Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Runner, A Race, A Revelation

I watched my Boy run a mile or two this weekend.



Actually, I didn't see him run even one complete mile but rather I saw him pass by from various locations on the course as he was in the process of running those miles.

It was one of my favorite days...

...but it caused something deep in me to begin to wiggle a bit loose.

My Boy is highly motivated by a goal. I was on the edge of the conversation when he decided to train for the half marathon. I might even have suggested that he look at a few training plans...or that might have been his father. Other than making sure there was enough food around to fuel his training, I had very little to do with this event in his life.

Every now and again I'd tell him he was doing a great job sticking to the training schedule but never did I have to tell him to get out there and go.

{Pinning on race bib.}

 His dad made sure he had a good pair of running shoes in time to get them worn in before race day but never did the Boy have to be reminded to go and wear them in.


He's a normal teenage boy...if the case can be made that teenaged boys are normal. He has to be told to do plenty of things...normal why-am-I-having-to-tell-you-this-again things. He picks on his sisters, gets sick of doing school work, and I suspect that his teacher frequently gets on his last nerve.

He's good with a goal though and it was so fun to watch him see it through to the end.

{Cole, on far left in tennis ball yellow shoes. Photo Credit: Wheeling Intelligencer} 

My Man and I were waiting for Cole to appear at the top of a big hill and I was talking to my Mom on the phone. She, in typical grandmother form asked, "Can you see him the whole way?"


"Well, no," I answered, "I'm only able to see him here and there as we follow him around the course and then only when he passes by."


It struck me shortly after— and here's where that something inside me began to get a little shaky— it was going to be that way more and more with my Boy. He's going to be running his own race very soon. Less and less of the time will I be in constant view of him.


I'll be somewhere on the course cheering him on, knowing where he is but not being able to be with him as he takes each step as I has been thus far in our partnership. Sooner than not, I'm going to have to rely on the training that has already taken place to carry him from one point to another, from one goal to the next, across the finish line.



It was encouraging to watch him set a goal and chase after it. It was exhilarating to watch him succeed. It would have been so great if I'd gotten a picture of him crossing the finish line...but I missed him. I didn't see him coming down the block until it was too late to aim the camera…I was looking for my Boy and missed snapping a picture of the Young Man running the last block of the race.

Happily there were other camera's than mine at the finish.

One half marathon down…the rest of his life to go!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Stormy Weather Ahead...

It's pretty simple to tell that the how-much-longer-do-I-have-to-do-school blues have set in at The Wright Academy...

"PLEASE somebody tell me WHEN I'll ever in my LIFE need to know how to figure out how far away from me lightening is striking!!"

Teenager at work. CAUTION.

"Well," said I with level headed logic, "of all of the goofy things they ask you to know, that one does have some life application. You could use that information the next time you are watching your sisters play ball when a storm kicks up."

"Really?!" she said, "if I'm on the bleachers and it starts storming, how about if I just avoid standing under trees, or get in the car and leave? Probably if a storm comes, the last thing I'll be doing is pulling out a calculator to figure out how far away the lightening is!"

My Man, as usual was grinning and trying not to, "You sorta had to see that coming didn't you?"

I did not.

Is it summer time YET?!!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

What I'm Reading This Summer (2015) ... A List

It's nearly time to break out the summer books. The Wright Academy is cruising toward the end of our official school year and all of us are eager to "read for fun" after a long year of "read for learning." I spent some quiet moments listing a few books that I wanted to read in the coming months of summer and I thought I'd share some fun finds.



The Nightingale ~ a few months ago a friend texted, "Are you going to read The Nightingale?" I admitted to her that it had not even been on my radar. Well, it's on my radar now. I was reading the Big Mama blog earlier this week in which she asked her readers for suggestions for good summer reading. The Nightingale was hailed as THE book to read by what seemed 80% of the commenters. It has over 5000 five star review at last count. One reader said that this book was so good that since finishing it she had as yet been unable to enjoy any other book. That's a book I want to read, even at the risk of the book slump that may follow.


Go Set A Watchman ~ Have you heard that a second book has been discovered which was written by Harper Lee, author of To Kill a Mockingbird? "Whooo hooooooo," I say. Sign me up. It will, of course be necessary to reread To Kill a Mockingbird before hand just to get into the spirit of the whole event, don't you think? Perhaps I'll listen to it. The audio version, read by Sissy Spacek is supposed to be the gold standard in audio books.


Flash: The Homeless Donkey Who Taught Me about Life, Faith, and Second Chances ~ I first saw Flash peeking out at me from the Publisher's Weekly summer booklist and was pleasantly surprised to discover that the book is endorsed by some of my favorite blogger/authors Sophie Hudson and Melanie Shankle. Melanie writes of Flash, "This book made me laugh at Flash's antics and cry as I identified with the lessons he has taught her family about the way God loves us and sees us." Honestly though, this one had me with the cover alone! I've already begun reading it and I'm confident that it's going to live up to its reviews.


Emma ~ I attempted my first Jane Austen book many years ago and abandoned it 1/3 of the way through. I liked it a lot but other books worked their way into my world and I forgot all about Emma. Meg so enjoyed reading Pride and Prejudice for school last year that she suggested we read Emma together this summer. How could I say no? Plus Alexander McCall Smith has just published a modern-day Emma and I'd like to read the original and then the new one.


Until the Harvest ~ "I'm going to give this a try," I said to my Man holding this book in his view, "even though I've been a bit snobbish about..." 

"...books?" he sorta joked.

"...about Christian fiction." I finished. Over the years I'd grown weary of the genre but the blurb at the top of the cover drew me in and then I read the first chapter and the setting was in my home state and... I hope this book lives up to its cover.

While we are discussing Christian fiction...


Church Ladies ~ was a book I read years ago (before my Christian fiction cool off) and can still remember the feeling of. It's about a pastor's wife in particular and the women who surround her all of whom have pasts to deal with and  futures to face. I'd call it Christian fiction with an edge. I plan to read more of Lisa Samson's work this summer starting with, appropriately...



Quaker Summer ~ Reviews say... "Unlike many Christian novelists, Samson does not tidily resolve every single problem her heroine faces, but instead paints an emotionally and spiritually luminous portrait of a soul beckoned by God." 



Life from Scratch ~ My Man found this in the bookstore this evening and was pretty sure I'd be all over it. He was Wright, as usual ;-). The author, it seems, set out to cook dishes from around the world but somewhere along the way the story of her life came to the forefront in a fashion reminiscent, says one review, of "The Glass Castle but with more food. And not just any food: We're talking cinnamon raisin pizza."  Plus... that cover makes me hungry for pie.


Bon Appe´tempt: A Coming of Age Story (with Recipes!)~ It's a memoir with recipes and pictures of food magazines and cookbooks on the front...the subtitle might as well have been "buy me now Gretchen Wright." I'm already a bit charmed by the authors voice and the reviews promise a bit of humor which is always welcome.

To balance the humor, I've decided to read the book that seems to be popping up on podcasts and on blogs and everywhere I look...


The Girl On the Train ~ the book most likely to creep me out and completely counteract my melatonin. It's a book of suspense that is purportedly "un-put-down-able." 

 “Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.”—Vanity Fair

The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.”—The New York Times

An addicting chiller with an unreliable narrator...here goes nothin'!


Finally...the book I wish I'd not yet read so that I can read it again for the first time...


The Blue Castle ~ You may recognize the author as the writer of the Anne of Green Gables books but The Blue Castle (1.99 for Kindle) is not a children's story...it is an old fashioned story that holds it value even today. I read this slim book quickly over the last two days because of its heroine Valancy. 

Amazon.com says: Valancy lives a drab life with her overbearing mother and prying aunt. Then a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Trent prompts her to make a fresh start. For the first time, she does and says exactly what she feels. As she expands her limited horizons, Valancy undergoes a transformation, discovering a new world of love and happiness. One of Lucy Maud Montgomery's only novels intended for an adult audience, The Blue Castle is filled with humour and romance. 

Many recommendations of this book tout it as a favorite and often the reviews said that they read it over and over. I'm not a re-reader normally, but this one would certainly be early on my list if I were to begin rereading my favorites.


Friday, May 8, 2015

Time Management for the Highly Organized

I was invited by some friends in our homeschool group to speak at a workshop for homeschoolers. This talk had been on my horizon for a few months now. I had such a good time preparing the words I wanted to share on the topic I've been asked to share about: Guarding Your Time... (grin, chuckle, HAAAAA!!)


It turned out, thankfully, that I had more than a few books on the topic already on my shelves and needed only one more to round out my collection. After a serious review of my resources I had a good idea about the main points to share with my audience. I began to speak in the vernacular of my favorite pastor in my texts to him... "I've finished my first point. It's way too long," or "This third section needs some work," or "All finished with the outline, just putting meat on the bones of it now!" Finally, and just in time, "Finished!"


I stayed up late the next night getting all of the handouts ready to ...hand out. Handouts that encourage wise time management for a talk that encourages the listeners to look closely at their schedules, assess how they are spending their moments, urging wisdom with the lives of their families. There may even be a bossy section therein which strongly encourages looking ahead at the family calendar at the months and weeks to come so that you know what activities are about to come barreling down. I could imagine telling my victims listeners how to handle their time...I could imagine lots of things.



I woke up on Saturday early, ready to share my words, impart the wisdom I'd learned from the pages of my books, put forth the thoughts in my mind, bear my very soul.... until...

I received a text from one of the other workshop participants who was at another event with my Meg early that morning..."Mrs. Wright, Megan said that you were headed over to the workshop today...I'm pretty sure it isn't until next week. Check your calendar to make sure I'm not wrong, but I think it's next week."

Say what?!



Oh my. It seemed my soul-bearing would have to wait a week. "Well," said my Man through a grin, "good job on getting finished a week early." Bless him.

Tomorrow is the day I will stand in front of a small group of homeschoolers and offer them the wisdom I have gleaned from my books and offer them a supreme example from my life, my oh so typical life, of what happens when you pack a schedule too full to even have time to consider the dates on the calendar. What I'd really like to do is hand every participant my stack of books and point out the best, most helpful chapters in each...but alas, they are stuck with me...the one who perhaps needs the information the very most!

Happy Weekend Everyone...may you have some wonderfully calendared moments in your carefully guarded days!


"I speak it to God: I don't want more time. I want just enough time. Time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long, time to give You glory and rest deep and sing joy and just enough time in a day not to feel hounded, pressed, driven or wild to get it all done..."
~Ann Voskamp

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Molly Joy here... The Birthday Edition

Hellooooo! Molly Joy here.


Hope you are doin' super now that spring is finally here. Kate and I have been keepin' the neighbors on their toes cause we are outside on our scooters and bikes just as soon as Mom decides school is over each day. Besides being able to be outside lots, spring means we have TONS of birthdays at our house but TONS doesn't include my birthday as usual!


I discussed this with my Mom the other day, "Mom, when I have kids, I suppose the youngest one will have the very last birthday out of everybody.


First the one kid will have a birthday, then another one...


...who knows how many kids I'll have but I know the last one will have to have the very last birthday. Poor kid." I'm not sure Mom understood my hidden feelings, but she was all ears as she put a bunch of candles on someone else's cake.


I didn't use to handle the other kids' birthdays very well when I was a little kid...



Now that I'm older and so much wiser, I'm taking a new approach. 


I'm gonna invest in the birthdays of everyone else. 


It's just the right thing to do. 


I figure if I celebrate with enthusiasm for them, they will do the same and more for me...it's an age old truth!


Plus, it's really hard to maintain a pout when shoveling ice cream cake into my mouth.

So...our lesson for today is to celebrate others!! 
(It'll probably work out best for us later!!)

OK...good talk!


Thanks for hanging out with me! 



Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Pair of Charmers

You'd think I would have realized that I was about to read a book that would capture my heart so completely. You'd think that I might have made a note or something in a journal or even in the book itself. You might even think I could remember the series of events that led me to the book. None of that has been the case at all. I cannot remember how it was that I happened onto what would become one of my favorite books. I cannot even remember when I read it. I can only narrow it down to "sometime in the last 10 years" and I remember listening to at least a portion of it via audiobook.

Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster is an oldie but I don't remember it reading as such. I remember being swept into the story of a young orphan girl who received a scholarship from an anonymous benefactor. The young student whose name, Jerusha, harkens to the 1912 publishing date of the tale, has only to abide by one stipulation in her scholarship. She must write regular letters to the scholarship's provider to give account of her life and studies. Letters, the ones on paper! Charming, right?

Adding to the charm of the story is its construction. Daddy-Long-Legs is told in the form of the letters that Jerusha, who takes the nickname Judy, writes in accordance to her scholarship. The story moves along quickly and delightfully and joyfully. This story is more than appropriate for any young lady in your life as well. I've placed it in Meg's hands more than once, and am hoping it makes her reading list this summer, you should add it to yours too.


The Kindle version (pictured above and linked here) is FREE!!! and the paperback (below and linked here) is adorable...AND it includes the sequel Dear Enemy which is a wonderful story as well.


If, however, your style is more of a modern book, I've got a book for you! It's essentially the same story as Daddy Long Legs but it's told in current times but the letters remain of the pen and ink variety. I read it last summer and enjoyed it nearly as much as the original. If you happen to be a Jane Austin fan (I'm not in that camp yet, but I've plans for summer too!) then you will especially enjoy Katherine Reay's Dear Mr. Knightly as it whimsically pays homage to the works of Austin in quotes and references throughout.


So, if the cool temps of spring aren't warming your heart, grab either of these two books, they should do the trick! 

"When you encounter a great story, one that cracks your heart open, or brightly fuses you with hope, the horizon line inside of you expands."
~J. Michael Martin

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

On Kitchens and Routines...

Kitchen, kitchen, kitchen. It seems to have taken over my existence and my mental space and my conversations. Kitchen is my theme lately for better or worse and my attention has been drawn to some fun and helpful articles and posts about life in our kitchens be they new or old, large or small, cozy or modern.

I thought I'd share what I've been reading with you in hopes that you might also benefit as I plan to.



  • Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers and cookbook authors, shares a cooking strategy that makes complete sense in the New York Times article "When Cooking, Invest Time. Or Work. Not Both." Read about his theory of the everyday cooking work-time continuum.

  • Sam Sifton, writing in the New York Times encourages us in a very relaxed Home Cooking Manifesto to "Just cook." He warns, as do others, that "cooking can be stressful" but that it pays large dividends. After coaching us on making the most lovely sounding chicken dinner he writes, "Cooking is patience. Cooking is trust." It's a medium length article that is worth your time.

  • I want to add this to our family's dinner rotation just because it's fun to say...  Chicken Waterzooi

  • THESE look wonderful! Three ingredients of loveliness I think.

  • A food memoir that is on my To Be Read List because of its super reviews but more so because of it's super title and cover, A Boat, A Whale, and A Walrus by Renee Erickson.





"I walked around my house, looking at all the things that I should fix someday, and I imagined God noticing all the things about me that should get fixed up one day, and loving me anyway and being ok with the mess for the time being."
~Shauna Niequist



Monday, April 20, 2015

Bathroom Before & After (Bathroom the First)

As the floor was being completed in our kitchen, it became apparent that we were going to have enough wood flooring left over to cover the floor in the small bathroom upstairs which the girls use daily to get ready for their days.

That bathroom has been a busy but ill-equipped room for many years. It possesses a toilet,

{That cabinet is embarrassing, one of the things we've been meaning to replace for about 2 years!}

a sink, 

...and a bathtub but no shower. 


The carpet was a thick smelly fluffy mess, testifying of spilled nail polish, spilled baby powder, spilled little bellies...you get the less-than-appealing picture. 



The hot and cold fixtures on the tub seemed so fragile and were difficult to operate and when operated did a poor job of stopping the dripping of water and so we never used the bathtub which necessitated all 6 of us using the main bathroom for showers and baths...this would prove problematic but that's a post for a later time.

It was soon decided to replace the bathroom carpet with the left over kitchen hardwood and then, as so many home improvement projects do, one thing led to another and Pappa decided to add a shower and fixtures to our hardly-ever-used bathtub. This addition required tiling the tub surround, adding a new window, a new sink cabinet (while we were at it), and fresh plumbing. The job would also involve no less than 1000 trips up and down two full flights of stairs in this house as tile had to be cut with a saw in the garage.

The stepping accomplished by our recently-turned-seventy Pappa caused us to begin calling him The Stairmaster.


The floor went down quickly followed by the new sink cabinet. 
A lovely new window was added and then the tiling began.


After the tile was placed and the grout was added, it had to sit for a few days to dry and seal.


(It was during these few days during Easter week that our main bathtub cracked and left us showerless for a time...again, another post.)

Pappa finished the bathroom upstairs and we couldn't be more thrilled. A friend gave us with a gift card to TJMaxx (THANK YOU!) which went a long way toward adding some cozy details to the girls new bathroom.

Befores and afters below...









Billy Sunday




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