Thursday, August 29, 2013


Last weekend I was at a beautiful wedding. Everything about it was gorgeous.  But the words that the minister spoke during the ceremony really hit home for me.

She was talking about the wedding rings and their significance.  Speaking about the precious gold and platinum that are mixed with less desirable materials to give them their strength.  And her point was that as people we are precious and awesome... with some undesirable things mixed in.... and that those things actually give us strength.  She went on to talk about wearing the rings and being constantly reminded of those things that make your marriage precious (and vulnerable) and also of the things that give it strength... the struggles.

Interesting perspective.

The words she spoke hit especially close to my heart because I haven't been able to wear my wedding rings for almost 2 years.  I had a fill in band for a while... and lost that while we were on holidays this summer.

If you've known me for any amount of time you'll know that a lot has changed over the years.  My size being one of those things.  Sadly, my rings didn't fit anymore... and I decided that I wasn't going to get them sized... rather that I would "get myself sized."  My hubby wasn't a fan of getting them sized either.  He doesn't understand my struggle and sees it as an easy thing.  The truth is, unless the struggle is your own you can never understand it.  And the things that hold us back from being our best are often downright debilitating.

I actually had myself convinced that I wasn't worthy of wearing my ring until I could get it on my finger comfortably.

That's ridiculous!!

And thankfully I became aware of that while listening to the minister speak.  I left there and decided that it didn't matter if I needed to size them 6074 times, that I would do that because my worth won't be determined by my size.  I stood before my friends and family and, most importantly, my husband, on August 12, 2005 and said, "Through thick and thin."  And I wasn't talking about waistlines or finger sizes... but it's relevant nonetheless.

So today I went to the jewellery store and picked up my rings... shiny and glistening like a new penny.  I put them on and vowed that I would always make sure they fit.  And instead of telling myself I would deserve it when I lost weight, I'm telling myself that it'll be fun to go in and get them resized smaller someday.  Maybe this seems insignificant to you.  To me, it's incredibly significant and coming to this realization is kind of a big deal.  It's a sign of unconditional worth and love even through hardships... and isn't that what we all signed up for?

What do you allow to determine your worth?  What are you telling yourself you don't deserve until you meet a certain criteria?  STOP IT!  Live your life and try to be a bit better today than you were yesterday.


Check out that shiny bling... I just love it. :)

Friday, April 12, 2013

Everything is Difficult and Awesome

A simple statement.

A profound new perspective.

Maybe things are easy for you. Lucky. But for me... For us.... That's just not the way it is. Ever.

I often feel like life is one big uphill battle after another.

Parenting is difficult. Marriage is difficult. Blended families are difficult. Weight loss, self-esteem and living healthy are all difficult. Faith is difficult. Some days even work is difficult. Honestly, sanity can be difficult too. Did I mention that parenting is difficult?

Sometimes it's hard to see the "awesome." Sometimes it just feels like plain old DIFFICULT. All of the things that I listed above in the difficult category are also so so so so so very awesome. I'm going to challenge myself to look for the AWESOME in my challenges.

Wish me luck.

Note: the quote and photo are from Jason Good's website... I don't own the photo. In case any copyright police are wondering."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


We didn't actually say CHEESE... we said, fart, poop, farty poop.... anything to get J's attention and keep him smiling.

Seriously, getting family pictures done (in our house anyway) is kind of like going for a yearly physical.... you know it's a good idea... but just would prefer to skip it.

Ha ha ha.. it's not that bad.  But its seriously not fun for our family.

I stress about what to wear.
I end up at winners looking for a certain colour to "coordinate without matching."
I get mad that I went to Winners where that perfect item only comes in 2 sizes, neither of which will fit the kid I happen to be shopping for.
I pack extra things "just in case" and never don't usually need them. (After the mud puddle incident of 2010 you just never know.)
We expect the older boys to be easy and helpful... but that doesn't usually happen.
I overanalyze every detail and make myself crazy..... as if I wasn't already.
I buy gummy bears to trade for smiles, knowing that it's not an effective parenting strategy, and praying that just for today it'll work.

Then, the event comes and I just feel stressed.  I panic about what happens if when J is difficult... and L runs away.  It feels unnatural, but we're just trying to look natural.... but there is nothing "day-to-day-we-do-this-all-the-time" about cuddling up on shipping pallets and smiling.

You know what...

Its. Totally. Worth. It.

The end result is always magical.  I always feel like it was money well spent.  And I'm always glad that I endured the event to capture our crazy family in that sliver of time.  It's nice to hang an image on the wall that captures the essence of US and reminds us why slug it out in the trenches of parenthood day after day.

Its. Totally. Worth. It.

I'll post a few pictures when they come back... I'm excited to see what she was able to capture in between toddler run aways, kindergarten control freaks and teenage drama McQueens.  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Calm Before The Storm

The sky on Father's Day 2012... spooky!

In a few short days there are some BIG changes coming our way.  Judging by our lack of "get crack-a-lackin'," I'd say we're either in denial or major procrastinators..... or maybe we're just suckers for punishment.  Perhaps slow learners.  :)

June is a natural time of transition and major "business."  Sometimes we like to take a busy time and see if we can add a little extra to it.

Last night was Kindergarten Graduation.  It was adorable.  I'd share pictures, but privacy laws prevent me from doing so.  :(  I'm going to miss those little stinkers.

Tonight was Jake's soccer wind-up.  We officially survived 2 soccer seasons.  Here's a pic of Jake with "Coach Jason."  He loves that guy.  He also loves posing for pictures.  :) What a guy!

This is what he did after soccer.  That boy is always looking for an adventure.

Tomorrow is J's preschool year end party.  I can't believe that Kindergarten is just around the corner for him.  Where did my little preemie go?  I want to pause life... ok, let's be honest..... I want to pause PARTS of life.  Others, well, I'd sure like a fast-forward button.  :)  I'm really glad that he'll be at the same school next year.  Not only is it a great place for him, but it's one less thing to panic about.

Preschool Graduation... adorable.

Next week is going to be even more nuts... if that's even possible.

We're MOVING.... TWICE!!! Oh joy!

On Wednesday I move out of my classroom.  On Thursday I move out of my house.  On Friday I probably won't move a muscle (except for my margarita drinking muscles).

So, about moving out of my classroom.... I GOT A NEW JOB!  I'll be joining the Preschool Team at Ross Glen School.  I'm so sad to be leaving Mother Teresa School and the catholic  school district... but I'm excited for the opportunities that are ahead.  It was too good to pass up.. so I didn't.

Annnndddddd... we're moving to a new house.  That's right, on the last day of work I thought it would be a good time to pack up a moving truck and head to our new house.  Poor timing aside, we are SUPER pumped.  The neighbourhood is awesome. The house is great.  And we finally have a covered deck for many, many, many patio parties.  Over the years we have accumulated MANY things.  We're working hard to get rid of "Stuff" but still have a ton to move.  We have 2 more kids than we had last time we did this whole moving thing.

This house has been great for our family.  So many memories that we'll be taking with us.  Hopefully we get on this packing job... otherwise ALL we'll be taking with us will be memories.  It's days like these that I envy the homeless guys that can fit everything they own into one shopping cart.  We could learn a lot from therm.  :)

If you want our new address let me know.

If you "owe us one" in the moving department, please feel free to come to the "moving party." Hard to pass up an offer like that.  :)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Decade....

A Decade...

It sounds so long ago... but sure doesn't feel like it.

EXACTLY 10 years ago was the first time that Chris and I met.  I remember that day (and the days following) like it was yesterday.

The TEAM CANADA passion was alive and well during the 2002 Winter Olympics.  2 days earlier, the Women's Hockey team won a gold medal.  Yahooooo!  The next day the Men's team would go on to play in the gold medal game.

Let's be serious... I didn't really care about hockey.  But Chris REEEEAAAAALLLLLYYYY did (does).

We were out at a classy local establishment.  It shall remain nameless... but I'll tell you it rhymes with Fezzies.  ;)  The crowd was chanting, "Go Canada, GO!!" and many high fives were being exchanged.  The olympic fever was spreading.

Chris and his cousin Cam were out... sporting their Team Canada Shirts.  They looked EXACTLY like this (except it was grey... like you even care about that though):

I am the queen of High Fives!  Chris thought that meant, "I like you, wanna dance?"  But really it just meant, "I'm in the same square foot as you."  But after a couple of laps around "Fezzies" these random high fives became very intentional.

The night carried on.  The high fives kept coming.  The fun didn't stop.  The very next day, the Men's Hockey team went on to whoop team USA in the gold medal game.  WHAAAAMMMMYYYYYYY!!!!  We've kind of been olympic junkies ever since.... well, maybe TEAM CANADA junkies.  3 years after we met, we got engaged.  6 months after that we sealed our vows with a kiss and a HIGH FIVE (and some signatures too.... gotta keep it legal).  

10 years later (today), I met Cassie Campbell, the captain of the women's team ('02 and '06).  I told her our story and she was very touched by it.  She agreed that it doesn't seem like 10 years have gone by since that time.  Cassie was a keynote speaker at the Teacher's Convention... and her story about overcoming in the tough times and learning from challenges was moving and powerful.  She spoke about being a team no matter what... and making sure that there was one person in the world that would still love you even if you went on national TV and made a fool of yourself... and realizing that although you don't always get the glamourous jobs that get the recognition they deserve (hello??  parenting??), that you are contributing to the team.  She spoke of not letting fear or insecurity get in the way of great opportunities... kind of like the time that we took a leap of faith and travelled to the 2010 Olympics (although I was 35 weeks pregnant and not in the best condition to travel... or walk 56,000 km per day... uphill both ways).   

Cassie's entire keynote address was a great analogy for our marriage.  We really are a team.... not team Canada... but "Team Johnston."  Clearly, I'm the captain... but someone's gotta make the assists.  ;) 

For Chris

Cassie and I. February 23, 2012


Sunday, February 19, 2012

Training Wheels

This morning I was moved.... not literally.... but something that someone said really made an impact on me. 

The gifted and talented Luke Day was speaking about giving.  And he was able to throw in a training wheels analogy.. and I kind of have a thing for analogies.  :)  

He said that he was watching his son ride his bike with training wheels.  And savouring the moment of sheer excitement.  "HEY DAD, LOOK, I'M REALLY DOING IT!!"  That 4 year-old is on top of the world.  He thinks that it can't possibly get any better than this.  But his dad knows better.  His dad knows that one day he'll ditch those training wheels and really ride.  He'll be able to go up hills, around corners and up and down curbs with speed and agility.  He knows that there is more to riding a bike than his young son has the ability to comprehend. 

That simple analogy got the wheels in my head turning at a rapid rate.  It relates to all aspects of life.  Faith, finances, teaching, parenting, marriage... and the list goes on and on.  

As a teacher, I need to celebrate the small successes.  When a child spells "bic" (bike) I need to jump up and down and make them feel like a champion.  I know that there is more to spelling than the invented kind... but they don't.  So we'll celebrate that step (and each subsequent step). 

As a Christian, I know that I really need those training wheels.  There are so many areas of life that I struggle with.  But I'm thankful to have that security net there when I wobble.   I want to do more, give more, be silent more and reach out to others more.  But more isn't now.. more is coming... and I need to celebrate NOW.

As a mom, I'm thankful for diapers, soothers and blankies... they are the training wheels that pull us through the day.  Oh, and cheese strings, don't forget cheese strings.  And Caillou. 

As a wife, I'm thankful that my hubby is there to hold me up.  I need him.  He cooks.  He cleans.  He deals with the kids when I'm at the end of my rope.  He's not much for bath time... but that's a minor detail.  Marriage isn't easy but I know that we're growing and getting stronger all the time.  What will life look like when the kids are bigger and we're not run ragged all the time? Maybe the training wheels can come off then.  Maybe.   

I recognize that I'm driving through life with training wheels.  It's not perfect.. and I wobble... but I know that with every wobble comes growth and strength.. and confidence to do more.  

What are your training wheels?  And what will you be able to experience when you finally get those things off?

Monday, December 19, 2011

Plans vs. Reality

We don't call this blog "The ADVENTURES of Team Johnston" for nothing.  Our annual Christmas letter isn't exaggerating when it says, "Never a Dull Moment in 2011."  We seriously live in the fast lane... and sometimes it drives me CRAZY!  Especially when the PLAN and the REALITY are nothing alike.

Let me tell you how I THOUGHT our weekend would go:

  • Friday Evening - Family night at home (we cancelled 2 other events and decided to just hang at home and relax).
  • Saturday - morning nail appointment, Moduline Kids Christmas Party at noon and adult party to follow in the evening.
  • Sunday - Church kids Christmas concert in the am and wine and cheese with friends later that evening. 

Sounds like a busy, but awesome pre-Christmas weekend doesn't it?  

Here is how it ACTUALLY went... (better pour yourself a stiff drink before you read this).

  • Thursday - hubby goes out and visits a buddy that works at Visions... he comes home with a giant tv... and a bunch of other cords with acronyms I don't understand.. but he tells me that for the low price of $1500 I can now watch YouTube videos on my big tv..... SOLD!!  Say no more.
  • Friday - crazy day at work.. I'm starting to feel sick (and let me tell you that I DO NOT have time to get sick).  Our "family night" at home quickly turned into a nightmareish gong show.  We loaded up 5 kids (our 4 and a neighbourhood stray) to take the big ones to a youth sleepover.  The little kids are whining... and crying... and yelling... the &$%^%&^% van door isn't working (again).  Side note: I should have listened to Rose when we bought the "fully loaded" used van... she was right... it was just more stuff that could would break.  Everyone is in... about to leave... yelly McYellerson (4 year old) starts SCREAMING.  I'm not calm about it at all.  I get out... whip open the door and send my lovely 4 year old to step time-out and tell him (with scary talking through teeth voice) that when he is ready to be quiet in the van he can come back.  In the process, the van door REALLY broke.  When I whipped it open, the regular resistance function wasn't there and it flew back and a cable came loose.. and now it's REALLY broken.  GRRRRRR.  
  • Friday evening: littles in bed, bigs at youth sleepover, mommy is going to have some productive time.  Daddy pours me a paralyzer and I get to work.  I was finalizing the Christmas greetings (mailing, emailing, addressing envelopes, etc) into the wee hours of the night.  At 2:30am I head to bed.  Phew... what a day.  
  • Friday - 3am... "mommy, mommy, mommy.... my bed has puking in it."  GREAT!  I'm exhausted.  I JUST went to sleep.  And now I'm on vomit patrol.  It was so bad that we actually threw the sheets into the garbage.  Wasn't going to clean that...eeew.  Hubby and I get J all cleaned up, make a floor bed (which he peed in later) and get a puke bucket.  Thankfully Walmart is open 24 hours now... so I decided to head there for some children's gravol.  It's 4am.. I'm at Walmart... and the gravol is in lock-up... you know, because a lot of moms like to take 40 tablets and get high on a friday night.  GRRRRR.. Oh well, I got some Christmas shopping done.... at 4am.  
  • Saturday - Chris sleeps in a misses his run.  I'm soo tired... After nail appt I head to work to print something off.  Should take 5 minutes (at most).  After 40 minutes I still can't get it to work.  $$*%*^^ computers.  After the kids party I go BACK to work to try again... another 30 minutes of my life wasted.  AAARRRRGGGGHHHHH!!  Finally, I gave up and went to Staples and paid top dollar for something that should have been cheap and easy.
  • Sunday am- I go to church alone.  J was puking again.  Right before I left, L took the puke bucket that was beside J's bed and dumped it onto J's bed... nice.  So now we have stripped and remade the bed about 7039 times this weekend alone.  
  • Other things that we threw into the mix.. you know.. in our spare time
    • Uncle Mike (Bless his heart) spent most of Sunday here getting the new TV mounted on the wall.  He also fixed Chris' truck stereo.  And brought doughnuts to sugar up the kids.
    • We moved L into the car bed and set up the twin bed in J's room.  BIG BOYS now!
    • Did 600 loads of laundry.
    • Finished Christmas letters, shopping and wrapping (mostly).
    • Called Shaw Cable 4 times to figure out this new HD cable box.
    • Cleaned out the toybox
  • Now Chris and I are both sick.  I missed work today.  It will be a miracle if Chris makes it to work in the morning.  I don't have a choice.  CRAZY week at work and no time to be sick any longer.  Off to bed I go.

My buddy Forrest Gump once said (with southern drawl), "Life is like a box of chocolates... you never know what you're gonna get."  And that has become my motto.  I'm an A-Type planner and organizational freak... and I'm CONSTANTLY being thrown curve balls.... and I don't deal well with curve balls.