Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, September 24, 2013

In the great outdoors...fall weather is trying to arrive on time! On the first day of autumn, the weather actually matched the season. The Stones even already closed their pool (usually open into October) because the temps were getting so cool at night and the leaves were starting to fall. Today’s a bit warmer and more humid, but all in all, it’s more than just autumn – it’s really fall!

Within our four walls...a tub of autumn decorations ready to be spread around the house. We almost never bring them out this early, but the weather is making it hard to resist.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the slow, steady rain that fell all day Friday. And no storms! Leading up to that day, and even as the day itself progressed, the forecasts all called for heavy storms. But they never came. Some farmers did end up with downed rice, which is not a good thing, but overall it was a perfect rainy day!

A heart of prayer...for a sweet baby girl born last week, six weeks early and requiring surgery for a blockage almost immediately; for her mom who has additional medical issues of her own; for a friend suffering from severe back pain; for our youth and children at church; for my own children to discover that God created them just the way they are for His purposes; for so much more.

Random observations...some days it’s all I can do to get my children to do anything. Other days, they are up before dawn and extremely helpful. Today is one of those “other days.” They were all three up early, finished with their quiet times and chores, and then voluntarily went in to tackle the mountain of laundry on our bed. They have moved the mountain to the living room where they are now watching Muppets as they fold. (The TV is not on very often around here, and morning viewing is almost non-existent. So this is a big treat!)

My silly bookworm...Yesterday I told Angela about the bookshelves that lined one wall of my bedroom when I was her age. Her already big eyes grew even bigger and filled with absolute delight! That child would love nothing more than floor to ceiling bookshelves in her room – except maybe more books so she could fill those shelves. It wouldn’t take long to fill them, though. She’s already got more books than shelf space right now. In fact, I think she’d sleep on a mat on the floor if she could fill her room with books.

Thoughts from the kitchen...I have no idea. I’m really ready for fall food – especially a big pot of vegetable soup and pan of cornbread. But, it’s just not quite cool enough yet. So, I’ll contemplate something else for today and continue to wait patiently.

On my bookshelf...several things, which is very atypical. Speed-reading through a pair of Amish fiction novels; slowly (veeeeeeery slowly) working through Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson; working through Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions for work discussion; starting She’s Twelve Going on Twenty for review. It sounds like a lot, but they’re all so different, and I don’t plan to read all of them every day. They’re just scattered out throughout my week.

Projects...clothes rotation. We went through the fall/winter stockpile last weekend. Now we just need to pull out the very summery stuff that really doesn’t need to be worn any more. Amazingly, we still don’t need much, even without new hand-me-downs. God is so incredible in His provision! We are always confident that He’ll either provide the clothes or the resources to get the clothes. 

Sounds of the moment...the Muppets and laughter from the next room.

From Hibbard Academy...progressing to ancient Greece while still finishing up a bit of ancient Egypt with Olivia; moving from ancient to turn-of-the-century (AD 1000, that is) Vikings with Angie & Steven; the properties of light; continuing with birds and evolution; fractions, decimals, and more fractions; sentence structure (varying levels thereof) and writing book reports.

Olivia has discovered just how much easier writing is now that she can type and work her way around a word processor. She’s actually enjoying writing assignments for the first time ever! I never expected her to love writing, and I have committed to do what I can to encourage her creativity and ability to communicate in written form despite the difficulty that writing has been for her. I expected her to blossom in other ways, and I was all set to encourage that in any way I could while teaching her enough writing skills to exhibit competency. I never, ever dreamed that she would begin to truly enjoy writing itself just because I allowed her to learn it in her own time and according to her own abilities. It’s things like this that just thrill me and make every ounce of frustration over homeschooling worth it. I’m so thankful we get to educate our children this way! Words cannot express how amazing it is to watch my children blossom in ways I never could have anticipated, simply because they are not forced to fit into a group learning mold! This is not even about protecting them from public school issues at this point. This is about the reality that they can learn individually, according to their strengths. And in the process, they discover that their “weaknesses” aren’t such weaknesses after all.

Deep breath…okay…homeschooling delight speech over. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

A favorite thing from last week...the rainy day and the cool weather. We had our windows open for three days. Glorious!

The planner...the annual OBU Pastor’s Conference is this week!!! We started looking forward to this year almost as soon as we walked out the door last year. I can’t tell you what a privilege it has been to be able to join Doug at this conference. We get to visit with and continue to learn from professors who invested in us not only in college but in the decade and a half after graduation. They are such a blessing! Can’t wait!

We also have an associational one-day missions event this weekend. Our family will participate in a block party in Gillette, just a bit south of here.

Other than that, it’s work and school. Just about the time I thought I’d learned my job, I was promoted to a new position with a whole new learning curve! It’s rather intimidating but also exciting to be learning so many new things.

Because visuals are fun...my work companions – an iris my mother-in-law painted to match my favorite black irises, and Galadri-owl, a soft, cuddly, cute “just because” gift from my sweet hubby. I think she might become the Hibbard Academy mascot.
2013-09-20 15.56.09

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Book Review: Bumper Wipe Clean Activities

Kregel has sent me some great review books over the years. But I just can’t help but think that today’s review book was about nine years too late! If I’d had Bumper Wipe Clean Activities when each of my children were first joining me in “big church,” it would have been a wonderful addition to our “keep them busy” supplies!

Bumper Wipe Clean Activities contains Image(2)seventy pages of high-quality, dry-erase fun. Attached to the book with a secure, elastic strap is a single, black dry-erase marker. My only complaint is that this marker has no eraser.

Any number of felt-tip pens or erasable crayons can be used with this book. In fact, a handy little spot on the back allows you to test pens for use in this book. I actually put a little Sharpie mark on the spot and left it for about an hour. I then came back with a wet cloth to discover that it wiped cleanly off, even though it did take a bit of scrubbing.

The laminated pages are wonderful for a clean erase. Any marking will eventually be a pill to remove if left long enough, but dry-erase marks we left on this books for four or five hours cleaned off beautifully. In fact, I just wiped them off with my finger without the aid of an eraser, cleaner, or wet cloth.

Although Bumper Wipe Clean Activities would be great for keeping a three-year-old quietly busy scribbling away, non-readers do need whispered directions for completing most of the activities if they want to actually complete them as written. What I love most about the book, however, is that it even appeals to my 7-year-old! Many of the activities bore him, but some of the more difficult mazes, matching puzzles, and “find what’s wrong” pages are fun for him.

The activities themselves walk through the Bible from Genesis through Palm Sunday. The crucifixion and resurrection are not explored.

Even very active children will take at least a few minutes to get tired of Bumper Wipe Clean Activities. There are so many pages and activities, and each one looks very different. The pages are colorful, but some also have a great deal of black and white. This allows those who enjoy coloring to enjoy these pages with multi-colored pens or erasable crayons. The quality of this book is solid, ready to take the abuse of being carried around in an activity bag. It is also small enough to carry easily along with a package of markers or crayons.

Yes, I would have been delighted to have Bumper Wipe Clean Activities when my children were younger! I definitely recommend it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, September 17, 2013

In the great outdoors...a great need for rain. We are praying for no storms, but we could sure use the rain.

Within our four walls...quiet, for the time being, which is nice. A few minutes ago my children were mooing the Razorback fight song. That seems to be the mood for today. Outside time, anyone?

A heart of thanksgiving...for a successful shoe shopping trip yesterday morning. That sounds a bit fluffy as I type it, but it really was a blessing. We now have two children in adult sizes, and it seems that companies have decided to stop carrying “normal” tennis shoes. But, all three kids quickly found great shoes at decent prices.

A heart of prayer...for rain; for the farmers; for extended family; for our family as we enter our “busy” season.

Random observations...Wasp stings are no fun.

My silly children...are learning French. Steven and Angela are working through the alphabet right now. Meanwhile, Olivia is keeping up with her Polish as well. I wonder how many languages we’ll mix up before all is said and done?

Thoughts from the kitchen...I went out with the Gleaners today for the first time in a few months, so Doug and the kids fended for themselves. So thankful for a husband who can cook quite well!

On my bookshelf...a new book! I just noticed it! My hubby must have slipped it up there when I was looking. It’s Tricia Goyer’s new book The One Year Book of Amish Peace. She has done a fantastic job with her Amish fiction, making sure to distinguish their legalistic beliefs and true faith. I’m excited to read this one!

Projects...planting black irises! My favorite flower. They grew wild in Jordan every spring. I loved it! We’d go out on wildflower trips as the weather started to warm up, knowing it would be just a couple of weeks before the rains stopped and everything turned brown. My mother-in-law ordered some black irises for me recently, and Doug found a nice big pot to put them in. Olivia and I will get them planted this afternoon.  

Sounds of the moment...Steven tapping at a keyboard, sending an email to someone. It’s his typing practice. We have a wonderful, secure email system for the kids, and it is beautifully reinforcing their typing skills.

(Click here for information about that email service, if you’re interested.)

From Hibbard Academy...I honestly don’t know what we’ll be exploring this week. I scheduled lessons and page numbers. I didn’t look at content this week. But I’m sure it will be fun!

A favorite thing from last week...a nice, relaxing Saturday. We even got to watch the Razorback game, something we haven’t had the chance to do in a while! That was fun.

The planner...well, yesterday was shoe shopping and meeting day; today was lunch with the Gleaners; the rest of the week looks like just school and work. My job has changed and I’m learning new things right now, so a “normal” week is a good thing!

Because visuals are fun...haircut time (aka, the only time he’ll let me spike his hair!)2013-09-14 16.36.06

Monday, September 9, 2013

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, September 9, 2013

In the great outdoors...summer. It has arrived about the time it should be ending. But, it’s hard to complain after such incredible weather June through August! We still hope it won’t last long, though.

Within our four walls...my children playing, rather loudly. But, I love hearing them have such fun together, even if they do get loud and scary sometimes!

A heart of thanksgiving...for praying friends. Several of them specifically told me they were praying for me today. I needed to hear that. And I have definitely felt the prayers.

A heart of prayer...for wisdom and guidance in work and ministry – balance, etc. We’re about to hit our busiest time of the year, and I want to make sure to keep all of those priorities in order!

Also, continuing to pray for the farmers and harvest. Some have gotten off to a great start, others to a rough one. Still others are at their starting point now. So thankful that they share their ups and downs and let me pray with them!

Random observations...um…do you really want the randomness that is my mind today? I doubt it. Yeah, I think we’ll just leave this one alone.

My silly children...are singing “Rock On, Larry Boy!” at the tops of their lungs. It’s excitin’ round these here parts!

Thoughts from the kitchen...I’ve mentioned before that I’m not great with my children in the kitchen. But, I’m getting better. Today Olivia cooked lunch and I only supervised. If each child planned and prepared or helped prepare one meal a week, that would be nearly half the week. I could handle that!

Oh, and Olivia’s meal was parmesan chicken with garden vegetable rice. Quite delicious!

Meanwhile, they don’t want my help for suppers anymore. It’s usually simple – peanut butter sandwiches, smoothies, or cereal. But, they want to do it and they don’t want me in there! Hmmmm…

On my bookshelf...an Amish fiction novel, but I’ve actually forgotten the title. Oh! Leaving Lancaster – that’s it! I’m not as into Amish fiction as I used to be (I prefer historical fiction), but this one and its sequel have potential.

I’m more excited, though, about my two non-fiction books. Yes, I know, that is a HUGE SHOCK since I am such a fiction fanatic. But, I really am more excited about the non-fiction this time around. One is
The Ministry of Motherhood by Sally Clarkson. I was going to speed-read through it for review purposes, but before I even finished the introduction I knew I needed to work through it slowly. If it continues as it started, I will be highly recommending it.

Then, there’s
Undercover Homeschooler by my friend Shari Popejoy. Precious, precious lady. Fun author, too!

Projects...finishing up my white peasant blouse, now that summer’s about over! That’s just the way I roll. But, that means I’ll have a brand new top all ready for next spring. Also, I have an owl apron that has been on my to-do shelf forever. Want to make that. Otherwise, Christmas! And we definitely have some exciting projects planned!

Sounds of the moment...kids playing; computer humming; keyboard tapping; no music, oddly enough.

From Hibbard Academy...getting back to it after a week off. Fractions, carrying, metric conversions, sentence structure, punctuation, birds, ancient Egypt, Vikings, and evolution. I love homeschooling!

A favorite thing from last week...the look of utter joy and excitement on Angela’s face when she got her ears pierced.

2013-09-06 11.39.35

The planner...mostly at home this week, which is nice. Gives me a chance to smoothly get back into the swing of school and get caught up on that pesky to-do list. Okay, so maybe just get a few things checked off of it. But still.

Because visuals are fun...Steven’s reaction to receiving a new jug of local honey (right as he finished off a jar he got from PopPop a couple of months ago). His words? “My honey! All mine!”

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Happy Birthday, Angela!

Do your children ever just take your breath away? That’s what happened to me as I was sorting through birthday pictures and picking the right ones for this post. I see this precious child every day. But occasionally I stop and really look at her. Yes, she takes my breath away.


Angela’s location of choice for her birthday pictures is so “her,” showing her love for all things historical. She chose the Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie. It’s a gem of a place in Stuttgart that we have foolishly delayed visiting for three years. When we walked in and asked if we could take birthday pictures, Ms. Gena and Ms. Nancy were enthusiastically welcoming. Angie felt like the princess that she is.


Yes, she still is quite the princess. But, not the fragile kind. She’s no less princess in farm country than she would be in a palace.


She still loves Hello Kitty, but her two stuffed cows, Cowabella and Alf, are her prize possessions. In fact, she requested a cow birthday this year. Too cute!


I still can’t keep up with this child when it comes to books. But, I love that she’ll read something all grown up like Lord of the Rings, and then turn around and read an Angelina Ballerina picture book. She enjoys Nancy Drew and anything pioneer related, and lately she has discovered a pre-teen Amish fiction series.


She is starting to show an interest in big girl things, but she still plays with dolls…and her little brother…happily. I love the perseverance of the child even as a young lady is beginning to peek out now and then.


Angela is so incredibly smart that I cannot teach her information. But I can teach her how to learn. As a perfectionist, she wants to have it all already known so she can do everything perfectly the first time. She’s learning to learn, though. She’s learning that it’s okay to not know it all. In fact, it’s good.


My princess shows her introverted side more and more. But, she also knows how to handle being around people. When she went away to camp for the first time this summer (yikes!), she never had to withdraw. I love to watch her develop socially, learning to take the personality God gave her and fit it in with the world in which He placed her.


I also delight in seeing her spiritual development. She thinks. She ponders. And every now and then she’ll ask a question. She’s not always very bold about saying what she thinks, but we’re nudging her and encouraging her to talk out her thoughts. To go deeper. To really think. And she’s doing it.


She’s still my snuggly baby girl, even now that she’s in double digits. Even though she can hardly fit in my lap anymore. Even though she’s taller than her big sister was at this age! She’s still my precious baby girl.


Happy birthday, Angela! You are a joy and a delight, and we are so proud to call you ours!