Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

It has been ten years since we last sent a Christmas letter via “snail mail.”  Doing things online was easier and cheaper, but I feel that email is now the new “junk mail” and “snail mail” is appreciated more.  So this year I sent out a snail mail version to those we still had addresses for.  Everyone else can still read this version.

We moved from Johnson City to Knoxville, Tennessee in 2012.  Terry no longer works as an engineer – instead he flips houses – some to sell and some to rent.  His Dad works with him most days, and that’s a special blessing.   It’s going pretty well, but it’s a financial roller coaster compared to the steady income he had for years.  It gives us a lot of opportunity to trust in God for provision.  You can check out his work at  Terry was diagnosed with MS in 2013, but we are thankful that he is doing quite well with it.  His neurologist said he’s her healthiest patient.

I’m still homeschooling, but my youngest, Noah, is really my only student.  I also teach chemistry and physical science at a co-op one day a week, and I’m trying to figure out what to do for a career once Noah leaves for college (I still have 2.5 years!).   My life has changed a lot the past few years as the kids don’t need me as much for teaching or for driving them places (all have driver’s licenses now – yikes!).  I spend some time doing the books for Terry’s business.

Rebecca graduated from college this May and moved to Knoxville this summer.  She’s got a fun job and is also developing a few side businesses (photography and reading therapy).   We really enjoy having her around after four years away at college.  She and I took a 3-week trip to England in September to celebrate her graduation and had a fantastic time!  Highlights were hikes inthe Lake District and the Jane Austen Festival in Bath

Nathan graduated from high school in May and started college at the University of Tennessee this fall.  He is a nursing major.  He lives on campus with one of his childhood friends, plays intramural football, has an on-campus job and is involved with Reformed University Fellowship. 

Caleb is a senior in high school and is taking all dual enrollment classes at Pellissippi State.  He also works about 30 hours a week at Best Buy.  This past spring he was selected as one of Best Buy’s top salesman in the country at age 17.  He won a free trip for two to Puerto Rico and took his grandfather with him.  This fall he has spent a lot of his free time building furniture with his grandfather and backpacking with friends. 

Noah is in 10th grade and has joined Caleb working at Best Buy for the holiday season.  He’s also in a Christmas play, so he has learned what it is to be over-committed.  He is looking forward to some relaxation in the New Year.  In the spring semester, though, he will be competing regionally in NCFCA speech.  This involves five to six out-of-town trips for five days each, so it’s quite a commitment for both him and me! 

We are so thankful for friends and family. Please stay in touch, or better yet, come visit!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Milestone Anniversary

Our 25th anniversary was actually back in March, but one thing I wanted to do to commemorate it was to do a family photo shoot.  We waited for the fall when the leaves were pretty and took photos one evening near sunset.  I love the way they turned out!

That last one is symbolic, I think.  We're in the fall of our lives but still looking ahead and still together!

Photo credits to Rebecca of Thousand Word Photography.

Milestone Birthdays

We had two milestone birthdays this year.  Noah turned 16 on September 21st and Caleb turned 18 on October 30th.

We had just returned from England one day before Noah's party, so I'm glad he did most of the planning himself.  He had a party with four close friends who also have birthdays in September. There were lots of goofing off along with  balloons, a pinata, and a cookie cake.  It was also "Pirate Day," so the entire party made a trip to Krispy Kreme, where you got a donut for talking like a pirate and a dozen donuts for dressing up as a pirate.

Caleb's party photos are going to seem lame in comparison (he was tired of photos because he had just been out for a senior photo shoot - a convenient excuse to get him out of the house), but he did have a fun party.  It was actually a surprise party and about 10-12 kids from church came here for chili and hanging out.  For his cake, we did a disc golf theme:

Lastly, Terry and I celebrated birthday this fall, but they weren't exactly milestones.  This was just ordinary getting older.  But Rebecca got me a very special gift!  She self-published a Passover Haggadah for us.  She knew this was something I had always wanted.  I can't wait to use it next time we celebrate Passover.

Fall Hiking

Sadly, we didn't get much of a chance to hike together this fall.  Noah and Caleb are both working at Best Buy and had a hard time getting off.  Nathan and Rebecca joined Terry and I for a brief camping trip to Cove Lake State Park (about 45 min. from home).

We took a hike to a place called "Devil's Racetrack,"  I did some research and found out that there was a trend in the last 200 years or so to name weird geological formations for the devil.  I've personally been to Devil's Den (many times), Devil's Icebox, Devil's Backbone, Devil's Tower and now Devil's Racetrack (and probably some more I can't think of right now).  Here's what the locals had to say about the name:

"No one seems really sure about the source of the Devil's Racetrack name, except that it would be a hell of a place to race."

My only complaint about the hike is that it is awfully close to I-75.  You could hear 18-wheelers for most of the hike.  We even hiked under a few billboards.  


This is absolutely one of my favorite activities!  As many of you know, I like to fly and even got my pilot's license in high school.  While some people are scared of heights, I actually enjoy being up high.  Parasailing feels like being a bird.  It is strangely quiet up there.  And it's beautiful to look down on the calm lake.

I first tried parasailing as a newlywed.  Terry had a buddy who owned a parasail, and he set it up to give us rides on Boone Lake.  I wanted to buy our own parasail back then, but Terry wasn't that interested.  Now that we've moved to Knoxville, we have become three-part owners in a parasail from Craigslist.  It is a beautiful one - so colorful!  Somehow, we never get around to parasailing in the summer.  We always go in the fall when the water provides a shockingly cold ending to the ride.

This fall, we had friends visiting from Georgia, and they all went up for a ride - even my friend who is scared of heights had a blast!

We hit a snag (literally) at the end of the day when the parachute got a tiny hole.  We tried to figure out how it happened and actually found the nail on the dock that was the culprit:

notice the red fabric on the nail

So we are grounded until next year when we can get it fixed.  It's too cold to parasail now anyway.

Caleb is a Senior

It's hard to believe I have another senior this year - two in a row!  Caleb has had "senioritis" since the day he started high school.

Rebecca took Caleb for a senior photo shoot at World's Fair Park in Knoxville.  She got some really good pictures (they're on her website here)!

But some of my favorites are the silly shots that show his goofy personality:

Caleb has been awarded a scholarship to UT, but he plans to turn it down and finish his associate's degree at Pellissippi State (he has just one year left because of all of his dual enrollment).  Then he will finish up at UT - majoring in business.  That's the current plan, at least.  Caleb has been known to kick around all sorts of plans - right now he is even considering the Marines!