Saturday, January 31, 2009

Roadtrip Sans Snapshots

I woke up this morning to a day of nothing - no schedule, no imperatives, just Mount Laundry. Darby and Roxy made French toast for everyone. Simply a great way to start the day. Scott has now decided that he does not want to spend the day at home, so we are off on a road trip. I like these days when Scott spends it with us, and I love finding small towns, so we are off. The camera was dead, unfortunately, so I will give you the highlights.

-We headed to Rome, GA, which is maybe 45 minutes from our house. It is the closest I have ever been to anything European. There is a private college there called Berry College and we checked it out. We told Darby that she had to decide in the car if she wanted to attend there because she was going to be tested upon arrival because you have to figure out early if you want to get in. The place is so gorgeous - it has some comparisons to the Biltmore Estate. It is a school the size of OC, but looks nothing similar and it feel like many thousands more students attend it. Berry College sits on 30,000 acres with multiple hiking trails, a mountain, a historic mill built by the students in 1931, a wildlife preserve, lakes, and just turn after turn of beautiful buildings and herds of deer and swans and everything you would dream of seeing outside your window. The girls wanted to do the ropes courses and the sky ropes courses, but we were pretty sure that drop-ins were disqualified. We hiked and explored and we are looking into retreats at the retreat center, which is located on top of the mountain. Insert ooh and aah - it was good.

-We continues on to Cave Spring, GA. This place was pretty tiny, but had a decently thriving downtown with lots of gift shops and antique places. There are old codgers sitting in rocking chairs in front of the businesses - and they are for real, wearing their overalls and truckers hats that they have owned since the days of Smokey and the Bandit. We ate at the cafe, which was good, and we were completely not locals but they were friendly anyway. Cave Spring is known for their cave and their spring, so we checker that out too. The cave was not open, which was a bummer since we told Roxy they served Bat sandwiches there. The cave is 65 degrees all year and we wish that it was open. They have a spring where you can get free water, and we saw many people filling up jugs. We fed the ducks and the trout that live downstream and just poked around the town, soaking up the culture.

-Darby was our book on tape. That girl loves to read. After we vetoed Calvin and Hobbes, she read to us Phantom Tollbooth. When she got quiet, I started reading my book out loud, A Little History of the World. Darby was immediately addicted because it fills in so many blanks, so many details that she has not yet learned. I love this book because it covers Western Civilization stuff that I cannot remember and it does it on a 10 year old level (of course my 10 year old has not been able to establish her level yet.)

-Roxy was perfectly Roxy, sans stuffed animal. I don't know how it happened, but she managed to leave the house without Asia, Lady, or anybody. She continually begged for us to buy her an animal, but no dice for the Rock Star. Roxy's jaw dropped when we stopped at a grocery store for a snack and she found a table with four chairs set up for a valentine party, and all four chairs had life size stuffed animals sitting in them. Someone at Kroger understands Roxy's secret fantasies...

Friday, January 30, 2009

My List of Random Things (Again)

Here's my 25 Random Things list. I am posting it on my blog because it took me quite a chunk of time to think of this many things. After typing them up on Facebook and selecting people to tag, the list blinked out and I had to do it again! There are no more original thoughts in my head today, so here's my list:

1. My name is always misspelled and mispronounced. It came from a little girl at the school where my Dad was the principal, so they borrowed it.
2. I named my children with the simplest spelling of their names. See #1.
3. I love rock and alternative country music. Think Ryan Adams and Old 97's.
4. I have a big head - hats don't fit me well. Must be that big brain of mine...
5. I have a few favorite movies - The Princess Bride, The Muppet Movie, and Moonstruck.
6. My forehead has a goofy shape, just like Eddie Munster. In junior high the annoying boys would call me Eddie. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names remain in memory.
7. I started reading at an early age, probably to compete for attention my brother was getting.
8. I love, love, love the color blue. I'm an indigo girl - without the alternative lifestyle, of course.
9. I tend to exaggerate, and it irritates Scott. I'm trying to control it...
10. The glass looks half empty to me, which means I am probably a pessimist.
11. My first car was a 1967 Chevelle, and we painted it indigo. Six people could sit comfortably in the back seat.
12. I am a believer in birth order philosophies. I am the baby sister and I married the oldest brother, which means I did good.
13. I love puzzles and games. Boggle, Sudoku, Scrabble, jigsaw puzzles, cards, dominoes, Blockus, trivia games. Love, love, love.
14. I would like to make cakes like they make on Ace of Cakes. Just need some skills...
15. I'm a Pepper and I am making my girls Peppers, too.
16. I have a crooked pinky finger on my left hand. It never fails to gross out my sister.
17. I use the word "technically" too often. When you hear your six-year-old use it in conversation, you know that it is time to change.
18. If I could go back in time, I would do college again. I would dump all the self-conscious stuff and take more chances, take different classes, love my life a little better.
19. I love loud music and people watching. Concerts are fun for me. Can't wait for the Boss this spring...
20. I have dang big feet and I am not proud of them. I've been lumbering around on them since 6th grade. And I saved my first pair of size ten shoes - burgundy penny loafers with tassels.
21. I have a Gilmore Girls addiction. Love it, watch it too often, and even went to the set in Hollywood. I would live in Stars Hollow if it was a possibility.
22. I am sad about the number of people I have known and lost touch with - moving is the pits.
23. My athletic ability is staggeringly bad. People feel the need to correct me at the gym.
24. Every time I read the Bible I learn something new. I should read much, much more.
25. I am very proud of my beautiful unique daughters and I am blessed to have a fine husband - he has a forgive and forget thing that is wonderful!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Where Is Your Report Card?

I have been asking this question for a few weeks. The report cards never came home. I would not have been shocked to discover that Darby had misplaced hers (aka stuffed it in her black hole of a desk), but there was no way on earth that Roxy would have let it slip by. That girls is on top of things. It turns out that they spring them on you at the January conference. So, if you are disappointed by something or simply surprised, your teacher gets to read it all over your face.

I'm not such a big fan of this predatory method. What fun is it to look at your kid's report card when the kid is not there for you to praise and/or interrogate? I have the unfortunate plight of also not knowing what grades the kids will get, because Roxy only gets smilies on every single paper, and Darby gets grades but not all of them are recorded. I kind of felt ambushed at the conference, which made me feel guarded and less present than normal.

On the good side, Darby has a beautiful report card, full of lots of detail (only six letters on the entire thing, and nothing else.) And Roxy has shown herself to be quite a student who is coming into her own. She loves to please her teacher and she is learning real writing skills, something that will make her daddy burst with pride. I am so glad to have academic-type students. Go nerds!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Open Headwound - An Appetizer

As a mom and as a weighty human being, I am conscious of my diet and the diet of my family. The force-feeding of vegetables, the limiting of sugar, the overindulgence of Dr. Pepper - all of these are foremost in my mind. I want to do better, I know a lot of nutritional facts, and I watch Food Network. So, I attempt to make good choices for the family and I make careful and conscious decisions about treats. For example, I buy some sweets but only those things that my children will eat at my discretion. If I like, I don't buy it. I get Dr. Pepper and that's pretty much it.

For a healthy alternative, I decided it was time to try ground turkey. Can you believe I have never tried it before? I've done turkey bacon and turkey sausage, but I have never attempted to use ground turkey as a raw material for our meal. Tonight was the night -round one with ground turkey - and we had to go to Chic-Fil-A.

I could not stand to look at it. My ground turkey came in a package similar to sausage - plastic casing with big staples on the end. It completely weirded me out. No resemblance to ground beef. It resembled the head wounds and skin diseases that I saw recently on the Internet. Trust me, you do not want to research skin diseases. The next time you see a skin bump, don't bother trying to identify it using online slide shows from reputable web sites. You will not be able to peel the images from your brain.

My sweet husband understood my horror this evening and did not question the queasy feeling I experienced. Thanks babe - I did not want to serve a head wound for dinner.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Anybody Want a Thin Mint?

I have a very unfortunate personality trait that makes me loathe sales. I don't play the selling game very well. The uncomfortable feeling of asking someone to purchase something for your child's fundraiser, the knowledge that you will not sell enough, the feeling of dread when you have to pass out and collect the cash/check: I do not like it Sam I Am.

I was managing my dreadful feelings pretty well until I got a message today saying that cookie sales sheets were due tomorrow. AAAACK! I thought I had more time. Upon further research, I discovered that this was not a new deadline, it was the one I acknowledged months ago. Way to go, Mom...

My brilliant idea (now) is to make Roxy look extra-cute and sell prepurchased boxes come March. I'm thinking that this is the only way to stay out of the Brownie doghouse. Roxy is cute enough to sell ice cubes to eskimoes...

Friday, January 23, 2009

Thinkin' 'Bout Babies

Have you noticed how people with babies have so many pictures for their blogs? It makes me miss my babies, who aged out of that period years ago. I had no blog for my babies. But let me tell you, they were really special. One of these days I will get all my videos converted so I can see the footage of babydom. But for now, here is what I treasure: Darby at 1 year.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

History Lessons for Dar

I find myself telling Darby, my oldest, lots of stories about what things were like when I was young. That is such an old woman thing to do, but I can't seem to help myself, which is also just like an old woman, too. I am in awe at how the eighties are popping up everywhere, particularly clothing and shoes, music, pop culture, etc. And Darby does not even know that it is all 80s material - she thinks it is unique. The skinny jeans on boys with skinny ties, the blousy tunics with leggings, the retro tennis shoes, the music. I tried on a jacket at Macy's recently and immediately a Michael Jackson song popped in my head because of the zippers, the asymmetrical details, and the military cut.

Darby also knows nothing about the music. She has a friend that rides her bus and he entertains her with songs that she calls "these funny little parodies", but it is really songs by Weird Al Yankovic. How did I let her get to the age of 10 with no Weird Al knowledge? She knows the words to "I'm Fat", but does not know that it is a parody of Michael Jackson, whom she also does not know. I found a single Weird Al song in our music library, "Canadian Idiot," and she does not quite get that song because she has never seen Strange Brew. My clever girl has a lot to learn - and I have a lot of culture lessons to conduct...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

TV Campout with The Mom

I watched a lot of TV the past couple of days. The Kids' Inaugural concert last night was impressive. The best part was the Jonas Brothers - they even made the First Daughters dance, and then they got on stage with them. No other world leaders will come close to impressing those little girls, now that they have danced with the brothers Jonas (I heart Nick the most!)

The closing prayer at Obama's swearing in was a classic. The preacher leading the prayer, an older man in his eighties, prayed for a very long time. He included the lines, "Brown is going to stay around, Yellow will be the good fellow, the Red Man will get ahead, man, and White will do what's right." I did not have a chance to copy the quote word for word, but you can get the gist of it. Those words, and the implications of all colors of skin, were not what I expected, but it cracked me up.

And, finally, my new favorite show, "The Big Bang Theory" introduced me to the origins of tapioca pudding, the algorithm of making friends, and at least four moments of Darby and Scott deja vu. The vocabulary on that show is fabulous, and the way they approach problems is eerily like my husband and daughter. I could provide those writers with some interesting material...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Redneck Hairdo

This is just strange - a hairstyle created by Scott. Stick to the pulpit, preacher man, and put down the 'do rag.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Momma Knocked It Out

My daughters have straight hair, and that is truly an accomplishment. My first attempt was a failure of skill and technique. But everyone has recovered from the PTSD of it all, I went out and bought a new hairdryer with the right attachments, I have maintained a somewhat tangle-free existence for a couple of weeks, and the Chi did the rest. It is not perfect - the hot rollers cannot seem to tame the ends because they don't get hot enough. But the girls have real, honest to goodness straightened hair. My joy is complete - and so is theirs.

We celebrated with a good movie about dogs - Hotel for Dogs. The girls absolutely loved it and I thought it had many good qualities - no dogs died, the dogs were clever and the kids were smart, and they used one of my favorite Rachel Yamagata songs in the soundtrack. Thumbs up.

To top it all off, Darby has the new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, Roxy has a new Webkinz outfit for Asia, and I bought four shirts at Old Navy - all of the $2.50, plus a wool coat for Dar and a fleece jacket for Rock Star that was $2.50.

I sit here, listening to the snow falling outside, and I thinked I knocked the ball out of the park today. Yea mom!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Darby's Sadistic PE Class

Darby, my beautiful and brilliant daughter, is not so beautiful and brilliant when it comes to PE class. Team sports are challenging for her. While she knows what to do with softball and basketball, and can perform on a minimum scale, there are the sports that challenge her. Soccer is unbearable, dodge ball is pretty horrid, but now there is a new sport for her to dread - lacrosse. Imagine being in her situation, where your favorite thing in the world is reading and messing around on the computer, making crafts and learning music. Now introduce the world of lacrosse, where aggressive 10 years olds are hurling a ball with giant sticks and running around, trying to annihilate the lesser players. This sport has to be worse than dodge ball, even. I just pray that she survives this PE unit...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Big Hand on Ten, Little Hand on Six

I have been watching a lot of news since Christmas, just one of the joys of slow January days. One thing that I am curious about is the new First Daughters that get to move in to the White House. My own two daughters (big one=10, little one =6) are basically the same age as the Obama girls. Those girls are moving into a new house, starting a new school, adopting a new life - all things that have been crossing my mind for the last 7 months. The Obama girls will have it pretty good. The White House decorator is starting on their suite of rooms first. I want to see how that turns out. Will they get puppy and kitty posters? I'm pretty sure their furniture won't come from a yard sale, unlike the Franks' girls set-up. I want to see what they wear, how Grandma will fix the curly hair, all of it. The biggest plus for the Obama girls, as far as I can tell from the comfort of my Momma Bear chair, has to be the inauguration concert where Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers perform. I want to know how often the cool stuff for kids will hit the White House. I'm thinking that the bowling birthday parties that my girls get will not quite measure up...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm Eco-Phobic

I read an enlightening article on Sunday about some local people that have embraced the eco-friendly lifestyle. In the article, you learn how a family of four has reduced their weekly garbage to two kitchen trashbags a week. They keep about 20 different containers in their garage where they sort their garbage for recycling and composting.

I am trying to imagine the process of being so dilligent with the family garbage. I am trying to imagine taking all my trash to the basement and "filing" it in the correct bins. I am trying to picture life without a garbage disposal, life without paper towels, and I don't even want to think about life without the three tons of disposable diapers that I desperately needed when the girls were little. I cannot imagine showering with a bucket on the floor, catching all the water so it can be disposed of in the rain barrels outside. I cannot imagine the giant tub of worms...period.

One thing this family did got me curious, though. They compost all of their hairballs. I happen to know a lot about hair, having been coming two afros for years and years. And as it happens, I have about three times the normal amount of hair required to cover a human head, so I have a lot to lose. But these people have got to be nuts. They collect all the stray hair into bags, scatter it like mulch over their compost heap, then turn that stuff and water that stuff once a week. The internet says it takes two years for hair to decompose. How could adding hair balls to your compost pile be worth all of that effort? I just don't get it. If I composted the hair from the afroes and my own head, we would have a hair garden that grows tangles.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Inner Beauty

Yesterday Roxy missed school due to a 24 hour stomach bug. She was getting back to normal, but still would not make it through the school day, so I kept her occupied at home. By breakfast, Roxy was bored and asked if she could draw a picture of me. I agreed and she talked about me and my breakfast. Somehow, the portrait did not turn out to look like me. Roxy can apparently see through me, to my soul, my inner beauty. That's right, people, I'm a Pepper.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sunday with Darby

The following is a post by my daughter, Darby. She is interested in blogging and wanted to give it a go, so here is her giving it:

Hello, people of the eworld!! This is Darby Franks, actually blogging for the first time! I'd like to thank the Acadamy, and my mom, who made all this possible... Oh. Sorry, I must have gotton carried away. Anyway, here is my post. Last week, on Wednesday, I was just sitting around, when two little boys, approxamately four or so, with their little sister, came sprinting across the stage, doing somersaults. Little Sister came toddling behind. As they were doing this, one of them said, "Don't tell!! We're official spies!!" The trio ran up to me and saluted. I thought to myself, "Okay, little boys always do things like this. Just gain your composure and reply calmly." I asked, "Well, if you're spies, who are you spying on?" The other said cooly, "Hot girls."

Yup. That's what he said. I am giggling as I blog. (I still can't belive it. I'm blogging!!) Since I could see that they were bored waiting for orders, I sent them off to spy on Mom. One asked, "Is she beautiful?" I replied primly, "You'll know her when you see her. Go get 'im!" They saluted once again, and tumbled off.

Roxy was not feeling well today. All the girls stayed home to tend to her. I don't think she smiled all day. I'm depressed for her.

Let's Play Checkers - I Dare You

No church for the girls and me today. Roxy is a sickie. The poor thing had such a great day yesterday - they built a massive fort in our sunroom, we all went out to lunch, she had a play date and dinner with a friend. Life was good until bedtime, when the virus hit.

Entertaining a girl that is all about "something to do" is not easy with the flu. So we decided to play checkers, and she was beating me for a while until I found a triple jump and kind of ticked her off. She looked at the board, looked at me, and then said that I better watch out or she'll throw up on me.

Sarcasm? Probably. Probable? I didn't want to risk it, so I threw up the game at the last minute. I momentarily forgot that the sick kid should win on a day like this.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Lucky #13

Scott and I are completing 13 years of marriage on Tuesday, January 13th. Wow. I never thought about what 13 years of marriage would look like when I was a single gal with brand new bling on my finger, but it is good to know that the decisions I made in 1996 were good ones, the love has lasted and evolved, and we are extremely committed to each other, our family, and our Lord.

We have a couple of issues, one of them being poor planning. If I had known that getting married in January would mean we were always tapped out financially, I probably would not have scheduled it for the 13th. Christmas has come and gone, the money has come and gone, and we have little dinero for celebrating, yet again. So, Scott decided to treat me to a couple of pleasures that cost little but appeal to me greatly: burgers and Top Chef.

I happen to love TV, and I love Top Chef. One of last year's contestants is from Atlanta and he always does interesting things with food, he is a good blogger, and he was the only decent guy on that show, so he was a favorite of mine. I knew that he opened a burger joint here in Atlanta called Flip, so Scott took me there for lunch. Richard was not there for the lunch crowd, but I got over it. I had the Butcher's Cut, which is a burger with blue cheese crumbles, red wine jam, and a side spread that I have no idea what it was, plus sweet potato tots. So tasty, so pretty, so good. Scott had a corned beef burger, dressed with a pickled cabbage slaw and topped with a fried egg. Scott loved it more with each bite. And to get food served to you like art - just like Padma gets on Top Chef - was a treat for me.

Our little lunch date was topped off with driving around the cool, historic neighborhoods around Buckhead, enjoying perfect weather and sunshine and listening to a good radio station (I heard a favorite song by Cowboy Mouth that I have always loved). And Scott did not get freaked out about traffic once - that was his real present to me this year. Thanks babe.

Friday, January 9, 2009

200 Posts of Silliness

I reached a milestone - 200 blog posts. And what better way to celebrate my blog about Franks' nothingness than with more statue pictures! I assure you that I do not have a statue guide directory where I go around looking for these things. The statues find us, and we embrace that karma.

I do think it is cute that my girls will find a brick rowboat and immediately reenact Merriweather Lewis and Sacajawea, exploring Louisiana Purchase territory for Thomas Jefferson. Scott and I must nurture history nerds - it is a family imperative!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

How to Enjoy a Rainy Day

The sun has not been shining lately, but we manage to find things to do anyway. A day trip to Chattanooga was very fun. We walked across the Tennessee River on the Pedestrian Bridge, we ate at Sticky Fingers, got ice cream at Clumpie's, we went to both Aquariums and the Children's Museum, and we had fun doing everything together. The museum and the aquariums in Chattanooga are very good and not so crowded. And nothing beats ribs at Sticky Fingers. Scott and I have so many memories in Chattanooga and we look forward to having unscheduled days when we go back there, just to enjoy a nice city with the girls.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

By the Twitching of My Thumbs...

...Something Wicked This Way Comes. This perfectly describes my wicked washer and the devil in my dryer. I was so excited the day my new washer and dryer were delivered. I love having a new appliance or two (I actually have four new appliances, but who cares...). But my skills in the laundry department have devolved so quickly, I think I will need an "expert" to come scope out the laundry room.

The number of clothing and linen items destroyed under my direct supervision continues to grow. I am fighting a battle that cannot be won. Among the highlights of my recent washing defeats:

1. Washing and drying Scott's merino wool sweater (that he really liked to wear). Now it fits Roxy, but she said she did not ever want to wear itchy boy clothes.

2. A set of sheets, a wrinkle-free shirt, Roxy's Rock Star tshirt, some pajamas, and a pair of jeans that got washed with a tube of Cherry Coca Cola lip gloss. Permanent grease stains on all of these things.

3. A load of whites in which five items came out pink - and there was not a single red item in the entire load.

4. A pair of my jeans that I have had for three years that have never shrunk (until now.) And I'm not talking about the waist, I'm saying the legs shrank after 100+ washes.

All of these items have happened in the last four weeks. There must be a word for a fear of ruining laundry...

Monday, January 5, 2009

"I Feel All Tingly & I'm Glowing"

No, I have not suffered a spinal injury and this is not my quote. This statement was made excitedly by my daughter, but can you guess which one? Darby and Roxy enjoyed their last day of the Christmas break by making beauty products with the new science experiment kit that Darby received for Christmas. The oatmeal lemon scrub is the real deal - I am experiencing it as I type. I told the girls that it was bad manners to smear baby food on your face, but they did it anyway. Somehow, they have learned to understand sarcasm - just one of the added blessings of living in the Franks' domain.

There is nothing cuter than seeing two curly heads bent together, rubbing oatmeal scrub on their perfect, flawless faces. I, on the other hand, will be going through about a gallon of the stuff tonight. My cute curly heads are finishing the homemade spa day in my bathroom, with Roxy soaking in the tub and Darby reading to her from a Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle book. A good way to end a rainy Georgia winter day...