It's very obvious that Kelly Clarkson considers the “Today” show almost a second home. She feels comfortable enough to bring her hubby and kids to the cozy set, and even had a moment of the sweetest harmony with daughter, River Rose, during her last visit. The day before Halloween seemed a perfect time to welcome Kelly Clarkson back again, not just because she is a devoted mom and stepmom in her blended family with Brandon Blackstock, but because Hoda Kotb had already set the mood for celebrating beautiful childhood moments by sharing her Haley Joy decked out in costume and giggling with grandma.

Being a busy mom to a toddler, preschooler, school-ager, and a teen doesn’t keep Kelly Clarkson from being several steps beyond Halloween trick-or-treating. She is already debuting the second children’s book in the namesake series named after her daughter, “River Rose and the Magical Christmas,” celebrating her latest album topping the iTunes chart, and reminiscing on what makes Christmas so special. Meaning makes a real difference for this candid artist.

Spontaneous inspiration

Mom Kelly was not the one making calls or pushing her publisher on her newest children's saga. The idea came up in casual conversation and they recalled how the first book, “River Rose and the Magical Lullaby,” had been an imprinting experience for mother and daughter, and how Christmas memories are so lasting.

“Opening presents is so fun in our house, because (with such diversity in ages) they can be anything,” and the experience is still “so magical.”

Making “The Meaning of Life” made Kelly Clarkson “so happy” as an artist because the songs hearkened back to songs she sang by heart as a girl from Burleson, Texas, with R & B high notes and horns that echo permanently in the soul.

Hoda Kotb mentioned that Clarkson has frequently brought up Aretha Franklin as a standard-setter in the “soulful pop.”

Kelly asserts that classics like “Respect” and “I Never Loved a Man” are emblematic of the style, but that she was never, in any way, assuming that her own talents even approached those of the great Aretha. Clarkson also steered clear of the contract issues that stirred through the creation of the collection.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she emphasized. She further explained that without the touch of the exact producers involved, the sound she was after could not have been captured.

Sweet songs and not so many dreams

Kelly Clarkson never needs to look far for a cheering section. Besides her millions of fans, her husband stays “so excited” over the success and chart positions of his wife's latest endeavors. That comes naturally for any manager, one would suppose, and the kids are already avid music lovers. Kelly gushed that 16-month-old Remington Alexander is “coming into himself” this Christmas season, but River Rose doesn’t want to sing about sugarplums. Instead, her favorite song now is mom’s “Love So Soft,” the infectious single that Kelly performed earlier in the morning.

River Rose has her own dance to the tune.

No one was snoozing when Kelly unwrapped her golden notes on “Meaning of Life.” The lyrics resonate from depths of “living like an animal” to the chorus that soars with magnificent horns under a pulsating repetition of “meaning of life” and love that can “lift me higher and higher.” There are notes and riffs on this entire record that have not been heard in a very long time, Clarkson creates “old-school” atmosphere and wraps it in her own vocal adoration.

Kelly Clarkson may be the only woman alive who could pull off a performance like that without any serious pillow time of her own. Flying coast-to-coast can be a killer with jetlag, and she resorted to “drenching myself in so much lavender” that she thought she would expire, and then resorting to sleep-soothing apps to induce slumber. Neither option was successful, but at least mom has good reasons to snuggle in her own bed, with a new bedtime story, and tremendous, soulful tunes.