Friday, July 31, 2009

Lock-in for Tweenagers

It's the end of summer and time for another big church event - the elementary school lock-in. Roxy's age group could not stay all night (a good thing), so I volunteered to stay with the older elementary age kids.

I would like to think that I can stay up all night with the kiddos, but I crashed at 3 am. I made it longer than Scott did, and that does make me a little proud. I thought the whole evening was fun and full of surprises. And the kids did well - some spills that were immediately cleaned and blotted, but no broken bones or anything that ruins an evening.

I was amazed at how much everyone enjoyed being together. It was very fun, even vacuuming the auditorium at 2 am was good, because it kept me awake and I didn't have to think about visitors finding Nerds ground into the carpet on Sunday. The thing that made the whole night successful: a few middle school kids, plus three high school kids. They can keep things going strong. There was this game where the three teams had to find specially marked Bibles, but the lights were out except for security lighting. Using flashlights, the kids found their Bibles and tried to avoid capture by the teenage guards. That game was the best and it was the most popular - and I did not have to run around at 1 am, attempting to capture fast-moving children. Yay me!

But today, I am worn out. I am taking Roxy to see G-Force, where hopefully Darby and I will nap while she laughs at all the talking gerbils. Yay me...again.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Where in the World Were the Franks'?

Last night, just out of curiousity, Scott and I started entering addresses in Google - all of our old addresses. We have lots of them now. And the amazing thing is - we remember all of our old addresses. I can't remember the phone numbers, I can't remember the zip codes, but I do know where I have lived.

It turns out that our old place in Houston has been put back on the market again, because the picture showed a realtor sign that was not one of the two we used to get that stupid house sold. Of the three different houses we lived in in OK, only one of them can be seen using the 360 degree street view picture. And, unfortunately, it was taken following a huge ice storm when we lost a ton of tree branches and they are all piled up by the curb for big trash day.

Scott's hometown in Montana has a picture of the Grand Hotel on McLeod St., and that's about it. Scott has so many previous addresses, he has blocked out most of them. He refuses to recall living that year in Nebraska.

We looked up famous addresses, too. It is kind of impressive that you can open up a directory, find an address, and see the actual lay of the land. Hopefully there are no privacy issues or anything creepy to contend with - I promise not to look up you if you promise not to look up me.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Boring Parents

Roxy thinks very little of her parents - we are too boring.

I hardly think I am boring. Scott is always busy, I am constantly thinking up activities for my kids, but Roxy thinks we are not cutting it by her standards. Yesterday evening after I finished washing dishes, Roxy asked what we were going to do. "Nothing," I said, because it was already past 7:00 and I wanted to do my crossword puzzle. Roxy asked," Don't tell me you are going to watch John Adams again!" And then she stomped upstairs.

Scott and Darby were upstairs talking about church camp for summer 2010 and the possibility of Darby attending camp in Montana. Darby was thrilled with this idea, probably because it involves a week away from her parents and her kid sister. Roxy, however, was indignant. "What! You mean she gets to go to camp, and what do I get?" Darby told her that she could get mom and dad, all to herself. Roxy's response was less flattering. "I get to stay home with no friends, and all mom and dad do is sleep and go to the bathroom." And she stomps off, again.

The boring parents: we sleep, we go to the bathroom, we watch John Adams DVDs from the library, I do crossword puzzles. Little does she know how exciting we would be if we did not have children. We could read books, collect yardsticks, sew curtains, etc.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Empathy Pains

I just returned from a going-away coffee for one of the women from my book club group. It has been a while since we were together, but I have really missed this group of women and I am saddened to lose such a sweet woman.

I have a profound feeling of empathy for her. She is packing up the family and moving to Florida on Friday. She has two kids that don't want to move. She has a husband that is making her a little bit crazy. And she does not know if this move is a good move or not, but moving is inevitable - the die is cast, the decision is made, and the outcome for her is unclear at this moment. All of these things were my reality a year ago, and I remember the anxiety all too well.

I am very familiar with having to make a decision to move based on few facts and fewer alternatives. It is a strange scenario when you know that staying in one place is not the best option, but moving actually alters the entire life path for the entire family. Changing the environment of your children will change their culture, will change their perception of where they belong, will change their vision of where they are going and the way they actually get to that destination.

There is so much work to do in regards to my children. I hope I am making the right decisions for their spiritual welfare, their education, and their emotional well-being. We are one year into this most recent move and it is too soon to know the outcome.

For my friend, I hope she can work hard and get some support in Florida. I would definitely say that the first year is the toughest. We have had good experiences, some rewards, and signs of hope in this year - but that does not mean that it isn't tough. I wish my friend the best of moves and a good fresh start and a pleasant adventure for her and the family. There is nothing like having a fresh start.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Wii World of Darby Crossing

My daughters were wanting a new Wii game. They put together their allowance and bought Animal Crossing, a virtual world game where you live and relate to other creatures/people. I noticed some patterns of behavior with my daughters playing this game:

1. Darby always has the lead and Roxy does not fight for it. Roxy is perfectly happy playing with her toys in the same room as Darby. Darby also convinced Roxy to contribute to the game, seeing as how she was a little short on the cash, and Roxy happily complied. The leverage of the big sister, the willingness to please in the little sister - I wonder if it will always be this way?

2. Darby explores technology differently than Roxy. Darby just tries things at random that make no sense, but it leads to interesting developments. Roxy does not want to do one thing unless she knows it is the right thing to do, and then she only is mimicking Darby.

3. Darby convinced Roxy that accepting a job (given to them upon login) was a bad thing because they would not want to be required to always doing the same thing everyday by the Animal Crossing clock. So Darby is jobless and practically homeless. They can hardly make their rent payment. Darby wanders around with a shovel she found, digging in the ground, hoping to find a fossil to pawn off at the local shop. Then she bought a fishing pole and tries to catch fish to sell to the store. She also takes in someone's old stuff that they are cleaning out of their houses, since she has no job and no money for furniture. It makes me vagrancy and day labor the logical move for Darby? She doesn't bother going to town because she has no money to use there. She is the equivalent of one of those Montana ski bums I saw in Bozeman, living in a tent and wandering around.

I am curious about the day when Roxy no longer caters to Darby and when Darby will see that she actually needs a job that will allow her to progress instead of wander.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Animal Planet Overload

Roxy is addicted to Animal Planet. She believes everything she sees on there, including the shows where they talk about real-life Big Foot and things like that. Her goal in life, as of Monday, is to be an animal cop in Miami. And she dreams of living in the Duggar house, but that is from a whole other reality show. But anyway...

Her latest incarnation of creativity is to act out all of the pet contestants on Pet Star. Pet Star has a host that used to be on an eighties teen sitcom, it has three judges from the Hollywood D-list, but it has regular American folk that bring their pets to perform a cool trick for the studio audience and judges' panel. Sometimes the pets are amazing, and sometimes they do the corniest acts EVER. Roxy loves the corny acts the most. She acts them out in the living room, narrating everything as she goes. And she will also recount the whole thing again at dinner - something to look forward to (again.)

This momma has had a little too much Animal Planet as well, because when Roxy starts acting like all these animals, I start acting like the dog trainer from It's Me Or the Dog. Her name is Victoria and she knows how to train anything. So, when Roxy is doing dog tricks, I correct her with a Victoria command and send her to go wee. Roxy loves it.

I guess for some people this may seem normal, but I am pretty sure it's not. It means we have a Animal Planet OD. Call the animal cops!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Father's Love

Scott, the pater familias, sometimes has to make great sacrifices for the sake of his family. His daughters adore him and want to play with him, but generally it is on his terms. What they play, what they do together - all are things that he chooses (generally speaking.)

Today, after three days of being needled by his cute and cuddliest, youngest daughter, Scott gave in and agreed to play a game. This is a great sacrifice for Scott, because the game was Apples to Apples. Scott hates this game. The girls and I love this game, because it is always a little different and you can have some pretty funny conversations when playing it, but Scott hates it. He says it is lame, ordinary, and too random. I hope those adjectives don't describe the people that play the game? Just a point to ponder...

The answers people give when playing Apples to Apples are truly indicative of who you are. When responding to the adjective "Adorable", Roxy throws the card, "My Friends." Now who could refuse awarding the point to a cute, cuddly girl who always surrounds herself with stuffed animals? Darby's answers are a more mixed bag - some inspired, some nonsensical. And my answers are mostly ordinary, but never lame.

Scott managed to win what he felt to be an excruciating game of preposterous length. He stated, more than once, that he will not play it again in 2009. Apparently, a father's love for Apples to Apples does have its limits.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Franks' Family - circa 1864

We took this family pic in Virginia City, MT. Settled in 1864, it was the original capital of Montana and included lots of rough and violent people searching for gold. There are several interesting, authentic spots in and around town and it was an enjoyable day for a family that likes history and dead people (which is what most of our outings involve.) One odd and gruesome thing was a diorama of an historic hanging, complete with little dead people swinging from the rafters, the last one being a club-footed criminal and they made his figurine clubfooted. I always thought dioramas were cute because of the details, but this one with blood, hangings, and club foot outlaws was far from my expectations. It kind of weirded Roxy out, too.

And if the town and the diorama did not include enough death and violence, Scott and I decided to top it all off with a visit to the opera house. A troupe of players recreated "Sweeny Todd, the Demon Barber of Fleet Street." In this musical/play, the title character slits his customers' throats, dumps them down a chute to the basement, and then they are cut up and made into meat pies. What a fond family memory this will be, I thought...

The play was good and both girls liked it! The opera house is quite old and historic, (another thing we like,) and the play was followed by a vaudeville show that was very entertaining with corny jokes, tap dancing, and lots of musical numbers that Darby said were in the Loony Toons episode featuring Michigan J. Frog. Darby could sing along, thanks to Bugs Bunny and the crew.

The whole day was fun, Darby and I loved dressing up in our elaborate hats, and Roxy got to be a cowgirl like she always wanted to be, and Scott looks oddly authentic in his western wear. It must be the Montana man in him.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Public Displays of Underwear

I took the girls to my favorite redneck swimming pool today. At this particular pool, all the women are very round and wearing unfortunate bathing suits, there is always someone swimming in the pool that is fully clothed, and the number of tramp-stamp back tattoos is overwhelming. Also, there are five billboards lining the street that advertise bail bondsmen, which leads me to believe that the people in the area have need of jail bailout.

I happen to like this pool and it is the one we frequently choose for swimming. Today was a great day - 88 degrees and a beautiful sky. Unfortunately, I managed to camp out by an unfortunate redneck neighbor.

She brought her two year old daughter with her and they were really enjoying the afternoon when all of the sudden she stripped all the swimming items off the two year old, who then danced around naked. I think this is inappropriate, especially in this day and age where pervs are more common due to media coverage. Also, there is the fact that the redneck pool provides a sanitary restroom, so everyone can have some privacy. It was then at that moment that the woman discovered some suntan lotion had leaked in her pool bag of supplies. Upset, she proceeded to hold up her enormous bra and underwear, inspecting them for light tan stains from the suntan lotion. I immediately thought that I don't want to see any brown stains, of any kind, on any public displays of underwear, thank you very much.

On the bright side, at least this woman has underwear. At the redneck pool, you never know...

Monday, July 13, 2009

An Unexpected Visitor

We have spent the last couple of weeks enjoying a vacation and catching up with friends that live elsewhere. It has been so much fun! Family members, high school friends, church friends - all our pleasantly surprised to see us and very willing to catch us up on all the news. It was great to go back and enjoy some memories.

When we got home to Georgia, it felt wonderful. It was in the mid seventies, as opposed to the 105 degree temperatures in Oklahoma. The house was clean (gasp) and there were no creepy bugs lying around (double gasp) and the Postal Service managed to correctly deliver our mail on the date we requested (triple gasp). And then I found this ransom note...

I am not quite sure how the perpetrator and abettors got in to our lovely abode, but they did. Which made me glad that the house was clean and that there were no creepy bugs lying around.

Now we have to figure out how to get the blessed cereal bowl back, because breakfast without the perfect cereal bowl makes Scott a cranky boy.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Swimming In the Deep End

It is midnight, which means that I am now 38 years old. Gag me.

I am celebrating by wearing my birthday jewelry, enjoying time with the fam, and indulging in red velvet birthday cake. And I just found a june bug crawling on me. Gag me again.

"It was 20 years ago today (Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play)", when I was at Neat Week, rooming with Carrie Jane Hicks, taking a huge stack of clep tests, and wondering what my life at college would be like. I pretty much got it all wrong. But I managed to clep 18 hours, get a degree, get a job in my field, get married, get kids, and get much more wisdom from a series of 1,000,000 decisions that have forever changed my world.

So here's to everyone, who upon reaching the deep end of their 30s, who knows that life cannot be predicted, that the impossible is bound to happen, and that joy will be found in the most unexpected places. After years of second guessing, I can no longer deny that God has controlled it all and my job is to give Him the glory.

I'm signing off now - I just batted away another june bug and the stupid things are creeping me out.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Big Sky Country

Today was a fun day for the family. We went to some of my favorite Montana places and we drove through some be-youtiful parts of Montana. The family had a pretty good time, too.

One of the most incredible things about Montana, in my opinion, is the sky. Oklahoma has a beautiful sky, but in Montana the colors are different, the elevation is different, and you have mountain ranges framing all the skies. The skies have been stormy lately, and you can look to your right and see the storm, but on your left you see the prettiest blue with the most incredible white clouds.

Driving back to Bozeman today, we were talking about our trip and we started seeing rainbows. We saw double rainbows, we saw the entire arch several times, and we saw the end of the rainbow, but no pot of gold. We lost count of all of the rainbows we saw today. It was probably just the same one over and over again, but it ended someplace different as we wound around the highway. It was a wonderful visual.

Monday, July 6, 2009

How Cold Can You Go?

I took the girls to the Big Timber Water Slide today. It is a bit of a misnomer because there are about eight water slides plus play areas for small children. It was not even 70 degrees and the water is actually melted snow. And it rained on us.

But, so much fun! And it is cheap, considering the prices I see in Atlanta. The good parts are when one water slide actually takes you into the hill and gets pitch black and you can't see where the turns come next. Darby loved everything, Roxy loved everything, and I passed on the water slide where you had to climb five flights of stairs to do it. I had been there two hours at that point, and my creaky arthritic knees had to just say no. Too bad the lightning came - darn, momma can't do that big slide.

I have done an inventory and everyone has all ten fingers, all ten toes, no one has hypothermia, but all three of us have been chilly for the entire evening. Makes me wonder what polar bears are thinkin', those idiots that dive into icy waters up North. They are certifiable.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Weekend - the Small Town Version

It's been a while since the Franks' fam has absorbed what life really is in a small town. But this week, we are getting all caught up on the machinations of Big Timber MT. This is what Saturday is like:

-I wake up, shower, and twist my hair into ringlets to let dry naturally. No makeup, no worries. Scott heads out to fish - the best place is by the city dump. I'm thinking that I don't want to eat those fish...

-The first of the relatives come over after visiting the Farmer's Market. The growing season is off to a slow start because no one has been able to pick any vegetables except for lettuce. Scott is back to dig for some night crawlers in Grandma's adorable garden that is filled with Montana wildflowers.

-More relatives come over (it is now 10 AM) and we all go sit out on the patio, enjoying the 65 degree temperature.

-Another relative comes over, with a friend who is polite enough not to ask about my hair but does notice that I am not from Montana. So I must still sound like an Okie, even though I live in Georgia...

-The first wave of relatives leave and Darby and Roxy start painting designs on Grandma's picnic table and benches. They have done this before, and Grandma loves it, so we do it some more. Roxy paints a rock to look like an owl and it's j'adorable.

-More relatives come over at 11, this time bringing small children and fireworks. My girls have never lit a firework in their lives, which is a sure sign of being a city kid. We light about two dozen smoke bombs and then the roving neighborhood kid that may or may not have a home comes over with loud and noisy rockets to shoot off.

-We manage to lose the neighbor kid, keep the relatives, and head inside for some lunch. Grandma and Darby have miraculously prepared a feast, so everyone is full now.

-Relatives head out about 2:00 and Scottie is back from the dump. He catches fish, but managed to lose some big ones. Yeah, right...fishermen can tell tales.

-One hour later, more relatives come, this time bearing food, fireworks, and a baby cousin we have never seen. Roxy and Darby are excited - new people to pester, new people for silliness. I am shocked to learn that the four month old has been potty training - with success. I realize that I am beyond hope for that type of attentive parenting. My 42 year old husband puts Black Cats into his army men and starts blowing them up. There is nothing like explosives to bring two grown boys/men together.

-Cousins enjoy each other, adults enjoy steaks and potato salad, I enjoy holding a baby again, cousins enjoy shooting their fireworks. Oh, and the wandering neighborhood kid is back again.

My conclusion: Saturday in this small town is even more exhausting than a Sunday morning church + potluck + small group at my house.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Small Town Crime= :)

Scott and I enjoyed a quiet breakfast today in his small Montana hometown. It was 50 degrees outside and such a beautiful blue sky morning, we decided to read the police blotter. This is a very entertaining event, because in small towns, the wildest things happen:

-A caller reported illegal dumping at the high school Dumpster. It turned out that the person was an employee of the high school and had been doing some cleanup.

-Services were rendered to a resident who reported a raccoon acting like it wanted in to the house. An officer responded but determined the animal was not rabid but wanted cat food that was stored there.

-A welfare check was made on an elderly resident whose family could not reach her. The cats had knocked her phone off the hook but the resident was fine.

-Heifers were reported on the railroad right of way. The owners were located and the animals cleared off the railroad.

-Services were rendered to a visitor to the area whose husband was overdue from a fishing trip. The fisherman was located by officers. He was all right but had become tired and decided to take a nap and slept longer than he intended to.

-A complaint was made of a pickup truck parked at a local business. It had a badger tied to it. An officer could not locate the owner but did remove the badger from the bumper and put it in the back of the truck instead.

There were dire reports of sheep in the road, erratic drivers, etc. You gotta love small town life.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Heard the Crash on the Highway

It's been a while, my little blogworld. I am enjoying a vacay now, but broke down to catch up on email, bills, blogs, etc. As much as I am enjoying a great week with my family, I still cannot live down the road trip to Branson. I am still rattled by the events of that day.

I happened to watch the single worst traffic accident in Oklahoma's history, if you believe the Tulsa World newspaper. I was driving on I44, heading to Springfield, MO, to pick up my husband at the airport. My parents were driving I44, also, but they were a distance behind me. The traffic was completely stopped due to a smaller accident on the highway, but I was nervous because the traffic was really piling up and I have a fear of chain reaction accidents, where the cars crash into each other like dominoes. As I watched in my mirror, I saw numerous cars crash together behind me as a giant semi came full force down the highway, smashing on top of cars like a Transformers movie scene. I screamed, panicked, shook, then drove forward slowly, trying to get out of the way. I did not see a white van, like my parent's vehicle, but I did not know if I saw the whole wreck or only part of it.

I just drove and shook, constantly trying to contact my folks in their van. It was definitely one of the scariest moments in my life, thinking about the people that died and wondering where my family was. I knew people had died, because the force of the truck and the sounds and smells were so horrible, I did not see how people could survive. I was buffered from the wreck by about 5-6 cars, plus I was one land over but the wreck went all over the highway and that may not have mattered in the end. After the slowest 15-20 minutes of my life, my dad got through on my cell phone. They were behind the wreck and could not see anything. I was trying to calm down, telling them that the wreck was horrible and that there would be fatalities and that they would be stuck on the highway for quite some time. I was just so happy to hear their voices, knowing that they were no where near the wreck, because I had been entirely too close for comfort.

In the end, 10 people died. I can't believe I saw all of that in my mirror. My girls were concerned about the wreck, but I kept them plugged into the DVD player while I panicked there on I44. They saw nothing, their headphones buffered out all the screeching metal, burning rubber, and horrified faces of everyone around me.

I will be forever grateful that God gave me a buffer from that crash on the highway. I spent about the next hour praying about everything I saw, thanking God that my loved ones were safe.

The vacation was more important because of the close call with that wreck on the highway. Thank you God for my family.