Monday, November 5, 2018


The kids' first opportunity to sing in a choir arrived on Sunday!  It was also their first opportunity to participate in an Episcopal service (well, Rayna used to attend an Episcopal church when she was a baby, but certainly does not remember it). 

The kids looked like deer caught in headlights for most of the service.

When the time came for the anthem, they were very excited!

And the choir sounded AmAZing!  So beautiful.  Our friend Kathleen is very talented and made this motley crew sound quite impressive.  (The adults joined them at different times throughout and the harmonies were beautiful!)

I was thankful to hear them, but also just for the opportunity for our family to worship with brothers and sisters in a style different from what we're used to.  It brought up all kinds of good conversations and we all appreciated the experience.  Love seeing more of the Body of Christ!

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Almost 12

Conversation with Colsen tonight:

Cole:  Is it true that we each have a guardian angel?
Me: Actually the Bible says, "He will give His angels charge over you," so it sounds like we have lots of angels looking out for each of us.
Cole:  I wonder what my team of angels is called.
Me:  Maybe they're called "Cutie-Pie's* Angels."
Cole:  Mom, I've been thinking, I think I'm getting too old for you to call me that.
Me:  Really???  Awwwww....
Cole: I know, that makes you sad, huh, Mom.  Time goes so fast!

I guess his angels need a new team name.

*I've told him that we named him Colsen Peter so his initials would be CP, which also stands for Cutie-Pie
Miles wanted me to take the picture like this

Friday, November 2, 2018

That explains it

My exasperation level was mounting by the hour today and finally tonight I blurted out, "I keep saying the same things over and over and it seems like no one is changing!!!"

Colsen looked up and said, "We're trying to be like God, and He is unchanging."



I asked Miles to take a photo of me that I needed to upload to a website.  He took several and as I was looking through them I kept saying things like, "Ack! Too many wrinkles," and "My face looks too fat," etc. 

He finally responded, "I guess you should have taken this picture back when you were in your 30's." 

He's not wrong.

Monday, October 29, 2018

Questions and more questions

As JRR's language improves, she asks more and more questions that are getting harder to answer.

This weekend while listening to a song she asked, "What does it mean to be free in Christ?"  I was glad Pete the elder was on deck for that one.

Then yesterday at the church picnic she saw a woman breastfeeding and had all kinds of questions for the group about how the milk got in there...

Fun (and challenging) to watch her mind grow!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Fall activities

Some of the things we have been doing....


The boys earned their 6th belts this past week -- "high orange."  I went to the test and finally understood better why love this activity so much:  they kept kicking and hitting each other!  Good thing they were wearing pads and helmets.


To balance out all the violence, we've also been doing this:
Our friend Lisa kindly got us all outfitted and taught us lessons.... Now we're busy making a few things for Christmas.... hopefully!


And to further round out these little folks' abilities, I signed the kids up for choir.  There was no end of protesting initially, but once they got to the first practice, they realized it wasn't so bad.  Kathleen has them singing with their "head voices" which has been challenging, and very educational!

They will be singing the anthem in this church during a Sunday service a few weeks from now....

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Family Fall Fun Day

We all decided to play hooky on Monday and head toward the mountains!

South Mountains State Park is awesome!  We hiked and picnicked and explored to our hearts' content.

Then we realized an apple orchard was only 20 minutes away, so we took the quick jaunt over to Windy Hill, where we picked a couple bushels of apples and had some cider and donuts.

Our fun day was not yet over... We stopped and got some food to take with us to the airport overlook for our second picnic of the day.  Perfect weather for it!

And finally, we stopped by the Outlets to see what exciting things were in store... and found a few nice birthday presents for Colsen.... shhhh!

What a fun memory that day will always be!

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.