Thursday, September 28, 2006

My Fairy Tale Come True

For those of you that know Rich I am sure you would agree that although he is a man of few words he has a huge heart. I learned that at the get-go of our relationship. I’ve watched over our years together his generosity spread to so many. I have benefited from his generosity as well; he has always treated me like a princess.

With this in mind, take a trip down memory lane with me. Thirteen years ago today, I set out to top Rich’s generosity by planning a perfect day for him. A day dedicated to spoiling him and treating to him to all his favorites. I even bought him a special gift. It was (and is today) his birthday.

I even decided that I would try my hand at his favorite homemade cheesecake (his mom’s recipe). Let me preface this part with: he did not marry me for my cooking abilities.

When preparing to make the cheesecake I learned I needed a spring foam pan so I went shopping. I eventually figured out what a spring foam pan was and made my purchase. What I did not realize is that the pan doubled as a bunt pan and came assembled as such. I didn’t recall his mom’s cheesecake having a hole in the middle of it or any cheesecake for that matter but nothing was going to stop me. So yes, I made the first cheesecake in the history of mankind with a hole in it. Did I mention that I was blond?

Other than my cheesecake mishap the day was perfect and he was surprised. I finally topped him (not that I have a competitive nature at all). All this to say, at the crux of my victory he pulled a “Rich”; which can be defined as sweetness mixed with nothing but pure intentions.

He turned the tables and surprised me with a never-ending untoppable gift …..a beautiful ring and a marriage proposal.

We celebrate today for two reasons; Rich’s birthday and my fairy tale come true.

Happy Birthday my love, my best friend, my knight in shining armor!
I love doing life together!

……..and they lived happily ever after.

Photo was taken during our engagement, back when we were thinner, both had more hair and when we thought wearing matching rugby’s was cool……oh, my!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Too Cute Tori

South African Security System
(aka- Zoë the pet dog) - $100

40 lb bag of Pedigree dog food - $25

Tori attempting to feed Zoë ........


Sunday, September 24, 2006

Church at the Franzens

Caveat: I am an advocate for going to church and normally we attend a great local service but it was one of those mornings.

Our “living room” church service went something like this…..

Starbucks was not only served it was allowed into the sanctuary, much to Skyler's chagrin (she wore her Sunday's best) Rich and I attended in our pajamas, Chris Tomlin led us in worship (it was awesome) and no make-up or hair “doing” was required.

Order of Events
Skyler made sure there was a “proper” (her words) detailed plan in place.
1. Worship with Chris
2. Skyler recited a memory verse and took the offering**
3. Rev. Richard T. Franzen delivered a power-packed 7 minute sermon (we all tend to suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder)
4. Blake listened as best as one can while doing somersaults
5. I had nursery duty (aka chased Tori around)

During our closing prayer, I teared-up thinking how incredibly blessed I am to be able to worship whenever and wherever I want and that my family, although flawed, deeply loves the Lord!

**the offering collected will be given to our normal place of Sunday worship….in case you were wondering (I was).

Friday, September 22, 2006


….the best word or shall I say retort, to describe when Rich is away.

I’d like to think I have learned a few things over the years of what to do and what NOT to do when the hubby is away.

Things like: go easy on my self, plan simple dinners for quick clean-up, keep an emergency stash of chocolate on hand, enjoy the kids instead of stressing about a clean house (that’s still a kicker for me), AND go to bed early!
The latter is quite important as I need a good 8-hours of sleep and it is no secret I am NOT a morning person. Fortunately, for the whole fam, Rich is a 6-hour (give or take) a night sleeper and rises with ease in the morning. So naturally he has "kid duty" each morning while I get a few extra winks of sleep. It makes for a great set-up (when he is home that is)!

Well I was feeling rather up-beat last night and there was a cute movie on TV, which is a rarity! So I did not retire until 11:00 p.m. I know for most that is a normal bedtime but it is considered late for me. I climbed into bed and quickly did the math: 11:00-6:00 a.m., oh no, only 7 hours of sleep and that is if we make it til 6 with no interruptions. Grateful, I had my vitamin B shot earlier that day. Perhaps that will make up for the lost hour, I thought. As soon as I shut my eyes my “UGH” began to unfold:

11:07 p.m. - I heard a moan uttered by my little Romeo, and then a tumble and soon Blake was at my bedside.
Me- “What’s wrong Blake”?
Blake- “Nothing”……long moan
Me- “Do you need help getting back to bed?”

We made a quick pit-stop and then surprisingly Blake climbed back into his bed rather easily. As I pulled the covers up, I conveyed a quick prayer (or plea) that there would be no more interruptions and that somehow I would be a happy mom in the morning.

3:02 a.m. - 3:07 a.m. - Loud cries from Tori’s room
Fortunately, I have learned to wait it out and we both drifted back to sleep.

5:00 a.m. - LOUD birds chirping outside my window….the signs of spring nearing!
Pulled pillow over my head and sacrilegiously prayed…."Lord, pleasssseeee, help the kids not to wake anytime soon!"

5:46 a.m. – Bang, crash….sounds of Blake reading quietly (NOT) in his bed. Yes, I still had a pillow over my head….that is how loud Blake “reads”.

Did I mention my kids ALL take after their dad in the “rising early” category?

5:55 a.m. – Surprisingly, it is Skyler not Blake that has been sooo noisy, “Mom is it time to get up yet?” “Noooo honey, come lie down”. She replies, “Just making sure, you do have a tendency to oversleep.”
Good thing I have an accountability partner….not that I asked for one.

5:59 a.m. - Cute coos and babbles from Tori’s room.
There is no escaping it; my “night” is officially over….UGH!!!!!!!!

6:15 a.m. – I hear the most glorious sounds and a wonderful aroma begins to fill the house! The Grind-and-Brew went on and my one hope of “waking up” is on its way!

6:24 a.m. - My lips are firmly pressed against a hot cup of freshly brewed Starbucks coffee. The “UGH” is replaced with “UMMMMMM”!!!!!!

I guess my day won’t be so bad after all!

Monday, September 18, 2006


Every parent waits with much anticipation for their son or daughter to utter their first words. Each secretly hoping it is in reference to them
(i.e. - Mama or Dada).

Well Rich was up 2-0 as both Skyler and Blake said “Dada” first. Notice, I used the verb was indicating past tense. Of course not to gloat but Victoria (Tori) put me on the score board when she blurted out “Mama” first. That’s my girl!

The best part is she not only said “Mama” first she drove it home by calling Rich, “Mama” as well. Did I mention—that’s my girl?!

We all chuckle when daddy arrives home and Tori hauls off down the hallway hurdling herself in his arms (she adores her daddy) while yelling, MAMAAAAA.

That’s my girl!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Cool, Cooler & Coolest

I must preface this post with a reminder that I live in a foreign country.
Blake has the most amazing way of making rather mundane daily experiences interesting........

Blake and I paid a visit to the public restroom the other day. I with my trolley (SA word for shopping cart) headed to the handicap stall as it is wider than the others so to fit me, the trolley and my 4 year old. Typically, you don’t want to leave anything outside of the stall if you intend to keep it. I felt this especially important with regard to my son.

It is hard enough to coax Blake into the girl’s bathroom so trying to get him into the same stall with me is anything but a cake walk. Somewhere in my attempts I believe I used the word cool to describe my stall. Thinking back on it now that is definitely not the adjective I would choose but it is a largely used word in my 4 year old’s vocabulary. It did not persuade him to join me in my stall but it did set him on a mission to find a cooler one. Again, I know this is not proper usage of the word but until Blake hits Kindergarten I will allow it.

Realizing there was no one else in the bathroom I relented and allowed Blake to pursue his mission reminding him that moments before we rushed out of the store because he had to “go soo bad”.

He seemed to find success and settled down for business 3 stalls over from me. All the while informing me how cool his stall was. This in addition to him telling me that I really needed to take a look continued on through the washing of hands. Finally in attempt to appease him I took a look. Surprisingly (not sure why anything surprises me anymore as I live in a foreign country and I have 3 kids) this is what I saw…..

A Squatty Potty……only with the remnants of Blake’s breakfast at the top (he is definitely not proficient in using this type of toilet).

I quickly grabbed Blake, put him in the trolley and high-tailed it out of there before anyone discovered his treasure. The poor cleaning lady!

As we were walking to the car Blake said, “Mommy, this country has the coolest bathrooms.”

Yep, there you have it, life with my precious boy.

Rich pointed out that the really freakish thing about this ordeal is that I actually went back to get a photo. Hey, anything for the blog, right? At least I waited until the cleaning lady had been there.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Pray & Pass it Along

Yesterday I received an email from a friend, Martin Querin. He was a leader for many years with Teen Mania. His son, Donny was also involved as intern with TM.

This is the email:

“Last Friday our son Donny was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. He started a 14 day chemo therapy regimen last Friday from there we will see how his leukemia responds. Please join with us in praying that he responds well and is returned to full health.”

Please pass this on to whomever you know that would stand in agreement with Martin and his wife Sandi! They would appreciate the prayer support!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"Say Cheese"

I thought I might attempt to creatively describe what an arduous process it is to capture the Franzen Family photo but as they say, a picture is worth a 1,000 words. Here a few of the MANY photos (70+) exemplifying my point.

Needless to say, our 2 days were filled with much hairspray, lots of bribes, sweets galore and an occasional raised voice. The final outcome, as my husband titles it, the best of Franzen Family 06.

By the way, we only endure this kind of pain once a year so I hope you like the picture….it may be on your Christmas card.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Beacon of Light

I arose today and said a deep prayer for all those that lost someone in the horrific tragedy now known as 9/11. I am sure for so many this will be a difficult day as the memory is vividly awakened by the images of the events that happened on this day, five years ago.

I was also reminded that it is friend and fellow blogger, Michelle Arnold’s b-day. Michelle, I recall a conversation where you mentioned how difficult it is to share your birthday with the sadness this day now represents. How do you celebrate when so many are grieving?

My thoughts then veered to the example of goodness you, Michelle represent especially on such a difficult day. Where there is grief, sadness, and hardship there is always a beacon of light!

Michelle, I pray you have a great day and celebrate to the utmost with your family! You are a beacon of light in so many ways for so many people. Thanks for being the reminder that there is much good in the world even in tough times.

Go to and wish Michelle a happy birthday.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Copy Cat

Tis the season where blogs are filled with cute pictures of children adorned in their new clothes and backpacks ready for the first day of school. I thought I would join in the fun, after all the best ideas are borrowed ideas.

This is a picture of Skyler on her first day of school. Although, I must be honest it is not a recent picture, it was taken in January. Schools here are year-round, beginning in January and continuing through November. Sorry Michelle Arnold, it was the only picture I could find…one of her in her classroom. We don’t have a “front door” tradition perhaps because we don’t have a cute, red, front door....humm I don't think I have ever used the word cute to describe a door before....anyway. Our front door is enclosed in bars of iron so one might mistake the photo to be of her going to prison not school…..although some people think they are one in the same.

Doesn’t she look cute sporting her matching gingham alice-band, as they are called here? After the second day of wearing her hair like this I was confronted with a notice informing me that I did not read the rule about girl’s hair having to be up off their collar. I can’t imagine how I missed that one, there were only 4 dozen rules….part of the British culture, schools and teachers are very strict. She now has a matching gingham scrunchie. Good thing her thin, straight hair holds pony-tail potential.

Skyler is in Grade 1 (1st Grade) where she is learning 2 African languages- Afrikaans and Zulu. She speaks with a cute Afrikaans accent and utters phrases like, “Are you cross with me”, “I am coming just now”, and “Oh, you gave me a fright”. She gets quite upset when we repeat her with a mimicking accent. It is just too cute.

Despite the daily fight through traffic every morning to get her to school by 7:40 a.m. and the myriad of rules, we feel very fortunate to have found such a good school environment for Skyler.

Reference for comments regarding "front door tradition".

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Out of the Mouths of Babes

With so many negative things bombarding our children today I love when I see good habits taking hold. Prayer has become one of those habits I am grateful to see my children enjoying.

Prior to our move to SA, almost 3 years ago (gosh, it has gone by so quickly), when we would pray for the transition Skyler always prayed 2 things. One, that her new house would have a swimming pool and two, that she would get (her wording) a baby sister. We weren’t sure where either of those requests came from as we never talked about our house having a pool nor were there any plans to have a baby in the near future (thus my life verse Prov. 19:21). You can imagine the excitement when Rich announced that the house he found to rent just happened to have a swimming pool. It is very common for the houses here to have a pool (kind of like Florida)….but I am not settled on the fact that it is a coincidence.

Four weeks after our move to SA, I found out I was pregnant. And 20 weeks after that we received the ultrasound confirming it was a girl. It was then Rich and I decided that Skyler would be included in any matters of prayer. :-)

Blake has taken to praying as well. His recent prayers include baby Noah (Michelle and Beth’s blog brought him to our attention), Uncle Ronnie (he hurt his back), and the Crocodile Hunter. It was a sad day at the Franzen household when we learned that Steve Irwin died. I tried to explain to Blake that instead of praying for the Croc Hunter rather we should pray for his family. It did not work; he is pretty insistent that “God will bring him back to life”. Oh boy! Although these prayers bring me much delight my favorite is when he prays, “and Jesus I am soooo sorry you had to die on the cross”. It just melts me.

Even Tori is getting in on it. We find most anything she does at this age adorable. She is at the “adorable-edible” age. But we all coo at the supper table when she buries her head in her hands and mumbles gibberish along with whoever is praying.

I am truly grateful that my children are taking to heart such a wonderful practice. So if you have any prayer requests, send them our way.

Monday, September 04, 2006


A few months ago I decided there was never going to be a good time to exercise so I needed to forgo that excuse and just do it. I also felt that in order to accomplish certain physical goals I needed to get out of the “jogging box”. I am one of those weird people that actually enjoys jogging. I am not an aerobics fan however. In fact, I would rather run head-on into a brick wall than spend 60 minutes doing exercises involving a florescent pink step and oversized plastic ball. Sorry to any readers that enjoy this type of activity.

I went to the gym (thanks to our SA health insurance, we have a monthly membership for the low price of 35 rand which amounts to $6) and began my hunt for challenging exercise classes. It was during this pursuit that I discovered V-Box.

Frankly, I am not sure what it is about this class that I love. Perhaps it is because it does not involve any of the apparatuses mentioned above or maybe it is the secret fascinations I have that I am Sydney Bristow in an episode of Alias and I am kicking some serious tail. I know Alias is over in the States but we still have one more season to go (who is Michael Vaughan really?), so let me live vicariously.

The unbelievable part is that the class convenes at 8:30 on a MONDAY MORNING. If anyone would have told me that anything on a Monday morning much less exercising would be fun I NEVER would have believed them….unless of course it involved strong coffee.

But yes, it is the one morning I happily arise and greet my week with a high cardio combo of Tae-Bo and kickboxing.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Where's Waldo

Some of you may have seen this but it is worth a re-send.

This picture cracks us up! Doesn't it remind you of a Where's Waldo scene...well except for the fact that Waldo usually blends in with his surroundings. I guess my lily white-faced, blue-eyed, blond haired, four year old is easily found amongst the sea of brown faces.

Funny, he is really into the Where's Waldo books too.

Can you spot my Blake?