Thursday, May 30, 2013

Celebrating Olivia

It’s taken me a few days to gather and sort through the pictures of a celebration that spanned three days, but here they are!

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Each child gets to choose the menu plan for a breakfast, lunch, and supper when their birthday rolls around. Schedules rarely seem to allow all three meals to fall on one day, however, and Olivia’s fell on three separate days!

We started on Saturday evening. For her “dinner” meal, she requested steak, homemade cheese fries, and corn on the cob. Chef Daddy did quite the excellent job on all of it!

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After she went to bed, I started working on her cake. Yeah. That was not fun. I should have just gone with the normal idea of using icing, but I thought fondant would make her requested TARDIS cake look so awesome! In my head, I could make it look like this:

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It didn’t. I was so discouraged by the end of the night that I completely forgot to take pictures of it. But, as always, my sweet baby girl was happy with whatever I made for her!

We got home from church Sunday morning and had her requested light lunch – peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with multi-grain chips! Surprise, surprise! Then we enjoyed cake.

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Well, we enjoyed cake after she finally got the candles blown out!

Yes, we did stick her with the trick candles. It was so much fun! But, if you notice, at the very end of the video she had a slightly puzzled look on her face after she pulled out the first candle. She LOVES to lick icing off the candles, and there was none because of the fondant!! Ooops! We all got a big laugh out of it before running her candle through some icing used internally as “glue.”

After cake, she opened presents.

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Angie made her a birthday crown!

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Jack, meanwhile, apparently was threatened with death by tissue paper!

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Sunday afternoon/evening we joined a big group from church at the Stones’ house for a fish dinner. The kids got to enjoy their first swim of the season while the grown-ups visited. But, the chill in the air, thanks to an approaching thunderstorm, had most of them running for their towels before too long.

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Poor little Steven was blue-lipped!bday3

Only Angela and Jada Hillman didn’t freeze to death. Such biscuits!

In pure Olivia style, her greatest fun had nothing to do with the pool! Nope, her real fun was helping Gary bread the fish and get it ready for the fryer! Olivia got it of the bowl and wiped off the excess water, and then she and Jada worked together to get the breading on it. It was yummy fish!

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Finally came breakfast Monday morning: chocolate chip pancakes, sausage, hash browns, and eggs. It’s probably a good thing her chosen meals were stretched out over three days – we did get fruits and veggies in between them!

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And that is the summary of our celebration of Olivia’s twelfth birthday. She says it was a good one!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Have I mentioned that…

…the van runs so wonderfully now?

Yes, it’s still old and it still has a limited life span. But, when we had to have it towed to the mechanic, we were really afraid it had breathed its last – or that we would have to put much more into repairing it that it is worth. In all honesty, a thirteen-year-old van with 217,000 miles on it isn’t worth much except to the family that can still drive it!

Don’t get me wrong. Sometimes I’d love a newer car. But, we have had no car payment for a while now. That’s really, really nice!

And I didn’t want that to change.

Amazingly, it was just the fuel pump. Yay!

Meanwhile, God provided so beautifully! I know He always does provide, but it doesn’t make it any less special each time we see it. He provided for not only the fuel pump and labor but also the other things we really needed to take care of on the van as well as the tires for the car.

Here’s the most awesome thing. Last week showed that we’re growing in our ability to trust and not stress. God has always provided, but we still tend to worry. Last week, though, the prayers of faithful prayer warriors all around us sent a peace crashing down over us that allowed us to rest and trust. We wondered. And yes, our muscles were a bit tense from the stress of Monday’s events and waiting for the verdict on the van. But we didn’t worry. It feels so much better to rejoice over His provision when we have chosen not to worry! So much better.

We still have a long way to go, but we’re getting better. I like growing, even when it takes some time stranded on the side of the road to make it happen.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, May 27, 2013

In the great outdoors...it’s dark. I’m writing this much later than usual. We were hoping to see the planets (Mercury, Venus, and Jupiter close together) tonight, but there was just enough cloud cover on the horizon to keep us from seeing them. Still, I can’t get over just how much we can typically see in the night sky without the interference of city lights. It’s breathtaking even when it isn’t something “special.”

Within our four walls...quiet. The kids are in bed.

A heart of thanksgiving...it can never be said enough – I am thankful for the sacrifice of those who have given their lives defending our nation and our freedom. But, I also can’t help but remember those who died that I might hold an English translation of the Bible in my hands and read it freely.

A heart of prayer...for wisdom and mental clarity as we dive into the full summer ahead of us.

Random observations...I hate fondant. I thought I’d try it for Olivia’s birthday cake. Of course, I’ve never actually worked with fondant before, so I don’t even know if my homemade stuff was the right texture! The humidity might have make it too wet, I don’t know. All I know is that it was a mess. At least it tasted all right, and Olivia was happy with her cake! That’s all that matters!

Now, part of me wants to never touch fondant again, but the other part of me wants to conquer it. I wonder which part will win out…

My silly children...were just goofy today. Downright goofy. Their mother wasn’t a part of that at all, though. Nope. Not one bit. Nor was their father. Okay, so maybe he was a little bit, but not me.

Thoughts from the kitchen...we have a menu plan!! In fact, it’s enough of a menu plan to last us almost a month! Ah…how good that feels. It still needs to be organized, taken from a list of recipes to an organized day-by-day plan, but that’s the easy part.

On my bookshelf...finishing Gospel Centered Woman this week (unless it takes a wacky turn, I highly recommend it!). Working through our summer readers: Finding God in the Hobbit with the girls and a biography of CS Lewis with Steven. We’ll also be starting The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this week as a family read-aloud. It’s time for Steven to be officially introduced to Narnia!

Projects...Well, I got Olivia’s nightgown done with a couple of days to spare, and I got the sock doll from Steven done at the last minute. I just realized I haven’t heard her name yet. Anyway, here they are.

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The gown is so long and full that Olivia will never outgrow it. She’ll either wear it out or decide she doesn’t want it anymore. She can also keep it out in the winter by simply putting a long-sleeve pj top underneath it. I think this just might be the ultimate gown pattern! Angela has already clearly indicated she loves it and wants one too (no surprise there!). I might even have to try one out myself!

Meanwhile, I told Steven I’d get his pj shorts done this week, so I guess that’s the next project! To bad I can’t find a pattern he won’t outgrow!

Sounds of the moment...music playing. Keyboards tapping.

A favorite thing from last week...I got to try out some more sewing machine accessories that have been just sitting there waiting for me for months. My double needle and gathering foot were wonderful for making Olivia’s gown!

The planner...well, the Gleaner’s lunch was cancelled last week due to weather, which was fine by me since I had a sick little boy and wouldn’t have been able to go anyway. It’s been rescheduled for tomorrow, though. Looking forward to it! Praying a couple of our sick ladies will be healthy by tomorrow.

The rest of the week will be light school, editing, trips to the pool, and then a quick trip to Judsonia. Mom’s planning a mansaf, which is nice since several friends have been posting on Facebook about the Jordanian meals they’ve been enjoying lately. Dare I hope for leftovers? My sister Alli will be there, and we even get to love on my nieces (oh, and their parents too – love ya, Ben & Ashley, even though you do play second fiddle now!). I can only imagine how much little Nora has changed since we last got to see her!

Because visuals are fun...I love how they love each other!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Happy Birthday, Olivia!

Twelve years. We always heard it would fly by, but even with the warning it still catches me off guard more often than not.

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I have watched as the daughters of friends and church members have suddenly progressed from little girls to young ladies. It happens overnight and is rather startling. liv3

I thought that I’d be somewhat prepared when our turn came, having seen it happen to those other girls. But I wasn’t. It’s just different when it’s your own daughter. I’m sure I’ll be shocked all over again when it’s Angela’s turn.

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It hardly takes a second glance to see that Olivia’s looks have matured over the past year. But, I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve heard comments about how she has grown and changed.

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Her personality remains the same – vibrant, rambunctious at times, silly, imaginative, and sometimes caught up in her own little world.

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But, she is also interested in more grown-up things. She thinks differently and speaks differently. Although there are times we want to knock some sense into her head, she is showing signs of increased responsibility. liv9

She’s not one of these kids who has found her niche early in life. She enjoys so many things: sewing, drawing, singing, building, and taking apart. She wants to know how things work, and she loves to explore. But none of those things have reached out and grabbed her with a passion, except, of course, her continued love for Bunny and anything camouflage.

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But, oh to have her imagination! Oh my! Whole worlds are created in her mind, complete with strange creatures and adventures and even epic battles. I need to hand her a voice recorder and tell her to just talk her imaginative stories out (she does it frequently anyway!), and maybe one day we can get it all compiled and written down. I’d love to read her stories.

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Twelve years ago we welcomed our firstborn into the world. She grabbed hold of my heart and has not let go. I have loved being her mommy. I see glimpses now of also being her friend, sharing not just mommy/daughter things but deeper things as well.

Happy birthday, sweet Olivia!

We love you!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Saturday Miscellany

I have a bunch of random thoughts in my head, none of which really qualify for an individual blog post. So, here you go – a peek inside my crazed mind!

  • I jokingly told Olivia we didn’t have any birthday presents for her. She said she knew Angie had made her something, and she was pretty sure Steven and I had been working on a gift. How did she know? “Y’all were whispering about something and being very pronounish.” So there you have it! I might have a new favorite word now.
  • Speaking of Olivia…I think she enjoys her newfound ability to operate a riding lawn mower a little too much. The look of glee on her face is a little scary!!
  • Steven and Angie, on the other hand, are having a bit more difficulty with growing up right now. They hear a whole lot more, “You’re getting too big for that!” than they do, “You’re now big enough to ____________.” Growing up can be tough.
  • We have apples! We really didn’t expect to see any this year, but there are two on one tree and three on another! How exciting!
  • Meanwhile, our peaches are looking fantastic! My friend Julie had mentioned the idea of pruning the peaches so as to encourage the remaining fruit to grow bigger, so we did some research on that. Our trees are technically too young to actively prune fruit, so we left them all. But, the late frost and our many storms seem to have taken care of some of them for us. One tree has lost most of its peaches. We have five nice, big ones and a dozen or so little ones. The bigger tree, however, still has two and a half dozen big peaches and quite a few smaller ones, even after losing quite a few to the frost and storms! I can’t wait to bite into one of those juicy treats!
  • Angie was taking something out to the garage trash can yesterday morning and came back with the report that there was a baby possum in the can! Oh, was he ever mad! He was hissing and spitting like crazy. Doug dumped him out in the yard and tried to shoo him away, but apparently the dumping occurred too close to the house. The possum got right past Doug and headed straight back into the garage! We haven’t seen him again, so we don’t know if he’s still holed up and hiding in there or if he’s moved on. The garage trash can now has the lid firmly reaffixed.2013-05-24 08.23.49
  • I accomplished something amazing this week – I finished a birthday present with three days to spare!! (Steven’s gift to Livie will end up being last minute, though.) Here’s what I made – I think this is now my favorite summer nightgown pattern. So easy!2013-05-23 15.22.13
  • Mary Ann sent out a text on Thursday saying the pool water felt great! We couldn’t go that day, but we fully intended to swim before the weekend was out. Then Friday ended up with a high of 77! No problem, right? Just wait until Saturday’s mid-80’s. Ah, no. Today is once again only forecasted to reach the upper 70’s. Yes, the kids were disappointed, but at the same time none of us will ever dare complain about a late spring. We’ll have plenty of time for swimming weather!
  • Even so, summer is here. What is my proof? This: 2013-05-25 09.52.55

A batch of cake mix – enough for three birthday cakes. For the past couple of years, this has marked the introduction to Hibbard family birthday season, aka summer. I’m excited this year because I’m trying out a different flour. The past cakes have been good but heavy, and they never have risen very well. This year we had some artisan flour on hand that we’ve been using for breads, so I gave it a try. The cake definitely rose well! It’s almost twice as high as previous cakes! I’m looking forward to doing a taste test. Hoping for a much fluffier, lighter cake.

Ah, my brain feels lighter already! There’s more floating around in there, but I won’t bug you with it. I’m instead off to write a review for my other blog, tackle my few remaining edits for this week, try my hand at making buttercream fondant, take birthday pictures, finish a sock doll dress, cut hair (Doug and Steven), wrap presents, and try to make a TARDIS cake. Fun day!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Texas Delights

Before we left for Dallas last weekend, I wrote a post for my personal blog and scheduled it to post on Friday while we were gone. The scheduling was intentional. The post, The Secret of Friendship, contains my thoughts on how this crazy, long-distance yet very close bond between our family and the Choates works. And work it does! Oh how we love that precious family! We literally soak up their presence.

We planned to meet at a local amusement park near their home in Cedar Hill. Thanks to cell phones and travel updates, we managed to pull into the parking lot at the exact same time!

We started with some go-cart fun.

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choates15We ate a quick supper and then moved on to miniature golf. After a little instruction, we were ready to go. We divided up into four teams, per the direction of the children: a girls team, a guys team, and a mommies & Katherine team. Quite the fun division! The girls led the way through the course, and we discovered later that they enjoyed making up their own rules along the way!

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The guys team went next, with mommies and Katherine bringing up the rear.

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Ready to cool down a bit, we headed in for birthday cake. These two gorgeous ladies share a birthday, and it was such a delight to celebrate together a couple of weeks early!

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Sarah made a mouthwateringly delicious chocolate chip cheesecake for the celebration, and Benjamin made sure all of the candles were lit!

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We finished up the evening with some arcade games. When a tired but happy crew made it back to the “Choate Bed & Breakfast,” we were greeted by this…and yes, we feel it!

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The next day we enjoyed the gorgeous trails owned by Wycliffe. I was too busy enjoying the sights to get many pictures – it was breathtaking! But, this was my favorite glimpse.

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Our picnic spot on the trails was the spot where Aaron and Joanna knew God was calling them to serve with Wycliffe. It was special to share that spot with them.

Of course, this sight was pretty special, too.

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Silliness is to be expected when the Hibbards and Choates get together, including a game of sardines. (Sarah was hiding while the rest of the kids were counting in the bathroom.)

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Look who was tucked in the shower behind the big kids?

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Goofiness at the supper table.

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And a few “sword” fights.

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Of course, pure cuteness cannot be helped, either!

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They even enjoy their down time and bedtime together.

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And yes, this silly group can go to sleep together, believe it or not!

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We say that this trip was just for the pure fun of it, but the truth is that the Choates fill our tanks in so many ways. We are so blessed to have their friendship and are so thankful for those face-to-face opportunities we get!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, May 20, 2013

In the great outdoors...summer is here, at least if mosquitoes and humidity are any indication! Oh, and snakes. Two awaited us in the garage today, welcoming us home from our morning adventures (more to come on that in a minute).

Within our four walls...air conditioning.

A heart of thanksgiving...for so much!!!

- A great weekend visit with the Choates.

- The blessing of a loaned vehicle to make the trip (we didn’t realize how much of a blessing that was until today!).

- God’s nudges that led to a prayer warrior praying over our family while he worked this morning.

- More nudges that encouraged me to charge my phone earlier than I might have otherwise done so, leading to an almost fully charged phone when a charged phone was really needed.

- Physical protection for Doug when the van died on him on the road to a meeting in Little Rock this morning.

- Physical protection for the kids and me when the car tire separated but did not blow when we were on our way to pick Doug up.

- The provision of not one or two, but five church members in the right place at the right time to help all of us. We didn’t even need them all, but we realized after all was said and done that no matter what decisions we had made, someone was already in place to meet the needs we would have had.

- The provision of two new tires for the car to replace not only the one that separated but also the practically brand new spare in the trunk that something had apparently slashed, leaving us with no useful spare.

- The fact that the two snakes in the garage were not poisonous and were not in such a place that they bit any of us when we returned home and startled them.

- Peace through every step of the way this morning, including peace over all three kids. They weathered it all beautifully!

A heart of prayer...for wisdom as we wait to hear back from the mechanic about the van.

Random observations...I keep thinking of things that need to be added to the grand to-do list (my friend Julie calls it the Mother Load, and right now that’s about how mine looks!). One of the tasks is to create a good, workable summer schedule. In the meantime, may I please have a nap?

My silly children...were enjoying themselves while one of our rescuers put the tire back on the car this morning.

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Thoughts from the kitchen...some days, there just are no thoughts from the kitchen. I will say, though, that yesterday’s no-bake chocolate oatmeal cookies were a good idea. They sure did make us smile when we got home!

On my bookshelf...I’m really liking this week’s review book, The Gospel Centered Woman. The author has some really thought-provoking perspectives.

Projects...sewing like crazy for the birthday girl! I haven’t made much progress, but hopefully everything will be quick and easy. 

Sounds of the moment...just the air conditioner blowing. I think the kids are enjoying some down-time.

Last week we learned...that it doesn’t matter how badly you play miniature golf, as long as you do it with good friends!

A favorite thing from last week...

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(more pictures to come)

The planner...up in the air. Lunch meeting with the Gleaners tomorrow and a twelfth birthday celebration on Sunday. Editing, sewing, etc. Beyond that, we’re trying to stay flexible as we await news on the van.

Because visuals are fun...this gorgeous, solid white moth was stuck to our windshield one day last week.

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