Friday, September 30, 2011

New niece/cousin!

On Wednesday night, Amy, Karin, Mom and I took Katie out for a little pre-baby dinner.  We had a great time talking about possible baby names, finding out Katie's plans for the delivery, hearing about how she was working on packing her bag, etc.  Her due date was 12 days away, but since she went almost a week past her due date in her first pregnancy, we all figured she had a few more weeks of pregnancy left.

Not so!  The very next day, her labor started.... and last night little Hannah Lynn was born!  This happened a few years ago to Karin, too.... right after a Wray family gathering she went into labor unexpectedly early.  My theory is that the little babies hear how much fun we're all having and they get anxious to come on out and see what all the excitement is about!

So here we were the night before:

 And if you can't tell which one is the pregnant one in the picture above, here's a clue:

Can't wait to meet the new little one!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

First co-op gathering of the semester

Our school/church co-op group has grown a bit over the summer!  We now have 19 kids of school age, so it's a good thing Alleyn has a some big tables at her house.  This past week we all met to get an art lesson from Angela -- our artist-in-residence.  She had a good "mixed media" project for the kids to try, and it seemed to work well for all the ages.

 This was Colsen's debut at co-op, and he loved it!

  The final projects turned out so colorful!  Great fall art!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Strong Man competition

This year, the World's Strongest Man competition was held at none other than Wingate University!  This was huge news, since last year it was held in South Africa, the year before in some other country, etc....   Little ol' Wingate is now in that illustrious list of locations.  The campus was quite a-buzz.

Of course the boys here were dying to go, and, conveniently as it turned out, I was asked to do a couple of "preparing for graduate school" lyceum events on campus last week, so I was able to pack up all the kids and take them with me.  Once we arrived, I handed them off to Pete, who took them to see the Strong Man events, and I went worked at the (less interesting) lyceums.  So I missed most of the excitement, but I'm pretty sure I have a good handle on what all went on, since I've heard the stories from 5 different family members over and over and over....

The activities this year included events called things like Car Walk and Keg Toss, and the ones Pete and the kids watched were the Truck Pull and Atlas Stones.  The men pulled huge semi trucks from a dead stop through a slightly up-hill parking lot (crazy) for the aptly named Truck Pull,  and for the Atlas Stones event, they lifted huge boulders and set them on top of a high wall (also crazy).  Thankfully, the worst injury the kids witnessed was when a rock rolled and hit one of the men in the head, causing him to bleed... but I think it was a minor deal.  It was freaky to see all the oxygen tanks and ambulances standing by. 

We won't give away the news about who won the whole thing -- since the competition doesn't air (on ESPN is it?  or ESPN2?) until December sometime.

Needless to say, there has been a high level of focus on STRENGTH around our house this past week.  The kids all keep asking who is stronger than who, who can throw whom over how high of a target, who can bench-press whom, etc.

Colsen, especially is highly concerned about who the strongest among us is, and who it will ultimtely be once the kids are all grown.  We shall see, I suppose!  (Although I do hope none of them ultimately aspire to be in the World's Strongest Man contest.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My boys just like to be ahead

This has been a popular game recently.  All 3 of them love to pull their chairs up like this and announce, "I'm just a head!"  Weird.

(It's been a slow week around here I guess)

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Snack of the week

I forgot to post this a couple weeks ago, but I want to make sure it gets into the official record:  I make cool snacks once in awhile.... ok, once ever.

The kids had seen this idea for little merry-go-rounds in an animal magazine they receive monthly, and they relentlessly requested that I buy animal crackers so we could make them.  Finally, I remembered and was able to make the much anticipated special snack.

And they were still a hit, even with the long build-up, and even though I wasn't very precise or careful.

So I was a cool mom for a day!  This definitely must be recorded.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Friday, September 16, 2011

More recent conversations

While Strider was getting a treat out of the pantry one day, he asked me this unanswerable question:  "Why do these little candy bars say 'Fun size?'  They're not the fun size- - KING size are the FUN size!"

Out on a walk/bike ride one evening, Rayna started to go out in the street.  This was the conversation after that:
Colsen:  Rayna, don't go in the road!
Me:  Cole, I like how you look out for your sister.
Colsen:  Yeah, and I also look out for my little brother.
Me:  You're a good looker-outer.
Colsen:  Yeah, and I like to look out for all kinds of people and make sure they don't get hurt or drown or something.  Know why?  Cuz I'm in the army.  And I have to go fight in Afghanistan for 10 days.  And I'm sad cuz you're going to miss me for a long time.

After a long, fun day, during which we had spent several hours on a field trip with many friends, and spent the whole evening with 20 other friends for another event, Rayna was getting ready for bed.  She sighed and said, "What a good day." 
"It sure was," I replied.  "What was your favorite part?"
I expected her to say something about her big adventures... but her response was:
"It rained!"

Miles was disobedient one morning (shocking!), and I walked over to him to pick take him upstairs, telling him he was going to have to go in his crib now.
He started to resist me, saying, "Don't go-in-a-crib me, Mommy! Don't go-in-a-crib me!"
(He still got go-ed-in-a-crib by me, though.)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Great Wolf Lodge

Thanks to the fundraiser a non-profit was having, we were able to purchase some day-passes for Great Wolf Lodge at more than 80% off the ticketed price.  I couldn't resist. We scheduled our visit for this past Monday... however, even I couldn't find a way to justify this as a school field trip!  So, last week we had school on Labor Day, and that made me feel better about taking this Monday off!

The kids were sooooooo excited.  In their minds, GWL ranks right up there with Disney World.  Poppa was able to join us for the day, too, which was just icing on the excitement cake.

When we first got inside,  I shot this video:
The younger two had never been there before, but had heard recountings by Strider over and over.  Still, I don't think they were quite prepared for the magnitude of it all.   Poor Colsen was trying to be brave!
Almost immediately they warmed up, though... especially loving the Wave Pool:

And Strider loved getting dumped on by the big bucket...

Waiting, waiting:


Poppa was a good sport and went on some of the big waterslides with the kids (This is him coming down Alberta Falls with Rayna-- she's the little head inside the raft):

Rayna's favorite slide, though, was Mountain Edge Racer.  She probably did it 7 or 8 times......

Strider, of course, liked the fastest and scariest one -- the Howling Tornado.  Poppa went down once and that was enough for him.  I naively went down once, and vowed never again, too.  So Strider had to resort to riding with strangers, such as those below.
He ended up doing it 10 times, and by the end said it was so tame it was almost boring.  He's crazy!!  That funnel drop is insane.

THIS kind of slide was more my style (video on left).  Colsen like it, too (on right):

So, everyone found something many things they loved, and it was VERY fun way to spend a Monday!

We all went to sleep that night feeling like we were still racing through waves!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Conversation of the day

Tonight Pete was telling me about the very unique evening he had.  This was the end of the conversation...

Pete:  Joseph and his wife were there, too.
Me: Wait -- what?  Wives could have gone?  Why didn't you tell me?
Pete:  You would have wanted to go?  I didn't think you'd want to pay for a babysitter.
Me:  When the evening involves following a police-escorted motorcade transporting a U.S. Senator to a fancy reception at someone's huge mansion that everyone else is paying $1000 per couple to be at and you get to go for free -- oh, and you get to hang out with Marco Rubio -- well, yes, I think I'd pay for a babysitter.
Pete:  Oh, I didn't know that.
Me:  ????  Ok, this is going on the blog.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Bye-bye summer surfer look

Here's Strider trying not to smile before his haircut:

And here's Strider trying not to smile after his haircut:

Personally, I'm just happy to see those eyes again -- and they're usually smiling!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

My favorite conversation today

Colsen:  Mom, I don't want to get a job when I grow up.
Me: Why not?
Colsen:  Cuz I just want to live next door to you and watch the house for you and make sure you don't get hurt or anything.  I'll just rescue you if you need it.  Know why I'm getting so strong?  So I can rescue you.  I'm doing lots of things to get strong -- like kicking and climbing and running and stuff so I can get lots of muscles. Am I strong now?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Miles of phrases / the phrases of Miles

Miles has transformed into a full-fledged talker before our very eyes the last few months, and we've gotten a kick out of hearing what he has to say.  I love hearing him say words like "actually" or "first" in context.  To commemorate the speech "Miles-stone," here are his Top 9 Phrases:

1.  "I do it.  I said, I do it!"
2. " Why?"   As his response to everything.  We have conversations like this all the time..  Me: Miles, go put your shoes on so we can play outside.  Miles: Why?
3.  "'Cuz, I dunno."  Whenever we ask him why something has occurred, this is his standard answer.  Most often, it is in this context...  Me: Miles, why did you get out of your crib when we told you not to?  Miles: 'Cuz, I dunno.
4. "So tired."  Or "so hungry," or "so thirsty," or, tonight, "so spicy," when he was eating a Thai chicken dish that Pete concocted.  He's never just hungry or tired -- it's always SO hungry or SO tired.  Another dramatic Frank child -- what a surprise.
5. "Whatcha doin' Dad?" 
6 and 7. "Wanna See!"  Anytime any of us are looking at something or reading something, he tell us he must be included.  Then when we show him whatever the item is, he always follows it up with, "Nice."
8. "Colsen is 2.  Minos is 4."  He still wants us to think he's the older one.  He is well aware of all our ages (if you quiz him, he'll tell you I'm 38, Pete's 39, etc), and he's always looking to switch ages with one of us.  Not a very content last-born at this point!
9. "Ohhhhhh....  I get it."  Usually said when he actually does not understand what we just said.

We love our silly, independent, passionate, talkative boy!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


Last night before I went to bed, I organized a lot of my photographs, got them into frames and put them up around the house.  In the process, I discovered a pack of markers, so I hid them in a place I figured the kids would never look.

By the time I woke up this morning, there was marker scrawled all over one wall and my planner -- someone had found the package I so carefully hid.  And by 10 a.m., one of my newly-framed pictures had been knocked down, and there was broken glass all over the floor. 

It was just one of "those" days....

-- a spilled cup of milk
-- muddy boys traipsing through the house
-- a spilled cup of water
-- the contents of the dustbuster dumped all over the floor
-- another spilled cup of water
-- discovering that, yet again, the kids have been using a soap pump filled with water to wash their hands all day
-- a 2-year old that needed to be disciplined, without exaggeration, 23 times
-- a failed art project attempt
-- 2 boys throwing tantrums at once
-- another spilled cup of milk
-- a broken game-piece from a game we borrowed from a friend
-- a husband gone all day and night, except for 45 minutes at dinner time
-- another cup of spilled water
-- and a child who will not stay in his crib tonight  (he's gotten out 6 times and counting as I type this... screams like crazy when he's disciplined each time... then does it again 5 minutes later)

And, to top it all off, we have a heartbroken girl tonight because we missed her very first dance class, due to the fact that I wrote the wrong time on my calendar.  This is the girl who has wanted to live in her new leotard all week (even wore it to bed) and could not wait for the class to start and does not understand how the class could not be ready for her since she was all ready for it....  Major tears and drama this evening.

There have been some highlights to today, too...  a fun new class with friends this morning; a friend who heard my frustration about teaching a math concept and went home and made a game for us to play by this evening!;  seeing my children clean up after and help each other;  hearing my kids pray for other people; etc., etc...

But overall, it's been a wearying day.  And now there are 2 children downstairs, out of bed.  I'll be right back.

Because I am weak and immature in my faith, I have to admit that some of these circumstances stole some joy from me today.  But, at the end of the day (now), I can still find "the joy in the depths" -- the joy based not on my circumstances, but on my circum-circumstances

At the end of the day, I know that the One who orchestrates all of my circumstances does it for my good.  Rough edges must be getting smoothed in all this, right?

Monday, September 5, 2011

The way she sees it

As I've mentioned before, Rayna loooooves to help out around the house, mimicking or anticipating what I'm going to do next.  Recently I couldn't find a half of a lime that I had just cut and left on the counter.  After hunting around, I asked Rayna if she knew where it was.  She promptly showed me this bag in the fridge, in which she had put the lime.

 She knows I often put lemons or limes in a bag-- but her explanation was what made me chuckle: 

"I just put it in a bag to help it feel better."

Friday, September 2, 2011

A... ummm... field trip with friends

Today we met some of our friends at Plaza Fiesta.  Yes, it was during a school-day, and yes, it was basically a huge (gigantic, really) playground.  But we did our very best to make it school-related...  We moms decided we were doing "block schooling."  This morning's block was all dedicated to their physical eduation time for the month.  (And if anyone's really concerned, this afternoon's block was dedicated to writing and math.  And my kids will be doing some catch-up schoolwork tomorrow -- on a Saturday!) 

Since Strider has been learning about some of the principles of physics, specifically motion lately, I also gave him an extra assignment to apply the principles to his experience on the slides today.

Anyway... this morning was fun.  Here is part of our group -- one more family came after this was taken.

 And we moms joined in at the end!  Who can resist a super-fast slide??

Even Strider got pretty nervous scared when he climbed way up to the helicopter on the top, so I guess it was courage-building for everyone.  Colsen questioned why it wasn't called Monkey Joe's, like the other place he'd been to. "Monkey Joe's is called that because you have to be like a monkey to play there.  But you have to be like a monkey, here, too!  So why isn't it called that?" 

I think their P.E. morning was a hit!

p.s.  Last year was our year for museum and zoo field trips, since we bought a year-long season pass that got us into them all for free. Maybe this year will be our year of exploring "giant slides."   We go to the Great Wolf Lodge in a few weeks!