Monte & Misha

By: Shannon Boatwright

Ah the love of pups. The things we do for the animals we love. It’s an interesting, exhausting, yet beautiful thing. They can make for such an enormous undertaking of responsibility, yet they can bring such joy. Those odd, hairy, stinky animals that pee, poop, poot, slobber, barf, bark and cost lots of money….yet, so many of us adore these creatures and can’t live without them. 😉

Countess Misha & Count Monte

Countess Misha & Count Monte

Our precious Monte, a cocker spaniel like no other, an incredibly special dog that seems to sense when his loved ones are down, stressed and/or need love, a dog with qualities that I’ve never seen in any other dog…is such a unique little beast. He’s named for the Count of Monte Cristo. Which means naturally, he needed a Countess. 😉

New Pals

New Pals

We promised the kids we’d get Monte a friend. The kids were worried about him being home alone, and we agreed, though the thought of taking on another animal was daunting. A dreaded event on many levels, to be honest. But, I didn’t want to be a parent that makes empty promises, so I knew it had to happen and if it was going to happen, it had to be over the summer, because there’s no way this teacher could survive getting and training a new pet during the school year.

So it happened, the hubby and I were running errands in Harbison and we decided to stop by Pawmetto Lifeline and check out their pups and program. You know, just “check it out.”

The 1st time we met our lil Misha

The 1st time we met our lil Misha

Did we adopt a puppy that day? Of course. Yea, go ahead, insert the chuckle. We took the tour and saw this one puppy in the window. The darlin’ little thing was sound asleep and wouldn’t wake up for nothin’. I felt compelled… I needed to see this particular puppy’s eyes. So we had to get someone to come let us actually meet that ‘puppy in the window.’

Happy

Happy

And, yes, that l’il German Shepherd mixed breed dog looked into our eyes and grabbed ahold of our hearts. After a little playdate in one of the Pawmetto Lifeline meet and greet rooms, we were done for.

When you attempt a Selfie with a wild pup!

When you attempt a Selfie with a wild pup!

(I must interject here that the people who work at Pawmetto Lifeline are exceptional. They truly have a passion and love for animals and it shows. We were very impressed with how thorough they are and how well they take care of the animals. Truly impressive program they have there.)

The interesting thing about our experience is that we were specifically looking for a special friend for our Monte and come to find out, the Pawmetto folks were specifically looking for a family who had an older pet, because when this baby girl was rescued on the side of the road, it wasn’t until she was with a foster family’s older pet that she felt safe, came alive and began to thrive. And most ironically, our l’il pup was featured on the news that very morning. They thought for sure we’d seen her on TV and come to adopt her. Yet we hadn’t seen a thing, not even the features of her on Facebook. We simply stopped by chance and were led to this pup! And I’d like to think for a reason. It was fate.

Misha Puppy Love

Misha Puppy Love

Then came the challenge of naming this little girl. The Hubby and I knew we had to have a cool and special name for this incredible pet. A name that could somehow match Monte’s unique name. We could tell this puppy had a spark in her eyes, something really special about her, and spunky for sure. After going through a slew of ideas, my man suggests “Misha”… it hit me… brilliant, that’s it! One of my favorite dancers EVER is Mikhail Baryshnikov. My college dorm room door was covered in pictures of him. His nickname is Misha. He used to have a perfume of the same name that will always be one of my favorites. That was it. It was decided. Our precious rescue would be named Misha…Countess Misha. A beautiful Countess for our Count.

A precious pup present...

A precious pup present…

When I was a little girl, my first puppy ever, was given to me with a bow around her neck on Christmas morning. It was a kid’s dream come true. I’ll never forget it. So it gave me great joy to be able to present my own children with our new pup (that they just knew we’d never get!) in a wrapped box with a bow around her neck. Of course they were overjoyed, shocked and thrilled that we’d followed through with our promise and had finally gotten Monte a friend. (Maybe even as much as I was!) Fortunately, they fell in love with Misha instantly. We all did. And although Monte’s world has been completely rocked, I see the joy in his precious cocker spaniel eyes when he plays with her. She’s a wild, mischievous rascal! Let’s just say, her true colors have certainly come out now that she’s in a comfortable, loving home! We’re just praying that her smart German Shepherd genes shine and she’ll train easily. One forgets how hard it is to have a puppy in their home until they’re in the midst of it!

My sweet little girls

My sweet little girls

One more special addition to my story here before I close…

We knew our Miss Misha was special and certainly a force…I seem to have a knack for choosing pets with lots of personality! But one day, my son and I were sitting on the floor playing with our crazy l’il countess and my husband, says, “Look! A heart!” Sure enough, on her little belly, a perfectly shaped heart. How in the world we’d not noticed it before, I don’t know, because she loves to lay at my side and have me rub her belly. But, it was a most lovely discovery! It’s quite brilliant actually – this puppy, our little Countess, has a heart on her tummy!

Misha's Heart! Do you see it?

Misha’s Heart! Do you see it?

Meant to be indeed. She is in a home full of love and happiness, she has a best friend now, a Count to be clear 😉 and though she is a handful (what Countess isn’t?!) we adore her and she is a fabulous addition to our family. A huge shout out and enormous Thank You to Pawmetto Lifeline. They really do fabulous things there. I am proud to be a supporter of them and so thankful that we found our Countess Misha in their care.

Here’s to Monte and Misha, may they have a long life together, full of joy and fabulous fun in a loving, happy home, surrounded by those that absolutely adore them.

Accusation: Trying to be Cute

By: Chaunte McClure

ChaunteI’m looking forward to the dog days of summer ending. Whew! It’s been HOT!

However, I’m not looking forward to a comment I often hear in the winter: “You’re trying to be cute.” (Insert emoji with rolling eyes.)

I’m not much of a hat-wearer, so during the winter, you’ll most likely not see me with my head covered. But it has nothing to do with being cute. I own four hats – a winter hat, a floppy hat, a sun hat, and one that sort of looks like an Ascot cap. Two of the four I’ve never worn although I’ve owned one of them for at least four years. Don’t judge me; I had a vision for it when I bought it. 🙂 I’ll put on one of the others on my day off when I have to run an errand and curling my hair is not an option.

When winter finally arrives in South Carolina, I wear coats, but I don’t like driving in one, especially if I’m also wearing a sweater. I don’t like shopping in coat. It just gets too, uh, uncomfortable. When I get into my car, I usually take my coat off when the car is warm or before I head to my destination. Well, upon arrival, if I’m only going inside a building – let’s say the church on Sunday, or the office – for a few hours, I won’t wear my coat inside. When someone observes that I don’t have on an outer garment as I make my way towards a door, that’s when I hear it. Following a brief lesson on how I should dress for the weather, some variation of trying to be cute follows.

Not that it should matter to anyone, but when it’s cold, I dress in layers. Camisoles, leggings and long-sleeved Tees are my winter must-haves. I’m usually warmer than I look.

At my previous job I parked in a garage and almost never wore my coat just to get on the elevator to head to my office where I kept my portable heater going, sometimes even in the summer. Low and behold, someone, an older woman, noticed me not wearing a coat as I made my way to my office one morning. Guess what she said? (Insert emoji with rolling eyes, again.) I’m sure you’ve guessed it.

I’m not trying to be cute, I just want to be comfortable. Like you, I have personal preferences for decisions I make and actions I take. Why does it have to be about being cute?

Now, often when I’m wearing heels, yes, I’m being cute. Nowadays that’s usually only on Sundays, but comfort trumps cute within an hour or two and I will lower my height by one to two inches and slide into a pair of flats whether they match or not. Ladies, you know what I’m saying. You know you keep a pair of flats in your trunk or on the backseat floorboard. And oh do I suffer when I leave those ballet flats at home.

What do you do that prompts someone to accuse you of trying to be cute?

In case you missed my previous post, be sure to check out Dress to Impress Whom?

Presenting Our Every Woman Blog Contest Winners!

Every Woman Blog

When we started the search for our new Every Woman bloggers, our goal was to select five wonderful women to join our current roster of bloggers. However, we received so many amazing entries that we had to raise that number to seven!

Below is a sneak peak at the women who will join our amazing group of Every Woman bloggers:

Jordan Tate: Hi! I’m Jordan Tate, wife to a Lexington Medical ICU nurse, adoptive mama, and infant loss survivor x2. My husband and I lost our first two children to a rare genetic disorder in back to back, full term pregnancies. Each of our girls lived for a few minutes outside the womb before passing away. We wrote about the whole experience on our blog while walking through it all, and four months after we lost our second baby, we brought home our adopted son in a whirlwind domestic adoption. I am dedicated to writing in a voice that is genuine and transparent, especially through the harder moments in life. We like to keep it real. I especially love to reach out to mothers who have experienced infant loss and second degree infertility, as well as families who are walking through the rollercoaster of adoption! You can check out some of our story here:http://tatesatsea.blogspot.com/p/us.html

Rachel Sircy: Hello all, my name is Rachel Sircy and I have been a Columbia resident for nearly seven years now and an employee of Lexington Medical Center for over six of those seven years. I am a joyful Christian, a mother of one, wife to one amazing man and a sufferer of celiac disease. I would be thrilled to be chosen to write for the Every Woman blog as it seems to me that a blog for women, by women and about issues that concern us all locally is a wonderful idea. We need a community of women to be a part of, to lean on and to share with.

Two things primarily take up my thoughts: one is the sacredness of motherhood and the wonderful privilege that I have been given in raising up a future citizen of this earth. I believe that women are granted unique and strong gifts by our Creator and I would love to explore and celebrate them with the women of our community.

The second (slightly less majestic) thought that consumes me is what my child and I are going to eat on a given day. This second thought would appear to tend toward gluttony, however, when you are a celiac (pronunciation: Silly-Yak), it is only natural that at least half of your waking life would be centered around finding suitable, safe food to eat. Celiacs, of course, are what is known in our world as gluten free. What does that mean, you ask? What gluten free typically means for a person diagnosed as a celiac is that you listen to celebrity news praying that some famous person will suddenly, unnecessarily and very publicly restrict their eating habits and that the public will soon follow. This, as any celiac well knows, will strong arm things out of Betty Crocker and Pillsbury – like gluten free cookie mixes, confetti cakes and other staples of a typical American diet – that the actual pleas of diseased people (i.e., real celiacs) never could. And so, I would like to reach out with any helpful information to the other celiacs in the city and, occasionally, cry and whine with them about the loaves of Styrofoam in our refrigerators that have been wrongly labeled as bread.

Angie Sloan: Hello there! I am new to the Columbia area and saw your blog contest advertised in the Irmo News. I am single mother who has been caring for three kids and two parents for years. I am the face of the sandwich generation! This post is about an experience I had with my mother while she was in a nursing home. Please let me know if I need to do anything else to enter the contest. Thanks, Angie Sloan.

Azure Crum Stilwell: Being an “Every Woman Blogger” would be an awesome opportunity for me. I just started my own blog (http://peckedbychickens.com) because let’s face it being a bipolar, overweight, pre-diabetic mom of two boys (ages 9 and 18) is both hilarious and tough so I needed a creative outlet. I am a bit sarcastic with a whole lot of funny mixed in. I come from a long line of wonderful women who have experienced just about everything you can think of from complete happiness to unthinkable sadness and yet we all get up every day and keep swimming. Sometimes we just float but at least we try. My personal experiences and those of the women in my life have helped me to already feel like an “Every Woman Blogger” so I know whoever you do choose is going to be great. Best of luck to all who are brave enough to share a piece of their story.

Ashley Whisonant: The beauty of the Every Woman Blog is the diversity of women featured. I would love the opportunity to share my point of view and experiences with the Midlands Community. As a University of South Carolina Graduate, former Alpha Chi Omega sorority member, mother to two rambunctious toddlers, and working mom, I have experiences many can relate to. I am lucky enough to have a SAH hubby who supports my full-time work career in the business world. I am obsessed with Disney travel and saving money while doing it! I am a social butterfly that loves to share my money saving travel tips with ANYONE who will listen! I am currently navigating the world of second boy potty training-not for the faint of heart! I would be over the moon if chosen as one of the newest bloggers!

Jeanne Reynolds: As the French say, I’m a woman “of a certain age.” Here’s why I’d like to be an Every Woman Blogger:

I’ve never been so insulted in my life. And friends, get ready, because it’s going to happen to you, too, sooner or later. It was the day I got that special envelope in the mail. The one with an invitation to join … AARP!

What?! I’m not old. I’m not even middle-aged. Hmm, pause on that. Anyone who’s at least 50 — and apparently AARP knows who you are, because that’s when this shows up — is, at best, halfway through life. The middle. Maybe that’s why my middle seems to be expanding.

And that’s not the only life stage-related change I’m looking at. With retirement now peering over the horizon, I’m starting to wonder about things like:
• Who will I be when I’m not a working gal?
• How will I keep the friends I made at work?
• Where do I want to use my experience and talents outside a cubicle?
• What are family members going to expect from me now that I’ll have all this “free time”?
• Will my outside and my inside ever be the same age? (I hope not.)

Maybe you have some of these same questions if you’re changing jobs, leaving the work world to care for family, changing relationships or becoming an empty-nester. Because they all boil down to one essential question: Who am I now?

Let’s find out together.

Stacy Thompson: To blog–1. a regularly updated website or web page, typically one run by an individual or small group, that is written in an informal or conversational style.

Stay with me folks, I realize I started with a definition piece copied from a Wikipedia search on blogs, but I assure you, you like it or not, the rest is from my own hand and somewhat bizarre perceptions and ideas…

I have heard of and subscribed to blogs on various topics written by an eclectic and varied group of people–blogs on running, hiking, politics, health and literature–you name it, and I’ve been bewitched by the blog. But to write my own? Haven’t given it much thought until just now…

I am mostly informal by nature and love a good conversation, no matter the topic–so to have a forum to share my experiences, anecdotes and highly entertaining tales would be a ton of fun…really what is the point of doing anything in life if it isn’t fun, anecdotal and/or to gain experience? I am a long-time resident of Lexington County (grew up in the shadows of Lexington County Hospital, as it will forever be known to those of us who remember the location of not only the ‘old Lowe’s’ on Highway 1, but also the ‘old, old Lowe’s just down the street–and who among us does not miss the Cromer’s monkeys at Dutch Square Mall???) but have explored all seven continents. I am a lawyer working in her own firm but consider myself beyond fortunate to represent those unable to work due to their health; I am a huge fan of all sports but can appreciate the theater and arts (although I may refer to Intermission as ‘Halftime’ and bemoan the concession stand offerings–what? No corn dogs and ginormous soda that takes two hands and a spotter to lift??). I love to cook, but begrudgingly admit that casseroles and tailgate food comprise my meal plan. I occasionally run, but, unless being chased, can only call my pace Tortosian (not a word, but describes my turtle-like attempts). I am immensely proud of my mother and father but cannot deny the fact that my iPhone photo album contains many more pics of my dog at a ratio of about 12 to 1 (although he is pretty freakin’ cute!). I adore the written word and read voraciously, but will not hesitate to watch The Terminator, Roadhouse or The Princess Bride on cable, no matter at what point I channel-surf upon them and despite the fact I own them both on DVD (and Blu-Ray).

If chosen to participate in the Every Woman blog, I promise to deliver just that–random musings, memories and tales from an Every Woman–my travels and escapes from reality; the doldrums of daily life–stories of woman against machine (wait until you hear about my plethora of uses for duct tape), stories of woman against the system (stranded in Monaco and Moscow, each for entirely different reasons), woman against nature (i.e. times you wished that Bear Grylls dude would just permanently affix himself to your leg), woman against parent (my mom gets us involved in a lot of weird stuff–skydiving, bungee jumping and mostly anything involving the signing of a waiver) and, last of all, woman against self (may get somewhat deep, do you have a psychiatrist on staff?? Just asking…)

I’ll write to entertain myself and my close family and friends who will be compelled to follow the blog or risk bodily harm (just kidding, no bodily harm, but extreme stink-eyes and a refusal to make my beyond de-lish oatmeal raisin cookies for the next gathering) and to hopefully entertain others, or at least provide them with a guide of what NOT to do–or how to extract oneself from a potentially embarrassing situation if they do what they shouldn’t, or how to best talk themselves out of said embarrassing situation like a pro.

Thanks for sticking with me and reading this rather long missive — I wish the very best to all who apply! (But my competitive nature precludes me from wishing you luck, I’m sure you’ll understand!).

Sincerely,
Stacy


Congratulations to all of the women who have been selected to become Every Woman bloggers! We can’t wait for these amazing women to share their lives with us.

State Partnership Launches “Don’t Waste Food S.C.” Campaign to Reduce Food Waste

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

Don't Waste Food SC

Just in time to end my food waste series, South Carolina just announced a new campaign to fight food waste. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control, S.C. Department of Commerce and S.C. Department of Agriculture recently announced Don’t Waste Food S.C. – a collaborative campaign to reduce the number one item thrown away in the state: wasted food.

One out of six people struggle with hunger in the United States, yet food waste is the single largest component being sent to landfills and accounted for 21 percent (35.2 million tons!) of the nation’s waste in 2013. South Carolina alone produced an estimated 607,000 tons of food waste in fiscal year 2015.

Don’t Waste Food S.C. is aimed at educating and empowering individuals, businesses and communities to take action by preventing, composting or donating surplus food. The campaign is working towards a goal of reducing food waste in the state by 50 percent by 2030.

The partners are working together to connect food surpluses to those in need, enhance infrastructure for composting and educate consumers, communities and businesses about what they can do to join the initiative.

For more information, educational resources and to get involved in the Don’t Waste Food S.C. campaign, visit www.scdhec.gov/dontwastefoodsc. The website features great resources including tip sheets, meal planning + shopping lists, shopping guides and composting information.

 

To The Mom of the Little Boy in Church

By: Crissie Kirby

boy in church

I see you enter the church with him and his precious smile lights up the entire sanctuary. I see you settle him with a snack or drink or with books or coloring pages and crayons. I hear you quietly try to shush him during the service when he talks. I smile at you and think that one day I’m going to tell you how much I enjoy seeing him in service, but I fail to do so because well, most days, I’m busy watching my own boys who (most of the time) settle in quietly on their own, but still have questions or are involved in the service and are perched quietly at the front of the church waiting to light or extinguish the candles. Maybe I’m afraid that I’ll get teary-eyed talking of the time, not so long ago, when my boys were doing exactly what your son is doing now. A wise woman used to tell me not to worry about the noises my boys made in church because she enjoyed seeing them there. Some days I would just smile and silently think that she had to have lost her mind when it seemed that something was being dropped every five seconds or someone was asking questions every two.

The old saying “with age comes wisdom” comes quickly to mind because now I understand what she was saying and why she told me to stop worrying so much. First off, you are doing your son a great service by bringing him to church and keeping him in “big church”. He’s learning from an early age what takes place during the entire service and how to behave during those times, even if it seems that it is taking forever for him to learn and you really question if he ever will. (Please no one get bent out of shape if you think I’m shaming you for utilizing a children’s church because I’m not – every family does what works for them.) You are exposing him to your family’s belief system and I applaud you for that. For me, though, I am grateful for those moments when I can see your precious son holding your hand as you return from communion, and remember my own two little boys who no longer hold my hand as we walk quietly down the side aisle from communion. I can glimpse my past in your little boy as one, or both, of mine participate in the church service, leaving me sitting alone in my pew.

So to the mom with the little boy in church, please just let him be little, let those of us around you soak up his innocence and laughter and questions. Allow us to quietly congratulate your decision to bring him to church, even when we fail to verbally tell you so. Allow us to remember the days when our little boys were the ones laughing and making noise and asking questions. One day, I promise, you will be in my position wondering where the days and moments went.

Dress to Impress Whom?

By: Chaunte McClure

IMG_2464Do you have friends or associates who are fashion-focused and expect you and others to be also?

I’ll admit, I take a liking to dressing neat and looking cute, but sometimes I miss the mark. I tend to dress according to my mood; therefore, I usually don’t choose what to wear to work the night before. If I’m groggy, sick or for some reason in a bad mood, I really don’t care about looking my best. Some days I just don’t feel like it!

I’ve had coworkers and friends who put too much focus on what they, and others wear. Not everyone wants to wear trendy, high fashion clothes and shoes or carry high-end bags. I’m perfectly okay with wearing clothes from Target versus Belk, Dillard’s, or any couture retailer. My purses don’t have to don Coach, Michael Kors, Kate Spade or Louis Vuitton logos. The $19.99 Wilson’s Leather handbag I bought this spring, which isn’t leather at all, holds my wallet, sunglasses, tablet and cell phone the same way the name brand bags will. And they’ll apply the same pressure to my shoulder and neck. (Ouch!)

The pressure to dress to impress others is stressful and can be hurtful. There are women who would rather save for family vacations or girlfriend getaways than their clothing wardrobe. Others just can’t afford more clothes and shoes.

Early on during my college days, I remember being humiliated because I didn’t have “the best clothes.” I barely had enough to even make it through the week. Boy was I grateful for those free T-shirts when I signed up for credit cards. However, I am still ungrateful for that plastic money.

As a working adult, when I was able to buy my own clothes, I still dealt with women who turned their nose up at me because of how I dressed. I typically dressed professionally even before I began my career. What I wore to work, I wore to church. I didn’t buy many clothes to wear outside of those two places, but that didn’t matter much because I didn’t go many places outside of the two.

We put too much focus on fashion instead of concentrating on finances, family, community, goals, and education – things (I think) that really matter.

I’m not opposed to fashionistas; I’m opposed to those who set a fashion standard for others. I dress to impress me – not my coworkers, friends or spectators and I do it with tact.

Are you fashion focused? Do you expect others to be also?

Green Thumb? Not Me.

By: Shannon Boatwright

My Mama's Beautiful Flowers

My Mama’s Beautiful Flowers

While doing a little gardening research online, in an attempt to try to learn the correct way to plant some flowers I’d gotten,  I came across an article stating that this whole green thumb thing is a myth. The author wrote about how there is no divine gift, no such thing as being ‘born with gardening talent,’ and that it is merely a learned skill that one has to hone. Basically the claim was that anyone can read directions, stick something in some dirt and upon the right conditions, actually grow something beautiful.

My Aunt Susan's Pretty Flowers

My Aunt Susan’s Pretty Flowers

I appreciate all the info that I read, but here’s my deal… I flat out don’t like gardening or planting anything for that matter. I have a hard time admitting this, considering the fact that a majority of the women in my family all have what one would consider green thumbs! I do believe that they were born with some kind of special love and talent for plants and flowers and keeping them alive and beautiful. I can, with confidence, admit that I DO NOT have a green thumb – myth or no myth. I do not possess that talent, was not born with it and I do not enjoy attempting to learn the skills. Maybe the talent skipped a generation or something in my family, but I feel like I am one of few southern women that has zero green on her thumbs.

My Aunt Sandra's Gorgeous Flowers

My Aunt Sandra’s Gorgeous Flowers

Now, don’t get me wrong –  I do love flowers and plants! To look at, to gaze upon, to admire. But that’s about it. I walk past flowers and plants and depending on their looks and condition, I will either say, “Those are so pretty!”  “Wow, those need help.” or “Ugh, I don’t care for those.” One with a genuine talent, or green thumb as we say, looks at flowers and plants and immediately notices whether it needs water, needs to be pruned, needs more sunlight or fertilizer, etc. It’s amazing. I literally see a pretty or ugly plant and that’s about where it stops.

My Aunt Wanda even got Yard of the Month!

My Aunt Wanda even got Yard of the Month!

My amazing mother, my aunts, my step-mother, my mother-in-law – they have all told me names of flowers, plants, and trees, and have given me advice on planting, etc. For some reason, a majority of the information escapes my mind. They all possess the talents of the green thumb, yet even when I receive direction, I don’t seem to be very good at gardening and I just don’t enjoy it. I don’t mind watering, I don’t mind cutting grass or even weed eating, but ugh, I do not like any of the other yard work. At all.

So, I’ll just be grateful that my awesome husband has the talent, actually enjoys it and let all the green-thumbed ladies in my family guide him. I’m just fine with focusing on my other talents, which do not involve the messy, dirty process of planting any flowers or plants. A green thumb? NOT ME.