Wednesday, May 25, 2016

May 2016 Vacation, Part 1

Toward the end of April, a note was written on our refrigerator white board. It was a countdown…

19 Days Until Vacation!

I took a picture, or so I thought, but now I can’t find it. But, yes, it was there. Then, on departure day, the countdown was replaced with “Bye-Bye! (Poor little Smokey Cat).”2016-05-24 20.05.36

Can you tell there was a wee bit of excitement about this trip?

The first bit of the journey was, well, not exceedingly scenic. There’s not much 2016-05-17 10.57.442016-05-17 10.57.49excitement between Little Rock and Memphis. So, it didn’t take long for the stuffies and Kindles to come out. Once we got past Memphis, though, and were heading across northern Mississippi, it was a different story. There was something about those rolling hills and the farmland that immediately started bringing the refreshment so greatly needed on a trip like this. It was delightfully perfect. The Kindles did come and go throughout the drive, but it was such a beautiful morning to be on the road.

2016-05-17 10.58.02

Our first stop of the trip was Shiloh National Military Park in southern Tennessee. Because we’re nerds. And we like history. And that’s just cool stuff! We started at the visitor center, and of course we HAD to 2016-05-17 13.58.26visit the bookstore as well. Then we started the driving tour of the battlefield. I didn’t take very many pictures because we were truly taking it all in.

The neat thing about Shiloh is that it has naturally maintained what some parks are trying to return to. It has remained much like it was when the battle occurred. Forests, clearings, and fields are in pretty much the same place. The log cabins and such are gone (except for the tiny log church for which the battle was named – I missed getting a picture of that, too), but even the roads we drove on were paved right over the wagon trails that existed 150 years ago. Smoother travel, but right in the same place.

So, while my silly kids could safely perch on the replica cannons without worry of being caught up in battle, it 2016-05-17 13.54.21was easy to picture troops being surprised by a cannon as they emerged from the woods into a clearing, or soldiers having to fight their way across a ravine or through underbrush just to make progress. Even the peach orchard destroyed by the battle way back then is still a peach orchard today. It was sobering to think of such devastation in such a beautiful place.

As we drove along, we saw a fun sign indicating a bald eagle nesting site! Sure enough, we quickly found the nest. In the clump of trees behind the kids, the enormous nest is directly above Angie’s head. We didn’t see the birds themselves – I assume they were out hunting at the time. But we did find a feather that was clearly an eagle feather. The shaft was quite huge, and even the downy portion at the base of the feather outsized many small bird feathers. 

2016-05-17 13.53.33

By the time we finally pulled out of the battlefield park, it was well past lunch time. Doug had scouted eating locations a couple of weeks before, and he found a place called Hagy’s Catfish Hotel just outside the park.2016-05-17 14.32.01 Now, you have to keep in mind that when we left Almyra, we left the catfish masters. We weren’t even big fans of catfish until our years there. And, while other places and people can definitely put on a decent fish fry, it takes a lot – an awful lot – to match the Yoder Ruritan fish fry masters. That’s not a criticism of other places and people. That’s just an indication that the Almyra crew is that good.

But, all indications pointed to the Catfish Hotel being a top-notch fish source. So, we thought we’d give this historic establishment a try. Steven’s grin is a little hard to see because there were spots on my lens and he was sitting by the window. But, that’s a very, very, very happy smile on that boy’s face. A VERY happy smile. It only took a bite to prove that the Catfish Hotel’s long-standing reputation was legitimately earned.

2016-05-17 14.31.55

Full and happy, we left the Shiloh area and headed on toward our final destination – a cabin on Tims Ford Lake in south central Tennessee. But I’ll save that for Part 2.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Community Band Fun

Before I start posting vacation pictures, I thought I’d give a little peek into the Friday before vacation…

Summer is rolling back around, and it’s time for the North Little Rock Community Band’s outdoor concerts to start back up again!

2016-05-13 19.34.38

And, of course, since Mom is in the band, the whole extended gang joins in the concerts these days! Alli was down from NW Arkansas for a visit, so even she got to join us this time.

2016-05-13 19.23.20

I didn’t even get the whole crew. A couple I didn’t know showed up and sat by Dad and “Aunt” Joyce (a long-time Browning family friend), and my Aunt Janet (mom’s sister) & Uncle Dave showed up a little while later, as well.

2016-05-13 19.23.10

But, you know I can’t resist shots of my own cuties.

2016-05-13 19.24.00

Or my beautiful nieces (these two picked up a friend for a few minutes).

2016-05-13 19.23.53

Yep, that niece, too! Hibbards and Brownings all in one big cheering section.

2016-05-13 19.26.35

But Nora is the one who stole the show.

2016-05-13 19.40.30

Is she not the cutest thing in the world?!?!

2016-05-13 19.40.42

Okay, so maybe the cutest little thing in the world. These two are still my favorite girlies.

2016-05-13 20.16.11

It was a beautiful evening and all-around fun concert. The band played a variety of marches – delightful music to kick off the summer. Then we enjoyed a trip to Wendy’s for a little bit of visit time before heading home. On those days when we miss life out in the country, we remind ourselves that, by living in the Little Rock area, these fun little events are much easier to enjoy!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, May 23, 2016

In the great outdoors...partly cloudy skies and temperatures hovering in the low seventies. I’ll take it as long as I can get it! Meanwhile, the trees and vines are growing nicely, but we’ll probably have to water soon if we don’t get rain this week. (The strawberry plants, meanwhile, are growing well, but the birds are eating all of the berries. Netting will be added soon!) We were supposed to get rain last week, but I’m glad we didn’t. If it had rained, we would have had to mow as soon as we got back from vacation, and I REALLY did not look forward to that. I suppose that will need to go on the to-do list for this coming weekend, though.

Within our four walls...fresh air coming in through open windows – but probably not for much longer. It’s supposed to get warm this week.

A heart of thanksgiving...for a great and much-needed week away with the family last week. Oh, and e-mail from Joanna this morning! The Choates had been without connectivity – even their local radio communication – for a little over a week. They got new equipment yesterday, and it was delightful to have an inbox full of e-mails and blog posts from Joanna this morning!

A heart of prayer...for our family as we get back into normal routine; for multiple people we know who are dealing with terminal illnesses.

Random observations...I like it when we feel like home is truly home after being away. Several places we’ve lived have not really been “home.” They’ve just been current residences. And, in all honesty, it has taken a while for Little Rock and this house to feel like home – possibly because Almyra had the strongest home feeling of any place we’d ever lived and still holds a special spot in our hearts. No matter how confident we were that it was obedient to leave, it was still hard to make the transition.

But, when we returned here after a week away, we walked in and truly felt like we were home. It was the affirmation we needed as we close out our first year here.

My silly children...all had very specific things they were glad to return to after our vacation. Steven went straight to his Legos, Angie to her quiet place with knitting and reading (she had her books and knitting on vacation, but not her solitary spot), and Olivia to her writing. I love their individual personalities!

Thoughts from the kitchen...time for the post-vacation cleanse! Although, I must say, we didn’t eat too badly while we were away. We had a cabin, and unless we were out and about during mealtime, we cooked there in the cabin kitchen. That was nice.

On my bookshelf...finally getting around to reading That Hideous Strength, book 3 in CS Lewis’ Space Trilogy. I started the series years ago and enjoyed the first book, but the second one was rather bizarre for my brain (although it is Olivia’s favorite of the series). So, I never came back to the third one, despite Doug’s assurances that I would like it. I’m determined to remedy that over the next couple of weeks before my next review book comes in. It has taken me a little while to get back into Lewis’ writing style for this series, but I’m enjoying the book so far.

Projects...I think I’m ready to do a little “rebranding” (for lack of a better term) on The design has definitely been in need of a rework, and I’d like the whole blog to be a little more coherent. So, that’s one of my summer projects. Well, in between all of the other summer busyness facing us with trips, camps, church plans, and prep for the new school year! I did a little design tweaking yesterday, but I hope to really flesh it all out over the summer. Meanwhile, I’ll freshen up this blog a bit as well. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything with the design on here, too. Ah, how things change. I used to update the design every season!

Meanwhile, I have sewing projects and planning for the new school year. I’ll definitely stay busy this summer!

Sounds of the moment...Angie practicing piano. She’s doing well for having been away from it for a week.

From Hibbard Academy...after a week off, we’re ready for our nice, “long,” three-day week! Ha! Olivia’s birthday is on Thursday, so with Memorial Day next Monday, we’ll end up with a really long weekend. Then, three more days next week to wrap up the school year (although Olivia will have a bit more to finish up). In all honesty, I much prefer a year-round schedule with more breaks scattered throughout the year. But, the past few summers have just not lended themselves to that. So, we’ll enjoy a two-month break – at least a break from the school work. It will still be a packed schedule!

A favorite thing from last week...the cabin. Oh my, the cabin. It was our back-up plan, in all honesty. A few other plans fell through, and it looked like our vacation was going to be chopped to almost nothing. Then, we found the cabin that would allow more nights at the same price. Once we got there, we realized that, while it might have been our backup, it was God’s number one plan. It was exactly what we needed, and it provided a perfectly relaxed framework for our activities. And yes, I have pictures transferred to the computer and selected for posts. Blogging about the week WILL happen!

The planner...mostly normal this week, except for Olivia’s birthday! Yay for birthdays!

Because visuals are fun...what does the Hibbard family do to finish out a vacation week? Stop at a bookstore, of course!2016-05-22 11.27.002016-05-22 11.27.16