Wednesday, July 29, 2009

More glimpses of the world through the eyes of a 2-year old

Recently Colsen picked up a calculator and started pushing the buttons intently. Strider tried to take it away, and Cole yelled, "NO! I HAVE TO MAKE A TEXT!!"

(The interesting thing is... neither Pete nor I have texting capabilities -- no phone plan with this included, and no knowledge of how to even begin texting... yes, we're old folks now. So I don't know how Colsen has learned that this is something all the young folks should be doing!)

Last weekend Pete and Strider were attempting to watch Star Wars -- a rite of passage for all boys, right? Colsen was apparently trying to track with it all. But he wasn't quite getting it, I guess, because at one point some creature picked up R2D2, and Cole turned to Pete and said, "Why is he picking up that man's vacuum?"

And this morning I was trying to give him the exciting news that his new cousin was about to be born today. I said, "Aunt Katie is about to have her baby!" And I expected some response like, "I want to see him," or "What is his name going to be?" Instead, the only thing Cole wanted to know was, "Does Aunt Katie have a bouncy seat for the baby??" Important things first, I guess.

And on that note, we're eagerly waiting word this afternoon to hear that this little nephew of ours has come into the world... Should be soon!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun on the water

Last week my parents rented a boat while John and Keiko were in town, and Pete took our 3 older kids for some of the tubing fun!

They, of course, had a great time... and the big adventure of the day was when Pete and Rayna "majorly wiped out!" But despite a few scary moments with Rayna rolling around in the water, she recovered quickly and loved telling me all about it later.

I love these pictures -- the kids' expressions are great.

(Colsen kept letting go to try and do "thumbs up" -- the universal sign for "speed up!")
Strider had a good time with "maverick" Uncle John
And Miles hasn't been left out of ALL the water fun.... Here he is experiencing"swimming" for the very first time, with his party attire on:

We all love summer!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Why his back hurts

Pete's been muttering about various ailments this week... his back hurts, his ankles hurt, etc.

As I found out later... this might be why!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

My "family circus"

This morning as we were dodging puddles as we walked, scootered, biked or were pushed in a stroller on our way to the pool for swimming lessons, this comic came to mind. Take away the cold-weather clothing (and the nice tall, lean body for the mom), and you pretty much have our family!

I used to love reading these comics when I was a kid... never imagining that someday I would have my own Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ. I have joined the Family Circus!
And I felt like I was right in one of those strips this morning when I heard Colsen/Jeffy explaining to Rayna/Dolly that he didn't think she should go to swimming lessons today because "It's waining. Look, Wayna. God finks the planst need more water!"

Monday, July 20, 2009

Because we apparently have not had quite enough family time lately...

Last week was quite busy with various family parties and outings with the entire Wray clan, so this morning when I woke up and realized I didn't have anywhere I had to go, it was a nice feeling. I also realized that I have to work the next 3 nights, so I figured today was the day to just wear "bum around" clothes, sans make-up, etc. And my neighbor who occasionally does the ol' "pop-in" had just come over a couple days ago, so I figured our house could stay dirty without anyone seeing it today.

But I was wrong. I had called Karin earlier today when she wasn't home, so she called me back this afternoon. We chatted for awhile... until she walked into my kitchen while we were still talking! Their whole family pulled a spontaneous pop-in on us (they owed us from a previous incident). It was a happy surprise for all of us!

After we had some dinner together and played for a bit, we decided to pay it forward and we all caravaned over to Dan and Amy's house to pop-in on them, too. We told them we were all there for another family portrait time; the sheer panic on their faces was priceless (just kidding).

We walked around their new yard and house a bit... and then Dan pulled out his work helmet and a fun game ensued (see this video)...

Even though I was a mess, my kids were a mess, and my house was a mess (Pete's never a mess -- he's always his handsome self), we still enjoyed the spontaneity of summer! And again we realized how nice it is to live near family.

Style for little girls
I love these designs!
The dresses and skirts are so cute... and the skirty is just what we need around here. :)

And perhaps my favorite part of looking through her web site is seeing all the Oxford sites... I miss it there!

Good ol' family picture time

This weekend all 20 members of the ever-expanding Wray family got together at my parents' house. It was the first time we had all been together in quite awhile, so it was obviously the perfect occasion to attempt yet another complete family picture. (The last several attempts over the years have not garnered too many successful shots... although this one is still on walls of studios. The family shot on the wall in middle is us! It was taken when Rayna was a baby, though, so it's been awhile!)

So out came my mom with great purpose and direction, intending to get the perfect, current shot. Two other family member photographers joined in the designing and framing stage, so the three of them together were directing the rest of us where to sit or stand. Unfortunately, the noise of the waterfall we were gathering around made it difficult for us to hear the mouths behind the cameras, so there were a lot of confusing charades going on. ("You want me to sit here? Or him? You want him where? Right in the middle? But there's no rock there! Is he supposed to sit in the water? Oh -- are you talking to her?")

Meanwhile, the kiddos all began a chorus with their various cries and pleas. We parents started our songs about the great promised dinner and cakes for all who cooperated. The cacophony crescendoed the longer we waited for the photographers to stage the shot. Lollipops given to the toddlers to appease them were melting all over the fresh white shirts. Kids were getting wetter and wetter the longer we sat near the water. And the leg muscles of at least some of us adults were cramping up.... to the point where everyone was complaining about something. Gotta love it.

Finally, 15 minutes later, the photographer team announced they were ready to start shooting.

Just about the time that everyone's smiles had permanently turned into grimaces. But with many a "Look at Nonna with the camera" shouts, and hand charades from my mom as she directed someone to do something (no one ever knew what exactly she was saying), the photo shoot commenced.

And then, 3 minutes later, we realized it actually had not commenced, as she hadn't been pushing the right button or something.

So we started over.

And then we all melted down and had to break for dinner.

And then after dinner we all traipsed out again to resume our oh-so-comfortable positions. After 15 more minutes of staging and directing, Rayna announced she had to go to the bathroom. Colsen, through the power of suggestion, also decided he had to go. Kai was still running around the yard, refusing to be confined for this ridiculousness. So, now 7 family members were no longer in the shot (including the ones who were trying to set up the picture).

Eventually, though, somehow we all got in the frame, and my mom took some pictures. (My dad had long since retreated inside to do something far more fun -- the dishes.)

Looking through the pictures later that night, we realized that even with 3 different cameras, and long periods of time set aside to achieve the desired look, when you're dealing with a cast of 18, you are never going to get "the perfect shot." Someone is always goofy-- and usually there is more than 1 clown in this bunch.

There were a lot of shots taken, but I only have these 2 here:

It's hard to get everyone looking in the same direction at once! Thankfully, for the rest of the evening, the non-picture-taking portion, that was not the goal, so we had fun looking at each other and talking. And, we had a lot to celebrate: Karin and James' anniversary, John's graduation, and Katie's "retirement!" Cake for everyone!!

Conversation from lunch today

Gotta love the stream-of-consciousness talking.

Colsen: Can I have some chicken brox on my cracker?
Me: Some what? I don’t know what you’re talking about.
Colsen: Chicken brox like when make you rice.
Me: Oh, chicken broth? You know what chicken broth is? No, you can’t have it on your cracker.
Strider: Colsen, you can call it chicken broth or chicken stock. Hey, Mom, can we make homemade chicken broth?
Me: Um, sure.
Strider: It’s just chicken-flavored water, right? Hey, didn’t you tell me that you have a friend from high school or something that makes like wine or something from honey?
Me: Yes, I do. Why?
Strider: Does it still taste bitter since it’s alcohol?
Me: No, actually it’s pretty sweet.
Strider: So it’s like drinking honey??!?!
Me: No, not that sweet…

But while we're on the topic, I'll post a link to that friend's (and her husband's) business, Fox Hill Meadery. The mead is quite tasty, I have to say. If you go to Asheville, check it out -- or you an also order some!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Brothers' first game

This is a game the younger boys started playing together one night a couple weeks ago. Miles thought it was hilarious to try and get his brother's paci!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Happy trails

We arrived home yesterday after 13 nights away, in beds in 3 different states. We are very thankful for a great trip! It was fun to see all the various family members (18 of them, both Franks and Wrays) and friends (7 of them), and to have all the memories now of the experiences we had.

As usual, the car travel was an adventure in and of itself. Something about having all 6 people in 210 cubic feet of space for hours upon hours brings out all the fun (or something).

Here are some of the things that will be memorable from this trip:

  • Playing "20 Questions" over and over. The toughest ones for us to guess were "Calvin Coolidge" (Pete's idea... we finally had it narrowed down to a U.S. President from the 1920's) and "outside" (Strider's idea-- which he insisted was a Place). In just about every round, Rayna would ask, "Are you a dot?" The answer was always "no."
  • Having iterations of this conversation over and over... R: "Are we in Ohio now?" Me: "No, we're in North Carolina. Then we're going to drive and drive until we get to Virginia. Then we're going to drive and drive until we get to West Virginia. Then we'll drive and drive until we get to Ohio!" C: "So are we in Ohio now??"
  • Singing songs in rounds. The most interesting point was when Pete and Strider were singing one part of "Rejoice in the Lord always," Colsen and I were attempting to sing a different part of it, and Rayna was singing "The Lord is my Shepherd" -- the song we had sung previously.
  • Hearing the kids sing "Let me see your funky chicken.... what's that you say?" over and over
  • Hearing the kids sing the Button Factory song over and over (thank you Eden!)
  • Listening to "Frog and Toad" and "Adventures in Odyssey" stories on CD
  • Hearing Colsen squeal with excitement everytime the Veggie Tales "Water Buffalo" song came on
  • Hearing "Can we have a snack?" 32 times
  • After a 5-minute lull, hearing Colsen say "I'm being good now, so can I have a wowwipop?"
Overall the kids were fantastic travelers, though -- even Miles who only cried for about 10 minutes right before we reached each of our destinations the last 2 days. (But he's also getting 2 teeth, so we certainly can't blame him!)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Adventures that were a little too adventurous

I need to preface this by saying that I know I'm too much of a scaredy-cat. When we were on the carousel yesterday, I kept wishing there were seat belts for my kids. All I could picture as we were going around was that one of them was going to slip off and fall into the inner pit (a good 8 foot drop from the top of a horse) and crack their head open. What am I going to be like at Disney World?

But my husband has not been making it any easier for me lately. Yesterday I came back here to find this:

Yes, that's Pete riding a motorcycle. He went all around these country roads, while his friend Jeff, the owner of the machine, stood with me in the driveway relaying all sorts of pleasant facts like "90% of motorcycle accidents happen when you're going 30 mph or less-- like on these country roads out here." And after awhile, he asked, "Do you think we should drive out to see if Pete's ok?" So comforting.

Pete had spent a lot of the day with his 2 good old buddies; the 3 of them have all kinds of hair-raising adventure stories from their junior high and high school days... I cringe to think of them.

They look like they're all grown up now...
Another exploit of Pete's that caused me wonder if we've kept his life insurance policy current was this:
While he was up on the roof, he somehow encountered a large nest of hornets, and we suddenly heard him running along the roof, and then a loud yell. I thought he had fallen, but thankfully he had not. My heart is getting a work-out here!

So now we have these 3 little boys that will no doubt inherit some of this crazy adventurous spirit... Pete is doing his best to pass it on:

I, of course, prefer the moments like these that I had with Cole yesterday while Strider and Rayna were at a craft program. We walked around the gardens, nice and safe...

...although he still managed to get all wet and almost fall in the fountain...
Boys will be boys!
And even my sweet girl gets in on the action sometimes...

Guess I'd better buckle up!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More Ohio adventures

Riding on the carousel...(Milo's first ride!)

...scootering at a skate park...

... doing some bird watching/spotting/feeding...

... playing at the pool...

...and just playing on the driveway, spotting deer and other critters!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Festive 4th

The extended Frank family had a terrific celebration of our nation here in the Fun Center of Ohio... Parade, campfire, sparklers, and of course, worms!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Full House

This is the scene next to the door here at Pete's parents' house at any given moment this weekend. And, some of the biggest shoes of the family are actually missing, since 4 of the older grandkids and one of the dads are not here because they are either working, at rowing camp, or at the Naval Academy. But, the other 18 members of Pete's family ARE here --all under one roof -- and if the shoes weren't enough to prove it, the sound levels right before lunch, dinner, and bedtime are.

We've had a lot of fun already, hanging out together, playing various backyard games like ladder ball, badminton, scooter challenges, and "where's the dog now?" And we also had a good time yesterday, going en masse to pick blueberries.

Plenty of good cousin hang-out time! (the 9 kids here this weekend are ages: 0, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13)
And dinner time:
(Milo sleeping through the chaos...)

We're enjoying being part of a big crazy family, and seeing all the great cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Grandpa and Gee-Gee continue to run a pretty spectacular resort here!

At the end of the day, though, sometimes you just need a beer...
... or a thumb.