Thursday, December 31, 2009

Can't a guy get a little sympathy around here?

This really goes without saying, but my sister is a fabulous aunt.  I could go on and on, but I'll leave it at that - fabulous.

Which makes this even funnier...

Spencer fell and had a bit of a dramatic reaction about it
(and it didn't help his drama that I happened to be standing there with camera in hand).

Once the crisis had passed, he got up and left.  And, this is what his beloved Aunt B did next
(unfortunately for her, I still had that camera in my hand).

Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right?

Ummm... B?  It might be your turn to toss a few coins in the therapy fund.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Our "White" Christmas

The Whites came for a Christmas visit.  We love you Aunt B, Uncle B, Abby and Meg.  And again, as has become the custom, the moment we drove away from the airport Spence wanted to know (through his tears), "Why don't you live here?!"

I could tell you all about the great time we had, but, well, a picture really is worth a thousand words.

First things first.  Those south Texas girls had to get out in the snow!

Bedtime story duty has been turned over to Abby.




We had a day-o-fun at Main Event that included
bowling, minature golf, laser tag & arcade games.
(it's hard to say who had more fun... the kids or the adults.)
Important bowling discussion with Pop

Serious snowman building

We love you Whites!  Thanks for the awesome memories.

P.S.  Brantley - I need a ruling on a Scrabble infraction, if you could get back with me asap.  ;)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Jinger Bells

Lulu had a new favorite Christmas carol this season.  Listening to her sing it, though, I couldn't help but be reminded of the last scene in "A Christmas Story" where Ralphie and his family are eating dinner in the Chinese restaurant and being serenaded by the staff...

My dysfunctional relationship with oatmeal

I don't know how long the road has been that has gotten me to this point.  But, it's been a long and twisted one.

I do remember John Tesh proclaiming from his radio show that you should add a spoonful of peanut butter to your oatmeal for the protein.  Check.  Nevermind that peanut butter probably doesn't go with all flavors of oatmeal - like banana nut bread.

I also know that the DPS highly discourages eating in the car, much less eating oatmeal in the car.

And, the cold part.  Well, I guess that's all me and my busy, get-the-kids-to-school-on-time, mad woman routine in the mornings.  By the time I get to it, it's cold.

And, as long as it's cold, I might as well not rush to scarf it down.  A bite here and there will do, usually finishing the last of it just before lunch.

You know, even I can admit, that's pretty gross.  Though, the repulsion on my out-of-town family's faces when they see me interacting with my oatmeal makes me know that things have gotten really bad.

But, I do know this: I go to bed at night excited about oatmeal in the morning... and midmorning... and afternoon.  Oatmeal, my life would s**k without you.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Random Thoughts of the Day

I got this in a forwarded email a while back.  I still find myself laughing out loud about it at random times.  Thought I would share it here, too.  Hope it gives you as big a laugh as it gave me...
  • More often than not, when someone is telling me a story all I can think about is that I can't wait for them to finish so that I can tell my own story that's not only better, but also more directly involves me.
  • Nothing sucks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
  • Have you ever been walking down the street and realized that you're going in the complete opposite direction of where you are supposed to be going?  But instead of just turning a 180 and walking back in the direction from which you came, you have to first do something like check your watch or phone or make a grand arm gesture and mutter to yourself to ensure that no one in the surrounding area thinks you're crazy by randomly switching directions on the sidewalk.
  • I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.
  • The letters T and G are very close to each other on a keyboard. This recently became all too apparent to me and consequently I will never be ending a work email with the phrase "Regards" again.
  • Do you remember when you were a kid, playing Nintendo and it wouldn't work? You take the cartridge out, blow in it and that would magically fix the problem. Every kid in America did that, but how did we all know how to fix the problem? There was no internet or message boards or FAQ's. We just figured it out. Today's kids are soft.
  • Sometimes, I'll watch a movie that I watched when I was younger and suddenly realize I had no idea what the f was going on when I first saw it.
  • The other night I hit a new low at an open bar. I had already hopped on highway blackout when, inevitably I had to find a bathroom. Eventually I decided it was probably on the other side of the bar so I tried to walk over there, but ran into a guy coming the other way. We played that, Both go left, Both go right game to no avail, so I finally put out my hand to guide myself past and that's is when I realized, yup, that's a mirror I just tried to walk through. And the guy on the other side is me. Even cats can recognize their own image.
  • How the hell are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?
  • I would rather try to carry 10 plastic grocery bags in each hand than take 2 trips to bring my groceries in.
  • I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.
  • The only time I look forward to a red light is when I'm trying to finish a text.
  • A recent study has shown that playing beer pong contributes to the spread of mono and the flu. Yeah, if you suck at it.
  • Was learning cursive really necessary?
  • Lol has gone from meaning, "laugh out loud" to "I have nothing else to say".
  • I have a hard time deciphering the fine line between boredom and hunger.
  • Answering the same letter three times or more in a row on a Scantron test is absolutely petrifying.
  • My brother's Municipal League baseball team is named the Stepdads. Seeing as none of the guys on the team are actual stepdads, I inquired about the name. He explained, "Cuz we beat you, and you hate us." Classy, bro.
  • Whenever someone says "I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart", all I hear is "I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart".
  • How many times is it appropriate to say "What?" before you just nod and smile because you still didn't hear what they said?
  • I love the sense of camaraderie when an entire line of cars teams up to prevent a d*ck from cutting in at the front. Stay strong, brothers!
  • Every time I have to spell a word over the phone using 'as in' examples, I will undoubtedly draw a blank and sound like a complete idiot. Today I had to spell my boss's last name to an attorney and said "Yes that's G as in...(10 second lapse)..ummm...Goonies"
  • What would happen if I hired two private investigators to follow each other?
  • While driving yesterday I saw a banana peel in the road and instinctively swerved to avoid it...thanks Mario Kart.
  • MapQuest really needs to start their directions on #5. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
  • Obituaries would be a lot more interesting if they told you how the person died.
  • I find it hard to believe there are actually people who get in the shower first and THEN turn on the water.
  • Shirts get dirty. Underwear gets dirty. Pants? Pants never get dirty, and you can wear them forever.
  • I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.
  • Bad decisions make good stories.
  • Whenever I'm Facebook stalking someone and I find out that their profile is public I feel like a kid on Christmas morning who just got the Red Ryder BB gun that I always wanted. 546 pictures? Don't mind if I do!
  • If Carmen San Diego and Waldo ever got together, their offspring would probably just be completely invisible.
  • Why is it that during an ice-breaker, when the whole room has to go around and say their name and where they are from, I get so incredibly nervous? Like I know my name, I know where I'm from, this shouldn't be a problem....
  • You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you've made up your mind that you just aren't doing anything productive for the rest of the day.
  • Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after DVDs? I don't want to have to restart my collection.
  • There's no worse feeling than that millisecond you're sure you are going to die after leaning your chair back a little too far.
  • I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.
  • "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this ever.
  • I hate being the one with the remote in a room full of people watching TV. There's so much pressure. 'I love this show, but will they judge me if I keep it on? I bet everyone is wishing we weren't watching this. It's only a matter of time before they all get up and leave the room. Will we still be friends after this?'
  • While watching the Olympics, I find myself cheering equally for China and USA. No, I am not of Chinese descent, but I am fairly certain that when Chinese athletes don't win, they are executed.
  • I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello? Damnit!), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?
  • I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.
  • When I meet a new girl, I'm terrified of mentioning something she hasn't already told me but that I have learned from some light internet stalking.
  • I like all of the music in my iTunes, except when it's on shuffle, then I like about one in every fifteen songs in my iTunes.
  • Why is a school zone 20 mph? That seems like the optimal cruising speed for pedophiles...
  • As a driver I hate pedestrians, and as a pedestrian I hate drivers, but no matter what the mode of transportation, I always hate cyclists.
  • Sometimes I'll look down at my watch 3 consecutive times and still not know what time it is.
  • It should probably be called Unplanned Parenthood.
  • I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone just so I know not to answer when they call.
  • I think that if, years down the road when I'm trying to have a kid, I find out that I'm sterile, most of my disappointment will stem from the fact that I was not aware of my condition in college.
  • Even if I knew your social security number, I wouldn't know what do to with it.
  • Even under ideal conditions people have trouble locating their car keys in a pocket and Pinning the Tail on the Donkey - but I'd bet my ass everyone can find and push the Snooze button from 3 feet away, in about 1.7 seconds, eyes closed, first time every time...
  • My 4-year old son asked me in the car the other day "Dad what would happen if you ran over a ninja?" How the hell do I respond to that?
  • It really pisses me off when I want to read a story on and the link takes me to a video instead of text.
  • I wonder if cops ever get pissed off at the fact that everyone they drive behind obeys the speed limit.
  • I think the freezer deserves a light as well.
  • I disagree with Kay Jewelers. I would bet on any given Friday or Saturday night more kisses begin with Miller Lites than Kay.
  • The other night I ordered takeout, and when I looked in the bag, saw they had included four sets of plastic silverware. In other words, someone at the restaurant packed my order, took a second to think about it, and then estimated that there must be at least four people eating to require such a large amount of food. Too bad I was eating by myself. There's nothing like being made to feel like a fat bastard before you've even eaten.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Hmmmm.  Who would have thunk it?

One day you wake up on Christmas and you're 35 and you have your own little family with their very own traditions.  Traditions that are not exactly what either parent had growing up, but the perfect traditions for the family you have now.

Did you know you have to sprinkle reindeer dust out on the front walk to make sure the reindeer can find your house?  Of course you have to put out cookies for Santa, but the reindeer get food, too - a cool little mix that has come home from school the past few years (and mommy wonders if she can ever recreate when the time comes...).  You can also open all of your presents from each other on Christmas Eve and that way you just see what Santa brought you the next morning (conveniently this tradition from Shawn's family fits right in with my obsessiveness because I can spend all night assembling, organizing and putting away the mess).  And, of course, Santa doesn't wrap presents because he just pulls them out of his bag - so there's not even any wrapping paper to clean up on Christmas day!  Christmas morning you eat Caramel Sticky rolls like my Grandma Selim used to make - only you make them the Ali Johnson way, by putting the carmel sauce and brown sugar concoction with pre-made Sister Schubert rolls (a little 7,000 calorie* carbohydrate-filled slice of heaven).

And, there were things the whole month leading up to Christmas.  There were the nativity calendars.  "We haven't done our nativity calendars!" - I heard that once a day, 25 times over the month of December.  And, there was that Elf on the Shelf.  Yeah, I know I felt a little overwhelmed by Jingle when he first showed up at our house.  But, White Family, thank you!  He's been everything we could have hoped for and more - I look forward to many more years of his spying and hiding.

Weird.  I don't remember growing up and becoming the adult.  But, sometimes, like now, it sure does have some pretty cool perks.

*calorie count is an estimate.  ;)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I know I'm biased, but this is adorable.  A Christmas card came home from each of the kids' classes.

In Spencer's kindergarten class picture, he is standing third from the right in the Texas Tech Santa hat.

In her pre-school class picture, Elizabeth is far right in a Christmas tree hat that is nearly as big as she is - the concentration she is clearly employing to keep that thing on her head cracks me up.

Joy to the World & Merry Christmas!

Spencer's Kindergarten Class

Elizabeth's Pre-3 Class

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Spencer's violin practices

When he gets it, he gets it. And it is a beautiful thing.  It makes me know we are building a life-long love and understanding of music and art in our precious son.  I feel confident in everything I've read about music helping math skills, concentration, focus, memory and overall learning.

When he doesn't get it and he's fussy and whiny and complaining, it makes newspaper headlines flash through my mind: "The Seemingly Happy Family" and "Apparent Murder/Suicide".

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Day at the Spa

Sweet Joyce.

If there is anything presentable about my appearance it's because of Joyce.  I met her when I was 15 years old.  She is far more family now than hairdresser.  We've been through most of each other's big life events.

The kids and I had an appointment today.  And, well, do you ever feel like you're being punk'd?

I went to get my hair "done" last Wednesday and Joyce (and her carpet) were just recovering from The Great Flood.  Her pedicure tub had been left at a trickle all night long.  It filled the bath... and then filled the floor... and then the hallway.

Fast forward to today and I go back with the kids.  We get there and, are you kidding me?!, the hallway is flooded AGAIN.  This time it's the hot water heater that has leaked.  Joyce is seriously on that dangerous precipice of I'm-laughing-but-it's-because-I'm-about-to-lose-my-mind-or-cry and could-somebody-please-get-me-some-coffee?.

Spencer got his haircut only about 20 minutes later than our scheduled appointment.  Pretty good timeliness for the fact we were working under disaster protocol, I would say.

And, now, here's where things start to effect me.  It's time for me to get waxed.

Picture this:  We scurry past the carpet guy sucking the water out of the carpet on our way to the facial room.  I sternly warn my kids that Aunt Joyce is in a hurry; they need to stand still and stay out of the way (Yeah, right. Evidently when you're 6 and 3 that translates as, "climb up on the bed with mom to get a closer look and quiz Aunt Joyce about every tool she uses - from wax, to tweezers, to magnifying lights").  No sooner do I lie down and the face waxing begins, than there is a knock at the door.  Spencer opens the door and a conversation commences between Joyce (at my head) and the water heater repairman - aka, her above-and-beyond, come-to-the-rescue, firefighter-by-trade boyfriend, Steve - (at my feet) discussing plumbing, inspections and insurance claims.  And, did I mention that she's still waxing?  All this as the drone of a shop vac hums in the background (an interesting departure from the classical music that used to play in the facial room).  No sooner does this conversation come to an end than Spencer chooses to do his best WWF elbow-blow directly to my thigh.  And, then she waxes my lip.  It was a true Christmas miracle that, between Joyce and me, the kids didn't learn a few new colorful words today.

Joyce and I were laughing til we cried.  And, really, that's all that matters.  Who cares that I probably left there with one too few eyebrows and one too many mustaches?  I'll be back in four weeks.

So have a Merry Christmas, Joyce.  Or, rather, have a Dry Christmas.  I love you and I'll see you after the holidays (as soon as they release you from the asylum).

OK - now it's time for you to admit it:  It wasn't until halfway through my post when I said "FACE waxing" that you weren't horrified that I was talking about a bikini wax.  Right?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Oh, great. One more thing to obsess about.

So, if you know me very well, you probably know that I grab hold of a new project like a dog with a bone and I don't let it go until I've completely forced it into submission.  Well, that's what's happening with this blog.

Every single thought that goes through my head is closely examined for blog potential.  Then, if potential exists, I beginning the worrying process that I will forget what I was thinking before I have a chance to write it down.  Because of this fear, I was carrying a legal pad of paper with me everywhere I went.  It was not a pretty fashion statement.  So, I've moved on to typing "notes" into my phone.  I have to put them somewhere, though.  All I need is more useless, trivial thoughts cramming my already overflowing brain and competing for valuable memory space.  It's just too much pressure.

And, these are just the things I want to remember for the blog.  Then there are the un-useful things that bombard me in everyday existence that are not blog worthy.  Like the homemade doggie treats for sale at the hairdressers.  I mean, really!  There has to be something to blog about that.  But.  I got nothin'.

I'm also terrified to look at anyone else's blog anymore.  If I like something they say, there is a 50% chance that I will unwittingly allow my subconscious to plagerize them - believe me, it's happened before.  As my friend, Robin quotes,
"She had a pretty gift for quotation, which is a serviceable substitute for wit." -W. Somerset Maugham
I believe Mr. Maugham was probably talking about me.

So, for the most part I keep falling back to the actions of those around me.  Namely, my husband, children and friends.  I don't know what this will be like for them.  But, I can't imagine it's going to be pleasant living as fodder for my blog posts.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spencer - not our ham

The Friday before school dismissed for the Christmas break, our school had the service of Lessons and Carols.  If you don't know what this is, it is a chapel service where they alternate reading a scripture and singing a holiday carol.  At school, each of the lower grades and the middle school choir took turns singing the carols.  There is serious danger of heart-melting.

After the service was over, my dear friend Jennifer came up to me looking quite rattled.  And, Jen's not the rattled type.  She said, "Is Spencer ok?!"  Apparently, after Kindergarten finished performing (during which he did the best public group performance I've ever seen him do.  I mean, really!  Big arm movements, I could hear him singing loud.  Awesome!) he returned to sit on the ground with his class.  I couldn't see him, but Jen could.  She said he went completely pale and his eyes rolled back in his head.  He started to tip over, but then he seemed to snap out of it.  She said, honestly, she almost kicked her shoes off and was plotting her course over the people in front of her to get to him.

I asked him about it later and he ducked his head, came in for an embarrassed hug and said, "I was just embarrassed!"

OK - three things about this:

1) My heart BREAKS that my child is so scared of performing in public that the relief of being done with it almost makes him pass out. I kind of want to wrap him in his "bungie" and tell him he never has to do it again!  (And a little part of me wonders if I got the wrong baby at the hospital. Thank goodness he looks just like his sister.)

2)  I must not try to overcompensate for his fear.  I must not tell him daily, "You know performing for people is no big deal!" or "What about performing makes you so nervous?" or "Next time, bend your knees and keep breathing.  You don't want to be the kid that falls off the back of the bleachers!"  I'm quite sure I could obsess him right into a case of agoraphobia.

3)  The bits of my broken heart completely swell over dear friends like Jennifer who care so much for my child.  There is no doubt in my mind that my completely socially-acceptable, more-class-in-her-little-finger-than-I-could-have-in-a-lifetime friend would have gone over the tops of people to get to Spence if he needed help.  (And, then there were her multiple texts checking on him and her threat to call if I didn't answer said texts more promptly.)  But then, when I stop and think about it, I can come up with at least ten other people that would completely disregard their social decorum if either of our kids needed them.  It's a little overwhelming to wrap your head around when you try to think about it.  It chokes me up a bit.

So, my conclusion.  We'll be thankful we go to our amazing school where they help kids get comfortable with public appearance (did I mention that each member of the graduating class gives a commencement address - and any one of them is good enough to be the sole speech?)  I will let them work their magic and try to keep my neurotic mothering out of the way.

But mostly, I'll be thankful for the blessing of our friendships with people like Jen.

You know what I think is funny?

... when the toys around our house look like the victims of an assault.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Elizabeth Ann's name

Here's the truth.  We don't really know what our daughter's name is.  One of the reasons we liked the name Elizabeth so much when we chose it was that it had a million nicknames we could choose from.  Here is where you say, "Be careful what you wish for."

I think her full name Elizabeth Ann is beautiful, and she'll answer to it.  But I don't want to saddle her with such a dramatic name, if she turns out to be a simple girl (fyi - I don't think "simple" will be an issue).  Also, except for Emily Elizabeth from the story "Clifford the Big Red Dog", I don't know of any longer first name in the world!  She can kiss monogramming from Lands' End and Lillian Vernon goodbye.

We tried Libby for about a day.  That didn't stick, but Libby Lu caught on long enough for us to start calling her Lulu.  Yep, she answers to this, too.  But, really.  Is she going to want to go through life as Lulu Johnson?

So, then there's Elle (no pressure, but this is my personal favorite).  I call her Elle all the time.  And, about 75% of the time it reminds me of my step-sister, Ellery (whose nickname is also Elle).  That makes me happy.  But, although EA answers to Elle as well, she never calls herself by it.

At school they call her Elizabeth.  Just good ol' Elizabeth.  She answers to this, too.  And, when I'm speaking of her, I, too, call her Elizabeth.  I don't want anyone to feel any pressure to call her by one of her twenty-seven nicknames.

When you ask her her name she says, "Elizabeth Ann Johnson."  "Oh, you want us to call you Elizabeth Ann?"  "NO!  Elizabeth Ann Johnson."  Well, that's not going to happen.

But, here's the deal.  My parents named me Alison.  In the fifth grade my friends heard my dad call me "Ali".  They liked it.  So, I decided I liked it.  I've been Ali ever since (except for that brief stint my freshman year in college when I decided I should be more sophisticated and use Alison.  But, that's another post).  I guess I'm waiting for EA to name herself, too.  (p.s. Did I mention that, when writing, I call her EA?)

In the meantime, we'll continue to call her Lulu, Sister, Elizabeth, Elizabeth Ann, Elle and (Shawn's pet name for her) Shorty Britches.

We'll let you know how this turns out in ten years or so.

Elizabeth Ann Johnson:

Lulu Johnson:

Thursday, December 17, 2009

You know what Preschool and Kindergarten teachers should do?

They should have lots more class parties and invite parents to attend.  After I leave one, and the uncontrollable shaking has subsided, I'm always left with the same thought.  We don't pay our teachers nearly enough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Why do we buy them toys...

...when they're just going to play in the box in which they came?

Isn't parenting hard enough?

OK.  So here's my thought.  Don't we parents have a hard enough time trying not to screw up our kids without the help of professionally-made products?

Thanks to my sister, Brandy (yes, read all the dripping sarcasm into that that you want), we are now the proud owners of an "Elf on the Shelf".  If you don't know about this Christmas treasure, it's a little stuffed elf that sits in your house and "watches" the kids for Santa.  Each night he reports to the North Pole and returns to "hide" in a new spot.  The kids wake every morning to find his new hiding spot.  Well, we've only had our guy (lovingly named "Jingle Bells" [first name: "Jingle", last name: "Bells"] by our estatic children. Okay.  So, that's reason enough to do it.  But, I digress...) We've only had "Jingle" THREE nights and I already almost forgot to move him.  How am I going to get through YEARS of this "tradition"?

Oh well, guess it was about time to flick a few more coins into the kids' therapy funds anyway.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why am I doing this?

Well, it didn't take much.  One email from Shawn's cousin-in-law, Anna, suggesting I start a blog and BAM! that was all the motivation I needed to do what I've been thinking about for a while now.  To be quite honest, it seems awfully egotistical to think that anyone would want to keep up with my little ol' family.  But, I guess that's what grandparents are for, right?  They have to be interested, don't they?

However, I have some very brilliant friends who write some very brilliant blogs, but unless there is a situation I need to keep up with... it just seems like one more thing on my already overflowing to-do list.  So, if you're one of my too-much-to-do-and-not-enough-time-in-the-day peers, please feel free to never look at this site again.

I can't promise much.  I will seldom have a deep thought.  I won't challenge you too much.  But, I will be honest.  Hopefully, I'll let you know that you're no more of a freak than the rest of us.  We're all just a little bit crazy.  And, for the most part, I don't think any of us are any better or worse than the rest.

So, there you have it.  Grandma, I hope you enjoy the ride. ;)

Seriously!  Is there a spell-check on this thing?!

This is me just trying to figure it out

Ok. I admit it. Blogging completely freaks me out. So, here I am, making my first "post" just so I can see what it looks like.

Here are my main worries. That I will look illiterate. That I will show my true freak-hood and it will be out there for all the world to see. And, that, unlike all of my Facebook posts, I will have to use capitalization. That alone might send me running from this "blogging" thing.

Is there a spell-check on this thing?!


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