Monday, August 31, 2009

The Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage

Recently, I finished reading a book that would normally not have been “up my alley”. The book, Rick & Bubba’s Guide to the Almost Nearly Perfect Marriage, caught my attention in the bookstore I think because of the contrast between the cartoon angels on the frilly cover and the title which sported the words “Rick & Bubba”! It turns out that Rick and Bubba are New York Times Best-Selling authors of at least five other books including Rick & Bubba’s Expert Guide to God, Country & Family, and Rick & Bubba for President: The Two Sexiest Fat Men Alive Take on Washington. Who knew?

This amusing book contains very, very short chapters that will make you grin, as you find yourself identifying with these two MOWs (Men of Weight) about the all important subject of marriage. Working my way through each chapter I was drawn into the “world” of these two morning radio personalities as they delivered their entertaining ancedotes and punch lines. I soon discovered that each time Rick & Bubba caused me to grin, they followed with a more serious, and important, biblically-anchored precept concerning various joys and struggles faced by married couples. What an effective way to get one’s point across, soften with humor, then sneak in the lesson.

Every bit as entertaining as the stories Rick and Bubba relate, are their lists! The book is worth the read if only for the nearly two dozen lists which include: “Rules of Engagement for Women/Men”, “Rick & Bubba’s Top Ten Love Songs”, and “Top Ten Baby Names When the Mom Chooses/When the Dad Chooses”.

If you need a book to handle the deeper, more troubling issues of marriage, this is not the book for you. However, if you are looking for a fun book that will cause you to take a fresh look at marriage, your own in particular, I highly recommend Rick & Bubba’s take on the matter!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

She's One!

Happy Birthday, Baby!
We just couldn't have been "us" without you!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh My, Oh My, Oh My. . .

She was simply...


Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Just checking in quickly to say, "All is well." We're relaxing and enjoying our time together--mostly in the water.

Looks so peaceful, doesn't he?

Ever get that feeling that something's looming overhead?

Then you turn to see what it could be...

It's a gorgeous bucket!

Look what it does when it gets full...

In the following pictures, witness the personalities of our three oldest children on full display...

Cole: "Dad, here comes trouble, I'm right here--(on your lap) with you all the way!"

Meg: "Oh, Daddy--you poor guy, let me help you."

Kate: "Hey Dad! This boogie board matches my suit, can I have it?"

Who knows what this one is thinking...

Saturday, August 22, 2009


I've got an ice cream cake in my freezer and a bathing suit in my future.

What's a girl to do?

(It would've spoiled before we came home from our trip!)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

How to Pack a Family

"Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip”, says a funny quote I read today. I heartily agree. My Man often refers to himself as the "Packing King", and we're about to challenge his skill as we prepare to take our first "big trip" with four children. Realize, if you will, that merely getting everyone in the van to go to Wal-Mart can, on any given day, seem like a grand undertaking.

Over the past 15 years, we've prepared for many a trip. Early in our marriage, we discovered it best to pack separately. Very separately. In a pinch, under dire circumstances, we are forced to place our belongings into the same suitcase--but if at all possible--we avoid it. It's just best that way.

My approach to packing, in the past, has been that of the "willy-nilly, why-think-too-far-ahead" variety. Unfortunately, when "willy-nilly" meets "Daytimer, let's-make-a-packing-schedule", no small amount of friction ensues.

Sooooo as they say, something had to give. On this matter, it was me. I feel the need to quietly whisper, "I'm much the better for it."

Six days before our scheduled departure date...our "staging area" looked like this:

As the days draw closer, the checkmarks become more plentiful...Cole has proven to be the "Packing Prince" as he nearly completed his list 3 or 4 days ago and has been "encouraging" Meg (Princess of "Willy-Nilly") to get her list finished.

I've learned that "willy-nilly" for a gang of our scope and sequence simply causes too much stress (especially on those square angle types). It seems that a bit of organizing can result in big payoffs that lead to peace in the valley, or in the van as the case may be, even before we head down those "happy trails." Who knew??

Isn't it amazing, the lengths to which one will go to impress her Man?
(Just don't ask how I'm doing with my list.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

When You're the Fourth

It was the day after the zoo trip. Really, it was the evening after the zoo trip when I was doing dishes after dinner. My Man was off to a meeting, Cole was at my Mom and Dad's, the oldest girls were in the living room getting their Hannah Montana fix for the day, and Molly was playing happily in the corner of the kitchen...or so I thought.

Kate came running into the room like a dainty elephant as is her norm, to ask for some after dinner chewing gum. When I heard those feet stop short of her intended target, I turned from the sink to see what had captured her attention. At the same time she began, "Mom, did you know that. . ." and she looked down in the direction of my heels. I followed her gaze and saw...

. . .{actually, before I show you what I saw, pleeeeease remember that it was the day after the zoo trip which was quite a day if you recall. If you don't recall, click here. Yes, it was after dinner and yes, everyone in the picture is wearing pjs -including me. Let me assure you that we did brush our teeth early in the day and I think I had done my hair. Sometimes we celebrate Pajama Day here at the Wright Place when we've had a particularly exhausting day, the day before. On these rare occasions (only on days beginning with M, and sometimes S if it's football season), we simply remain in our pjs for the entire live long day-trust me it's therapeutic. Until the UPS guy knocks on your door...}

Now let's see, where were we...

. . .she looked down in the direction of my heels. I followed her gaze and saw...

Poor baby! I hadn't even realized she was there. I guess she had just decided not to bother me with such a tiny detail as bedtime. That she didn't rise up and run when Kate came thundering in as she has learned to do in the interest of self-preservation, can only bear witness to her level of exhaustion.

Self-preservation is probably going to be a necessary theme for this little one, because when you're the fourth, sometimes you've just got to take matters into your own hands!

{Anyone have a good caption for this one??? Anyone??}

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Problem Solving with Grandma

Cole has been at my Mom and Dad's this week, a respite from all of the women in his life you might say. Yesterday I received the following email from my mother:

How do you do it when you wish to watch the little league play offs and play in the pool and eat scoops, salsa and cheese? It probably involved Mom's old college TV and a trip to ACE and fun fun fun.

Attached to the email was this picture:

What you are viewing is a little boy experiencing "Heaven on Earth" or as close as he's likely to get for quite some time. In the right of the picture you see a basketball "thingy" where one can shoot the ball and have it roll back without having to er...leave the pool. Front and center you may recognize the backside of a very old (from my college days 17ish years ago) TV with the channel tuned to the Little League World series. It seems a trip to the local hardware store was necessary to commandeer a cable long enough to reach the back deck.

The blue circular item held tightly in Cole's fists is a chip and dip tray, intended for use at parties for groups and crowds to enjoy. Yes, yes you say, it appears to be filled for such a crowd. It was, however, one singular sensation who consumed the entire platter.

Seems the little fella spent over 5 hours in that setup.

Me--surprised? Not really. The architect of the entire situation also has on her "Grandma Resume" allowing a certain pair of children aged 2 and 3 years old at the time, to swim in a blowup pool IN HER LIVING ROOM. Yes, with actual water in it. If you asked her why, she would answer, "Because they wanted to swim and it was March and obviously too cold to swim outside." Then you'd receive a look that let you know what a foolish question that was. Then this Grandma-extraordinaire would tell you that she put a plastic tarp down on the carpet so there was really nothing to be concerned about.

My Man and I have a name for what usually happens for a few days after the children return from the "Land where NO is never uttered". We call it Grandparent Detox and is it any wonder?


This just in from the aforementioned "Land"...

This morning, Cole was a little sick on his stomach. In the same report I learned that the 'ole college TV will no longer work. Seems it suffered from overexposure.

"Not to worry," says Grandma, "we set that little white tv out there for today and it's working great!"

Poor guy starts detox tomorrow!

Thursday, August 13, 2009


"When we get home, our goal is to see how fast we can get our baths and get into bed!"

"But Moooommmmm, it's still daytime!" she protested.

We'd been at the zoo located an hour and a half from our home for over five hours. It had taken our van full more than two hours to get there in the first place because of the faulty directions I'd downloaded. Add traffic and meals, and we'd been out galavanting for close to 10 hours.

Sighing, I explained for what seemed like the millionth time, "It is not dark yet, but it is eight o'clock and bedtime is in thirty minutes."

It had been an enjoyable day, but enough was enough--the big girl was zonked!

"Oh," she said with what seemed comprehension, "it seems like we just got out of bed an hour ago." So glad to know that her day was such a wonderful whirlwind...

After a quick but thorough bath, she fell asleep instantly. This morning she looked at me with bleary eyes over her bowl of cereal.

"Mom...I'm gonna need a nap today."

"Oh good baby, I'm gonna need one too!"

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Cynosure in Focus

Often as a mom, I feel like my brain exists in a state of mush. I attempt to learn a few new tricks every now and then to help me retain my “sharp as a marble” status. I signed up at to receive a “word of the day” each morning in my email. Today, I learned about the word cynosure. Cynosure (pronounced SY-nuh-shoor) is an object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration or something which serves to guide or direct. I seem to remember reading something relating to the North Star as well, but my mushy brain had reached capacity and I’ve lost that part.

As I began to think of that word, my head began to droop a bit, and my heart wilted a smidgen as well. Obviously the cynosure of our lives should be God our Father. Much easier on paper than in real life! You see, I’ve had my eye on a new camera—actually I’ve had my eye on my old, beat up, marker stained, slow battery, not enough settings camera.

Every time we venture up "on the hill" where we do most of our shopping, I want to “swing in” to Best Buy to visit the shiny, compact, multi-function, high performing cameras that are on my “short list”. (Did you know that there are cameras that wait for everyone to smile and wait for everyone to have their eyes open before snapping the picture? Surely a need for a gal trying to photograph four smiles and eight bright eyes in a single shot!) I look up user reviews on line for various models of cameras in my price range. On reserve at the library are no fewer than 8 books on the topic of digital photography in my name.

This camera thing has kinda become my cynosure. Remember the definition? An object that serves as a focal point of attention and admiration or something which serves to guide or direct. Kelly Minter in her book No Other Gods further defines my problem saying that, whatever steals my heart’s affection from God, and whatever inordinately motivates me is an idol in my life. Am I being too hard on myself over a teeny weeny (another desired feature) camera? John Calvin answers, "The evil in our desire typically does not lie in what we want, but that we want it too much." I can’t believe I’ve been so overcome by a gadget these past few weeks.

A camera hasn’t provided salvation for my soul, food for my family, or health for my bones. A camera hasn’t provided a way for me to converse with my Heavenly Father about the cares in my mind. I’ll not be teaching the children about the merits of the fancy flash settings, or the smile finding features of a camera each night at bedtime.

I’ll be reminding them that Our Heavenly Father is the focal point of our attention and admiration. It is HE Who guides us and directs us, HE who loves us and desires nothing more than to be in a relationship with us. A relationship that focuses on all of His blessings and for which He has created us. A relationship with Him in the center of the frame. Hebrews 12:2 reminds me to "...fix [my] eyes on Jesus, the Author and Pefecter of [my] faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Can’t you just picture it?

Gotta run. I’ve got 2 or 3 books about IPods to return to the library, seems as if that gadget has stolen a bit of my focus as well!

Groovy Grape Salad

Today is Tasty Tuesday. Last weekend, dear friends volunteered to watch our four children for the evening so that my Man and I could enjoy a dinner date at The Olive Garden. (Everyone needs friends like these!)

As a treat for those dining at home, we made Groovy Grape Salad. Our "southern family" introduced me to this dish when we lived there, and since moving further north, I've shared it with many others and now, with you--enjoy!

Groovy Grape Salad

1-1.5 pounds of seedless green grapes
1-1.5 pounds of seedless red grapes
(or any seedless grapes of contrasting colors)


1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 ounces cream cheese (half of a block) room temp.
1/2 cup sour cream


1/4 Brown Sugar
1 cup chopped pecans

First, wash, dry, and remove grapes from stems. This is the most time consuming task, you may want to hire it out...

Place the dry grapes in a clear glass decorative bowl, for best presentation. Layer with a few paper towels to absorb extra moisture from grapes.

In a separate bowl mix, combine the white sugar, vanilla extract, cream cheese and sour cream. You can mix by hand, but a mixer will give best results.

Note: Don't forget to remove paper towels before the next step ;-).

Add cream cheese mixture to grapes and stir to coat grapes thoroughly. I like to clean any mess I usually make while stirring from around the edge of the bowl with slightly damp paper towel.

Now, you're ready for the topping. Chop those pecans.

Finally, sprinkle brown sugar and pecans on the top of the salad and refrigerate until serving.

That's it! Enjoy.

Another note: This salad is one of those dishes that tastes even better on day 2. Make sure and squirrel away a helping or two for your breakfast the next morning!

Stop by Tasty Tuesday for some more fun food at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Exchange Rate

"Babe," I said to My Man in a weary it's-been-a-fun-but-tiring-Saturday voice, "if you will be in charge of bathing the children tonight, I'll iron five of your shirts."

"Okay," he nodded with an equally weary I'm-tired-too-but-I've-been-waiting-three-weeks-for-those-shirts-and-I-really-need-one-to-preach-in-tomorrow look on his face.

And so. . .

and then. . .

but look!

Don't you just love to get a little more than you bargained for?

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Little Bit of Almost Nothing

Today...absolutely nothing spectacular happened. Nothing even remarkable. Very little worth even mentioning, yet it was purely delightful. Nap times were observed respectfully. Meals served and eaten readily. Children obeyed...mostly. Laundry folded and put away finally. Sisters played "house" creatively. Daddy worked industriously. Brother won the imaginary ball game handily.

Today's Little Bits...

Baked ziti, now there's something to smile about.

What happens when your brother tucks you in and you tell him you are too scared to nap alone in your room.

"Bases loaded, full count, two outs..."

He's quite the driveway all star!

Our princess is just about finished with this good read. She's learned many new words from its pages including enhance, reluctant, and hesitant.

Today-- ours to enjoy tremendously!

"The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance... I bless the Lord...Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure."

~selected verses from Psalm 16~

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Dinner Diva

"Mom," she said. I was reading at the computer while she, alone at the table, finished her dinner. The others had finished their dinner ahead of her because she had stalled out at the lima beans.

"Yes," I answered distractedly, not taking my mind or my eyes from the computer.

"Thanks for the new bracelets."

"You're welcome," I said tuning in a bit more to the little voice.

"Thank you for thinking of me," she added. My heart warming, I began to think that this little girl was growing up so fast, getting so much older in her thoughts and actions. Rising from my desk, I walked to her and kissed her head, as she chewed a piece of her second helping of cantaloupe. I picked up the ketchup bottle to put it away, seeing that her potato wedges were all gone.

"Wait," she said, "I'm gonna need some more of that."

"For what?"

"My cantaloupe."

Maybe I was getting a little ahead of myself.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Nerves of Steel

She couldn't wait to get there. Certainly she was eager to see her dad cross the finish line of the 5k race that evening, but that was not the source of the urgency. She remembered that two years ago there had been clowns at the race who painted faces and she wanted her newly sun-freckled face decorated. Would those same clowns be there tonight? She had wondered aloud again and again. Happily, we found the clowns and Megan was able to get her face painted just before the starting shot of the race sounded.

Her daddy finished the race shaving 30 seconds off of his 2007 time.

Earlier in the day, Meg and her buddy Tanner rehearsed their duet which they would perform the next day during worship service. As far as I could tell, these two kids weren't a bit nervous about singing in front of over 150 onlookers. They were excited and had fun practicing "I Believe in Ever After". I was beginning to get nervous for them--it seemed like somebody should be.

As Sunday morning dawned, Meg seemed much less anxious about singing than she had about getting her face painted the night before. When we met up with Tanner in the sanctuary for one last run through, I finally found a nervous soul...Tanner's mom. Tanner, like Meg was as cool as a cucumber and as it turns out, they had no need to be even the least bit anxious. They did so wonderfully. I was so proud. It was a sweet day for my sweet gal.

And today...she rested.

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