Monday, December 31, 2007

Weekend Family Trip

On the way back from our trip to Virginia, Chris met us in Sevierville, TN. Mom and Dad headed back home, and we enjoyed some family time at Dollywood on Saturday! Ellie loved riding Dumbo, the Carousel, Teacups, and the train. We stayed the night in Maryville and spent the next day together and had some memory making family time! The highlight of our day was stopping at the Athens Recreation Center and enjoying the playground. When we drove up Ellie was SO excited! She was jumping up and down saying "Play, Yes, Play!" The slides were a blast - we all enjoyed them. We also spent time geocaching. If you're not sure what geocaching is, check it out at It's a fun, free, family activity that we enjoy. Careful though, it does get addictive!! Here are some pictures from our trip.

Nana and Poppy's House

Wednesday after Christmas Elliana and I took a road trip to Virginia with Dad, Mom, and Shannon. Lora met us up there and spent Thursday with us. What a wonderful time we had visiting with Nana, Poppy, Jennifer, Carmen, Kathy, Jimmy, and Anna, and of course, their dogs (they breed German Shepherds)!!! We were sad to leave, but very excited to see Chris! We met up and spent some time Mommy, Daddy, and Ellie time over the weekend! I'll write more about that in my next post.

Christmas Day

What a wonderful Christmas we had this year! We started off the day with a big Phelps breakfast. Chris' brother Tim, his wife Leslie, and their daughter Katie came to join us. We lit our final Advent candle, this time we lit the candle that represents Jesus. It was a fun time for Ellie to be involved in the reading of the Christmas story. The characters from her cloth nativity were hidden in the room, and we had her find a character, then someone would read the scriptures about that character. This is a tradition we want to keep next year as well. Then we opened presents and received so many wonderful things!

Later on we headed up the mountain to my Mom and Dad's house. We all opened presents, which was very exciting. Ellie received to many nice things, including a gorgeous bunny made by my mom. Chris and I are so excited about our year pass to the Aquarium and Discovery Museum. We are really going to enjoy going as a family. What a great gift! Mamoo and Papaw joined us for our Christmas dinner, which was delicious!

Pig Tails!

Ellie's first pigtails!! It took many tries to get these little ponytails in, but it finally worked! The sad thing is that they didn't stay in very long. Ellie thought it was a lot of fun to pull the rubberbands out. Oh well... we'll keep working on it!

Friday, December 21, 2007


Ellie enjoyed playing with her cousins Logan, Jackson, Camden and Anderson at Mimi and Papa John's house several weeks ago. Technically, they are Ellie'a second cousins. Their Dad is my uncle! Funny that we have children close to the same age!We had a blast visiting with them and catching up.

Just Can't Stay Awake!!

When Ellie is really tired, it is almost impossible to keep her awake!! I thought holding my phone and "talking" to Mimi (we were on the way to her house!) might keep her awake until we could get her diaper change and then go down for a nap at the house. No, she just couldn't stay awake!! We laughed and laughed as she would doze off every few minutes - it was super funny!

First-Class Picnic!

It was hard to believe it was almost Christmas and 70 degrees outside! Ellie and I took advantage of this and surprised Chris with a fancy picnic at the park! Our menu included: Yummy Chef Salad, Fruit Salad, Homemade Cheese bread, and Christmas cupcakes. We also had a blast running and swinging and sliding at the playground! What fun memories we made!

Our Trip to Pigeon Forge

We also enjoyed a fun mini-trip to Pigeon Forge in December. We went up to go to Dollywood with Dan and Marilyn, but got rained out. Despite the change of plans, we had a great time shopping! We also ate at the Apple Barn which was so yummy. They had lots of Christmas decorations up so we took advantage of them for a picture.

Dan and Marilyn headed home, and Chris, Ellie, and I got a hotel for the night. We enjoyed a "late" (for us 8:00 is late!) night trip to Baskin Robbins for ice cream. And yes, despite my obsession for Ellie to have a healthy diet, she actually did eat some ice cream!! Everybody needs a treat now and again! :) Chris and Ellie had fun having "spoon wars." Hmmm... I'm sure teaching her that will back backfire on us someday soon!

Our hotel room even had a really neat jacuzzi tub in a little room by itself off of our room. Ellie really enjoyed it. After she was finished she looked up and said "I like to swim." It was adorable!

We visited the Knoxville Mall on our way home and enjoyed the indoor play area and the pet store! The puppies were awfully cute, and Ellie enjoyed chasing them around the window!

Papa and Ellie

Ellie loves her Papa John!! She "talks" about him and Mimi throughout the week and loves to visit with them on Mondays. Papa John always says funny things to Ellie... one day they were having Macaroni and Cheese... Papa said "Ellioni likes Macaroni." She thought that was too funny, and has "said" it several times! In this picture, Ellie and Papa were watching a Kidsongs Farm video that my sisters and I used to watch when we were little. How special that now she gets to watch it with Papa John!

McAllister's with Mimi

Ellie and Mama enjoyed a fun "girl" evening with Mimi a few weeks ago. We met at McAllister's deli and enjoyed dinner, then went to see the Christmas program at First Presbyterian Church downtown. The program was absolutely spectacular! It was one of the best Christmas programs I have ever been to. This will definitely will be something we will attend next year. Thought this shot of us was cute... since I'm the one taking most of the pictures, I don't get in them very often!

Ellie Loves Her Poppers!

While decorating the Christmas tree at Granna and Papaw's house, Ellie discovered some bubble packaging that was protecting breakable ornaments. She worked and worked to "pop" the bubbles! What a great find - this occupied her for quite some time - which allowed us to finish working on the tree! Like I said - kids don't need expensive toys to have a good time!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Fun time at the Park

We had a really fun time at the park! It started raining while we were there and we got soaking wet. Are we horrible parents to let our child play in the rain?? :)

"Big Pumpkins!"

Ellie wanted both pumpkins on her lap for the picture so badly, but I just didn't think it was going to work!! When I saw this picture I thought it was hilarious!

Last Sunday at Church

November 2 was our last Sunday at Hamilton Baptist. After months of praying, we felt the Lord's leading for us to leave. Here's an exerpt from our 2007 Christmas Letter:

As many of you know, this has been a year of change for our family. After many months of seeking the Lord’s will, we decided it was time for Chris to resign his position as youth and children’s pastor of Hamilton Baptist Church. This was difficult decision for us, as our hearts were bonded with so many there. However, God gave us peace about the change, and our last Sunday was the beginning of November. We currently are visiting different churches in the area. It has been fun to see the different ministries that we’ve only heard of until now. We are praying that the Lord will show us the right church home, prepare us for future ministry opportunities, and Chris attending seminary.
While at Hamilton, we were blessed with the use of the church parsonage. Therefore, leaving Hamilton also meant leaving our house! We moved in with Chris’ parents at the beginning of November. They have been very gracious in sharing their home. Right now, we are praying for a house to buy! Each time we think we have “found the one,” the doors seem to close. The Lord knows exactly what He is doing, and has a house ready for us to find! We’ll keep you posted on our progress.

Autumn Acres

In November, we found the neatest place in Crossville, TN. It's called Autumn Acres and we spent a fun day there as a family to celebrate my birthday. They had fun cornboxes that Ellie enjoyed playing in.

The slides that they had were so much fun!! Even the "big kids" liked that!! We went really, really fast!!

We also enjoyed a corn maze - we went through the maze and answered questions about the story of Joseph in the Bible. It was a lot of fun and really tested our knowledge of the story. After the maze and a picnic lunch, we rode on a hay ride to pick out a pumpkin! This will be something that we do every year - we made some wonderful memories.

October afternoon

One gorgeous Sunday afternoon we had a mini photo shoot with Ellie!! She enjoyed playing in the leaves and couldn't understand why Mama was letting her be outside without shoes! I thought the barefoot look matched the dress!

Moving Methods.... How interesting!

My lack of organization and procrastination in the area of moving definitely caught up with me!! Despite the fact that I was terribly unmotivated, my mom and mother-in-law so graciously came to help me pack things up! This picture was taken after the linen closet was emptied - Ellie had a blast playing in the towels and blankets! Moving is a huge job - from now on I will be more sympathetic to anyone I know that is moving. I never realized how much stuff we could accumulate over four years... Can't imagine living somewhere for twenty of thirty!!

Beautiful Girlhood... What a blessing!

This picture is one of my favorites! It was taken back in October. It reminds me of the sweetness of childhood. We want Elliana to have a beautiful childhood - one that is filled with wonderful memories. So many children are robbed of their childhood. They don't learn to appreciate and rejoice in the sweet, simple things in life. We pray that Ellie will learn to have a love for God, His Word, His creation, and a spirit that desires to be shaped and taught.

Daddy's Girl

There's no doubt about it - Elliana Joy is definitely a Daddy's girl!! One day I found her trying to put Daddy's hat on and saying "Daddy Hat." I decided to snap a picture of this, and I'm glad I did cause this is one of Chris' most cherished shots.

Beautiful Roses

One thing we will certainly miss about our old house are the rose bushes that yielded the most beautiful blooms! We realized that this would probably be our last chance to enjoy them, so we decided to make the most of it!!

Ellie enjoyed helping cut them and put them into vases and was very impressed with their sweet aroma. She wanted to smell them each time she passed by the kitchen table!

Bib Adventures

Ellie discovered that she could have much more fun with a bib than she ever realized!! Maybe that is her way of telling me that she is too big to be wearing bibs.

County Fair

We spent a Saturday morning in September at the County Fair. We parked at the mall and rode the bus to the fair, which was a lot of fun for Ellie!

She especially liked the goats at the petting zoo. You could hear her shouting "Hi, goats!" from outside the tent! They weren't too excited about her though, especially after she discovered their tails. Poor things - I'm sure they had a long day!

Granna's Ducks

Ellie just loves the ducks that Granna and PaPaw have in their garden!! This picture was taken Labor Day weekend.

Laundry Day is REALLY Exciting!!

Who says you have to buy a child loads of expensive toys? Ellie is just as content with a laundry basket!! She helps mommy sort the clothes on laundry day, then she gets to play in the basket. It keeps her entertained for quite awhile. She also loves playing with paper towel rolls, pots and pans, cardboard boxes... so many things are more exciting and imaginative than toys!!

Watching Butterflies with Daddy!

In August, we greatly enjoyed going to my cousin's wedding in Huntsville, AL. It was held at Annabella at Cedar Glen and was absolutely gorgeous!! Ellie enjoyed seeing the beautiful flowers - I snapped a shot of Chris showing Ellie the butterflies that were on a bush in one of the gardens.