December 29, 2011

The Year in Review

The media has begun its 'year in review' and 'the year's top stories', so I started to reflect on my year and what I would pick as the top ten events.  2011 has been a humdinger, and as I looked back, I discovered something very important.  It wasn't all bad.  Here are my top ten from the past year:

1. Both my mother and my mother-in-law reached the end of their lives.  Both death certificates cite 'failure to thrive' as cause of death.  I wonder if that's the new term for 'natural causes'.  Neither of them failed to thrive in their lives.  Both grew up in low income homes.  My mom sold violets to earn money for food.  Her feet showed the deformity of wearing ill fitted shoes handed down from her sisters.  Lib took care of many of her 11 siblings.  They both were wonderful seamstresses and needle crafters.  They were not college educated, but could run circles around anyone with a degree.  Most of all, they were devoted to their families and were excellent mothers who made sure they raised children who would make a difference in the world.  Failure to thrive? No, not these two.  So, I suggest that the medical community come up with a better term.

2.  Another loss this year was Baby Bird's great grandfather and the Sr. for whom he is named.  I only knew this great guy through a brief encounter when Jaybird and Mama Cat were wed, but he left a lasting impression.  Like Lib and Evelyn, he was one of the ones that earned the title, "Greatest Generation".  He set an example for his sons and grandsons that I am certain is going to be handed down to Baby Bird. 

3. There were births this year.  Baby Bird was a welcome addition in late spring after losing Lib and Evelyn in March and April.  His birth signaled a new start and I was joyful again.  He has been a ray of sunshine since his birth.  Such a happy baby, he smiles and giggles and seems to say, "Life is good," over the simplest of things.  Riding in a stroller through a!  Mommy tickling me behind the ears...hysterical!  That __________ (fill in the blank)...tasty!  I never tire of seeing the world anew through my grands.

4.  The other birth was a new law practice for Mama at Law.  She was blessed to have worked with not only a gifted attorney, but also a dear friend.  While she probably thought it was a match that would last a lifetime, life once again threw a curveball.  Guess that's what we get when we think we are in control.  In the end, her new practice, I feel with all my heart, is taking her in the direction she is meant to go.  Mama at Law has a strong faith and believes that God places you where you need to be.  That faith and belief continue to be her best guide.

5.  I retired again.  Yes, I am just lousy at retirement.  I love to work, but I want to be available for my family when they need me.  So, I am working as I see fit.  Still more than I probably have time for, but not full time and on my own terms.  Retirement is starting to feel more comfortable, and I might even make it a full time endeavor in 2012.

6.  The family vacation makes my top ten.  We have visited our little slice of heaven since the girls were small.  We never know from year to year now whether we will get us all under one roof, so I am always grateful when it happens. 

7.  One thing that Papallama loves is his Gamecocks, and I love spending time with him tailgating or cheering the teams on.  This year, Papallama was president of the local Gamecock Club, and I really enjoyed the extra activities he planned.  We went to a baseball and basketball game with local members, and it was fun.  Nothing beats the football games though in Williams-Brice.  This year was exceptional.

8.  This year I was able to attend an annual reunion held by my college buddies.  I am more of a biannual attendee, so this was an on year for me.  It's wonderful to get together with them and to feel their support and love.  We have all changed since college...duh...but our affection for each other seems to be the constant that keeps us coming back to the circle.

9.  I have spent a great deal of time handling Mom's massive estate of antiques, collectibles, and curiosities.  This has educated me in history, opened my eyes to groups of collectors I never knew existed, and has kept me connected to her while spending time with Dad as well.  It has been interesting, exhausting, frustrating, and cool.  You always hear how families split up over this stuff.  I sort of get how that happens now, but I refuse to allow 'stuff' to replace 'family'.  What material object would I possibly exchange for a family member? Trade you one brother for a vase?  I don't think so.

10.  The highlight of the year (after Baby Bird, of course) has to be the trip to Jamaica that Papallama and I just took in December.  Paradise.  Perfect.  Peaceful.

So, as I look back, the year has not been as dismal as I might have thought.  Do I hope for a better 2012?  Of course.  And it's getting off to a great start. 

On Jan. 1, we will witness the Christening of Baby Bird in Charleston with his family and their friends.  On Jan. 3, Baby P will be delivered via c-section.  I'll be waiting with open arms. 

The same way I am welcoming 2012...

with open arms.

When it comes, may you, also, have a blessed New Year! 

December 9, 2011

The Gift of You

Last Sunday, Papallama and I were celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary with a stroll around Main Street when we happened upon a book signing.  I love running into events like this and meeting new authors in person.  It provides such a personal glimpse into the inspiration for the story. 

This was the such the case that afternoon.  Donna Thornton described her book, The Christmas Donkey, that she wrote for her mother as a gift.  With her mother's encouragement and urging, Donna published the story to share with all of us.  Donna's family owns a working raspberry farm in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  One year a wee donkey was born and named Drupelet just like the bump on the raspberry that produces the drop of juice.  In the story, Drupelet was pretty satisfied with life on the farm until he happened upon a pasture where he saw, for the first time, the beautiful horses with their glossy coats and long, slender legs.  Drupelet very much wanted to belong to this group of equines, but his mother admonished him.  They would have no interest in a common donkey.  Drupelet's feelings were bruised, and he was no longer satisfied playing among his other farm friends like before.  Then, at the beginning of winter, a truck arrived with a trailer.  Drupelet was loaded on and taken on a short ride to a small town up the road.  What he saw next was the strangest sight.  There were sheep, goats, and even three camels.  Humans were dressed in heavy garments and they placed a baby human on a manger of hay!  For hours that evening, people walked by and watched.  Drupelet stayed very still.  When he returned to the farm, he told his story to all of his farm animal friends.  Buster, the wise barn cat, had seen an event such as this before and explained to Drupelet that he had been chosen to represent the donkey that Mary, the mother of Jesus, rode into Bethelem so her baby could be born exactly where the Bible said he would be born.  Now Druplet was filled with joy and understood his purpose.  He knew he didn't have to be a race horse to be important.  He was meant to be a Christmas donkey!

My favorite line is this. "It takes the single drupelet and MANY others for the fruit to be beautiful and delicious."

We all have a purpose, a gift, something meaningful to give.  Donna's mother has the gift of growing beautiful gardens.  Donna's gift is writing beautiful stories.  Lynne Pryor uses her gift to illustrate it. 

I think (and hope) the story will touch someone who in some way has felt left out, put down, unimportant, or disappointed.  Perhaps it will help PDub and Baby Bird understand to accept themselves and recognize the gifts in others. We all have a purpose, a small, yet important role in the bigger story.

Go ahead and open your gift and have a very Merry Christmas!

December 2, 2011

He's Coming to Town!

No, not Santa.  PDub!  But in a way, he's bringing Christmas with him.

Being three this year, it's like PDub is seeing Christmas for the first time all over again.  When he got home from Thanksgiving, his mama read The Elf on the Shelf book to him and "Diesel", the elf, made a reappearance in his home.  PDub was awestruck.  The first person he looked for the next morning was Diesel, and he laughed with glee when he discovered him peeking out from behind the blinds.  For him, the magic of elves is real. 

For Grammy, though, this is already starting out to be a less than jolly season.  Shopping in stores with knickknacky signs that talk about mothers and daughters, not racking my brain over what to get Lib and Evelyn, and missing my phone calls and visits with Mom is taking its toll. 

So I am really looking forward to some Christmas spirit this weekend!  Thank you, God, for sending him (and Him) to me to remind me that your love is not only magic...

It's real.

November 27, 2011

Thanks for the Memories!

It's been a wonderful family filled Thanksgiving holiday and the house is much too quiet now that everyone has headed home.

Last minute changes meant that Mama Cat and Jaybird could spend Thanksgiving with us!  Papallama and I were excited to get some time with Baby Bird who is changing every single day!  He is sitting and cooing and grabbing and much activity for one little guy!  Mama at Law and her family have in laws close by, so we were all comfortable and had enough 'space' physically and mentally.

When we gather at our Thanksgiving table, we share what we are thankful each year.  (Family and health are givens, so everyone must think of something else.)  While PDub is thankful for jump castles, Papallama is thankful for shared memories.  He explained how shared memories connect us as a family.  See why he is our 'Llama'?

We sure added some memories to the book this year.

Mama Cat brought tons of snacks and kept the table full of goodies for us.  My favorites were the little acorns made from Hershey kisses and Nutter Butters.  I knew they were cute, but also yummy, too, oh my...glad they are all gone from my reach now!

Mama at Law was given a reprieve from cooking this year since just being here eight months pregnant is enough.  Plus, she is starting a new law firm, so her 'plate' was already full, so to speak.  It was fun to watch some of the plans come together 'virtually' as she and her partner shopped via email and MMS.  Can't wait to see it soon! 

The boys set up the turkey fry camp complete with satellite TV and a jumperoo for the youngest boy.  They cooked THE perfect turkey once again. 

Mama Cat and I braved Black Friday and had fun shopping for decorations and gifts.  A marathon wrapping session followed and I sent her home with a sleigh full of presents to put under one of her two Christmas trees.  Can't wait to see her retro Christmas this year!

PDub was a wonderful big cousin to Baby Bird who was enthralled with him.  He is going to be a great big brother!  Baby Bird won't be much longer in being able to follow him around.  He is sitting up and creeping all around the crib. 

On Saturday, Mama Cat and Jaybird headed home while Mama and Daddy at Law joined us for an afternoon of tailgating at the Palmetto Bowl.  While we pull for different teams, we are not divided in our loyalty to each other.  While my team got the win this year, the best part of the day was being there with them.

So overall, it was a wonderful, fullfilling holiday and like the other team is saying today...

~Wait until next year!

November 7, 2011


First the big news!  PDub's baby brother has a name!  Porter William.  Yes, there is a PDub II on the way!  Pretty cool that all the monogrammed bibs can have another go round. 

Mama Cat and I hosted a small gathering of friends and family this past weekend just to let Mama at Law know that we love her and PDub II.  We are very excited about his pending arrival in early early January, 2012. (or sooner)  Mama at Law has decided to coordinate the boys' rooms with a madras theme and we ran with that as the shower theme.  Working together by phone, internet, and mail, I think we did a pretty  good job tying it all together.  I wanted to share a few photos for folks who may be like me...looking for ideas that are easy! 

Mama Cat loves cake stands!  We used her collection to set up centerpieces on the tables.  See PDub II's name on display?  Mama Cat used the same fabric we used under the stands to make a wall hanging for his nursery!

We ordered plainly decorated cakes from Publix and added coordinating ribbon with double sided tape.  Since this is a second little baby boy, guests generously gave the gift of diapers and Mama Cat had diaper cakes in the centerpieces, too. 

Other decor included colorful napkins and utensils, mini milk bottles (recyled Starbucks bottles) with striped straws (Etsy) and baby shoes made from plain white cups and ribbon that served up some fresh fruit. 

It was all relatively simple and Mama at Law loved the chance to see hometown friends and special family members. 

Weekends like this warm the heart. 

Happy, sappy sigh~

October 23, 2011

Here's the Scoop!

When I went with PDub to the Pumpkin Patch, I had a blast.  On the way back to school (via the bus), I remarked to P that Grammy sure was 'pooped'.  His eyes got big as saucers and a little sly grin came on his face.  "Grammy pooped?!"  Immediately, I saw we had a communication issue.  "No, P, not 'pooped in the pants poop', TIRED poop."  He just looked puzzled and we dropped that subject like a sack of...oh, nevermind!

Well, later that day, PDub and I were back at Grammy's house hanging out in the yard and P decided he wanted to 'wake'. (translation: rake)  So we went in the garage and he grabbed up Grammy's pooper scooper rake and bucket.  Not wanting to deny my first grandson the pleasure of picking up poop in Grammy's yard, I played along.  Whenever PDub saw a pile, he would happily shout, "POOP AHOY!"  What a great attitude about such a nasty job. 

I told Mama at Law that I thought we should all take a lesson from PDub's attitude.  Whenever we are faced with a poopy job or challenge, let's just say, "Poop Ahoy!" and approach it with an attitude of discovery and accomplishment. 

Because in life, poop happens.

Poop ahoy, matey!

October 18, 2011

You Gotta Have Friends

This weekend is the annual reunion of Grammy's college friends and I am looking forward to seeing some of the best girl friends anyone could hope for.  It got me to thinking about friendship this past day or so.  Some people gather friends like my furniture gathers dust...quickly and without effort.  I, on the other hand, tend to keep most people at arm's length.  Not that I am not friendly.  My dad, the small town politician, took me on the campaign trails with him, so I am at ease with perfect strangers.  I guess I just don't care to share my every thought and feeling with more than a handful of people, if that many.  Makes me an awful facebooker.

A lay person talked to our children at church about friendship last Sunday.  He made some great points.  Friends are people you know and spend time with.  Friendship is an important relationship.  So that best explains why I consider myself very blessed to have a few important friendships.

This first (I know it's corny) and best friend I have is Papallama.  I love spending time with him, and I can trust him with every thought and emotion I may have, whether I am right to think or feel that way or not.  He's my go-to guy for advise and support, and we have alot of fun most of the time.  When we're not having fun, I couldn't think of a better person to be miserable with.  Ha!

Two other dear friends are Mama Cat and Mama at Law.  They also are two people I love hanging out with and who listen and want to know about my comings and goings.  But they are also daughters, and there are things that mothers and daughters aren't meant to share. 

I would be remiss if I didn't mention work friends.  Not colleagues, but friends.  Ms. M is one such friend.  In another time, another life, we might not have matched up, but the years we spent together at a little brick schoolhouse were some that I will always treasure.  She has that one virtue that any friend of mine is going to need...she is a good listener.  I hope I was for her, too.  And I knew as she did, that the thoughts we shared were for our ears only.  Good friends will honor that, no matter what. 

Then there are school friends, like my sisters that I am meeting up with this weekend.  We shared a special time in our lives and had a camaraderie that is only experienced by living with a person for years and seeing them at their best and their worst.  They are the ones who can send you into a side splitting laugh at the drop of a hat. That's why I am going to spend a whole weekend away from my best friend to see my girl friends. Plus, I will probably need to defend myself when the storytelling commences...

Dogpatch, here I come~

October 11, 2011


I love fall!  Finally, the humidity starts to subside and the world around me puts on a completely new costume to entertain me. One of my favorite fall activities when I was a little girl was going to the county fair.  Daddy-O would hand me a dollar's worth of dimes and I was set for the day! (Sometimes he might give me a few extra dimes if it was an exceptional fair.)  So, it should come as no surprise that when Mama Cat was born in October, Grammy did not let that keep the family from attending the State Fair with 2 week old in tow.  It must have made a lasting impression because Mama Cat is as crazy about fall and fairs as I am.  While two states separate us, we engaged in parallel fall excursions with our favorite pumpkineenies. 
Mama Cat took Baby Bird to the county fair!
How tall must you be for that ride?
Blue Ribbon Mommy

Baby Bird gives his day at the fair two dimples!
Grammy and PDub headed for the pumpkin patch!
Been a long time since Grammy took a hayride!
I have to admit that petting zoos aren't my favorite, but these three seem to enjoy it.
This is just the start to this wonderful season!  Still to come are so many picking, mountain scenic tours, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and oh yeah, football...right, Papallama?

Go, Cocks, Go!

~Happy fall, y'all~

October 5, 2011

It's Showtime!

People (in general) think toddlers and preschoolers are cute, and because they think these little people are so cute, they like to use them for show.  Now these same people are usually only seeing the little people for a few minutes at a time, sort of like an audition, I suppose. So they see cute and assume that the little person is cute 24/7.

PDub is cute.  Cute as a button.  He has grown into this little expressive fellow with a winning smile and friendly demeanor.  So he has been recruited for some performances where cute is required. 

The first was an unveiling of a portrait of his great grandfather in a pretty auspicious ceremony.  Now I am certain that the attendees were hanging on every word of the three speeches that preceded the actual unveiling.  PDub was not as impressed.  Of course, we knew a three year old's attention span might not last for, oh, more than five minutes, so we had a plan B.  Mama at Law would take him into a back hall and entertain him with an iPad or iPhone until curtain call.  Problem was, Mama at Law, picked up a stomach bug on the way to the courthouse and was throwing up whilst trying to entertain P.  Poor Mama at Law.  She told PDub that 'Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star' made her feel better, so while she heaved, P sang. 

 When they were summoned for the unveiling, you would have never suspected the mayhem that had been going on backstage.  His performance was flawless.  He waited for his cue, gently pulled off the velvet veil, and pronounced, "ta da!" for the waiting eyes.  He waved sweetly to his great grandfather who beamed with pride and then Mama at Law escaped out the back door to continue her battle of the bug.

Next performance? The wedding of his uncle.  PDub will be appearing in tuxedo and carrying a ring.

Need cute?  Call his agent.

September 25, 2011

He Went That Away

PDub and family stopped by for visit today and we were enjoying some front porch/sandbox time when Mama at Law stepped out to chat.  She sat down on the front steps, and PDub muttered something about going to find Suzie, the Lab, as he wandered around the corner of the house.  Well, literally, 20 seconds later, when he had not reappeared, I decided to check on him. 



I stuck my head in the back door and asked Papallama and Daddy at Law if he had come inside, and they said he was running across the yard the last time they saw him.  (Really, guys, that didn't strike you as odd? Papallama said I had never lost a child before, so he wasn't worried.)

Be still my heart!  No sign of P anywhere in the yard.  Now, he loves to hide, but I could tell he wasn't on the property.  You just know these things.  So I started yelling for him.  I thought I heard a reply, but it was WAY too far off to make me feel any better.  I took off across the yard, through the woods, and onto the street behind our house.  (See why Grammy has to run?)

Sure enough, four houses away on the street behind us, there was my sweet P.  With Suzie.   Did he get a scolding? Oh, yeah,  Did he understand?  Mmm, a little.  But Suzie had disappeared and he was on a mission to find her. 

That's one more difference in girls (mine, anyway) and boys.  My girls would have never left the yard, much less run through any size, shape, or form, of woods to chase a dog.  But then, you know what boys are made of, right?

Snips, and snails, and puppy dog tails~

September 22, 2011

Tough Grammy

There is a children's book that I love (surprise, surprise) by Mem Fox.  It's Tough Boris, and it's a patterned story of a pirate, Boris von der Borch.  It goes something like this.  Boris is tough...all pirates are tough.  Boris is scruffy...all pirates are scruffy.  You get the idea.  Now here's the spoiler alert.  I'm going to tell you how the book ends...after all the adjectives telling how tough, scruffy, mean, greedy, fearless,and massive Boris is, his parrot dies.  And Boris cries.  All pirates cry.  And so do I.
I thought about it yesterday when unexpectedly I was hit by the grief  of losing my mother last spring.  I was doing a simple task.  I had to deposit a check from her estate into the bank.  Suddenly, a flood of memories came over me and the tears began to flow.  Gut wrenching, cry out loud sobbing that left me sitting in the car and just letting myself 'get it all out'.  The tears stayed with me most of the day and I just let them be.  I know that it's normal.  I know it's something I have to go through...well, I don't think I'll ever be over it, really.  I do know how to accept it though.  So I share that experience, just so Mama at Law and Mama Cat understand that I'm not as tough as I act.  Just like Boris. 

I think you could take the Tough Boris book pattern and create one like this.  Grammy is fun.  All Grammies are fun.  Grammy is silly.  All Grammies are silly.  Grammy is sweet.  All Grammies are sweet.  Grammy is happy.  All Grammies are happy.  But when Grammy's mommy died.  Grammy cried and cried. And so do I. 

It's okay to cry~

September 12, 2011

See Rock City

When I was a little girl headed to church camp in the mountains, I vividly remember seeing the barn roofs in the valleys painted black with big white letters...SEE ROCK CITY...or SEE SEVEN STATES.  I always wanted to visit this magical place, but its location remained a mystery to me until this past Saturday. 

Rock City, it turns out, is part of the charm of Chattanooga, TN, and close enough to Baby Bird's nest to check out!  Here are a few helpful tips in case you decide to go see it for yourself.

No strollers are allowed.  You'll understand why as you read on. 

Come on, Mama Cat.  You carried him for nine months.  How hard can it be?

Hydrate yourself.  Walking is involved. And a cap and suncreen are advised.

They don't call it Rock City for nothing.

Be prepared to squeeze through some tight places,

or cross over high and narrow walkways...

or swinging bridges.

Your reward will be to see fantastic fauna and mountain scenery,  or view seven states if the skies are clear.

Papallama takes a count.

But most of all, you will love spending time in the fresh, autumn air with the ones you love.


August 22, 2011

The Family That Reads Together...

The family that reads together learns together.  Papallama wisely says that children learn not only from what we do, but also by what we don't do.  PDub and Baby Bird remind me that reading needs to be what we do everyday.  I am so proud of Mama at Law and Mama Cat for making reading such an important daily routine for the boys.

Goodnight MoonMama Cat says that Baby Bird tuned in to Good Night, Moon recently.  She thinks it's probably due to his visual development.  This book contrasts black and white pages to color pages, so it not only teaches Baby Bird the sweet rhythmic sound of reading, but also helps his little eyes start to focus.  I'm a big fan of Margaret Wise Brown and this book will be a favorite for many years, I'm sure, since it is such a great bedtime story.  She also wrote Runaway Bunny, another must have in a child's library.

The Kissing HandPDub is reviving some old favorites at bedtime.  He has shelved Peter Rabbit and checked out The Kissing Hand and LlamaLlama once more.  Both of those stories deal with separation and I can understand why they would appeal to him once again.  He's moved to a new classroom with new challenges and the arrival of baby brother is starting to become a reality as Mama at Law's tummy expands. 

I have even managed to share some new books with Mama Cat and Mama at Law.  Mama Cat is reading The Help and What Alice Forgot.  Mama at Law tried out my Kindle version of The Weird Sisters.  She loves the book AND the Kindle. Maybe This Time or Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption will be my next read.  Right now, my nose is in books about antiques and costume jewelry as I list the things that are left from Mom's estate.  You can follow that in our Etsy Shop. (See the link in the right sidebar for updates.) I am learning that you can't know much about antiques without learning history in the process, and for me, that's been very enjoyable.  Messy, cluttery fun.

Back to the bling~