Friday, July 31, 2009

Grandparent Camp

We're all flung about this month as this family member and that one have been at Camp Pappa & Mamma. First Cole left us for parts southwest for his turn at camp, then after a twice extended stay, Megan was swapped for Cole and has been a "happy camper" for the last week. Today, Kate will be exchanged for Meg, and off to Mamma & Pappa's (and Aunt Sherri & Uncle Mike's) she will travel.

Kate, a'twitter with anticipation, has had her clothes laid out to be packed for 3 days! After two days of begging me to get out her suitcase, I relented and she's already to go. Honestly, she needed no help except a reminder to take her swimsuit and her toothbrush. Everything else, including 4 pairs of shoes - no problem. Babydoll Ethel is packed and waiting with her own bags as is a backpack full of books "to entertain me on the way." Cole's entire week's worth of clothing, etc. was packed in one single backpack and Meg took one small suitcase! Viva, la difference.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Two Shorts

Short #1

"Mom," she exclaimed as I stepped onto the porch, "I just saw one of those things we see out here all the time!"
"What thing?" I asked. "A fly?"
"A chipmunk?"
"No. One of those big things. An ele--" she stopped short, something in her knowing that what she had seen was not an elephant in our yard.
"A deer?" guessed I.
"Oh, I was thinking it was a giraffe are you sure it was a deer?"

(Note to teacher: please review animals in preschool, we seem to be having trouble with animal identification in this particular zoo!)

Short #2

Our first born is in basketball camp this week. Yesterday, when he left, most of his morning chores had been neglected. As a result, this morning I was going over the list of chores and tasks to be accomplished before leaving for camp.
"Did you make your bed?"
"Are your teeth brushed?"
"Yes ma'am."
"All of them?"
"Do you have socks on?" Somehow, yesterday he didn't realize socks would be necessary until he was on his way to the car.
"Yes." (I discovered on the way to camp that they were in fact, yesterday's socks. Recycling gone amuck! Note to self: don't be anywhere close to him when he takes his shoes off this afternoon!)
"Have you combed your hair?"
"I don't need to comb my hair."
"Why not?" I asked, very interested in his answer.
"Because, I combed it yesterday."

Okay then.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Tip. . .

When you're toooooo impatient (or fidgety, or busy choosing your next outfit, or your baby doll Ethel is crying, or you are four years old) for a pedicure to dry completly. . . Kate recommends:

Oh, and make very sure to press the "cool" button on the dryer (it keeps the polish from melting off in that final step).

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Flip Flop Fancy

I have a child with a fancy for flip flops. She owns many, many pairs yet begs, begs for more each time we leave home. Today while on a gal's only trip to the mall, I turned her down again. Please don't feel sorry for her ...

The 2009 Collection...

After denying my little fashionista her kicks, I suggested that she find something else that would bring her joy. Grinning, she took me to the sunglasses display. "Good idea!" I thought, "something you don't have 38 pairs of..."

Upon returning home I discovered that....

...perhaps I was mistaken.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Injured Dignity

I'm just not even sure where to begin...there was this tree, a humongous tree in our back yard. The tree was actually the biggest part of our back yard with it's roots snaking out in every direction and its leaves providing shade for over three quarters of the yard and the house. Unfortunately, the roots were also sneaking into our sewer pipes and clogging them up and the leaves were falling prettily into our gutters and causing trouble there as well. After six years of debating the situation, we finally decided to have the tree cut down.

After receiving many estimates, we chose the tree service that gave us a great bid and that came very highly recommended by a friend in the lumber business. This job would prove to be a bit complicated we learned, when the "tree cutter guy" told us that the electric to our home AND our neighbor's home would have to be turned off for the better part of the BIG day.

On the BIG day, the man from the power company appeared at 7:30 am (Not a typo, really seven thirty in the morning--waaaayyy before my curling iron is awake). Kate met the electrician at the door and attached herself to him until Darrin could escort him to the backyard where the "unhooking" would begin. After a rather...well...colorful conversation (on the electric guy's half anyway) Darrin yelled into the house to see if we were ready to be without power.

"Sure," I lied sweetly. Really, who is ever ready to be without power? Without air conditioning, without Fox & Friends, without THE COFFEEMAKER? Power off, the man from the power company with the colorful vocabulary told us good bye and then adds over his shoulder while casting a glance at Kate, "She never shuts up does she?" I wasn't sure what to do with that one. I couldn't argue with him on the merits of his statement, I could have given him a verse of "if you can't say anything nice...", instead I decided to tamper with his ladder when he returned to turn the electric back on. (After he'd restored the power of course.)

As the electrician exited, the tree guys arrived and worked quickly and diligently until an ugly storm unloaded and halted work for the day. Approximately one-third of the tree had been felled (tree talk- for cut down) and a second BIG day was scheduled and rescheduled for the next month. The electric guy returned and restored power, and I was so grateful that I decided not to bother his ladder.

BIG day number two dawned without the threat of rain for which we were grateful to God and a different electric guy appeared this time, for which we were grateful to the power company.

Did I mention that BIG day number two happened to be on the same day as day number FIVE of vacation bible school? Oh, and speaking of five, did I also mention that I had five kiddos in my care on this electric-less day?

My niece Sophie is a regular at the Wright Place for VBS every year. It is a cherished tradition for us and, so I hear, for Sophie. I have yet to understand what the draw is for her as each year, some sort of catastrophe befalls us and I end up being the Wicked Witch of the Stressed Out North and the children suffer, even the borrowed ones! Last year had been just awful being 11 months pregnant, having electrical issues, plumbing issues, and air conditioning issues--you get the picture. This year was a welcomed change, what a smooth week it had been. Hakuna matata as it were. So really, what was a little lull in power to me--it was for a good cause and all. . .

"Gretch, you ready for the power to go off?" yelled my Man.
"Sure," I lied though less sweetly this time.
Off went the power on went the chain saws, and down the street went a minivan filled to capacity to drop Cole at the bus stop for day camp. After running a few more errands the remaining children and I decided to stop back by the house to gather library books and videos to return. Leaving the children parked out front, I ran into the house to retrieve the overdue DVD from the DVD player. As I reached the front door Darrin called to me,
"Don't go into our bedroom. They've broken the window and there's glass all over the place."

"Super," I thought, "that ancient window needs replacing anyway." I continued my trek into the house and was just about to press the "open" button on the DVD player when my Man called to me again.

"Gretchen! Grab the first aid kit. One of the tree guys fell and has messed his arm up a bit. It probably needs some peroxide and a bandage."

Peroxide and a bandage huh? Armed with our amazingly well supplied first aid kit and met the injured man on the back porch. His arm was pretty scratched and bloodied and I began to clean it up and was dabbing peroxide when he said,

"I'm getting a little dizz..." At the same time the poor guy was passing out, Meg and Kate were rounding the corner, having exited the car to come and see what had become of their AWOL chauffeur. When he came to the young man was pretty stiff and sore and reported that he'd been carried by a large limb from one level of our hilly back yard to the much lower level of the concrete patio, and en route hit the basketball goal with his head and back. We finished wrapping his arm and gave him some ice for his neck and back and some sweet tea for his trouble.

As work continued on the tree, I thought I'd make another run at the DVD player. I reached it without incident and hit the open button only to realize that I was powerless for the day, that the DVD was captive, and that library fines were inevitable. Forgetting the library trip for the day, I unloaded the kids from the van and checked on the injured tree guy who was struggling with the ice on his neck. I took him a bag of frozen corn, hoping he wouldn't think I was crazy.
"Just like my mom," he said, causing me to age no less than 15 years. After leaving the porch, I stopped by the bathroom, applied some make-up and did the math. I was not quite old enough to be his mom, but it was way close.

When I stepped outside to see what Darrin wanted me to do about lunch, I heard a limb hit the ground, however the sound was different than the thump that we were getting used to hearing. What I heard turned out to be the sound of a large limb taking out Cole's basketball goal in its entirety. Looking up the hill to my Man, I saw that he, like me was grinning. You just had to feel bad for the "tree boss" who was all of 23 years old but, as you would imagine, was aging quickly. Along with the basketball goal, the same branch also split a small bit of fence that separated our yard from our neighbor's.

On the lunch break the "tree boss" shared with us that this had indeed been one of "those days" which had begun with a lost debit card and would now include an injured worker, a broken window, a downed basketball goal, and a broken fence. "In my six years at this, the worst I've ever done was to bend a metal fence a little," he said in disbelief, "and all this."

Poor guy. Finally, tree conquered, they loaded their tired selves into their trucks, promising to return in two days to load all the wood and finish the clean up. We loaded up our crew as well and headed to the final episode of VBS. At the end of the evening many inquiries were made of us about our day because, during prayer request time in their classes, our four wide-eyed little witnesses had asked for prayer for the injured tree guy who had gotten hurt at our home today.

The young man who had the bad fall is reported to have recovered and is doing well. The aging tree boss will be doing better soon I'm sure. I read a phrase in a book the other day that made me think of the poor guy. A character in the book had fallen and said that she was all right except for her "injured dignity". Injured dignity--that's what the poor tree boss was experiencing, but fear not, he'll be better soon because Kate has prayed for him every night for the last six nights and doesn't seem to be preparing to stop any time soon.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Happiness is. . .

A full underwear drawer...

The smell of a freshly bathed baby...

The sight of that freshly bathed backside toddling out of the bathroom...

A son who holds the door for me...

Doughnuts & coffee in the morning...

Gevalia Creme Brulee Flavored Coffee...

A nine year old who still wants to hold my hand...

Eating out with friends after church...

The sound of my Man laughing...

Long talks about nothing & everything with my sisters...

Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Dough with Cinnamon Ice Cream...

A four year old with sassy sunglasses...

The first day of college football season...

Knowing that my Mom enjoys my blog...

Monday, July 13, 2009

Birthday Bedlam

As it happened this year, my birthday fell on a Sunday. The day began as all birthdays do here at the Wright Place, with cake and ice cream for breakfast or in my case, a Dairy Queen ice cream cake.
When the last drip of ice cream cake was licked off of the plate, we began to do the Sunday Morning Dance. (Que circus music.) Darrin, already showered, climbed the steps to dress Molly and supervise the outfitting of the remaining children. I made a mad dash to the showers, and was half way through my hair and make up routine when a polka-dot clad Kate marched into the bathroom ready for her "up-do".

As I wielded the curling iron on Kate's behalf, I heard my Man begin his honorable journey to the basement to have a go at ironing the shirt that he'd asked me to iron for him yesterday (oops!).

"Why isn't this iron working?" rose a perplexed voice from the depths.

"Because it is Sunday morning! Hang on, I'll be down." answered a guilt ridden hair-dresser.

I added the "icing" to Kate's up-do and headed down to Laundry Lane. It appeared upon my arrival that the GFI thingy had flipped, or sprung, or whatever the official word may be. As I was pointing out this fact, my Man jumped in to action, literally, and landed on top of the washing machine which is the only way one can reach the outlet in question, but not before braining himself on a lit light bulb. Attempting to hide my snicker, I gave more instructions, none of which fixed the problem.

"Move over," said I. And move over he did. I hopped on to the washer avoiding the bulb with great skill I thought, and pushed all the same buttons, expecting a different result. No dice. After resetting a breaker, my Man sprang back onto the washer and re-brained himself on the same bulb. Still, no go with the outlet, but that light bulb was hanging tough.

Thinking I'd save the day and trying to look like the super-hero I pretend to be, I snatched up the ironing board and marched over to another outlet only to discover that the basement division of outlets must have been on strike--no power there either. Aggravation rising in my stomach, I folded the ironing board and picked it up at which point the legs let loose and hit me in the face! Nothing to do at this point but laugh out loud.

Shirt finally ironed, I met a curler sportin' Meg in front of the mirrors for a comb-out.

What a gorgeous hair day for my blondie! Molly was going with a low-maintenance do for the day, so I began again to style my own coif.

I decided to get a fresh cup of coffee before I got down to the serious business of trying to look fresh and youthful on my birthday, so stepping out into the hallway I saw a blur of polka dots jumping out in front of me. As she landed, Kate got off three well placed shots with her water gun. Two shots landed dripping into my half done hair and one shot splashed directly in my face.

I grabbed the offending weapon from the offending child and threw it down the hall and into our bedroom, nearly hitting my man on his bulb-shy head. "KAAAAAATE, you can't shoot your gun on Sunday mornings!!!!!!"

Many, many times in the last month we've shouted similar phrases at our Kate. She seems to know the exact moments when her guerrilla water gun attacks will have the greatest potential for disaster.

Sensing that I was not going to be ready in time for Sunday School, my Man piled the baby, the blondie, the boy, and the sniper into the van and wisked them off to church leaving in their wake a peace that endured--for about 40 minutes! Happy Birthday to me!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Why Read?

We are a book family. The Wright Place contains books in every room, lately even in the basement. We are all about reading, wanting to read, looking for our next good read, shopping for the latest read and library-ing for some classic reads.

One of our family goals is to instill a love of reading into the four little hearts under our influence and under our roof. Early each summer my Man announces the "Reading Incentive" for the summer. The announcement comes this year after a great deal of thought and an even greater deal of figuring. Last summer a monetary award was offered for each chapter completed by our eager readers. One of the readers, however, came very close to breaking the bank by completing over 700 chapters. While our bank account took a larger hit than expected, our hearts were warmed as it appeared that another Wright had succumbed to a love of books and reading. Well worth the cost.

This summer the deal is as follows: readers will collect 1 cent per page read AND $1 upon completion of an entire book. Thus far, our big reader has raked in over $15 and isn't slowing down.

Why the great focus? Why the cost? Why the effort? I grew up reading and am all the richer for it. I desire that for my little ones. I love to read as an adult and am all the wiser for it. Abraham Lincoln said, "The things I want to know are in books. My best friend is the man who'll get me a book I [haven't] read."

There are books written that can teach you how to accomplish anything. I found over ten different books about how to do laundry properly--who would've thought. I've read books about how to feed the kids, how to feed the adults, how to clean my home and more specifically my kitchen sink, how to teach a child to play golf (no, I don't play), how to make the perfect pancake, how to pack a nutritious lunch, and you can bet I've got a book about blogging on a to-be-read stack somewhere. If you wanna know how to do it, some helpful soul has, in all likelihood, written a book to teach you.

Did you know that there are even books written about books? One of my favorites is called Honey for a Woman's Heart by Gladys Hunt. True bliss! I even caught my Man reading a blog post about reading! Crazy right? (Actually, that's what you're doing right now-it's ok, I'll not tell...)

Aside from reading to learn, I also want my children to know that reading is also a wonderful way to relax. Oh that they would know the pleasure of loosing themselves in wonderful stories, of curling up with a book that will captivate the imagination and stir the emotions and of making friends for life with the characters that greet them between the pages.

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. ~Charles Eliot

Just the knowledge that a good book is awaiting one at the end of a long day makes that day happier. ~Kathleen Norris


Tell me please, why all the fuss about summer reading? Everywhere I turn there are wonderful lists of books that the list-writer has planned on reading during the summer. My favorite blogs are full of summer reading lists and many of my cherished podcasts are waxing poetic on the topic.

The "list maker" app on my Ipod is also full of summer reading plans. I made these lists (yes, there are quite a few lists in there) in the spring while on a trip with my Man and my Molly. We cruised a bookstore or two (more like 10) while we traveled and I, knowing that I had little time for personal reading before school ended for the year, made lists of books I would conquer during the blissful, carefree, lazy days of summer. (Can't you just hear the ocean waves and the gentle breeze blowing?)

My lists were organized into categories which included: Summer Non-Fiction, Summer Mysteries, Inspirational Non-Fiction, Biographies & Summer Fiction. A glance at the calendar tells me that summer is half over. My reading lists inform me that the only fiction in my summer has been the idea that I'd have any time to read!

What was I thinking? We flew right out of baseball into two weeks of swimming lessons. Swimming lessons faded as theater camp entered the scene. Theater camp ended production yesterday and Vacation Bible School begins tomorrow. In our future, basketball camp, football camp, and vacation remain.

My new book list has two books on it, both of which I've already begun and have a small prayer of finishing. One is an audio book, to be listened to while doing laundry and the other is a mystery to be read while hiding in the basement pretending to do the laundry.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Thirty Minutes

Thirty minutes before the children and I were to arrive at church this evening I...

...served pizza for dinner

...changed a dirty diaper

...fed the baby

...combed out and pig-tailed daughter #1's hair hair because of uneven tails

...searched for a pacifier, unsuccessfully

...changed another dirty diaper

...watched daughter #2 pack her lunch box for the day after tomorrow

...changed my clothes

...changed the baby's clothes

...loaded the dishwasher

...removed baby from dishwasher door

...remembered to start the dishwasher

...partially filled out a form for church

...answered phone

...grounded daughter #2 from a pair of her flip-flops (the latest in creative punishment)

...rescued baby from her climb half-way up the stairs

...remembered to turn off the oven

...didn't remember to comb daughter #2's hair

...supervised teeth brushing for 3 children

...rescued baby from her climb three quarters of the way up the stairs

...remembered to shut baby in the bathroom with me while pig-tailing...again

...removed toilet paper from baby's mouth

...threw on some lipstick

...refused to negotiate with daughter #2 over the flip-flop flap

...turned off 13 lights

...looked for my own flip-flops


...pulled a tooth.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Tomato Sandwich

Ahhhhh, is there anything more pleasing to the palate than the summertime tomato sandwich? Only if it is a summertime tomato sandwich on my Grandma's homemade white bread with gobs of mayo. Add to that masterpiece a healthy dash of salt, a bit of pepper and a generous smidgen of sugar and you've got yourself the tastiest sandwich known to mankind.

Friends from NC delivered two beautiful, fat, shiny, green tomatoes a few weeks ago when they visited. What promise these tomatoes held as I sat them on the counter waiting, just waiting for them to turn from their bright firm green, to a less firm pink, and finally yesterday to bright red sandwich ready spheres.

After each child was tucked safely into bed, I made my move. I tiptoed to the kitchen, grabbed a serrated knife, and began cutting fat slices of tomato as juice and seeds streamed down my forearms. Surveying my bread selection, I decided with a sigh that store bought bread would be better than none at all, and slid two slices from the bag. Making a quick decision, I plucked the "full-tilt" mayonnaise from the fridge--no low fat stuff tonight, I reasoned, this sandwich deserves the best. Assembled and seasoned, my creation was complete and I, with gusto, partook. I was thrilled to discover that this summer's tomato sandwich was every bit as satisfying as last summer's. Giving the remaining tomato a parting gaze that held plans for morning, I set off to bed.

As I attempted to repeat the whole sneaky sandwich assembly and consumption drill this morning, however, I was busted! Just as I was polishing off the first half of my pre-lunchtime creation, in walked Kate.

"Mom! What is that?"

"A tomato sandwich." I answered, pulling it closer to me.

"It must be very good. Is it?" she queried, eyebrows raised.

Sighing, I offered her a bite.

Taking the proffered bite, "Oh...mmmmm...can I have one just like yours?"

Today I learned that a yummy summer tomato sandwich, much like a good cup of coffee, is even better when shared with someone special.

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