Before We Had Cell Phones

I remember my first cellphone. My first cellphone was some time in the mid 1990s, and it was a big, bulky, heavy Motorola. I didn’t use it very often. Basically, I had it for emergencies, which is the great thing about cellphones…you can use them in emergencies.

But I also remember life before the cellphone. The first twenty-two years of my life, in fact, cell phones weren’t really a thing. I’m sure there were people who had them before that, but I don’t know how they worked. I remember seeing car phones in TV shows like Cannon and Charlie’s Angels in the 1970s, but I think back then, they operated on a radio signal. When I was a kid, we had some sort of radio at home that would intercept car phone calls sometimes. We could also pick up foreign radio stations…I have no idea what kind of radio it was…shortwave maybe? My brother and I would search the dial for any sound, and when we heard something, we would stop and listen. It was great entertainment for us when we would hear a language we didn’t recognize or intercept a phone call.

My 15-yr-old daughter has no concept of life without the cellphone. She has asked, “What if you got sick at school, and your mother wasn’t home to answer the phone?” Well, we just stayed at school. If we were really sick, we might call Daddy or a neighbor to come get us.

When we were older, if we were meeting friends at a movie or restaurant, we had to plan before leaving home. And if we were waiting outside the movie for that friend, we couldn’t call if they were late. We just waited.

When I was in college and had to drive a couple of hours to the university, I did it without a cell phone. Two hours on the road with no cell phone. If I had experienced car trouble along the way, I would have had to rely on the mercy of strangers. I likely would have had to walk to a gas station or to a stranger’s home to use a phone. I knew where every house and every gas station was along the route.

Once, when I was driving back to school, I ran over something and had a flat tire about 20 minutes from the university. Without a cell phone, I would have been stranded or at the mercy of a stranger, but lucky for me, on that particular trip, my friend, Angela, was following behind me. I pulled over, and she stopped so I could get in her car. She drove me to the nearest pay phone, and I called a guy friend to see if he would come change my tire for me. We then drove back to my car and waited. He came and changed my tire, and we were back on our way. But if I’d had a cell phone, I could have stayed in my car and called AAA. I was lucky Angela was there, and I was fortunate to have a good friend to call.

Later, when I was 24, I was in a car accident in Mobile. As medics put me into the ambulance, a gentleman approached me and asked if he could call someone for me. I was so shaken up that I couldn’t remember Daddy’s work number, so I told him where Daddy worked and asked him to call him. The gentleman went somewhere nearby, looked up the number, and called Daddy to tell him they were taking me to Springhill Hospital.

Having a teenage daughter now, I’m thankful for the cellphone. My daughter is about to turn 15, and even though she can’t drive, she is out and about on a regular basis. When she goes somewhere with friends, not only can she call me if she needs me, but I can track her if I need to. I try not to be that mom, but anytime I feel something isn’t right, I will use Find My iPhone. I trust her, but teens will be teens. We have the same policies my parents had: Use your best judgment. I trust you till you give me reason not to.

So yes, I’m thankful for cellphones. There are some bad things about them. They are a distraction. We can never get away from them. They interrupt us. But those same reasons they are bad make them good too. They’re a distraction? Sometimes I need a distraction. If I’m waiting for a long time in a quiet room, I welcome the distraction. We can be found anywhere? Sometimes we need to be found…like when our kids are sick at school, or when there’s an emergency.  They interrupt things? Sometimes an interruption is a good thing…maybe an excuse to get out of a lengthy meeting. Did I ever mention I don’t like long meetings?

Viva la cellphone!

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We Survived Homecoming

After all the dress shopping, shoe shopping, and planning, Homecoming 2018 is officially over at our daughter’s school.

My mom friends have been posting photos on social media since the big night, and I love that every girl has her own style. I also love that the students go in groups.

At our school, the Friday of the Homecoming football game, there is a pep rally at the end of the school day, followed by the game that night. The Homecoming Dance is Saturday night. I can’t speak for everyone else, but before the dance, our daughter’s group went to dinner…26 kids total…at the home of one of the boys. It was fabulous! I know, because all the parents went over to take photos, and the hostess even had a lovely spread for us!

Now, here’s the skinny for parents of young daughters who will be going to a Homecoming Dance one day in the near future: that dress you had altered? You know, the one that had to be hemmed and taken in at the waist? You know, the dress that cost less than the alterations? She might not wear it. She might decide two hours before the dance that she wants to wear a different dress that you didn’t take for alterations, so she will need to be pinned into it. If you are lucky, like I was, she will get dressed at the home of one of her friends, and the friend’s mother will graciously do the pinning. I wasn’t there for it, but I’m hoping my daughter didn’t make it difficult, like she would have done for me! Here’s the great thing, though…she also wore some shoes she already had, so I get to return the new shoes she didn’t wear…money back in my pocket!

Girls wore all kinds of different dresses, each expressing her own personality…all colors, all silhouettes, and all lengths. It would be interesting to add up the total number of hours it takes to outfit a girl for the dance. We probably spent four hours shopping online. She then had to try on dresses…another three hours. Online shoe shopping plus in-store shoe shopping…three hours. Getting hair and makeup done and getting pinned into dress…2.5 hours. Add another hour for the time I spent getting two dresses altered that she didn’t wear. Grand total? It comes to 13.5 hours of my time, but probably more of hers, because I feel sure she tried on dresses in her room repeatedly…I’ll say 15 total hours. That’s a lot.chuttersnap-514371-unsplash

Parents of boys have it a lot easier with attire…khaki pants, collared shirt, tie (bowtie or regular), blazer, and shoes. It’s like the man uniform. I noticed while we were taking photos, though, that the mothers were all writing their sons’ names on pieces of paper and having them put them in their blazer pockets. Since the blazers all look alike, that’s a good way to make sure the they go home with the right person. So if your son hasn’t gone to the dance yet this year, go ahead and put his name in his coat pocket.

But for Homecoming, the boys who take dates have to make the plans. They figure out dinner arrangements, and they assemble the group. That’s not easy, but the boys, with the help of some hardworking mothers, pull it off.

Here’s another great thing: some kids go with dates, and some don’t…and it doesn’t matter. Most of them do, however, find a group, large or small, to go to the dance with. There is no right or wrong way to go to the dance…just go! And have fun!

After the dance, some moms very graciously took our group to iHop. It takes a lot of people to pull off all this fun for kids, and our kids are very fortunate to have parents who are willing and able to do it.

My daughter had a lovely time with her date, who is a great friend and perfect gentleman (I’ve always thought he’s a wonderful person). Together, they had fun with each other and their classmates.

Now we can start planning for the Sadie Hawkins Dance in February, when the girls invite boys! Ugh…what will she wear?!?!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Be Vulnerable: Is Friendship Worth It?

Life’s not easy. No one ever said it would be. It’s something we should know as adults, but we never learn.

Friendships aren’t always easy, either. Yes, there are times friendships are easy, but there are times they are difficult…hanging by a thread. Because I have a teenage daughter, I spend a lot of time discussing friendships, forgiveness, trust, and communication. But frankly, I’m still learning myself, so I don’t always give sound advice. We all make mistakes in friendships, even as adults, and we all have friends who make mistakes, even as adults.

We’ve all had times in relationships that we realized we needed to “fish or cut bait,” haven’t we? Aren’t there times you step back when a situation arises and think, “Maybe I don’t need to continue this friendship.” When I’ve felt that way, I try to take a deep breath and think logically…evaluate the situation without emotion.

But that’s easier said than done, because friendships are emotional connections. Just like marriage, friendship requires trust.. And just like marriages, friendships can fall apart. Unfortunately, just like marriages, going into them, we don’t know which ones will last and which ones won’t. A friend posted this on Instagram earlier this week:

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How true are those words of C.S. Lewis? We can’t be hurt emotionally by people to whom we don’t have an emotional connection. If you accidentally cut someone off in traffic, making them angry, do you worry about it for days to come? Likely not. But if you accidentally offend a longtime friend, do you worry about it for days to come? Probably. At least, you should, if you care about the person.

Likewise, if someone who is not your friend tells you a lie, do you care? Unless it’s going to affect something, probably not. If your friend tells you a lie, do you care? Yes. You do. And it’s all because you’ve made yourself vulnerable to that person by letting him/her into your life…trusting them. And that’s when you have to decide what to do. Do you confront them about it? Do you chalk it up to a mistake and let it go? Do you silently harbor ill feelings? Do you walk away from the friendship? It’s difficult. Because you’ve made yourself vulnerable, that hurt cuts a little deeper.

But, as C.S. Lewis says, if you want to keep your heart “intact,” you have to lock it up, don’t risk it by loving anyone. To have love of any kind is to have occasional pain, but the real friendships last…after forgiveness is sought. At the same time, we have to give those very friends the benefit of the doubt until we have reason to believe otherwise. Maybe your friend didn’t hurt you intentionally. Injury without malice, in friendships, should be forgiven. Injury with malice, in friendships, should be forgiven, as well…to free yourself from the burden of anger. I’ve written about forgiveness before. You can read it here.

I cannot imagine my own life without friendships. Sure, there have been friendships that have fallen by the wayside. It’s the way life is. Some of them fall away accidentally…you don’t know the last time you talked, and you didn’t realize at the time it would be the last time you would talk. Sometimes, there’s an argument or disagreement that ends a friendship. Other friendships, we choose to end, for one reason or another. Maybe you feel you’ve been taken for granted. Maybe the other person feels manipulated. Maybe you disagree all the time, and it has become tiresome. It happens, and when it has happened to me, I’ve chosen to believe I’ve learned from each instance.

But here’s one thing: if your heart gets broken, get up, and try again. Making yourself vulnerable is difficult and scary, but if you don’t, you won’t know what it’s like to have real friends. And remember, everyone isn’t going to like you. It’s a fact. And once you are OK with that, life gets a lot easier.

Is friendship worth the risk of heartache? You bet. For every disappointment, heartache, and sorrowful moment involved in friendship, there will be countless more good times.

To love is to be vulnerable. Be vulnerable.

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Photo by Dennis Magati on Pexels.com

Keep The Courtesy Wave Alive

Is it possible there are people out there who don’t know what a courtesy wave is? I guess it’s possible. I grew up thinking everyone knew about it and everyone did it, but as time has passed, I’ve come to realize some folks still don’t know. Are we witnessing the slow death of the courtesy wave?

A courtesy wave is a hand wave or gesture a driver or pedestrian offers as an expression of gratitude for a kindness on the road, or as an expression of apology after a mistake.

When I was growing up, courtesy waves were commonplace. Everybody did it, as far as I knew. I remember both my parents being courtesy wavers, and my brother and I became courtesy wavers, as well. It’s just what we do. Or at least that’s what I thought. It seems fewer people offer the courtesy wave these days.

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Last week, when I was driving to school, a man was trying to back out of his driveway into the street, but traffic made it difficult for him. I stopped so he could get out. He backed out of his driveway and drove away…no courtesy wave. He certainly didn’t owe me anything, since I did it out of the kindness of my heart, but really? I couldn’t believe it! I stopped traffic for him, and he couldn’t just hold up his hand to thank me? That’s like someone holding open a door for you and you don’t say “thank you”! Come on, dude! Just give me the wave!

Another afternoon, I was picking up my child from a crowded place. The car next to me and I allowed a car to pass in front of us, so he could exit. He didn’t even look at us, much less give a courtesy wave. I looked over at the driver of the car next to me and recognized him, so I put down my window and said, “Wow. A courtesy wave would have been nice.” He responded, “I thought the exact same thing!”

But it happens all the time. I think there are way fewer courtesy wavers than there used to be. I don’t get mad, but I often wonder if they know how great the courtesy wave is. Courtesy waves carry a lot of power, but if you don’t do it, you’ll never know. They have the power to make someone feel appreciated; or to apologize; or to offer forgiveness.

I’m an extreme courtesy waver. My courtesy wave is one long continuous wave from different angles…or accompanied by a “thank you” if I’m a pedestrian. I offer that wave in different situations. Here are some examples:

  • If I’m trying to walk into Target, even if I’m in the crosswalk, and you stop to let me cross, I’m giving you a courtesy wave to thank you for your kindness. I’m likely going to smile and actually say, “Thank you!” I appreciate someone letting me cross. That’s how a pedestrian can use the courtesy wave.
  • As a driver, if traffic is backed up in my lane, and you let me over in front of you, you get a giant courtesy wave. In fact, chances are I will roll down my window and hang out the window to give a big wave with a big smile, and I will likely follow up with another wave over my shoulder and a wave out my sunroof. Like I said, I’m an extreme courtesy waver.
  • A courtesy wave can go a long way in bad situations too. If you cut me off in traffic and keep going, I think, “What?!?!” But if you offer a courtesy wave after, I simmer down. That courtesy wave means, to me, that you are apologizing for making that mistake. And I even give the courtesy wave of forgiveness in return. At the same time, if I accidentally cut someone off, I raise my hand for that courtesy wave as quickly as possible.

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I understand frustration in traffic. There are lots of things I dislike about driving: slow drivers in the left lane, drivers who fail to yield the right of way, people who change lanes without looking, and more, but a lot of those things can be forgiven with a courtesy wave. Sometimes slow drivers don’t realize they need to get over, but if they give me a quick wave and move over after I pass them on the right (ugh…if I’m having to pass you on the right, you’re doing it wrong), all is forgiven. I know they don’t care if I forgive them or not, but it’s civility.

Civility is good, and courtesy waves are part of that. I refuse to believe this gesture is dying. I choose to believe it is alive and well, but some folks just don’t know about it yet. Spread the word, friends…courtesy waves are powerful. They aren’t required, but they are appreciated.

***Thank you for reading Kelly Mattei’s Favorite Things. If you enjoy my blog, please go “LIKE” it on Facebook.***

 

 

 

 

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Cool It Now…I’m Young At Heart

This afternoon, my daughter asked me to run into Smoothie King and pick up some smoothies for her and some friends before field hockey practice. I was happy to do it. I remember what it’s like to be a 14-yr-old wanting a snack after school, but not having the ability to drive.

I asked her to text me their orders, and I ran into the Smoothie King between our house and the school.

Before I go on, let me tell you this particular Smoothie King is the best. It’s located in the Arboretum in Charlotte, and they make smoothies in record time and offer great customer service. Many times, I’ve barely given my order before I look up and it’s ready. I almost hesitate to tell people what great customer service they offer, because I don’t want the crowd to grow, BUT I have to give credit where it’s due.

Today, I walked in, and I was the only person in the place. School starts at a lot of independent schools in the area tomorrow, so tomorrow afternoon, it will be packed. But today, I was ahead of the curve. I placed my order for two Angel Foods, a Strawberry/Blueberry Greek Yogurt Smoothie, and a Banana Boat, and I waited. While I waited, I noticed 80s music was playing. Not just any 80s music…it was New Edition singing Cool It Now. (See the video here.) Ahhh…the good old days. I said aloud, “Wow! It’s New Edition!” The teenagers working in the place looked at me, puzzled. I explained, “New Edition…a boy band from the 80s…you know, Bobby Brown? Bell, Biv, Devoe?” They just looked at me. “No ma’am. I guess we’re too young.” Ugh. Yep. You’re too young.

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The Smoothie King guys aren’t much older than my daughter, but I think she knows who Bobby Brown is. In fact, when she was a baby, I could play My Prerogative if she were crying, and every single time, she would stop. (See My Prerogative video here.) I don’t know if it was the sound of tires squealing at the beginning of the song or the opening riff, but it stopped the crying every…single…time.

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I was determined to make these guys understand, so I went one step further, “Ever heard of Whitney Houston?” That rang a bell! They both nodded and replied, “Yes, ma’am.” And I went on to explain Bobby Brown had been married to Whitney Houston. “Ohhhh.”

They didn’t care. And I totally get it. It’s the same as if, in 1985, someone had talked to me about music or musicians from 1955. The only singer I would have been familiar with, probably, was Elvis.

Funny that they knew Whitney Houston, though. (They probably just know she died in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton.) I remember watching Being Bobby Brown, a television reality show on Bravo in the early 2000s. It followed Bobby Brown and his marriage to Whitney. I remember one episode in which Bobby was in the lobby bar at the Grand Hyatt in Buckhead, Atlanta. He was talking to a gentleman at the bar, and when he told the guy who he was, there was no sign of recognition. When Bobby next said, “I’m married to Whitney Houston,” the older gentleman had the same reaction as the teenage boys had today, “Ohhhh! Yeah…Whitney Houston!” When I watched that episode, I felt bad for Bobby. He must have hated being known as Mrs. Whitney Houston. In the 80s, he had quite a career in music, first with New Edition, and then a successful solo career, winning at least a couple of Grammy Awards. After he married Houston, his career went downhill.

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So yes, I felt old in Smoothie King today, but I’m young at heart. I wanted to tell those guys they are totally missing out…they should give New Edition and Bobby Brown a listen. Candy Girl (video here)was another big hit for New Edition, and Bobby had lots of success with My Prerogative, Every Little Step, Roni, and Don’t Be Cruel. In fact, my senior year in college, on the night of a big party, some friends and I considered skipping the party and going with our dates  from Tuscaloosa to Montgomery to see Bobby Brown and New Edition. Back then, though, we didn’t have StubHub, so we didn’t know if we’d be able to get tickets. We opted not to risk it. Instead, we went to the party, which featured a local band called The Male Men. “What do the Male Men do? The Male Men do deliver!”

Good times.

While I felt old at Smoothie King, I also took a brief trip back to my college days. Oh, to be able to watch Bobby Brown and New Edition videos on MTV…back when it played videos. I should probably go thank those Smoothie King guys for making me feel the need to explain who Bobby Brown is…it made me think about him, and I immediately became 22 again as I got in my car and played My Prerogative loudly (and singing along at the top of my lungs) on the drive to deliver the smoothies to my daughter and her friends. In fact, if my arms hadn’t been loaded with smoothies when I arrived, I might have danced up to my daughter and her friends.

I’m young at heart.

 

 

Accentuate The Positive

No matter where you live, people complain about where they live. Maybe they’ve spent their whole lives there, so they’re bored. Maybe they just moved there and think the place they lived before was better.

Here’s the funny thing, though: complaining doesn’t help. No matter the situation or place, pointing out the negative in life makes everything worse. Constructive criticism = yes. Complaining = no.

Recently, I was talking with a friend who moved to Charlotte from a large city in another state last summer, and I asked her how she liked it. Rarely do I hear someone say they don’t like Charlotte. In fact, a pilot on a recent flight out of Miami, before takeoff, said, “We are going to Charlotte. If you don’t want to go there, well, you’ve probably never been there.” It’s a lovely city…not too big, not too small.

When I asked my friend how she liked our fair city, she responded, “It’s fine, but I can’t believe schools close when there’s hardly any snow! What is wrong with you people?” Really? Frankly, complaining about snow days in Charlotte is not very original, so you get zero points for creativity. As always, I explained that, because we don’t get much snow, cities in the south don’t spend money on a lot of snow-clearing road equipment, so some roads can be icy for days. Plus, some people in the south have never driven in snow or ice, adding another level of danger. Blah…blah…blah…I’ve said it all before.

Different regions have different strengths. Southerners might not drive in snow, but we can drive in torrential rains! Before living in Charlotte, I lived in Mobile, Alabama, a city on the Gulf Coast where we had afternoon thunderstorms almost every day during summer. Guess who had trouble driving in it? People from other parts of the country. You won’t see someone from Mobile turning on their hazard lights and slowing to a dangerous crawl on the interstate in a rainstorm..but that’s another discussion for another day.

Sooooo…instead of pointing out the obvious to that friend who was complaining about snow days in Charlotte, I asked, “What do you LIKE about Charlotte?” After all, she chose to live here. Folks can get defensive about their cities.

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Photo by nika kakalashvili on Pexels.com

I could sit around thinking of bad things to say about Charlotte, but I can immediately  give people a laundry list of great things about this city: great climate, friendly people,  an awesome amusement park, an airline hub, miles of scenic greenways for biking/walking, green spaces everywhere, plays/musicals/shows, museums, sporting events, good shopping, churches on “every corner,” a fantastic Jewish Community Center, great employment opportunities, colleges and universities in the area…the list goes on and on.

Every place has strong points. In a small town, it might be the sense of community or safety. In a bigger city, it might be great restaurants, cultural events, or sporting events…or maybe the city, like Mobile, is near the beach.

When my daughter was younger, I would pick her up from school and say, “Tell me two great things that happened today.” It forced her to find two positives. It’s easy to complain, but it’s more fun to find something good. It started the ride home on a good note.

So, if you’ve moved to a new city or town and can’t find something nice to say, well, don’t say anything at all. You probably haven’t been looking for good things. Search for good things about it. But if you’ve searched and still can’t find anything nice to say, it’s likely not the place that’s the problem.

Next time it snows in Charlotte, I’m going to pray schools are closed, so we can drink hot chocolate and eat grilled cheese sandwiches after we go sledding in two inches of snow till it melts. And next time there’s a rainstorm (with no lightning), I’m going outside and splash through some puddles.

Accentuate the positive, folks!

***This made me think of my Mother telling me one time, “If you think everybody else is crazy, chances are you’re the crazy one.” But that’s for another day…***

For information on events and things to do in Charlotte, click here. Charlotte’s got a lot!

Wishing Summer Would Last?

Tonight I walked into my local Bath and Body Works for the first time in a while. My daughter was obsessed with this store for a few years. She loved their hand sanitizers, shower gels, and fragrance mists. Eventually, I started to like the fragrance mists as well, because I am not a big fan of perfume or cologne. When you have migraines, strong smells are not your friend. I ran out of my favorite fragrance mist today, so I ran to Bath and Body Works after I dropped off my daughter at a party.

When I walked into the store, a very pleasant saleslady greeted me, and as I stopped to take a whiff of a Pumpkin/Waffle scented candle, she asked, “Are you ready for fall?” What? Just sniffing a pumpkin/waffle candle makes me ready for fall? Of course I’m not ready for fall! I don’t even want school to start!

Instead, I just said, “Not just yet. I wish summer could last a little longer.”

The fragrance I usually use is Vanilla Bean scented, but after that exchange about fall, I was looking for something more summery, and boy, did I ever find it! I actually found a fragrance mist called At The Beach! Could it be more perfect? I picked up the sample bottle and sprayed some on my arm. Ahhhh….the scent of suntan lotion and sea mist! I picked up a bottle, and then I picked up another. Then I picked up some At The Beach Body Cream. Even though summer has to end, it doesn’t mean I have to stop smelling like summer! I’m walking around smelling like the beach! If you’d like to smell like the beach or purchase candles that smell like the beach, you can go to Bath and Body Works by clicking here.

Of course, I picked up some of my favorite Vanilla Bean fragrance as well, but I will put off using that for as long as I can.

In the past, I’ve extended summer for myself by using tanning oil or suntan lotion as moisturizers. If you’ve ever walked into a meeting I was attending and thought you smelled Hawaiian Tropic tanning oil, you probably did. I’ve been known to moisturize my skin with it. Nothing takes me back to high school like the aroma of Hawaiian Tropic. Or sometimes, I will use Coppertone Tanning Lotion, which immediately takes me back to my childhood and makes me think of the old ad…you know, the one in which the puppy is tugging on the little girl’s swimsuit. I actually had a beach towel with that ad on it when I was younger. You can purchase the oil and lotion in Target, Walmart, or most any drugstore.

This next summer-extending product is not something that smells like the beach, but it does taste a little like sunshine: Chick-Fil-A’s White Peach Tea Lemonade. What says summer more than lemonade? White Peach Tea Lemonade…that’s what. I happened upon this recently when I zipped through the drive thru of a Chick-Fil-A. I was waiting in the line and saw an ad on the menu board for this special tea, so I decided to try it. Normally, I don’t drink my calories, but I drank them that afternoon, and it was worth it. It has been added to the menu permanently after being tested in various markets. I know in November when I need to think of summer, I’ll turn into my neighborhood Chick-Fil-A.

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Even after school starts, I’ll be dragging summer out a little longer in other ways too. I’m growing corn and tomatoes in my backyard, and right now, it’s looking like the corn will be ready to harvest around Labor Day. Maybe I’ll be able to talk my husband into grilling some hamburgers to go with our fresh, homegrown, sweet corn. And we’ll put some of the tomato slices on our burgers. My first tomato harvest wasn’t so good earlier this summer, so I’m hoping these late ones will be better. My sunflowers are just about to bloom, so they’ll be pretty for a few more weeks too. It could all make for a lovely Labor Day, which happens to be my mother’s birthday…our first without her. She would be proud.

Labor Day weekend also marks the beginning of college football season, so that’s something to look forward to.

I plan to smell like summer while drinking my iced tea till at least November. Maybe then I’ll light a pumpkin/waffle candle, but I will still be dreaming of summer while I sip my White Peach Tea Lemonade.