Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Forever in Blue Jeans

She waited until a crowd had gathered.  She paused until there was a lull in the conversation.  She saw her opening and she pounced,

"Has anyone even noticed that I have new blue jeans on?" 

The response was, I'm sure just what she'd been hoping for.  All eyes turned to her and admiring gazes noticed her new jeans and everything that she was in them. 

I had gone to the store by myself earlier in the day to pick up this and that and had come across a "too good to pass up" deal on her jeans.  I laid them on her bed and promised her that she could try them on after her nap.  There was much discussion about why the tags must be left on until after the try on.  Finally agreeing not to pull the tags, she napped.

I heard her feet hit the floor and minutes later she appeared.  Blue jeans fitting perfectly, tags fluttering in her wake. "They fit really good, except for around the waist right here Mom.  I know that's why they put these adjuster things here.  Could you fix these for me?"  We fixed "the adjuster things" and she found the perfect top, clean and in her drawer.  All was right in her world.

I remember another girl, a good bit older than Kate, who was in need of some jeans.  I do not know the reason why my Dad was given the job of taking me on the search.  I do know why he accepted--he did not know what lay ahead.  I remember entering the first store, and trying on a pair of jeans that were OK, but surely I reasoned, better existed, so on we went into every store in the mall that sold jeans. 

I tried on many, many pairs. 

Dad, ever the long-suffering father of three girls, accompanied me every step of the way offering no complaint.

A few important discoveries were made that fateful day.  First, it is possible that the first pair of jeans tried on during a shopping trip with one's father could be and probably are the best ones for the occasion.  Second, my Dad is a patient but intelligent man.  Upon exiting the mall with my new jeans bagged and at my side, I heard a calm, smiling voice,

"Well babe, you can mark this date twice on your calander."

"What do ya mean?" I asked.

"Mark it as the first time I took you to look for a pair of jeans, and as the last time."

I'm not sure if my sisters, younger both than I, have blamed me all these years for ruining him, though it would seem that I did.  Dad forever handed the "clothing" reins back to Mom and to my knowledge, never darkened the door of the Gap again.  Never. 

But he never missed a volleyball game.  Ever.

Monday, September 28, 2009

If At First You Don't Succeed. . .

Here it is, the sequel to the riveting, the electrifying School Pictures post!  (You know, the one my computer ate over the weekend.)

Education is the movement from darkness to light. ~Allan Bloom
(So is Salvation!!)

Grammar - a necessary "evil".

(More fitly pronounced grrrrrrrammar!)

This year Cole's math curriculum is called The Teaching Textbook which is computer based-yippee!  The computer teaches the lesson, grades the exercises, and keeps records.  This setup is perfect for his home school teacher who agrees with Calvin Trillin who said, "I never did very well in math - I could never seem to persuade the teacher that I hadn't meant my answers literally."

This is more like it! Counting math - tell me what you use most each day...algebra or counting? I figure, as long as I can count to four...four bowls of cereal, four spoons, four squirming bodies behind me in the van, four million loads of laundry. . .

Working on a reader entitled Henry Reed early in the day. (I can tell that its early because the top of the table is still visible!)

Throughout the year, our history studies will be centered around the Eastern Hemisphere. Last week and this week our focus is on Australia. Our main "text book" is the 2009 World Book Encyclopedia on DVD-ROM. It is such a super resource. As we read the assigned article last Friday, it discussed the highest population areas of the land "down under." We clicked on a "population map" and a map appeared showing us in picture form the very thing we had just read. Continuing through the reading assignment, we read about the usual facts and statistics of Australia and then listened to the national anthem with one simple click. "What's that weird looking horn?" they asked, looking at an interesting picture on the screen. One more click and we heard the horn playing and learned that it was a didgeridoo. So much fun. We accidentally learned a lot while playing with the World Book program!

Now to my absolute favorite subject. . .

Home Economics!

Kate received an A+ for this special project...

Easy Peach Cobbler

Baking is fun, dishes are inevitable.

Can you tell that the Home Ec teacher is trying her best to work the cafeteria lady out of a job?

And finally. . .

Driver's Ed

(Just kidding!)

Here at the Wright Academy we are ever looking toward future generations of teachers and so, we have developed a program to involve specially trained student teachers from time to time. . .

Never too young to learn.

Especially if it's from The Belly Button Book by Sandra Boynton - delightful.

What else, you may wonder does good 'ole Molly do now that the attention she was used to basking in has been turned toward more serious studies-toward books and markers, puzzles and dry erase boards, to reading and writing?

She keeps coming up with ways to stay at the center of it all.

It appears that good 'ole Molly is a pretty quick learner too!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

School Subjects (abridged)

A Buddhist Proverb says that "when the student is ready, the master appears."

I'd like to know when the cleaning crew is going to appear!  Unfortunately, this is how the school room looks by the end of the day.  If you are wondering what purpose that stuffed cow had in our learning, join the club-I have no idea.

Instead of continuing yesterday's "School Pictures" blog, I used the time to clean the above mess! 

Well, honestly, My Man cleaned up the mess and I really did write the next blog.  However, when I hit the little orange button that sends the words and pictures onto the blog page, the whole post disappeared.  Bummer, I can't find it anywhere.  The computer ate my homework!  Perhaps it will reappear?  I know not.  I'll give it another go in a day or so.

Until then, I'll try not to get too upset about it. . .

             ('cause I have people to do that for me.)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

School Pictures

The Wright gang is finishing its third week of school.  Minds are waking back up after a summer of relative ease, pens are rolling much more smoothly over the blue lined pages, and numbers are "carrying" with a bit more purpose now.  

School begins each year with a familiar sighting. . .

The arrival of our new school books.  This year, we were blessed  to be able to borrow the bulk of Cole and Meg's books from another home schooling family who uses the same curriculum that we do for history and geography and science.  Yippee! 

We opened our boxes and the school year began with its potential heavy in the air.

Meg was really skeptical about that Blood and Guts book, but it has been a great one so far.  Our science this year is Human Anatomy and Physiology (I just got a crinkle in my stomach typing that out...I hope it's easier than it sounds!)

We've got a new student this year.  Kate will proudly tell you that she's in "Pre-K"--she won't proudly tell you that her mother is her Pre-K teacher.  She hopes you won't ask her that because she wants you to think that she's big stuff and somehow having your MOM teach you how to read is soooo yesterday.

The book Kate's nose is in is called Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons .  I found it in a book warehouse in South Carolina about 7 years ago and paid $4.00 for it.  The page pictured above is about as exciting as the book gets.  Cole and Meg learned to read out of that book.  Meg used to call it "my beautiful book".  My sisters have each taught at least one child from that very book.  We dated and wrote each child's name on the lessons that were completed.  It's a much more beautiful book these days with all of that history and hard work recorded in its pages. 

Kate doesn't think it a beautiful book, she thinks of it as something-I-have-to-do-to-get-gum.  When praising her for a good job on her "reading lesson" a few days ago, she grinned at me and said, "I can't wait 'til I graduate."

Every now and then the Pre-K teacher takes a break, steps aside, and lets Dora the Explorer take over for a bit.  Dora is way smarter than the Pre-K teacher because she can speak two languages and she knows her Left from her Right.  I know this because I used to watch Dora with Meg when she was littleDora  was able to do what no other before her had accomplished -- she taught me Left from Right (I really would like to type "just kidding" here, but it'd be a big ole' lie). 

The only drawback Kate sees with having "computer Dora"  for her teacher is that Dora can't truly appreciate the care with which Kate has assembled her ensemble for the day.  

The Pre-K teacher appreciates all of the work her student invests in her daily outfits.  Who wouldn't get a real kick out of a 4 year old who shows up for school in a pink satin tutu?

(Continued tomorrow--unless too much Human Anatomy and Physiology has my head spinning!)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Here's What You Get. . .

Here's what you get when you ask for help wrapping yummy Pumpkin Muffins (with cream cheese filling)  for the freezer during the Big Game.

Surely he needed to stay "suited up" in case they needed him.  (As it happend, they did!.)

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Football Family

Football season, oh what bliss.  The college bands, the fight songs, the nutso fans with no shirts, the crisp fall air outside, the chili scented air inside, team emblazoned sweatshirts (preferably the old soft kind that threaten a hole or two near the elbows),  and Game Day on ESPN.

Our ideal Saturdays are full of rightly matched college teams, nachos and cheese dip, pop to drink, and soup to heat and reheat.  This Saturday was such a day.

As I opened my eyes and stumbled out of bed, I passed my boy, dressed in his football jersey, ball cap and matching shorts.  He'd been awake for sometime, gathering info for all the games that were to come.  Ready to share with me all the news that was fit to report regarding our favorite past time.  Not, however, before coffee! 

Cole was brimming with details to relate over breakfast.  We talked about our favorite college quarterback, Tim Tebow and the big game he had ahead today.  We discussed our Mountaineers and hoped for the best.  Who's team was on "upset alert" and who was playing Notre Dame were also hot topics.

I grew up watching and learning about football with my Dad.   I liked keeping him company as he watched the games in a house full of women (our dog was even female). 

Turns out, this knowledge would serve me well through out my life.  When I met My Man we spent a lot of time watching football games and discussing them.  Now that my son is attaining football fanatic status, I'm still able to "talk a good game" -after coffee, never before.  I've been occasionally overheard saying, "Not every boy's mom would know that," after making a commentator-worthy observation of a particular play or player.   

When we shared the news of another sister "on the way" before Molly's birth, our guy was especially bummed because he was certain there was a brother on back order for him somewhere in the universe.  A brother with whom he could enjoy the pleasures of this sport he'd grown to love.  It was simply not to be.

Every year Cole and his dad try their best to get Meg interested in the game.  She's always a good enough sport to dress the part. 

 But she tends to loose interest after that...

And Kate? 

She's the one in the pink!

There will be no getting that gal into a boxy fittin' jersey! 

Not even on Football Day of all days.

Did someone say foot?

They could've at least used team colors.

So, having lost two potential fans to "Spa Saturday", Cole decided to go with the next obvious candidate...

He began instruction with the simple skills...

The Hand Off

Receiving a Hand Off

Moving on to more difficult skills. . .


Snapping the Ball...Hike!


It was all going sooooo well, girl or not.

A football buddy for Cole, at long last!

Until. . .

she discovered what was going on in the bathroom.


Maybe next Saturday?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Home Schooling "Who-ha"

"Oh," they respond, "we're home schooled." 

Our children frequently give this answer to the oft asked, "Where do you go to school?"  Then I watch the asker's face to see what they think.  If the look is one of skepticism, I have an almost uncontrollable urge to ask one of the kids what the capital of Tanzania is-just to show off a bit.  Not that I'd know if they gave me the correct answer or not.  Not, even, that any of my kids would actually know the correct answer.  I figure, however, that the chance of the person-I'm-dreaming-of-showing-off-to knowing the answer is slim at best.

Some excellent teachers from my hometown, asked once, "Why do you want to home school?"  That was a few months before Cole and Meg and I began the "adventure" and I had all kinds of grand motivations and glorious reasons, facts about testing scores, charts, long term statistics. . .

That was five years ago.

We're beginning our sixth year of this "adventure" with some of the same motivations and less of the high and lofty reasons. When folks ask me today why we home school, I have fewer facts and figures, (I only have time for the facts and figures that we need to learn) and some very solid reasons - few of them glorious.  What I am able to tell curious onlookers is that we home school because, it is the best option for teaching a Christian world view to our family for this present season.

I'm not given to the school of thought which declares that every child should be home educated.  I'm just not.  I'm also never going to say that those who send their children to public or private schools have opted for "the easy way out".  That simply is not true.  In fact, my very favorite answer to, "Why do you home school?" is that I could never, never get my children out of bed, feed them breakfast, get them dressed (in clean clothes), and delivered to school on time 5 days every week.  Never happen.  I applaud my mom friends who do this day in and day out, and stand in awe of their skills.  My kids would be delivered late, half-starving, and half-dressed 4 out of the 5 days--of this, I'm confident! 

Aside from very low standards regarding the dress code at the "Wright Academy", we enjoy other benefits as well.  Once in a blue moon, the school cafeteria serves Happy Meals for lunch and donuts for breakfast (but not on the same day).  Birthdays are school holidays and Christmas Break lasts most of December (unless you count the baking of cookies and other goodies as a study of fractions, the mixing of the dough and the baking of it as science experiments, and the purchasing of ingredients while staying within a given budget as economics). 

In the fall and spring, most of our studies take place on our porch or on a blanket in the backyard.  In the winter, we cuddle up in front of the gas logs on our living room floor.  There is a bit of extra work for the mother/teacher, but there are lots of perks as well.  I loved teaching the kids to read and being right there when the "light bulb" lights up and the funny shapes on the page became words and sentences and stories.  I also enjoy a rather cozy relationship with our principal. 

It's not all sunshine and cookies though.  We rarely observe snow days.  This is a disappointment to the Wright kids and the neighbor's child who hopefully knocks on our door each snow day with just his eyes and nose showing through his snow gear, asking if the kids can come out and play. It's also a bummer when the teacher gets side tracked doing the laundry, or talking on the phone, or serving as school janitor, and delays the final bell for over an hour. 

Sometimes we struggle understanding our subject matter, or with bad attitudes, or there is crying--but eventually I pull myself together, dry my tears, and listen closely as the children explain again the subject I'm struggling with! 

Many people ask me, "How do you do it?" 

"It's not really that big of a deal," I have always responded.  Really, how many adults do you know who do their jobs in their pajamas if necessary?  (Note:  I am not able this year to "do school" when not properly dressed because I get complaints from the pre-school class when not fashionably attired.  I am NOT joking.)  The kids have no other school to compare theirs to, so they have no expectation except that which I lay before them.  My very favorite thing about homeschooling is that I get to learn too.  Cole and Megan are in fifth and fourth grades and I do much more learning than teaching.  Talk about a fringe benefit--I've always got an interesting tidbit to contribute to conversations.

Others ask, "Don't the kids need to be around other children?"
If you ask the children, they'd probably tell you that they would cherish some time when there were no other children present!  Honestly, if we weren't privileged to be a part of such a vibrant kid-focused, kid-wealthy, church family, we would approach school differently--I think.     

There you have it.  The grand "who-ha" of home schooling here at The Wright Academy finally revealed.  We really do call ourselves The Wright Academy.  On the advice of another home schoolin' mom, we named our school so that when we are filling out the myriad forms and files one has to for their children, we had something to fill in the blank marked "School:_______________". 

It fits us and the kids like having an option in case they don't want to answer, "Oh, we're home schooled."  Cole even wants to have t-shirts printed that say "The Wright Academy" with a family crest on them.  Fine with me as long as we don't get any calls from new students wishing to enroll.  We're already pushing the fire marshal's limit for our facility!

It's Dodoma  by the way-- the capital of Tanzania.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Apple Roll Ups

We're in the thick of homeschooling.  Our days are packed full of fun learning and some less than fun learning.  All of it necessary.  Each day brings a particular challenge -- lunch, of all things!

I don't know if it's the stopping of our progress in school that so disturbs or the trying each day to figure out exactly what we'll eat.  We often opt for mac 'n cheese or lunch meat sandwhiches or tomato soup in the winter.  Often though, we find ourselves in a lunch rut -- tired of peanut butter and jelly, or left-overs from dinners past, and so on.

Barely two weeks into our school year, we were already into the rut when Meg reminded me of a fun lunch/snack that we put together last year--Apple Roll Ups.

To make these you'll need:

Two or three apples cut into wedges.
We used Gala.

  A few slices of cheese cut in half.
Any variety will work, this is Colby Jack

Lunch meat. 
This is turkey, but again, any kind will work.
(Chipotle ham is especially yummy if you can find it!)

Lay a slice of meat on a plate and then add the halved slice of cheese.

Next, place an apple wedge at the bottom of the cheese.


Then, just roll the apple up in the meat and cheese.

Eat and enjoy.

(It also adds to the fun when
you serve lunch on "insect" plates.)

"Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good."
Psalm 34:8

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Church Picnic by the Bees

Our Annual Church Picnic
brought to you
by the Letter "B"






Big Bite

Bright Blue




Bigger Boys


Baby's Brother's Ball

Baby's Brother


Boy O' Mine

Bye Bye!

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