Friday, December 30, 2011

1 Little, 2 Little, 3 Little Blessings . . .

"The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live."
--Albert Schweitzer

My friend Julie gave me a book for Christmas. It's called One Thousand Gifts, by Ann Voskamp. I'm on page 71--not so far in--but it has inspired me to embrace a challenge.

In the book, Voskamp started a list of things she's thankful for. The challenge? To find 1,000 things to be thankful for.

Okay, now some of you will remember that I committed fully to my 30 Days of Thanks in November. I had something to be thankful for each and every day of the month. But let's be honest: I started to stretch things toward the end of the month. I mean, I was thankful for Mexican food one day, for Pete's sake.

One thousand things to be thankful for. Can I do it? I want to find out.

According to Voskamp, the only way to fully experience the life God wants you to live is to live a life of gratitude. 

I do a fairly good job of that. I thank my son when he remembers to put the toilet seat down. I thank the cashier when she hands me a receipt for gas, even though I grumble the whole time I'm walking to the building about having to venture across the parking lot when this was something I clearly wanted to avoid because I paid at the pump with my credit card, and . . . hmmm, this might be harder than I thought.

The first thing I do every morning is to start flexing body parts to see which ones hurt. And with this fibromyalgia or as-yet-undetermined health issue I have, something always hurts. Then I go through a mental to-do list: Go to the grocery store (blech), fold the laundry (yuck), wait in car line (booooorrring). No wonder I zombie-walk my way through the day. 

In order to be thankful for something, you have to experience it fully. Give it a name. Basically, it's all about slowing down to live the glorious life God has given you instead to checking items off a list in order to get to the next item.

So, when Jenni Prokopy at brought up the idea of a blog carnival based on New Year's resolutions for 2012, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to do this thing for real. I mean, if I'm committing to it online, it's the real deal, right? I have to do it.

It's time to stop focusing on the negatives that drag my spirit down. I'm ready to live my life to the fullest. 

I'll keep you posted on my progress.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Patting Myself on the Back

"It's impossible to find an appropriate quote for this blog about muffins . . .  or bananas."

I made banana muffins. Like, from scratch (that's not even on the bucket list). And they are delicious! And I don't even like bananas. I just buy them because I think every house should have bananas.

I had 4 bananas that were getting too brown. So instead of just throwing them out, I got domestic and found a fabulous recipe in one of my cookbooks. I had all of the ingredients on hand. Well, except for baking powder, which I thought I had, but as it turned out, it was baking soda, so I used that, but then I worried that I shouldn't have because they clearly aren't the same thing, seeing as one is called baking soda and the other baking powder. But I can't tell you what the difference is because the muffins couldn't have come out any better.

Is there a difference? Or are they just named different things to confuse simple people like me?

Please say a prayer for my children who thoroughly enjoyed the muffins but were completely shocked that muffins could come from anything other than a mix. Amen.

Monday, December 26, 2011

A KB Christmas: By the Numbers

"At Christmas play and make good cheer,
 for Christmas comes but once a year."
--Thomas Tusser

A glimpse into my Christmas holiday. Enjoy.

  • Crazy-excited kids talking super loud and super fast: 2

  • Hours spent wrapping presents: 3.5
  • Age of Grandmama on Christmas (in years): 104
  • Amount of milk left for Santa (in ounces):8
  • Weight I have likely gained (in pounds): 7
  • Years it will take to lose gained weight: 27
  • Height of Christmas tree (in feet): 7
  • Christmas tree lights that didn't light on the first go-round: 150

  • Urgh!
  • Times I said, "Santa's watching . . .": 39 billion
  • Glasses of eggnog: 0 (yuk!)
  • "One last" trips to CVS: 6
  • Time spent assembling and/or putting batteries in gifts (in minutes): 252
  • Times I listened to Mo practice her "Away in a Manger" solo: 21
  • Goats: 2 (Their names are Fred and Ricky. The donkeys are Lucy and Ethel.)
  • High temperature on Christmas Day (in degrees Fahrenheit): 62
  • Distance traveled to the in-laws' house (in miles): 164
  • Jars of artichoke pickles: 12
It's all my father-in-law wanted for Christmas!
  • Family Christmas celebrations: 4
  • Gumdrops placed on gingerbread house: 12
  • Shards of dropped Chia Pet: 43
  • Saviors born to save the world: 1

God grant you the light in Christmas, which is faith; the warmth of Christmas, which is love; the radiance of Christmas, which is purity; the righteousness of Christmas, which is justice; the belief in Christmas, which is truth; the all of Christmas, which is Christ.
--Wilda English

What can you add to my Christmas by the Numbers? I'll be anxious to see your numbers.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Happy 104th Birthday, Grandmama!

"Through my grandmother's eyes I can see more clearly the way things used to be, the way things ought to be, and most important of all, the way things really are."
--Ed Cunningham

I've been meaning to do a Christmas post for the past two days. And while the holiday is certainly a special one, this one has been bittersweet. It is the first Grandmama's birthday/Christmas Day since she went to the nursing home. Not having her with us all day has been really hard.

Trying to come to terms with our changing situation has kind of overshadowed my Christmas spirit. 

Don't get me wrong: I've had wonderful Christmas celebrations with Stephen's family and my family (both sides). I've celebrated in church with a peaceful and poignant Christmas Eve service last night and a joyful worship service today.

But my true joy today came from the short bit of time I was able to spend with Grandmama. We took her presents, poinsettias and a cake to celebrate her 104-year milestone, and she was gracious and precious.

Happy 104th, Grandmama!!
Even as her abilities decrease with age, she is still leading her family by example. Always smiling, quick-witted, selfless, with a sweet tooth to rival any other. She is beautiful. She is thoughtful. She is graceful. And she is my grandmother.
Four generations - Grandmama is a true family matriarch.
Happy birthday, Grandmama! I love you!!

P.S. Merry Christmas. I'll reflect on it tomorrow!!

"So if you have a grandma,
Thank the good Lord up above,
And give grandma hugs and kisses,
For grandmothers are to love."
--Lois Wyse

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

And the Winner Is . . .

"I ain't nothing but a winner."
--Paul Bryant

Congratulations to Angela S. She wins the candy bouquet from Candy Bouquet of Lexington.

I put all entries in a hat (okay, technically it was a teacup) (and gregwatch, nice try, but you only got one entry), closed my eyes and pulled out a name.

Many thanks to Cindy at Candy Bouquet of Lexington for sponsoring the giveaway. 

All you losers --um, I mean all of you who were not fortunate enough to win -- can still order a bouquet for Christmas or any other occasion by visiting or calling Cindy at 803-336-2815.

Angela S., contact me via email to claim your prize! Congrats!!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Sweet Christmas Giveaway

"I want candy."
--The Strangeloves

 I am excited to offer my first giveaway here on A Drop in the Bucket.

My dear friend, neighbor and owner of Candy Bouquet of Lexington (SC) has offered a spectacular Christmas candy bouquet for one lucky reader, just in time for Christmas. Cindy is kind of famous for her fun-loving spirit and awesome hostessing talents here in the 'hood, and I can't really think of a better venture for her than one where she is constantly bringing smiles to others' faces.

Cindy and me
Her company offers one-of-a-kind gifts that provide a fun alternative to flowers. Cindy's bouquets won't fade, wilt or die. Each bouquet comes in a designer container and includes specialty candies and gourmet chocolates. And trust me: Those chocolates are amazing. I may have sampled one or two (dozen). Or, for you candy traditionalists, she also makes arrangements with candies such as Snickers, M&M's and Milky Ways.

To order one from Cindy, go to  and search for Lexington, SC under the Where to Order tab. Or you can just call her at 803-336-2815. She'll work with you to create the perfect arrangement to celebrate Christmas, a birthday, a new baby or any other occasion (or no occasion at all).

Plus, she's excited to be opening a new store on January 16, 2012 at The Shoppes of The Flight Deck, where she will also offer a fully stocked candy store (chocolate-covered bacon, anyone?).

I asked Cindy what the strangest bouquet she'd ever done was. Her answer? 
 "That's a tough one! I've done all the 'normal' ocasions, but also a wedding, a funeral, and a divorce celebration! I think the strangest was when an older gentleman brought in a brass vase. He and a buddy from the Vietnam War had been passing it back and forth for years. They each thought the other deserved to die with it, so they kept re-gifting it in new and unusual ways. We made a bouquet out of nostalgic old time candy, and he gave it back to his buddy!"

Be sure to "Like" Candy Bouquet of Lexington on Facebook for more information and special offers.

To win a fabulous Christmas arrangement from Candy Bouquet, just leave a comment below telling me your favorite candy. I'll pick a name at random from the entries on Wednesday morning and get the bouquet to the winner as soon as possible so you can give it as a gift, use it as a centerpiece on your holiday table or sneak it into your closet to enjoy all alone.

If you have trouble commenting, you can either sign in as Anonymous (and leave your name with your comment) or email me at

Thanks again, Cindy. And best of luck to all you readers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Item #7 . . . Check!

"What is there more kindly than the feeling between host and guest?"


I got the chance to be a guest blogger over at Mabel's House today. I discussed my efforts in achieving a DIY Christmas, and therefore, I am happily checking that one off the bucket list. Visit Mabel's House and check out owner Liz's new haircut. It's super cute!!

Thanks, Liz, for letting me visit your blog. I had a great time.

On another note, check back often in the next couple of days. I've got a fantastic giveaway in the making. If you haven't already, follow A Drop in the Bucket (in the sidebar to the right) so you don't miss this awesome opportunity.

The Pause That Refreshes

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
--Philippians 4:7
It's nice to take a break from the hustle and bustle of Christmas
to remember the reason for this most special of seasons

Merry Christmas!!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

You Call Yourself a Doctor?

"Where is Thumbkin? Where is Thumbkin?"
--children's fingerplay

So, I finally went to the rheumatologist to see if he could help me with my chronic joint and muscle pain. I wrote all of my complaints on a piece of paper so I wouldn't forget to tell him anything. He reviewed the page and asked me to tell him more about my "tingly fingers." The following conversation ensued:

Me: Well, when I wake up, some of my fingers feel asleep. Not all of them. Just some.
"Dr.": Which ones?
Me: Pinky, Old Man and Pointer
(silence, "Dr." looks at me with raised eyebrows)
"Dr.": Old Man? 
Me: Yes, is that bad? What does that mean?
"Dr.": Who is Old Man?
Me: You know, Old Man. This finger . . . you know, he can't stand up straight because he's old.

Old Man
"Dr.": I've never heard it called that. Who are the others?
Me: (starting to question this guy's authority as a physician) Umm, Pinky, Old Man, Tall Man, Pointer and Thumbkin.

Seriously, do they not even teach anatomy in med school anymore?!

Monday, December 12, 2011

What To Do, What To Do . . .

"There cannot be a crisis next week. My schedule is already full."

--Henry A. Kissinger

Now that "The Lovely Ducklings" performance is over (It was AMAZING, by the way) and Jack is taking the month of December off of swim team, I thought I would have time on my hands. 

Silly me! 

So this week, I am tackling all the things I had been neglecting while toting children places.

Let's see what those things are, shall we?

1. Laundry. I think it might be time, since this morning, I had only a pair of size 2 (when did I wear those?!) yoga pants, one of Stephen's old fraternity sweatshirts circa 1987 and a pair of mismatched socks.
To my credit, they are both polka-dotted.

2. Proofread four lessons for two online courses. I have grossly neglected my actual paying gig lately. I should probably get on that.

3. Finish Christmas gifts. Still need one for my mom and a couple for Jack and Mo.

4. Address Christmas cards. Hahaha!! Just kidding. That's not happening.

5. Clean everything. As in, everything.

6. Probably take Mo to the doctor at some point. She's sniffling, which means she'll have pneumonia in exactly 2.3 seconds.

7. Go to Stephen's work party.

8. Help make gingerbread houses in Mo's class. Looking forward to testing my reflexes to see how much candy I can grab before it hits the floor. You catch it, you keep it.

9. Appointment with the rheumatologist. I've finally had enough of the constant pain, and I'm praying a rheumatologist can help.

10. Bake something. I've had the urge to get in the kitchen to bake since the beginning of the month, but I haven't had a chance yet. Any great recipes y'all want to share? I'm all ears.

11. Do laundry again, because apparently each person in my family wears an average of 3 outfits daily. And then there's Mo who can somehow have 8 pairs of pajamas in her clothes hamper in 3 days.

12. Figure out why I have commenting problems on this blog. I'm making changes, so if you've tried to comment in the past and couldn't, try again. If you still have trouble, email me at

Wish me luck!!

Update: 13. Bathe the cat. The end!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If It Looks Like a Duck

"My mother told me on several different occasions that she was livin' her dream vicariously through me. She once said that I was getting' to do all the things that she would have wanted to have done."
--Buck Owens

By Jamila Phillips
"Spring has come to the pond. Four mother ducks are awaiting the arrival of their little lovely ducklings. Like all mothers, they dream of their little ones doing exceptional things and becoming extraordinary ducks. When the time finally comes and their eggs hatch, the mothers are surprised at what they find. Each duckling challenges their mother to accept the unexpected and learn how to cope with their duckling’s differences. When tragedy suddenly strikes the pond, each duckling is able to overcome their 'disabilities' and use their strengths to help others in need. The four ducklings discover how lovely it is to be different."

Back in November, I mentioned being thankful for Mo's dance studio, Turning Pointe Centre for the Arts. These folks have been working tirelessly for months putting together a heartwarming story through music and dance. And I'm absolutely thrilled that my daughter has had the opportunity to be involved. The big performance is Saturday, and I can hardly wait. The performance is to benefit The Therapy Place, a nonprofit pediatric therapy center that helps children with special needs.

The Lovely Ducklings
Jamila Phillips wrote "The Lovely Ducklings" to share her story of raising a child with special needs and to give back to the folks who have worked in her son's life. And Susanne Sanders of Turning Pointe makes it come to life through her choreography.

Now, as the mother of one of the performers, I have been to dozens of rehearsals and spent countless hours watching the show come together. And I am awed by the commitment these children, teens and young adults have made to this cause.

They give up their Friday nights and full Saturdays to perfect their parts. They do it without tiring (or at least without complaining). And I'm thrilled that my 6-year-old has these young men and women as examples.

Even at 6, she has been moved by this project. On more than one occasion, her prayers have included a thanks "for the opportunity to help children who need it."

My girl loves to perform, and I am so happy that she gets to do it on "the big stage" at the Township Auditorium this weekend. She will adore it, I'm sure.

I have to admit a part of me is a little jealous. You know, #4 on my bucket list is to perform in community theater. And while I can't scratch that one off the list just yet, I've decided it's almost even better to watch my daughter get to do it. Of course, I swell with pride when she hiccups, but this is something special. To watch her doing what she loves for an exceptionally awesome cause is almost too much to take.

While Mo doesn't have a speaking part, she transforms herself into the best "sunning duck" you've ever seen and she dances her heart out. 

And as her mother, I get to come along for the ride. A special shout-out to my Jack who has shown immense patience watching countless hours of rehearsal.

If you can, please check out their performance this Saturday, December 10 at The Township Auditorium in Columbia, SC. I promise, you'll be moved.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

You Say What Now?!

"And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; 
be it unto me according to thy word."
--Luke 1:38

I'm a laugher. I laugh at everything. Often way too loud. And often at inappropriate times. Imagine how scary I was anchoring a live newscast. I learned to literally bite my cheek to keep from laughing during some stories that struck me (and usually no one else) as hysterical.

However, I don't usually laugh in church. During today's sermon, though, I struggled to keep the giggles in.

Don't you love how alive the Bible is? I can read a passage a thousand times, and God shows me something different each time based on my circumstances.

Today's sermon was on the angel appearing to Mary to tell her she would be the mother of our Savior.

Here's the passage in Luke, just so we're all on the same page:

   "28And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
   29And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be.
   30And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.
   31And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS.
   32He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David:
   33And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.
   34Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?
   35And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.
   36And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren.
   37For with God nothing shall be impossible.
   38And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her."

Now read it again, and imagine yourself as Mary. Take your time. I'll wait.

Finished? Are you laughing? No? Maybe it's just me.

Here's what I saw in my head as we studied the passage above:

I'm 14 years old, teased bangs, sipping a Dr. Pepper. A majestic angel interrupts me as I listen to my DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince cassette, trying to memorize all the words to "Summertime." Out of respect, I turn off my cassette.

The angel tells me I'm going to be a mommy. And not just any mommy. A mommy to the Son of God. So I roll my eyes and say something like, "Yeah, right. I'm not even allowed to date."

And the angel says something like, "The Holy Ghost is going to come upon you and put this child in your womb.

So -- picture it with me -- I say, "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according thy word."


I hardly think so. I'd be more like, "You say what now?! You clearly took a wrong turn at the pearly gates. A) I'm only 14, 2) I'm not married, C) My daddy is going to kill me, and D) How am I supposed to raise the Lord Jesus Christ when I'm invited to a barbecue that's startin' at 4." (I hope you got that last reference to the Fresh Prince. I'm kinda proud of it.)

Now, I'm not sure if Scripture writers have prettied up their transcript from the event with words like "Let it be unto me." Or if Mary was truly such a priceless, faithful treasure that she accepted her role without questions. Or if God Himself was working in her heart and head as the angel spoke to her. Or if she had her Walkman in while the angel was talking, didn't hear a word and just agreed to whatever the angel said to get him off her back (which is what I would have been doing at age 14).

The contrast between myself and Mary is striking and humorous, but if forces me to look at my faith. Do I willingly accept the role God has created me for, or do I try to drown out His instructions with things that may be less difficult or more pleasant?

I've never been compared to Mary . . . and probably never will be. But that doesn't mean I can't work and pray to understand my assigned role and willingly accept the challenges and blessings that come with it.

I'm sure there will be lots to laugh about along the way.