Friday, August 26, 2016

How we spend recess these days

It turns out that the hills around our house are quite perfect for mountain biking.  Many evenings we go over to the park and ride the trails there, but if we only have a few minutes for a little break, the boys just make their own trails in our yard (simultaneously making more gray hairs on my head).

They love to go zooming down from the top of the driveway, down past the side of our house, and on over the little creek bed in the woods, to the "Deep Woods."  They often fall, but so far no major catastrophes.

Tough little Rayna is doing her best to keep up with them... though Common Sense whispers a little loudly in her ear than in theirs so she doesn't do everything they do.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Same School, Different Building

It's been Back-To-School week for Poplar Streams Academy, and the excitement level has been high.  No, really, it has!  For the first time ever (I think), I've heard a couple of the kids exclaiming things like, "This is exciting!" to one another.  I guess everyone was ready to get back into a routine  -- or maybe they just like apple pie.

The night before school started we made our traditional pie for breakfast, and had our annual scavenger hunt for all the school supplies.

Miles is reading Proverbs 16:16 to everyone since he was the grand prize winner of the chocolate bar

 First day of school went smoothly, and even with enthusiasm.

New location for front porch pictures!

Saying the pledge

Back to readin' and writin' and stuff!
Strider, meanwhile, our first PSA alumnus, was off to his first day at Wingate -- taking Intro to Business this year.  I had to pick him up a few hours later because he had a job interview at Chick Fil-A!

That night was Greyfriars' Convocation ceremony.... It's always so nice to see everyone dressed up and smiling.  :)

This morning we had our first Classical Conversations gathering, too.  It was fun to see everyone again, and we enjoyed our opening ceremony in the woods.

We are looking forward to a good year, in which we all increase in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  We also anticipate increasing the enrollment at Poplar Streams by 33% this semester!  We'll see what the Lord does...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fireplace renovations

Slowly but surely our house is feeling more like "ours."  We're thankful for the craftsmen who have come to help make our visions become reality!  (Stonework and hearths by Derly Cothron and Mantels by Sadie Jane's Marketplace)

When we moved in, the fireplaces looked like this:

Now they look like this:

 I'm hoping the new looks will make our house seem more like a "cottage."  Next project:  add window boxes for an English cottage look on the outside...

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Why I'm praying for Milo's wife

For a very long time now Miles has insisted that his favorite name in all the world is Track.  He tried to get us to call him that for awhile, but since that didn't really stick, he's decided he'll just have to use it for one of his sons someday.

Then a few days ago he announced that he also likes the name ProvidenceCountryClub.

"So your children are going to be named Track and ProvidenceCountryClub?" I asked him.

"Yep," he answered,  "And the other one will be Susie."



Miles just found a picture of me on our wedding day, decked out in bridal gown and veil, and he asked if it was me.  I told him it was.  As he studied it I asked, "Did I look pretty?"

"I don't know," he answered.  "I can't see your legs."

"You need to see my legs?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said,  "I tell if someone is pretty or not by looking at their legs."


Strider the tiling apprentice

This summer Strider was given the opportunity to work alongside a man from our church who does tiling and remodeling.  It's been an eye-opening experience for him and a great first job.  He's learned some skills, and has also been introduced to the World of Work, and already he's growing in wisdom because of it!

The best part (for me) was that a few of their projects this summer were at our house, so we got to see up-close the kinds of jobs he was doing.  Our foyer in particular was largely re-floored with Strider's contribution, and he was left to do some of the work independently.  I'll always think of his handiwork now when I look at our floor!

Foyer floor, before and after (wish I had taken better "before pictures):


Her name

The only pictures we have of her are from a few years ago; we can't wait to see what she looks like now! 
We are getting very close to the end of the very long paper trail for adopting our new daughter!  If all goes as we are hoping and expecting, we should be able to travel in about 7 weeks to pick her up and bring her home.

For a while we referred to her as "Chinese Rayna," since the American adoption agency had given her the security name Rayna.  But we knew having 2 Raynas in the family wasn't viable long-term, so it came time to determine what we would really call her.

The name that the orphanage in China gave her is Jin Rui, which means "the golden center of a flower."  Since she is old enough to probably be quite attached to that name, we don't want to confuse her or cause her to feel greater loss by losing that part of her identity, so we are going to keep the essence of it, and just add to it a bit.

As with all of our other children, we want to give her a name with meaning and significance, so, balancing these two goals -- giving her a name with meaning and letting her keep a recognizable part of the name she has grown up with -- we have settled on Jinna Rose.  Jinna means "The Lord is gracious," which seems appropriate on many levels here!  And, following along the literary character theme with our other children, "Rose" is a character in a couple books by Louisa May Alcott that I love.

(In the book called Eight Cousins, Rose is orphaned and comes to live with extended family -- which includes SEVEN loud and rambunctious boy cousins.  At this point Jinna Rose will also have 7 boy cousins between the ages of 0-17!  (There are also a few other adult boy cousins, but they may feel more like uncles to her.)  Unlike the Rose in the book, our little Rose will also have a bunch of girl cousins, too, not to mention several siblings, so her blessings abound!)

So, unless she vehemently objects when we meet her, the plan is to call our new little girl Jinna Rose Rui Frank.  May the Lord be gracious to our little flower!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

14 on the 14th!

 Our girl turned 14 today!

She continues to grow into a beautiful young woman who loves to serve and help and come alongside people.  We love her enthusiasm.... Once again as we were shopping this year for gifts for her, one of the boys remarked that it didn't really matter what we got her because she would be excited about anything!  Very true.

She did love her gifts this year, and about 30 minutes after she opened them, she came in to find Pete and me to tell us just how much she loved her birthday and all her presents.

Last night by way of celebration we had our first real dinner party with some friends, some of Rayna's favorite people.  Make-your-own-sundaes for dessert afterwards!

Her smile lights us up!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Home renovations

It has been almost 4 weeks now since we moved into our new house, and I feel like we've been running non-stop!  Everything is still in flux and no room of the house is officially "moved in" completely yet, but we are making progress.  We only have about 1 week left until we have to turn our attention to other things -- primarily school -- so the sprint is still on.

Here are some of the things we've been working on:

Making shutters...

Tearing up floors...

Laying new floors and re-doing fireplaces....

Getting the yard in shape:

.... and cleaning, hanging pictures, hanging curtains, changing out light fixtures, arranging furniture and rearranging furniture... and rearranging it again, finding new homes for all the STUFF, etc., etc., etc.

As can be seen above, we've had some significant help for many of these projects -- and we're so appreciative! We've had several professionals in and out, but also the unpaid labor of my father (especially), my sister, my mother, and a few friends as well!  Very grateful for all the hours people have given us.

In the near future, we're getting new mantels for the fireplaces brought in, and then we need to make decisions about new kitchen cabinets, a room being put in in the garage, and possibly a bathroom re-model in the next 6 months... There is plenty to do here!  And for the most part, we're enjoying our "fixer-upper" project.  :)

Visits from family

The beginning of August brought back-to-back visits from some members of the extended Frank family!  Sam and Karen came down from Pittsburgh for a few days, and then Grandpa and Gee-Gee came to see our new house and help out.  We had fun adventures!

The boys did a LOT of this together...
... but we also managed to take Karen and Sam on a few little field trips.  One was to Wingate, where we surprised Pete, since it was his birthday and all!

 Then another day we took a tour of the JAARS center, which fascinates me every time!

 We got the special bonus features of getting to talk to the owner/pilot of this yellow plane, and also watch a helicopter repeatedly taking off and landing.
 We also made it to Nirvana, aka the Bass Pro store.  :)

With Grandpa and Gee-Gee, we did a little exploring of downtown Waxhaw (getting to know our new town!), took another tour of Wingate, played some games, and watched Bud organize our garage for us!

We're thankful for family members that are willing to make long drives to come spend time with us!