Monday, February 25, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 25, 2013

In the great outdoors...another gloomy Monday with storms forecast. What is it about rain and Mondays? The storms aren’t expected to be anything nasty. Just noisy and windy with the possibility of hail. There will probably be a tornado watch, but we practically live under a tornado watch this time of year.

Speaking of weather, last week while many in Arkansas got snow and ice, we had hail, just a little larger than pea-sized.

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Within our four walls...some clutter that needs to be tackled. But, I just had a moment of encouragement. I was about to take a picture of the disaster on my desk and the table beside it. But when I looked, I realized just how much of it I’d already managed to tame! I know this still looks cluttered, but it is nothing compared to what it was a little while ago. That makes me smile.

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A heart of thanksgiving...for prayer warriors.

For the text I just received about a brand new sister in Christ.

And for preparation. During our years in ministry, God has allowed me to watch several girls mature through the 9-13 age range. I’m sure boys are the same way, but it is downright amazing how much girls change in those few years! It’s still crazy to watch my own baby girl grow up so quickly, but I’m so thankful that it’s not sneaking up on me. I’m thankful for the way God has warned me. And I’m thankful for the precious girls who allowed me into their lives during those crazy years of their lives.

A heart of prayer...for my almost-92-year-old grandpa recovering from “minor” surgery (if anything can be considered minor at that age).

For the preemie I mentioned last week – today’s been a bad day.

For some of my prayer warriors in their needs, for some who haven’t yet learned to be warriors themselves, and for others who have no relationship with the God who hungers to satisfy their every longing.

Random observations...if you have ever doubted the need to be very careful what you say, whether in person or online, I’ve got a story that will solidify that truth. Doug’s father’s boss saw a Louisiana news program last week that included a quote from Doug! A couple of people from our church heard it from an Arkansas news channel over the weekend. No one remembers exactly what he was quoted as saying, and Doug himself has no idea. His words were snatched from somewhere, and no one asked him for the quote. Everyone who heard it agreed that it was not a quote to worry about, thankfully. Fortunately, my husband has learned to be very, very careful with his words. Wise man.

Thoughts from the kitchen...I love having a hubby who doesn’t just reheat leftovers. He creates a whole new meal with them. He can do that with almost anything! Today, he whipped up some chicken fried rice. The only fresh ingredient was the egg...oh, and the sauce. And it was yummy! Much better than just plain ole rice and chicken would have been.

On my bookshelf...hmmmm…It looks like the review novel I was supposed to read this week hasn’t arrived, and the reviews I schedule in its place are picture books. And next week I have two Bible study reviews. Oooh…two weeks before I need to read again for review. I wonder if I can squeeze a just for fun book into my week? Maybe…

Projects...same ole stuff. But, it’s still all enjoyable. 

Sounds of the moment...the kids playing together. The beginnings of distant thunder.

Last week we learned...that “off” weeks are busier than school weeks. It seems unavoidable.

A favorite thing from last week...taking a sick day on Thursday. I know that sounds awful. I never want my babies to be sick, I really don’t. But, Olivia was just under the weather enough to stay home from art class. All three kiddos were snotty and low-key. It was a nice, calm, quiet, movie-watching kind of day. And I got a few things done I didn’t expect to accomplish ‘til Saturday, which made the weekend much more relaxed. Yes, sometimes sick days are a blessing.

The planner...not much out of the ordinary this week, although I’ll probably be joining Doug working at a food pantry on Thursday. Then this weekend my brother and his family will be coming so he can preach Sunday morning. I get to love on my nieces and hear my brother preach his first sermon! Hopefully Mom and Dad will get to come too!

Because visuals are fun...’Armless Steven!

Steven and Doug went to a hunter’s feast last Friday night, and Steven won a vest as a door prize. It’s just a “little” big, but he loves it! He wore it the other day while walking up to the church with Doug, but it was chillier outside than he’d expected. So, he pulled his arms in. Doug called him “armless Steven.”

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

God’s Handiwork

My camera and very limited photography skills could never capture the beauty God displayed in yesterday morning’s sunrise. It was absolutely breathtaking. Even though these pictures do not begin to capture the beauty, I’m sure your memory can fill in the rest.

A rim of gold down low, topped with pastels, the color surrounding the trees and buildings between us and the horizon. Not long after the sun rose fully, the entire sky was overcast, but at the time of the sunrise the clouds were just beginning to build, so all of the colors bounced around balls of texture and color. I just wanted to stand and stare.

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In mere moments, it changed, the horizon becoming more of a solid glow while the clouds above turned even more colorful. This picture just shows an orangish pink against a dark sky, but I saw a bold blue sky dotted with clouds of purples, pinks, and yellows.

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Before long at all, the sky fully brightened and the colors faded. But my thankfulness didn’t. God didn’t have to create a beautiful sunrise, but He did. He established nature itself in such a way as to display breath-taking beauty for our joy, to turn our hearts in praise to Him. Oh how He loves us and lavishes that love upon us!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Glance Back: Valentine’s Day

I forgot to share our Valentine’s Day pictures! We really don’t make a big deal of many holidays, Valentine’s Day included. But, we did do a few fun things to celebrate. I have my brilliant hubby to thank for most of the ideas. I love that! He really does make life fun for the kids and for me.

We didn’t make Valentine’s cards for anyone outside the family this year, but we had fun making them for each other. Doug and I got up that morning and hid cards around the house for each of the kids. Then, he made a sweet Valentine’s breakfast for us. My plate included heart and tulip pancakes as well as a heart-shaped omelet.

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The kids each got a heart and another shape specially made for them. One of Olivia’s nicknames is Boo, so she got pancakes spelling out Boo. (Yes, we bought a Halloween cookie cutter for that very purpose. It’s fun!) Apparently I picked the wrong picture because her heart pancake isn’t on her plate in this one. She did get one, though!

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Angie got a butterfly.

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Steven’s was a three-part train.

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After breakfast we dug into the Valentine mailbox. My mom made this box many moons ago when I was growing up, and we inherited it. The kids enjoy stocking it up every year.

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In addition to cards they had made for us and each other, each child found a card letting them know that they needed to search the house for its companions. Such a simple thing, but it brought them such delight! They helped each other hunt while Doug and I offered tips and hints.

After our morning fun, it was time to move on with a normal day. But, we did stop at lunch to read Voice of the Martyrs’ The Story of St. Valentine.

The Story of St. Valentine: More than Cards and Candied Hearts

Simple celebration, but lots of fun. That’s the way I like it!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 18, 2013

In the great outdoors...a storm’s a brewin’. Our chances for severity are slight, but you never know what’s going to happen with such unstable weather. Hubby’s in Little Rock this morning. Praying he gets home before storminess hits.

Within our four walls...happy children as they get the week off school.

A heart of thanksgiving...for flexibility. I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll continue to be thankful for it. Many homeschool by simply transferring the classroom into the home. For us, though, the greatest treasure of homeschooling is the fact that we can make learning fit our lifestyle rather than having to work our schedule around school. What a blessing!

A heart of prayer...for healing. A premature baby and a young woman from church are both in the hospital with critical health issues. But, even more than physical healing, there are hearts that need spiritual healing, restoration, or awakening in both situations. How thankful I am to serve and pray to the Great Physician who is the ultimate expert in both physical and spiritual health!

Random observations...It’s the latter half of February and I haven’t even looked at new curriculum for the coming school year! Oh my goodness! Usually by this time I have a huge list that I’m trying to whittle down to the necessities while I drool over a slew of other things that will never even find their way to the list. Fortunately, because I usually have the list ready VERY early, leaving me chomping at the bits to buy before we have any ability to do so, I do not at all feel behind right now. But, I should probably make plans to get started on it sometime soon!

My silly children...have suddenly stopped their hyperactive racing through the house. Hmmmm…wonder what happened. No crash, boom, or crying, so I guess they’re okay. Oh, and here’s Steven. He decided to come calmly read in the library so he can be close to me while I work (such a sweetie!). So, I guess everyone’s okay!

Thoughts from the kitchen...yeah, I haven’t gotten that far yet. Although I haven’t made chicken ‘n’ dumplin’s in a horribly long time. I think that will have to go on the menu for sometime this week. Not today, though. I’ll figure something else out for today.

Something yummy did come out of the kitchen this past weekend. Weekend before last we needed some challah dough for sticky buns, but the water temperature was not watched carefully, so the dough didn’t rise properly and another batch had to be made. Rather than throw out the first batch, I decided to try to turn it into loaf bread this past weekend. I shaped it, left it to rise much longer than usual, and then baked it. OH MY GOODNESS! We are not typically very fond of white bread around here, but that was GOOD STUFF!

On my bookshelf...Finding God in the Hobbit is this week’s read. I’m really excited about it, even though I have not yet read The Hobbit (that’s coming in April when Olivia and I read it together for school). I also am working through a couple of new Sue Edwards Bible studies. I have done two of hers and really enjoyed them. I’m enjoying these as well, even if it is a quicker paced work through for the purpose of a review.

Projects...the knitting project is coming along nicely! Although I still need LOTS of practice, I’ve learned to knit and purl in both the English and continental style, and I’ve learned some of the more basic combinations like the garter and stockinette stitches, ribbing, and the cable pattern. I’ve read up on knitting with four needles and with circular needles, but I don’t have the supplies to practice that yet. I’m about ready to progress from the basic stuff in the Boye “I Taught Myself Knitting” kit to a bigger book that is more of a knitting course. I don’t quite have enough yarn to tackle one of the patterns I want to make, but I’ll get to that soon. For now I’m enjoying the basic practice, even if I do just pull it out and start all over again.

But, this week other projects come ahead of the knitting. School planning for the next six weeks, continuing to prepare the minister’s wives blog for launch next month, and writing projects all must come first. Those are fun too, though. Mostly.

Sounds of the moment...A lot of quiet. The kids must either be reading or playing with Legos. Steven disappeared from the bean bags near me, so I’m not sure what he’s up to.

Well, I was wrong.

Steven is building a rodeo.Steven

The girls are playing with paper dolls.

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I’m sure Steven will need some interaction time very, very soon, either from the girls or Mommy. He can’t handle playing all by himself for too awfully long!

Last week we learned...just how hard it is to teach concepts of discipleship and spiritual growth to those who have been church members all their lives yet have no idea what is actually in the Bible. Christians, we MUST learn what God’s Word says and we MUST teach it to our children!!

A favorite thing from last week...seeing God restore our home to peacefulness after the chaos of the previous week.

The planner...the aforementioned projects will take up most of the week, working around art classes and church. Then on Friday Doug and I will be attending a social media conference. I think I’m going to be exposed to aspects of Facebook, Twitter, etc., that I’ve never even contemplated. Deep breath.

Because visuals are fun...

“Dear Olivia,

You are free to do anything you want or need to do as long as you give me what I want first. (insert maniacal laugh)”

Liv & Mina

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What to Share?

I really wanted to write a blog post today, but I’m out of ideas. What to share, what to share? Probably everything I type today will be rather mundane, but I think it might be fun several years from now to read about the mundane as well as the exciting. So, for now you get to “enjoy” the mundane (or skip it, according to your pleasure!).

It’s a rather gloomy day, and I think we’re all a little low-key. I wish I could be low key like Steven, though. Even when he’s low-key he can still race through the house with random bursts of energy.

Olivia and Angela are both so excited about my knitting progress that they have decided they want to try, too. I have a morning date time with each child once a week. Yesterday was Livie’s morning, and she decided to take a week off from the skirt we’re making together and take a knitting lesson instead. It was frustrating at first, but then it clicked and now she’s plugging right along. This morning it was Angie’s turn. Like Olivia, she got a little exasperated. But right before it was time to quit, it clicked! We spent a little extra time on it to get her to the point where she could practice on her own. I’m excited for both of them!

The flip side, though, is that I only had two sets of “real” needles and one set of fun little plastic needles. So, those two stinkers have the plastic pair and the bigger of my other pair, leaving me with the smaller (thinner) set of needles to practice on myself. Methinks I’ll have to go ahead and invest in a whole set pretty soon just to  keep up with three knitters! Either that or I’ll make them buy their own knitting needles like they had to buy their own crochet hooks, sewing needles, pins, and scissors. Yes, I’m that mean mommy who guards my own things jealously and makes the girls buy their own (they had Christmas money to burn!). Hee hee.

Anyway, while Angie and I were knitting this morning, Olivia pulled out a sock puppet kit that’s been kicking around our house for a few years and started making them. The girls enjoy crafts like that. I don’t. I’m happy with sewing, but the rest of it drives me batty. It’s a blessing for all of us that they are pretty much big enough to handle scissors, glue guns, etc. now with mild supervision. They can craft, I can knit and sew and write nearby, and we’re all happy!

Meanwhile, the kids have a Lego town in progress for between-school play. Such things start off neat and able to be put on the train table out of the way at the end of the day. Then they grow. Then they become monstrous. Then I find myself stepping on a Lego. There’s not much worse than stepping on a Lego. OUCH! To avoid reaching that point, all Lego structures must be disassembled and put away before church tonight. They’ll probably start all over tomorrow or Friday, but a fresh start means I have at least three days before the monster arrives.

In addition to being gloomy today, it’s also cold. Not really a true temperature cold – it’s supposedly 43, heading up to 51 – but a definite cold feel. It’s amazing how one day the 40’s can feel pleasant and the next they can feel just plain cold.

With that in mind, Doug and I have decided it’s a soup day. Now to just figure out what kind of soup we want. I’m sure I could solve that problem very quickly by simply polling the peanut gallery. I have a feeling turkey rice soup will be the enthusiastic and unanimous response.

In the meantime, I feel like covering up the to-do list, getting the soup started, and curling up on the couch with a book or my knitting. But if I’m a good, diligent girl today, I can do that Saturday afternoon instead, on an even chillier day and with my hubby at home! So, off I go!

This has been mundane thoughts with Ann. Tune in next time to hear Ann say, “At 8:00 we did chores. At 9:00 we started school. At 12:30 we ate lunch…”

Monday, February 11, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 11, 2013

In the great outdoors...beautiful sunshine and mild temperatures. The kids have found little flowers all over the yard recently. I’m hoping the trees don’t start blooming yet because I have this feeling that another cold snap is coming.

Within our four walls...peace today. It brings much delight after last week’s struggles.

A heart of thanksgiving...for God’s wisdom, generously given.

A heart of prayer...for the spiritual growth of our family.

Random observations...I accomplished something this weekend. I gave myself a knitting lesson and learned the cast on stitch. I know it’s a little thing, and I’m honestly not sharing that to boast. It’s just that I have wanted to learn to knit for a while. When I first started looking at the diagrams and instructions, I was so utterly confused I just knew I’d never get it. But then somehow that first stitch just clicked. It felt really, really good.

My silly children...have secure email addresses that allow them to send emails only to the people I approve (www.kidsemail.org – they’re running a special right now, just in case anyone’s interested!). Today it appears that they are sending emails back and forth to each other discussing what they would like to play this afternoon. I need to remind them to use their email time to send messages to people OUTSIDE the house!

Thoughts from the kitchen...I make a dish we call All-American Skillet with ground meat, corn or peas, tri-colored or egg noodles, tomato sauce, and cheese. I typically make it in an iron skillet, so Steven calls it Iron Skillet. Took me a while to figure out what he wanted when he requested that one!

On my bookshelf...still working on Against the Tide. It’s a good one. I also have a couple of short reads coming up this week including a kids’ biography and a book Steven thoroughly enjoyed. We’re working through some fun school books as well. Olivia and I are reading Around the World in Eighty Days (reader), Shadow Spinner (read-aloud), and Teresa of Calcutta (history). Angie and I are enjoying Florence Young (reader – her second time, my first), while Steven is joining us for George Mueller (history), and Little Pear (read-aloud). His current reader is A Question of Yams. We’re enjoying them all!

Projects...same as usual – I need to get some work done on setting up a group blog, I want to practice knitting some more, and there are always writing projects going these days. Hopefully sewing will be back on the docket soon as well.

Sounds of the moment...the children enjoying a game on the Wii.

Last week we learned...just how skewed certain books can be. Okay, so that’s not really news, but it was still a bit shocking. Olivia and I are learning about India, and two of the books we are reading talk about India as this wonderful, peaceful melting pot of cultures and religions. How the people all get along and live full, beautiful lives. It gave the two of us the chance to talk about how anyone can paint a pretty picture of just about anything. We need to be open to truth.

A favorite thing from last week...all of my children excitedly asking what new books we would be starting this week, whether read-aloud or reader. That makes me smile.

The planner...mostly normal this week. Still full with art class and school, but normal full. I like that.

Because visuals are fun...I need to get back to actually taking pictures!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

I’m a Shirt!

Steven: Mommy, I’m a shirt!

Me: What?

Steven: I’m a shirt!

Can you guess what chore he had to help with yesterday?

Friday, February 8, 2013

A Laugh for a Bad Day

Today has been one of those days. We really needed it to be a restful and relaxing day, despite the fact that we needed to certain things accomplished. Not feeling well, we did nothing last night and slept in this morning. Everything got off to a decent start, but then just kind of went downhill. Kids disobeying in pretty major ways, bad news coming (Doug’s trip to Israel has been canceled), and far too many delays and interruptions in the day as a whole. Add to that the disappointment that not feeling well meant not getting to go to the retirement party we were supposed to attend today.

In the middle of it, I had a load of towels in the washer and went to transfer them to the dryer so I could start a load of darks. I had them almost all transferred when I let out a shriek. Doug came running, only to find me laughing. Fortunately, I’m not squeamish – otherwise the shriek would have been a scream, and the screaming would have continued instead of being replaced with laughter.

There, in the bottom of the washer, was a little furry addition to my load of towels. I know he wasn’t in there when I started the water, so all I can figure is that he either crawled into the basket of towels that had been sitting in the laundry room for a couple of days or one of the cats caught him and stashed him there. Without realizing it, I must have dumped him into the washer when I dumped in the towels. Yep, a mouse ran through my wash. Needless to say, if he was alive when he went in, he did not survive the experience.

Doug got him out for me, and I emptied out the dryer and reloaded all of the towels into the washer. For some reason, even though the mouse was obviously clean, I didn’t consider my towels sufficiently washed at that point!!!

Thank You, Lord, for laughter on a bad day!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Designers

I realized today that I honestly have no idea what pictures are on my cameras right now. I’m sure there are some I should share with you! I did turn one of the cameras on today and flip through a few recent shots. I found these:

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Apparently when we were at Doug’s parents’ house last month, someone got ahold of the camera and began snapping pictures of their designs. Then they decided to photo-record the design process.

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This one was headed one direction and then ended up a little altered by the end. I like the end result.

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I have no idea who the artist or photographer was, although I suspect Olivia. I typically don’t think to take pictures like this, but she does! They were a fun find!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 4, 2013

In the great outdoors...cloudy and a little rainy. Fortunately, it’s a bright kind of cloudy. The sun would still be nice, but it’s not overwhelmingly gloomy. Always helpful for a Monday to not be gloomy. 

Within our four walls...there apparently is a new Tinker Toy creation factory. I have not yet seen it. I’m not sure I want to. All I know is that it came out between chore time and school time this morning because my precious children did not have this week’s checklists yet and therefore could not start school. In that short time, they managed to cover Angela’s room so abundantly with Tinker Toy creations that she had to do her school work in Olivia’s room.

(Later…I actually braved it and it wasn’t too bad! Here Angie is trying to invent a Tinker Toy loom.)

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A heart of thanksgiving...for an upcoming school break. I think the whole reason I still school year round is because I know it means we can take a week off every six weeks!

A heart of prayer...with Scripture. For the past week or so the reminder to use God’s Word in prayer has been overwhelming. Last night I even “happened” to run across a old notebook of mine full of verses I’d picked out to pray over different people.

My silly children...are taking sides regarding a future trip of Bunny, Olivia’s beloved gray rabbit. Doug will be taking a trip to Israel in the near future, and he insists that Bunny will be accompanying him. Olivia emphatically disagrees. Angela and Steven waffle back and forth. This drawing appeared on a fridge dry erase magnet recently, indicating Angela’s current position on the issue. Just in case it’s not clear, it reads, “Bunny can see the world!” The stick figure at the bottom is Doug holding a camera so as to record Bunny’s world traveling adventures.

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Thoughts from the kitchen...ribs, a gift from a friend. They were yummy!

On my bookshelf...Against the Tide, my most recent fiction read. I am completely caught up on kids’ readers. In fact, I’m good for the week on Steven and Olivia’s readers, and just have a couple of chapters to be ahead on Angela’s. YAY! So, I get to read the novel and continue perusing WordPress for Dummies.

Projects...writing, writing, writing. And hopefully a little break for sewing somewhere along the way. 

Sounds of the moment...kids playing happily in Angie’s room.

We are learning...that nothing has to be done perfectly the first time. Sweet Angie has always flown through school, but math is starting to slow her down a bit. She’s learning that it’s okay to have to work at it a bit, and that it’s even okay to miss problems for the first few days, as long as we know she’s getting the hang of it as the days go by.

A favorite thing from last week...being reminded that it’s okay to be scared, nervous, or overwhelmed as long as it does not stop you from doing what you should.

The planner...school, church, art class, another trip to Little Rock on Friday for a retirement party, and an associational prayer event at our church on Saturday.

Because visuals are fun...Latin time! We’re not one of those “have to learn Latin or you’re not educating your family” kind of families. We just do it because the kids really do enjoy it. In fact Steven LOVES it! And I love that English grammar will be so much easier to teach him in the next couple of years!2013-01-28 08.06.19-1