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.


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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Thursday, September 8, 2016

Thursday Musings

Once upon a time, if my kids did cool or cute things, I was involved. Every. Single. Time. Why? Because I was the mama and they were the littles and, in all honesty, it only happened if I made it happen.

So I was there.

And I knew about it.

And I had the pictures to prove it.

Now they’re big and they are able to make their own fun. They do it frequently, but I don’t have to be involved. In a way, that’s nice. It has allowed the season we are in right now in which I am able to work yet still homeschool (that would have never been able to happen back in those days!).

In another way, though, it’s a little sad because I don’t really know it all any more. It’s no wonder I don’t blog much any more!

It’s not that I’m not involved in their lives. I am. We do things as a family and enjoy one another just as much as we used it. It’s just very different with big kids, you know?

And I love big kids!!! Oh my, they are so much fun! I love watching their independence and maturity grow, seeing their personalities blossom.

But sometimes I do miss being involved in every little thing, as exhausting as that was.

This is a learning opportunity for me, though. It’s a chance to make sure I’m paying attention. Talking to them about what’s going on in their day. Being intentional about time with them. Involving myself in their fun because I want to, not because I have to.

I’m learning what it means to parent older children – which will lead to learning how to parent adult children very soon, much sooner than I’m willing to admit!

It’s all fun. It’s just different.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Tuesday, September 6, 2016

In the great outdoors...strange noises on this cloudy, humid Tuesday. In addition to the normal crows sounding off, there is somethin in the distance that sounds like screams. It’s definitely animal. Not sure exactly what kind, though.

Within our four walls...getting back into routine after a long weekend.

A heart of thanksgiving...for yesterday – a day when we were actually able to stop and take a breath. Typically, I go ahead and work on some of these no-plan Monday holidays like Labor Day. But, yesterday we just needed the rest. It’s been a while since we’ve had that.

A heart of prayer...for the Gulledge family. Randy Gulledge, one of our deacons, was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and passed away over the weekend.

Random observations...it’s time to declutter again. And rearrange something. Life is just feeling too cluttered overall, and sometimes physically tackling some of it in the house helps in the overall life feeling.

My awesome children...are all ready for school 15 minutes early. Guess I better wrap it up quickly!

Thoughts from the kitchen...there’s a roast in the crock pot. Slightly seared and well seasoned, the smell already permeating the house. Yum.

We finally got back to assigning cooking days to the kids again. We did that as often as possible in Almyra, but we never reworked it into the schedule after we moved here. That’s one area where I do not do well in training the kids. I don’t enjoy cooking, so I struggle to teach them how to do it. They all know how to follow a recipe and put together a dish. But, they need practice in balancing timing and such. So, that’s what we’ll be working on.

On my bookshelf...I finished Housewife Theologian and I’m starting God in My Everything by Ken Shigematsu. Still working on Sewn with Joy – even though it’s a quick read, I’ve only had chances to read in bits and snatches.

Projects...Angela and I tried to get started on her antebellum dress yesterday, but we just couldn’t make the fabric work. Admittedly, we were trying to squeeze a full skirt out of a far too small piece of fabric, but we were still hopeful. Sometime this week, we’re going to go shopping to see if we can find a really, really, really good sale on some pretty fabric. 

Sounds of the moment...music, the school bus stopping at the corner, the crows cawing outside, kids working on chores. The mysterious scream has stopped.

From Hibbard Academy...back to it today. I sketched out the week late last week, and I honestly have no idea what we’re focusing on today! That seems bad, I know, but it’s nice to have it all ready and not have to think about it.

A favorite thing from last week...the start of football season. We’re not the type of people who have to have it on all the time. But, over the opening weekend, we did enjoy a bit more than our normal football fare. Saturday we even got to share the start of the Hog season with some friends who came to join us for the game. Fun times!

The planner...diving back into work over the next few days, funeral Thursday evening, and a full Saturday of church activities (another reason I’m SO thankful for yesterday!)

Because visuals are fun...my son and his “messy hair.” I asked him if he wanted it spiked or something, and he said, “No, just messy.” Goofy boy.

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Sunday, September 4, 2016

Happy Birthday, Angela!

That day has arrived! We now have two teenagers in the house! And yes, it is an exciting day. Despite all the warnings about the teenage years, we’ve enjoyed the ones we have experienced thus far, and I’m excited about diving into this season with my princess as well!

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This year has been an interesting one with Angela. In these pictures, you’ll notice something that has not happened in past years…my princess is in jeans for her birthday pictures!

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Jeans and shorts have been more frequent than dresses lately. And wittiness has been a little more prominent than prissiness. But, the dresses, princess nature, and girliness are still there!

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For our cowgirl princess, it has been a year of growing and changing and self-exploration, discovering the various facets of her personality. Our new home, church, and social interactions have stretched her and forced her to identify strengths and weaknesses she never really had to consider before. It hasn’t always been easy, but she’s grown greatly through it.

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Obviously, the cows have not lost their place of prominence. Cowie had to join Olivia for birthday pictures because she’s also celebrating her thirteenth birthday. Cowie was a baby shower gift, so she’s been around Angie’s entire life. I love that Angela is not ashamed to enjoy her stuffed animals, even as she gets older.

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In fact, in many ways Angela has clung to some girlhood things, not wanting to grow up too quickly. And, I’m really great with that.

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In other ways, though, she’s beautifully embracing the idea of growing up. She has enjoyed moving up into the youth group and loved being among the older students at PraiseWorks this summer.

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Angela is becoming quite the seamstress. She always has a project going, whether it’s a quilt, a knit or crochet item, or something she’s whipping up on the sewing machine. She has so much natural talent and creativity, and has often completed projects of her own design. This year, though, she has learned more about technique and “rules” (for lack of a better word) that enhance and perfect her natural talent.

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And, no, I haven’t forgotten the books. She’s still our number one bibliophile, without a doubt!

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For thirteen years, we’ve watched this beautiful, introverted, witty, brilliant, creative personality grow and develop. We know that growth will not stop! I’m excited to walk through the teenage years with this precious girl, seeing how God directs and works through her.

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From Cowie, the herd, and your family, happy birthday, sweet Angela! We love you!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

For Today...Thursday, September 1, 2016

In the great outdoors...the sun is just rising, and the birds are having their early morning conversation. Crows, once again, are dominating. 

Within our four walls...quiet. Olivia is having her quiet time in the living room. Angela is still upstairs – awake, I believe, but it usually takes her a little while to get “people ready” and come downstairs. Steven is at men’s breakfast with Doug. (Now, by the time I’m finishing up and getting ready to publish, everyone is done with chores and almost ready for school.)

A heart of thanksgiving...for small, but noticeable, reductions in humidity as August rolls into September; for the freedom to gather with other believers

A heart of prayer...health needs in our church ranging from colds to cancer; wisdom about how to make changes in our family life and schedule to allow us to develop some relationships more easily.

Random observations...I reach to update the little ceramic calendar on my desk and realize that I have to change to a new month block. A block that includes both of these months..

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Yes, I know that’s mathematically obvious. But, it can be a little disorienting to see December when you’re still trying to figure out exactly what happened to June! It’s just been one of those summers.

My silly Steven...quote of the day: “I think I’m turning into a Cookie. I eat, I sleep, I drink, and I want my blankie.” (I wish I could get a picture of Cookie nuzzling his own blankie! It makes me laugh every time to see such a big dog acting like a child with a security blanket!)

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I’m proud of this sweet, snuggly, blankie-loving boy. He found out a couple of days ago that the man who typically prepares our church’s monthly men’s breakfast would not be able to cook this time around. Steven immediately cheered, knowing that meant Doug would be the one filling in – which meant he could go help his daddy! He knew without being told that it would mean getting up at 4:30 to get there in time to cook, but he didn’t care. He’s missed getting to cook men’s breakfast every month with his daddy, and he was so excited about the opportunity!

Thoughts from the kitchen...well, it’s Olivia’s day to cook, but I just realized that I didn’t actually PLAN anything for today! I got the whole month laid out…except for today. Ooops!

On my bookshelf...I’m almost done with Housewife Theologian and am considering what will be next for non-fiction. I have a stack on my shelf – it’s just a matter of choosing one.

For fiction, I am enjoying Tricia Goyer’s latest Amish novel, Sewn with Joy. Then I’ll go back and finish Sense and Sensibility.

Projects...oh, the usual. I want to get serious about contemplating Christmas gifts and actually get back to a few homemade things this year. There are several other things I’d like to sew, including helping Angie make her antebellum dress and pulling out some fun knit that will make a versatile, lightweight cardigan for me for the fall and winter. And writing. I’ve made two mornings in a row of writing (yesterday’s is on annhibbard.com). Can I turn that into three?

Sounds of the moment...the birds have quieted, but I hear distant traffic picking up as people head to work. It’s nice, though, because although we are very close to a fairly busy highway, we are in an older neighborhood surrounded by trees, so it still feels distant. Somewhere off in the neighborhood a dog is barking, but there’s no conversation this time around. Cookie only occasionally joins in the neighborhood canine discussions – primarily only when they’re all fussing about the tornado siren testing or when the neighbor dog behinds us wanders close to the old chain link fence separating our yards.

From Hibbard Academy...Olivia is loving church history, adjusting well to the mental shift from physical science to biology, and getting a solid foundation in geometry.

Angela has always been an independent worker, but she’s making the shift from elementary independence to middle school independence, preparing for the high school courses that will roll around before we know it! I don’t know that she’s taking in my new information in world history, science, or pre-algebra, but she’s gaining experience in managing her courses. She’s also experiencing her first year with Lightning Literature, a writing-based literature curriculum that we love.

Then there’s Steven. He gets most of my time these days, as he’s diving into upper elementary years. We are finishing the Civil War and had a rather sad day of reading yesterday as we read about a beloved character being injured in the war in one book and Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in another. But, at least we get to read it all together!

A favorite thing from last week...really, it was this week, but last week was super busy with revival services. We had no Sunday evening services, though, so we got to just enjoy a peaceful, obligation-free Sunday afternoon and evening. It was delightful!

The planner...Monday was a long work day, Tuesday had some rearranging to fit in monthly menu planning and grocery shopping, and yesterday was our weekly “spend the afternoon at church” day, followed by evening services. But, it looks like tonight will be nothing out of the ordinary – except making sure Steven finally gets his much-needed haircut! Oh, and the Hogs play their first game Saturday afternoon. We are excited about enjoying some football as a family.

Because visuals are fun...we’ve seen some beautiful moths this summer. First up was this almost white luna moth when the girls and I were at OBU for PraiseWorks.

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A couple of weeks later, we saw these ruby maple moths on the screen at the church office.

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Not long after, we saw the ruby maple on our own back door along with this small-eyed sphinx

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Finally, just yesterday, we found another luna moth – this one definitely bright green instead of the much lighter-colored one we saw in Arkadelphia – resting on one of the sunroom window screens.


Our yard seems to really attract bright butterflies and moths, more than anywhere I’ve lived. The variety of God’s creation is truly breathtaking!