Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guitar in the house

Tim, Laurel, Matthew, and Carter have all been taking guitar lessons for a few weeks.  They have all been doing great and learning a lot.  Christmas brought a couple of new guitars into the house and Laurel used the one she and Matthew received to make her You Tube debut.  Here is a link to see it for yourself:

 Laurel on you tube

Its public for the time being so friends and family can find it and its easy to link to from here....

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Laurel is 11!

This week Laurel turned 11.  She celebrated by doing all the things that would make her "perfect day".  Essentially this involved a lot of eating out, trips to thrift stores, cake and presents with family, and a trip to New Life Christian Bookstore for new webkinz with her friend.  She had a fun day.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

One year ago...

We headed home from Germany one year ago (exactly in 7 hours, but I don't plan to get up in the middle of the night to celebrate).  Katey remembers watching TV on the plane and being excited about coming home.  Laurel remembers sleeping in the airport after being up for 20+ hours.  Matthew remembers being ready to come home.  Carter remembers having fun watching TV and playing with his toys on the plane and having his nerf gun confiscated in security!  The kids all enjoyed the flight and are ready to go again anytime!  It seems like just yesterday.  It makes me realize how quick the time passed for people here even though it felt to us like we were gone a really long time!  I also am more aware of what we did.  We went on 13 trips outside the city- two long train rides outside of Bavaria - one all the way to the Baltic Sea.  This fall we went camping in LBL.  Quite the change.  We have enjoyed being home and lots of things have happened this fall that would have been very difficult to handle from a continent away so its good that things worked out they way they have.  We are truly blessed and are very thankful for the opportunities we have had and for the memories of our trip.  We love that they are now aware of life outside the USA and have an appreciation for other cultures.  All of us want to go back, but two of our children want to go back to Germany, to the same apartment, because they love that we all slept in one room and that we got to spend lots of time together.  It makes me a happy Momma to know that being together is what they value the most.  Not sure how that would work with a group of teenagers, but we'd all still like to do it all again someday!  A new adventure, a new day, more memories....

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mary turns 94

Cake, presents, and a trip to the doctor what else could one ask for when turning 94 right? Seriously, we are blessed to have Mary with us and in such good health. Family is so precious and we enjoyed seeing her happy today.
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Clearance Costumes

Tim used to make an annual run to Walmart on November 1 to restock our costume collection with clearance costumes.  After not finding much the last few years I hadn't thought to have him check.  Tonight while shopping we happened by the aisle and saw the 75% off signs.  The kids were thrilled. They all found ones they liked (although Matthew's is big and requires some modification tomorrow). They came home and dressed up. Carter had found an Iron Man helmet at Angel's Attic months ago and was super happy to find the costume to go with it.  He may wear it for days.  It took me a while tonight to convince him not to sleep in it.  I am excited we can now purge a few from our collection that have seen better days....Some of you know which ones I am talking about :)!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Before and After

We've been pondering how to fix our patio and yard for a couple of years.  No one seemed to know exactly how to fix it, they just all agreed it was done wrong in the first place (yes, that is really helpful).  This year we put all our info together and embarked on a plan.  It took 5 months.  We are so glad its done.  Final pics are taken.  Here are before and after shots of the "Summer of the Yard" project. We had hoped to have a big party with a patio movie theme, but now that its done its pretty cold in the evenings.  Perhaps we'll get some more warm days, if not there will be fun in the yard next spring for one and all.

no slope patio, higher than the basement floor (not good), yard slopes toward patio
wall steps down, front yard water flows directly to wall and house, steep grade to walk to side yard

front yard grade is leveled off

water flows to side yard via a berm created in front of flower bed

fire ring (or oval depending on who you ask) made from pieces of the old patio and extended side yard - it used to end at the tree line, now extends to our property line.

wall is now level at approx. 6.5 ft height and we have stairs from the front to the side yard- waiting on plants on backorder at Rolling Hills to landscape beside the stairs...

new lowered and sloped patio

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Fall Family Pic

The construction is done, more pictures to come- just waiting for our grass to grow a few more days before taking the "finished" shots.  Family pic on the new stairs:

We enjoyed cooking out in our fire pit made from pieces of the old patio on Friday night - our ode to recycling.  Looking forward to what is left of fall in our new outdoor spaces.

Apple Orchard

Made a trip to Mathis Orchard with the homeschool group.  Bought a bushel and a half of apples and some yummy cider.  Here's the crew by a huge tree in front of the barn.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Go Racers

First home football game for the MSU Racers.   After missing all the games last fall while in Germany the kids were excited to attend.  After years of bleeding orange even from a distance, over the last few years our focus has been on "our" team.   These are kids Tim teaches in class, its a program led by a friend, and sports we can enjoy as a family.  No one spilled coke laced with their friend "Jack" on any of us.  People in the stands were nice to our children.  It may not be the SEC, and I will always have memories of chanting that its "great to be a Tennessee Vol", but the Racers and other small schools deserve their due.  Frankly Racer One going around the track is more impressive than Smokey any day.  Can't imagine buying tickets for a family of 6 in Knoxville.  We are Racers! and we had a fun night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Carter eats!!!!

Since Carter's birthday last month we have a new rule:  He must eat one bite of the main dinner meal every night.  For his picky eating nature this has been a big challenge.  However, he is learning that he does like a few things.  To most foods he says "Its okay but I don't want any more" but at least its a start.  Tonight was our first Wednesday meal at church since the new rule went into effect.  He took a yogurt to eat expecting not to like the meal that was offered.  I took a small piece of Laurel's fried chicken and had him eat it as his "main" course for the night.  He liked it and asked for his own piece.  The kid ate an entire serving of chicken.  Any of you who have picky eaters can join me in doing my happy dance that I have another source of protein for my growing boy.  Cantaloupe was also tolerated, though he still doesn't always want to eat it.  It has been a month and he is coping and taking his bite each night without too much resistance.  We are very excited for him!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Berkeley salad- still delicious 20 years later.

I had time to shop at a local market while Tim worked. It was fun to see all the local crafts and taste some yummy food.

The ferry building is the site of the farmers market

Lots of people everywhere

It was a sunny warm day

When Tim finished work today we took a bus to Golden Gate Park and visited the Conservatory

Many beautiful things

A quick stop by the chilly Pacific Ocean, but I had to see it!

We enjoyed watching the kite boarding
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Friday, August 5, 2011

Fun in San Francisco

By the Bay- Windy and Cool

Cheese dessert plate at Benu- followed a yummy and equally attractive meal- I was too worried about being a tourist to photograph an entire meal, but I had to preserve something.

The fountain in Sausalito- nearing the end of our city tour

Coming back to the dock after touring Alcatraz, San Francisco in the distance

Alcatraz from Pier 39

On the Cable car- public transport is crowded, my German transportation assertiveness once again is paying off.

Stopping for a view at Alamo Square park and to see some of the "Painted Ladies" on our city tour
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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Carter is 7

Presents have been opened so now he deems it official- he is 7.  He had a fun day.  We are proud of him for waiting 4 extra days so Nana could be here.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Last year we were counting down at this point.  Can't believe in just a few weeks the one year mark will pass us by.  It seems like just yesterday and we are really missing some of the things we enjoyed in Regensburg.  The green-eyed monster is alive and well when I think of those leaving in a couple of weeks.  We fell in love with this city and I know others will, too.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Construction- Day...we have no idea

The retaining wall is finished and we have new patio furniture in place.  The kids call it "The Johnston Cafe" and have enjoyed eating outside several times during the last week.  We are now waiting for the grading and dirt work to be done, then we'll sow grass and landscape.  Maybe we'll be done by fall.  

Monday, June 13, 2011

He Wants You to See

Carter, Tim, and I spent Sunday afternoon in the ER. He walked a little too close to Matthew's tennis swing and took an accidental blow to the eye. He wanted me to blog his shiner and stitches so that everyone would know how brave he was. 10 shots of Novocaine- no screaming. By the way, the injury to the forehead happened a few days ago, and the four missing teeth are just the two he knocked out and the two he lost "naturally." Yes, he is a boy.
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

Busy Week

It was a busy week.  Started things off picking up my grandfather "Pops" and Mom at the Nashville airport.  They moved him into his apartment at Hickory Woods here in Murray yesterday. We were back to school with a couple of half days this week and we nursed a sick puppy.  Between life and the construction we stayed pretty busy.  Work continues on the retaining wall.  We anticipate their finishing the brick work next week.  Its been crazy hot here so they've been working a 6 am- noon work schedule this week to cope with the heat.  Seems like you should be able to get a lot done if you go to bed at 1am and get up at 6 am.  Unfortunately lack of sleep seems to make the brain ineffective- I am operating like someone with Alzheimer's this week, or maybe ADD.... The point- I'm not firing on all cylinders.  Late library materials- $2 FINE YIKES, multiple trips to the grocery because I didn't get it all on the first run, and two meals begun that I still didn't have all the ingredients to cook (I will enjoy having them half prepped next week though), and lots of jobs half done around here!  I am looking forward to not hearing a mortar mixer at daybreak tomorrow.  Maybe we can sleep in a little.  With a little rest hopefully next week I will have a little more sense.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Week Two

Tim held down the fort this week here as I had to travel to Florida for my grandmother's funeral.  Construction continued and I arrived home just in time to see the new concrete poured.

Site is prepped for concrete

More cool equipment- a concrete pump truck

the pour

Notice the two supervising from the window

The boys are loving having all this going on- its created several "forts" in the yard

Fun with concrete

Work begins on the retaining wall- raising the top 1 ft
Block work for the new stairs