Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Here at the Every Woman Blog, we are thankful for you, our readers. Thank you for visiting the Every Woman Blog day after day, following our bloggers’ funny stories, momentous occasions, and reflections on life.

We hope you take time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for. We wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love.

The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway –
Thanksgiving comes again!

–Old Rhyme.

God’s Other Plans

By: Mary Pat Baldauf 

I skipped church Sunday morning to take care of a few time-sensitive tasks. I hate to play hookey from church because God never played hookey on me during my recovery (except maybe on that day I contracted c. Diff.) but I was starting to feel some severe pressure to get a few things done.

My rehab hospital in Atlanta is doing a “Where Are They Now” feature on me for their next magazine, and I have to get them a photo. I started out looking through my Facebook photos and got lost in the journey of the last eight months.

My new motto is to enjoy the present and everything in it. Thankfully, my present is being documented by a personal photographer, my sweet sister Beth, who is still amazed at every thing I do. (Because, she explains, the initial prognosis was that I would never do some of this stuff again.)

I remember when I was in my first days at Shepherd Center, someone commented that God must have big plans for me for bringing me through the aneurysm rupture. I still have a lot of questions for and about God, but today, I think he is okay with me skipping church. After all, if I hadn’t stayed home, I would’ve missed the goodness and warmth of those couple of hours.


For today’s post, I thought I’d share a handful of the greatness that has happened since I’ve been back in Columbia. There were many other great moments, but these were the clearest shots (aka best for the magazine.) I made it into a collage for the blog, but sent the magazine these photos individually. (They only need one, so I’m going to make them do the choosing.)

As we move into Thanksgiving week, I thank everyone who made the past eight months possible. Whether you prayed for me, sent a card, welcomed me back with a great hug or helped me celebrate, you are all such an important part of my life. Together we are #MPBStrong.

Candlelight, a Foot Massage or a Complete Sentence

By: Lara Winburn


Sometimes when I write these blog posts I feel like I might have something to share, an observation or a tiny nugget of wisdom. Sometimes when I write them I might have an amusing anecdote or I am seeking a little advice or help with a problem. And sometimes I write something and feel like it can only end with, “Can I get an AMEN?” You know, preaching to the choir, commiserating with my people? This is that kind of blog post.

As most of you know, I have small children. I think they are relatively well-behaved for 2- and 4-year-olds. They are learning manners, saying please, thank you and even yes ma’am. But for the love, my husband and I have not finished a sentence – much less a conversation – in the presence of these two little chatter boxes since 2011.

Verbal skills are a wonderful thing. I love the conversations I can already have with these darling babies. But seriously, the stop and start of any form of communication between me and my main squeeze is truly painful! Finish a sentence? No way, no how. We are working on not interrupting. It is not going unaddressed, but I swear even if they are not intentionally interrupting, the constant peppering of “sit on our bottom, that chair will tip over” to potty breaks to legitimate requests for juice, a napkin, the Heimlich maneuver. We may never finish a sentence again, or at least not for the foreseeable future.

I see articles about “making time for each other as a married couple”, “really connecting with your spouse”, “candlelight and foot massages”. All I want is to string seven words together in a coherent manner. My husband and I do to try to spring for the occasional date night, but what about a regular Tuesday? Luckily, we have been together so long we can normally finish each other’s sentences. Mostly we finish each other’s sentences now because we have moved on to bath time or untied shoes before the sentence was actually complete. Or sometimes I think we just finish each other’s sentences in the way we deem most appropriate.

Husband:” I would really love”….(interruption)

My finishing it in my head: …”to buy you a new pair of shoes.”


Me: “You know what you should really do”….(interruption)

His finishing in his head: …”Go fishing more.”

I know this is just our phase of life. I love being a parent and try to remember my many blessings. But I have a lot to say to that nice man I live with and sometimes I would like to get an entire thought out.

Can I get an AMEN?

Je Suis Americaine!

By: Shannon Boatwright

ParisInstead of submitting what I had planned for my next blog entry, I have been inspired to share something else, something that I find very poignant and touching. With the recent attacks in France, there is an uneasiness and sadness in the air that I honestly, personally do not know how to respond to. A fellow teacher and dear friend of mine, Mrs. Leslie Layton, shared the following blog entry with me, with a note saying, “This is a blog I read by an American woman who lives in France. Read it all, it’s very touching. I’m very sad about Paris….my favorite city in the world.”

The following blog entry originally appeared on the “French Word-A-Day” Blog. It begins with a short letter to readers and concludes with an uplifting story.

Dear Friends,

Following the attack in Paris last night, so many people are speechless. I don’t know what to say, either, and so I will share a story and hope it comforts you as it did me.

Each of us will react in his or her own way in the face of terror. Don’t let anybody tell you how you *should* feel. And be careful not to model your feelings after another’s. Some of us are outraged. Others stunned. Still others are desensitized given so many years of sensational news headlines.  As a dear friend’s mom used to say, “Feelings aren’t right or wrong. They’re there.”

There there. Take heart. Continue to share hope and comfort at every chance. With all its broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.



“The Morning After”

I was standing in Mr. Bricolage, looking at a display of window blinds, when an old man walked past me only to stop in his tracks. Turning, the stranger smiled and addressed me, “Bonjour, Dame Liberté!”

It took me a second to understand–to realize that–indeed!-what with the new table lamp I was holding out in my right hand, and the way I stood frozen before all the window treatments,  I did look like the Statue of Liberty!

The Frenchman skipped off with a smile, his door trim and his glue, and I watched him gleefully – my heart suddenly swelling with a love for all humanity.

And for the first time since 9/11, I had the urge to reveal my roots. Despite the senseless attack on France, and a mind still trying to process it all,  fear had instantly left me on hearing a Frenchman pronounce, with unbridled joy, the words “Dame Liberté.”

“Oui,  Monsieur!”  I chirped,  “…et, en plus, JE SUIS AMERICAINE!”

Leslie is a French teacher and has traveled to France many times. Since I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Leslie, her adoration for Paris is very obvious because she always lights up when she speaks of that beautiful city. I have always wanted to go to Paris and hope that someday I will be able to visit France. I have a strong feeling that I too will light up with adoration when I think of that magical city. Until my day comes to experience that beauty, I will think of the people there affected by these recent tragedies and pray that peace and love prevail.

Le monde est pourtant beau ;
It is still a beautiful world!

Wardrobe Woes

By: Chaunte McClure

It never fails. When the seasons change, I’m always trying to figure out what I wore the year before and I solemnly declare that I need more clothes. I became frustrated one morning last week because one, I wasn’t doing a good job coordinating my outfits for the weather and two, I was starting to feel like I was wearing the same clothes over and over.

wardrobe woes

Fall can obviously be a little unpredictable. One day it’s in the high 70s and the next day it’s 30 degrees cooler. Two days last week I dressed the opposite for the weather – a sweater on the warmer day and short sleeves on the cooler day. (No, I did not see the forecast!) Remember, I love fall but it’s a little difficult to organize my closet because I’m wearing fall and summer clothes all in the same week. It seems as though I didn’t make a mental note earlier this year that I’d need more sweaters and long-sleeved shirts.

To help end my wardrobe woes, I decided to make a trip to the mall to do what I no longer enjoy doing – shop. It is so tiring and a bit stressful, but I had a need, so I went with an hour to spare before closing. I only had plans to go in the one store where I can buy clothes that fit me well.

I found about six items, and then I had to decide if I’d try them on. Did I mention I don’t like trying on clothes? Well, I don’t. It’s such a hassle, but how else would I know if they’ll fit if I don’t undress, try on, stand in front of the mirror, turn around for a rear view, pull the clothes off and do it all again if there are more pieces? I contemplated before entering the fitting room. Either try them on while I was there or risk having to make a second trip to the mall to return what didn’t work. To the fitting room I went and the associate even wrote my name on the white board next to my room. That was a nice personal touch.

After about 40 minutes of shopping, I came home with two tops, one sweater and one blouse, and a pair of slacks. Well, that really doesn’t take care of my needs, but it’s a start. One of these days I’ll be able to afford a personal shopper and I won’t have to make circles around a store looking at clothes on the same racks or tables multiple times.

Just in case “Santa” reads the Every Woman Blog, let me mention that sweaters, slacks and long-sleeved shirts are on my Christmas list. I’ve been nice.

Post Aneurysm Victories: Things Are Getting Better Every Day

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

At Shepherd Center in Atlanta, they told me that my brain could be healing for up to two years. My recovery was so quick once we really got started with therapy, especially outpatient, that two years seemed like a long time frame. Fortunately, I licked all of the biggies before leaving Atlanta, like walking and driving, but every day it seems like things are getting better and more fine-tuned.

  • HalloweenI went to the Night Ranger/Foreigner/Def Leppard concert. We had great seats on the floor, and I stood up nearly the whole time. I sang a lot, too. And managed the arena stairs without stumbling or falling.
  • The sensation of dullness that was once in my fingertips is getting better. I still drop things, but not nearly as much as I used to.
  • I dressed up and went out for Halloween, which I hadn’t done in years. I did get a little claustrophobic when we were onstage for the costume contest, but that didn’t last long.
  • I did a road trip to the beach by myself, on a rainy day even. Of course, my sister and mother were anxious until I got there, but I made it fine.
  • I recently spoke in front of about 200 people at the APWA-SC Conference, and later at the same event, to about 75. I feel a little less certain thinking on my feet these days, so I made extensive notes and used them, whereas I used to talk off of the cuff more. But at least I’m learning how to adapt.
  • At the conference, I carried a cup of coffee and my breakfast waitress-style to the table and didn’t spill anything. (I was happy to finally get to the meeting room to set them down, but no accidents!)
  • When I got to the beach, I was able to walk along the shore without getting vertigo. When I went in August, standing at the shore caused terrible vertigo. I worried that the aneurysm had taken away my ability to beachcomb, which is one of my favorite things to do. But two days in a row I walked along the shore with no vertigo, and I was ecstatic.
  • I walked to Trader Joe’s one Saturday morning. Pre-aneurysm, I did it every weekend. I took the direct route vs. the neighborhood loop, and I had to rest halfway, but again, I did it!
  • My overall balance is a lot better.
  • I had my first post-aneurysm first date. I was worried about not being able to drink wine on a first date, you know, to settle the nerves, but I did fine.
  • I went through a period of not sleeping well, but that seems to have passed. I sleep really well these days, and I don’t even need a sleeping pill to help me get there. I hated the pills because I always either woke up groggy or overslept, so no pills is a good thing.
  • I don’t really know how to explain this, but I can say “Kitty, Kitty, Kitty” now. I couldn’t when I first returned home and I’m not sure why. I’m sure it was related to the nerve damage in my right vocal fold. I can’t wait to find out from the ENT next time I go.
  • I lost a bit of hair while in Atlanta, but it’s now growing back in.
  • I’m walking the dog again, and I’m remembering to administer her daily meds.
  • After six weeks off, for work schedule issues and a flooded gym, I returned to strength training. And I went after working all day. Getting back to it feels so wonderful.
  • I’m trying to stop and think before I react to something. In the past, I’ve had a tendency to overthink things. I’m trying to work on that. And I have been able to make a little progress.
  • I lost my credit union debit card. I knew it was at the house – probably in my bedroom – and it was driving me crazy. I decided to quit worrying and get a new one. It saved me immeasurable stress and was relatively easy to do. Have I quit misplacing things? No, but I’m learning to adapt. Same with my last LTD check, which I misplaced. I called for a replacement, and it actually worked out well since the amount was off. I had already spent way too much energy trying to find it, and it was such a relief to have that off of my back.
  • Today, I needed some information from a colleague, and instead of emailing, I got up and walked to his office. Extra steps + voice practice = winning.

I’m trying to stay positive and focus on what I can do vs. what I think I cannot do. I’m keeping a running list of achievements. Even the small ones count because practically everything is a first after an aneurysm rupture.

Is everything perfect? No. There are still some issues. I am more subdued now than I was before, almost a little introverted. I am easily overwhelmed by sounds and activity, a sensory overload if you will. I often misplace things, important things like checks, debit cards, prescriptions and such. And a crying child or barking dog can drive me crazy. (I would say that is nothing particularly new, though!) But every day presents new challenges and tests, and every day, I do something I wasn’t able to do before.

The Tree of Thanksgiving


By: Leah Prescott

Out of the entire year, the next few weeks may be my very favorite. The sugar high of Halloween is fading (the trick is: throw away just a few pieces of candy each day, so as not to arouse suspicion) and the full-on panic of the holidays has yet to fully descend. There is a peace and thoughtfulness in this season that I want to stretch out into the rest of my year. You see, I used to love November because it led up to December (and thus Christmas) but now I’m coming to appreciate it more for its own merit. As I grow a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I am finding connection to a depth of thankfulness I didn’t understand before. I’m realizing that gratitude isn’t about our circumstances or even despite of our circumstances. In fact, it has nothing to do with our circumstances at all!

As a Christian, I can give thanks for one reason alone: my God is King! (Psalm 95:2-3) That’s something that doesn’t change with my immediate surroundings or even with the turmoil of the world I live in. God is good, and worthy of thanksgiving! Just that knowledge alone lifts my heart and helps put everything else into perspective.

As I’m teaching multiplication and reading about the Renaissance with my little ones, I’m conscious that there are even more important lessons to be learned. I desperately want to give them the gift of gratitude and I welcome your suggestions. I want to share one way of doing so by creating a Thanksgiving Tree.

Thanksgiving Tree

This has been one of our favorite traditions that we have come to look forward to. We choose a few branches and display them in a vase. Throughout the next few weeks, we take turns hanging paper leaves on the tree with things we are thankful for written on each one. This is a simple but special tradition we look forward to, and it makes a beautiful centerpiece. At dinnertime, we read some of them and talk about all we have to be grateful for.

I hope your November is peaceful and full of gratitude!


By: Shannon Boatwright

There is a new phenomenon taking place in which creative people are putting a Shakespearean twist on pop songs. It is awesome!! Even for those non-Shakespeare fans, it’s great fun. For those of us who are total lovers of Shakespeare and his vast works, this pop Shakespeare project is a fabulous treat! It all started with a trend called #15secondshakespeare in which actors videotape themselves reciting 15 seconds of lines from a popular song and performing it Shakespearean style. If you Google “15 seconds of Shakespeare” you’ll see a collection of different examples from famous actors.

One of the English teachers at my school shared the popular concept with me, with a note that said, “You have to do this with your students!” Well, she was right. What a fun project!

I personally thought 15 seconds was just not enough time to really pop it out Shakespeare style, so I changed the time limit to one minute or less. I decided to put my own twist on the fun and rename it #popshakespeare. I presented the concept to my honors students and gave them the opportunity to submit their videos. Because I only have 9 weeks of regular Drama classes and can only squeeze in a limited amount of lessons with my 7th and 8th graders, I actually had those students do the Pop Shakespeare experiment live in front of the class. Talk about interesting and fun – it was definitely entertaining! It was a great opportunity to sneak in a quick lesson on Shakespeare, and to introduce them to one of the greatest writers of all time and how cool his works can be! For now, I have my honors drama stars submitting their “popped out” Shakespeare pieces via video since I do not get my honors classes until the 2nd semester. I’m still getting video submissions and love seeing my students have so much fun with this project!

I’m sharing two of my fabulous 7th grade honors drama students’ #popshakespeare videos here. Keely and Tripp are both such talented young actors and I absolutely cannot wait to work with them next semester! Check out their videos and a couple of mine here, so you can get a taste of what this awesome l’il performance project is all about. 🙂

Keely’s “Sugar”


Tripp’s “Eye of the Tiger”


Mrs. Shannon’s “Ice Ice Baby”


Mrs. Shannon’s “Wrecking Ball”


For more videos, head over to the complete #popshakespeare YouTube Playlist.

If you’re so inspired and inclined, this #popshakespeare project makes for a really fun family activity! My daughter absolutely loved it. She kept saying, “Mama, you gotta do this song!”, requesting song after song that would be cool to “Shakespeare out.” Each popular song I “Shakespeared” was either her idea or my son’s. My girl did some of her own videos and she and I actually did some together. We even got my son and husband in on the fun! Several of my fellow teachers did their own videos too. A lot of fun is to be had when it comes to getting creative together! Smiles all around as you engage in performing a part of a popular song Shakespearean style! Who would’ve thought?!! 🙂

So if you happen to create your own #popshakespeare masterpiece, please do share it with me! Leave a comment below and let’s share. I’m thinking about creating a YouTube channel dedicated to #popshakespeare so we can all share our Shakespeare pop coolness.

“All the world’s a stage…”

– William Shakespeare, “As You Like It”

The Back Seat

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

Life is a funny thing. It’s full of joy, laughter, tough decisions, mistakes, sadness, tragedy, rewards and fulfillment. You never really know what each day will throw your way. You just have to wake up and see what happens. Sometimes the events of the day, or days, make every woman blogit important for certain things to take a back seat. For me, it’s been cooking. I love to cook. It’s my hobby, my challenge, my catharsis, my fun. But since August 6th, I haven’t done much adventurous cooking. I’ve been pulling out old stand-bys, quick weeknight dinners, and easy meals simply because of all of the oddball circumstances that life has thrown my way.

August 6th was my mom’s birthday. My daughter and I were in Houston, enjoying a visit with my sister and NASA summer camp when we got the phone call. My mom had been hurt and was in the hospital with a brain bleed. A subdural hematoma. She was being admitted to the ICU, being CT-scanned every 6 hours and I wasn’t there. The course of the next month was a trying one. But, as life happens, there was a blessing in disguise. The doctors discovered an aneurysm hiding in my mom’s head. We would have never known it was there. It’s repairable, so that’s next on our family agenda.

As we began October, our whole town was turned upside down. 13 years ago, I sold my best friend and her husband their house on Timberlane Drive. Over the years, we all complained about the cost of the flood insurance they were required to have, but every time the street flooded, it was a reminder that if anything bad ever happened, they would be protected. Well, on October 4th, something bad happened. Something really, really bad. Were they protected? Yes, more so than lots of other people, but not enough. Flood waters completely overtook their tri-level home. Think about how many feet up off the ground a tri-level house is. Take a moment…it’s staggering. It’s a complete loss, no fixing it up, no moving back home. It’s gone.

So, we have all been very pre-occupied with my mom’s health and my friends’ recovery. Cooking has truly taken a back seat and I miss it. But, there is a light at the end of both of these tunnels, so before long, I will be back in the swing. In the midst of all this craziness, a friend from high school brought me a little surprise. She works for Congaree Milling and dropped a care package of grits, cornmeal and polenta for me to try. I already have some ideas of how I want to use them and, of course, write about them. And, Thanksgiving is coming. So yay! Prime time to get back in the front seat!

Elizabeth Akre writes “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef).” You can also follow on Facebook and Twitter.

Fast Forward to Christmas?

By: Chaunte McClure

Now that Halloween has come and gone, let’s fast forward to Christmas, right? At least that seems to be the message from retailers. Actually, I’ve seen signs of Christmas in stores since early October. I was in search of fall décor for my porch, but I was out of luck because the pre-lit twig pumpkin I saw just a month prior was already out of stock and the store was making room for Christmas merchandise. What a bummer. I do have my eyes on an artificial Christmas tree that I spotted in Lowe’s last month.

Holiday seasonThe Christmas season is my favorite time of year. I love seeing twinkling lights and festive holiday décor, hearing sounds of the season and the little ones I love rattle off their Christmas list, and reflecting on why we celebrate such a joyous occasion – the birth of Jesus Christ.

He’s often buried beneath the hustle and bustle of preparing for December 25. We have everything on our minds from holiday travels to shopping to dinner preparation and then, maybe, on Christmas day we give thought to Jesus Christ.

I want to be intentional to focus on the biblical Christmas story throughout the season and have an even greater appreciation for Christ.

But wait! What about Thanksgiving? It’s only a few weeks away and most of us will spend it with our families enjoying dinner, reminiscing, and creating memories. While you’re passing the cranberry sauce or giblet gravy, take time to tell someone that you’re thankful for them and why.

Happy Thanksmas?!