Monday, June 30, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, June 30, 2014

In the great outdoors...mosquitoes. Lots and lots of mosquitoes. Everything else is secondary. If you don’t care to see what I mean, just skip right on past all of this. I just feel like talking about our mosquitoes for a minute!

This is what our bug light looks like most mornings, just from one little area in the carport where the church van is parked (we only turn it on at night). The smallest of those black clumps holds about a dozen mosquitoes. This morning, it was solid black.

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Oh, and that doesn’t count all of the bugs that end up falling on (this picture is just a small sample) either side or on the top of the fence.

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Here’s the funny part, though. Every evening we go and knock off the bugs from the light to be ready for a new round. One evening, Doug went out there and found that all of the bugs from the light and the top of the fence were gone! Apparently the birds decided to enjoy a feast that day.

Because we have four high-powered fans running non-stop in the garage, we’re mostly mosquito free there now. The light above allows us to get to the church van and reduces the population in the opposite corner (around the lawn mower) from a couple of thousand to several hundred.

Next problem – figuring out how to reduce the population that hovers around the front and back doors, currently preventing their use.

Within our four walls...Legos, I do believe. The kids are preparing a battle reenaction for Independence Day.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the rain we’ve received lately; for a well-sealed house; for plenty of groceries; for new planners;2014-06-29 19.06.17

for an incredible job with an amazing company; for a husband whose wisdom is recognized by others; for healthy children; for a well-sealed house (have I mentioned that before?); for God’s continual provision in amazing ways; for a vehicle, bought used, that we have owned for eleven years and is still running even though we just passed 225,000 miles.

A heart of prayer...for wisdom; for friends struggling with decisions; for friends grieving over the loss of their precious daughter after an extended cancer battle; for an upcoming month of transition; for a good balance of rain and sunshine to bless our farmers and the Choates; for wisdom about when we need to replace the aforementioned vehicle.

Random observations...I wonder how long I can stretch out working on this post. I’m procrastinating. The next task is clearing my inbox. I’m scared. Very, very scared!

My silly children...have assigned names to all of their Lego people. They come from a wide range of influences such as Tolkein, Lewis, Star Wars, Firefly (no, they have not seen Firefly – they just know about some of the characters), the Lego Movie, Doctor Who, Frozen. Meanwhile, there are multiple other creative names from their own imaginations. I think they might have too many Lego people.

Thoughts from the kitchen...Doug’s cooking today! That makes me happy. I think we’re having chicken & waffles, a southern meal I never quite understood until we finally gave it a try recently. It really is quite the tasty combination!

On my bookshelf...chaos. Lots and lots of chaos. That will be tackled this week.

Projects...besides the same old sewing projects, we are going to tackle some pre-new-school-year organization and rearrangement. It’s time to try to tame the chaos that is the library/school room/sewing room/Doug and Ann office, and the best way to do that is to consider why the current arrangement isn’t working. (What? You don’t think I’m looking for an excuse to rearrange, do you?) Meanwhile, we’re contemplating new bookshelves. 

Sounds of the moment...kids playing. Fans running. Keyboards tapping.

From Hibbard Academy...new books and supplies rolling in! One book order and the Sonlight order arrived last week. Today we got the Lightning Literature order, and Math-U-See should arrive this afternoon.

A favorite thing from last week...attending the closing presentation at Joy Works, the camp Angela attended last week. It simply amazed me what they were able to teach 4th-6th graders in three days!

The planner...work; swimming; rearranging and organizing…a pretty low-key week.

Because visuals are fun...a shot from JoyWorks (arrow pointing to Angie)

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Summer Creativity

I said I’d share these pictures and then forgot! So, here you go…the creativity of my children this summer.

Of course, there are Lego creations of all sorts.

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And they are always coming up with new ways to enjoy the Nerf guns.

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Steven works on his target practice every day.

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He varies his weapons and is not afraid to add the girls’ pink Rebelle guns and bows into the mix.

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Then there are the board games. But, they can’t just play them the normal way. I don’t know if you can see it, but the suspects in Clue are Daleks (from Doctor Who) and Lego people, including Star Wars characters. If I understand it correctly, Monopoly also has its variations.

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This is just a cute one getting thrown in for the fun of it. They’d just steam cleaned the living room/dining room carpet, so all of the chairs were either in the kitchen or the foyer. I think this was snack time.

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But the most fun has come from the fact that we have introduced the kids to some of the Marvel movies this summer. They’ve seen Captain America, Thor, and Avengers.

Angela immediately set to work creating costumes and props for their play.

Here’s Jack taking possession of Mjolnir, aka Thor’s hammer! (Notice that is has a crocheted wrist strap to keep it from flying at the wrong time.)

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Angie felt that the cape and books completed the outfit.

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She went on to make and paint Cap’s shield. Even Bunny has one! (And Olivia now does too, I think.)

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I love watching my kids play!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Thursday, June 26, 2014

In the great outdoors...overcast, humid, and very heavy on the mosquitoes. We have four fans blowing in the garage to keep the population under control. Seems to be working so far!

Within our four walls...the sounds of boys playing, as Steven has his friend Eli over to play with him today. Angela’s at camp, so I guess Olivia’s on her own today! I think a game of Nerts might be forthcoming.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the ability to catch up a bit this week; restored e-mail communication with the Choates; peaches from our tree; God’s provision in so many ways; school books and supplies for the new year on their way to us.

A heart of prayer...for a friend and a soon-to-be sister-in-law, both of whom are dealing with recently diagnosed health issues; for friends who are traveling; for the farmers; for my amazing husband as he ventures down new post-graduation paths.

Random observations...most women must work on small computers, because that’s what most bags are made for. I like/need my big screen, thank you very much. Now to find a functional bag for it…

My silly children...love creative play. They are so much fun to watch, but sometimes the consequences of their play can be, well, a little treacherous!

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Thoughts from the kitchen...we’re reviewing an indoor electric grill/griddle. So, this morning Doug cooked breakfast on the griddle. For lunch, we’ll see how the grill side delivers on some chicken.

On my bookshelf...finishing up Songbird Under a German Moon for the fun of it. Also reading through some Bible study related non-fiction and a couple of drama books for review.

Projects...progress! The girls want summer robes, and I thought I had just the fabric for it. But, I misread the pattern and discovered my supply fell very short. After much finagling and turning, however, I managed to figure it out! YAY!

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to knit and crochet stuffed animals without a pattern because I haven’t been able to find a pattern I like. Yes, I’m picky. We’ll see where that gets me! 

Sounds of the moment...boys playing quite calmly. They seem to be having fun, though!

From Hibbard Academy...what? School? Oh, that’s right! I just finished the last order for our upcoming school year. Yep. So, progress has been made toward school!

A favorite thing from last week...getting the garage and carport completely cleaned out and organized. Especially the carport (where the church van sits). It’s been driving me crazy. Now the only problem with it is the mosquito population. They are so thick out there!

The planner...tomorrow we get Angie back! YAY! We’ll go see her perform what she’s learned this week and then head home as a family. Joy Works is a really neat camp. They learn valuable and practical music, performance, and presentation skills – the best fine arts education you can get crammed into a single week. But it’s all wrapped up in true biblical training. They are challenged spiritually, and not just on the typical camp level. I was delighted with what both girls came home with last year! I’ll be taking Olivia and three other girls to Praise Works, the youth version, next month.

Okay, so that was a little more than you’d bargained for. Other than that, though, we just have the normal stuff on the calendar as we finish up June!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Thursday, June 19, 2014

In the great outdoors...much-needed sunshine! And a heavily laden peach tree right outside my window. We picked the first peaches yesterday – small, but yummy. 2014-06-18 11.20.20

Four branches have broken, taking with them more than half of that tree’s crop. But, we know better how to prune it now to help it withstand our prairie winds next year.

The other peach tree, however, is perfect! Those peaches will be ripe next month. I like the staggered harvest.

Within our four walls...much excitement. Today we will finally get to go swimming for the first time. Either schedule or weather has delayed us thus far.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the sunshine, the lack of oppressive heat thus far, and a much more productive week than we had last week.

A heart of prayer...for rain for the Choates, protection of crops from the deer, church members having and recovering from surgery, and the children of our community. My heart aches sometimes over that last one as I see children whose parents have seemingly no regard for their well-being.

Random observations...were I to write down all of the random thoughts that flow through my mind every day, I could write a book. A long book. A very disjointed book. Yet, when I sit down to recall one of them, they all disappear. That shows just how unimportant they really are. And it reminds me of the need to discipline my thoughts.

My silly children...have been quite creative with their summer thus far. I was going to put a picture here to show you their focus of late, but I discovered that I actually took several pictures! So, I will just share in a separate blog post. I need to get back in that habit anyway!

Thoughts from the kitchen...we have a menu plan through July! Oh what a difference that makes! My days – and the grocery budget – run so much more smoothly when there is a plan. Today it will be turkey bacon quiche, Angela’s favorite.

On my bookshelf...fiction I want to read; non-fiction I need to read. I did just establish a summer schedule with reading time set aside. Will it happen?

Projects...same ole stuff.

Sounds of the moment...Olivia practicing piano and Steven’s flip-flops clapping as he walks through the house returning trash cans to their appropriate locations.

From Hibbard Academy...not much. We haven’t started the summer things we intended to do. But that’s okay. I don’t mind. We’re having a good summer.

A favorite thing from last week...the end. Is that bad of me? Last week was one of those weeks that just needed to come to an end. Nothing major went badly, but there were plenty of little things that caused frustration and exhaustion throughout the week.

The planner...normalcy. I like that. And a birthday party Saturday night.

Because visuals are fun...I’m not sure the bunny under the arm really helps ensure proper positioning when practicing. 2014-06-14 16.46.38

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In the great outdoors...cool and wet. It feels more like late April than mid June. I’m not complaining.

Within our four walls...quiet right now. Not sure what the munchkins are up to.

A heart of thanksgiving...plenty of rain and the cool, my healthy children, some time to get a routine worked out for the summer.

A heart of prayer...rain for the Choates, a friend who is having surgery on her foot today, the farmers, and the wisdom to use this summer well.

My silly children...are finding all sorts of creative ways to cope with the fact that they haven’t been able to get outside much lately. Pillow fights are the current favorite.

Thoughts from the kitchen...International Delight introduced a seasonal creamer that I fell in love with. Of course I did. Because I always fall in love with things that are either temporary or that end up being discontinued because not enough people like them. I’m just wacky like that.

ANYWAY…back to the point. The flavor was Vanilla Heat. And when paired with Choffy, it gave that perfect chocolate and spice combination. Then it went away. I like plain ole French vanilla, but I just missed the spicy kick. So, I decided to try to make my own. 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper to 1 cup French vanilla creamer. Oh my. It might even be a little stronger than Vanilla Heat. Definitely a win!

On my bookshelf...lots of stuff saying, “Read me! Read me!” I had gotten back into regular reading and then slipped again. Must get back to it.

Projects...Angela wants a cow print dress. So, I’m trying to find just the right pattern. Of course, I still need to make her a robe and take care of a couple of other things. I need to get sewing worked into the summer schedule. Meanwhile, still crocheting and knitting for birthdays. 

Sounds of the moment...still very, very quiet. VERY. Did they all run away? I did get rather emotional this morning when I spilled hot Choffy all over Angie. Maybe they’re just giving Mommy some space.

From Hibbard Academy...a real summer break! It feels good! Okay, so it might not end up fitting other people’s description of “break.” We’ll do some read-aloud and Latin. Probably some critical thinking puzzles because we like to do those together. And maybe some math. But all very relaxed, without a doubt.

A favorite thing from last week...being home most of the week.

The planner...not much out of the ordinary for a couple of weeks. It’s nice.

Because visuals are fun...I don’t really have anything to share today. I need to take more pictures!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Best Part of May

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Words cannot express how proud I am of my husband. And, after several school changes due to various circumstances, I am so thankful God allowed us to end up at B.H. Carroll! What a wonderful school! We walked into the offices the Wednesday before graduation and were welcomed like family by people we had never met before. They blessed us tremendously!

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Everyone was excited before the ceremony began, but I don’t think any of us really knew what we were about to experience and feel. For the kids, this has always been Daddy’s goal. This has been the goal for almost our entire marriage. The day was finally here!

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There were sixteen graduates that night. Doug and three of his fellow students earned their Master of Divinity (MDiv). The rest of the graduates earned certificates of ministry, master’s degrees of various forms, and doctorates.

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The pictures cannot show the emotions we were feeling at the time. Let’s just say there were more than a few tears shed!

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And the kids’ responses were most precious! They went in acting as if it was just another service they got to be a part of. But, when we all came out, it was so obvious to me that they got it. They were SO proud they could hardly contain it! Steven was jumping up and down and the girls were glowing. It was precious!

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In all the excitement, I missed getting a picture of Doug with his parents, but they were there too. It was so special to Doug to have them with us on this trip!

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Thank You, Lord, for this celebration! Thank You for bringing us to this point! And thank You for showing us that You had it all under control all along the way.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, June 2, 2014

In the great outdoors...cloudy at the moment. The grass is getting high, but we have continued to have a great deal of rain, so the yard is too wet to cut the grass. Hopefully tomorrow.

Within our four walls...quiet. It’s early morning as I start this. I’m sure the dynamics will change before I finish! (Yep, I was right. Finishing this up a couple of hours later, and there is much silliness within the four walls now.)

A heart of thanksgiving...for home; for life in a location where it doesn’t take an hour to drive just a few miles; for the generosity of others.

A heart of prayer...for a teen from church recovering from back surgery; the farmers; the Choates as they are once again without e-mail connection to friends and family.

Random observations… “Do or do not. There is no try.” Unless you’re a mom. Because when you’re a mom, you really do start doing. But then come ten million interruptions. And the doing doesn’t always get done.

My silly children...have seen fit to inform me of every cat antic, every stubbed toe, every sunflower seed found buried in the couch, every funny conversation held between each of them and one or both of their siblings, and a myriad of other things. And we’re only thirty minutes into the morning. I’m not so sure about this “summer off” thing.

Thoughts from the kitchen...looks like spaghetti and breadsticks today. Need inspiration. Need a menu plan.

On my bookshelf...I started Tricia Goyer’s Songbird Under a German Moon while on one of our trips, and I’m sure I’ll be reading it in bits and pieces as I have the chance this week. I’m also reading through my My Blog Plan planner. It starts in July, and I’m so excited! My summer goal is to get both blogs back in order.

Projects...Angie needs a summer robe, and there are some other sewing projects I’m ready to tackle. Maybe taking off school will allow for that?

Sounds of the moment...sudden quiet after much loud silliness. Should I be concerned?

From Hibbard Academy...just a few things to finish up before the summer break officially starts. Read-alouds will take a little longer, but that’s okay. I think we’ll get back to Latin this summer and continue our critical thinking puzzles. Those are fun things. And a little math. Not so fun, but still good to keep the brain active.

A favorite thing from last month...I will show you tomorrow. Because it’s just too awesome for a little blip here. And yes, I changed that from “last week” to “last month” because that’s how awesome it is.

The planner...home!!!! How happy that makes me! After two weeks on the road, I’m so happy with home!

Because visuals are fun...my guys building a spaceship.2014-05-31 17.51.09