Monday, March 28, 2011

I ♥ New York (kinda)

Shawn had a meeting in New York. I got to go. Rocks to be me! He had a meeting. I had a spa appointment. I should probably feel guilty about that... I'll work on it. (We actually got to go to this particular meeting because Shawn is very good at what he does. But, he wouldn't like me bragging on him like that... so I won't... but, he is. ;)

He took me shopping because, well, because he's the greatest husband in the world. That, and he's tired of me buying my clothes at Target. Snob.

But, had we not been shopping, we wouldn't have ended up helping the nice man who was choosing between a silver and black watch for his wife (I was leaning toward silver). We also wouldn't have been there when his 20-year-old daughter's text came through saying, "silver! silver! silver!" And, I wouldn't have heard Shawn say, "Dude. You gotta go with silver now."

And, did I mention the man happened to be a Hasidic Jew? I have not stopped laughing that Shawn called him "Dude." Shawn's response is, "What? I'm sure he's heard the word 'Dude' before!" Yeah, but I'm just gonna go out on a limb and say that he's never been called "Dude." Can't. stop. laughing.

But, the highlight of the trip... the thing that made me shriek in the middle of the restaurant where we were having lunch... He TOOK. ME. TO. SEE. WICKED. I honestly didn't know how badly I wanted to see that show until I knew I was going.

The moment I stepped in the theater, I became the quintessential New York tourist. I was snapping pictures. I was buying souvenirs. I LOVED it.

And, the musical? O! M! G! Do not read any synopsis with spoilers - just see this show (there are travelling performances, too). I will never look at the Wizard of Oz the same way again. SO. GOOD.

Anyhoo. As quickly as we got there, we were headed home again (so, all you friends who live in the NY area just keep your scoldings to yourselves - xoxo).

But, I gotta say. There are a lot of people on that one, little ol', polluted, loud island. My sister would live and breathe New York every day of her life if you let her. Me? I prefer peace and quiet and some wide, open spaces. I think New York is a great place to visit. But, I'm always glad to be going home.

To each their own.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Random Thoughts (because they rattle around in my brain so you have to listen to them, too)

This girl was wearing this at the zoo when we went there last week.
This girl should not have been wearing this at the zoo.
(Also? I was pretending to take a picture of the lion when I took this picture. As soon as I snapped the picture, Shawn said, "I know exactly what you just did.")

I just cleaned the kids' bathroom. Wouldn't you think I would have been aware, before this moment, that I sprung forth livestock from my loins?

I bet I've sucked enough Legos to build a city into the vacuum cleaner over the course of my motherhood.

My grandma used to drink a six-pack of beer while she cleaned the house. My grandma loved to clean house.

You know what people never tell you about before you have a baby? What it will do to your body. I never dreamed there would come a day when I would have to choose between coughing and peeing.

My child told me this: "Mama. I need to go potty, but I don't want to get up." Um. Seriously? I was baffled into silence. I had no idea what was being asked of me.

It's a little disconcerting to be driving in the car while your four-year-old plays on her iPod and hear Lady Gaga start to play. What happened to The Wiggles?

A conversation between Shawn and me about children's gifts:
Me: "Do you want to go to Target? We could get some Bakugans and Zoobles while we're at it."
Him: "I don't know what any of that means. But, we can go to Target."

Are cantaloupes related to pumpkins? Seriously. They have to be. They're both orange. They both have seeds you have to scoop out... Actually, that's all the similarities I can think of. But, I still think they're related.

Monday, March 21, 2011

"Smart" according to Lulu Johnson

"Mama, how'd you get so smart?"

"I went to school and I learned and I tried my hardest."

"What's 100 plus 100?"


"Wow. You really are smart."

Someone tell me it will always be this easy. TELL ME!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spring Break Run-Down

Sunday: Shawn and I braved the zoo with the kids and Cousin David. Tempted to leave children with animals. Or even trade. At least a monkey wouldn't have to be bathed as often.
Monday: Sent kids with G'Pa and Uncle Phil to "check the cows"* and lunch at McDonald's. Shawn's aunt and uncle were in town visiting their daughter and her family. Everyone came over for dinner. A grand time was had by all. And they cleaned the kitchen.
Tuesday: Sent kids with G'Pa and Uncle Phil to "check the cows" and lunch at Chick-fil-a.
Wednesday: G'Pa boycotted taking all three kids to check the cows and lunch. Wuss. But, they did take the kids for a slumber party at their house. Cutting some slack. Especially since G'Pa made me laugh out loud when he returned the kids while announcing that he "has become [his] mother."
Thursday: G'Ma and I took the kids to the Discovery Center to see mechanical dinosaurs and a myriad of all things wonderful for children to climb on and explore. Discussed with G'Ma that the reason these children are so loud when placed in the same vicinity must be because they are Johnsons. (Note: She and I just married Johnsons; that's why we're so sweet and demure.) Now the slumber party is at our house. Fed them pizza, took them on a walk around the block, bathed them and bedded them by 7:30.

My work here is done.

On tap:
Friday: Museum visit and farewell dinner for David.
Saturday: Celebrate my birthday with the kids and in-laws because a) Duh. Why wouldn't I celebrate my birthday as many times as possible? And b) the kids would be mad if a birthday passed and they didn't get to partake in cake.
Sunday: Church. Sing praises to God that school will resume the next day.**

*That's not a euphemism; there really are cows. But, it sounds like a euphemism, doesn't it?

**It really hasn't been that bad. It just makes a better story if I complain. Don't you think?

Add'l note: We "won" the drawing to bring home the 1st grade class hamster over Spring Break. We haven't killed him yet! Holla!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Happy Birthday to Me...

...Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday dear Meeeee-eeee! Happy Birthday to Me!

My family is treating me like a queen... Well, unless the kids are acting like Spring Break-addled savages.

But, Lulu did dress like a "Birthday Sister" for me today:
This is what Sisters wear when there is a birthday. Didn't you know?

There's not much to report around here except that two semesters of college Spanish will, evidently, get you through Lesson 4 of Disk 1 (out of three!) on Rosetta Stone. Awesome. And, I'm pretty sure the Spanish-speaking housekeeper is getting nervous listening to me yell, "Las bicicletas son amarillas!" at the computer.

Also, Cousin David is visiting from Kansas. He's staying with Shawn's parents. But, I've somehow managed the coup of sending both of my children with G'Pa, as well, the past couple of mornings! And, tonight all three kids are going to have a slumber party at G'Pa and G'Ma's house so Shawn can take me out for a Birthday Dinner. Have I mentioned how much I love my in-laws?

I should probably appreciate them now, though. I'm pretty sure they'll be dead by the morning. These three kids are a lot to handle all at once. Their rowdiness grows exponentially when placed in the same room together.

And, there is a better than average chance that I signed up to host that slumber party tomorrow night. I'm getting dumb in my old age.

Anyway. Happy Birthday to Meeeee!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sí, Yo Estoy Aprendiendo Español

Yes, I'm learning Spanish because, well, duh. Why wouldn't I be learning Spanish?

Actually, I'm learning Spanish for Lent. I don't usually like to talk about what I'm doing for Lent*, but I realized it was a little odd to announce that I was learning Spanish without a bit of an explanation.

Anyway, I stole my mom's Rosetta Stone. And... I'm off.

I've finished Lesson 1. So, pretty much, if you need me say "hello," "goodbye," or tell you that he/she/they are eating/drinking/running/reading/or cooking... I might be able. If you gave me some time to think about it.

And, that Spanish title for this post?

I had to use Google Translator.

*(DISCLAIMER: The following expressed views, opinions, positions or strategies are Ali's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions, positions or strategies of any other religious and/or reasonable person in this universe.) I think Lent is our time to think about the sacrifice and gift God gave to each of us, personally, on Easter. Therefore, whatever we sacrifice or dedicate as a penitence to God should probably be kept between us and God, don't you think? I mean, I know someone might ask, or you might have to explain why you're passing on that glass of wine (so people don't accuse you of being pregnant and then you're all mad and that's not what God intended for his children...) - I mean, I don't hold it as closely a guarded secret as I would, say, my cherry pie recipe. But I don't know. For me, it's personal.

But, don't even get me started on the people who use Lent as their own personal kick-start to a diet every year... But, I'm not judging. Nope. I gave that up for Lent, too. Oh. Wait. Damn...

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

He has trouble with the "C-K" combination, too.

"Mama? Why is B-I-C-H a bad word?"

My head snapped up to look across the counter at Spence who was having his after-school snack. All the while "Logical Ali" is screaming inside my head, "Be Cool! Be Cool! Be. Cool. You want him to come to you with all his questions and concerns; and he won't if he thinks he's going to get in trouble."

So, I say, "Wow. That is a bad word. It's a very, very ugly thing to call a girl."


So, we discussed it (during which time I craftily discovered who taught him this word, too - now, I've got my eye on you, potty-mouthed kid...). I also told him there was a time people might use it when it wasn't a bad word - if they were talking about a female dog. But, I emphasized, people might not know what meaning he was using if he said it, so it would just be best if he never used the word. Ever.

He understood. I answered all his questions. I felt like the lines of communication were open and healthy at the Johnson house. Parenting Win!

And, then I said...

"But, it's spelled b-i-T-c-h."

As soon as it was out of my mouth I thought, "Wow. Did I just correct his spelling of a cuss word?!" I think I forfeit my Parenting Win.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Who knew a sprinkler head could be holding back SO MUCH water?

When your seven-year-old comes running in from where he was playing outside and calmly says, "Um. Mom? Could you come here? Quick," you should be alarmed.

I was when it happend to me yesterday. I dropped everything, trying to quell the terror I felt at the fact that his little sister was nowhere to be seen. But, before I got out the back door, she came rounding the corner of the house exclaiming, "Brother kicked the soccer ball into a stick and now there's water everywhere!"

Come again?

By this time, I had rounded the corner of the house to see the neighbor's (that's right! the neighbor's) two-foot tall sprinkler head had been broken off and water was shooting like a geyser at least twelve feet in the air.

I ran over and rang their doorbell. No one was home. Of course they weren't. Thank goodness we had exchanged mobile numbers when they came to welcome us to the neighborhood.

I called the missus. No answer.

I called the mister. He answered. And, with more patience than I can conceive, he walked me through turning off the water. (My description of this would be that I lifted a manhole cover and reached my hand into the sewer to turn a dirty knob with a hole in it. I know that's not what happened. But, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.)

He said he would fix the sprinkler when he got home; that he needed to put some kind of guards around those heads; that kids were going to play with balls - that was a given. I told him to please tell us what it cost to repair it. He said no. I live next to the nicest neighbors EVER.

I got off the phone and turned to the kids - who were splashing their feet in the river of water that was making its way down the drive. I told them to get their balls and come inside. New rule: when you break the neighbor's stuff, outside playtime is over.

I told Spence, "You need to write them an apology note or drawing." He sat down and made this:
Note: There was no dog involved. That must be artistic license. Look at everyone's serious faces - that just cracks me up. And, notice the ball at the top of the fountain of water (not to be confused with the sun that is also up in the sky).

I texted Shawn:
We texted back and forth as I told him the story and he concluded with:

We saw our neighbor out (fixing the sprinkler!) as we went on our after-dinner walk that evening. Spence did a good job of apologizing. By that, I mean he spoke loud enough so the man could hear him (seriously, a feat for this shy child). The mister was very kind to him. And, the missus called me later to say how much they loved the picture and she really admired how we were raising our children. Are you kidding me?! Nicest. neighbors. EVER. I think I'm going to have to make them a banana cake.

So, I tried to make the whole ordeal a "learning experience." I told Spence that we will make mistakes. What's important is how you react after you make a mistake. No excuses. Just do what you have to do to make it right.

He agreed that he understood and then said, "Mom. It was really kinda cool. That ball shot straight up in the air on top of all that water!" Awesome. It's a trick he'd like to see again!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Living a Little More Erma Bombeck

Alright. Some of the comments to yesterday's post made me think of "The Rest of the Story." Here are the annotations.

Yes. As Amy noticed, I served Sloppy Joes to the guests in my house. But, you know what? I was having an Erma-Bombeck-don't-wait-for-the-carpets-to-be-clean moment. I was making Joes. We had plenty. We called up the folks. And, I gotta say, people probably enjoyed it a lot more than if I was running around like a maniac, stressing over whether the coq au vin* was just perfect.

Also, as Danny wondered (and for those of you who know me or have been reading this blog very long), you might be surprised to know that I did not flip my OCD, who-left-the-dinosaur-at-the-table lid when this occurred either.

Shut up. Get off the floor. Close your mouth before you swallow a fly. May I proceed?

As a matter of fact, I was so zen about the whole situation that I got up off my a$$, set down the (unspilled!) fruit bowl, marveled that the Sloppy Joe bowl (half-way across the room!) hadn't broken, surveyed the mess and said, "That'll keep. Let's have dessert." Then we all ate cake.

As I said, I like to believe in moments like this that I'm living "Erma Bombeck-esque." So, here. For a reminder to us all:
If I Had My Life to Live Over
by Erma Bombeck
If I had my life to live over, I would have talked less and listened more.
I would have invited friends over to dinner even if the carpet was stained and the sofa faded.
I would have eaten the popcorn in the 'good' living room and worried much less about the dirt when someone wanted to light a fire in the fireplace.
I would have taken the time to listen to my grandfather ramble about his youth.
I would never have insisted the car windows be rolled up on a summer day because my hair had just been teased and sprayed.
I would have burned the pink candle sculpted like a rose before it melted in storage.
I would have sat on the lawn with my children and not worried about grass stains.
I would have cried and laughed less while watching television - and more while watching life.
I would have shared more of the responsibility carried by my husband.
I would have gone to bed when I was sick instead of pretending the earth would go into a holding pattern if I weren't there for the day.
I would never have bought anything just because it was practical, wouldn't show soil or was guaranteed to last a lifetime.
Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.
When my kids kissed me impetuously, I would never have said, "Later. Now go get washed up for dinner."
There would have been more "I love you's"... More "I'm sorrys"...
But mostly, given another shot at life, I would seize every minute... look at it and really see it... live it... and never give it back.
Here's to having a lot more of these moments (less the Sloppy Joe).

*I don't even know what coq au vin is. But, it sounds fancy. Doesn't it?


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