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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

JRR: Ever So Much More So

Two years ago today, 15 hours after arriving in China, Pete and I were escorted to a large orphanage and brought in the side door to a little room, where we came face-to-face with our new daughter.  She was wearing a red athletic suit that said "NKIE," and she was full of smiles, kicking her feet back and forth in her chair, pointing and chatting away (none of which we could understand).

She quickly identified us as "Mama" and "Baba," and then about 20 minutes later, cheerfully put her hand into ours as we left the orphanage to drive to the first of the government offices we needed to visit to make the adoption final.  All day she was a happy little adventurer, especially if we kept giving her snacks, and her first emotional breakdown didn't come until that night when she realized she was staying in our hotel room overnight.  We called our Chinese guide/interpreter, and she talked to Jinna on the phone and somehow calmed her down so she could go to sleep.

Our first impressions of her was that she was energetic, very animated, very strong, and very brave.  Somehow she trusted us, complete strangers, who were very funny-looking, to whisk her away to a whole new country and family.


Sometimes people talk about the transformation that happens when an adopted child comes home and finally experiences love.  We think Jinna was loved at her orphanage.... When we went back to visit, many of the kids and workers were quite affectionate towards her and some cried when she left.  But she certainly didn't know the word "love" in Chinese, and probably no one had said it to her in the years she could remember.

Now she loooooves to talk about love.  She makes up songs about love, she writes notes daily to tell family members she loves them, she insists every night on hugs and kisses and exchanges of "I love you's before bed.

So while love is not new to her, we have seen tremendous growth in the 2 years that she's known about God's true love.

But I wouldn't say she's transformed.  When we met her she was animated, strong, and brave.  And she's still animated, strong, and brave.  To borrow a phrase from Homer Price, she is just "Ever So Much More So."

We love watching her grow more and more into who God created her to be.  She takes on every new challenge with gusto and doesn't shy away from much.

 And she is just what our family needed.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Hurricane Florence

Much ado was made about the impending arrival of Florence.... Strider came home 3 days earlier because Campbell cancelled classes, Rayna's school cancelled a few days, all weekend plans were cancelled -- except for one party (more about that in a second).  So we dutifully hunkered down, and because we are good homeschoolers, we purchased a rain gauge so we could measure the storm's impact.

 When all was said and done we got some high winds and about 8 inches of rain in 2 days.  Thankfully we did not lose power or need to dip into our store of water or anything like that.*

We DID enjoy some good quality family time.... The first thing I did was make cinnamon rolls because that just felt like the appropriate thing to do.

The twins wanted to dye their hair with Kool-Aid because apparently THAT felt like the right thing to do as well.

Unfortunately, Jinna's hair didn't change enough to satisfy her so to stop her crying I had to braid it.  That calmed her down.

I also ventured out before the rain got too bad to an impromptu birthday party for Hayley... Fun seeing all the young girls I enjoy.



Later on, outside, the creek in our backyard swelled and rose.... so for once the saying, "Lord willing and the creek don't rise" was relevant and all of the churches cancelled services on Sunday.  We watched Kevin deYoung online instead.

All around us roads were closed... In fact, in our old neighborhood people were actually kayaking on the main street!

By Sunday evening we were getting a little stir-crazy, so we went over the park when the rain dissipated to just a drizzle.

Then, because the kids were actually disappointed that the power never went out, we turned off all the lights and played games in the dark.  The kids said they want to do this every night!


There was beauty all around us -- before, during, and after the storm.



*Ironically, we DID lose water to our house a couple weeks later when a main pipe out at the road burst.  Those extra jugs of water came in handy for those 2 days.  Let's just say not having water for 48 hours is not so fun.  We eventually went to a friend's house to shower, which the girls thought was quite the adventure!  I, however, was thrilled to hear the water finally come back on.

Cole goes to Cotillion

Big year for this little man, between Gateway and Cotillion he's going to be learning a lot about becoming a gentleman!  He already looks the part.  :)




We recruited a few friends to join the group so now he doesn't have to dread going... even if there IS dancing....

He came home after the first class and informed that he could only eat ONE cookie because it was too hard to balance the food and unbutton his coat at the same time.
He also told me that he learned the box trot.  😀

Looks like it will be a beneficial year!

Fall sports

This fall one or more of the boys have been playing:
1. Soccer
2. Flag football
3. Karate
4. Tennis
5. Ultimate frisbee

So the girls and I have been playing:
1. Driving
2. Spectating
3. Cheerleading (informally, of course)

Since this fall has been particularly hot, this means we've all been sweaty for large portions of most days.

The biggest commitment has been Colsen's first foray into school sports.  He's been playing on the Arborbrook middle school soccer team, and loving it.  Even though he is one of the youngest, he plays his heart out, and in the last week of games scored 2 goals!

Some family came to watch a game




The Wrayverman flag football team has returned this fall: same coach, same cousins, new league.  We are looking forward to a few fun family Saturday nights with many of the Wrays on the sidelines!




The boys continue on in karate, and Miles has been playing tennis (but I keep forgetting to take pictures of that)

And Strider has been playing on Campbell's club Ultimate frisbee team.  The team has traveled to tournaments the last few weekends and apparently they won the whole thing at William and Mary this past weekend.



New car

Miles informs me that I need to write about our new car.  It IS a big event for us.... even though it's quite used, it's 10 years newer than the van we've been driving around, so it feels quite luxurious to us!  But I thought it was a little silly to just take a picture of a car, so I decided to include my flowers, too, since those are something I do want to remember.  :)

Saturday, September 8, 2018

More from Miles

Tonight at dinner we heard these 2 things from Miles:

"Wait, wait, wait.  I've been wondering this for my whole life.  Let me ask you.... HOW does a freckle get formed??!"

and

Miles: Mom, do you love me more than I love you?
Me: Yes.
M:  Do you love me the most that you possibly could?
Me:  Yes
M:  Doesn't God love me more than you do?
Me:  Yes
M: Well, that's just rude then.  You DON'T love me the most that could possibly be!

Miscellaneous notes from our California trip

1. Sophie is like a Sherpa.  Everywhere we went she wanted to carry the heavy bags, do the heavy climbing or walking, and overall be as challenged as possible. And that girl has some serious muscle!  She is definitely her father's daughter.


2. Liquid nitrogen makes awesome desserts -- both ice cream and "dragon's breath" (which is really just cereal)



3. These two 3rd-grade cousins are adorable.


4. Even if you haven't seen a friend in 19 years, you can still easily pick up and have a great day together, with your and her kids -- if she's that kind of special, amazing friend.


 5. Bolzu-Mecadee (this is most assuredly not how you spell it) is a really fun Japanese game.  We had many rousing rounds of it.

6. Jinna loved playing with her cousins, but most of all attached herself to her uncle.  This was their posture pretty much all weekend.



7. These 4 cousins were so adorable the whole time.  I loved spending time with them all, and they all seemed to enjoy each other a lot.  When it came time for us to leave, several of us were in tears.




San Diego Zoo

According to absolutely everyone I talked to before our trip, you simply cannot go to San Diego and NOT go to the zoo!  So we went.


Copying the flamingos
This picture sums up their personalities pretty perfectly:  Miles sitting illegally on the railing, Jinna hanging in, Sophie doing gymnastics on the bars, and Sammy with his feet firmly on the ground, following the rules, and holding a map.









Miles was begging to ride this atrocious thing.  Thankfully his aunt and uncle were good sports and took the kids up there.  I stayed firmly on the ground.







Such a fun day!