Wednesday, April 27, 2016

First formal!

Strider would insist the title of this post does not require an exclamation point.  In fact, he would insist there should not be a title nor a post at all because this was really not all that big of a deal.

But his mom begs to differ, and since it's my blog, it is a post and it does require an exclamation point.

Even though this was not officially a prom, and it was technically supposed to be only for the juniors and seniors at Strider's school, the population was heavily skewed female, so the sophomore boys were invited to join in.  This was not an event to which they could take dates, and each of the boys were told they should ask each of the girls to dance throughout the night.

It sounded like a fantastic night!  (Not at all like the awkward, heavily emotionally draining proms I have experienced)  They all sat down to a fancy dinner first, and then spent an hour getting swing dance lessons. Afterwards they all danced with each other, doing an occasional line dance, but mostly swing dancing for the rest of the night.

When we arrived to pick him up, I peeked in the windows and it looked so fun!  Everyone was participating and smiling and dancing so well.  I snuck a few photos...  He's the one dancing with the girl in purple:

I also got a short video of him dancing, but he would definitely draw the line and not let me post that!

Strider got a ride with Jonathan to the dance and I love the picture Darol got of the 2 of them:

... This was them 5 years ago, dressed up for another event!

Time is flying and the boys are becoming men right before our eyes!

Friday, April 22, 2016


As I came up to them Colsen yelled out, "It's amazing what brothers can do, right, Mom?"

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Adoption Progress (and the "The Phantom Tollbooth")

Well, we've been chugging along on the many, many steps that now make up the international adoption process.  Most of our part is done and we're currently waiting for all of the various government agencies to sign off on everything.  We're hoping all of our paperwork (dossier) will be in China in a couple of weeks.

The kids and I have been reading "The Phantom Tollbooth" together -- and I had forgotten just what a gem it was!  I loved it as a kid -- so much so that I even wrote a "sequel" to it in about 4th grade.  But now that I'm reading it as an adult, I see so many more levels of wisdom and humor than I would have back then.  (If anyone is looking for a good read-aloud that will keep even the parents entertained, this is it!)

Anyway, we got to a section today that reminded me of the adoption paperwork.  One of the characters, the Senses Taker, said,

"Now, if you'll just tell me when you were born, where you were born, why you were born, how old you are now, how old you were then, how old you'll be in a little while, your mother's name, your father's name, your aunt's name, your uncle's name, your cousin's name, where you live, how long you've lived there, the schools you've attended, the schools you haven't attended, your hobbies, your telephone number, your shoe size, shirt size, collar size, hat size, and the names and addresses of six people who can verify all this information, we'll get started."

Then, once that is all complete, Milo*, the main character, says, "May we go now?" and the other character says,

"By all means, just as soon as you finish telling me your height; your weight; the number of books you read each year; the number of books you don't read each year; the amount of time you spend eating, playing working, and sleeping every day**: where you go on vacations; how many ice-cream cones you eat in a week; how far it is from your house to the barbershop; and which is your favorite color.  Then, after that, please fill out these forms and applications - -three copies of each - -and be careful, for if you make one mistake, you'll have to do them all over again."

"Oh dear," said Milo.

Oh dear, indeed!  So now we are in the very last phase - we hope.  If we made even one mistake, we'll have to do them all over again.

Meanwhile, we have started receiving some wonderful gifts from people wanting to support us in all of this.  Our photographer friends, Rachel and Hayley of Kharis Photography are doing a fundraiser for us (if anyone local is reading this and hasn't already heard about it, please let me know!!), and one of the women who works with Pete gave us this amazing, custom work of pottery:

It represents our family of 6 bringing home our new daughter!  I just love it.

So that's where we are.... waiting, and beginning some fundraising efforts.  We really hope we'll be able to travel to China to get her sometime between August and November this year!

*Yes, this character was one of the inspirations for our Milo's name.
** We were actually asked this exact question in our paperwork -- as well as several others above.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Fresh strawberries, high tea, and good friends

Friday was the opening of Strawberry Season at our local farm... so we went and picked $68-worth.

 Then on Saturday Rayna and I took a break from all the soccer games to attend a ladies' tea with other women and girls from our church.  I didn't get any pictures at the event, but here we are on our way to it...

Saturday night brought another big highlight -- getting together with good friends from GCC.  We met in Salisbury and almost immediately launched back into our solve-the-world's-problems mode. (Ah, college days, how I miss you.)  It was good to catch up, all too briefly though, on each others' lives.  Then we headed home so we could all get to bed at a reasonable time.  (Ah, college days, how I miss you.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

The Original 7 Celebrate Dad's 70th

This past weekend was a very unique one:  For the first time in two decades it was just Mom, Dad, Karin, John, Dan, Katie, and me in one house.  It was so weird -- but super fun!

On Dad's 70th birthday a couple weeks ago, we surprised him by telling him that John would be flying in and the 7 of us would have a weekend full of special activities.

(Here is the little presentation we used to tell him)

On Saturday morning we gathered bright and early for breakfast at Mom and Dad's house, and then set off from there for our first adventure:  Exit Strategy.  This was one of those places where you have an hour to solve all the clues/puzzle to escape the room.  Our theme was "Bank Heist," which we thought was fitting, considering Dad's banking career (not that he ever heisted anything).  We all had to work together to rush around (or stand around mind-boggled) finding keys and answers.  It was so much fun!!  I think we all agreed we would love to go back and do it again.

Then it was off to Tupelo Honey for lunch, and then we drove down to Crowder's Mountain for a long, lovely hike.

These people simply do NOT look 70/almost 70!!
Mom treated us to a fancy dinner at Dressler's, and then we went back and crashed and Mom and Dad's, looking at old photos and laughing at each other's old hair styles until late into the night.

Mom must have taken lessons from John on how to close one's eyes for pictures
Sunday we woke to another nice breakfast and then "family church."  Mom and I begged and pleaded until everyone agreed to re-create a couple of old photos.  I only have permission to share this one.  :)

The rest of the day was spent at the Whitewater Center, where we were joined by many family members.  Our kids and spouses came, as well as cousin Linsey, Aunt Lisa, and Amelia.  Lots of Wrays in one spot!  It became a little less cohesive at that point as everyone scattered for various activities.  Another beautiful day!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Memory Masters!

On Friday night our Classical Conversations group gathered for our "Closing Ceremonies" and a special dinner.  The highlights of the night included seeing each class perform one of the little songs or facts they learned through the year.

Colsen as President Washington (white wig)

A few seconds of Miles' and Rayna's classes doing the "Preposition Chant":

I was also especially proud to see all 3 of our kids get awarded the Memory Masters Award.  They were tested 3 times over the last month on all the facts they learned this year, and after passing all 3 tests (in the last round they can make NO mistakes), they get to be called a Memory Master.  It was a big accomplishment for all of them!!

Here they are accepting the award with a few other students:

Colsen going forward...

Lousy pictures, but fun night!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

When Daddy was the teacher

Most of our days involve Mom as the teacher, but yesterday we had the distinct treat of having Dad be the teacher -- and not just for our family.

The Jesse Helms Center hosted an all-day homeschool event primarily centered around the curriculum that Pete and I (mostly Pete) wrote.  It was mostly geared toward older kids, but our kids came along and ended up really enjoying it.

While Pete talked to the parents about how to use the curriculum, the older kids went in a separate area and were divided into competing "companies."  They were told to come up with a PowerPoint presentation highlighting the product they were going to "export," calculating their profit after taxes and tariffs.  It was fun watching them all work so earnestly!

Meanwhile the younger kids went with one of the other staff members to do a big scavenger hunt all over the Center.  My kids loved it -- and learned a lot!

In addition to Pete, there were a couple of other speakers and some other activities... all in all, a very enjoyable and unusual day.

Weekend Fun

The week is racing by and I am eagerly preparing for this coming weekend, but wanted to quickly slip in this post about last weekend.  Our "slow" season appears to have come to an end as we found ourselves going from activity to activity.

Saturday morning was our neighborhood's annual Kite Festival so we rushed up there as soon as it began, dodging the raindrops, so we could quickly fly some kites before soccer.  There weren't many people there yet -- later in the day it cleared up and that's when the crowds came!

Then it was off to watch Miles play soccer...
Miles is the one in the center, in red

Then, Nonna and Poppa came to take the 3 younger ones out for a special reward for earning the Memory Masters awards -- Miniature Golf AND ice cream!

Then on Sunday we went to a very unique and fun birthday party.  Our friend Rachel turned 25 and she rented out the entire roller skating rink near here!  About 40 of her friends came and we had the whole place to ourselves!  The whole family (except Strider, who was at youth group, had fun skating.  I had forgotten how fun it is.)

Meanwhile, Paul was in town for the weekend.  He and Pete attended a conference in Charlotte together and we looked at old pictures of when they used to travel together years ago.,..

Some hair and clothes styles have changed, but these two are still just as adventurous as ever.  Well, almost.

Anyway, it was a fun weekend!

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Fool's Day Groundhog-Day Style

The nice thing about having a wide age span between one's kids is that one can re-use the same pranks over and over.

Even though neither of these jokes were new, I had new "fools" to trick.

For dinner tonight we had "cupcakes"  (meatloaf with mashed potatoes on top), and then for dessert we had "brownies."  (Pete was at a conference, and Strider was with his grandparents.)

It's a good thing I had these ol' standbys to fall back on because the new tricks I tried today were not all that successful.

When we had some cousins over I tried to give them all water in cups that had holes in them, but I guess I made the holes too small because they didn't even notice!

Then I tried to do a "science experiment," telling all the kids that if we mixed a whole lot of ketchup and salt together it would start to produce heat.  I told them to put their hands over the mixture, and then slammed all of their hands down into it.  Ketchup splattered everywhere (joke on me!), and Colsen was NOT amused.  As he told me later, "Mom, for someone who doesn't like ketchup, and doesn't even like the smell of it, that was like a nightmare!"  Hannah, Sage, and Elise were also rather alarmed by the mess.

Then I tried putting saran wrap across the kids' bedroom doorways.  None of them fell for that.  Lame.

Strider meanwhile pulled a couple tricks at school (yay for AFD being on a school day and not having him home playing tricks on me all day!).  He printed out a sign that said, "Please use other door." and posted it on their main school door.  Some of the poor students believed it and walked around the building --in the rain -- to the other door, which was locked.

He also brought in a spring-time word find and told his classmates he would give $5 to the first one to find all the words during lunch.  As might be predicted, NONE of the words listed were actually in the word find.

He also somehow stealthily moved the hands of the classroom clock forward 10 minutes at the end of the day, thereby getting the class excused early.  He was pretty proud of himself for that one.   :)

So the fun continues around here!