Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

We are going to ring in the New Year Johnson Style. This translates into four Shorties in the king-size bed on top of Mommy and Daddy. Little shortie faces covered in hot chocolate mustaches, sticky hands clutching half-eaten chocolate chip cookies, everyone snoring loudly through the ball drop in Times Square.

Thrilling, I tell you.

Beats the stew out of fighting a crowd of drunken strangers any day. Don’t underestimate sleeping through the New Year. Being able to snore and drool from 11:59 p.m. to 12:01 a.m. is a sure-fire sign that you’ve got a clear conscious and all is well in your universe. You aren’t hungry. You aren’t cold or hot. You are probably warm in a bed. You have a roof over your head. You have many, many reasons to be a) thankful and b) comfy enough to sleep through the revelry. So, yea for us! Boring is SOOO ROCKING AWESOME!

My Wishful Thinking List for the New Year:

Fewer 911 calls. (Wishing it is one thing; getting the Shorties to cooperate is quite another.)

No more cancer diagnoses anywhere in my vicinity. (Enough already.)

More quality time with my mother.

More quality time with the Shorties.

More time in general.

More quality ministry projects that honor the Lord.

More Big Vacations to enjoy The Husband, The Shorties, and The Nana.

I’m going to blog more regularly and keep up with the church website. (Stop laughing. It’s rude.)

My Hopefully, Maybe, We’ll See Resolutions for 2009:

Some remain the same. This one is a holdover from last year. If I buy a book a have to a) read it and b) apply something in it to my life. For example: if I buy a cookbook, I must actually prepare something from the cookbook. If I read a book on time management, I must apply some of the concepts to my daily routine. You get the idea.

I am also going to renew my effort to read equal parts Scripture to Fluff. In practice, this means that I have to spend equal amounts of time praying/reading the Bible as I do reading Stephen King. I’m not sure that God is totally good with this, but since He suffered through a long, dry spell while I was embroiled in the four-and-a-half-book Twilight Saga (which I read through something like, oh, five times), I’m sure He’s just relieved that I’m coming around again. :-)

I’ve committed to renew my walking program and to be serious about three times a week. I have no excuses; there’s a gym in my backyard, for goodness sake.

I’m joining the Scale Back Alabama program at work, and I am going to lose 10 lbs in 18 weeks so that my team gets a shot at the good prizes.

I’m actually going to develop the film and not just take the pictures.

I’m going to sit still long enough to watch some of the shows that I record on the DVR.

I’m going to see my friends more often. (Note to self: this probably needs to go under the Wishful Thinking Column.) Okay, I’m going to write, e-mail, and call my friends more often. That’ll be achievable.

I'd put some goofy stuff on here about trying to be a better mother (as if), trying to be a better person (again, stop laughing), and trying to be a better church member (what? There's something I'm not involved in yet?), but since I know that's just a bunch of talk, I think I'll just stick to the wish list and count my blessings!

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Time Warp

So, I subscribed to one of these music download services for the kids and their new MP3 players. (Yeah, that's the ticket.) After I downloaded like the 20th 80's song onto the computer for my IPod, I finally heard Elaina over my right shoulder, "Are WE getting any songs, Mommy?"

Er, oh, yeah. Hannah Montana. Camp Rock soundtrack. High School Musical 3 Soundrack. Jonas Brothers. I almost forgot to download all of that over the smokin' guitar coming off of The Cult hammering out Fire Woman. (If you don't like that song, it's obvious we have nothing to discuss musically. It's sort of like a dividing line in politics; some things you just can't get past.)

I was completely head banging, singing at the top of my lungs, dancing around the office like some sort of heavy metal lunatic on the third chorus of Love and Rockets No New Tale to Tell when my 8-yr-old grabbed me by the upper arms, spun me around to face her and said, "Mother! You have GOT to get a hold of yourself. You are too old for this sort of thing."

As if. She thinks that dancing in the house is bad...wait until they are teenagers. Heh-heh-heh. It's going to be my complete honor and privilege to humiliate my offspring by rolling up in the Loser Cruiser (what we call the mini-van) to pick them up at the mall blasting The Smiths as loud as the factory jam will allow. I might even get me some Big 80's Hair just for that first time--like some sort of sick initiation ritual. I'm so down with that.

I have totally got to go. Warren Zevon is about to throw down some Werewolves of London all over this home office and so am I. Rock on.

I know those Duran Duran albums are in here somewhere...

Friday, December 26, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho

The Fat Man has come and gone and all is well in the Johnson Household. We had a big holiday. I had to come to work today to get some rest! I certainly don’t want to be at the house trying to wade through all of that wrapping paper and cardboard and toy splatter. It looks like Wal-Mart exploded in my living room. Sounds like a Daddy project to me. So, I’m at work today saving up those vacation days for something else this year. You know us—there’s a vacation somewhere in our future.

I can’t hide from this blog, though. I talked some smack a few posts ago about having a Mommy-Daddy trip this year, so, when I e-mailed my friend Sonja the Travel Agent to price out another Big Johnson Adventure to Disney World, she called me on it. (It’s good to have friends who keep you honest!)

You know perfectly well that Steve and Charlotte going off alone isn’t going to happen; there are too many Shorties counting on us. I must been having a My-God-We-Need-A-Break-From-Screaming-Children moment when I wrote that post. See, we always left the Shorties with my Mother when we wanted to go off for a Big People Vacation in the past. God seriously put a kink in my program with this cancer business. (What was He thinking?) The Rolling Stones are wise, wise men. You really can’t always get what you want.

Santa brought Elaina an IPod/MP3 player thingy. (Well, a knock off; he’s a smart shopper.) So that her little brother doesn’t steal it, Santa brought him one too. I kept asking the other half of the dynamic duo if she wanted an IPod too, but she kept insisting no, no, she wanted school supplies to play school with and clothes from Justice.

Since I am a wise woman, I asked Santa to please bring her a CD player just so she could listen to something on the way to Grandma’s house. I knew that the siblings would be dialed into their new MP3 players and she would be jealous. (It’s hard to drag a dry erase board and markers across town to show off.) So, we get to Grandma’s and everyone sees the chickens come in, two IPods and one CD player rocking it old school, and my cousin laughed and said, “Well, we can see who Cinderella is at your house.”

Lest you fret over my Unfortunate Child, Elise made up for it by getting more packages under the tree than anyone else in the whole house. (You can make $86.00 IPod dollars go a LONG way in the Parent/Teacher Store, my Friends.) Lily even got the bicycle that she started asking for four days before the Big Event. (Santa was on it this year.) It was a big day. I’m looking forward to a quiet new year (ever the optimist). Of course, I went nutso on the decorations this year, so I’ll have a week’s worth of hauling stuff to the basement, but other than that, it’s all good. Hope that your holidays were all wonderful and warm and full of family!

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Real Santa likes Zapopan too. Huh.

We were eating Sunday lunch at our favorite Mexican joint, when my children noticed The Real Santa digging into a chicken quesadilla. (Who knew?) So, Carter asks to go over to him, but I announce that we've already seen The Mall Santa, and they probably don't have very good Mexican at the North Pole (just an assumption on my part), so let the man enjoy his salsa and spicy shrimp.

But Carter, like most little boys, wouldn't be turned away once the seed was planted. By God, that was Santa, The Real Santa, and that sort of opportunity simply can't be passed over without at least taking a shot at it.

My son finally outsmarted me by asking to go to the restroom and detoured around the restaurant to land right at Santa's table. He tugged gently on Santa's work shirt, and when he had the Jolly Old Elf's attention he whispered, "What kind of cookies do you really like us to leave out, Santa?"

Much to Santa's credit, he took the interruption all in stride. (I guess when you are The Real Santa, there are bound to be a few interruptions.) He leaned over to my child and whispered back through his frosty white beard, "Chocolate chip. Always chocolate chip." And he nodded and winked.

Carter made the Serious Face back at Santa, nodded and said, "I knew it. I just knew it." Then he marched straight back to our table and pointed at his daddy with an accusatory stare and finger point and said, "I TOLD you that Santa wanted chocolate chip cookies, NOT Reese's Cups."


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ho, Ho, Ho. Merry Christmas!

Friday, Mr. Kacy, the church children’s choir director, loaded up the children’s choir as an extra special treat for all of their hard work and commitment in the Christmas Program and hauled them up to the McWane Science Center—-this amazing facility that we have in downtown B’ham. It’s about an hour drive there and an hour back. Somewhere between the trip organizing and the actually leaving, I lost my mind and volunteered to go and help.

(Sometimes I wonder what I'm thinking. Was I momentarily possessed by alien forces? Was I drifting off and just nodded 'yes' while blankly staring off into space? Did I actually MEAN to sign up for this? Gives one pause for thought.)

We stopped with 12 kids and 6 adults and ate at Chick-fil-a on the way to town, and then played in the museum for a few hours. The grand finale was to meet Santa and go see the Polar Express on the IMAX. I was exhausted at the end of all of that. The kids had a blast, though, which is what really counts. We left at 12:30 and got home around 9:00. Whew. That was enough of the screaming shorties for this Mother Bear.

Earlier that morning, I morphed into Super Mom and The Husband strapped on his Super Dad cape, and we ran to and fro to get to all three class parties, in three different classrooms, for three different children, all at the same time. I carried Lily on my back to Elise’s classroom. Steve started in Elaina’s room. Then, I hauled Lily to Elaina’s class and Steve moved to Carter’s class. Then, we passed in the hallway, and I monkey-passed Lily to Steve’s back and walked across the whole campus to Carter’s room while Steve finished in Elise’s room. Confused yet? Imagine how we felt!

And this doesn’t even touch on the classroom snack situation. Who-signed-up-to-bring-the-cheese-cubes-and-who-has-the-gallon-of-milk-and-who-has-the-pretzels-in-which-classroom. I needed an org chart and some highlighters to keep all of that together.

We got it all done though. I felt a little bad about not letting the kids participate in the gift-swapping games. We have a few rules around here about gift giving. I seriously limit the amount of money we spend on Christmas in our house. We just think that it would be shameful to spend more on the kids than we are willing to give away to the Lottie Moon International Mission fund or to other families in need during the holidays, so we are on a tight budget to put the focus where it really belongs—on Jesus Christ and His saving power—not on a new toy or gadget.

So, The Royal We decided that after tracking it a couple of years ago and discovering that we spent almost $400.00 in “nothing” like dirty Santa gifts and gift bags for the other students and teacher gifts (which were always crappy because who can afford something really nice for eight teachers???), it was officially over. No gift swaps. No ornament swaps. No gifts for people outside of our family. Nada. Zilch. Nothing. It just became overwhelming. We just stick to the $200.00 per child and they are either content or they aren’t. The end. I’m good with it either way, and I hope that they are too. I sleep just fine at night.

Of course, that idea in theory is one thing. Telling Carter to get out of the circle of his friends and gather his things because we have to leave the class party now and no, you can’t participate in the gift swap because Mommy can’t afford yet another $10.00 gift, is entirely another. The kids are used to it so much now that when Carter’s teacher gave him this pitiful look as we packed up his candy canes and snowman art to head out for the holidays, he smiled and shrugged, “It’s okay, Mrs. R. Lily would just take my gift and break it anyway.” We Johnson's are pragmatic, at the very least.

And today, me and Nana called the North Pole and checked on Santa’s elves and their gift wrapping assignments. Evidently, they wrapped the entire afternoon to get the list finished and everything ready for delivery to our house on Christmas Eve. The elves are TIRED. (I’m just about full up on Christmas Spirit myself. There's not enough egg nog in this house to make me feel better about it either.)

Oh, and of course, we made our annual trip to Christmas Fantasy Land on Thursday night. I’ll be posting some photos of that deal in a day or so when I recover from all of this cheer and good will to men. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What I'm Getting for Christmas.

I’ve confessed my deep-seeded and completely irrational fear for my kids being burned on this blog in numerous posts, so now it’s time to confess my own crazy fear that has absolutely nothing to do with the kids. The dentist. I am sure that a lot of you out there are afraid of the dentist. I sort of take it up a notch.
How bad is it? I have to take a Valium to get my teeth cleaned.

I’ve been determined that this fear not be transferred down the line to my kids, so we’ve been playing dentist and successfully going so well now that the kids don’t even want me to go back with them for teeth cleanings anymore. (Evidently, it’s not cool to have your mother hold your hand when there’s nothing more frightening than fluoride involved.) They are so comfortable going that they high five each other for getting checked out of school to go to the dentist (little freaks).

I, on the other hand, might be persuaded to sell my soul to the Devil never to set foot in the dentist’s office again. In fact, I told my dentist that if I were offered a straight up deal that if I ran stone naked through Macy’s during the day after thanksgiving sale, all three floors, and my little jog would be broadcast on the evening news at 5:00, 6:00, and 10:00 in order to never set foot in the dentist’s office again, I’d take that offer in one heartbeat. Don’t even have to think about it. Post my big rear all over YouTube so long as there’s never another root canal or filling in my future.

So, imagine the fun, fun, fun it’s been around my house when I cracked a tooth last week. I had one of those really old fillings from the 70’s that just finally gave it up. I had to go in and get and X-Ray of that. The next morning, I went across town to have a root canal. Two days later, I had to have part of that redone since it didn’t all get straightened out on my first visit. The next day, I had to have a small filling done where the crack had evidently been there awhile and had messed with the next-door-neighbor tooth.

And today I’m having the Icing on the Dental Cake--a two-hour appointment to build up the broken down tooth and install the temporary crown and make the mold for my new permanent crown (which will naturally require yet another visit). Holy Mother of God. That’s like two full weeks of the dentist and approximately 10 hours of chair time in five days. I’m sweating and breaking out into hives as I type this. I don’t think that a single Valium is going to cut it.

The other funny thing in this is that I am a hoot in the dentist’s chair. See, when they are doing their business in there, I squirm around making these terrible, I-think-I-swallowed-a-bug faces and moaning all of these little noises that sound like I’m in pain. Now, to be clear, I’m not in pain; I’m in terror. But still, between the grimacing and the little grunting, whimpering noises, the dentist or technician is obviously worried that he/she is causing me pain. Not so, I’m just freaking out from the noises and the weird grinding noises and the touching and the fingers in my mouth and the smells and bad tastes. (Breathe, breathe, breathe.)

So, the dentist keeps asking over and over during any procedure, “Are you okay?” “Everything fine, Mrs. Johnson?” “Are you in pain?” Bless their little hearts. They really want it to be okay, but it’s not okay. Not even a little bit okay. It’s not even in the same county as “okay”. But since I can’t scream, “Get your dadgum hand out of my mouth and put those instruments of torture far, far away from me, You Bad Mean Evil Doctor!” I just nod and say through the Novocain and cotton shoved in my mouth, “I’b opay” (translation: I’m okay).

Today I’m taking in my music so that I can (hopefully) bliss out during the two-hour long procedure. Hey, every good scary movie depends on a sound track. Of course, no matter what I choose to listen to during the visit, it’ll have to go straight in the trashcan on the way out of the door. Wouldn’t want to spark any weird flashback scenes later.

And since all I had to pay out of pocket for that entire party was $175.00, all I can say is Thank you, Jesus for insurance! Oh, and Merry Christmas to Me, since I'm probably putting a copy of the paid bill in a box and wrapping it for myself.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Party Time.

Because I am too stupid to live, I'm hosting an open house at the parsonage this weekend. Of course, I have hardly any Christmas shopping done, but I have time to invite 100 people through my house two weekends before Santa comes. (And I'm the brains of this operation around here???) Okay then. So, Shelley came and did her thing getting my house together, and now I'm running around here making party food like some sort of wild woman.

Oh, and did I mention that I had to have a ROOT CANAL yesterday? UGH. My whole mouth is on fire, throbbing and aching. Lily just dumped a whole bowl of popcorn on my previously clean living room floor. I'm high on Lortab. The Husband is working today. Every time I open my stuffed-to-the-gills refrigerator something flies out onto my feet. My mouth is hurting in a most serious way. I can't remember why I came into the office and got on the computer in the first place, but suddenly I find myself blogging. Lily just ran through here with the popcorn bowl on her head. (Is it almost time for more pain medication?) I really want to take a nap instead of making spinach dip and cheese ball and cut up veggies.

Okay, okay, time to stop the pity party and count my blessings.

1) I am blessed because I was able to go to the dentist where they repaired my tooth, and every charge was covered by insurance. (YEA FOR BLUE CROSS AND BLUE SHIELD! WHOO-HOO!)

2) I have access to PAIN MEDICATION, and although I'm not sure who I am or how I got here, it's helping me function. (Sort of. Mostly.)

3) The Husband is working--meaning he has a job. Major blessing.

4) I have a beautiful home to actually decorate and host a party in.

5) I have a WONDERFUL girlfriend who cleans my house. (I LOVE YOU SHELLEY!) (There is nothing more blessed than coming home to a house that smells like Lysol and Lemon Pledge.)

6) I have so much food in the house that it's attacking me when I open the fridge and cabinets (making me richer than most of the population of the planet).

7) I have enough friends that we'll have a full house tomorrow.

8) Did I mention the Pain Medication? That's a good one; it bears repeating.

9) I have loud, messy kids to foul up my clean house and throw popcorn everywhere. (I recall just a few short years ago that my house was always clean and popcorn free. I will always say 'thank you, Lord' for crayon on the wall and popcorn on the floor.)

Those are pretty good blessings. :-) I don't know about you, but feel better already.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Also Known As

This is an illustration in Personal Stupidity. Lest any of you mistakenly think I'm getting or have gotten a divorce, my name is still Charlotte N. Johnson. However, if you call my new place of business, you may find me listed under that name or under Charlotte Nelson. This is because I never changed my Social Security card. (Seriously. How stupid is this?)

So, when I arrived spit polished and shined for my first big day of work, I had all of my paperwork filled out and ready to go (naturally Suzie Overachiever and all of that) in my Real Name. When someone caught the mistake, I had to re-fill out all of that paperwork to register for everything as Charlotte Nelson. Lovely.

After 14 years of marital bliss, you think I'd have gotten around to that sometime in there, alas, no. They even had to reprint my handy dandy security badge to reflect my maiden name. (I'm going to be known as That Woman at work, and I've been there a whole week.) But other than my personal idiocy, it's been AWESOME! I'm going to like it very much there, I think. The people are friendly and welcoming and they like to laugh, so it's all good.

And in other news...Christmas is two weeks away, and I have a measly three things purchased for the kids. I also had some sort of brain aneurysm and decided to host an open house at the parsonage to let everyone in to see the Christmas decorations, so all of the shopping has been for decorations since I don't have any. This has impeded the children Christmas shopping program at my house. (Shameful.) I'm pretty sure I'm losing points on the 2008 Title. Although, I've petitioned Santa for kittens, and that would put me over the top in the contest.

Presenting kids with a pet on Christmas Day is a lock for top contention in the Perfect Mommy Title. (Ironically, it negatively impacts The Husband in the Super Dad contest under the column "Being an Idiot" cross referenced as "Bringing Things that Pee and Poop Into the House" and "Situations Where You Should Have Put the Man Foot Down".) I'd hate to cost him the top spot in his own competition, but it's Thunderdome, Baby.

He's threatened to counter my kittens with the introduction of a four-wheeler (clearly that's a bad thing in my own run for the title under the column "Potential 911 Calls" cross referenced under "Letting the Children Drive ANYTHING on Their Own" and "Toys the Husband Is Really Buying for Himself Under the Guise that They are for the Kids"). We'll see. My bet is that he doesn't have the stomach to carry through. That, and I have the check book. :-) Meow.