We had a super Thanksgiving day. . .we arrived at my Aunt Ant (I'll explain later) and Uncle's home with three whole minutes to spare (a Wright gang record), the turkey was juicy and hot, the gravy was...
and there was this ultra tasty broccoli-bacon-golden raisin-sunflower seed concoction, and our family's traditional pineapple salad/dessert.
The table was inviting and beautiful. . .
and the company...
(That's my Dad in the flannel, fresh from hunting.
Check out that hair...remind you of anyone??)
This meal was as good as it gets and it was brought to us by. . .
...this lady (my Mom, the one behind the baby) and...
...this lady, (my Ant Sab, so spelled because when I was 5, I made a construction paper and cotton stocking for her to decorate her home with at Christmas time. In glitter, gold I think, I carefully added the label "ANT Sab" and so forever it has been. Every birthday card, every care package to my college address, on the wedding gift, on the baby shower gifts-s-s-s. . . has been the signature "Love, Ant Sab..." ) and...
...THIS lady, my Grandma, who taught the other two everything they know about feeding a large hungry crowd! Isn't she lovely?
After the meal, the adults and kids parted company for a while. The adults to watch football and converse. Some of the kids watched movies on an enormous television equipped with surround sound like the real theater, while others chose to ride the rides...
The gentleman above, the one showing off his skills as a grandpa (two grandsons since February!!), is my Uncle John. He's a physical therapist. Well, that's one of his jobs. He also, to hear my son or my Grandma (or any of us really) tell it, plays a vital role in the success or failure of our favorite college football team. If you know when to look, you will see him take the field during actual football games--this usually means trouble for our team, but we are always excited to see him on TV, "LOOK it's Uncle John!!"
Happily, this year our team had a home game the day after Thanksgiving, and Uncle John was able to spend a leisurely Thanksgiving day trapped in his own home with seventeen other people, six of whom happened to be children under eleven years old. I think I even heard that he was able to take a nap after dinner which would later prove to be a wise move...
Just as the evening was winding down and we were preparing to leave, my Uncle asked my Man and I if any of our clan would like to go to the big game the next day. Oh the happiness of my guys. Cole was thrilled, he'd been after his dad all week to go to that game. This would be his first "Backyard Brawl" and he didn't care that it would be freezing or maybe raining, or both.
Oh, Uncle John...how can we ever thank you?
I'll tell you in the next post, but here's a hint...
Let's just say, if the poor guy had to do it all over again, he wouldn't even have invited us to Thanksgiving dinner. (Just kidding...I hope...)
Molly. She had a busy day. Therefore, so did I. And her Daddy. And Meg. And Cole. (Kate was on Molly's team.)
The breakfast chef.
She takes her food seriously.
Time for early, early morning cartoons with the other early bird in the family.
Morning devotions with Daddy.
Catching up on the morning news shows. (She only tolerates those cartoons with Cole, she's really quite a news junkie.)
Playtime with our newest nativity set. Reminding us all Who the upcoming craziness is really about!
Time to read to Meg. Molly believes literacy is very beneficial in the training of siblings.
The baby doll is up from her nap. Time for play group. Don't forget the diaper bag! (Please note the iron burn on the kitchen floor. I submit it as evidence that I do iron every now and then, but I don't always iron the carpet :~)
Full diaper? (Takes one to know one!)
A little Peek-A-Boo with Mommy.
How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
Practice, practice, practice.
Ringin' Round the Rosie with a dapper dance partner.
She just couldn't do anything with her hair today...Soooooooo it was decided that it was time for her first haircut.
I was pretty sure the noise I was hearing was that of my baby. She should've been asleep already yet certainly it was her very own pre-words I was hearing. Kate soon came into the kitchen where I was doing dishes and since she had just come down the stairs, I asked,
"Kate, is Molly still awake?"
"Well," she said, "she was awake just now while I was playing my guitar for her."
Can't you just hear it?
"LULLABY AND GOODNIGHT!!!! GO TO SLEEP LITTLE BABY!!"
Here's the story. . . The big kids, Cole and Meg, are enrolled in a wonderful creative writing class called the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW). This class meets every other week at a local church where the students are divided by age into 5 or six classes. Each class is taught by a home schoolin' mom whose children have previously taken the course. Each class session is two hours in length and the information absorbed by the students (and this parent) is valuable.
We take IEW seriously, very seriously. Entire days of school have been dedicated solely to its assignments. This week is IEW week and we've been hard at it. The kids are learning to write reports and the assigned subject of this week's report is Florence Nightingale, nurse extraordinaire.
While editing Cole's writing, I noticed that he had described the conditions of the Crimean War, in which 60% of wounded soldiers died from infection, as dirty. I felt that he was vastly understating the war's conditions and was emphatically trying to get him to ponder using a stronger word than merely dirty.
"Cole, we're talking serious dirt here" I said, my eyes growing wider (which tends to happen when I get excited about a subject). "You need a better word. A more serious word for dirt." For some strange reason, the thought of serious dirt made him grin a bit.
"How about just using that Mom, 'The Crimean War had some serious dirt.' "
This was not going like I thought it should. I just wanted him to get to the word filthy on his own (ok, not totally on his own...).
"Cole, really. Let's think about this, we need a better word. Cole, what is the dirtiest word you know?" (Oh, yes I did!)
It was now his turn to make "big eyes" at me.
"That's not what I meant," I said before he could speak (thank goodness). "How about filthy? Does that work?" I said throwing in the towel.
"Yes," said a relieved little boy as he took pencil to page.
I don't need to worry about Meg's creativity for this project. As she was reading her report on Florence Nightingale aloud, I learned that this amazing woman was able to get patriotic English folks to donate hand sanitizer to the war effort along with other needed supplies.
"Hold on a minute Meg. Hand sanitizer in the year 1854?"
Impishly she said, "I was just trying to make it more interesting."
Here's interesting for you. Before Florence Nightingale began her work with wounded soldiers the death rate from infection was 60 soldiers out of 100. After Nightingale's efforts to adequately supply medical wards with the necessary sterile supplies, the death rate from infection decrease to 1 in 100 soldiers.
For that statistic and many others like it Miss Nightingale, I heartily say, "Go Flo!" I also forgive you for nearly causing me to make my son say a dirty word. Oh, and for making my daughter embellish , we'll say, her report about you. All's fair in dirt and war?
Did you know studies show that more than 50% of families spend less than 10 hours per week together as a family? Per week - yikes! Another statistic shows that 62% of parents desire more time with their children. Finding ourselves decidedly in that 62%, we declared "Family Game Night" a few evenings ago. After dinner, we cleared the table, tossed the dishes in the dishwasher, and set up a game that elicited the following comments. . .
"Careful there Cole, you're spreadin' your butter a little too thin!"
"It's all for the capital, baby!"
"Come on Mom, we've gotta stop Dad from gaining global domination!"
The game of the evening, since Kate was off to Grandma Campand Molly had opted for sleep, was. . .
"A Game of Strategic Conquest" the box advertises and strategy abounded. Cole and his Dad sat opposite of Meg and me, each of us commanding our own army. Cole chose red, the color of blood. My Man's army was blue, as in "black and blue" (hear the "man grunts"?). Meg chose green for her army because it is her current favorite color and I was left with yellow, as in "yellow belly". Oh well.
With each roll of the dice the game grew increasingly tense.
Brows were knit, eyes were pinched in concentration, foreheads were grasped in hands as players worked their "stragegery".
While on our side of the table, a different tone was in evidence.
See that monkey? (No, not the one rolling the dice. . .). On the girls' side of the table, we were doing...well, what women do: MULTI-TASKING! You see, earlier in the day we came across a treasure on the public library shelves called Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals. Meg and I were itching to give it a try, sooooo. . .let's just say our Risk experience was a bit less intense than our men's. Oh, we still played and played hard, but we also learned how to draw some happenin' monkeys and turtles during our "non-conquering moments".
Look, there's me in the yellow. Yup, the one who rules Africa, most of Asia. And the very same one who would go on to take over the Australian continent and eventually win the game (all the while drawing a smiling pig wearing some fetching trousers)! Yellow rules!
We finally sent the kids to bed at about 10:45 that school night. I felt that I could afford to let them sleep in a bit the next morning as we'd covered geography and art the night before. Ya gotta love us homeschoolers, we think it all counts.
We did have a bit of trouble getting out of bed the next morning. However, we also had a bunch of new phrases to add to the "family banter" (our favorite was the one about "spreading one's butter too thin"), we had invested hefty deposits into our memory banks, and we had a great time TOGETHER.
(. . .and we may have discovered a budding cartoonist!)
***PLEASE NOTE: For those of you who remember Risk as a long, looong, looooooong game, there is a better option. We purchased our set a year or so ago specifically because of the words on the box. . ."3 ways to play, faster game play". We've only learned one of the three ways and it usually results in an hour and a halfish long game. It is the perfect skill level for a 9 and a 10 year old and their befuddled parents. The game involved adding, dividing, following directions, geography and, as advertised, strategic conquest. Maybe, when the kids get older, they can explain to us how to play the other two versions of this game.
(If you didn't read yesterday's saga, click here first.)
I climbed into my Man's truck, hoping no one saw me on my way to sweet tea bliss. I was dressed one level above pajamas and had not yet been visited by the hair do and make up genie. (No picture of this will follow. . .) Cranking the engine, I reached to tune in the radio and get a dose of the latest political happenings, when what to my wondering ears did I hear?
My Man, the sponsor of my mini-retreat, is always listening to a mind-feeding CD of one sort or another so I wasn't surprised to hear a man's voice coming over the speakers to my ears. Usually at this point during past "retreats" I hit the the radio button and off I go. Yet, on this particular occasion, something caused me to pause and listen to the man on the CD. It may have been that I recognized his voice as that of a pastor that I'd enjoyed watching on a video series in Sunday School a few months ago.
Pastor James MacDonald was the owner of the familiar voice. I remembered my Man telling me that he'd been given a CD set of Pastor MacDonald's by a friend and I assumed that this was one of the CDs from that set.
"Here's what your wives wish you knew. . ." and this man went on to list some wonderful TRUTHS - biblically based and all! Don't you know I was all about forgetting the political talk now. I felt a lot like I was listening in on a conversation between this man and my Man--and it was such a GOOD conversation.
Had I looked at myself in the rear view mirror, I'm sure I'd have found a big grin on my face. When I pulled into the drive thru lane, I ordered TWO big 'ole sweet teas and considered turning up the volume on the CD player so that the fast food worker could hear that my Man was listening to a CD about how to be a better hubby--to me of all people! (The fast food worker, seeing me pre-make up genie probably would have thought however, that I was the husband trying to better his married life!!)
Another thought popped into my freshly rested brain, "How cool is it that my Man has friends who influence him like this? Who care enough to share. . ." Then I remembered being handed a bookmark on Sunday by another of my Man's friends which turned out to be a "How to Pray for Your Pastor" prayer card! Wow! Ridiculously blessed I'm tellin' ya.
On the return trip home, I remembered to reverse the CD to the exact place where I began listening (I didn't want my Man to know I'd been eavesdropping) and set the radio on the AM talk station. I left my Man's beverage in the cup holder, went into the house, and "tagged back in".
As we practically live across the street from our church, the thought hit me that it could take many many days for my Man to log enough drive time to listen to much more of his CD. It was in his best interest, I reasoned, for me to devise a plan to aid him in this "educational" endeavor.
For the next day or so, I proceeded to send my guy on every imaginable errand around town that I could think of. My heart gave an extra jump when he would relate that his work had taken him hither and yon or that he felt he'd spent this entire day in the truck! When I could hold it in no longer, I 'fessed up about my CD discovery and asked my Man to go to the store three towns away to pick up some eggs and milk.
He called me a "stinker" and chuckled.
"You know," he said evenly, "the next CD in the series is for wives. I've been listening to that one on my trips today. You can listen to ittoo if you want."
There are days that find me struggling. Most days it's just with the little things--things like locating my coffee cup after setting it down for the 82nd time before 8:30 a.m. only to find it cold and full beside of a malodorous but neatly rolled dirty diaper. I struggle too, with little stabs of guilt about not finding even a small moment to read a story to the diaper filler. My days, are full of little struggles as I trying to do all of the "house-wifey-super-mommy" tasks that demand my daytime.
And there's always the struggle du jour, which this week entails keeping the baby out of the foil-baggie-plastic-wrap drawer where, once she gains entry, she empties all 95 sandwich baggies (which are very slippery when stepped on) from the box and all over the kitchen floor. Last week it was keeping her out of the computer disks and the week before it was keeping her out of her daddy's briefcase.
Mothers worldwide agree when asked (at least, mothers in a few states that I've happened to question) that being a mom is a tough assignment. It's tough for all of the predictable reasons. Kids are needy little creatures (just like adults) and even when they aren't immediately needing you, you still feel like you ought to be doing something to enrich their existence. Then there are those jobs that, upon completion, only begin to need your attention again, a few hours later. We all know those jobs: the dishwasher, the laundry, the vacuuming, the dusting, the laundry. . .
Then there are all of the mental aspects. Always feeling like your day could have been better spent, like your handling of a situation was definitely sub par, like if you were smarter, better organized, or maybe nicer, your day and the day of those in your care would have been more spectacular. Oh, the woes of the common mom! Let's not even talk about the lack of privacy in the bathroom, the laundry room, behind the couch, or even under my bed. . .
A morning or so ago I was in the midst of a struggle or two. I thought lunch time would never arrive. Actually, I thought my Man would never get home for back up lunch, which thank The Dear LORD he does most days. On struggling days, the sweetest most beautiful sound to my ears is that of my Man's vehicle pulling into the driveway--my life's narrator might as well be yelling, "The Calvary is coming!"
When the Calvary did come home for lunch, he suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea for this common mom to jump into the truck and ride off to procure a nice quiet sweet tea--you know, the kind in the special Styrofoam cup.
I was outta there before his sentence was finished, as you may well imagine. It's not so much that the sweet tea makes it all seem better, it's the trip to the tea maker's that seems to do the trick. Fifteen short minutes are all it takes to give my weary mind a little jump start. Fifteen minutes to ride in a vehicle alone with talk radio and a cool beverage. . .this little respite usually serves to turn a rough morning into a much better afternoon.
On this mini retreat, however, I discovered something else to listen to that made my little heart take an extra pitter patter. . .
There seems to have been an outbreak of frogs 'round the Wright Place of late. It happens, that as bed time approaches, the frogs begin to take over. Just the other night, I saw some on the stairs. . .
Later, the same night, I discovered more in the girls' room. These were even larger than the first ones, and I began to grow concerned...
They had large smiles on their faces and seemed friendly enough, so I didn't mind letting them sleep by the girls' bed that night.
I saw a few others headed into the kids' bathroom. . .
I did, however, become completely overwhelmed when just a few days later, I discovered still more pesky amphibians in the upstairs hallway.
Would you look at the eyes on those things?
The "rest of the story" is as follows:
I sent my Man and my two middle daughters to the grocery store one day. My Man, aware of a pajama deficit at home and a rather big sale at a store "on the hill", swung by that store on the way to get the groceries.
When he left the first store, the frog pajamas were tagging along in a bag my Man was carrying, as were those sassy slippers. Two very excited little ladies were bursting at the seams when they arrived home with their prizes and the groceries.
The next morning, my Man's parents arrived for another one of Cole's ridiculously early, cold and rainy, flag football games (thus contending for the Grandparents of the Year Award).
After a bit of lunch, we headed "up the hill" once more for an additional round of shopping. My Mother-in-law is a shopppppppper! She finds neat things, great sales, and seems to have a great time in the process. The children love to shop with Mamma. On this trip, even thebaby doll got a new dress!
It was during that shopping trip that the last installment of frogs joined us. Those vibrant pink and green froggy robes completed the girls' collection. Oh, the joy. Kate had been asking for a robe for weeks and daddy came through with a robe that suited her perfectly and matched her slippers.
The only hitch in the plan was that I couldn't remember to get those precious robes out of the shopping bag and into the washer. Kate, who had been promised the night before that she'd have her newly cleaned robe the next day, only to be disappointed, decided to take matters into her own hands at bedtime.
I saw her creeping back down the stairs after being instructed to "Get in BED!" Risking life and limb, she trekked to the basement, the laundry capital of our state, and retrieved the robes. She laid them in the middle of the hallway floor as I was trying to put Molly to bed. My little Clothes Queen placed the robes in such a way that I had to step over them to leave the nursery. I said, "Why.......?"
She said, "To help your remembering."
Now these fabulous frogs are fabric fresh and feeling fine
on the feminine frames of a few frauleins!
(Sorry, got a little carried away with that one. Must be all those frogs staring back at me from the computer screen!!)