The baby girl is 26!

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Lorelai had a birthday last week.  She turned 26 years old on July 26th and one of her best of the best friends, Amanda, flew down from New Jersey for stay few days.  Sweet Miss Amanda, even though born and raised in NJ, fits the bill as a Daughter of the South. She and Lor met at Clemson and I’ve no doubt that they will be life-long friends. Amanda was visiting with us during their senior year spring break and was with Lorelai the night that she and Butler met.

Senior Year Fun!

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And of course, Amanda was one of Lorelai’s bridesmaids…

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Lorelai, no longer merely a petite belle, is doing just what we always knew she would…she’s making a difference in this big crazy world of ours. She loves fiercely and cares passionately. She’s only 30 semester hours away from her doctorate in education but says that enough is enough when it comes to school for now.

She is her daddy’s girl for sure!

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She also likes her own way…as evidenced by the photo below from when she and Butler visited Amanda and he was obviously not paying Lor enough attention.

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She’s our baby girl. What a precious blessing!

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Two weddings in two years…

Daughters of the South love weddings. Sometimes; however, it is possible…ever so slightly possible…that some of us get so caught up in timelines and the process that we get a little crazy when our own children are getting married. Yes. OK.  I got a little crazy. Two weddings, though, in 11 months and three weeks…Lorelai and Butler on June 13, 2015 and Legare and Robert on June 4, 2016. One a Charleton event and the other in the mountains of North Carolina. After two years of thinking of weddings every single day, there is a part of my mind all freed up to consider other things now. I like it.

We’ve just gotten the pictures back from Legare’s wedding and I must share a few.  (We DoftheS mothers  believe that everyone is as excited about our children’s weddings as are we.) Enjoy!

The WestglowR&M-004R&M-192

Butler, Lorelai, Legare, Yours Truly and HankR&M-120

Big brother and little sisterR&M-114

And Lorelai gains another brotherR&M-126R&M-128The two familiesR&M-125

The rain stopped for the ceremonyR&M-244

The pastorsR&M-375

It would appear that I am still trying to give instructions at the receptionR&M-410

Guests in the libraryR&M-596

The view you never tire of…beautiful still at dusk.R&M-597

Three cakes…coconut, chocolate and caramelR&M-428

The Furman friends. R&M-612

There are SO many pictures that I can’t possibly show them all.  More later, maybe.

Well, well, well

Piddling around with some paperwork this afternoon and logged onto the SC Retirement website to check my status. Turns out, I can retire in 9 months.  Less than a year.  Holy Moly.  Now…I don’t plan to retire for some time as I will ONLY be 55 on my birthday in October. Young.  Right?  YOUNG!

Even so…just to know that I COULD…

I’m smiling.  Chuckling really. My eyes may be welling up with tears…

Conferencing in Louisville

Miss me?  My friend and co-worker Ted…he made a few appearances in LoSB back in the day…are at a conference in Louisville.  It’s good to recharge the old professional batteries every now and again.  We drove up instead of flying so that we could stop along the way. The major stop was Asheville.  Malaprop’s Bookstore, Tops for Shoes, and French Broad Chocolates.  I had a chocolate milkshake for lunch. Hank was sad when I called to say I was walking into Tops for Shoes.  He loves that store almost as much as I do. Ted took a walk as he was not interested in shoes.

As we entered Kentucky, we began to talk about the Kentucky Derby…which somehow led to talking about the song, My Old Kentucky Home…which led me to the following YouTube video. Have you EVER heard such awful singing? I laughed and laughed.

Click to Listen to My Old Kentucky Home at the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby. 

You are going to laugh…watch the people who don’t know the words try to pretend that they really do.

Got to go to a session. Happy Weekend!

Vacation…Check

You may remember from LoSB that we generally vacation down at the Summer House. We’ve just returned home from a very restful trip. Just Hank,  Bowman and me. We ate and slept. Hank and Bowman walked early in the morning while I slept. We read. It was HOT.

One of the first things I do when we get down there for several days is to go into Beaufort to buy books from the fine folks at The Beaufort Bookstore. They have a fabulous section of local/southern authors, which are my favorites.  I particularly enjoy reading Karen White and Mary Kay Andrews in the summer for some reason.  Also Dorothea Benton Frank, although I took a break from her for a while as her books got a bit predictable for me.  I’m happy to say; however,  that I read her new book, All Summer Long, last week and it was very good.  If you live close by give me a call and you can borrow it.

Daughters of the South…UNITE and support your locally owned bookstores if you are blessed enough to have one in your area. IMG_1477

While away, we celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. I was 21 years old when I walked down the aisle of the Baptist Church that summer Saturday in 1983.  Hank was 24. We were SO young. In the last two years, both of our children have gotten married…Lorelai at 25 and Legare at 30. They are settled and living their dreams. Hank is retired. I will be able to retire in two years, if I feel like it.

Life is changing. There’s been a shift…not saying it’s bad…it’s just different and is going to take some getting used to. I haven’t the slightest idea what I would do as a retiree!  Maybe take longer vacations?  That sounds appealing.

What are you doing this summer?

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Have you EVER?

Other than your own puppy or your grand puppy or niece/nephew puppy, have you EVER seen anything so cute?

I did not grow up with pets as Mother was not a fan. Before Bowman came into our lives, I didn’t know it was possible to feel such love for an animal. Hank and I are both absolutely smitten with this sweet fellow. I think he loves us too.

The photo was taken on our way up to the mountains for Legare’s wedding back in June. It was National Donut Day so we just had to stop.  If Krispy Kreme is reading my blog they should consider hiring old Bo Bo here to be their poster boy.

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My Aunt Zoie…Daughter of the South

In the last year, two daughters of the South who helped influence who I am have passed away. Helen Gooding Youmans, and my mother’s youngest sister, Mary Elizabeth Funchess Wright. Miss Helen was a neighbor and mother of my good friend Karen. Aunt Mary Beth was mother to my only two female cousins, Nancy and Gail. My cousin Gail, just a year and a half or so older than I, recently passed away also.

But this post isn’t about them. I mention them though, because when you reach a certain age and people who helped you evolve into who you are go on to their great reward, you stop. And you think.And you smile and laugh and feel a bit melancholy. Then you think some more and smile and feel all warm and fuzzy.

My Aunt Zoie, daddy’s only sister,  was born in 1913 and passed away in 1994. She was a pistol. She didn’t marry until she was 40 years old and had a great big wedding in the Methodist Church with eight bridesmaids and a whole lot of tulle. Her groom, Frank, was seven years younger. I can’t put my hands on the wedding pictures just this minute.

My brother and I were the only grandchildren on daddy’s side of the family and Zoie was better than Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy all put together. When I went away to college, she began purchase whole outfits for me from The Frock Shop, then took me to Bob Ellis Shoe Store on King Street for shoes. That is the ONLY place she bought shoes as she wore a very narrow size 11 shoe.

She joined the Army in 1942. She was dedicated…probably obsessed…with the Eastern Star and she and daddy were the first brother and sister Worthy Grand Matron and Patron for South Carolina in 1964. I was the Grand Chapter Sweetheart!

If she knew that a family was in distress, she would sneak up to their house and leave groceries on the porch. She sang in the choir in the church she grew up in and was married in. And she loved her family fiercely.

In the late 1980’s, Frank had passed away, as had her brothers, and Alzheimer’s started to cast a shadow over her world. I became her guardian and conservator and thus began the tough years. But we aren’t going to talk about those, other than to say that she REALLY got wonky with the make-up the last year or two. Refer to the last photograph below.

To know her was to love her. She was one formidable woman, this daughter of the south.

I am a true daughter of the south…

…born and raised in the South Carolina Lowcountry. Lived my entire life within two hours of the place I was born. You may (or may not) remember me from my previous blog, Life of a Southern Belle. I got away from that one for a while and have decided to make a fresh start.

If you know me…really know me…you know our real names. For blog purposes; however, I am your host…Belle. My husband is Hank. Our daughter is Lorelai, who is married to Butler. Our son, Legare is married to Robert, and they will celebrate their one month anniversary tomorrow. Hank and I have a seven month old pup by the name of Bowman…mostly we call him Bo Bo. Then there are the granddogs…Bingley and Emmy.

We will tease out my theme as we proceed…mostly, it seems that EVERYBODY wants to be a southerner these days. It’s a desirable lifestyle for sure, but organic…you can’t buy it nor your way into it. Anyone born and raised here may claim a geographic connection to the south, but being a true son or daughter of the south is another thing altogether. It’s church and grace and love and manners and hospitality, all mixed up with a resilience that sometimes defies logic. It’s family…but moreover, the people you collect to create a family…not necessarily the one you are born into.

I have opinions. Strong ones. And really good intuition. But my world has begun to change in the last few years.

Hank and I are empty-nesters now and I am not too many years from retirement. It’s time to begin formulating my next-chapter-of-life game plan.