Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In the great outdoors...a relatively cool morning. The air definitely has that “gonna be a scorcher” edge to it, but I’m enjoying the fact that it’s only 74° at 7 AM! Our lows have been in the 80’s a lot lately, so this is nice! 

Within our four walls...very quiet. Olivia is usually our first riser, but she’s at camp this week. Steven has an internal alarm clock that frequently goes off somewhere between 6:15 and 6:30, but I haven’t seen him yet this morning. I’ll probably need to go check on him soon. Angela sets her alarm for 6:41 (because she’s fun and silly like that!), but she often doesn’t show her face for 20-30 minutes unless she has to. I’ll probably just leave them both alone until I finish this post, then go check on them!

A heart of thanksgiving...that the bump-up I had Sunday evening backing out of my driveway to go to church was at home and wasn’t anything serious (someone visiting our across the street neighbors parked on the street across from the end of our driveway; we have a VERY narrow street, and I misjudged the distance and didn’t miss his car), and that it happened at home so I could just send the kids back inside while we dealt with the details.

A heart of prayer...for the youth at camp this week. For our church to truly be alive in Christ and a light to this community.

Random observations...a fly just died on a school book beside me. That was odd. Oh, wait, he’s back up now. Ah, funny early morning experiences.

My silly children...don’t like to be away from each other. They don’t always get along, and they don’t always like to be together. But, Angie & Steven just aren’t too fond of Olivia being gone this week!

Thoughts from the kitchen...There’s a new recipe on the menu plan for lunch today, but Doug’s not going to be home. So, I might change that. Not sure. It’s hot, so it’s hard to think about heating up the kitchen that much more.

On my bookshelf...between books right now, but getting back to a reading plan. And a writing plan. And an editing plan. One of my goals is to find where I’m wasting time and tighten up the reins a bit so I can truly honor God with every ounce of my time. I know my spiritual and mental acuity is stronger when I’m reading and writing, so when I’m wasting time and avoiding those two “pleasures,” I’m also not doing everything I do for the glory of God.

Projects...school planning – my desk is a disaster, thanks to all the books scattered everywhere! Also, I need to do some sewing with Angie. She hit an early summer growth spurt, so much of what fit her in April does not fit her now. She hates to outgrow her clothes because she really does not like the styles in the stores! So, we’ll hopefully get a few things made for her.

Sounds of the moment...birds outside. And I think I heard a child head to the bathroom.

From Hibbard Academy...planning, planning, planning. The goal (by the end of July) is to get the whole year into My Well Planned Day so that it’s easy to make adjustments, keep the different subjects lined up (since I mix and match several curricula nowadays) as the year goes along, and keep up with grades (since I now have a high schooler and have to worry about transcripts!). Then, each week, I’ll transfer from the online planner to my paper planner and use that for the daily planning needs. I know I work for HEDUA, so in a way I’m obligated to say positive things about our planners. But, even before I was an employee, these were the first planners to ever really work for me. They make my organizational heart happy!

A favorite thing from last week...last week was VBS. I don’t know that I even REMEMBER last week! Although, a down day on Saturday was very nice!

The planner...this is a catch-up week after being gone to St. Louis for the SBC then diving into VBS. More school planning and enjoying some time with Steven & Angie. We’re going to an essential oils class tonight, but otherwise, we have a pretty clear social calendar. Just what we needed this week!

Because visuals are fun...creations from Angie & Steven (and if you’re not familiar with Doctor Who or Star Wars, this probably means nothing to you!)

Angie is very serious about protecting her Choffy.

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Steven built General Grievous using parts from a couple of battle droids and a few extra pieces.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

The House of Many Languages

So, my kids have started using DuoLingo this summer to keep their language learning minds sharp while taking a break from “formal” lessons. (Actually, all five of us are using it.) They make me laugh, because they aren’t satisfied with a single language.

In addition to the German and Polish that are being officially studied during the school year, we have Spanish, French, Norwegian, and Russian being pursued by various members of the family. Irish and Welsh were both explored temporarily as well, but those have fallen by the wayside.

Oh, and there’s been a request for ASL lessons.

I have no idea how they intend to keep it all straight, but it is fun to hear the fun phrases they’re learning, including, “They are not people.” Yeah, we have a lot of fun with that one.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Wednesday, June 22, 2016

In the great outdoors...hot and humid. Hello, summer. 

Within our four walls...quiet as the kids are slowly getting into the day. We’ve completed three of our five nights of VBS, and we’re all a bit sluggish this morning. I’m in the “office” trying to get a few things done before it’s too miserably hot to work in here. The breeze through the open windows is warm and sticky, but not too terribly hot yet.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the ability to leave this room and head into air conditioning; for a good (albeit, rather silly at times) start to VBS; for people who understand our breed of crazy.

A heart of prayer...for our music minister who will be having surgery in the morning and for others in our church who are dealing with illness, family crises, etc. – so many! For our Almyra farmers who are working out in the heat. For the Choates as they transition back to Honiara and hit the ground running with various meetings and conferences.

Random observations...

My silly children...were delirious last night after VBS. A busy week out of town for the SBC followed by five consecutive late nights of VBS for kids who are typically early-to-bed and early-to-rise have created some interesting dynamics in the Hibbard household! And Olivia will add youth camp to the streak next week. She’s going to be a zombie by the time July gets here!!

Thoughts from the kitchen...another new recipe today – a chicken pasta dish. I’m thankful for crock pot or quick one-dish meals this summer.

On my bookshelf...reading is on hold for a week or so.

Projects...Angela’s antebellum dress should be cut out soon, then she and I will work together to get it made. Other than that, the desk that I’d kept clean for quite some time is now completely covered in school books.

Sounds of the moment...birdsong wafting in through the windows.

From Hibbard Academy...school planning for the new year! It’s coming along decently, despite the full schedule of the past few weeks. I think the clutter on my desk – after growing accustomed to a clean desk – is a good motivator. And, I enjoy this anyway.

A favorite thing from last week...we had a great time in St. Louis, but coming home and relaxing was the best part.

The planner...VBS. I can’t even think past that!

Because visuals are fun...isn’t she cute?2016-06-19 12.20.49

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sweet Surprises

Last year when we moved, we bought a tomato plant. One of those that grows the sweet, little yellow treats that taste like candy – the kind our friend Mary Ann grows in her yard every year. Whenever we went to swim in her pool, we’d snatch a few tomatoes on our way out. After we settled in last summer, we planted ours right by the back door, and it grew like crazy, producing wonderful fruit!

This year, though, we didn’t get a new tomato plant. We focused on our grapes and strawberries and fruit trees. But, after being gone all week for the Southern Baptist Convention, we came home to discover this growing in the spot where our tomato plant was last year.

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I was about to pull it, thinking it to be yet another of our vastly abundant weeds. But, something stopped me. The leaves looked familiar. The smell was familiar.

Apparently, one – or more – of the little tomatoes that fell from the plant before we had a chance to pick it ended up releasing its seeds into the ground. And now, we have a tomato plant.

I love God’s sweet surprises. It’s not where I would have planted another tomato plant, because we discovered last year that it was not a great spot. But, that’s where God planted it! So, although our crop may be late (Mary Ann is already pulling in the first of her bountiful harvest!) and the spot may not be our preference, we’ll still have our candy tomatoes. Yes, God’s surprises are sweet indeed.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Friday, June 10, 2016

In the great outdoors...sunny and warm; humidity is definitely on the increase, but it’s still not too bad – not back up to the 95% of a week or two ago.

Within our four walls...Steven and Angie working through their morning routine. I hear Steven picking out a new piece on the piano, and Angela is tapping the computer keyboard as she practices some coding. Olivia is out for the day, working with some friends.

A heart of thanksgiving...for the pleasant breeze wafting in through the windows keeping my office area from getting too awfully warm this morning.

A heart of prayer...for June. I kind of chuckle when I say that, because Sunday morning when I was asking for prayer requests in Sunday school, one of the girls said exactly that. “Just, pray for June!” I couldn’t have said it better! This week has been the calm before the storm, and it hasn’t been all that calm!

My silly children...are just too grown up. Okay, so maybe not “too” grown up. It’s just that sometimes I go through life and watch them grow on a daily basis without thinking too much about it. Then I’ll go through a couple of weeks when I look at them and realize just how long it’s been since I’ve had littles! I don’t miss a lot of the challenges of having littles, and I really do enjoy the fun of having big kids. But, it’s strange, too. Time’s flying.

Thoughts from the kitchen...it’s homemade pizza day! We haven’t done that in a long while, and we’ve missed it. So, that will go back to factoring into the plan a couple of times a month.

We’re still enjoying branching out and discovering new recipes we might not have bothered to try had we not experimented with this menu plan system. Our initial subscription is close to expiring, and I don’t know if we’ll renew it or not. But, more than having someone else do the menu plan (because, really, I have to make a good number of changes each month, so I’m still menu planning), this has allowed – forced, even - us to be pushed out of the recipe/menu slump that has plagued us for so long. That’s been really good.

AND…this month we’ve discovered a miracle sauce! Oh my! Doug and I used to splurge once a month or so for date night and buy a PF Chang’s Home Menu meal. At $9-10 a bag, they’re a whole lot cheaper than going out, but that’s still steep. Unfortunately, they discontinued our favorite recipe – the Firecracker Shrimp. We’ve tried and tried to replicate it, with no success. But, last week one of our new recipes had a sauce that just screamed Firecracker Shrimp! We’ll be giving it a try this weekend for date night, and I can’t wait!

On my bookshelf...current review book is Elizabeth Camden’s latest, From This Moment. I also have one written by a friend of our youth minister’s family, so that will come next. Still reading Housewife Theologian by Aimee Byrd and taking a refresher look through The Big What Now Book of Learning Styles by Carol Barnier.

Projects...prep for the rest of June. The SBC, VBS, then sending Olivia off to youth camp. 

Sounds of the moment...lawn mowers. The piano practicing is apparently over. Never mind, it’s Angie’s turn now!

From Hibbard Academy...school planning for the new year, happening little by little. This morning I noticed a gap in the Scripture memory plan for Steven because of the way I’m doing his planning, so I asked him if there was a passage he particularly wanted to work on. “Psalm 117!” he grinned. Goofball.

A favorite thing from last week...spending some time with Almyra friends.

The planner...full. Just full.

Because visuals are fun...spoiled cat2016-06-07 09.31.15

Friday, June 3, 2016

2016 Vacation: Space & Rocket Center

So, our entire vacation plan was built around a desire to go to the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. This has been a long-term destination hope – we’ve wanted to take the kids for several years! At this point, we have one child who will only be home for three more years. It’s time to make some of these desired destinations happen.


Just as a hint, any time you want to spend a day at a museum or science center of any kind, check to see if it is in a larger museum group. Frequently, the whole museum group offers reciprocal entry, meaning if you have a membership at one location, you can get into another using that same membership.

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An annual membership at our local Mid-America Science Museum just so happens to be about the same price as one day for a family of five at the Space & Rocket Center.

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Thanks to the nationwide Smithsonian reach, the two locations honor one another’s memberships. Score! There’s your freebie for the week. Now on to the fun!

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I can’t imagine a better time to have visited this museum. (Yes, my friends, I firmly believe God is even interested in handling the timing of trips like these! We just knew it was time, and suddenly it all worked out!) There was only one thing the kids weren’t all just the right age for – the Apache simulator (minimum age is thirteen). But, otherwise, they were all able to do everything they wanted to do.


There were exhibits galore, including a variety of interesting interactive contraptions that kept inquisitive minds fascinated.


We saw a room full of inventions sprouting from the Huntsville area and a temporary exhibit of an amazing and extensive space-inspired jewelry collection. I didn’t get any pictures, but it was truly incredible. Millions of dollars of jewels and precious metals rested behind heat and touch-sensitive cases. We didn’t set off the alarm, but someone after us did!


There’s really no way to capture the size of some of these rockets. Even standing under them, it’s hard to comprehend the massive amount of power they exerted – HAD to exert – to send man into space.


One rocket would seem huge, then we’d come to another. Browsing through the “Rocket Park” was a fascinating stroll through space and military history.


That stroll even included a quick stop by a moon crater!


After lunch had appropriately settled, Doug, Olivia, and Steven headed off to try the G-Force accelerator while Angie and I enjoyed a few moments together.

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She had no interest in the experience, and I was still struggling with ear issues following an ear infection. The other three had fun, though! I told Angie we’d have to try it next time.


The simulators were an interesting challenge. Everyone wanted to be able to succeed in landing on the moon, but I think all of us only managed a hard smack on the moon’s surface!


The same was true of our attempts to connect to the International Space Station. Needless to say, we’d need a few thousand more hours of practice before being entrusted with the real thing!


We were very excited to see Arkansas boldly represented in the Saturn V Hall. Yes, the Hogs have even made their mark on the space program to the extent that a Razorback is on display in an Alabama museum!


This was the hard hat of Bob Pride, Saturn V Test Stand Engineer. I love how his last name makes it look like the hard hat communicates “Razorback Pride.”


One of the things the kids really wanted to try was the rock wall, patterned after the Milky Way’s largest known volcano – Olympus Mons on Mars. So, Doug joined them as they latched on and gave it a go!


Doug had a red wasp sting on his right hand, a souvenir from the Rocket Park, but he still managed to get about halfway up before the lack of hand strength kept him from finding the right grips to continue.


Angie and Steven did really well, both of them making it at least halfway up – if not a little further – before running out of climbing options. For their first time on a climbing wall, I was impressed. Olivia, though, had the advantage of her long arms and legs to help her make it all the way to the top! Go, Olivia!


To say we were tired by the end of the day would be an understatement. But, it was worth every ache!

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One day, we’d love to come back and attend Family Space Camp for a weekend, enjoying more of the behind-the-scenes training and experiences. But, the one-day tour through the public spaces of the center was definitely worth the trip! Lots of smiles and lots of great memories.

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Thursday, June 2, 2016

2016 Vacation, Part 2

Finally coming back to our vacation! I’m going to skip around a bit to include everything about our “base camp” in this post. I’ve mentioned before that our lodging choices were not the original plan. But, when the original plan started falling apart, we had to rethink things. We found Tims Ford State Park in Tennessee and discovered that it was pretty much right in the middle of the places we hoped to bop around to during our time away.  2016-05-19 18.36.22

In all honesty, the cabins weren’t much to look at from the outside. They looked more like shacks, in my mind. But, the moment we stepped inside, my heart cried, “Lord, it doesn’t matter what our original plans were. This was Your original plan!”


Inside the door and down a few steps, we saw a cozy living room with a door leading out onto a balcony (both of the bedrooms connected to balconies as well). The next morning, we saw the balcony view. Although the lake was rather obscured by trees, the view was the epitome of relaxation – and perfect for morning Bible reading.

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(Even James the Big Cow approved!)

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To the right of the entrance, the kitchen and dining room area had huge windows that also overlooked the lake.


Steven liked the effect of seeing his reflection in all of the panels!

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The whole setting was one of perfect relaxation. Like I said, God’s plan was perfect. He knew exactly what we needed (imagine that!). In fact, we almost immediately cut down our plans for running here and there, just so we could spend more time at the park.

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On our second morning there, we hiked a short trail (about 2.5 miles round trip) from our cabin to the visitors center and found a recently refurbished bridge on the way. The view was delightful!

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A little path beside the bridge led us right down to the lake itself. We were in a secluded little area, so Doug taught Steven how to skip rocks.

As we were leaving that last day, we took a short detour to see the dam that is responsible for Tims Ford Lake.

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Although the turbines and more manmade look of the dam are just out of sight to the right, it was amazing how natural and beautiful everything was, even right there next to the dam. Just a gorgeous, peaceful place. And, of course, Mama thought it would be a great place to snap a few extra pictures.

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Then, everyone had to get in on the stone skipping. I even managed to successfully skip a few rocks – for the first time in my life! Yay!

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A peaceful cabin stay on the lake. Yes, that truly was just what we needed!