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.


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