Friday, February 29, 2008

Katey's cake

The cake is done. Just in case one of the children decide to sample this I am documenting my efforts now. Its 1:47 am, but the cake is finished and I don't have to worry about it later today. (Sorry kids, Mom is all about school!) Hannah Montana (aka Princess Boots) worked well as our "barbie" for the cake. Laurel chose this cake for Katey because she loves dolls. Katey likes shoes too, but we thought this was prettier and girly like Katey. Next year she may get the shoe cake. Saturday she can celebrate a belated birthday with her grandparents and see her Princess Boots cake for herself.
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Thursday, February 28, 2008

God is coming over

Carter loves company. He is excited Nana and Papa are coming this weekend. He thinks everyone should come to his house. It wasn't too shocking to me when he told me "God is coming to my house." It happened last week. We were having Bible study and he said it. I told him God is everywhere and he said "No, He's not just everywhere, He's coming to my house". Yesterday, he talked at length about it again. He told me "When God is done with things in heaven, He is coming to my house." I told him that yes, sometime God will come, but not to just our house. However, God is with us all the time. He said "Yea, Momma, you know God is in my closet. He keeps the monsters out. But, when He can He is coming to stay at our house." I decided that if he thought God was coming for a visit, why argue. Those of you who know Carter well know that this is a child with which you pick your battles. Convincing him of any error in his thinking is an ordeal. Why bother this time? God IS in my house. We talk. I ask him to intercede, give me patience, guidance, comfort. Some of my most "spiritual" times seem to take place in my bathroom (the only place a mother gets solitude!). So if I find God in the bathroom why can't Carter say God is coming over? I think it is a blessing that he feels that close to his Savior. So, today I'll clean the house, get it ready for company. Not HIM, but Papa and Nana. As for HIM, this conversation with my three year old reminded me that we all need to be ready for HIS visit and look forward to the day HE "comes over".

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

4 kids, 1 mom, in a toy store

Today was a field trip day. We headed to Paducah for one of the educational programs at the Carson Center. The show was great and we had fun. My two oldest think Newton's 3 Laws of Motion are really cool, so what more could you ask for? We had a great time at Steak and Shake with friends for lunch. We played in the snow (aka a light dusting on the back deck) at home. At least it was enough for each kid to make a snowball. I guess one day we will have to take a winter vacation so they can actually see snow.

The only hiccup in the day was the visit to Toys R Us. You ask WHY did you go to Toys R Us??? For a newborn cabbage patch doll for Katey's birthday. She loves Laurel's full size one and it seemed a good idea. Unfortunately, they are harder to find than I thought. Nana got one in Michigan, but it didn't have blonde hair like Katey, so Laurel sort of vetoed that. I bought one at Walmart, but it didn't have the trademark cloth body of a cabbage patch, vetoed again (this time by me and Nana). So here I was entering the mega toy store with four kids in tow, by choice. The children knew we were there for Katey, and Laurel and Matthew enjoyed finding a doll for her. Carter, however, had never before entered a Toys R Us. I shop online folks, I don't enjoy torture by retail. We entered the store to be greeted by the sand and water play table (umbrella included, cute - but $70!). I lost him there, he never recovered. Toy overload. We made our way past the "slip n slides", water toys, as numerous cries of "MOM I WANT THAT!! rang out. We reached the checkout. He noticed I did not have the construction set from the end of the aisle in hand. A promise of "maybe for your birthday"seemed to calm him, but then he disappeared. We found him at the sand and water table, thankfully the store wasn't crowded and employees were quick to help out. We left the store with Katey's doll and a sad little boy. We got to the car and he was screaming. I couldn't help but feel a little guilty. Look...a place of your dreams. Look at all the stuff...THE TOYS. Sorry, kid none for you. However, just yesterday we cleaned out the basement. Two large garbage bags and a box FULL of toys we don't need. I am not THAT tempted. Not today. He got over it, rather quickly actually. He is now happily playing with the free paper hat from Steak and Shake. All is well and hopefully I can avoid taking him to a toy store for another 3 years.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

We need a good night's sleep

We flipped, but probably not often enough. When I was pregnant with Carter we bought the memory foam topper. Now there are no easy fixes. Tim says we'll try flipping it again, maybe it will buy us a little time. However, nothing will change the fact we need a new mattress. Its 13 years old. To sleep on one's side, on one's side of the bed, you now have to hold on. Literally. Drape an arm over the side, tuck it under the topper, do something to lash yourself to the edge or you will find that you wake up in the abyss that now exists in the middle of our bed. If we don't do something soon we could lose one of the small children who often visit in the middle of the night, lost forever in the crevice. The quandry is where to buy it. Costco has a good deal, but its kind of scary to buy a mattress without laying on it. Dealing with sales people in an industry designed to prevent comparison shopping is not my cup of tea. I love a bargain. Give me a product, I'll get online, call around, find the best price. Its fun, easy entertainment and makes me more pleased with my purchase. You can't do that with a mattress. There's the two main contenders: Sealy Posturepedic and the Serta Perfect Sleeper but they come in so many forms who knows what is what when you are trying to compare. All I know is I want to sleep somewhere without tying myself down. Also, leaning over a laptop shopping for hours on the internet trying to figure out which mattress set is the best reviewed with best price gives me a backache no matter what I sleep on.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

I hate Vista

We waited to buy a computer to get Windows Vista. We now count that as a mistake. Tonight in the precious quiet time after the children were in bed we spent 2 hours trying to load software for our video camera. I've lost the software that came with it and so Tim was kind enough to purchase Sony's Vegas Movie Studio for me so that I could do some cool video stuff of the kids. It won't run. Crashes seconds after you launch the program. Google searches, troubleshooting sites, uninstall, reinstall, cross your fingers, stand on your head, hold your mouth right...nothing worked. I quit. I won't buy a Sony HDD camcorder (another nightmare) or a computer with Vista ever again. The kid's software is now useless, we often joke when we try to find freeware "think there's anything for Vista?" (recently some internet filters for the kids was needed..nothing compatible). I confess I am a sucker for new technology. Make my life easier, let me do something cool, live cheaper, expand my access.. I am in. Every Christmas there is a new gadget (my husband happens to have the technology bug, too). However, I am going into recovery and I will attempt to drag Tim along (with our MagicJack phone in hand). If it is too new for the bugs to be worked out then we will wait. Let someone who doesn't have four kids play with it and work it out. Life is too short for frustrating electronics.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Laurel cuts her hair for Locks of Love

Today was the day. Long anticipated and excitement filled. Laurel got her haircut. See for yourself.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Quiet Time????!!!!!

Quiet time. My refuge from the day. My chance to gather myself, and my patience, to make it through the dreaded hours of 3:30-5:30. Those last two hours when we have been together all day and are all looking forward to Daddy's arrival home. Today quiet time is not to be. Katey is refusing to nap and Carter is repeatedly sneaking out of his "quiet place". Coming out with his eyes shut, claiming that means it doesn't count as disobeying. There is a reason we all need silence. I will just have to carve out some during play time later. I appreciate quiet time all the more when it doesn't happen!
UPDATE: Why Katey wouldn't nap: As I typed the above message I was listening to Katey fuss in the monitor. After 30 minutes I gave up and went to her. She often fusses a little before going to sleep, but today she really seemed upset. I found out it has happened for the the fourth time. Count her in. Part of the family. Yes, she too is a member of the nap time mess club. You see all my children at one point have done this. It is nasty and my one and only consolation at having to welcome her into this not so elite group is that she was somewhat unhappy with her initiation. You see the "mess" I refer to is poop. Each child at around two years of age has pooped their diaper while in the crib for nap, removed it, and made a terrible mess of themselves, the unfortunate "friends" in their crib, and the bed. Today it was Katey, pink sheets, and "Ellie" the elephant. All the crying was because she wanted to be cleaned up. She has proved herself one of the Johnston kids. Yet another milestone in her short little life.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Cardboard boxes

Hundreds of dollars of toys clutter our house. We have roughly 500 sq feet in our basement devoted to play with those toys. Yet, what do our children do? Play with cardboard boxes. In the last few days several boxes have come into the house and they apparently have established their residency. We ordered a backsplash for our cooktop. Large long box, seemingly useless for any other function than shipping a large, long object. Carter has made it his own and had a major meltdown when I attempted to include it in the trash for pickup today. The boxes for the curtain rods Tim put up for me this weekend are now robot arms. The boxes the kids' coats came in-robot bodies. So the quandry is do they prefer homemade fun toys they create or is it the fact that the basement is cold and they don't want to go down and play with the hundreds of toys? I would love to think we could purge the many toys. What a change that would be... no more picking up the mess. As a write Laurel has brought up hats, swords, and costumes to add to the cardboard box playset. Maybe a little of both is what we need. Either way it seems a purge is in order.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Katey is two!

That was then..

This is now!!

Today is Katey's 2nd birthday. She has spent the last several weeks waking up to a chorus of "it's almost your birthday" a song created by the other kids. The day finally arrived and while I doubt she really knew what was going on, the other children were very excited for her. Laurel created cards and gifts for her since her actual birthday party will be next Saturday when my parents can be here. Laurel gave her one of her care bears, Matthew gave her his "loopy" (his favorite stuffed animal as a baby), and Carter colored her a picture. They really enjoyed celebrating her day. We made her a giant cookie since she prefers cookies to cake. Her exclamation of "COOOKEE" when she saw it made us believe we had made the right choice. She'll have the traditional cake at her party. It is hard to believe our little girl is two. It seems time passes too quickly. As I put her to bed tonight I told her "I love you baby, happy birthday" and she responded "two years old, two old". So cute. I wish I could keep her innocent sweetness forever.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Candy Hearts

Every holiday has a candy/treat associated with it. Candy canes for Christmas, Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving, Watermelon for 4th of July, BBQ for Memorial Day, every form of candy imaginable at Halloween. One would vote for chocolate for Valentine's Day right? Not in the Johnston house. We love our candy hearts. Necco loves folks like us who have to have several bags each year. It is all that Laurel asked for this year as her Valentine's treat. Now we have another one who competes for the hearts. Katey has found her new favorite treat. We ration, we hide, but now there is a cute little voice that makes us share. "Candee Herts? " She says and we all give in and give her some of ours. Who could resist. Next year she won't be so cute and she will have to share in the quota system. For now, we love her cute voice and baby words so she gets our "hearts". I am off to the clearance aisle at Walmart to stock up for 75 cents a bag.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cereal for Breakfast!

Today was treat day. Party with our homeschool friends after morning school, Wendy's for dinner, a visit to "Maw" to give her Valentine's, and NO Quiet time! A day any kid would love, but ask them what was most special on Valentine's Day and they will tell you cereal. You see we don't eat cold cereal for breakfast. It's one of the things we choose to avoid. Tim wants them to start off with a good (preferably warm) breakfast. Its a good thing. However, like most kids ours love the sugary treats covered in milk that is a staple of the American diet. Our kids eat cereal for snacks, but for breakfast only as a treat with Papa and Nana. To have their Daddy buy them 5 (Yes , FIVE) boxes of cereal was a big deal. He found it for $1 a box and decided to treat them. So on Valentine's Day morning Laurel and Matthew sat down to bowls full of Shrek and Hot Wheels (both versions of Lucky Charms). They couldn't decide between the two so decided to mix. They devoured their bowls. When all was said and done Laurel and Matthew had eaten FOUR bowls. Adult size. Carter ate two and would have eaten more if I would have let him pick out just the marshmallows. I have to draw the line somewhere- even on a treat day. So Daddy scored the "cool Dad" points today and Mom got a morning off of breakfast duty... Happy Valentine's Day to me!!!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The girls room saga and a successful lesson in patience

Today was the day Laurel has been waiting for. When we bought the house we found a "rocket fan" for the boys room. It is tremendously cool, and they love it. Laurel picked out an equally cool fan for her room. Butterflies and pink, what else could a girl want. Unfortunately, she has a Daddy that is over 6 feet tall and her room has slanted ceilings (a bonus room over our garage). In order to put in that fan it would have to be dropped down low enough to clear the walls...thus too low for Daddy and any other tall person to walk through. No fan for her. We promised her a cute lamp for her nightstand after we moved. We looked for a cool girl's lamp. Not to be found. Unless you want Cinderella, in plastic, a cute lamp is not easily within reach for what this Mom is willing to pay. We saw a cute shade at Wal-mart, but the base was missing. We search out the manager and ask if they will get more. He gets the head of that department and shows her the problem with the inventory. She tells us "Sure we can get more of those. However, that supplier takes several weeks. Just check every week or so when you are in the store." We have four kids, think how many times a week we go to Walmart. Each time Laurel checks for her lamp. Finally, weeks later the lamp arrives. We grab it-the first item in our cart that day. She wants a valance to match, only $9, so we get that too. While walking around the store she admires her lamp. You can guess what happens next... " Mom could I have the sheets and comforter that go with the lamp?" Not happening. "How about pillows?" Sorry, kid. She wants the stuff to match. I understand, but know we have spent enough decorating a room occupied by two little girls. I tell her "If you will watch for the line to go on clearance I will buy you whatever we can get for a good price." She does. Every trip to Walmart we check. For FOUR months. She never asks me to buy it, she just looks to see if it has been put on clearance. Today we went to Walmart. We walk to the housewares section and the line is gone. Replaced by bath rugs. Yes, you know I feel terrible. The weather has been cold, roads icy. We have done the unheard of--no Walmart in over a week. I think she will never believe my frugal patience will pay off. She responds better than I thought as we comb the aisles looking on end caps for the clearance merchandise. We find one comforter in a twin (she has a full bed). I begin apologizing and explaining how cute her room already looks and how she really doesn't need anything else. She doesn't argue, but is still looking. We round the corner to leave this area and get our groceries and I see it. A small section of the things she wanted. Two sheet sets (one butterflies, one floral) and pillow shams. The sheets are $9, the shams $3. I show her the savings. Then I get to be the "cool Mom" by saying " You can have them all". Such a splurge, somewhat rare in our home (which is a good thing). She tells me how cool it is to have saved so much money being by being patient. I think the Lord knew we could use a little learning to wait around here. So she got her sheets. Patience and frugality have proven worthwhile. A lesson learned-for both of us. Tonight she sleeps happy. The sheets will get washed tomorrow and we will put them on her bed with her new shams. Meanwhile, I have given up my search for a Wii. Mom needs to learn some patience, too. Have no fear- I put it on my Christmas list.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

the cabrio!

Can I tell you how my life has been blessed by an object? While I know one should not be caught up in their possessions, I can honestly tell you that a washer and dryer have changed my life. My husband was kind enough when we recently moved to purchase me a new set. (For those of you who know us well-grab something so you don't fall over-yes, this was not like Tim!) The old ones were showing signs of wear and not holding up to the constant use of a family of six. Our new laundry is on the top floor of the house and was much smaller than the space we had in our old home- we had to improve efficiency. I knew what I wanted: the largest capacity machine made. I read about the Whirlpool Cabrio. Recalling a friend had recently bought a machine I checked with her and found that she had bought that exact model. She raved about its performance. I purchased mine the next day.

In our old home I washed two loads a day, sometimes three. Laundry was constant and everywhere. The dryer took at least twice as long as the washer so the process took all day. I felt I spent my life in our mud room. Since our move I wash twice a week...yes, I said TWICE. There is often a load or two in between for the inevitable spill, stain, mess that is life with four kids, but as far as normal laundry I can do it in two days. Its 11:15 today and I have washed and dried two large loads since 8:30 while doing school. I will do one more this afternoon and everything will be clean. I washed last Thursday... count those days..think of the volume. Done in three loads.

Our life is hectic, the house is often a wreck, but our clothes are clean. One part of my life is dramatically improved by a machine. Put it on your wish list ladies!!

Here is a link to more info:

Sunday, February 10, 2008

a little dirt, lots of work, then it rains

We cleaned off the patio. Normally this would not be a difficult job. In our case it means removing a lot of mud that had eroded from the other side of the retaining wall. It was a spring-like day. The kids love to play in the mud, and erosion sounded like a good science lesson. We went out with shovels and buckets and set to work. When we were finished we were filthy, exhausted, and feeling as though we had accomplished something. Then Daddy called home. "Bad storms are coming.. have you heard?". No we hadn't. Rain. Rain=waterflow=erosion. My lesson plays over in my mind as I envision the two plus hours of moving dirt in buckets washing away, literally. In the end, the storms did come. Unfortunately, people not too far away were hurt and there was lots of damage. Two days later I talked with a student from Union University and am thankful they were safe in the midst of the destruction there. For us, cinder blocks kept some of the dirt in place. A makeshift plywood dam placed along the edge of the concrete helped, but water along the ground will move loose soil no matter what you do. We will spend more time moving dirt again. Next time we will have sod ready to go and check the forecast first. Laurel said (noting my less than ideal outlook) "Mom, maybe God wants the dirt on the patio". At least they had fun. The laundry is proof of it!!

Friday, February 8, 2008

Cosmetic Dentistry in Our Future?

It happens. Kids run in the house. Somebody gets hurt. This time it was the baby. Katey and Laurel collided as they rounded the same corner. Katey's mouth bleeds as she immediately buries her face in the chair. Her gums turn black, her face swells. Two weeks later we notice her teeth. Her right front tooth is turning gray. How gray? We will wait and see. It looks like Katey may be in for some cosmetic dental work.