Tuesday, February 24, 2015

A Winter Evening

by Olivia Hibbard

A winter evening is a cheerful, crackling fire
And at its very mention,
Family and stories spring
Ever and anon into my head.

A winter evening is blankets and stuffies,
Hot cider and salty popcorn
Daddy is reading and all is at peace.

This is my tale of a winter’s eve
So hasten to the fire
And maybe bring some popcorn
As we dream of a winter evening.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 23, 2015

In the great outdoors...a little bit more ice, but none of the snow we were hoping for. Schools are in session, and the sun is shining. They still say snow is possible today. We’ll see.

Later…well the snow started late morning. It was pretty. But, it was icy! Schools let out early and we cancelled our evening activities.

Within our four walls...business as usual for the day. Trying to get a good start on the new week.

Later…getting kids to bed while Doug and I finish up a few things this evening.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the blessing of an unstructured weekend.

A heart of prayer...for those out in the cold today; for new issues facing the Choates; for energy to move effectively through this week.

Random observations...I started this post at 8:30 this morning. I’m finishing it at 7:30 tonight. It’s kind of fun to see how the evening is different from the morning.

My silly children...are definitely feeling the effects of the cold, gloomy weather. They’ve needed to be very creative with their expenditures of energy. And we’ve needed to be very patient with them!

Thoughts from the kitchen...Doug fixed a variation on shepherd’s pie for lunch. It was yummy.

On my bookshelf...reviewing a student edition of one of Lee Strobel’s books. I think Olivia will enjoy reading it – her brain works that way.

Projects...get the planner filled out for the week so I’m not blundering around. I’m kind of blundering right now, not sure where to start. I don’t like to be enslaved to the planner, but it is definitely helpful when it – not random urgency – is my boss for the week.

Sounds of the moment...If I say I can picture Star-Lord dancing around an abandoned planet, can you determine the moment’s sounds? Oh, and there’s a vacuum cleaner in the background.

Later…Robert Irvine’s voice in the background as I type and work on bulletins for next week. Restaurant: Impossible makes for fun background noise.

From Hibbard Academy...a somewhat light week as Olivia is between math books (she’ll start the new one after next week’s break), we somehow got ahead on read-alouds, and we expected to have a couple of odd days that we now probably won’t have. So, there will be some catching up on grading to take advantage of the light schedule.

Later…Olivia actually decided she didn’t want to wait to start her new math book. She was actually doing extra pre-algebra lessons for the fun of it BEFORE school started this morning! What a contrast from the child who used to hate math with a passion.

A favorite thing from last week...flexibility to enjoy Saturday as we pleased. It was nice to be relaxed and even a little crazy.

The planner...a mostly normal week. We were supposed to have Scouts and Bible study tonight, but the ice prevented that.

Because visuals are fun...I discovered today that Olivia and Angela’s legs are the same length! Olivia’s torso is just that much longer. Wow!

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Time to Chill

What do you do to relax on a cold Sunday afternoon? My kids pile a blanket full of Legos, haul it into the living room, and build random stuff.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Our Simple Valentine’s Day

Which I loved. But, even more than that, I love the fact that I now feel free to be simple. I didn’t always feel that freedom. I felt like the horrible mother who deprived her children of celebrations each time a holiday rolled around. I’ve had to let go of that.

My kids love celebrations, but they love simple, too.

Saturday morning, Doug and Steven got up and made us colorful pancakes of all shapes!

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Later in the day, we made a cake (they opted for blue frosting) and covered it in candy hearts. The chalky ones, for which I am thankful. I don’t like those, so I won’t eat them all!

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We spent time outside in the gorgeous sunshine, washing vehicles and soaking up spring-like warmth before the ice storm.

Then we closed the day by introducing the kids to Shrek. Sounds like a perfect romantic film to me!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 16, 2015

In the great outdoors...ice. It won’t be the fun snow we were all hoping for, but it’s definitely beautiful!

Within our four walls...warmth. A functional heater and a warm fireplace. Thankful.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the aforementioned heat; that the power is still on; for the ability to be at home today while still continuing with normal life. Homeschooling and working from home have their challenges, but they also have their awesome days!

A heart of prayer...for those who do have to be out today; for the power to stay on; for a friend having surgery this week; for a variety of challenges facing a variety of people.

Random observations...the sleet is coming down hard right now. Interestingly enough, though, the slant is east to west. It’s usually west to east.

My wonderful children...make me smile. They are disappointed that we’re not getting playable snow, but that doesn’t hinder their delight over the beauty of what we are getting. They appreciate it, no matter what. I love watching them grow and show maturity, even in little things like this.

But, I still have to mention silliness. Steven asked for this picture and said, “Can you put it on the blog?”

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He hates spikey hair, for the most part, but Olivia loves it spiked. So, it has become a game to spike it every time I go to give him a haircut. Then, and only then, is he proud of it – and he has to call Olivia in to see it every time.

And in other silliness news, Olivia has a radar for new violin music. Whenever she hears a new song, she comes running. (Funny how her hearing improves dramatically in moments like that.) And she can usually pick Lindsey Sterling out – Olivia loves her style. We’re still praying over violin lessons. So far, the only affordable option is a weekly thirty minute lesson, which is great – except that it’s an hour and forty-five minute drive. That’s just not something that fits into the schedule right now, regardless of the budget! Trusting that God has this taken care of!

Thoughts from the kitchen...something warm. I don’t know what, but I know we need something warm.

On my bookshelf...I’m finished with my novel and almost done with the non-fiction. So, it’s time to pick out what will be next. A Janette Oke review book arrived last week. I snagged that one for Angela, the child who has taken after me. I read Oke’s books voraciously when I was Angie’s age! Angie’s already read it, and now I’m trying to convince her that she can write the review for me. Hee hee.

Projects...it’s time for an annual writing project. This will be my third year to write a portion of the material for our state’s annual missions offering. I’m working now to get everything organized so I can start writing this week to make the mid-April deadline. 

Sounds of the moment...instrumental music from Doug’s computer as we both write; the vacuum cleaner in the background.

From Hibbard Academy...Olivia’s almost finished with pre-algebra! I’m so proud of her! Math has probably been her hardest subject – well, aside from anything requiring handwriting. She’s good at math, but she has to work for it. About mid-way through her elementary years, we pulled back and just let her go at her own pace. That meant she did not start pre-algebra in 7th grade like we originally planned. But, that was okay. She got a good, solid foundation, and I knew it would be fine for her to do pre-algebra in 8th grade and not start Algebra I until 9th grade. But, she’s progressed beautifully through pre-algebra, has really grasped it (and has realized just how much she already knew very, very solidly), and will be starting Algebra I in just a couple of weeks! And she’s actually excited about it! We did switch this year from Horizon’s math to Math-U-See, which she loves. The video teacher has her daddy’s sense of humor, which makes her automatically like him. And, also like her daddy, Mr. Demme is able to express things in a way that truly clicks for her. Meanwhile, I’m excited because, between the MUS lessons and Doug’s help, I might actually be able to really learn algebra for the first time, too!

A favorite thing from last week...being able to enjoy a very simple Valentine’s and still have fun. I used to feel so guilty because I wasn’t very good at emphasizing holidays and making them special for my family. But now I’m just thankful that they are good with my simplicity.

The planner...the kids and I will be pretty much home this week, except for Bible study for me tomorrow night. Doug has some stuff going on, though, weather permitting.

Because visuals are fun...I love that my kids love each other.

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Goodness of Motherhood

This week I read comments from a mom who said that she didn’t understand why anyone would say motherhood was hard. She found it easy and fun, and challenged any who said otherwise.

It made me stop and take a look back at this week. Was it really my attitude that made parenting hard this week? Or is there more to it?

Here’s what I found hard this week:

  • A little twinge of sadness as Olivia came back from her weekend youth event. She had fun, but it was obvious that none of her local friends really “get” her. All the friends who do live far, far away. That’s sad to me. Yet, it is always a delight to watch her solidify her confidence in herself. That’s something she couldn’t get to do if God allowed her to always be surrounded by people who “get” her. She can only really grow that confidence when challenged. So, yep, it was hard – but oh so beautiful! I wouldn’t trade that! (Although I will still rejoice when she gets to be with her other friends.)
  • A little disappointment when I was the last to see the most recent creativity of my children. I’ve been behind on stuff the past couple of weeks, and have had less free time. So, I’ve missed some things. That’s hard. But I’m getting caught up. And, I’m reminded that my kids are still learning and growing – and reminded how much I love watching them. Yes, it was hard. But the reminders were well worth it.
  • That inevitable dislike when one of my babies is sick. And by sick, I mean it took us about 45 minutes to get it all cleaned up. But, I got to see calmness in action. None of the kids panicked. None of them – even the sick one – stressed out. We just all stepped in and dealt with it. And it was fine. My kids know how to step up and say, “How can I help?” when there’s a crisis, rather than going nuts and getting all bent out of shape – or running away because they can’t handle it. Such an attitude and skills cannot be formed if everything is fun and easy. They can only be developed when we face hard days.

Yes, I’ve had fun and easy days as a mother. But I’ve had my share of hard and challenging days, too. And, do you know what? I wouldn’t trade them for ANYTHING!

This week has not been one that will go into the books as fun and easy. It has been hard. Hard, but good. And I’m thankful for every moment of it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, February 10

In the great outdoors...bright, sunshiny day 

Within our four walls...silly children; a slightly sluggish morning, so chores are running late; even more silliness

A heart of thanksgiving...for a husband who truly knows me; for a God who uses me even when I don’t feel very usable and would rather just hide in a cave; for cheerful sunshine

A heart of prayer...for my family and their growth this week; for my church family and coworkers and their many needs; for our wisdom.

Random observations...I should probably edit this. There’s no telling what kind of typos I’ve made! But, it’s closing in on school time. So, today you get the raw deal!

My silly children...can turn anything into something goofy.

Thoughts from the kitchen...it’s Angie’s day to cook. I think she’s using leftovers. And no, the February meal plan did not get done last weekend. Maybe this week?

On my bookshelf...same books as last week, with a little progress made. It used to be that I only read when I knew I had time to read. I’ve learned that I’m never going to have the time I think I need. So, I just need to always have two books going – one fiction and one non-fiction. No matter how long it takes to read them!

Projects...still haven’t gotten back to the organization project. So, that’s the main thing on the list right now.

But, we did get another project done over the weekend that truly needed to be taken care of. It was worth postponing the organization another week. We got the fruit trees and grape vines pruned. Yay! We also moved the apple trees into the backyard. They were on the neighboring property, but the spray from the field across the highway drifted too much. We don’t know if they’ll survive the transplant, and we also don’t really know what of what is left is the actually tree we wanted or just the root stock the tree had been grafted into. So, we don’t know what to expect if they do survive! I suppose we’ll find out over the next couple of years! The grape vines greatly surprised us after their late-in-the-season transplant last year. Maybe the apple trees will too.

Sounds of the moment...dishes clanking occasionally as they get put away. Tapping keyboards.

From Hibbard Academy...lots of grading to catch up on. We’ve gotten behind with the craziness of the last few weeks. But, catching up on read-alouds is much more fun!!

A favorite thing from last week...Olivia’s greatest excitement from her weekend at a youth event was knowing that a girl she knew got saved.

The planner...I was supposed to do a couple of things this weekend. I ended up backing out. Just too socially maxed out. And it will give me a chance to be home and to catch up a bit on school and life.

Because visuals are fun...Olivia’s first issue of Dear Magazine arrived while she was gone. The bunnies tried to protect it for her. At first, it worked. Angie didn’t seem interested in it at all. But, Sunday morning, Angie decided to pick it up and flip through it. Then it was all over. She wouldn’t let go of it until she’d read every single page!

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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

O Come, All Ye Cats Now

Angela has started writing songs, some to original tunes and some to more familiar tunes. Here’s one of them, sung to the tune of “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” Enjoy! 

Verse 1
O come all ye cats now, wailing and annoying
O come ye, o come ye to the laundry room.
Come and get food now, and we’ll lock you out.

O come stop wailing now
O come stop wailing now
O come stop wailing now
All of you fat cats

Verse 2
Eat, you three cats now, eat up ‘til you’re full
Then leave out the cat door and leave us alone.
Then it is naptime until it is the morning.

Repeat chorus

Verse 3
Now they are up, early in the morning,
Wailing to be let in right then
Finally it’s time to make them hush

Monday, February 2, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, February 2, 2015

In the great outdoors...cold and gloomy. I know the snow is a stress for those experiencing it up north right now. But, snow would cheer up the winter a bit for us down here in the south, serving as a break from the cold rain and wind.

Within our four walls...getting into a new week.

A heart of thanksgiving...a husband who prays and grows with me; friends; healthy children.

A heart of prayer...for the ability to write this week. I didn’t get writing time last week, and this morning I’m struggling to take ideas and form them into solid, communicable thoughts.

Also praying for several friends with sick loved ones.

My silly children...are not nearly as hyper this morning. That’s helpful to me.

Thoughts from the kitchen...February snuck up on me, so there’s no new menu plan. Fortunately, though, we double-cooked enough of our meals last month that we have more than a week’s worth of meals in the freezer. We just have to pull them out, stick the bags in the crock pot in the morning, and they’re warm by lunch. Yay for flex time to get the menu planning done!

On my bookshelf...Tricia Goyer’s The Promise Box is my current fiction read – an easy wind-down read. Still working through Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions and also hoping to start Crazy Love as part of a book study. Don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with that one, but I’m going to give it a try because I want to read it for myself. I’ve heard some rave about it and others respond with less excitement.

Projects...hoping to get a little more of the kitchen reorganization and purging done later this week. Had to put it on hold for a couple of weeks.

Sounds of the moment...music and quiet kids. I think they’re hoping their quietness will help stall the start of school. Haha!

From Hibbard Academy...a sudden realization that I did not get the planning done that I thought I did. In fact, I’m not even sure I have much of anything taken care of for Steven this week. Ugh! I’ve spent the morning unsuccessfully fighting through trying to write. Maybe I should have spent it making sure I had all of the school prep done! When we started school back in January, I was three weeks ahead on planning, with the intention of only progressing further and further. Yeah. That has not happened at all.

A favorite thing from last week...hearing about the goofy things Doug and the kids did while I was at a Bible study weekend with other ladies from my Sunday school class. Not that I was excited about missing their fun, but more that it’s always a delight to see how Doug and the kids enjoy each other. That’s precious to me.

The planner...normal week until Friday when I have a writer’s workshop for this year’s Dixie Jackson missions materials.

Because visuals are fun...spear and magic helmet, anyone? I love my crafty girl.

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