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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A short post with a life lesson.

It's been kindof a frustrating week at the Franzen household.  Mama bear had strep, followed by some awful flu-from-hell something-or-other that kept me out of commission for 5 days.  Papa bear was a saint, keeping watch over the rowdy, ill-behaved rugrats with the worst case of cabin fever... All the while dealing with a bum back!  So while I kindof feel like I could whine & moan about that for my blog post, I won't.  Instead, I'd like to share with you a life lesson my children taught me this weekend...

Saturday night, since Mama was feeling pretty miserable, the kiddos decided they'd like to have a slumber MY cheer me up.  At first I thought, "ugh, great, just what I need; a sleepless night!"  But then quickly warmed up to the idea, as I am a sucker for snuggling with my babes.  In fact, nothing in this world makes me happier than doing just that!  So we jumped in our jammies, brushed our toofers, climbed up the World's Tallest Bed (i.e., the "WTB" - it really is, it's ridiculous) piled on our favorite blankies, stuffed animals, etc., and cozied in for a good night's sleep.  Mama was exhausted, and thought maybe the monkeys were too, since they had been terrorizing the house all day long.  But sadly, I was wrong.  Giggle, giggle.  10 minutes passed.  Chatter, chatter.  Another 10 minutes.  Flip, flop, toss & turn, another 10.  Mama was about ready to boot her little snuggle bugs outta the WTB when finally, at long last... silence.  For three.  Whole. Minutes.

Then.  Out of the darkness came the sweetest, most angelic little voice:

"I got a booger!  Here'go, Asha!"

A drowsy little voice mumbled groggily, "Eww, Noah.  Just wipe it on your blankie and quit buggin' me." Then she flipped over as if nothing happened, and went right back to sleep.

I had to bury my face in the pillow to keep from giggling aloud.  And there it was.  My lesson of the week:

When life hands you a booger, just wipe it off and go back to bed.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011


There's a storm a'brewin'!

The storm in my mind, I'm trying to remember... the storm outside, I'm trying to forget!

Everyone in my generation and older who lives in this 'neck of the woods' very likely remembers the Big Storm of '97.  It was in April, it was massive, and it led to devastating flooding.  The tantrum Mother Nature is throwing tonight somewhat reminds me of that storm.  This rain-turned-slush and high winds with rapid accumulations seems to resemble that storm quite a bit.  Tonight as I checked my weather app on my cell phone, and later paged through the cancellation notices on the TV station's website to find out if gymnastics was still on, I couldn't help but think how different things are now than they were a few short years ago!

I remember the '97 blizzard so clearly, it's almost like it didn't happen14 years ago!  The night it started, my brother & I got permission to go to town to see a movie at the "Show Hall" (yeah, I know this wasn't the 1950's. This is seriously what we did, and probably still do, call the movie theater in my hometown).  My Dad surprisingly let us out of the house, considering he knew there was a storm a'brewin' (I bet he used that exact term too), but we were happy to get out & about for the evening!

When we entered the "Show Hall" at about 7pm, the streets were dry and a light mist had just begun to fall.  By the time we left under 2 hours later, there was a good 4 inches of snoicesh (snowy ice slush?) on the streets.  We knew this wasn't good.  So we dropped my cousin off at home and headed out on the old country highway the 10 miles to our farm.  Doesn't sound like a bad drive, you might say?  You might.  If you weren't the one driving my 46-ft long 1981 Mercury Marquis Banana Boat tank with rear-wheel drive and bald tires.  Being the cautious teenage driver I was (stop the snickering, Seth) it took us nearly an hour to drive those 10 miles.  As we finally made it to where we could see our yardlight, we noticed my dad driving right toward us with the tractor lights blaring.  He had come to look for us.  Oh shit.  This was not good, folks.  Not good at all. 

Now you have to remember that this was a time where a cell phone was something we'd never even seen other than in movies, let alone haul along with us at all times (because remember, they weighed like 12 pounds and had to have a 6-ft whip antenna?)  Dad was pissed that we didn't call from Grandma's, or Heidi's, or "Idon'tcarewheregoddammitjustcall!" before we'd left town, and Mom of course had crafted in her imagination a fine tale of our untimely demise in the crevasses of ice and canyons of snow that had of course developed in the road ditches in those 3 hours... and made Dad fire up the tractor to come dig us out.  It was a long & stressful night, so the 'rents at least had mercy on us and let sleep before the ultimate ass-chewing they would most certainly bestow upon us at dawn.

But morning came with high winds, several feet of snow, and a power outage.  Which lasted 3 days.  So not only did we get the Chuck Christman Lecture of a Lifetime Special, we got to hear it over and over again.  For 3 whole days.  That's what you'd call a captive audience I guess.  Worse yet, it was cold enough outside that we had to fire up the old propane furnace and sleep huddled together around it in our basement so we didn't die in our sleep from hypothermia.  So there I was, sandwiched between Darth Vader and Buzzsaw McSnorysnore, lying awake and debating the pros and cons of going back upstairs to sleep in my 41-degree bedroom rather than put up with these jokers.  Turns out, we had plenty of blankets, so I sequestered myself in my icebox, and that's where I spent the remainder of the power-less days, probably stewing about how much it was going to suck being grounded for who-knows-how-long.  Definitely a memorable storm.  Glad it hasn't happened since!

Oh, and by the way:  I still call home before I head out on a trip home, especially under inclement weather conditions. So lesson learned, Chuckles.  Lesson learned.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vacation, All I Ever Wanted...

It was a blustery, overcast February morning when some of my colleagues and I gathered at the bustling Hector International Airport to board our little puddle-jumper. According to our pilot, the air temp was 9 degrees. So long, Fargo. Two somewhat turbulent hours later we landed in Denver (a whopping 37 degrees warmer in the Mile High City). A hop, skip & another 2 hours later, we arrived in gorgeous, balmy Phoenix Sky Harbor airport. As we pulled our luggage off the carousel, we walked out the doors and immediately threw our coats in the trash. (ok, we didn't do that, but we felt like doing it!) A half-hour cab ride took us to our aaaaaahmazing resort, just in time for a breathtaking sunset:

The stunning view from in front of our hotel.
We did have to share a room, which scared me a smidge at first, but after getting to know mine better, I couldn't have asked for a better roomie! In fact, I'm pretty thankful because I kindof felt like a gained a new friend. She's one smart and funny lady who put up with my shenanigans all week without complaint! So this hotel is where we'd spend the next 4 days for our Premier National offsite event. Four glorious days, away from the arctic north and savoring the deserts' warmth. Four heavenly days, basking in the sun's rays, soaking up that desperately-needed Vitamin D. Four fabulous days, enjoying the… what? WHAT?!! What do you mean they're not letting us outside ANY of the days? You've. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me.
There will be NO enjoying this.
Aah, but alas, they were not kidding me. We unfortunately DID have to spend the majority of our daylight hours in the conference center. The air-conditioned conference center where the air temperature resembled that of… you got it: Fargo. Don't you think it's a little mean to ship 34 poor souls from the tundra down south where it's a good 70 degrees warmer than it is back home, only to make them stay indoors the entire time? We looked like sad little puppies at the pet store, licking the glass, hoping and praying that someone would take pity and let our pasty selves out for corn sake!

the view from our hotel room

But we Fargo people are hearty. We make the best of whatever situation we're put in. And what the hell, at least we weren't stuck in Fargo. So we did what any good North Dakotan would do: we drank a lot of beer. They were feeding it to us for free after all. And it made us care a whole lot less that we only got to go outside after dark. I behaved much like my former college self the entire week -- little sleep, way too much consumption of adult beverages, and having far too much fun with my new friends. I had no kids to wake me up at 6 am, no laundry awaiting, no supper to put on the table, so I suppose I just let loose a little!

The first night at the resort - our "welcome dinner" (i.e. open bar!)
In the evenings, we frequented a local establishment which had no walls. With beach sand under the tables. And tiki torches. And a wading pool. So we pretended we were at the beach. The next morning, we wondered where all that sand came from, but we pressed onward. We hung out in the pool area at midnight, where it was a pleasant 60 degrees. Hotel patrons walked by in jackets and shivered just looking at us, while we laid on the concrete and gazed at the stars while we marveled at how much it resembled Fargo in July -- minus the 7-pound mosquitos.

Pretty cool, huh!?
Nonetheless, the sessions we attended (the reason we were there in the first place!) were actually really fun, and I learned a lot. Plus I met some great colleagues from all over the country, as well as got to know some of my home teammates a lot better.
Me with a couple of the lovely Fargo ladies.

At any rate, they fed our group quite well the entire week, and did some fun stuff for us after-hours too. We had a game night which included casino games, Minute to Win It games, and some major Dance Central throw-downs. During the sessions, they gave away great door prizes (probably to keep us from running away to float down the Lazy River). I was the lucky recipient of a sweet new smartphone… though I had to do a little obliterating to get it. Yes, the crowd eagerly cheered me on as I annihilated my piece of #$&% smart phone (it was a 'competitor' phone OS. Yup, that's a real hammer. Like "we're smashing the competition")

Smashy bang-bang, no more sucky phone for Shanna.

And then this is what it looked like after I asserted my true feelings about its incompetence...

No worries, I got a cool new Samsung Focus for doing this. But I can't use it in Fargo yet (it's AT&T).  Whoopsy. So I've gotta wait until Sprint releases their new Windows Phone 7 next week before I get a new one. (My wicked awesome company is buying it for me. I'll even show ya if you say "pretty please".) I'm phoneless in the meantime, but I'm not missing it one bit so far!
For our mid-week event, they took us to a place called "Rawhide", which was sortof like a cross between Deadwood and Medora (less gambling, more gunfighting). The trip had a little hiccup with our catering order, because instead of having enough food for 150 people they had about enough for 15. So a posse of 135 hungry people (who had also been given free drink tickets, mind you) moseyed on down the dusty trail to the steak house. Where we were promptly turned away. But my clever colleague somehow managed to get us a table, so I was one of the lucky few that got to enjoy a huge steak dinner while the rest of those poor suckers meandered about looking to rustle up a lizard or squirrel for dinner.
The yummiest steak dinner.
We ravenously gobbled up our steaks with guilty consciences (err, maybe not so much) fully expecting to see our counterparts weeping in the streets from hunger when we left the restaurant. Quite the contrary: they found out the bar attached to the steak house was serving $0.25 bottles of Bud Light during happy hour! We had some catching up to do… before I knew it, I was challenging my manager to a mechanical bullride contest, sporting the little $5 pink cowboy hat I had bought for the Princess at the gift store. My smart-ass co-workers stood by and chanted "Rodeo Queen! Rodeo Queen!" as I hopped on my first bull... only to be dumped off 3 seconds later by the a-hole ride operator who thought it would be funny to turn the sucker on full-tilt when I got on. I tried a second time, made it the full 8 and landed on my feet upon dismount just like a good rodeo queen should. Somewhere along the way I had dislocated my thumb, but amidst my lack of sobriety and the adrenaline from my rodeo rendezvous, I must'a missed that little detail.

I may not wear a sparkly sequined shirt anymore, but I've still got a little shine on the ol' crown. 
Not sure if jumping back on a mechanical bull with a busted up thumb was what my Dad meant
when he said, "Cowboy Up and get right back on that horse..."
So when Friday finally rolled around, I was a little torn about leaving. On one hand, it was the best week I'd had in years. On the other hand, I felt like crap and needed about a 12-hour nap. During my "ride of shame" back to the airport, I may have had to ask the chauffeur to pull the town car over so I could, um, hurl at the side of the freeway. Ugh. The rest of the plane ride home was uneventful, and boy was I ever happy to see my two little munkchins (and my one big one too!) when I got back home. 
It was a hell of a week. Rumor has it we'll be doing this offsite once a year. I'm guessing it'll take me exactly that long to recuperate from this year's monkey business.  See what happens when they let me out of the house?

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

I'm Baaaaaack...

Oh my poor, neglected blog. 2 months ago I made some resolutions (not really your typical New Year's resolutions, but more like promises made to myself). So the blogging in my spare time (what little of that I had left) was the first thing to go! I took a little hiatus, but I'm going to try to work some posts in more frequently. Maybe I'll head back to those regular "Time Machine Tuesday" postings?

The first big change was that The Hubs & I made a commitment to cook healthier and eat better. To us, that meant enjoying home-cooked meals together. It meant a lot more planning and more work preparing meals, but it has totally been worth it. We have grocery lists, and menu lists, and stocked up freezer and crock pots and the whole shebang. I know it sounds old-fashioned, but there is something to be said about that family time around the table… listening to Miss Chatterbox talk about the latest daycare gossip, or Mister Messy Face demand "moah 'tatos", and just sharing our day with each other. It's time we've found to be extremely valuable and I wouldn't go back if you paid me to!

We'd also been having some food battles with the little Miss of late, so we started a new "program" to help with that: if she ate what we put in front of her without complaint all week, then we set aside one night a week where she gets to be the boss. So "Asha Picks Night" (Friday) was implemented, and with HUGE success! There's no limits, she can choose whatever she wants to eat either at home (usually Tacos) or out (surprisingly varying in selection!) and we ALL have to eat what she chooses without complaint. As a result, we have had very little resistance from her the rest of the week because she can't wait to pick her current fave on Friday night.

I've started a couple things "just for me" too. I vowed to start doing some things for myself that I really enjoy, which in turn makes me less stressed and indirectly, a better parent I suppose? So I finished a couple books, and got some little projects done around the house. Also, since I enjoy watching TV, and I need to/want to work out so I went for a two-fer. I had about 6 episodes apiece of my favorite TV shows saved up, but they kept getting pushed aside for episodes of Blues Clues and iCarly. So I hooked up a bigger monitor to the desktop computer we have in the storage/crafting/workout/office room and now I watch episodes of the TV shows I love on Hulu while running on the elliptical every night! Win-win!!

I'd been having that creative urge again lately, so I've been sporadically working on some digital scrapbooking in the evenings after the kids go to bed and after my workout. Mostly just trying to get that hard drive full of digital pics of my kiddos organized into something tangible. It has been a daunting task, but quite a walk down memory lane. I also had the opportunity to do some fun video editing stuff lately (more on that in another post soon to come). But I also started writing. Not blogging writing, but something else. I can't tell you what just yet, but I promise my blog followers will be among the first to know! (mwah-ha-ha, sounds cryptic, no?). And that has been taking up quite a bit of that elusive "spare time" of mine as well.

Add to all that the fact that I got the opportunity to take not one, but TWO week-long trips out of town for work, and suffice it to say that when I got home from those trips, the munchkins didn't let me out of their sight for a full week for fear I'd leave them again. Not that Daddy didn’t do a perfectly wonderful job of caring for them in my absence, but…he's just not Mommy.

So I apologize to my devoted readers (both of you!) for the lack of blog posts since the beginning of 2011. Never fear, I haven't run out of things to say! Haha! But now that we're getting a little more accustomed to the new changes we've made, and now that the days are getting longer (though the weather not so much warmer) I'm planning on devoting one night a week to getting back to my usual shenanigans.
Let me give you a little TMT "catch-up" of our life over the past 2 months:
We had our very first sleepover...

Went to daycare in our PJ's...

We've reunited with old friends…
Got fashionable...

Raised a little hell with our buddies… 
Got a new big-boy haircut...
Celebrated a very belated Christmas with some great friends…

Snuggled to stay warm in this ridiculous arctic weather…
Hung out with family...

And celebrated Daddy's #32 birthday... (and no, he hadn't been drinking in this pic. 
He will probably kill me for posting it for all the world to see,
but I think it happens to be a hilarious photo of him, and it's my blog, so there.)

And look at that!  It's 11:30pm.  I need my beauty rest, so it's goodbye for tonight.  Stay tuned for next week's post: More on my travels to faraway lands. Thanks for coming back! I've missed you!