Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Refrigerator and Priscilla are Here!

I may not be excited in that order. Or I might be. Either way: Priscilla and the new refrigerator are here!

I shall now add "knows how to work" to the reasons I love 'Cilla. She is an unpacking machine; and, she makes me laugh; and, she yells at my kids when they need it. It's the trifecta of moving companionship.

She makes it easier to take the absolute chaos that is all around me. When did I accumulate so much stuff? I don't care who you are, seven foaming hand soaps are too many.

And the refrigerator. *swoon* I can't talk about it. My feelings for the refrigerator border on the obscene. But, I don't think the feeling is mutual. It's been acting awfully cold toward me.

Oh, yeah. I said it.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Moving Update: Moving In and Unpacking

The internet guy came! I speak to you now from my own legitimate signal. Thank you. Thank you very much.

When he left yesterday, I realized I spent his entire visit wearing a white t-shirt and a black bra. Just a little unintentional eye candy for the cable guy since I was making him work Sunday and all. I'm a giver like that. (And lest we have any confusion like the previous post where I left some of you with the impression that I wore nothing but a scarf - I was wearing pants. I'm not that much of a giver.) But, I have really got to get my clothes unpacked.

On the plus side, I unpacked the pantry and it seems that I have a lifetime supply of:
Italian seasoning
lemon pepper
celery salt (!)

I can't really remember ever using celery salt, so why I have so much is a complete mystery to me. Anyway, I'm going to start making spaghetti sauce in bulk so I can even begin to make a dent in some of this oregano, basil and Italian seasoning. If anyone has a recipe that utilizes mass amounts of lemon pepper and celery salt, be sure and pass it along asap. Thanks.

Oh, and the refrigerator verdict is Kenmore Elite with a bottom freezer. Don't tell me if you think that's a terrible choice. It was bright and shiny and it was on sale! It gets delivered on Wednesday. In the meantime, Shawn and I have a new favorite saying: "Remember when we used to have ice? That was awesome."

Friday, December 24, 2010

Things I May (or May Not) Have Done While Moving

[Horror! I got kicked off my hijacked internet signal. I've been drifting aimlessly for a day. But, it's back! For how long?! I can't say, so I must make this quick.]

Things I May (or May Not) Have Done While Moving:
...Stolen my neighbor's internet. (Wait. You all already know I did that.)
...Ordered two venti coffees from Starbucks... both for me.
...Bathed with Baby Wash and Baby Shampoo.
..."Improvised" on the underwear situation.
...Parted my daughter's hair with a screwdriver.
...Worn nothing but a scarf in 30 degree weather for three days and counting because I can't figure out which box my coat is in.
...Have found eleven years worth of crumbs in the toaster (just before I threw it away).
...Listened to my husband call my car "a piece of crap." It's like my second home. I could not be more offended.
...Paper cut my cheek on a cardboard box. (Oddly, though, this doesn't bother me so much. I have a friend who told me about paper cutting her boob on a box while she was moving. Ummm. I'll take the cheek. I'm good.)

My internet will be installed on Sunday. Sunday? That seems like a weird date for the poor installation man to have to work. But, I'm not giving him a pass. I don't feel that bad for him. I'll check back in (on a legit wi-fi signal) after his work is done.

Much love to all our friends and family, far and wide, virtual and real; and Merry, Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

It's a Christmas Miracle

I'm sitting in my new house. On. the. internet. One of my neighbors has wireless that's not password protected. I love my new neighbors.

Gotta go! I'm getting dirty looks from my husband for being on the computer instead of helping direct the movers.

Christmas love! Moving miracles! Check back when I can.

Refrigerators: The Things That Keep Me Up at Night

Ok. I don't like to post twice in one day. (Well, technically, it's after midnight so this is really the next day. But, it's before 9:00 a.m., so my point is...) The email subscribers will get both of my most recent posts in one email. And, I worry that they'll miss the second one. And, that would be sad because what if I wrote something that would make them happy in the second post, and they miss it. I live to make the world happy. (And, yes. I do know what the email posts look like and when they are sent out because I subscribe to my own blog. I'm narcissistic like that.)

Wow. That was all really rambly. It's either because It's after midnight and I should go to sleep (Okay. That one's true whether it's the reason I'm rambly or not), or I've officially snapped because I chose to move over the holidays. I don't feel like I've snapped. But then again, crazy people never know they're crazy, do they?

Anyway, where was I?
Ok, Rambly, settle down and get to the point.
Which was?
I don't know. Oh, wait. Refrigerators.

Yes. This is what keeps me up when the rest of the world sleeps. Refrigerators. We had a built-in in the house we're leaving, so we need to buy a new one. I spent about 5 whole minutes googling refrigerator ratings, but that was really boring. So, I need you to tell me.

I think I really like the freezer on the bottom kind, but I don't know why. I probably just like it like I like shiny things. It's new, it's pretty, it's a freezer on the bottom! But, truly, it seems like I would want to be able to see the things in my fridge at eye-level so that fruit doesn't sit in the crisper drawers near the floor and turn into a science experiments. (Not that I would ever let that happen in my refrigerator. That would be unseemly!)

So, go! Help me, people! I've posted twice in 24 hours. There are going to be two posts in one email subscription. Don't make me regret this. Do you have a refrigerator that you love? What is it and why do you love it? Or, on the other hand, do you know of one that is the spawn of the devil and should avoided like the plague?

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Moving Update: Change of Plans
(well, of COURSE there is...)

Loading the trucks took longer than previously estimated. The movers will be done loading today, but they won't pull out until tomorrow morning (time: unknown).

Shawn says if it's uber-early, he'll head out and meet them at the new house to start directing the unloading. Then, the kids and I can make the two-hour trek as soon as we're up and about. Sweet husband.

So, for now, we've turned ourselves around and headed back to my parents' house, unloaded the car and settled in for some afternoon naps.

I really don't know who this "chill" girl is that stands before you today. The best I can figure is that:
  • Christmas presents are taken care of;
  • the kids know Santa knows how to find us (thanks to Jingle* who has followed us from our house to my parents' house faithfully and the PNP video email they received from Santa that showed their location as Amarillo);
  • and no one seems traumatized by this most untraditional of Johnson Christmases - conversely, everyone seems quite happy.

And, finally, there were many fine suggestions about how to deal with my upcoming internet drought:
  • From Danny: take up residence at the public library - internet access for me and educational opportunity for the kids. (win/win)
  • From Jamie: ask the new neighbors if they have wireless and if I can have their password. (That one made me LOL.)
  • From Amy and Cherry Kay: iPad, asap! (That's two votes. And really, who am I to question democracy?)

*Oh, Jingle. How I hated you when you first arrived. Now, I thank you for being a traveling piece of Christmas no matter where we lie our heads.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Moving Update: HORROR!

The packers are done. (I've had my toothbrush in my possession the entire time. I can guarantee that no one but me has touched it.)

The movers come to load tomorrow. If they get the trucks (I just said, truckS. Remember when we were in college and everything we owned would fit in a couple of cars - a U-Haul, at the most, if we had a few pieces of our parents' furniture in our possession?) loaded by 1:00 tomorrow, they'll head on up and unload us. If it takes longer, they'll take off first thing Wednesday.

Anyway, Shawn was giving me the run-down of the services that will be turned on and when*. And, he told me... Ok, people, stop reading. You should sit for this. And, I need you to be strong... internet will be turned on on the... we can get through this together... 29th. *gasp*

I don't care what my parenting-expert friend Jamie says, I don't see anything wrong with leaving the kids alone while I go to Starbucks and use their wi-fi. She's just being overprotective. She has no idea how mature my seven-year-old is.

*He keeps giving me phone numbers in case I need to change the times of the appointments. Ummm, babe? I think I know three people up there. My calendar is pretty open.

You Could Just Dream for Daughters Like Us

So, my sister's been getting divorced. (What?! No. Who knew? Ok. Shut up, there's a point here.) My mom was down visiting her last week. While there, they went out shopping. My mom saw a St. Francis of Assisi statue that was an exact replica, at the exact price, of one that she had talked herself out of buying here at home. As any good shopper would, she took this as a sign that she should come home and buy the statue for herself. But, she told my sister, if it wasn't in the shop at home anymore, she was going to send Brandy back to buy that one and ship it to her.

Later, when they returned home from shopping, Brandy came to my mom with money and said something to the effect of, "This holiday has been so crazy. Please take this and buy your St. Francis with it for your Christmas present. It will be one less thing I'll have worry about taking care of."

My mom thought it was fairly brilliant and funny and was recounting the story to us after she returned home.

I called my sister.

The next time I saw my mom I said, "My holidays are hectic and busy this year, too. So, I'm sending Brandy a check. Half that St. Francis is from me."

She laughed until she choked.

"Her children arise and call her blessed" indeed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Moving Update: Peaceful

So. I must be coming across as such a basket case that people have begun praying for me. (Which is good. Because I am a basket case and I do need you to pray for me.)

But, people, I have felt the prayers. I awoke this morning, so overcome with sadness. Today would be filled with so many "lasts." And, Shawn didn't make that last flight home (although, the mediation was successful - can I have an "HALLELUJAH!"?), so he would miss the kids' last day at school. I was so overwhelmed that it felt like my arms were floating. That's about the time the first person told me they were praying for me.

The kids and I got in the car to drive to school. (Here's the part where I would like to be able to tell you that I lovingly herded them through our morning routine without shouting and snapping their heads off, but that would be a lie. I was stressed out, we were running late and I took it out on the innocents in my path. Parenting Fail. *clink clink - coins in the therapy fund.* I did apologize to them. *taking some coins out for a Starbucks*)

In the car, Elizabeth was holding her stuffed poodle and Spencer was holding his nutcracker. This is the conversation I overheard:
"Nutcracker, do you want to go on a date night?"
"Ok. Do you want to have a sleepover?"
"Ok. Come on. Let's go to my room."
Ok. That's just funny. I don't care who you are. That poodle is a Good Time Girl!

I smiled.

I got to school and there was a letter labeled "Ali Johnson" in Elizabeth's cubby. It was quite a few pages. I opened it and read:
"Oh! The Places You'll Go!
by the incomparable Dr. Seuss

Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!..."
It was the poem Oh! The Places You'll Go! with a note written at the end. I gulped and crammed it back into the envelope from which it had come. I gulped. I gulped. I blinked. I smiled and blurted out a goodbye to Elizabeth. I walked out and thought, "Who DID that?!" I went to the last page and saw the signature. I sought out my friend, Elizabeth's teacher from last year, Lindl and yelled at her for trying to make me cry on the last day of school.

We both laughed.

It was only moments ago that I finally felt like I would be able to read the note she added at the end of the poem without crying. It was so undeservedly kind. And, she asked me at the end if I needed to go potty (a reference to the little Ali that was in Elizabeth's pre-3 class last year. Every time Lindl asked, "Ali, do you need to go potty?" I thought, "Did she really just ask me that?" It took a good two weeks before I stopped being confused every single morning at drop-off).

I laughed.

The 1st graders had a Going-Away Party for Spence. They each told him something they liked about him or a memory they had of him. One little girl said she liked Spencer "because sometimes he really looked cute."

I smiled.

Then this happened on Twitter:

I laughed.

Our darling, sweet chaplain said a prayer specifically for our family during the Lessons and Carols service. It brought me peace.

Priscilla sat with me at Lessons and Carols. She reminded me that I accidentally groped her the other night and my finger got hung in her bra.

I laughed. hard.

It's so easy to be tough when the kids are around. If they saw me sad about this move, they would think, "Wait. What? You're taking us to a SAD place?!" So, I put on a smile. I say we're off on our new adventure. I tell them to tell the people who love us that we'll be back to visit! And, I ignore the ache in my chest.

But, now I'm sitting here alone. The kids are off playing with friends down the street. Movers are packing all around me. And, you. You are praying for my family and me.

There's still the ache in my chest. But, things keep making me smile and laugh.

I am at peace.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Moving Update: I've Cried All Morning

I dropped the kids off for school and realized they were going to their last "regular" chapel service at their school. Spence asked me if I could sit with them in chapel. I couldn't. I needed to run errands.

I got in the car and I was s.a.d. I was sad that I wouldn't have another opportunity to sit with them in chapel at this school. I was sad that I didn't really want to sit with them, because, even if they haven't wrapped their heads around it, it's their last chance to sit with their classmates at morning chapel.

I called Shawn. He's down at the mediation for my sister's divorce. That made me sad, too. I want this nightmare to be over. For everyone. But, selfishly, I want Shawn to be able to make that 4:15 flight this afternoon that will get him back in time to see the kids perform at their last Lessons and Carols service tomorrow morning.

So, by the time I got to my last Zumba classall of my emotional cylinders were firing. We laughed a lot in class. But, we cried, too. (Who would have thought one could cry to the song "Fire Burning" by Sean Kingston?) I flat-out had to stop looking at my friend in the front corner - she cried more than I did! Have you ever tired to workout hard while crying? There may have been a few moments where I blacked-out.

I got home and the housekeeper and I started crying together. She shouldn't be sad to see us go! She knows what pigs we are!

So, anyway. The house inspector is here. I guess we really are selling our house.

I hear something about movers tomorrow.

I have a weird vein standing out on my temple. Can you have a stroke from too many emotions?

Also? I think I ate all the cake.

Monday, December 13, 2010

If Someone Comes Across My Sanity,
Please Don't Wait to Return It

I ran around the store the other day with my heart in my throat trying to figure out where I had set my purse. I had left it in the car. Things are not looking well for my mental health. (No one really expected that I could handle the holidays and moving and still keep my %&!* together, did they?!)


And. Um. Wow. Guess what I forgot to tell you? I was a Parent of the Week over on my friend Jamie's parenting blog, Avant Garde Parenting - BACK IN NOVEMBER. Don't worry - there are no "good-parent requirements" to be given this honor, so you don't have to question her judgement. It's probably something along the lines of a teacher encouraging the "bad kid" to try to reinforce positive behavior. (I'm right, aren't I, Jamie? ;)

Jamie really is an honest-to-goodness, card-carrying parenting expert (i.e., she has a PhD - I know, right?!). And, yet, she's still down-to-earth, honest, friendly and funny. Parents of the world - read this blog! Her dissertation was on how moms raised their wee ones in order to have teenagers that didn't need to be euthanized could "1. Communicate effectively with them and 2. Display independence in the relationship." (Again. I know, right?! I wonder if she'll let me have her cell phone number?)

In all seriousness, AGP has made me a better parent and given me tools I didn't even know I was missing in my parenting arsenal. I can rarely make a comment on her blog, though, because I'm seldom thinking, "Let me tell you about a time I successfully employed that technique." I'm usually thinking, "Holy crap! That's a great idea!" And, it would just get old if I commented that time after time after time after time.

Much love to you, Jamie!


In moving news:
Our friends keep trying to love us with food. I have a cookie cake and half a sheet cake in my kitchen as I type.

Every. single. outing is becoming emotionally exhausting for Shawn and me. You never really know how many amazing friends you have until they are given a deadline to tell you. We come home and collapse, not just from the physical exhaustion of too many events and not enough sleep, but from the emotional exhaustion of being smothered with love. This weekend alone:
  • Some of our friends gave us a going-away party. This was from where the cake came. It was actually our wedding cake. It's Shawn's favorite cake in the world (white cake with buttercream icing and imported, seedless raspberry jam between the layers). I get him one every year on his birthday. But, when one of the hostesses called to order the cake, she was told that the cake lady only made wedding cakes. Our friend managed to blurt out our names; to which she was told, "Oh. I make it special for them. I will make you one if it's for them." I. had. no. idea. This was one of about 362 things that almost made me cry that night.
  • On Saturday we attended a Christmas Party. We got to hang out with some amazing friends that we haven't had nearly enough time to get to know. There may have come a point in the evening where we were hugging, declaring, "I love you, man!"
  • Our Middle School/High School Sunday School class had a celebration for us (with cookie cake).
  • And, the rector at our church called the four of us to the front yesterday during the service and gave us a blessing. That one almost did me in. I almost lied down on the floor of the church and told someone to come get me when the new house was unpacked.
Such amazing people. We are surrounded by such amazing people. And, the movers come on Friday.

Now. I'm off to push these feelings down with get some cake cookie cake cookie both.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

I've Been Shamed By Contacts

"I need to order more contacts, please."

"Your name?"

"Ali Johnson."

After a few "please holds" and "let me get your charts," he finally said, "Ok. I can get those ordered for you. Would you like to give me a credit card over the phone?"

Since I've ordered countless boxes of contacts from this doctor's office and have always paid for them when I've picked them up, I knew this wasn't necessary. And, since I was also driving at the time, I said, "I'm sorry. I can't right now. I'm driving. Can I just pay for them when I pick them up?"

To which he answered, "Well... Okay... But, last time we ordered contacts for you, I show you didn't pay. So, just be sure and get them paid for this time."


Did I mention that this eye doctor is our friend? If I'm going to skip a bill, it's certainly not going to be one from someone who knows me!*

So, I stammered, "I... Um... How... When?!"

"Back in August I see you ordered some contacts and you never picked them up."

"I never picked them up? Are they still there?!"

"Oh. Just one second. Let me check... They are still here."

"How about I just come pick those up?"

"Sure. That would be great."

Dude. Customer service tip: "We still have some contacts here that you ordered back in August. It seems you never picked them up," would probably go over a little better than, "Sure, deadbeat. But, be sure to pay your bill this time."

*I kid. I'm too big of a believer in karma to steal from anyone. (Ask me about the toothpaste I had to smuggle back into Walmart when I found it buried in my cart as I unloaded my purchases one time.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Seriously. Am I the only one who sees these things?!

We live on the Plains of Texas. What's with the lumberjack?! They can't be offering to take people away from lumberjacking (we have no trees), so they must be offering the dream of lumberjacking. Who knew?
(Someone call that number and report back, please.
Or call from the lumberjack camp!)

This is why you should never put your keys in your mouth.
(That's an unidentifiable "parking lot puddle.")

This should be filed under "True Confessions."
Confession #1: I went to put away the kids' tote bags from a camp they attended this summer. (Yes. It's December. They were hidden on the coat tree. Don't judge me.)
Confession #2: Elizabeth's bathing suit was still in there. And still wet.

I was attacked by my own wedding ring. See how there's blood smeared all over the band? And, this picture doesn't even do justice to the bloody chunk that was missing from my finger.
I hope I'm never DNA tested in connection with a crime. But, wait. That crime would have to involve my own blood... Now I really hope it never happens.

Am I the only one that thinks it's a little hysterical that there's a donut shop a few doors down from the Weight Watchers office? And, it has a drive-thru!

 This happened in the middle of the football season:
I feel like it might have been God's way of suggesting our team just scrap the season and take up swimming.

Serious overuse of quotation marks:

This seems like some fairly intense take-home reading for a 1st grader. I was expecting a Dr. Seuss character. Cesar Chavez? Notsomuch.
(Honestly, it was a cute little book from the "Rookie Biographies" series. I just did not expect a solemn Chavez to emerge from the bookbag last night.)

So, do you see hysterical ridiculousness everywhere you look? Or is it just me?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

What to post, what to post, what to post?

I was going to tell you that this weekend was exhausting. That it nearly brought Shawn and me to our knees.
  • It began with a ride on The Polar Express on Friday evening.
  • It continued on Saturday with a basketball game (we WON. [but, it's not about winning.] but, we WON! our first victory ever. [even though it's about having fun and trying your hardest; not who wins or loses.] but we WON.), violin concert (with homemade treat), Spence off to spend the night at a friend's house and Shawn's office Christmas Party.
  • And, it finished with Sunday School teaching, brunch with my parents, Elizabeth to a birthday party (guess whose mommy forgot to buy a birthday present until Sunday morning?), and a school fundraiser until 10pm last night (Shawn was in charge of the "beverages/spirits" - I think that's a nicer way of saying "Booze Chairman" and he was the auctioneer for the live auction).
Never mind all of the other chores and errands that had to be accomplished (or weren't accomplished) along the way. I think I fell asleep every time I sat still for more than five minutes.

That's what I was going to tell you about.

But, then... the photos that our cousin took as our "thank you" for hosting Thanksgiving came in the mail. When I was done shrieking over how darling they are, I was going to post those for your viewing pleasure. (Don't worry. Those pictures are still coming. I don't want you to miss seeing how cute we are what an awesome photographer Anna is. In the meantime, you can go look at her website and start scheduling your session if you plan on being in the DFW area anytime soon. If not, plan a trip.)

So, I was going to post those pics as my post today.

But, in the meantime, I was trying to get together the kids' messages from Santa from the Portable North Pole. (If you're a parent and don't know about this site, click that link immediately. Most awesome thing ever.) It lets you personalize the message for your child and Santa delivers a video to them via email. It even lets you upload special pictures from the year of their activities and events. I put a basketball picture for Spencer and one of his birthday party. I moved on to Elizabeth and was attempting to upload a picture of her doing an arabesque in ballet class:
The PNP program cropped it to fit and it gave me this:
I think it's pretty clear what I was going to end up blogging about.

Precious ballerina cropped-to-look-like-she's-throwing-the-Nazi-salute pretty much trumps all other posts.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Parenting FAIL

I let the kids have apple slices from Sonic.

...with caramel dipping sauce.


Parenting FAIL.

When Spence's flew off of his knee and landed on the seat in between Elizabeth and him, I began to suspect that I had made a bad choice.

When we arrived at violin lessons and Spence was crying because his hands were sticky (Elizabeth's hands were sticky, too - she was just blissfully unconcerned about it), I knew that I could no longer trust my own judgement.

The final carnage count: Everyone had it on their hands; Spencer had dripped it down his shirt; and Elizabeth had desecrated her car seat (amazingly, my one act of foresight - the napkin draped over Elizabeth's shirt - had worked just as I had intended and her clothes were caramel-free). The backseat had half a container pooled on it. And, the Travel Bingo will probably never be the same.

Spencer heard me telling the violin teacher of my gross misjudgment and later used my own words against me when he said, "You really have no one to blame but yourself."

I believe I showed great restraint by not calling him a jerk.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Moving Update: The Kids Like It

I took the kids up to see their new school today. The headmaster took them to the kitchen to raid for warm cookies and he keeps Jelly Bellies on his desk. Ummm... He had them at "cookies."

I'm not sure they even remember the teachers or classmates that they met. Did you not hear the "cookies and Jelly Bellies" part? But, there were classrooms, cafeterias, libraries, gyms, science rooms, computer rooms, orchestra rooms, music rooms, art rooms. They were even given a school t-shirt and shopping bag with the school logo on it!

They are definitely excited. But, of course, the majority of their interactions with people at the school consisted of mumbled "hi's" and an occasional revelation of their name, age or grade or a [prompted-from-Mom] "thank-you" for a compliment or a welcome. (We've done such a fine job with our children's social graces.)

We went to lunch and we saw the new house, too. And, so far, the only conclusions I've heard Spencer draw are these:
  • This new school and house are cool because they both have upstairs and his at home are both just "flat."
  • The queso at Abuelo's is better in the new city.

Now. More about me. I've pinpointed the only point of angst I have with this move.
  • I have an issue. (I know. I know. I shouldn't tee it up so easily. But, focus for a minute, please. I'm trying to make a point.) I like everything to have a place and everything to be in its place. Moving to a new town just throws everything up in the air and you have to wait for it to land in its new "place." And by "it" I mean the four of us, too.
This isn't anything that a little time can't solve. I've always needed to work on my patience anyway.

It is also going to be weird (in a good way!) to have our manic lives slow down. We won't have as many social events because we won't know as many people with whom to socialize! We won't have the kids enrolled in a million extra-curricular activities - because I'm pretty sure we're missing every Spring deadline there is as we speak. And, we won't have regular date nights because we won't have Priscilla. Oh, Priscilla. (Forcing her to move with us is not the right thing to do. Right? Right?!) Ok. I don't want to talk about it anymore.

So, that's where we are. I don't know what more to do than continue on in my present state of denial and wait for the end of the kids' semester to get here. But, Shawn keeps sending me confirmation emails from the movers that our move is "on the books" to begin on Friday, December 17th. He's making it really hard to maintain my theoretical view about this whole thing.

Why didn't anyone tell me I was moving?!

P.S. On a positive note, I did find the Wal-Mart closest to our new house today and a feeling of peace descended upon me... Geez. I can hear you shrieking through the computer. Hush, already. Let me cope in my own ways.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

I'm Thankful for...

... a houseful of family. A houseful of family that you like so much, you're not dying for them to leave by the time they pull out of your driveway. As a matter of fact, you're a little sad to see them go (not just because they're awesome and fun, but because they cook and do dishes, too). *sigh* I miss them already. Even though they are so entertaining, they make it impossible to find the time to blog.

And, are you ready to hate me? These are my in-laws. I have good in-laws.

Here's the break-down:
  • There were seventeen of us.
  • Two under two.
  • Three between the ages of four and seven.
  • One teen.
  • Seven of us that are older than twenty, but don't think we are. (There should have been eight; but, Shawn's cousin was called away to Beijing at the last minute. Wha?! Do they not know Thanksgiving was the day the pilgrims and Indians feasted in the new world?!)
  • And, four matriarchs/patriarchs (That's so much more politically correct than calling them "the old people." They don't like that.)

That batch was comprised of Shawn's brother's family, Shawn's parents, Shawn's aunt and uncle (his mom's sister), their son's family (Their son was the one in Beijing. Did I already say, "Wha?! Come on, Beijing! It's Thanksgiving!"?), their daughter and her boyfriend. 

Shew! That hurt my brain.

Are you ready for more?

My step-sisters and their families - two husbands and five children (Did I just make them sound like an episode of Sister Wives? They're not. They're two separate families. I promise.), came to town to visit my mom and step-dad for the holiday. So they all came to our house for Thanksgiving, too.

That brought the grand total, sitting and eating at our house to....

Drum roll, please...


And, it was fun! And, no one threw pie. Or hid in the bathroom and cried. Or shanked anyone. Seriously.

Although, my brother-in-law did send a couple of kids off to the playroom with their pie... on Wedgwood china. I might have almost shanked him...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Random Acts of Culture

I must be emotional, but there were tears streaming down my face by the end of this. And, I really don't know why. Because, really, it's just awesome.

To quote the Creative Minority Report: "Shoppers at the the Macy's in Philadelphia... were surprised when over 600 choristers who were there mingling with regular shoppers suddenly burst into Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus'... Accompanied by the Wanamaker Organ - the world's largest pipe organ - the singers burst into song at exactly noon."

I don't know if it's the awe on the onlookers' faces. I don't know if it's the fact that such seemingly everyday-looking people can make such a glorious sound. I don't know if it's the dad helping his baby dance in the air to it all. You watch. And, tell me if you get choked up.

(Thanks, Lindl. I needed this.)

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'd Like a Side of Cardboard with that, Please

I opened the frozen vegetables. I dumped them out. And I found this:
That is a huge chunk of cardboard! CARD.BOARD. Since when is that a stew vegetable?!

And, psssst... I totally put these vegetables in the stew and fed it to my family. Surely any cooties were killed by the freezing and subsequent boiling. It's not like it was a big chunk of anthrax or anything...

Friday, November 19, 2010

Who Taught Her the Alphabet?!

Elizabeth has been studying the letters of the alphabet in her Pre-K class - how to draw them, what they sound like, etc., etc. She's also been learning to spell her name. She loves to tell us that "Elizabef starts with E!"

Unfortunately, Spencer helped her figure out what letter all of our names start with. Why unfortunate, you ask? Well, I answer, because the way she chooses to display her newfound talent (in public and on more than one occasion) is by shouting: "A!... S!... S!... [and then a much quieter] E... That's us!"

Oh. dear.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Moving Update: House(s)

You may not have noticed but this whole "moving" thing is going really fast (or maybe that's just the roaring in my head). So, we made the decision to try to lease a house until we got up there and got the lay of the land. That way we can look before we leap (an odd concept for the Johnsons and homeownership, but one that has been highly recommended so we thought we would give it a try).

Now, when I think of houses available for lease, I think of shanties that have been previously inhabited by no fewer than three college boys and their livestock.

Luckily for me, the housing market sucks right now! Houses, that would have otherwise been sold, have sat long enough on the stagnant market that people are far more willing to lease.

That was the story on the exquisite home we found when we went to look around (and interview at the kids' new school) last Wednesday. Shawn called the owner on Friday (while I tapped my foot impatiently through the entirety of Thursday). And... she had been made an offer to sell. *cue the sad clown music*

In the meantime, we showed our house to some friends on Friday evening... then to some friends of some friends on Saturday... then to a colleague of some friends on Sunday... I swear to you with every ounce of my being that we did not drug, coerce or in any way spellbind these people, but every. single. one of them. made an offer on our house.

Highest bid wins and we're selling our house to our personal friends - which makes me do a little jig of joy. They are darling, darling, darling. And, if I have to give my house to someone else, I'm so glad it's another growing family that will fill it with the sound of kids' laughter. (I'm absolutely aware of how cheesy that is, but, shut up. I'm moving. I'm allowed to be a little bit sappy about the things I love that I'm leaving behind.)

Then, when Shawn got to work on Monday, he had a voicemail that the financing for the house that had been sold right out from under our grubby little leasing hands had fallen through. If we still wanted to lease it, she would love to lease it to us. Ummmm.  Yes, please.

When things work so effortlessly, it's so much easier to feel you've made the right decision.

And, a couple more things I've noticed about moving:
  • My friends don't make me sad - even though the diabolical little wenches try their hardest! I know I will see them. I know I will be back for lunches and parties - we're only moving two hours up the road. And, let's face it, we're all busy, it's not like we all get to see that much of each other at any other times than those anyway.
  • The kids' teachers on the other hand... Every sweet word. Every sweet email. Tears. Every one. How do I take my kids away from such wonderful people who love them so much and have taught them so much? (The answer is that there will be just as wonderful people in the new city who will love and teach my kids. But, I don't want to be bothered with logic right now, thankyouverymuch.)
  • Also, the vultures have started circling around Priscilla. That makes me laugh. (And, proves that my friends are pretty smart.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Sara Bareilles - I *heart* you

Keep drinking coffee, stare me down across the table
While I look outside


So let me thank you for your time, and try not to waste anymore of mine
And get out of here fast



Who made you king of anything?
Who died and made you king of anything?



You’re so busy making maps with my name on them in all caps


Who made you king of anything?
Who died and made you king of anything?



Who made you king of anything?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Who made you king of anything?
Who died and made you king of anything?

Let me hold your crown, babe.

(It goes without saying that I'm not talking about Shawn here, right?! Love you, babe! :)

Monday, November 15, 2010

A Battle for the Ages

There is some kind of epic conflict occurring here:
But, I gotta tell ya - it's not looking good for the crew on the red bucket.
I don't think their battering ram is going to be much help against that fire-breathing dragon. And, that cannon is not positioned well. at. all. Never mind that they're already a man down.

The real tragedy, however, is that all of this seems to be nothing more than an exhibition blood-bath for the audience in the "boat." (I was told that was a boat.) The dinosaurs are heartless enough for their apathy to carnage. But, let's be honest. It looks like everyone is the bunny's bitch.

Friday, November 12, 2010

How Many of Me Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

I don't know the answer to that. But, I do know that the one "me" doesn't seem to have the mental horsepower to get it done.

The lightbulb in my nightstand lamp burned out last night as we were going to bed. Shawn got a new bulb and changed it. He turned it on... and... nothing. He checked to make sure the new bulb wasn't burned out. He tried again. Nothing. I told him to forget about it, it was clearly God's way of telling me to just go to bed.

Shawn got back in bed... and... of course, I couldn't leave well enough alone. I unscrewed the bulb again to see if something had gone awry in the socket. (Come on... you can already see where this is going, can't you?) And, there was "something" in there just rattling around. Well, clearly a lamp can't be expected to function with a "chunk" of something interrupting the process. So... wait for it... I reached in to get it. Ummm. You can't do that so much. There was a SPARK. (I wish I could make those letters more spark-y to emphasis my point.) And, my fingers looked like this:
Oddly, it didn't hurt at all.

Shawn looked at me in disbelief and said, "Babe! You can't do that!" [Well, no kidding.] "When you touch the side and bottom of the socket at the same time, you complete the circuit! You can't just reach in there without unplugging it first!"* [I did not know that. I did not know that at all.]

But, to my credit (Let me have something! I almost died for heaven's sake), although the small chunk seemed to be something that broke off the lamp, the lamp works now! Maybe it just needed to be defibrillated.  And, I did come to my senses and listened to God about JUST GOING TO BED after He used shock treatment to get my attention. I can be a little slow. He knows that... clearly.

So, now, you answer my question. How many of me should I be required to have before I attempt to change my next lightbulb?

*I used exclamation points with all of Shawn's statements because he was being very... emphatic. Like there was a chance I might try it again.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

There's just no cute post title for
"We're Moving"

But, we are! It turns out when your husband is a superstar at what he does, people want him to go do it other places, too. (He would tell me I'm wrong. But, I'm not.) So, we're moving as soon as the kids are out for the Christmas break. He will officially start January 1. Same firm, new office. It's such a mix of emotions.

We love our life here. We love our friends and family. We love our house (please buy our house). We love Shawn's office. We love our school. It breaks our hearts that we're making people sad with our departure. But, we also realize there are only two possible reactions to this: 1) Sadness from dear people who think we are as special to them as they are to us; or 2) A rousing rendition of "Ding Dong the Witch is Dead."

But, the new position is in Shawn's hometown. He said his parents were so excited when he talked to them about it, that there was a chance one or both of them peed a little. (Poor, unsuspecting in-laws. They have no idea how much we like to come over for dinner; and free babysitting; and foot rubs. And, I think my charming irreverence probably gets old after about a week. But, too late. They're stuck with us.)

Also, the powers-that-be sent me flowers congratulating me on the new move. Well played. I like anyone who kisses up to me. Someone go tell them that I like chocolate cashew turtles, too.

The only foreseeable problem of which I can imagine is my inability to interact well with new people. I'm shy. (Shut up. I am.) If I'm not sure someone will appreciate the sarcastic, dry sense of humor that is Ali Johnson, I just give a lot of tight-lipped grins and "what up?" head nods. That just comes across as bitchy. I'm pretty sure a few of Shawn's aunts had that opinion of me for a couple of years. Sadly, that was just me trying to be "respectable."

Luckily, I have one friend up there already (because God knew I needed one)! She has been a dream. Her kids go to the school in which we're hoping to enroll. Her nephew is in Spence's grade! She's been telling me about neighborhoods (buy our house, please). She's hooking us up with a pediatrician. I already love her in an unhealthy, obsessive kind of way.

In the meantime, back at the ranch, I have reached new levels of obsessiveness with cleaning closets and pre-packing. I have determined that Nerf bullets are the bane of my existence. And, I'm going to sign Elizabeth Ann up for an episode of Hoarders.

So, that's the big news from around here. As evidence by yesterday's absence, I keep finding myself lost in the abyss of one project or another. (buy. our. house.) So, don't be worried by radio silence. I promise to check in as often as the voices in my head let me.

Anyway. Here's to new opportunities. Here's to new adventures. And, here's to knowing that our family of four can conquer the world - as long as we do it together.


**Cast your vote: Should I keep this blog a deep, dark secret from the new people and just blog about them all? That could never turn out badly, I'm sure. (I'm kidding, of course! But, I don't think I'll run up there waving a "I BLOG" flag. Geez. Then I really never would make any friends.)

Friday, November 05, 2010

"I'm going to blog that you said that."

Everyone else seems to have an movie on their blog. So, I want one, too. (And, yes. If they all jumped off a bridge I would want to do that, too.)

Here's a conversation that happened between Shawn and me last night. We were discussing a hole in the bathroom wall where the towel hook was ripped out (by the weight of a seven year old boy hanging on it pulling too hard to get his towel off of it). I finally, finally, finally remembered to buy a patch kit.

This is exactly what the discussion was like. Except that we were in our bedroom. Except that I'm not African-American. Except that Shawn's not redhead and the same size as me. Except that neither of us has a fro. And, I'm pretty sure it takes inflection for the things that we say to be funny. So, just imagine all those things, and this is exactly the conversation we had last night:

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Hysterical Ridiculousness

Don't worry. All of my trials yesterday (seriously. where is that "sarcasm font" when you need it?) did not blind me to the hysterical ridiculousness wonder in the world. Here are some observations for you:
  • I found a freaky, skinny match in the matchbox (when I was getting a match to light a candle to cover the stink from the clogged sink... wait... getting sidetracked...forgetting about "the wonder"...). I even included a normal match so you could compare (because I'm all scientific like that).
I call that one "Laurel" and the other one "Hardy."
  • I heard the song "Papa Don't Preach" followed by "You're the One that I Want" from Grease. Yeah. I was listening to the oldies station, but what of it?! What part of "Papa Don't Preach" and Grease did you not understand? The oldies station is awesome now.
That's a pencil next to it for size reference
(again: I'm all scientific like that).
  • You may rest easy, the term "Bark Nuggets" is in common, everyday usage.
Bark. Nuggets. These two words were always meant to be together.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

When It Rains, It Pours

It started yesterday:
  • A glass jar I bought fell out of the car while I was picking the kids up from school. [drat.]
  • Driving to tennis lessons, I missed my exit. [darn.]
  • I took the next exit so I could use the loop-de-loo (yes. that's what it's called) and circle back. The intersection (including loop-de-loo) was completely shut down for overhaul to the overpass. [damn!]
During the night:
  • Spencer awoke with eyes completely swollen shut, red and matted, crying that he "couldn't see" because they were so sensitive to light. This was clearly and obviously pink-eye. Pink-eye for which we had been to the doctor on Monday and been reassured his swollen, goopy eye was from allergies. (To be fair, his eye did look much better while at the doctor's office - so much so, that I apologized for wasting their time.) Yet again, I allowed my maternal instinct to be overruled by someone who is "an authority". When will I ever learn? [crap.]
This morning:
  • I jumped in the car to zoom to the pharmacy while Shawn stayed home with Spence. The lid popped off of my travel coffee mug while I was holding the mug by said lid. Coffee. Everywhere. [$*&#]
  • I got to the pharmacy and they couldn't find the prescription my doctor's nurse had called in. [#@$%]
  • They found the prescription! And... they're out of that drop. "It will be in the next shipment that's coming in an hour." [#&%$@!$#&*$%]
  • I got home to send Shawn (who was being so nice to me it was making me nervous - maybe I'm closer to snapping than I think...) on to work. I realized my car had been keyed. [Is that my maniacal laughter?]
  • The kitchen sink is clogged. The plumber can come tomorrow.
         [#&%$@!$#&**&^ @#*&^@&^%$#]

Ok. That's enough of that pity party. I shall now force myself to see the glass half-full:
  • The jar only cost $10.
  • We arrived at tennis safely, and got a lovely scenic tour of the airport.
  • It's just pink-eye.
  • Don't cry over spilled coffee. Too cheesy. How about, it was time for a carwash anyway and until then at least my car smells like Starbucks?
  • The pharmacist knows me and was clearly working hard to take care of us. That included a call to my cell phone the moment the shipment arrived. (Going in month after month for that birth control all those years really worked out in my favor today!)
  • At least I have a car to be keyed. (And someone else has really screwed up their own karma - that's vengeance enough for me).
  • We get to eat out tonight!

Honestly, y'all? I feel better after finding the glass-half-full scenarios to this day. You should try it.

(But, if you hear about a lady going berserk in a parking lot somewhere later today - come quick.)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

One for the Grandparents

Ok. Seriously, people. If you are not related to our family, I give you permission to look away. I mean, my kid is cute and all, but even wouldn't ask you to endure iPhone video of her Children's Church Choir performance.

Now. For those of you who know The Lulu, please be prepared for greatness. This was a church choir performance a few weeks ago. I'm not sure why the footage gets so bright at random times during the song. (Those must be the parts that God likes. Or the mother that scooted right in front of me and wouldn't sit still. po-tay-to. po-tah-to.) And, I'm not sure why EA seems to be the only one doing "motions."

But, seriously. Look at this girl. Is there any doubt she would be doing "motions?"

Monday, November 01, 2010

Halloween Night Busy Work

I was left at home last night to hand out candy while Shawn took the kids trick-or-treating. This was necessary, according to Shawn, so we wouldn't be "the lame house."

I took the opportunity to clear out the "candy cabinet" to make way for the new booty that was being collected.

After I showed no mercy and dumped the entire content of the "candy basket" into the trash, I dug back deep. And, this is what I came up with:

I now present I Spy: Old Candy.*
Do you see...
Petrified cotton candy - in the colors of pink and blue;
Seven Pez dispensers (though you can't tell who is who)!
An almost empty jumbo bag of Twizzlers candy treats;
And an Easter egg that avoided attack - a regular Easter feat!
And, just like the stores, we've already got your Christmas candy, too.
Though, ours is ten months old... and gross; not bright or shiny or new:

There's an open and spilling candy cane of M&M chocolate bits;
And, a poor, forgotten, chocolate Claus who looks like he's suffering fits.
And, finally there are candy canes that look like they've been to Hell.
But, it can't be all bad, 'cause look, right there! There's a festive jingle bell!

Lest you worry that my children are being deprived the chance to tango with Type II Diabetes, here's what we have after one night of trick-or-treating:

And, let's face it. We're Johnsons. Marathon trick-or-treating isn't really in our constitutions. Yet, we still managed to bring in that much of a haul. This is unreasonable. Oh well. At least I can rest easy that, in ten months, 3/4 of it will still be sitting here. Petrified.

I guess it's easier to understand how so much candy was attained when I look at this picture:
I mean, who could resist these two?!

*I was inspired by my friend Mandi. She did this on her blog. It's a happy way to look at the chaos in your life!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween School Day: Johnson-Style

Among the little girls in Pre-K, there were princesses, princesses, princesses, fairies, super heroes, and...









Never, in all of your days, have you seen
a girl more proud of her costume choice.

The first graders didn't wear costumes to school. They wore Halloween shirts. And, let me tell you, it's really hard to find "boy" t-shirts that are less in the "creepy and occult" arena:*
and more in the "cute pumpkin and cartoon bat" genre:
(He's so much more interested in showing
his Wolverine claw than his t-shirt.)

Finally, I tried to be cutsie with Spencer's snack bag, since today at school is all about the Halloween fun. But, when decorating your son's snack bag, you should A) make your vampire look like a vampire and not a snake and B) SPELL HIS NAME CORRECTLY.
Needless to say, this was the first attempt.

*Yeah. Yeah. Be quiet. I can try to keep him my sweet little baby boy just a while longer. I'm sure I'll be buying my fair share of creepy Halloween shirts before it's all said and done. At least glow-in-the-dark still works to my benefit... at the moment...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Where Do I Get Matching His and Hers Leotards?

Well, I am, too. Kinda.

Remember how, through a bizarre change of events and cancelled plans, we were able to make it to our friends' annual Halloween party? Well, I haven't told you of my behavior while there. (There really was little doubt that there was a story, was there?!)

My friend (who shall forever remain nameless in the telling of this story*) and I were on the dance floor. We were facing the same direction; I was in front of her. We both fell forward. (Yes. I am glossing over the details of how we got in that position.) As we fell toward the ground, self-preservation (or face-preservation?) caused me to throw my head back - right into her face. Her nose, to be more specific. It was a reverse head-butt. Oddly, the most damage came from the clip that was holding my hair. It took a chunk out of her nose. She has a black-eye to go with it, too.

I'm a menace. I mean. Bad-ass.

Now I just need to learn to harness my power and only use it against bad guys (as opposed to my friends/innocent victims). Then... Shawn and I? Will be an unstoppable crime-fighting duo.

*But, if you know me in real-life, just look for my black-eyed, swollen-nosed friend. You'll figure it out.


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