Monday, December 29, 2008

Pancake Love

Mason is a hearty eater. He hasn't turned anything down yet, and I think he would eat till he popped if I let him. The other day we fed him some pancakes and it honestly was like he'd never eaten before. He was even trying to suck the crumbs up off the tray.You'll notice his double chin and chubby little hands in the pictures, he is certainly filling out!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Christmas!

The night before...

The morning of:

The kids took forever going to bed on Christmas Eve. Something about hearing bells and seeing Rudolf's red nose... 6:45 came real early this morning, and dear Jeremy, probably the biggest kid of all, could not wait to get downstairs. We have tried several techniques on Christmas morning, so far, none have worked too well, so send your suggestions my way! The kids dove right in and before we knew it, that pile of way too many presents was gone. They didn't really have the patience to take turns, and forget about Jeremy and I, or poor little Mason for that matter, he almost got lost under a pile of wrapping paper! After the batteries had been put in a few toys, the boys retreated to the basement and Jeremy and I were able to quietly go through our own gifts, which I really liked. Then we had breakfast, but all were starving by then. I don't really know if it would be better to eat before presents or after stockings? We will perfect the method by the time the kids are in high school.
Today we are just enjoying each others company. We've played a few games, watched a movie, and we're still in our PJ's! I am looking forward to a stress free dinner alone tonight, the turkey is in the oven! We wish you all the merriest Christmas ever!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Cameron's Sixth Year Montage

I wanted to get this done before Christmas came and I had a million other things on my mind. Here is this last year of Cameron's life in pictures, and set to music. Buckle your seat belts, it's a long one. (Oh, and in case you are wondering why on earth I used that Pocket Full of Sunshine song- it is Cameron's favorite on the radio, he sings it at the top of his lungs).

Has it really been six years...

... since I was in the hospital with Jeremy and blissfully happy that we had had our first baby? I still remember the doctor laying him on my chest and how utterly amazing it was to me that he was here and that I was a mom! I hardly slept during my hospital stay, I was too wrapped up in the newness of this little being and I didn't want to miss a second. I counted his fingers and toes (even his little crooked one), I stroked his velvetey skin and poured over his tiny features (he still has tiny ears). Our ittty bitty Cameron.

Cameron had his birthday yesterday and a birthday party with his friends at a bowling alley. The kids went crazy bowling for an hour and got creative bowling through each others (and my) legs, then we had pizza and cake and presents. His friends, Tate, Austin N., Austin T., Natalie, and Julia came, (Sara was sick) and Ashley came to keep Gavin company. I am constantly impressed by this sweet little boy. He asked everyone to help him blow out his candles and everyone to help unwrap his gifts. When he received a fire truck as a gift, he remembered that this was what Gavin asked for for Christmas, and he promptly gave it to his little brother. There has been no fighting over his new toys (yet). Cameron has been so amazing about sharing, and the boys are playing together miraculously well.

Last night when I was putting Cameron to bed I told him the story of when he was born and how happy he has made both Jeremy and I. I told him how proud we are of him and how I'm going to stop feeding him so he will stop growing. I told him that he was born at 11 pm and that he would officially be six later that night. He asked me to come wake him up at 11. I did, and then I crawled in bed with him and suggled him the rest of the night. Yes, I am that sappy, pathetic, mom that can't deal with her children growing up. Love you Cameron.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mover and Shaker

I sat Mason down in the office the other day and went about some business when I hear something banging on our wood floors out in our entry way. The little bugger scooted himself all the way out there and was banging this on the floor:
I hope baby Jesus doesn't take it personally...

Stuck in the middle

During my years as a Veterinary Technician, I leaned some very important principles of pet behavior. Generally when you had a dog that was being destructive or unruly, you could trace that behavior back to a need that was not being fulfilled, for example, not enough exercise, or not enough attention. Interestingly enough, the same rule applies to kids and in particular to my Gavin.
Our poor middle child gets a bad rap, and I am at the top of the list of people who have labeled him the "difficult" one. There is no denying that he is a handful, but I have also noticed that this is partly my fault. Just like with dogs, Gavin tends to act up more when he has not had enough one on one time or "hard play," as we like to call it. Usually, if I make the time to get on the floor and play trucks, participate in a game of hide and seek, or read him a gazillion books, he is so much happier because his bucket of love has been filled. And our happy Gavin is an absolute joy to be around. He is the kid in the house that gets Jeremy and I laughing hysterically, and he tells us he loves us dozens of times each day. He is a snuggler and is so sweet and tender with Mason. So Gavin, when you read this someday, please know that we love your quirkiness and everything that comes in your Gavin sized package- good and not so good. I would pick you a million times over again, even on the difficult days, because you make our lives exciting, and add spice to this family. Thanks for the entertainment.

Name that tune:

There's a slightly better version here

Playing catch up

We have had a virus on our computer for about a week and I have missed my blog! Last night, thanks to an old friend and complete computer genius, we are up and running again. Last weekend we went to my sister Kristen's house for our family Christmas gathering. It was basically a re-run of Thanksgiving, with my mom and Jeff, Pop Pop, and mine and my sisters families. Then on Monday, Kristen brought her family up to go on our traditional truck ride through the Bull Run Festival of Lights. Unlike past years where we had to bundle up and bring tons of blankets to keep warm, it was a balmy 62 degrees out, so it was the perfect night. We still had cookies and hot chocolate and sang our hearts out, to the dismay of the cars behind us. Kristen is my equally goofy sister that isn't afraid to make a fool out of herself- like me. Good times.
Also, the past few months I have been rehearsing for a musical our Stake put on called Savior of the World. It was all about Christ's birth, life and resurrection. I was just in the choir, but that still involved weekly Saturday morning rehearsals and then we performed the first two weekends in December. It was a lot of work, but the production was really amazing in the end. Garth (what a whack job), Mandi and Sommer were also in it, which provided the much needed comic relief.
This week was my week to host preschool and since this is our last week before vacation, we had a very fun Christmas party on Thursday. The kids donned their PJ's, we made a pancake breakfast, made some cute crafts and had a gift exchange. I just love the magic of Christmas and how special it is for children. They really catch the spirit and I'm lucky to be able to feed off of it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

A Season of Giving

Last night we had our Christmas Enrichment meeting at Carol Ferguson's home. I have been in charge of these quarterly women's meetings for a few months now, and to have the program and all of the details finally fall into place was a relief and a blessing. Carol's home always looks like a Christmas store, there is no corner or shelf that is not adorned with Christmasness so it is the perfect setting and the program we had turned out just perfect. We decorated a wreath during the meeting, talking about the symbolism of each element, red berries, ornaments, stars, bells and candy canes. For each decoration we added, we explained what it symbolized and then talked about a woman in our ward that somehow embodied that symbolism. Then we had a musical number that also tied in with that decoration. We had trumpets and violins, guitars and beautiful singing. The Spirit was strong and I know we each left having a deeper appreciation of the sisters we associate with. I know I felt uplifted.
We also collected gifts for the foster children in the area last night. When I left my car was brimming with toys and I felt so grateful for the selflessness of everyone that participated. This morning, I was able to take the gifts to the Social Services office, and they sincerely expressed their thankfulness for our help. In total, we collected 55 toys and 15 gift cards for these needy children who otherwise might not get much for Christmas. I had all three of my boys with me and I hope they got the message that it is better to give than to receive. In talking with Cameron on the way home, he is the one who taught me. I was explaining how the kids would not have any Christmas without these gifts and he corrected me. "It's still Christmas with no presents, mom, because it's still about Jesus, not toys." So true.

Monday, December 8, 2008

One reason why preschool was a good idea after all...

He never would have learned this without it:

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The making of a gingerbread train

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Jeepers, Creepers, we've got Mr. Peep-ers

We have one of Santa's elves at our house. His name is Mr. Peeps and he arrived for the second year in a row the day after Thanksgiving. Santa sent him to keep an eye on us and make sure we are being good until Christmas. He moves only at night and if you touch him, his magic goes away. He seems very happy, as he is always smiling. On Christmas Eve he will sit by the Christmas tree and report to Santa how good or bad we have been and Santa will then leave us an appropriate amount of gifts. Then he will hop on Santa's sleigh and ride back to the North Pole until next year. Maybe if you are good enough, next year you can have an elf of your own. The kids sure go crazy each morning running around and trying to find him. And when they misbehave, all we have to do is remind that Mr. Peeps is watching and they soon cease and desist their foul behavior. Here is where you can find the poem that comes with him. We sure are lucky.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

We have an imposter among us

It's nine feet tall, a bit prickly and smells of... plastic. Yup, this is the year that will go down in Johnson history as the year we gave in to the dark side. We said we would never do it and criticized others for making the switch, yet here we are with one of our own. It is a sad day, and I am still doubting our choice to purchase a fake Christmas tree.

I still have memories from my childhood of bundling up and going to the tree farm to pick out a tree. Most years we bought from one of those tree lots, a few we actually went to cut it down, but in both cases, it was a treasured memory. Running and pointing to "this one, no this one!" as we inspected each tree for bare spots or found that added bonus- a bird's nest. Jeremy has similar memories, his family also believed in the "fresh is the only way" philosophy and they have not departed from it. I wanted my kids to have the same experiences, but alas, it seems their memories will be of fluffing out box-scrunched wire branches and spraying the pine tree smell to mimic what a real tree might be like.

It was not an easy choice, but for the five years we have lived in this house, we have gone and spent a small fortune on the perfect 9-10 foot tree that would do our vaulted ceilings justice and then I would tirelessly wind strand after strand of lights throughout the tree, trying to outdo the year prior and copy a tree I saw years ago that seemed so bright it might burn your corneas. Not to mention that Jeremy and I inevitably fought trying to get the thing straight in the tree stand, ugh, what a rotten task. Every year after all that work I would say never again, but then when December rolled around again I would chicken out and wax all sentimental again. Well this year we found a beautiful tree on clearance (can you believe that, in November?) and we could not pass it up. I'll admit, I cried a bit on the way home, causing Jeremy to agree that next year we can get a smaller real tree to put in the basement.

So after getting this tree up and decorated, it just didn't have the same oooh factor as the real ones did. And it's a bit too perfect, no bare spot to turn to the back, no heavy lower branches to hide or cut, and no smell! But pretty, I guess, and it is with a heavy heart that I admit that.
I'm sure I'll get used to the whole idea, but until then there is a hole in my soul, mourning this awful decision. O Christmas tree, I miss you.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Our Thanksgiving

I think this was the most low-stress Thanksgiving I have ever hosted. When I woke up on Thursday, my house was clean, and many of the dishes I was cooking I was able to make the day before. So when the kids woke up, suprisingly later than usual, we laid around in bed for a while counting our blessings and reflecting on all we are thankful for. At 11 family arrived, my sister Kristin and her family, Mom and Jeff, and Pop Pop. We filled up our first "thankful tree" and awaited the big meal. This year we had turkey with cranberry horseradish relish, rolls, home made stuffing, funeral potatoes, corn pudding, green bean casserole, and sweet potatoes. And for dessert, oats and honey pie, pumpkin roll, and a chocolate frosted cornucopia cake the neighbors brought by.

Some of our thankful leaves on the tree incuded:





*toilet paper



*clean water

I don't know what it was about this year that made it so relaxing and enjoyable, but for some reason the kids all played together without any fighting, and all of the adults were able to sit and talk and just be thankful. I am so very thankful for my family and the bounty of blessings that I have in my life. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2008

A couple more families...

Braving the bitter cold, I had two more photo shoots this weekend. Photographing our friends Mary and Mike was a breeze, I didn't even have to make any funny faces or noises to get them to look and smile... And the other family was one that I had not met before, but they were so fantastic to shoot. The identical twin almost three year olds were so cooperative despite the weather and their personalities really shine through. Hopefully they will like one for their Christmas cards this year.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Some new pics of the boys

I took a few photos of the boys the other day. The best one of them all together is at the top of my blog. I really need to take a photoshop class to figure out how to soften the background, because a wrinkly sheet doesn't look the cutest... Something to learn from!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Winter is coming...

I can always tell that winter is around the corner when the maple tree in our front yard finally turns red. It is always the last hold out and the final beauty in our yard until spring. All week I have been stopping to look at it out the window as I go up and down the stairs because to me it looks like it's on fire and too soon it will be bare. I am enjoying it while it lasts!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Jump for Joy

See MasonSee Mason jump, and jump, and jumpSee Mason worn out from all the jumping... The End

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Gavin's three year montage

I do these montages every year for my kids birthdays. This is Gavin's of all of the past year. It's long, so I don't expect many will watch it all, but I like to post them for far away family. It was crazy to go back through pictures and see how this kid has grown. Gavin really is becoming more boy and less baby with each and every day. Stupid world- stop turning!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Molded Crayons

I made these crayons to give out for Gavin's party. They are just melted crayons put into those chocolate candy molds you can buy at the craft store. I found this idea at this website. This woman does crafts with her kid every day- EVERY DAY!!! Needless to say, I love so many of her ideas and they have already come in handy for preschool. I thought I would share in case you are in need of a fun project. Oh, and thanks Jamie for providing the link!

Purple Mountains Magesty

On Sunday we went up to Skyline Drive with the Turners, Wadleys, and Porters. We made a fire, cooked some dogs and s'mores, and drank hot cocoa. There were piles of leaves for the kids to jump in and throw at each other, and the weather was chilly, but not unbearable. We caught the tail end of fall up in the mountains, most of the trees had lost their leaves, but there were still some really pretty yellow trees left. We stayed up there until sunset, which was just breathtaking as the last rays lit up the mountains, truly God's country. Cameron kept saying as we drove home that he wanted to live up there and I can't say I didn't have the same thoughts. As we near Thanksgiving, I am thankful to live so close to natures beauty and splendor and be able to share it with my children.