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Two on the Fourth (07/06/2011)
By Frances Edstrom

Morgan and Dan were invited to a wedding reception in Lincoln, Nebraska, over the Fourth, and we were called upon to baby-sit the four- and two-year-old granddaughters. Friday night came, we picked up the girls, and were joined by their cousin, my grandson Harry, who came down from St. Paul with his parents. My sister Susan, who has been in Winona many times to take care of me when I have been laid up, is also visiting.

We attended the Ditch Lilies concert on the green at the Great River Shakespeare Festival, where we ran into the Ditch Lilies’ Zumbrota Fan Club, including former Winonans Candace Meyer Gordon, Pam Meyer Dahl, and the former Ames sisters, Jackie and Nancy and their mother, Gloria. Since we had one poor baby-sitter for three rather busy children waiting for us at home, we turned down a pizza dinner and went back, where we readied the kids for bed and had a late supper of hamburgers on the grill.

The next morning, when I was deep into a really good dream, I was suddenly awakened by John, with Peyton standing beside him. “She’s up,” he said. I struggled out of bed, and he went back to bed. “Grandpa woke me up when he flushed the toilet,” she said, just to let me know it wasn’t her idea to get me out of bed. I didn’t think to look at a clock until Peyton and I were downstairs, and when I saw it was only six o’clock, I told her I was going to rest on the couch, and she could play quietly with her dolls, so she wouldn’t wake anyone else up.

I’m not sure if she talks in her sleep, but I do know that she is constitutionally unable to stop talking when she is awake. She started to talk, and I put my finger to my lips. “No talking,” I said. She immediately switched to a whisper. “No whispering,” I whispered. “It’s really hard not to talk,” she whispered, and gave me a look, but went quietly to playing dolls.

An hour or so later, I heard Cassidy come downstairs with Harry, and I went back upstairs to sleep for a little longer. Which wasn’t long, because soon everyone was up except for John, who had a horrible tooth ache,

We spent the rest of the morning swimming and playing on the slip and slide (which by the end of the weekend had left a huge yellow patch on the lawn, but its effectiveness as a child entertainer outweighed the lawn damage, in my mind). Peyton was like a little fish in the water. She noticed Angie swimming underwater and was quite taken with the idea. She tried it herself, but didn’t know that it can’t really be done very well while wearing a floating device, so ended up with her head underwater, and her butt sticking up in the air.

Later that afternoon, Cassidy and Angie put together three plastic trikes that my sister Mary Ann had sent money to buy, and we rode around in the driveway. My cousin from Omaha, Mary, drove up in time to see Harry before his parents drove off with him to visit his other grandparents in Red Wing. I quick ran up and changed the sheets on the guest bed and we were all set for the next installment. That night was bratwurst on the grill. John was still feeling quite awful, so we postponed a trip to a fireworks party, but enjoyed the many fireworks and big booms going on all around us. Besides, by the time we got the kids to bed, I was exhausted!

More swimming and slipping and sliding the next day, interspersed with a few fights over toys. At one point, Peyton wished her parents would come home. I told her they would be there “after supper.” She was silent a long time, so I said, “Is that okay? They’ll be home after supper?” “Oh,” she said, relieved, “I thought you said after summer!” We were both silent a while thinking about that one.

But they actually came before supper, and we cooked Omaha steaks, that Mary brought with her, on the grill and the last of the hot dogs, blueberries and strawberries for the kids. Soon they left for home with Morgan and Dan. Peyton, just hours before pining for her parents, cried pitifully because she didn’t want to leave me!

On the Fourth, John’s dentist returned to town, and scheduled a root canal for Tuesday morning. Whether he really felt better or just the news that finally something would be done made him feel better, I don’t know. But John felt well enough to go for a boat ride. We were amazed at how high the water is in July. Many people are still not able to enjoy their places on the river, as roads and camping spots are still under water. But it was great to be on the river finally, even if we almost did miss getting there by the Fourth!

Now I’m sitting back at my desk, yawning, trying to count the times over the weekend that my sister, my cousin, and I looked at each other and said, “I wonder how our mothers did it with five and six kids?” We had four adults to watch two pretty good kids and we were still run ragged! Must have something to do with youth, we figured — our lack of it! 


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