Sunday, January 31, 2010

There are FOUR "Three Musketeers"

(in an attempt to get our life back in order, I was downloading pictures from the camera.  this story came to mind as a result...)

For those of you that paid attention when you read The Three Musketeers (or watched the movie, if you're more like me), you are well aware that there are three Musketeers but a fourth guy that wants to join the Musketeers and works with them to defeat the bad guy (yes, that's my official synopsis).

Mattel has evidently taken a turn for the literary and, in their infinite toy-making wisdom, made a Three Musketeers movie with Barbie girls playing the heroines.  That's what Elizabeth wanted for Christmas from Mommy and Daddy.  Well, silly me, I bought three musketeers.  She opened them on Christmas and said, "Where's the blue one?"  What?  How the hell should I know?  Ok - that's not exactly what I said.  It may have been more along the lines of "I'm so sorry!  Mommy and Daddy didn't know!  We'll get you the blue one right away, Princess!"

So, after looking at every store in town, I finally found her on Amazon, paid THREE TIMES the amount I paid for the other dolls, and purchased the blasted blue Musketeer.  I could not have been more angry with toy-makers and their marketing tactics, until...  it arrived...



Friday, January 29, 2010

Find What You're Looking For

Yesterday we were making an airport run to pick up more family flying in for the funeral.  The flight was delayed - of course.  But, while Shawn circled the airport 372 times, I stood inside waiting on the plane to land with nothing to do but look around, stop and think.  And, you know what I realized?  Even when you're in a somber situation, if you look around, you can still find lots of things that make you smile.  And, I won't lie, I started looking so I would have something to blog (obsessive, party of one?).  But, then, looking made me notice.  And noticing made me happy.
  • Like the little, tiny girl running to the bathroom holding her hands between her legs "just to be safe."
  • Like the camaraderie that's built between complete strangers when you're all waiting for the same late plane to land.
  • Like the city's slogan plastered all over the airport:  "El Paso - Do Texas Different"  Ummm.  That's really bad grammar, right?
Then later:
  • Shawn missing the same turn three times.
  • Some guy running for political office in El Paso named "Coach John John."
  • Shawn's cousin David acting SHOCKED when he read the nutritional information on a bag of chips and discovered that they were bad for you.
  • His cousin Amy pulling piles of the free food from the Ambassador's Club out of her purse like she was a depression-era survivor.
  • Fifteen adults completely captivated by Baby Laila as she threw her stuffed animal on the ground over and over and over again (to be fetched by the aforementioned obedient adults).
  • Taking pictures of each other in every imaginable permutation.
And, finally, but most importantly:
  • Eight sisters who still take care of each other and still make each other laugh, even in the midst of their grief.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Test

Being with Shawn's mom's family has reminded me of one of my first memories of his family.  About six months before we got married, I went skiing with Shawn's mom, Marie (aka Toodie), his Aunt Reda, Uncle Bill and cousin Amy - it was supposed to be a "girls' trip", but Bill was allowed to come because he's downright handy to have around.

It must have been Amy's presence that helped me not completely freak out about going on vacation with Shawn's family and having to play nice.  For those of you that know me very well, I usually find the "line" and shortly thereafter leap over it.  This could have been a problem if my future in-laws were very uptight.  Luckily, it didn't take very long for me to realize that "uptight" would never be a word to describe them, and I was getting an awesome deal in the in-law department.

Anyway, somewhere during the ski trip a test was created for me.  The test concerned Marie and Reda's ten other siblings, their names and their birth orders.  They never said it out loud, but I'm pretty sure, had I not passed the test, they would have found a way to put an end to the wedding.  Well, however it came about, eleven years down the road I still haven't forgotten those twelve siblings.  So now, for you and for bragging rights...
  1. Darla
  2. George
  3. Marie
  4. Reda
  5. Gerald
  6. Jackie
  7. Becky
  8. Gwen
  9. Junior
  10. Debbie
  11. Robert
  12. Lynette
Thank you.  Thank you very much.

P.S.  I'm pretty sure Shawn can't do this.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

On The Road Again

We're off to El Paso.  Shawn's sweet granny passed away (after a full life of 80+ years and TWELVE kids).

Man, sometimes life just keeps on moving around you (or sweeping you along with it - whatever your perspective) even when you would like to hit the pause button.

But, thanks to my mom, who is always amazing to swoop in in an emergency, the kids will keep on keeping on here at the homestead.

Sorry.  That's all I've got today.  I'll try to be more clever tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Gift of an Ordinary Day

I think God often gives us little shout-outs if we just take the time to notice.  So, on a day when I'm trying to do laundry and every garment seems to be inside-out and I forgot to turn the crock-pot on for dinner, I'm glad I slowed down just enough to pay attention to this.

Thanks, Lane.  I'm off to enjoy my "perfectly ordinary day".

Monday, January 25, 2010

Coffee with Cressinda

Oh, Cressinda, you knew it would happen, didn't you?  You knew that if you talked about the blog you were destined to become a part of it, right?

I had coffee with Cressinda today!  I've known Cressinda for 20 years.  (That's so hard to believe since we're barely past the age of 20...  Anyway...)  She lends credence to the adage that you should make new friends but keep the old.  Friends like Cressinda help you remember from where you come, but also how far you've come.  Neither of us is, nor would we want to be, the people we were 20 years ago.  It's been a long and twisting road that has brought us each to where we are today.  But I don't think either of us would trade a single moment, or the wisdom we've gained from travelling it.  And, it's good to look into the eyes of a friend who just knows it all without any explanation.

So, even though it was scary to "use my words out loud" and not get to edit them for humor and content before I put them out there, it was good to be together.

Ok, C, I promise not to make you blog fodder every time we get together.  So, please promise you'll call again the next time you come to town.  I love you, Ha Ha!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend Get-away

We had the best weekend trip to the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.

We decided to make the trip over on Thursday evening and just let the kids sleep in the car.  Ummm.  That would have been a good idea had we been traveling in 1978 and could have made sleeping pallets on the floor of the backseat like we used to do as kids.  Instead, they were strapped bolt upright in their carseats for 5 1/2 hours.  Oh yeah, and it was their bedtime and they were exhausted.  It will not go down in the kids' memories as their favorite roadtrip.  Shawn and I were good, though.  ;)

We started our escapades with a trip to the Fort Worth zoo.  Shawn's cousin's wife Anna was kind enough to join us with their baby daughter, Cora.  It's an amazing place.  Very well done.  But, someone needs to talk to the elephants about proper behavior in public.  I was not prepared to view elephant porn with my 6-year-old asking, "Is that his penis?!"  Well, yes, son.  I had no idea myself, but indeed it is.

We also saw three women with a child in a stroller singing "Old McDonald" loudly.  Anna and I agreed that when we go to the zoo drunk, we do it much more tastefully.

Visiting the Flamingos
(Thoughtful of them to match Spence's shirt.
I mean this zoo goes all out!)

On Saturday we went to the rodeo.  We went with my stepdad and had seats so close to the floor of the arena, they gave warnings about flying dirt clods and standing too close to the barrier walls during the competitions because the animals might crash into them.  4/5ths of us thought this was awesome.  Elizabeth didn't really care - she was just glad there was cotton candy.

Greeting the Rodeo Grand Entrance

By the time we got back to the hotel, Shawn and I were reaching the point where the "vacation" was starting to wear us out.  And, by the time Sunday rolled around, we were ready to get our amped up munchkins home and back to the regular routine.

We're not nearly as dumb as we look.  So, we learned our lesson and traveled home during the kids' normal waking hours.  This time we just let them fry their brains on 5 1/2 hours of movies.  But, at least that way they were oblivious to the fact that they were strapped bolt upright to their seats.

All in all, a few more wonderful memories were made.  And, I'll take all of those I can get.

P.S.  One of Shawn's proudest moments of the weekend was teaching Spence to say, "Welcome to the Gun Show" while flexing his biceps.  Nice.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Mom Stare

Do you know what a sense of accomplishment I feel that I have a "Mom Stare"?  With one stare I can make my children immediately cease a behavior that they know is inappropriate.  It's more effective if we're in public (Who am I kidding?  It's only used if we're in public because in private I'm not embarrassed to just yell...).  And, if I couple it with a snap, forget about it.

I would like to think it's a skill I worked hard to fine-tune over time.  But, I didn't have anything to do with it.  I think it's just a God-given gift.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Because I'm all for a good laugh at my own expense...

This picture was a hit on Facebook, so why should I deny you the pleasure?  The comments were just as hysterical, so they've been included for your pleasure.  Have a great weekend!

The title of this picture:  "Be kind because clearly God wasn't"

Brandy:  LOL does not even begin to explain it. Ali...you must be nicer to yourself!

Ali:  i know, right?! i think in posting this picture i exhibit clear signs of self-loathing.

Brandy:  It is just such a before shot of a makeover. New hair, new clothes, braces off...and this girl will be cute as pie. OH LOOK...you ARE a hottie now!!!

Ali:  "hope for girls everywhere" - that's the title of this picture. or "it's a wonder what a little makeup will do". or "God bless ionic straighteners". or "don't let your daughters wear neckties". or "it's never too early to talk about eyebrow maintenance".

Brandy:  I think I am going to throw-up I am laughing so hard!

Ali:  and correct me if i'm wrong, but i think i have less crows' feet NOW.

Michael:  Can you hear the high school gym teacher calling for her hairstyle back?

Jodi:  Your comments have me laughing sooo hard!!!! Don't feel bad you should see my 8th grade picture.......I mean BAD!!!!

Ali:  I'll take you on in a competition, Jodi - no way no how can you top this one for "awkward stage".

Kyle:  Ali, would "April 15, 2009...hmmm...oh, yes, that was the day I saw a photo of one of my friends during her 'awkward' phase & was laughing so hard I had tears in my eyes. That's why I missed that lung cancer, Your Honor" be an acceptable defense?

Jodi:  Oh girl....if I can find it you will be shocked!

Ali:  KYLE! ROTFLMAO!

Ali:  Jodi - I'll still take you on.

Katie:  nice tie and suspenders.

Ali:  really, katie? that's what you're going with? you're not gonna go with the mullet? well, ok. your choice.

Katie:  but how in the world could I possibly top Michael's comment about your stunning hair style?

Ali:  that's true. it was a good one. there's a rare few people in this world that can top Michael.

Mindy:  was this the year we met? b/c I remember all of us at some point having that psuedo-mullet look

Ali:  IT WAS! That was 1994 - 95 at Murfee! And, there ain't no psuedo about that thing - that's a full blown mullet.

Brandy:  Okay, Ali, I am going to have to say that Mindy is a TRUE BLUE friend. She met you like this and STILL hung out with you! She has seen you through to your swan-song!!! Awwww....

Katie:  you mean 84, right? (I hope!)

Lin:  Love this. I feel you on the awkward phase. I have destroyed all the pictures, but I went through a very distinct phase where I might have resembled Pat from SNL. Not my best school photos.

Ali:  yes '84 Katie. and, yes, brandy, it's a lesson for life. meet your friends at your most hideous and you'll know they're there for all the right reasons - she certainly wasn't pumping me for my beauty secrets!

Shawn:  I married this dude!

Brandy:  hahhhhhhaaaaaaahaaaaaaaaa!

Ali:  And, that's what I was waiting for! (actually, I was hoping that would be his response and not "honey, it's over.")

Bryce:  You guys are beyond hilarious. Solid

Kera:  Ali, I now understand why it took you so long to get "pretty" each day in college! That picture is alot to forget about in just a few years!

Ali:  see, don't you feel bad now for pressuring me to hurry? i had post-traumatic stress i was trying to work through.

Chad:  Sweet mother of mary, i love that pic.

Tana:  mullet
Pronounced "MUHL LET"

A hairstyle in which the front is cut trim, but the back is long, left wild and often uncut. Even when the back is cut, it is still longer than the front. It is the sign of the redneck. Alternate names include:
Ape Drape. Beaver Paddle. Bi - Level. Camero Cut. Buisness in the front, Party in the back. Canadian passport. Coupe Longveuil. El-camino. Hockey hair. Kentucky waterfall. Missouri comprimise. Mudflap. Neckwarmer. Ranchero. Shlonc (short + long). Achy-breaky-bad-mistakey. Soccer rocker. Squirrel pelt. Tennessee tophat. Yep-nope.

Ali:  LOL!

Has anyone made this their screen saver yet?

Anna:  Was releasing this picture to the public therapeutic for you? If so, I might try uploading some of mine. :)

Ali:  it has brought me an immense amount of joy.

Carter:  speechless

Brandy:  This will make you feel good. I was showing Abby these pictures. She saw this and said, "That is Ali? That looks NOTHING like Ali!"

Ali:  ahhhhh! tell her she's my favorite 7-year-old niece!

Danny:  *Something* good must have happened between '84 and '85, because I remember you being in sixth grade, and all of us poor dumb guys in fifth grade having crushes on you!

Ali:  ummm. i'm afraid the "poor dumb guys" sums up that statement! :D

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Involved Dad

Shawn is a busy guy.  If you don't believe me, try being his wife and calling while the market is open "just to chat."  (By the way, this habit was broken - no crushed - before we had even been married for a year.)

Shawn has never missed a parent/teacher conference.  Since 3-year-old preschool, twice a year, there he sits, all 6' 4" of him, wadded up in an elementary school chair, pulled up to the kids' round table to meet with their teachers - while the market is open.

I could not admire him more.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Forever in Junior High

When I drive through the neighborhood and see a line of cars that are all at someone's house for a party, there is a small part of me that wonders why I wasn't invited - even if I don't know the people or the house.

We are going on a family ski trip.  There is a small part of me that thinks I should have a different ski "outfit" for every day we're on the slopes - even though I now know how much ski "outfits" cost.

I still get nervous when I meet new people that they won't want to be my friend - even though I now know that everyone has insecurities.

There's a part of me that would give my right arm to be able to have a jumbo cookie and Diet Coke for lunch - even though I know the nutritional value of this combo is... zero.

I still leave my purse sitting in the restaurant booth as though the most important things in it are notes from my friends, flavored lip gloss and Primo body spray.

Can anyone confirm to me that I suffered a head injury in junior high that retarded my ability to mature?

Me and one of my junior high BFFs
                                                      2 good
                                                    +2 be
                                                      4 gotten

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Keeper of the Cheerios

Elizabeth is sick.  I was awakened at 3:15am to calls of "Mama" and a fever of 103.5.

Sometimes, there are a couple of songs that run through my head when my life as a mom seems its most unglamorous.

"Somebody's Hero" by Jamie O'Neal (Shaye Smith, and Ed Hill)
"...No, she's just your everyday, average girl (but)
She's somebody's hero.
A hero to her baby with a skinned up knee.
A little kiss is all she needs.
The keeper of the cheerios.
The voice that brings Snow White to life,
Bedtime stories every night.
And that smile lets her know
She's somebody's hero..."

"Heroes" by Paul Overstreet
"...She rocks her crying baby
In the hours before dawn.
She whispers words of hope to help her
husband to hold on.
She takes time with the children
Making sure they know she cares.
She's more than just a Momma,
She's the answer to their prayers.
'Cause you know heroes come in every shape and size,
Making special sacrifices for others in their lives.
No one gives them medals.
The world don't know their names.
But in someone's eyes, they're heroes just the same.
Now, I don't pretend to know you.
But, I'll bet it's safe to say
There's someone out there somewhere looking
up to you today.
They see everything you do,
Except for your mistakes.
You may not think you measure up,
but you got all it takes..."

I may not be curing disease or influencing governments.  I may not be teaching classrooms full of future generations.  I may not be bringing home a six figure income (or any income for that matter).  But, I know who the bear "with the footprints on the bottom" is when Spence is crying for him.  There are times when I'm the only person in the world that makes it better when they're hurt or scared.  And, I'm the one that makes my baby girl feel better when she's sick in the middle of the night.
 
And, you know what?  That makes me feel like the most important person in the world.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Birth Weight

Well, it finally happened.  Spencer and I together finally weigh what I weighed on the day he was born - October 5, 2003.  He's 6.  I know.  It's horr-i-fy-ing.

January 17, 2010

August 30, 2003
One month before his birth.  Oh, and did I mention he was 5 weeks early?  I was a week away from being 7 months pregnant here.  This was about the point in my pregnancy where strangers would ask, "When are you due?"  I would answer "November," and they would audibly gasp.

Be kind.  I had to swallow every ounce of pride I have to post this picture:

I could not bring myself to show you the bare belly picture I have from the day before his birth - you're welcome.

Do not think that I am under any delusion that you are not laughing hysterically right now.

P.S.  To answer your question:  60 pounds.  That's right!  I said 60!  (and he weighed 5 lbs. 10 oz.)  Shut up.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Mysterious TV

Shawn and I were watching a t.v. show that was recorded on the DVR.  About 10 minutes in, all of the sound disappeared.  Then, after about 5 more minutes of recording, right in the middle of some of the commercials, it came back on.  Until that time, we were completely helpless.  (And from now til the end of time, we'll never know how Mike's first couple of interviews went on "The Middle".)

But, this got me thinking.  The t.v. and how it functions are a complete mystery to me.  It might as well be a handful of magic beans or a genie in a lamp.  I'm even slightly surprised every time I push the button on the remote and it actually turns on.  I read an article on how cable companies work in the Uncle John's Bathroom Reader (And, no.  I was NOT in the bathroom while I read it.  See?  There are some things I keep to myself on this blog.  Told you.) and the moment I finished the article I realized I had no idea what it meant.  I mean, I get how the cord goes from the t.v. to the box (ok, no, I don't even really get that since ours has something creepy called an "eye").  But, how the enchanted particles go through those cords and make pictures and sound - complete mystery.

For that matter, the internet is the same mystery.  I mean how in the world can the words that I type on this glorified typewriter actually be seen by other people?  Can anyone actually see this?  Tell me the truth.  HELLO?  Is anyone out there?!

This is just not one of my aptitudes.  That's okay.  I can accept that.  But, here's hoping the cable company doesn't ever ask for group participation in their technical operations.  The Johnsons would have to start reading.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Birthdays Birthdays Everywhere

My in-laws live 2 hours away.  My father-in-law's birthday is January 21st.  So, today we loaded the kids into the car, popped in the movie "Madagascar" and drove 45 minutes to have a birthday lunch at the "half-way" point.

Our waitress would have probably preferred that we'd not camped out at our table for two hours.  But, selfishly, we didn't care.  We gave each of the kids an iPhone (seriously spoiled children) and we grown-ups had some great conversation.

Then we "hugged out" and zoomed back home to a chorus of "I have to poop!" and (after letting them poop) put the kids down for nap.

Tonight we have a surprise party for another friend (a friend that I hope doesn't know about this blog...)  So, the celebrating just keeps going and going.

All in all, a pretty nice little Saturday.

P.S.  You know.  Come to think about it, I know a lot of people with January birthdays.  There's my sister, my step-sister, my step-mother, my niece, a cousin's baby...  Seriously.  I know what you people have been doing to celebrate Easter!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Blog Readers

I swear I can tell when people have read this blog and don't want to confess to it.  I get it.  I mean it is "light internet stalking".  But, honestly, I don't care.  I wouldn't put it out there in this public format if I was worried that someone might learn about it.  I promise there are some things I keep to myself (I know, it's shocking).

The truth is, I only have so much material.  And, if I retell a joke, or use a catchphrase, I see the fear in someone's eyes that they've heard it before but they really want to react like it's the first time.  It's ok.  Say it loud and proud.  "I READ YOUR BLOG."  Honestly, I would be flattered.  And, it would probably force me to come up with some new material.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life May Resume

Shawn and I got new phones.  It made me come to terms with how dependent I have become on my phone.  I knew that everyone's schedules were in there.  I knew every contact we have was in there.  I knew every to-do list item I had was in there.  (I mean, seriously.  If I lose my phone, when will I know it's time to change the vacuum cleaner belt?)

I did not know that the mere uncertainty of whether it would all transfer to the new phone or not (and I was pretty certain it would), would cause me to sit at the dinner table and have what I can only describe as a mild anxiety attack.  My heart was racing a thousand miles a minute and I couldn't catch my breath.

But, now, after two completely unproductive days that revolved around phone set-up, exploration and organization, it's all on the new phone and better than ever.  And, my ability to take deep breaths has returned.  All's well.

Life may resume.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exercise

I H-A-T-E to exercise.  You know that saying about only running if someone was chasing you?  I think I can take it one further.  I think I would let them catch me as opposed to having to run from them.  I'm thinking of a personal mantra of "I don't like to sweat.  Ever.  Ohm."

I would much rather maintain my weight by obsessively controlling the number of calories I consume.  I know, I know, this is not the healthiest of habits.  I'm also aware that I probably have the bone density of an 88-year-old woman.

But, things are starting to settle and bulge in ways that they shouldn't.  I have a sneaking suspicion that only muscle definition will put these things back where they belong - either that or a complicated hoist and pulley system.

So, I need to join a gym.  Or take a walk.  Here and now I'm making a resolution.  I'm resolving to start thinking about exercising.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Author's Note

Supplement to "Tooth Fairy Trouble":

Spencer lost his third tooth tonight.  Maybe they do all fall out at the same time.  :/

Growing up

I'm not a very sentimental mom.  I mean, don't get me wrong, the day our computer crashed and lost every picture from the day of Elizabeth's birth, I was sobbing until Shawn and his brother, by what I can only believe was a small miracle, got them back.  But, the things that usually make moms a little melancholy, like breast-feeding for the last time, moving up into a big kid bed, going to "big kid" school, etc, etc, I just see as milestones.  I'm always glad to reach each one and for life to become just that much easier.

Why then did it feel like a kick to my solar plexus when Spence announced this morning that he wanted to be dropped at the curb and walk himself into school?  Maybe because in the midst of all those other milestones, I knew they still needed me.  Sure they're growing up, but they're still my babies and they still need their mommy.  The confident little person I saw proudly walking himself into the school building today was nothing less than an independent BOY.  No more my little baby.

That doesn't mean I didn't stop two different friends I saw walking into school and ask them to check to make sure he made it to his classroom okay.  But, he doesn't know that he still needed me to do that...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Tortilla Soup

I am culinarily challenged.  I'm not kidding.  I refuse to watch The Food Network because it makes me feel inadequate.  When we have people over, I always call it a "Pizza Party" because the idea of cooking dinner for a group of people (and praying it turns out palatable) is completely distressing to me.

So, if I can make this, you can, too.  It was so easy and so good.  I found a similar recipe on allrecipes, but had to tweak for the ingredients I could find in my grocery store (a horrifying proposal for me, by the way).  But, it actually worked out.  Who knew I had it in me?

Tortilla Soup
Ingredients:
• 32 oz. box of Swanson’s Chicken Broth
• 2 (10 ounce) cans RO*TEL Mild diced tomatoes and green chilies
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 1 clove garlic, minced
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (yes, this is the cumin of the "Grocery Shopping Thoughts", if you were wondering)
• 2 cups cooked chicken, diced (and, this is the chicken)
• 1 1/2 cups crushed baked tortilla chips or corn tortillas cut in strips
• Cilantro
• 1/4 cup Shredded Monterey Jack cheese
• Avocado (optional)

Directions:
Combine RO*TEL, broth, onion, garlic and cumin in large pot; simmer 10 minutes. Add chicken; simmer 3 to 5 minutes. Continue simmering until onions are translucent and soft (30 minutes to an hour). Serve individual servings with tortilla chips or strips, cilantro and cheese, and avocado if desired.

Bon App├ętit!  (because tomorrow, it's pizza.)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

When Shawn goes out of town...

...I am certain the murderer that has been biding his time, waiting for the perfect opportunity, is about to act out all of his worst intentions.  Why then, do I keep posting Shawn's absence on FACEBOOK for all the world to see?  Clearly, it is because I have no sense of self-preservation.  But, I also have a home security system and a few firearms.  Maybe I'm really hoping he'll make his move so I'll have an excuse.  "Do you feel lucky?  Well, do you, punk?"

To be honest, I know why I posted it this last time.  It's because Shawn was asked to give a speech.  And, my running joke for the week leading up to the trip was, "It's a speech on what it's like to be married to an awesome person."  Yeah, Shawn really thought it was funny the 732nd time I said it.  Therefore, I was desperate for a new audience for whom to deliver my line and it just didn't work if I didn't do it while he was off giving said speech.  Don't challenge me on this - in my mind, it just didn't work.

So, there you have it.  I put my family in mortal danger (in my mind at least), for good joke delivery.  Yeah.  That's not messed up.  And, neither is this:  I saved them by staying awake til an ungodly hour.  Therefore, the murderer got tired and had to go home to bed because I outlasted him.  Good motherhood restored.  (And, once again.  Say it with me this time - it's so complicated in my head.)

P.S. Lest you think I haven't learned my lesson, Shawn is NOT out of town.  I am posting this on a day when the fortress is well guarded.  So, back to the drawing board with you, murderer.  You missed us this time!

That's Jason from Halloween.*  I don't really think he's out to get me because Jamie Lee Curtis already took care of him.  But, then again.  I kinda do.


*Ed note: No. No, it's not. As Kelly helped school me - that's Jason from Friday the 13th. (Michael Meyers is from Halloween!) I'm not sure who killed Jason. Now I find myself just hoping he's dead! Didn't he live on for, like, twenty-seven sequels?!


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Loss

We were going to have a baby in February of 2006.  And then, 11 weeks later, we weren't.

I often tell people that I'm so bad at being pregnant (honestly, I don't think I liked a single minute of it) that no more children are allowed to come out of my body.  But, I love babies.  So, the running joke among our friends is that I'm waiting for our "doorstep baby".  You know, the way Barney and Betty got Bam-Bam?

The other day, as I was wondering why no one has left me a doorstep baby yet, it hit me like a ton of bricks.  I think I wonder where our other baby is, because I feel like we're missing the third baby we don't, and will never, have.  The third baby that's waiting for us in heaven already.

So, this must be the definition of loss.  Always waiting for something you know in your heart of hearts you will never have.

Maybe I'll stop checking the front porch so much.  Maybe I'll just be content with the idea that some day, a very, very long time from now (God willing), we will all meet again and be that family of five - finally.

But, maybe not.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Tooth Fairy Trouble

Spencer lost his second tooth!


But, this forced us to face a parenting pitfall we had stepped right into.  When he lost his first tooth, we had the perfect storm of Tooth Fairy payment.  First, we had just been on vacation with some friends whose son finally lost his double tooth after months of begging and pleading, rocking and pulling.  They were so excited and, as a result, the Tooth Fairy gave him $20 (which Spence witnessed).  Secondly, the night Spence needed payment for his first tooth, the "tooth fairy representatives" found themselves with only twenty dollar bills.  Whatever.  After a quick Google search of the number of baby teeth in a human head, rationalization that they never fall out at the same time, and the acceptance that we were too lazy to go get change that late at night, the Tooth Fairy left Spencer $20, also.  All was well with the world.

Until... the next day at school.  When Spence announced to his class, of whom he was the FIRST to lose a tooth, that the Tooth Fairy brought him twenty bucks.  Now, you can imagine, the Johnsons were not the most popular parents on the block that night.

So... we quickly discovered that the Tooth Fairy is given a "tooth budget" each night.  And, it just depends on how many kids lose their teeth on any given night as to how much she's able to pay.  Completely reasonable and understood.  We thought.

Until this morning when Spencer walked into our bedroom, crestfallen, and said, "She only left me five dollars."

(If you'd like to know this thought process:  I thought we would have to change the amount with every tooth to make the story feasible.  But, I didn't want to give him $10 this time and $5 the next - he'd surely be disappointed if it just got worse and worse.  He would completely balk if we went with $1 after $20.  So, $5 it was.  Again, complicated in my head.)

I said, "Wow!  She must have had more kids last night.  But, you can still buy lots of stuff with $5 (especially if you combine it with your overflowing piggy bank, Mr. Moneybags).  Wanna go shopping tomorrow?!" 

This seemed to placate him.

But, seriously, I'm sorry he's disappointed, but I can stand my ground on this.  Don't be ungrateful, kid.  I only got a quarter for my teeth.  It's time to learn to live with disappointment.  Life ain't perfect.

Clink.  Clink.  That's the sound of more money being dropped in the therapy fund.

So, if the Tooth Fairy hasn't visited your house yet, heed my warning.  Don't set the bar too high.  No one will be happy with you.

P.S.  Elizabeth wants you to know that she has teeth, too.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Grocery Shopping Thoughts

Here are some of the thoughts that go through my head while shopping in the grocery store:

"I think good mothers keep fresh fruit at their houses.  I should do that."

"I wish they carried vodka in the grocery store."

"Chicken.  Chicken.  Chicken.  Chicken.  Chicken."

"I'm the youngest one in the store.  I'm going to come shopping at this time of day every time."

"I like dip."

"I think cumin is yellow-ish.  I'll go check the spice aisle.  If it is, indeed, yellowish then there would be no other reason for me to know that than I must have bought it before."  "Score!  It's yellowish.  I must already have it at home."

And, I did.  But, I forgot the chicken.

It's very complicated in my head.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Happy Epiphany

Epiphany is the day that the wisemen finally made their way from their far off lands in the east, following the star, to find the baby Jesus.  Happy Epiphany!  It's today and our church had an Epiphany pageant.

Elizabeth was an angel.  And, such a sassy angel you have never seen.  I'm pretty sure I saw her giving a wiseman the "what for".  May she have this much confidence all her life long.



And, Spencer (who you might remember is NOT our performer) froze as we walked into the fellowship hall only to announce, "I don't want to be in the play!"  Our rector's wife, Renee, in all her infinite kindness and compassion told him, "You know what, Spence?  That's ok, you can be my helper!"  And, help he did.  He was in charge of the bell ringing anytime Renee needed to get everyone's attention, he handed out programs and generally followed Renee around like a shadow "just in case she needed anything."


I was reminded of the Danish proverb, "Who takes the child by the hand takes the mother by the heart."  Because watching how important Spencer felt, and how included he felt, melted my heart and made me so grateful for angels that walk among us - like Renee.  God bless her and her true fruit of the Spirit (those would be: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, if you don't want to have to Google it like I did...).

And, one last thing.  We ran short on kids (well, no kidding, the Johnsons brought a production assistant instead of an actor...), so some of the dads had to step in as shepherds.


I'm sorry.  Did I say shepherds or Al Qaeda?

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

True Confession

This is rum cake.  This is rum cake that is eleven days old.  This is rum cake that is eleven days old with way too much rum sauce on it.  (notice how someone cut a piece... and then thought better of it.)  It's still disturbingly moist even though, as previously stated, it's eleven days old.


See the big chunk off the top of the left side.  I ate that.  With my fingers.  Just now.  On the way to throw it out.  It tasted a little... aged.  And quite pungent.  A little like rubbing alcohol.  And, I didn't think it was nearly as bad as I probably should have.

I'd probably do it again.

My Dad

I want everyone to know how much I love my dad.  He's the greatest.  My smart-alec sense of humor fell directly from his tree. He was a Marine and I have a strong sense of patriotism thanks to his service and sacrifice.  He's amazingly smart.  He's the reason I've always thought math was cool and puzzle books are great fun.  He still calls up with a math or logic problem every now and again, just to make sure I'm still on my toes.

I've seen him get knocked down and I've seen him pick himself back up with all the dignity and honor he could muster.  He sees things in black and white, right and wrong.  He believes in responsibilites, commitment and being reasonable.

He's not perfect.  Who among us is?  But, he'd never lie to you about who he is.  He might not tell you how he's feeling, well, ever.  But, those feelings are there.  And, in his own way he tries to share them with me.  No matter how he's shown it, I know he's proud of me, I know he loves me and I know he would fight to the death for me.

When I talk to my dad on the phone, I have a permanent smile on my face for a good thirty minutes after. He makes me laugh. He makes me happy.  He lives 550 miles away so, because I don't have a private airplane (Shawn, if you're listening, I don't think this is an unreasonable request), I don't get to see him nearly as much as I would like.  But, when I do, it's like we've never been apart.  He's always my dad.

Because of the family we are, right or wrong, we don't say these things out loud to each other.  We're not a very touchy-feely people.  We're horrible communicators.  That's probably a little sad, but it's who we are and a leopard can't change its spots.  But, I can say it loud and proud from the quiet, safe, unemotional keyboard of my computer - so I will.  I love my dad.  He's the greatest.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Our Giant Man Child

Spencer started the school year wearing size 6 jeans.  He ended the semester wearing 8-slims.  He got dressed for school today and the 8-slims are too tight in the waist.

I know it seems like a drastic measure to take, but we're going to have to stop feeding him.  We can't afford to clothe him anymore if we don't.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

My worlds collided

You might find this shocking, but I like Facebook.  ;)  And, I feel very fortunate that I have a group of friends (lovingly called the Mean Girls and Lin, aka MG+L) with whom, in some kind of Bizarro Facebook World, I have become fast friends.  Friends I would have never had otherwise - well, except my sister Brandy.  I guess we would have still been tight.

But, here's the thing.  Being a stay-at-home mom is the loneliest job on earth (Don't challenge me on this.  I'm sure there's some lone guy on some research station in Antartica.  But, for the purposes of this argument, it's stay-at-home-mom). Sure you see other people when you drop the kids off at lessons. You visit with parents, about parent stuff, as you keep one eye on your child at playdates or birthday parties.  But, I don't get to have many "grown-up" conversations. Worse, Shawn busts his hump all day long having many grown-up conversations. He's had his fill by the time he gets home. And, part of my self-induced job description as a "home"maker is to create a place where he can relax, veg out, be still, be quiet and recharge (after he helps me clean the kitchen and put the kids to bed ;). But, then, there I sit, still dying to talk to someone who doesn't think "potty words" are the highest form of humor.

It's a conundrum. Because I wouldn't have it any other way.

So, we've found ways to cope.  Here in the "real" world, Shawn is amazing about taking me on date nights.  Often we go out with darling friends who have very much our same situation. We all know how to get together, laugh, blow off steam and be grown-ups.

And, then there's Facebook.  But, as frivilous and silly as that one seems, it's given me friends to whom I can "talk" on a daily basis. I can be "heard".  If at no other time than the lull at naptime, I can just be Ali.  But that's a weird (*gasp*, dare I even say it?) cyberworld.  Of the five other MG+Ls, I had only met three of them (Kim, Brandi and Brandy), only been in close contact with one of those (my sister!) and never ever, ever laid eyes on two of them (Lin and Robin).

Over the past month my real world and my cyberworld collided.  Lin moved back to town to pursue his PhD.  "Shawn, meet Lin."  Robin and Kim just came through town for the holidays.  "Nice to meet you Robin.  Meet Shawn.  Kim, Shawn."  "Elise and Kyle (some of our date night buddies) meet Brandy, Lin, Kim..."  The only person absent from the colliding of worlds was the final MG, Brandi.  That's probably for the best.  I'm sure all the MG+Ls in one room would probably have caused a rip in the space/time continuum.

Here's the part that's not really that much of a shocker, though.  They're all just alike.  They're all smart, funny, loyal, and kind.  They all get along just fine.  For all their differences, they have many, many similarities.  But, what I adore the most about all of them: they're just the people who let me be me.

Maybe it wasn't that much of a collision afterall.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Things you could have told me ten years ago...

...that I NEVER would have believed:
  • That I would even think I had poop on me.  Much less, that I would have poop on me, yet study it for a good thirty seconds before thinking to myself, "Yep.  That's poop."
  • That I would plot out ways to do serious physical harm to someone if they ever threatened the safety of my child.
  • That I would willingly pick another person's nose.
  • That I would ever kneel so close to a public toilet.
  • That I would have the crusty-faced kid.
  • That I would be intimately knowledgeable of every single piece that goes with every single toy in a playroom full of toys.
  • That I would regularly say "Go put on some underwear."
  • That I could ever love another human being so much - much less three of them.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy 2010!

May your joys be as bright as the morning,
and your sorrows merely be shadows
that fade in the sunlight of love.
May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet,
enough trials to keep you strong,
enough sorrow to keep you human,
enough hope to keep you happy,
enough failure to keep you humble,
enough success to keep you eager,
enough friends to give you comfort,
enough faith and courage in yourself to banish sadness,
enough wealth to meet your needs
and one thing more;
enough determination to make each day
a more wonderful day than the one before.
                                         -Irish Blessing

May you always have "enough" in 2010!


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