Friday, June 14, 2013

Beach Vacation: The Hot and the Cold

"Ice cream is my vice."
~Brad Meltzer

Stephen, the kids and I went to the beach last week for a long weekend with some of Stephen's cousins. As usual, it was great fun, punctuated in my mind by specific moments of cold and hot.
The Cold: Sixty mph winds blew in, thanks to a tropical storm. Aside from having to hold onto Mo just a little tighter to keep her from blowing away and having to chase down my sunglasses as they blew across a parking lot, the winds didn't stop us from enjoying all the beach had to offer.

The Hot: Sand hitting your legs at 60 mph burns like fire, and we all managed to get a massive sunburn under substantial cloud cover. I'd post pictures, but my legs started peeling yesterday and no one needs to see that. It's not cute.

The Cold: We walked into an elevator and found a six-pack of adult beverages -- unopened and still cold. We chose to believe they were left by the drink fairy, took two (allegedly) and left the rest to bless someone else's day. Paying it forward and all.

The Hot: Stephen's family has more than its fair share of beautiful people. They're in their 20s, all sport ridiculous abs and are fantastically sweet. They're hot . . . and humbling.


The Cold: If you've been around our family for any length of time, you know that we are huge fans of The Original Painter's Ice Cream in Myrtle Beach, SC. We go every time we head to the beach. Usually more than once. I love it because, in addition to the amazing ice cream (I love the peanut butter chip and the banana pudding), it's set up like it was when it opened in 1952. You order at a window and eat it outside. Other ice cream places are so cold inside, I can't fully enjoy my ice cream (tough life I live, I know). Plus, Dominic, its owner since 1997, is one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. If you're ever in the area, check them out. They're kind of a big deal.

Dominic (center) and friends. Follow him on Twitter at

The Hot: We went to a place called the Chesapeake House for dinner one night. All the food was delicious, but the bread basket changed my life. First, it was huge and heavy. The bottom was full of hushpuppies. Then there was a layer of sliced bread (I can't tell you exactly what kind because I was distracted by the rest of the goodies in the basket). And on the very top were . . . wait for it . . . hot cinnamon rolls!! In a bread basket! To eat before the meal!! Life changed!

We're heading back to the area in July. Dominic, get the sugar cones ready . . .

Monday, April 8, 2013

New York, New York

"The streets are paved with diamonds, and there's just so much to see,
But the best thing about New York City is you and me."
-They Might Be Giants
Y’all. I went to New York City with my Stephen this weekend, and we had a blast. In a lot of ways, it was just what I expected. I guess I’d seen so much of it on television and in movies that the picture in my head was pretty true to life. There were tall buildings and a ton of people. There were car horns beeping constantly and fabulous restaurants everywhere.
There were a few things about the big city that I was not prepared for, though. Apparently, the no-boots-after-Easter rule that I so strictly follow in South Carolina does not apply in NYC. Of course, I can understand why, considering I froze the whole weekend. All in all, we had great weather. But the wind whipping around all those skyscrapers was COLD. My toes are just now recovering from peeking out of my super-cute-but-not-even-close-to-appropriate-for-NYC-in-April open-toed shoes.

Traffic in the city was nuts and not something I plan to experience again any time soon. We had three cab rides during our stay, and I could have used a stiff drink before each one. Drivers go too fast to be so close to each other, and everyone is in more of a hurry than necessary.

The subway, on the other hand, was better than I’d expected. I thought we’d be overwhelmed by giant rats and the smell of urine and share our ride with that angry ghost who taught Patrick Swayze how to push a penny. Stephen and I rode the subway at 1:00 Saturday morning, and I couldn’t have felt safer. Kudos to NYC on that.
The sidewalks were surprisingly clean, too. Of course, we passed the occasional vomit spot on our late-night walks, but the sidewalk fairies must visit each night to clean up, because overall, the sidewalks were clean. I mean, I wouldn’t eat off them, but I wouldn’t do that at home either. That’s gross.

We enjoyed some insanely good food while we were there, did one of those double-decker bus tours through the city (highly recommended, but bundle up unless it’s a really warm day), a boat tour around the city and a stand-up comedy show.

Joan Rivers pulled right up in front of us in Times Square (as we came out of a McDonald’s bathroom, no less) to film a TV spot. She looks exactly like she does on television.
Times Square reminded me of an amusement park, minus the rides. There was something interesting to see every way you turned, including people dressed up in costumes. We saw the Smurfs, Captain America and the Statue of Liberty.

Just so you know, if we’d had the children with us, I would have covered their eyes when we walked up on Hello Kitty. Her skirt was entirely too short. And her boots were a little prostitute-y (and we all know how I love boots).

Without a doubt, though, the highlight of the trip for me was seeing The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway. I was mesmerized from the time we walked into the Majestic Theatre until the cast took their final bow. The music, the costumes, the staging -- I might be obsessed.

Oh, while we were waiting to board our flight home at LaGuardia, I had to move my foot so a gentleman could pass. It was Regis Philbin (I’m not exactly sure why we couldn’t see a celebrity younger than 79, but whatevs). I totally choked. I just said his name as he passed. <Palm to forehead> What a great conversationalist I am.

I’m still processing everything I experienced on our trip, but I’m clear on two things: (1) I missed my kids (who were on their grandparents’ farm) like crazy, and (2) I am most definitely a southern girl. While NYC is a wonderful place to visit, I missed my trees and views uninterrupted by massive buildings. I’m happy to be home.

From one extreme to another. I think Stephen was happy to get to the farm . . . where things make sense and baby goats follow you around like puppies.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Mama's Last Day of Treatment

"When someone has cancer, the whole family and everyone who loves them does, too."

-Terri Clark
Mama had her last radiation treatment today, which seems strange to say because I don't think I ever really wrapped my head around the whole cancer thing anyway. But nevertheless, our little family went through diagnosis, surgery, recovery and treatment.

I am so proud of Mama. And Daddy. And I am grateful beyond words. And I'm sure I should have more to say, but right now, I'm just going to be proud and grateful.

Monday, February 11, 2013

33 Things I Want My Daughter to Know . . . at Age 7

"One of the greatest gifts I've ever gotten is my daughter."
-Ace Frehley

Never inconvenience someone else to make things easier on yourself.

Things aren't always good or bad. Some things just are.

You have star quality. And everyone who meets you sees it.

Don't ever hide how smart you are.

If someone picks on you, compliment something about them. They clearly need the reassurance.

When your nose crinkles when you smile, it makes my heart happy.

When I tell you to brush your teeth, it is not meant as a punishment.

You have good instincts. Trust them.

Worry less. Dance more.

You have one of the sweetest, most caring hearts I have ever known.

When you cross your arms, you look just like O'Ma.

The term is actually "at least." But you're so cute when you say "ackleast," I can't bring myself to correct you.

Earrings change everything.

Your big brother worries about you more than he lets on.

You will change the world. Of this I am certain.

When you dance in a group, I don't watch anyone but you.

You can fight it all you want, but your best colors are light blue and pink.

I look forward to hearing your bedtime prayers each night. They are so heartfelt. I know God looks forward to them too.

Always sing loudly. If I could sing like you, I would.

Be picky when it come to boys. You can afford to.

Honesty is good. But choose your words carefully.

I know I make you mad sometimes, but everything I say to you is because I love you.

There is no prize for the person who uses the most bath towels.

You're my hero for knowing the words to every song by Stevie Nicks.

If you look for the good in other people, you'll find it.

In so many ways, I want to be just like you when I grow up.

Always say "thank you."

You are responsible for you. Don't blame other people.

Let your daddy hug and kiss you. Just do.

You are beautiful, but that's not why people love you.

At some point, you're going to think you want bangs. Take a week to think about it.

Jeans are always appropriate. Amen.
I didn't realize how much I wanted a daughter until I met you.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Well, I Didn't See That Coming

"Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it."


So I was hoping the holidays would bring something interesting to talk about here on A Drop in the Bucket. They certainly did. My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. And we never even saw it coming.


Just as we were settling into a frame of mind that said, “This Christmas is going to suck because
Grandmama’s not here,” Mama learned that she had a malignant lump in her breast. It kind of shook us up.


So, instead of moping around missing Grandmama, we got our game faces on to battle this cancer beast.


Mama had a lumpectomy that was successful in removing the entire lump, and all of the lymph nodes appear clear. We were very fortunate.


Of course, she still has radiation and five years of estrogen treatments and maybe some chemo ahead, but I feel like that’s manageable. It’s still unbelievably scary, but we know enough about cancer to be thankful. We know that we are among the lucky ones.

So what have I learned?


1. For the love of all that is holy, people, get your checkups.


They found Mama’s cancer during a routine mammogram. The doctor said it could have been years before she felt that lump on her own, and by then, who knows what we’d be facing? Yes, they’re awkward and uncomfortable, but you just have to get them.


2. Cancer is absolutely terrifying.

It can turn your world upside down in a heartbeat. One minute, we were assuring Mo that she is not the only child on earth without an Elf on the Shelf, and the next, we were sitting in a hospital waiting room, while our pastor prayed with us for healing for Mama, wisdom for her doctors and encouragement for us.


3. My mom is pretty amazing.

She was diagnosed one day, and - I'm not even kidding - within, like, 4 days, she had all of her Christmas presents bought and wrapped, she made a cake for the kids' pediatrician, she took soup to a sick family member and was totally ready for the holidays. I know she was scared and still must be. But she has handled this ordeal with beauty and grace and faith. I'm so proud that she's my mom.

Mama with her girls

4. I learned that not all friendships are created equal.
When something like a cancer diagnosis happens, friends come out of the woodwork. There are the ones who call to get information that they can pass on to others. There are the ones that offer to pray - and they might actually do it. There are the ones that remember to call even when the surgery is over to see how everyone's doing. And there are the truest ones of all: the ones who know you're lying when you say you're fine, who show up to sit for hours at the hospital, who say more with a hug than with a million words, who pray - really pray - faithfully and earnestly for you, whether you're in the midst of tragedy or not. I learned my family is blessed with more than our fair share of friends. And I hope those truest friends know how much we love and appreciate them.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Cookie Monster

Today I'm getting all of my ingredients together so I can bake tomorrow. I realize this is not the type of thing I usually say on the blog . . . or anywhere else, for that matter. But there's a cookie swap at my church this weekend, and I'm going to participate if it kills me.

I'm supposed to bake five dozen cookies, which might as well be eleventy-twenty kabazillion cookies for all the baking experience I have, but I am determined. I'm gathering my butter and my flour and my sugars (both brown and white), and I'm going to bake cookies until I hit five dozen or I burn the house down.

My weapon of choice for the event is a potato chip cookie, because it's the only cookie I've ever baked from scratch. Ever. In my life. (God bless you, Mr. Pillsbury.) 

Paired with a Dr. Pepper, potato chip cookies make a fine breakfast. However, your healthcare professional may disagree.

If you don't hear from me tomorrow, it's because I'll be creaming butter and sugar (whatever that means) and trying to disable the smoke alarm.

Wish me luck!

Monday, November 19, 2012

I'm Okay, You're Okay

"So I'm OK with myself, with history, my work, who I am and who I was."

--Sidney Poitier 

Considering I've had four different people ask me in as many days how I'm doing, I figured I should probably update the blog. Maybe I need a new lipstick color. Or maybe there was a story on the news that someone with my name was in a horrible accident. Or maybe I'm just giving off some serious pouty mojo these days. 

I assure you all that I'm fine. I just haven't had anything blog-worthy to share. But since there appears to be some concern, I'll share what's been on my mind lately.
I might get my hair cut short again. Not super short. Maybe about chin length. But I kind of like that it's getting longer. Who knows? But I can promise that I'll be keeping my bangs. I've tried life without bangs, and it's not a good look for me.
Mo got mad at her swing and said something very inappropriate to it. I had to bite my cheek to keep from laughing, but now I'm concerned that I'm failing miserably at this parenting thing.
I'm looking forward to holiday get-togethers. I may be a little anti-social, but even I like a party every once in a while.
I thought I had conquered the bird phobia, so I put my finger in the birdcage at Mo's dance studio. When the bird scooted over to me, though, I jerked my finger back so fast I almost knocked the cage over. Clearly, there is work to be done.
Jack told me this joke the other day: "How do you wake up Lady Gaga? Poke 'er face." I'm not sure if it's the joke that cracks me up or the fact that Jack told it, but I laugh every time I think of it.
I think my car may be on its last leg. I'll be sad to see it go.

I love my sister. She is my best friend. I hope she reads this and knows how strong I think she is.
I'm putting together a readers theater piece for the Advent season for the drama group at church. It's a compilation of letters exchanged between Dietrich Bonhoeffer and his fiancee Maria von Wedemeyer while he was in prison. You talk about perspective? These people had it.
I have no idea what I'm getting most people for Christmas. I may be starting to stress.

Sadly, that's all I've got. I'm hopeful that the holidays will give me something fun to discuss here at A Drop in the Bucket.

I haven't been doing the 30 days of thanks this November. But today, I am thankful for friends who randomly send me "Are you okay?" emails. Hugs to each of you.

Until next time, happy Thanksgiving.