Janet Sumner Johnson
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Birthday Party!

Nov 18, 2009 Uncategorized 1 comment

Today, Brandt had his very first official invite-friends-to-it birthday party. I tried to pull a desired theme for his party from him, but all he would give me was “Chocolate Cake,” so I made that the theme (although, I didn’t stick to it too tightly).

Yesterday, I took Brandt shopping for gift bag goodies, plates, ice-cream, craft items, etc. He knew just what he wanted. No slipping in mom-preferred items with him. Before bed, we sorted foam Noah-the-ark (this is what I mean about not sticking to the theme) stickers together (the activity), and assembled the gift bags. He followed instructions very well, and was so proud.

Only three of the six invited guests were able to make it, but Brandt didn’t care. He was so excited and had a great time with his friends. We let the kids play for a while, then attempted to do games.

First, we played “Put the Chocolate in the Mouth” (aka “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”).

Not a huge success. They hated the blindfold, and other than Brandt (who TOTALLY cheated by peaking), refused to play. The moms played, though. (And as you can see, Brandt went back later and made sure the boy got ALL the chocolate. He was concerned)

Then we tried “Vanilla, Vanilla, Chocolate” (aka “Duck, Duck, Goose”).

Another failure. Two friends refused to play. Brandt insisted on being “it” every time, and his last friend insisted on chasing him every time (which I suppose worked out well).

Our last ditch effort was hitting the balloon over the streamer. That finally got some love. Even the baby loved that game.

Next we did the craft, and all the kids enjoyed sticking the foam stickers on the big foam sheets. I also pulled out the bath crayons (that I hid years ago after struggling to clean the lousy “easy-to-clean,” “just-rinse-it-off” mess). They worked extremely well on the foam, and the kids loved it. In fact, Brandt told us he wasn’t ready for cake because he was still coloring. . . . Never mind that he’s been talking of this chocolate cake for over a week. Never mind it’s the theme of the whole party. He’s still coloring.

However, when we asked “Who’s ready for cake?” all the kids came running. We sang “Happy Birthday,” Brandt blew out the candles (for the second time), and we ate. And then, Brandt was so busy eating, he didn’t have time for his presents. Funny boy.

But all his friends were so proud of what they brought, and Brandt was so tickled with everything. He gave nice, sincere thank you’s to everyone.
This is Brandt struggling to unwrap the newspaper present. Daddy couldn’t fnd the cute wrapping paper I bought (and in all fairness, neither could I).

Finally, Brandt passed out his specially designed gift bags (they’re supposed to look like chocolate bars), and was the first one to pull out his slinky. His only problem was deciding what to play with next. He spent the rest of the day rotating toys. And might I add, London was quite excited about Brandt’s gifts, too.

The party was very simple, but it was a hit. Brandt had fun, and we didn’t kill ourselves over-planning. Two important features.


Nov 15, 2009 Uncategorized 3 comments

Okay, the countdown is on:

1 workday left for Rick before vacation.

3 days until Brandt’s birthday party. Theme: Chocolate Cake.

4 days until Rick, Brandt, and Khyah leave for Utah. Is it bad that I’m so excited?

6 days until London and I take off.

7 days until I get my hair cut. Hallelujah!

12 days until Thanksgiving.

13 days until Thanksgiving II. My pant button feels tight just thinking about it.

14 days until we come home.

15 days until our 8th Anniversary. And he still puts up with me!

17 days until Rick goes back to work. Aaaw, man!

42 days until Christmas.

47 days until Rick’s birthday.

48 days until London’s birthday.

49 days until 2010.

50 days until I start my New Year’s resolution to lose weight.

51 days until I abandon my resolution. Okay, neither of these are true. I fully intend to start dieting tomorrow. (I tell myself that every day!) 😀

132 days until my birthday. I can wait for that, though.

940 days until Rick finishes his residency. But who’s counting?

1750 days until all my kids are in school. Oh, wait! Did I say that out loud?

A Trip Downtown

Nov 06, 2009 Uncategorized 4 comments

Though there are a couple of downers (a.k.a. the cost of living), there are many (many, many, many) perks about living near DC. My favorite perk is the Smithsonian. If you drive into DC and get there right at 10:00 am, you can park on the street free for three hours. You have to get there right at 10:00 though.

London was out of school on Tuesday so we took a little drive downtown. Though I had gotten directions from a friend, and they seemed fairly easy, I was getting nervous about the parking aspect because it was 10:15 before we made it across the Potomac, and I had forgotten the GPS (which, for all of you west-coasters, can cause major anxiety out here for even the most directionally-inclined). Luckily, we got the last spot on the street (I kid you not), and I can tell you I breathed much easier after my flawless parallel parking job. That’s when the sheer joy of wandering the nation’s capitol with my kids kicked in.

Our parking spot was right in front of the Washington monument, the Lincoln monument was taunting us from the next block over, and the American History Museum (Smithsonian) was calling to us from across the street. And at that point, I didn’t even realize that the White House was a mere block-and-a-half away. Though it may not be my strongest subject, I am a history geek when it comes to our amazing country. In college I even flirted with the idea of majoring in it. The reason I didn’t is because there aren’t a lot of job prospects with such a degree. So I majored in English. Don’t quote me on my logic.
But I digress.

So after London and Brandt debated the finer points of where to go first (“This way!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” “Yes!” “No!” Etc.), I opted to go to the Natural History Museum. On the way, we saw an advertisement for Night at the Museum: the Smithsonian, and to save time I’ll just say London tested all my history knowledge by asking about Napoleon, the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, Betsy Ross, and well you get the picture. I must have passed the test because London finally said, “Wow, Mom, you even know more than me!”

In the museum, we went straight for the elevator, and after fighting a valiant fight to get to the 3rd floor, we finally settled for the 2nd. Turns out the 3rd is for employees only. Oops. But the 2nd floor was very cool.

There was an Egyptian mummy (“Mom, is the person still in there?”), Roman pottery, a Forensics section with buried bones and reconstructed skeletons. London wanted to know who each and every skeleton was (which of course was the point of the exhibit, that sometimes we can only guess using the clues that the bones leave behind). There was also an animal exhibit showing the bones of various animals. The Whale was pretty impressive (though London really liked the swordfish).

After talking about the two kinds of snake skeletons (poisonous vs. non-poisonous), Brandt turned to the next kid who had just come up with his mom and told him all about it.

The boys really enjoyed it. And I shouldn’t be so surprised about that.

We planned to go to the Aeronautical Museum next, but got sidetracked by “The Carousel on the Mall.” I gave London and Brandt the option: “We can get something to eat here, or we can ride the Carousel. But we can’t do both.” I’m sure it’s not hard to guess what they chose.

Even Khyah seemed to enjoy the ride. I suppose you have to splurge every now and again.

Our three hours were running out, so we headed toward the car and decided we had just enough time to go see the White House. London asked, “Is the President there?” I told him I didn’t know, but probably not. So he asked, “Where is he working then?” I told him I didn’t have the President’s schedule, so I didn’t know. London seemed rather disappointed.
When we got there, a bunch of people were playing football on the grass right next to the building (which is far enough away that we couldn’t make out faces). There were cameras and a couple of men in suits with the footballers. And based on “The Picture of the Day” for Nov. 3rd on the White House website, I feel fairly confident (not certain), that we saw Mr. President from a distance. London asked me: “Mom, will they be in trouble for playing there?” I told him they most likely had permission. London wanted to get permission, too. I told him I’d look into it for next time. Turns out you have to get permission from your state legislator. I’ll have to work on that. (So if any of you plan to visit [hint, hint, hint], and want to go there, plan ahead! It takes at least 30 days to get permission).

The drive home was smooth except that Khyah cried the entire time (seriously). She had been perfect all morning, so I guess this was payback. 😉 But it was a fun little day trip. Definitely on our docket for future daytrips. Though we’re far from family, DC is a great place to be.

Stories of Gratitude

Oct 29, 2009 Uncategorized 3 comments
I’m feeling especially grateful right now for the four pillars in my life, so here are some stories about why:

At Church, when a hymn starts, Brandt always wants to join in: “Me sing with you, Mommy!” And you’d better agree or he’ll keep asking till you do. And when you say “Okay!” Brandt opens a book and starts singing out. Nevermind that he doesn’t know the words. He just makes them up. Amazingly cute. And out of the blue, he’ll turn to me and say: “Mommy, do you know I love you?” Sweet boy.

London feels directly responsible for keeping Khyah happy. When we set her down and she starts to fuss, London will go lay down next to her and sing. He, too, makes up the words as he goes. Usually it’s something like this: ‘Khyah, don’t cryyy! Don’t CRyyyyyyyyy!!!! Don’t CRYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!! Cause we’ll keep you forever! Foreeeeeeever!!! FOREVER!!!!!!!!” And she loves it. Grandma and grandpa who could hear it over the phone thought it was pretty cute too.

We should have found the Hebrew word for “happy” to name Khyah. She is so happy. If she’s crying, it’s one of three things: dirty diaper, hungry, or tired. Of course she’ll squeal to let you know that she wants to be part of the family, too. She wants to be in the same room as the boys. And she’s just so pickin’ cute, that you have to pick her up when she throws her little smile at you. And she already has a favorite toy. Cute. Cute. Cute.

Rick had last Saturday off. Joyous occasion, since days off are so rare when on wards. The second time Khyah woke up that night, he zombied out of bed and offered to take her. I hedged, cause I know how tired he is, and that come morning, the boys are just as much a task master as his work. “Are you sure?” I asked. But he held out his arms, eyes squinting to stay open: “No! But you’d better take advantage while you can.” What a sweet man. And the big thing I really appreciate is that he never gets upset about the messy house when he gets home. I knew there was a good reason to be a sugar mama the first 8 months of London’s life. It has definitely paid off!

Okay, not the best picture of Rick, but it’s what I had. And it’s truthful . . . hand in the cheese . . . I don’t call him “mouse” for nothing.

Public Flogging!

Oct 19, 2009 Uncategorized 2 comments

A friend led me to Ray Rhamey who publicly flogs your first page for you. “Why not?” I thought, so I submitted mine, and today was the day. Feel free to check it out if you want. Weigh in, or simply read it if you prefer. Here’s the link.



Oct 04, 2009 Uncategorized 2 comments

Brandt begged to turn on the music, and London came running. I couldn’t help recording it. And for the record, these are their own moves. What crazy boys we have. But I love that they can let loose and bust-a-move! I hope you enjoy as much as I did. 🙂

The Good, the Bad, and the Mustard

Sep 16, 2009 Uncategorized 3 comments

The day was going swell. I had gone to bed before 10:00, and here it was 6:30 and Khyah was barely waking me up.

London wandered in to ask where daddy was. I told him “at work” and London was horrified: “In the nighttime?!”

Brandt wandered in crying, holding out a clean shirt to change him. I couldn’t hold Khyah’s bottle and change his shirt so I asked him to climb onto the bed, which he obligingly did. I pulled the shirt off – yep, definitely wet. Leaky diaper most likely, I thought. “Brandt, we’d better take that diaper off before we put your new shirt on.”

And that, my friends, is where my day took a sudden turn.

“Poopy?! No wait, Brandt, don’t . . . .” Too late. Poopy all over the bed.

In haste, I lay Khyah down and propped up her bottle, then ran for the wipes. Fortunately we contained it quickly. But the tone of the morning was set.

We couldn’t get everything done. London insisted on being helped to get dressed. Brandt really wasn’t feeling good. “There are bees in my tummy, mommy!” And I used poor judgment in deciding to fold the kids clothes while I got them dressed.

Took a quick shower, pulled Kyhah from bed to change her, and noticed the poopy on her blanket (happily, before I cuddled her close). Took care of my second poopy emergency of the day, and my good sense kicked in. “London, you get to buy lunch today! Lucky you!”

“I need to go potty, mommy!” Brandt and I ran, and we made it, but he jumped off the toilet before I could wipe. Diarrhea is not fun. I cleaned up my third poopy mess of the day.

We hurried down the stairs and tumbled into the car (because walking with a little boy who has diarrhea is surely a bad idea I told myself).

“Traffic is ALWAYS bad in the morning on this street,” London counseled me as we sat in the long line waiting to turn left (as though he’s ever been on that road in the morning). Note to self, don’t drive to school.

Back home, another long project at work arrived (which is a blessing, of course, but still, it adds to the chaos). Brandt spilled a glass of water all over his (newly made) bed. The mustard exploded on me when I opened it. London’s teacher informed me that today was a “rough day” for him. And to top it off, Count Dooku’s light saber snapped in two!

And as I was writing this blog in my mind, I thought, “Is it just me, or are all my blogs focused on the bad things that happen?” I must be the most negative person ever. And I wondered to myself if I might have any positive experiences from the day.

And there they were: Brandt holding my hand and saying, “I love you too much, mommy!” Him playing trains and narrating the story: “Bust my buffers!” Smiles and hugs from all my kids. And wouldn’t you know it, even the bad things I’d been through were pretty funny. In fact, they’re the stuff that memories are made of. They’re the spice of life, without which, I might be bored to tears (though a little boredom never hurt anyone, did it?)

And I wondered if maybe I’m not the only one who does this. We focus on the negative, never seeing the many positive things that surround us at the same time. Life weaves the good with the bad, and if we have the right eyes, life is more beautiful because of it.

In short, for all my whining, I love my life!


Sep 15, 2009 Uncategorized 1 comment

School started this past week. London did a month of summer Kindergarten in Missouri back in June, but now it’s official. He has been going to school a full week. We walk together and say goodbye at the door. He gives me a hug and a kiss, repeats it for Brandt. (By day 3, I had to remind him). Then he strides in the door with a big smile. Confident. Excited. Guess I can’t ask for much more.

He got new shoes, which he loves to tell people about. “Ta da! Look at my new yellow shoes!” (They’re blue and silver with a little bit of yellow lining).

And he got a few shirts. His star wars shirt is his favorite, though. I gave him the lecture: “No light saber fights at school! Got it?” “Ye-e-s, Mom. I got it,” he droned. Where’d that droopy kid voice come from? You’d think I lecture him all the time or something. And you all can just stop laughing! 😉

He brags that now he only has 2 days off a week, just like Daddy (which isn’t actually true, since Daddy only gets one, but that’s a different story).

When we head home at the end of the day, little girls call out to him, “London! Bye!” London barely notices because he’s so busy giving me a run down of the day. Yesterday (Monday), he told me, “I had art today, and guess what Mom, we go to art every Monday. Isn’t that exciting?!” (I heard his teacher repeat the word “exciting” several times at back-to-school night, so at least I know he’s listening.)

After the first day, he told me he had a new friend and wanted me to call him so they could play. “What’s his name?” I ask. “Umm, I don’t remember. But you could call him.” Ri-i-i-ight.

The next day he was more excited. “Remember that friend I was telling you about? His name is Solomon. Now can you call him?” “I need a phone number to call him, London, and I don’t know it.” London was very disappointed. “Why, mom? Why don’t you know it?” So I told him it’s because I’m not clairvoyant. That one took him awhile.

Happy day, though, we got his number at back-to-school night. Turns out his mom speaks very little English. Fortunately she is a Spanish speaker instead of something like Urdu. Sure, you laugh, but there are enough Urdu speakers at his school to warrant translation via head-set at back-to-school night. Lucky London!

Oh, and it turns out Monday is short day. Woops. Fortunately we didn’t go to the library like Brandt wanted.

London loves school!

Though one might guess he’s pointing at his teacher, he’s actually asking me which way to go. It’s the other way. 🙂

Ready to go! The Kindergarteners meet in the gym in the morning and walk to class as a group. Look at him stand at attention!


Aug 30, 2009 Uncategorized 3 comments

My friend suggested I put more Khyah on my blog, and I thought “Great suggestion!” So here we are.

There is not a lot to say about her, per se. She tends to do the same things day-in and day-out: eat, sleep,

cry (though she has pretty good reason here—Brandt is putting a diaper on her head. It’s clean, though!),

spit up,

poop, . . . well, you get the picture. She does, however, throw in a few well-timed smiles and coos to keep us all a captive audience.

London gets mad if I’m trying to rush us off someplace, and he’s not done admiring her: “Mom, Wait! I want to look at her!”

I gave her a bath in the big bathtub for the first time and she loved it! I let her float in the water (holding her head up, of course, lest any looks of horror have crossed your faces), and she just grinned and grinned. She loved it. I felt bad ending her first swimming session so quickly.

Unfortunately, since her first round of vaccinations, her sleep habits have gotten worse, but how do you complain when she looks up at you with those big, blue, tear-filled eyes, and then throws a smile at you? You can’t.

She has recently discovered the joys of hanging toys. She’s always surprised when she bumps one with her hand, but she stares in fascination and smiles wide when you shake them . . . especially if they make noise.

And we have long-since learned that Khyah is going to be a social butterfly like her brothers. She wants to be where the action is. Even if she’s in a bouncer, or on the floor . . . that doesn’t matter. As long as there are people around.

As I’ve said before, Khyah is a charmer. And boy do we love her!

Musings on a hectic life

Aug 22, 2009 Uncategorized 4 comments
This week has been a doozy. Rick has had two days of call (i.e. two 30-hour work days), and no days off. Brandt and Khyah have been sick with colds (i.e. uber-crabby in Brandt’s case, and waking up every 2 hours in Khyah’s), so we haven’t been able to get out and do much. Then, to add to the chaos, I received a mountain-load of work (i.e. a HUGE blessing, but blessings aren’t always easy, are they?).

And while I have been so sorely tempted to go hide in the bathroom and cry (or scream at the top of my lungs) more than once, all my wanna-be complaints were put into perspective when the 14-month old son of a family from church was scalded in the bathtub this week (3rd degree burns over 60% of his body), and shipped off to a distant hospital to undergo several surgeries over the course of the next few months.

Suddenly all my “overwhelming” challenges didn’t seem quite as hard as I thought they were. So in that light, I wanted to give my top ten things I love about my life this week.

10. Brandt singing “slippery fish” whenever he hears the word “fish.”

9. Sugar-free fudgsicles.

8. Khyah-smiles. She’s a little charmer.

7. Boys dancing to music in the living room.
6. London and Brandt showing me how they can dive off the diving board (i.e. couch) and do flips and twists just like they saw on TV.
5. London finding a large strawberry, and telling me to hurry and get the camera (he knows that pictures of him eating strawberries are worth something!).

4. Khyah getting a clean bill of health at her well-check this week. (And being told that she is an “exceptionally well-proportioned baby”).
3. Daddy leading the kids in a silly face-making contest.
2. Big hugs from my boys and London telling me: “You’re the best mama.”
1. Rick surprising us at the pool (even though we had left specifically so he could get some sleep).

Not a bad life.