Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Rocky Start

We have spent a lot of time searching for a golden retriever puppy. Boy are they hard to come by, at a reasonable price that is. Here's Daisy, the newest member of the Franz family. We adore her. She was 7 lbs. and 7 weeks old when we brought her home.
After one week she had a little accident, we think. We're actually not sure what happened but we came home from church and Daisy wouldn't walk on one of her hind legs. I took her to the animal ER and after an exam and x-rays we found out her ankle was broken. Poor little one. They put a cast on which lasted only a week before she outgrew it.

Here she is on vacation in Big Bear at ll lbs., sporting cast #2 which hopefully comes off tomorrow. 

Friday, January 31, 2014

Gilbert Arizona Temple Open House

The Cousins

The Franzes and Porters

Temples are an essential part of the LDS belief system. We believe they are literally the house of the Lord. And with that in mind, are constructed using the greatest architecture, the finest furnishings, the most exquisite woodwork, and decorated with the best artwork. Before a temple is dedicated making it closed to the public, an open house is held where anyone, LDS or not, can walk through to view the inside of the temple. The Gilbert Arizona Temple open house is going on right now. We had a 4-day weekend so we drove to AZ to walk through the temple. I was so excited for my kids to see the inside of the temple and they weren't disappointed. It was gorgeous. 

Mere Christianity

I find it fascinating attending other Christian churches. I am intrigued by their rituals, interpretation of biblical doctrine, and most of all music. Over the years I've attended baptisms, weddings, funerals, and regular church services when invited. I even played the organ for a Catholic wedding in Spain (while wearing my missionary name tag). As I sit in these churches I always browse through their hymn books to find the songs we have in common, the hymns they are lacking, and the ones inadvertently left out of our LDS books. While I feel a special and unique spirit while attending LDS services, I cannot deny I find some peace in these other Christian services as well. It usually happens when they talk of the doctrine of Christ, the belief we all share.

I was looking for this peace when I attended a particular Christian church service in December. The high school drumline was performing the final humber at the service, a rousing rendition of the Hallelujah Chorus percussion style, so we all went to show our support for Nicholas and the boys. The service consisted mainly of music, Christian rock music, played by a professional rock band and several professional singers. The lights were low, the stage lit up in various colors, moving lights were on the walls and ceiling, and close-ups were on the enormous screens on either side of the stage. This was Christianity a-la-Vegas. Joe referred to it as the Church of the Rock Band, shaking his head in disbelief. Abby thought it was "definitely different", Jonathan "hated it", and Maddie thought it was "awesome". Nicholas who was backstage during every performance, finally snuck into the worship center for the 6th and final service on Christmas Eve so he could see what all the fuss was about. He called it "weird".

I always try to find something redeeming in every church service I attend but I have to say this one was a bit of a head scratcher. I finally did realize that this church, despite it's rather rough exterior and loud way of worshiping, is doing some incredible service in the local community. Whether it's collecting items for the homeless, assisting children in poverty, or helping the veterans, their influence is vast and their aid received with love and gratitude. And this is Christianity at it's best.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Christmas 2013

Two weeks before Christmas the boys received a special early Christmas beds. They had been complaining about their bunk beds for some time. These growing boys with adult-sized bodies needed a box-spring and mattress set as opposed to a thin mattress on top of a hard board. They needed a bed with a simple frame so their feet could hang off the edge. On Christmas morning they got the faux-down bedspreads and they are in love with those for sure. 

As the tradition goes, the kids wait patiently on the stairs to head down together on Christmas morning.

This is what was hiding in those big boxes...a 3/4 size classical guitar and stand for Maddie. She was absolutely thrilled and has already learned several chords. 
Can you tell Abby was a little excited to get an American Girl doll?
After Christmas we spent a couple of days at the cabin in Big Bear with grandparents and cousins.

Monday, January 27, 2014

a dyslexia discovery, part 14

The other day I asked Jonathan if he had gotten his Social Studies report back, anxious to see his final grade. He was so excited to tell me that he got an A, 90%. I was curious to know why 10 points were taken off so he showed me the report booklet along with the grading sheet. The teacher marked a check by each completed point and then off to the side wrote, "Author? Hmmm? This doesn't look like your writing."

I was absolutely stunned. Jonathan and I spent many hours on that project, an Islam booklet with pictures, typed paragraphs, perfectly labeled, neat and orderly. I checked to make sure Jonathan had included every single little detail required for this assignment. Jonathan had procrastinated so he was up until 2am the night before the due date and he was late to school that day because he was finishing the final paragraph. Jonathan spent about 6 hours on that assignment, 1 hour per paragraph with me doing the typing. He went through several revisions, fixing this or that. He tried to plagiarize by using exact sentences from the textbook, but I kept crossing those out and making him start over again. There were tears and outbursts. It was a hard project for him. But the finished product was wonderful and Jonathan was proud to turn it in. 

Jonathan was oblivious to the teacher's comment until I pointed it out. He felt bad. I felt mad. This kid did not deserve that, that skepticism, that judgment, that inability to explain himself before the accusation. How dare a teacher behave in such a way! I sent an email to the Social Studies teacher and cc'd Jonathan's RSP teacher (his protector) and was very direct in describing my disappointment that a teacher would accuse a kid, taking 10 points off, before he had given the student an opportunity to defend himself. I vouched for the authenticity of Jonathan's work and told the teacher he had 2 choices, either he prove that someone else actually wrote this assignment in which case the project should receive a failing grade, or he apologize to Jonathan in person explaining why 10 points were taken off his grade. The teacher apologized, asked for the project so he could review it again, and sent home a new grading sheet (oh that I had made a copy of the previous one) with different markings on it. This time the teacher had obviously read the paragraphs because he discovered a couple of spelling errors (Muslim words that spellcheck didn't catch). So the final grade was a 96%, bold move for a teacher in my opinion. 

Jonathan was aware that I was fighting this battle for him but I explained that in the future he would have to be prepared to stand up for himself. Children with disabilities, however small, will encounter prejudice, injustice, unkind remarks, misunderstandings, and overall ignorance that leads to bad behavior. 

In this case I will give the teacher the benefit of the doubt and call it a misunderstanding. This teacher was used to seeing Jonathan's classroom writing, a paragraph or two written under a time constraint, by hand, with atrocious spelling. The Islam project underwent many revisions and took several hours to complete. Of course the writing was better, and thanks to spellcheck the spelling much improved. Of course it didn't look like Jonathan's typical classwork. I hope the other students had stepped it up as well. Don't we all write better when the final product follows a couple of rough drafts? 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Nutcracker

Another season of the Nutcracker ballet has come and gone. Maddie danced with the Southern California Ballet as a party girl, gingerbread boy, a ragamuffin, and a Trepak dancer. She did a marvelous job on stage as a dancer and actress. She is so natural in her roles. 

Here are some backstage snapshots...

And after the show...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Cross Country

Nicholas was on the high school cross country team this fall. He ran with the team throughout the summer. This will probably be his first and last year on cross country. It was a huge challenge doing that and marching band in the same season. He had to miss some cross country practices and meets for band tournaments and rehearsals. Joe told him he would have to choose one or the other next year and Nicholas said he would choose band over running. He is planning on joining the track team in the spring so he'll get his running fix.

Nicholas ran with the freshmen team except for relays where they used him on JV.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Football, Season 5

Jonathan recently completed season 5 of Pop Warner Football, Jr. Midget. Joe and I were the team parents. I did the emails and other behind-the-scenes work while Joe spent time on the field assisting with water and other things the coach needed.

I'm not going to lie, Jonny had a rough season. After 3 seasons of being the tallest and heaviest kid on the team, then one season of average weight, he entered this season as the 3rd tallest and yet the 3rd lightest. His growth spurt did not add weight and we spent the entire season trying to put some meat on his bones. Jonny spent more time on the sidelines than ever before. 

Ignoring his disappointment at the lack of playing time and his parents' requests to drop the sport, Jonny is determined to make a go of it again next season. He is drinking protein shakes, whole milk, and everything else he can stuff into his face so he has the size and energy to perform well on the field. He wants to get back to offense (this year he played defense and hated it).

Bob, Marilyn, and Nancy drove down for one of Jonny's games.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Abby's School Plays

Abby's 2nd grade class presented class plays, skits, and poetry for Thanksgiving and again for Christmas. All lines were memorized and presented with lots of enthusiasm.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


On August 4th, Jonathan turned 13 and became a TEENAGER

 On November 9th, Maddie turned 11 and became a TWEENER

I can't stand it. My babies are growing up!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Perfect Season for an Arizona Vacation

Thanksgiving in Arizona is perfect. Perfectly warm and perfectly beautiful. The cousins had a fabulous time together, playing ball, hanging out, climbing trees, and eating yummy Thanksgiving food.
Should it have worried us that the 4-year old
made it to the top of the tree?

Nicholas with his cousin, Josh

Abby pushed by cousin Ashley

Cousins Ashley and Lindy

Jonny pushing cousins Dallin and Jack

Cousin Jack pushing Jonny

And the cutest cousin award goes to Sadie

Ashley and Luke being pushed by Jonny

Climbing trees

Jack in the tree

And Luke too

Abby's rolling down the sidewalk

Beck, always content to be on his own

The Kids table: Micah, Maddie, Abby, Ashley, Josh, Lindy, Nicholas, Jonny

Sadie and Beck

The 3 musketeers: Jack, Dallin, Luke

Baby Boston

The Adult Table