Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Johnson Times, Issue One

Hot off the presses: Issue One is here!

(I tried to embed it directly on the blog, but I couldn't make it work. So, a link it shall be.)

And now, off to finish the last of the packing and hit the hay. Getting on a plane tomorrow night, and our vacation will begin!

Tomorrow's the day we go to say

When Amy & I were little, our family used to take trips once or twice a year to Grants Pass from Southern California. Usually, we broke the trip up into two days, stopping overnight in Redding, CA. I don't remember when or why, but somewhere along the line Amy & I started singing this little song, a couple of days before we hit the road.

"Tomorrow's the day we go to say, 'Tomorrow's the day we go to Redding!'"

It was goofy, but it became a thing that stuck around, forevermore. This morning, I sent Amy a text that just said, "Tomorrow's the day we go to say ;)"

All of which is to say (heh) that Tomorrow's the day we go to say, "Tomorrow's the day we fly to Frankfurt." ;)

(And yes, I did get a fair bit of packing done today. Accountability ahoy.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

T-minus Three Days

The second-to-last week of school: "Okay, next week I'm going to get down to business getting stuff packed for Italy!"

Last day of school: "Augh! Running around like a lunatic trying to be SuperMom and have art supplies bought and brownies made and Kindles charged and ready to go for when the kids get home two hours early! Wait...there was something I was supposed to do this week..."

First day of summer break (also my birthday): "Okay! For real! Packing this weekend! Whoo!"

This past weekend: *gets sidetracked by painting and gardening and knitting and reading and stuff*

Yesterday: "A LIST! I NOW HAVE A LIST! Oh geez, there are a lot of things on this list..."

Today: *finally starts actually putting kids' clothes into their suitcase*


I am nothing if not consistent in my packing procrastination. But! While I have been not putting stuff in bags, I have been taking care of lots of other details. Yesterday I sorted out the car (finally). Today the kids and I went to the bank and got Euros, and I got all of the administrative-y type stuff dealt with (mail holds, etc.), in addition to actually starting to physically pack our things. Tomorrow (no, for real, I promise) the plan is to get as close to done with the packing as I can, barring last-minute things like chargers and tablets and such. I'll be sure to check in here for accountability purposes. ;)

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Countdown Begins

We leave for Italy in four days.

Holy crap.

In light of this fact, today was spent making a packing list and (finally) getting a rental car sorted out. The kids and I also took a jaunt to the mall -- Soren needed a nice button-up shirt just in case there's a call for fancy-ish attire on our trip -- and we went to Dave & Buster's while we were there. Eleri hadn't been there yet and has been begging to go, so it seemed like the thing to do. There were barely any people there at 10:30 on a Monday morning, so that was a big plus. ;)

Later in the afternoon, I took them to the pool. Soren has been trying to learn how to dive, and Eleri has discovered a love of belly flops. Such goofballs.

Tomorrow we finally, officially start putting things in suitcases! Eep! And we have to start putting our summer newspaper together. First issue drops on Thursday. ;)

Friday, June 24, 2016

It's summer! And my birthday!

*coughs and ignores the 3-month gap in posting*

So! It's the first day of summer vacation. Around 11:00 this morning, Tom sent me an email.

"What's going on?"

My response: "Oh, you know, the usual. Probably overly ambitious summer planning. Kids and I have decided to put together a weekly newspaper, so they're working on their contributions."

Hey man. My first-day-of-summer-break mom game is tight. Hell, my last-day-of-school mom game was also aces. I had brownies waiting for them when they got home. We made paintings. They got Kindles (though to be fair, we bought those a while ago, specifically so we wouldn't have to bring a lot of books along with us on vacation next week).

(Sidebar: Holy shit, we leave for Italy a week from today! Eep!)

So anyway, yes, today. We started the day with presents (yay, birthday!) and got down to business with the summer planning. We started making some learning goals for the summer, started sketching out some plans for things we want to do while school's out and we're home. There will be art, there will be learning, there will probably be exercise and pool time and excursions to the city. At least, that's what I'm saying now, one whole day into summer break. ;) Check back with me in a few weeks, and see if we haven't all reverted to full-on zombie mode in front of our various screens.

(I kid. Mostly.)

So, yeah. This newspaper thing. It was Soren's idea, but I think he didn't quite expect me to turn it into so much of a thing. Heh. It seems like a pretty sweet idea though, if we can actually keep up with it. Sort of a running record of the stuff we're doing. Eleri's got some serial fiction to contribute, we're going to keep track of our foreign language learning and the books we're reading for the library's summer program, Soren's making a comic strip, and each of them will have an article or two per week on something we learn about. Today was (at Eleri's request) the Mona Lisa. We watched a documentary with lunch, and Eleri did some Wikipedia research. Not bad.

Later in the afternoon today, we went on a photo walk (mostly so I could play around with the sweet new ring flash Tom bought me, but also because it's a thing I've been wanting to do with them for literal years. We took about a 45 minute stroll around the neighborhood, stopping every 100 steps to find some stuff to photograph. It was fun, and I'm sure the best shots of the day will also end up in our newspaper. Hell, if we can actually manage to stick with the project, then at the end of summer we'll have a sweet little record of everything we did. Here's hoping we don't flame out.

Anyway, it was a lovely birthday, capped off with dinner at Zinburger. Tomorrow, packing prep begins in earnest. :D

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

What We Did on our Spring Break - Day 2

I forgot, at least three times today, that it was only Tuesday and not yet Wednesday. We're only on day 2, and already I feel like we've been at this longer than we have. ;)

It's not as bad as all that, though. Today, Tom had an off-site meeting that required him to meet a carpool at the mall a couple of miles from our house at o-dark-thirty this morning. The most sensible option was for him to drive the car there and for the kids and I to walk over and pick it up later, so that's what we did.

(Actually, since you can walk a route that's a lot shorter than the way you have to go to drive there, it was only about a mile and a quarter. But still more sensible for us to walk it later in the day than for Tom to have to do so in the dark, in his work clothes. Anyway.)

It was about ten degrees warmer today than yesterday, so, perfect walking weather. Everything is looking super lovely and springlike right now, too.

So we had our walk, had some lunch, had some sorbet after lunch just because, and then we picked up the car and met some friends at the kids' school so they could all play on the playground. Enjoy that weather! Run the children ragged! Spring Break! In the car on the way there, Eleri made a funny comment out of the blue, so after we got to the school and said hi to the friends and everyone was off playing, I tried to put the comment on her Twitter feed. Except that Twitter hiccuped while it was posting, and when I went back to retry, it switched back to my account (which I only noticed moments too late), and her tweet was attributed to me instead.

Yeah, you know... it's funny when a six year-old says, "There are lots of places in my mouth where you can see my tongue." When an almost 35 year-old says it... that's just weird. ;)

After a good hour and a half on the playground, we made a grocery run, then did some bike riding with the neighbors for more outdoor enjoyment. I made a damn fine potato-cheese-bacon-corn soup for dinner, and then the whole family went out yet again for another walk afterward, to enjoy the lovely evening and the beautiful full moon. We are definitely kicking Spring Break's ass so far. :)

Monday, March 21, 2016

What We Did on our Spring Break - Day 1



So, last week, we had some truly gorgeous spring weather. I opened up the house every day, we went for walks in the evening, the kids wore short sleeved shirts without sweaters to school. It was lovely.

Friday evening, a bit of a cold front blew in. The whole weekend was legitimately cold, gray, occasionally rainy. Whee?

Today, it was sunny again, with a high of 50, which is not quite "walk 3 miles round trip to the library" weather, but it's close. Darned close. So on this, our first official day of Spring Break, we had a suitably lazy morning. The kids played outside for a bit before lunch (wearing coats at first, though those were eventually abandoned once they'd run around enough to warm up sufficiently). After lunch, it was time to empty out our planters in preparation for this year's container garden.

About four years ago, we made these nifty self-watering planters out of giant Rubbermaid tubs. They were pretty clever, and worked quite well for a couple of years. This past summer, we only planted anything in one of them, as the other had basically been taken over by ants. After a handful of sun-baked summers and harsh winters, the tubs are now so brittle that they'll crumble if you so much as look at them too harshly. So, today the kids and I went about shoveling the dirt out of them -- and, for the heck of it, out of all our other containers -- so we can finally retire the broken ones and start fresh with the others.

I have to admit, I felt more than a little silly to be filling garbage bag after garbage bag (I think 17 in all) with dirt. But it's old potting mix, all full of roots and stuff, and it's not as if we have anywhere to dump it in our decked-over backyard. Half the things I read online say you should start fresh with new potting soil every year, and the other half say that's ridiculous and you should recycle it or compost it or sterilize it or just straight up reuse it again. In past years, I've tried to be somewhat conservative, emptying out some of the old soil and mixing in some new, but since we had to empty the big bins fully to chuck 'em anyway (and since I didn't know how many other pots might be harboring secret ant colonies), well... we'll be starting from scratch this year, ridiculous or not.

After that endeavor (and after we swept up all of the soil that didn't quite make it in the bags, because yeah, working with two small children and three small shovels on a windy day with the bags blowing all around, there were some spills), I took the kiddos to the library, to check out some Spring Break reading. Soren read Holes by Louis Sachar last week, so he got the sequel, Small Steps, today. He and Eleri both picked up some Rainbow Magic Fairies books, as well.

Dinner was pancakes and bacon. I didn't have any milk and didn't want to go out to get some, so I attempted to follow a milk-free recipe.

Note to self: Next time, just go to the friggin store and get some milk.

And that about wraps up our day! Tomorrow should be warmer, and we've got some good stuff planned for the rest of the week. :)

Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day!

I have had this blog since 2004. How is it possible that, up to now, I have never managed to get around to putting up a post on a Leap Day? For shame!

Well no more.

For all that it's a special, bonus day of the year, I wouldn't say we did anything especially noteworthy today. Eleri had her 6-year doctor checkup (63rd %ile for height, 61st for weight, 20/20 vision, all good things). For lunch after, we had Baja Fresh (with churros as a treat), and then she went back to school, and I went to the gym. I did a 5k run with my friend yesterday morning, the longest run I've been on since probably before Thanksgiving, so I was pleased to not have completely dead legs today.

Tomorrow, the schools are closed for Super Tuesday. I hope they actually do get the record turnouts they're predicting; otherwise, I'll be pretty annoyed. ;) It's been quite warm the past couple of days, so if that trend continues, the kids and I will see about walking to the library tomorrow and enjoying the nice day.

Friday, February 12, 2016

TV Day

So, my mom's in town, as I might have mentioned. The kids had to go to school today, and it was too cold to go wander around the city, so Mom and I spent basically all day watching various TV shows. A lot of the things I've been enjoying recently, my mom hadn't seen (or hadn't seen much of), so we watched an episode each of Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23, Master of None, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. She recently started It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, which I hadn't seen, so we watched an episode of that. Then I put on Sense8 and we ended up watching 2 episodes. Sure, maybe it wasn't the most active day, but you can't deny we had a nice variety of entertainment. ;)

Thursday, February 11, 2016


When we moved here (which, as of next month will have been seven years ago, holy crap), we were lucky enough to have quite a few friends of ours from California move out here right around the same time. For all intents and purposes, we imported a ready-made social circle, and I have to say, it was pretty great. I don't know how many times in our lives we'll have the opportunity to do that, but it worked out really well.

Unfortunately, seven years on, most of them have moved/are moving away. The bad thing about DC is that it is fairly transient; people spend a few years here and move on, whether because they've been able to springboard from their government (or government-related) jobs into something better, or because (as is the case of many of the friends we've made since moving here) they're in the military and end up getting assigned elsewhere. The good thing about DC is that it brings a lot of people back for work-related meetings and conferences and such, so folks still have excuses and opportunities to visit.

This past weekend, we had our good buddy from Wisconsin, a friend from California, and two friends (plus their kids) who live here now but are moving away in the next month or so, over at our house. These were all people we hung out with frequently in Pasadena. I don't know what it is about having kids and then seeing your kids interact with your friends and your friends' kids; it's just neat. I wish we lived closer to family, and that Soren & Eleri could see their cousins more than once every few years, but living close to friends (or having them around) is pretty good, too.

But yes, hooray for visitors in general. This evening we pick up my mom at the airport; she's staying with us for a few nights. :) And then at the end of the month, our friend from Arizona will be here, and next month we're meeting up with friends from Kentucky who are coming to DC for spring break. Much though I long for teleportation and access to instant travel, I do have to admit that we're pretty fortunate to live in an era when long distance travel is fairly easy to come by.

All right, this post has been a little bit all over the place, and I'm not sure that I actually had a point beyond simply chronicling our recent and upcoming visitors, so I'm going to go ahead and wrap this up and finish tidying the house in preparation for Mom's arrival. :)