Sunday, February 27, 2011

Why is it only my kids?

When it comes to genetic similarity I would think cousins would be pretty dang close.  But somehow, on the Wray side of the family, I'm finding that my kids and my siblings' kids have less in common than I would expect.  On Friday night I had a front-row seat in viewing more of the differences as I spent the evening with Dan and Amy's kids.

First of all, Kai and Addie are very gentle creatures.  They are cooperative and sweet and quiet.  They love to just spend time giggling together -- Addie follows Kai everywhere.  Sometimes my kids can be sweet, sometimes cooperative, and they are quiet while they're sleeping....  but the similarities might end there.

One of the main differences, noticeable right when I walked into their house, was how neat and organized everything is!  I realize a lot of this must be attributed to Amy, as she is clearly a better manager of stuff  than I am.  I wanted to take pictures of the various spots throughout the house -- like the nice, clean little shoe bin (on the counter!) -- to show the great contrast between our houses (our shoe "area" is a sprawling jungle of mismatched, muddy, non-fitting footwear).  But I felt like taking photos might be overstepping my bounds as a babysitter, so I (mostly) refrained.

But somehow their kids also have been born with the organizational skill hard-wired in!  As I was putting Kai to bed, he looked around his spotless floor and noticed a little flashlight.  "That belongs in Sissy's room," he said, "I should go put that back!"  This is beyond fathomable for me, the mother of four children, all of whom were hard-wired from birth to walk into any room, pick up any object not bolted to the floor, carry it out of the room, and drop it on the floor elsewhere.

But the real moment when I realized just how different these cousins are occurred while we were in the playroom.  (And here I couldn't resist taking some pictures because.... ) 

Kai was proudly showing me all of his tools,

and then I realized that THESE very sharp items were right in the mix!

-- in a house where a 17-month old toddler lives!  As well as a BOY!

 In my house, these would have been swallowed, poked in an eye, put in a sibling's ears, nose or throat, choked on, or used as a stabbing implement or some other (unimaginable by me) weapon.  Not to mention all of the furntiure, walls, appliances and floors that would been ruined by a small person with these such things in their hands.

This discovery in their playroom reminded me of another scene I encountered at the home of a different sibling who shall remain nameless (Karin).  This was the house in which they kept their liquor inventory on the floor of the dining room (with THREE young children in the home!). 

Apparently none of those cousins-to-my-kids ever thought to mess with any of the bottles (!!!)... but as soon as I brought my brood over, guess what was going on within mere minutes...

So after seeing the playrooms full of sharp implements and alcohol at my siblings homes, I'm left to wonder how MY kids are so different from their innocent cousins.  How did the Wray family tree become so varied?

I credit the in-laws.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Picture of Hope

When I look around my house and yard, I mostly see a lot of stuff that needs to be either cleaned, straightened, picked up, fixed, thrown away, re-painted, re-finished, re-capped, re-potted, repaired, restored, sewn up, wiped down, polished, dusted, raked, power-washed, weeded, vacuumed, mopped, folded, rinsed, washed, dried, or bathed. 

 In other words, entropy is evident everywhere (to be awesomely alliterative).  And the creation that is "subject to frustration", and "in bondage to decay" (Rom. 8:20-21) is definitely apparent both inside and outside my home.

But in the midst of this dismal vista, shines a view from my window that makes me happy: 
This dilapidated fence!

When I look at it, I see in between the lines (posts) the promise of the future.  The run-down, stained, weathered slats will soon be restored, re-painted by our young friend Steve!  In exchange for some SAT tutoring, he has agreed to be the Tom Sawyer for our fence, and that makes me very happy indeed.  (Pete says it reminds him of a scene from a Karate Kid movie where the task seems so overwhelming and monotonous...  Hopefully Steve doesn't feel the same way... or at least will find some good in it somehow....)

Even though the fence is a poor sight now, I see morphed over it the promise of the future restoration.  The very definition of hope!

Really, though, I guess I should view all creation, and created creatures, with this double-vision, since the Great Promise is all will be Restored soon, "brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (Rom. 8:21).  Even the run-down stuff and broken people.... someday...

For now I will enjoy my super-imposed picture of the restored fence over the old fence.  Now, if someone could just get out in the yard and rake those leaves.... and trim the dead branches... and pick up the toys lying around....

Continuing that paragraph in Rom. 8... "For in this hope we were saved.  But hope that is seen is no hope at all.  Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently." 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Our 8-year old Sweet Student

While her tricky brothers are goofing around being mischievous in the mornings, our girl is usually found sitting quietly doing her schoolwork.
Rayna has tremendous perseverence and focus when she's working.  Even when things are challenging, she doesn't give up, but keeps trying again and again!
This morning at a couple of different times I said things like, "Good job, Rayna!  You did well on that worksheet."
She responded both times with, "Awww, Mom.  Can I just give you a hug?  Because you're... my... mother."

Very thankful for that!

Our 2-year old Copycat

Miles spent part of this morning walking around like this:
He's got some big shoes to fill!
And this was him earlier this morning....
He's trying to be just like Daddy I think.
And I'm so thankful for that!

Our 10-year old Jokester

This morning the first thing Strider said to me was,

"Conclusions must be a place not too far away.  Because people keep saying they can jump to it."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Our 4-year old Negotiator

This morning Colsen and Strider both were told they could have no desserts tonight since they were being disobedient.

After dinner this evening while I was out, Colsen approached Pete and said,
"Daddy, I am not supposed to have special treats tonight, BUT can I please have just haaalf of this piece of candy? Because you're an adult and you can make a decision."

He gets points for honesty, willingness to compromise, -- and for making the flattering appeal to authority!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Party Time!

 Wake up, Milo!  It's going to be a fun night!

That's better!
(There's Rayna off in the distance... always with her important pink purse!)

Brotherly love...
Brothers with different mothers...

The occasion for all the fancy attire was the Quinceanera and blesssing ceremony of our beautiful friend, Amanda:

It was a beautiful celebration with many good friends.  We ate well, cried (well, some of us anyway) as we heard Amanda's sister, parents, and relatives bless her, and then even danced a little-- well, at least Rayna did!

(still with her purse!)

Amanda danced with her dad... which made even some of the men cry...
 Happy parents!
It was a great party!

But.... the night was not yet over....  Who knew February 19th was such a celebratory day?
Pete represented us at Graham's 30th birthday party!  (Since all of our babysitters were still dancing away at the Quincenara, I was not able to go)  It sounds like it was a fun time, though, and everyone had a good time answering Graham Trivia questions.

People turning 15, turning 30...  Makes us feel old, but glad we're still included in the parties!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Reason # 37 for why moms are so tired

I've heard that people who are in language immersion programs find that they need extra sleep at night.  Something about the constant need to translate everything in one's head, spending extra energy trying to deciper what everyone is saying, makes the brain and body very tired.

It seems unfair then, that just when we moms start to get our babies sleeping regularly, and therefore can begin to reverse the sleep deprivation pattern, we suddenly find that we are now in a language immersion program in our own homes.  These cute little creatures we live with are intent on teaching us Toddlerese, with no English-to-Toddlerese dictionary to refer to.

Once again I find myself in this "program" (how blessed I am that I get this cross-lingual experience for free!), but when I stop to think about it, I realize it must be making me tired.  Now while I have 3 voices all talking at once, ("Mom, I can't find any socks!" "What does 'eerie' mean?" "Why is the freezer door open?") I now also have a little person pulling on my shirt and repeating "Oyn-shuz!  Oyn-shuz!  Oyn-shuz!"  My brain must quickly scramble the translating jets to decode this urgent request before a meltdown happens, while at the same time calculating how much tomato sauce is needed to substitute for tomato juice in the dinner recipe I'm attempting.

Milo's Toddlerese dialect has been the toughest for me to learn of all the kids'.  His pronunciation is.... well, either lacking or subtle, depending on how you look at it.  Context clues are crucial for understanding him.  For example, "ra-ra" can either be "Strider" or "water" depending on the context.  So when he's frantically pointing out the window yelling, "Ra-Ra!  Ra-Ra!" I'm not sure if he's trying to tell me that he likes the pond, or that Strider is in danger, or that Strider is in danger because he's about to fall in the pond. 

And despite the fact that he can pronounce certain words, for some reason he chooses to apply them to different meanings.  So when he says, "nut," it means "milk," while "muk" means "more."  I cannot just depend on my ear here!  Oddly, he can say "Cole" on command, and he can say "Sen," but then when you follow that up with asking him to say, "Cole-sen," he says, quite cheerfully, "NEE-NEE!" (which is what he always calls Colsen.) Needless to say, translating takes some serious work, taking into consideration his context, his code, and his pronunciation.

Meanwhile, he's also trying to school us in some version of Morse Code, I think.  (so considerate of him to try and introduce a third speech pattern to our home).  He will utter series of "aaaah-aah" sounds, and depending on the number of syllables and duration thereof, we will be able to figure out what he wants.  He has signal-codes for "I want that," "I need that right now!" "That looks fun," "I want to be treated just like the other kids," etc.

I'm happy to say that all of the family members are good linguists, at least becoming fluent in Toddlerese (the Milo dialect), and the Milo/Morse code. Still, it does take some extra brain power... and at least in my case, that is in very short supply these days.  So I find that my tired brain and body need more sleep than usual... but that is also in short supply.

By the way, if anyone can decode "oyn-shuz" for us, please let us know.  We'll add it to our lexicon, and that will make future conversations much easier!

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Strider recently got a Ripstick.  He bought it with his own money because he insisted he had to have one, since all of his friends have one.  (It's true that all of his friends at his Thursday class have them.  In fact, it appears that afternoon has basically become Ripstick Club, with a 2-hour grammar and writing class preceding it.)

Anyway, I just want to say that it is much harder than it looks!  A few days ago we were taking turns trying it.  Let's just say I didn't exactly master it.

I would have thought that with all the agility I'm gaining in my lifestyle of a constant obstacle course -- always having to sidestep large toys with wheels, skip over balls on the stairs, gingerly tiptoe through the kids' bedrooms so as not break anything precious, cook meals in a kitchen with matchbox cars all over the floor, etc --  I would be good for this sort of thing.  But I would have thought wrong.

Eventually I was able to stay on it for a few seconds at a time.... but I was stiff the whole time.

Then, Mr. Agility himself gave it a try and of course he zoomed off!
And Strider has been working on tricks already.  Show off.  :)

I'm glad he's taking after his father and not me!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Conversations with Colsen

Some of the conversations we had this week:

Me: Colsen, I don't know why you don't want to help clean your room -- you're such a good worker-man!
Colsen: I AM a good worker-man, but I'm not really a picker-upper. I'm a.... Captain.

Colsen: Daddy's not going to be home until dinnertime??? But I can't wait that long!
Me: Well, I'm here -- doesn't that count for something?
Colsen: I do like you... but I want someone bigger than you, too. Someone bigger with no hair.

Me:  Cole, come talk to me.  What do you want to talk about?
Colsen:  I want to talk about... when is your birthday?  Cuz I want to give you a.... well, what do you want?
Me:  Well, I like jewelry and socks and chocolate and pictures my kids draw me...
Colsen:  Know what I'm gonna give you?  I'm gonna give you a wat-gen-chom.  Do you know what a wat-gen-chom is?  I'll tell you.  It's made out of milk.  It's kind of like eggnog!  Know what's in it?  It has milk and sugar and alllll the grains and an egg and dairy.  Does that sound good?

(What a shame my birthday is a full 10 months away.)

And this morning I overheard him in the bathroom saying....
"Someone is very dehydrating.  Am I dehyrdating?  Let me see.   (Pause while he does something)  Mom!  I'm only a litttttle deydrating!"

We love our funny boy!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Some "w's"

Some Words about our Weekend:
I know some people are in the "sandwiched" generation -- where they're caring for both their children and their aging parents.  I am thankful I am not in that generation right now... but I do feel like I'm heading into some sandwiching territory of my own.  (aside from the fact that I probably make about 750 sandwiches a year)..... 

Over the weekend Strider went out with some friends, and for the first time I found myself waiting up for him to come home until almost midnight.  I know this is the just the beginning of some late nights with him... but right now it doesn't seem quite fair since our little ones are still getting up in the middle of the night, and way too early in the morning!  Between staying up with the oldest, and getting up at o'dark-thirty with the youngest, I was feeling pretty sandwiched (especially since Pete was out of town)!

The Wild Party Wrap-Up:
The birthday party Strider went to on Friday night was for one of his swim-team buddies in the neighborhood who was turning 10.  His parents apparently told the kids that they wanted this to be a very memorable party, not to be confused with any other lame events.  I think they succeeded in this mission.  The 6 boys were gathered at 3:30 and taken to the train station so they could ride the Lynx into the city.  Then they went to the Epicenter and went bowling at Strike City.  Afterwards it was time for pizza at a particular "favorite" joint, and then they were off to a Bobcats game (for which they had "amazing" seats)!  Then, because that wasn't enough excitement, apparently, they went for a late-night run to Cold Stone for birthday treats.  Strider spent the next 48 hours bubbling pretty much non-stop about all the fun he had.

Some Wake Forest shirts!
Pete went up to my alma mater this past weekend (where he slept peacefully all night long at a nice hotel) for a conference, and ended up bringing us back some Valentine gifts!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Miles of Smiles/Smiles of Miles: 2-Year Old Version

We love this smiley 2-year old, this little man of opposites!
On the one hand, he is the most cuddly, most affectionate little boy, who loves to hug and give (real!) kisses.  But on the other hand, he is the most adamant, stubborn, rebellious little guy sometimes!  He spends a lot of time in time-out, (I'm hoping he's just an over-achiever and hit the "terrible-two's" veeerrrryy early... in which case he'll be out of this stage soon) but also a lot of time hugging my shoulder.

He also likes to speak in opposites.  This is a regular conversation we have pretty much daily.
Miles: (pointing at something)  Hot?!
Me:  No, it's not hot.
Miles.  Cold.

Miles:  Juice!
Me:  No, you can't have juice.
Miles:  Milk.  (always a negotiator)

Yesterday in the grocery store he was carrying a box of tea (I had given it to him to keep him out of trouble).  He tried to hand it to me and said, "All done."
Knowing that he just wanted to free up his hands to start pulling large breakable bottles of juice of a shelf or something, I told him he had to keep carrying it.
"More," he said, and he tucked it under his arm and kept walking.

His little one- and two-word, telegram-like conversations seem to work just fine.  He communicates what he wants pretty much all of the time.  And when he gets what he wants he's a smiley boy. 

Thursday, February 10, 2011


 I was this many.......                                                        and now I'm this many?  Is that right??
Yes, Milo, now you're TWO!

Miles had a fun birthday this year.  The night before his birthday he had his best bud Titus (and Aunt Katie and Uncle Graham) over for a special birthday dinner.  

His first cupcakes were a big hit!
...although he wasn't too sure about the messiness aspect.

After dinner, he was excited to play with the tissue paper that came with his gift.

Eventually, he was persuaded to see what else was in the bag...

Roller skates!!

Between these, and a crazy-feet game he was playing with Uncle Graham, he had a very fun night!

Yesterday, on his actual birthday, he enjoyed getting phone calls from his grandparents, birthday-buddy-great-grandmother, aunt, and cousins -- he thought it was cool that everyone kept singing to him!  In fact, he started requesting the "Happy Boo" song to be sung over and over, both from the phone voices, and us live ones.  By the end of the day, he had gotten pretty good at singing it himself (in Miles-speak anyway).

And, the other big highlight of his day was getting a cupcake again!  This time he handled the messy frosting as a pro.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crazy kids

As I was still lying in bed one morning this weekend, Colsen came into my room.  "Colsen, you look taller," I said to him.  Without missing a beat, he looked at me and said, "I'm 16...  Did you hibernate?"


I told Rayna to draw me a picture the other day.  She came back with a crazy-looking drawing.  "What is this?" I asked her.  "Oh, it's a cloud with a window in it, and a house with pants, dancing," she answered.  And then I realized that was exactly what it was.  Her world must be fun to live in!


Strider came downstairs and told me had finished his algebra homework.  I told him he could go ahead and get the answer key and grade it himself.  A few minutes later I remembered to ask him what his score was.  He gave me a blank look for a few seconds, and then said, "I prefer not to give that out." 

And, finally, we have this Superman of Destruction
... who is learning well from his SuperHero Brother:
...ensuring that the Legacy of Crazy will probably continue for awhile...