Smoky Mountain Views Ode to 2014

2014, you were a very good year.  It’s a quiet New Years for me.  Tom and Brian took a road trip to Orlando, FL to watch the Minnesota Golden Gophers take on Missouri.  Happy for them and very content to stay back with Kevin who has basketball practices and games.  Go Gophers!  This gives me a chance to reflect back on 2014 and share with family and friends.

I could write blog posts more often but the darned technology of getting pictures off my iphone on my PC and then uploading to wordpress, well I’m a bit ashamed of my lack of tech skills.  When my PC came with Windows 8 over a year ago, I never really figured it out and it all feels very clunky and not intuitive.  I texted with some friends yesterday and mentioned to Terry I might post here, she said “please blog”…so let’s see what I can do here in a few hours before the bowl games begin (UPDATE: this is a loooooong post, sorry friends!)

Winter 2014 brought a few snow storms to Knoxville.  There were more missed school days here due to ice and snow than in Chicago (7 or so?)  But the snow melts away quickly and it’s green again in a matter of days.  IMG_1997 Kevin took his sweet girlfriend Laura to the high school winter formal and enjoyed playing freshman and JV basketball. IMG_1981 IMG_1942 I enjoyed a weekend getaway with book club friends to Atlanta to see the play “Book Club.”  Very grateful for this bright and funny group. IMG_2053 Then the big trip of the year was a family cruise over spring break, where we joined up with friend Diana and her kids and had Brian’s girlfriend Maddie and her mom Stephanie join us.   We were a very happy group of travelers, and should really do this again soon. IMG_2196 IMG_2192 IMG_2189 IMG_2185 IMG_2184 Could have been one of Tom’s hardest working years and he was very deserving of all the rest and relaxation he enjoyed! IMG_2155 One other winter getaway was when I flew to MN to visit Brian and take his friends to lunch at Brits Pub, then drove to Eau Claire, WI to watch Brian’s University of Minnesota club volleyball tournament. IMG_2084 IMG_2112 IMG_2104 Travel fun continued following the cruise, when Kevin and I flew to Naples, FL for Tom’s extended family reunion at the magazine worthy home of Jaye and Joe.  Tom had to return to work and Brian was away at college, but I will be sure they are there next time…an amazing destination with the funnest bunch of people I know. IMG_2252 IMG_2343 IMG_2389IMG_2356 IMG_2395IMG_2312 Spring brought AAU travel basketball fun with a talented group of boys with fun families. IMG_2470 Blooming gardens around my home bring me exercise and pleasure. IMG_2469b I hacked out a ton of ivy from a birch tree garden.   Here’s the before:IMG_2469 Here’s the after, the azalea bushes were never so happy! IMG_2469a My parents visited in the spring and we enjoyed brunch at our favorite Lakeside Tavern as well as hanging out in our candlelit backyard. IMG_2460 IMG_2450 Brian enjoyed taking his sweet girlfriend Maddie to her senior prom.  She started at University of Minnesota in the fall. IMG_2515 I sent him a batch of “congratulations” cake pops, as he took a summer marketing internship position with the University of Minnesota and will continue working part time during the school year.  We missed having him home all summer but way to go Brian, we are proud of him! IMG_2475 Summer brought us home to Chicago for a couple of visits.  Kevin hung with buddies for a great day at Great America.  Social media is certainly good for staying in touch and close with friends even though you are 9 hours away!  I met college girlfriends for a relaxing lunch and watched my godson Christopher in the play Oliver.  Really nice visit but too short.IMG_2553c IMG_2553b

IMG_2929We helped my parents get our family home of 46 years ready for sale and it payed off…sold in two weeks and they settled in a lovely condo in Des Plaines. IMG_2553 IMG_2547 IMG_2553a Mid summer we traveled back north for a family picnic at Tom’s moms, then she joined us as we traveled to Rhinelander, WI to my sister Sue’s for a week of relaxation.  Brian joined us midweek and we loved being together for family, fun and good food. IMG_2761 IMG_2845 IMG_2839 IMG_2824 IMG_2807 Bond Falls about an hour north of Rhinelander.  Beautiful and great place to hike around.IMG_2774 Late summer brought visitors, and there’s nothing we love more than visitors in Knoxville!  Brian and Maddie came down for a week, and we enjoyed visiting the Smoky Mountains (saw The Sinks and Surgarland Visitor Center) and doing some school clothes shopping at the discount mall in Pigeon Forge.  Enjoyed downtown and they did some golfing as well. IMG_3057 IMG_3054 IMG_3028

Then, my fabulous college girlfriend Vicky came for a long weekend of FUN.  We hiked Alum Cave which was a wonderful hike along a stream and a cool arched rock with steps to climb.  We chilled at the pool and pretty much agreed this was a first annual. IMG_2996 IMG_2984 Summer was coming to an end with friends overnight and nighttime swimming.  Kevin enjoyed time with a friend at Norris Lake where his cool swan dive off the second floor of the houseboat was caught on camera.  Tom and I took a day to rent a boat and fish Norris Lake….beautiful scenery….no fish.  Then it was back to school, sophomore year.IMG_2875 IMG_3095 IMG_3081 IMG_3068 Time for Tennessee Football!  The first picture below is my friend Diana (son Kyler is starting offensive lineman) and me ON TV during the amazing win by the Vols in South Carolina.  We had a ball watching an overtime WIN and am hopeful for a bowl win vs Iowa tomorrow. IMG_3284c IMG_3284b IMG_3284 Sunrises are my favorite way to start the day.  I keep imagining having a real camera to catch them on, vs. my iphone.  Which I found out in December is missing the glass over the camera lens, so that explains many of the fuzzy photos in this post. IMG_3269 A handsome group got together for pictures and dinner before the Homecoming Dance at Lakeside Tavern. IMG_3218 I loved having book club friend Meredith join me to see The Avett Brothers concert, with cold refreshments downtown at Calhoun’s beforehand. IMG_3166 Tom’s sister Sandy welcomed a new grandson into the family, as our niece Kristin gave birth to baby Grady.  His big brother Colin is so happy to have a little brother!  I told Kristin two boys is amaaaazinggggg! IMG_3497 My baby Kevin turned 16 and got his drivers license. IMG_3326 He joined me for a Columbus Day drive to the Smokies, where we hiked up to Clingman’s Dome in crazy foggy weather, the temperature really does drop at that elevation.  Pictures from Newfound Gap below don’t do justice to the beautiful colors. IMG_3302 I like to put on some relaxing type music CDs as we drive along the winding curves of this spectacular national park. IMG_3297 The Karl family boys and friends stayed over a couple nights and we enjoyed a TN football game followed by the guys all going to an Atlanta vs Bears football game in Atlanta.  And of course a round of pass the trash cards for $10. IMG_3289 Tom’s mom joined us for a delicious Thanksgiving weekend.  In addition to too much food, we bummed around Market Square shops and visited Fort Dickerson on our way back from Sweet P’s barbeque. IMG_3551 IMG_3546 IMG_3539 Thank you God for fun girlfriends in Knoxville, here we are enjoying a girls night out at an Irish pub. IMG_3520 And before we knew it December was here and it was time to deck the halls with boughs of holly. IMG_3634 IMG_3630 IMG_3601 Enjoyed a lovely work lunch at my owners home with a super bunch of coworkers. IMG_3666 And finally Jesus’ birthday, Merry Christmas!  My parents came to town and we relaxed with poker games and basketball games. IMG_3699 IMG_3696 IMG_3692 We spent a little time at the Knoxville Museum of Art, my first time there.  It was sensational and I can’t wait to go back and spend some more time. IMG_3706 My favorite piece of art is shown below.  See if you can figure it out. IMG_3702 It looked like some sort of upside down Mona Lisa…zoom in and you will see it is made of spools of thread…then look closely at that little glass ball, which shows the Mona Lisa right side up.  There were many impressive pieces throughout the museum.

The year ended with a trip to the Atlanta Hawks arena where Kevin’s varsity basketball team was playing an exhibition game, followed by the Hawks vs Cavaliers game.  And the Knoxville Catholic Irish won, great way to close out the year! IMG_3720 IMG_3723 Thanks for hanging in there for my recap of a year I am very grateful for.  I shared all the joys, but life always brings both joys and struggles…I’ve focused on the joys here.  May the new year bring you more joy than struggle, and health and happiness to each of you and your loved ones.  Knoxville doors are always open, so come on down and you just may be featured in my next blog post! IMG_3724

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11 Responses to Smoky Mountain Views Ode to 2014

  1. Northwoods Sue says:

    Yeah! So happy for a blog update……I missed it. Glad we made the year recap, sorry it couldn’t have been (meaning I wish we had more visits). Happy New Year Stewart family!

  2. Loved it! But I’m selfish, I’d love to see you Blog more! You are such a gifted writer, and you take the Best pictures. My favorite is where you took a picture of Tom and his mom perusing the book store! Yes, looks like you had an Absolutely fabulous 2014…and here’s hoping and wishing and praying you will have an even more fabulous 2015. Miss you, my dear friend.
    Please blog more.

    • stewcarol says:

      Well come on down here Terry and give me something to blog about! Awww you’re sweet. If I could figure out some shortcuts I just might blog more. Know any saavy bloggers (wink, wink.). I like that pic of Tom and his mom too. Thanks for your encouragement and friendship. 🙂

  3. Liz Lollock says:

    So good to see a blog post, Carol. I do think of you often and hope all’s well there in lovely TN. Brian & Kevin are very handsome and looking so grown up. Hugs to all.
    Liz Lollock

    • stewcarol says:

      Liz!! So nice to see your name and thank you for kind words. Wish you had a blog I could read all your goings ons, how kids are, your work, etc. The best to your family in 2015!

  4. Aunt "B" says:

    Hurrah for us, you’re back with the best blog and pictures ever….It’s easy to see why your blogging time is so limited – you’re busy everywhere else. Loved seeing and reading your 2014. Hope we can make the 2015 reunion of our two families a reality….

  5. Sandra Kemerling says:

    Finally I am getting back to you. What a great recap of your year! You all seem very busy, happy, and comfortable in your lives. The boys are so grown up!!! How did that happen? It does go fast, too fast!! They are both very handsome young men!! And both have girlfriends, yikes!! Life in CA is different but good. Ive always been open to change as it allows you to grow, but as we get older its not quite as easy to adapt. Just had a nice visit with Mom. It was really great seeing her. As a reminder this is her big “80” year! I was reminded often! She was in Napa for 3 nights, Kristin and Grady came for one and she drove back to Santa Cruz with Kristin to spend a few days. My prayer is for a healthy and peaceful New Year for our family. It has been a challenge to say the least. My love to you all and hoping our paths cross this year.




    • stewcarol says:

      Sandi, thanks for your comments. Healthy and peaceful…yes, I will drink to that! and I know our paths will cross this year, one way or another we need to make that happen! Love you.

  6. lillian says:

    Fabulous blog!!! I feel like I’ve caught up with you — now if we could only meet for a cup of coffee!
    Will definitely follow now…..HUGS!
    AND thanks for following my homeport!

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