Sunday, September 28, 2008

A decade to be thankful for

Rayna has decided she really loves "Show and Tell" these days, so I figured I would take a turn myself today. This is a picture of the book that Pete gave me 10 years ago yesterday, on the day of our wedding. It is a blank book inside, but he made the cover himself by taking a color-copy of a 3-dimensional art-form he made -- which inclued even stitching those letters on paper.... Here is where everyone says, "Awwwwwwww....."

Anyway, he gave it to me with the instructions that I should write in it through the course of our marrriage, to keep a record of our journey together. I've never been a good journaler, but when I have something specific (and infrequent) like this to do, I enjoy it. So, starting during our honeymoon, I wrote several pages. I recorded all my thoughts and our observations about our wedding, the receptions, and the rehearsal dinner -- things people said, funny things people did, the crazy songs the various reception tables sang to get us to kiss, etc. I even wrote down all the dance moves that the "palace guys /ATF guys" did to Saturday Night Fever. And I'm so glad I did -- I would have forgotten almost all of it by now, knowing my lack of memory these days!

And then on each anniversary and on other special days, such as days when we got good or bad news, or the days our children were born, I've written my thoughts and recorded what was going on with us. Occasionally Pete has written some entries as well... though he's not as verbose as I am (surprise suprise).

The pages are now so fun to thumb through, to see God's grace to us over these years. I never pictured myself as marry-able before I actually got married, and I love seeing His whole plan in retrospect now. And there was a very long season in this first decade in which I was sure that Pete had gotten the raw end of the deal: I was not at all the same person that I had been when he met me in college. But Pete never balked at the whole bait-and-switch move it appeared I had executed -- he's been just as consistently in love with me and patient with me all along. Even when I have been ugly, mean, incompetent, vulnerable, weak and sorrrowful, he's continued to pursue me. When we got married I remember writing that Pete's love to me was a picture of how I pictured God's to be -- so unconditional. And the past 10 years have only borne that out in greater detail and strength.

I could go on and on (obviously) but I'll just sum up by saying these past 10 years have been a greater blessing to me than I could have ever pictured. And as we are now 1 day into our 2nd decade together, I look forward to more adventures together!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I just downloaded pictures from my camera, and they pretty much tell the stories...

Some school fun:

Acting out the Boston Tea Party, dressed as Mohawks (notice the tea behind them)

Attending a field trip at Latta Plantation

Learning history up-close and personally

(The pictures are not that great quality I know... I forgot my camera on the field trip so had to figure out how to use the camera on my phone... which I'm impressed I did. The field trip was quite fun -- some good hands-on crafts and activities -- although the best part was probably "getting to have lunch with Poppa afterwards!")

Some extracurricular fun

Date night!

(Terrible picture again, I know, but still it's proof that we can still act like adults sometimes.)

Pete and I finally went out on a real date this past weekend! It was a lot of fun -- especially because we saved $20 with an online coupon for McCormick and Schmick's. :) We decided we were celebrating -- not just ten-year, but the tenure process, too. (get it? the words sound the same, at least down here in the South they do...) Next week is our 10th anniversary, but I have to work that night so we won't be going on any dates then. And this past week Pete turned in a big portfolio of information to apply for tenure at his job, so he was relieved to have that done and was ready to relax.

Strider had a baseball game... (he's the batter in this pic)

... and we cheered him on... along with some other emotions.

And, a haircut.

First professional haircut!

C and Mr. Tom

While I was at work on Saturday morning, Pete rode his bike with the kids down to our neighborhood barber to have Colsen's hair cut for the first time there. Everyone loves going to see Mr. Tom, so it was a treat for everyone.

When I got home that afternoon, I went up to see Colsen in his crib just before he took his nap.

I leaned over and said, "Hey sweetie, did you get a haircut?"

Behind his pacifier he said, "Haircut. Tom did it. Scissors."

And then realizing I had just gotten home and he needed to make sure I was all set, he followed up with, "Work? Phone away! Keys away! Purse away!" I assured him I would make sure all those things were taken care of, and then he was content to let me leave so he could get some sleep.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Looking for a name...

...for this baby!
Pete and I are finding that we're pretty tapped out when it comes to names this time around.... although we never felt like we had names for our other kids until the week they were born, either. We do have a couple girl names we kind of like, but our boy list has been very depleted... the last 2 names we had on it when we were searching for Colsen's name have now become our nephews' names.
So, we're back to the drawing board here... and we're finding ourselves rather constrained by all our (my) "preferences." This will give you some idea.
Top 10 Things we (I) Prefer for a Name:
  1. Must have a good meaning (first and/or middle names)
  2. Either first or middle name must be the name of a literary character we love (to stay in our pattern)
  3. First name should be 2 syllables... maybe we could stretch this to 3. All 3 of our other kids have 2-syallable names... I like that better with our 1-syllable last name.
  4. Either the first or middle name should start with "D" or "Q." Then we can have a pattern of initials for the 4 kids (either "A", "B", "C", "D") or ("S", "R", "Q", "P")-- which is a pattern going alphabetically backwards (my favorite direction), though not in chronological order.
  5. First name shouldn't end with "-er", "-en/-on" or "-na" to avoid rhyming or confusion with the other kids.
  6. First name shouldn't start with "S," "R," or "C" so that when I write a note to the kids, or label cups for them, each one has a unique initial.
  7. First name should have one of the following sounds in it: long o, s, n, l, or hard c. This will flow nicely after "Colsen." :)
  8. First name can't in any way allude to hot dogs, picnic food, or ballparks. We don't want any jokes with "Frank."
  9. First name also can't rhyme with "Frank."
  10. And, of course, we have to like how the name sounds.
I could go on and on here... but I'm sure my overanalyzing, pattern-seeking qualities are starting to drive everyone crazy. Now everyone can feel sorry for Pete in a whole new way.
But if anyone can solve this brainteaser/conundrum and help us out, please let me know any good name suggestions you have! (Except you, Dan.)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oh good, it's football season again.

Perhaps you can sense my lack of enthusiasm here... but let me just say whatever excitement I am lacking is more than made up for by the other members of this family -- specifically, the older 2 males of the household.

Suddenly, 90% of all conversations in this house have started to center on what BIGGAME is on this weekend, and what times the various teams play, and where we will have to go in order to view the games on the channels we do not receive at our house. (Friends and family of ours who have cable should be expecting calls from Pete or Strider in the next few weeks. And if you have HDTV -- prepare for some long-term houseguests.)

Our dinner conversation last night was all about the Oakland Raiders' and their coach and owner and the guys' opinions of each, and exactly how much room to make decisions a franchise owner has within the league. Needless to say, I was less than engaged.

A lot of what I hear these days starts like this, "Mom! Guess what! _______(insert player I've never heard of) from the ________ (insert team -- which at least I've usually heard of) is going to...... (I don't even know what to insert here because by this point my eyes have glazed over -- and I guess my ears have, too, because I don't hear the rest of it.) I just smile and nod and say, "wow!" a bunch of times.

And then if the real games were not enough, we have the big Fantasy Football games each week as well. Last Saturday I came home from work and found Pete in front of his laptop and Strider perched right at his elbow, giving him advice about who to play and who to bench for the week.... apparently Strider is the offensive coordinator of the team.

Each weekend we have to have ongoing negotiations about how much football viewing will take place. And invariably I will hear, "But this is the BIGGESTGAMEOFTHEYEAR! We HAVE to watch it!" I remarked recently that it seems like the biggestgameoftheyear seems to happen awfully frequently. But Pete very seriously thought about it and then told me (and this is a direct quote): "Nah. I'd say they only happen about 3 times a season." ???

Even Rayna is getting into the excitement... simply because it is excitement, and not because she has any clue what's going on. In the car on the way home from some event over the weekend, she leaned forward and asked, "Mom, can I watch the game when we get home?" I think she's just learned that that's the question you're supposed to ask around here approximately every 15 minutes.

Colsen, thankfully, is not into watching the TV games yet... .but he certainly enjoys playing football! He's developed some good blocking skills just by living her -- putting his arm outstretched, lowering his head, and cradling whatever he's carrying in his elbow as he runs past his siblings trying to deter him. I didn't get very good pictures of this, but this will give you the general idea anyway.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whitewater rafting

The greater Wray family of the greater Charlotte area decided to spend what is probably (hopefully) one of the last very hot days of the season at the U.S. Whitewater Center yesterday. While it was a little hot and steamy for spectators, the rafters (Pete, James, Dad, Dan, Amy-K, Katie, and Graham) all had a lot of fun. There were a few occasions where someone fell out of the boat, but I guess that's just what makes it interesting (or terrifying, depending on your perspective). (And I just want to say that I am very glad they make everyone wear helmets. Back when I was a camp counselor and we had to take KIDS down a very dangerous, swirling river for hours, during which time most or all of us would get pitched out of the boats and end up pinned under it on rocks, etc., no one wore helmets! And, yes, I'm still upset about it!)

The kids, meanwhile, had fun playing on some rock-climbing rocks, and afterwards we all enjoyed a picnic dinner-- and Karin's awesome carrot cake (celebrating Dan and Amy's birthdays). A very fun Sunday afternoon!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What do you do when....

.... when you're already pretty ornery because the kids have been screaming and provoking each other all afternoon, and it's too rainy to send them outside, and then you have a very frustrating dinner-making time because your husband is working all night and the kids are all hovering around the kitchen like helicopters seeking to destroy everything within reach with their rotor blades and you have to say, "no" or "stop" 532 times during the process...

.... and then you finally get dinner on the table, after explaining to your daughter for 153rd time that the placemats are supposed to match each other when she sets the table, and you all sit down to eat, and just as your 1-year old son starts his familiar refrain of "don't like beans, mama! don't like beans, mama! don't like beans, mama!" your daughter picks up her soft-shell taco and immediately drops all of the contents therein onto the floor? What do you do?

And then you look down and realize there are now numerous pieces of ground turkey, tomatoes, black beans, onions and cheese, all quickly being absorbed into the rug below the table.... what do you do? You figure vacumming or dust-busting will be gross, right? So you get the trash can and go down on your hands and knees to pick up every little piece? What do you say?

I won't repeat all of what I chose to say.... But I will summarize to say that the theme of it was largely that all 3 of them were going to go to bed very early tonight.

But then what do you do when in the midst of your fuming and raving (assuming you're anything like me), your daughter starts saying in a very quiet, sweet voice, "I'm so sorry, Mommy. I'm sorry." And when you acknowledge that you hear her, she says, "I forgive you, Mama. I forgive you." What do you do?

And then when she gets sent to the other room to wait so she'll stop stepping on all the food particles while you get a spray bottle out, and you hear her amusing herself by repeating "... And the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (part of the verse she learned in class today), what do you think?

And then when your older son comes and gives you his last special piece of chocolate afterwards, and you realize it's because he feels bad that you were so angry (assuming you're anything like me), what do you do?

And then what do you do when you try to thank him and kindly offer it back, and he says, "But wouldn't this mean I don't have to go bed early tonight after all??" and you realize it was actually just a bribe?

Ah, motherhood. So many emotions in even a simple taco dinner.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Some weekend quotes

Here are some of the things I've heard around here lately:

Pete: I shoulda worn a hat. My hair looks terrible.

(???? Does he remember he has no hair?? When I ask him about this, he contends that he DOES have hair... it's just really, really short. But sometimes it gets just a millimeter too long, apparently, and then it looks "terrible." Whatever he says.)

Strider (out of the blue): I don't think I want Sarah Palin to be Vice-President. I mean, she'd be the first girl to be Vice-President ever, and what if she made a rule like all the boys have to wear make-up!! I would hate that. .... Although I guess since she's not really in charge of the whole country, John McCain would probably tell her "no" on that rule.

Rayna (lying on my bed): I'm soooo tired.
Me: Oh, do you want to go take a nap?
Rayna: No! I need to go to a PARTY!

(Can you say, "definition of an extrovert?")

Pete (upon getting in the car and hearing the GPS voice "Emily" start giving him directions): I've missed Emily since our New York trip.
Me: You've missed that lady??
Pete: Don't say "that lady!" She can hear you!

Rayna: Hey Bauman!
Colsen: What?
Me: Who's "Bauman?"
Colsen: Me!!

(Rayna has started calling Colsen this because she likes how he calls a vitamin a "bauman." But now apparently she's trained him so well, he actually thinks that's his name)

Strider (whispering to me while he's supposed to be listening to a sermon at church called "God's Favorite 4-Letter Word): My favorite 4-letter word is.... GOLF. No wait, it's ESPN. No wait, that's just initials....
Me: Shhhhhhhh.

Rayna (completely out of the blue): I love all my people!

(When I asked her who those people were, I was glad to hear I was on the list

Friday, September 5, 2008

The persistent plight of the third-born

As mentioned earlier, Colsen, as a typical third child in the family, sometimes has to go along with some quirky plans instigated by his siblings. This is all character building, I assume? Everyone knows a third-born adult that they love, right?

Here are some of the things Colsen has been "asked" to do lately...

(Stay in jail)

(push his older siblings in the stroller)

(and go for a walk as a dog)

Colsen, for his part, is learning some good coping skills. Some of his common phrases these days are,
"ME, TOO!"
And I'm also getting a kick of how this 1-year old has already learned how to "tell on" his brother and sister. Here are some conversations I had with him this morning:
Me: Colsen, why are you soaking wet??
C: Strider did it!

Me: Why are you crying?
C: Rayna took it!

Me: What happened to this?
C: Rayna breaked it!

All in all, I should probably start being a little more vigilant in trying to protect him, though. A few times I've walked in to the living room after hearing him crying and yelling for me... and found him tied up to a chair. It's no wonder the "jail" game is his least favorite. And is it just coincidental that it happens to be Strider's most favorite?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Something new for us

This year we've decided to do Classical Conversations as part of the kids' schooling, and yesterday was our first day. It was a great experience for us all.... Basically it's a program for a bunch of kids (I think there are about 90 in the part we were in) that meets from 9-1 on Wednesdays. During the week we all have a study guide to go through, and then on Wednesdays we get together to go over the material, and learn some new things. After a 20-minute assembly for everyone, the kids all break up into their individual classrooms by age group and meet with their teachers for the next few hours.

Strider, of course, completely loved it and almost hasn't stopped talking about his first day for the last 24 hours. He is in a class with 8 other boys his age - -- a whole class of just boys -- and 2 of them were his good friends, so he was excited to go. They did all kinds of games and experiments, etc., and each week each student will be doing a presentation on one of the 50 states, so that should prove interesting.

And Rayna had a great time, too, and actually did better than I thought she might. The class she is in does all the same material as the other classes, so even the Kindergarteners are learning Latin words, English grammar definitions (yesterday's was all about what an "infinitive" is), science terminology (yesterday's was about the cell and the 4 types of tissue in the human body), American history, geography (the names and capitals of the 50 states) and Timeline cards. So for 2.5 hours she (mostly) paid attention and tried to participate in all the activities. She will tell you that the coloring sheets and snack time were her favorite parts, though. :)

My favorite part is that 5 of the families involved are friends of ours from church, so I'm going to enjoy getting to see them every week, and it will be fun to have our kids all learning together. Plus, I guess I'm going to get to learn a bunch, too, because I certainly do not know all these English grammar definitions, science questions, or Latin words!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My Azaleas

It’s been quite a surprise to find the azalea bush on the side of our house suddenly blooming over these last few weeks. Up until this year it has always behaved like the standard azalea that it is, and bloomed in the early spring only. I don’t know if this summer it just started to get jealous of all the blooms on the hydrangea bush next to it or what, but here in the hottest stretch of the summer, it’s been blooming away!

It’s a fun thing to catch garden plants doing unexpected things – especially blooming – at unexpected times. And whenever I see flowers blooming out of season, I think of Rayna.

Anyone who knows me well has heard this story (probably several times), but it still is very meaningful to me and I ponder it often. When I was pregnant with Rayna, we bought an Easter lily in her honor from our church, brought it home and planted it in our garden, where it promptly looked dead. Then, very strangely, it started to grow over the summer, and the week Rayna was born (in August) it bloomed again!

As the months went by after Rayna’s birth, and it became clear that she was missing several developmental milestones, that story about the Lily kept coming back to me, as if God was telling me that this child was on her own timetable, and would bloom in her own season. And He was definitely right!

She is still on her own timetable, and much as that frustrates me at times, I am very thankful. It is a beautiful thing to see her bloom whenever she finally chooses to. The first time she finally walked, the first time she said “Mama,” the first time she dressed herself – all were events to be celebrated and I appreciated them far more than if she had done them when the books all said she “should."

But it’s something I have to remind myself often – that it’s good she develops when she does. Sometimes my pride is in such a rush. It’s been hard over the years to have hundreds of strangers come up to us on playgrounds, at church, or wherever, and try to guess her age (why do people always feel like they need to do that?) and to have them always guess way below her actual age. It’s hard to sit at gymnastics class and watch her be the one who can’t do a lot of the activities. It’s hard to watch her in children’s church be the one who doesn’t understand what she’s supposed to do. But then I have to realize most of the difficulty for me stems from my own pride. Rayna is the happiest child I’ve ever met, so how can I want anything different from, or for, her?

Plus, she makes me smile thousands of times a day. Yes, she knows how to dress herself now, but she has gotten to the point where she tries to make her clothes “match” – and to her this only means black shirt with black skirt, or blue shirt with blue pants, etc. My little monochrome girl. And she gets excited about everyone and everything… “What? We’re having brussel sprouts for dinner?? You’re kidding me! Thanks, Mom!” Her enthusiasm is hard to beat.

So, while the waiting seasons are hard…. waiting for her to ride a 2-wheel bike, waiting for her to read, waiting for her to understand even the first concepts about math… I know that the eventual blooming is always worth it. Just like my azalea in August, her timing is unexpected, and beautiful.