Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Our last visit to a portrait studio for a long time

If I were in a more positive and up-beat mood, I could also entitle this, "Our first professional pictures as a family of 6."

However, going to get our family pictures taken has not (ever) put me in a positive and up-beat mood. In fact, there is something about that place that brings out some of the worst qualities in me. So, much to Pete's delight, I announced afterwards that we are henceforth going on a portrait studio hiatus for, at least, many, many years. Next time we want to get some family shots, we're going to beg a family member who owns a nice camera, or pony up the big bucks to get a professional do some outside. That looks WAY more fun.

We went to the studio today because I had some specific shots I wanted to round out my current collection, and to get a family picture with Miles in it. I am happy to say I did have those requests fulfilled reasonably well. And we did get a few shots of the family that are reasonably ok as well... but the process was exhausting.

After deliberating for hours and hours the past week about what outfits we should all wear, I got everyone to the studio in our first outfit collection -- remarkably without anyone staining anything. However, the first portion of our session went not-so-swimmingly, despite our cute outfits. Someone was extremely uncooperative (later claiming he was "nervous" -- and then asking, "What does nervous mean?"). About 10 employees were on-hand to watch this stubborn rebellion, and our parenting responses, which added no small amount of pressure the situation.

Things disintegrated from there.
(There are many more abysmal pics very similar the above.)

We eventually had to give up, take a break, and change into our 2nd outfits. We all got a little more cheery finally.

Sort of, anyway...

Meanwhile, I was probably driving the photographer up the wall with my requests for "something casual, not typical poses," etc...

The pictures I wanted for my collections were these:

Rayna at age 7 in a white shirt, to match the one I have of Strider at age 7 in a white shirt...

One of Pete and Miles to round out the collection on this wall (still need a frame) :
This new one of Cole and Milo (on the left) to match the one of Strider and Rayna at those same ages (on the right):

And these were some bonus shots we got that I ended up liking pretty well, too...

So, all in all, a good time to be done with studio pictures for a long, long time!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Hot, hot, and hot

Saturday was another very hot day here... so we did what any normal family would do: built a fire in the backyard.

In the near-tornado storm a couple weeks ago, a giant limb from one of our trees came down, so Pete borrowed a chainsaw to cut it up. And since he had the chainsaw, he decided to take down a couple dead trees in the yard. And since he was cutting up big trunks, limbs and branches, he needed to burn some stuff.... so, we had a fire. My hot man was hard at work!
Taking down a tree:
Meanwhile, I was making an equally bizarre decision with how to spend my Saturday inside: over the hot stove. I made all kinds of baked goods that day for various events we were planning to go to. I think there were only a couple hours that the oven was NOT on.

But at the end of the day, I got to take my hot man on a hot date... an early birthday surprise. I told him we were going out to eat -- and then tried to convince him that we were going to have to wear cow costumes so we could get free dinner at Chick Fil-A. He pretty much believed me, but was not too enthusiastic about it. So then I surprised him by taking him to his favorite restaurant. I had gotten reservations at Sante weeks before for the special Charlotte Restaurant Week, and we were treated to some very good food. It was a good (hot) night at the end of a hot day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

More water fun (Another day, another butt)

The slip-n-slide is always a hit... especially on these hot days with thunder rumbling in the distance, causing the neighborhood pool to close! It was a good Plan B.
The kids were having so much fun that this little guy decided he wanted to give it a try...


Even Pete decided to get in on the wet action:

At least the Frank men eventually learn to keep their pants on...

"Hey, Mom! Stop taking pictures of us like this!! Those little green squares don't really cover all that much!"
C'mon, son, you know we have to do this so we have them for your wedding slide show someday. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

My cleaning crew

Colsen and Rayna were apparently born with the love-to-clean gene. (I think that ones skips a generation?) It's either they were born with it, OR I've done a good job adapting the Economics principle that says something like: things that are rare become more valuable. I clean so rarely that when I announce on a particular day that that is my intention, Colsen and Rayna get so excited and beg to help!

(So maybe the reason Strider does NOT leap forward to help me is because I kept the house tooooo clean when he as younger? Could that be it? Yeah, I didn't think so.)

Anyway whatever the reason, I am very, very thankful that they love to clean so much! They actually beg for a spray bottle and a rag and get furious when I take them away. So I've learned to just fill some bottles with diluted vinegar and send them on their way. That plan does backfire occasionally, like when they "clean" the wooden piano bench for 15 minutes before I realize what they're doing.... But then I decide I can put up with it, and someday we'll just have all the wooden furniture in our house re-finished at once, after all the kids are grown. In the meantime, I'm happy to get all the help I can get.

Colsen, especially, will work and scrub for long periods of time, getting all sweaty and everything... and still will want to keep going. He reminds me of how my brothers were growing up in that way. (And they both still have strong work ethics, so I'm hoping Colsen's will continue into adulthood as well!) He especially gets very excited about hooking whatever tools he's using onto his shorts. In fact, any job is fun as long as there are tools involved...

A couple nights ago he insisted on "helping to make dinner." And he also insisted on being able to put a spatula in the apron he had found to wear.
When the meal (hash brown omelets) was ready, he proudly carried the plates to the table, annoucing, "I made a GREAT dinner, guys!"

Thankful for my little busy-bee workers. :)

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Milo, Milo, Colton, Colsen... and a bunch of other people

Cousin Linsey and her family were passing through our area this weekend, so we had a mini-Wray reunion. Or maybe Wray mini-reunion. I guess either name is appropriate, considering the lack of height in the Wray family...

Anyway, after they left, I thought of all kinds of good photo op's -- like our Milo with their dog Milo, Colsen and Colton, Colsen and Amelia (caption being "Quite possibly 2 of the cutest 3-year olds ever"), etc., etc. However, while they were here I was way too wrapped up talking and forgot to take pictures until they were leaving!

So here's they are in their car. :)

Oh -- and Strider took this when the men and kids were playing in the backyard (while we ladies were able to enjoy a post-breakfast chat inside. Thanks, guys!)
It was fun catching up -- even though the visit was way too short.

I asked Cole after they left if he had had fun with their kids. He declared very enthusiastically that he had, and then applied the friend algorithm that he has developed: (The more a kid "talks to" him, the better friend he/she is.) He announced, "Colton talked to me TONS -- like for 45 minutes! And Amelia talked to me, too! Like for... 6 minutes I think!"

I'm glad our cousins are also our friends.

As a special bonus, Josh and Linsey brought us some wine that they make at their very own vineyard, Lamoreaux Landing... so cool. Titus couldn't wait to break into his bottles!

Thanks for stopping by, Cousin-Friends!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Summer at home

Miles is in a not-so-pleasant-in-the-car stage, it appears. The last couple longer trips with him were pretty miserable, so it's made us shift our thoughts and plans for this summer. We had ideas about going to the mountains, and going to the beach, and doing to a few field trips a couple hours away... and we're shelving all those intentions for a future season.

Sooo.... we've been staying home much more than we usually do in a summer! And the good side of that is that we have more time to just do ordinary things around the house.

Like... Salad Spinner Art!

While Strider was at a friend's house recently, the younger kids and I started experimenting with paint and our salad spinner. It turned out to be a lot of fun -- and a bit of a mess, of course.

Here are the final products.:

Other activities are generated by the kids, like this TRAIN:

...And we've had plenty of time for good ol' popsicles. (And by "good" I mean "healthy" of course. :) ) Here's Miles trying one for the first time yesterday: It was a hit!

And speaking of HIT, this was the scene on that very same patio a few hours later, after a TORNADO apparently hit the neighborhood right next to ours last night!
Part of our chimney was blown off the roof, and a lot of limbs, chairs, etc. blew around the yard. Strider tried to go out in the midst of it all to collect some hail, but was pelted so hard he couldn't get out the door (thankfully). The roads leading out of the neighborhood still look pretty crazy with a lot of trees down, roof-work being done on many houses, etc.

So we're thankful our home is still safe, and that we're having good times in it this summer.