Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Your WHAT?!?!

She stepped out onto the porch looking at her hands quizzically.

"Which one of these is my cuss finger?"

"What?" I asked, "What do you mean?"

"The other day Kate told me not to hold up a finger all by itself because it was bad. I asked Dad if that was true and he said that when you hold up that one finger it means the same as a cuss word," she explained.

"Oh," I said, still trying to catch up with the story.

"And," said she in a huff, "Daddy wouldn't even tell me which cuss word it meant. He said I was too little."

To Molly being told she was too little was as much an insult as the witnessing the cuss finger personally.

"So," she continued getting back to her point, "which of these is my cuss finger?"

Pointing to the appropriate finger (or inappropriate finger as was the case), I smothered a grin thinking that I'd not planned to cover such things so early in second grade this year…or any year for that matter!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

In which we are joined by Aristotle…sort of.


We are still present in the universe…the real live one, not very much in this virtual one lately. Things in our world have been humming along as usual and we've finally begun our school year. Yesterday was our first official day, though last week we began a test run to stretch our school muscles.

This year I've students in high school and grade school. Next year I'll have students in high school, middle school and grade school…but I'd rather not ponder that just now!

A new feature for our learning this year is the once-a-week addition of an assistant teacher to teach science and any other subjects that may become necessary to Kate and Molly so that I can focus my anxious attention onto the high schoolers and feel more confident getting them ready for a little thing called…THE REST OF THEIR LIVES! No pressure!

The implementation of Science Tuesday worked well yesterday and am hoping that it serves us all well as the year progresses. Because of her status as Science teacher, we've begun to refer to my Mom as Aristotle…we think it works!

Our morning time line up (for now) is:

A daily devotion from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp
A reading from Reformation Heroes by D.M. and Diana Kleyn
A song often written by Keith and Kristin Getty
We are working our way through retellings of Shakespeare plays in Tales From Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb (currently The Tempest)
At this point we shoo the high schoolers off to begin work on THE REST OF THEIR LIVES while
Kate and Molly and I (and Aristotle if it's a Tuesday) read a chapter or two from North Or Be Eaten by Andrew Peterson

"The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice." ~Brian Herbert

May we ALL choose with wisdom!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Awwwww NUTS!! It's time for school again!?

 School is just about to be in session here at The Wright Place and the teacher and the youngest pupil are ready to roll. The others simply need convincing. Classes are planned, study materials have been ordered and have arrived, pencils have been sharpened and notebooks have been labeled. 

School things are in order but as prepared as I think I am there will be gaps in our days right out of the gate. Some of the gaps will be surprising to The Academy but one gap I am already aware of ...there will be hungry students and they will be hungry at the most surprising times of our school day. Every year it happens, every year it is a surprise. 

Actually, every day it happens and every day I am surprised BUT not unprepared. As we make our lists for our biweekly trips to the grocery store we always check to be certain we are well stocked with almonds and peanuts and some sort of dried fruit, usually cranberries, and if I'm feeling particularly fond of my students I just might add some chocolate chips to the list. 

With these ingredients in my cabinets, my kids are free to get snacky anytime they want. They love this simple mix (equal parts of all ingredients) and they can make it for themselves in what ever amount is necessary to satisfy their desperate pangs. Usually they need to make approximately 4-5 servings because after years at this game I know that hunger seems to be contagious. 

Who knew? 
One student gets a gurgly stomach and before long the other three students are downright starving and the teacher is simply ravenous.

It takes less than five minutes and ... Our hunger is satisfied and we've eaten a bunch of nuts which will sustain us for a surprisingly long time and we've eaten more than our fair share of white chocolate...some more than others, if the teacher has looked away long enough for little fingers to do some quick sorting. 

There you have it, my make-it-on-your-own, get-you-through-geometry-and-grammar, grab-it-on-our-way-to-co-op, no-fuss-big-fill school time snack. If, like me, you are always on the look out for healthy, satisfying snacks for your gang, check out the great ideas that the folks at nuts.com are featuring here." 

Happy beginning of school from The Wright Academy snackers!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

We're Back with A Birthday

Today is a much anticipated day on our family calendar. 

Today we celebrate a big wild personality here in our home.

This morning Kate woke Molly up and asked her, "What's for breakfast this morning?"

Molly answered, "ICE CREAM CAKE!!"


...when it was time to celebrate it was only my Man and I who had assembled around the cake.

"Well," said I, "I'm the only one who showed up for your party."

"I knew some day it would eventually come to that." Eeyore my Man answered.

Eventually, everyone gathered and we sang and we ate and we, with tears in our eyes (not really), and adoration in our hearts (absolutely), celebrated our fearless leader as he embarks on another year of life.

Molly squeezed his neck and wished him the most loving of Happy Birthday wishes saying, 

"NOW it's only 9 more days…"
(till her birthday…oh yes, really).

Happy Birthday

to our oft unsung Hero.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Rope Givers

I've been pondering a picture which, as I jot these words, hasn't actually been captured with a camera yet, but I pray that it will EVER remain in my heart.

Last week I wrote about my Man and I feeling at the end of our rope with house bother and stuff…I was wrong though, we were not quite at rope's end…later that same night we noticed that our air conditioner was not keeping up with the heat and humidity. The little kids slept on the couch that night because their room was too hot to handle and we, my Man and I, laid awake all night wondering what in the world we were gonna do as we listened to the AC unit outside our window churn and churn with no apparent result.

When morning dawned we were no cooler and no calmer but we decided to call on our church family's resident "conditioned air" expert who arrived at our home in short order, diagnosed the problem and just as he was telling us how to fix it, another "I'll-be-right-there-to-help-you-out" member of our church family appeared and soon provided the necessary equipment to fix us all up.

The next morning, I woke up to the coolest, crispest, conditioned air ever AND a raging case of all-over-poison-ivy which I'd picked up on Monday while digging in the yard…

…cue "end-of-rope music."

But when you, because of your precarious position at the end of the rope, are in danger of just letting go of that rope… 

God sends The Rope Givers.

People who offer to deliver emergency ice cream to your door. 

Others who invite you to come away for a while and open their pool to you.

Some who take time out from their own much bigger struggle and hand you help to make things easier.

Another who lets you shed a tear or two into their otherwise calm and happy existence and shows you sweet compassion.

People who text you with the perfect words at the perfect time to make you grin or to laugh aloud or to simply tell you that they are praying for you.

Friends who ask you how it's going even when they know your answer isn't going to be fun to endure.

Someone who brings a great big truck to haul away your mess and others who show up to help you fill it up.

There are those who bring pie...

…and some who take your kids.

{Award for Best Shirt for the Occasion}

Friends who bring dessert and stay to help with dinner.

Those who will answer their phone even when they know it's you calling and they show up with buckets full of tools and time and talents and a pressure washer.

Dear ones who can make poison ivy disappear and take its itch away…

…and there are those who show up

… with shovels

…and wheelbarrows

…and smiles?!

These are all The Rope Givers.

I've taken my picture, the one I'd only, till now had in my head…

It's more than just a picture of shovels and pickaxes…

…it's work done and more promised tomorrow.

…it's encouragers checking in…again.

…it's folks with better things to do, putting my short rope on their radar and showing up again and again and again with cookies and shovels and trucks and time and energy and effort and…


...enough to hang on to for a long time to come.


Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. 
Hebrews 10:24

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Seriously Stressing, Stressed, and Stressful

Here's the deal…we have some more home repairs facing us and it is rocking our little world just a bit. The truth is that it feels whiny and shallow to be so affected by all that faces us in the next month or so because goodness knows we are healthy, happy, and on most days we like each other around here very much.

This house, though, has just about defeated us.

In the next month we'll likely have two projects facing us both of a costly nature and we haven't quite recovered from the kitchen costly just yet. Frankly, we are looking for the biggest, fluffiest towels we own and are searching for wherever that place is where we are supposed to "throw them in."

(Sadly, I photo-edited this as much as possible!)

I keep reminding myself that we are indeed blessed to have a home with a roof (fairly new), a beautiful kitchen (sparkling new), nicely functioning bathrooms (also very new), a fresh uncracked driveway and patio (a year old), food in the fridge, families who love us, teeth in our heads…

….well, most of us… but our nerves are shot and we are both teetering on the edge of a despair-themed pity party, which is not our bent. Oh, often one or the other of us finds ourselves headed down  an alley of despair but most of the time the other of us is walking on sunshine and is able to pull the dreary partner in a more uplifting direction. Not so these days. These days you might find us grabbing the other's hand and saying, "Come on let's jump in to all of this yuck and wallow in it together for a bit, I'll keep saying how awful everything is and you keep agreeing with me."

The tough part about it all is that this house stuff seems to be taking up all of our rope, even the extra rope which we would normally rely on to deal with the normal everyday situations in life: bickering kids, huge piles of laundry, dinner that needs cooking, too many dates on the calendar, conversations with people who don't see things the way we do, an unexpected expense, a busted iPhone, someone needing time and energy, and a front door with a badly chosen paint color.

 When we are at the end of that rope to begin with, extra things must be dealt with from a deficit.

This is never a good situation.

So, these days around The Wright Place, my Man and I are attempting to conserve as much rope as we can while still living life. Listening to my feelings seems to be a terrible practice because I find that letting feelings rule just takes me to drab and dreary and makes me look around for company.

I am learning that it just might be the little ordinary, everyday tasks that add length to my rope. Last week I walked around this place in a stupor. Not willing to deal with it all, assigning the most immediate tasks to the kids and hoping that they'd forget that dinner was a real thing. Last week all I felt like doing was sitting in the corner and sucking my thumb. Best not to go with feelings.

This week, we took some action and began the process of fixing some of the problems and it felt better.

This week, stirring the oatmeal, reading in my little gold Bible, cutting the lettuce, eating sweet corn on the cob, ironing work clothes, joking with the kids, texting with friends, reading a funny and thoughtful book…my rope has gained an inch or two and I am thankful, even as we are overwhelmed and still facing decisions and difficulty.

My Man and I have both been reading a book called Keeping the Heart by John Flavel, a Puritan pastor born in 1628. While reading this I'd often say aloud, "Oh, this is so good." I commented about it so much and in such a way that soon, I saw another copy of the same book appear in my Man's stack and now it's often open in front of him and now he says from time to time…"Wow, this is good." I finished this book before our house issues began and now I'm going back to it for a second time. Flavel addresses many situations in which one is wise to pay attention to the matters of one's heart. Writing about "great trials," he counsels me:
In such cases [great trials] the heart is apt to be suddenly transported with pride, impatience, or other sinful passions. Many good people are guilty of hasty and very sinful conduct in such instances; and all have need to use diligently the following means to keep their hearts submissive and patient under great trials:

One of the means Flavel recommends is this:
Cultivate a habit of communion with God. This will prepare you for whatever may take place. This will so sweeten your temper and calm your mind as to secure you against suprisals. This will produce that inward peace which will make you superior to your trials. Habitual communion with God will afford you enjoyment, which you can never be willing to interrupt by sinful feeling. WHEN A CHRISTIAN IS CALM AND SUBMISSIVE UNDER HIS AFFLICTIONS, PROBABLY HE DERIVES SUPPORT AND COMFORT IN THIS WAY; BUT HE WHO IS DISCOMPOSED, IMPATIENT, OR FRETFUL, SHOWS THAT ALL IS NOT RIGHT WITHIN...
 So, here we go into the future with sage words from the past working in our hearts, "suprisals" and trials and comforts and all.

 "Consider how the wild flowers grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!"
~Luke 12:27-28 

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Various and Sundry

 Hi there! 
Happy middle of summer!

I'm checking in quickly from my favorite place {the porch}. It so happens that I'm without children for a few days and the quiet is both soothing and disorienting. I find that sitting for long stretches of silence is nearly impossible without the rambunctious sounds of the kids forcing me to deeper concentration. Not to fear, though, the problem will fix itself very soon.

I had grand plans of all of the house freshening I'd do while no one was around to undo my efforts, but halfway through this empty week I'm accepting the reality that I'll be doing good to get fresh sheets on everyone's beds and cook a meal or two ahead for next week when it will again be necessary, even vital to have lots of food at the ready.

My Man and I have been only too happy to make meals of any leftovers we've carried into this week from last and have even feasted on cold cereal a time or two. I hardly remember what it was like before the children came along and grew to the point of requiring all recipes to be doubled and tripled.

As I sit here on the porch my plans for the day involve a second day of planning for the school year ahead. I've nearly gotten my list of core subjects determined and what remains is to fill in around the edges for the younger girls and to begin making the actual orders so that our books and materials are ready for us when we are ready for them. I'm keeping eBay and Amazon busy as well as Sonlight, Timberdoodle, Rainbow Resources, and Institute for Excellence in Writing (for any of you who might be doing this job too!).  While on the subject of homeschool…my sister in the south has highly recommended Mindset: The New Psychology of Success  saying that it was a game changer for her upcoming school year and that it was "amazing info and practical help." I don't know about you but the words "game changer" and "amazing" and "practical" usually perk my attention.

When I finish with the school stuff for today I'll likely move on to some MASSIVE READING! In my stack are:

Can you spot the theme? I'm loving the simple just now…the plain… the quiet. Even my fiction book, which I have vowed to finish this week, is a simple quiet work. It's a huge book at 800 plus pages but I am all the better for the reading of it. {The Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin} I've 300 pages left and I'm committed! I'll probably have more to say on this one later. 

Providing the background music to my porch retreat is Maria Schneider whose music is live streaming from her website.

When I put my books away I'll continue through the series I'm addicted to on Masterpiece, Inspector Lewis. It's all British and Oxford and accents and mystery and murder and I'm in deep!

I hope your week has been full of peace and I'm wishing you tons of ordinary contentment as we meander into the last half of summer!

"…happiness hasn't much to do with perfect surrounding, with having a lot or doing a lot. It comes with living simply, taking care of one another, allowing time in the day for ease and pleasure and play."
~Katrina Kenison
"The Gift of an Ordinary Day"

{This post contains affiliate links.}

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Great Mystery of Life...OK...Really Good Mysteries of My Bookshelf

It all began with Nancy Drew. I remember a friend reading and loving the Nancy Drew mysteries and feeling that I wanted to read them too but I was sure that they'd be too scary for me. Before long, Nancy and I were best friends, going to the pool together in the summers and taking trips together year round.

Soon, Trixie Belden joined our gang and the three of us were solving mysteries with fervor.

Then there was Agatha Christie with her And Then There Were None which scared me so badly as a junior high student that I had to have my mom sleep with me for a night or two.

I should have started with Murder at the Vicarage which would at least have begun to prepare me for my future (grin).

After growing up a little with Ms. Christie, I made the acquaintance of Mrs. Emily Pollifax, a senior adult widow who spent what would have been her retirement years in the employment of the CIA as a spy. I still get a warm feeling in my heart as I remember all of the adventures Mrs. Pollifax and I took together around the world solving international mysteries. I listened to many of these stories as books on ....TAPE (they are on CD now or you can get them through Audible) narrated by the excellent Barbara Rosenblat.

Even in college I fed my appetite for mysteries and was introduced to the likes of Wilkie Collins, Arthur Conan Doyle, P. D. James, and Tony Hillerman in a class called Detective Fiction. What a treat!  I convinced my Man to pick up a P.D. James mystery at the bookstore recently and am eager to see if he enjoys it.

My early married life was chock full of audio mysteries as I drove 40 minutes to work and then 40 minutes back home at the end of each day. I listened to just about anything narrated by Barbara Rosenblat which included a fun series of mysteries by Elizabeth Peters about a Victorian era English family of archaeologists who honed their craft digging in Egypt (The first book in the series is Crocodile on the Sandbank but I think the best of the series lies in the middle books beginning with  Seeing A Large Cat)


Also narrated by Rosenblat is a fun series about caterer Goldie Shultz by Diane Mott Davidson. (The earlier books in the series are the very best.)

Carolyn Hart has also been a favorite of mine with her series of Henry O mysteries which specialize in taking the reader deep into the setting. I can still remember the feeling of being on a remote island as a huge storm rolls in and also, in a different book, feeling like I'd actually experienced the River Walk in San Antonio, Texas.

Katherine Hall Page has written a series of book just for me. OK, more folks than me enjoy these books but I'm sure Ms. Page has me in mind as she puts pen to page. Her titles begin with "Body in the…" (my fav title is Body in the Belfry) and are about pastor's wife, Faith Fairchild who runs a catering company and solves a mystery or two between serving the entree and dessert. Yessir buddy, a pastor's wife who loves food and feeding folks…sign me up please. There's a new one out this summer that I hope to get my hands on called Body in the Birches. Somewhere between cozy mysteries and serious character studies, these books are always good to draw me in and keep me entertained.

These days I've got a new set of authors on my shelves and in my ears.

I just finished a lovely mystery by Donna Leon called Falling in Love which centers around the stalking of an opera prima donna.

Gudio Brunetti is the detective and the setting is modern day Venice, Italy. This is the 7th or 8th Donna Leon mystery I've read or listened to and each one is a treat. I always feel like I've been in Italy drinking coffee in the shops and riding in boats with the Venetian police force as they investigate crime. Each mystery I read in this series leaves me caring more about the characters than the eventual solution to the crime. Rich reading here.

Another recent favorite of the last few years are the mysteries of Louise Penny who writes about a small village in Canada much like Donna Leon handles Venice. In fact as I was opening a fresh Chief Inspector Gamache (Penny's detective) adventure, I read this review in the front copy of the cover:
Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie, and while there is a surface resemblance there, it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm for the formula-bound Christie. No, Penny belongs in the hands of those who read not only P. D. James but also Donna Leon, who, like Penny, Mixes her hero's family and professional lives fluidly and with a subtle grasp of telling detail." 
~ Booklist (starred review)
This series is also excellent on audio and the covers are simply beautiful.

Charge into the middle month of summer with a great mystery but BEWARE you might find yourself buried deep in a wonderful series and discover that you've lost a day or two to stories that just won't let you go!

“My name is Sherlock Holmes. It is my business to know what other people do not know.” 
― Arthur Conan DoyleThe Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

{NOTE: This post has affiliate links which means that if you click on a book title, and purchase the book, I get a penny or two to spend on a book or two…}

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