivans are probably deplorable... still, have you not an obligation to uphold for the sake of the fat people of America?!? I have driven by Wal-Mart and Kroger every single day this week looking for you and I cannot find you anywhere. Girl Scouts, I need some tagalongs and I need them NOW. I need them TODAY. And I want to support you and your horse-back riding camps and your leadership development classes and your little badges for your little sashes and all that jazz, but let's get one thing straight: I really just want your cookies. And now that you have gotten me all addicted to your crack, you are morally obligated to sell it to me.  You are the dealer. I am the user. And I need my tagalongs. It's been an entire year.

So... put your little jackets on. Borrow some ear mitts. Have your granny knit a scarf for you. Put some twelve hour long-lasting heat packs in your gloves if you have to, catch a small cold or the flu if you have to, but it's time to suck it up and make some sacrifices here ladies.  I need the Girl Scouts to get back in the game and remember what's most important: ME.

Dear Dad:


Please tell me this isn't what you listen to.

Please tell me someone planted these in your truck and set you up.

Please tell me you don't still own cassette tapes.

Dear Valentines Day:

I joined the gym.  I joined because it's only thirty dollars a month and that includes up to two hours of free childcare each and every day. Can you believe that? What young mother wouldn't work out (or, ok, sit on the toilet in the locker room reading my Kindle and catching up on emails) if it means free childcare? Anyways, that's besides the point Valentines Day. The point is this: My free personal training session that came with the membership was quite devastating. The young pup started off by commenting on how slender I was. "You've had a baby?" he said, "No way! You are just so slender. You must be doing something right! Wow, you must have a really healthy diet!" Of course I knew that everything he just said was false. I was only deceptively slender and no I wasn't doing anything right (like not exercising in over a year) and no wasn't eating healthy... unless donuts and three meals a week at Chick-Fil-A qualify as the new healthy... no, I am not abiding by any rules. But the more he talked, the more I started believing him. "I knew it! I am slender! I'm still rocking my pre-baby college body! You looking good girl! Those blue jeans that don't go past your knees anymore... they're shrinking after all! What a phenomenon! I knew the air pressure in my closet was making all my pants get smaller! I knew it! I got it going on!"

Valentines Day... that was all a lie.  Cause then the little yuppy with his ripped muscle-y arms and six pack and calves the size of my face pulled out this little pincher thing and started pinching the most ungodly parts of my body, on a witch hunt for fat, and then he started writing down numbers and scrunching his little face up... and then all those comments about me being "slender"???  Abruptly ended. Valentines Day, can you believe the nerve of that guy to be pinching my back fat? To squeeze the sides of my hips like he's trying to show me just how many servings of enchiladas and mashed potatoes I had stored up for the winter?  Putting his little pincher device under my arms and trying to give me little turkey gobblers down there, like I'm some old lady with skin flapping in the wind, hanging down to my knees? Valentines Day, he was looking at me with shame.  Can you believe him scrunching up his little yuppy nose and looking at the numbers like he just uncovered a ticking time bomb that needs to be disabled?

Valentines Day... apparently I have 29% body fat. That's only two short hops and a skip away from the catergory of obese unhealthiness. Apparently I need to lose 10 pounds. If I lose ten pounds I'll end up weighing what I did in the fifth grade. I told him that. I asked him if he really wanted me to weigh 117 pounds? Like a fifth grade girl? He said yes. Can you believe he said "yes" Valentines Day?!? What nerve from the mouth of a gorgeous little yuppy with way too many muscles.  And then he said he wanted me to gain it all back in muscles. Like I'm she-woman. Like I'm actually working out at the gym and not using it for free childcare, reading sessions on the toilet, and the occasional dip in the hot tub!

Anyways Valentines Day... I have to cut back this year.

Apparently, ten boxes of girl scout cookies is too many boxes for a family of two and a half. Especially since Ryan doesn't eat them and Annie was still eating baby food last Girl Scout Cookie season.

So maybe just five boxes this year.

3 boxes of tagalongs.

2 boxes of thin mints.

(And just between you and me, maybe a fourth box of tagalongs that I can hide in my closet. Please?!? I'll only eat it after really tough days at the gym. I promise.)

The Lemon Drop

Well friends, if you get my blog via email, I'm sorry. Prepare yourself for an influx. Only because I have grandparents watching Annie today and if I don't get these memories out quick they will be dated or I will forget or there is always the possibility that I'll kick the bucket before then. You never know.
Speaking of kicking the bucket...
(OK, I did that just to make you smile Merita...)
I have a friend named Merita. She reads the blog. That's how we became friends. Last year, she showed up during Annie's first birthday with her friend Katie and birthday presents. We talked and I fell in love with her. We emailed some, and then, during release week of our new album, she came to a show with a bouquet of cupcakes. My kind of woman. We had dinner together, and OK, even though she has kids my age, I thought, "well she's just the loveliest friend in the world."
Merita, "mamma king," she lights up a room. She's the kind of person you really want to be your friend.
She emailed me a few weeks ago. It took me a few minutes reading through the jumbled string of emotions and sporadic thoughts to figure out what she was saying. Her husband of 32 years- Joe- unexpectedly, out of nowhere, died the day before at their home... she was writing me, listening to Hope Now, going through his drawers, making funeral plans.
I got her email while I was in the van with the guys. I was literally crying my eyes out in the front seat like my own dad had died. She said she just needed to write, just needed to get the feelings out there, and she thanked me for listening. For being that silent friend on the other end that you can just let your words and jumbled emotions fall onto.
I guess I'm telling you all of this for myself.
The day will come when I don't do music anymore. Heck- could be sooner than later! We've only sold 10,000 albums... not necessarily hitting it big time, you know? But at the end of music, at the end of whatever job I take up next (I'm hoping for a cupcake-coffee shop- library-yoga house where I get to host my own book circles and play dates and old people days and then fashion hour and then just therapy sessions)...
my life makes sense because I get to be a part of someone else's life. I get to do life with other people.
True soul vacation happens when we encounter each other and make the effort to live life together.
It's the greatest thing I can do with my days on earth.
Accept the invitation of another. Let others in.
Merita came to the show this week a day after what would have been her and Joe's 32nd wedding anniversary. She brought presents. Pond's face wipes and cute make-up for me. Colors and books and animals for Annie. Cookies for the guys. Katie came too. She brought presents too. Silly friends.
Merita brought smiles. Humor. Honesty. Friendship. And yes, grief. She laid it on the table... and she let me be her friend and all I could think was....
God- life is great.
I hope I waste every single minute of my life making friends like Merita.
I love you sweet friend. I hope I weather the storms of life with as much grace, honesty, joy, and humor as you have. Thank you for being my friend.
So, here are some pics from our field trip to the Lemon Drop in Anderson, Indiana.
And shame on you Indiana. I've never met so many blurkers in my life!
You were all so, so sweet! I'm sure you should leave a comment sometime!
Yes, you should.
In fact, if you are from Indiana, please leave a comment today.
This is official Indiana comment day!!
And tell me you've eaten at the lemon drop!!!
Seriously, old school heaven.

They actually have a bowl of lemon drops at the counter. We only found this place because their sign made us laugh so hard that we HAD to stop and take a picture.

Best strawberry milkshake I've had in the country. End of discussion.

My friend Merita double fisting it.
Shame on us.
Onion rings and fries and milkshakes!???!
You are a bad influence on me :)