Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Card Pictures with a Bit of Testoterone

Looked at sweet Pearls and Grace's blog with her beautiful children posing for this year's Christmas card.  They look so angelic and dear.  All dressed in cream and white...

Here are my two angels, or should I say, testoterone-y boys.  (We can thank Pheobe Buffay from FRIENDS for that descriptive word!).  No white, no linen, no smocking.  Just S and J, in Ralph Lauren plaid and Vineyard Vines cotton sweater on the Pawley's Island hammock in the backyard.

 Rough-housing in the Santa hats...

Looks like J lost his!
(And he wet his hair for some unknown reason?)


Thank heavens, looks like we finally got one!
Completely captures these boys...

Testoterone-y Blessings..

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Lilly Wallpaper... You Asked for It!

A few days ago, I showed a picture of my new Droid with cute Lilly wallpaper.  I've had some requests as to how you too can have a cute, preppy Droid, IPhone, Blackberry, Palm, or whatever smartphone you have.

It's really pretty easy:
  • Find a fabric swatch online.  I googled lilly pulitzer fabric and then clicked  IMAGES (on the top left of the Google screen).  You can also go to your favorite Lilly Pulitzer on-line store and grab a fabric swatch there.  I like In the Pink.
  • Double click on the fabric swatch you like, then right-click and hit "save as".
  • I always "save as" on my Desktop as it is easy to find.
  • Connect your smartphone to your computer and move/copy your Lilly.jpg straight to your phone.  I didn't have to move/copy to my (image or photo) gallery, but you may have to do that.
  • Once you have the .jpg on your phone, you should be able to use it as your wallpaper!
Good luck, and please leave comment to let me know how it works for you! (You can also become a follower too!)

Have a Lilly day!

Friday, November 27, 2009

For the Love of Spoons and Grappling Hooks

I just got off the phone with my oldest son (they will be at Pawley's Island with the grandparents through Sunday), and the first thing out of his mouth was:  "Yes Mom, we used the spoons!"  You are probably wondering what on earth I am talking about, but I thought I would use that to introduce the story of how my first ancestors arrived in our country.  (Beth AKA Social Climbers, you asked for this story! LOL).

Our family is lucky to have four ancestors arrive on the Mayflower.  These Separatists left all they knew in England, traveled to Holland for a few years (bet some of you didn't know that tidbit), and finally left for America. My children and I are descended from John and Joan Tilley (both died the first winter), their daughter Elizabeth, and John Howland.  Elizabeth and John later married in 1625.

But that's not the really amazing story.  This is...

During the Mayflower's voyage, John Howland fell overboard during a storm, and was almost lost in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily, he managed to grab hold of the topsail halyards, giving the crew enough time to rescue him with a grappling hook.  William Bradford, in the falling-overboard incident, refered to Howland as a "lusty young man".  I always have to laugh at that!!!  So... I am very thankful for grappling hooks.  Had John Howland not been rescued, I would not be here!
But what about the spoon?  My parents went to Plymouth Plantation a number of years ago and had the opportunity to visit John Howland's home.  It's the only one still standing.  They also purchased pewter replicas of his spoon for my sister and me, as well as the grandchildren.  All the children love to use the spoons during our own Thanksgiving dinners.
This is the original spoon.  I couldn't take a picture of mine - it's still at the beach!

So here's to you, ten-great grandfather John... and our love of grappling hooks!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

One Thanksgiving Table

This year my husband and I are celebrating and giving thanks a little different.  Our boys are spending the holiday with my parents at their beach house this Thanksgiving.  As my husband is (permanently) in a wheelchair, and my parents don't have an elevator, we chose to let the boys go by themselves.  So what did we do?  Don't worry, we are OK!

For the past five years, our town has had an event called One Table.  Our church helps volunteer (I am making Pioneer Woman's macaroni and cheese!) with food and set up.  People of all socio-econonic means attend, both to volunteer and eat.  These are pictures from last year.

I'm putting macaroni and cheese in the oven right now, and giving thanks for my new kitchen and my wonderful oven.  How blessed am I?!?!

I thank God for a home that is large and open so that my husband (a true inspiration and blessing) can maneuver around.  I also thank God that it doesn't just "look like a 'wheelchair accessible' home", but is perfect for us all.  I thank Him for the means that we could build this home.  I thank Him for our family, friends, and faith that help us get through our lives, daily.  I thank my Heavenly Father for all my blessings, those I know and those I am not even aware of.  How great is our God... Let us thank Him.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Lilly and Basketball and Droids, Oh My!

"Oh my" is right!  It's been four days since I last posted.  And what on earth has kept me so busy?  The answers are these:

  • Finally cool/almost cold weather has caused me to get out all my cute sweaters, especially my cute Lilly cable knits!  This is the one I wore to the boys' basketball games this weekend.  They were both early in the morning, so hair was not quite presentable.  What's a cute mom to do to remedy the "bad hair morning"?  Don the pink monogrammed tennis hat that perfectly matches the sweater!

  • I bought the Verizon Droid on Saturday.  I've really wanted the IPhone, but a)  AT&T coverage in our area is very sketchy and b) we are still customers of Verizon (and their coverage is awesome).  It took me most of Saturday and Sunday to sync my old contacts and calendar onto it and understand how to work all the cool apps and stuff.  If you asked me if I liked my new Droid then, I might say that I wasn't sure.  But today (Hallelujah!) I feel like I have finally figured it out and have put some really fun apps on it.  PLUS, I also  have a protective pink cover AND... the cutest Lilly wallpaper on it! 

How can I not be happy with Lilly's pink and green monkeys
smiling at me whenever I pick it up?!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Comfort Food

I've been catching up and reading blog posts this evening.  I have a Crystal Lite Cosmo in Waterford crystal by my side.  (Tastes better that way I think!)  Oldest son is sleeping over at a friend's.  Youngest son is playing with his Tek Deck miniature skateboards and motorcycles on the oriental rug.  Husband is watching Fox News.  I love a Friday night like this because, as my Great Aunt Katherine would say, "I am worn to a frazzle."  (Must be said with true southern lady drawl.)  And based on what I have read from lots of you, so are you!

Tonight is the perfect night for Jackson's favorite meal:  homemade chicken pot pie.  I can smell it in the oven,  pure comfort food.  Ahhh, here it is...

Here's the recipe for the easiest chicken pot pie ever - and yummiest!

frozen rolled up pie crusts
3-4 boiled chicken breasts
1 small bag of frozen veggies OR 1 can of veggies
1 can 98% fat-free cream of whatever soup
1/4 cup of milk
thyme (this is the KEY ingredient!!!)
salt and pepper to taste.

mix all ingredients and let sit about 15-20 minutes to let the flavors "marry"
pour in pie pan lined with bottom crust
top with other crust (duh!)
bake at 350 degrees for almost an hour.

Pure comfort!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Heading to the Championship!

In honor of Sumter's football team, Aiken Tigers, I am writing in orange.  (See his football picture a few blogs down.)  We just won the last round of the play-offs and we are on to the CHAMPIONSHIP this Thursday!  Poor Jackson's team, the little guys' Aiken Tigers team, lost in the second round.  He was so sad that football season was over he had tears in his eyes!

I have never sat through such a nail-biter of a game as I did tonight.  But they won, 24-14.  They played great!  But what I am most proud of is the sportsmanship and integrity the coaches instill in his team.  Those coaches are tough.  They expect the best out of those little guys.  Both boys have come home exhausted, hungry, and filthy.  But, more often than not, they came home with huge smiles on their faces, saying, "That was the BEST PRACTICE EVER!"

Awesome, 'cause this Thursday night is going to be the BEST GAME EVER!!!

Go Aiken Tigers!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009


Pardon me for saying this, but I didn't feel very graceful yesterday.  Wait, let me rephrase that:  I didn't feel very Grace-filled yesterday.  I know I should have.  Yesterday in Sunday School, we began a series called Christmas with Grace.  As of last month, I became one of the facilitators of our class.  The other leader and I were very excited that we would be spending 5-6 Sunday preparing ourselves for Christ's gift of Himself to us.

The focus this week follows:
The message of Christmas is God giving us what we deserved the least, and what we needed most: grace. While here on earth, Jesus extended grace to those around him constantly. As Christians, we need to learn to do the same with those around us. Nothing shapes the human heart like grace. 
John 1:14-18

But I did not feel very Grace-filled.  My children have been driving me absolutely crazy these past few days.  Bickering with each other, whining to us, the oldest saying, every ten minutes, "But Mom, YOU said you would/I could (fill in the blank)", the youngest crying, "Nooooooo...." when told to take a shower after football or turn off the television.  I have not been feeling much Grace toward them at all.  And I really feel sad about it.  I know I do so much myself that I don't deserve HIS Grace at all - ever.  Yet HE gives it to me freely, openly, and lovingly.  Why hadn't I been able to get with HIS program this week?

I have been reading so many blogs and Facebook posts on "thankfulness" this week.  I am thankful for so many things in my life - my children included!  (I promise!!!)   One thing that stands out right now in my mind is part of the the lesson (and I'm changing the words around a little) I learned yesterday:  Nothing shapes the mother's heart like grace.

I prayed and thought about that message all day yesterday, and woke up this morning feeling a little more Grace-filled (yea!).  I truly desire that Grace-filled heart.  My children deserve my GRACE-filled heart.  My husband deserves my GRACE-filled heart.  And most of all, my Heavenly Father deserves my GRACE-filled heart.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Solution for Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally!

For those of you who took the "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally" challenge, here is the solution!  Know that your kids will need to know this, so pay close attention :)

Evaluate  8 + (2 x 5) x 34 ÷ 9 

8 + (2 x 5) x 34 ÷ 9 = 8 + 10 x 34 ÷ 9
8 + 10 x 34 ÷ 9 = 8 + 10 x 81 ÷ 9
8 + 10 x 81 ÷ 9 = 8 + 810 ÷ 9
8 + 810 ÷ 9 = 8 + 90
8 + 90 = 98

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

OK, how many of you remember that phrase?  If you can, you'll get 5 extra points on your next Math test!  Let me jog your memory... think back to fifth grade.

Evaluate  8 + (2 x 5) x 34 ÷ 9 

Please - Parentheses
Excuse - Exponents
My - Multiply
Dear - Divide
Aunt - Add
Sally - Subtract

I have been sitting in the dining room with our fifth grader, Sumter, going over his homework.  Thank goodness he has my math genes and thinks that math is just a big puzzle.  I can remember working out the problems, making sure I did all the operations in the correct order - and loving the challenge.  (Oh no!  I was a math nerd!)

Sumter is putting together a few problems for me to do.  I'll let you know tomorrow if I still have the math "edge".  Oh... and did you get the right answer?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thymes ... and 10% Off!

If you could choose one smell to be your "signature scent", what would it be?  Hands down, mine would be Thymes Eucalyptus.  Oh, it is so clean and fresh.  Eucalyptus oils with a hint of lemon... ahhhhh.
I bought my first bottle of lotion in this cute shop in Chatham, Massachusetts.  A college friend has a home on the Cape, and I was visiting for a long weekend.  That bottle is long gone, but I always have a supply of lotion and body wash on hand.  My boys tell me they know when I've been in their rooms because the scent lingers.  But my oldest says he doesn't mind too much because he loves the smell!

Now for the plug!  See the Tea Garden Gifts button on the right?  That's our precious store, and we carry Thymes... and much more!  Enter the promo code bevysblog and receive 10% off any online purchase as a thank you for reading my blog!

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The Fort Brothers" and Other Family Names

Over the past week I have dedicated one blog to each of my sons.  For Sumter, Pink, Green, & Southern commented that he had a great name.  A huge public thank you goes out to you PG&S!  Actually, I absolutely LOVE my boys' names.  I belong to one of those crazy South Carolina families where everyone is named after everyone else.  NO ONE has an original name.   (Well, almost no one.  Keep reading!)

My sister's name is the most beautiful in the family:  Anne Stuart.  It's a double name and, of course was taken from some dead great, great, etc. grandmother.  Not Anne.  Not Stuart.  It's Anne Stuart.  And don't mess with her on that because she'll just ignore you.  She and I went to summer camp on the shores of Lake Michigan when we were younger, and those Midwestern girls just couldn't grasp the concept.  They called her "Stuart".  We didn't correct them after a while, because... well, we just guessed they just didn't know any better.  :)

I am named after my mother, Beverly.  My given middle name is Mason.  Mason is her mother's maiden name.  My grandmother's family was from Virginia, and she was always fond of saying, "We were the Masons... of Virginia."  Never knew exactly what that meant.  It must have meant something as it is through her line that we are all members of the NSCDA.

My sons are known throughout parts of South Carolina as "The Fort Brothers" as in two forts in South Carolina:  Fort Sumter and Fort Jackson.  NO!  I didn't plan that.  On my side of the family every first-born son for the past five generations have been named "James Sumter".  They have all been called Sumter.  My "however many greats" grandfather was the personal physician to General Thomas Sumter of the Revolutionary War.   Our youngest, Jackson Elliott, was named for his paternal great-grandmother's maiden name (Jackson).  The Elliott is from my father's side.  Our ancestor, William Elliott, owned a large plantation that much later became Sea Pines (of Hilton Head Island).  Legend has it that he was forced to hand over the deed to a Union soldier at gunpoint. 

My sister has two beautiful daughters, Mary Stephens (double name, of course) and Caroline.  My family was absolutely thrilled with Mary Stephens' name.  Not only was she named after people from her father's side, but my mother discovered that we actually have a Mary Stephens on our side all the way from the 1600's!   But Anne Stuart really made a social familial gaff with poor Caroline.  When she told my mother what she was going to name her second daughter, my mother sniffed, "Oh. We don't have any Carolines in our family."  To which Anne Stuart replied, "Well, we do now!"

Mimi with Sumter, Jackson, Mary Stephens, and Caroline
Kanuga, 2008

So here's to all of you out there with crazy family names!  I'd love to hear your stories!

AKA Beverly Mason

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Can STILL Eat Him Up!

Last week I introduced you to my younger son, Jackson.  I gushed about how proud I was of him... so much so that I felt a little guilty.  So, here is my older son, Sumter, my ten-year-old.   As he is a fifth grader, we can put Now and Then pictures in his elementary school yearbook. This is the "now" picture he wants.

And here is the "then" picture... Don't you just want to eat him up!?!?  You mothers of small children, savor every moment!

Yes, Sumter is definitely entering that awkward stage of a "tween".  (What a strange word.  It makes me think it should be some weird cartoon character of the 80's, like the Smurfs and Snorks.)   He can be sassy at times.  He can yell at his younger brother.  He can be... a ten-year-old!

But I must say Sumter is a great kid and reflects the morals and manners we try to instill in our boys.  He always says, "Ma'am" and "Sir".  He is compassionate towards others who are not as fortunate as he is.  He notices when someone says, "Oh, God!" and tells me later that he really wants to share why they shouldn't do that.  He still wants me to tuck him in at night and snuggle, which really means let him talk to me and pray about his day.

Yes, you mothers of very young children should savor every day.  But this mother of a "tween" savors every day too!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My Prayer for Myself this Season

I'm getting anxious.  The season is slowly arriving.  The season of decorating, of planning, of decorating, of cooking, of buying gifts, of decorating.  Don't get me wrong... I love, I mean ABSOLUTELY LOVE, this season.  I wish they were already playing Christmas music on the radio!

The Sunday after Thanksgiving is when the "festivities" begin.  And I can't wait.  Especially this year as my house is on the Christmas Home Tour.  (My husband is not very excited as all he sees are $$$ flowing out of our house to get it "ready".  But how could I say no!?!?)  Really, all I need to buy is my yearly Nutcracker to add to our collection.  OK, who am I fooling?

But back to my "anxiousness".  The reason I am anxious is that I am afraid.  Afraid that I will get so caught up in the decorating, hostessing, cooking, and planning that I will not be still and ready.  Not still and ready for the party guests, or the ladies who will want to examine every detail and decoration, or even Christmas Day itself.

I want to be still and ready for HIS arrival.
I want to be still and ready for our truly BLESSED GUEST.
I want to be still and ready for for birth of our SAVIOR.

That is my prayer for myself, and my prayer for all of us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

All A's for Jackson!

Today I am one proud mama.  You see, my second grader came home with all A's on his report card.  "Big Deal," some (most) of you will say.  And I completely understand.  I mean, how hard is second grade... really? I know where you're coming from, because I taught it for five years - in a very competitive private school at that.  But I am so proud of my second grader.

Why?  Because my incredibly funny, athletic, good-looking boy with a knack for math has dyslexia.  My son can't read on level.  Letters and words have never made sense to Jackson. (I taught in a school that specialized in teaching children with dyslexia when he was in preschool and saw many "red flags" even at that young age.) While most of his friends read Magic Treehouse books and other chapter books, my eight-year-old is tutored two days a week by a private learning center, and has been for the past two years.  While his older brother went to summer camp in the mountains of North Carolina, Jackson spent four weeks living with his grandparents so that he could attend a summer program at an Orton-Gillingham accredited school specifically catering to dyslexic children.  Reading exhausts him.  Last year (in first grade), he would say it made him feel stupid.

Here are quotes from some famous dyslexics just like my Jackson and what they remember about school:

When I had dyslexia, they didn't diagnose it as that. It was frustrating and embarrassing. I could tell you a lot of horror stories about what you feel like on the inside.
--Nolan Ryan

I was, on the whole, considerably discouraged by my school days. It was not pleasant to feel oneself so completely outclassed and left behind at the beginning of the race.
--Winston Churchill

I couldn't read. I just scraped by. My solution back then was to read classic comic books because I could figure them out from the context of the pictures. Now I listen to books on tape.
--Charles Schwabb 

But this year has been different.  No, he didn't all of a sudden start to read.  (He will always struggle with reading.  He will have many, many, many ups and downs.)  Now, he understands his learning difference.  He accepts it.  He knows that he is in very good company - thanks to his experience this summer!  He has started using the strategies and coping skills he will have to use for the rest of his life.  Also, he has a wonderful teacher whom God has blessed us with.  I tell Mrs. Sanborn that all the time.  I know God placed her in our path for Jackson.  She understands his needs for accommodations and extra time with work.  She gives his reading comprehension tests orally.  She looks for alternative (not to be confused with easier) academic assessments to help him succeed.  He loves school and looks forward to it every morning. 

So hats of to Jackson.  I am so, so, so proud of you! 


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Musings on the Fair...

Yesterday was insanely busy.  Not only was it that crazy candy day known as Halloween, but I had promised my boys earlier last week that I would take them to the fair on Saturday.  (How could I forget that Saturday was Halloween!?!?)  I couldn't break a promise... so I braved the masses.

I have always loved the South Carolina State Fair.  The greasy food is the best.  I always look forward to my yearly indulgence of salty Fisk fries with lots of vinegar.  And a corndog smothered in mustard is always a treat.  There are other smells to tantalize:  fried mushrooms, elephant ears covered with powdered sugar (thank goodness I'm not a sugar freak!), and humungous ice cream cones.

I used to ride all the rides when I was younger.  The faster the better. Upside-down, I'm in!  Roller coasters - sign me up!   One particular ride my friends and I would all crowd into was the Super Himalaya.  The cars all went backwards around and around to the fabulous "hair bands" of the 80's, and the carnies who operated the ride would yell, "Do you wanna go faster!?!?!?"  Of course, we would all scream, "YES!!!" as we crushed against each other due to the centrifugal force.  We LOVED it!!!  The rides were all dirty, of course.  We all would go home reeking of "the fair".

But what ALWAYS amazes me these days is not the new ride or food:  it's the people.  And I'm not even talking about the people who work the fair.  I mean, I expect them to look and act a certain way.  It's the people who GO to the fair.  Let me tell you, compared to most of the fair's patrons, my sons and I were in the minority.

I've always wondered where these people come from.  When I was little, my father said they all lived under the fairgrounds and just came up when the fair was in town. Tank tops, tight jeans, lots o' tatoos, a few teeth missing, and (this beats all) no shoes.  And they are always in family groups. 

Here's one family I witnessed.  I kid you not!!!
  • long-haired grandpa in a dirty undershirt, overalls and Bad A** trucker hat (because he is the only one who has a job)
  • grandma (lugging a huge stuffed pink snake that she spent $26.00 to win)
  • son (chomping on a footlong corn dog while he is pushing the umbrella stroller full of more "made in China" merchandise.  Where's the baby???)
  • his younger brother leering at everyone around him (with his one good eye).  I can't even begin to quote what was written on his hat!
  • son's bleached blond with black roots girlfriend (in a Nine Inch Nails tour tank top) with the illegitimate runny nosed baby girl (pierced ears, of course)  in one hand, the other holding her Marlboro Reds and Bic lighter, and finally...
  • her best friend, multi-tasking by chomping gum, smoking her cig, and chipping purple nail polish off her bitten fingernails.   

I can't make this stuff up!  I saw this menagerie of people!  So lucky me... I think I've come up with my family's Halloween costume theme next year!