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…

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 , 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)

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