Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Corn & Beans 2

Every day the delight of the day seems to be checking up on the corn and bean sprouts in our dining room.  At first, it required a huddle around the greenhouse. 
At the time, the sprouts were still small enough to be contained in the greenhouse - and didn't need the light quite yet. 
But once those leaves started to show and the sprouts started to really grow, it was time to make a change.  We cut the lid off the planter box, made a couple of arches to support the growing plants, put a layer of vermiculite in the bottom, and transplanted the young sprouts.  Meanwhile, we also put vermiculite and one corn sprout and one bean sprout into our pole planter for observation.  We set both in the windowsill where they would get plenty of light.  Observing growth is much easier now! 

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, April 27, 2010 

Outside my window...a sunny, cool morning – beautiful!

I am thinking...about how fast time is flying right now.

I am thankful for...prayers of friends.

I am wearing...jeans, green short-sleeved top, sandals.

I am creating...new plans and schedules. And a silly putty snake for Steven.

I am remembering...fun times with some good friends.

I am reading...Friendship for Grown-Ups by Lisa Whelchel – a book I definitely recommend.  Review coming soon on the thoughts blog.

I am hoping...the doors continue to open for Doug’s seminary pursuits to become a reality starting this fall.  And, that things really do work out for me to complete my MA as well.

I am hearing...music playing, with Steven playing vocal guitar in accompaniment (and dancing – it’s precious!); girls enjoying a few extra minutes of playtime before school starts.

On my mind...the future, both of our church and our family.

From the learning rooms...still Lewis & Clark and corn & beans.  Also, Steven’s desire to really do school is exploding!

Noticing that...when we are diligent, our time is multiplied.  It’s a tithe of time, and it works just like a tithe of our finances.  One of these days we’ll truly learn that concept!

From the kitchen...chicken pot pie.  Also, needing to make muffins and more granola bars.

Around the house...the nice feeling of being more caught up.  Not all the way, but moreso.  I like that.

One of my favorite things...planning, figuring, and scheduling. :-)

A few plans for the rest of the week...all the usual – church activities, school, etc.  Nothing extra this week – something we need to enjoy because it will be changing very soon!

A picture worth sharing...her new name is “Pink Cat.”  The kids have been making sidewalk chalk designs on the back patio.  Mina decided that right in the middle of them was the perfect snoozing spot!Pink cat

Monday, April 26, 2010

Giant Block Camera

Every Sunday morning, we are ready for church well before time for 9:45 Sunday school.  So, instead of sitting around at home, we head on up to the church.  Doug gets a nice, relaxed entry into his busy day.  Meanwhile, the kids and I usually camp out in the nursery.  I take a book to read or my netbook to write, and the kids enjoy some Sunday morning playtime together before they head to their separate classes.

Sunday before last, the kids pulled out the blocks as usual.  Olivia started building a tower, and then decided it looked more like an old-fashioned camera!  So, my budding photographer set up her "studio" and began taking pictures of everyone.  Yes, I love creativity!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Corn & Beans 1

Last fall I shared about our radish growing experiment, both the disappointments and the excitementsSonlight taps in to the TOPS science program to do multi-week science projects starting with Core 3.  At first I was skeptical.  I wasn't sure that I would really like being tied to making sure we did our project assignments every day, five days a week, for four to five weeks.  We tend to be a little more flexible than that in our typical school year.  Then, when the radishes didn't sprout on schedule, I was nervous about how successful the whole project was going to be.  But, in the end, it was a delightful success, and all three kids are still talking about growing radishes!

Now it's time for our second project.  This time we're growing corn and beans.  It's been a lot of fun to watch how the girls have matured between projects, and how much more of this one they're able to do themselves.  And they are having a great time!!

Yesterday we finished our third week of the project.  The first week was spent making our equipment for the whole project.  One of my favorite pieces of equipment is the balance.  Using a variety of everyday household items, we were able to make this balance to help us determine the mass of our seeds.  On one side of the balance is a little cup made out of foil hanging from a paper clip into which the seeds can be dropped.  On the other side is a flat piece of foil clipped inside a paper clip which serves as a counterweight to the foil cup.  We slip labeled paper masses into the paper clip with the flat piece of soil until the balance stabilizes, thus determining the mass of each seed placed in the foil cup.  We have had so much fun measuring our seeds!
Another piece of equipment was the pole planter.  Using lined paper, we created a tube or pole that we attached to the side of a cup.  Essentially, we created a system to make it easy to measure the growth of a bean sprout and a corn sprout (more on that later!).
Finally, we made a planter box - well, we made stage one of the planter box.  This box has gone through a good bit of alteration through the course of weeks two and three, but we'll share more about that later.  Essentially, the planter box is an orange juice carton set up initially to be a self-irrigating greenhouse and then later conformed to an open planter box in which the seeds can grow in vermiculite. 
We placed 18 bean seeds and 9 corn seeds into our planter box on the first Friday of our project.  And thus began the delightful task of growing our corn and beans!  (Here they are after a few days in the box.)
Here's all our equipment, ready to go (including a sealed container for later seed experimentation)...
By the way, since I regularly do book reviews, please know that TOPS Science did not solicit this review.  We bought these books as part of our science curriculum for this year.  But, if you're looking for a fun, hands-on approach to science, I would definitely have to recommend TOPS for consideration.  We are so excited to have two more projects to work through in Core 4!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Spring Flowers

The other day the girls pulled out some clay kits they'd gotten for Christmas.  With spring in full swing, it was time to bring a few flowers into the house - flowers that wouldn't make our eyes water and our noses run!

The kits included a special clay - a very lightweight clay that is moist while being worked with, but then dries into a spongy foam when left alone and unsealed.  So, little rolling pins and shape cutters in hand, the girls rolled and shaped until they formed a beautiful bouquet of various flowers. 

Occasionally they had to wait just a few minutes for one patch to dry before attaching it to another segment or to a stem.     
And here are the beautiful results! 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Outside my window...Beautiful sunshine on an absolutely gorgeous spring day!

I am thinking...about upcoming school plans for the whole family.

I am thankful for...prayer support and an end in sight to Doug’s frequent jury duty summons (today should be his last day!).

I am wearing...jeans, a short sleeve brown pullover, sandals, and (amazingly for this time of year) a jacket!! I got so chilly earlier – in the middle of the afternoon, nonetheless – that I had to put on a jacket! That rarely happens in April for this hot-natured momma!

I am creating...a split slip for the summer months.

I am remembering...the fun of the morning – actually getting to see the shuttle's trail in the sky as it flew over Arkansas, hearing the sonic booms, and then watching the actual landing on tv.

I am going...to get started on some active school planning for the fall. Soon, very, very soon.

I am reading...Friendship for Grownups by Lisa Whelchel.

I am hearing...the kids playing happily in the back; their music playing (sounds like Veggies), and the beautiful music of my wind chimes floating in through the open windows.

On my mind...the prayer needs of quite a few friends facing various challenges, both long-term and short-term.

From the learning rooms...the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis & Clark & Sacajawea; growing beans and corn; lines & line segments.

Noticing that...God sends little confirmations just when we need them.

From the kitchen...a great need for menu planning. A very great need!

Around the house...a bit behind on laundry. Otherwise, fresh air from being able to open windows!

One of my favorite things...the whole family sharing in a common excitement.

A few plans for the rest of the week...Gideon's pastor appreciation dinner Thursday night and a trip to Monroe on Saturday. Otherwise, not much – and I like it that way.

A picture worth sharing...the kids huddled around the computer, tracking the shuttle’s progress this morning so we would know when to go outside and look for it.
Shuttle

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Just News

I realized this morning that I didn't do my daybook entry again this week.  I thought about going back to remedy that omission, but then decided to just share everyday news.  It may seem mundane, but sometimes I want to remember the mundane.  I have come to realize how much this blog is a memory-keeper for us as much as anything else.  It might be nice to remember what the "normal" days were like as much as the days full of special events.

We've had quite a few appointments the past few weeks.  It seems that they hit all at once.  Annual check-ups and dentist appointments, primarily.  Annual checkups seem almost a waste of time considering how long we waited for how little was done to check up on us.  But, it's nice to have healthiness confirmed, and nice to have the kids go when they are healthy so that it's not so overwhelming if the time comes when they truly are sick. 

The dentist appointments, on the other hand, are actually fun.  We really like our family dentist, and we especially love our hygienist. Ms. Jonette takes such good care of all of us!!  I love getting to really talk to her - she's such a precious woman, and I love to see her heart.  She adores the kids and they adore her.  Poor Doug had to go when she was out, and it made a difference.  That's the kind of lady she is.  And, she loves where she works, so that shows what kind of man our dentist is.  Yep, despite the scraping (especially for Steven and me since we have a chemical make-up that makes build-up almost inevitable no matter how well we brush or how much we floss!) and the sore gums afterward, we enjoy going to the dentist. 

We are heading into an atypical weekend for us.  Doug will be gone all day today for a pastor's conference, will come home tonight, and then will head out early tomorrow morning to be gone for two full days for crisis intervention training.  It reminds me once again how blessed we are that he does not have to travel much without us.  This summer he'll be gone six days for the SBC annual meeting in June and then another five days in July to join the youth on their summer missions camp trip.  He and I will be separated more through the course of the summer than we have been in eleven plus years of marriage.  As I said - it reminds me to be thankful for the life God has allowed us to live where this is not the norm!

And, finally, school.  Not homeschool for once.  Graduate school.  We have tried many times over the years to get Doug back to school.  We are praying that the opening the Lord has laid before us this year will be the beginning of the end of that journey!  He will be beginning distance learning for his MDiv this fall.  Thankfully, it looks like he is going to get credit for 26 hours already earned through this journey.  That leaves around 62 hours remaining for his MDiv.  There is more education we'd like to get for him, but having the MDiv will be a huge mile marker on the journey. 

Meanwhile, over the past eleven years, we have talked off and on about me going back to school.  I haven't been strictly opposed - I wanted to do it.  I just always said, "One of these days."  Noncommittal.  Unhurried.  Focus on the kids now.  Well, "one of these days" appears to have come.  Something clicked, and now I want to go back to school.  Yes, I'm crazy, but if you've known me for any period of time, you already knew about my propensity for insanity.  So, I am in the process of filling out an application to start working on an MA in Christian Ed this fall, also by distance.  Many of our classes will overlap, so we look forward to trying to work through them together. 

So, that's Hibbard life.  Just news.  I like that sometimes. 

Monday, April 12, 2010

He Set Me Up!

Lunchtime conversation between Steven and myself.

Steven: "Mommy, do I think I need to take a nap today?"

Mommy (trying to clarify): "Do you think you need to take a nap today?"

Steven (enthusiastically with a huge grin and a chuckle): "No!"

Yes, this is my three-year-old.  Yes, he knew what he was doing (his daddy can testify to that!).  And yes, I am afraid.  I am very, very afraid.

Waterwheel

A couple of weeks ago we learned about various forms of energy, including solar.  We just so happened to have a solar waterwheel kit that Olivia had gotten for Christmas, so we decided it was the perfect excuse to put it together!

First we snapped all the pieces together...

Then we painted the little house...

I didn't get it in the picture, but the wires you see attach to what looks like a sun with solar panels in the center.  When placed in direct sunlight, the solar panels collect solar energy and make the wheel start to turn.  The kids love it!  We have the solar panel placed in a window where it will collect direct sunlight every afternoon.  The wheel just turns and turns, and the kids love to watch it!  I did have a video, but I couldn't get it to upload for some reason.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Eggs

The Saturday before Easter we had an egg hunt at church. We started outside with a resurrection story. Steven made a friend - a sweet little princess who was fascinated with Steven's boots. He was so cute playing and interacting with her!
Because it was so wet from the previous night's thunderstorms, we had to hide eggs indoors.  But, the kids had lots of fun hunting inside!
Angela and one other little girl were the smart ones. They stayed behind while Doug and Mrs. Lesia (primary egg-hiders) double-checked each room to make sure all of the eggs had been found. They ended up with probably a dozen more eggs between the two of them!
We finished the day with a light lunch and then headed on home.

Oh, and we dyed our eggs on Good Friday.  Steven started asking why we were coloring eggs, and we began to talk to him about the symbols of new life and the empty tomb.  He's asked the questions and repeated the information before, but this year there are glimmers of indication that he's starting to put the puzzle pieces together.  I love it when spiritual truths begin to make sense to young children.

Friday, April 9, 2010

This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano

This Little Prayer of Mine Recently I was sent a new children’s book for review.  The book was This Little Prayer of Mine by Anthony DeStefano, illustrated by Mark Elliot. 
The book begins with two children preparing for bed by saying their bedtime prayers.  The text is short and simple as the children pray through all of the ways the Lord walks with them and helps them through their young lives.  Meanwhile, the rich illustrations highly supplement the text, giving the all-important mental image to exemplify each request for help.  The plea for God’s presence in a time of aloneness, for example, is illustrated by showing the young boy sitting off by himself while a group of peers huddle together on the other side of the room, shutting him out of their interaction. 
My one issue with the book is found in the opening two lines. 
“I know you’re up in heaven, God, and can hear my voice from there.”
I feel that one struggle that even adults have with prayer is the concept that God is “up there” whereas we are “down here.”  I understand the basis of this when considering the beginning of the Lord’s Prayer, but sometimes I wonder if we downplay the Lord’s presence to our detriment.  In little phrases like these, we tend to suggest an idea of God’s distance.  I wonder if encouraging a more intimate image of God would help in prayer education. 
As far as the book is concerned, however, this is a detail that can easily be dealt with when this book is used as intended – as a supplement and tool to help parents teach their children about prayer.  For those who already have children’s prayer books on their shelves, I see no reason to rush out and buy this one.  For those who are looking for such a book, however, this is one of the better options I have seen.  I would recommend at least its consideration. 
If any of you are in the market for a sweet prayer book with precious illustrations, you just might be in luck.  I have a copy of This Little Prayer of Mine to give away!  Just comment here between now and 6:00 AM next Friday (April 16) to enter the drawing!
I received this book for review from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.  Anyone interested in receiving books for review, click on this Blogging for Books link for more information.  To purchase a copy of this book, click on the image above to be directed to WaterBrook’s website.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Easter Pictures

I did it! I got Sunday's Easter pictures posted today! It's nice to actually accomplish something I set out to do...

So, without further ado, here they are!
And, because they were so proud of them, I have to include a couple of the pictures the girls took.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Simple Woman

(Don't forget to click on the picture above and visit Peggy's site!)

For Today...Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Outside my window...sunshine and an unbelievable amount of pine pollen. There are piles of yellow everywhere. Everything is yellow – everything!

I am thinking...about how to structure the rest of the day.

I am thankful for...a healthy family, especially as I pray for friends who have children battling various health issues.

I am wearing...khaki capris, a blue knit short-sleeved top, sandals.

I am remembering...that last week at this time we were still comfortable in pants and long sleeves. What a change a week can bring!

I am going...to get Easter pictures downloaded and posted tomorrow! I am determined!

I am reading...Isaac Newton by Mitch Stokes – hoping to get it finished very quickly so I can get and read Lisa Whelchel's new book to review.

I am hoping...the rest of the week is productive.

I am hearing...Steven crawling on the floor playing with the cats; fans running throughout the house in an attempt to delay the use of the air conditioner just a little while longer.

On my mind...the aforementioned friends and their children and the many health issues being battled.

From the learning rooms...finally starting our planting project – working on the “equipment” this week. The first seeds will be exposed to water on Friday. Reading about Eli Whitney and Nat Bowditch.

Noticing that...I didn't do the Daybook last week. It was a busy Tuesday, if I remember correctly.

Pondering these words...”I was a little nervous about my test. Then I had my quiet time and prayed that Jesus would help me with the test. Now I'm hardly nervous at all.” Olivia yesterday before taking her first standardized test. Oh, how I love to see signs of spiritual growth in my children! That is one of the greatest gifts a mother's heart can receive!

From the kitchen...lots of leftovers this week. And the need to bake bread, make granola bars, and cook up several other things we're running low on.

Around the house...piles of laundry – I'm behind!
One of my favorite things...the knowledge that my family likes being around me.

A few plans for the rest of the week...hopefully settling back into the “routine” we are accustomed to after having appointments the first two days.

A picture worth sharing...nothing today...but the Easter pictures will come tomorrow. Yes, they will! Again, I am determined!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Testing Day!

In Arkansas, 3rd through 9th grade homeschoolers have to take standardized tests.  Sometimes the law indicates that it must be done annually, sometimes every other year.  With Olivia being in 3rd grade, this is our first year - and today is the day!  We'll be leaving in about 45 minutes, and Olivia will start her test around 9:00.  So, if you read this between 9:00 and 11:30 we covet your prayers for Olivia as she embarks on this new experience. 

I have much to blog about this week - Easter pictures, making a solar wheel, the start of our spring growing project, a children's book review.  I like nice routine weeks when I have to come up with things to blog about, but it's also fun to have so much blog material that I wonder when I'll post it all!  Hopefully I'll be able to do the first fun post this afternoon, so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Pretzels and More

Since I just put pretzel dogs in the oven, I thought I'd share our soft pretzel recipe this week. This recipe has proven to be exceedingly versatile, so I will probably post additions to this recipe as we make new discoveries.

Dough Recipe:

1 cup milk

1 pkg or 2 ¼ tsp active dry yeast

3 Tbs light brown sugar, packed

2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

2 Tbs unsalted butter, diced and softened

1 tsp salt

Warm milk in a saucepan until it's around 110 degrees (a range of 105 to 115 is acceptable). Pour into medium sized mixing bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let sit until yeast soften, about 2 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and 1 cup flour with a wooden or plastic mixing spoon. Stir butter into the mix and add remaining flour and salt to form a sticky dough. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead five to seven minutes, adding more flour as needed, until smooth but still slightly sticky. (If you have a stand mixer, use the dough hook to mix in the second addition of flour and to knead – knead on speed 2 for 3-5 minutes.) Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place bowl in a warm spot until doubled in size, about one hour.

Pretzels:

Punch down risen dough to deflate it. Turn out onto lightly floured surface. If the dough seems tight and unmanageable, recover it and let it rest for a while longer until it relaxes.

Dissolve 1/3 cup baking soda in 3 cups warm water in shallow baking dish.

For shaped pretzels, divide dough into six balls. Roll and stretch each ball to form a rope about 30 inches long. Shape each rope into a pretzel.

For pretzel sticks, divide the dough into 24 balls. Roll and stretch each ball into a short stick – 5-6 inches long.

Dip the pretzels in the soda wash and then place on a well-greased or parchment paper lined baking sheet and sprinkle with course salt. Bake in a 450 degree oven 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

For buttered pretzels, melt about 8 tbs butter and dip the cooked pretzels into the butter (they are delicious enough to eat completely plain, though!).

Alterations discovered thus far:

Pretzel Dogs:

Divide the dough into 20 pieces. Wrap one piece of dough around a hot dog (we love to use Polish sausages), leaving the ends open and making sure the seam is well sealed. Dip in soda wash, sprinkle with salt, and bake on well-greased or parchment lined baking sheet at 450 for about 10 minutes.

Hamburger Buns:

Divide the dough into eight pieces. Use an English muffin form or a circle of similar size to shape the dough into circles. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes (I think – we're still experimenting with time) or until buns are golden brown.

Breadsticks:

Divide dough into 24 pieces. Stretch into sticks, as with pretzel sticks.

*Optional – lightly brush sticks with butter and sprinkle with garlic. This can also be done after the sticks are cooked. They are also good with nothing on them.

Place sticks on a well-greased or parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. (Again, we're still working on temperature/time, but this seems to work)

We're experimenting with cheese-filled breadsticks. The ones we made this weekend leaked cheese, but they were SOOOO good. Stay tuned for a final result to our experimentation!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Cowboy Boots

As we left church the other day, a friend handed us a couple of bags of hand-me-downs for Steven. When we got home and opened the bags, we found two things that just delighted my boy to no end!  First of all, we found several cars.  He was ecstatic!  No matter how many cars he has, a different car is a delight that knows no bounds.

The other delight was none other than a pair of practically new cowboy boots!  Talk about excitement!  As he got ready for bed that night, he pulled on his pj's, boots, vest, and hat.  Yes, the complete picture of a cowboy.
The boots have hardly been off his feet since then.  Ah, it's the simple things that make life so grand!