Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Cloudy, a bit gloomy, chilly, but also refreshing. We are cleaning up Christmas stuff so we can rearrange pretty much the entire downstairs area. So excited!

Something about the Week

It’s that strange week between Christmas and New Year’s. And it’s a full week since the two holidays fall on Sunday this year. On the one hand, I still want to be in vacation mode. On the other hand, it’s nice to have a whole week to slowly roll back into routine instead of having to jump back in quickly.

Something I Have Observed

It’s much easier to waste time than to use it productively.

Something I Have Read or Heard

“We are worshiping the God of the universe, and kicking back like we’re listening to a boring lecture or watching a Sunday afternoon golf match simply won’t do.” – Dr. J. Scott Duvall in Heart of Revelation

Something on My Mind

First, the above quote. I’m realizing that my attitude of worship is narrow and minimal right now. It needs to change.

Second, structure for the rest of the week. I still have a good bit to do to be ready to get back to full-fledged reality on Monday, but I am determined to maintain peace and not allow that overwhelmed, stressed feeling to return. So, it’s not just that the to-do list is on my mind…I am truly trying to enter 2017 with a different attitude about my schedule and list.

Something I’m Thankful for

The Choates made it safely back to Honiara after some crazy last-minute scrambles to find transportation when their normal ship canceled its post-Christmas trip.

Something about My Children

I’m not sure they are as enthusiastic about household rearranging as we are. Poor kids. They are doomed to live with parents who like to change things up every few months, just because it’s time.

It all makes me realize, though, that the stability of five years in one place (Almyra) has impacted them more than the several moves we experienced when they were little. Those were pretty formative years. We did mention, though, that rearranging is easier than moving. They agreed and are now more comfortable with the idea of a rearrange!

And yes, Doug and I are crazy. I’m sure you’re not just now figuring that out, though.

Something I’m Working on

I can show you the sewing project from last week now! Most of our Christmas decor is meaningful and Christ-centered. But, this idea was just too fun to pass up. The kids loved them!

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Something from Hibbard Academy

The two weeks off have worked wonders. This week I’ve already made the tweaks and updates necessary for the new semester, and I’m more enthusiastic about getting back to it next week. None of us are super enthusiastic about the grading “party” we need to have this afternoon to catch up on what we didn’t get grade before Christmas break. But, it won’t be too much.

Something that Makes Me Smile

Steven got ahold of my camera the other day. Or we were playing together – I can’t remember which. He’s such a goofball!

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Something Coming

Other than the Last Great Rearrange of 2016, we still have extended family get-togethers coming up. The Hibbard side will be a couple of informal meet-ups, then we’ll have the Browning gathering next weekend.

Beyond that, finishing up last minute projects and clean-ups to be ready for a new week, month, and year!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, December 20, 2016

It’s cold. Saturday got up to nearly 80° before plummeting to the 20’s, then on into the teens. It has barely risen above freezing since then. I love the cold. But, I don’t really have the clothes for this kind of cold! Haha!

Something about the Week

It’s hard to wrap my head around the realization that it’s the week before Christmas. It’s not a stressful feeling – I still have things to do, but I’m mostly relaxed this week. But, still. Five more days? That seems unreal!

Something I Have Observed

My days go so much more smoothly when I’m intentional. I’ve gone back and forth with that. Some days I’ve been diligent to use my timer to walk through my day. Other days I haven’t. I don’t know that the words effective, efficient, or productive fit what I am on the days I do follow through with the timer, because it doesn’t always mean that I get the to-do list accomplished. So, I’ve been trying to figure out what it is. The word “intentional” just keeps coming to mind. Oddly enough, I think I listen to the Holy Spirit better throughout the day when I use the timer. It helps me to focus on what is in front of me, then it makes me stop and really pay attention to the next step. So, yes, I am more intentional about everything.

Something I Have Read or Heard

Always make a practice of provoking your own mind to think out what it accepts easily. – Oswald Chambers from My Utmost for His Highest, December 15

Something on My Mind

A man who has poured life into my husband in so many ways said an earthly goodbye to his wife early yesterday morning. She had been battling cancer, and they knew the battle was coming to and end. But expecting a hard thing does not make it easier. Praying for him, their two sons, and their grandchildren.

Something I’m Thankful for

The calmness that we have been able to enjoy this season, even on the busy days. It’s such a gift!

Something about My Kids

For some reason, when Olivia tells Steven that something looks “bleh” and needs to not look “bleh,” he’s not quite sure what to do with that! Fortunately, she doesn’t mind just taking care of it.

Something I’m Working on

Still Christmas surprises!

Something from Hibbard Academy

Wait, that exists?

Oh, yeah, I guess it does. But I’m ignoring it until next week.

Something to Make You Smile!

Santa Cow is apparently getting some sleigh practice in before Saturday night.

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Meanwhile, he’s supposedly letting the mischievous cow twins, Fred and George, catch their ride now in hopes that they will not create mischief on Christmas Eve. I don’t think Santa Cow knows Fred and George as well as he might like to think. No amount of permission curbs their mischievousness! We find them in all sorts of interesting places doing all sorts of goofy things. So, they just might still be hitching a ride on Christmas Eve!

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Something Coming

Christmas! Oh, wait, that one’s obvious. So is the new year.

But, the things that happen in the new year are a little more open to speculation. I’m looking forward to a couple of different devotionals, a new Bible reading plan, and a new focus on writing. That intentionality thing – yeah, it’s one thing to make resolutions or even goals for a year. But, if I don’t actually take intentional action to change what I am doing to make room for the new goals, they will never get met. So, what’s coming? Cleaning out some habits and activities to make room for the goals.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Book Review: Martin Luther

Martin Luther

Several years ago, we discovered Simonetta Carr's Christian Biographies for Young Readers series. These mini biographies are beautiful, appealing to children of all ages (and their parents, too!), and quite varied in the individuals covered - including both well known and not so well known names.

The most recent addition to the series is Martin Luther, who obviously fits into the "well known" category. But, our history books often gloss over the biography of this influential man. Simonetta Carr digs just a little deeper, even in a children's book, to provide some background to the familiar information most of us know about Martin Luther.

Several of my favorite things about this book actually line up with my favorite things about the whole series:

  • The book itself is beautiful and of high quality. Although it appeals to children, it is also the type of book you would want to display on your coffee table, in a book basket, or on a prominent shelf in your home.
  • The illustrations are delightful. Using a combination of historical images and the artwork of illustrator Troy Howell, the illustrations give children a solid grasp of the story and the genuine history of Martin Luther and the times in which he lived.
  • Martin Luther digs back a little further than most history books and child-friendly biographies, giving a glimpse into Luther's childhood.
  • This book gives a personal feel to Martin Luther, showing a glimpse into his tender, sometimes light-hearted nature instead of simply depicting him as a bold church hero.
  • There is a good balance of the heroic and the humanity of Martin Luther, allowing a glimpse into some of his faults as well as his strengths. I love this reminder to children that God uses real people.
  • In addition to the well-flowing story, the author includes a "Did You Know?" section that adds some additional information. Some of these facts enhance the story already told, facts that would not have fit into the smooth flow of the story or information that parents may want to share at their discretion. Others are additional facts that move beyond the story. They also include additional information about Luther's wife Katherina.
  • The book ends with a brief timeline and a portion of Luther's Small Catechism.

I appreciate that Carr included details about Luther's later-in-life anti-Semitism, but put that in the notes rather than in the midst of the story. That leaves parents free to discuss such things in their own way and time. It also introduces the reality that Luther was not always right in his beliefs. Again, he was a human, just as we are. And, we can take his strengths and be thankful for his bold actions while also evaluating his beliefs through our own studies of Scripture. This is, in fact, the greatest portion of Luther's legacy: the freedom and drive to explore the Word of God for ourselves.

I love timelines, so I would love to have seen a little more depth to Carr's timeline at the end of the book, especially after his marriage to Katherina von Bora. Also, it is hinted that the nailing of the 95 theses is not a definite historical fact. I would like to have seen this discussed a little more in the facts or in a historical note to parents, especially since this is heavily taught as fact in many resources.

Overall, I enjoy this book's approach to exploring both well- and lesser-known information about Luther and his story. I'm delighted to add Martin Luther to our collection of Christian Biographies for Young Readers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Real Break

Something dawned on me just this week. I don’t ever really take a break from homeschooling. And, honestly, it’s starting to show.

In January, I will start my eleventh year of homeschooling. It’s really not that long, if you think about it. So many people have been at it for so much longer. But right now it feels like it’s been forever.

For many years, we went year round, taking a week-long break after every six weeks of school, plus some additional time at Christmas or in the summer or during moves. A couple of years ago, the year-round schedule had to stop, as our summers just got too full. Learning was so sporadic that it was better to just go ahead and take six to eight weeks off than try to jump in and out.

What I have realized is that, even during those break times, I never really took a break from school. Oh, there have been stretches where I didn’t do school stuff, but that was because I was filling other obligations or we were travelling. Most of my at-home “no school” days have been filled with preparing for a new school year, semester, month, or week.

We intended to take two weeks off for Christmas this year, just like the local schools. But, last week we realized just how much everyone was dealing with burn-out. So, we snagged an additional week.

I fully intended to use the time to do prep work. A little every day to stretch it out.

I’ve changed my mind.

You see, I’m not enjoying homeschooling right now. I still like the idea of it. I still like that we do it as a family. But, I’m struggling with the day-in, day-out process. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I have been praying for a while – and asking trusted friends to pray with  me – about this problem, especially since I have had no sense that God is redirecting us from homeschooling. My prayer has been for God to grant me wisdom and endurance and a submissive heart to continue walking in obedience to Him in this area – and to be able to do it joyfully. And last week, He spoke to my heart through my husband, urging a break.

So, I’m taking a break! Not my typically “get caught up while we’re not doing school” kind of break. A real break.

I have no school related work planned until after Christmas! I won’t touch it. No grading. No scheduling. No thinking about prepping orders for next fall. Nothing.

It’s strange.

And liberating.

And, strangely enough, I’m already starting to feel more excited about the new semester than I have felt in a while. It’s almost as if the decision to take a break is as refreshing as the break itself.

I still intend to be productive. But, my productivity will be focused on writing and editing and actually enjoying the process of finishing Christmas gifts instead of cramming that task into corners left behind after my homeschool job. (Because that’s what it is – one of my jobs. One that I pretty much don’t take a vacation from.)

So, here’s to two weeks!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, December 13, 2016

It’s another cloudy, rather gloomy day. But, I’m still feeling a bit motivated because yesterday actually seemed productive. Like I was on top of the day instead of it being on top of me. I like that feeling! So, I’m prayerfully progressing into today in similar fashion.

Something about the Week

I’m not sure that there is anything unique about this week. In fact, weather-wise it’s a very typical December week. Up and down and up and down. Sunny and cloudy. Humid and dry. Yep, very typical!

Something I Have Observed

I really was in the mood to find a funny observation for today, but instead I have a serious one.

Some people who have great talent discover it when they are part of a team. At some point, they strike out on their own, expecting their talent to hold them. But, it doesn’t. They missed the fact that their talent is dulled by solitude and independence. It isn’t so much that they lack talent on their own. It is more that combined talent makes everyone shine more brightly.

I have this nagging suspicion that all of the commands of Scripture to love one another and work together in the body relate to this. We all have a tendency to be pretty dull when we insist on striking out on our own.

Something I Have Read or Heard

I read this quote in My Utmost for His Highest today:

“We do the things that can be tabulated but we will not intercede. Intercession is the one thing that has no snares, because it keeps our relationship with God completely open.”

I so often fall into that trap. I like tangible, measurable activity. Prayer is not tangible. But I desire that it be my priority!

Something on My Mind

The implementation of Christmas projects! I’ve had some issues to resolve. One of them is resolved. Another is in the process.

Something I’m Thankful for

The way that my children have worked in school this year, allowing us to take an extended Christmas break!

Friends who are as energized by us as we are by them. That’s a rare kind of friendship.

Something about My Kids

Those three pick on each other like crazy. But, they also like to encourage one another. I love it!

Meanwhile, here’s a picture. Yep, a pet again. But, this is too cute to not share.

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Something I’m Working on

Still a secret! But I can show you one of Angie’s projects because her brother won’t see this post. This is the Christmas present she made for him – a wolf hat. He loves wolves and big dogs, and he loves fun winter hats. He is not ashamed to wear something like this!

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Something from Hibbard Academy

Actually, nothing!!! No school work. No grading. No planning. No nuttin’!

Something to Make You Smile!

At least, it makes me smile.

We taught the kids how to play spades last weekend. Now, Steven wants to play it all the time. In fact, right this moment, he is playing by himself while his sisters work on chores and some Christmas projects – managing all four hands. I love that boy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Fun Bit of Music to Start Your Day

We first discovered The Piano Guys about three years ago and have become huge fans. This Christmas video was actually our first exposure. It’s hard to not get hooked when you see four people working together to do this:

We quickly discovered that this sort of performance around the piano was the exception, not the rule. But, the “rule” is always pretty awesome, too, whether on video or CD. One of my favorite recent videos is one shot in Jordan! It’s their take on the Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade theme music, filmed as part of their “7 Wonders of the World Quest” to shoot music videos at each of the seven wonders. I love the Petra scenes, but the shots of Steven Sharp Nelson playing his cello in the busy suq in Amman are my favorite – especially the looks from passersby! So perfect!

You might be tired of watching, and if so, feel free to move right along. But, if you’re having fun, check out this one additional “take the piano cover off” video. I’ve heard this song many times, but I saw the video for the first time last weekend – I didn’t realize this was how they did this one!

Enjoy!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

2016 Christmas Decorating

There are so many things we’ve done that I haven’t blogged about and wish I had. I love looking back years later and reading the posts. Pictures alone don’t always help me remember. One of my goals is to remedy that by posting something when I have a few minutes here or there.

I had a few minutes this morning, so I decided to look at recent pictures and randomly decide what to blog about. Brilliant method, don’t you think?

So, that’s  how you get this year’s decorating extravaganza!

Okay, so I was a little too busy helping to get pictures. But here are a few!

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We have never been a designer tree kind of family. We love lights and personal ornaments.

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Each child – well, really, each family member – has a stack of ornaments collected through the years.

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Some are personalized, and therefore truly belonging to each person.

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Others are just chosen favorites. Then we have our family collection of Calliope dough ornaments, mostly made up of a penguin family selection for each year.

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Between ornaments collected as Doug and I were growing up and ornaments collected in our 18 years of marriage, we have too many for one tree. In Almyra, we enjoyed setting up two trees, one in the living room and the other in our office/school room. When we moved here last year, we just set up one tree and didn’t hang all of the ornaments. This year, though, Doug and I have a slightly different arrangement in our bedroom – different enough to fit a tree up there!

We’ve always talked about a tree in our room, just because we love Christmas trees, and this year we were able to do it! So, we put most of our childhood and personal favorite ornaments up there.

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Throw in stockings, Christmas books, and few stuffied, and our various nativities (these are just a few – my favorites are the international nativities not in these pictures), plus a few select favorites in each bedroom, and we’re all decorated! At least inside…the next weekend, we moved outside.

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Doug and James headed up to the roof to hang lights. Remember those huge house lights that used to adorn every house? Doug and I grew up with those, and we were excited when we found new and improved LED versions of those same lights! No more little tangley twinkles around here!

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Once James finished on the roof, he helped Angela with some greenery on the front steps.

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We needed some shrubbery trimmed and carted away, so Olivia dove into that while I finished setting up the wood nativity Dad made for us a few years ago.

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Angie & Steven pitched in as soon as she and James were done with the porch.

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Poor Cookie did NOT like being in the back yard by himself while the rest of us were in the front yard. (Oh, and he really wasn’t happy with the idea of Doug on the roof!) He dashed for the gate every time it was opened for a load of sticks to be taken back to the burn pile. So, I put the halter and leash on him and brought him out from to join the fun. He definitely gave me my workout for the day!!

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Of course, he was always happiest when Steven stopped to say hi!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Wednesday, December 7, 2016

It’s Pearl Harbor Day. The 75th anniversary.

Something about the Week

The fall-turning-into-winter feel seems to be hitting this week. Temperatures haven’t dropped dramatically (although they are supposed to in the next couple of days), but there’s that feel of chill now. The cloudiness probably has something to do with it, too!

Otherwise, it’s another strangely routine week. It has been nice for early December to be calm! I am thankful! I still have a good bit to do gift-wise to get ready for Christmas, but I feel much less harried than normal. Yes, I am definitely thankful.

Something I Have Observed

I get caught in ruts. I get tired of the ruts, but getting out of them takes time and energy, so I tend to stay put. If you’ve read my “Not Quite Ordinary Observations” posts for a while, you are probably noticing that I’m breaking out of one rut today! I look forward to playing with this post a bit in the coming months – and, yes, creating a new rut! Haha!

Something I Have Read or Heard

Actually, this week it’s going to be something I have seen. This video is beautiful to me. Some investors visited the village where our dear friends the Choates minister and are working on a Bible translation. They created a short video of the village. This drone view gives such a beautiful pictures of where our precious friends live. (Here’s the link just in case the video below doesn’t work: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgWHgh-4EqQ)

Something on My Mind

Thoughts about things I want to write. But also about the need to buckle down and make myself write those things.

I’m a task-oriented person, and I often battle against doing things that will not have practical, purposeful results. Even my writing – something I love to do – tends to fit into that box. If I don’t know for certain people are going to read what I write (and my insecurity always assumes the negative), then I need another reason to write.

For this blog, it’s about remembering. An online scrapbook of sorts (because I enjoy that MUCH more than the paper scrapbooking!). On my other blog – Not Quite Ordinary – I write because it helps me process and keeps my writing skills up, making it easier to keep up with work writing. Both are productive reasons in my mind.

But some of my ideas don’t fit either spot. My insecurity and practicality and the feeling that I am robbing time from other more important things all keep me from writing just for the fun of it. I want to get past that.

Something I’m Thankful for

The rain we’ve gotten lately. The aforementioned peaceful start to December. The friendships that encourage me so greatly. My amazing family.

Something about My Kids

I love to hear their questions during daily Bible reading or after church on Sundays. One day this week, Steven’s question was, “When we get to heaven, will we still fear God?”

Something I’m Working on

Christmas surprises, when I have moments here and there to sneak them in! It’s hard with big kids who are observant and who are constantly in and out of the room where I work.

I’m also working on fundraiser ideas. Things we as a family can slip into normal life to create, offer, sell, whatever. We’re feeling more and more that the time might be finally right to grow our family, but no matter what avenue we pursue, there will be expenses that don’t fit into our budget. So, we’re praying through that.

Something from Hibbard Academy

It’s our last week before Christmas break! We were going to go one more week, but we have just felt the need so strongly this year for a longer, real break – not just one that gives us enough time to manage all of the immediate Christmas plans.

I was nervous about cutting off a week, because we have a pretty hard end date for school next summer, thanks to the fact that our summer calendar is already full! But, when I sat down yesterday to look at everything, I realized that my hard-working kids have been so diligent, and this extra week won’t hurt the schedule a bit! What a blessing AND confirmation!

Something to Make You Smile!

At least, it makes ME smile. Angie setting up the cow family for their annual Christmas picture.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, November 29, 2016

In the great outdoors...a cloudy, cool morning. We got rain yesterday! Over two inches at our house! So very thankful. 

Within our four walls...morning preparations. And a cat insisting on being in my lap.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the rain, for God’s guidance and provision in so many ways

A heart of prayer...for Gatlinburg, TN. Wow. For the Choates as they push through another holiday season in their adopted culture.

Random observations...I was glancing through recent pictures and realized just how many are of our pets. Usually pets with children, but still. Steven with Cookie. Angie with Rose. And Smokey somewhere doing something. Frequently sitting in the most inconvenient location possible, such as in our laps or on top of our beds right at bedtime or on a computer desk chair right around work time.

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They say that those with pets are healthier. Often I disagree, because one of these animal is going to kill me one day. But, then I see them doing something really cute and sweet – and I see how much my kids love them – and I am inclined to agree.

Awwww…isn’t that precious?

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My silly children...are all so very different. So. Very. Different. I love seeing their personalities grow and mature, with their different talents, strengths, and interests growing in the process.

Thoughts from the kitchen...we have a big tub of leftover rice, so several meals this week will include rice. Today, I believe, will be General Tso’s chicken.

On my bookshelf...close to finishing The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan. Excellent book. I’m a little slack on the fiction right now. I honestly forgot about getting back to Sense & Sensibility. Our new, highly anticipated book The Shattered Vigil is still in hiding right now. Doug and I both know that we’ll have a very hard time putting it down once we get it started, so we’ve been trying to be diligent to push through some other things first. I’m thinking it’s about time to pull it out. Oh, I forgot! I did start a Librarians novel. Quick, easy, fun read that I can pick up here and there as I have a chance while I wait for a good stretch of time to read The Shattered Vigil.

I’m reading back through that paragraph and realizing that it sounds like I read a LOT. But, really, I’m super slow reading through things. I’ve just made a commitment to be constantly reading something, and it’s been a good thing for me.

Projects...I have a few homemade Christmas gifts on my “hope to get done” list. Not a lot. Just enough. 

Sounds of the moment...the washer running, Christmas music playing, and the neighbor’s dog wailing mournfully. Poor thing used to get a lot of attention. Not so much these days. He’s sounds so lonely.

From the Hibbard Academy...honestly? We’re just pushing through. Last week was good for us. And we look forward to Christmas break. Some things just have to be done. Right now, school is one of those things. Well, except for our Hermione. She thrives on school and is glad to be back at it this week.

The planner...It’s a surprisingly calm week, rather atypical for the week after Thanksgiving. This weekend we’ll have a couple of Christmas parties, but otherwise it’s nice and routine.

Because visuals are fun...Speaking of cat pictures, if you could only see the glare on that face. Never mind that she ASKED to go out. But, how dare we give in to her request?

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Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, November 8, 2016

In the great outdoors...overcast and cool. Still no rain. Still praying for rain. 

Within our four walls...kids are finishing up chores while Doug and I dive into the day.

Meanwhile, we’ve had the windows open through all of the temperature fluctuations, such that now it is cooler inside than outside. As in, we get chilled in the house, then go outside to warm up. It’s great for now. It might not be so great if we have a real winter and have to warm the house back up with the heater. But, for now, we’ll enjoy layering, breathing fresh air, and not having to run the heat or the A/C.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the freedom to cast our ballots peacefully and without fear. This might be an insane election year with many uncertainties that breed a measure of fear, but our fear is not for our lives for choosing one candidate over the other. Even as we watch our nation spiral downward, we are still experiencing a peace that many nations cannot even comprehend.

A heart of prayer...for the American church. Regardless of the election results, we need to decide it’s time to be real!

Random observations...voting is very different in the city than it was in a small town. We have chosen to early vote since moving to avoid the crowds. When we lived in Almyra, we intentionally chose NOT to early vote because of the delight of voting day fellowship. Missing that fellowship today. (And, I must be honest, I’m also missing Mrs. Martha Ann’s divinity and Mrs. Susan’s chocolate cake!)

My poor son...has a strong internal clock. He did well Sunday and Monday mornings, but this morning I noticed his light on around 5:40. I asked him why he was up so early, and he looked at me as if I were crazy. Then his expression changed when he realized it WASN’T 6:45 like he thought. Poor kiddo.

Thoughts from the kitchen...my children have developed quite the taste for Oriental. They beg for it! But, Steven is the most surprising. He always wants it, and he likes it spicy! This from the child who had the most eating problems when he was younger. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Doug and I love Oriental food, too. We’ll have it twice this week – kung pao yesterday and teriyaki Thursday. Then we’ll have Szechuan chicken and General Tso’s chicken later this month.

On my bookshelf...I have read a little in The Rest of God each morning, but no fiction in almost a week. So, still about halfway through my reread of Shock of Night (book one) while The Shattered Vigil (book two) remains tucked away in hiding to keep from tempting us too much!

Projects...I did finally decide on some homemade Christmas gift ideas for the kids, but since they can all read the blog whenever they want, no sneak peeks will show up these days! Do you know how hard it is to prepare homemade gifts for big kids? They’re always around and much more observant than littles. And, everyone uses the room where my sewing machine is, so it’s kind of hard to hide away.

Oh, I DID get my desk cleaned off! Yay! Victory! Feels so much better!

Sounds of the moment...Smokey on the chair behind me, bathing. She keeps bumping up against a canvas bag I left in the chair.

Rose, meanwhile, is wandering through the house wailing because none of the children are available for her to pounce on.

From the Hibbard Academy...slowly catching up on grading and read-alouds. Again. Allergies and full days have my brain so sluggish that I’m not even sure what we’re learning these days! But, I did just catch up on grading Angela’s poetry lesson from last week. She had to complete couplets, limericks, and haiku. Then, she had to choose one and create her own poem of four stanzas. I won’t share it without her permission, but it was so cute!

A favorite thing from last week...seeing the turnout of volunteers to work hospitality stations at the end of the East End parade. The annual community parade concludes in our church parking lot. So, we set up the popcorn machine and a station with coffee, hot chocolate, and water. We handed out a lot, that’s for sure!

The planner...eye appointments tomorrow, a pastors/wives event Thursday night, and maybe a couple of other things over the weekend. Not sure.

Because visuals are fun...the girls “fighting” over one of their adopted little sisters from church. And you can tell she hates it, can’t you?

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Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Oxford Commas

I have a confession. I’m a firm Oxford comma gal. Not a Oxford comma Nazi, but I use it in my writing and correct it in my editing. (And yes, there is a reason I’m explaining this!)

For those of you who, understandably, have no reason to know what an Oxford comma is, here’s a quick lesson. An Oxford comma comes before the final “and” in a series. For instance:

The girl bought lunchmeat, bread, and mayonnaise. The Oxford comma comes after “bread.”

This sentence is still grammatically correct without that comma. The girl bought lunchmeat, bread and mayonnaise. I am among those who believe that adding a comma provides additional clarity and, in some cases, prevents misunderstanding. But, I won’t go so far as to say that those who don’t use it are wrong. (Although I may tease them about it!)

In my editing and teaching, though, I consistently use it.

 

And now to the story of the day…

My sweet fourth grader brought his language arts book to me to ask a question. He was supposed to be finding what was incorrect in a set of sentences.

“Mommy,” he began, “I am looking at this sentence, and I can’t find anything that’s really wrong. All I see is that it doesn’t have the Oxford comma.”

No, his grammar book does NOT specifically teach the Oxford comma (although it does teach that a comma should be there – just doesn’t name it). Yet my ten year old grasped recognized that it would be best to have a comma there, admitted that it was optional, and remembered what it was called.

Why, yes, it was a proud mama moment.

And yes, I’m weird. Thank you for noticing.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, November 1, 2016

In the great outdoors...the sun is shining, the tank is clean…oh, wait, maybe not. It’s actually still quite dark outside. Not sure when sunrise is. Cool, but not chilly, and definitely on its way to another warm day. It’s also very, very dry.

Within our four walls...quiet. Olivia just now got up, and Steven and Angie are still a few minutes away from waking up.

A heart of thanksgiving...for enough food to be okay waiting a few extra days for our monthly grocery trip; for found moments to write a bit this week; for libraries and children who love to read; air conditioning, even when we shouldn’t need it.

A heart of prayer...for a growing “in need of salvation” list and needs of friends all around us; for the Choates as they prepare to return to the village on Sunday; for wisdom about a rhythm and a flow of life that will encourage creativity and relationships while also honoring the time-bound work God has placed before us; for rain

Random observations...several weeks ago, I started a Not Quite Ordinary Observations post that never got finished. Just another fly-by month around here! But, in that post, I intended to share the saga of our 3,000 piece puzzle. So, I’ll share it today instead.

When we started it in mid-February, it seemed quite overwhelming.

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We managed to get the top bar done early in March (although I can’t find the picture of this part completely done).

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The rest of the spring and entire summer passed with very little progress. But, in late September, Angie and I restarted. It seemed overwhelming, but we were determined to find little segments to tackle, searching through piles upon piles of pieces to find what we were looking for. I could primarily work on it on Fridays, but Angie worked on it much more frequently. Progress was made much more quickly than we’d ever believed possible.

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Almost TOO quickly! Steven joined in, and I started begging them not to finish. “Oh, we still have a long way to go!” they would say. But, each time I looked huge sections would be complete. Finally, one Monday night, I came home from a meeting to find fewer than 100 pieces remaining! Thinking I wouldn’t have a chance to help at all until that Friday, I made an edict that no one could work on the puzzle without me. Mean old mama.

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But, the next morning, it was taunting us. So, before work and school, all five of us gathered around and finished it together. What was once an overwhelming pile of 3000 pieces is now a gorgeous old map puzzle!

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It is now glued and waiting for us to find an inexpensive way to frame it so we can hang it on the wall.

My silly children...are always a bit extra silly on Mondays. I guess they’re unwinding from Sundays, but the flow of conversation ranges from hilarious to a bit frightening (in a funny way).

Thoughts from the kitchen...There’s a bit of frustration over the menu planning. We thought we were getting ready for real soup season with the cooler temperatures of early October. While low to mid 80s aren’t too warm for soup, there’s just something about really being able to relish a bowl of soup in cold weather. But, as I look at the kids’ suggestions for meals, at least half of each child’s choices are soup requests – proof that we’re ready, even if the weather won’t cooperate. So, we’ll be menu planning with hope.

No clue what we’re having for lunch today, but by this evening I’ll know what the plan is for the rest of the month!

On my bookshelf...The Shattered Vigil, Patrick W. Carr’s newest book, releases today. His storylines are captivating, but also complex – and we love them! But the complexity means that, before reading book two in the series, I need a refresher on the details. I got the prequel novella, By Divine Right, read several weeks ago, and I’m about halfway through my reread of book one, The Shock of Night.

Meanwhile, I finished God in My Everything, and am now on to The Rest of God, an equally refreshing, challenging, and motivating read.

Oh, and The Captive Heart, the novel I mentioned last month, was definitely a worthwhile read.

Projects...the desk is still a mess. Yes, even a month later. I’m determined that it WILL get clean this week!

Sounds of the moment...I said earlier that it was quiet, but really it’s not. Modern life is rather noisy. I hear electricity buzzing, cars flying by on Arch street in a constant rumble, the refrigerator making occasional noises as the ice tray is refilled. Then, there are the sweet morning noises of Olivia chattering quietly with the cat, and the not-so-sweet noises of one cat in demand mode and another in full-fledged hyper mode. All in all, even a supposedly quiet morning is rather noisy. No wonder some people like to tent camp in the middle of nowhere.

From the Hibbard Academy...we made it through our first nine weeks last month. Now, we are just trying to plug along until Thanksgiving break. Everyone is ready for a true break – one that does not involve having to be somewhere.

A favorite thing from last week...enjoying Arsenic and Old Lace together Saturday evening. Such a fun movie!

The planner...I have a church meeting this morning, then we have to grocery shop at some point this week. Saturday is the annual East End parade, which concludes in our church parking lot. We’ll be waiting for the parade-goers, ready to pass out water, coffee, hot chocolate (if it’s cool enough), and popcorn.

Because visuals are fun...he loves his humans.

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And his ball.

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And his blankie.

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Then there’s this little monster.

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Her name is Rose, and she is Angie’s new lap cat. She’s sweet, and she does love laps. But, she’s also a 6-9 month old kitten who is still very much a kitten. A very hyper kitten. We look forward to the day she starts to settle down a bit!

For the record, Rose has no interest in meeting Cookie. She and Smokey are getting used to each other. Rose antagonizes Smokey, and Smokey in turn shows Rose who’s boss!

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Breakfast Conversation

Kids: You know, crochet and contemplation come before housework and school in the dictionary.

Me: Housework comes before knitting.

Kids: Knitting comes before school.

Me: Chores come before all of that.

Kids: That’s why we referred to it as housework. Homeschool comes earlier, which is why we call it school. Work comes after everything.

And cats come before everything.

Writing comes after everything, but handwriting comes before housework and school.

And then there’s sleep, which comes after school and chores, but before work.

 

Methinks it might be a good thing we don’t structure our lives according to dictionary order.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, October 4, 2016

In the great outdoors...dry. Even the weeds are dying (I’m not complaining about that!). But, we do seem to have definitively turned the corner to fall, with highs not getting past the 80’s these days. Yay! We’re praying for rain, enjoying the cooler weather, and resting in the glad realization that the yard is not turning into a jungle overnight these days. 

Within our four walls...fresh air wafting through the house. I love when we can turn off the A/C or heater and get the fresh air!

A heart of thanksgiving...for the beautiful weather, for a week of fewer commitments, for the evidence of God’s hand in so many areas, both in our family and in others we know and love

A heart of prayer...for rain, for the Choates as they wait and trust for God’s perfect plan of provision,and for friends trying to buy homes; the strongest needs on my heart right now, though, are for several precious names on our prayer list in need of the blessing of salvation and for ministry families who are feeling an extra dose of the burdens of ministry right now.

Random observations...technology. Ah, technology. I have a love-hate relationship with it, and lately several aspects of it have decided to just not work for me, for no apparent reason. And when I go to try to fix it, all settings say it’s working properly. Go figure.

My silly children...have started teaching Cookie how to respond to the leash. He’s learned very, very quickly that the leash means the kids will take him to the front yard to play. He likes that. A lot! That also means he’s learning to “ask” for it very quickly as well. Yesterday our kids had come indoors, but he could hear other kids playing in our neighborhood, and he started fussing to go into the front yard. He doesn’t like thinking he’s missing something!! The kids are definitely all enjoying him. Olivia is doing most of the leash training. Angela loves on him, and Steven’s the playmate.

Thoughts from the kitchen...well, it’s apparently National Taco Day. Had I known that in advance, I would have planned tacos. But, instead I planned pasta e fagioli soup for today. And today is Angie’s cooking day. And I believe that soup might even supersede quiche as her all-time favorite meal! And that works just fine for the rest of us, because we all love it too, just not quite as much as Angie and Doug do (it ranks pretty high on his favorites list, too!). So, no tacos. But, we’re all good with that.

On my bookshelf...took another break from Sense and Sensibility (I’ll eventually get it done!) to read The Captive Heart, a new review book by Michelle Griep. She’s a new author for me, but I’m enjoying this one enough to check out some of her other titles. Obviously, the girl and the guy will fall in love. But, I got tired of books where that was the full extent of the plot. So, I’ve gotten picky, and I look for books where the romance is definitely a sub plot and other, less predictable factors are the main plot. This one fits the bill so far.

Projects...my desk is a mess. I have not diligently kept it clean. So, that’s project #1. Next will be finding a pattern so I can make a sweater with some really pretty sweater knit I have on hand. I’m also really trying to figure out the whole Christmas gift thing. Once I have a good idea, I’m all about getting it made. Just struggling with the ideas. 

Sounds of the moment...birds outside, keyboards clacking inside as Doug works (it’s his morning to work from home for a little while before heading to run a church errand then go to the office), Steven does his typing lesson, and I write…well, this!

From Hibbard Academy...trying to get caught up. Feels like we’ve had a couple of weeks of abnormal in school, and I’m behind on grading and reading with the kids. I think we’re almost caught up, though. Just a few more weeks and we’ll hit the time of year when it’s hardest to stay on top of all of that, so I want to be very much on track between now and then.

On the one hand, we are constantly thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling. On the other hand, we have a finite stretch of time in which we can get an adequate amount of work done for the year. Olivia definitely wants to finish her sophomore year before the summer busyness of the SBC, VBS, camp, mission trips, etc. all hit. So, we’re watching our days closely. Fortunately, we’ve seen several places where we scheduled to be off but actually haven’t had to. So, that’s been a blessing! But, we’re trying to guard very closely the days we just take off for this or that now that we have a high schooler and a middle schooler who really need to make solid progress!

A favorite thing from last week...attending the OBU pastor’s conference and working through Malachi. It was a great day from beginning to end, but my favorite part was when we pulled the kids in for the last session. They parked in the student center to do school work while we were in the conference (and it was fun to run into several friends on OBU faculty and staff who all said to let the kids know to come to them if they needed anything – I love that!). Then they played outside for a while. But, when Dr. Hays got up to do the last session (he did the first and the last while another professor took the two middle sessions), we decided to bring the kids in to listen, especially since Olivia’s Bible text for this year is one of the books Dr. Hays co-wrote. Angie enjoyed it and Steven did fine, but Olivia absolutely ate it up! She scrawled notes all over her note page. It’s fun to watch her love for studying the Word of God!

The planner...light this week, which is a blessing. Just the normal stuff of church, but otherwise we get a week to spend our evenings catching up on this and that and our Saturday taking care of the “at-home” list that we try to whittle down every time we’re home on a Saturday. It’s Doug’s first full week of school (French and German this term and next spring to prepare for full entry into the PhD program next fall), so it’s a good week to have evenings free.

Because visuals are fun...Angie finished her dress! It actually takes doubling up on her hoop skirts to give it the fullness she really wants!2016-09-30 20.09.43She also finished a special hat that Doctor Who fans will recognize. 2016-10-03 07.09.06

This has been her attire since Saturday (well, except for Sunday). Notice the slippers of choice!

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

If Paul Did It, Why Can’t I?

Conversation this week while grading a Bible assignment:

Me: That’s a run-on sentence.

Olivia: Maybe I should be a New Testament scholar.

Me: You still have to write properly.

Olivia: But surely if Paul did it, I can too!

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, September 27,2016

In the great outdoors...autumn! Really and truly! (For a few days, at least.)

Within our four walls...windows are all open and fresh air is wafting through the house. We all enjoyed sleeping under blankets last night instead of tolerating being half-covered with sheets.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the cool weather, for friends, for technology, for the discovery of new ways to help my kiddos conquer fall allergies without having to feel constantly drugged

A heart of prayer...for a church couple who welcomed their first child yesterday afternoon, for several other church members in the hospital, and for our church as a whole

Random observations...we reorganized the chore schedule recently. It’s amazing what a little tweaking can do! Chores have gotten done better and more efficiently every morning. YAY!

My silly son...loves his dog. And his dog loves him. It’s fun to know that God’s timing is perfect. I can’t imagine a better dog than Cookie for Steven, but there’s no way Steven could have truly enjoyed him as a younger boy. He would have been too overwhelmed. Cookie likes us all, but it is obvious in his every movement that he’s absolutely delighted when he sees Steven. Cookie will gently push Steven over, then lay on top of him, but never hurt him. He fusses if we’re doing anything with the burn pile and Steven gets anywhere near the fire (he doesn’t do it with anyone else!). And, if Steven is doing school work on the porch, Cookie will nudge him a bit for play, then lie down at his feet just to be close to him. It’s really precious, and just what we’ve prayed that God would provide in His timing.

Thoughts from the kitchen...soup weather is finally making an appearance. Last night I made the menu plan for October and added a couple of soup options every week. I know some days it will still feel too hot for soup. This IS Arkansas after all. The 90’s have not left us. But, we are excited to work it into the plan anyway!

We also had to make sure to work in Oriental meals. My kids beg for them (not that Doug and I don’t crave them, too!), so we’re trying a few new recipes this month to keep the mix fresh. We found Mongolian beef and cashew chicken recipes, and we’re going to look for something Szechuan.

On my bookshelf...trying to decide what’s coming next. I’m still slowly working through the same books, but I’m getting closer to the end!

Projects...Angela’s antebellum dress is in full assembly mode, but she’d doing pretty much all of it herself. I helped her prep to cut it out since we had to do some size merging, then I helped her make sure the bodice was going to fit. And, since this will be her first time to install a zipper, I’m sure she’ll need help on that. But, otherwise, this is her project. I’m so proud of her!

So for me? I’ll probably pick a sewing project this weekend. Still not sure about Christmas gifts, but I’ll think on those as well.

Oh, and I’m back to making progress on my temperature afghan. Still slow, still only knitting through April temperatures. But, now that it’s getting cooler, it won’t feel so awful to have the project in my lap. 

Sounds of the moment...the vacuum cleaner and the washing machine again. They are overpowering the faint birdsong outside my window.

From Hibbard Academy...I got caught up on grading! Yay! Steven’s finishing up Civil War studies, so we’re about to move on to more exploration and expansion studies. And Caddie Woodlawn. I’ve always loved that book!

A favorite thing from last week...learning to rest again.

The planner...band night for the high school tonight, church tomorrow, pastor’s conference at OBU Thursday followed by grocery shopping, then a few weekend activities.

Because visuals are fun..Angela has discovered Pinterest. And braids on Pinterest. And her sister is the guinea pig! 2016-09-22 15.58.50Olivia might not be a 100% willing guinea pig, but she’s been very patient with Angela’s experimentations. And the results have been quite lovely! I wish I had a picture of the one Angie was working on above, but I can’t seem to find the one I thought I took. So, I’ll give you this bun instead.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

Mold & Braids

So, there was an experiment requiring mold. Several days before said experiment was supposed to be conducted, a bag with a roll and a banana slice was dutifully set outside in hopes of accumulating some mold.

On the day of the experiment, a frustrated high school student walked in disappointed because said bag of goodies did not produce one speck of mold. This was a rather shocking discovery, because in the same period of time, a partial loaf of artisan bread had molded much more quickly than normal.

The rarely squeamish high schooler was instructed to put on gloves and check the trash (not very full at the time) to see if, by some chance, the bag of bread had been thrown in the trash instead of tossed outside.

Success!

Followed by several interesting statements, such as:

Cool! That’s a lot of mold!

Oooh, and there’s some sort of worm in it!

Some of it’s green and powdery and other parts are shite and wispy! It’s cool!

Did I mention our household’s eldest is not squeamish? Perhaps I missed mentioning the fact that she has always kind of liked the things that other people would consider nasty, gory, gross, and repulsive.

Other people like her younger sister.

In fact, as descriptions of the “cool” bread and mold continue to flow throughout the course of the experiment, Sister exclaims from other side of room: “Ew! Yuck!”

Of course, this is when Sister finds ways to get her revenge.

You see, Sister, who is now of a legal age to join social media, has little interest in things like Facebook. Instead, she has recently discovered Pinterest. And she has found an endless supply of braid ideas and tutorials (among other things) on Pinterest. And she knows exactly how to use this wealth of information to torment her older sister.

The rule is that her daily electronic time limit applies for Pinterest as well as the Wii or tablet, and that if she choses Pinterest, she is choosing to not play on one of the other devices. She’s good with that.

On this particular day, said sister asks to play on the Wii. Mother answers in the affirmative…provided she does not want to play on Pinterest.

Sister responds that Pinterest is on hold until braid found earlier on Pinterest is tried out on Mold-Girl.

Mold-Girl’s distress call: “Why did you let her onto Pinterest!”

Revenge comes in many forms.

And personalities vary so greatly in this house. Oh how I love it!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hibbard Academy: The Funny & the Serious

It’s quite interesting to observe and participate in the ebb and flow of a typical school day around our house. This week, we had the following two observations, literally back to back:

The Funny

All three kids are working through various levels of The Critical Thinking Co’s Balance Benders series. In our planners, these assignments are denoted with a “BB” followed by the number. So, for example, this week’s assignment is BB5.
All three of them have been on a countdown to the perfect Balance Benders assignment.
It will come in three weeks.
Some of you know exactly why that is relevant.
The rest of you, don’t worry. Just remember that we’re nerds, and leave it at that.

The Serious

Olivia has been processing through the birth and death of Christianity among the Mongols. Although there was severe persecution toward the end of the existence of the Mongol Christian church, it was not the persecution that killed Christianity and the Mongol church. It was tolerance.
Mongol Christians became tolerant of their culture.
Mongol Christians were not set apart. They instead simply blended in with the society in which they lived.
There was nothing different or unique about Mongol Christians as compared to the unsaved Mongol population.
So, when persecution came, they had nothing to stand on. No solid faith or theology. No strong community. No true relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Just their connection to same culture and society that were handing out the persecution.
That sounds hauntingly familiar. American Christians, we need to heed the message of history, lest we disappear in the same way.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, September 20, 2016

In the great outdoors...birdsong on another clear, summer day. Humidity’s down a bit. That’s nice. 

Within our four walls...chore time!

A heart of thanksgiving...for God’s gifts of encouragement and prayer for one another.

A heart of prayer...for fellow ministry families

Random observations...autumn, according to the calendar, arrives in two days. I’m thinking about a road trip to go find a place where the calendar matches the actual weather.

My silly children...are apparently rather accident prone right now. I’m hearing about stubbed toes, trips on the stairs, dropping vacuum cleaner parts on feet, and sore knees.

Thoughts from the kitchen...so, what do you do when a recipe calls for one cup butter, 1/2 cup Karo syrup, and 2 cups brown sugar, yet your brain processes 2 cups syrup? You find something else to do with the butter/syrup mixture. Like peanut brittle. Yeah, that’s what Doug found and made. Yeah, it’s in our house. Yeah, I’m suffering from sugar overdose right now – I WILL resist today. But, it’s really yummy!

For lunch, though, we have something even better than peanut brittle – General Tso’s chicken bowls! It’s one of the more recent Oriental recipes we’ve encountered, and it’s a family favorite. My mouth is already watering.

On my bookshelf...nothing new this week. Making steady progress through God in My Everything, but I haven’t had as much time for fiction lately. That’s a flip-flop from normal!

Projects...getting caught up. I have a lot of writing to do right now. 

Sounds of the moment...the vacuum cleaner and washing machine running. So thankful for both!

From Hibbard Academy...we’re staying caught up in school, but last week’s extra full work week put me behind on grading. Fortunately, the kids are of the age that they can help grade a good bit of their own work. Unfortunately, they are also of the age that they have more subjective assignments, like essays and discussion questions. Those are SO beneficial, but not as quick and easy to grade. And that’s what’s left for me to catch up on!

Meanwhile, Olivia and I are about ready to throw German prepositions out the window. Angie’s working through a sign language course, though, and I’d love to catch up with her and practice with her. Not sure where that will fit in, since I really have to keep up with the German to help Olivia, but sign language is something I’ve always wanted to learn.

A favorite thing from last week...Friday afternoon rest. Learning to truly make Sabbath rest a priority in our family routine and rhythm.

The planner...well, somehow we had a mix-up on our calendars, and we marked this Thursday as our highly anticipated trip to OBU for the annual pastor’s conference. But,we got our Thursdays mixed up! It’s next week! Fortunately, that still fits. And, that also means that we have a rather routine week. That’s good. We need one of those.

Because visuals are fun...so, what do YOU expect to see in a southern US barnyard petting zoo? Why, a llama, of course!

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Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, September 13, 2016

In the great outdoors...bright sunshine and cheerful birds – no crows this morning (or yesterday, for that matter!) makes the birdsong much more beautiful. 

Within our four walls...it was nice to have open windows throughout the house Sunday – wonderful, fresh air! We had to close them yesterday, but a few days each week is a lovely thing. And, here in the sunroom, the morning breeze is quite refreshing.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the promise of fall.

A heart of prayer...for our church; for the farmers; for so many needs of so many friends and for salvations.

Random observations...sometimes just the promise of something is enough to relieve stress. As I type that, I am reminded that we have the promise of eternity in the presence of God. Why in the world do I get so stressed when I have that eternal promise?

My silly children...have taken some interesting pictures on Olivia’s phone. After we lost a bunch of Olivia’s pictures of her cat and other things because of phone issues, we set her camera to automatically upload to Google Drive, so I pop on every now and then to take a look.

Apparently, while the kids were at my parents’ house, Olivia was trying to take pictures of Steven, and he was dodging the camera. It became a game, such that there are dozens of random pictures of my parents’ house. The camera on Olivia’s phone was only quick enough to snag pictures of where Steven had just been!

Thoughts from the kitchen...it’s the first full week of the kids really getting back into their cooking days. We’re starting off pretty simple. Steven made a mac and cheese dish in the rice cooker on Monday. We’ve done it before, and it’s been good. But, yesterday I showed him how to make a homemade cheese sauce instead of just adding grated cheese to the cooked noodles and meat like the recipe calls for. It turned out quite yummy! Then yesterday, Angie made a delicious pot pie. I’ll whip up some spaghetti today, then Olivia’s down for tilapia, wild rice, and broccoli tomorrow. Friday is what I’m really excited about, though. We haven’t made our mushroom, beef, and tortellini soup in a while. If it’s hot Friday, we’ll just drain the broth off after it’s cooked and make it a one-dish plate meal. If it’s a cooler day, we’ll keep it soupy. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

On my bookshelf...back to Jane Austen. Meanwhile, I highly recommend God in My Everything. Fantastic book. I’m savoring it.

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Projects...we finally have all the fabric we need for Angie’s antebellum dress, but we haven’t had a free evening or weekend time to work on it since we bought it. Coming soon! She has made a couple of her own dresses, though. She’s frustrated with the fact that she’s outgrowing favorite dresses that she’s worn for the past four years, and she doesn’t like the options in the stores. So, she’s just sewing. That works!

Sounds of the moment...music playing and kids chattering at the breakfast table. We’re a bit slow on the start-up this morning, so everything’s running a little later than usual.

From Hibbard Academy...trying to stay caught up. We hit those weeks sometimes. But, we’re plugging along.

A favorite thing from last week...a moment of realization. I was having my morning quiet time when thoughts began running through my head – ideas that were solutions to a schedule and rhythm of life problem we’d be praying over for a while. I love it when God does that!

The planner...it’s been a busy week already, and it’s not going to slow down! Monday night Doug had a church meeting and I worked late. Last night he another meeting and I had a fellowship dinner (and we had fun working that one out with just one working vehicle!). Tonight is church, then tomorrow afternoon I have a planning meeting with the state ministers’ wives team. On Friday we get a chance to breathe and catch up, then on Saturday there is a military expo at the Air Force base. The last air show (typically every two years) had to be cancelled, so it’s been four years since we’ve been to anything like this, and we’ve missed it. Steven still has the programs from 2010 and 2012, and he is ecstatic about this year! No Blue Angels or Thunderbirds show this time around, but there will be a C-130 demonstration.

Because visuals are fun…the cow was right in the middle of my Angie snuggles.

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