Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, February 25, 2014

In the great outdoors...scattered thunderstorms as a cold front works its way in.

Within our four walls...sleeping children; winding down from the day.

A heart of thanksgiving...for an early tax refund, a smooth visit to get our eyes checked, and an easy pick of glasses. And thankful that we can trust that God will get those glasses prepared and to us in perfect timing as well because He’s taken care of everything else!

Allow me to back up a bit and tell the story. We were waiting for tax refund, and then we were going to schedule eye appointments for Doug, Olivia, and me. Then on Saturday afternoon, Olivia called from her youth weekend event to say she’d broken her glasses. We had no idea how badly they were broken. We just knew we were going to have to find a way to get her in glasses again…and quickly!

Wouldn’t you know, the tax refund showed up in our account Saturday afternoon. Yes, on a Saturday. And two weeks early. Really? When does that happen?

So, Monday morning I made appointments. They were scheduled for next Tuesday (March 4). Then I got a call Monday afternoon. They needed to move our appointment – UP a week to today! Again, when does that happen?

The lady who usually files the insurance and sends off the glasses was out sick today. Very sick. As in, they have no idea when she’ll be back in the office. So, we have no idea how much we’ll have to pay or when our glasses will be sent off. They usually take about three weeks to get back.

But, I’m not worried. We were able to wire Olivia’s glasses together temporarily (thank you, homeschool science kit!), and we trust that the makeshift fix will work until the new ones come in.

A heart of prayer...for a friend who will have his leg amputated tomorrow due to complications from injuries sustained in a car wreck last week. I just cannot imagine. He seems to be in good spirits, based on the reports we’re hearing. But, I cannot imagine the road before him. Makes our issues seem rather petty.

My silly middle child…came up with a joke today while watching the construction work across the street.

What do you call a sleeping cow?

A bull dozer.

Thoughts from the kitchen...not much exciting this week.

On my bookshelf...trying to finish up Where Courage Calls so Angie can read it…and so I can start A Draw of Kings. That’s the one I REALLY want to read!

Projects...I have some ideas ready for Olivia’s birthday. Time to get started on them! Meanwhile, there are LOTS of writing projects to fill my time.

Sounds of the moment...pretty quiet. Just the whirs of computers.

From Hibbard Academy...an odd week so far. But, we’re back in the saddle. I seem to hone in on read-alouds because that’s what we love the most. Steven & Angie’s newest is White Stallion of Lipizza. Love that book! They are learning about habitats in science and are closing out the Elizabethan Age in history.

Olivia and I are about to start a book entitled The Great and Terrible Quest, fitting in with her continued focus on the Middle Ages. She’s heading into an overview of light in science this week.

A favorite thing from last week...welcoming Olivia home from her weekend away. She was soooo tired, but it was fun to listen as she told about her weekend. She really stood out, and the other girls weren’t sure what to think of her. But, she didn’t care. She stood her ground and had a great time no matter what anyone else thought!

The planner...a meeting in Little Rock on Thursday and Steven has a Cub Scout fun day on Saturday. There’s no such thing as a normal week.

Because visuals are fun...Olivia, Thea, and Caroline. Yes, Liv has her hands on yet another baby. She loves every minute of it! Meanwhile, that little Thea just gets more beautiful every day!!2014-02-23 12.06.39

See the wire around the glasses? That’s what’s keeping the frame around the glasses tight around the lens AND the bottom half fastened to the earpiece. I couldn’t get it very tight, so I keep expecting Olivia to walk in without a lens.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 17, 2014

In the great outdoors...a “normal” winter day. Well, actually it was a little warmer than that, even. It made it to about 70 degrees! The girls came in and traded their closed shoes for sandals, and Steven even put on shorts! We are thankful for the break from the extreme cold, but we also now must be on the alert for our typical severe weather as the temps go up and down. The next few weeks could get exciting!

Oh, and did I mention mosquitoes? Yeah. They didn’t waste any time reviving when the warm weather hit. Yuck!

Within our four walls...a little bit of fresh air as we were able to open windows today.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the excavator operator who took time out from his work across the street to swing around and clean out our ditches right by the sidewalk drain. We don’t have a working weed eater or push mower right now, so getting that cleaned out can be a challenge. What a blessing!

A heart of prayer...for a friend who fell from a ladder today, broke several bones, and will be facing surgery. Also for his wife who is dealing with the challenge of a newborn as well. And for another friend who was in a car accident last night.

Random observations...I have installed a little timer on my computer. It gives me work segments followed by a break time. It has really helped me see just how distracted I allow myself to get while I’m supposed to be accomplishing a task. It also lets me see just how much I can get done when I really focus and get in a groove. And, finally, it lets me see just how much time I waste on piddly little things. It’s been an interesting experiment today. I’m hoping it helps me develop better habits of diligence.

My silly children...had a delightful time cleaning out the van today. They dug deep and found all sorts of things hiding in drawers and the glove compartment!

Thoughts from the kitchen...meatloaf today for the first time in a long, long while. Yummy!

Oh, and Olivia will be planning and preparing all of Thursday’s meals for her AHG Cooking badge. This will be fun to watch!

On my bookshelf...Into the Whirlwind by Elizabeth Camden. Pure pleasure. I know it’s good to read non-fiction, but oh how I love fiction. Especially historical fiction. I’m learning about the Chicago fire and watch-making (by hand, not mechanized). And, I get to use the short breaks my timer gives me to read little snippets during the day. Not quite the “curl up in a chair and read for hours” delight that I prefer, but a blessing nonetheless!

Projects...tonight’s project is making a list of all of the badges the girls should earn between now and the end of May. But the big project for the week is starting a list of next year’s school needs. Yes, the time to begin is here. I know, I know…it’s only February. But it’s so much FUN! And this week is a break week. And the next break week I’ll probably have my nieces and will need to go through the kids’ spring clothes. And the next break week will be in May and it will just be too late. And did I mention it’s downright fun? Yep, it’s going to be a great week! 

Sounds of the moment...much quiet. The kids are in bed.

From Hibbard Academy...a week off. We were definitely needing it. Besides, I have to have my fun week!

A favorite thing from last week...hearing people complement Olivia on her hard work at the food pantry. Local churches and organizations rotate taking responsibility for food distribution every month (it is open four days a month). February is our church’s month, and this year Olivia is old enough to really be of service. So, Doug took her on Thursday. She dove right in, worked hard, and impressed the ladies in charge. Yep, I’m definitely a proud mama!

The planner...lunch with the Gleaners tomorrow. Then pretty much normal until Friday night. We take Olivia to her first real youth event this weekend. It’s kind of like a Disciple Now weekend. She’ll be with one girl she knows, but will otherwise be with complete strangers all weekend. I’m curious to see what she thinks. She’s excited!

Because visuals are fun...Olivia all done with work and ready to go find some lunch.2014-02-13 13.13.42

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Blue & Gold

Monday night was a wonderful first for our family – our first Blue & Gold Banquet! 100_1587

The girls wore their AHG uniforms in honor of their brother and in support of AHG. Since we are a Trailblazer unit (an independent opportunity for girls who live too far from an established troop), we have to create opportunities to publicly support AHG. This was a fun opportunity!


Steven, with the enthusiastic help of Doug, has worked hard (and with great excitement)since joining mid-fall.


First, he was awarded his Bobcat, the initial goal of all new Cub Scouts.


But, he also had pushed very hard to catch up with the rest of the group to earn his Wolf. He was very, very proud to have made enough progress to be included in that award!


I think his daddy was a wee bit proud of him, too.


His mama is not proud at all. Nope. Not one bit. (That little man on the far right is one handsome kid, don’t you think?)


Steven is now officially a third generation Boy Scout. My prayer for this sweet young man is that, whether in Boy Scouts or otherwise, he will grow in the values that have traditionally set scouts apart, combining those with the spiritual values of his faith. I’m so excited to see how God grows him in the coming years!


Monday, February 10, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 10, 2014

In the great outdoors...the last of the snow is gone, except for the little snowmen in the front yard. We are now waiting to see if more is coming and just how much. The forecast is continually changing. In fact, in the latest alert they actually admitted that they have no idea what’s coming – anything from a non-event to really intense. They don’t even know when it’s going to start.

Within our four walls...a lot of quiet as everyone does their own thing.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the snow last weekend. For flexibility of work location. For warmth inside.

A heart of prayer...for several people I know awaiting test results. Decisions needing to be made. Stresses weighing people down.

Random observations...It’s amazing how perspective can change so much. Today’s example: Steven has always been convinced that he doesn’t like green beans. Well, I can’t really blame him, since most of what he’s tasted has been canned. So today when Doug used frozen beans for lunch, I told Steven not to think of them as green beans. I told him they wouldn’t even taste like what he thinks of as green beans. He even came up with a new name for them: crunchy beans. And, his attitude about lunch perked up immediately.

And guess what…he liked them.

My silly children...haven’t done anything specifically silly today. It’s just a matter of time, though. I’m sure of it.

Thoughts from the kitchen...in addition to the yummy green beans, we have some potluck cooking going on. Tonight is the first Blue and Gold Banquet of Steven’s Boy Scout career.

But I have to share the best thing that’s come out of our kitchen lately. Mushroom, beef, and tortellini soup. Oh. My. Goodness.

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On my bookshelf...Into the Whirlwind is a review book that’s been on my shelf for a while that needs to be read and reviewed. Such a hardship to “have” to read fiction. And Angela wants me to hurry up because a new review book came in today – the brand new Janette Oke novel. Angie LOVES Janette Oke, but I have to pre-read at least one book in any series I haven’t already read, just because some of her books are a little older than Angie’s maturity level. So, naturally Angie wants me to get done with this new one very quickly so she can have at it.

Projects...nothing going on right now. I’ve needed my evenings to play catch-up over the past couple of weeks. But I’m hoping to start a new project very soon. 

Sounds of the moment...soft music. The whir of the fan and computer. That’s about it. The kids are so quiet right now. (But not in a suspicious way.)

From Hibbard Academy...Steven and Angela are almost into the Reformation, and Olivia is still in the Middle Ages. That’s what is exciting them all the most right now. We’re such history nerds! Olivia is also heading back into research paper time. But this time she actually enjoys writing for the first time in her life. So, I’m excited to see what will come of this research paper.

A favorite thing from last week...SNOW!2014-02-08 11.08.16

The planner...the Blue & Gold Banquet tonight, unless the weather turns suddenly in the next few hours. Doug is heading to the local food pantry tomorrow and Thursday to participate in our church’s volunteer month, and he is probably taking Olivia with him Thursday. Other than that, it’s a nice, normal week.

Because visuals are fun...Steven decided to hide under the table and play the other day. I guess that should have gone under the “silly kids” category.2014-02-04 12.20.49

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Remember the “Snow” song from White Christmas? That’s what my kids were singing Saturday morning!

It actually started Friday night. We got to see it because we all stayed up late to watch the Olympic opening ceremony. Thanks to our unusually frozen ground, it began accumulating immediately!100_1564

The next morning we woke up to 1-2 inches of real snow – you know, the nice powdery stuff. Not the heavy, wet mess we usually get that soaks into you the moment you touch it and turns every surface into a skating rink. No, this was the real stuff. 


Great for snowballs…


…and snowmen…


The cats were not nearly as pleased as the children.


This snow was a nice, peaceful event. More is forecasted for tomorrow, but this time in a snow storm form. They say we might get 5-8 inches this time. We’ll see! Could be nothing. Then again, there have been times when a forecasted few inches have turned into a few feet. Only time will tell!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Silly Princess

She looks so innocent sitting there with the skirt of her antebellum dress spread out so primly around her. Her lap is full of her quiet time necessities. And Cowabella faithfully keeps her company.

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But then I step into her room later in the morning, and I find this.


I’m not sure there is any way to show the full extent of this tent.


It filled her entire room! True, it’s not a huge room, but still!


I love the creativity. And the delight. And the fun. 100_1540

Did you catch the grin?


Being a mommy is so much fun!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 3, 2014

In the great outdoors...a week of wintry weather. We didn’t have much more than frozen puddles from this most recent band, but we’ll see how the rest of the week goes. Yes, my dear northern friends, I am crazy. But I still wish we could enjoy some snow with the cold. It’s a little sad to have consistent weather in the 20’s and 30’s in the south and have no snow to show for it.

Within our four walls...I’ve been working in front of the fireplace today. So very nice.

A heart of thanksgiving...I’m going to sound like a broken record on this one, but I’m so incredibly thankful for the chance to work for Home Educating Family, for my co-workers, and for the technology that allows us to truly interact and get to know each other. I work with some absolutely amazing ladies, and they have encouraged, strengthened, and challenged me in more ways than I can begin to express. I’m still in awe that God literally dropped this job in my lap!

A heart of prayer...for so, so many needs. Salvations. Health issues. Time management choices. Wisdom for decisions. Friends with ministry issues. People who have turned their backs on God. Friends traveling. Job and financial provision needs.

Random observations...the girls and I had so much fun tonight while Doug and Steven were off at Boy Scouts. We sat down with their American Heritage Girls guide, looking at some badge progress.

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They have already chosen some badges they want to earn, but we went through tonight and looked at a few others. We were amazed to see how many badge requirements they have fulfilled just through the natural course of what we’ve been accomplishing and learning as a family in the months since we officially became part of AHG. They are just one or two simple requirements away from earning two badges - Family Helper and Sewing. Talk about motivation!

My silly son...stood behind me this afternoon as I was finishing up a work meeting with the other department heads. He was making faces and leaning back and forth, trying to make my co-workers laugh. Every time I tried to turn around and bop him, he would dip to the other side, just out of reach. Then he’d start all over again. The funniest part? My co-workers didn’t miss a beat. They’re all mamas of goofy boys, too!!

Thoughts from the kitchen...the menu plan has made such a difference over the past couple of weeks. Why don’t I discipline myself to always keep one up? Why oh why? Meanwhile, I ran across a recipe yesterday for a mushroom ravioli soup that looks absolutely delightful! We’re thinking of putting tortellini and very thin beef slivers in it instead of the beef-filled ravioli. My mouth waters just thinking about it! That will be a supper one night this week - maybe date night, if we wait that long!

On my bookshelf...Seekers of the Lost Boy. It’s written by a South African homeschool mom. I usually read YA fiction just because I love my kids and want to find new series/authors that I feel comfortable handing to them. But, this one has taken me off guard. I love it for so many reasons! I won’t list them all here, but I’ll link my HEDUA review when it’s published. I will definitely be keeping my eye out for more books by that author.

Projects...well, I gave up on the bolero and pulled out all of the stitches last night. The yarn just wasn’t right for it. Not sure what I’ll do next. Need to start thinking through birthday gifts for this year so they don’t sneak up on me!

Sounds of the moment...tap…tap…tap…crackle…crackle…hiss…hisss (keyboards, fire, and humidifier) - oh, and a little music in the background. “Changed” by Rascal Flatts is the current tune.

From Hibbard Academy...school? Did we do school today? Seems so long ago. Mondays are rather long. School in the morning, meetings all afternoon, Scouts/AHG in the evening. All that comes to mind right now regarding school today is that I grabbed a new read-aloud from the bookshelf only to promptly lose it. I didn’t find it until we had finished school for the morning...it was in my sewing cabinet where I left it when grabbing something out of there.

A favorite thing from last week...winning playing a game of Settlers of Catan with the family!

The planner...Bernina club on Thursday, if I make it! I’ve ended up intending to go but not making it to the last two. Then on Friday I have a project-related writer’s conference in Little Rock…again, if I make it. We’ll see what the weather does!

Because visuals are fun...Angie went out to sweep the garage this afternoon. It was cold, but she didn’t want to change out of her antebellum dress. So, what did she do? She pulled flannel pants and boots on under the dress and topped off the outfit with her kitty hat, pink gloves, colorful scarf, and warm coat. She’s such a cute little mess!

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Saturday, February 1, 2014

Excitement in a Small Town

The recliner in the library has become a favorite spot for Steven this week. Why? Because it’s right next to the big front window.

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And why is the big front window such a big deal? Well, it probably has to do with the scene across the street. 100_1542

It doesn’t look like much in this picture because it was a slow work day. But, this week, the small field across the street became a busy  construction site. I’ll have to get more pictures on a day when there’s more activity!

Construction is not a very common thing around here. This is a small town. A VERY small town – we only have stop signs on the roads that connect to the highway. The town itself is only about six or seven square blocks. The population, which currently rests just under 300, includes people who live on outlying farms. Very occasionally a new house is built. Sometimes a shed goes up. But this is different.

This is a convenience store!

Almyra General Store closed today as the owners began their retirement.

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Meanwhile, a local farm co-op has decided to build a store in Almyra, and everything fell into place for them to build on the vacant lot across the street from us. Now, instead of watching a hay baler come through every few months, we get to watch construction equipment for the next little while. Steven is having the time of his life! And the girls are enjoying it almost as much!


So, at least once a day, Steven hops into the recliner with a lap full of road construction trucks and watches the fun. Other times, he spreads everything out on his floor to do building of his own. Definitely memorable excitement for a seven-year-old boy!