Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Birthday Season

Birthday season is upon us here at The Wright Place.  As you travel through these next months with us, there are a few things you may need to know...

First, we eat cake and ice cream for breakfast on birthday mornings.  We love this.  It is one of our favorite traditions. 

Second, the birthday person gets to chose or design the cake.  Kate, whose birthday opens this happy season, chose the same baby carriage cake that she chose last year (bless her!).

Third, though I come from a family of "can-do" cake decorators who can create anything with cake, a knife, a piping bag and some butter cream icing, I am forever grateful for a cake pan that provides a shape with which to work. A paint-by-numbers approach to cake decorating!

For the first time in my children's lives, the cake was ready an entire day and a half ahead of time!

Even though it's early, we do the cake thing big. Song, candles, the works!

Fourth, the birthday child or adult gets to eat their breakfast on the Birthday Plate which is kept safely tucked away and only sees daylight six times a year.

Fifth, after breakfast, come the gifts!

Finally, it's fun to share your birthday with friends.  Kate took cookies for her Sunday School buddies.

So...welcome to Birthday Season!
We're thankful for all of the lives we get to celebrate!

"Happy Birthday dear Kate...Happy Birthday to YOU!"

Friday, March 26, 2010

THOSE People...

I did something the other night that I've never ever done before.  I've heard of others who frequently engage in this activity, but I'd never before understood the need for it.  Honestly, I felt that those other people, the ones who participated in this sneaky-ness were...well, less than noble, of impatient nature, lacking self-control even. 

Having committed this offense to my own sense of right and wrong, however, I no longer have the right to judge these other people.  I am now one of them, one of those people who skip to the last page of a book to see how it ends.

One would think that I was reading a mystery or a suspenseful thriller.  Surely nothing less than a captivating page turner would tempt a person of such high standards as I.  Not so.  I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Madeleine L'Engle who wrote the famous, Newbery Award winning children's book A Wrinkle in Time 

This is the book that lured me to its final page...

by Madeleine L'Engle

Largely written from the journals of Mrs. L'Engle.  The description on the back of the book is perfect...

Early in the book, the illness of L'Engle's husband Hugh, is introduced and she writes so beautifully its affects upon their forty-year-old marriage.  Woven throughout are tales of Madeleine and Hugh's early married life.  I was captivated from the first page.  This author of my youth (A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels are some my all time favs.)  writes memoir as well as she pens fiction.  I was so drawn in to the life of her marriage that I couldn't bear waiting until the end of the book to discover the result of the illness that marked it.

So...I turned a few pages, then I turned a few more, and then just a couple more until...

...there I was at the end of the book.  My eyes raced to the last sentence.

Ahem...my eyes raced to the last sentence...

...anybody see the end of that last sentence? 

I'm not confident that page 200 is even part of the last chapter, yet that was the last page in the book.  This particular book is a library copy.  I went on to discover that chapters 9 and 10 are included twice in this copy to the unfortunate absence of the final one or two (I still don't know...) chapters. 

This discovery meant two things to me.  First, I would have to locate another copy of the book to finish this beautiful love story written in such easy prose.  This is great because a new printing of the book and the set from which it comes, The Crosswicks Journals, is beautiful both in cover and content.  Amazon, here I come!! 

Second, and by far most important, I no longer have to consider myself one of those people who cheat on their stories by skipping to the end of the book to see what happens!  I tried, oh yes I did, but I failed.  That, according to my own high standards, is enough to place me squarely back in the "Holier than Those" column. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Our little one has the sniffles.  She's a bit pitiful with all of the stuffiness and coughing.  "Nothse," she says when her little button nose needs attention.  She's enjoying all of the attention for after requesting attention for her nose, she says, "Bed" and motions toward MY bed.  "Piyyows," is the next command which queues us to begin the propping.  "Gink!" is usually the next directive that causes a runner to deliver a sippy cup.  A seasoned runner also knows that "PASSY" will be the next request and grabs it on the way.  Finally, with finger pointed TV-ward she says, "MOUSE."  As in Mickey Mouse.  Now...all is right in her little stuffed up world.

Kate and I took her to a doctor a few days ago.  Our family doctor was away, so we had to see a "back up" doctor.  I never like this.  Our doctor is used to us, and we haven't been able to make him nervous for some years now. New doctors don't seem to know what to do with our craziness.  Usually all "non-patients" have joined the "patient" on the table and all of us are coloring with crayons on the white paper that covers the table by the time our doctor enters the room. 

The last time we visited our doctor there were four patients--two children and two adults!  Molly and Kate were kept busy by the kind receptionist while the nurse moved the rest of us on and off of the scales, took our temperatures, and ushered us into the exam room much like cattle being led into their chutes!   I hope never to have to do that to all those kind souls ever again! 

For Molly's most current visit to the substitute doctor, I need not have fretted.  Kate had it all under control.  "Mom, do you want the diaper bag?" she asked as we were climbing from the van.

"No.  Just give me a diaper, we'll not be in there long." 

"Mom," she said, handing over the diaper, "we'd better take some wipes in too." 

"Nah, just come on, we'll be fine."

"Mom," I heard again once we had negotiated the elevator and had located the correct office.  I was in the middle of signing papers as she continued, "Look at Molly.  She's bent over and her face is all red."  Her grin said, I told you to bring the wipes. 

After Kate had introduced us to a lady in the waiting room, we were summoned by a nurse.  As is the case with all pediatrician visits, this nurse had some questions.  When asked what her name was, she responded with her given name, her nickname, and the name she wished she had been given.  When I was asked Molly's name, Kate answered for me.  "How old is she?" asked the nurse.

"I'm going to be five very soon," said Kate, handing me some tissues out of her sequined purse as I changed Molly's diaper.

"And the baby?" asked the nurse, looking my direction.

"She's ooonnnneeeee," answered the soon to be five year old with a bit of huff.  She must have thought that the nurse should be able to recognize a one-year-old on spec.

When asked the reason for our visit, I opened my mouth to describe the symptoms.  I need not have bothered.  "She's got this awful green stuff running down her face, she's not sleeping well and she's very grouchy."  All that was left for me to do was nod and write the check. 

Honestly, I didn't know Kate had it in her.  Maybe it was all her years as a patient that were doing the talking?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kids These Days

I wonder where the cut-off in age occurs above which a solid knowledge of nursery rhymes is a given, and below which knowledge of such poetry is murky at best.

The age break must exist between the ages of thirty-ish and 10. I know this because Mother Goose and I are close friends. My children, however, wouldn't recognize her if she waddled up to them and began reciting Jack and Jill.

This lapse in my children's knowledge makes me a bit sad. What kind of mother doesn't read nursery rhymes to their wee ones? Instead, my children are well versed in the works of Dr. Seuss, Margaret Wise Brown, and especially Sandra Boynton.

Really, who could pass up ...

So, between saying Goodnight to the Moon, Dancing in the Barnyard, and adventuring with The Cat in the Hat, we somehow slighted Mother Goose.  During a visit to our beloved library last week, I came upon a delightful little board book illustrated by a supremely talented author/illustrator entitled Mary Engelbreit's Silly Mother Goose.

Since I'm all about silly, I checked it out and brought silly home...boy did I ever.

A day or so later Cole plucked the little book out of the library bag.  Still a bit in denial about my kiddos' nursery rhyme short comings, I asked, "Do you know any of those rhymes?"

"No, not really," said he sensing my really wanting him to say otherwise.

"I bet you do, 'Hey Diddle Diddle..." I began pausing for him to complete the line.  Nothing.  I attempted a few more times with other rhymes with the same result...nothing.  He took the book from me and joined Meg in the next room.  In just a few minutes this is what I heard...(press the play triangle in the center, image is purposely pixelated)


I feel sooooo much better now! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

"Hello, it's us again..."

We were buzzing about our day, accomplishing those pesky tasks that whisper for our attention daily during the week but aren't important enough to tackle until the weekend.  My man and I were "lightScribing" and downloading pastors' conference CDs that needed listening to while folding laundry (he) and baking (me).  The children were doing odd jobs here and there to help with the general upkeep of the place.  Molly was...exploring.

When Molly goes exploring, the locations she selects for her adventures usually involve climbing. 

We have all been trained, therefore, to be alert for our gal to appear precariously balanced on a stool or on the edge of a table stretching her little solid self out over an abyss to reach something.  As with many of her gender, just  as we became skillful Molly-guards, she changed her ways.  

We were all six in the kitchen.  All of us right there, present and accounted for...well, present anyway when we heard, "Maaaaaaachhhhh, arghhhhhhh, thhhhhhhpf, thhhhhhhhhpfffftttttt!"  All of us turned to Molly, from whence came the strange sounds and saw immediately that she had opened the cabinet door beneath the sink and had sampled a "Cascade with Dawn Dishwasher gel pack"!  Her furry white tongue was sticking out of her wiiiiiddddeee open mouth and she was holding the ruptured dishwasher pack in her hand and nodding her head at us as if to say, "Yes, I did it, now somebody please fix it!"  

We rushed toward her en masse, her father and I trying to wade through the other kids from opposite directions.  I reached her first, and my Man took the offending soap pack from her chubby hand.  Swooping her up under my arm I grabbed the detachable faucet and turned the water on full force aiming it toward her mouth.  "Get the package and see what it says to do!" I yelled while rinsing this toddler's mouth with a kitchen equivalent of a garden hose on "jet" setting.  It occurred to me later that Molly's greatest danger was being drowned by her mother wielding the sink squirter and good intentions rather than being poisoned by dishwasher detergent!

My Man grabbed the package and read, "If swallowed give a glass of milk or water and call a doctor or Poison Control immediately."  OK.  Now I was in familiar territory.  I am well versed  in Poison Control and had I not been in the very act of water-boarding a toddler, I probably could have recited the phone number from memory. Instead, I went for the milk and a sippy cup and my Man grabbed the phone.

Still barking authoritatively, I directed, "The Poison Control operator will ask you how old she is.  Tell them 19 months, or is it 20, no...January, February, March..."

"Nineteen months Mom," said my son the math whiz.

"NINETEEN months!" I yelled to my Man who was in the same room.  "And they'll probably ask for her birth date and maybe the brand name of the soap and some other important information.  Just tell them..."

"Hi," said he in a calm voice, "my nineteen month old just bit into a dishwasher pack."  Grinning with relief, he answered the operator's question, "not much of it at all, in fact, most of it is on the kitchen floor...OK, thank you.  Good bye."  Turning to us he said, "The guy said that they get this call all the time.  He said we should watch in her mouth to make sure there aren't any burns from the soap and brush her teeth to be certain there aren't any granules stuck in between." 

"Didn't he ask how the other kids were getting along?" joked my mom when I told her that we'd had to make another call to poison control.  Our stats are now 3 for 4.  Only one of our kiddos has spared us the trauma, bless her! 

Thankful are we for the kind folks at Poison Control who are never condescending and are always understanding.  I wonder if those are qualities that come with training or from lots of experience with freaked-out parents who are already dosing heavy condemnation upon themselves, even as they dial the precious phone number.  We all know what the directions say on the package of dishwasher soap in big letters right before they say "If swallowed...".  It says "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN".  True enough.  Point taken.  Cabinet fixed. 

The warning really should read this way: "KEEP OUT OF REACH OF CHILDREN, in the event that you are unable to outsmart your child or are unable to understand the directions thus far and your child swallows this product, give milk or water and call Poison Control and confess your failure."

In my defense, if that detergent is so terribly dangerous to children and comes with warnings, wouldn't it be even more helpful for company to make their product look less like...

 ...a big shiny piece of candy and more like
...Brussels Sprouts?  

Thursday, March 11, 2010


When, in the course of human events, you find yourself in a family of six, it becomes necessary to perform a chore or two.  We have yet to come up with a workable schedule or system for getting things done on a regular basis here at the Wright Place.  

Most of the time chores are assigned to the child who is the closest to me when I see that a chore needs doing.  Sometimes the one getting assigned the job is the child who has most recently proven to have need of a bit of "character training".  Other days, there might be a little one wandering about with no purpose and a look of mischief in her his or her eyes.  It is that child who quickly earns the Mommy's Little Helper title.

It is a wonderful thing when it is discovered that a detested chore of mine is in fact the very same task which thrills a child who is asked to accomplish it.  Conversely, it is a sad day when the thrill of accomplishment wears off and the "cool new job" becomes the "dreaded chore" in every sense of the word. 

In the old days, the older children used to beg to vacuum the kitchen floor.  These days, everyone tries to look busy when that dreaded chore is to be assigned.  Well, just about everybody. In a home with four children, there's usually somebody who wants to take over your detested chore...

Sweeping has become a drag with the "older set" in this house.  Unless, the Swiffer is the tool of choice.  Who doesn't love the Swiffer--no plugging in, no cord, excellent handling, easy to use. 

Swiffering is fun.  Kinda reminds me of that Curling event in the Winter Olympics!  I've got a prospect for the 1022 Games...

What a remarkable day it was when we discovered that the kids could empty the dishwasher and do a great job with it to boot!  Talk about an Ode to Joy!  One child unloads the top rack, another puts the dishes away in the bottom rack, one puts the silverware away, and all three try to keep Molly from climbing into the sacred appliance!

As the sole male child of our tribe, Cole is not spared kitchen duties.  Unfortunately for him, neither is he spared trash duty.

Chores are a necessary evil that increase one's appreciation of leisure!

Chores, available all year round...

...and available in all sizes...

Some would say that many hands make light work. I would say that mini hands make lots of work!!  Some would say that training children to work is a worthy endeavor.  I say that training children to contribute to the household helps get them ready to contribute to society.  Teaching them to cook and do chores, it would seem, will prepare them on a smaller scale to take better care of their responsibilities as adults.  When, I wonder, is it too soon to teach them how to pay the bills?

Work while you work, play while you play.
That is the way to be cheerful all day.
All that you do, do with your might.
Things done by halves are never done right.
One thing each time and that done well
is a very good rule as many can tell.
Moments are useless trifled away; so
work while you work and play while you play.
~M.A. Stodart~

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Just Because...

"Just because."  A phrase that, depending on the speaker, the circumstance, and the tone in which it is spoken, can stir strong emotions in the heart of the hearer.

"Oh child, why did you pour lotion all over the bathroom floor?"
"Just because."  Emotion=despair.


"Flowers!  How beautiful!  Why am I getting such a nice surprise?"
"Just because."  Emotion=giddy happiness.

It was with giddy happiness that I received three fun gifts from my man a few months ago, "just because."  The first gift, left on my pillow, was a book.  The second, a "fancy" pen, I found tucked behind the flour canister in the kitchen cabinet.  Just a few days after that, I found the promised third prize.

I was getting ready to leave the house and was changing clothes.  I pulled on my jeans and found something in the back pocket that looked like this...

When unsnapped, it looks like this...

It helps me save time at the gym.  It saves me some mental energy and definitely some physical energy. It also cuts down on the children's income.  It's one of those things I could have easily lived without, but now that I have it, I feel like I really do need it in my life. 

This will probably clear things up a bit...

Still perplexed?  Here's how it works...

As for all of the claims I made about this unique product, called the "Pocquettes Ear Bud Holder", I stand behind each of them.  It helps save time at the gym because I don't have to stand near the tread mill untangling my earphone cords before I begin my long walk to nowhere. 

The Ear Bud Holder also saves mental and physical energy as I no longer have to look high and low to figure out where I've left my headphones.  You'd think that it would be difficult to lose something so brightly colored.  Not so.  I am forever laying these little things in curious places, or they are being carried off by little things and placed in curious places. So, before I even arrived at the gym, I'd have already done the equivalent of the StairMaster, going up and down the stairs in search of my ear buds.

Finally, my receipt of the Ear Bud Holder has cut down on the children's income because I no longer roam about the house yelling, "The first one to find Mommy's earphones gets a dollar!"

I've been enjoying the benefits of this little gadget for a few months now and have discovered that though it does a wonderful job helping me keep track of my earphones, it is not child proof. 

Look closely at the "dirty" looking earphone. It's not dirt that you see.  The discoloration of my Ear Buds is caused by teeth marks.  My bright surely-I'm-not-approaching-my-forties pink Ear Buds are the very latest in a long line of chew toys!  Ever put a slobber-coated earphone in your ear?

"Child, why are you chewing on Mommy's earphones?"
        " 'Cuz."  

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