Thursday, January 31, 2008

Quirky Kids

Canine Colsen
Colsen is definitely in the "dog" stage of development:

He is always happy to see us (practically wags his tale out of excitement); runs to the door when you ask him if he wants to go outside; loves to spin in circles; does a lot of looking at things and pointing to communicate what he wants; runs to the pantry when he wants food; can do certain "tricks" when asked; and likes to rip up, chew on, and generally destroy things around the house.

But his latest thing clinches it: when he indicates that he wants a cracker and I get the box out to give him one, he sits down on the floor and waits in eager anticipation, just like our dogs used to do when we would say "Sit" before giving them a treat! (I promise I did NOT teach him to do this- - and I never say "Sit" to him!)

Plus, I think he thinks the toy box is his crate (and, no, we don't ever put him in there.... he goes in all on his own accord):

Rhythmic Rayna

Rayna has always loved her routines, and we have often said she has joy in the journey of a conversation.... not caring as much about the substance as the fact that you are just having a conversation. So she asks the same questions over and over, and rhetorical ones, you would think, as well. Pete was chuckling the other day, though, about how she does the same exact thing over and over in certain circumstances. For example, whenever we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom to her, every time we get to the "o is twisted alley-oop" part, she always looks up and laughs the same way. Whenever she reads a book about a character going to the dentist, she stops at the same part where the character says, "Lollipops aren't good for your teeth," and says, "They're not??" Every time. Every night after Pete prays for her before going to bed, she stands up and starts dancing around saying, "I said the solla bee. You golla molla lee." (No, it doesn't make any sense, but that's exactly what she says every single time.)

And now we've realized she does it in her sleep, too! Each night when Pete tucks her in before he and I go to bed, he says to her, "You doin' alright, sweetie?" and gives her a hug. And she, without even waking up, does a fake cough, says "yes" very definitively, and then pats his back lightly. Every single time.

This morning she was doing some painting, and Strider decided she needed an artist hat..... definitely expresses her character!

Silly Strider
The other day Rayna was making up some song about how "Jesus is coming."
Strider heard it and started to laugh at her, until I said, "She's right Strider! He could be coming any day now."
Strider said, "No, I read in the Bible that there is a 60% chance He won't come back until the year 3000. [What Bible is he reading???]"
Then after a second he said, "Wait.... If He came back now, does that mean I can't go to the UNCC basketball game this Saturday???!!" [This said in a very high-pitched tone, as he has been looking forward to this game for over a month now]
And then he said, "Hey -- And I want to play college football before I go to Heaven!!!"

Ah, Strider.

This morning he brought me a picture that he had drawn. This, alone, was astonishing because the boy hates to draw. I have tried many times to teach him drawing -- I bought a book and everything. But he has resisted at every turn, and last time I checked couldn't even draw a stick figure.

But this drawing was not only of a person -- a boy -- but it had the weirdest detail. The boy had glasses on, had crutches, and also had what Strider called a "scooter wheelchair." Strange things motivate this child.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Fun with a chair

Last week, on one of our cloudy, cold days, I heard the kids playing loudly a few different times and went to investigate. In each case they had our computer swivel chair at the center of their amusement....

First it was a ship in the middle of the ocean:
The description I got was, "Rayna's the Looker.... she tells me if there is any shark or rock to go around or anything. And I'm the driver. And Colsen has the map."
Then later it was a wheelchair:

Description: "Colsen was climbing on a 100-yard cliff, and then he fell and hit his leg on the pavement. But it was worse than just broken, it was almost about to fall off. So they took him to the hospital, and we've kept him here for 2 weeks. The blanket is because he was so shocked."
And then it was a throne:

Description: "I'm the king, and Colsen is my assistant king. And Rayna is the servant. So I tell her to do stuff like clean things, or take me to the movies."
(Why does Rayna go along with this??)

And then, of course because it swivels in a full circle, it was inevitably, a ride:

Description: "This is a ride at Carowinds (amusement park). It's not as big as a roller coaster, but it just makes people go really fast around and around and get dizzy."

(This was all fine, I guess.... except for a couple of different times when I had to come in and rescue Colsen from the endless "ride!" Poor little guy.... for real.)

All in a day's fun when you're a kid!

Friday, January 25, 2008

Some Wray family pics

Over Christmas, since the whole Wray family was together, we got some pictures taken together. Karin's friend Lindsey came to take them, and she had some creative ideas for what we could do.... such as this shot in which she told us all to...

(Dan looks the best in this one... 4th from the right)

HEY -- GUESS WHAT!! I was just working on this entry to pass time because I was waiting for the phone to ring... and it just did finally right as I was typing the above words... and that goofy jumper Dan just had a baby! Well, of course, Amy actually had the baby.... Little Kai Hudson has just made his entrance into the world!!

I'm off to make plans to visit the hospital and my new little nephew!

Thoughts for the day-- from a great book

I've been reading a really incredible book lately called "Better Than My Dreams" by Paula Rinehart. Best book I've read in a long, long time. And that's saying something because I'm currently only half-way through it. And, it's also particularly noteworthy because I usually do NOT like reading non-fiction. I highly recommend it to everyone.

There are many, many insightful and interesting things I've discovered in it so far -- as evidenced by all the underlining and dog-eared corners in my book -- but today I've been pondering a couple thoughts in particular....

One is a quote by Madeleine L'Engle...
"To grow up

is to findthe small part

you are playing

in this extraordinary drama

written by

someone else."

Along the same idea, here is a quote from Frederick Buechner,
"The place God has for you is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

The author of the book goes on to say,

"Find out what makes your heart sing and how that touches the sea of need around you -- that niche will feel like something that's been prepared for you. It won't necessarily be easy. But there's joy there, a sense of deep satisfaction."

And then she goes on to say that,

"The fine irony is this: discovering that small part, the one with your name on it, is often the phoenix that rises from the ashes of your broken dreams.... [W]hat God gives you to give the world often comes from your wounds and secret griefs.... In some mysterious way, God redeems what's been lost and then transforms it into the cup of cold water that you offer in his name. And that is, truly, better than your original dreams of the life you thought you wanted."

Interesting concept, huh?

Tonight we have planned to get together with a few other couples, and part of the conversation is going to be centered on a question that one of the guys posed: "What are the things that make you glad, sad, mad, dream and dread?" In preparation for this, Pete and I have had a lot of good conversations this week about these things -- it's been interesting to hear our different thoughts and approaches to this question. The "dreams" part is, of course, my favorite topic. And the quotes above have really gotten my brain swirling around it... I will be curious to hear what the group thinks, and also where my mind ends up settling on all this!

Unfortunately, since I and the kiddos still have varying degrees of a cold, only Pete will be able to go to the gathering tonight. :( He'll be the representative for both of us, and hopefully he'll be able to translate back to me the gist of the discussion. Or maybe I'll just send a tape recorder. I LOVE talking about -- and thinking about -- all this!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Coping with the Cold... and colds

Despite the kids all having colds this past week, we've all been excited about the couple appearances of snow! Some of the highlights of the week included....

Playing outside; making African murals for school; having a mini baby shower for Amy -- and giving her Tivo; taking naps (well, at least Colsen did); and playing Qwirkle with a few different groups (pictured is Dan and Amy).

And, completely unrelated to the cold, and thankfully, also unrelated to colds, our church service today was really cool. The Spanish church plant connected with our church met with us today (usually they meet at the same time, but down the hall), so many of the songs, Scriptures, words, etc., were done in both English and Spanish. It was so moving to be singing words like the ones from "In Christ Alone"...

What heights of love, what depths of peace,When fears are stilled, when strivings cease!My comforter, my all in all—Here in the love of Christ I stand.*

...all in Spanish! As the worship leader said at one point, it's just a very minor glimpse into what it will be like someday to hear God praised in all different languages by all types of people. Considering how exciting this morning was, I think that day will definitely be amazing.

*A close translation is:
¡Qué alturas del amor, qué profundidades de la paz,
cuando se calman los miedos, cuando los strivings cesan!
Mi comforter, mi todo en todo-
Aqui' adentro el amor de Cristo que estoy parado.

(I wish I could say I memorized this this morning... but really I just looked up the translation again. :) )

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Strider says...

Over the past few months Strider has been going through a phase where he doesn't want me to tell other people about some of the things he says or does. If he says something particularly funny, and I start laughing, he quickly yells, "Don't tell anyone! And DON'T PUT IT ON THE BLOG!!!"

I remember going through a similar phase when I was younger (shortly before the phase when I wanted my parents to brag about absolutely everything I did... the phase I still haven't grown out of), so I'm trying to be understanding and compliant. I did ask him recently, though, what he would let me write about him on the blog. Here is his response:

"You can say that my name is Strider, with an "i", not a "y." And I'm Protestant. And I want a tire swing and a treehouse. And I live in Lake Park, which is located near Charlotte, in North Carolina, near South Carolina. My favorite food is Skittles, and I want to see Shrek 3."

So there you have it. That's all you get to know about Strider these days. Nah.... not really. I'm sure I'll still be able to capture a few other things to record -- things he doesn't notice me observing, and therefore doesn't forbid me to report them. :)

Here are a couple of the conversation snippets recently heard around the house, for instance:
Rayna and Strider were playing some sort of pretend game where one of them was a bandit apparently.... this is what I heard...

Rayna: Give me everything you have!
Strider: Even my faith in God??
(Rayna didn't know how to answer that one)

Colsen has been in the stage where he likes to come into a room and pick everything up off the floor and put it somewhere... a drawer, box, cupboard, wastebasket, wherever. (This would be a very helpful characteristic.... if only I could get him to put the things in the correct drawer, box, etc! ) Strider watched him walk in to the dining room with a bucket and start piling things into it, and observed, "When Colsen grows up he should Adopt a Highway since he likes picking everything up. Either that, or he should be a garbageman." Just what every mother hopes for her child. The "mother" and "brother" perspectives sure are different!

We miss Strider tonight.... he's sleeping over at Nonna's house. It's definitely quieter around here. But I'm taking advantage of this opportunity to write about him when he doesn't see me do it.... Shhhh... don't tell him you saw this!

(To take full advantage of this chance to show how cute Strider is, here is a little video I just dug out of the archives from when he had just turned 2. He wants Pete to "sit down" so he can see himself on the playback screen of the camera...)

Friday, January 11, 2008

Field Trip!

Strider and Rayna were very excited to learn that “school” today was going to be partly comprised of a field trip to…. Young Chef’s Academy! They both loooove to cook, so it was a great fit.

As we set out this morning in the car, though, I realized Rayna was confused because I had told her about 2 different field trips yesterday: one was today’s Chef school one, and the other was next week’s trip to Krispy Kreme that we have planned.

So this is the conversation we had in the car:

Me: Rayna, do you know what you’re going to do today?
Rayna: YES! We are going to make doughnuts.
Me: No, honey, we’re going to see the doughnuts next week. Today you’re going to learn how to be a chef. Do you know what a chef is?
Rayna: No
Me: It’s when you cook food. And you get to wear an apron. Do you remember that chef’s costume you have that has an apron and a white hat?
Rayna: YES!
Me: Ok, so you know what you’re going to do today?
Rayna: YES! I’m going to wear a costume. Strider, you be a dragon, and I’ll be a flower.
[Strider starts laughing uncontrollably]
Me: No, honey, you’re both going to be chefs.
Rayna: Strider, you be a chef, and I’ll be a chef. “Chef” and “chef” – they rhyme!
Me: …..mmmm, ok.
Strider: Ok, I’ll be a chef and Rayna will be a chef, and Mommy, you be the chocolate, and Daddy will be the salt, and Colsen will be the pepper, and who will be Paprika??
Rayna: Uncle Deuce!!

From there the conversation continued to deteriorate….. Soon Rayna was plaguing Strider by saying, “Strider, you’re my Princess Queen!” To which Strider kept saying, “WHAT??!?! I am not!!
And, anyway, there’s no such thing.” It just went on and on and on….

But eventually we arrived!

The place was pretty fun…. Lots of bright colors and kid-friendly utensils, etc. The menu for today was Calzones and Sugar Cookies, and the kids got to help make them at every stage….. as you can see.
Assembling the calzones...

And then they got to eat!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Two mothers, a daughter, and me..... and Tea!

One of the other highlights of our weekend -- at least for us ladies -- was our trip to a Tea Room in Davidson. My mom, my mother-in-law, Rayna and I all had a fun little tea party! Rayna thought the whole experience was wonderful.... she keeps talking about the fun time we had.

We all tried different kinds of teas... lemon sunshine, darjeeling, strawberry, and honey raspberry. Each of us got our own teapot, and we were able all try each other's, too. And we had scones with lemon curd and clotted cream. The rooms here were all decorated so nicely, too... We were in a room with fun mural of a tree -- the whole place felt magical. And Rayna was a cute little lady, keeping her napkin in her lap and everything. It was her first REAL tea party!

Fun visit with the grandparents

Bud and Jane (Grandpa and Gee-Gee) came to visit for a few days, and we had some fun adventures.

Our favorite outing was the Billy Graham Library -- from the talking cow, Bessie, at the beginning to the dairy barn restaurant at the end. Even though it is a library with no books, it was very interactive and interesting. There was even a 34-question game for the kids to play and at the end they turned in their answer cards and got a cool little gift. We learned a LOT about Billy Graham and his family... I've been especially fascinated by Ruth Bell Graham -- what a woman she was!After the official tour, Graham (not Billy, my brother-in-law) came over and took us to his building right next door and we got to see where his office is. (He does PR for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. It was a beautiful building and looks like a great place to work!

We also got to celebrate Christmas -- and Epiphany -- with Grandpa and Gee-Gee. Strider was thrilled with his new Ohio State football jersey (just in time to wear it for the championship game tonight!) and Rayna liked her new jump rope especially. Colsen just liked putting everyone else's gifts in this mouth.

Some Epiphany activities: Treasure Hunt and playing Frisbee golf gift...

All in all we had a great visit! Thanks for coming, Bud and Jane!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Man with a mission

This was how I found Colsen yesterday afternoon.
He often goes in our pantry and rummages around but this time he seemed more determined than usual... moving a lot of things out of his way.... even climbing up on a big plastic container.
I couldn't figure out what he was squawking about or doing.... until a few minutes later when he came into the other room where I was, carrying a bag of raisins! He has decided he LOVES raisins. Whenever he sees someone else in the family get the box out, he screams until he gets some. So he had now gone into the pantry, climbed up to the shelf where they are stored, gotten them down, taken the bag out of the box... and then gotten stumped. He couldn't figure out how to open the ziploc bag... which is why he needed me. He handed them to me and then did the "sign" we taught him for "more"... and then did the apparently universal sign for "RIGHT NOW" by clenching his fists, stiffening his arms and yelling for effect. So, I had no choice but to oblige.

Once I had the camera out, I decided to follow him around for a few minutes. The boy is crazy. Here are a couple scenes from the next 10 minutes:

(He loves to not be able to see! And if he bumps into things and falls down, he just laughs harder!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2007 Wrap-Up

Last night on our way home in the car, I asked everyone how they felt about 2007. Strider summed it up well, I think. He said, "2007 was a pretty good year! I mean, there were some bad things, but mostly it was good." When asked what he thought were the "bad things," he said, "Like when I had to practice the violin and learn a really hard song." And, as we keep telling him, if THAT is the hardest thing in his life, then he has a pretty darn good life.
And it really has been a good year. Yes, there have been some "bad things," (the main one being the loss of our niece/cousin, Selah) but overall this has been a very good year, and we are thankful.

Here are some of the things I've been thinking about for 2007:

Time When I Was Proudest To Be Part of the Extended Frank Family: When all the cousins did their "If I Weren't a Grandkid, This is What I'd Be" song for Bud's birthday. I was struck by how cool it is that every single one (above a certain age) agreed to participate -- there is not a surly, stubborn kid in the bunch! Plus they're just so talented.

Time When I Was Proudest To Be Part of the Extended Wray Family: During Selah's burial service. Even though it was the saddest thing we've ever had to go through, it was also the most amazing, memorable time. I was so impressed with Dan, Amy, and other family members, and so grateful that we all share a common, very needed, sustaining faith.

Time When I was Proudest To Be Part of our Immediate Frank Family: On one of our first family hikes, on a trail in Ohio. It was great to be all walking together, exploring and seeing new things.

Moment I missed the most:Grandpa's Christmas-decorated Saab pull into the driveway on my birthday. That's happened so many times. But even though the car was missed this year, at least we still got to see Mor-Mor and Grandpa in October!

Most Fun Transformation To Watch: Colsen growing from a sweet, helpless little baby who couldn't do anything besides smile, and didn't sleep through the night: a big, active, inquisitive, exploring little chatterer, who still doesn't sleep through the night:
Today we did our 3rd Annual New Year's Box tradition. Each year we save little tokens and special mementos from our various activities and put them in a designated "Year" box. Then on New Year's Day we open our box from the year and re-find all of the things we saved. It's fun to remember the different things and see what we had already forgotten! Then we decorate a new box for the coming year.

Here are the pictures from previous years... the kids are growing!

As we made the new 2008 box, we wondered what kinds of things we are going to be filling it with.... Fun to wonder! And then the kids got silly....

Wonder what 2008 will hold?!?