Friday, March 28, 2008

Two new blogs

I've updated my blog roll and added some dear friends who've started new blogs.

Holly's blog Beautiful Ancient Words focuses on Scripture passages. She's got her first post, and it's very thought provoking.

Julia is a long-time homeschool buddy from California days. I think she should look into being a professional humorist. Go see her blog Julia's Inner Monologue and be prepared to laugh right out loud.

Both of these women I've known for ages, but in different eras of my life and world. But, alas, it's a small world, because they've known each other even longer ago. Maybe they each could leave a COMMENT (hint, hint) at this post about how they are related!

Nap time rules!

This is going to be an interesting weekend for me. Three big kids are going for a weekend youth retreat. Two little boys are already headed out with their Daddy for a camp-out. That leaves me with Keva and Kylie. Kylie has the whole weekend planned . . . and I just want to sleep in and veg the rest of the time.

I didn't work today because I had a routine doctor's appointment. I put the kids on their buses early this morning then crawled back into bed for two more hours of happy snoring. Because I did have that extra sleep, I feel kind of lethargic now, even after a hit of caffeine.

Maybe another nap . . .

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Would you please pray for this very special lady, Susette Manaserro. She and her husband Bill started not just a boys' orphanage but a girls' orphanage in Haiti. Their ministry there has touched my heart. They are back in California right where Susette is undergoing chemotherapy.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Knitting Machine

I bought a set of Knifty Knitters looms and made a little baby's cap. Before I knew it, Kathleen had taken over the looms and started making her own creations. She's wearing a hat that she made and is showing off a beautiful matching scarf still on the loom. She then proceeded to make a half dozen more hats and started selling them to kids at school! The little entrepreneur.

Keva turns 13!

How in the world did Keva sneek herself into Teenager Status?
I think she's a little shocked about it herself. : )

The tent

Keva wonders what has happened to the breakfast room.
It is now a tent. And inside the tent . . .
. . . are a rather large group of children.
Kristofer tells all about the many amenities
Konner poses. Too bad he's so camera shy.

Look at me, I'm the Gingerbread Man

For Christmas, Keva's bus driver's assistant got our family a gingerbread house. Some of the kids and neighbors had a crack at putting it together.

A favorite recipe

Cheddar Chicken Corn Chowder

3 bacon slices
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup diced red bell pepper
2 garlic cloves, minced
4-1/2 cups chicken broth
1-3/4 cups diced, peeled potatoes
1-1/4 cups frozen corn (half cream style and half whole-kernel)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in Dutch oven over medium high heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan, crumble and set aside. Add the chicken, onion, bell peper and garlic to drippings in pan and saute 5 minutes. Add broth and potato and bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes until ptoato is tender. Add corn and stir well.

Place flour in a bowl, gradually add milk and whisk until blended. Add to the soup. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer 15 minutes or until thick, stirring frequently. Stir in the cheddar chees, salt and pepper. Top with crumbled bacon.

* This recipe out of Newnan Coweta Magazine, January/February 2008

And now, for my twist. This is such a yummy soup. I love a good cream soup, but when I found this recipe I didn't have all of the ingredients I needed, plus I didn't like some of the stuff, so I changed it up a little. That's the beauty of soup. It's very forgiving.

I did not add the onion, red bell pepper or garlic cloves. Instead of the potatoes, I used a mashed potato mix along with the garlic butter flavoring that it came with. I also threw in some butter to make sure the potatoes had buttery flavor. Otherwise, I pretty much stuck to the recipe.

Do you have a favorite soup recipe you'd like to share? The easier the better, as far as I'm concerned.

Going on a date

Here we are on our way to our favorite restaurant. You can also see my haircut, kind of, in this picture.

He is risen!

Happy Easter, everyone! The most important holiday of all is here.

Thank You, Lord, for the sacrifice of Your precious Son, Jesus. Without You, I am nothing.

We are in the midst of Easter Pageant performances. There were some changes made to the dialog and music after six years of doing it the same way. Combining that with Easter coming early this year, I wasn't entirely sure things were going to come together. But we had our first presentation last night and it went very well. I even cried at several places, even after having seen it so many times just this year.

I've been helping with stage makeup where everyone gathers to prepare each night in the fellowship hall. Keva is there too, and only pulled at a paper tablecloth once, sending makeup flying everywhere, before I moved her to a chair at the wall, behind the person I was applying makeup to. Then, she decided that it was a lot of fun to grab at costumes and laugh and clap. She's having a great time.

Keva and I also have the very important job of retrieving the torches from the Roman guards when they've come down the aisle to arrest Jesus. We have a spot reserved just for us behind the orchestra. It's perfect. And without us, the Romans would not have enough hands to arrest Jesus. All would be lost!

Mac joined us last night, too. He wanted to come and be part of the action after hearing the little kids talking so excitedly about it. He had to come early to come with us, so he joined me and Keva in makeup and then later in our very important task of retrieving the torches. He refused my offer to give him some eye shadow and was worried about just leaving the torches at the seat when we were done. He wants to come again tonight. : )

Keith has had the whole week off, so he turned himself into a painting machine. I was remembering the Pageant last year when the Kings were with us and Ginny and I painted my kitchen and breakfast room that gorgeous Electric Lime. (The color deserves capital letters.) And now here we are painting again a year later! I guess the only time we think we're allowed to paint is during Easter? I'm not sure. Anyway, Keith has painted the second downstairs hallway in the same brown that we did the hallway from garage to the family room. And then he bought more of the same brown to do the stairwell. He also painted the guest bathroom blue and did some fancy trim painting with the cabinets and closet door. He is currently finishing up the painting in the formal dining room. It's a nice classy red. I really like it.

We still have not come to a decision about what color to do the family room and living room -- just the two biggest rooms in the house. I want to go with neutral colors and Keith wants more intense colors. We need color therapy. Badly. Any home decor experts available to help us? I'll be posting the new room colors soon.

Keith is going to paint the girls' bathroom, I think before the weekend is out. And then we'll be done with painting for a short while. It's so nice to see the paint on the wall, though. We've never painted any of our rooms before, so this whole painting deal has been a lot of fun and makes the house so much more homey.

I worked three days this week. On Friday, I subbed for a music teacher. Usually I don't get to meet the person I'm filling in for, but I was called in to come at 10:30 that morning, so the teacher hadn't left yet. I walked into his office and blurted out, before I could help myself, "You look like you're 12 years old! You can't possibly be a teacher!"

He just smiled and informed me that he was 26, then presented me with organized sub plans, made sure I had referral forms for any problem kids, warned me about his sixth period class, and helped set up for the video that he had ready for the kids to watch.

"You know," I finally said, as he was preparing to leave, "I'm giving you a bad time about your age because I'm getting old!"

"You're not old!" he told me, so sweetly, that I almost believed him!

Then, later on, at lunch, I was eating alone at the teacher's table in the cafeteria, and the principal came to join me. That was a lot of fun. It so happened that I knew him from church, and I also new another teacher who came to join us, also from church and our neighborhood. We were then joined by about three other teachers and we all had a rather animated discussion about old TV shows and scary movies. It was hilarious.

I said that I was glad I wasn't the only TV addict in the world.

Someone else said, "If we could take all the hours that we wasted watching TV when we were kids and did research instead that we would have a cure for cancer by now."

Ain't that the truth!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Riddle me this #2

The students are starting to recognize me. I stepped into a classroom for a few minutes today, and a kid said, "Hey, Mrs. Johnson, do you have a riddle for us?" So with the permission of the teacher, I gave them one of my latest. And here it is for you:

When forward it is heavy and when backward it is not.

Yay for Keri Lynn!

It's a proud parent moment. Keri Lynn came back with her report card and her standing in her class of 360 juniors. She's number 13. Not too bad, I'm thinking. All of her hard work is paying off.

Kristofer is number 210 (or somewhere around there) in a class of about 650. So he's not doing fantastic, but he's not doing badly either. He's just not a good test taker. His comprehension skills are amazing, but memorizing facts and equations are just not his thing. I was talking to one of his teachers about this today after class. This teacher told me that he recently gave an open book test that Kristofer did fine on and that he probably just needs to practice taking tests. I don't know. I suspect that he will never be much of a test taker. That's okay, though. I don't require that my kids get all A's. I just require that they do their best.

I subbed at the high school today. I got sent to ISS (detention). I've never been to ISS before, ever, even when I was in high school. I worked ISS in the ninth grade building and there were only five kids there for the last period of the day. They were not allowed to talk or move around the room. Most just sat and slept at their desks. Some actually did their homework. Everyone was really quiet because the guy in charge is a taskmaster. I asked him after the period if he did this every day, and he sighed and said that he did and that he hated it. Poor guy. It must be tough being the heavy, but someone's got to do it.


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Riddle me this #1

Ever since I started subsitute teaching, I've been using riddles as a tool to keep the class interested and attentive. I've decided that I'll occasionally throw a riddle in my blog. For the answer, just go to the comment section in the post below. If you want to try to figure it out, go to the comment section in this post. Good luck!

What occurs once in a minute, twice in a moment, but NEVER in a thousand years?

The answer

Click the comments for the answer . . .

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Snow Day -- January 19

This day we got tons of snow that stayed on the ground long into the next few days. Several inches of powder. Tons of fun. Here's Keri Lynn on the deck.
Looking out from our driveway
Watch out, she's got an arm!
Kids threw on coats, hats and mittens . . .
and built themselves . . .
a snowman!
Our house
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow. Notice that the snow melts when it gets to the warmer asphalt of the road, but it sticks and stays everywhere else.
Here's the van we borrowed from the Shermans, sitting in the driveway, covered in snow.
Kade really is an angel!
The deck -- It's an interesting contrast to the lighter snow on the deck a few days before.

Friday, March 14, 2008

First Snow

These pictures were taken January 16, when we had our first snow of the year. We were all SO EXCITED! Up until this season, we had only experienced Georgia's snow flurries, but every five or so years, Georgia gets a nice snow. 2008 proved to be The Year.
The camera can't capture the snow. Just imagine the little flurries coming down just enough to dust the ground with white.
There's Mac joining in the fun.
Kade checks out the action from inside where it's warm.
Kody doesn't understand what all of the excitement is about, but would someone please play with him and his rope!
Our deck -- The Adirondack chairs just don't quite go this season.
Running through the backyard.

Conversation with Kade

Kade: Mom, I'm --- " he interrupts himself, "Oh, you know already."

Me: I do?

Kade: Starts with an "H".

Me: You're healthy! That's great, Kade! Give me a big hug!

Kade: No, not that!

Me: Happy! It's good to be happy!

Kade: Mo-om! (Starting to laugh) No, it starts with H - U!

Me: Hurtful. Oh, Kade, did you hurt Konner? You know I don't like for you to be mean to your brother. (That's when I take him and pretend to spank him, he's laughing hysterically by now.)

Kade: No! H - U - , uh, G?

Me: Try "N"

Kade: H - U - N!

Me: You've got a hundred pennies in your room!

Kade: NO!

Me: You like to hunt!

Kade: No, I'm HUNGRY!

Me: Really? I would have never guessed that!

Messies Unite!

Today, the kids and I have the day off from school. It's a teacher work day. Keith has the day off, too, as part of his usual four-day work week. It's been feeling like Saturday all day. Nice to have two Saturdays in a row. We'll need it for the upcoming week with the Easter Pageant and a regular school week.

Keith has Easter week as a vacation week. He had thought to go to California for a few days since he hasn't been for a visit since we moved to Georgia nearly three years ago, but it probably won't work out this time with the Easter Pageant rehearsals starting on Tuesday. We'll see. He may still try to squeeze in a few days early in the week.

This morning, Keith took me for our weekly Cracker Barrel breakfast. We discussed the very important topic of paint schemes. Ever since I painted the kitchen Electric Lime, we've been wrestling with what colors to paint the rest of the house. I think we need counseling. By the time we left the table, we made apologetic smiles to an older couple sitting across from us. I think they were concerned for our marriage.

With this extra day this weekend, I have this silly notion of actually cleaning up my bedroom. It's a huge embarrassment to me. We've got this beautiful house and Keith and I have this beautiful bedroom that non-family members are even allowed to peek into because it is so messy. I don't know if my plan is going very well, though, because it's already 3:30, and I haven't even done a fair job of cleaning up the rest of the house. But that's my problem. I always clean up the general mess before tackling any special jobs.

What it boils down to is that I'm a Messy. I think that in general, Messies like me don't do well in the maintenance department. Messies don't like to clean up something that's just a little messy. We go for the dramatic affect. We like to bedazzle ourselves with a before and after, exchanging one horrible catastrophe of a room to a clean room. But all that gets us is general messes most of the time, the big dramatic clean moment and then the slow downward spiral toward mess again. Am I speaking to fellow Messies' hearts right now? Please tell me that some of you understand!

So I'm off to work again!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hello, taxi service

I just printed out the schedule for the Easter Pageant. This event will consume our lives for the next week or so, but I suppose if a family is to be consumed that's one of the better ways to do so. Get ready for a ton of pictures . . . in August, probably.

I just got the okay for Kade and Konner to join the Pageant in the children's parts. They go running up to the front when Jesus starts performing miracles. They run, calling His name, "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" Then, at the end, they have a part, too, when He is resurrected, and they come running up to the front yelling, "Jesus is alive! Jesus is alive!" Both parts make me teary-eyed every time. And it just makes it all the more emotional to see my own kids participating. Christ's suffering and ultimate victorious resurrection is, after all, the crux of a Christian's faith.

I didn't get a call to sub today. When I don't get a call, I have a mixed feeling of relief and dejection. Relief because I can sit back and relax for a solid eight hours of complete solitude and dejection because our school system doesn't seem to love me. All was made better, though, when Keith called me to say he'd taken the rest of the day off from his work and would I like to go to breakfast with him? So then I had a mixed feeling of acceptance and love. : )

We ended up having lunch at our favorite Mexican place and then we had a huge debate about Jesus at Gethsemane when He asks the Father for the cup to pass from Him. (Matthew 26:39) Let me say at this point of my narrative that I should have been born Jewish, because two Jews are known for getting together and having three opinions. I LOVE to argue Scripture. I love to look at various issues and try to figure it all out. Scripture is so very richly layered, so beautiful, so perfect. Anyway, we argued about what Jesus meant by asking the Father to let the cup pass from Him. Was Jesus afraid? Was He asking the Father to change His mind about the plan? Was He merely showing His human side? What in the world is going on at this moment? I'd love to hear some thoughts from you all in the comments section!

Yesterday, I did sub at the high school. I subbed for an art teacher, which is probably the most cush job for a sub that there is. The kids just worked on their art projects while I sat at my desk and wrote, read, studied -- all the things I love to do when I'm just at home on the couch. All I needed was my own portable TV and computer and maybe a couch. I did finally put in a little effort in the last class of the day. Matthew, one of the special ed kids that I'd worked with in his special ed program was part of the art class and not getting the art project at all. So, because I'd gotten a chance to get to know him and knew about his general abilities, I set to work to help him draw his two-point perspective art project. By the time we finished it (which means I held the ruler while he drew from one point to another) we had a couple of very cool 3D buildings. It was one of those moments of pure satisfaction.

I've been playing Taxi a lot more lately. Keri Lynn is involved in the senior play at school. She's part of the dance ensemble for The Wizard of Oz, so she hums a lot of the songs throughout the day. This means that I also have the songs stuck in my head. Then, Kristofer has started wrestling. He's not on the school team yet, but joins them for practice. He can sign up next fall. In the meantime, he's able to build his skills two nights a week. I'm glad that they are getting these opportunities, but I sure wish gas was cheaper!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Keva and her bed

What Keva loves to do with her mattress when left in her room for more than one minute at a time.

Spring is here!

Spring has finally come. The anticipation of riotous blooms and green grass makes my heart go pitter-patter. I can't wait! The daffodils have come out already, and now the first trees are starting to bloom. Our little trees in the front yard are getting their first buds. The kids are running outside without their jackets. This is a great time for some visitors! (Hint, hint --- Zs!)

So what happened Saturday? We got some snow. Not a lot, but enough to cover patches of land and cool things down again. One day we're wearing sandals and the next day we're in flip flops. This is life in Georgia.

I continue to work as a sub. It's getting a little easier now that I'm learning school schedules and ways to keep kids on their toes. Most days are great. One seventh grader told me that I reminded her of a principal she once had.

"Um, thanks," I replied.

"She was strict, but nice," she said with a sweet smile and I thought that it was quite possibly the nicest compliment I'd gotten in a long time. That's what I'm going for! Strict, but nice.

I learned after a few weeks that bathroom breaks are the bane of a substitute's existence. Most classes start of like this:

"May I go to the bathroom?"

"No, you'll need to wait until the end of class."

"But I have to go REALLY bad!"

"No, sorry."

"No? You mean it?"

"Yep. Take a seat."

Next student only seconds later, "Mrs. J., I need to go to the bathroom."

"No, sorry."

"But my teacher always lets me go during class!"

"No, sorry. Go on and take a seat."

It usually takes about three or four students with exploding bladders for word to get around that the sub is not going to let anyone escape from class, but there's always one person who hasn't clued in that comes to ask, and ALWAYS one of the previous people of exploding bladders does not hear properly and thinks I have allowed someone to go to the bathroom when they were not allowed.

"I told that person that they couldn't go either," I say to the complaining student.

"Good, because if you had let them go to the bathroom, I'd be seriously angry at you right now . . . "

I'm nothing if not consistent. I can't tell you how many times I've had this exact round of conversation in various forms with sometimes quite colorful language.

As for getting teacher certification, I've recently thought about another option in which I can really use my BA in psychology. I've always wanted to go into family counseling, but had planned for it when the kids were out of the house. However, now that I'm working, I'd like to continue pursuing psychology now. However, the major draw behind getting teacher certification in the first place was being able to be home with my kids during school breaks. So I'm looking into becoming a guidance counselor or school psychologist. It may be that teacher certification works into guidance counselor. I don't know what the options are yet. These are all new thoughts.

We had some very exciting happenings on Friday night when I took the kids to a magic show at our church. Kristofer invited one of his friends from the neighborhood. This is a 16 year-old boy, smart, worldly wise, and searching in some pretty scary places. We'd been praying for him for two solid years, and that night he committed his life to Jesus. Kristofer was beaming from ear to ear, Keri Lynn and I were looking at each other with tears welling up in our eyes. I felt completely and utterly humble that the Lord would allow us to see this great happening, to play a part in it even. So, please pray for James, that he'll understand the simple truths of Christianity and grow into what God wants Him to be.

Watching a young man turn his heart to God forced me to look at my own behavior in our neighborhood and how I'm missing out on a lot of interaction with those who are unsaved because I'm too busy, too tired, too apathetic or too wrapped up in my own problems. Lord, let me see like You see. Don't let me waste an opportunity!