Wednesday, January 6, 2016

It's 2016 and we are BACK with a few of our Favorite Things!

I woke this morning and greeted the hermit crab who has taken up residence in our bathroom because it is not warm enough in his upstairs home these winter days. There is a heater on its way to us from Amazon because my Man and I, though we are used to sharing our bathroom with all manner of children, are weary of sharing it with a hermit crab named Charles. 

Charles joined our family last summer straight from a mall kiosk and provided by Mammaw and Pappaw. He had been the quietest and lowest maintenance creature around these parts, until the temperature dropped and we had to shop for the heater and all. We have gotten used to him though, and are glad that he will be with us in this new year. There are a few other fun things that we discovered in 2015 that are helping us to hit the ground running in 2016.

The Wunderlist app. I heard about this easy-to-use app on a podcast and downloaded it post haste. I was soon recommending it to my mom and sisters. It is essentially a list making app that allows you, if you choose, to share lists with others or to just make really nice lists (with subcategories even!) for yourself. My Man and I share a running grocery list which helps to ensure that it is always up to date when one of us is headed to the store. My mom and my sisters and I used Wunderlist to plan and assign who would make what for Christmas dinner...from three different states. It was a thing of beauty...and dinner wasn't bad either! The best part about it is the lovely little "DING" of accomplishment that it makes when you check something off of your list. I understand now how Pavlov's dog must have felt! I'm also keeping various lists of books that I'm hunting down for the new year and also a list of books that I plan to read in the new year.

Speaking of books...
Toward the end of December, my Man came across The 2016 Reading Challenge on one of his favorite blogs challies.com . We took things a bit further and assigned point values to each book category according to length, difficulty, and importance and we are competing individually, on teams (kids vs. parents), and with some members of our extended family. I finished my first book this morning (The Knowledge of the Holy by A. W. Tozier...highly recommend for short chapter-a-day devotional reading) for which I earned three points and the distinction of being the first at The Wright Place to finish a book for the challenge. Our goal is to expand our reading horizons and be more widely read readers. 

The teenagers taught me about Amazon Prime Music. It's also an app and it works much like Spotify. If you are an Amazon Prime member you can stream all sorts of music to your device AND you can even download certain selections to listen to when you are not in an area with wifi. Because of this app and the Bluetooth speaker I received for Christmas, our home has lately been filled with the sounds of the London Symphony Orchestra and The Boston Pops. Lest you think us highbrow, we are listening to those two sets of gifted musicians play movie soundtracks including and especially the Star Wars themes. We are pretty sure Darth Vader is just around the corner waiting to march down our hallway and stir up all sorts of trouble. 



Finally, the girls and I have been intending to watch the series Gilmore Girls together all year and just before year's end we sat down and dialed up the first episode and before we knew what had happened, we'd polished off three episodes. We were all kinds of smitten and giggly and amazed that three episodes had just flown by like that. 



Kate said, "You mean we've watched THREE? It didn't seem like it?" To which her older, wiser sis explained, "THAT is what you call BINGE watching Kate!" We are still watching our way through season one of the seven that lay ahead of us.  Lofty goals we have over here! Note: though FULL of charm, there are portions of the show that may not be suitable for younger children. So far, we haven't encountered anything "fast-forward" worthy, but I recently felt the need to preview a few scenes of an episode before letting the little girls watch. Mostly though, we just laugh at the sparkly dialogue and talk about the characters as if they were real people in our lives as we go about our days. 

I hope this finds you and yours enjoying your first few days of 2016! 


All of us at The Wright Place ( and Charles-the-Hermit-Crab ) wish you the happiest and most fulfilling New Year!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Twenty-three Years Ago Today...

To my Man,

Twenty-three years ago today we went on our first date. You know this better than I do, being the one of us who is comfortable with the calendar. We didn't know that twenty-three years ago though. We knew so very little then. We really only knew that we'd end up together. We just weren't sure how it was going to happen. We were all butterflies-in-the-belly and less feet-on-the-ground in reality.  Twenty-three years ago we went to a movie as a couple for the very first time, after spending a semester becoming best friends...all these years later I'm so glad that we still are ... both. 


I call that a victory. 

Twenty-three years ago, victories don't look like what they do today. Back then a victory was scheduling a few classes together in the business building and getting to spend time together in class. Now, a victory is scheduling a meal together and getting to talk about our very separate days. Then a victory was a good movie at my place, curled up on the couch with a pint each of Ben and Jerry's, today…well, we still consider that a victory... only now the couch is a bit more crowded. 


We had no way of knowing then, what our life together would look like but we had some hopeful ideas and some far off dreams. Now, here we stand in that far-off  looking back for a moment and I'm just so thankful. 

I am so thankful to be yours. 

Honestly, I don't think we'll ever be voted Marriage All Stars or anything like that because...we ARE, after all, us. You, the right-angle-loving, routine-living, order-craving, detail-focusing, list-checking, life-planning one and me, the scatter-brained, angle-bending, list-losing, big-picture-dreaming, order-wrecking, anti-calendaring one. That the dear Lord put us together, is real testament to His creativity and general sense of humor. 



Twenty-three years ago, I might have dreamed of a life full of fiery romance and nail-biting adventure but these days I'm so much more grateful for our current reality. The one in which I tell you that all I need is for you to come home every night and you chuckle as if to say that the standard I've set is a pretty low one. But is it really? Isn't it in the daily things where victories secured? Isn't it in the often and always where hearts are knit and mended and where the important parts of life are lived?  Therein, lies the romance. 


I ask for everyday and you've faithfully given that and then you've filled those days with the kinds of adventure two college kids on their first date twenty-three years ago could never have imagined.

Thanks for asking me out. 

It was a brave move. 

But not nearly as brave as having come home every. single. night. twenty-three years later.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

When You Are Not Feelin' All Advent-y

We began our Advent celebration last night around the table after a long day of school and errands. We'd ordered pizza for dinner because the Thanksgiving leftovers had run out along with my desire to produce anything more from the kitchen for a time. My Man had instructed the kids to clean off the dining room table so that "in a while we can do Advent." Then he set about paying the bills and getting the paper of our lives in order.

I was working on a season related project and the kids, after finishing their task, had migrated to the couch in front of the TV and had begun watching a show after a bit of fussing about what to watch at all because "there is NOTHING on!"

One child was particularly angsty because we'd made all indications that we'd be decorating the Christmas tree today and we'd not gotten nearly that far and she was both disappointed and determined that progress would be made before she was sent to bed. Her determination added a special challenge to our evening.

I was so over the day. The LAST thing my heart wanted to do was lean into this season of love and togetherness and my family gathered around the table humming Silent Night.

Ok, we don't ever hum Silent Night, but we do log some time around that table and I wasn't feeling it. I'd eventually found the beginnings of tree decor and Kate and I were making slow progress and soon my Man appeared with the Advent wreath and four sorry looking candles in his hand— he was on his way to the Christ candle to finish the set. Soon the call went out, "OK everyone, come in here for Advent!"

We gathered, I handed out pieces of fudge, given us by a friend, to fuel our focus. There was a new Advent book this year and it is simple and clear and easy
We spent ten minutes together all pondering the message of hope from Isaiah—our reading from last night. There was a candle with a flame and a happy child chosen to light it.


There was a seven year old reading the Scripture and stumbling over a word or two from behind bangs that need some attention. Fudge was eaten, prayer was offered, and the smoke from the extinguished candle marked the end of our celebration. 

We didn't do it perfectly—we cannot. 

We didn't do it grandly—we know not. 

We didn't do it eagerly— we were not. 

But there remains the simple practice of simply showing up and doing a thing and last night we just did that — we did the least.



It was plain and simple and soon over. We gathered and pondered the Hope of the coming Savior and we left the table a little more hopeful and a little more inclined to be less about ourselves and what we felt like (or didn't) and more about the reason and Giver of our Hope.


...I wish there were ten or a dozen Christmas-days in the year; for there is work enough in the world, and a little more rest would not hurt laboring people. Christmas-day is really a boon to us, particularly as it enables us to assemble round the family hearth and meet our friends once more. Still, although we do not fall exactly in the track of other people, I see no harm in thinking of the incarnation and birth of the Lord Jesus.
~Charles H. Spurgeon~

Saturday, November 7, 2015

From Around the World, Stories from Nepal

We are five days into my Man's 10 day trip to Nepal. 


God has been awfully good to us and we are doing well. Darrin and three men from our church left at 4 am Monday morning and spent the next day and a half traveling across the world. His purpose there is to teach and encourage the Nepali people.



We are able to send texts back and forth which has been a wonderful perk but since the time difference is nearly 11 hours, there are just a few windows of time in 24 hours where both of us are awake enough to communicate.

When I wake up in the morning the training that he is participating in is just finishing and by 10 am in my morning, he is hitting the sleeping bag in his night time.  As the days are ending for the kids and I here and we are crawling into our beds, Darrin is eating breakfast and preparing to teach for the day.

So, we've taken to writing things down on our "Nepal Wall" so that we can remember to tell him  and ask him when we have the opportunity.

We are keeping to our normal schedule during these days and the time seems to be passing as quickly as we'd hoped.

I've been writing daily updates at our church's website and you can access them via the link below…

Check back in a few days for some daddy's gone tales...

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Lunch Lady and the Lunch Loser

Every Wednesday Kate awakens with a bit of a spring in her step, a hitch in her giddy-up, a sparkle in her eye. Wednesdays are Kate's day to shine. Kate, this middle daughter of mine stands out from the pack on Wednesdays and for good reason…she's the provider of Thursday lunches for the six of us and she takes her job so seriously that she begins prep for her task first thing on Wednesday morning. With a spiral notepad in hand she bops from sibling to sibling and from parent to parent attempting to discern what we'd like in our Thursday lunches.

Her efforts are often met with one syllable grunts or even a vague brush-off and instructions to "ask me later." It is after all, way before coffee has been adequately consumed and it is also a smidgen early and therefore difficult to decide if mustard and mayo on your next day's lunch would be best, or if ham or turkey or both is preferable and should one go with cheese or without?

After being diverted to her math book and her grammar lessons and anything else we can aim her towards, Kate is no less determined to collect the data and get down to business. We have decreed that no Thursday lunch-making is permitted until after our post-church dinner on Wednesday evening.

However, all throughout Wednesday afternoon clues appear here and there about the house that Thursday lunch is weighing heavily on Kate's mind. A loaf of bread from the freezer magically appears on the countertop so that it can be thawed before it is called into action later in the day, and a laundry basket, filled with empty lunch bags, mysteriously makes it way to a forgotten corner of the dining room.

Finally, after we all roll in the door from church and eat and scatter toward homework and lesson plans and bed, Kate, with the kitchen all to herself, gets down to business. With her notepad beside her,  she fills the orders, adds some extras and a water bottle and a napkin, always a napkin, and somehow finds a way to place all six lunch bags in the fridge for the night.



When Thursday morning dawns, she eats breakfast and sets our lunches out on the counter for us to grab on our way out the door. It's a perfect system…unless, even after being reminded, you forget to grab your lunch…like I did this morning. I am the only one to have forgotten their lunch so far this year…I felt special.


I happily ate the spare sandwich Kate had packed for Cole and all was right in my world. I came home and my lunch bag was waiting for me exactly where Kate left it for me.


…which means that I'll be in good shape tomorrow when everyone else is looking for their lunch!


…unless, of course, Kate beats me to it.

All of this rushing out of bed and getting dressed as quickly as we can, throwing papers and books into our backpacks, inhaling breakfast and trying to remember to take our lunch and all four kids with us as we pile into the car makes me ask again, 

"How do regular, normal families do this day in and day out?" 

This, dear reader, is possibly the most compelling reason that we homeschool…ok, that and the thought of signing 3 dozen Valentine's Day cards times four every year.  

Deep and compelling, that's us!



Happy Weekend!!

For more adventures with Kate:
The Teacher and the Taught
In the Kitchen with Kate (and a recipe)
In Which Kate Learns About Botox
In Which I Almost Let Down UPS!
Kate the Great (and oldie)
Kate the Great (a title so nice I've used it at least twice!)

Monday, October 12, 2015

School Stuff and Such … Lots of Links I Like

In the last few months I've met many young families who are considering or who have decided to begin homeschooling their children. I'd like to say right now…in the middle of October when the novelty is getting a little less shiny and feeling a bit less like a cool new thing and is hinting like it's going to be a bit more of a challenge...

Welcome to the Adventure!

You are gonna love it, and you will also be terrified.

You are going to learn so much, and wonder if your children are learning enough.

You've probably already declared your purpose and your reasons aloud but question your every decision in the quiet of your heart.

You can't believe you GET to participate so deeply in helping your sweet kids as they learn and you can't believe you are ACTUALLY responsible for helping your sweet kids as they learn!

You get to choose what your children learn…WAIT!... you must decide what they need for life?

You will wake up each morning (in September) and eagerly call the kids to their lessons, but there will be other mornings (in say…February) when you will not want to get out of bed at all.

Eventually you realize that bad days don't equal failure, they make you a better teacher and they make your students better learners and that, dear homeschoolin' mamma is great success indeed.



Below are some resources and links that I've found helpful in the last little bit that have helped me on this homeschooling adventure…

Podcasts:
Tsh Oxenrider interviews homeschooling "legend" Susan Wise Bauer on her podcast. Susan's wise words helped me as I approached the education of my young grade-schoolers and my high schoolers.


Lee Binz's goal with her site The Home Scholar is to help homeschooling parents successfully teach their students through high school. A friend told me about The Home Scholar earlier this summer and I've learned so much. Even if you aren't ready to even consider high school education for your little ones just yet, Lee has shared a free webinar in which she interviews Dr. Jay Wile (author of my kids' science texts) about what studies are showing about homeschooled kids. There are lots of charts and graph and statistics but I found them all very interesting and not too overwhelming. I listened to it while I prepared dinner and am going to share it with my kids and my Man as soon as we are all home together again at the same time…maybe next October? 

I've already mentioned that one of my favorite podcasts is called Read Aloud Revival and Sarah Mackenzie, the host and creator, has begun season 2. There are so many gems from season 1 that will encourage new homeschoolers including:
 Episode 1: Reading Aloud to Older Kids  (but it's not just about that…there is gold here for newbies) Sarah interviews Andrew Pudewa (author of my kids' writing curriculum and learning expert who's words on any topic are always worth leaning in to hear) 
Episode 2: How to Talk to your Kids About Books an interview with Adam Andrews 
Episode 4 and Episode 5 Jim Weiss Shares Tips for Reading Aloud and Jim Weiss on the Importance of Reading Aloud Imperfectly. (Once more, these two episodes include way more than their titles suggest. Mr. Weiss has been around the homeschooling community for many years and has many great thoughts to share.)

I think that once you've gotten these podcasts into your ears, you'll be excited to listen to all the rest as well. They are excellent.

A new podcast just dropped which is all about what we call Morning Time (I talked about Morning Time at The Wright Place HERE last school year.) Pam Barnhill of EdShapshots is the host of Your Morning Basket and in episode one she interviews the guru of Morning Time Cindy Rollins. 

Nurturing Competent Communicators is a FREE audio download from the aforementioned Andrew Pudewa. I was able to hear Mr. Pudewa give this talk live at a homeschool conference and it's worth WAY more than free. 
Here's the download link:   


When you finish getting an earful here are some handy resources for the actual teaching and such:

Free handwriting printables are found at Handwriting for Kids . Take time to look around this site, it's full of super tools.

For awesome book recommendations get beg, borrow or steal (ok, don't steal…but it'd be worth your punishment) Honey for a Child's Heart by Gladys Hunt. Book recommendations are sorted by age and the descriptions make it easy to discern if a book will be a good fit for your child or not. 



One of my favorite websites for booklists for children is Mt. Hope Chronicles which is currently in the middle of a series featuring one children's book per day for 31 days. Click over there for some inspiration…book lists abound!

Already mentioned above, Sarah Mackenzie blogs at Amongst Lovely Things and provides book recommendations and lists and general homeschooling helps and tricks.

I learned about Melissa Wiley from The Read Aloud Revival podcast and have come to enjoy her blog Here in the Bonney Glen which is also, full of books and schooling.

Finally, you may enjoy a quick hop over to StoryWarren.com , it's a sweet quiet place to ponder and gain encouragement for the journey ahead. Their tag line is "Allies in Imagination" and they are that.

Blessings on you and your students as you learn together.

We're cheering you on from over here at

The Wright Academy.


Here are a few more posts on our homeschooling adventures:

Homeschooling "Who-ha"

Homeschool Yearbook

In Which We are Joined by Aristotle

Awwwww NUTS!! It's Time for School Again!?

School Pictures

Home is where they school ya!

Writing for Rolos (Super Easy Recipe here)



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.

Helllooooo!

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!

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