Friday, May 30, 2014

It's finally SUMMER......need a good read?

Summertime, summertime, sum...sum...summertime...

Happy happy Friday! Today marks the very first day of summer vacation for the gang at The Wright Place. Cole and Meg are off with their grandparents for a few days on a road trip.

Kate and Molly are at home with softball games to be played in the evenings. 

There have been picnics and tea parties leading up to today ...

...and an unexpected dinner out with family last night to send us off into a blissful summer.

{Hi Ant Sab!}

{Helloooooooo Mom!}

Next week will be full of travel for my Man, softball for the rest of us, and books and sunshine for us all. 

We made a family pilgrimage to our favorite bookstore to inaugurate the season of "reading what we want and not what we have to" otherwise known around here as "For Fun Reading Season".  

Here's what we'll have our noses in during the next few weeks: {click on the book's title to go to the Amazon page for the each book.}

Gretchen: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr...I've just begun this book and am captivated. The writing is as beautiful as the cover. 

Also, on it's way to me is Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest . Another much anticipated by book on my list is by Ruth Reichl the writer who brought us the deluxe peanut butter and jelly sandwich a few summers ago and many other lovely books about food {click here for that post} is entitled Delicious and also has a lovely cover. 

Here's hoping I really can judge a book by its cover!

The kids are also loaded up for the beginning of their summer:

Megan is working on Divergent and The Secret Hum of a Daisy and her mom wants her to read Daddy Long Legs  (free on Kindle right now!) before summer ends.

Kate is on a fierce Nancy Drew kick right now and is also reading about an amazing woman named Gladys Aylward.

Molly as expected selected a princess story and lately has been quite taken with what she calls "The Gerald books" by Mo Willems.

Wishing you the happiest and most joyful of sunny warm days full of playing in the sprinkler and evenings taken over by books on your porch!

More from the New York Times about summer reading {here}.
For more about summer reading from years past click {here} and {here} and {here}.

Looooooookkkkkkk who just came home from lunch just as I'm hitting publish!!! Yipeeeeeeee!

His and Hers stacks of books! Amazon...take me away!!

"One benefit of summer was that each day we had more light to read by." ~Jeannette Walls

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Whisked Away...

Once upon a time my Man and I went on a trip. The purpose of this trip is for him to attend a conference and for me to attend to the two overflowing bags of books that I packed to keep me company in the hotel room and on patios and umbrellaed cafe porches in the surrounding town. We have made an annual habit of this get-away for the past 5 years and it is this retreat that on particularly stressful days/weeks/months that I place my hopes of rest and refreshment.

I have few expectations for this week away: to sleep well, to read lots, to put some thoughts down on a page, to browse a bookstore or two, and to enjoy a few meals speaking in complete sentences with my husband.

Tomorrow is the end of our week away and I've slept, eaten, conversed meaningfully, browsed, written a sentence or two, and oh how I've read! The cream of the crop, the book I read in one day and was sad to have finished, the book I will likely read again in years to come is...

I cannot get my heart around the story well enough to use my own words so I will tell you what the cover copy says...

"This novel has humor, romance, a touch of suspense, but most of all love--love of books and bookish people and, really, all of humanity in its imperfect glory." ~Eowyn Ivy, author of The Snow Child

“Zevin has done something old-fashioned and fairly rare these days. She has written an entertaining novel, modest in its scope, engaging and funny without being cloying or sentimental. On top of all that, it is marvelously optimistic about the future of books and bookstores and the people who love both.” —The Washington Post

If you'd like to hear more about this book you can click here to listen to one of my favorite book podcasts Books on the Night Stand. If you only want to hear about the particular book, fast forward to the 22:30 mark though the entire podcast is a good one. (The other book they mention, Ruth Reichl's Delicious, is on my list to read this summer.)

For another great "listen" click here to listen to the author talk about the book on NPR's All Things Considered

Happy, happy reading!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Reflecting in the Ruckus

A friend recently recounted a story the other day in which her husband was outside working on his truck. The story was not about the truck or about her husband particularly but I remarked at how cool it was that her man was able to work both on humans and machines, he being a surgeon. 

She agreed saying that really it was all about systems. Systems in a truck that had to function together were very like systems in the body that had to do the same.  I told her that I’d never before thought about that and it made perfect sense to me. Our conversation shortly returned to our kids and then lapsed into silence as we turned our attentions to the ball field. 

“I said that about the truck,” she explained, “because I’d been thinking about it the other day…how it all really came down to systems…I didn’t just come up with that.” She said it as if I might think her odd for having such a deep conclusion about a truck motor. I nodded and said again that it made a world of sense.

She need not have worried. I was not thinking her the least bit odd. I was thinking how wonderful it was that she’d taken the time and mental energy to think about such things at all especially as a busy young mamma of little children. 

Days later I came across a book which perfectly articulated why my friend’s deep thinking seemed so remarkable. 

The author of the book pointed out that we do not take time to simply think about things anymore. The simple practice of reflection just isn’t …practiced! 

The book I was reading is called “A Mind For God” written by James Emery White who posits:

“…we tend to make immediate assessments about things—which can lead to responding without thinking on things that need to be thought about. Henri Nouwen insightfully wonders if the fact that so may people ask … counsel from so many other people is not, in large port, due to having lost contact with the practice of such reflection….”as if one half of the world is asking advice of the other half while both sides are sitting in the same darkness.”

When is the last time I reflected on something purposely? Oh sure, I have thoughts that flit and float about my brain but like butterflies in a garden, hardly lighting on one thought long enough to “bring some kind of realization—an aha moment.” To mull a thought over and over and come to a conclusion is not a regular practice of mine. 

James Emery White says that “In order to nurture the life of the mind, we much protect the time it takes to practice it.” He says that this doesn’t mean merely taking in information but to actually reflect on the information we have consumed. 

I realize that reflection will not happen while the TV is blaring while I wash dishes. It will absolutely happen while I wash dishes with the TV off. Reflection can even happen while folding clothes unless, as is my habit, I accomplish the chore in the company of a podcast or a rerun of a favorite show online. 

You might be wondering how one can reflect at all with a house full of children… I’ve learned that if the kids see me folding laundry or washing dishes with no television or other form of entertainment involved, they will 100% of the time make a fast exit and will remain elsewhere for an eternity leaving all the time in the world to reflect!

“[Reflection] brings a sensitivity, an awareness of things. It provides penetrating insight, an intuitive assessment of the world that cannot come any other way.” ~James Emery White

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Day That Will Live in Infirmity

It was after midnight when Kate came down from her bedroom to tell me that her stomach was bothering her and that she couldn’t sleep. She asked if she could sleep on the couch and I told her she could and then I tried to sleep. 

Unfortunately the next few hours were filled with listening to Kate shuffle around in the next room and make more than one false alarm run to the bathroom. At nearly 3 am I heard her make haste for the bathroom-- NOT a false alarm. She didn’t make it to her intended goal and shortly my Man joined us in the bathroom with a bucket of sudsy water and a look of sleepy determination. He cleaned up the mess which involved all four bathroom walls and them some while I cleaned up our girl. 

Eventually we all resumed our places in bed and on the couch. The next three or four hours were just as eventful and just as sleepless as the previous hours had been. Finally the sun came up and the birds began to sing and I rolled over on the couch and covered my head wishing it all away for a few more hours. 
{Kate, 2010}

Soon however, Molly came down from her bed and I waved her toward her Daddy. I drifted off to sleep and awoke to a voice from my room, “My belly hurts!”  

“Molly, you’re just hungry. Come and get breakfast.” 

And she did. And I drifted back to sleep until I heard coughing. 

“Molly, are you gonna be sick?”

“Noooooo……” splat, splat, splat.

We hung the top half of Molly, who had managed to deposit her breakfast on the exact same spot that her sister had hours before, over the bathtub to finish her deed (right on top of my bath poof) and I left the bathroom for some fresh air as my stomach had just begun to threaten. 

Turns out I shouldn’t have left because shortly I had to jump over Molly’s mess to avoid making one of my own. My Man, just ready to walk out the door to work turned around and began to change clothes so he could reacquaint himself with the bucket and sponge. It was not long until the scene in our bathroom involved Molly over the tub, me over the toilet and Cole, announcing from the living room that Kate was also rejoining the fun. It was, however, her game to begin with.

In an hour, my Man was at work and the little girls and I were on the couch holding very still. It was just about time for lunch when I woke up to the sound of…well, I’ve been way too explicit already, but Cole had succumbed. My Man was just walking in the door and Meg announced the news to him. “Please tell me,” he said in a terribly anxious voice, “that he made it to the bathroom.” 

The news on that front was good, but now 4 of the 6 of us were in bad shape. Meg, alone with the four of us, spent her day yelling from far away “Does anybody need anything?!” or “I’ll be outside” and at one point I’m pretty sure I heard her say, “Daddy, please take me to work with you so they don’t infect me too! Please!!”   

I read a book once entitled “The Stomach Virus and Other Forms of Family Bonding” and I kept thinking how true that title was. 

It had been a day of bonding. Us sickos comparing symptoms and commiserating with each other on the couch watching episode after episode of Castle and the pair of healthy folks hiding in the kitchen in the evening hunkered over their what-must-have-been-delicious take out dinner. 

By day’s end we were running low on WalMart bags, but otherwise things were looking a little better. Late in the evening, Meg and her dad fixed ramen noodle soup for us which was to be the beginning of the BETTER.

When I woke the next morning after 12 hours of sleep, I asked my Man if everyone had kept their noodles down during the night. Happily, mercifully, blissfully, everyone had. Shortly Molly and Kate who’d spend the night on the couch, just in case, awoke and were hungry for breakfast. 

One by one all six of us were found to be in pretty solid shape. “Nothing hurts anymore!!” shouted Molly, “even when I stand up!”  Through out the day, which has become known as "the day after” , the whole gang of us appreciated feeling good just a bit more than we did perhaps last week (until the next day when my Man became the last of us to experience the bug). 

There’s nothing like feeling awful to make us appreciate NOT feeling awful later on. It was quite a day to live through just to gain perspective, but I gained so much more than that… should see how shiny my bathroom floor is!!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Sunlight Service, a Symphony, lots of Softball, a bit of School, a Show, a Slew of birthdays, and a Short Cut...

Are you quite weary of dialing up this blog only to see that it's STILL about Easter Candy?

I apologize AND I thank you for checking back time and again.

Spring has peeked it's timid head out from behind the clouds and as a result the pace around here has been one of zippy activity!

Here's what's been going on at The Wright Place...
(AND you can click HERE to see more pictures via Instagram of the goings on that didn't make today's post.)

Softball is off and running on all cylinders and Kate and Molly are learning lots and enjoying their seasons thus far.

Easter celebrations with our church family were especially lovely this year as we began the day with our first ever sunrise service and breakfast that followed.

Molly was especially attentive during the 7:30 am sunrise service which found our gang 5 minutes early to the pew! (I may or may not have assumed the pose of a gymnast who had just nailed her landing off of the vault. The ushers may or may not have been amused.)

We have celebrated three birthdays and have three more to go...

Kate turned 9...

Cole is now 15...

...and yesterday Meg became a 14 year old and 

today she became a resident of a freshly painted blue bedroom.

School activities are wrapping up for the year and we can happily say that new skills continue to be practiced.

Last week we attended The Young People's Symphony and learned about Mozart.

We have about three weeks of school left and we are all leaning toward the warmth and promise of summer. Man has had a bit of a make over. Most of us are thrilled and love his new look.

One of us however is less than pleased!

"Mommy, when will Daddy's hair grow back?"

“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”.
~Abraham Lincoln~

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