Monday, November 28, 2011

They grow up so fast

Strider, Colsen, and their cousin Nate apparently decided to participate in No-Shave November:

And my littlest guy was working hard to be like my Big Guy....

There was a whole lot of manliness at the camp this past weekend.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Franksgiving, 2011

This year's was, in my opinion, our best Franksgiving yet!

In keeping with our Tour of Camps tradition, the extended Frank family visited a new camp this year for Thanksgiving.  We stayed from Wednesday until Saturday, and it was a lovely place!   Right here in North Carolina (we loved our short drive), the camp is called Hickory Cove and it's right on a lake. 

This was the view from my bed each morning:
One of the best features of the camp was the nice big kitchen.  It definitely was useful for preparing the big Thanksgiving dinner:

And the dining hall was plenty big enough for our 23-member family to eat together!

Besides cooking and eating, we also got to do crafts, play a Not-So-Newleywed Game, hike, canoe, play football and soccer, and hang out together. 

And we had a little early Christmas time, too...

All in all, it was a very nice, relaxed, happy time.  We are grateful for a beautiful spot and a chance to play and talk to our far-away family members.

(In the picture above, Nate is being goofy, Colsen insisted on being cross-eyed, and Andrew was sleeping -- it's been a hard year at the Academy.)

It is fun to see all the cousins together.... college students, high school student, middle school student, elementary school students, and preschoolers. Next time we all gather one of those cousins will be getting married! The family continues to grow.... another thing to be thankful for.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Things I'm thankful for: Family

The extended Frank family at Hickory Cove Camp today....
Strider, especially, seems to be really excited to be with his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thankful for...

I once heard a Chinese fable that went something like this: 

Many years ago, a wise peasant lived in China. He had a son who was the apple of his eye and a fine white stallion, which everyone admired. One day his horse escaped from his grounds and disappeared. The villagers came to him one by one and said: "You are such an unlucky man. It is such bad luck that your horse escaped." The peasant responded: "Who knows. Maybe it's bad, maybe it's good." The next day the stallion returned followed by 12 wild horses. The neighbours visited him again and congratulated him for his luck. Again, he just said: "Who knows. Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad."
The next day his son attempted to break in one of the wild horses when he fell down and broke his leg. Once more, everyone came with their condolences: "It's terrible." Again, he replied: "Who knows. Maybe it's bad, maybe it's good."
A few days passed and his poor son was limping around the village with his broken leg, when the emperor's army entered the village announcing that a war was starting and they required all the young men of the village to join the army. However, they left behind the peasant's son since he had a broken leg. Everyone was extremely jealous of the peasant. They talked about his sheer good luck, while the old man just muttered: "Who knows. Maybe it's good, maybe it's bad."       --This particular version I found on this site.

The moral of the story, or the application, is apparently the idea that you can never fully know whether things that happen are for good or bad.

Today, I am thankful that we do not have to live this way!  We know that everything that happens is for our good because we have a God who gives good things to His children all the time.  As Ann Voskamp often says and Shaun Groves sings, "All is grace."   I've heard people say sometimes that they may give their child "grace" instead of a punishmen they deserve.  That is grace.... but the discipline or consequence is also grace.  If we had a God who did not discipline or give consequences in a consistent way, this would be a hopeless, chaotic world.  Even the hard things that happen is grace.... and worthy of thanks-giving.

So I can be thankful for
....the plans that do not go my way,
...for my failures,
...for the broken things around me,
....for the conflicts and hard times. 
These, too, are good gifts from my Father in Heaven.  Sometimes I may not see why they are good... but I can trust the Hand which gave them.

It is good to live.... "so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God."  (2 Cor. 4:15)

This Thanksgiving I thank Him for the big and the small, the fun and the uncomfortable... 
the gathering of a big family, the beauty of a lake-side camp, the lack of sleep, the failed zucchini-blueberry bread, the soccer game with the kids, chopping sweet potatoes, the bumps and bruises on my boys' heads, the warm sunshine, the trees losing their leaves, a busy kitchen with too many pies, canoes on the lake, and an unknown future.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good;  for His steadfast love endures forever!" - 1 Chron. 16:34

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Things I'm thankful for: Hearing my children pray

One of my greatest joys is hearing the kids pray.  They all have different things they emphasize....

...One of them is always the first to say he wants to pray.  Even if someone else is chosen to lead the prayer, he insists he must join in as well.  I love his enthusiasm in talking to God.

...One of them usually remembers to pray for missionaries and hurting people around the world.  She also says things like "Thank you that I can repent.  I won't do ___ again."  I love her faith in how big and attentive God is.

...One of them is very worshipful, usually throwing in phrases like about how awesome God is and how much he loves Him.  He often says things like, "Thank you God for all the trees and all the beautiful things you made.  And thank you God that I love you."  I love how passionate he is about God.

...And one of them is very purposeful and thoughtful in his prayers, asking God to deeper things than I would have thought of.  I love his innocent and growing faith.

It is a precious thing to be in the presence of child-faith.

(The child pictured above is......can you guess??.....  Strider, many years ago.  :)  )

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Things I'm thankful for: Renters!

When we got an email last week from a man inquiring about renting our house here while we are overseas, we were pretty sure it was our friend Darol playing a practical joke on us.  First of all, the man's name is almost exactly like Pete's name -- only 2 letters different in his whole name.  Secondly, when Pete told him the date we would be leaving the country, the man responded that that was the exact day he and his fiancee are getting married.  And then when Pete told him we are planning to go to Moldova, the man told him that he has recently been on a mission trip there.  We thought this was just too many coincidences.... so it must be a scam.
But, as it turns out, not only was this man legitimate, but there were even more connections between us!  When the young couple came over to look at our house, we discovered the following:
  • Not only has the man been to Moldova, but he actually stayed at the house of the missionary that I've been corresponding with over there (the same one that is a friend of a friend of my friend in Kenya -- the small world story I wrote about earlier).
  • His fiancee has been to Romania a few times, and loves the Romanian language (which we are currently learning)
  • They know one of our neighbors, and a friend from our church
  • The man is the oldest of 5 kids (just like me)
  • The woman is the youngest of 4 kids (just like Pete)
  • They both were homeschooled (just like our kids)
  • I've heard the woman's mom give a couple of talks before, so I've heard a lot about her family
  • The woman's brother went to Grove City College (which I remembered hearing from the mom)

But the most exciting news was that they do want to rent our house, so we are thrilled that there will be someone here to take care of things while we're gone.  And we couldn't have asked for a better couple! 

We're very thankful for how God has woven all of this together.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Strider's thoughts on the medical field

We were driving in the car the other day, and I used the word "saliva" as I was describing something.  Strider immediately interrupted and said,  "Ooooohhhh... Don't say that word! I can't stand the word saliva!"  And this is how the conversation progressed:

Me:  Saliva! Saliva!
Strider: Mom! Stop! I almost want to throw up!
Me:  Man, Strider, if you're ever going to be a doctor, you are going to have to get tougher than that!
S: I am NEVER going to be a doctor. That is the one job I would rather be a garbage man instead of. I don't care if doctors make $20,000 more.
Me: I think the salary difference is much more than that.
S:  Wait, really? A lot more?
Me: Well, it depends what kind of doctor you are. If you do the harder stuff, you get paid more.
S:  Like what? What is the hard stuff?
Me: Like being a brain surgeon or something.
S: Oh well I could do THAT! That wouldn't be hard. I just couldn't ever do the stuff like pulling gummy bears out of kids' noses!
(Strider is reading over my shoulder as I write this, and says I shouldn't even post it.  He thinks it's "too gross" and no one wants to read this.  He predicts no one will ever want to read this blog again.  But I still want to record it anyway, so oh well!)

Friday, November 18, 2011

Please vote!

Please vote for Strider’s video!  He and his teammates have entered the ReelMath video contest.  The assignment was to do a short story about a math problem, which doesn’t sound all that thrilling, but I think they did a good job trying to make it entertaining.  (You can get a quick glimpse of the problem* they did in the book Strider is reading towards the beginning of the video)  They put a LOT of work into this production, including making ALL of those little blocks! 

Here is the link:

There are some nice prizes at stake… but first they have to get through this “popular” round of voting.  For those of you who are either compulsive or bored, you can vote every day for the next 2 and a half months.  (It’s going to be a loooong 75 days around here.)
The good news is you don’t have to log in or register or create a password or anything!  Just keep clicking “Like.”  J

Strider thanks you!

*Here's the problem:  What is the maximum number of  1" x 1"x 3" blocks that will fit into a box with interior dimensions of 5" x 5" x 10"?
(Answer:  83)

Thursday, November 17, 2011


After we finished reading a short biography on Benjamin Franklin recently, Colsen walked up the stairs saying, "Sometime will there be a book that says, 'There was a boy named Colsen and he lived in 1996 --' wait... is it 1996?"

I answered, "Well, actually it's 2011, and you were born in 2006."

"Ok," he said. "So it will say, 'He was born in 2006, and he lived in 2011.' And then it will tell about all the good things I do, like making things and helping people. Because I really like to help people, right? Yeah, 'cuz I don't like it when they're sick, or when they're sad."

I'd love to read that biography someday!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Practicing for Moldova?

We've been told that there are virtually no clothes dryers in Moldova, so I've been mentally preparing for the fact that we'll be drying all of our clothes on a clothesline once we get there.  I love to dry clothes outside when the weather is nice, but have never tried doing it indoors.

So I was happy to walk into the dining room one morning and see that Miles had taken it upon himself to give a try.  (He had pulled my clothesline out and strung it up on some chairs.)

I was even happier when I realized he had attracted some helpers!  Maybe this will be a daily endeavor come January....

Monday, November 14, 2011


According to my Random Number Generator (a.k.a. the boy who picked the number out of a bowl), this was the winner:
.... Which means Commenter # 8 receives her choice of prize! 
Karen Boyer, Honey-Ginger-Molasses Cookies will be heading your way!  :)

(By the way, I've had a few people tell me that they still can't figure out how to comment here.  So I did a little experimenting and found that sometimes I had to hit "submit" 2 or 3 times-- without retyping what I wrote.  So please just be persistent if you have something to say.   :)  )

Friday, November 11, 2011

Farewell Mr. Keane

This week Bil Keane, the man who seemed to have known my family so well -- even before we were born -- passed away.

 As a child I loved reading his cartoons, and as an adult I've loved even more watching the cartoons play out in front of my eyes.  It is quite fun living with a Billy, Dolly, Jeffy and PJ... even if I'm not as tall and slender as the mom portrayed in the strip.

Just this morning, I asked, "Who poured this too-full cup of water here?"  and Strider answered, "N.M.!".... which I realized, because I've been here awhile, stood for "Not Me."  Not Me, coincidentally, was also around the Family Circus kids a lot, too.  He's a ubiquitous little guy.

 I've already chronicled several times when life parallels Family Circus art, but here are a few more that I thought seemed all too familiar...

I've been happy to hear that Mr. Keane's son has taken over the comic strip, so we probably still have many chuckles in our future.... and if he ever runs out of material, he's welcome to come visit our house for a little while.

(Here is a link to an article about Bil Keane, if you're interested.  Thank you, Heather, for sending it to me!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

For the future

Dear Future Milo --

I want you to know someday what kind of toddler you have been, because you sure are... well, fascinating.  And someday when you're complaining that your parents seem to have no energy, maybe you'll now realize that your 2-year old self helped to sap that energy at a far faster pace than one would think possible.

If I had to sum you up in just a few words... well, I couldn't.  And since this is my blog and I have all the space I need, I'll just use all the words I want.  But some of the key words that come to mind are:  commanding, contrary, and cute.  Oh look, your mom is so alliterative.

Lately your dad and I have been both cracking up and getting extremely exasperated at your desire to tell everyone how it should be.  You're very bossy.  You know what you like and aren't afraid to share that information with the rest of us.  For some reason, your older siblings often cave to your demands -- and you are outraged if anyone ever tries to thwart you.  When you're riding in the car, you often say yell things from the backseat like, "Stop!  No, no going home!  No, turn LEFT!  I said stop!  Don't go that way!  NO! NO!"  I often hear you yelling, "Yes, I MAM the BOSS!" when we try to tell you that you are not.

Since the reality is you must share your living space with several other people, you have found ways to adapt and try to rise above the crowd.  Several times a day you talk over others, saying things like, "I'M TALKING!  LISTEN TO ME!  LOOK IN MY FACE!  ANSWER ME!"  A shy, retiring petunia you are not.

You also like to argue with just about anything you can argue about, and some things you can't.  For instance, a couple days ago I went up to your room and found you lying in your crib.  The whole room was hot because the sun was streaming in, and when I picked you up, this was our conversation:

Me:  Oh, sweetie, you're so hot.
You:  No.  I'm not hot!  I'm cold!

In the middle of the night this week you've woken up a few times.  In each case, this is what transpired:

Daddy:  Miles, do you need to go potty?
You:  NO!  No potty!
Daddy:  Well, let's go anyway.
You (in the bathroom):  NO!  NO!  NO POTTY!!
Weary Daddy:  Ok, then.  Let's just go back to your crib.
{He puts you back in your crib and comes back to bed.  Then 20 seconds later...}
You:  Daddy!  I need to go potty!

Yes, this was repeated each night.  Daddy is a slow learner in the middle of the night.  Guess who makes him so tired!

Ah Milo, God has surely given you a strong will.  May He channel that strength into zeal for following Him. 

And may He let this contrariness be just a stage.

Love,  Mom

Monday, November 7, 2011

Colsen is 5! (And air show pics)

The big day finally arrived, after 2 days of partying!

As part of today's celebration, we went to the air show here at our local airport (right in Monroe!).  It was awesome!  There were planes doing tricks, parachuters, old-timey airplanes, battle scenes, and explosions that made our faces hot.  What else could you want?

It was fun having the Drescher's and Kai join us, too.

I think this post wouldn't be complete without any classic Colsen convo's, so here are 2 birthday-related ones from this week...

Me: So what do you want for your birthday breakfast?
Cole: A DONUT!
Me: Well.... ok. But I also want you to have something healthy.
Cole: I will! I'll have an onion donut and an egg donut.
(Obviously, we don't eat a lot of donuts around here)

On the night before his birthday...
Me:  What big day is it tomorrow??
Cole:  Your birthday.
Me:  Mine?!  I thought it was yours!
Cole:  I'm giving it to you.  I have to work tomorrow instead.

He's been a funny and sweet 4-year old... can't wait to see what he's like as a 5-year old! We love our Cole-man!