Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, July 30, 2013

In the great outdoors...warmer and muggier today. Cloudy. Maybe we’ll get some rain? Maybe?

Within our four walls...children sneaking in a few minutes of play before school starts; a pile of laundry waiting to be folded and put away; school books in use despite the fact that I didn’t quite get the crates cleaned out and ready for the new school year.

A heart of thanksgiving...this amazing summer. Yes, we’ve had some hot days, but it’s really been so pleasant.

A wonderful, wonderful visit with the Choates. I think that none of our visits would ever be long enough even if we lived next door to each other, so it’s always hard to say goodbye. But even five minutes with this precious family means the world to us.

A heart of prayer...for the Choates as they finish up their last week in the US; for our church as we get ready to head into a new school year, thus requiring some reorganization of our children’s ministry; for our first week of school; for the farmers.

Random observations...I’m about to have to take a break from this to start school. There’s no telling when I’ll get it posted, but it will be fun to add to all day! I completely forgot about it yesterday between day one of school and a couple of work meetings.

My silly children...actually, just my prissy child for today. A couple of years ago I made Angela a hoop skirt – well, the best I could manage, anyway. The tubing I used doesn’t keep it super-stiff or big, but it does hold her dresses out some. It was made for her dress-up clothes, but she has started wearing it with her long Sunday dresses. I just love that child’s prissiness!

Thoughts from the kitchen...looks like a light lunch of homemade pizza today since we’re going to a Gideon’s banquet tonight.

On my bookshelf...several novels – and not kids’ novels, either! YAY!

Projects...birthday gifts. Olivia and I will be going fabric shopping this afternoon for her gift-making needs.

Sounds of the moment...silence as the kids finish up independent work. Of course, my clogged-up ears might be blocking out sounds I’d normally hear.

From Hibbard Academy...first week of school! Angie and Steven are starting off with a review of the last stages of the Roman empire and a look at dinosaurs from a creationist perspective. Angela also proudly informed her daddy that she got to learn about decimals yesterday. Fun stuff! It was a nice break from fractions, I think. She’s also finishing up a unit on modifiers in language arts. Steven has nothing really new in math right now, and in language arts he’s focusing on what constitutes a complete sentence.

Olivia is starting year one of world history and a look at evolution in science. Her other stuff is at a review level right now, so she’s plugging through that pretty quickly.

More on all of this later…

A favorite thing from last week...probably goes without saying. The Choates’ visit was delightful!

The planner...school, Gideon’s banquet tonight, Bernina Club on Thursday, and a quiet weekend. A pretty mundane week. Oh how I’ve missed those!

Because visuals are fun...getting lost in books made the quiet less noticeable on Saturday afternoon.2013-07-27 13.20.13

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rain & Attitudes

My children have such precious attitudes! Yes, I’m bragging on them. Sorry. Just move on if you don’t want to read it.

We haven’t been swimming in a while, so I told them we’d go this morning. I confess, I had schedule fixation: morning chores; work on school prep until 9:45; get changed lathered up with sunscreen; go to the pool and let the kids swim until about 11:30 while I alternate between swimming and reading; come home and shower; fix lunch; get back to work.

Schedule fixation frequently means I’m not as attentive to the world around me as I should be. Sure enough, it didn’t even dawn on me to check the weather. I could tell it had clouded over a bit since our clear-sky walk this morning, but none of my windows really have a great view of the northeast.


We got in the van and noticed some darkening to the northeast. I checked the weather on my phone. “Sunny!” Right. “Moving east.” You betcha. We’re southwest and that looks like it’s blowing right our direction.

We went on to the pool, but this was the northeast view within minutes of our arrival. (To my credit, that part of the sky was still full of nice, white fluffy clouds when we left the house. And we only live a few blocks away.)

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No thunder, so I let the kids get in the water. They were in for a few minutes when the wind really picked up.

And I mean really.

They did not argue one bit when I rounded them back up to head home. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the wind was chilly (at the end of July?!?!?!) and only my biscuit Angie wasn’t freezing to death!

But what makes me smile the most is right now. They should be swimming right now. Instead, they’re celebrating the beautiful sound of thunder, which began about ten minutes after we got home. Oh, and there comes the rain! They’re dancing and happily chanting, “It’s raining! It’s raining!”

Granted, two of the three are still in their swim suits in hopes of getting to go back to the pool later in the day. But, they’re already okay with the possibility that it might not happen. They’re just as cheerful as can be.

Yep, I love their attitudes. Proud of my sweet kiddos!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 22, 2013

In the great outdoors...rumbles of thunder, freshly mown grass, and lots and lots of mosquitoes.

Within our four walls...all five family members back together after a weekend apart. We love our chances to be kid-free now and then, but it’s just strange to have them gone!

A heart of thanksgiving...for rain on Thursday and the glimpse of some answered prayer in other areas.

A heart of prayer...continuing to pray for wisdom about a good personal working schedule. Finishing up the school prep this week in hopes of getting off to a strong start to the new year next Monday.

Random observations...cloud cover makes a big difference inside the house. I keep bumping the A/C up every time it kicks on because I think, “We don’t need that running right now!”

My silly children...keep coming in to sharpen pencils. Wonder what they’re up to.

Thoughts from the kitchen...a realization. It’s so much easier to teach someone else a new skill when it’s an activity we enjoy in the first place. Doug absolutely loves to cook, so he goes into the kitchen with an excitement which automatically breeds patience. Cooking is a necessary activity to me, but not one I enjoy. So, I go into the kitchen with an “accomplish this necessary task” attitude. That reduces my patience from the get-go.

Consequently, guess who is better at teaching our children to cook? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. (Hint: NOT ME!)

Doug told me earlier in the morning that he would come home and cook lunch today. Around noon, he walked in and asked for a helper. Olivia responded immediately. I was busy across the bar filling ink cartridges, and I had a great time watching Doug patiently teach Olivia, who then proceeded to contribute heavily to our lunch.

Just a reminder that we are a team in this training up children thing. Can I just share how much of a relief it is to not be in this alone?

On my bookshelf...a YA fiction series that teaches creationism versus evolution through a mystery. The kids have read all three books that we were sent, so now it’s my turn to read so I can write the reviews.

Projects...birthday and Christmas gifts.

Sounds of the moment...the wind. It just picked up. And more thunder. Wonder if we’ll get any rain.

From Hibbard Academy...final preparations! This morning I gave the kids an overview of the new year and talked to them about things like their Bible time and schedule preferences. Per their request, we won’t be making many changes in our school schedule. That’s a first for us! This schedule has lasted longer than any we’ve ever followed! Knowing they’re good with it definitely helps me contemplate my personal schedule with a little more solidarity. We usually spend a month or so working out the kinks of any new schedule.

A favorite thing from last week...besides that kid-free time and a wonderful, relaxing weekend with my hubby, including an actual “go out” date night (with mouth-watering steak and salmon, I might add)? Probably getting the chance to meet a fellow Home Educating Family blogger face to face!

The planner...working on the school planning; a swim/homeschool chat date with some friends in Stuttgart on Thursday; the Choates’ arrival sometime on Friday for one last quick “hug-your-neck” visit. So excited to get to celebrate their upcoming return to the SI with them!

Because visuals are fun...our other two cats are typically unceremoniously hauled to the laundry room when it’s time to put them out for the night. Smokey, however, is usually coddled a good bit and frequently gets carried out on a pillow like a queen!  2013-07-21 19.17.22

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Book Review: Bible Stories Painting Book 2

Well, I had hoped to have a "real” post up this week, but trying to cram five work days into three made time a little scarce. I do have a book review, though. Bible Stories Painting Book 2 was sent to me by Kregel for review.

Even though Bible Stories Painting Book 2 is really geared toward preschool and early elementary, all three of my kids helped me test it. They are always up for a little bit of watercolor!

The book itself is good quality. The pages are thick and heavy, and the watercolors do not bleed through. This is very helpful considering there are pictures on both sides of each page. It’s easy to paint the back side when the front is dry.

The pages are perforated well for easy tear-out. This is essential for this particular book because the paint is worked into the cover of the book! It is possible to paint the pages while they are inside the book, but not all of the paint can be accessed.

So, how is the paint worked into the book cover? Well, both the front and back sides of the cover unfold to reveal a two-page spread of paint palettes worked directly into the inside covers. A little water on a brush activates the palettes just like normal watercolors.

I doubt that the paint on the palettes will be enough for all sixteen pictures in Bible Stories Painting Book 2. My children did not waste paint, but they did use up a good bit of the paint from the back cover for three pictures. I think there’s more left on those palettes than we think, but they’ll probably have to pull out their own supply of water colors before they finish all of the pictures.

I will also caution that there are a lot of details in these pictures. Young children will not be able to neatly paint much of this detail.

But, Bible Stories Painting Book 2 is still a fun concept and a high quality book. The colors are mostly true to the palette, and the painting process works well. My big kids had a great time testing this for me, and I’m sure younger kids would be just as delighted to give it a try.

This book was sent to me by Kregel in exchange for my honest review.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 15, 2013

In the great outdoors...taunting clouds. We even had thunder yesterday, but only a few sprinkles. Some friends who live just a couple of miles west of us got half an inch of rain. We are all praying for a couple of days of slow, steady, soaking rain. So desperately needed!

Within our four walls...laundry needing to be folded, a tidied living room (thanks, kids!), and a clean kitchen. Ah, nice!

A heart of thanksgiving...for a FULL Sunday school class yesterday! Wow! It was wonderful! Our friend who had knee surgery last Wednesday even made it, which I believe would be another reason for praise and thanksgiving. And, despite our lack of rain here, some of the farms in the area did get the rain that fell yesterday.

A heart of prayer...rain, rain, rain.

Also, my heart is really heavy today for the number of people who seem to be allowing struggles to pull them away from their church families and a steadfast relationship with the Lord. It seems to be happening everywhere, and it breaks my heart!

Random observations...my desk is a mess. I’m sure you wanted to know that.

My silly children...have come in to show me the tool “tattoos” they have put on their hands today. Meanwhile, there is a good deal of screeching coming from the bedrooms. I’m not sure I want to know. No, I take that back – I’m sure I DON’T want to know!

Thoughts from the kitchen...chicken pot pie is on the agenda for today. I think I’m going to make them mini pies. That sounds like fun.

On my bookshelf...this arrived this week. 2013-07-15 11.23.14

It belongs in the speculative fiction category, and it is so incredibly intricate! I never have really considered myself a fan of that genre, but when the quality is this good, I can’t help but start to enjoy it more. Doug and I both reviewed book one in the series on our personal blogs, and we were so captivated that we determined we’d get the rest of the series whether it came up for review or not! This one did come up for review, and Doug managed to snag it. He was able to squeeze it in over the weekend. I hope to get to it very soon!

Projects...helping the kids gather up what they need for birthday projects. They’re even getting started on Christmas stuff. And get this – they are doing a lot of it all by themselves! Oh what a wonderful delight! Words cannot express how greatly that frees me up to tackle my own projects. YAY!

Sounds of the moment...no screeching. Just calm chatter. At least I’m hearing something. Keeps me from worrying!

From Hibbard Academy...still haven’t gotten those books on the shelf yet. But, I have glanced through Olivia’s core and evaluated how a few of our supplemental books are going to work into the whole system. I’m excited about the new year!

A favorite thing from last week...last week was such a blur! Where did it go? But, the chance to have it run by in a blur while spending pretty much all of it at home was a blessing!

The planner...a busy week ahead! Editing and a meeting today. Hair cut tomorrow. Dr’s appt and taking kids to my parents’ on Wednesday. Thursday will be a day to hammer down and work as hard as possible. Friday and Saturday will be a mini homeschool conference in Little Rock and then going to pick up the kids from Judsonia. Hmmm…I think the week is already gone!

Because visuals are fun...last week’s wonderful blessing (that should go on my thankful list!!!).
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And my big helpers as we worked hard to put it all up!

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Friday, July 12, 2013

The Beautiful Prairie

I mentioned on Monday that I was going to write about the prairie on my other blog. I finally did that today. Here the link to my very, very meandering thoughts…

Oh, the Beauty!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 8, 2013

In the great outdoors...so much beauty! I am a mountain-lover, and I never understood what people meant when they talked about the beauty of the plains. They’re just flat. But I am discovering the beauty and it is breath-taking. In fact, I started writing about that beauty right here, but then I realized I’d be writing hundreds of words just on that. So, it will be a blog post of its own later this week – probably on my Joy of Writing blog.

Within our four walls...Steven and Angie are taking showers. Olivia is making pitas for supper. The kitchen needs to be cleaned. The library is in utter chaos, waiting for me to finish putting new school stuff on the shelf. I ran out of bookshelf space when I worked on the school room a couple of weeks ago. Doug and I managed to solve that problem by finding a new spot for games, but I just haven’t gotten back to the school stuff yet.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the sounds of happy children playing together. I’ve heard a lot of that today.

A heart of prayer...for rain; for my niece still recovering from surgery; for a friend having surgery this week (and for his wife who will have to try to keep him down for the next little while!).

Random observations...Olivia and I had an awesome idea of something she could make for Steven’s birthday. We talked about it last week. But did either of us write it down? Nope. Why would we do something like that? So, guess what? You got it. Now we have NO IDEA what our awesome idea was. None. Zippo. I have been scouring my brain all day trying to figure it out. No luck. Grrrrrrr…and back to the drawing board.

My silly children...have been doing a lot of “T-rexing” (aka acting like T-rexes) lately. They say the only cure is cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. They require at least three cookies a day to just stave off the worst of the symptoms. I think they might just have to keep suffering.

Thoughts from the kitchen...did I mention Olivia is making pitas? Might I also mention that I really like having children who are increasingly independent when it comes to our light meals?

On my bookshelf...finishing up the apologetics book (it was not at all tedious – I just haven’t had many reading opportunities lately). I was supposed to have a novel this week, but it hasn’t arrived yet. *sigh* But that’s okay. I do have enough to keep me busy this week.

Projects...school room shelves, some school planning, hopefully a little sewing.

Sounds of the moment...Steven telling us something about the Lego Star Wars Wii game. I’m not following much of anything he says because I have no real context for the game. But he’s very excited about all of this.

From Hibbard Academy...the aforementioned prep and planning. Today I worked on matching lessons from this book with Sonlight’s weekly topics from Core C to challenge Angela this year. (You can click on the picture to learn more about the book.)

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I wish I’d had this book for Angie last year because it would have perfectly supplemented all of last year as well as the first half of this year! I still need something for the second half of this year, but we’ll cross that bridge later. There are some gaps in the first 18 weeks, so I might have her go back and review some of the ancient history stuff during our extended Viking and Knights studies. I’m really excited about this book! We have one for science too. YAY!

And to you fellow homeschool nerds: consider this picture just a preview. The year gone by and the year ahead posts are in the works!

A favorite thing from last week...spontaneity! We got in the van late Saturday afternoon intending to just head to Wal-Mart to find some fish so we could cook something different for supper. On the way, we started talking about times we just decided to drive and be spontaneous. Wouldn’t you know, the bug bit – we decided to splurge a bit and just be spontaneous! The kids didn’t know what to think! We ended up in Scott, AR, and enjoyed some supper at Cotham’s Mercantile, complete with dessert. Yummy and fun!

And this is what fully and happy looks like:

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The planner...Olivia has her sewing camp this week, so we’re hanging close to home all week. I’ll work hard and heavy on edits and the school room because next week is shaping up to be very, very full.

Because visuals are fun...we took the scenic route home Saturday night, including a detour or two. We passed this old, abandoned church along the way.

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Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Last Tuesday morning, this lovely group of ladies pulled out of Almyra and headed to JoyWorks. (From left to right: Amy, Angela, Olivia, Amy’s daughter Abby, Lauren, and Karlyn.)

Amy, Abby, and Lauren do not attend our church, but we were so glad they got to combine forces to go as a group!

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When they got to Arkadelphia, they were joined by Zoe (in the lime green shirt). To say Olivia was excited is a HUGE understatement! Zoe is a friend from art camp/classes and sewing camp. Her mom was involved in the committee that made JoyWorks, but she didn’t really have a group from her church interested in going this year. Just Zoe. So, knowing that Karlyn was taking a group from our church, she asked if she and Zoe could room with them. It worked perfectly!



The girls didn’t call us one time during camp, but it was okay. We primarily have Facebook to thank for that! Karlyn and Amy continually posted pictures of the things the girls were doing. And, every time we posted a picture or some news from home, Karlyn would show our girls. They didn’t get homesick once! I was most amazed by Angela, but seeing her pose in this picture from the last day showed me just how comfortable she was throughout the week. There she is, not peopled out, but instead cool as a cucumber with her arms around Abby and Lauren.


Several things contributed to the girls’ ease during the week.

  1. The schedule. It looked jam-packed from morning ‘til night, with bedtime much later than our girls are used to. And, it was a very full schedule. But, little pockets of down time were worked into the schedule itself to allow the kids to rest a bit and not be overly exhausted. Looking back, it was an amazing schedule for upper elementary kids. I’m super impressed!
  2. The great teachers. They were amazing, and they made the kids feel as if they were just gliding through everything. Oh I wish I could communicate just how much these kids learned! Here are the girls with the choir director, Dr. Love. He almost didn’t agree to do JoyWorks because he didn’t think he was good with kids. OH MY GOODNESS! The man was a natural! He knew just how to draw them in and help them truly learn. In fact, the girls didn’t even realize they were learning half the time because they were having so much fun!1044652_10153018282950294_521082319_n
  3. A good social situation. There are a couple of sides to this one. First of all, these were great kids. All 103 of them! They were polite, calm, and respectful. My girls never felt overwhelmed or in need of pulling back. Also, the groups were small, allowing a calm pace to the activities.

On Friday, we got up early and headed down to Arkadelphia to hear their performance. Needless to say, Steven was ready! He even had Alf and Hopper (Cowie and Bunny’s “kids”) all ready to greet the girlies.


They were neatly tucked in with his Speckles and silky for the trip and the waiting.

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Here’s the full choir that greeted us when we arrived. Angela is in the front row on the left, and Olivia is in the middle on the right. camp3

Can you see Angie? Front and center!


Olivia is right in the center of the frame – the only kid looking at the camera. Smile


Their performance was beautiful! Those children learned so much during the week! They divided into groups and explored various accompaniment performances included body drumming, sign language (with blue lights and white gloves – really neat!), and chimes. Every group got to try every performance, but then each group was pre-assigned one performance for the finale. Olivia and Angela were in the body drumming, and they did a great job! (Oh, and their shirts glow in the dark – the theme was shining like stars!)

They also learned spiritual truths. Morning and evening worship were obviously specifically tailored to spiritual learning, but Karlyn said that even the practices were saturated with focus on Christ, worship, and working together to shine for Jesus in this world. And the girls definitely got the point. On Sunday morning, they shared with the church all they had learned. It was precious to hear them tell of the fun, the spiritual, and the highlights.

Even though the girls didn’t have time to miss us, they were delighted to be reunited with the family.

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These silly three munchkins played together with their Legos for three days straight after they got home. I love how they love each other!

Thank you, Arkansas Baptist State Convention and Ouachita Baptist University for an amazing camp experience! The girls are already looking forward to next year!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, July 1, 2013

In the great outdoors...okay, y’all are probably tired of my weather reports, but this is so exciting to me! I’m not convinced it’s July! Right now it’s 73°. What’s more, it feels like 73°. We have had our windows open since yesterday morning! Yes, to welcome in July! That’s not to say we haven’t had our heat. In fact, last week was rough. We hit the 100° mark a couple of times and came close the rest of the week – and the humidity was high, which means the heat index was over 100° most of the week. But, typically once we hit that kind of heat, we just feel thankful to back down to low 90’s. Today’s forecasted high? 82°!!! I’m a happy girl!

Of course, it’s also doing strange things to my summer mentality. It doesn’t feel possible that it’s actually July yet because it doesn’t feel like July. So now I just need to get my brain to pay more attention to the calendar than the weather. The most awesome thing about it, though, is that I don’t get much done when it’s super hot. So, at least I feel productive right now! I mean, I’ve got fresh air! In July!!

Within our four walls...it’s time to rearrange. It’s been seven months, after all. The only problem is that I like the way our house is arranged. We’ve got it working well! So, how do I keep the house the way I like it and still satisfy the rearranging urge? I purge! Massive clean-outs! Starting tomorrow, I’ll attack the kids’ rooms. Doug and I did a little in our room last night after church, and it felt good!!! That little bit of work will let me move games from the library to our spare closet, which will fix the school bookshelf space issues I encountered last week.

And have I mentioned that, to top it all off, I have a cool week in which to do all of this? Yep, definitely a happy girl right now!

A heart of thanksgiving...for an amazing week last week! Steven did phenomenally well, and the girls had a fantastic time at camp. More about that tomorrow…unless, of course, I disappear in the chaos that is Steven’s room. If you don’t hear from me, come dig me out!

A heart of prayer...for rain and for the crops. It’s been a tough spring/early summer for the farmers for a variety of reasons. Praying for good, soaking rains to come through and for a smooth harvest.

Random observations...I think I was so verbose with the first two thought starters that I have nothing random to offer! With the way my mind works, though, something random will pop into my head the moment I click publish.

My silly children...played Legos non-stop after the girls got home. I think they started a bit on Friday evening, continued all day Saturday, and went right back to it yesterday. Apparently, while Steven dealt with girlie withdrawal, the girlies dealt with Lego withdrawal. I have said it before and I will say it again – I am convinced there has never been a better toy than Legos!

Thoughts from the kitchen...rice lasagna today. Yummy!

On my bookshelf...I only got Joni & Ken read last week. So, I need to hit the penguin YA book and Defending the Faith hard and heavy this week. The girls and I will also be starting What I Learned in Narnia this week. I’m looking forward to that one. Oh, and we finished The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a family, so we’re moving on to The Horse and His Boy.

Projects...contemplating birthday and Christmas projects. But, the reorganization project is taking precedence this week, despite the fact that I’d love to be sitting at the sewing machine right now!

Sounds of the moment...fans blowing, NOT the A/C. *happy sigh* Chattering while the kids clean the bathroom.

From Hibbard Academy...no school for the next three weeks, except some reading together. The week of the 22nd we’ll probably get back to math and language arts. Then, if all goes according to plan, we’ll start the new cores July 29. In the meantime, I’m busy organizing, going through Olivia’s new core, and planning supplements for Angela. This is my fun time!

A favorite thing from last week...watching the girls’ final performance on Friday. They did an amazing job! Oh, but I think yesterday might have even topped that. They shared a few things about camp with the church, and they did such a good job articulating what they learned! I’m so proud of them!

The planner...obviously an at-home week. A pastor friend of Doug’s will be here for a visit this evening, but otherwise our week is focused on reorganizing!

Because visuals are fun...my son has turned into a t-rex lately.

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