Tuesday, October 20, 2015

More Friend Time & Pinnacle

Back to our adventures with the Choates and “Grasshoppers” (as my family has always called them)…

Friday we went down, so Saturday, we headed up!!

Arkansas “mountains” are nothing compared to the west coast mountains Julie and Tate are used to. But, we all thought a hike up Pinnacle would be delightful.

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The energetic kids dashed ahead, then posed themselves along the way. Somehow they seemed to know the mamas would want pictures!

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And there’s no doubt they’re a good-looking bunch! But, the scenery was gorgeous, too. God’s artistry takes my breath away.

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Julie said this one reminds her of a blown volcano. I’d be inclined to agree.

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Olivia and I ended up a little behind everyone else, and we turned a different direction at the top. We finally spotted the rest of the crew on a boulder a little to our left and below us. We snapped this fun picture before heading over to join them.

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There are teenage boys who will let nine-year-olds tag along with them, but not many would include him as a natural part of their “group.” Benjamin and Tate were so sweet to Steven, never making him feel like he was just the little kid that they tolerated.

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Such a great bunch of teenagers!

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And a pretty cute almost teenager.

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These princesses found a nice shady bench to enjoy a snack, some rest time, and the beautiful scenery.

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Love these ladies!

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When it was time to head back down, Benjamin came and asked if Steven could join them heading down the east trail – a more challenging trail. Not only would they have to descend this more difficult path, they’d then have to walk an extra mile around the base to get back to our starting point.

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He was all for it!! So, off they went!

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While the gals returned the way we’d come, enjoying a lighter descent and some sweet visiting.

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We didn’t have to wait too long, either, for the guys to rejoin us at the base. They made great time, and their slight “delay” gave Doug enough time to join us (he’d been at a church work day) for a late picnic lunch.

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The kids were pumped to the last second and didn’t want to say goodbye. But, we could tell they all needed it…even before we saw the evidence.

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Angie didn’t even budge when we stopped for gas, nor when we made a quick grocery stop. And yes, Olivia is asleep sitting up.

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Only my big boy in the back managed to stay awake!

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Another great day with great friends!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Monday, October 19, 2015

In the great outdoors...fall. It cooled off over the weekend. And I mean REALLY cooled off. Lows in the lower 40’s, highs barely into the 70’s. Delightful! Especially after hitting a record 98˚ last Thursday. (Previous record was 94˚.)

But, it’s also very, very dry right now. Even when it hit 98˚, we didn’t close our windows because it felt much more like a Jordanian heat (we had no A/C there) than a typical, humid Arkansas heat. The house got warm, but not unbearable. And none of us wanted to give up the fresh air.

Within our four walls...routine. Chores being done by the children. Mama preparing for the day. Daddy off to work. We might actually have a whole week of routine! What’s that?

A heart of thanksgiving...my hives are staying off my hands and feet, even when they get really cold! I was not looking forward to dealing with itchy cold hands and feet this winter, but it looks like I might be able to escape that. My legs still get itchy from a combination of hives and dry skin, but that’s so much easier to deal with than hands and feet. Yay! Thank you, Lord!

A heart of prayer...for baby Elijah and two others from our church in Children’s Hospital. We’re so thankful for Children’s, but we’d really rather not have to use it. That’s just not fun, folks. In addition to Elijah, there’s another baby with some type of infection, and a young man whose appendix didn’t just rupture – it truly burst. Yuck.

Also, always for East End Baptist and FBC Almyra. Oh how my heart longs to see God glorified incredibly through both churches!

For work. Oh, how I love my job, but that doesn’t keep it from truly being work. Deadlines, mental challenges, and problems to solve. That’s just the nature of it!

And for rain. It’s so dry that our grass is crunchy. We haven’t needed a mow in forever. But leaves are falling, too. Which means people are going to burn no matter how serious the county is about the burn ban.

In all honesty, there’s a lot more on my heart. But, I’ve been rather unfaithful about praying through them all. So, this week I hunger to discipline my heart and mind more faithfully to be fully surrendered in prayer.

Random observations...a new outlet mall opened near us. Very near us. We almost never go to a store on opening day (something about not liking crowds). But, I had a doctor’s appointment Friday morning, and when driving back home (right by the new mall), it was obvious that it was busy, but not crazy yet. So, we went.

Yeah…it’s really not safe to have an Auntie Anne’s and Kitchen Collection that close to our house.

More helpful, though, is the VF. Brand new pants for thrift store prices? Yes, please! Especially for my growing boy! After all, they were on the list. And the Old Navy, since Angie and I are both hard to fit when it comes to jeans, and Old Navy fits us both perfectly. I hate to pay for brand name clothes, but we’ve just learned that sometimes we have to look for what works. Fortunately, the outlets usually have better prices.

It started really getting congested around lunch time as we were leaving, and by Friday evening, traffic was horrific in that area. Which will be significant as we approach the Christmas shopping season, because the mall is right on our main driving route.

My silly children...are all bundled up this morning. But they like being cold as much as I do. They like bundling up. It’s fun!

Thoughts from the kitchen...soup, soup, and more soup. We had soup twice on Saturday and again for lunch yesterday. We’ll probably have another kind of soup today. Then it will warm up again, so we’ll defer for a few days. But, it will come back this weekend. I’m so excited!

On my bookshelf...same stuff. Yep, I’m just slow. Well, I did actually finish Tricia Goyer’s Spanish Civil War series. Doug and I have been waiting until we’re both in a gap before reading Patrick W. Carr’s e-book together, so hopefully we’ll get to read that together at least one or two evenings this week. We just want to get it done before book one in his new series comes out!

Still reading – and enjoying – Everyday Grace as well.

Projects...Christmas time is coming! And at least one child does read the blog. So, no hints on the projects I’m planning. I am almost done with Steven’s second sock. Poor child will be able to have both feet warm! 

Sounds of the moment...the broom brushing across the dining room floor.

From Hibbard Academy...maybe a full week of school? Maybe? Hopefully? I don’t know how long it’s been since we’ve managed a full five-day school week. While we do have the flexibility, we’re using a lot of it up in the first semester. Second semester is going to get LOOOONG if we don’t save up some break time. So, I’m hoping we’ll be able to get in a lot more five-day weeks between now and Christmas.

A favorite thing from last week...no evening meetings for Doug. We’d gone through a week and a half of him having something every night. One night it was 10:45 before he got home. It was nice to have him home in the evenings last week!

The planner...a pretty normal week. School and work, Scouts and AHG tonight, church Wed, date night Fri, then Doug’s parents come up this weekend. We’re taking a Hibbard family trip to Little Rock’s dinner theater to see Arsenic and Old Lace. It’s a particular favorite for the whole family, so when we found out it was coming back to Murry’s, we just had to plan a trip!

Because visuals are fun...I’m not a selfie kind of gal (I always end up with a strange expression from trying to concentrate on taking the picture), but HEDUA’s social media guru asked for selfies of staff and kids. So, I snapped this one. How did I end up with such cute kids?!?!

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Thursday, October 15, 2015

Blanchard Springs

Having friends comes to visit means you have the perfect excuse to do some of the things on your “get around to one of these days” list. We have tossed around the idea of going to Blanchard Springs Caverns with the Choates, so we used Julie and Tate’s visit as the perfect excuse! P1120014

We were excited to be able to pile all 13 of us into a church van so we could be together the whole time. Although somehow I can’t find the picture taken from the mom row that included Joanna, Julie, and me.

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Blanchard Springs boasts one of the top ten caverns in the nation! I knew it was a top-rated attraction, but I didn’t realize we ranked that high.

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Entering the main room of the caverns, though, quickly showed me why. There is no way to capture the breath-taking beauty with even the best of cameras.

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But that didn’t stop us from trying!

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Fortunately, we were able to use the flash, so that helped us capture these smiling faces.

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This cave is known as a “living cave” because it is continuously growing.

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The red and gray/white color of the stalactites and stalagmites reflects the different minerals that have contributed to the formations.

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Of course, these sweet, curious, delighted faces are even more precious and beautiful!!

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If I remember correctly, this column is over 70 feet tall. When it was first discovered, it was measured with helium balloons attached to string.

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Our guide says that different people see different things in this view. So, what do you see?

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I wish we’d been able to see the cavern space behind us in this picture because it was beautiful! But, I must say, so is this group. I love these people!

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And I do have a small glimpse of what was behind us. This is the straw room because the small formations on the ceiling are hollow.

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There were also formations above us that weren’t hollow, but were broken. An earthquake actually snapped off the ends of many of these stalactites, revealing the milky white interior beneath the darker “skin.”

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After a delightful hour, it was time to head out. Sadly, White Nose Fungus has made it into Blanchard Springs Caverns. This fatal disease has been known to practically wipe out bat species in northern states. Arkansas worked hard to keep it out, but now that it has infected our caverns, the goal is to not spread it. One of the prevention methods includes walking across these disinfectant soaked mats upon departure from the caves.

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I just have to show off this great-looking bunch again. I was so excited by the way Tate just dove in as one of the group. Our kids LOVED him!

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First stop after the caverns was a quick picnic lunch – quick to both beat the incoming rain and make an appointment that afternoon.

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Oh, and then we had to make one more stop – at a soda shop for ice cream! Yum!2015-10-09 13.23.39

We headed back down the mountain to Conway where everyone spread out and relaxed for a few minutes. Katherine loved playing with her new “big brother”!

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Once again, it was time to split up and say goodbye for the evening. But, we had Saturday plans to regroup for yet another adventure!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Becoming Real Life Friends

Have you ever experienced that awkwardness of transition from communication via letters or e-mails to face-to-face interaction? I have. And, I wondered if we’d experience that last week when our long-time bloggy friend Julie came to visit – to become an in real life (IRL) friend. I should have known better. For years I’ve wished she was my next door neighbor. Now I wish it even more!

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Julie was able to bring her middle son Tate with her on this trip. I loved how he just merged right into the group without a second thought! These kids had FUN!

Day one was a relaxed day on Hibbard turf. Tate and Julie arrived pretty late Wednesday night, so we all slept in a bit, then just visited around the house all day.

Well, we visited. The kids fought. Boys downstairs…

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…against the girls upstairs. The long hallway made quite the awesome battle field.

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We enjoyed lunch together, and the kids enjoyed sharing funnies with one another while the grown-ups sat around and talked. And talked. And talked. Oh, how delightful it was to visit! 

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Day one ended with Julie and Tate heading back to Conway with the Choates (more bedrooms at their house!). But we were all ready for Day 2!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, October 13, 2015

In the great outdoors...still the hint of fall, but not quite fully settled in yet. Yesterday was hot, so we had to close up the house when we got home, but it’s cool again this morning.

Within our four walls...morning routine underway. Enjoying cool air wafting in and wondering if we’ll make it with open windows all day today.

A heart of thanksgiving...for flexibility that allows us to step outside of the routine for a few days to enjoy friendship. And for and established routine that we can step back into. And for good rest.

A heart of prayer...for East End Baptist Church as we work to glorify God in all we do and for Almyra First Baptist Church as they continue to seek a new pastor (a part of my heart will always hunger to be a part of the spiritual growth of that precious church!); for farmers finishing up harvest; for us and the precious friends we enjoyed over the weekend as all of us return to routine.

Random observations...I’m holding off as long as I can before putting on a jacket this morning. We finally discovered that the hives I developed about six weeks ago are caused by cold! Ugh! I LOVE cold! I’m standing by the window right now and it’s 58 degrees at my desk. I am itching a bit, but it’s not bad right now. I can’t bring myself to put on a jacket yet. I just want to enjoy the cool air that I miss so much in the summer.

My silly children...were absolutely pinging off the walls last night as we closed out the day. They were tired from five days of fun, but they were also energized by the company we kept. It was quite funny to watch them last night!

Oh, and they now believe they can listen to Christmas music. Why? Because yesterday was Canadian Thanksgiving. Oh, and Farmer Appreciation Day. But, that has nothing to do with Christmas music. That’s just relevant because we know and love some awesome farmers.

Thoughts from the kitchen...Do you see Saturday and Sunday? My cooking plans for the week involve just making it until the weekend. No clue what we’re having between now and then, but some kind of soup is in the plan for the weekend.

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On my bookshelf...Christmas books! Yes, really. It’s about time for Christmas reviews to start rolling around. So, I’m going to read a couple of Christmas books. Works for me! (Ahem…not to give any impression that the kids’ hunger for Christmas music comes from me at all. No, not a bit.)

Projects...still working on those socks. Steven’s first one is almost done, though! He’ll at least have one!  

Sounds of the moment...kids chattering as they finish breakfast and dive into chores.

From Hibbard Academy...back in the swing of things. Wow, we’ve been out a lot. But, we should have three solid weeks before it’s time for the Arkansas Baptist State Convention.

A favorite thing from last week...okay, so this picture was actually from yesterday (and there will be many more to come – as well as links to the posts I know these two amazing ladies will share soon), but it our time together started last week. I always love spending time with Joanna, obviously, but Wednesday night I got to hug Julie’s neck for the first time ever. Oh how these two ladies nourished me! Love them!


The planner...routine. Ahhhh…

Because visuals are fun...just a sample of what I found when I went up to bed Thursday evening. What can you expect after an all-out Nerf war involving eight warriors? They did such a good job picking up all the spent ammo they could find, but picking up Nerfs for days afterward is just the nature of a Nerf war. It cannot be helped. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.2015-10-08 20.31.50

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Just Visiting

Remember our apple picking trip? Well, that actually was our second try. We’d originally made plans for September 10. Aaron was in the Solomons and Doug had to work, but it was a day mamas and kids could squeeze out of the busy schedules that so greatly limit our time. So, we set the date. Then we found out the orchard was closed.
Turns out, that’s just what we needed. Because, as much fun as we have on field trips, sometimes just visiting meets a deeper need.
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There was a little bit of working together, chopping apples so Sarah could work her wonders in the kitchen. (That was an amazing apple pie!)2015-09-10 12.00.11
Yes, they were very careful with that many hands and that many knives in a small space.
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Even if Steven did act threatening once or twice!
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James the Cow met the Choates for the first time and wanted to help when a few extra apples needed to be cut after the first batch was done. But, he wasn’t quite as handy with the knife as the kids.
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So, Joanna and I finished up. (For the record, this is the second time we’ve accidentally matched.)
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(I had to snap this picture just because. I love my girlies!)
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The kids finished off the visit with a game of Settlers of Catan, a favorite for both families.
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Yes, having the chance to go on field trips with the Choates is incredibly fun. But, a day of just visiting warms our hearts, too, in very wonderful ways.