Our Family

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Day 333: A Great Day!

It was a great, and full, day!  Where to start? At the beginning! My doctor's appointment went well. I'll be doing some more basic labs so this particular doctor can see all the right numbers and how they compare on her particular "optimal" chart for things like vitamins and minerals.  I'll be doing a couple more specialized tests, that were on my list, yeah!  Follow up in 6 weeks.  It was an 8:45 am appointment right next door to St. Vincent's, which means I had to travel through the morning traffic on the northside of Indy.  I did get there on time, partly because I purposefully leave 10 minutes or so earlier than I think I need to get to a new place.  I made my next appointment at 2 pm so I can avoid the traffic next time.

I came home to kids still in their pj's and goofing off.  Whoops.  So, I got them back on track for homework, and soon enough it was time for lunch.  Abishai had endeared himself to the musical learning puppy plush toy again that he got last Christmas and was hugging it.  He also asked for Justin to chase him (or was it Abishai chasing Justin?) while Justin had the blue sleeping bag over his head.  Keturah did it, too, and almost hit the Christmas tree.  Eek!  Maybe I won't put any ornaments on the tree this year because these kids are wild and dangerous!

Then lunch, naptime, a little more school time, and finally catch up on emails.  Abishai woke up from his nap, they all got a snack, and then I thought Jared was outside cutting wood, so Abishai and I headed outside to join him.  Jared had actually gone to run an errand, and Abiahai wanted to "go, go, go" so I scooped him up and told the other two kids that they were going to come to the playground with us (or rather they HAD to since no one else was home).  Well, they didn't have much time to get dressed and out the door and well, you'll see the result in the pictures.

And yes, it was still around 55 degrees F today in Indiana.  The ground was wet from yesterday's rain, but the skies were dry.  Meanwhile, I've been watching our poor friends on PEI having to deal with several DAYS of being without electricity.  They got a heavy, wet first snowstorm of the season and it has destroyed power lines.  And then today I heard about the wildfires in Gatlinburg, TN of all places, which happens to be a favorite destination of people in Indiana for vacation.  I've wanted to visit there for some time, but it will have to wait.  I saw a picture of a small wedding chapel completely engulfed in flames and the "Welcome Center" sign for Gatlinburg destroyed.  Meanwhile, some other friends in WY had a huge snowstorm, too, but theirs was pretty and bearable.  I love weather and I love having friends all over the globe to keep track of.  I wish we had snow, and again, maybe if we move to Michigan someday we'll get more.  The pictures of the deep snow at the old Johnson remote cabin from Jared's childhood are great reminders of how much snow they can get up there, similar to what they get on PEI.  (Can you tell I'm ready for the snow?)

And here's your Abishai cute"isms" for the day.  He can say "see" and point to a light switch if he wants it turned on.  He doesn't like that people get hurt on the "Home Alone" movie.  He will take my hand and lead me to what he wants me to get for him.  He will say something like "ice cream" when he wants a treat.  He purposefully was trying to get Keturah and Justin to play with him, so he quickly went back and forth saying, "Sissy, baba, sissy, baba, sissy, baba."  He can also switch it up when he's looking at them like, "Sissy, baba, Sissy, Sissy, baba, baba."  Oh, and the best part of the day for Jared was when he was tickling Abishai, and Abishai signed "more" and sat in his lap for more tickles!  Sweet!

When you're gifted a turkey during Thanksgiving and your low on other forms of protein, you go ahead and cook the turkey!  Turkey for breakfast, lunch and dinner!  We slow roasted it overnight, kind of like it would be if cooked in a crockpot and it came out incredibly delicious!  Falling of the bone!  Jared was impressed.  I didn't do anything special except put it in my mom's roasting pot and added salt and some other spices.  I didn't rub it with any oils or butter.  I didn't add water.  But it's good!

Snack time was fruit loops and cheese crackers, Abishai's choice!

Now whenever Abishai hears my camera go "click" he starts giving me that cheesey smile.  And he knows he's cute, too.  And yes, that's a Benaiah shirt.  My 200+ lb boy used to fit into that little shirt.  Sigh.  They grow up too fast!

Justin, give me your best "cheesey" smile!  This is what I got.

Abishai likes to help Daddy blow on the fire to get it started.  I love how he's all into it and his feet are off the ground.

Abishai made a big "vroom" type sound and I had no idea why until I turned around and saw the trash truck.  We don't normally get to see our trash truck because we live on the opposite side of the parking lot.

Ok, here's the funniest picture of the day!  They were told to get some clothes on and go to the park with Abishai and I.  They come out looking liek this.  Keturah threw on pants under her pj's she wore all day, she has no socks on, and didn't bring a coat.  Justin found some pants (he was in his favorite red pair of shorts), grabbed his sandals that were in the "to be saved for Abishai" pile, and his big puffy winter coat.  What goofballs we have!

Abishai drove his bike all the way from the garage to the playground with just a little help in the wet grass.  And he drives fast!

The splash pad is still fun, even in the late fall (when it's no longer running), because you can drive your bike under the sprinklers!

I didn't know he could do that, did you?

Not quite the same view as a flashback photo I saw on my facebook wall today, but pretty enough.

It's 55 F degrees, this kid takes off his coat AND HIS SHOES, and climbs the pole.  Yup, boy from the north.

Is that how you climb on a playground?

Justin, let's play tic tac toe, Keturah said.  And they did!

Big smiles for when Sissy pushes him on the swing.

Big swing for a big kid.

Shelf looking cloud to the north.

Another big moment for Abishai today was when he tried climbing UP the slide and got halfway up by himself!  Maybe we have bad memories, but we don't remember the other 3 being so bold and so energetic and so loud as Abishai is.  It's pretty cool and interesting.  We don't compare him to them to make them look bad, but we cock our heads and say, "cool!" and smile, alot.  God knew we needed Abishai in our lives this year at this stage of his life as we handled all the other rough things this year has brought.  Abishai is definitely a bright spot in our lives.  The other 3 have their great moments, too, but they aren't as frequent as Abishai's right now.
And lastly, I get to end my day saying that I "shopped my closet" for Christmas gifts for the kids!  I was specifically looking for a small gift for a birthday party Keturah is going to on Friday and found that I had a ton of other appropriate gifts for our kids for their Christmas.  They aren't the exact things the kids are asking for, but, they are good enough and will help us stretch the budget during these leaner days.  I am giving away a couple of things as well, and we will be continuing our reverse advent.  So, overall, we won't be adding to our 300,000 things we own.  (That's the statistic Gary gave in the sermon this past weekend, that the average household in America has over 300,000 objects in it).  I did buy these gifts with the kids in mind and just hadn't given them out at the right time in the past few years.  I bought them all on great discounts, too.  So, sometimes it pays to be a) frugal and b) a hoarder.  Sometimes. God knew we needed this little bit of help right now.  God provides for us in lots of little ways like this!  We are so blessed!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Day 332: In the dark

Well, we weren't in the dark, but a lot of our friends on PEI were and still are.  They had a nasty first snowstorm of the season.  I will miss having the snowstorms.  We get some here, but they are not as frequent.  I was told it was nasty wet outside today, but when I stepped on the porch tonight, it felt warm, so it was like a spring rain, not a winter rain on PEI.  I'm glad I stayed home today from co op, because I feel much better.  I drank lots of lemon water, hot with honey or cold and plain.  I slept when Abishai slept.  I puttered around putting Christmas books in place and I finished the mantle!  Laundry got done, too.  I wish I had more computer work done, but it's actually not a necessity right now.

Jared took the kids to co op for me and picked them up when they were done.  I'm grateful we live close!  And I'm also grateful for the moms who are very flexible.  I feel bad that I've missed a couple/3 co ops, but there's nothing I can really do about it.  Thankfully my classes are for young kids and they aren't on a rigorous schedule like the older high schoolers.  I had the littles watch a DVD story of Madeline and my math kids worked with the other two young ones with one of the other teachers on words.  Otherwise, they had  pretty normal day.  It did feel kind of odd packing up their lunches, making sure they had everything and sending them out the door to meet Jared in the parking lot because he had just come back from a breakfast meeting.  Abishai was upset that he couldn't go with them.  He even pulled down his jacket to put on.  It was very quiet around the house, and I missed my built in Abishai babysitters.  But Abishai ate up all the extra attention from Mommy and Daddy of course.

Then when they came home, Keturah did a little bit more school work and Justin decompressed from all the people time (he's just like me, introvert to the core!) by building with Legos.  Abishai wanted to play with them, so he kept bouncing back and forth trying to get their attention.  Another Abishai story from today was that he knocked some dust off the lampshade and tried to catch the dust "bugs" in the air, like he's seen Daddy kill moths and fruit flies.  Or think of how little kids catch bubbles and try to pop them.  Hilarious!  I think Abishai has a tremendous advantage of watching how his older siblings and parents live life, because he is catching on to things like that at a much younger age than the rest of them did.  He's trying to say "ice cream" and "drink" (for juice).  He sees us trying to capture his antics on our phones or on the big camera and then stops what he's doing to give a big "cheesey" smile.  He found some raisins on the floor and actually threw them away without prompting!  He helps Keturah put away the utensils (non sharp ones) when it's her turn to the dishwasher.  Oh, and he asks for a bowl when he has something to eat.  He's such a delight, can you tell?  The others are, too, each in their own way.  I guess this is what it means to be the baby of the family.

A true Johnson eats peanut butter straight from the jar, right Uncle Aaron?  We tried giving him PB on bread, but he opens up the sandwhich and picks out the PB.

Mr. Cheese!

It's hard to get work done with the cutest distraction on the planet.

Another J6 trademark: lots of dips!

It's done!  I've saved that snowman mantle lace for over 10 years for just this moment!  And I also saved those cute snowman stocking hangers for that long as well.  My mom made the stockings with each of our names.  I took one that she had made for one of our family's animals and remade the name part for Abishai's stocking.  I don't care if anything else gets decorated, THIS is my perfect Christmas decorations for the year!

Mr. Distraction again having a grand time on Keturah's leappad while she's at "school."

And here he is again, having lined up all his cars perfectly.

It was getting close to naptime though.  But he had to keep adjusting his cars.

Too cute.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Day 331: When things don't go as planned

I'll keep the whining to a minimum, but I had rough day trying to make it through church, chores, decorating, toddlers and the like with one of those nasty head colds where your eyes water and nose runs and you can't stop coughing.  I did take a nap, but I'm not going to make it to co op tomorrow.  Jared said he can drop off the kids and take over a movie I had for one of my classes.  Sigh.  That's how life goes sometimes.

Meanwhile, the kids had a normal day of church, Grandparents' house for lunch, weird nap schedule for Abishai, bowling for the middles, homework for Benaiah, running around the house in Santa hats, and bedtime.  Abishai said "Abishai Go" when he watched a video of himself on his tricycle! He also heard the sound of the cookie jar opening at Grandma's house and turned around in his chair to see me do it, just like dogs can hear the rustling of humans in their pantry and they come running.  He's a cookie hog, just like Benaiah, Jared, and Gary, lol.  Grandma has to make chocolate chip cookies constantly to keep up with those 4!

Let's see, pictures.  I posted the rest of the Michael W. Smith pictures on my Facebook page, and the videos are on my YouTube channel.  Otherwise, here are the random pictures of the day.

That face!  This is the kind of crazy "purple minion" (Despicable Me 2) face when the kid is fed a pumpkin cream cheese roll, fruit loops, and red cranberry jello salad leftover from Thanksgiving.  Hyperactive hyper drive! (Toy Story)

Because we've been burning real firewood during the last two fires, we've had more ash.  And even after many hours afterwards, we have had glowing embers in the ash!  Cool!

Movie time with Daddy!

Big trains are great for minifigure transportation.

More glowing embers.  And while I was at the concert last night, Daddy and the kids roasted marshmellows!

"And the stockings were hung with care..."

Little People's nativity set given to Benaiah for his first Christmas 14 years ago.  The music doesn't work anymore, but it's still a great toy!

After some prompting, Abishai recognized the Dada, Mama, Baba, and Sissy, in the playset.

Two stockings.  I'll show you the mantle once it's finished.  I'm so excited about it!

What's funnier than wearing a Santa hat when you are brushing your teeth?  Nothing apparently because these two were having a giggle fest!

Two more stockings.

And the final two stockings.  Why did Mommy get the smallest stocking?  These stockings came from the Great Grandparent Johnsons house I believe, as well as some other decorations I'll show you another time.

Little ears hear lots of things and came running when Daddy got out the ladder to get his tea.

Helping Daddy make tea.

PERFECT face for this situation.  I have no idea if he did this on purpose or it fell over by itself.  There were no ornaments on it, thank goodness.  But since I didn't know what happened, I said, "Naughty tree," since maybe he got scared that it fell down near him and said, "Naughty Abishai" just in case he did knock it down.

Obsessed with macaroni and cheese for dinner, more, more, more!!  He even ate Keturah's portion!

Jared killed a moth and was able to feed the venus fly trap with it!  There's also another closed leaf that Jared fed a fruit fly to.  Cool!

Day 330: Time to Rest

I've been trying to rest all day, because I'm going to a concert tonight, that I've waited over 4 1/2 months for (that's what I get for buying tickets at the early bird sale to get the best seats in the house).  Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant, Christmas, in concert at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, downtown Indianapolis.  I'm still very tired from the previous week so I took a short nap, and apparently Abishai is, too, since he has slept for another 4 hr nap today as he did yesterday.  Justin and Benaiah had slept over at Gary and Leah's because they had helped decorate the rest of their house, so we picked them up today.

Then we went to the storage barn again to get the rest of the Christmas stuff.  I really should spend some time reorganizing the bins or just taking a better inventory of what is at the barn because everything feels mixed up.  I'm pretty sure we got it all today, but I won't know until I start opening boxes tomorrow.  Thankfully, the barn's owner had his big heater going so it wasn't too chilly in there.  Yeah!  The storage barn is a massive pole barn that can house like 3 huge tractors, plus all the gear to take care of them.  We just have a small corner of it.  Our stuff is a little dusty, but that's to be expected.  Jared and the kids get to hang out this evening together while I do my thing.  I'll add pictures tomorrow.
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I'm back and here's what I posted on Facebook about the concert:

Great concert, as always, but all I could of Mr. Jim Daneker was his feet, lol. Yes, Jordan Smith has an incredible singing voice, and he did All is Well and Gloria very well. He was also given standing ovations twice! I guess he has some diehard fans. I just don't like guys that speak with a high pitched voice. Smitty and Amy were, well, Smitty and Amy. Best funny moment was when Smitty didn't remember what the next song was! His age is starting to show (finally). And when Amy and Jordan sang a song together that she sang more than two decades on her Christmas album, and he just sang it a few weeks ago on his first Christmas song. I'm a feeling just a bit older being the Smitty fan in the place, lol. Now I want to pull out the Smitty piano music again, especially his Christmas music to play on the piano. But where did I put that stuff? Lol. Christmas CD's will be coming out tomorrow I think.

I'll post a couple of pics, and then move on, you're welcome.  I couldn't bring the big camera in, but thankfully, I had extra chargers with me to keep my phone going the whole evening.  I took like 63 photos and videos!  Phew!  I tried not to be obnoxious, but, yes, I'm that kind of fan.

Caryn and I before the concert.

Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith.  Fun fact, they started singing together in 1982 or so.  Yes, decades long friendship.

Decent picture of the three main artists.  Five singers to your left, orchestra and Jim Daneker (Michael's back up keys guy) in the back, and the drummer on the right.  There was also some regular band type people, too.  The orchestra was our very own Indianapolis Philharmonic orchestra.  They try to use local orchestras when they can.  I think the conductor came with the artists though, because he's worked with Michael on a few projects.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Day 329: Leftovers

The beauty of a meal where everyone pitches in, is that no one is stuck with all the leftovers.  Lol.  But today, I'm going to talk about a couple of different kinds of leftovers.  First, I want to apologize for every blog post that doesn't quite make sense.  I often give the blog my "leftovers" of my day and can't think straight.  I'll have great ideas during the day, but then I sit down, as I did last night, and I can't put many words together correctly.  Or pictures I want to post don't load correctly.  Therefore, I'm starting this blog post at 10:36 AM instead of PM, lol.  It reminds me of some of the journals my mom wrote when she had newborns and would write how much we ate or what we did.  She often wrote them in the middle of the night, and even she couldn't tell what she wrote when she read them, lol.  I say, it's better to get something down, even when it's not perfect.

Meanwhile, another "leftover" I'm thinking about is all the "leftover" stuff we have just sitting around the house.  We went through a major purge this year, but when we started unpacking, I did find I could give away just a tad more.  That being said, that stuff I put aside hasn't left the house yet, but is still in a box by the front door.  I'll be adding to it, though, up until the New year.  We are going to do what I've heard called "Reverse Advent" where you get rid of 1 item per person per day leading up to Christmas/New Year's.  Not trash or papers, but actual items someone else can use.  If even 4 out of 6 of us does that this year, we'll be 100 items lighter before Christmas.  Yeah!  We've also done a big purge before the "birthday season" in May.  Except for Abishai, the rest of us have birthdays between May and September, which bookends our summer months.  So, I'll try to keep up that tradition.  After Christmas, I might even keep up my 1 item per day routine because I do want to continue reducing our stuff.  Every time I go to the garage or to the storage barn, I am appalled at how much stuff we still have.  I do have several groupings of items I did not go through, like old taxes/bills, books, and my clothes, so I'll start there.  I do not want my kids to have the burden of cleaning out my stuff like my siblings and I had to do for my parents.  I won't sacrifice teaching time or taking care of my kids' daily needs, but I don't want that to be the excuse either.

Therefore, as I thought about Christmas wishlists, I also think about giving experiences or consumable gifts and encourage the kids to be happy with getting zoo passes or gymnastics lessons, etc.  Food is great, too.  Or buy a cow for a family in Africa!  Those are awesome, too!  I'm off to get started on Christmas decorating and decluttering.  Hopefully I'll get the rest of the pics off of my phone today from the last few days to share.

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Success!  Hats and mittens are put away, lights are on the tree, jackets are hung up, kids gave away a few things, and I'm a bit more organized overall.  Yeah!

Pictures from Wednesday on our way to Michigan:

Fries or Hashbrowns? He choose fries! We put them in the same bag as the hashbrown though.

Brother, where did you go? Come out and play!  Poor Justin, he can never get a moment's peace!

After just seeing Hacksaw Ridge on Tuesday, seeing Grandpa Cook's hat just reminded me that he did serve in WWII.  He served as a communications person in Africa and was not on the front lines, praise the Lord.  But it was neat to see how the kids made the connection with what we've studied with someone we know.  Thanks Grandpa Cook for your service!

Grandma Johnson talking tenderly to Grandpa Cook.  Gary knows how to talk with anyone, including those that some of us aren't sure how to approach.  He grew up with his parents taking care of his grandmother and was the one at his mom's side when she passed.  Tenderness.

Some of us were hovering around Grandma and Grandpa Cook when they left.  We just want to care for them and know that we never know when the last time will be that we see them.  They grew tired much more easily this year.  Grandpa can still eat and drink and communicate with nods of the head and smiles.  He's doing well considering that he had another major stroke this year.  Grandma's dementia is a bit worse, and Jared was not sure if she recognized him.  She did look a little lost at times, and pretty quiet.

Abishai is becoming very interested in mirrors and himself lately.  Handsome little guy and he listened when I told him to let go of the mirror.

Jared wasn't sure if he could get us home without major amounts of caffeine.  Um, no, he didn't drink all of this, but I find it interesting that he found this in Meijer.  So, you can't brew your own coffee, people? He did say it tasted burnt, and I agreed after taking a sip.  Gary calls Starbucks coffee, "Charbucks."  Lol.  I'm sure they are talking about the normal coffee, not the fancy coffees I get that are brewed when I order it.  I'll get my annual peppermint mocha in a couple of weeks.

Speaking of coffee, look what we found!  Tim Horton's!  Boy do we miss it!  It was closed of course for Thanksgiving.  They are going to build one in Indianapolis at some point and we can't wait!
A little out of order, but we went to Bob Evans for dinner Wednesday night.  Stack of pancakes of course for Justin.


Abishai was so hungry he was eating all the lemons!!  And yes, they now use ball jars for serving drinks!
We had to hurry home after Thanksgiving dinner because this happened!  Jared and Justin were majorly blessed with really expensive seats from someone at church.  They were only a few rows up from the players!  Incredible!!  It was the first time the Colts have played on Thanksgiving (I think) and the game didn't start until 8:30 pm.  They had a blast!

Oh my goodness!  No need for binoculars or watching the jumbotron!  Remember, the Colts stadium holds more people than the whole city of Charlottetown has for population, 50,000 people!!  Incredible! 
Fancy tickets for up close seats.  And the Colts lost to the Steelers.  Let's just say that EACH seat cost more than 1 round trip airline ticket from NH to Indianapolis.  This was a once in a lifetime event!  And only the 2nd time Jared's been to a Colts game in his almost 27 years (minus 4 in Charlottetown) of living here.  He doesn't like sports much, but can appreciate such a generous gift.

Look, Mom, it looks like a candle!

These two are always good for a snuggle.  In fact, Keturah ended up staying in Abishai's bed all night last night.  She said she didn't sleep well, and I told her, that's her own fault for not getting out of Abishai's bed.  She claims that if she did, he would scream.  He might for a moment, but I'm sure it would have been fine.  I told her no snuggling tonight and to stay in her own bed.
Abishai refuses to try to say "Keturah" and when we tell him "say Keturah" he says, "Sissy" instead without hesitating.  Dance time on Sissy's bed.


Dance time on the coffee table to Christmas music.

Dancing to the Piano Guys on YouTube.  They play the piano and cello and do covers of lots of songs.  They are super talented.

A good night for a fire.

I might add another small set of lights on the bottom, but the first set is on and the tree was finally fluffed out properly.

Nice big logs for the fire from a friend.

I guess Abishai thought Daddy needed lots of company while he worked.

So today, I was changing Abishai's diaper and he started saying his name and looking up.  He wanted me to show himself in the mirror.  And when I did, he smiled big and said his name, "Abishai," "baby," and "me."  He loves kids and I think he loves seeing another "kid" smiling back at him.

Aww, another baby!

Giving kisses!

This is a new trend it seems, little baby fingers or toes sticking out from under the door when one is using the bathroom.  Too cute!

One more day until the concert!
And 3 more days to shop Lilla Rose's annual Black Friday sale!  Lots of items 20-60% off!  Lots of new items and lots of favorites!  Some items are already sold out, which tells you how much everyone love their Lilla Rose flexiclips and hairsticks and headbands.  Take a look over at www.lillarose.biz/melindaj  Sale goes through Monday at midnight (Pacific Time).  Don't forget, you can buy gift certificates through me (not the website) as well.