Wednesday, March 26, 2008

40 Wonderful Things about My Mr. Wonderful

My sweet husband, Brian, is celebrating his 40th birthday this weekend. In his honor, I present:
40 Things I Love About My Husband

1. He is a man of integrity.
2. He makes me laugh.
3. He makes other people laugh.
4. He is sensitive and thoughtful.
5. He has amazing blue eyes.
6. He is very smart.
7. Of course, he’s a very good driver. Seriously.
8. He washes the dishes!
9. He takes care of our home.
10. He takes good care of me.
11. He loves the Lord with all of his heart.
12. He cares about our government, our country, and our leaders.
13. He is wise and discerning.
14. He cares about our families and makes a special effort to make sure they know how much they are loved and appreciated.
15. He looks at God’s creation with excitement and wonder.
16. The way he plays with kids.
17. The way he loves and plays with our pets.
18. His sweet voice.
19. He is fun to be around.
20. He makes every day an adventure.
21. He cares very much about doing the right thing, and about honoring the Lord.
22. He is very responsible.
23. He is creative (even though he doesn’t think so).
24. He lets me watch American Idol (even though he doesn’t like it).
25. He is always thinking up sweet things to do for me.
26. He brings me wildflowers.
27. He loves learning.
28. He loves playing.
29. He loves “flying things”.
30. He loves laughing.
31. He loves plaid.
32. He has taught me to be bold and stretch myself.
33. He encourages me.
34. He takes care of our finances and is diligent about making wise decisions.
35. He always looks nice.
36. He likes to work hard.
37. He pays attention to details.
38. He puts up with me when I’m hormotional.
39. He’s not a football/golf/hunting junkie.
40. He’s mine. Forever. Amen.
Brian @ Falls
Happy Birthday, Sweetie. I love you! I'm so grateful for the gift of you!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

American Idol - Top 10

Yea! The Beatles have left the like that. Tonight's theme is fun: pick a song from the year in which you were born. I'm guessing we'll get some good 80's songs. Top 10, 1987 songs? I feel like I'm about to graduate all over again. Sing with me: And friends are friends forever if the Lord's the Lord of them... Oh, um, 'scuse me...I digressed. I'm listening with clogged ears tonight (really bad cold), but I don't think it will affect my judgement too much. Was anyone else SHOCKED to see Amanda leave last week? I really expected Kristy to go, but I can't say I was sorry that Amanda left.

Ramielle Malubay - Heart Alone - It's very common for a young woman to be able to belt, but not have continuity across her range. She's not in good voice tonight, but it may be due to the way she's singing, rather than illness. She needs to work up and down her range, and this is not the place or time to do that. When she's strengthened her low and high ends of her voice, everything will lock in much better, and she won't have those whispery low notes and pitch problems. Her sound is powerful but unsupported. I think she needs another year of vocal training, then she could be a real contender.

Jason Castro - Things are Fragile - Glad to see him back with his guitar. He looks way more comfortable that way. I don't know this song, but it's nice. Showing some more language skills. I'd love to see him stretch just a little, to put that expressive voice and gentleness into a song with a little more power, emotionally and vocally. I think he needs another WOW song, one that packs a punch. Then he needs to immerse himself in the text...become one with the song, if you will.

Syesha Mercado - If I Was Your Woman - She looks great. Wow...I don't know who did this song originally, but that was powerful. That was a really strong performance...on a par with Whitney. I liked the continuity of tone throughout her range (which is what Ramielle needs).

*********Let me just say that I'm hating that these kids were born the year I graduated from high school! Bummer. Like, totally gag me with a spoon.

Chikezie Eze - If Only For One Night - good for him, choosing a song that resonates with him. Love me some Luther. I'd like to see him stand still and sing a ballad like this, but with a little less of the modern-day r&b groove, handshaking, etc. I'd like him to see him focus. Make eyes at the audience and let us feel like he's really singing a love song. He needs to make us feel like we're alone in a room with him when he sings this kind of song. His voice is gorgeous, but he looks like an immature kid trying to sing a grown-up song.

Brooke White - Every Breath You Take - Wow, cool look for her...although it makes her look older, somehow. The false start was a little scary, but she maintained her composure, which is excellent. This song was good. It was sweet, and so much better than last week, but I didn't think it showed how special she is. I would have liked for her to do something really different in the chorus and thereafter. She's so classy, so sweet. She's unique and special, but the song was not, really.

Michael Johns - Queen Medley - Weird that his best songs are Queen songs. I thought this showed much more versatility and it was more interesting than any of his recent performances. And it was evident that he enjoyed singing this medley.

Carly Smithson - Total Eclipse of the Heart - She looks much more like a star tonight. Brian likes the "wicked rock castanets" in the background. Wow...I didn't get the end at all. That was weird. Her voice sounded good on this song, but I didn't feel the connection. The original was kind of mysterious and ethereal, but this seemed a little empty. I think Simon & Randy are both right, she needs to lighten up a little. Vocally, she's there, but she needs to show us that she "gets" the songs.

David Archuleta - You're the Voice - Hmmm...another song I don't know. It's a strange song, and not really cool, (like Total Eclipse of the Heart), but he sings so well and he "feels" the song, which is good. He looks less babyish tonight, which is also good. I'd like to see him step out of the teeny-bopper persona/style, since he won't be able to make that work for him for too many years. I think he needs to show that he can sing something that's a little more raw and vulnerable, emotionally.

Kristy Lee Cook - God Bless the USA - Well, this is definitely her niche. And I much prefer her singing a country song that was meant to be a country song, rather than a countrified pop song. The modulation was not good. The vowels are too closed, which makes her sound flat even when she's not. But this song is an American favorite, so she won points with it, and it's a good choice for her. I don't think she's going to make it to the final two, but this is her best performance in weeks. Good for her.

David Cook - Billie Jean - WOW...I totally grimaced when I heard he was doing this song, but this? This was much cooler than I expected! This was just AMAZING. That's what happens when a singer understands the lyrics. You can branch out from the original tune and style if you understand where the song is going. Oh. My. Stars. I LOVED this tonight. I thought is was so fresh and original. This is my favorite of the night. I think David deserves to win this season.

So here's my assessment: David Cook gave a stellar performance. Michael Johns and Syesha Mercado are MUCH improved. Ramielle and Kristy are still in my bottom two.

Now I'd like to know, how many of YOU actually vote? Me? I'm an avid fan, but not a responsible AI citizen. I never vote. Well, I did vote for Drew Lachey and Cheryl Burke a while back, but that's another show altogether. And I only did it once. So no, I'm a non-voter. How about you? Let me know by participating in my sidebar poll.

Be sure you get a proper AI fix by visiting Boomama and all her friends! See you next week!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

By His Wounds We Are Healed


Isaiah 53 New Living Translation

1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the Lord revealed his powerful arm?
2 My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot,like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. 3 He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care.

4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, a punishment for his own sins! 5 But he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed. 6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the sins of us all.

7 He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 8 Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people. 9 He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.

10 But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him and cause him grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands. 11 When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. 12 I will give him the honors of a victorious soldier, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among the rebels. He bore the sins of many and interceded for rebels.

Have a Blessed Easter.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

American Idol Review, Part Deux

I enjoyed liveblogging American Idol so much last week, I decided to do it again. I'm no more famliar with the Beatles this week than I was last week, but I'm looking forward to it, nonetheless. I wish I had some Boomama-style of cleverness to add here, but I'm just tapped out...and a little distracted...and I have a headache. But I'm all about sacrificing and taking one the team. So, now, for your reading diversion, my American Idol review:

Amanda Overmyer - Back in the USSR - Well, she looks a lot better tonight. The short straight hair looks younger, less scary. I think she sang better, too. I would never buy her record (Brian agrees), but I was a lot less scared. Simon reminded her that her tickets (to the Amanda Overmyer concert) aren't on sale yet. Good point.

Kristy Lee Cook - You've Got to Hide Your Love Away - Not as much of a mess as last week, but just not a stand-out. I think she got stuck in the low and then had trouble finding the other notes. I want to like her. I really do. She seems like such a sweet girl. But I think she needs sweeter, lighter songs. I think her voice is lyrical, and this song was too heavy and dramatic for her. I think Simon's right...she doesn't have the performer chops yet...maybe next year? But I don't suppose she ha another horse to sell...Brian says she could be a model.

David Archuleta - The Long and Winding Road - Ooooh...I liked it from note one. Good job at redeeming last week's performance! Such a lovely tone, great ear. And so very expressive. I'm amazed at his grasp of the lyrics and musical style at such a young age. Just amazing. What a performance. Aha. Simon agrees with me. ;)

Michael Johns - ?? - Cool song...don't know it, but it's cool. I think Michael is quite good, but there are a lot of weak spots in his voice and his performance. He reminds me of Val Kilmer. Weird, huh? Now, he gives a good performance, but I feel like he gets lost in himself and tunes the audience out. I'd like to see him connect with the audience. And the singing, while good, didn't wow me. Hmm...Paula said what I'm trying to say. Simon says it's a mess. I'm not sure I agree with that, but I didn't think it was top 3 caliber.

Brooke White - Here Comes the Sun - I didn't like this song as much as Let it Be, but Brooke looked like she was having a ball...and she looked very sunny, herself. I like her better on the more contemplative tunes. This seemed a little pop-py for her. Randy expressed what I felt. But Paula's right, you can't help but smile when you watch her. I do like how she takes criticism. I'm not sure what Simon means when he says "wet"...ewww? Not her best, but it was a good growth moment for her.

David Cook - Daytripper - He totally gets what Michael Johns doesn't get. He connects with the audience and the camera. Did you see him making eyes at the camera? He brings something different to his performance each week. He keeps it fresh and intersting. What was that freaky thing he did with his mouth and the mike? Cool, but weird! He looks like a rock star. Rock is not my favorite genre, but I really like this guy! Paula's right...just like Daughtry, he's ready to sell records right now. Simon thinks he's predictable, but hello? How about Amanda Overmyer?

Carly Smithson - Blackbird - I love this song. I'm not digging her look tonight, though. She's so pretty...kind of looks like Martina McBride, and sounds a bit like her too, but tonight she looks a little too old. Sounds great, though. I liked the soulful, emotional arrangement. Liked the drama created by her low voice. I would have liked to see her be a little more intimate with the audience, though.

Jason Castro - Michelle Ma Belle - Good for you, Jason, for doing the French diction thing. And that there French stuff ain't easy, neither. I still love this guy's voice. Love the emotion. Love the grin. But he looks a little cheesy pacing across the stage. He looks better with a guitar. The song was good, but I'd have like to see him focus his gaze, so it would look like he was singing to Michelle. It needed to be a little more intimate.

Syesha Mercado - Yesterday - Pretty dress. I liked the emotion and the simplicity with which she sang. I thought she stretched the tempo a little too much at "Why he had to go..." and thereafter, in an attempt to milk the lyrics. That made it a little awkward, and it's a tricky thing to do well. But the vulnerability made her unique tonight. Simon's right, it would have been a great song for Brooke, but I'm glad Syesha had a chance to show herself in this capacity tonight.

Chikezie Eze - I've Just Seen Her Face - Um....I don't get the harmonica thing. I don't know this that part of the original? He's still adorable, but I'm bewildered. I like the energy, but the arrangement just confused me. Good, not great.

Ramielle Malubay - I Should Have Known Better - Much better than last week. But the prancing/pacing across the stage with the shoulders bobbing seems cheesy. Not my favorite, but a definite improvement over last week. A breath in the middle of a word. Last note was a bit off. Cute, but not great.

Tonight's standouts: David A. is back on his game. Love the little crooner boy. David C. was smokin', as usual.

Runner-ups: Carly was soulful. And Jason gave a sweet, if a little cheesy, performance.

Here's my ranking, based on tonight's performances:
David Cook (beats David A. based on consistency)
David A.
Syesha (beats Brooke based on suitability of song)

I would like to keep Kristy around for another week, but I look for her to go. Like it or not, I think Amanda has a better feel for what works for her on the stage.

Edited to add: I forgot to include my Boomama link. Go check her out for American Idol Awesomeness! And be sure to check out the rest of the Boomama site. She's more fun than a cat in socks!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Because Boomama Said So, That's Why

So Boomama has started her liveblogging of American Idol, and she's invited other kindred bloggers to share their thoughts. I'm pretty sure that all 3 people who are reading my blog will appreciate reading my informed and invaluable opinions of the AI gang. Only tonight it won't be so informed. I mean, I have a degree in music education, with a vocal/choral emphasis, and I have taught both elementary music and middle school choir, but I am the only person born in the (VERY late) sixties, who hasn't made the Beatles her life's soundtrack. My husband, Brian, bought a Beatles CD collection several years ago, so I've been exposed to them, but I'm just not an expert on all things Beatle, know what I mean? Now if you want to know some of the finer points of The Oak Ridge Boys, I'm your girl. I know. I was country when country wasn't cool. But still. I know what I like, and I like American Idol. Oh yes I do. And my sweet husband, bless his heart, lets me watch it while he does the dishes. Amazingly, he's not a fan. But he's a GREAT husband, and hey, he likes the Beatles.

Are you ready? Here we go!

Syesha Mercado - Got to Get You Into My Life - I like Syesha a lot, think she's cute as a button, but this just didn't work for me. I thought it had a disco-ey feel, and I felt she had some tuning issues. I didn't think it showed off her personality or voice very well, either. Interesting that Simon liked it. I usually agree with him.

Chikezie Eze - She's a Woman - Speaking of cute as a button, I think Chikeze is A. Dorable. Groovy. I like the "jam session" feel at the beginning of the song. I could hear Rascal Flatts doing this version. I love this song for Chikezie. Strong vocals. Really shows him branching out and cutting loose. I mean it. I love his confidence and how much fun he's having. And see? Simon does agree with me!

Ramiele Malubay - In My Life - Ramiele is a doll. So tiny, and such a big voice. I like the sensitivity she brings to even the smokin' songs. She sounds pretty on this song, but it seems a little lackluster for her. A little disjointed. It almost felt like she didn't get it, in spite of her introductory remarks about it. I wish she'd started in a seated position, and drawn us in. Again, I agree with Mr. Cowell.

Jason Castro - If I Fell - Jason is one of my top two this season. I've liked him, dreads and all, since his first appearance on the show. I think the guy is a musical genius, and I think he "gets" the songs, and he gets who he is, musically. He blew me away with "Hallelujah" last week. Interestingly, both last week and this week, I've felt that his interpretation of the song was more sensitive than the original (and other) versions. Such a sweet and gentle voice. Even the thin notes are sweet. As a former music teacher, the "h" on "you" (hyou) bothered me. I agree with Simon, sort of. I felt it was not as good as last week, but still very good and very different from the rest of the pack.

Carly Smithson - Come Together - I missed this one, because of a little power problem at our house (Which had nothing to do with the fact that my husband doesn't really dig the show. Really.), but I heard snatches. Carly is not my favorite, but I think she's got the chops. Can't say much more, since I missed most of this one.

David Cook - Eleanor Rigby - David is the other in my top two. Like Jason, I believe he has a strong sense of who he is musically, and has done clever interpretations of songs (similar to Daughtry). I thought he was brilliant last week. I didn't like this one as much as last week's choice, but I thought the chorus rocked. The verses were a little bland for me, but on the chorus, he got to the heart of the song, and he schooled the audience. Really. Look at all the lonely people. Like Simon, I feel that David has the maturity and the musicality to be a winner in this competition.

Brooke White - Let it Be - Brooke is just a sweetheart. I think she's talented enough to win, but I am guessing that she's going to be more popular with a slightly older or less teeny-bopper audience. I'm thinking that fans of Carole King and Sheryl Crow fans will vote for her, but that the edgier singers will win over the younger set. I thought this was a beautiful and quietly passionate performance. Randy used the word "conviction", which I think descibed her performance beautifully, and Simon said "brilliant" again. I agree.

David Hernandez - I Saw Her Standing There - I'm not familiar with this song. David has a nice voice, but I didn't think this song showed it off at all, and I don't think he really did the song justice. It just felt lame. And, again, as a former music teacher, I didn't like the breaths in the middle of words "saw (breath) her stand (breath) ding there". I agree with Simon, it was a little corny.

Amanda Overmyer - You Can't Do That - Amanda has never been one of my favorites. I agree, she's unique, and she does her style well, but her style is not my style. I don't get it and I don't particularly like it. But does anyone else out there see a strange resemblance to Jodi Foster? Maybe I'm just weird. My husband doesn't see it. I will say that I like her with the lighter makeup tonight. She looks younger without the scary makeup. Her voice hurts my throat, though. And I hear some pitch problems here and there. She made it her own, and it's very different, but it's still not me. Simon thinks she's a breath of fresh air, but even though her hair is better tonight, she still looks like a skunk. I'm sorry...just sayin'. Simon and I will agree to disagree here.

Michael Johns - Across the Universe - I like how organic Michael is. No schtick. Just good singing. Like Brooke, I suspect Michael might be a bit more popular with an older crowd -- Michael Bolton and Phil Collins fans -- but he's solid and not affected, and the accent adds a nice dimension. I'm not familiar with this song either, but I liked it. I thought it was beautiful and lyrical, yet contemporary. I didn't think it was stand-out, but I liked it a lot. I think that's kind of what Simon was saying. Michael seems so original, but he's not doing anything original with the songs.

Kristy Lee Cook - 8 Days a Week - Kristy is adorable too, and I like her a lot. I didn't think this song worked, though. I liked the concept, but it needed to be a "cooler" country version. I thought the instrumentation made it sound cheesy, and I didn't think she kept enough of the originally melody in it. On the whole, though her singing was pretty good, the song seemed weak to me. I think it had a lot of what country music haters hate about country music. I would have liked to hear a more Faith Hill type of interpretation. Simon was harsh, but in theory, I agree.

David Archuleta - We Can Work it Out - Who doesn't love little David Archuleta? He is such a cutie. I didn't like the start of it...too low, the stairs were cheesy. He seemed overwhelmed by the song. He made a valiant effort, but this song seemed to big, too old for him. And it lacked his usual exuberance and joy, probably because of the nerves. He needs to get past the fear and really get to know the song. His lack of maturity shows here, but he has so much potential. I seem to remember Jordan having a moment like this when she came into the top 12. Simon's right...he has to step it up to keep up with the big boys (and girls), but he can do it.

OK...even though Jason & David Cook are my top 2, and even though Brooke's song was gorgeous, Chikezie stole the show for me tonight.

Here's my ranking of the top 12, based on tonight's performances:
David Cook
(Carly)-didn't see her...power failure
David A.
David H.

I think David Cook is the strongest, overall. I think he's brilliant, and cool, and appeals to a broad audience.

What do you think?

Friday, March 7, 2008

Overheard at Target...

OK, so I'm browsing the aisles of Tar-Jay yesterday, minding my own business, and looking for something like this, only cuter & cheaper, when I overhear a child (probably about 8 years old) speaking loudly to her mother. She declared, "Mom, pretend I am 15, OK?" Her mother, no doubt distracted by her shopping list and those marvelous Tar-Jay endcap clearance items, replied in a somewhat annoyed voice, "Why?". The child repeated, "Just pretend I am 15, OK?" Mom, not interested in playing this game, replies tersely, "Why should I pretend you're 15?" The daughter cheerfully responds, "Because if I am 15, then I can use mouthwash!"

Because apparently 15 is the age of freshening.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

A Hint of Spring

Spring Decorating @

I'm well aware that Easter is not about Bunnies and eggs (hence my recent blog makeover), but I do love me a touch of spring! I refreshed my new apothecary jars with some eggs, and added some nests and bunnies. You like?




Did E'er Such Love and Sorrow Meet?

Love and Sorrow
A shirt I designed for a "Tri-Choir" event (involving youth choirs from 3 local churches). One of their songs is "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross", so I chose this line from the song and ran with it. The colors didn't come out quite like I envisioned, but I like the "grungy" look of it.