Monday, February 27, 2017

Fish and Cats

Because I KNOW you want to hear our crazy pet stories! Or maybe I just want to remember them. And have them for the kids to remember so they can make their own kids laugh (or roll their eyes) somewhere down the road.

Either way…

So, here’s the background.

We are long-term fish-sitting for Olivia Choate until she returns to Arkansas in May. She has a 10-gallon tank that used to have multiple fish in it. By the time it came to us last January, it had one.

My Olivia decided that it was a shame to have such a big tank for only one fish, so she determined that the other Olivia’s fish needed friends. So, she bought several fish last spring. They were gorgeous! But, one by one, they died, just like Olivia C’s original fish had. No clear reason why. They just died.

All except that one fish.

I have no idea what its original name was, but after all the other fish died, the girls changed its name to Jim. Actually James. As in, James Moriarty. Yeah.

For a little while, during a stretch last fall when we actually had some cool weather and the bedroom was chilly, Angie decided to add her Betta fish to the big tank. The big tank had a heater. Her little Betta tank did not. So, she was sure Jada the Betta would be more comfortable in the big tank. But, she left the little tank filled and sitting right beside the big tank.

One day, Jada was missing from the big tank. She was discovered swimming around in the little tank!

Angie moved her back and covered the little tank. A day or two later, she actually SAW Jada jump out of the big tank and land on the lid of the little tank! Fortunately, the weather was warming up, so she just slid the Betta back into the small tank and left it there.

Jada has never tried to jump out of the small tank. Never. We’ve had that fish for a year and a half.

It gets better.

Angie’s crazy new cat, Rose, LOVES the fish. She stalks them. When the big tank was full, she actually got up on the dresser and was caught multiple times stretching her paw toward the tank. She never actually got a fish, but she sure did want to!

Now that Moriarty is the only fish in the big tank, she doesn’t even go near it. She still eyes Jada and tries to get to the small tank, but she completely ignores the big tank.

As you can imagine, there are all sorts of theories flowing around our house about Moriarty. First came the name change and the jokes about the homicidal fish. Now there are theories that none of the animals can actually see him, so the other fish didn’t know when he snuck up on them to kill them. Somehow Jada just sensed the danger and ran from it. But that’s why Rose completely ignores Moriarty now and only haunts Jada.

There’s also the theory that Moriarty is an alien with a perception filter that makes him look like a fish to us, but not to other animals.

And the imagination continues to flow.

Who knew being a pet owner – or a pet sitter – could be so mysterious?!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, February 21, 2017

We got rain! It started last night and rained into this morning. Oh it was lovely! Our gauge measured 1.6 inches, but I think it missed some of the early rain from last night. It all makes today’s grayness that much more tolerable. How I love rain!

Something about the Week

It’s a bit of an odd week, but obviously also a bit more flexible, as I’m actually getting back to writing! Whew! The first couple of weeks of February were a little crazy.

Something I Have Observed

God doesn’t teach us things in a vacuum. Often, a brother or sister is learning the same thing at the same time. For me, it’s sometimes someone else at church. But, more often than not it’s my precious friend Joanna. Even across thousands of miles – and sometimes even when we aren’t able to chat with one another – God so often works on us in similar ways. It’s such a precious thing!

Then, there is when it’s within my family. I love that the most. When God is working on Doug and me individually, but we don’t really realize it until we hit a certain point that ties it all together. Or when one of the kids comes with a question they’ve been mulling over for a while, and I am so excited to discuss it because I’ve been mulling over something similar. Or we all share the same insight from a Bible reading.

We were made for community, and God reminds us of that every time He teaches us something new!

Something I Have Read or Heard

“All relationships require effort. But how can we compare knowing the one and only God to any other relationship? It’s overwhelming. How are we even worthy to learn?

“And yet our great God has spoken. He has condescended to communicate to us, revealing his character in a covenant treaty.”

- Aimee Byrd, from Theological Fitness

Something on My Mind

Parenting is tough. Praying for myself and several dear friends as we navigate and balance raising Christ-centered kids in the middle of this ugly, nasty world. Wow. The greatest joy is knowing that each of our children can personally connect with the Lord Jesus Christ. The grief is knowing that, at some point, they can each also choose to turn away from Him. There is not a perfect parent among us, and I’m sure all of our children could point to mistakes we have made or will make and blame us for their decisions. But, ultimately, we can only obey the Lord as best we know how each step of the way, learn from our mistakes, and continually entrust our precious, precious babies to Him. And pray. Oh so very much!

Something I’m Thankful for

Watching answered prayers roll in and hearing my kids shout, “Yay!” when I share them.

Also thankful for the rain!

Something about My Kids

We went on a field trip last Friday. We asked each child to write something about the trip so I can post it on the blog (coming later this week or next week, as I have time). Their personalities have been so clearly revealed through their contributions! Angela sat down and spent all of Saturday morning typing up a 4+ page report of the trip!! Steven sat down and slowly churned out his five sentences. Olivia – my writer – still hasn’t written a thing. Why? Because it’s not school and it’s not her novel or her poems. Silly girl.

It’s so much fun to see their personalities come out through things like this!

Something I’m Working on

Getting back the flow I had in January. And trying to write 10,000 words toward a novel this month, as well as the other writing I need to do. It’s an ongoing process of learning to let each day flow according to God’s design rather than my plan, yet still living within a diligent routine. And, I may or may not reach that 10,000 word goal. But I’m sure going to try!

Something from Hibbard Academy

For the first time EVER, we are on target to actually end a school year at the projected time. Not only that, but that projected time is before Memorial Day. Oh, and not only that, but some subjects will be finished early! This has been a good year.

Something That Makes Me Smile

Discussions during morning quiet times – that aren’t always so quiet because we’re discussing. (And Angie’s face because she couldn’t figure out why I was taking a picture of the discussion!)

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Oh, and this cute face.

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Something Coming

Let’s see…relative normalcy the first half of the week, but I leave Thursday morning to go work a homeschool convention with my boss. If you’re at the Texas GHC this weekend, stop by Well Planned Gal’s booth and say hi!

The girls get to go bowling Friday night and will be working a temp job Friday and Saturday. So, there’s no telling what mischief Doug and Steven will get into! Then, on Sunday night, we have a missions fundraiser meal after church. Looking forward to that, too. But, I think I’ll be crashing on Monday!

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Different Sisters

My girls get along beautifully. They love each other and live together well.

But they do not share interests.

While Angela is busy knitting or crocheting anything she possibly can, Olivia is anxiously anticipating next Thursday’s science lesson.

She gets to dissect a worm. The dissection kit awaiting her also contains also a frog, a crayfish, and several other things. She’s very, very, very excited about all of this.

Angela, meanwhile, is perfectly content to put off biology as long as possible.

Warning: pictures will probably be forthcoming. Because dissection. Fun stuff! (Can you tell who Olivia gets it from? I still remember how much fun it was to dissect a shark in college, despite the horrific smell!) So, if you’re like Angela, you might want to skip those posts. Don’t worry…the title will be nice and vague so you have no idea what’s coming.

Oh wait. That’s not a nice thing to do, is it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, February 7, 2017

We were awakened by a loud thunderstorm this morning. The best part about it? It was only fifteen minutes before the alarm went off! There’s just something about knowing that you still got a full night’s sleep, even if you were awakened a little early and unexpectedly.

It looks like the storminess is passing on now, but it’s still a bit gray and gloomy out there. And muggy. I’m beginning to think that if we have a winter, it will be in March!

Oh wait, is that a glimpse of sun peeking out? Maybe? Hopefully?

Otherwise, today is a relatively normal day. That’s nice. School, work, and processing through the other routines and rhythms of the day. All while being glared at by a cat. You know, normal stuff.

Something about the Week

Most of our week is relatively normal. Or routine, rather. It’s also a week in which we are trying to get the rhythm of productivity and refreshment balanced back out again. We had it a couple of weeks ago, then kind of lost it for a week or two. So far, so good this week! (Yes, it’s only Tuesday, but getting through Monday is often half the battle!)

Something I Have Observed

Habits are easier to keep when I practice them regularly. I know…revolutionary thoughts, right?! Sometimes, that’s what my brain needs – a reminder of the obvious. Okay, more than sometimes.

Something on My Mind

Praying for Olivia as she takes the ACT this weekend and for Doug as he takes the MAT.

I also like it when, as I pray for others, God brings to mind ways I need to lift them up while also working on those same things in my own life. It’s not always fun, but it’s a great growing experience. And, it’s another evidence that prayer is not just about a prayer list; it’s about building a relationship with our Father and Creator. He uses those prayers to open our hearts to ways He wants to work in and through us.

Something I’m Thankful for

A flexible schedule. That doesn’t mean some of it can be punted or tossed out the window. It still all has to be done. But the order in which we do it all can change and fluctuate, typically. That’s helpful.

Something about My Kids

As I think about being thankful for the flexibility of our schedule, I can’t help but realize just how good my kids are with that flexibility. The last few times a school morning has been interrupted, they’ve found nooks and crannies of time to fit school into, all of them finishing close their normal finishing time. They are learning to go with the flow without letting that flow derail everything. I wish I’d learned that as a child. I don’t learn things as quickly as an adult!

Something I’m Working on

Nothing. Well, I’m getting writing into the mix, but not really working on anything out of the ordinary (since I’m trying to make writing much more routine). This weekend I’d really like to get around to starting a sewing project. It’s been far too long!

Something from Hibbard Academy

We don’t have “winteritis” like we frequently do this time of year. We seem to be plugging along very smoothly. Kids are focusing, and I am not in the “I’m tired of doing this!” mindset. I’m actually excited about pushing on and don’t feel exhausted when I think of planning a new year. That’s a huge blessing!

I might say that it’s partly because the weather is not cold, and that could be it. But, I actually love real winter. So, frequently when we don’t have one (like this year and last year), I’m more restless.

Something That Makes Me Smile

My kids praying for others, especially those in need of salvation.

Then there’s this…

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And this goofy monster.

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And this sassy face!

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Something Coming

Let’s see…Doug has a meeting tonight; church tomorrow night; Friday morning I’ll have a writer’s conference for an annual writing project; Saturday is test day; Sunday we’ll have a farewell fellowship for our interim music minister.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Experience Points!

I’m not a naturally competitive person. Growing up, there were certain games I could always win – like Nerts. Love that game! But, I have never been incredibly athletic, and in other forms of games I would usually be just a hair too late or miss an important clue. The same thing happens now. I enjoy playing, win or lose, because if I wasn’t okay with losing, I’d hate games. And that’s no fun!


There are some occasions when a little competition is quite enjoyable. Like in learning.

We use all sorts of tools for language learning. One of those tools is DuoLingo. I’m “friends” with all three kids on DuoLingo, so I can see their weekly, monthly, and all-time progress. Meanwhile, DuoLingo sends an e-mail every time one of us passes another in “experience points.”

Because Angie’s primary foreign language is sign language through a different program and Steven is still on a much lighter language-learning schedule, both of them have lower experience points as we all work on Spanish together. But, Olivia and I are trying to use DuoLingo and a German grammar book to help fill in some gaps left by the Rosetta Stone method (a great resource, but a bit challenging for grammar intensive languages like German), so we are more aggressively using the program.

And battling for the top spot in experience points!

She’s currently way ahead of me for February. But, I’m pretty close for this week and on the all-time. I passed her week before last before she zoomed past me last week. I’m determined to come back this week!!

Nothing like a little competition to motivate me to keep up with the language learning! Now if I could just get my 40+ year-old brain to truly be able to compete with her fresh, brilliant 15-year-old brain. She’s definitely “getting” German better than I am!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Wednesday, February 1, 2017

It’s my mom’s birthday! Happy birthday, Mom!

Something about the Week

A busy one. And one in which the up and down weather, combined with our allergies, is keeping us all dragging. But, we’ve enjoyed sunshine for several days, so that makes today’s clouds a little less gloomy.

Something I Have Observed

The calendar and my brain don’t always seem to be on the same page. Wednesday? What? It feels more like…I don’t know. Monday. Tuesday. Not Wednesday.

And February? Really? Are you sure it’s not still October or November? Yes, I know Christmas is behind us, but good grief. How in the world did we make it all the way to February?

Something I Have Read or Heard

“A life that is not reflected upon isn’t worth living. It belongs to the essence of being human that we contemplate our life, think about it, discuss it, evaluate it, and form opinions about it. Half of living is reflecting on what is being lived.” – Henri Nouwen, from Can You Drink This Cup?

Something on My Mind

“For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.” (Matthew 18:20, NASB)

To channel a little Inigo Montoya, I’m not sure this means what we think it means. We always build up from us as individuals to the power of the “two or three.” What if it’s the opposite? The Jews were accustomed to huge, corporate worship, and that almost feels to be more of the context of Jesus’ messages in these overall passages. What if Jesus is telling the disciples that, no matter how few their numbers seem to be as they start the fledgling church and fight against both the Jewish and Roman systems, He will be with them?

Chewing on that today as I pray for so many needs and people on my heart today.

Something I’m Thankful for

Encouragement and admonition. Sometimes it’s not what I want to hear. But that doesn’t mean it’s not encouraging. One of those strange realities of the Christian life.

Something about My Kids

They said it feels like a Monday. They are swinging from mellow to goofy and back again. Focus is a little wonky today!

Yesterday, though, they had great fun. Which just proves they are weird. Yesterday was day two of our state convention’s annual Evangelism Conference. Preaching. Interacting with convention folks. Etc. We live quite close to the current location for the conference, so we offered to let the kids just stay home while we went yesterday. (Doug went alone on Monday.) They wouldn’t hear of it!


They sat through two sermons, waited patiently while Doug and I interacted with a variety of people, then found a campout/picnic spot in the church while we again left them to go to our separate breakout sessions. And they thought it was great fun! Yes, my kids are weird. And I love it!

Oh, and James the Big Cow had to go, too, naturally…

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Something I’m Working on

Two books. One non-fiction and one fiction. And, no, this is not the reading plan. That’s still plugging along decently well. This is writing. I am terrified. And I battle daily the “not good enough/not as good as _______” and “don’t really have anything unique to say” brain battles. But, my wonderful husband really thinks I should do this. I think his books will be much better, and I can’t wait to read them! All the same, I’m trying to overcome my brain resistance and choose to go ahead and write a book (or two) instead of staying in my safe place of thinking that I’ll get around to it someday.

Something from Hibbard Academy

We had yesterday off for the Evangelism Conference, so we’re getting back to it today. I’m just ready for read-aloud snuggles with the kiddos! Everything else is just necessary additional stuff.

Something That Makes Me Smile

The fact that my kids do still like to curl up on the couch with me for read-aloud time.

And Olivia’s poems.

Something Coming

A couple of things going on this week in addition to the Evangelism Conference. Church tonight, a church women’s dinner tomorrow night, and a get-together with a fellow ministry family on Saturday.