Thursday, September 20, 2012


Consistent. That's the best word I know to describe my grandfather. He always sent my birthday card a few days early, gave me new pearl earrings or another piece of jewelry each Christmas, planned regular trips around the world and loved my grandmother for most of her life (they married when she was 19) and never was quite as happy after she died. He kept notes I'd sent him, cards he'd given her, his own report cards and my mother's diploma from finishing school. His outfits were all fairly similar, perhaps a result of having to wear an Army uniform and later a white coat every day for many years. He accepted creative forms of payment for his services as a physician when his patients couldn't afford his care, and he kept medicines for years after their expressed expiration date, certain of their continued efficacy, despite the bottle with the weathered label or tattered envelope the pills came in.

Because he lived in Columbus, Ohio for all of my childhood spent in South Carolina, I only saw he and my grandmother for holidays and the occasional summer vacation. The intimacy of our relationship is reflected in the names we called them- Grandfather Dwight and Grandmother Joann. And yet I always loved seeing him, loved the games at his house and the presents he would bring back from his travels. A pink striped dress from Switzerland (or Germany?), a faux Panda hide/rug from who knows where. I cheered for Ohio State, after the Clemson Tigers of course, because he cheered for Ohio State, and I chose Greek life after my grandmother took me to by the OSU Kappa Delta house. I didn't go KD, but I wore her pin with mine (in violation of all kind of sorority rules) on my wedding day. 

When my cousin Alyx was born, he became "Papa" to her, hence the initials GPD for GrandPa Dwight. But he never quite felt like a Papa to me. He was quiet and didn't say too much, but what he said was wise and knowledgeable. Because he didn't say too much, at least with us, my brothers and I took great joy in getting a smile or a laugh out of him. I was honored to have shared in a few of those with him during his last stay in the hospital. He knew history well, appreciated classical music and spoke of theatre he'd seen on London's West End, was interested in politics and specifically my political work, and on football Saturdays could be found watching the Buckeyes. He saw them win just days before he died and couldn't be bothered while they were on TV. He was so smart and loved watching Jeopardy because he knew most of the answers. He was a faithful volunteer at Inniswood, a beautiful collection of gardens and a nature preserve near his home. 

He enjoyed his hot tea and requested ice cream the night before he passed away. My mother likes fruit cake, and so each Christmas, he sent her a huge fruit cake in mid-December so she'd have plenty of time to enjoy it.He was generous in taking us on big family trips, and two of my most memorable Christmases were spent on cruise ships with him and the rest of my family. I'm so thankful that one of those trips took place, to Mexico, just this past year! He didn't leave the boat for too many excursions but had a wonderful time visiting at meals and enjoying the ship's amenities. 

It's no surprise then that just recently he asked my mom if we would like to go again this year. We knew he probably didn't have too much time left, but I think he thought he'd leave the hospital and return to his apartment at his beloved Friendship Village and resume bingo-playing every Friday night. His passing Sunday morning was a bit of a surprise to us all, as my mom and I had spent great time with him Sunday evening, listening to Handel's Water Music and admiring the fall flowers we'd found in the gift shop. He had eaten dinner with cheesecake for dessert, but then the call came to my aunt's house in the middle of the night, alerting us all to the fact he was in quick decline. He simply let go in his sleep at the age of 92, and we were all thankful he did not suffer. 

GPD, you will be greatly missed. You were loved and respected, and we are so grateful for the legacy you left behind.

Grandfather Dwight and me as a baby, on a rug he made, 1981

Grandmother Joann and Grandfather Dwight at Disney World, 1998

Christmas at Friendship Village, 2008 0r 2009

so glad GPD could come to our wedding, July 2010

cruising in Mexico, Christmas 2011

Friday, September 14, 2012

celebrating madeleine grace

It's hard to describe the joy that comes with celebrating the soon arrival of a daughter for one of your dearest friends. I have known Rebecca for 13 years now, and I still remember the day we met during sorority recruitment at Clemson. Oh, how I longed to be as outgoing and confident as she was! I got to know her better over our four years at Clemson, and then really well during our law school years at Carolina. I honestly know very few people who are as good at keeping in touch and loving on others as Rebecca. She somehow manages a full-time lawyer job, a thriving baking business and maintains a beautiful home and happy marriage. As her sister-in-law recently told me, it's like Rebecca gets 36 hours out of a day while the rest of us make do with 24!

Given that Rebecca has thrown an inordinate amount of baby showers over the last several years and cooked countless meals for new moms, it was only fitting that we throw a big one in her honor to welcome her little girl, Miss Madeleine Grace.

Rebecca, Greer and I were able to have brunch at DiPrato's, one of my Columbia favorites, before the shower, and it was so wonderful to catch up with them before the big event. 

Our friend Terra from law school was gracious to host the shower in her amazing home. Terra's sweet little girl Catherine was sick the day of the shower, so the fact that Terra was still able to pull off having 50 women in her house without a hiccup is testimony to how much she has it together (and how great her husband is!). 

Lauren made a banner of Madeleine's name, and we hung it above the beverage table, which also later had baby pictures of both Rebecca and Robert. We served prosecco and fruit compote and strawberry tea. Another Rebecca made an adorable mat for part of the shower invitation, with all of the hostesses' names and the verse, "for this child I prayed." 

beverage table

Fern Studio in Columbia did the flowers, which were incredible. The pictures don't do it justice, but the arrangement for the dining room table was HUGE. 

flower colors similar to those on the invitation

What's a baby shower without monogrammed petit fours? These were some of the best I've had- they literally melted in your mouth.

Our menu consisted of chicken salad sandwiches, tomato tartlets, vegetables and hummus, apples and caramel dip, cheese wafers and baked brie bites, along with petit fours, a popcorn/m and m/white chocolate mix, and chocolate toffee bark for dessert. No one should have left hungry.

food table- tomato tartlets were still in the oven

the ever-eloquent Kelly welcoming everyone and offering thanks for our food

a prayer of blessing for little Madeleine

I hate I didn't get a better picture, but Terra got gorgeous pink and tan burlap ribbon that we hung Madeleine's monogrammed onesies and burp cloths on. The bows on either side were so pretty and an easy way to make the mantle a little more girly.

lots of gifts!

I always love trips to South Carolina that involve getting to see lots of old friends. Spending time with Jill was such a treat, as it had been months since I'd seen her! 

loving our Clemson-colors combo

Rebecca has looked amazing throughout her pregnancy, and she was glowing at her shower in her black and white ensemble.

making a plate- I'm not sure poor Rebecca got to eat before we made her start opening presents

Ashley, Caison, Rebecca, Bess, Ashley and Allison- just a few of the fun guests

Rebecca and her sister-in-law Melanie

lots and lots of present opening

Rebecca's niece Pressley Ann got to come to the shower, and she was super helpful in carrying gifts to Rebecca, and even gave Kelly a new hair-do. Too cute. 

Kelly being styled by Pressley Ann

sweet gift from Jill

Rebecca's mom with Beth, Angela and Terra

Prior to leaving Columbia, I met with Ashley, Jenna and Rebecca every Tuesday morning for a time of prayer and sharing and accountability. We met at the Panera, and rarely can I go into Panera without thinking of them. Angela started meeting with the girls after I left, but I feel just as comfortable with her as the others now. 

the "Tuesday morning" group- Ashley, Jenna, Rebecca, and Angela

law school girls

all the hostesses- such a great group to plan with!

The shower was a success, and I am so looking forward to meeting Madeleine Grace in just a few months. You have a lot of people ready to love on you, little girl! 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

labor day in kensington

I have never thought too much about Labor Day and am often sad to see the end of summer, but I love living in a neighborhood that has a big Labor Day parade and festival. It's very Americana, and everyone comes out to see local bands and school groups and public safety officers marching and riding down our main streets. It was especially fun to watch with our friends, who joined us at our house afterward for BBQ and homemade oreo ice cream. Fun day!

with one of the few Republicans in Montgomery County

our sweet friend Julia was a butterfly on our church's Noah's Ark float

beautiful Victorian home across from parade grandstand

yummy food and good friends

Richard took full responsibility for the ice cream making and churning

not the prettiest of ice creams, but certainly delicious!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

woody's perils of the lost jungle

What's a gal to do to make up for the fact that she's not in Atlanta cheering on her favorite team in their much-anticipated season opener? Play one of the country's top-five miniature golf courses, of course. 

I was dying to go to Atlanta to see Clemson take on Auburn, but three trips to the southeast in four weeks was just one trip too many. I will be in Clemson for the game next weekend, so I had to settle for watching the big win on tv. But the weekend has still been a really good one, thanks in large part to a fun date night with Richard. 

We were looking for something to do outside on Friday to take advantage of the closing days of summer and had seen a feature on mini-golf in the Washingtonian. Woody's Perils of the Lost Jungle in Herndon, VA has been recognized as one of the best in the country, so we decided to try it out. I had forgotten how much fun a competitive round of mini-golf is!

ready for our adventure, after submitting our "passports" to an outfitted guide

For just $10 a person, we were treated to a Disney-like course filled with animatronics that popped out at you, bursts of water sprays, and speakers with sinister noises in the bushes. The theme is Indiana Jones-ish, and I was caught off guard a few times by the surprises on each hole, including a wild boar jumping out of a hole and a gator emerging from a pond. 

the hole was just beyond the mummy, and the temple door opened only when you pressed your hand on the sensor on the stone

hole marker

Richard and I picked orange and purple balls in tribute to the Tiger team, and both of us logged a hole-in-one about midway through the course. Richard shot another before the night's end...most of the holes are par 2.

hooray for hole-in-ones!

piranhas, gators and gorillas, oh my!

there was a witchdoctor stirring a large pot right behind Richard

action shot

I am proud to say that I beat my husband by two strokes, but it was a close match with the victor uncertain until the 18th hole. We've decided that we'll definitely be returning for a rematch before we leave DC!

A playful, different kind of date night, the Saturday morning Farmer's Market and park with a sweet little girl and her mama, and living vicariously through my brothers as they witnessed Clemson break the spell the Georgia Dome all made for a delightful weekend.

darling Gia in the park

Will, Caitlin and Jeff tailgating before the big Clemson-Auburn game

(Clemson) Tigers on the field

And one post-script...our church met in a different location this morning and Richard has been in the hospital taking out an appendix, so I decided to watch Andy Stanley, of North Point Community Church, preach online. He's doing a series called Future Family, and the messages have been incredible. I would encourage anyone to go to the site for the series and listen to his podcasts. They are challenging, convicting and instructive, and despite having strong, positive relationships with family, I've learned something significant in each message I've heard.