Monday, October 28, 2013

Halloween thoughts from the backseat

I've been pondering once again what my perspective should be on Halloween.  We've run the gamut over the years, from "ignore it and pretend it isn't happening" to "participate fully because this is the best way to get to know our neighbors."

But once again I found myself re-evaluating it all as I was driving the kids home from a baseball game.  My thoughts were whipping back and forth along these lines:

What does God want us to do?  

Should we embrace it all and try to enjoy the evening with as many neighbors as possible?

But what about all the obnoxious teen-agers who get bussed into our neighborhood and wear disgusting costumes?  What if my kids get nightmares just from seeing some of the gore?

Well, maybe we can just go to a few houses on the streets where we know a lot of people, and then come home.

But there are those "haunted" scary houses in between where the owners sit outside on their lawn and play that eerie music and have the big graveyard scene and everything.... what about nightmares and scarred brains?

But maybe minimalism isn't the way to go -- would Jesus be the one handing out the biggest candy bars?

But candy bars are actually BAD for everyone -- especially big ones -- especially when everyone's collecting hundreds of them in one night!  Would Jesus be contributing to poor health?

So maybe He'd be out having a party or something?  He'd probably find some way to collect a whole bunch of people who would want to sit around and listen to His wisdom.... But how do WE do that?

And anyway, Halloween is so gross with all the greedy people -- teen-agers and even adults-- who grub around from house to house just to collect an obscene amount of "loot."  Why do I want to participate in that?

But if we turn off our porch light, aren't we just promoting the idea that Christians are just boring old curmudgeons?

Around about this point, I mused out loud, "I wonder what Jesus would do about Halloween."

Without even a pause, the 6-year old piped up from the backseat:

"I think He would dress up as a big heart.  A big, beautiful, no-smudges heart."

I thought about that for a minute and then told him I thought he was right.

I don't know how exactly Jesus would handle all the greed and grossness of the night, but He surely would proceed with Love being the primary point.

And that is what I thought about for the rest of the drive home.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Inspiring week

In the last week I have been to a Young Life banquet, where I heard stories about lives being changed and people growing and pouring into the next generation; a fundraising dinner for Greyfriars Classical Academy, where we heard a talk by Stephen Mansfield about generation-changers and heroism; and a weekend-long meeting of the board of Moldova World Children's Fund, where we talked about the many lives being changed in Moldova because of that organization.  Whew!

How wonderful to hear and see actual people, with actual names, in real situations, being helped, changed, loved, and served.  Good things are happening -- here in Charlotte, and around the world!

If anyone else wants to be inspired, here are a couple videos describing some of the good things happening.

In Moldova:
In Young Life, Charlotte area:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fire Station Field Trip

My favorite shot of the day:  Giving his brother an explanation

All I can say is: It was a good idea to go to a place that had plenty of firefighters, since one of my kids climbed too high there -- and had to be rescued.  (true story)

That's not really all I can say.  In fact, I could say quite a bit more.  Like -- the men at the Mint Hill Fire Dept are really great with kids!  They had 50 of them today, ranging in age from 2 to 12, and they spent a whole bunch of time with us, showing the kids just about anything they could think of.

Gee-Gee and Grandpa are in town today, so Gee-Gee and I took the 3 younger kids to the fire station, and we all learned a lot.  First they showed us how they put on their equipment.

 And then they let the kids check out how strong and tough everything was.
I think this guy was wondering why exactly he had invited 20 kids to come stomp on his boots.

 Then the kids got to check out the fire hoses:

We learned all about the different trucks, got a tour of the house, and heard about how things work.

Now, of course, I have a couple boys who think it might be really great to grow up to be a firefighter...

Good field trip on this chilly day!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Fall Festival

Well, our neighborhood's Fall Festival was rather different this year than it's been in previous years.  We were out of town last year and missed it, so this year was a bit of a shock to us.   When we've gone in the past, we've enjoyed some simple Fall fun - -a giant slide, some pumpkin painting, some music, and maybe a little rock-climbing.

THIS year we found that it had grown in many ways -- now complete with Ferris wheel, some spinning rides, huge blow-ups, and around 150 vendors.

  So for us, as first-time vendors, we had some ups and downs.

The "up's:"

1. All the excitement of setting up our own display:

2. Having a mini Wrays-selling-Wingdingers reunion:
3 of the originals, with some offspring

3. Having several friends come by to help out:

4. Riding some rides:

5. And literally going way "UP":
Actually, Pete, in the green car near the top, said, "I hate this."

The "down's"

1. Waking up to a weather forecast that called for thunderstorms

2. Realizing that most people at the festival were there for the free rides -- not to buy much

3. Hearing that the crowd was much smaller than usual.... and not selling as many Wingdingers as we had hoped.

Still, overall it was a good learning experience -- and of course the kids had a blast.

Now to figure out what to do with all our extra inventory....

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Wingdingers, 2.0

Long, long ago in a fashion-world far, far away, there was this family making these things:

From left to right:  Me as a self-conscious teen-ager, Mom, Dad "the good sport" Wray, Karin, John, Grandpa, Katie, and Dan
My parents, in their infinite creativity and boldness, designed a family business for us to jump-start our college accounts.  We made these little wooden toys in our basement and living room, and then took them to some of our area's festivals to sell.  We always sold out.

So this year, in my infinite ability to copy and re-create, I declared that our family would revive this business.  We have been busily designing and building the little spinners in our living room and garage, almost finished now with the 300 we set out to make.  Every family member has been able to make them, so it's become a fun little family project each night.

This weekend will be our debut at our neighborhood's Fall Festival.  (We're reallllly praying it doesn't rain because this is our sole attempt!)

For anyone who doesn't know what a Wingdinger is, we made this (terrible quality) video to try and demonstrate what they do.
(Strider was too cool old to participate in this video)

We plan to sell them for $3 or $4, depending on their designs.  And we can also customize -- like this!

(Especially useful for families who have children with "weird" names,
like, say, Strider, or Colsen, or...)

 So, if anyone is looking for some fun stocking-stuffers (only 67 days until Christmas!), or a way to keep your kids occupied and mesmerized for hours, come by our booth and buy some Wingdingers (or "Wing-thingahs" as Milo calls them)!

We'll be donating 20% of the proceeds to an adoption/orphan care organization, and the rest will go towards jump-starting our kids' college accounts.  :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

On our anniversary trip


 I am sitting poolside, under a striped umbrella, drinking champagne for crying out loud, laptop on my lap, feeling a warm breeze and enjoying the palm trees all around me.  I think this is a blogging first for me!  Wish all my posts could be composed this way.  Wish all my Mondays could be spent this way!

To celebrate our 15th anniversary, Pete and I have escaped to mostly sunny Hilton Head Island for a couple days, while Mom, Dad, Mor-Mor and Dan and Amy watch our kids.  (Yes, it takes a whole army to corral our young 'uns.)  As we drove down yesterday, after we finally stopped pointing out Mustangs and Corvettes because we realized there weren't actually any car-crazy boys in the back-seat, we found ourselves taking a lot of deep breaths and sighing happily.  

A couple of hours ago I remarked to Pete that I could not have dreamed up a better getaway.  We only had to drive a few hours -- no airplane stress involved -- and we arrived at a gorgeous resort in this beautiful community.  We are mere steps from the beautiful ocean with lovely soft sand, and have the place almost to ourselves.  Plus there are pitchers of fruit-infused water all over for us!  And free champagne and bikes!

We made it our goal to not use the car for the first 24 hours, and we achieved that goal easily.  Everywhere we've gone has been on foot or bikes -- I love that.  All 3 of our meals so far have been eaten outside -- I also love that.

This morning we biked a mile down on the beach to get a bagel and coffee/tea, then after lounging on the beach and swimming in the pool, we biked some more to the shops/restaurant area for lunch.  Now we're enjoying some more quiet time before we make our plan for dinner.  Seriously, could not plan a more perfect vacation.

Best of all, it's with my very best friend.  Once again I've been reminded of how perfect he is for me!

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Just pulled this picture off my camera -- and didn't edit it at all.  What a beautiful sky we had that night -- and what a beautiful girl!  I mean, seriously -- how many people actually look good in neon yellow!?   Clearly she didn't get my coloring.

Friday, October 11, 2013

School stuff

I'm exactly a week late posting these pictures -- just discovered them on my camera!

The younger three kids and I went field trippin' last week to Rural Hill Farm to learn about colonial times.

I'm pretty sure the "Fuze" can was not part of the pumpkin-stringing program.
  It was a rather hot morning, but I think we all enjoyed learning anyway.  (And the visit afterwards to Mom's house to see Mor-Mor visiting from New Jersey was an extra bonus!)

Normally, though, we're at home with our normal routine.  Today has been a rather tiring day, but I did cheer up a bit when I walked into the office and found the boys "doing school" like this:

THIS is one of the reasons I love homeschooling!

Monday, October 7, 2013

When Rayna chimes in

Besides being our little mother hen and chief helper, Rayna also adds to our family in some humorous ways.  Usually the boys are the ones bantering things and getting louder and louder, but every once in awhile she adds her viewpoint.  Sometime she is trying to be funny and sometimes she is when she's not trying to be.

For example, this morning as we were driving along, the boys were all announcing,

"There's a Mustang convertible!"
"There's a Mini Cooper!"
"There's a Tee-ota Camera-y"

... and Rayna tried to join in by yelling,

"There's an Alice Cooper!"

Another time recently our family conversation evolved into a discussion about what the kids wanted to do when they grew up, primarily focused on travel.  Strider said he wants to go to the Bahamas and Bermuda and other beaches, Miles said he wants to go to Moldova and Spain and Madagascar, and Colsen said he is going to go to South America and Africa and Europe and Australia.

Rayna had been quietly eating her dinner, so I asked her, "What do YOU want to do when you grow up?"

Her immediate response was, "I want to stay home and watch TV and eat special treats!"

Ok, then.

(After a few more minutes of thinking about it, though, she also said she wanted to go to some other places, namely Moldova and Haiti, so maybe she'll end up tagging along on her brothers' adventuring after all.)

Abroad or at home, spotting a Mini Cooper or an Alice Cooper, we love our girl!