Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, December 29, 2015

In the great outdoors...overcast and cold – the cold finally came! We were so hot on Sunday, but when I was out yesterday trying to rescue our outdoor nativity scene from the wind, I think there were ice pellets mixed with the rain spitting on my coat. 

Within our four walls...Christmas decorations are down and mostly put away (still have to put away outdoor decorations that are currently just resting in the garage). I normally don’t like to take decorations down so quickly, but this year I wanted to be able to spend the week re-establishing our normalcy.

Also, the girls want to rearrange their room. Like with the rest of the house, their room is set up the way it had to be to make it functional quickly when we moved in. But, they’ve since had time to live in it, consider the implications of sharing a room, and even map out some considered reorganizations. Right now they’re cleaning off shelves and dressers in preparation for help from me in the actual shuffling of furniture. It will be like one of those slide puzzles – getting everything moved around in a confined space!

A heart of thanksgiving...for cold weather; for a full week to renormalize life; for protection of friends and loved ones in recent storms and flooding; for a halt in the rain that has brought flooding to much of our region.

A heart of prayer...for those dealing with the aftermath of Christmas weekend storms and flooding. A couple I know from college both work at a school that was devastated in a tornado. It’s amazing to see pictures of walls completely demolished while just a few feet away, posters still hang on bulletin boards and baskets sit on shelves untouched. Tornadoes are horrific, yet so fascinating!

Random observations...weaning off of sugar is tough. But I already feel more energetic after greatly minimizing my intake the past couple of days!

Also, Facebook is down. Kind of funny. I still post regularly on Facebook and try to keep an eye on what other people are up to. But, it’s not as big of a deal anymore when it’s inaccessible. I like Facebook. But I’m also trying to pay much more attention to how much time I spend on it. So, the outage is not really that big of a deal. I like that.

My silly children...keep me laughing.

Yesterday, I was missing things right before my eyes. I just had to remind my children that I was crazy – and I thanked them for putting up with me.

Angie responded with, “That’s okay. Crazy runs in the family.”

Steven, of course, had to tag on, “It practically gallops.” (our family’s favorite Arsenic and Old Lace reference, for those who don’t “get” it)

Almost simultaneously, the two kids began to gallop around the living room while “singing” the William Tell Overture.

Yes, I enjoy the galloping insanity of the Hibbard family!

Thoughts from the kitchen...parmesan chicken cordon bleu with rice is the plan for today. I have a new potato soup recipe to try later this week. And I’m sure the crock pot will be in heavy use as the cold finally (hopefully) settles in!

On my bookshelf...I got my fiction review books done. Just need to get the rest of the reviews written. Now to figure out what to dive into next. I want to intentionally read in the coming year, but I also want to intentionally write. We’ll see how that all balances out.

Projects...rearranging the girls’ room, then rearranging my own space to keep the sewing machine more accessible. Not sure yet how it’s all going to work out, but I’m looking forward to trying. Yes, I want to work in intentional sewing with intentional reading and writing. Prayerfully considering how to balance all three.

Sounds of the moment...the girls chattering as they continue to clean off bookshelves. There are a LOT of books stored in their room! Then, there’s Steven piddling with Legos at the table. He got a Crazy Contraptions instructional book for Christmas, and he’s created quite a few neat contraptions already! Can’t wait to see how he uses the concepts in his creations.

From Hibbard Academy...one more week off. Tomorrow I’ll start prepping for the new week. We’ll be adjusting the schedule a bit. It’s time. We’ve stuck with roughly the same schedule for almost a year and a half. Amazingly enough, it’s still working for Steven and Angie – just not for Olivia. Fortunately, Steven and Angie are very flexible and don’t mind changing up to help their sister.

A favorite thing from last week...we had a nice super-quick trip to Monroe, a beautiful Christmas Eve service, and a good visit with my family on Christmas evening. But, I must confess that what I enjoyed the most was the chance to have a Saturday in which we truly could just relax and do what we wanted to do. We got to stay home and fill the time our own way. It was very, very nice.

The planner...Doug’s at work most of this week, but we’re at home. In the mornings, I’m tackling home stuff I want to do before we get back to school, and in the afternoons I’m working. The kids are helping with the home stuff and enjoying the break from school. We’re planning on some time with the Choates this weekend – squeezing in those last delightful visits before they leave next month! Oh, what a treasure their closeness has been!

Because visuals are fun...my silly middle child recreated a favorite Doctor Who scene. Any DW fans recognize what’s going on here? (Of course, you have to ignore the fact that the twelfth Doctor and Clara are observing in the background. This is all about center stage…and that infamous fez in Amy Pond’s hand.)

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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas from the HibbardFive! We thought we’d give a nice, wordy update on the year that has passed, but it’s been a chaotic year, so we’ll hit the highlights. First, the family overall: in May, we relocated to East End, Arkansas, where Doug now serves as pastor of East End Baptist Church. That led to a series of goodbyes and hellos that are still working through our system.

We continue to teach our children at home, even as Olivia has started 9th grade. She’s adjusting to the heavier workload well. Angela and Steven are working through the middle school and elementary years well. The girls are now in an American Heritage Girls troop in Benton, and Steven has moved up to the Webelos level of Cub Scouts as well as changing packs from Stuttgart. They are working together to learn piano and beginning to try out new instruments. So far, we have a bugle, a violin, and drums. It’s a bit noisy at times. We also toured the vault at the Arkansas State Capitol, and the kids got to hold $325,000!

Doug is learning the ins and outs of pastoring our new congregation in a much more highly populated area! He is currently focusing on the balance between pastoring and working through some writing projects while praying through future education prospects.

Fortunately, the move did not interfere with Ann’s work as Senior Editor for HEDUA. Since she telecommutes, the slightly better Internet speeds here in town have helped her out. She continues to be the main teacher for Olivia, Angela, and Steven.

We put the kids up to writing their own paragraph for this letter, so here they are:

Olivia: This year has been a strange one for our family. At the beginning of June, we moved from our little town of Almyra to the outskirts of Little Rock. That has required some adjustment, but we enjoy our new life. I now have a youth group that ranges from ten to twenty, and we have regular activities. That has also been something to adjust to. And there was the busyness. In July (at least I’m pretty sure it was July), I went to PraiseWorks one week, my grandmother’s the next, and Camp Paron the week after that! We have joined an AHG troop, and have been involved in several service projects because of that. But it has been a fun year, and I am glad for where we are.

Angela: I have been learning how to quilt and sew, and started working on following a pattern in knitting. The stuffed cow collection has grown, and all the cows do weird things together. This was my third year to do a music camp called Joy Works, at Ouachita Baptist University and we have also been working with piano. I have been in that weird stage of not little, but not a teenager yet. But the year has been fun.

Steven: Title: My Year. My year has been a lot of fun. This year I am experiencing Christmas in a new house. This year I have been growing, learning, getting, giving, playing, moving, and snuggling. This year I am looking forward to making new friends and having Christmas in a new house.

We Hibbards wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year. May you walk closer to Jesus every day.

Doug, Ann, OIivia, Angela, Steven, Smoky, Mina

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, December 15, 2015

In the great outdoors...indecision. Is it supposed to be cold or warm? Humid or dry? Yep, it’s December in Arkansas.

It reminds me of December 17 years ago (among others, but that’s the most definite one for me). Christmas was on a Friday that year, too. Three weeks before Christmas, we were in shorts, sweating in the humidity as we visited a tree farm to pick out our Christmas tree. Six days before Christmas, it was more pleasant humidity-wise, but I was still comfortable in my sleeveless dress. Christmas Eve? Ice storm. Yep.

At least right now the sunshine is very decisive! And beautifully abundant! 

Within our four walls...getting the day started, each of us at our own pace, it seems. I have a fuzzy companion helping me get some writing done.

When the kids were smaller, I was the only one this cat wanted to be around. But, as the kids grew and became more tolerable to be around (translation: stopped chasing her around on cute, chubby toddler legs and started just calmly loving on her), she began to prefer them. But, for the past few weeks, she’s been back to pressing up against me whenever I’m sitting down. And woe to me if I try to move her!!

No, I’m not a huge cat lover. But, she’s a pretty tolerable cat.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the ease of transitioning back and forth between A/C and heat – not to mention the blessing of even having those luxuries! Why yes, we have needed both this week – or maybe even on the same day.

For sunshine. I love the rain, but the sunshine is a huge blessing this week.

For my diligent, talented, thoughtful, learning, growing children. They amaze me daily.

For my incredibly faithful husband. We will celebrate 17 years of marriage this week, and he’s ready to go for 17+ more. Wow.

A heart of prayer...for our music minister, Bro Ed, as he undergoes unexpected bypass surgery today. For a friend as she also faces surgery today. For my mother-in-law as she has surgery coming up next week. Seems ‘tis the season for surgery!

And, still, for the Choates as they see God’s hand working in their provision for a return to the Solomon Islands. They still need one-time gifts to help with immediate expenses and a few more pledges for long-term support, but God is definitely answering prayers! Yay!

My silly children...are very, very quiet right now. Very quiet. Hmmmm…

Thoughts from the kitchen...So, yesterday I was problem-solving and lost track of time. I didn’t have anything planned for lunch and didn’t have a clue where to start. Doug calls – on his way home – and asks, “Need a plan?” Yes, please! So, over the phone, he dictates a delightful way to combine and use leftovers for a whole new meal. Just like that. I toss it all together, and voila – a meal everyone loved.

Oh how I wish my brain could do that with food, but I sure am thankful HIS brain can do it!
As for today? I have several new crock pot dishes to try, so I’m going to see if I have the ingredients on hand to get one of them going today.

On my bookshelf...two books that I’ve read but still need to review. Current read is The Painter’s Daughter, Julie Klassen’s newest release. And, I’m reading Women of Christmas by Liz Curtis Higgs. And, of course, my own hubby’s Advent book.

Projects...making great progress on picture sorting, and I cut out one sewing project. Hopefully this week I’ll make a LOT more progress on the Christmas projects. 

Sounds of the moment...like I said…quiet. I did just hear a chair squeak. I believe Angie & Steven are doing chores. And Olivia – who ended up awake about an hour earlier than normal – has already finished quiet time, breakfast, and chores and is now enjoying some extra time to write and get a head start on school work.

From Hibbard Academy...a light week. Still getting all necessary core work done to keep us on track, but cutting out some of the superfluous work. You know, the stuff that really is useful for solidifying what is being learned, but doesn’t HAVE to be done all the time. And the last couple of weeks before Christmas need all the help they can get!

A favorite thing from last week...a couple of hours with the Choates to finish off our Saturday. And Joanna’s grandmother – a delightful woman with over 60 years of minister’s wife wisdom – joined them, as they came straight from a wedding. This beloved family’s time in Arkansas is drawing to a close, and I can’t tell you how thankful I am that they choose to bless us by sharing some of those precious remaining hours and days with us. We’ll miss them, but we’re so thankful for the time we have with them right now. They energize us!

The planner...um…yeah…we have several things going on this week, but I wrote them down so I wouldn’t have to keep them all in my head. And my planner is…somewhere? Guess I should locate that, because I know there are several to-dos on today’s list. Oh, how much better I do when I actually use my planner.

But, the biggest thing is the aforementioned 17th anniversary. We’re keeping celebration simple this year – just dinner out. I often chuckle because December is an INSANE time for a pastor to have an anniversary. Especially six days before Christmas. But, at the same time, it’s really nice to have a ready-made excuse to look at others and say, “This day is for us. No matter the chaos, we’re pulling back to celebrate each other today.” So, it really is a blessing. Somehow, I think God might have known what He was doing when, on one hot July day, He guided us to plan a wedding for December 19.

Because visuals are fun...Angie had fun meeting Samson, a mini Hereford, last Saturday. 

Look at that face! He loved having his forehead scratched, right between the eyes.

Why yes, they are great pets, from what I’ve read. And sure, Angie, you can have one – just as soon as you come up with about $1500, plus money for feed, plus about five acres of land for grazing. Sure!

But, he was definitely cute!

Then there was the llama. Awwwww...

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, December 9, 2015

In the great outdoors...beautiful, bright sunshine, and lovely spring-like temperatures. Yes, I’m ready for real cold, but we probably won’t get many days of these lovely temps combined with beautiful sunshine when spring rolls around. So I might as well enjoy them fully now, even if I would rather have a cold December!

Within our four walls...quiet. Well, except for the running of the dishwasher and the dryer. Thankful for both!

A heart of thanksgiving...for healthy kids; for conveniences; for a tornado siren that has only had to be used for testing purposes since we’ve lived here; for the flexibility of homeschooling.

A heart of prayer...I start the list, and it just keeps growing! Praying for so much. Salvations for multiple loved ones; our churches; our family as we seek the best schedule and routine for us; the Choates as they seek timing wisdom and financial provision for their return to the Solomons.

Random observations...I realized this morning that my children consider homeschooling a given. It’s all they know. Steven was playing with Legos, using a measuring tape and math to consider how many “dots” he has. He came and told me, “When I teach my children math, I’m going to use Legos.”

I love that they love homeschooling! But, I also want to begin instilling in them the reality that obedience to God’s leadership is more important than which educational choice we make.

My silly middle child...always has a project in her hand. And, right now, that pretty much means a Christmas present. She creates right in front of us, and we all KNOW she’s working on gifts. But, she does it in such a manner that we never have a clue what she’s actually working on, and it’s always a surprise. She’s so much fun!

Thoughts from the kitchen...I love my rice cooker. I know it’s a convenience and a luxury. And I know rice is easy to cook. But, I just love being able to turn it on and not worry about it. And I love the texture we end up with. And, it can be used for other things, too – even “baking”! Yes, I really love my rice cooker.

On my bookshelf...the newest Julie Klassen and Elizabeth Camden books – ah, the joys of being a reviewer! Now to exercise self-control!

Projects...sorting pictures now; a bit of sewing and knitting; much fewer homemade gifts this year, but still a few. The kids like them, and I enjoy making them. 

Sounds of the moment...the aforementioned dishwasher and dryer.

From Hibbard Academy...a light schedule this week and next week, while still keeping up with the curriculum such that we won’t be pushing further into the summer. But, we don’t have to do EVERY assignment.

A favorite thing from last week...last week? What did we even do last week? Oh yes!!! Family pictures!! Our precious friend Tiffany met us and took family pictures on Saturday. Here’s a sneak peak: SpeakLight Hibbard Family album

It was so good to see her, and also fun to just laugh, relax, and goof off for an afternoon (and she still managed to get good pictures in the midst of all our goofiness!).

The planner...Our days this week are mostly normal – school (light schedule), working on tasks and Christmas prep, and work. Last night was our only unplanned evening. Monday night we had AHG and Scouts. Steven’s was a Christmas party, so the girls and headed over there after AHG. Tonight is church. Thursday night we hope to get to go watch some of our Sheridan band members play in their Christmas concert. Friday night is DATE NIGHT!! (YAY!) Saturday we’ll participate in an AHG service project at our host church, then hopefully get to see the Choates for a bit that evening (it’s been two months, and we’re experiencing massive withdrawals!).

Because visuals are fun...I ran across this picture while sorting today. My child excited about a future British lit course. It just makes me chuckle.

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Meanwhile, this was Angie’s outfit yesterday. She looked so CUTE!

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My girls are growing up…

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, December 2, 2015

In the great outdoors...a sunny morning after three days of rain and two more days of cloudy gloom. Thank you, Lord, for the gift of sunshine!

Within our four walls...Christmas decorations are up! Oh, and we did a little rearranging weekend before last. Because, you know, when you first move into a house, everything has to just go somewhere to be made as functional as possible as quickly as possible.

But that doesn’t make it “home.”

This week marks six months since we moved in. And, we typically rearrange something every six months anyway, just to liven things up. So, it was time.

We only rearranged the living room. But, it made it much easier to set up a Christmas tree. It also economized our space a little better. And, we’ve been praying for the Lord to direct us to an affordable piano. The rearrangement is a step of faith because it opened up the perfect spot for the piano!

A heart of thanksgiving...for a warm, dry house; for safety in travel as we enjoyed family time last week; for praying friends; for creative children.

A heart of prayer...for all of us as we enter the holiday season – wow, it can get crazy! May we truly exemplify and radiate peace to those in chaos all around us.

For our beloved friends the Choates as they wait patiently for provision and wisdom from the Lord. They cannot return to the mission field until their financial support is back to 100%, but they also have to purchase plane tickets well in advance. Such a tricky spot!

Random observations...have you ever stopped to wonder about the literacy of the Israelites? In a world where, historically speaking, literacy was limited to the ruling or priestly classes as most? Yet the Israelites even came out of Egypt with a sense of literacy in their own language – Hebrew. Even as shepherds turned slaves.

Throughout history, the Israelites were set apart in many ways. Not a big deal is made out of their literacy (in fact, some argue that they were NOT literate, and hold that as their proof that the Bible was not written over an extensive period of time). But, part of God’s plan involved a literate society. I love the way God works!

My silly children...should have been down here for school over twenty minutes ago. They seem to be hiding from me. Obviously, I’ve been super diligent to get them started, too. Yeah, we’re not very motivated right now.

Thoughts from the kitchen...pot pie Monday and pizza yesterday. Something beefy today, but not sure what yet.

On my bookshelf...I pulled out Liz Curtis Higgs’ The Women of Christmas over the weekend. I started it last year, but never got the chance to finish it. So, restarting this year. Doug and I also had the chance to just relax and read a bit over the weekend, so I perused the shelves for a Julie Klassen book I have not yet read. The Silent Governess won the toss-up this time around. Unfortunately, I didn’t get it finished over the weekend, so it taunted me Monday and yesterday. Remember that motivation struggle? Yeah, diligence is hard when you’re in the middle of a great novel.

But I finished it last night. It’s done. And it was well done. Now to avoid starting a new book.

Ah, temptations never cease!

Projects...calendar, photo book, and other Christmas gifts. Now that my kids are older, it’s harder to sneak around and make Christmas gifts! Bedtime is not quite as early and they’re so stinkin’ observant. But, I’ll get it done! Some way, somehow!

Sounds of the moment...typical morning sounds – the washer rattling (it sounds a little cranky this morning), and soft Christmas music in the background.

From Hibbard Academy...prayerful consideration about how to approach the next three weeks. We need to do school. But, we also need a real break – something we did not get Thanksgiving week due to all of the traveling.

A favorite thing from last week...Thanksgiving with family; discovering how our Christmas d├ęcor fit with the personality of our new house.

The planner...pretty routine – nothing much out of the ordinary except family pictures this weekend.

Because visuals are fun...a turkey/bean bag “snow”man. Because we’re goofy like that.2015-11-28 09.58.38