Our Family

Our Family
Benaiah, Justin, Melinda, Abishai, Keturah, and Jared

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Year 3, January 17-18, 2018: Sledding! Check!

Wednesday was your normal Wednesday, gymnastics, school, Bible Bowl.  Oh, and I got an upgrade on my diffuser and we bought sleds!  Keturah and I made my first trip to Ollie's, which is a discount store that collects other stores' rejects.  Things like Halloween cereal, books that aren't selling, older styles of rugs, clothes, kitchenware, etc.  And a lot of their stuff is 50% off retail!  So we splurged and I bought the kids 3 different types of sleds since we didn't know what the conditions were going to be.  I bought a $40 sled (wakeboard made for snow?) for $20, a round plastic sled for $5, and a polar bear snow tube for $10.  I waited to blow up the snow tube until the kids went to bed because I knew that they would just want to run around the house with it, and sure enough, that's what Abishai did!  He tried making it into a little bed, too.  So cute! I had to put it, and his bike and bus, up in the garage this morning and lock the door because he was under my feet when I was making breakfast.  I tell you what, I haven't cooked so much in the skillet ever!  But I'm enjoying the food, so that's a plus!  Sweet potato hash for the win!  With eggs, too!  And I haven't been as hungry this time around, so that's great.  Only 3 more weeks to go on my second Whole30!

We worked on some schoolwork this morning, while the sun warmed up the skies a bit before we headed to the park to go sledding.  And it was COLD and windy at the sledding hill, but we had a ton of fun!  I have always heard that Southeastway Park has the best sledding hill, and I knew which one they were talking about, but had never taken the kids there because they weren't big enough.  But boy is it big!  And today it was super fast!  The snow was compacted down a ton and the rain/sleet mixture underneath made it a bit icy.  But we made it up and down the hill lots of times!  Abishai, oh Abishai, climbed the hill all by himself!  He wanted to slide down from the very top after starting from halfway up the first time.  He always went with Justin, just for safety in case he crashed.  But they didn't tip over once!  And Abishai LOVED it!  At one point, I was at the top of the hill to take pictures and videos but I wasn't sure how I was going to get down.  I kind of panicked and convinced Abishai to go with me on the other side of the hill which still had some fluffy snow to step in and wasn't has tall.  Then we walked around the hill and back to the car, because at that a point, his face was very cold and he even said he was tired and wanted blankie and paci.  In fact, while the other two kids played for about 20 minutes more, Abishai fell asleep in his car seat!  And this is what Canadians do!  They get out and ENJOY the weather.  I don't think the snow is going to stick around long enough to take Benaiah and Jared on another day.  We have other commitments the next two days and it's supposed to be up to the 50's on Sunday again.  Maybe next round.  And this was the second day this week that Abishai hadn't had a good nap.  I hope he gets one tomorrow after another indoor playground playdate.

Next week we have a very special visit to the Indiana State House for the Homeschool Day at the State House where any homeschoolers in Indiana are invited to come, take a tour, listen to speakers, talk to their congressmen and women, and learn about state government.  I won't debate it on here, but in recent news, there was a story involved abuse in a homeschooling family in California and now the media is up in arms enticing people to say homeschoolers nationwide need to be more regulated.  So it's crucial we stay involved in local politics, support organizations that defend our rights, and let our voices be known.  I'm super excited about this opportunity as I remember well when I was allowed to be a page on the Senate floor of the New Hampshire legislature through a program called TeenPact.  I believe it was open to all students as well.  Fun fact.  New Hampshire's state house is the oldest state house still in regular use in the nation!  Since it was one of the original 13 colonies, that means it's been around for over 200 years!  Same building, with some upgrades and upkeep.  And it's got a beautiful gold dome, too.  Very fond memories there!  More to come next week!

Back to sledding.  Here are the pics and vids to prove it!

Playtime with the new snow tube!  Isn't it the cutest snow tube ever?

Buddies, again, enjoying sledding to the max!

Walking around the back of the hill and I am reminded of all the wonderful trails and pictures of those trails on PEI that my friends share on Instagram and Facebook.  I'm grateful that I got to see this today and enjoy it, although it makes me super sad I'm not there enjoying it through a much longer season.  There's just a few inches on the ground and it will all melt and be brown and mushy by Sunday.

But today, it's 22 degrees, with a windchill, and bright blue skies and it's gorgeous!

The big climb up and around the hill tuckered this little guy out!

This was the scene nearly 3 years ago!  Yes, this is  4 day old Abishai in a snow suit on a sled!  So adorable!

Oh my goodness, what a doll!  I cannot believe he'll be 3 years old soon!

Throwback Thursday to what a REAL snowstorm looks like!  The winter of 2014/2015 where 13 feet of snow fell!  This is a couple of feet of snow plus drifting.  And this was 10 days before Abishai was born.

And this was taken 4 days after he was born.  Oh those piles were so huge!  I loved how the sun reflected off the snow and brightened up the living room for months!  That was also the year that the last remnants of snow finally melted under some trees in the backwoods in JUNE!

And now back to today.  Yes, Abishai, Keturah, Justin and I all climbed THIS HUGE HILL!  And it was super slippery and super fast!  I'll be loading up a video to show you!  This is Keturah coming down I think.

I'm so glad we bought the more expensive sled!  You can have two people sit on it, or you can ride down on your belly.  She screamed the whole way down!

Brothers bonding.  I had to go digging to find a snowsuit for Abishai.  I think the one that could have fit him is pink and in Keturah's old clothes, plus, anything else between this size and Keturah's current size was borrowed from a friend on PEI.  So, I dug out the 24 month snow suit and it still fit!  Barely, but it did!  Oh, and I let him wear his favorite pj's underneath because why not?

Up, up, up!  Sometimes on your hands and knees! Somebody had put a bungee cord on the right side of the hill though so you could pull yourself up.  We didn't discover that until another family came and showed us.  We don't know who they were, but they were homeschoolers.  I was too cold to introduce myself and I was helping Justin.

Wheeee!!!!!
Going up again!

I let the kids sled without me for a little while.  Justin is 12 now, which is babysitting age, but I could also clearly see them from the car.

It's cold Mommy, I'm tired.  These snow suit has footies on it that you can't detach, so they are pinned up.

Ready, set, go!
The run was so fast, but not too bumpy, that they kept sliding into the reeds!

The view from the top of the hill!  That's our vans way down there!  It was a good walk just to get to the bottom of the hill.  But thankfully, Abishai walked the whole way to the hill and back.

Justin again.

Abishai and I watching the kids go up and down the hill.  I wanted to get some pictures and videos and had to wait for them to climb back up.  But it was pretty windy and cold.  We didn't actually use the snowtube today, but it made for a god sitting spot.  The top of the hill itself was so compacted down and slippery that I was afraid we were going to slip down just by standing there!  And on the other side of the hill is just a small sledding path and lots of trees.  Eek!  I didn't want to slide down because I had the camera and I was really afraid of tipping over and landing on it.  I didn't think through this venture very well.

What an incredible time!  I shared pictures and videos with the family after Gary sent a picture jokingly saying, "Look!  This is what we are going to do next for landscaping!"  It was a picture of cacti because he was in Arizona!  Lol!  Meanwhile, New Orleans shut down completely because they got an inch or two of snow.  No plows, no ice melt, lots of bridges, and below freezing temps basically means you hunker down and don't go anywhere.  Tennessee got 3 inches, which isn't rare, but it happens maybe once or twice a year.  I'm glad we have at least this much snow this year.  We are going to try our sleds in the front yard though because we do have a decent hill.  Our street is very quiet in terms of traffic.  Actually, there's more ice on the driveway and we have to be very careful not to slide down it when getting the mail.  So, we'll see!  And I'm hoping these sleds last us a few years.  We had been eying the more expensive one for a few years, so I'm super happy we got it at a discount and it was very easy to use today! Happy snow day!
I hope you enjoyed the bonus videos!  Yeah for the read aloud challenge this month where each kid is reading aloud for 10 minutes!  It saves on Mommy's voice, too, and lets me know if they are having trouble with certain words or comprehension.  I prefer Keturah's pace but she has more words she can't pronounce.  They both try to do a little bit of fun voice changes though.  Justin mumbles and speed reads.  It's also a chance to work on their presentation skills!  And Abishai just likes mimicking the girls at gymnastics.  Cuteness overload!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Year 3, January 15-16th, 2018: More Snow, More School, More Layers

Yup, we had more snow just like the rest of the midwest, all the way down to Nashville, TN (the musicians I follow have been posting on Instgram about it), plus maybe even further south because I also follow people on social media from Georgia/Alabama/Missouri, etc.  Hard to keep up with everyone's locale, but I know they are enjoying the snow as much as I am!  We got another 3 inches yesterday!  So the ground is nicely covered, at least until this weekend when the temps will hit 50 degrees F again.  SO, sledding is on the agenda this week, and another stop at Veal's Ice Tree because it is GORGEOUS after these snow events!  They actually had to "close" because their driveway was too slick from the ice storm last Friday.  Anyway, the temps today were at 0 and the windchill was -10, so schools were delayed 2 hrs.  Not the J6 Homeschool.  Nope!  We worked yesterday on Martin Luther King, Jr Day.  And no, I didn't make a unit study out of the day this year.  I DID do something last year because we were finishing up the 20th century.  I didn't even mention what holiday it was, so I think the kids just thought Daddy and Benaiah were home because of the snow, lol.  And it was one of the BEST Mondays of homeschool we've ever had!  And today was event better, finishing earlier than usual! So now, we can do our normal Wednesday tomorrow, and have fun on Thursday when it's a tad warmer and go sledding.  Then off to an indoor playground on Friday.

Speaking of school, Benaiah did have a 2 hr delay today and then the kids spent the first 20 minutes of the day disinfecting the whole building because 1/4 of the kids were out sick with one of the worst flus we've had in several years.  We all had that flu in December.  Remember how it struck at least 3/4 of the 12 of us Johnsons during vacation?  The other 1/4 had it earlier in the month.  But how cool that the STUDENTS cleaned BEFORE bookwork?  Practical skills, taking responsibility, ah, the teaching moments RIGHT there.  But then I heard that the math class was in rare form today and distracted the Bible class next door.  I'm not sure how Jared is getting it all done, but he's doing his normal job PLUS teaching one class 4 days a week at the school.  And he loves it, and Benaiah loves Southside, and I have learned to be content with that.  Sigh.

So, Socks is happy with all the cold weather and snow and asks to go out often, which then means more groaning from kids that have to clean him up.  Oh well.  I wish my kids enjoyed the snow more, but I understand not wanting to get all bundled up either.  And until now, the snow isn't really compactible, so you can't make anything with it.  I should have had them work on it today but again, it was really cold.  Thursday would be a good day, BEFORE we got sledding and it all melts.  I wish it would stay around longer, too.  Eh, that's Indiana for you.  We have made snowmen before, and one time, when it was ready to melt and be done, Jared took his samurai sword and cut it down.  Quite funny, as it it was facing our huge picture window in Beech Grove.  Tomorrow would be a great day to go out as well, but we have gymnastics.

Otherwise, we keep ourselves entertained with Legos, the mini trampoline, electronics, cooking, riding tricycles, playing blankie monster, and school.  I love hibernation season!  I took more photos of food or things for social media, but they wouldn't be of interest to people on here.  Enjoy the smaller set of photos!

We brought the mini trampoline in for some exercise!  It was my sister, Kristina's, who was in gymnastics for over 10 years, so it's been around for 25 years and still works just fine!  Keturah practiced all her gymnastics jumps!

A new game!  Where's the baby?

Justin zips them up in a sleeping bag, and then Abishai wiggles himself down to the bottom of the bag.  What a pair of goofballs!

Snow!!

Snuggled together watching TV.

This is the floating bridge Xerxes I of Persia (Queen Esther of the Bible's husband) built to get from Asia Minor to Greece, to ransack Athens, burn it to the ground, regret it, and start to rebuild it again.  And the historian Herodotus wrote 9 books about these Persians and their wars! Jared's email address from long ago is herodytus, because he read about him back in college.  So, it's fun to actual teach and know about the real person!  The floating bridge is huge planks built on top of ships, wide enough for a chariot to go on.  And they built walls on the sides so the horses wouldn't be spooked by the water.  Genius!

Trampolines are great for watching TV and naps!

Barefoot monkeys in the snow!

Socks does get cold, but we don't leave him out there that long.  And he's got all that warm fur, too.  Thankfully, he doesn't come in too wet and we always make sure his paws are cleaned off well so the snow doesn't dry them out.

Loads of snow!

I think these two are joined at the hip someplace.  Brothers!

The little captions are from posting these on Instagram stories.
I was surprised at how these two didn't complain about this project.  And they did work together on it without fighting.  I might have to try more activities like this!

Justin's idea!

Justin built this mech without an instruction booklet.  I bet he could work for Lego!
I see a theme here.  These two are inseperable!  In fact, today, when Abishai wouldn't lay down for his nap, and Justin wanted his screen time, Justin went in there and helped him settle.  Now, Abishai didn't stay in there because it was really too late for nap, but I loved how Justin got in Abishai's bed, arranged all the things, and even sang to him!  There's a special bond between these two!

And my Young Living kit came today!  Super stoked that I finally own this!  I discovered that I had ordered the smaller version of the kit in 2010 without the diffuser, and with only 7 oils, not 11. Anyway, I can't wait to use these more regularly (except when Grandma comes over because she can't do "scents" of any kind).  Yippie!!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Year 3, January 13-14th, 2018: More Snow!

Saturday we cleaned up the snow that fell on Friday because I needed to get out to the store for some special food items, and many more items to feed the rest of the crew.  Benaiah also needed to go to church to practice drums because he was playing for the middle school Crave worship services, but 9:15 and 11.  One of the newer staff members, who happens to be the son of one of our former music ministers years ago when Benaiah and his younger brother were 3, commented on how well Benaiah played.  Benaiah wants to play for high school Crave in the evening as well, but he has to wait his turn.  One of their drummers will be going to college next year, so there will be a spot open.  But Benaiah has to also balance out all the work he does for big church tech, and soundboard for Crave and/or big church, so he just might be in high demand soon.  It's good for him to know all of these different aspects of behind the scenes for the worship and creative arts, and all these volunteer hours will get him a scholarship hopefully at the college he would like to go to.  Next time he plays, I want to try to go in and listen to him.

Back to Saturday, the driveway was complete ice (and still is) with a just a dusting to 2 inches on it because the wind had blown a lot of it off already.  I should have bought ice melt, but didn't want to pay $10 for something the sun could do if we get a warmer day.  I felt bad when I had guests coming the next night and I realized it was still very slippery.  The roads were fine, but the parking lots were slush and slick.  No biggie.  The temps were bitter again.  But, took my time, got most of what I wanted, found a pair of sneakers for $22 (yeah! a bit big and with steel toes, but they will do for the few times I were sneakers during the year), and lost my glove in the process.  But I went back in and found it right near the shoes where I had stopped first before picking up groceries.  Yeah!  I love those gloves, although the fake leather palms are wearing out, same as my fake leather dress boots I wear all winter.  I'll probably have to replace both next year, as I'm hoping they will last the season.  In fact, I should start looking for clearance items for those now.  I've been looking for sneakers since last summer, but I'm rarely in the big box stores and I don't like paying more than $25 for shoes that I don't wear often.  I can get away with very cheap shoes lasting a long time that way.  Anyway, I was happy to finally find something.

Sunday was our very full day with us attending both morning services because there was a parent meeting for middle school and high school ministries during the 11 am hour.  If there's anything I've learned about the Creek since being back is that if you really want to be in the know and you don't want to keep bugging the staff, then you need to attend any informational meeting you can on whatever you are doing.  The details are typically not shared on social media.  The Creek doesn't make "events" on Facebook unless it's a private group doing it.  So, we go, although some of it is repetitive.  Then we went out to lunch where I "brown bagged" it because I just didn't trust the restaurant to listen and get it right.  I didn't have to do any guesswork.  I wasn't embarrassed either.  Then we went home for a bit, but had to head out again for Benaiah to go to practice for Crave and for me to volunteer in nursery (like Jared did last week and one of us will do every week).  Benaiah stayed there, while I came home and switched places with Jared who took Justin to his small group at church.  I had a home educators meeting at my house not 10 minutes after I got home.  Keturah and Abishai stayed with me and helped entertain another 5 yr old that came with his dad.  At our meeting, we talked about how to keep kids focused and listening to the parents when they don't want to do the work.  Then the boys came home and the day was done!  Yeah for getting it all done on Sunday, but phew, it's exhausting!  I'll just need to do more homeschool and weekly prep on Saturdays.

That's it.  Here's some pictures of the kids playing in the snow and so forth.

Ah, a snow covered ground.

Gorgeous!

Majestic!

Unique!

This is what happens when rain/sleet falls first, and then the snow.  Slippery surface!

Can you see where the ice stops on the right edge there? So fascinating!

You can see the sun bouncing off of the ice on the tire down in the lower left of the picture.

Ripple effect of ice on a usually smooth tire.

Poor Abishai had to use a tiny shovel from his indoor sandbox because the shed, where his bigger shovel is, was frozen shut!

Red noses and blue eyes!  He was out in his pj pants and sneakers though.  I couldn't find his snowpants and I'm pretty sure I have some for him.  And he didn't want to wait for me to put other pants or his boots on.  He lasted longer than the rest of us though.

No, we couldn't just brush away the snow.  This was a maple leaf stuck under the ice that covers the sidewalk.

This whole cloud went from one side of the backyard to the other.

All the way around.  Pretty!

Handsome guy in one of the last Grandma Howell sweaters the boys wore.  And there are gloves that match that have no individual sleeves for fingers and thumbs, kind of like the kind you put on newborns' hands. Although it's not really the fashion, he's proud of his buttons!  I'm going to try to get him to wear it often.  He just gets so hot that he doesn't need two layers when we are inside.  I put a t-shirt on underneath it so he wouldn't take off the sweater.  Justin is still the same way and almost went to church today in just a t-shirt and his minecraft lightweight hoodie.  The temperature was 2 degrees F!!!!  Then I discovered that Benaiah only wore his t-shirt and heavier hoodie!  And that's after I found his hat and mittens!  Come on, boys, you KNOW how cold 2 degrees feels and we DO have all the right winter gear.  There's no excuse!

I LOVE it!

Handiwork of God.

Little shovel, big shovel.  At first Abishai put the snow back on the driveway where Jared had shoveled.  But he learned quickly what he was supposed to do and he did it well!

Scoop.

And dump!

And he cleared his little area by himself and didn't complain that he had a tiny shovel.

It's kind of hard to tell, but the wood was covered in a layer of ice and frozen both to the ground and to the shed.  Which means, I can't get into the shed.  Which also means, thieves can't either.  I wonder if the wicked cold temps will warp the contents of the shed?  I haven't thought about that before.  The big barn was somewhat temperature controlled.  I guess the garage at the condo would have been super cold, and the garage at the Beech Grove house.  And there's no liquid out there that would freeze and burst something.  We'll see what happens when I get it open again.
Sheer ice, and in fact, the doors of the van were frozen shut, too.  We have to fill up pans with hot water so we can melt the ice off.  And the mechanism for the back gate of the van freezes and so we can't open it either, which makes it difficult for the boys to get to the back seat around Abishai's seat.  The passenger side sliding door hasn't been fixed it.  So, we might have had to all climb through from the front seats and that would have been a sight!  Thankfully, we did get the drivers' side sliding door open.

Snow!  Stop wishing it gone, people!  So gorgeous!

Hm, I don't think this works in real life but ok.

The line up!  He does this regularly with his smaller Thomas the Tank Engine smaller take along track, so I don't know why I was so surprised by it.  Maybe because it's a much bigger set?  Follow the leader, anyone?

Todayhe's a light saber, gun toting, super Johnson (the cape has a big "J" on the back, which was originally "J" for Justin, but I knew it could be for Johnson as well.  Keturah has one with a "K" on it in purple. Benaiah didn't get one because he was too old for one when I bought them.)

Sweetness!  Abishai wanted some extra Justin snuggles.

And the dog wanted in the snuggle time, too.  I'm surprised that the toddler bed doesn't collapse.  Very sweet and loving.  The dog also kept making the rounds during my meeting.  There were 8 new people in the house, so he thought at least some people would pet him, and some did.  It's a little overwhelming when you are sitting on the couch and the dog is sitting in front of you and you are on the same eye level together.  And then the dog leans in to sniff your face.  Just a tad overwhelming and funny.
Tomorrow: We might have to "dig out" again!  2-4 inches of snow predicted by mid afternoon!  Yippee!!