Category Archives: north carolina

“Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile.” ― William Cullen Bryant

I seriously love autumn.  I love the crisp mornings, sunny days, and spectacular colors!  It’s been a wonderful summer, and I am feeling blessed.  Daylight savings time ended yesterday, so the days are getting shorter.  Now it’s time to start counting the reasons to be Thankful, because Thanksgiving will be here soon.  My mom has already started Christmas shopping, and time is going by so fast it’s hard to slow down and enjoy the moments.  But it has been a glorious time to be in the mountains. 

Saturday afternoon after a couple of quick rain showers

Yesterday was a great day.  We had NO plans, so stayed in all day.  J loves Sundays.  He sits down in front of the NFL RED ZONE at 1:00, before the first game starts, and basically stays there until he shuffles to bed and falls asleep watching the last game.  I get football by osmosis: based on what he yells, I pretty much figure out what happens.  But I can’t watch the Red Zone.  I call it football for A.D.D.  You start watching one game, and they suddenly switch to another one when you look down to check your email…I just can’t keep up. But it makes him very happy.  The leaves up here peaked about a week ago, and we’ve had a couple of rains this week so they are all coming down.  I love the way the roads look when the leaves have just fallen. 

I spent my day reading, catching up on TV shows on my ipad, and starting a new painting.  I hope I’ll be able to capture the glorious colors I saw last week.

 We celebrated my young girlfriend’s 50th last week in beautiful Callaway Gardens! 

Dressed all in pink for dinner…we don’t like to call attention to ourselves at all!
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It was a glorious crisp fall weekend, and we had so much fun relaxing, freezing our tuccas off while biking around the property, and seeing the beautiful gardens and butterflies.  We wanted to go dancing, but the metropolis of Pine Mountain, Georgia didn’t really offer anywhere to go, so we cranked up the music and danced in the parking lot!

 We never saw another guest anywhere around, since we were in between seasons, so we kind of had the place to ourselves.  And then we went inside, changed into our pjs, and continued the dance party.  Maybe since most of us are over 50 we should act more like our age, but what’s the fun in that?

Must have been a really heartfelt song!

The horticultural center with our awesome volunteer tour guide

 J and I FINALLY played golf.  It rained so much at the beginning of the summer (over 100″ before the end of July!), and J was still recovering from ACL surgery, that this was our first time of the year.  I wish I could say I played well, but I didn’t suck as much as I thought I would.  It was a beautiful day, and we had a blast.  Hoping to play a couple more times this week.

 We were invited to a friend’s sister’s house to watch the Trick-or-Treating in Brevard.  They actually close her street and it is absolutely crazy!  I miss those days. 

A live pony!!  How cool is that?

Speaking of Trick or Treating…no trick or treating in college, but parties every day of the week!  My little activist H went dressed as one of her heroines…Rachel Carsen.  (For those of you, like me, who don’t know who she was, click on her name for more info).

 She and her friend J also dressed up as Sam and Suzy from the movie “Moonrise Kingdom“.  She told me she bought the red dress and sewed the collar and cuffs on them herself.  Who knew she could sew?

So it’s goodbye to autumn, and hello winter!  Snowmass has had almost 60″ of snow since September!  It’s going to be an amazing season! 
**I went to a party this weekend and was asked to bring appetizers.  Since they eat no dairy, grain, sugar or legumes, I was lost for ideas.  I took an awesome Cauliflower puree that was delicious, and had no legumes whatsoever.  I also took my Broccoli Hummus, which does have garbanzo beans, but it is so amazing I keep eating the leftovers by the spoonful!  I’ll post the recipes tomorrow.

Being Thankful

David Shatzman

I met David through my mother in law, Helene,  probably 15 or more years ago, when he decorated her house in Florida.  Fast forward to today, we have both undergone a lot of changes in our lives, and somehow both landed in North Carolina.  The photo above is his beautiful property.  He drove up to see Helene when she visited us last month.  It was nice to see him, and his enthusiasm, style, and talent were still greatly evident.  We’re Facebook friends now, and I look forward to his daily musings.  Most of them, to be honest, are a little over my head, but each of them give me something to think about.  This morning something he wrote really jumped out at me.  

“Human kindness and understanding … opens everything good in life – humor, joy, sym-pathy, love, friendship… Why live another way, when doing, so surely invites a world full of aggravation, uncertainty and competition? Imagine, missing good because of a fearful heart, manifesting as bad behavior? I think, it is, all fear, and unknowing…

Then I think, oh, of course, everyone learns and learning always dances with suffering – so, I feel better, not that other people suffer and learn, but that I am , at least in this case, normal – and it helps me to understand endless reasons to be kind and understanding.

Lately I have been thinking about being Thankful.  There’s a Facebook thing going around…20 days of thanks…starting today and leading up to Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for so many things, I don’t think I can fit them all in a list of 20.  But David’s status this morning reminded me that I am thankful that I have been fortunate to know so many wonderful, different, interesting people in my life.  People who, just like me, love, laugh, cry, feel sad, have friends, give to others, feel insecure, are sometimes competitive, desire to learn, but who might have been raised in a completely different environment than I was.  They might have different beliefs than I do, whether religious, political, child-rearing, dietary…you name it, but underneath it all, we’re all just learning to live our lives in a meaningful way.
“Human kindness and understanding” is a learned behavior  and we’re all learning.  
I grew up with a wonderful, loving family, and they mean the world to me.  I learned so many things from them.   My religious beliefs were planted when I was very young.  I was surrounded by other people who believed the same things I did, my family and my church friends.  It was easy to believe what I believed because I wasn’t questioned.  I fit right in.  Later in life I met lots of different people with vastly different beliefs.   One night after dinner, I was sitting around a table with some friends who were raised Jewish.  One person asked me a question that I had never been asked before.  To be completely honest, I don’t remember the exact question, but it was about my religion and “Why” I believed what I did.  I don’t need to get into the logistics of the actual question, or how I stammered the canned answer I had been told my whole life, but the thing I took away from the conversation was I needed to learn more about “Why?”  I didn’t need to research Bible verses…I knew that already.  I wanted to learn why I believed that was the definitive answer.  My research strengthened my faith even more.  I started thinking that the people I knew who had found their faith later in life, whether converted Jews, Christians, or something else, seemed to have a much stronger conviction in their beliefs.  They had come to it on their own.  It also made me realize that the fear I had in earlier years of anyone who believed differently than I did came from unknowing.  I was afraid someone would question me, and I was afraid of someone who had different beliefs than I did.  What I have learned is that human kindness and understanding are not qualities specific to any religion.  I know people with different beliefs who are better people than I have ever known.  And I learn things from them.  When I married a Jewish man, I worried that his friends and the jewish community would always know I was different, and treat me differently.  My experience has been anything but that.  But I know that there are probably people who do feel a little uncomfortable around me, because I have different beliefs.  Their feelings are from unknowing, and unknowing causes fear.  I represent something they aren’t familiar with.  
Underneath it all, we are the same.  We are human beings, learning, always learning, and always trying to be the best we can be.  And today, I am thankful for all the human beings I have met along the way, and appreciate that I can still learn and grow. 
David Shatzman’s photo

To see more of David’s work, visit his blog!

Summer, Friends, and Breakfast Pizza

I’m still here!!!  Whew.  The last 3-4 months have been a blur.  I won’t bore you with details, but in short, H is now a high school graduate!  The last few months of school for her were a combination of frantic studying, finding out which colleges she was accepted to, deciding where to go (which involved a few repeat trips on both sides of the country), planning an Operation Smile fundraising concert without much help, and graduation.  Combine all that with the inevitable “senior slide” and it made for a pretty tense situation in our household.   All I can say now is that I feel like I have my sweet daughter back.  When she took her last AP exam a week before school was out, it was like a fresh breeze was flowing through our house.  She exempted out of all her final exams so the stress of picking out a college and maintaining her grades was gone.  I can’t tell you the feeling of relief we all felt.

Graduation…the white gowns were lovely

  J has been dreaming and planning for the day after H’s graduation for the last four years!  I still can’t believe we’re actually living the dream.  We’re not quite ready for the whole shebang, which is making North Carolina our home base and downsizing in Nashville, but we’re able to spend a lot more time in NC.  We finally moved into our new house.  J likes to say it’s the home he’s going to die in, but hopefully not for a very long time!  H was in a little town about half an hour down the mountain where she was doing lifeguard training and orientation for being a camp counselor at Keystone Camp where she spent many summers as a little girl.  She had not seen the new house in quite a long time.  She called up one night because they had the night off and wondered if she could bring a few friends up for dinner.  Of course, I was thrilled.   I didn’t think I’d get to see her at all for a couple of weeks.   She used to love Lake Toxaway.  But in the last few years, being an only child in a retirement community with lots of old people and no teenagers is not fun.  She didn’t have a lot of expectations for the house because she didn’t think she’d have much use for it since she’s going off to college in California.  But when she came in with her friends, she was so excited, which in turn, made us ecstatic!  She even says that she would come here when she’s got a break from college!

Keystone Camp Counselors

After her orientation she had about three weeks to spend with us.  She had one friend from Nashville come up for a couple of weeks and it was so great to have that time with her, and see her relaxed and happy.  She had 9 Adventure Treks friends (the backpacking, climbing, camping trips she experienced the last two summers) come to the house for a long weekend “reunion”.  I was a little nervous about cooking for 5 boys, much less 10 kids, but it worked out great.  The kids were great, the food was consumed and they even cleaned up before they left.  Great memories!

Yes, I fed these guys for four days!
AT kids enjoying the Brown Trout, our favorite

 But by far the best part of my summer so far was a week of just the three of us.  H even wanted to spend time with us, which was a rarity a few months ago.  In less than two months she will leave the nest for a new college life in California, so I am treasuring these moments.  She never looked at a single college in the vicinity of Tennessee or North Carolina, so I am used to the idea of her leaving, but I think when we actually drive away after orientation I will be a basket case.  In the meantime, I am enjoying every moment I can get.

Hiking together…just like old times!

Rosie and Sugar love the lake!

Here’s a recipe for the breakfast pizza I made one morning.  It’s easy, pretty, and healthy, and I used to make it whenever Halle had friends over.  Her AT friends inhaled it before they made scrambled eggs and bacon (and cleaned up after themselves…a miracle!)


One roll of refrigerated pizza dough
Lowfat cream cheese
Lite Cool Whip
Assorted fruit (Berries, Bananas, Kiwi all work great, but use your imagination)
Cinnamon Sugar (I make my own so I can adjust the amounts of cinnamon and sugar)

Roll out the dough onto an ungreased nonstick baking pan.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar.  Bake at recommended temperature until very lightly browned (don’t let it get too done or the pizza will be too tough and hard to cut).  Slide out of baking pan onto cutting board to cool.

  Mix about 1-1 1/2 cups of Cool Whip with a half cup of cream cheese until spreadable.  Spread onto cooled pizza crust to the edges.  Slice fruit as desired and layer over cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle with Cinnamon Sugar.  I usually slice it into squares for serving.

Focusing on “Firsts”, not “Lasts”

Last week we spent fall break in California, looking at colleges.  At this point in H’s college search, we’re narrowing the list down, instead of adding to it.  There were six colleges she was strongly interested in before the trip, and afterwards, there were only two.   

One thing I learned about California…specifically the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas.  They don’t have enough roads for all the cars.  Seriously.  Driving  the 45 miles from Santa Clara to San Francisco took almost three hours.  The last 90 minutes were spent crawling the last 10 miles.  Luckily, we finished up our marathon driving with a day and a half to relax (aka:  shop) in San Francisco, and fit in a couple of nice meals. 

Since we realized the last three times we were in San Francisco we ate at the same places (Boulevard, Slanted Door, Bix), we tried a couple of new places.  Chaya, a French-Japanese brasserie at the Embarkadero, that we loved.  Warm and intimate, with amazing sushi and a nice wine list.  It was a really nice evening. The fact that we were able to stay awake throughout a leisurely dinner made it even better, since that morning we started in Los Angeles, then toured U.C.  Davis, Santa Clara University, and survived the marathon drive to San Francisco, so we were exhausted.

Crunchy Tuna at Chaya… bad photo, incredible dish!

 The next night we walked around the block to Fish and Farm, which although it didn’t have the ambiance we felt at Chaya, had unbelievable food.  Even the salted butter for the warm rolls was superb!  Fish and Farm serves locally sourced Seafood, Meat and Produce, sourcing most from within a 100 mile radius.

Pan Seared halibut with heirloom tomatoes at Fish and Farm

 Even though neither of these places were on the “top 100” list of San Francisco restaurants, they would have topped most restaurants in Nashville.  The Nashville restaurant scene is getting better, don’t get me wrong, but I think there are only a small handful here that serve consistently good, unique, and local or organic food. 

But back to the college search process.  It’s all very exciting, looking at great schools, in great cities, with great academics…but it’s a nerve-wracking process for all of us.  With the common app, it’s a little bit easier to apply to multiple schools, but when the pool of possible colleges and universities gets so big, it gets overwhelming.  H really wants a school with smaller class sizes.  She loves being able to get to know her teachers, and doesn’t relish the thought of being in a class with 150-400 students.  But on the other hand, the small schools often don’t have the breadth of opportunities, and since she changes her mind about what she wants to study about once a month, she would like to have multiple choices, in case her first choice doesn’t end up being her passion.

I’ve been impressed with how thoroughly she has researched her possibilites, and her enthusiasm for exploring all aspects of the decision.  She has narrowed her list from 14-15 to 7 schools.  From Washington, DC to California, she has pretty much covered the United States with choices.  Anything but in the south, or close to home, which I’m O.K. with.  I don’t know if it’s because she’s an only child, or because she has traveled extensively, and lived in the same city her whole life, but she is ready to fly.  When the applications finally get sent, and the acceptance/rejection letters arrive, it will definitely get interesting.  Right now, even though I am trying not to be a helicopter mom and let her drive through the application process, I know I will be relieved when the last “submit” button is pushed. 

But I am trying to relish these days.  Everything is the “last time”.  Her last “first day of school”, her last Friday night football game, her last ACT test, her last homecoming, etc.  She’s decided to do senior spring break with her friends this year, so for the first time, we’ll do spring break separately.  That means we had our last “family spring break” last year without even knowing it!  When J and I hiked Little Green Mountain in North Carolina this morning, we realized the next time we hike and play the alphabet game (a tradition we had with H for years) will probably be with our grandchildren.  But instead of focusing on “last”, I’m trying to focus on “firsts”.  The first time we let her stay home overnight alone, the first time she makes her own meals,  the first time she moves away, the first time she comes home for the holidays.  We will have many “firsts” ahead.  The first time she brings a boy home will be exciting (hopefully!), the first time we drive away and leave her in her dorm room will be…I don’t know?  Sad? Exciting? Both?

Preschool graduation

senior photo

Last night we met a few new couples whose children are out of college: working, volunteering, or attending graduate school.  Listening to the pride they had in what their children are doing made me realize that we are not going to be finished parenting our daughter when she goes to college.  Her choices and her possibilites are endless, and it will be so much fun to experience all her “firsts”, even if from afar.  There is no way to explain how fast the years feel like they’ve gone, and I’m sure one day when she has her own family she’ll understand why I am so melancholy these days, but I feel so blessed and fortunate to be experiencing it all. 

Exercising after Ablation…YES!

We’re back in NC.  J’s birthday was yesterday, and we decided to do a quick trip up here to meet with the architect and designer for our new house, and hopefully see the beginning of the fall colors.  The fall here is my absolute favorite time of year.  We couldn’t have picked a better weekend.  The weather is crisp, the skies are clear and blue, and the colors are starting to peek out.  We can’t come back for a couple more weeks, so I hope we don’t miss the spectacular orange, red and gold that will probably really pop next week. 

I am 12 days past ablation, and I am absolutely amazed at the difference!  Not only do I sleep like a baby since the PVCs have disappeared, but from the minute I began to exercise again I am back up to the intensity I was doing before this all started, almost three years ago.  The only disappointment is that since I couldn’t run, but wanted a similar calorie burn, I was walking on a treadmill for 90 minutes at 15% incline.  Probably the dumbest thing I could have done, because I have done something to my hip.  Doing high impact things like running really hurts my hip, so I can’t run right now, but at least it’s not because I can’t breathe!  So now I’m stretching like crazy, and still doing the elliptical and stair machine, and today J and I biked the mountains here.  It’s a relatively short ride…about 10 miles, but the first hill is constant uphill for 3.5 miles (about 1200 feet rise in elevation), then we go off road on a gravel cut through for another couple of miles that seems like 20, and another huge steep hill that seems to go forever.  But it’s a beautiful ride and with the leaves changing the views just blow my mind.   Last time I biked with J I had to stop about every five minutes, in tears, because I physically could not do what I had done a million times before, and ended up having to turn around.  That resulted in my trekking to NYC to get tested, which uncovered the V tach, so it was all good, I guess.

Who knew that a simple catheterization could cure me?  I feel so lucky that the problem was finally discovered and it was completely fixable.  I probably should wait until I say “completely”, because it’s still early, and these things do sometimes fail, but so far, I feel like I traded in an old model for a brand spanking new heart!   J read a statistic somewhere that up to 40% of medical conditions are misdiagnosed every year.  In my case, I was lucky.  My condition wasn’t life threatening…I had no underlying heart disease.  In fact, if I wasn’t an athlete, I might never have even known I had it!  But it was definitely changing my quality of life.  When I think that three doctors (a cardiologist and two pulmonologists) missed it, and that I spent tons of money on asthma medications that didn’t work ($300/month!), it’s a little frustrating.  But the end justifies the means.  I am just so thankful that I am able to continue to run and bike.  Sure, I’m still 50 years old, with 50 year old joints and the aches and pains that come with that, but my heart is not going to stop me!

Now I just have to pick a marathon for 2012!

Snowbound with my girls!!

Once upon a time, twenty-eight years ago, I was a Junior at the University of Tennessee, and my boyfriend at the time introduced me to two girls, CH and CR. They’re going to kill me for posting this lovely 80’s photo of them, but unfortunately, this is how we ALL looked back then!

He thought we would get along, and that it would be fun to double date with their boyfriends, who were HIS friends. Today, boyfriend is long gone, but the friendship I have with those girls has blossomed into a beautiful relationship that continues to multiply and enrich my life. Not only are they like my extended family, but as the years have gone by, the seeds of that friendship have produced many more friends…brought into the circle at different times, but are as deep rooted as the original three. Some have come and gone…but there is a core group that is closer now than ever before.

Through the years we have taken many trips together, celebrated countless birthdays, (especially the milestone 30 and 40th!),

been bridesmaids in each other’s weddings,

planned wedding and baby showers,

attended funerals, prayed and held hands through chemotherapy, and we treasure each other like rare diamonds. We don’t see each other nearly as often as we did before families, jobs, and life stepped in, but we do carve out a few times a year to get together for birthdays, graduations or whatever reason we can think of for a girl’s night out. But we also try to take a trip once or twice a year.

Trips are difficult to plan…everyone has such varied commitments. Our children are all different ages, so they’re at different stages in their lives, and have their own busy schedules, our spouses have to be open to stepping in while we’re gone, and our jobs and volunteer commitments have to have openings, and all this has to happen on the same weekend. Luckily, for the last almost 30 years, we have been able carve out a long weekend for some much needed bonding, silliness and girl-talk. CR has a house in Sandestin, so for several years we’ve gone down there for the beach, but for the last 2 1/2 years I’ve talked them into coming to North Carolina, my version of heaven. The first trip, only five of us made the long, 6 hour drive. But after seeing the photos, last year we had seven. It was off-season, so there was no boating, no fishing, no golf, no swimming, but we had an incredible weekend. With a little excitement at the end.

This year, we had ten girls. I warned everyone that we had three bedrooms, so some people would have to sleep on the floor. In our 20’s, that wasn’t a big deal. Heck, spring break in Ft. Lauderdale we had 12 girls in one hotel room! We’re a little creakier now that we’re nearing the big 5-0, but no one minded. We had a lottery for bed space, and no one complained about having to sleep on the pull-out sofa. (Well, not much, anyway).

Again, it was off-season, there was one restaurant open in the area, so we brought groceries and made chili, vegetable soup, and chicken tortilla soup and just hibernated in the house, other than a couple of breathtaking hikes.

We knew snow had been forecast. But we’re from Nashville, where they predict 7 inches and get 1/2 inch, and they still close schools. Plus, the temps had been in the 50’s even Friday morning, the day the snow started. We had driven to Gorges State Park to hike the Rainbow Falls trail…a 3 mile round trip to a breathtaking waterfall. The trailhead is deep within the park, and we were the only cars there. We made it to the falls, many photo opps along the way, and about 1/2 mile before we were out of the trail, the snow began to fall.

Almost immediately it was pouring snow. It was a very wet snow. Almost rain-like. We weren’t worried. The temps had been so warm surely the roads were fine. So we piled into the two cars…one a four wheel drive, and one was CR’s big suburban-like truck with rear wheel drive. The snow was coming down so fast the road out looked confusing. We took a wrong turn. Then on the undulating hills, our tires started spinning. We all got really quiet. CR’s jaw got tight, her hands squeezing the steering wheel so hard they turned pale white. KE started praying, and the four wheel drive vehicle slid off the road. Somehow, we made it out of the park. The main roads were clearer, because they had been brined the day before. But we left CR’s car at the convenience store where we had parked our other two 4 wheel drives. We barely made it back to the house. We decided to leave one car at the bottom of the street (my house is on a huge hill), and shuttle everyone up to the house. I drove the first group up, dropped them off, then as I went back down to pick up the others, my car slide all the way down. So we parked them both at the bottom. In retrospect, that’s probably why we were able to get home on Sunday.

The snowstorm kept us inside, and our planned evening at the Brown Trout for dinner never happened, but it was probably one of our best trips ever. We watched movies, played games, drank really good wine, and hiked in the most beautiful winter wonderland I have ever seen in my life.

Our friends from Cashiers drove in to see us on Saturday night and got snowed in, so we did have people who slept on the floor, but it was an incredible weekend. It was not without drama…you can’t get 12 girls together in close quarters without having some drama, but it was all good.

I am so blessed to have these friends in my life. I know that finding close friends as an adult is not easy. Life changes such as having babies, starting new jobs, getting married, moving, etc. make it difficult to make new ties, or fray those we already have. This group of women has done all those things, and through them, we have continued to make our friendship something that is important to us. We’re fortunate that our spouses support our friendship. I could write another post about how my dear husband has come to appreciate my bonds with these girls, when at first, he was a little threatened by them. I know we will have many more life changes in the years to come, but I hope that we will always have this connection, and that we will always find time to get together to re-charge.

Top Ten Reasons why I haven’t posted lately

It’s 6:30 a..m…my favorite time of day. My family is still sleeping and I have an hour or two to eat my toast, catch up on emails, read the paper, and today I decided to face the horror of (DUM DUM DUM) the unwritten blog post. It’s been so long since I’ve written anything that I feel like I’ve forgotten why I started doing it in the first place. I’ve even put a lot of thought into just shutting it down, and starting all over with a different kind of blog, one that might be a little less A.D.D. (all over the place), and a little more narrow in topic. But that would never work for me, because I never know what is going to motivate me to sit down and write.

This morning, after I finished breakfast, fed the dog, checked facebook, read my emails, and looked up Colorado College for H (who is in 10th grade and beginning to think about colleges), I looked up at the bookmark toolbar on my mac and winced as I clicked on this blog. Yep, it’s been almost two months since I wrote anything. So in essence, I’m probably starting all over anyway. But I’m still going to write about my life, because that’s what I know (and that’s what my mom wants to read).

We’re in Lake Toxaway this weekend for fall break, and I think it’s as good a time as any to make excuses for why I haven’t posted, and to start writing again, because to be honest, I write for me. No ads, no promotions for products that I keep getting asked to review (so please stop asking me!), just a place for me to talk about life with a teenage daughter, a husband who is my best friend, my girlfriends (yesssss!), and my dog.

There are a lot of reasons for not writing, but here are the top 10:

10. We had H’s Sweet 16 party last month with her best friend…lots of planning for a party with 115 of their closest friends. In H’s words…”Best night of my life!” And as a mother, those four words made it all worthwhile.

9. I started taking bioidentical hormones this summer, which have made me feel like a new woman! I’m sleeping all night long for the first time in years. So I’m feeling so much more energetic during the day, but the wee hours of the morning, when I used to write, are now spent sleeping.

8. I’m chairing two committees at H’s new school. Last year when H was in her first year at the school, I tried to volunteer so that I could meet other moms, but they didn’t need me! Strangely, at this school, they have so many uber-moms that volunteer, the positions get taken pretty quickly. At her old school, there were just a handful of moms who had time to volunteer, so a few of us did all the work and we were always looking for warm bodies to help.

7. J turned 50 this month, so two weeks after H’s “Sweet 16”, we had a 50th birthday party for him. More party plannning, and a house full of family from out of town.

6. I made two slideshows, one for H’s party and one for J’s. Shouldn’t have taken me the bazillion hours it ended up taking, but I had so much fun looking at all the old photos it took five times longer.

5. Between H’s party and J’s party, we went on a cruise to New England and Canada to see the fall colors.

4. Now that H is back in school, her schedule is unbelievably busy. Fall basketball double headers, workouts three days a week, open gym two days a week, driver’s ed every saturday, and her social life whenever she can squeeze it in. Not to mention her schoolwork. She’s in 10th grade, and two of her classes use college textbooks, she has homework until 11 or 12 every night. I know it’s not MY schedule, but I’m still shuttling her back and forth between all of this, as well as trying to calm her down when she’s overwhelmed, which is quite often. She now has her driver’s license, so now she’s shuttling me around (which is another blog post altogether).

3. Even though J’s birthday party was last week, we’re also planning a long weekend next weekend in North Carolina with some close friends. This is J’s favorite place in the world, and he wanted to celebrate in an intimate way with our friends.

2. My 15 year old nephew just spent three days in Pediatric Intensive Care at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital for some weird reaction to flu symptoms. He was sick for a few days, fever wouldn’t come down, throwing up like crazy, so my sister-in-law took him to the ER to get some fluids. When they couldn’t get his fever to come down they transferred him to Vanderbilt and when he got there, his blood pressure dropped to 47/20, and his kidneys shut down. All the blood tests have come back negative, so they have no idea what caused it all. He’s better now, and came home yesterday with a pick line to continue his IV antibiotics, but he gave us all quite a scare.

But the number one reason I haven’t written anything, is that I feel so inadequate compared to some of my favorite blog writers, like these:

Busy Dad’s Blog
La Belle Saison
Mrs. Fussypants
Suburban Turmoil

But what is up with the blogs that suddenly have pop up ads all over the place??? Come on guys, that is so annoying. I know you have zillions of readers and make some money from the ads you have, but POP-UPS? They’ve got to go.

Anyway…there are my excuses. I promise I’m going to do better. I enjoy writing when I do it, so I am going to JUST DO IT. So please, the few readers I had before the sabbatical..please come back!

Never a Dull Moment!

Just got back from another fabulous girl’s trip in the mountains. This time of year, Lake Toxaway is pretty deserted…most of the homeowners are away, the club and golf course are closed, the boats are stored away, but it is still beautiful and relaxing and breathtaking.

Seven of us met at the airport for an 8:30 flight to Asheville, then drove over to the Biltmore for the day.

We toured the castle (unbelievable!) and the winery, then I went for a short run on the trails that run all around the property. It’s winter and the leaves are down, but it was still so beautiful. I can imagine how incredible it is in the spring and summer. We had dinner at a spanish Tapas restaurant in Asheville, called Zambra, that was phenomenal. That night, at the Biltmore Inn, one of the girls decided to make coffee in the room. When she lifted the lid of the coffee maker, there was a big baggy of pot stuck inside! Someone must have hidden it there and forgotten about it. I can imagine how upset they were when they got home and realized they’d left it. We decided to mess with one of the other girls in the room, and put the bag inside her makeup case. That night, when she went to get ready for dinner, she discovered it inside. At the same time, we grabbed a guy who was walking down the hall and had him go to the door and shout, “Police!”

Even at this advanced age we are easily amused.

Friday we drove up to Lake Toxaway and spent the rest of the weekend at the house. It was so great just to be together with the girls. We’re all so busy with work, kids, and life stuff, that when we can really get away like this it’s just such a fantastic, inspiring, relaxing time. We built a fire, made vegetable soup and chili, went for a long hike to the Toxaway River falls, and spent the evening drinking wine, telling stories, playing games, and dancing.

Around 1 a.m., the smoke detectors started going off throughout the entire house! We all jumped up and started running around, trying to figure out what was going on. It was probably pretty comical, seven girls running around like crazy, trying to fan the smoke alarm, turning off the house alarm, until we figured out that someone had set a fire in the downstairs fireplace without opening the flue. She thought it was open, I’m sure, but when we figured out what was happening, we couldn’t find the damper. My friend, T, who is a little neurotic (but I love her), kept insisting I call the fire department, but since they’re all volunteers and it was late I kept saying we didn’t need them. This fireplace had never been used, and I think the wood had been in there for a couple of years, so it was old and dry and it was smoking like I’ve never seen anything smoke! The fire was so hot it was almost leaping out of the fireplace, so I started to panic, and called 911.

Well, those boys must not get called very often. They came roaring up with two huge fire trucks, along with what must have been the chief’s pick up truck. The second before they got there, we had finally gotten the damper open, and the alarms had just stopped, so we felt pretty stupid. The head guy told one of the trucks to go back, and came inside to check things out. He was explaining some things to me and his eyes were watering like crazy. I asked if it was from the smoke and he said, “No, I just woke up.” We felt terrible for dragging them out of bed, but honestly, they were all grinning, like they were enjoying themselves. They’d probably never had a call from 7 (slightly inebriated) women in their pajamas…I can imagine they’ll at least have something to talk about now.

Other than that, it was a perfect weekend with girlfriends. It just doesn’t get any better.

How much is a private plane?

This week is the last week of the summer for us. H starts her new school next week, as a high school freshman. (OMG! How did that happen?) We’re in North Carolina at our little lake house, eking out the last few days before we have to go home to sticky hot, humid Nashville. Seriously, if summer is supposed to be OVER, why do we still have a month (or two) of blistering temperatures in the Middle Tennessee valley, the steam bath of the South? North Carolina has been so incredibly beautiful these last few days that the thought of going back home just rips out our hearts. It’s funny, we built our “dream home” in Nashville and moved in a little over a year ago. It’s a great house, with a wonderful kitchen that I love, lots of storage, and his and her closets (which, if you know me and my tendency to be a little messy, is the saving grace of our marriage). Our house in North Carolina is half the size of our Nashville house, has a tiny kitchen with a tiny island, only one closet in the master, and one vanity that we share (another mess), but we never want to leave here. Just sitting outside on the balcony, watching the sunset over the lake, and feeling the soft warm (NOT HOT) air, is like a drug. It makes everything else feel unimportant.

Our dog, Rosie, becomes a mountain dog when she’s here. She hikes with us, covering two to three times as much area, because she runs ahead, and back, then down to the water, and back up, and I swear, I can tell she’s smiling.

I love the hiking, too. There are a zillion waterfalls in this area…at least four within this community and over 30 within a few miles. Today we saw wild raspberries, and J’s cousin and aunt ate a ton of them. Hopefully they weren’t poisonous.

We also saw a TON of butterflies today, and I’m thinking maybe it’s mating season, because they were just piling on top of each other and didn’t move, even when the dog went over to sniff around them.

This summer, after H had three weeks of summer basketball at the beginning of the break, we spent three weeks here. Home for a little while, and back here for the last week. It’s the first time we were able to stay for more than a long weekend in the eight years we’ve been coming. It’s a private lake at the top of a mountain (at 4500 feet) in a very small community-very secluded. No shopping, no theaters, not even a grocery store within 30 minutes. So we wondered if we’d get bored, or anxious, being so far away from a city. The answer is a resounding NO!. We have golf, tennis, boating, fishing, hiking, biking, canoeing, swimming, and just relaxing, so now we are frantically trying to carve out as many four day weekends as we can, so we can come back. High school and basketball are kind of cramping that plan, at least for the next few months. It’s a six hour drive, so it’s too far to come for regular weekends.

I need a jet.

Mutant Ninja Bullfrogs

We love it here in the mountains. We started coming up here two or three times a year when H started camp in second grade. The minute we drive through the Smoky Mountains into North Carolina, the calm, peaceful, stress-relieving feelings just kind of ooze over us. Last year we finally bought a little place with the exact view that J wanted…the smaller, private, no-motorboat Lake Cardinal with the three mountains in the background.IMG_0038We’ve been here now for two weeks, and our idyllic little peaceful place not so perfect anymore. Sure, the weather is spectacular, the lake is beautiful, the biking, hiking, tennis, running, and boating are all great, but we’ve been invaded by some kind of huge, monster bullfrogs. We have a little man-made waterfall on the side of the house, which makes a wonderfully trickling sound when we sit on the balcony. Only thing is, the frogs like it, too. And it’s not a cute little frog sound. It’s loud, grating, can-be-heard-through-locked-doors-and-TV sound.

Someone told J to put bleach in the water, because the frogs didn’t like it. Our frogs must thrive on the stuff, because the more bleach he puts in, the louder they get. Then he went to the hardware store and got more advice…put netting on top of the water to keep them out, and spread mothballs all around. He was a man on a mission. I came home from a run and before I even got to the house I smelled the mothball/bleach combination. Like my grandmother’s attic combined with a swimming pool. That night we left to go to dinner and when we came back we listened…silence. Almost. There was one little squeaky “ribbit” sound. We thought we were on the right track until the next morning, when J took out the trash and found a big squished frog next to my car. I was devastated. I wanted to get rid of them, but I didn’t want to kill them while they were making their big getaway! I feel guilty every time I think of it. But underneath the guilt was a tiny bit of relief. Maybe the word got out that this was a dangerous place and the frogs would stay away. And they did…for awhile.

But last night we got home from dinner and this is what we found. The volume doesn’t do it justice. Imagine it multiplied by 100 and hearing it through walls. All night.

So J is at the hardware store this morning. To be continued.