From our Every Woman Blog and Lexington Medical Center family to yours, Merry Christmas! This holiday season, we are grateful for our Every Woman Bloggers, who generously share their lives with us, and for you, our loyal readers. We hope your Christmas is filled with love and happiness!
By: Shannon Boatwright
So for my blog entry, I’m sharing another blogger’s entry. Why? Simply put, because it’s wonderful. I came across this entry on Facebook. A dear friend of mine shared it and I took the time to read it. And I’m so glad that I did! This blogger, Rachel Macy Stafford, writes about how instead of looking back on a tough year and declaring that it was the worst year ever, you can look at it from a different perspective and declare that it was one of your greatest years ever.
Your Year of Greatest Strength
Your Year of Greatest Faith
Your Year of Greatest Hope
Your Year of Greatest Patience
Your Year of Greatest Risk
Your Year of Greatest Determination
Your Year of Greatest Courage
It was your year of greatest survival!
For me, the past few years have all been about survival. As I type right now, I’m battling Strep Throat for the third year in a row. I think it’s safe to say that teaching in the public school system has taken its toll on me! I’m in my third year of the PACE program, teaching Drama in a public school and I honestly feel like I’ve aged ten years. And I promise, I’m not being dramatic! In 2015 alone, my life “happenings” have been immense, intense and incredible. Wonderful things, tough things, heartbreaking things, you name it. Then add the stressful teaching job to the mix, the fact that it’s my last year of PACE, that I’ve got to pass the PLT exam and take two graduate classes in the next few months, all while buying a new home, moving and surviving the holidays. (Insert emoticon with the eyes crossed)
BUT, instead of focusing on the sheer weight of it all, I am choosing to recognize all the blessings in my crazy year. Like Rachel says, I’m still holding on. So far, I’m still living to tell about it! So far! 😉 I have so many things to be thankful for, I absolutely cannot let the stress of it all take me down. I refuse. I will not let the stress squash my light! I recognize my ability to bring light to others. And when I’m more open to share my own light, I’m more open to let the light of others in. The older I get, the more I discover the strength within me, and I choose to celebrate that strength. I will continue to survive and recognize years past, knowing that I survived them! I will let light overcome darkness and push forward with a grateful heart.
Please do read Rachel’s blog entry, “If 2015 Tried You or Tested You, Do This.”
I promise you it’s worth the read!
By: Brady Evans Venables
Our whole lives have gone digital. Televisions are so crisp that they are almost 3D. Lights are LED and are no longer incandescent. Our smartphones organize everything for us and more. We primarily communicate via Facebook, text, and email. Maybe by telephone if we have to 🙂
Yet, the holidays are the time of year when we all throw back to traditions of yesteryear – mailing greeting cards. Cards get pinned to the refrigerator or placed on the mantle. If you’ve had enough time, you may have searched Pinterest to create a unique holiday card holder.
As for us? We don’t do Christmas cards. When we had our son, people started dropping comments about looking forward to cards. People would post comments on particularly cute pictures on Facebook saying, “This one is Christmas card material!” I love receiving cards; don’t get me wrong. But I just can’t think about getting cards printed in October or November to mail in December. Choosing the right photo, the right layout, the right stamp. Addressing the envelops! The cost!
So this year, I stayed true to the digital world we live in and used Animoto.com. You basically type in the words you want, upload a few pictures, and you get a movie-quality video that you can email to your loved ones or post on social media. We’re just a few days out from Christmas and the rest of the holidays, but if you are feeling the urge to get a last-minute holiday greeting out, give Animoto a try! Here’s ours.
By: Chaunte McClure
‘Twas the week before Christmas and all through the house, not a sign of the holiday season and there better not be a mouse.
With two Christmas parties down and two to go, there’s no tree, no mistletoe, no candles, no wreath – nothing. And Christmas will be here next week!
I’ll get to it by the middle of this week although it’ll mean that my decorations will only be up for about two weeks. But it’s Christmas time and I have to do something, even if I only put a wreath on the front door. I did buy a poinsettia Thanksgiving weekend for the front porch. I always have good intentions, and sometimes good ideas, but procrastination with my school work this semester has left me at 10 days before Christmas unprepared for the holiday.
My tree has made it out of the attic but not out of the box. I decided to put candles in the
windows tonight but they weren’t where I thought they would be, so I gave up on that idea.
Oh dear! I should have done all this the day after Thanksgiving. No worries, it’ll get done before Christmas and maybe I’ll leave all my decorations up past New Year’s Day. And no, I don’t believe it’s bad luck to do so – just tradition in many households.
If you mastered the Christmas tree dress, it’s worth displaying beyond the New Year. They’re so chic and trendy. A big thumbs up to whomever came up with that idea. When I first saw pictures of them on social media last year, I thought it would be neat to try my hands at creating one. One of my Facebook friends mastered the dress tree. She decked it with poinsettias, a few ornaments and an accent bow. What a beauty! There are several tutorials on Pinterest and YouTube to help you create one of your own.
How early do you put up Christmas decorations? How late do you keep them up?
By: Leah Prescott
If you know me, you know I love LISTS. In fact, I plan to blog soon about my favorite method of life-planning called “notebook journaling” which is essentially creating and collecting lists and lists of lists! Since it is the holiday season, some of the items on this list will be perfect for gift giving; others will be helpful for making the New Year less stressful for your family!
Indoor Snowball Fight – We are lightening our toy purchases this year for Christmas, but my friend introduced us to these and they are absolutely fabulous. Too light to cause any harm, but somehow heavy enough to really fly through the air, these truly are the closest thing you can imagine to a real, friendly snowball fight. Kids of all ages will enjoy!
Marpac Sound Machines – We are a family that values sleep highly. We make it a point to keep regular bedtime routines for our kids, and when traveling we drag all of our sleep routine items along with us. That includes our Marpac Sound Machines. We are all addicted to the soothing white noise and a calm environment for sleep; and now I don’t have to lug a box fan around everywhere!
Chick-fil-A Cow Calendar –This calendar is a fun (and funny) gift that comes with an offer card to scan each month at the restaurant. Offers include free drinks, fries and nuggets, along with lots of mystery offers. We eat at Chick-fil-A at least once a month so this is a no-brainer. 2016 Calendars are sold out online, but should be available at your local restaurant.
Natural Calm – Since my family has started taking this supplement every day, we’ve had a significant improvement in stomach complaints and anxiety. The inexpensive supplement we use is available on Amazon.
HGTV’s Fixer Upper – I know I’m late to the party, but this show recently came to Netflix streaming and my girls and I are really enjoying it. It’s completely family friendly, which isn’t always the case for other shows in the genre, and moves quickly enough to interest all of us. Now I want to purchase a ramshackle old mansion with the understanding that Chip and Joanna will completely renovate it prior to our moving in.
Instant Pot – I have blogged about this before, but it deserves another mention. I still love it and use it constantly. In fact, I used it twice just today; I hardboiled some eggs for deviled eggs and I made a pot of chili. With 7 functions in 1, this machine should eliminate several other appliances; in fact, it’s like you’re giving multiple gifts at once. The newest version is even blue-tooth enabled!
I considered making this list longer, but I was really trying to stick with things we truly love and recommend. (You can always take a look at last year’s list here for more of my all time favorites.) This has been a year of simplifying for our family, so perhaps my shorter list reflects that. I hope you have a very blessed Christmas Season and a Happy New Year!
By: Mary Pat Baldauf
For me, it just isn’t Christmas until I’ve seen Holiday Lights on the River at Saluda Shoals Park at least once. This year, I’ve already been twice, and I may end up there again. It’s
With a million lights sparkling through more than 400 themes, there are a variety of displays, including the Dazzling Dancing Forest, the Twelve Days of Christmas, a Victorian Village, Old Man Winter and much more. My personal favorite is the holiday train, featuring a special car for naughty kids like me.
You can customize your Holiday Lights experience – stroll through the Winter Wonderland Walking Trail, enjoy the lights in the warmth of your car or bundle up and take a Winter Wonder Ride. This year, I did the November 23rd Sleigh Bell Stroll through the Park, which provided an up-close-and-personal look at each display, as well as fabulous photo ops!
Each evening features a variety of family-friendly activities, including a Red-Nose Express Hayride, the Saluda Shoals Choo-Choo Ride, and of course, visits with Santa!
Holiday Lights is open every evening from 6-10 p.m. now through December 31. If you haven’t been, make plans to visit this year. Or, if you’ve been in the past, it’s time to make Holiday Lights an annual tradition. You’ll love it!
By: Shannon Boatwright
We all have mannerisms. Mannerisms are unconscious habits; peculiarities. Some of us have odder mannerisms than others. Most of us have very common mannerisms. Then there are some who have mannerisms that need NOT be done in public! Let’s think on this…I know your mind is racing thinking of the mannerisms you see others around you do and the mannerisms that you and those closest to you do.
Nail biting, hair twirling, gum popping, toe tapping, and knuckle cracking are just some of the common mannerisms a lot of us engage in without realizing. Then there are those who have more unique mannerisms, such as chewing on a sleeve, pulling out hair, odd grunting, eye brow twitching, drink swirling before taking a sip, hand conducting while driving when one hears an awesome song on the radio (a mannerism I inherited from my mother!), rubbing the edge of clothing with the pad of a finger, and folding paper.
And then there’s the unfortunate ear-picking-with-examination-of-ear-wax-on-a-finger or nose-picking-with-booger-examination mannerism – which belongs to the category of mannerisms that SHOULD NOT be done while in public! Oh yes, you know you’ve witnessed it. Those moments when you’re talking with someone, another adult even, and while in mid conversation the person will pick at or adjust a body part right there, in front of you…as you’re making eye contact and talking! I have to admit, I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been having a conversation with someone and witness them do something of this nature, knowing I’m seeing their actions front and center, overflowing with awkwardness. And of course since I’m a nice person – probably way too nice – I simply act like I didn’t see their inappropriate or gross mannerism.
Humans. We’re definitely an interesting species!
They say mannerisms say a lot about you. I try to explain this to my students as I’m teaching them how to use mannerisms to portray characters. As a drama teacher, I tend to notice all these unique characteristics about people. It can be a bit of a curse at times, because I’m hyper aware of people’s body language and peculiar habits. It always makes for an interesting conversation with my students as they share the mannerisms they do, mannerisms they pick up from family and close friends, and mannerisms they see strangers do. Some are quite entertaining, some can totally get on your nerves and then there are some that completely gross you out. And of course some mannerisms are just border-line OCD.
Please, for the sake of others, take note of your own mannerisms, just in case you’ve got nerve-racking, aggravating habits! And by all means, please be aware enough NOT to engage in the gross mannerisms in front of others! Do a little people watching and see what mannerisms you notice. It makes for an interesting and eye-opening experiment!
By: Chaunte McClure
I know the Christmas season is upon us and I should be spreading, or at least blogging about, holiday cheer, but bah humbug! Recent observations on Facebook have urged me to sit a spell on my social media soapbox. (It’s more comfortable than standing.)
Please indulge me for a moment while I attempt to address distasteful social media “reporting.”
I’m not sure whether to point the finger at our culture or those who simply love online sharing, even when it’s not their business to share.
With the popularity of social media and the Internet, information can reach millions of people in seconds. What great outlets to share news fast! Journalists and other communication professionals utilize these resources to inform their respective audiences about breaking news, inclement weather, school closings, events, and deals. But that’s a part of their profession! However, there are too many amateurs who love breaking “news” and want to be the first to report it.
Consider this: Is it your business to tell?
When someone passes, are you the next of kin who has the right to share that information with whomever and however you choose? If someone is involved in a car accident, should you report it on Facebook just because you passed the scene? Were you actually on location or did you hear the news from someone else?
A few thumb strokes on your cell phone or tablet can lead to heartache, shock, and/or confusion if someone learns via social media that a relative is ill, injured, or deceased before their immediate family or proper authority has contacted them.
No one taught us social media etiquette – at least not during my school days. There is a thing called common courtesy, which seems to have diminished in this digital age. On the other hand, the need for likes, comments, and shares has increased. We’ve essentially downgraded moral values to feed our desire for popularity and a few minutes of fame among a few hundred social media friends.
‘Tis the season to (always) be considerate of others. Fa la la la la, la la la la!
By: Brady Evans
We are in the middle of moving. We were living on a small hobby horse farm and we gave it up in favor of subdivision life – where kids are riding bikes instead of horses, lemonade stands are summer activities rather than mending fences, and spare time is spent chatting with the neighbors rather than mucking the barn. We are giving up a lot that we’ll miss but we are also gaining a lot that we’re looking forward to.
In the move, we were without television for about two weeks. Just tonight it was reconnected. And I’m a little bit sad. I loved the two weeks of silence. I loved that the impulse of turning on the TV after work to check the news was gone. Having no interference in conversations was nice.
TV has an importance place in our life, for sure. I learn so much from television. I use it for entertainment on Sunday nights (The Walking Dead!). It helps me stay connected to local and national events. If you aren’t careful, though, it can become an additional “family member.” Always interjecting – interrupting conversations – participating at the dinner table.
So now that the TV is back, what can we do to make sure it doesn’t regain the place it formerly had in our family?
- Set an egg timer or timer on our phones to limit the amount of TV
- Put the remote in an out-of-the-way location
- Turn it off while doing other activities instead of having it as background noise
- Don’t channel surf – if something we are interested in is on, watch it. If nothing we’re interested is on, then lose it.
Now that we don’t have the farm – the chores, the to-do list, the hobby – we may fall into unhealthy media habits. Even though we’re in a neighborhood now we can still definitely get out and be just as active with a little special attention.
By: Leah Prescott
It’s no secret that we love books in my family. However, if it’s possible, we might love Christmas even more. We love decorating for Christmas, pulling out all the family heirlooms, baking holiday cookies, and singing carols. But when we lug the heavy suitcase full of Christmas books from the attic, all the hustle and bustle seems to fade away. We are all in rapt attention, mesmerized by the same stories told year after year.
Here are some of my family’s favorite Christmas books, in no particular order. Some of them may be familiar, but we have a few unusual choices that you might also enjoy:
- The Golden Christmas Tree by Jan Wahl – A sweet folk tale with beautiful illustrations.
- Walt Disney’s Santa’s Toy Shop by Al Dempster – Vintage Disney charm that reminds me of my grandmother.
- The Candymaker’s Gift by David & Helen Haidle – The legend of the candy cane as it tells the Christ story.
- The Pine Tree Parable by Liz Curtis Higgs – We just have a small board book, but the story of sacrifice is a beautiful one.
- The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams – A longer story for little readers, but this classic can’t be overlooked.
- The Puppy Who Wanted a Boy by Jane Thayer – This is a year-long favorite for my dog-loving kiddos.
- Christmas in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This is part of the My First Little House book series, which is one of my favorite picture book series of all time. Beautiful illustrations play perfect tribute to the beloved original series.
- Fancy Nancy Splendiferous Christmas by Jane O’Connor – Sparkle, glitter, and a meaningful lesson…literary perfection!
- Olive, the Other Reindeer by J. Otto Seibold – Just plain Christmasy cute with flaps, scents and pop-ups!
- Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree by Robert Barry – Charming vintage illustrations with an adorable story about animals sharing Christmas.
- Lassie, a Christmas Story by Earl Hamner – Another echo from my childhood, this book is reminiscent of the 1950s show with a spiritual lesson as the cherry on top.
- God Gave Us Christmas by Lisa Tawn Bergren – Mama polar bear tells baby polar bear all about the first Christmas in a gentle way. I love that this book includes mention of Santa (without breaking the magic), but more importantly points to the manger.
In my mind, you can never have too many Christmas books, so you can bet I’ll pick up more this year, even though our house is bursting at its seems. I’ll be watching Amazon’s list of best-selling Christmas books for children and paying frequent visits to my favorite thrift stores, where I often find them for 10 or 25 cents each!
Merry reading this holiday season!