It Takes a Village. And a Double Grandpa.

By Kate Morrow

When agreeing to write for this blog, I knew one of the posts would be about the sudden and traumatic loss of my father. I dreaded writing this one. But, it needs to be told and I want to get this one out of my mind, off my plate, out of sight.

I recently read an article that was entitled, “The Unique Hell of Losing A Parent When Your Kids Are Small.” As I read the article, a few lines really struck me:

“As taxing as it was, I put on my brave face and did what I had to do at home. Then I put on my brave face and did what I had to do at the hospital, and they were none the wiser.”

 I remember exactly what I was wearing, what I was doing when I found out about my father’s unexpected and quick death. My brother called me. He didn’t even have to say it. I just knew. It was 4:45 p.m. on a Tuesday. I was still in the midst of my maternity leave. My husband Cam was about to leave the office and head home. William, my brother, uttered the word, “I hate to have to tell you this, but Dad…”

I instantly started screaming, “No. You’re lying. No.” I ran onto the front porch. I cried. I felt helpless and panicked. And then the twins started crying as they woke up from their nap. I remember having to hide my pain, my tears, my anguish, when all I wanted to do was sink into the floor. I could barely breathe. But they needed me.

 “If there is one absolute truth, it is that death and grief and small children do not mix. Life as I knew it changed forever, but my circumstances and responsibilities did not. I was waist-deep in naps, meal prep, butt-wiping, art projects, the flu, paying bills, loads of laundry.”

 I often wonder how I would have handled my grief differently if I were not a mother yet. I probably would have spent a lot of days in the bed, under the covers, with a pint of ice cream, and the television on Netflix to get my through my sadness. But as a new mom with infant twins, that was simply not a choice.

I remember telling my husband often, that I didn’t even have time to appropriately grieve my father because I was so busy being a twin mom. There are days I still feel I haven’t grieved him adequately and it’s going to hit me even more immensely when time slows down. Even though my husband was there every step of the way and my in-laws fly down the interstate any time I am in need—babies are babies and they still need Momma.

“Intense waves of grief periodically stop me in my tracks, take my breath away and force me to sit down and say to myself, “Holy shit, that happened.” Those waves will crash in the rest of my life, and if time is able to do anything for me, it will give me longer stretches between each one.”

 In the weeks and months after my father’s death, I would find myself so busy between caring for the twins, being a wife, keeping up with the house, learning my new job, that I would sometimes forget for split seconds at a time that my father had passed. I would randomly think of him and how I should “call to tell him something” or “the next time I see Dad.”

And then it would hit me. And I would force myself to think about it. Really think about it. “This is forever.” “I will never see, hug, or talk to him again.”

There is no feeling in the world to describe that pain. None. There is no amount of time or level of busyness that can get you through that.

But honestly, being Jack and Lilly’s mom has given me so much inspiration and gotten me through some of the toughest days. People often ask me how I have been so strong through this. It is partially because I am so busy with life, but also part that I saw so much life and death during our hospital stay. I know the world has to end for some for others to begin.

The hardest part about my father’s death? Not getting to see him be a grandfather. He only got to be a grandfather for the twins’ first six months of life. He visited them in the NICU frequently, FaceTimed with us often, held them for the first time on Thanksgiving Day. It hurts the most because he would have been one of the world’s best.

He was so proud of them. After he died, I was the family member in charge of clearing off his phone. I found a photo log full of every single picture I ever sent him of the twins. I found text message after text message of him beaming with pride about his twin grandchildren to his family and friends.

What makes it better? A man that often gets overlooked because he is quiet, but humble. A man who I can simply not find enough words to tell how much I love, appreciate, and am grateful for not ever intending to take my dad’s place but intentionally makes the pain less deep because he is always there. A man who had to balance the difficulty of being overjoyed to be a new grandfather without overshadowing my pain in losing another new grandfather, my dad. He is sincere, loving, and giving. The epitome of what it means to be the protector of one’s family. Losing my father was breathtakingly, stop you dead in your tracks, painfully hard, but having someone I consider my second father made it easier.

He, my father-in-law, has the hardest job of all—being Jack and Lilly’s double Earthly grandfather. I have watched him these past eight months in awe and wonder as he has been there for all of their firsts, putting in overtime to make them feel the love of having a grandfather.  The world’s best.

I know Dad is honored to give you his Grandpa moments that he is watching from Heaven with the same awe, wonder, and pride.

Thanks for being in our village, Ed. We love you.

Fall Soup Recipes

By Rhonda Woods

20181020_162851My “rain” has ceased for a while and I am glad!  I was blessed to spend some time with my three oldest granddaughters this past weekend, ages 5, 4, and 2.  Car seats were 3-wide in the back seat of the pick-up truck and we were 4-wide in the king-sized bed.  Too funny!  I am amazed at the things they say and the knowledge they have gained in the short period of time they have been in this crazy world.  I was especially blessed to spend time with the 2 year-old (pictured enjoying a “kiki”).  20181020_185908Due to my sweet husband’s illness, we missed spending time with her most of those 2 years.  With the grace of God, I will not let those sweet moments slip by again with any of my “little blessings”.

So, how about this cooler weather….it finally feels like Fall!  This time of the year, my first year students are studying Stocks, Soups and Sauces, which means “SOUP WEEK”!!!!  This is a coveted week by our faculty/staff as we make a variety of soups and chowders with cups of these favorites sold by the bagful!

FB_IMG_1540412222774My sweet husband’s favorites were the Ham and Potato Chowder and the Taco Soup/Chili.  He made his “hunting club” version of the Taco Chili using ground venison.  It was always a huge hit for the hunters and my grandson (pictured with his Pop and big gobbler) and served with some cast iron skillet corn bread at the end of a long hunting day.  No matter which you choose, soups and chowders are comfort foods for everyone.

The trick to quick soup-making is the French term “Mise en place” which means to put in place or to have all of your pre-preparations done, such as peeling, dicing and measuring before you begin to prepare the soup.  This is time-saving and helps prevent mistakes.  Think of it as a Food Network or Cooking Channel food show.  The chef or personality has everything prepared or measured and ready to cook for their show laid out just within reach.

May God bless you and your family as He has blessed ours.

Chef Woods

Soup Recipes

Chicken Corn Chowder

Creamy Pumpkin Soup

Ham & potato chowder

Minestrone Soup

Split Pea Soup.

Taco Soup

White Chicken Chili

Why Volunteer

By Janet Prince

Saying “yes” to being asked to volunteer is a very personal decision.  Everyone that volunteers do so for very different reasons.  I do it for many reasons.  Being a homemaker with grown or almost grown children allows me the opportunity to give of my time and my resources.  But most of all it gives me a sense of belonging to a “sisterhood” that I get so much more from than I could ever give.quote

Many say “no” to volunteering for many reasons, such as they don’t have the time, it doesn’t fit in their schedule, or they think that means more meetings.  Well, for a volunteer organization to run smoothly, meetings are involved.  However, individuals can choose how involved they want to be…do they aspire to be a chairman of the club/group, or maybe an officer on a higher level or do they want to just be a “worker bee” behind the scenes.  Each job level is just as important as the other.

When I began volunteering with the General Federation of Women’s Clubs (GFWC.org), I had much to learn.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, which is a part of GFWC South Carolina (gfwc-sc.org) does many things in our community.  One of our newest projects is collecting books and building a bookshelf to put at Lexington Oncology for those receiving treatments, as well as for their caregivers.  Patients will be able to “borrow” books to help pass the time, which for some can be most of a day.  This is a project that won’t take hours to do or put a stress on our members, but it will mean the world to the patients at Lexington Oncology.  This is just an example of how easy volunteering is to do.

I would encourage you to look at the many organizations in our community that are always looking for volunteers.  Find one that represents what you are passionate about and step forward.  For me knowing that “The General Federation of Women’s Clubs is an international women’s organization dedicated to community improvement by enhancing the lives of others through volunteer service” I knew I had found my place to serve.  While serving our community through the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, I have received so much in return.  I have been able to develop my leadership skills, by serving as a club officer, chairing committees, and the highest honor of all was to serve as the GFWC-SC State President for 2016-2018.  But most of all I have developed friendships with women across our state and across our country.

picI have just returned from a region meeting in Mississippi with my “Southern Sisters”.  We laughed, we learned, and we shared so that when the weekend was over we all returned to our homes with our cups so full that they are running over with joy.  So, I encourage you not to look at volunteering as work, but as fun while helping others. I guarantee the return you get will be more than you could ever give.

My theme when I was president was “Sharing our Passion…One Step at a Time”.   Find your passion and share your talents and your time in our community…you will never regret it!

Paying It Forward in a Small Way

By Tina Cameron

Today was a good day. It has been 4 months and 1 day since I had to put my precious 9-year old Yorkie—Haley Michelle to sleep. I wrote about her in my first blog. She lived longer than she was supposed to according to her vet –she had been in liver failure since the age of 2. However, she ended up being diagnosed with a rare Pancreatic cancer 12 days before I made the painful decision to let her go as she was rapidly declining.

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Haley Michelle

Haley’s birthday was on September 20th and I have been paying it forward since then in little ways to honor her. I donated to a pet charity on her birthday and have been looking to pay the adoption fee for someone. Well, today was the day! I happened to be at the Humane Society in Columbia picking up a voucher for my grand-dog Hanks neutering appointment this Thursday. While waiting I noticed a woman petting and loving on a Pit-bull mix breed dog named Clayton. He is approximately 2 years old. I overheard the woman give her name—Savannah to the lady at the counter and told her she would be back tomorrow afternoon to pick Clayton up. When she went to return the dog to his room, I asked if I could pay the adoption fee for this young lady. I excitedly sat back down and waited for her to leave. I explained about my sweet Haley passing and that I wanted to pay it forward. The two wonderful ladies who helped me were so excited to be in on this secret. They also explained to me that Clayton had been there longer than the other dogs who were already adopted out.

I immediately felt a sense of happiness in my heart for doing this for this dog. I am terrified of Pit Bulls and I know that a lot are put down because of either waiting for their fur-ever home and never getting it or because of their temperament. Last week, I hugged and petted a beautiful Pit at Pet Smart. This was a first for me.

While I was waiting to get my voucher, I could tell that the woman was already falling for this dog and the dog seemed to be so excited for someone to be paying attention to him. After I paid the $35 adoption fee and was waiting on my receipt, I wrote Savannah a sweet little note that will be given to her tomorrow when she returns to pick Clayton up. I wish I could see her face when she picks up her sweet dog. Happy Gotcha Day Clayton!! Wishing you and your fur-ever family nothing but happiness. I know my sweet Haley is smiling down on me today.

If you would like to help The Humane Society, they take newspapers, old towels and sheets. Their address is 121 Humane Lane Columbia, SC 29209. Their phone number is 803-783-1267. Also, if you are a Richland County resident and are having your cat/dog spayed or neutered, you can get a voucher to use to help with the cost of the surgery at Pawmetto Lifeline Spay/Neuter Clinic located on 1275 Bower Parkway Columbia, SC 29212. Their phone number is 803-465-9150. You are allowed 2 vouchers a year. This is a great thing that these two organizations do.

Gluten Free Trick or Treating

By Rachel Sircy

Just like buffets at restaurants, the holidays can be a bit of a nightmare for celiacs. Picking your way through food from unknown sources can be a bit like taking a stroll through a minefield: guess wrong and you could really be in some pain. So, what do we do about trick or treating with kids who need to be gluten free? Or, if you’re having an office party and candy is present, how do you decide what’s safe to eat and what’s not?

Well, I must confess that I’ve made some real blunders through this minefield myself. The thing is, some candy just seems so innocent. Like the Hershey’s Special Dark Bar. It’s a bit mind boggling that this block of solid chocolate would contain gluten, but it does. It’s not like the Hershey company keeps this a secret, it’s just that I never bothered to look. For a long time, I kept getting sick and I couldn’t figure out why. My advice to anyone who has an issue with gluten, don’t think you can just look at something and take a good guess and be okay. Always do your research. This year, I’m going to point you toward some places that can help you do that.

The Hershey company keeps a fairly comprehensive list of gluten free products in the US at this website:< https://www.thehersheycompany.com/en_us/products/dietary-needs.html>

They update this list regularly, so check it periodically to make sure that they haven’t changed how or where they make certain products. Also, beware that many variations of certain gluten free candies – as in most seasonal specialty candies (i.e., Reese’s Pumpkins) and even the fun-size versions – are NOT gluten free. Hershey’s list of gluten free products will let you know which variation is okay to eat. For example they state that all Almond Joy products are gluten free EXCEPT Almond Joy Pieces candy.

Another very comprehensive list is maintained by the Celiac Foundation and can be found at https://celiac.org/live-gluten-free/lifestyle/gluten-free-candy-lists/gluten-free-lifestyle/general-candy-list/   The Celiac Foundation also maintains a yearly Halloween Candy list that is printable…

Again, I would encourage anyone who has a gluten intolerance or allergy to check these lists regularly because companies can change the ingredients in a product and/or where a product is produced at any time.

And, for your convenience, I have copied from the Celiac Foundation list some of what I suspect will be common items in your child’s trick or treat bag which ARE gluten free:

  • Hershey’s Milk Duds
  • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (all except Unwrapped Minis and Seasonal Shaped Items)
  • Reese’s Pieces (all except Eggs)
  • Sour Patch Kids (includes Sour Patch Xtreme, Sour Patch Xploders, Sour Patch Watermelon and Swedish Fish)
  • Smarties (according to their website almost all Smarties products except Gummies are gluten free and made in a gluten free facility)
  • Mike and Ike, Original Fruits, Mummy and Vampire Mix, Berry Blast, Lemonade Blends, Zours
  • Hot Tamales
  • Peeps Vampires
  • Butterfingers (original flavor ONLY. The seasonal shaped pumpkins and any other variety are NOT gluten free.)
  • Laffy Taffy (including Laffy Taffy Rope and Fruitarts Chews)
  • Pixy Stix
  • SweetTarts

AND, I saw this at the store and it just made my day…

According to Tootsie Roll Industries ALL of their confections are gluten free!

Happy trick or treating!

 

 

 

One thing at a time: Happy Halloween!

By Jeanne Reynolds

I was in a large national discount chain store that shall not be named but whose name rhymes with Stall-Wart a couple weeks ago. This was September, mind you – and what to my wondering eyes should appear but … well, not quite a miniature sleigh with eight tiny reindeer, but most of what goes along with that. Yes, Christmas decorations. Lots of them. In September.

C’mon, people. We haven’t even had Halloween, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving or even the end of Daylight Savings Time (or is it the beginning? Whichever one is “fall back”) yet. Can’t we reign in our reindeer just a tad?

So I’m focusing on Halloween today. One of my favorite Halloween memories was when I was nine years old and my grandmother made me a genie costume. The TV show “I Dream of Jeannie” was all the rage in those days, and my name is Jeanne, so I just had to have that costume.

I Dream of JeannieAnd boy, did I think I looked good in it. Picture Barbara Eden (eek, I just saw online that she’s 86 now – my mother’s age) … except as a chubby nine-year-old … and plain brown hair instead of blonde … and a sweatshirt on top of the whole thing because it was cooold that Halloween night, even in our northern California neighborhood. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) no photo evidence remains to show you what a great costume it was.

And it would probably be a great costume even today (although a tad tight and short on my current adult frame). Halloween is an incredibly popular adult holiday these days. Travel & Leisure magazine even has an article on the best Halloween events and festivals of the year. (Spoiler alert: Greenwich Village, New York and West Hollywood, California top the list. Won’t be making either of those.)

Franz &amp; HansMaybe you yourself are one of those people who can’t wait to dress up as a sexy French maid or sexy vampire or sexy anything (do you sense a theme here?). Apparently you have plenty of company. Personally, I’ve always favored creative homemade costumes, like the time my husband I donned gray sweatsuits and stuffed the thighs and arms with newspaper ala Hans and Franz of Saturday Night Live fame. Didn’t cost a dime, plus it was a lot more comfortable than a sexy costume. The only thing I had to worry about falling out was some crumpled newspaper.

And then there’s the candy. There are two camps here: Those who buy just enough for the expected number of trick-or-treaters, and those who buy extra … you know, so there’ll be leftovers. Since I tend to buy cheap candy or varieties I wouldn’t eat (because I will), I fall in the first camp. So consider this fair warning: If you want those miniature Hershey’s bars or SweetTarts, head next door.

At least it’s better than my former neighbors, the retired Army dentists. Yep, toothbrushes and dental floss.

Happy Halloween, y’all!

 

 

Pink Power

By Eliza Boulware

Colors can have powerful meanings. I never thought just how powerful pink would be. As you know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and pink is the color to represent breast cancer. I am a five-year survivor and my pink represents the power to fight against a disease that came to kill me.pink power photo

Cancer starts to form without any warnings or signs. It can grow slow or rapidly. It can start one place and then spread. Cancer is sneaky, so you must be aware of what can cause cancer, what treatments are available as well as how to fight. You must be aware the food you eat, how much sugar you intake and your weight. It is very important to know your body and to do self-examinations monthly. Early detection really does save lives, therefore the earlier you find it, the better chance you have of beating it. I found my tumor myself. I was diagnosed with stage 2 aggressive cancer. It had not spread so I was able to have surgery to have the tumor removed and then started treatment.

Now pink was not just a color any more but it now represents what I was fighting. There is power behind the color pink. It just not a color in October but an awareness to a disease and the people who had the power to fight it. It takes power to go outside with a bald head when once you had long beautiful hair. It takes power to not be ashamed when your body changes from losing weight or hands and feet turn black. Each person goes through a different experience but what is the same is the power within to fight cancer. So survivors, rock your pink. Family and friends wear pink not just to say breast cancer exists but as a testimony that we fight for a cure and honor the survivors. That pink is powerful not because breast cancer is powerful but because those who fought one round at a time had enough faith and power not to give up.

I gained power in sharing my story every chance I get. I cannot recall the author but it was a small book that said “Don’t waste your cancer”. I did not read the book but the title was enough for me. I had said from the beginning that God could heal me but if He allowed it to remain then what did He want me to do? Well, I was not going to waste it. I started a support group with the help of other survivors. I do all I can to help others as well as do a yearly celebration for any cancer survivors. I have my pink cape because I have pink power. The power lies within the person and it’s greater than the cancer. Don’t just wear pink, get the facts!