Thursday, December 27, 2007

Going to the Big D

Well, Christmas has come and gone and was a rousing successes. One of the best we've ever had I think. Everyone has been asking what the Big Surprise was that I couldn't talk about before, and now I can answer in full confidence since the Shorties have been told, we are going to DISNEY WORLD on Tuesday! YEA! I'm more excited than anyone going I think. And I can't believe we kept it a secret for a month. Whew.

Christmas Eve I had these boxes and several smaller packages ready to go for the kids. In the big boxes were sweat shirts and hoodies with their names embroidered on the hoods, all in favorite characters. In the small bags were autograph books and lanyards, fanny packs, cameras, and tons of gear for the trip. I had the kids put everything on as they opened the boxes and bags and told them that we had to solve the mystery of where we could use those things.

After everyone had on sweatshirts, lanyards, fanny packs, and autograph books, Elaina finally guessed it and whispered, "Disney World?" I nodded and whispered back, "on Tuesday". She paused for a second, understanding flashing in her brown eyes, almost on the verge of tears (as in I've-just-been-crowned-Miss-America tears), then the silence was broken by Elise Nicole Johnson who said, and I quote,

"I am sooooo not wearing a fanny pack to Disney World."

(And you people thought I was joking when I called her the Fashionista.) Since Santa was so close to coming, the kids dismissed the Disney talk until last night. We got out the scrapbook from when Mommy and Daddy went in 2001 and talked about rides and what we'll see and where we're staying and all of that. Elaina is the most excited of all. She grasps the enormity of the deal, I think.

Elise asked if she could have her own map to check off the rides and shows as we completed them during the trip. (This is the same child who made a guest list for Christmas Eve and checked everyone off as they came through the door--I kid you not.) When I told her that the fanny pack would come in handy to carry her maps, she grimaced and said, "Can't I carry a purse instead? Fanny packs are for moms and memaws." (Can't argue with that sort of logic.)

So, I bought some of that car writing soap stuff for the windows. Steve's decided to put "Wally World--Here We Come" on the back window. With all of the luggage strapped to the roof and seven people crammed into the Loser Cruiser for a ten-hour drive, the Griswolds have nothing on us.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Fantasyland

Out near where we live, there's a house in the middle of a huge farm area that's all alone, away from stores and streetlights and well, everything. You drive on a dirt road for several miles to actually get to the place. The first time The Husband and I drove out there, they were still using hand painted, homemade signs for directions. The signs read "Fantasyland" in red paint on a white background that was probably supposed to look festive, but the signs had been stood up before the paint was dry, so the letters literally "bled" and it looked like this creepy, bleeding sign for (insert creepy music here and say it like the Crypt Keeper)Christmas Fantasyland. About two miles down that dirt road in a heavy fog with the signs more and more resembling a bloodletting, we had better sense than to keep on going and abandoned the deal.

(Okay, laughing people: mini-van with one-year-old-twin babies, no cell phone service, thick fog, no lights, dirt road for miles, no one knows where you are, and creeping bleeding signs???--you'd have turned around too.)

But the next year, the family who hosts this production replaced the Creepy Christmas-Killer-Bleeding-We're-All-Going-To-Die signs with lovely printed ones, and we tried the drive again in confidence (well, after praying and telling people where we were going). IT WAS ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL! Now, we make this a Must See annual Johnson thing.

This family has their yard and the road leading up to the yard full of these animated scenes and lights and a Ferris wheel and huge displays. It's amazing.

There's a place to sit on a "real" Santa's lap and take photos. And the Grinch is out and about (which was a little freaky creepy. If that thing had popped out the night we made the first ride out there, I'd have run it over with the minivan in a completely justified blind panic). You can drive through their circular driveway or stop and walk. The kids were over- whelmed. It was chilly outside and Santa was there, and it felt like Christmas. You simply cannot appreciate this in photos. It's really wonderful.

Here we are on the front porch of their home.
(Naturally, Lily wasn't going anywhere near any Grinch or Santa, but gladly manned the train as engineer.)

Yes, I Think That Beaver IS Smiling at You

Friday night we went with our church Sunday School class for dinner at a place called the Sawmill. It's an all-you-can-eat seafood buffet place in rural central Alabama (as in, we drove for 30 minutes through the middle of nowhere and stopped to eat in a restaurant in a field) that was very interesting indeed. How interesting, you ask?

Allow me to share a photo of the Greeter next to the door of the Ladies' Restroom . :-)
What is it about me, church, and dead animals on display? Hmmm...Now, the food was wonderful. I enjoyed shrimp cooked every conceivable way possible. And the hush puppies and gumbo were fabulous. We ate and laughed and ate and cut up and ate and visited and had an all around great time.

I also took photographs of everyone at the party, but the flash was behaving strangely in the light, so everyone had to wait too long for the actual shutter to move, hence I have a magnificent collection of the worst photos ever. Since the flash went off early, but the shutter went off late, the first photo of Sister So-in-So, she's got her eyes closed because she thought the photo was finished (which was totally logical). The second photo, same woman looks like she's just seen a naked man streak through the restaurant because her eyes are glued open so wide as to avoid the closed eye thing. And this repeated itself all the way around the room. I have an amazing collection of Eyes Closed/Eyes Wide photos that could be some strange art exhibit.

And although I won't post those photos here (because any old goofus can stumble upon this site), I will be putting those up on the church website this morning so that we can laugh amongst ourselves. (Someone is now desperately dialing up numbers on the phone list trying to figure out who let me be in charge of that deal--should the woman who is the worst photographer alive really be responsible for posting all of the photos of the people at the church? Not terribly well thought out.) ;-)

Guess it was pretty good...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Johnson Family Christmas Photos 2007

The posed picture...

And then the real picture...
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Psalm 113

Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD, Praise the name of the LORD. Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time forth and forever. From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the LORD is to be praised. The LORD is high above all nations; His glory is above the heavens. Who is like the LORD our God, who is enthroned on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth? He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of His people. He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Running Errands--an Exercise in Time Management

I've run absolutely crazy this week. (I always tell folks that the busiest time in our universe starts at around October 12th before the Fall Festival and ends up around the second week in January. This year is holding true to that statement.)

After a crazy weekend of Sunday School Parties and Choir Practices and Christmas Cantatas, we hit the ground running again on Monday.

Lily and I ran errands while the kids were in school, which turned into a nightmare. We left the house at 9:45 or so, and she threw up at around 10:15, halfway in the middle of nowhere. She asked for some "musik, mommy", so I put on Christmas carols and there we were, singing our hearts out when I heard that terrible sound from behind me. Motion sickness. That wouldn't have been a huge problem, but in addition to being sick on herself, the car seat, and her blankie, she yacked on the spare outfit I had in the car that just happened to be strategically located under her seat. (perfect) So I had to stop at the Dollar General and buy clothes. Of course, they didn't have any clothes in her size, so we left the store in boy's pajamas.

On my list of things to do was go to the Old Time Pottery store to buy picture frames for the grandparents. This is an ordeal. I have so many in-laws and out-laws, that I have diagrams and lists with who gets what and where and in what size and what color this one prefers and what color that one needs, etc. After 45-minutes of frame shopping (which is about 30 minutes too long), just as I started toward the check out with a full buggy, the power in the store went off. Total darkness. Lily went berserk screaming until I got her out of the buggy.

They couldn't check us out (no one can figure out how to use a calculator in 2007 I suppose), so I had to abandon the buggy and go on to Wal-Mart. (The store was kind enough to put my name on the buggy of stuff should I make it back.)

On the way to the Wally World shopping center, four traffic lights were out on the busiest highway ever, so it took 30 minutes longer than it should have to navigate up the road. I hooked up with Steve (finally), and we bought the stuff for the children's Christmas program, then I loaded Lily up with him, and they went off to get the kids from school. (He called two minutes into the drive and wanted to know why he got to drive the 'funky Lily vehicle' prompting me to tell him that he was welcome to come back and finish the shopping and I'd take the kids home. He did what all men do when having That Sort of Conversation and pretended to lose cell service.)

I got yet another buggy and proceeded to shop for our personal household. (I think that two buggies at Wal-Mart and walking the entire store twice might be an effective form of torture.)

I then called the Old Time Pottery as I was shoving my sacks of stuff into the trunk to see if the lights had come back on. They were back in business, so I hauled it eight miles over there to get my stuff, not wanting to go through the Frame Ordeal again. I made it back to the house in time to sling the purchases from Wal-mart and OTP out of the car into the kitchen, and cram the kids in the car, and then drive like I was on fire to gymnastics practice. We made the 40 minute drive in 30 minutes flat.

When that was over, we had to rush back home for Steve to meet the sound system man at the church at 6:00. We came screaming in the driveway at 6:02 and did the tag team in reverse with me coming and him going this time. The beautiful man had dinner ready on the counter for us when we got inside. :-) Fish sticks and macaroni are excellent when you aren't the person fixing it, Sister.

Yesterday felt about the same as that, only I had a speaking engagement at noon and all four kids go their hair cut at 3:30. (You can only imagine this adventure, but sufficed to say that if we're on the schedule and you are planning on getting your hair do the same day, just go ahead and cancel. That or bring popcorn and watch the Johnson Show live and in color.)

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Trip Down Memory Lane

Christmas 2002

I love this photo--it's like the truth of the matter. All of those posed photos are torment.
Again, the baby is the only one with the right idea...

Home Alone

We're about to have a First for the new house...the kids are spending the night away from home on Friday night. All of them. Away. Gone. As in 'no kids in the house'.

Now, I hate to do the happy dance all over the place about my kids being away from home, but anyone with four kids can tell you that having all of them away at the same time over night is like a miraculous occurrence. We have a greater chance of a meteorite landing in the back yard than having all four kids off overnight at the same time.

Someone at church joked that we don't need to be left alone to our own devices--four kids is enough. :-) I'm just looking forward to sleeping without Carter's big head in my back and not waking up at 6:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. Yea! Whoo-hoo! (We are old.)

Since I am mailing out our Christmas photos this coming week, I'll save my official Johnson Christmas Photos on the blog until everyone gets to be surprised, but I was looking through some old Christmas photos this weekend, and I thought I'd share some of my favorites.

This is Elise doing her impression of Mary and the Baby Jesus.
Elaina, I-want-to-be-a-soccer-mom-when-I-grow-up Johnson.
Elaina (Don't hate me because I'm beautiful):
Elise (Who is smiling so big because she already formulated the plan to hurl that ball in her lap across the room at the back of her brother's head--which happened one second after the photo was taken):
Carter (Another photo? You can't be serious. When is this over and the gift part happens?):
Lily (only way to make it through the holidays unscathed--sleep):

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Spelling Bee at the ER

By now, most of you have heard about Elise's half-gainer off of the monkey bar platform at Orr Park. Basically, she was about to cross the monkey bars and somehow slipped or misstepped and did a swan dive from about 6 1/2 feet in the air, landing on her elbows and head/neck. It was something to see. We were overdue for a 911 moment.

In emergencies, Steve usually airs on the side of caution (as in, let's just get it checked out for fun), and I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum (as in, if there's no protruding bone, shake it off, you'll be fine), so we're learning to meet in the middle. Since there were no other symptoms other than "sore neck", we opted to wait overnight and see how she was in the morning. And of course we ended up in the Children's emergency room Sunday at lunchtime "just for fun". (The experience of taking a child to Children's downtown is another blog for another day.)

So, 2 1/2 hours on the road, three hours in the emergency room, X-Rays and a CT scan, and several hundred dollars later, we have an official diagnosis of a Sore Neck. They put her in a neck brace and told her to take it easy, no PE and no gymnastics for at least a week. The neck brace looks quite impressive, so the sympathy and snuggle factor are off of the scale. I'm talking quality attention--the kind that involves cake and 'oh you poor, sweet thing'. And Elise is no dummy--she likes a good snuggle and hug and cake as good as any other Johnson.

The funniest part of this particular ordeal was when the primary doctor came into see us and explained that she had strained her blah-blah-blah-blah-blah muscles. He said that they were called the SCM for short. She gave him this are-you-sure look and he said, "I can even spell that."

Now, I'm sure that this physician was just being cute, but to Elise The Literal Child, this was cause for an instant challenge.

She paused for a second and said, "Okay, then, go ahead."

He did a double take, and then the doctor seriously and carefully spelled the eighteen syllable word and smiled at his accomplishment with this little self-satisfied grin.

Obviously unimpressed, Elise considered that for a second and then deadpanned, "Well, I can spell Mississippi. That's a long word too."

"Okay, then let's hear it," said the Doctor in all manner of seriousness.

Elise Johnson, Scholar replied with what else but, "M. I. Crooked letter, crooked letter. I. Crooked letter, crooked letter. I. Humpback, humpback, I. (pause, pause, pause.) Of course you understand that the Crooked Letters stand for "s" and the Humpbacks stand for "p", but you get the idea."

Doctor: "That is a very long word."

Then he couldn't keep the straight face anymore and started laughing at her serious little face. But he missed the funniest part. On the way home, from the backseat, Elise piped up with, "I should have chosen to spell 'oxygen' or 'Christmas' or 'university' because those are complicated words. Mississippi might be long, but there are lots of repeat letters, so it's easy. Next time we go up here for an emergency I'll have a better word, so if Carter or Lily or Elaina have an emergency, I get to come too."

Okay then.

(Note to self: pack up all sharp objects so that Elise doesn't stab someone in order to challenge the ER doctor to a re-do.)