Well, I have been thinking on this all week! Now it’s time for one of the Hunter Clan’s Stories that frequently get repeated around the dinner table on Sunday evenings.
I have to start out by saying I totally understand fears and phobias. If you follow my blog, you will find out about some of my own craziness soon.
Today, I need to focus in on the love of my life, Chrissy. If you have ever been around Chrissy for any extended amount of time you will learn that she has a very high dislike for things the slither, hop, or wriggle quickly across the earth.
The two creatures for Chrissy, that evoke a blood curdling shriek with dancing and prancing around, like one of those African tribes men doing a rain dance, followed by a full-blown panic attack, are frogs and toads.
I think this behavior stemmed from a childhood experience of watching her mom rescue a frog from a snake’s mouth. Chrissy watched as her mother took a garden rake and slammed it down on a poor un-suspecting snake enjoying a plump froggy dinner. The rake hit the snake behind the head, and I’m told the force of the deathblow forced the frog from the snake’s mouth and projected it across the yard.
This traumatic experience has left a scar which makes her absolutely disgusted by amphibians. Then again, it could have been the so-called toad farms that her brothers kept in the window wells of the house. Either way she can’t stand these creatures.
One last bit of information you need to know before the story is that Chrissy is an amazing mom and whole-heartedly believes in homeschooling. She has homeschooled all four of our children. With that said, sometimes her fears will be overcome for the sake of an investigative learning experience. This can be an awesome thing, but then again it can bring on some of the most horrifying tales to be told.
One summer we had been given an amazing gift of a week in a friend’s family cabin in upper Wisconsin. We had just started a new ministry months earlier and money, well, it was tight. At this time vacations were unheard of for our family. To sum up vacations for us at that time, I will borrow some lyrics from one of my favorite artists Family Force Five, “Never heard of vacation, I think they give those away on the radio station.” Yup, that was us.
The cabin was located on a remote lake in the middle of nowhere. If Walgreens was going to have a store on every corner, they must not have heard about this place; even the closest Wal-Mart was about 75 miles away! This was not off the grid, this was beyond off the grid. It was fabulous!
We had our 4 kids and two dogs, our sweet Dalmatian, Lily, and a dumb Doberman named Maximus Decimus Meridius. (He was named after the main character from the movie The Gladiator, and that’s another story all together– “Are you not entertained?”) Anyway, we called him Max for short.
We packed up all our necessities in our newly acquired GMC Safari van. (By newly acquired, I mean we were blessed by another family with the van as a gift.) Again, to say that we were tight would be an understatement. We were so tight in the van that I had to stop the van and get out to change our minds on what direction we were going. That didn’t matter to us. We were on vacay! WhooHoo!
When we arrived, it was amazing. We were on a lake- we had a row boat with a 20 hp outboard on it. The kids were like, “Awesome, we can tube!” We also had access to 4 wheelers and acres of forest to explore. That week we explored, fished and hiked. If we could do it, we did. We even did some schooling with the kids. It’s great when you can teach kids without them knowing that you’re teaching them. If I remember correctly, it started out as a contest. Who could catch the biggest bullfrog?
Then once the frogs were caught, we had a brave lesson on amphibians by Chrissy. I don’t remember who it was but I believe it was Jonah and Silas that kept the contest going throughout the week.
The week came to a close with wonderful memories and many adventures– all great stories to tell. I do remember one of the kids asking for a box as we were packing the car. I found one for them in the craziness of packing the van back up for the 6-hour trip home. I had no idea why they wanted it or who needed it. I just assumed that Chrissy needed it for something. Little did I know we were going to be secretly transporting four huge bullfrogs from the Wisconsin cabin to Chicago.
As with most of our family adventures, we left behind schedule, but figured we would make up time once we reached the interstate highway. Boy, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The first part of the trip was great. Kids were calm, the dogs we settled, the 4-40 air conditioning was on.
Side Note: This is a very special high tech type of AC. It requires four windows rolled down and maintaining a speed of 40mph. The breeze flowing through the van cooled us down nicely. In other words, the AC didn’t work great, and having the windows down was better.
Like I was saying, the first part of the trip was great. Wind in our faces, music on the radio, kids and dogs mostly zonked. Chrissy was doing what she does on trips, she was reading something.
Side Note: Not much will ever interrupt her. I mean, the kids could be setting off fireworks in the back seat and she would be oblivious. Okay, perhaps not fireworks but something close to it. Like Silas teasing his sister, trying convince Tori that the snow crab claws that he pocketed from the Chinese buffet will make great hair barrettes. You get the picture.
Then we were coming up on the Illinois/Wisconsin line and traffic started to get heavy. We were used to this but then we saw the cause– road construction. From that point, it was stop and start, and even a few sudden stops. Finally, traffic opened up, and we were flying, going down the road with the flow of traffic. That is when I heard from the back seats some sort of commotion. I looked in the rearview mirror to see the kids frantically looking at each other with panic on their faces. Nuts, I forgot to tell you about the camcorder.
Side Note: On this trip our oldest son Ben decided that he would document the family adventure with our camcorder. He was doing interviews, surprise tapings, and so on. Everyone was getting somewhat annoyed with him.
Okay, so looking in the mirror, I thought, “Great, what did you do now, Ben? Our eyes met, and I knew right then that something was wrong. The dogs are moving around the van, agitated and excited. Three of the kids begin anxiously searching the van floor for something. All I see are feet and legs in the air. All the while, Ben is recording. He has this sheepish grin on his face. It’s the kind of look that kids have when they know something big is going to happen, and they want to be a part of it, be it good or bad.
Don’t forget, Chrissy is focused on her book in the front seat. I turn my head to look back at the kids and ask, “What’s going on?” when I see it. Remember the box that I gave the kids while packing the van? Yeah, it wasn’t for Chrissy. I see the open box holding one of the huge frogs that the kids had caught at the cabin. I immediately ask, “What are you doing with that? At that moment I hear someone yell, “I was just checking on them!” That’s right it was plural, more than one. The rest well… the rest is is now known as the Frog Incident of ‘04.
The kids started loudly blaming each other and the dogs started going nuts. Meanwhile, Chrissy is still reading, totally oblivious to the situation. And we’re still traveling with the flow traffic.
Then some one yells, “I found one,” and I hear a loud “CROAK.” Then “Oh, there’s another one!” Then “Grab Max!” “Lily’s going to eat them!” “Wow! They’re fast!”
Finally, all this commotion broke through Chrissy’s reading focus. She looked at me and said, “What is going…” Right then midsentence, I saw a bullfrog stretched out like it was making an Olympic long jump, fly through the air into the front of the van, smack into the windshield, only to turn around and launch itself over Chrissy’s head. I remember yelling “Noooooo!” while trying to drive straight and grab the frog all at once.
The van was shaking with all the commotion.
The look of sheer horror on my beautiful bride’s face was terrifying, even to me. I have never seen anyone remove a seatbelt so fast in all my life, all the while screaming. She hurled her book at the rocketing, ribbiting creature– only to hit me with it. Watching her try to escape this frog, reminded me of cartoon characters trying to run but not going anywhere. The legs are moving, but they have no forward motion. She flew out of her seat and wedged herself up on the dash of the van.
It was only by the grace of God that we didn’t crash. Of course this is all happening in slow motion. Jumping frogs, screaming wife, and next thing I saw was the camcorder flying through the air. It landed with a bounce on the passenger seat where Chrissy was sitting. I’m yelling, half laughing, “Get those frogs!” The kids are scrambling, yelling, grabbing frogs. I have a hyperventilating woman on the dash of the van.
I can only imagine what people were seeing or thinking as I tried to get to the side of the highway.
I pull the van off to the side of the road, the side door flies open, and kids pour out with frogs in hands raised over their heads like they just won a major competition. I get out and run around to the other side of the van. Open my wife’s door and peel her off the dashboard.
I was sure that I would have to give her CPR or call an ambulance. I gave her a bag to breath in and out of as she sat on the edge of the van seat, in a somewhat catatonic state. I thought this would take years of rehabilitation and family counseling to recover from this one.
I somehow convinced her that the frogs are all accounted for, and I promised that we would release them on the side of the road.
After calming everyone down and reloading everyone back into the van, we had a talk about how we needed to respect all living things by leaving them in their own habitat.
We then discovered the camcorder on the floor between the front seats still recording. I remember that we were all so excited, because we had the video that was going to win us $10,000.00 on America’s Funniest Home Videos. But, after reviewing the tape we discovered that our budding videographer didn’t catch much video of the event. The only thing he caught was the audio of the whole ordeal. Which was very funny. Unfortunately, I can’t find the tape to share even the audio now.
So, this has so many life lessons and applications. The biggest thing the kids learned was, if you want to see mom freak out, just trap her in a small space with a scared amphibian! That friend’s, is the story of the Frogs from Wisconsin.
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