Monday, April 30, 2007

One long "24" hours

Well Rich is home for a few days and the kids are off school AGAIN! Friday and tomorrow are national holidays so the school systems figure why bring the kiddos back on Monday might as well have a 5 day long weekend. Remind me to send a thank you note….I feel the need to express my gratitude....hee! Actually it is really nice for all those taking a vacation but not us; we’ve been homeward bound. Suffice to say we’ve had a lot of family fun time (thus my blog absence)!

Friday we took the kids to an indoor “snow” slide to rid them of some energy. They had a ball and repeatedly recanted "how embarrassing mommy is"….all because I screamed like a baby going down the slide. Not like I was the only one ….okay so I was.

Well Friday’s “snow day” was foreshadow of a COLD weekend. We seemed to skip right over fall and dive into winter. Evenings and early mornings have been in the lower 40’s. Now remember that is without any central heat and brick/cement homes. Brrrrrr… is cold! I am tempted to pull out the bean soup again….hee.

The family fun days and wintry evenings have left the kids tuckered out giving me and Rich time to cuddle by the heater (oh, I long for a fire place). Wish I could say it has just been Rich and me but another man has come into the picture….a Mr. Jack Bauer.

Two months ago that name did not even ring a bell but lately we’ve spent many intense, rather emotional nights together. The sad thing is after 2 months we just finished Season 1. It has been one long ‘24 hours’! How many more Seasons to go?

In show reality it is only 6 full days but to finish them all for me will feel like a lifetime. Oh if I could go back and do it over again I never would have begun this adventure with good ole Jack; it is just too much for me!

Since the cold weather has just begun and I turn into a couch potato huddled by a heater, dressed like an eskimo, with hot drink in hand, I think my nights with Jack will continue. What have I gotten myself into.....please send help!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dinner Flop

The weather is turning and we are experiencing fall like temperatures here in the southern hemisphere. With the colder evenings, soup has been my food mood.

Realizing it has been years since I made black bean soup that was my culinary choice. You can’t find canned black beans here so I purchased the dried ones, soaked them for 2 days, added all the ingredients and let is simmer for a good four hours. Ready for a tasty treat I scooped up the bowls when it hit me. My kids have not had black bean soup since America, over 3 years ago. Their taste buds are not used to this healthy meal not to mention it was BLACK!

Blake thought it was pretty cool eating black food….he imagined it was like something Darth Vader would eat. Skyler ate most of it but her facial expressions communicated her distaste. Tori ended up with a cute little black mustache and later a not so cute diaper.

The next night I thought it clever of me (since I had TONS of soup left over) to puree some of the beans, stick them in a tortilla, add cheese and walla- black bean burritos. Sounded yummy to me and with some brown rice and sautéed vegetables I suspected my children's lips would be filled with praise for this wondrous meal.

Their lips were full of something but it wasn't praise. In fact I soon found out last night’s compliance was tonight’s defiance. So I resorted to the time tested, more than one child, proven parenting technique- Bribery!

“If you eat half your burrito you can have a piece of chocolate for dessert.”

I know what you are thinking—“big deal”. Admittedly my starved children not only end up with black beans for dinner I also deprive them of chocolate. I am not a very nice mom am I? (Don’t answer that!)

Skyler driven by her sweet tooth inherited from her dear old mum choked down half the burrito in record time, stopping to gag only once. Blake attempted the trick of mashing up the burrito and spreading it to the perimeters of his plate so it looked half eaten. We really need to show him the spit it in your napkin and ask to go to the bathroom one. Tori just batted her big blue eyes and was awarded chocolate without devouring one bite. My only defense is that she is the third child and really cute.

Unfortunately the only thing my attempt at a "healthy dinner" left me with was hyper children and oodles of uneaten soup.

What was your recent dinner flop? And please don’t tell me you don’t have one because you like Karen create not only yummy gourmet dinners for your family but crème brulee cheesecake to boot!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Treadmill Quiet Times

Saturday evening I retired to bed after saying an “I feel sorry” prayer for my husband as he would be preaching in three Sunday morning services with the first starting at 6:00 A.M. That is some serious stuff…church at 6:00 a.m.! I hope they have Starbucks in Madagascar (where Rich is preaching).

I awoke Sunday morning around 4:00 a.m. to hear my son stirring and neither of us made it back to sleep. You’d think one would have a great quiet time being up that early but it just wasn’t the case for me. When it finally came time to arise and get ready for church my conversation with God began…. “Lord, my spirit is willing but my flesh is weak!’” I shuttered at the thought of getting myself and my 3 kiddos ready and trying to make it to church on time (I think you’ve picked up Rich is not around).

At that moment my little angel (Skyler) said, “Mommy, you had a rough night why don’t you go back to bed and I’ll watch the kids”. That sounded better than the coffee percolating and so I took my ‘mini-mom’ up on her offer. Of course, I almost suffocated myself with the 2 pillows over my head trying to drown out all the noise coming from my precious little ones. How can they get up at 4 a.m., have no legal stimulants in their bodies and have so much energy? Oh, to figure that one out, put it in pill form and patent it…I’d make millions (and not be so tired all the time).

About an hour later I dragged myself out of bed and a foul mood ensued. My thoughts were askew, my attitude terrible…and the list goes on! Something needed to change and quick or it was going to be a long, very bad, no good, horrible day. Yes, a quiet time would be very beneficial but it is considered abuse these days to lock kids in the closet and without that it just wasn’t going to happen. Alternatively, I could kick on some worship music as I sometimes do when these moods come over me and the kids and I dance and sing until mommy is happier but today it was personal. I needed to get alone with God….but where.

So we packed in the car and went to the place I could be alone and do business with God…..the gym. Technically there were other people around so I was not alone but with the kids in the playroom, me on the treadmill and earphones in, I was as close to alone as need be.

Not even 5 minutes in stride and not 1 song through and I was fighting back the tears. 4.5Ks later I was close to falling on my knees in worship (and exhaustion). Wouldn’t that be a sight- smelly, sweaty, emotional girl that can’t sing on her knees mid-workout?

So no I didn’t observe the Sabbath with the usual church-going. I didn’t even crack my bible open during my quiet time. Today I met the Lord at the Throne in work out clothes, sweaty, ugly and desperate to hear from Him. And thankfully the Lord was looking “to and forth throughout the whole earth (even Africa) to show Himself strong on behalf of His child!”

Yes, I believe whole-heartily in quiet times with prayer and bible reading. I also believe in fellowshipping with other believers and I am teaching my children to do both of these. Yet I also believe the Lord sees the heart (not the acts) and warmly welcomes us just as we are!

I pray your week is full of treadmill quiet times!

Friday, April 20, 2007

Roger and Michbert

With the weekend quickly approaching I thought I would share some reviews of recently viewed movies. Please remember I live in Africa so I am sure these are all now rentals that can be found at your local Blockbuster.

Typically, I am not one to volunteer my opinion on movies as I know it can cause quite a controversy but these are all placid, easy going movies with commendable characters…like Hannibal Lector…..JUST KIDDING!

Faith like Potatoes
A friend of mine stuck this in my hands and said you have to watch this (it’s the whole missionary thing).

It is a bit slow at times and not the best production but it is all filmed right here in South Africa. Based on a true story, a washed up Zambian farmer moves his family to South Africa to start fresh. During desperate times he finds God and takes Him at His word. Incredible things begin to transpire and God continues to use Angus Buchan in powerful ways all over the globe.

There is a bonus 54 minute documentary on Angus Buchan that is nothing short of inspiring! A beautiful story of God’s desire to use the meek and the willing!

Just another good ole performance from our beloved canine!
Caution!! There is one scene that can bring great distress to sensitive children. Blake did not blink an eye but Skyler was a wreck!

Pursuit of Happyness
Another slow moving predictable movie yet if given a chance it is a precious story based on true facts.

Meet the Robinsons
I thought this kid’s movie was fantastic! Definitely the best kid’s (and Disney movie for that matter) I have watched in a looooooong time.

I can’t remember one negative word and even the “evil villain” receives a happy ending in this film! The story line is well developed, has a point and is a good one. Despite the fact that the whole futuristic thing wasn’t crystal clear for my little ones it was still good viewing (esp. for $1.25).

Well there is my 2 cents or 0.003 rand! Now it is your turn….give us all a thumbs up movie you’ve recently seen or feel free to give my recommends rebuttal!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Almost Wordless Wednesday

My boy has got some moves! As the saying goes, "The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree!" :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Tuesday Morning with Tori


Skyler and Blake went back to school yesterday. Yahoo…..oh, I mean, too bad…hee!

So now that the three week holiday is over; I want to know when do I get my holiday? I guess that is the universal mom question!

Monday, April 16, 2007

The What Award?

Well Just Mom tagged me as a thinking blogger. Thanks Aisha but honestly I am not sure what I cause people to think about and it is probably safer not to know. (HA)

I read the rules and about the blogger that started this whole thing and honestly I still don’t completely understand the point. I also refuse to use that four letter word that goes along with this award (M_m_ ) on this post or any post hereafter.

Anyway, I am flattered that someone has expressed interest in my blog and feels it causes them to think. I don’t feel I tackle real brain stammering topics and that is done on purpose as I can be quite profound…hee! I am an upbeat; glass is half-full type person that finds this blog thing an outlet of sorts. In turn my posts follow suit. I believe in being real and live in a place where I daily see atrocities that plague good people. But even in hard times I try to find creative, interesting ways to express myself, my feelings and my heart.

I am constantly perplexed at what and with whom this world of blogging has opened up. I am also grateful for new friends, encouragement from across the seas and those that bring a smile to my face day in and day out.

In short, thanks for sticking with me for whatever reason you find you read the franzenfam!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fun Friday

If you give a mom a muffin,
She'll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
So she'll pour herself a cup.
The coffee will get spilled by her three year old.
So, she'll wipe it up.
Wiping the floor, she'll find some dirty socks.
She'll remember she had to do some laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
She'll trip over some snow boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her she has to plan supper for tonight.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She'll look for her cookbook. (101 Things to Make With a Pound of Hamburger)
The cookbook is sitting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
So she will look for the checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She'll smell something funny.
She'll change the two year old.
While she is changing the two year old, the phone will ring (Of Course!)
Her five year old will answer it and hang up.
She remembers that she wants to phone a friend to come over for coffee on Friday.
Thinking of coffee will remind her that she was going to have a cup.
She will pour herself some.
And chances are, if she has a cup of coffee,
Her kids will have eaten the muffin that went with it.

Moral of the story- don't have kids...oops, I meant to say....see what won't happen if you give up coffee!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Thursday with Tori

I haven’t blogged much on my precious two year old, Tori so today is her day and the double 'T' in the title worked out nicely as well.

Tori’s latest response to being told “No”…

Tori when it comes to taking pictures= uncooperative. Thus the need to take what one can get…….

Tori’s favorite person= Daddy! This comes in handy for the early morning wake up calls…she calls for "my daddy".
I was trying so hard to get her cute silver, sparkly shoes in the picture and of course she would not cooperate that I cut off Rich’s head. Oops! These are her favorite shoes by the way, given to her by her Grandma. She calls them her “Papaw shoes” because she refers to her Gran as Papaw (you figure that one out).

Tori enjoying her rather large chocolate Easter egg….
No pictures just bonus ones……
Tori’s favorite phrase, “Me do it”.
Tori’s favorite color, Papel (Purple) which includes most shades of blue and pink.

Tori with a new twist on the African piggy back….

And why is it that every time we plan to take pictures she manages to fall on her face resulting in a pretty bluish-purple bruise. At least it is her favorite color.......

Life with my vivacious Tori is grand!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Wonderful Wednesday

Why is today so wonderful you ask? You did ask didn’t you?

Yes, it is the day the Lord has made so I will rejoice and be glad (after my cup of green not as fun as coffee) in it! No, my kids did not go back to school although most other schools started back today. It is not even the fact that DNA testing confirmed Dannielynn’s real father.....phew, I was losing sleep over that one.

I am celebrating this wonderful Wednesday because after 3 years of living in Africa I have my first dishwasher! And lo and behold it is the same one as Heidi’s….and we have the same dog! (HA)

Yes, you heard me correctly I haven’t had a dishwasher since moving here. Kind of adds to the missionary motif don’t you think? (Insert picture of me fetching water from the river in a dry and desolate land)...Arachnid's climb our house walls, we have no heat in the winter and we daily scrub dishes by hand. Okay, beware of the lightening! And for those of you that don’t know me although all but the water thing are true I love my life here and I can be quite sarcastic at times.

Why did I not have a dishwasher til now? I am not really sure. Granted, I have Lizzy 3 days a week but that leaves over ½ the week of doing endless dishes MYSELF with minuet drying space.

So our pretty dishwasher arrives and I had to laugh as it is definitely an “African” dishwasher and in Africa they like the motto “Less is More.” Except what that means here is you pay more and get less! Most of my American glasses (huge compared to the glasses here) are too tall to fit in the upper tray. And although they show you a pretty picture of how to pack the upper tray neatly with glasses and bowls we, giants, have so many mugs and glasses I can’t fit anything else so the bowls end up in the bottom tray and we continue to use a lot of paper plates. And I won't even mention the exceptionally long wash cycle that is sure to create a spike in the water bill....oh, I just mentioned it didn't I?

Despite my miniature dishwasher that cost a lot of pretty rands (our currency and it is very pretty) I am grateful to rid myself of dishpan hands! It is a wonderful Wednesday!

Monday, April 09, 2007

Fallen Soldier

You may recall my holiday activity botch with my kids. Well you think I would learn but no I try, try again.

Twelve days leading up to Easter we started the Resurrection Eggs. For those of you without children or unfamiliar with these, essentially there are 12 plastic eggs each filled with a scripture verse and a token of sorts that help explain the Easter story. They are readily found in Christian bookstores across America, they can be ordered online, etc. And I am sure they arrive nicely packaged and cleverly put together. Well no such thing here. I can’t even find plastic eggs in my part of the world. So being the clever mom that I am (hee) I decide to make my own.

The kids were excited about what they would find in each day’s egg UNTIL the day we came to the part about the soldiers nailing Christ to the cross and gambling for His clothes. When creating my little eggs I thought it would be fun to put one of Blake’s little plastic soldiers in the egg. You know those little cheap ones you can get 100 for a buck or something ridiculous like that?! Well the little guy would not fit in the egg so I thought what harm would it be to cut off the base? Seems logical hey?

Boy was Blake in for a surprise when he opened the egg that day. His joy turned to tears at the sight of his maimed solider and he gasped, “How could you cut off his legs?” I tried to explain my intentions and point out the fact that it wasn’t his legs that I cut off it was the base but it only made matters worse. When it came time to pray after the scripture reading Blake felt it neccessary to share my blunder with God.

“Lord, I am sorry for what the soldiers did to you and please forgive my mom for destroying all my favorite toys”.

I tried to imagine what the Lord's reaction was.....would I be doomed to penance for ruining my son's toy or did He chuckle and shake His head at His flawed creation? To my credit...and I am glad God is all date this is the only toy I’ve ‘destroyed'! Blake obviously hasn’t learned the Communication 101 rule.....Never use absolutes like all, always, or never when upset!

He was a bit sheepish to see what surprise might be found in the next days egg but I am happy to say we made it to Easter with no other mishap (and lightening did not strike). And Blake forgave me….after I brought home a horde of brand new plastic soldiers.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Remembering His words

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they went to the tomb, taking the spices which they had made ready. And they found the stone rolled back from the tomb.......

....but when they went inside, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. And while they were perplexed and wondering what to do about this, behold, two men in dazzling raiment suddenly stood beside them. And as they were frightened they were bowing their faces to the ground, the men said to them, Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here , but has risen! Remember how He told you while He was still in Galilee.......and they remembered His words! Luke 24

Risen Lord, I pray we remember all you have told us; may we take you at your word!

Happy Easter everyone!!

Friday, April 06, 2007

The End Game

“…now glorify Him so that He may give eternal life to all whom You have given Him. And this is eternal life: to know, to perceive, recognize, become acquainted with, and understand You, the only true and real God, and likewise to know Him, Jesus as the Christ the Anointed One, the Messiah, Whom YOU have sent!” John 17:2-3 amp

I always wondered about choice of wording in “Good” Friday. I understand it is in reference to holy but why not say “Holy Friday”. Using the word good when considering the context of what happened to our Lord on this day just doesn’t seem right.

For me it has become a reminder that God knows and is the Author of the end-game! He knows how it is all going to turn out! When Jesus said, “It is Finished” I believe God said, “It is good”. You won’t find that in the bible rather my own thought process from times of reflection. But it was at that moment, the moment of death, when a “life worth living” (Prov. 3:2 amp) and eternity with the Lord would become possible. Everything that led up to that point…the pain, the suffering, the sacrifice, the abandonment, the dismay, and the despair was necessary for the end result! The end-game was now clear and with God the end-game is always good!

Whatever season of life you are in or what ever you might be facing as you reflect on what Christ did for you, I pray you are able to grasp that the One we serve is ALIVE, knows and has authored your end-game! Regardless the circumstance or what you may need if you’ll hold onto your Father, He knows your end-game and has declared, “It is GOOD!

It is a public holiday here which I think is just awesome. We will enjoy time together as a family celebrating the goodness of a redeemed life, a ressurected Lord and eternity with Him! Now that is a great end game!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Mystery Revealed

I am sure you could hardly sleep last night in anticipation of the answers to yesterday's post. Well they tarry no longer........

1) This is our cosy home?
There is something rather serene about this hut but it IS NOT ours. We reside in a more conventionally (and I use that term lightly) built 3 bedroom, ranch style home.

2) This is our pet zebra?

Now wouldn't that be cool if it was but it IS NOT our pet. Just a precious young one we observed at a safari park.

3) Thousands of people live in communities like this all throughout South Africa?

Unfortunatley YES and NO! Yes, there are these communities sprawled throughtout SA yet the residents number in the millions! We concentrate our efforts on helping people living in areas like these.

4) Rich took this photo?
YES, he did in fact take this photo. Most people don't believe it due to the zebra's symmetrical pose.

5) This is Lizzy our maid?
YES, this is in fact Lizzy (Elizabeth) or precious maid and dear friend. She is with us 3 days a week and helps me with the kids during very busy ministry seasons, allowing me to be involved in our ministy. Now before you alert all our partners to our lavish life style (insert sarcasm) let me share (justify..hee) that it is very different than our American take on maids. It is a common job for many African women and in a country of 45% unemployment a very highly viewed and valid source of employment. It is also inexpensive!

6) This big guy was found inside our house?
Where I have found one of these HUGE guys in our house (I screamed like a baby and made Lizzy kill it) this one WAS NOT inside my house but in the house of a brave (or crazy) friend of mine that captured it for blogging purposes.

7) When boredom kicks in we paint our faces and get down with some living room tribal dancing?
I enjoyed your creative answers therefore I choose not to disclose whether it is True of False but rather allow your imaginations to create the true story. wink wink!

8) I have not had so much as a drop of coffee for 17 days?
Do you really think I could go without coffee for more than 2 weeks? Well you of little faith in me! YES, I have not had a drop of coffee for now 18 days! Thank you very much mockers....not to mention any names (begins with the Sh blend and ends in ona).

Thanks for playing (I think)!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Photo Fact or Fiction

This post was inspired by Heidi's revelations. I thought it would be fun to share a few African aspects of our life and let you decide how true they are. Ready, Fact or Fiction......

1) This is our cosy home?

2) This is our pet zebra?

3) Thousands of people live in communities like this all throughout South Africa?

4) Rich took this photo?

5) This is Lizzy our maid?

6) This big guy was found inside our house?

7) When boredom kicks in we paint our faces and get down with some living room tribal dancing?

8) I have not had so much as a drop of coffee for 17 days?

So what do you think....Fact or Fiction?

Monday, April 02, 2007

Hometown Excitement

We don’t get much American TV here. We have 3 channels and 1 of them is in Afrikaans. My ignorance in ‘what is hot’ on TV becomes more apparent when I read some of your blogs. It took me a while to decipher the reference to Jack Bauer….but don’t worry I figured out (my “in” husband keeps me up to date). One show I do know and I really miss is Extreme Home Makeovers. We got it here for a while. It was probably the first season and aired at 10:00 p.m. on Friday nights. That typically isn’t the best time for me but I didn’t care it always provided me with a nice good night cry!

Well the exciting news is EHM did their season finale home in Clifton Park, NY. It is the town next to Schenectady, NY where my husband grew up and his parents still live. (By the way, if you ever meet my husband ask him the best way to remember the pronunciation of Schenectady.)

The contractors that facilitated the building of the house are long time friends of the Franzens. They called my (single and available) brother in-law, Ronnie to help. He was assigned to work with Page on her room. He spent 2 days working on a bedroom with her. I think he enjoyed it!

Here are a few pics.

The Crew amidst the building (over 3,500 square feet)
Ronnie and Page...I chose the title, "Her Cup(s) Runneth Over " (sorry just could not resist)

A glimpse of the bedroom and Page

The finished product. Sounds really nice!

I asked Ronnie if he scored a date with Page and he just chuckled. Wouldn't that be great if they hooked up?! They could spend their honeymoon in SA....just think of the wonders they could do for my house. Not that this is about me at all....hee!
The 2 hour finale will air on May 20th. Watch and cry for me!