Saturday, June 30, 2007

Dare to Dream Just a Little

Every year when we come up to Lake Keowee, Greg and I marvel at all of the beautiful homes being built on amazing lake lots with breathtaking views of the lake and the Appalachian Mountains. And it is every year that we dream just a little bit of how wonderful it would be if we owned one of these lots and how amazing it would be if we built a vacation home on it and was able to have it as a retirement home or a place where we could bring our children and our grandchildren one day.

Here is what I envision in my head.....

We usually go looking on the internet for lots nearby within a reasonable person's price range. (Lake Keowee lots are going for .5 million and up and that is only for the lot!). We look for homes that we would love to build and we talk about what they would look like. We imagine the amenities at such a place and the beauty that would surround it.

.....and then we come back to earth.

One Fish Two Fish......

for Ryan and I didn't get a picture of it. Unfortunately most of us were in the house at the time of his catch on the dock. He described it though and it appears to have been a 3 lb catfish. He currently holds the fish catching record at the Miller house in Lake Keowee. Picture shown is of a different fish later on in the day.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Every new mother must have a.....

rocking chair. It's an item that is as necessary as my very humble opinion. You might ask me why I make such an emphatic statement....because I know from experience. It took me 3 kids to realize that none of them particularly liked to snuggle. It was a realization that made me sad a lot of the time. I often wondered why they didn't like to plant their faces in my neck or bury their heads against my chest at night while I sang to them or read a book to them.

By chance I bought a rocking chair the day after Jack was born and it was there that I sang to him, rocked him to sleep, fed him at night, and read books to him. It wasn't until he was over a year old that we graduated from the rocking chair and gave it away. It wasn't until recently that I realized that this might be the reason why Jack snuggles with me all of the time and not for any particular reason. It's as if he wants to snuggle just to smell my neck or to hear the vibrations of my voice.

I can tell you that I really missed that feeling with my three other children. I wished I had been smarter back then to have bought a rocking chair. But now you know the reason why I believe every mom should have one of these in their homes.

Relaxation is underrated

Today I felt really relaxed. It is nice every once in a while to be able to take a day or two and sit back and basically do nothing...follow no schedule...don't look at a clock and just go with the flow. I do that so infrequently that when I do it it is a strange feeling...almost uneasy as if I am doing something wrong or illegal or sinful. It's like being on a diet and stealing an ice cream bar from the freezer. It's like splurging on an expensive facial of ingredients made of mango, guava and sea salt. It's like buying a really nice pair of Manolo Blahnik stilletos right before the mortgage is due. Ok, maybe I am getting carried away but you get the point.

It isn't often that a mother of 4 can get a break from the organized routine of breakfast at 8, lunch at noon, naptime at 1, dinner and baths by 8:30, bed by 9. So on those few days in the year known as vacation the breaks from routine are nice.

Don't tell that to Jack because he is the king of routine! I can tell you how I managed to get him trained for his many routines but that's another blog. Let's just say that it took me 4 kids to finally figure it out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Things I love....things I don't

I was thinking of some of the things I love and things I don't. I am referring to inanimate objects of course....I love my kids, I love my husband, I love my family, I love my job. Here is what I am referring to:

I don't love:

1. Cheese - most cheeses with the exception of mozzarella cheese
2. Lamb - tastes too gamey to me.
3. Cheese - Blue cheese, american cheese, gorgonzola cheese
4. Wine - unless it is a really great bottle of Red
5. Cheese - have I mentioned this one yet?

I love:
1. Chocolate Chip Cookies
2. Blueberry Muffins
3. Anything Italian except if it has cheese on it (see list of things I don't love).
4. Anything else without cheese on it.

Photos like this send chills down my spine.

Stumphouse Tunnel

Today we went to the old Stumphouse Tunnel in Walhalla, SC.

The tunnel was built by hand by Irish workers hired by the State of South Carolina to build a railroad to connect Charleston, SC to Knoxville, TN. Three tunnels were to be built, but none were completed. The workers used black powder for explosives. We visited the waterfalls there as well.

After our trip to the tunnel, we visited a McDonald's for lunch in the hoppin' town of Union County. It was especially nice to meet very friendly southern folk as most South Carolina residents are.

In the afternoon we went back on the lake to do more jet skiing and then back to the lake house for some relaxation. Kelly got to play with her Aunt Elizabeth who she completely adores (in fact she truly and honestly loves and talks about all of her aunts and uncles and her grandma and pop-pop). Aunt Elizabeth helped her play with her books and even let her make some jewelry with beads and other jewelry making knick knacks that she had left over from some of her nieces when they were here at the lake house. All of the kids are having a great time so far.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Water Fun

Today was a fun day on Lake Keowee and there are always a bunch of "firsts" each time we come here. Today was a first jet ski ride for Kelly and Jack's first tube ride. Jack got his first fishing pole and learned how to fish in the lake. It was Mommy's "first" day off this year! Kevin and Ryan will surf behind the boat but that won't be a first. It certainly is something they look forward to though.

We went to the pool at The Reserve and enjoyed the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. The view and the temperature was perfect.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Meeting Dr. Korf

Today was the day that we drove an extra day and 500 extra miles visit the University of Alabama at Birmingham to meet Dr. Bruce Korf. It was an honor to have an appt with him to introduce him to Kelly. We wanted to leave no stone unturned as we accept her diagnosis of neurofibromatosis. It's a difficult fact to have to accept so we wanted to learn as much as we could about it.

Dr. Korf gave us many of the answers to the questions that we had. Ironically he knew Dr. Mislen Bauer who is Kelly's genetist at Miami Children's Hospital. He had a high regard for her and that left us feeling very confident in entrusting her with our daughter's NF care. He also told us the same things that she did.

The trip was well worth it. Insurance probably will not cover the expenses since we went out of network to meet with Dr. Korf but he is one of the best in the country for NF research and knowledge. We didn't care because we needed the answers for our daughter's future. We can't put a price on that.

There are many facts about NF that we have learned in these past few weeks and I will probably start a blog specifically for NF and learning disabilities. I will add a link to it on this site. Perhaps this will take me on a journey that I never thought I would.

On another note, Birmingham is a really beautiful city. I loved it. There are hills and beautiful brick homes. There is slight traffic in the suburbs but nothing can be nearly as bad as Miami! In any case the town is really beautiful and the sites are adorable.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Auburn University

We spent most of today in Auburn looking at those interesting engineering buildings. It was really fun though and we ate at a local sandwich shop. Greg admitted that there were a few additions to the campus that made it a bit more interesting.

Birmingham is an awesome town. We are staying at a Courtyard right in the middle of downtown in between what looks like a city of medical buildings. Each turn around the corner is a different type of medical building...eyes, ears, throat, pediatrics, etc. There are many students walking around in white lab coats. It is really interesting knowing that these students will once become medical doctors.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Convalidation Final Episode

We just came back from the convalidation. It was really nice. Very basic ceremony. Fr OReilly read a really nice scripture and then we did our vows and he blessed our rings. He pronounced us man and wife. He let us share a kiss and he then congratulated us. Later on we were talking about it. The basics of the marriage ceremony and how different weddings can look on the outside while being so basic on the inside.

We stood at a kneeler and Jack and Kelly were kneeling on it. That felt a bit strange...saying your vows with your two youngest children at your feet. I felt a bit regretful that Kevin and Ryan could not be there. It's a long story but I only have one more Saturday this year with them and I gave them a choice to be at the convalidation or use it as a weekend where we could go somewhere as a family. They chose to be together on a family weekend vacation. We did explain to them what we were doing and they seemed to be happy for all of us.

Now that this chapter of my life is wrapped up it feels good to have completed the journey.

Convalidation part 3

The convalidation is today. I have no clue what to expect. I think it will be a short ceremony because that is how Fr. OReilly operates...short, sweet and to the point. I am hoping it will be short because it is at 1 pm which falls right in the middle of Jack's nap and that is sometimes a recipe for disaster. I doesn't really matter though because we will be the only ones there and I think Fr. OReilly has a pleasant tolerance for loud kids. That's a plus for us because that describes our children to a T ...LOUD!

After the convalidation we might stop for something to eat. Nothing fancy but something nonetheless. We might be a bit hungry. The plan then is to go back to the house and finish getting ready for our road trip tomorrow. That entails packing, laundry, house cleaning, grocery shopping and lawn mowing. I will try to squeeze a pedicure in there at some point.

These past few days I have reflected about this convalidation. I don't seem to be making a big deal of fancy music, no bells and whistles, no fancy clothes. I guess I just prefer it to be something just between me and Greg and God. I don't need anything else really if you think about it. The other stuff is just superficial and with 4 kids to spent time and money on, the superficial stuff doesn't really matter to me.

Friday, June 22, 2007

48 hours till Summer Vacation

This year we are going to South Carolina for our Summer Vacation. This has been our tradition for the past 4 years. Our trip will take us to the University of Alabama in Birmingham where we will meet with one of the best genetic physicians in the country. He has agreed to take a look at Kelly's diagnosis of NF. Once we are done with that we will detour to take a look at Auburn, Alabama and Auburn University where Greg spent 4 1/2 years of his life. I am sure he will show us some really exciting engineering buildings. The heat index right now is about 110 degrees. OUCH!

After that we are heading up to Salem, SC. to enjoy this.....

LAKE KEOWEE where Greg's brother has a lake house and his mom has a condo. We will spend a few days with her and probably drive into Clemson. There is this cute little pizza restaurant that I love to visit every time we go there. It's called The Mellow Mushroom. Maybe Kevin will be inspired with all of the university touring we will be doing.

Anyway back to Lake Keowee. The lake is so beautiful and clean like bathwater. In fact most of the time when we go there we hardly take showers because the lake water really cleans you off. It might be too hot to play golf which is something we also do but that will just save room for more skiing, wake boarding, tubing and jet skiis. Over the weekend we will be joined by Greg's other brother and his family. They are going to drive down from Ohio so it will be like a family reunion. I think the last time we were all together was when Greg's Dad died and definitely before Kelly or Jack were born.

Well, I am off to getting things ready for the road trip which includes homemade banana chocolate chip bread for Kevin and chocolate chip cookies for Ryan. Road trips just wouldn't be the same without those particular favorites.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Today I heard about this website called I heard that it was a website where you can get paired up with a soldier and donate goods to him or her. Thinking that was a really neat gesture, I went to the site and started lurking around. There are hundreds of soldiers names on this site and many of them have posted messages on their board asking for the things that their units need the most. I decided that it was too much work to go looking through all the soldiers so I found a button where a soldier gets randomly selected for you. So that was what I did.

We got paired with a Marine stationed in Iraq. He says that his unit has a microwave so they would really appreciate canned foods such as soups and ravioli. They also could use toothpaste, mouthwash, and baby wipes. It doesn't seem like much to ask for considering they are fighting for our freedom. So I registered and sent away for his address and it was emailed to me shortly thereafter. The post office even gives you a flat rate for this project. How cool is that?

So off I go to the drug store to buy some canned goods, toothpaste, mouthwash and wipes. I think I might even pack up some fun stuff like crossword puzzles and Famous Amos Cookies.

So here is to Major Tom Birney in the US Marines and his unit of 21 other soldiers. Your package is on its way.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bear B-ankie

My 14 year old son has a bear b-ankie (as opposed to blankie but when he first could say the word blankie he couldn't pronouce the L so it became a b-ankie). So when I asked my older boys to pack up their backpacks with clothes and DVDs for our car trip next week to South Carolina I found my 14 year old stuffing his b-ankie in with his other important stuff. Here is how it went.

Me: "Must you bring bear?"
Him: "Bear goes everywhere with me on all of our vacations. I don't want him to be lonely here all by himself".
Me: "But he will not be alone, he will be with the other bear b-ankies in the house".

Just then I had a revolt on my hands. "You mean the other bear b-ankies are staying home too?" I found all 4 kids running at me that we can't possibly leave all bear b-ankies home alone. They might start a bear b-ankie party or maybe they will all be scared if it rains or there is lightning.

Hmmmm...suddenly all the bear b-ankies are now being talked about as if they are real people. It hit me that in my kids eyes they ARE real people. They are THEIR friends and companions. The b-ankies help to comfort them during thunder storms or when they feel bad or are crying over something.

The worn and tattered b-ankies are important and have lives of their own and if they are a source of comfort to my little babies who are also growing up we can surely find room in the car not only for my 4 kids but for all 4 bear b-ankies.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Today I found out that my little girl has NF-1, short for neurofibromatosis. It took me a long time to figure out how to spell that word and it's taking me awhile to really soak in the meaning behind this knowledge. Nothing has changed from yesterday in terms of my feelings toward her or my love for her except that maybe I love her more today than I did yesterday. But that's not unusual as I feel that on an every day basis. Thankfully my older guys show no signs of NF. Jack has not been tested yet but that will come in 6 months.

For two hours I listened to a really knowledgeable doctor explain this condition to me. She is one of the best. If you google her you will see how good she is. While she was talking to me and explaining I really felt at ease with what she was explaining to me...that is Kelly has a mild form of NF-1 and that she can live a very full healthy life with no major complications. I thought maybe my imagination was getting the best of me. Maybe it wasn't so bad like eczema or food allergies or asthma. Conditions that are a pain to have but definitely controllable. I listened more to her explanations of chromosomes gone wild and the cell chain that reversed it's links and all of those terms that are meant for people like me who have no knowledge of any word that starts with neuro- and ends with -tosis. There are complications to this condition but we won't know what they are yet because they don't usually show up in kids until the ages of 7-8. There could be tumors that need to be removed, her optic nerve could have trouble, or developmental problems such as speech impairments or hyperactivity. We won't know until later when she has a CT scan and other tests.

Then the realization hit me when she talked about passing this bad chromosome on to her children. Oh my gosh. What about children? The doctor explained that she would be able to have them but that if she were an adult today she would probably need medical intervention to deflect the bad chromosome that she carries. When she told me this I felt my eyes start to tear up. The gift to create life that was given to her at birth might just be altered and that made me sad. How would I eventually explain that to her and how would I handle it? There are no easy answers to the questions that I have right now.

But for now I read her a story before bed and played "Barbies" with her and we sang songs and she was back to being my little girl.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Love My Dad

That may be an obvious statement but I love my dad a lot and since today is Father's Day I felt it was a good time to make this post. I remember a lot about my Dad growing up. I remember when he put up an above-ground pool in our backyard and I remember him repainting it when it "rusted out". I remember when he would pull out his 8 mm camera with the huge lights at Christmas time and when we came out of our rooms to "pretend" we were just waking up we would immediately be blinded by all the stage lights. I remember when my Dad grounded me for coming home past my curfew right when I was set to get my drivers license and he made me wait it out for 2 more weeks. I remember when I hit my head against the sharp corner of a chair and bled profusely on his shirt. I remember he helped to dry my tears while my mom compressed ice and a paper grocery bag against it (the grocery bag helped to ease the bleeding, I guess). I remember his corny jokes and when I would roll my eyes he would remind me that I will probably be the first to repeat the same joke the next day (which I usually did). I remember when he clapped loudly as I received my college diploma. I remember him being really strong on the day that my mom died. I remember so many things too numerous to mention here but I am glad that they are all in my head where they always manage to make me smile.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Queen Meets The Church Lady

I am taping the movie "The Queen". I hear it is a really good movie. The Queen reminds me of the church lady who is "helping" us in our convalidation ceremony. Thinking twice the church lady really more reminds me of the church lady from Saturday Night Live. She is really condescending and sometimes rude. I hate to say that about a woman who works at the church I love so dearly but it's true. Today she left a message on my answering machine that was really snippy. She needs the paperwork to move forward with the convalidation on June 23. In all honesty I have just forgotten to pass by the church office to drop it off. I have been so busy with other things but I was planning on doing it at the end of this week. I was just really put off by her message. She told me that if I didn't have the paperwork to her that Fr OReilly would be very upset, blah blah blah.

I am going to run the paperwork by the office tomorrow and I am certain she will yell at me for some i that I didn't dot or some t that I didn't cross.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Rules: Use the 1st letter of your name to answer each of the following...They MUST be real places, names, things...NOTHING made up! If you can't think of anything, skip it. Try to use different answers if the Person before you had the same 1st initial. You CAN'T use your name for the boy/girl name question. Once you're done, forward on to friends and back to the person who sent it to you. Now Go!

Your Name: Terry

1. Famous singer/band: (trip back to the 80s) Til Tuesday, Talking Heads, Tears for Fears

2. 4 letter word: Trip

3. Street name: I have no clue on this one

4. Color: Turquoise

5. Gifts/presents: Teddy Bear

6. Vehicle: Tractor

7. Items on a menu: Tuna Roll

8. Boy Name: Tom

9. Girl Name: Tina

10. Movie Title: Titanic and Toy Story

11. Drink: Tea

12. Occupation: Travel Agent

13. Flower: Tulip

15. Magazine: Time

16. US City: Trenton, NJ

17. Pro Sports Team: Titans

18. Reason for Being Late for Work: Traffic Jam

19. Something U Throw Away: Trash

20. Things you shout: Take me away from this insanity!

21. Cartoon Character: Tweety Bird
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