Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Our plan was to take Angie’s birthday pictures today, anticipating the rain that should start tomorrow. The morning was pretty overcast, so I wasn’t sure how the light would be. But, then the sun came out right on time, and it was perfect! Oh, and we have open windows! Love the fresh air.

It’s life as usual here in our corner of the world, but my heart is heavy for those whose normalcy has disappeared, and especially for those who will have to find a new normal in the coming months.

Something about the Week

The last week of August. Wow! Despite a few “extras” being squeezed into the week, it’s actually a full school/work week here. That seems to be harder to come by than I expected as we have started the new school year.

Something I Have Observed

All of the news of relief work highlights this organization or that, but rarely is Baptist Disaster Relief publicly mentioned. But, they are there doing so much of the grunt work without seeking the praise or acknowledgment. While many were trying to flee Harvey, disaster relief folks were heading south, choosing to face the hurricane so they could be in place to serve as soon as possible.

Something I Have Read or Heard

“I think it’s one of the dirty little secrets of the church of Jesus Christ that many of the things we do are done out of fear and not faith.”

- Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies, Aug 26

Something on My Mind

Those already impacted by the hurricane, of course, but also our beloved farmers. Storms like this are devastating for crops this time of year!

Something I’m Thankful for

The lovely cooler temperatures! Technology that keeps people in touch. Kids that have learned to hold to routine and diligence and get things done. I love that my kids still need me, but that they are also greatly growing in independence in so many ways.

Something about My Kids

Yesterday as we were discussing prayer requests, they all had friends on their hearts. They hungered to find ways to encourage and help strengthen those friends in their walk with Christ. They’ve prayed for friends before, but never quite that way, and it was so precious to me!

Something I’m Working on

I actually sat down to sew on Friday for the first time since Christmas!! It was so fun! And productive! We had been needing better storage for our knives. Actually, we had WAY too many knives. So, we narrowed them down to our steak knives, favorite paring knives, then five other knives. We had talked for a while about making a pouch for those five knives to make storage more versatile.

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So, I dug around in my fabric stash and found some lightweight canvas.

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It wasn’t as heavy as what might be recommended, but I double up the thickness of both colors in hopes of extending the life of the pouch.

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A little ribbon, and we were good to go!

Something from Hibbard Academy

Olivia is taking art history this year, which I anticipated would be an easy half credit. Um, no. It’s a full credit, including three projects, a paper, and an exam each quarter. She doesn’t thoroughly love all of the reading (even though she does enjoy history), but she is definitely engaging beautifully with this course. For her first project she designed a mask and made it from scratch. She just came to me requesting approval for a unique project not in the list – one that stretches her jewelry making skills. I’m excited to see what she comes up with!

Something That Makes Me Smile

Olivia was having issues with her composing software. So, she pulled up her phone for a video chat with her composition “tech support” – aka Benjamin Choate. The kids have absolutely loved having the Choate kids back in the US. We haven’t had a whole lot of opportunities to spend time with them because of the many directions both families are going. But, every couple of days I’ll hear sudden laughter and extra voices, and I’ll see that my kids are huddled around a chat screen or two here with Choate kids huddled around their screens on the other end. Even Sarah, who recently moved off to college, has been able to join in for a 3-way a time or two! I love the enduring friendship between the seven kids, and I’m so thankful for the technology that keeps us connected whether we are separated by an ocean or by schedules.

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Something Coming

Let’s see…someone has a birthday coming up soon. The last one of the year. My babies are growing up, and I’m loving every minute of it!

Friday, August 25, 2017

Life is Comedy

Olivia, after school yesterday:

I don’t need to watch a comedy, I just need to watch my own life.

I just got irrationally excited because I found my Sharpie.


Poor thing. She had a rough Thursday!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Thursday, August 24, 2017

It’s cool again! Beautifully so! We opened windows last night and slept with fresh air. Our walk this morning was still a bit humid and still, but when it’s in the 60’s outside humid and still feels delightful after the what we’ve had lately.

Other than that, today is a normal Thursday. Which is nice. I like normal very much.

Something about the Week

With the exception of Monday being a bit off schedule, it has been a pretty routine week. That has been nice, especially after a summer of chaos and no routine. It does seem like there’s one off day every week, and the calendar indicates that will continue for a while – definitely through September. But, we have still been able to settle into the new school year well.

Something I Have Observed

Our cat Smokey loves hot weather. When it is warm, she does not want to be indoors. At all. She comes in for a few minutes in the morning and evening to eat and then begs to go right back out. She simply loves it outdoors. But, as the weather gets colder, it will be almost impossible to get her to go outside. She would much rather stay indoors and fuss at Angela’s cat all day long!

Something I Have Read or Heard

So many good thoughts lately! But, I think the one that is sticking with me the most right now is from our recently finished spiritual disciplines study.

“Because life never settles down, and since we will always feel as though we have more to do than time to do it, if we are ever going to make progress in godliness through the Spiritual Disciplines we must do so when life is like it is now.”

- Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney

Something on My Mind

I’m having one of those weeks when it’s hard to truly pinpoint what is on my mind. Many thoughts whirling and twirling as I try to continue to catch up for the summer AND move on into the fall. There are several needs on my heart and mind for our church, our friends and loved ones, and our family. I don’t say this piously when I say it’s really wonderful to be able to surrender them in prayer – I think I’d completely suffocate without that freedom! Too many thoughts and needs!

Something I’m Thankful for

The promise of fall!!! Friends who aren’t scared off by my weirdness. Haha!

Something about My Kids

Their new favorite thing is creating plays. Some improv, some written. Some with just the three of them, some with a group of friends from church. Some original and others based on mash-ups of favorite movies, tv shows, books, etc. All absolutely hilarious! I love imagination.

Something I’m Working on

Still school planning, moving more slowly now that it has to share space with the start of school as well as work and church. So, some days see more progress than others. But, Angie’s school year is done, so that’s one down!

Something from Hibbard Academy

The new year is going well. I didn’t take any first day of school pictures, and we haven’t really done anything to celebrate like we have done in recent years. I think we were all just so glad to see the summer end that the return of routine was celebration enough!

For eleventh grade, Olivia is tackling 20th century history, chemistry, Algebra 2, art history, world lit (focusing on literature from and about Africa, Asia, and Latin America), German, and Bible.

For eight grade, Angela is taking her last pre-high school walk through world history and enjoying general science, Algebra 1, a high school prep lit course, French, and some minor other additions.

Steven is straddling two Sonlight cores this year. First semester he will finish US history, then in January we will start an Eastern Hemisphere study that will cover the rest of fifth grade and all of sixth. He still processing through Dr. Wile’s history-based elementary science curriculum, although we are not trying to stay in line with where we are in history. We’re currently in Science in the Ancient World. Then there is the normal round of math and language arts work, supplemented by things like Wordly Wise, one last year of handwriting, and the Balance Benders that all three kids love.

All three kids are continuing piano through Busy Kids Do Piano, and Steven is adding guitar this year, starting with Kids Guitar Zone to get him kicked off.

I might do a more detailed post later, but I can definitely say we are enjoying everything for now!

Something That Makes Me Smile

Watching my kids enjoy being silly!

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Something Coming

A mostly normal weekend, I think. Church homecoming on Sunday, then another mostly routine week, with the exception of an extra meeting. Ah, nice!

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Happy 11th, Steven!


This boy turns eleven today! I asked him where he wanted to do his birthday pictures, and he said, “With my dog.” So that’s what we did!

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Cookie may not have quite gotten the memo about the plan!

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They do love each other!! And God knew right when Steven would be able to care for the dog he has wanted for so long.

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In addition to playing with Cookie, Steven still loves anything having to do with Legos or Star Wars or dogs or space or planes or….well, you get the picture. He’s a boy!

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One thing this boy truly loves to do is serve. This morning, his sisters were going to take care of his chores for him as a birthday present. But knowing others are working while he is not is not a gift to him. He’d rather be doing! And he truly loves doing for others.

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What he doesn’t love is attention for his service. He’d rather just be behind the scenes with no one noticing. It’s just hard not to notice because his service is so sweet and thoughtful. He truly observes others and their needs, just like his daddy.

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This past summer he showed me just how much he’s grown in confidence, independence, and overall maturity through our summer camp experience. He stepped out and did things I never expected him to do! He also discovered an interest in guitar at camp, so it will be fun to see if this is something he really dives into. That’s why I love making little notes each year about new discoveries!

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Over the past few days, Facebook memories have given me reminders of the little boy I used to have. Some days I miss the little snuggler who could easily curl up in my lap. Now we have to settle for sitting side by side on the couch while we read, play games, or work reasoning puzzles together.

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But, I really, really love having a big boy. A pre-teen. A kid who is growing by leaps and bounds and will very possibly be taller than his mommy by this time next year! My little boy is in that awkward but still fun stage between big boy and young man. I’m sure he will experience many changes in the coming year, and I’m excited to get to walk through those changes with him.

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Happy birthday, precious Steven! We love you!


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Not Quite Ordinary Observations

Something about Today…Tuesday, August 8, 2017

It’s still pleasant! Not cool enough to open the windows and stay comfortable (thanks, humidity!), but delightful for August in Arkansas!

Something about the Week

This picture popped up in Doug’s Facebook memories today. This week eight years ago, we were visiting the Train Museum in Pine Bluff for a certain train enthusiast’s third birthday. We thought he was so big then!

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Now we know better. He wasn’t big then. He was itty bitty. This week that not-so-itty-bitty boy turns eleven.

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Something I Have Observed

When we find a true interest, it doesn’t matter that it’s hard to learn or invest in it. It’s worth it. I love watching that in my children.

Something I Have Read or Heard

You get Mark Buchanan again this week because that’s where I am! It’s one of those books I want to read very slowly.

“Winter is when we walk by faith, not sight. God is good, all the time, but winter is when that truth is a conviction we nurture, not an experience we savor. In winter, the goodness of God is our creed, true always, seen or unseen, recited regardless of present feelings. In summer, it’s our testimony, true because it’s obvious, and deeply felt. Summer is when we walk in the light – we can see, at every step, the God is good, and near, and for me. And it’s not that you take any of that for granted; you just don’t turn your nose up at it.

You bask in it.”

- Spiritual Rhythm

Something on My Mind

Schedule. I need to get a solid grasp on what my work hours will be – what parts of the day will be specifically devoted to work. Like with everything, that will have to be flexible. But the more I know what blocks are for school and work, the more I will be able to determine what non-school and non-work things will fit where. But first, I have to finish school prep!

Something I’m Thankful for

Flexibility. Again. Because we sure do need it!

Something about My Kids

They like routine just like I do. They enjoy free time and flexibility, but they have all been craving routine. And, this week shows how much they crave solid routine. We’re kind of in an in-between stage – not wide open and free, but not firmly into our school year routine yet. They are ready for next week when it will be more solid.

Something I’m Working on

Still school prep. Then I hope to actually get to that fun “what we’re doing this year” post. Because I always want to record such things, even if I don’t usually get around to writing the post. I get inspired every time I see my friend Julie’s school year posts!

Something from Hibbard Academy

A “soft” start this week. We were supposed to fully start yesterday. But, preparation takes a certain amount of time. And I didn’t have that amount of time before yesterday to be prepared. So, we started with a few subjects – the things like math for all three and literature for the girls that really need the full extent of the school year – and I’m finishing preparation of the rest this week. Hopefully.

Something That Makes Me Smile

My kids in their happy places.

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Something Coming

Celebration of my sweet baby boy! Like the rest of his family, he’s not a big party animal, so we won’t be doing anything huge. But we’ll have fun!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Road to Phoenix, Day 1

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. And I believe it’s true. But, so often, I forget what the pictures are about! So sometimes words are needed, too.

The 2017 Annual Meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention was held in Phoenix, Arizona. Lovely, distant, hot Phoenix. We were signed on to help with whatever was needed behind the scenes at the Pastor’s Conference, so on the Thursday before the convention started (June 8), we loaded up and started the long drive west. (For the record, I can’t tell you how many times I was thankful we weren’t doing that in a covered wagon!)

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I distinctly remember preparing to travel to our first SBC Annual Meeting. The year was 2009. The destination was Louisville, KY. The kids were MUCH smaller – ages 8, 5, and 2, to be exact! The mileage on this Phoenix trip was much greater, but the concept of traveling with the kids was phenomenally easier!

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There’s not a whole lot to see when you’re driving from Arkansas through Oklahoma and Texas, by the way. Fields upon fields – some of crops, and some of windmills. Miles upon miles upon miles of windmills.

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The temperatures were pretty pleasant for most of the first day. But, the further west we progressed, the warmer it became. We would have loved for one of these little rainshowers to have fallen on us!

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We found various ways to entertain ourselves throughout the day. The hedgehogs helped with that.

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And James helped with the driving because he felt like it gave him a better view of Oklahoma and Texas.

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We made good time and made it to New Mexico late that afternoon…

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Then pulled into Albuquerque around 7:00 that evening. The kids all cheered when a left turn was required to get to our hotel!

We got to introduce the kids to an old favorite restaurant of ours – Fuddrucker’s! It was right down the street from our hotel. A yummy way to end a long travel day.

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Day two of traveling was much shorter in mileage, but that was very intentional. We knew the sights between Albuquerque and Phoenix would be very different, as we were planning a detour through the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest and would be entering terrain the kids had never seen before in person – and that Doug and I hadn’t seen in decades!

But, we got to start day two with a very unexpected fun sight – hot air balloons over Albuquerque! This was a quick, early morning flight. In fact, I think this was around 6:00 local time. By the time we left a little over an hour later, they had all landed again. But, as we got packed up, we had the curtains open and watched as over half a dozen different balloons lifted into the air from somewhere in the middle of the city.

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And that was our start to day two of the Phoenix trip adventure!