The Francis Family

Thursday, May 12, 2016

We will rise from the ashes. Part One.

I've been wanting to write down this experience before I forget the details. So here we go. 

May 1st-
We were gone for the weekend to Kyla's gymnastics competition in Okotoks. We heard of the fire started outside the city. This time of year every year we get fires all around us. So it was pretty normal. As we drove into the city we saw the smoke hanging over Fort Mac. It was crazy. We heard it was getting close to the highway so we rushed to get home just incase they had to close it down. 

That evening Gregoire was evacuated. My heart sank for friends who lived up there. Praying that everything was just precautionary and it would be fine. 

May 2- We woke up to a normal day and so excited to set up all our new furniture and house stuff we bought while down south. It was like a dream come true for me! Kitchen table, bar stools, new bedding for kids, patio furniture etc. The morning was smoky but then cleared up in the afternoon. I think that's when the evacuation was called off. That evening we went on the deck and started setting up our new patio set. We got 2 chairs done then we were tired. Meh. 

It was also raining ashes that evening. 

May 3- Woke up to a clear day. Sounded like the fire was letting up and we were in the clear. My sister Britt and I decided to go downtown and get some summer clothes for the kids. Dustin, myself and Kyla were flying out again the Thursday (5th) to another competition so I had to get kids stuff while staying with Jill since it was supposed to be hot out. We went into the mall around 11am. Came out at 1230pm to this right above us. 

We stopped walking and just stared. So many people were just standing, stopped, looking at it. My sister said it was like the movie Dantes Peak. It was. Eerie and scary. We hugged and said lets get home. 

I got home and put Parks down for a nap. I went onto our top balcony and just watched this huge smoke cloud in the near distance. My neighbours were all outside too. I decided to start packing bags just incase. Luckily our bags were still half packed from the weekend and I was just finishing all the laundry. I was on the phone back and forth with Britt and Jill. I kept checking the smoke cloud and at one point saw the flames. 

I was slowly packing but read a second area was evacuated, then a third and the fire was wrapping around the city. Then I started packing faster and started thinking of important things to get. I was in more panic mode. I grabbed passports, our house papers, usb's, my camera etc. Dust said he was heading home now. They were letting anyone go that needed too, which was a lot of people. This was at about 2pm. I realized I didn't have gas. I only had about a quarter tank. Jill waiting almost an hour just to get down the road to extra foods and Britt was waiting as well to get to a different gas station. She was almost on empty. Parks was napping and the kids were still at school. Dust called and said go get gas. I woke Parks up and packed the van with what I had and drove down the road and picked up the girls who were walking home. Headed towards the gas station and I knew they would run out before I even got there. The line ups were huge and blocks away. I turned around and went to Jills. Luckily she had jerry cans in her garage. Enough to get us to Edmonton. It was amazing. 

A black leaf that fell on me while loading the van.

At around 3 we debated just leaving anyways. I told Britt to get over to us but she wasn't packed yet. I kept remembering things I forgot to pack like underwear and the hard drives and kids pillows so I would run back home and get them. I couldn't find the hard drives as we are still unpacking so much so I just grabbed my entire Mac desktop computer. Wrapped it in a towel and threw it in! Got back to Jills and Dust showed up. He said they closed the highway from sites right after he drove through. So crazy. He helped pack a little more and he remembered a few more things and ran home to get them.
Presley wasn't handling it very well. She was in tears and had anxiety. She was making herself sick with worry and it broke my heart. She said, "I don't want our house to burn that we just moved into." I just hugged her and cried and said, "I know hunny, I don't either. It's ok to be scared." 
It's so hard to be strong for your kids when you're barely keeping it together yourself. We kept getting news of areas being burnt and friends homes being taken out one by one. Not knowing who would be next. Jill and I hugged and cried and we decided to just go. We got in the vehicles and as we were driving away they announced the entire city was under mandatory evacuation. We got down a block and were in stopped traffic. After about 20 minutes I read the fire was supposed to hit Timberlea within 40 minutes. Right where we live and we hadn't moved. I started panicking a bit. Ok more than a bit. But I wanted to stay calm for the kids. We kept calling Britt and she wasn't moving either. She was up the hill a bit further back and running out of gas. She had a jerry can but didn't want to stop. She ended up getting out and someone helped her put a bit in. We started moving finally after about 30 minutes. Our plan was to go North to site which is where they told us to go because 63 south was now closed and blocked off. Travis and Jeff were both still stuck at site. Jill and Britt were just amazing and did this all on their own. 
We got half way down Confederation and they had the north route blocked off and were sending people south now. Britt was still stopped in traffic and running out of gas again. I told her we had to go south and to get the police officer directing traffic to help her put more gas in. She had to make a decision to go north or south since they opened both by the time she got there. She had to decide to stay with us and get out south or go north to her husband. She called Jeff and he said go south. Our phones weren't working very well so it was hard to be in touch with each other. 
As we drove traffic was flowing pretty good. It was quiet and calm and eerie. We were numb and just going through the motions. Doing what we needed to do and trusting what we were told to do. 
The fire was everywhere, burnt grass and trees and buildings all around us. It was so surreal. We just wanted to get out.


The kids were so calm the entire time. People started jumping over into the northbound lanes so all 4 lanes were heading south and we were flowing pretty good just trying to get out of there. Meanwhile Britt called and said she went south. We were really relieved. Jill got ahead of us a ways so we told them to pull over at Gregoire lake turn off which is about 20 minutes outside of the city. 
It took us an hour and a half to get out of the city. We all met up on the side of the highway along with hundreds of other cars lined up along the side of the road. Kilometres of vehicles. People who didn't have a clue what to do next, what their plans were and people who were just out of gas. 

We got a text saying Stephs boyfriend, Lee, had a house ready to take us in if we needed. We could barely text or call anyone so we told her we would take it. We decided to head there to Sherwood Park. Traffic was crazy. Cars lined up in Wandering River and Grassland everywhere. 

We had no service majority of the way so we couldn't tell family if we got out safe or not. We also couldn't keep in touch with each other much. Barely getting texts through here and there. When we were almost to Fort Saskatewan we finally had service and were able to get in touch with family. 
We arrived in Sherwood Park at 5am. It took us 11 hours to get there which is normally a 4 hour drive. We made it. Exhausted in every way and ready to rest our heads and see what the next day will bring. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016


"How do you do it all?"
I get asked this allllll the time. So I thought I'd touch on this for a minute. 

Everyone has priorities and you can mostly decide what comes first in your life. You have full reign on your life so you have to decide what matters to you and you just do it! 
Some of my things are...

1. A newer one is a more organized house. This is something I've been working on over the years and the more kids I added to our posse the harder it got but I think I've got a good handle on it now. I definitely take advantage of child labour too. So smart. It's not actually doable and I have a messy house 99.9% of the time, we live in a box with 7 people so there's that... I keep up as much as I can but I'm a busy mom and some things just can wait! Like the shower... How often do you actually clean your shower? Doesn't it clean itself when you shower? No? Just mine? Dang that sucks for you. 

2. My business. As a photographer I only do sessions outdoors so I don't like working through the winter because I hate the cold. Good thing I live in the tropics eh? I know the busy times of year for my work and that's when I dedicate more time to it. It's not always easy but it's so important I have accomplishments aside from my family. Sounds crazy I know but I want to be independent and do as many things as I can. I also like to contribute financially when I can. Just kidding, that's my money. Don't touch it husband. You pay the bills, I shop. For the necessities of course... 

3. Since last year I've been working on becoming healthy. Most of you know my recent health issues so I want to be as healthy as possible. Including going to the gym 4-5 times a week. I go after taking the kids to school and put Parks in their daycare and I absolutely love it! I stopped going in December and was so depressed, I missed it! I'm actually really good at eating but that's been learned over the last year and it's not easy but once you get the hang of it, it's great!

4. This one I get all the time. I like to get ready. Some days I try harder and others, meh. I put makeup on everyday and make myself presentable and this is important to me so I make time for it! I also like to look good for my husband. Selena Gomez even said so, I just wanna look good for you baby. 
I know how long I need for specific times and I can do it quickly or full out. It doesn't take much but I actually enjoy doing my hair and makeup. I feel so much better too! It boosts my confidence as well. Bonus.

5. My kids activities. I've always wanted my kids to be involved in as many things as they wanted, so that they are. Kylas in gymnastics and robotics club at school. Jayci and Presley are in 3 dance classes and were in Bricks for kids at school. Laken is in dance all year and has been in gymnastics off and on as well. I want to get them back in swimming too. Jayci and Presley want to get into skating more next year so we will do that and drop a couple dance classes probably. Like, I can't do it all people. Let's be real. 

I think it's so important to have balance but that also means taking care of yourself too, not just the family. So find out what's important to you or what you want to be important and prioritize your list. Mine is constantly changing and altering to our lifestyle but those are the basics right now and right now I have to go unplug a toilet and get my son off the kitchen table. Like I said. Priorities... Now does anyone want to put my kids to bed? 

Night y'all! 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I do

I feel like since I'm 30 now I can say I've learned lessons and teach others. So I'm pretty much a professor or something. 

I'm pretty proud of my marriage to my husband. I'd say we have a good one going here. I have been with this guy for 12 years, I think, and I've learned a few things over the years on keeping our marriage going and happy. Here's what I've learned. My Mindy lesson for the day. I gave one on Facebook yesterday so here is today's.

1. This is definitely number one. 
You have to communicate! Like for reals. Every frustration, every appreciation, every thought. Tell each other them! We all know I'm a huge open book so my husband gets that too. Poor guy. But I'll tell you a not so secret, secret. Guys aren't the smartest at reading women so you kind of have to tell them. Word for word. It's a fact. Sometimes I'm all annoyed or mad and he's like, "why are you mad?" And I say "you seriously don't know why I'm mad?" He says, "uh no..." Which makes it more annoying and me more mad. So don't do that. They don't know! I think I've finally accepted this  myself. 

2. Get to know each other. Everything! Know their limits of when to stop being a B to them. Or when they are worn out and need your support. Pay attention to their needs. Everyone has them. Like I need a massage every night. Sometimes he fails at this and then we go back to number one again... It's ok, this brings me to number 3.

3. Forgive each other! We've been over how the men are not perfect and neither are we... Ok we are like this close to it right? Maybe I could like make his lunches or something. Nah, I'll choose something else. I already have 5 kids to feed! Feed yourself you grown man. 
But on a serious note we all mess up big or small so no ones perfect. Accept their apologies and get over it. 

4. After you have kids, work harder. We are a prime example. We had a posse of children and one day it was like, "oh hey there person sharing my bed, who are you again?" Like seriously, you forget you're married. You can't even have a conversation until the kids are in bed and most times I work or he's on nights or we are wiped. Or... Ahem, I watch my shows. But whatever. 
Anyways, date yo man. I'll say it again, communicate! Make time for each other here and there. Dust makes an effort to text me more and sometimes even call while on a break. Like once a month... But I'll snap chat him throughout the day. No not of that you pervs. I'll send what the kiddos are doing or how cute Parks is again bla bla bla. 

5. Laugh. I've been kind of a crank lately with him on shut down which he's now done and I have realized that. I'm working on it and not snapping at him or being "feisty" as he calls it. I'm getting back to my happy place and away from my running away place. Being a mom is hard sometimes! 

6. Look good for your spouse! I got to a point where I was lazy and didn't care what I wore or looked like most of the time but I realized I want to look good for my man. I cared when he married me so I put that effort into my hair, makeup and clothes. It seriously doesn't take long once you get a quick routine down. I'm working out and trying to get into shape. For him and myself though. I've had a few health issues arise this year so I'm trying to live a healthy lifestyle because I'm not getting any younger! Anyways just make a little effort like put on your cuter sweats and tshirt. So. me. What? I said effort. That totally counts. 

7. Grow with your spouse and not apart. This is big too. Everyone changes, no one stays the same person in 10-30 years and so on. I'm definitely a different person since Dustin married me and so is he but we grew together and accepted those changes. I mean to a point. If they become a major ass then that's not ok. And women get your hormones in check! I'm definitely more "feisty" these days compared to the old ones which I feel bad for sometimes. Kind of. Whatever at least I acknowledge it. What is it Dr. Phil says? First you have to acknowledge the behavior then change? Meh. Baby steps counts. 

Anyways those are my thoughts. My husband can drive me mental lots of times. Did I say lots of times? He's like a giant child. I have 6 children actually. Except I don't make his lunches... I probably drive him nuts too, he laughs at me a lot. When I'm angry and going off he just laughs and says he wishes he could record me. We balance each other. He's more laid back and I'm not as much or however you would describe me. "Almost perfect" could be one way to say it. 
I asked him the other day "are you sure you wanna be married to me forever?" He laughed and then asked me. I said "well I'm kinda stuck, we decided to have a colony together." 
I'm kidding, I wouldn't want anyone else. For real. He's perfect and so amazing to me all that mushy stuff, I definitely married my best friend. 

There's some things I have learned so far. Now taking appointments for counseling. You're welcome.  

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

Family Photos

To say I've been busy is an understatement for sure. I seriously can't fit everything in that I have going on. I'm trying to work, Dustin is working overtime, back to school, baby who had pneumonia and in and out of the hospital, softball playoffs, the normal mom routine etc etc. 
BUT I had to stop and post our amazing family photos we got taken on holidays. I have been so busy I haven't even looked at them for days! That's bad. And you don't even know how excited I was for them. 
I cannot WAIT to blow these up all over our new house in a few months. 

I am so proud to say this is my family and  to have these photos of them means the world. Professional photography is worth every damn penny. Plus Parks can now be on our walls. Poor kid. He's nearly one. Oh well. I had to wait to get photos with Kelsey who we went to before and I will only go to her. She sees my vision EVERY time and as a perfectionist myself that means a lot. I told her what I wanted and she nailed it. Thanks so much Kelsey!

Anyways, I'm obsessed. Enjoy our faces.