PHANEROO \fan-er-o-oo\Greek: to manifest in word or deed.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

His Name is Jake

We named him Jake. It just seemed to be a good Treeing Walker Coonhound name. Lily is smitten. He's gotta be one of the snuggly-est doggies I know. He's not content unless he's on a lap with his nose nuzzled into your neck. Jake sleeps in Lily's bed with her. That seems to make both of them very happy. Jake is doing well with house training with less accidents every day. He knows how to sit on command, and he's learning his boundaries as far as what he can chew and what he cannot chew. It's been said that hound dogs aren't all that smart, but this boy is breaking the hound dog mold. This boy is pretty smart, and a real family man. I've owned a hound before, a Bassett Hound named Oscar. He was sweet but annoyingly stubborn and difficult to train. Jake, however, responds perfectly well to correction and doggy treats.  The vet says he'll probably weigh between 60-70 pounds. He'll know for sure how to estimate his growth when he sees him again at his next vet visit. According to the vet, if he gains 2-3 pounds per month then he will reach about 70 pounds at adulthood. However, if he gains 4-5 pounds per month he'll probably reach 80-90 pounds at adulthood comparative to a large Labrador. We saw Jake's mother at the shelter where we found Jake. She was a good-sized Coonhound, probably 70 pounds. But we aren't familiar with Jake's father so time will tell how he turns out. For now, the kids (and their momma) are all about Jake.

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Day-After-Thanksgiving Hike

It's a tradition with my family to hike the day after Thanksgiving. No shopping and bargain hunting for us. No sir-ee! We hit the trail. Go here to get a glimpse of the day through my uncle's lens.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

A New Addition

Over the past 9 years, we have added a new family member every two years. Hence the ages of our children - 2, 4, 6, 8. It seems the tradition continues with our newest addition…

The newest family member…still nameless.

He's a 3-month-old Walker Coonhound puppy at the animal shelter.

BJ said he knew this was the moment when it went from a rational decision to a purely irrational one. There was no turning back. In my defense, I just thought he smelled like a puppy, and he liked to snuggle :-) 
We sign the paperwork tomorrow (Monday) and pick him up on Tuesday after he's neutered. He was a perfect gentlemen with the kids - friendly, lovable, and even sat at their command. He will be one big lap dog.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

A Man of God

Although he has a few years ahead before he can officially be called a "man," my little man Schaeffer now has the power of Jesus living in his heart and life. That surely makes him a mighty man of God! God is so good to answer a humble mother's prayers! BJ had the honor of baptizing Schaeffer on Sunday, Nov. 10. Schaeffer actually prayed to receive Christ back in August, but was fearful of baptism. The week leading up to Sunday, Nov. 10 Schaeffer eagerly asked to be baptized. BJ called our pastor and it was all set. Lily, Griffin, and I observed the baptism from the side (Charlotte was in the nursery).
Our pastor observing BJ baptize Schaeffer.

Just about now is when Griffin let out a loud "Whohoo! You did it Schaeffer!"

What an amazing answer to prayer!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Life Don't Stop

For about a week prior to our move and three days after our move, our family life was chaotic to say the least. But now we are moved into our new house and we are back to our normal busy schedule. Here are a few pictures of places we've been recently...
The park along the river in our new neighborhood

To see Nana

McBee Dairy Farms (that's a cow jaw in case you were wondering)

Seven Islands Wildlife Refuge on the day, unbeknownst to us, that TN Forestry had planned to do controlled burning. An entire field was completely burned in under 10 minutes. The kids were amazed. We decided to leave before they began burning the grassy field you see on the right because we would've been enveloped by smoke.

A cabin at Standing Stone State Park. We joined friends who were staying in the nearby campground.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

House For Sale

We are now moved into our new (which is old) house, and the old (which is newer) one is officially on the market. Check out the listing here and pass it along to anyone you know who is looking for a great family home in the Knoxville area.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Photos of Our New Home

We are getting all packed up and ready to move! We close on the new house on Monday and hope to be moving the following Saturday. Because this is a downsize for us, we are paring down our belongings. This has made the packing process a little more complicated because every object and piece of furniture is being scrutinized. We will be eliminating 1,000 square feet so not everything can go. I'm sure that sounds crazy for a family with 4 kids. But with homeschooling and the way we live, we think "less is more." We are a busy family, always on the go, and we enjoy outdoor activities. Our home is a place for learning, discipleship, meals, and sleeping. There's some playtime, too, but we have found that our kids are content with just a few favorite things. More stuff causes stress for them and for the Mommy and Daddy who have to clean it up. Despite my affection for farmhouses on little country roads, we are excited to be moving into an urban neighborhood close to downtown, parks, greenways, and the like. 

Front view from the street
Side entrance

Two-car detached garage (Yes, the neighbor's garage is that close!)


Dining area with access to back deck


Master bedroom

Living room

Charlotte's bedroom

Upstairs hallway and stairwell

Boys' room - this is only a partial view of their massive bedroom

Lily's bedroom - only a partial view

A New Family Member

We welcomed my newest nephew on Wednesday, Sept. 4. He was born happy and healthy at 6 lbs 9 oz and 19 inches. His Mama was a whiz at labor and delivery - just 4 short hours of labor with no meds. He's a cutie, for sure!
Look at that sweet bundle!

My parents, Granddad and Grandmama, with their 10 grandchildren (ages: newborn, 10 months, 2 years, 2 years, 4 years, 6 years, 6 years, 8 years, 13 years, and 16 years)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mom Lesson #1

Mom Lesson #1 in homeschooling: Don't underestimate what the 2-year old is learning while over-hearing lessons with the older children. Unfortunately when I caught this video, Charlotte was distracted by the others in the room. But earlier in the morning while she was playing, she was quoting this verse on her own. My jaw dropped when I overheard her and I ran to get my phone to get video. She had learned the verse when the older two were practicing the day before. A few more practices and I think she's got it!

How American Homeschoolers Measure Up

Ever wonder, or hear different opinions, about how homeschoolers stack up? Here's a nice summary of facts and stats.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

We Are Moving!

Right now it all seems so sudden, but it has actually been in the works off-and-on for a year or two. In three weeks we are officially moving into a new (65 year old) house. We are super excited that we have found a house and neighborhood that fits our family perfectly and still accomplishes our downsizing goals. Do you know how difficult it is to find 5 bedrooms and 3 full bathrooms with an open kitchen-dining area in 2400 square feet or less in a family-friendly neighborhood located perfectly between BJ's office on the west side of town and church on the east side of town with a level yard and with great places to bike and walk (and, if it's not too much to ask, a space for my painting studio)? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it's a one-in-a-million house. It was a real fluke that we even found the house since it was in a neighborhood we hadn't previously considered due to the prices of houses in the area. The house had only been on the market 24 hours when we viewed it. We were scheduled behind 8 other potential buyers. Turns out our offer was the third one received, which goes to show how amazingly priced the house was. So we were super surprised when our realtor called to let us know that the sellers had accepted our offer, despite the fact that even more offers continued to roll in on the second day. If everything goes according to plan (fingers crossed) then we should close on Sept. 13. We plan to list our current house for sale as soon as we get mostly moved to the new one.

For the fact that everything has fallen into place so perfectly, we can't help but believe God's hand is involved in the details. He does things so perfectly like that! I'm a little anxious about the moving process and transitioning 4 kiddos to a new house, but I'm confident God will walk us through it. If you live in the area, we'll be excited to have you come and visit once we get moved in. I hope to post more photos soon, but the one above is all I have for now.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Super Duper Birthday Surprise!

The surprise all began on the afternoon of my birthday when a black limo pulled into my driveway at 1:00 p.m. Mr. Alan the chauffeur drove me to the spa for a massage and pedicure. And then Mr. Alan drove me to meet my "Knight in White" at the Hilton to get dressed up for dinner at The Orangery. We stayed the night at the Hilton, went out for a midnight snack at the Waffle House, and then brunch at Gourmet Market the next morning. I felt like Cinderella the whole time! Thanks, Babe, for the wonderful surprise and princess treatment.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Summertime Hippie

There's something about summer that sets free my inner hippie.* For me, summers mean cut-off denim and leather sandals. I have a rotation of three pairs of cut-off denim shorts that I made from vintage jeans. I'm old enough to call my own stuff vintage. With my homemade denim cut-offs, I prefer to sport a pair of brown sandals - either leather thong sandals or a pair of classic Birkenstocks. And when we are getting outdoorsy or sporty, I grab my red Keen sandals. I think I've pretty much worn this cut-off/sandal combo since my college days, and maybe even since middle school or before. Come to think of it, my parents have this adorable picture of me in denim shorts with my belly pooching out from beneath a white eyelet cropped halter top. I mean, how hippie can you get?! I never did outgrow that baby-fat roll around my mid-section.

There have been some variations on the summer sandals, but not much variation on the cut-offs with the exception of the waistband size. I still prefer good ole worn-in Levi's. My favorite sandals were from my college days. They were two-strap clog sandals that I purchased at the J. Crew outlet store and were similar to these. They became a chew toy for a dog I was doggie sitting. Apparently she loved to eat leather. I cried and cursed that dog under my breath. I still mourn for those clogs. They were super comfy and a lot hippie. And I'm sure I had saved up for weeks working at my minimum wage job to get a new pair of brown summer sandals just for them to become a chew toy shortly after. I have not found a suitable replacement for them for less than $150. Hippie ain't cheap these days!

I've kept a clothing budget rule for many years now. I generally won't purchase a piece of clothing that costs more than $20 and ideally less than $10 (budget rule exceptions: jeans, shoes, and handbags.) Have I mentioned that I like thrift stores? So when I find a website like Zara selling classic pieces with subtle hippie nuances within my budget rule, I bookmark it and check back often.

I'm pretty sure I was born in the 70's in the month of August for a reason. Peace out!

* I do not condone, nor take part in, illegal drug use, casual sex, or political anarchy. Just to set the record straight.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Is Your Sunscreen Protecting You From Cancer or Causing It?

We began the process of packing for our first ever vacation as a family of six. We are headed to Hilton Head Island. (I promise to post lots of pics upon returning). The kids are beyond excited. I'm hoping to read a book while they are entertained by the endless surf and sand. Earlier this week we began shopping for all the items we would need to have a fun and safe vacation. Then, I ran across this information which made me re-think the sunscreen that I would be packing for our family.  On the same day that I referenced EWG's Sunscreen Guide, BJ told me that Rush Limbaugh talked about a chemical in sunscreen that is a proven carcinogen. Lucky for me I was already educated on the issue. So today I ran out to the grocery store for traveling snacks and some new, non-toxic sunscreen.

My biggest concern is for Charlotte, who is only two years old, and Griffin, who is four. Griffin's epidermis is already compromised by severe eczema. That means his skin is very sensitive to certain chemicals and fragrances. In addition, eczema weakens the protective outer layer of skin and even deeper layers within. When working properly, the protective layer blocks out harmful substances while absorbing moisture and expelling waste. Griffin's damaged skin doesn't do that well so I'm more careful about what I allow on his skin, including laundry detergents, soaps, shampoos, and lotions. The past two years I had only used on him an extremely sensitive (and expensive) sunscreen that was sold by his dermatologist because everything else would cause burning pain when I applied it. And even more convincing, last week we sprayed a "baby" sunscreen on all four kids, and two of them ended up having a reaction involving an itchy rash. That stuff went straight into the trash. Now that I know more about the chemicals in some sunscreen, I'm not sure I want anyone in our household slathering it on until I've thoroughly checked the label.

I ended up purchasing BabyGanics Cover Up SunScreen Spray and BabyGanics Cover Up SunScreen Lotion, which met EWG's criteria for non-toxic. I purchased both from Toys R Us/Babies R Us, but they also carry this brand at Target. For a while now we have used BabyGanics Foaming Body Wash & Shampoo on all four kiddos because it is not as expensive as other natural, non-toxic, and sulfate-, phthalate-, paraben-free brands.

After discovering the dangers of some sunscreen, I'm even more convinced that I need to be more adamant about what chemicals, lotions, soaps, shampoos, etc. that I allow into our home. We cannot assume that anyone - the government or consumer goods companies - are looking after the best interest of our families. That duty falls on us, the gatekeepers of the home, Moms!

Monday, May 20, 2013

God's in Business!

I just spent the weekend with a very dear friend. We totally geeked out at a homeschool expo near her home in middle Tennessee. Want to know the most exciting part of the trip? Seeing all the curriculum that our little hearts could handle. Haha! Only kidding! No, it was hearing about her daughter's miraculous recovery from a devastating disorder, and seeing it first hand. One day my friend will share her story because it is her story to share and to decide when to share. But it blessed my weekend, and probably my entire year. I had a great visit! Thanks, friend :)

Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Daughter, My Sister

My daughter, Lily, is now my sister in Christ! Last weekend she prayed to receive Christ and became my sister through the work of Jesus Christ. This morning she was obedient to the Lord and was baptized at our church, Buffat Heights Baptist. BJ was honored to baptize her. And being overwhelmed by the joy of participating in such a major event for his daughter, he choked up while sharing Romans 10:9 "...if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."

This picture was taken immediately before BJ and Lily stepped down into the water. Schaeffer, Griffin, and I watched from the side of the baptistery (Charlotte is not pictured because she was in the nursery). Griffin was so sweet to congratulate Lily as she was climbing the steps out of the water. He hugged her and said, "Yay, Lily! You did a great job!"

My prayer is to see each of my children receive salvation and to witness their baptisms.
Lily's baptism on Sunday, April 28. A wonderful day for our family!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My Little Cuddle Monkey Turns 4

I just can't hardly believe it! My little Griffin turned 4 years old today. He's a bundle, cuteness, mischief.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Natural Dyes

I came across this while researching the "purple-red" dye discovered by the Phoenicians (circa 1000 B.C.). The Phoenicians' color-of-royalty dye comes from a certain sea snail. The list on this website made my creative wheels crank. Check it out!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

And the Art Fair Winners Are...

I'm proud of Schaeffer and Lily for the artwork they submitted this year at our homeschool co-op's art fair. Schaeffer won "Best in Show," which is an honor given to only two elementary students for their work. Lily won a "1st Place" ribbon for her entry, which is an honor given to only one student from 1st and 2nd grade combined. I'm a very proud mama!

"The Night the Death Angel Passed Over" (Notice the two figures in the top right window of his painting. He specifically wanted to add a head of a dad and his son. How sweet is that?!)
"This is My Father's World" (This is Lily's interpretation of a girl band rockin' it for God!)

Monday, April 1, 2013

1st Annual Easter Tailgate Party

BJ and I have often talked about how much effort some folks spend leading up to a big game like the Super Bowl or the SEC Championship. Yet we spend so little effort leading up to a big celebration like Easter. This day is like the Super Bowl of Christianity! It's a day when our churches have standing room only or they conduct their worship services in theaters, stadiums, and coliseums to make room for all who want to celebrate. We have joked, what if people actually threw tailgate parties outside these facilities to extend the celebration over the whole weekend? What if people tried to nab a parking spot anticipating the crowd on Sunday? We see this displayed nearly every Friday and Saturday in the fall when the Big Orange crowds take over downtown Knoxville and UT campus. It's exciting, there's a certain camaraderie in the air. What if we experienced that over the weekend when the whole community celebrates the resurrection of our Lord? So...we organized a 1st Annual Easter Tailgate Party in the parking lot of our church. It was so much fun! We grilled hot dogs, roasted marshmallows and made s'mores. The kids (and adults) played four square and rode bikes and scooters on the paved lot. We celebrated until sundown. I hope this becomes an annual event for us, because it sure was fun spending the evening before Easter Sunday with church family.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

You're the One...

You're the one who conquers giants
You're the one who calls out kings
You shut the mouths of lions
You tell the dead to breathe
You're the one who walks through fire
You take the orphan's hand
You are the one Messiah

You are I Am
("You Are I Am" by Mercy Me)

I'm glad He's the One who can do the impossible!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Doubtful Prayer

"Sometimes God demonstrates His love to a reluctant servant who offers up a doubtful prayer." 

I'm grateful for Jesus who perfectly presents our petitions before a holy God on our behalf. My prayers often sound so weak and feeble. But He listens, and He responds.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I'm a Princess

Charlotte came marching into the kitchen this morning declaring, "I'm a Princess!" Big Brothers certainly treat her as such. I'm glad she is confident in her standing :)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Potty Torture...Uh, I mean, Training

By far my least favorite part of parenting is the potty training phase - it's messy and it's an interruption in the midst of a busy day. I prefer to take the path of least resistance and wait until my kids are practically training themselves. I think I heard this referred to as "potty learning" by a child psychologist since that's really what's happening. Parents don't really "train" their kids as much as the kids are "learning" the skill. So true, Doc! You can't force pee or poo to come out of a 2 or 3-year-old on command while sitting on a cold porcelain contraption with their feet dangling 2 feet off the floor. What an awkward skill to force upon someone! But eventually they do learn. So, I prefer to wait until my kids can recognize their own urges, stay dry through nap time, manage their own clothing, climb onto the potty contraption, and wash their own hands thoroughly. For my kids, they are successful at all those skills by age 3.5 to 4. I know some moms out there are gasping, "What?! You actually wait that long?" I've been in enough mom groups to hear the anxious stories about children's lack of potty training by age 2 or 3. (And, in all honesty, that was one of my many hang-ups with my first child). But really, learning this skill isn't completely up to us. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. The good news: they eventually learn whether you start "training" at age 6 months or age 3. They are all completely potty independent by the time they start reading Bob books.

Griffin is currently in the process of learning how to take himself to the potty. He's doing quite well. He asks to change out of his diaper in the morning into his big boy undies. He takes himself to the bathroom and takes care of the details. Except sometimes, he still acts like a 3-year-old and decides to do something completely hair-brained. Yesterday he decided to wash his undies by dunking them into the toilet...after he'd peed in it. He brought the dripping undies to me because he was proud of what he'd done. Later in the afternoon he used his little froggie potty. While trying to dump out the little bowl into the toilet, he missed entirely and poured the contents onto the floor and bath mat. My floors got a good cleaning yesterday - there's always a positive side, right? We celebrate going potty with a handful of M&M's and the potty dance.

Usually by the time my kids are ready to teach themselves how to go potty, and give up their diapers, it takes about 1-2 weeks to completely master the skill. That's my prize for waiting it out.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Queen of All

Big brother Schaeffer recently stated:
"I know why Charlotte always takes our toys. She is the second baby and Queen of All."
"Off with their heads!"