Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Outside my window...a yard in desperate need of being mowed. Mown? I need to mow the yard. How’s that? No rain forecasted for the next few days, so we should be able to get out there Thursday or Friday. Yay!

I am thinking...about what to tackle next. This is my last school-free week, and I still have a good bit to get done to be ready to start school back on Monday.

I am thankful for...reproducibles. And the fact that one of our printers is also an auto-feed copier so that I can just stick a stack of my reproducibles on it, let it run, and do something else in the process!

I am wearing...white peasant blouse and black knit capris.

I am creating...a new school schedule, order from the chaos of the school room, and books from all of the copies I’m making for the new school year.

I am remembering...how nice and neat the school room looked the last time I got in here and reorganized. It wasn’t that long ago. I wanted to do it before I had to tackle shuffling school years. I’m glad I did it then because that makes now so much easier. But I’m also ready for it to look nice again!

I am going...to get done this week. Not everything on the March list, but the essentials. I will. Yes, I will.

I am reading...Olivia’s first reader for the new year. Actually, I’m resisting the temptation to throw the list out the window so I can read. There aren’t many books I buy because I get so many for free for review purposes. But, Doug has bought me several Tricia Goyer books. The last book in her Amish fiction series arrived yesterday, and I can’t wait to read it!

I am hoping...our new school schedule works decently and doesn’t need too much tweaking. I like it. I want to keep it!

I am hearing...a lot of banging. The kids were supposed to be emptying the dryer and moving another load from the washer to the dryer. I’m not sure what else is going on in the process!

On my mind...my Grandpa Russell, who turns 91 today! He sounded so good and chipper on the phone when I talked to him this morning. He talked a little about missing Grandma and a few of the things he’s doing to help with that. I’m proud of him. Happy birthday, Grandpa!

From the learning rooms...six days…

Noticing that...I feel so much more energetic through the day when I exercise in the morning. I really want to make this week a consistent one for exercise!

Pondering these words...And all the skillful men who were performing all the work of the sanctuary came, each from the work which he was performing, and they said to Moses, “The people are bringing much more than enough for the construction work which the Lord commanded us to perform.” So Moses issued a command, and a proclamation was circulated throughout the camp, saying, “Let no man or woman any longer perform work for the contributions of the sanctuary.” Thus the people were restrained from bringing any more. Exodus 36:4-6 ~ I love this passage. Oh that we would live to bring more than enough!

From the kitchen...whatever we can throw together at the last minute. That’s going to have to change before next week.

Around the house...the last of the March projects waiting to be completed. And a whole lot of laundry to fold. Ick.

A favorite thing from last week...three very productive days in a row.

A few plans for the rest of the week...I don’t think we have anything beyond the normal planned. Oh, except for administering the girls’ annual standardized tests. I guess that’s a little beyond the norm!

A picture worth sharing...where did my little girl go? 101_0264

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Little Trip for You

Due to today’s list and errands, Not Quite Ordinary Observations will probably have to wait until tomorrow. So, I thought I’d send you somewhere more fun for today.

A homeschool convention – and you don’t even have to leave home to attend! But, you do have to register. The “doors” open today, but I’ve had a sneak peek. I can tell you, it’s worth checking out! Okay, so if you don’t homeschool you might not think so. But then again, it might give you a fascinating glimpse into the homeschool world and all of the resources available to us these days!

Here’s the convention link: http://www.homeschoolconvention.com/hedua/convention/

Have fun! And if you forget to come back to read tomorrow’s post because you’re still enjoying the convention, I’ll understand! Smile

Thursday, March 22, 2012


As I mentioned on Monday, I waited a FULL WEEK to open our box from Sonlight. The box has been sitting here in the school room just staring at me. Beckoning me. By Tuesday afternoon we just couldn’t wait any longer.

Some of you might not quite understand how absolutely wonderful a box from Sonlight can be. You see, it’s not just school books. I don’t think plain ole school books would instill such excitement, although anything new is more fun than the old. But, the thing about Sonlight for us (it’s not this way for everyone, and that’s okay!!!) is that even when we’re ready to be done with a core, so many of the books remain treasured friends. A new box means new treasures.

The kids have had trouble waiting, too. In fact, they were getting rather impatient with me as I finished up a couple of tasks, knowing that we were about to open the box! They were poised like this for about five minutes, just dying to rip the tape off and dive in!


And dive in they did!


Packing paper went flying and books came pouring out accompanied by exclamations of great excitement!


Once the books were pulled out, sorted through, and checked off the packing list, Steven decided he had looked through them enough, but Olivia and Angela weren’t done.

Liv grabbed one of her science books, and then found an origami book to drool over.


Angie, on the other hand, went straight for the readers! (I know how shocked you all are! Smile) She gave me one of her cute, innocent looks when I caught her getting ready to run off with one of the readers to devour it.


And now my fun job begins! It’s time to clear these two middle shelves of everything we’re done with (which will be all but about a third of one shelf) and pack them away in their waiting tubs. sonlight9

Then I get to refill the shelves with these…sonlight7

…and these…


…and the two tubs of books we already have waiting for us in the hall closet!

We will have about twice the number of books this year that we have in past years because I’ll be teaching two cores this year instead of one. Fortunately, we were able to free up another bookshelf to move into the school room to accommodate the increase.

Once I get the books sorted, labeled, and shelved, my next job will be to go through the new Instructor’s Guides (although I’m already familiar with one of them, so that helps!) and plan our new daily schedule. And yes, I’m excited about it all! I love every part of teaching the kids, but the planning phase really energizes me! It’s a good thing, too, because we’ll be starting the new cores a week from Monday. I think we’ll be ready!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Steven’s New Book

On Saturday when he and Doug finished their projects, Steven popped into the school room where I was writing and excitedly said, “I'm going to start a Hardy Boys book today!”

Immediately, this mama's heart cringed. I was so thrilled about his excitement, but Hardy Boys? That's not quite where I wanted my five-year-old to start! I had already told him that he could grab a Boxcar Children or Magic Treehouse book whenever he was ready for a challenge.

As much as I hated it, we had to have a little talk about his book choice. This was his response:


But then the more I tried to take pictures of his pouty, tear-stained face, the more he couldn't keep from laughing.


And then Angela brought him the first Boxcar Children's book, and he decided it wasn't so bad after all!


And here we go...there's no stopping him now! But, I am going to insist that he read all of the Boxcar Children, Magic Treehouse, and Little House on the Prairie books that we have before diving into Hardy Boys.

I'm just mean like that!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Project Day

Saturday was project day!

I didn’t get pictures of Doug and Steven putting together a little wooden school bus. Steven had gotten it for Christmas, and they started today building that.

Then Doug started working down his project list, which started with putting together a new shelf unit for the kitchen (and moved on from there to include changing the oil in the vehicles and other such not quite fun things!). Steven was proud to help!


He was even prouder when he discovered he could screw in the poles all by himself! Well, with the help of the tongue, that is. Smile I just love that tongue sticking out!


Finally, after they moved it to the kitchen, Steven got to test all of the shelves to make sure they were level.


The girls, meanwhile, had a project of their own. Thanks to a lady at church, every few weeks they get a package in the mail with two craft projects. It’s perfect for them because they are all things they can do themselves! And, it’s perfect for me because I don’t have to mess with it at all! Yes, I love to sew and make certain things, but I do not like crafts!!!!! Some of my Home Educating Family friends and I have joked that the thought of crafts makes us break out in hives! But, my girls do enjoy them. So, this lets them craft to their hearts content!

The most recent package had a clip board to decorate and a package of ribbons and beads for making a door screen. They decided to start with the door screen, which is going in Olivia’s doorway (since Angela has a Cinderella hanger on her door already).


And here’s the end result!


As for me, none of my projects were photo-worthy. Writing projects, turning a pair of workout pants into workout shorts, reading to the kids (I guess that would have been photo-worthy, but I was behind a book instead of behind a camera!), etc. All in all, a good day!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, March 19, 2012

Outside my window...clouds, but not gloom. Although I prefer sunshine when it’s not raining, the clouds are much easier to handle when it’s still bright!

I am thinking...that it can’t be possible that March is two-thirds gone! I have two more weeks of break. Making steady progress on the list, but still much to do.

I am thankful for...plenty of clothes for the kids, yet again.

I am wearing...black knit capris and a maroon top. Yep, the Monday color’s back. Although this one is short-sleeved, so it’s at least a different shirt!

I am creating...nothing. Just tackling The Big March List. When things get back to normal, I’ll hopefully get back to creating.

I am remembering...last year when it was still chilly right about now and there was no real hurry about getting summer clothes out.

I am going...to finally get to open the Sonlight box that came last week! It’s part of the March list, but other things were higher on the list. But a whole week?!?! I’ve never waited anywhere near that long! Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever waited more than a couple of hours. That’s what I call self-control, folks. But I think tomorrow will have to be the day.

I am reading...just finished Beauty for Ashes by Dorothy Love for review. Next week’s review book is a children’s Easter book, so I think I’ll take this week to read another “just for me” book – Chasing Mona Lisa by Tricia Goyer.

I am hoping...for a productive week.

I am hearing...the quiet hums of electricity and a few dishes clinking as the girls empty the dishwasher for me.

On my mind...my next blog post for the Home Educating Family blog, due tomorrow. There are some great posts going up over there! Click on over and check them out. Even if you don’t homeschool, there are still some encouraging posts.

From the learning rooms...it seems that Latin is the only thing we’ve kept up with over the past few weeks. This month has been much choppier and less routine than I expected, so it’s been harder to keep up with the other things like Polish, piano, and typing. What a blessing that we took the month off. Think God might have had something to do with that? Smile

Noticing that...it’s warm in here. I think the fan is going to have to come back out.

From the kitchen...broccoli, chicken, and rice casserole, made mostly by the kids.

Around the house...projects coming together.

A favorite thing from last week...the projects that were accomplished on Saturday. I think that deserves its own post, though, so be looking for it over the next couple of days.

A few plans for the rest of the week...lunch with the Gleaners Sunday school class tomorrow, a birthday party on Saturday, and just plugging away at that list!

A picture worth sharing...from a few weeks ago.funnies

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Just Pictures

Once kids start getting bigger, it’s hard to remember to pull out the camera. They do a lot of awesome, fun stuff, but somehow it’s not the same as when they’re little and everything they do seems picture-worthy. I really want to try to take more pictures just because they still change so quickly!!

Here are a few from our trip to Judsonia last week.

Angie, Abigail, and Steven playing


She said, “Cheese!” How could I resist?!


Steven & Angie enjoyed the game box.


They love each other!


How did I not get any pictures of Olivia?!?! I think it’s because she was always hanging around with the adults. She’s in that in-between phase where she’s still a kid but is really drawn to grown-up things. I remember that phase. I am trying to give her opportunities to be a little more grown up while encouraging her to still be a kid, too!

I intended to take a lot of pictures of the kids playing on Tuesday, but somehow I let the day get past me. Here, though, they were all in one place watching Bugs Bunny for a few minutes – well, all except the youngest who was taking a nap…

Mill Bayou-20120313-00092

And no, Steven didn’t feel excluded. He just needed a few minutes of down-time – and uncontested control of the remote!

Then there’s this one…we’d gone up to the church to play away from the swamp that was our yard. Olivia and Angela walked little Joey all the way home. So sweet!

Mill Bayou-20120313-00093

Friday, March 16, 2012

What a Week!

Every day this week I have intended to sit down and write a post. Yep, it’s been that kind of week!

The baby girl who was supposed to arrive by c-section on Thursday decided to come two days early. So, her four big brothers arrived Tuesday morning instead of Wednesday night. It was a lot louder than usual in my house with five boys and two girls than it typically is with two girls and one boy, but it really was a good day. They were such well-behaved boys, and we hardly had any fighting or clashing of wills at all through the day. That’s pretty amazing for a day when seven kids are cooped up under one roof for the day! We were all pretty tired by the end of the day, but we were thankful for a good day.

The rest of the week has just flown by. Last weekend my task was spring cleaning in the kids rooms (which are still clean a week later! That might be a record!). This week it was pulling out summer clothes. We went from mild winter where lightweight long sleeve shirts were okay to warm and sticky pretty quickly. The kids always have short sleeves in their drawers, but this week even long pants have been too warm! So, getting out the summer clothes was urgent!

In all honesty, I expected to have to do a good bit of shopping this year because I knew many of their clothes were hitting their limits last summer. Or so I thought. As we started going through their clothes, things that I just knew were going to be too small still fit beautifully!! Even with all of the massive and measured growth spurts! I can’t explain it! I think God miraculously grew the clothes with the kids. Needless to say, they were as thrilled as I was because that meant some of their favorite clothes still fit. Steven needs another pair of jean shorts, and each child will probably need one new pair of shoes of some sort before the summer’s out. Yep, that’s it. I’m still in shock! And so incredibly thankful!

I think I have some pictures from the week on the cameras – I’ll try to post them tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I’ll just keep smiling with thankfulness. God’s provision truly is perfect. Now if I will just continue to remember that before the evidence comes through!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, March 12, 2012

Outside my window...clouds trying to clear away. I see little patches of blue! Oh, and birds. They are loud today. Oh, and peach blossoms! In fact, every one of our six peach and apples trees are showing signs of life! I love it!

I am thinking...about what’s right in front of me. No mental multi-tasking going on with me today!

I am thankful for...the prompting of the Lord to take this whole month off. Looking back over the past two weeks, just a couple of weeks wouldn’t have been enough. We’ve really needed this!

I am wearing...jeans and a pink short-sleeve top with a white inset collar.

I am creating...nothing really this week. Just continuing to plug through the Big March List.

I am remembering...some emails I’ve neglected to respond to.

I am going...to teach Olivia to play nerts during our “Mommy-Livie” time today. I’m sure she’ll start beating me very quickly.

I am reading...Trained in the Fear of God, a compilation of chapters dealing with guiding the church toward teaching families how to disciple their children.

I am hoping...that sorting through the kids’ summer clothes goes quickly. I usually try to get that done before the need is pressing, but since we haven’t had a winter this year, we’ve not really even had much chance to wear the warm clothes!

I am hearing...much quiet. The kids have been playing quite nicely this morning.

On my mind...the week.

Noticing that...there will never be a week that goes exactly as planned. I think that might be too boring anyway!

Pondering these words...Biblical revelation provides us with many things to understand, some of which will require a lifetime of learning. But it also reminds us that God has not disclosed everything (Deut. 29:29). At some point God demands our trust and obedience, not merely our evaluation and understanding. ~ D.A. Carson

From the kitchen...teaching the kids how to make chicken pot pie.

Around the house...a box of brand new school books just waiting to be explored! I am resisting the temptation. There are several other things that MUST be accomplished first. Makes for some great motivation!

A favorite thing from last week...Grandma’s funeral service. It really was a precious service – more smiling and chuckling than tears.

A few plans for the rest of the week…continuing to work through the List; a full house Wed night and Thurs morning with four extra boys while their parents go to welcome their new baby sister into the world!

A picture worth sharing...just chilling together. I love that my kids love to be together!


Monday, March 5, 2012

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, March 5, 2012

Outside my window...beautiful sunshine and a calm day, unlike the intense wind we’ve experienced in recent days.

I am thinking...about my grandmother’s life. This morning the call that I’ve been expecting for nearly a week came. Grandma Polly, my dad’s mom, passed away this morning. When I saw her and Grandpa last week, they were both sick. Grandma turned 91 last August, and she and Grandpa would have celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary this year. I’m going to miss her, without a doubt, but right now I’m just overwhelmed with thankfulness because I’ve had her for so long and my children have had the chance to know both her and Grandpa Russell. That makes me smile, even though I know the sadness will set in very soon.

I am thankful for...the bright sunshine on a day like today. It makes the smiling easier.

I am wearing...jeans and one of my favorite navy tops.

I am creating...organization in all of the bedrooms.

I am remembering...Grandma on the floor with her great-grandchildren. She loved getting on the floor with them, even if that meant she wouldn’t be able to move the next day! It was worth it to her!

I am going...to be flexibly productive this week.

I am reading...The Swiss Courier by Tricia Goyer. Finally! It’s so good – in fact, it’s all I can do to stick with my tasks for the day instead of going to finish it!

I am hearing...the kids playing so happily together. One of the most beautiful sounds.

From the learning rooms...Visual Latin, which the kids are loving, and keeping up with things like piano and typing practice. Other than that, the goal is to get the school room ready for new books and get that order placed soon.

Noticing that...my writing juices are flowing better today than they have been in a while. That seems a bit odd to me.

Pondering these words...If you start to edit as you write, you are climbing into your “editor” self, the self that reads. You’ve done plenty of reading, you don’t need practice right now. (Does anyone recognize this quote? I didn’t write down who wrote it, but I like it! I’d love to find the source again!)

From the kitchen...I’ve asked the kids to make a list of the things they want to learn how to cook this month. Then I’ll menu plan accordingly.

Around the house...the calm before the storm. Whenever I organize, chaos ensues first. Just a fair warning if you decide to stop by to say hi this week!

A favorite thing from last week...a good visit with my sister Renay. The prayers that bathed it were so obvious during the visit.

A picture worth sharing...Steven finally learned how to get his fitted sheet on without any help. He was so incredibly proud!

Bottom sheet

Saturday, March 3, 2012


What a glorious week! The kids got to do something awesome…

They got to play outside!!

That’s a big deal around here. It’s either too wet, too hot, or too mosquito or buffalo gnat infested to play outside most of the year. The kids will last a few minutes, but then come in claiming that they’re tired of fighting the mud, getting eaten alive by bugs, or too hot. Such is life. But this week has been beautiful! Perfect temperatures and miraculously no mosquitoes! A couple of the days were pretty windy, so that might have had something to do with the absent mosquitoes. They only missed being outside two days this week – Tuesday because we were gone and Wednesday because they only thought about it first thing in the morning when it was still wet from a rain shower the night before.

But, other than that, they’ve had a blast! Most days they were out in shorts as the temps climbed into the upper 70’s. But today they had to pull the light jackets back out. They didn’t seem to mind, though, as long as it meant being out in the sunshine!

They climbed those trees, rode their bikes, and built forts out of fallen sticks from the yard.



Unless the mosquitoes come out, the weather forecast indicates that next week just might be a repeat adventure. Yay for an outdoors kind of spring!

Friday, March 2, 2012


We were walking down the baking aisle at Wal-Mart today when we passed a section with a cobbler mix. That’s when Angie asked the question that made the rest of us say, “What?!?!”

“Mommy, what’s cobbler?”

Seriously? I mean, I know that there are many things Southern that I’m not that great at, having spent most of my growing up years outside the south. But cobbler? Have I really complete deprived my child of cobbler?

Naturally, I was compelled to remedy that problem today. We simply could not let such a thing go. I just had to make a cobbler.

After enjoying a nice, warm apple cobbler topped with still-frozen Cool Whip, I asked Angie, “So, now do you know what cobbler is?”

“Yep! It’s yummy stuff!”

Problem solved.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fifteen Years Ago

We live in tornado country. We joke that there is a perpetual tornado watch from March through November. And, if you have a mild winter like we’ve had this year, you might as well just extend it through the remaining three months as well. It’s just a fact of life here.

But, just because tornadoes are a fact of life does not mean that they are commonplace, nor do we remember them lightly.

Fifteen years ago today a massive tornado hit Arkadelphia, Arkansas. I was a junior in college at one of the two universities in that small south Arkansas town. I was watching the weather and hearing the sirens when I heard the weatherman say, “Touchdown in Arkadelphia!” Almost immediately the roaring began. (Yes, it really does sound like a freight train bearing down right on top of you – minus the metallic clanging.) Touchdown wasn’t just in Arkadelphia, it was right outside OBU’s campus in one of the football practice fields. I took cover in the stairwell, but it was over almost before I got there. The EF-5 tornado hit the practice fields, bounced back up, jumping over both universities, and then landed again in downtown to start its mile-wide path of destruction of downtown homes and businesses.

I still praise God it was a Saturday. If it had happened during business hours the loss of life would have been so much greater…

I’ve been through other tornadoes, but none quite like that. The images from Arkadelphia are still the ones that come to mind when I see new images from more recent storms. And I’m glad I don’t forget. I learned a lot that spring, and I’m thankful for what I learned.

But, I’d be perfectly happy to never again be where the big one hits.