Monday, December 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Jingle!

Here's what Jingle looked like a year ago:

From new puppy

And here's what she looks like now:

From new puppy

In a way, we all still wish she was small, because she really was the cutest thing!
But now she's housebroken and trained to the electric fence, so she's not much trouble at all. She also knows how to come, sit, stay and roll over (her favorite).
She has had tons of photos taken of her this year, and here are a few in a slideshow:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Break A Leg!

From Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Rebecca, Caleb, Noah and I have been performing in the "Best Christmas Pageant Ever" this week in Kingsport. Today Terry's parents and his Great Aunt Josephine came to watch.

I get to play a middle-aged church lady. Do you like my gray hair?

From Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Here's a cute picture of Noah:

From Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Rebecca doubles as an angel and a fireman. Quite a combo:

From Best Christmas Pageant Ever

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

Hello everyone!

Since we aren't with any extended family this Thanksgiving, here is our Thanksgiving greeting! I put a different version on the Panasonic website ( that has audio provided by Jim Fickley (one of our pastors at Redeemer Community Church). His audio is higher quality and totally original, but I kept the low-budget hymn on this version because I know my family appreciates hymns.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall Leaves

From Fall Leaves

Most of our leaves came down during a rainstorm last weekend, but there are a few left, and we wanted to take some more pictures before they were gone entirely. These pictures were all taken a short walk down the street from our house. We've tried to take lots of fall pictures because we are putting together a Thanksgiving video for Panasonic. It has been a fun project so far. It's always good to reflect on what you're thankful for.

From Fall Leaves

From Fall Leaves

From Fall Leaves

From Fall Leaves

From Fall Leaves

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Learning About the Election

We've been having fun these last two weeks learning about our government and the election process. To me this is one of the most important subjects to learn about because some day they will need to VOTE! I can't believe how many people vote but know nothing about how government works, the issues, etc.

We've spent some time in our Bible lessons discussing what makes a good leader. We've also read about the Constitution, the Capitol and the White House. Hopefully, we'll get to visit Washington, D.C. in the next year and they will remember some of what we've learned. We've also had fun watching Schoolhouse Rock videos about the government and excerpts from Saturday Night Live. Here are some pictures of the kids with their projects, at our county Republican headquarters and with our yard signs. We've got a lot more to learn between now and next Tuesday.

From HS for GOP

From HS for GOP

From HS for GOP

From HS for GOP

From HS for GOP

It's been said that we have the kind of leaders that we deserve, so we should pray, "Lord, make us deserving of better leaders."

Our Evening in Puerto Rico

OK, so we really didn't spend the evening in Puerto Rico! But we had a real treat last Friday night when Lillian and Raymond Isaac (natives of Puerto Rico) invited us over for some traditional food. I had been talking to Lillian about how to cook plantains, and it seemed a little complicated. I told her she'd just have to demonstrate, and I'm glad she took me seriously! Caleb was also very interested in the cooking process.

We had sweetened plantains (you use very ripe ones for this):

From Puerto Rican Food

And we also had double-fried plantains (made with green ones and served with a sauce for dipping):

From Puerto Rican Food

We also had a salad made with avocados that Raymond had actually brought from Puerto Rico (you can legally bring in certain kinds of fruit):

From Puerto Rican Food

We had roast pork:

From Puerto Rican Food

and rice with "pigeon peas":

From Puerto Rican Food

We also had pina coladas:

From Puerto Rican Food

and pineapple flan:

From Puerto Rican Food

We also had a little birthday cake that I brought along since it was Terry's birthday!

From Puerto Rican Food

Besides all the great food, we had a great time visiting with our new friends. We have known the Isaacs very casually for years, but this year Lillian and the boys are participating in the TEACH Co-op, so we've been able to get to know each other much better. They live less than five minutes from our house. We are trying to figure out what to cook for them. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Weekend Getaway

Terry and I spent this past weekend at a cabin near Gatlinburg. Terry's parents kept the kids in Knoxville, so we didn't have to worry about the subtitle on this sign when we hiked to Charlie's Bunion.

From charlie's bunion

I don't know who Charlie was, but apparently he had some pretty bumpy feet.

From charlie's bunion

We also hiked to a spot called "The Jump Off." I was tempted, but Terry talked me out of it.

From charlie's bunion

You could see Mt. LeConte from both the Bunion and the Jump-Off. Mt. LeConte is the second highest peak in Tennessee and infamous for the hike we took there without a trail in 1992.

From charlie's bunion

All in all, we hiked for about 10 miles.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

We're Back!

I decided to start putting content on our regular blog again. I'll still add some to our China blog, but we are actively "living life" here in Johnson City, and I thought it my be time for an update about that.

Today we decided to get out and enjoy the fall color. We headed to Erwin, Tennessee and went to where the Nolichucky River intersects the Appalachian Trail. We hiked about 3 hours on the AT. It was a beautiful day - warm and sunny! Here are some photos:

From nolichucky hike

From nolichucky hike

From nolichucky hike

From nolichucky hike

From nolichucky hike

Our fall has been a busy one so far, but we've been trying to get outdoors and enjoy the weather. Earlier this week we took a group bike hike on the Creeper Trail. We've been going to lots of soccer games (Rebecca, Nathan and Caleb are all playing). Co-op is in full swing and Rebecca and I are both teaching classes this semester. Rebecca is also learning to drive! Caleb and Noah were both chosen for parts in "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" at the community theatre in Kingsport. They start rehearsals this week, but fortunately the soccer season is coming to an end, so we will pretty much replace soccer with theatre.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

We're Moving!

Well, we're not really moving - we're just moving our blog - temporarily.

Panasonic asked us to create a special blog about our trip that keeps the same feel (and much of the same content) as our original family blog. So, I will probably not post on this one for a while and will spend some time today moving content to the new blog which can be found at

Unfortunately, I can't easily move comments, so please don't feel slighted if you made a comment that doesn't show up on the new blog.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Challenge

Our kids have really been wanting to get the Olympics Wii game that is out right now. I thought it might be fitting to get it - especially for our boys that are left behind. Anyway, I gave them a challenge on the first day of school and said I'd buy the game once they all completed the challenge. They had five things to memorize (the Olympic motto, creed, oath, and two passages of scripture) and two reports each to do (one on an Olympic sport that they didn't know much about and one on a country).

Well, it's taken only about three days for them to all complete everything. Nathan chose to do a report on fencing, Noah chose beach volleyball, Caleb chose cycling and Rebecca chose the paralympics. Last night they made some powerpoint presentations when we hooked up our laptop to the plasma TV. Here is a picture of Noah getting ready for his presentation.

They are getting ready for the new game by making lots of new Olympic-athlete "Miis" for the game. They've had to do quite a bit of research as they're trying to make sure to get things like the eye color right. By the way, Michael Phelps has brown eyes, but his Mii just doesn't look right without a Speedo.

Here are the two passages of scripture that the kids have memorized. Even though they're "done" memorizing them, we can continue to glean spiritual insights from them as we discuss them in light of the Olympics.

1 Cor. 9: 24-27

Do you not know that in a race all runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

Hebrews 12: 1,2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Monday, August 4, 2008

First Day of School!

Today was the first day of our 08/09 school year. Some years we have a special breakfast or take photos. This morning we simply had toast and sat in front of the TV watching the Today Show's coverage from Beijing. It was so cool thinking we would see those places ourselves in just 14 days!

Today we spent some time learning the history of the modern Olympic movement and practicing the Olympic motto, creed and oath. Last year the boys enjoyed (yes, they really did enjoy this, believe it or not) learning Greek and Latin roots, so probably the most interesting thing that they learned today is that "gymnos" means "nude," so gymnasium really means "a place for naked exercise." In the true fashion of 8-12 year-old boys, they talked about this over and over! We also learned that the word "stadium" is based on the "stade" which was the length of the foot race in the original Greek games, but somehow this did not bear repeating as much as gymnasium.

Each of the kids chose a sport and a country to prepare a report for to present tomorrow night to the family.

We did a few experiments from our "Sports Science" book - learning how the brain is the most important body part when it comes to success in sports. Our experiments were on reaction time (which involved dropping and catching a ruler with a partner - it turns out that Rebecca had the best reaction time)

and learning about balance (Nathan won the balance challenge!).

Probably the biggest thing that I learned today is that shots hurt!

Nathan, Terry and I had our hepatitis shot in preparation for travel. Since Rebecca has traveled to China before, she got to skip this ritual.

Speaking of ritual, we are watching a documentary tonight called "The Real Olympics" and learned that the first Olympics started with the ritual of animal sacrifice. I'm glad that won't be part of the opening ceremonies this year!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Ready, Set, Go!

Here's a picture of Rebecca with all the stuff we got in a recent package from Panasonic. We are excited about getting to trade pins with the collateral they gave us - it will be a great conversation starter. And I love the fancy luggage tags!

We also had a phone conversation this week with Panasonic and found out many more details about our trip. These are the events that we're going to be seeing:

Men's Beach Volleyball
Men's 200 M
Men's 50K walk
Men's Basketball
Women's Softball
Platform Diving

I'm probably most excited at this point about Platform Diving as Rebecca and I have been fans of Laura Wilkinson since the 2000 Olympics. I'm also pumped to see the Men's 200 M as I'm sure some former Razorbacks will be competing.

We also found out about some of the specific sites we'll see in Beijing - I'll post more about that a different time.

We also got a package from amazon this week - several books and videos to complement our unit study that we'll start next week. I've also put a ton of books on reserve at the library!

To change gears . . .

Rebecca and I have completed eight weeks of training and will be competing along with a great family friend, Laura O., in a sprint triathlon next Sunday. We did a mock run of the race this week. As soon as we exited from our swim in the lake, the heavens broke loose in a downpour. We decided to risk a lightning strike and just go for it! It was better than running in extreme heat and humidity at least. We are not competing as a team - but we'd do better if we did - Rebecca is the best swimmer, Laura is by far the best biker, and I am the best runner. But the good news is, we all finished within our goal time. The bad news is that I have not lost a pound. I do feel pretty good, though. Our families are traveling to Chattanooga with us to cheer us on.

I'll end with this picture. We took it for the latest HD challenge - we're supposed to be taking some pictures that could end up on the side of a truck. We'll take few more tomorrow as I'm not sure the ones we have are that good. Anyway, this picture sort of reminds me of how I feel right now. My family is in a photograph, and it feels both fun and scary to have your family on display.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

In The News

Here's an article that came out in the local papers about our family. It has a bit of misinformation as it implies that we were chosen out of thousands to attend the Olympics when we were actually just chosen from among the HD families. The main reason to look at the arcticle is that you get to see my new haircut! I was sort of bummed that the kids were out of town when the reporter came by. They would have enjoyed being in the paper.


Karla and Paul Gately have given us some ideas of places to go in Japan. One is
Karuizawa and the other is a Torchbearers site at the base of Mt. Fuji. Panasonic folks in Japan are also providing us with a sample itinerary.

We have our passports and tickets now (we'll be flying on American Airlines to Chicago and then on Japan Airlines the rest of the way). The visas are in process.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lotsa Stuff

First of all, check out this video that Nathan made. He built the set himself - he loves to make booby traps.

This week our kids are at "Cousin Camp" in Knoxville. I understand that the boys built a go-cart yesterday with Poppa - I'll be anxious to hear how that went.
Here is a picture of the T-shirts Rebecca made for all the cousins. I thought they turned out cute. They say "My cousins are nuts from the same family tree."

Lastly, I thought I'd give you an update on our Panasonic Trip.

Right now we are set to fly out at 7:13 am on August 18th. We will be connecting through Detroit and then Japan. Once we get to Detroit, we will be traveling with lots of Panasonic folks. Panasonic is a big Olympic sponsor and is sending lots of their execs. These are the first Olympics to be broadcast entirely in high definition. We will be staying the first three nights at the Kuntai Royal Hotel in Beijing and will then be moving to The Grand Epoch City resort - which is a resort built to look like the old city of Beijing. The first place is closer to the Olympics, and the second place is closer to sightseeing.

On the way back, Panasonic has given us permission to layover in Japan at our own expense, but we have to decide by tomorrow. So we're looking into things to do and places to stay in Tokyo if we decide to do that.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

We're Going to the Olympics!

I almost don't know what to say! Rebecca says that I am so excited that I am spastic! God has been so good to us, and we will be going to Beijing on August 18th to see 4 days of Olympics (including the closing ceremonies) and do 2 days of sight-seeing. It will be a whirlwind, and we will need to be documenting everything on film and video in order to produce material for the Panasonic website. What an adventure!

I feel bad for the families that didn't win, but Greg told us that they were going to do something for all the families that applied. What a great bunch!

Here's the version of our video that we sent to Panasonic along with our application.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

James and Allison's Visit

Carter's Fold has bluegrass music every Saturday night, and we had a great time. Caleb and Noah had enough fun for all of us. They were tearing up the dance floor!

Allison learned to ski!

More jumping!

Last night we played "Ticket to Ride" and watched a sci-fi movie. Today we're planning on getting out on the lake again as yesterday's trip was cut short by a thunderstorm.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

What We've Been Up To

We've been busy the past few days!

Below is a link to a video we're sending as an illustration for our Olympic contest entry. Be sure to watch the whole thing. After the olympics, it's got some great "claymation" movies that Rebecca made the past two days. We've been having lots of fun with stop-action photography, and I think the ones Rebecca did are really sweet! Be sure and turn the volume up - there is sound!

You Tube Video

Sunday, June 22, 2008

More Jumping Pictures

This time with the whole family! We grabbed these frames from the HD video camera.