Janet Sumner Johnson
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The Sledding Hill


22, 2016 |

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“Come sledding,” they said.


“You HAVE to try this hill at least once!” he said.


I watched my boys slide down the hill one by one. Screaming when the sled didn’t go where they wanted. Scrabbling to pull themselves back on course before the inevitable . . . WHOOSH . . . disappearing down the cliff face.



They pushed the sled into my hands. “Your turn.”

“I don’t know about this,” I said. But I sat on it anyway. I stared down the sledding path a long time before my sons got tired of waiting and helped me along with a big push.

“You’re welcome!” they called as I screamed down the hill and scrabbled to get back on course.

And then WHOOSH! I was speeding down a cliff face and hurtling towards the road, and then it was over. I came to a stop and all that remained was to hike back up.

“Ready to go again?” They grinned. It wasn’t really a question.

But I didn’t. I watched them sliding and screaming and hurtling down the cliff. I snapped picture after picture. And I was content.


Because sometimes, it’s okay to leave the crazy to others.


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Moments of Joy


10, 2011 |

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It snowed here the other day.

Unawares, my 2-year-old ran outside and in a case of sheer serendipity, my friend caught the exact moment of discovery.

You can see the joy radiating from her face. Shining through her eyes. Bursting from her whole being. I’m completely in love with this picture (and not just because it’s my daughter)!

Do you remember what it’s like to feel that way? Do you ever want to burst with joy after writing a particularly good bit of work? After receiving a glowing critique?

What brings you joy like that?

P.S. I deeply apologize for lack of responding to comments! My internet has been spotty at best. Hopefully things will improve next week when we switch providers. *grumble, mumble, asparagus*

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Let It Snow!


17, 2010 |

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Yesterday we finally got some snow. Kids got out early from school, and my kids didn’t want to come in.

I couldn’t help smiling at the memories of my own childhood. . . . Making snow angels, throwing snow balls, building snowmen, pink frozen noses and cheeks. Then coming in to hot chocolate and toast.

We read “The Snowy Day,” by Ezra Jack Keats, and the afternoon was a perfect little picture of a childhood winter.

So what is your favorite winter book? What are your favorite memories of a childhood winter?

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Mount Vernon, part 1


17, 2010 |

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We found out that Mount Vernon is FREE on President’s Day, so since Rick happened to have it off, we took a little family trip. It was very cold, and we, in our hurry to get going, failed to bring hats, gloves, and boots.


I have to say, our kids were troopers. London had a billion and one questions, and Brandt found the muddy walkways fascinating and horrifyingly dirtly all in one. Even Khyah was happy being outside and with the family. There was so much to see and do, that we’ve already decided we need to go back (when it’s warmer). But I won’t bore you with too much of our adventure all at once. I prefer to spread out the torture over several entries. 🙂 Well, at least 2.

The picture is a little crooked, but here it is, Mount Vernon.

This is the view from the back porch. Can I just say . . . WOW! Beautiful. When I grow up, I want a view like this from my porch, too. This was one of my favorite parts.

In the museum, they used the latest laser technology and based on his death mask, or something like that, they made this wax figure which is supposed to be as close a guess as they can make as to what he actually looked like. They had several of these at various stages throughout his life. This is as a young man when he was a surveyor, after he resigned from the British army.

My next favorite part (as morbid as it may sound), was his tomb. He died in 1799 at the age of 67. Even though we passed by it fairly quickly (it’s towards the end of the outdoor part and we were all VERY cold), there’s a spirit . . . a reverence that’s hard to express. His sarcophagus is on the right, and Martha’s is on the left. Behind the wreath of flowers is a black door that leads to the tombs of 25 of his family members.
This is actually called the “New Vault” that was built after Washington’s death. In his last will and testament, he gave specifications for it’s location and design, and willed that he be moved to it upon its completion. In 1831 (or thereabout), the move from the “Old Vault” took place. London wanted to know why the old one wasn’t good enough. I guessed it was so that more of his family could be buried together, but it’s just a guess.

This is a marker for the burial site of slaves who died on Mount Vernon. London really struggled with the idea that George Washington had slaves. And we really struggled to give him an answer. But I found it fascinating that in his will, Washington specified that after Martha’s death, all the slaves that had been in his possession should be freed. That wasn’t good enough for Martha. By two years after his death, she had freed most (I think most, not all, but I’m not sure) of the slaves who worked at Mount Vernon. You gotta love Martha.

Okay, last picture for today. Since this is a living history sight, they have period actors and actresses. Martha was answering questions in the greenhouse theater. She was really great.The most interesting tid-bit I learned from her is when she pulled a little corset out of her sewing basket. She said she saw babies of 6-months in herring-bone corsets. Can you imagine!? Thankfully things have changed.

So after we’d been listening for a few minutes, London looked at me with an uneasy expression. Why is Martha Washington still alive? So I explained how she was just pretending to be Martha. He gave me another weird look. Why is she pretending to be someone else? He was seriously weirded out. I tried to explain the whole living history concept, but it was lost on my 6-year-old. Oh well. It was still fun.

So next time, I’ll share more pictures of us and what we liked best. Sorry if this felt like a history lesson, but I found it all fascinating!

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To Honk or Not to Honk?


14, 2010 |

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So, we were driving at night. HUGE drifts of snow cover full traffic lanes. They blindside you at every corner. They fill half of every parking lot. But the snow is not the problem.

Blinker on to enter the Kohl’s parking lot. Roll slow over the sheets of ice that cover the road.

But no.

Two people (no cars in sight!) are standing in the middle of the entrance. Apparently oblivious of the car (for which the entrance was intended; and which could cause them some serious bodily damage).

We stop. We wait. They don’t move.

In the end, Rick flips off the blinker and heads to a different entrance.

Discussion ensues.

Me: You have a horn you know.

Rick: I don’t like the horn. I think the horn is rude.

Me: It depends on how you do it. If you lay on the horn, of course it’s rude! But if you tap, tap, tap, it’s merely a way to say, “Excuse me. May I get by?”

Rick: Well I think it’s rude.

Me: You, who drives ten inches from the next car thinks the horn is rude?

Rick: I drive in DC, so sue me.

Me: If you had any money, maybe I would. [Okay, so I didn’ really say that.]

What I really said was: Hmmm, this would make a good subject for a blog. Let’s let the masses decide.

So we ask you to end our perfectly civil “discussion” for us. Is it rude to honk the horn?

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Snowed Under


08, 2010 |

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We got 32 inches of snow from Friday to Saturday. They say there have only been 2 other storms in the last 60 years that compare to the amount of snowfall we got in such a short time. I went to the store on Thursday, and it was a madhouse! No parking. Crazy long lines. They went about halfway down the shopping aisles. And the same thing Friday morning. School was cancelled Friday and will be cancelled again tomorrow (Monday).

This is our parking lot. They were very good about plowing and snowblowing the walks.

Rick began the process of digging out our cars on Saturday. He worked all evening and got about halfway done. He finished today and is now groaning about his sore arms and back. We heard the sirens and watched an ambulance head down our street . . . apparently a man had a heart attack from too much shoveling. (!!!)

Khyah and I made a quick visit outdoors to take some pictures of London and Daddy. Rick insisted on taking some pictures of us. My face clearly says: “Why are you taking my picture, honey?” And Khyah’s clearly says she LOVES snow and being outdoors.

London hard at work shoveling. He was outside almost as long as daddy. 32 inches is a school boy’s dream, right?

You can see he has his work cut out for him.

The boys all decked out ready to go play. Note London’s snow pants. They’re about 3 sizes too small, but he didn’t care. He was just happy to have pants that slide on the snow . . . that and the “rare color,” as he called it.

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