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.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Santa Claus is Coming to Town... Again... and Again... and Again!

Back in the OLDEN days... when I was a little kid... sitting on Santa's knee.... Santa was MAGICAL... REALLY SPECIAL... and SUPER POWERFUL!

I remember waiting to go and see Santa at the old K-Mart Mall.  It was a big event.  It was the ONE time that we would get to see Santa in a year.  We didn't go back 6 times in the month of December.  Santa didn't ride a helicopter to the mall.  He didn't have a welcome back breakfast.  Line ups were long.  And you crammed as many kids into the Mall Santa photo as possible (to save money of course... those paper frames are expensive).  And Santa surely didn't arrive at every event where a child may possibly be during the Christmas season.

When did things change so much?

Why have we allowed all of the extra hype (that was supposed to make things more magical) to take the magic out of Santa?

Now Santa is a click away.  He'll send you personalized videos complete with your name and picture.  He sends emails, has his own website and probably a naughty or nice app for iPhone.  Oh, and lets not forget the "report card" that Santa hands out at the mall... as a 20-times-daily reminder.  Santa has even dispatched millions of elves to millions of shelves just to make things more real and magical.

But has it?

Not from what I'm seeing.

My kids saw Santa at the mall.  We could go again if we wanted to. They also have a full time elf reporter that is constantly playing tricks on them.  Santa sent personalized videos and replied to Christmas Letters (by the way:  I am sooooo thankful to Canada Post and the millions of elves that make the santa pen pal program so very special).  They will see Santa 2 more times this weekend alone at various functions.  Santa was in the play we saw last weekend.  Santa was also at the preschool Christmas concert last night.

Seriously, JJ has seen Santa so many times that he has this, "Oh, hey, you again?" attitude.  "Yup, still want the same thing. Nope, behaviour hasn't changed."

And the kids at school KNOW that the Elf on the Shelf is watching their every move.. and reporting back to the North Pole daily (we know because there are stamps, stickers, etc from SANTA everyday).... but do you think that motivates them to work harder?

I guess TOO MUCH of a good thing can really be a problem.

I want the olden days back.  :)

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Blunt" Christmas

Every year (since 2005ish) our family (we all know that actually means MELANIE) writes and distributes a Christmas greeting for family and friends.  That's right... the people that already know how the heck things are going.

I always LOVE getting Christmas greetings from others.... I especially enjoy the ones that have a letter and pictures, loads of pictures.

But isn't it funny to think that it's always flowery, happy stuff?  Imagine getting a letter like this:

"We barely skidded through 2011.  The kids fight all the time.  Every cheque we write bounces.  Work is terrible.  Our neighbour is a jerk.  You'd think that our kids would be excelling in school due to the fabulous genes they have working for them... but, actually, they are flunking every class... even home ec.  Did I mention that our dog died?  We hated that dog.  Hope you're having a great Christmas.  Next time you're in town please stop by.  We'll be here... high on Ativan... drinking martinis..... and parenting from the couch.... just trying to cope with our crap-o-la life."

I'd love to get a little more reality in the yearly update.  But it seems that everyone that takes the time to write a Christmas letter has one major goal:  to convince you that they might just have it a little more together than you.  :)  Ok... I don't really mean that.  But I'm intrigued with what people choose to share. And what they deliberately leave out.

Why do we leave the "real" out?  Is it because we want to stay positive.  Is it because we're in denial?  Or maybe we just want to focus on the good stuff.... because that's what's worth bragging about remembering.

When you think about it... facebook is the place for daily venting, complaining and rage.  Leave the happy stuff for the Family Christmas Newsletter.  :)

Ours is coming to an inbox near you.... soon.... ish.....

I leave you with some HILARIOUS images from go there if you want a good laugh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Counting My Blessings

I have a wonderful group of friends.  We don't see each other too often... we don't have a lot in common... but we have a lot.  

2 years ago I met this lovely group of girls in the picture above.  When we met we had one major thing in common... due dates.  None of us knew that the group would evolve into what it has.  In the beginning, I never imagined ever getting our babies together.  We met for workouts and DQ ice cream every week (yes, in that order).  When the first batch of babes were born (5 of them in the SAME weekend) we decided to get together.  

This is our first "playdate."  If we look tired it's because we were (and most still are). Most of the moms still hadn't had their babies (or even started mat leave). 

(April 2010)

Soon we were having regular playdates.  The babies slept in their carseats... we shared coffee and timbits and stories of motherhood.  In no time, we were so dedicated to our time together that we started messing with nap schedules to make it work.  We alternated homes and most of us were (and still are) running late.  

Then there were more of us... and before we knew it.... it was backyard BBQ time.  The daddies finally met.... it was AWESOME!!

(July 2010)

We made sure to book parties for Christmas and Halloween each year... the photo ops were too precious to pass up.

 Halloween 2010

 Halloween 2011

Christmas 2010

Christmas 2011

We had our Christmas party today.  I had a smile on my face the whole time.  I am in awe of those mommies and all that we have shared over the years.  We have really formed a true friendship.  It's nice.

I guess I'm trying to make a point.  I usually am.

I just think that everyone needs a group of friends (or even one special friend) to share life with.  And I feel bad just posting about the mommy group... because there are many other friends and many other mommies that have helped me along.  I am just so thankful for ALL them.... for their friendship.... and for the way they make me feel welcome and comfortable to just be myself.  Thanks to the modern advances of Facebook and "What's App," we find ourselves staying in touch much more than we should most days.  It's not uncommon for me to get to my iPhone and see that I have 137 missed messages from the "Mamalicious" group.  I think our husbands wonder what we could possibly talk about for hours a day... but it's all stuff.... it's significant to us.

I doubt our paths would have crossed if it weren't for Fitmom and DQ in the early days.  But I know it's not a coincidence... nothing ever is.  And who knows, we might end up being Kindergarten moms together.  And maybe we'll line up our 16 year olds and their cars in a parking lot for a photo one day.  And if we're REALLY lucky, we can pull out these pictures to share at their weddings.  I'm excited to see where it will go.

Love you mommies.  Thanks for everything.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What the World Needs Now......

Check this kid out:

Other than the simple fact that she is probably on a major Stampede Sugar High... and the obviously sweet moves she's got... this kid has SOOOO much CONFIDENCE.

I think that the world needs more kids like this.  I'm sure we all want our kids to be confident and comfortable in their own skin.  But the question remains... how do we download that confidence into our kids' DNA?  Do we have to model confidence?  Do they need to see us dancing like no one is watching?  Do they need the Miley Cyrus Video Box Set (not sure that even exists)?

Here is another confident kid.... or he's oblivious... or maybe his parents are.  Either way a proud Canadian and Eskimos fan would NEVER go anywhere in this outfit... but this young man if rockin' the wardrobe.  Maybe it's a good thing he's cute.  I'm just surprised that nobody called Social Services about the child abuse that is going on in this picture:

Maybe if more kids had parents like this one:   
She's not worried about looking like a fool at the family BBQ.  The rest of the parents are parked on lawn chairs with Margaritas in hand... but not Jenny.  She's RIGHT IN THERE with the lil ones.  AWESOME.  Kids are always watching.

Some are watching their weight:

Seriously though... lets get out there and grow some confident kids.  


Love Team J

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

White Trash Summer

* Please note: The term "white trash" isn't meant to offend anyone... but rather to describe a way of life that is common in  Alberta... and MANY other places.

Picture this.......

J is wearing inside-out batman gonchies and red crocks.  L is topless.  Wearing a diaper that is FULL of sprinkler water.  There are wagons, water guns, Tonka trucks, dandelions and sidewalk chalk sprinkled all over the lawn.  The boys are fighting over the hose... and the trucks... and the wagons.  Why can't they fight over who gets to pick the dandelions.

I am sitting at a picnic table that is in desperate need of a sanding and a paint job (any takers).... next to a patio table that no longer has chairs... but the table sits there as if it's waiting for patrons.

Now Luke is crying because he needs a nap (he didn't agree with me when I suggested it earlier).  He might be upset about his diaper situation too.

I periodically yell over to J "STOP THAT," "Don't spray me," "get your gonchies back on," "get off the grass seed," "IT'S NOT YOUR TURN!!!!!!"  Then I see L coming out of the garage with a bottle of spray and wash that he collected from the recycle bins... nice.... "NOOOOOOOO, YUCKY... PUT THAT BAAAAAACCCCCKKKK."  It's empty... but still.  Is there anything that little boys WON'T get into???

I brought the laundry outside to fold it... otherwise it won't get done.

My view is not that great.  A few houses... most with treed backyards.... cool.  But this one house has the original shingles (probably from 1984) that have been through 56 hail storms and a close call with a funnel cloud.  lol.  The fence hasn't been painted since 1984 either.  They use their deck as a storage container.  The tent that is set up in the backyard has been there since June.... I think it might be a storage container too.  They periodically park in the back alley (NOT in a parking spot... just amongst the weeds and old mattresses that they have).

The only thing that could make this a more trashy scene would be if I were barefoot, pregnant (I'M NOT by the way), smoking a ciggy and drinking an Old Milwaukee Beer.  Oh, and maybe if I gave the boys some Red Bull to sip on.

But... we're happy... and we're not worried about being Trashy.  The kids are having a blast.  Little Lukey is learning about sprinklers, taking turns, how dirt tastes and how it feels when you ignore nap time.  Jake is just LOVING being outside... where you can use your outside voice and run and run and run and roll around in the grass and nobody cares.  He's "cleaning" the house and the shed and the fence and the neighbours windows (I'm sure they'll appreciate that) with the sprinkler.  "Mommy, I washing John's house because it's so dirty of bugs."  They are enjoying life... they are learning a lot... and they are just being little boys.  It's awesome.

I could tell you about the inside of the house... but that's a whole other blogpost.

Enjoy your trashy summer.  :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


We're all hoarders... in our own little way.  Some more than others.  Some, enough to qualify for a spot on the TV show.  Others, not so much.

I've been hanging on to MANY things for MANY years... and I'm starting to realize that having a house with "great storage" is actually a hinderance more than a bonus.

Since I married Chris (Aug. 2005) I have been "hanging on" to much.  Why?  I'm not really sure.  Maybe it's hereditary..... have you seen my mom's garage?

Maybe I'm scared that I'll need something some day... or I'll meet someone that needs something that I may have.... or maybe there is value in my "things," so I better hang on to them.

Wanna hear about my collections?  Stop reading if you don't.....

  • "Memories" and photos and things of significance.  This isn't bad... but there comes a point where you need to ask yourself if there is REALLY a need to keep everything.  :)

  • "Teacher Crap" (that IS a term of endearment).  Since high school, I have been "collecting" teacher resources, bulletin board items, bajillions of worksheets (and I pretty much HATE worksheets), books and treasures that "might come in handy in a classroom someday."  I have a single car garage that is MOSTLY full of teacher stuff.  I promised myself that once I had been teaching for 5 years that I would weed through it and only keep what I was using.  Well, I've been a "teacher" for 7 years.... but have only been in the same position for three of those.  Just recently I have decided that I'm waaaay better off borrowing, copying and finding what I need... WHEN I NEED IT.  The reality is, google does such a good job that I don't really have a need for so much of this "stuff."  Yesterday I filled a garbage can with "get rid of it" stuff and a 1/2 ton truck with "donate it" stuff.  I'm heading back today to purge some more.  :)  We are having shelves built in a 10x10 shed.  THAT is the space for this "teacher stuff."  Anything that doesn't fit in there has to go.  Easy Peasy.

  • Kids (more specifically, boys).... Have you noticed that Chris and I have quite the collection?  ;)  Aren't they handsome?
  • Clothing:  Kids clothing, my clothing, things that "might fit again" (although we all know that it would be so out of style by the time that ever happened).  I'm also getting rid of a lot of this stuff.
  • Pounds.... YIKES.... maybe you haven't noticed (yeah right).  Over the years I have become really good at packing on the pounds.  I'm hoping to de-clutter in the weight area too... enough is enough... I want the old Melanie back.  :(

  • Office Supplies: those of you that get your kicks at Staples would understand.... the rest of you just won't... it's ok.
  • Books.  Seriously, if I had a dollar for every book that I have because I thought I would (or should) read it someday I would be a MAJILLIONAIRE.  Time to sort through, purge, and stop collecting.  My Children's Book collection is even more of a problem.  YIKES!
  • Friends... I collect friends.... old and young... near and far.  And I am NOT de-cluttering this one. 

Truth is, I probably could have made this list waaaaaay longer.... but then I'd be hoarding your time... and that wouldn't be cool.  :)  So I'll stop.  

Make a comment... tell me what you have been holding on to and why.  I'm dying to know if I'm alone in my collections.  

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tearful Goodbyes

This week we said goodbye.

A few times.

And another big one is coming tomorrow (when I see my little preschoolers off).  :'(

We said goodbye to soccer... and Coach Jason.

We wondered if soccer would ever end.  It did.  And we're crazy enough to do it again next year.  Actually, I hate to admit it.... but the people that said, "it gets better," were RIGHT.  Jake did great (after a rough start).  He really bonded with Coach Jason and now says, "I a good soccer guy mom."

We said goodbye to hair.... lots of hair.

And here is the finished product.  It's similar to having leather furniture and hardwood... the ease of wiping it off can't be beat.  Now after Luke is done eating we just take a face cloth to his head.. so convenient... lol.

We said goodbye to KidsPlay Preschool... the happiest place on earth.  :'(  What a wonderful group of people that really "get" kids and what they need.  If you need a great preschool program check out kidsplay.

And we said goodbye to Mrs. Fox, Jake's music teacher..... and one of my favourite people.

We also said goodbye to "Julian" (Gillian). She has been doing home visits through the school board.  What a great lady.

We also said goodbye to some other stuff...... but I won't get into that.  YUCK!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Growing Up.

It always sounds CHEEZY-O-LA when people say, "Oh my, they just grow too fast."  But, seriously, it's TRUE!!  Eli will start HIGH SCHOOL in September... huh?  High School?  Noah will turn 13 this summer.... huh?  13?  Jake is almost done his first year of preschool.  And Luke is talking, walking, running and getting quite the sense of humor. 

Here are 2 short videos of Pookie's new skills:  

About 68 bajillion times per day I find myself thinking.... "will the whining ever end?" "will he ever wipe his own butt?" "why can't they just eat what I make... and NOT throw it on the floor?" "what is so hard about ......?"  But, then.... late at night.... when they are all asleep (and I SHOULD be)..... I find myself wanting a pause button.  Yet, for a huge part of the day, I have been wanting a "fast forward to bed time" button.

Do you ever stop to think about where you are in life... and how you perceive the challenges and battles of each day and almost "wish them away"?  I'm convinced that one day we will look back and realize that THESE days (when the kids are little... and the days are one battle after another) are the BEST days of our lives.

So right now, I'm going to PAUSE... and ENJOY the moments of today... for I know that once these days are behind me... that I will begging to have them back.

Will I ever miss THIS:  I somehow doubt it.  ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Goodness Gracious, Great Balls of Fire!

Over the weekend I was home alone with the little boys while Chris was in Calgary with the big boys.  Just before 5 pm someone started banging the snot out of my front door (it might have snot on it... who really knows) and ringing my doorbell.  I was a bit freaked out and planned to NOT answer the door.

But the person on the other side of the door just flung it open and started yelling, "GET OUT OF THE HOUSE, GET YOUR KIDS... THE HOUSE NEXT DOOR IS ON FIRE!!!!"  I could immediately smell the smoke and started rushing.  Living in a duplex (which I have started to feel uneasy about), I wasn't sure if it was the adjoining unit or the duplex next door... I didn't care, I just ran for it (but made sure to grab the camera... obviously).

We raced across the street to the park.... and THIS is what we saw:

It seemed to take FOREVER for the firetrucks to get there.... and it was insane to watch just how quickly the fire spread.  Here are a few more pictures.... YIKES!

I felt so terrible for this girl, standing in tears as she watched her house burn down.  She lives in the unit on the right... the fire started on the other side, but quickly spread and destroyed her house.

My TOTALLY relaxed little dude... was so patient through the whole process.

And my little Platoon Chief :) Obsessed with firetrucks since the event.  Seconds after returning to the house he was rounding up his fire toys and driving them around saying, "weeee ooooo, weee oooo."  And the next day he said, "Mommy, I DO love dose fire mans.  Dey helping dat broken house.  Ya, mommy, dat house was having a hard time yeshterday."  So sweet.

And this is what is left:

The day after this fire, I learned of the wild fires in Slave Lake.  Watching the images online is just hearbreaking.  Just thinking about how devastating a fire on the front of one single house can be... and then trying to imagine what it would be like for a fire to take most of an entire town.  If you are in a position to help, please do.  If not, send a prayer... it's the least you can do.

There are some very moving images on this video... have a look: