Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Great Half-Marathon!

Early this morning Jimmy and I traveled to Florence for the first annual Life Without Limits Half Marathon (raising money for cerebral palsy). This was our "date". Well, we had a super day! The weather was perfect, a little cool at the beginning, but by the end of the run we were hot!. This was my 3rd half marathon, and I had set a personal goal of beating my previous half marathon times, which were 2 hours, 11 minutes (St. Jude) and 2 hours, 15 minutes (the Tupelo Half, which was actually 14.2 miles, 1.1 miles longer than an official half-marathon--13.1 miles).

I did it! 2 hours, 1 minute, 12 seconds!!

Jimmy ran with me the whole way, and while he let me set the pace, I was encouraged to push myself. I enjoyed the run so much! It really was fun running with my handsome husband and enjoying uninterrupted conversation. However, the last 1.5 miles were tough. I was so ready for the race to be over! Jimmy was very encouraging while I whined the last mile.

As soon as we crossed the finish line, Jimmy was off again! He ran the course (with a few detours since they were shutting down the course) a second time for a total of 26.2 miles--a full marathon. He needed a long run today as part of his training for the full St. Jude marathon in December. He ran the second half faster than we did the first half for a grand total of 26.2 miles in 3 hours, 57 minutes! Wow!

While Jimmy ran, I ate my delicious boxed lunch provided by the race in the company of some Tupelo friends, John and Leigh. Then I changed into dry clothes, played on my phone and then listened to the awards. I was shocked out of my shoes when I was announced as 3rd place in my age group! I happily went on stage to receive my trophy! Since our family photographer was still running, I have no pictures! But Jimmy's running coach was there and he did take one picture of me!

When Jimmy finished and changed we went to Target! and then we came home.

A great half marathon!
A great day!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Already Done!

That is the kind of list I made yesterday, an "Already Done" list. This whole week while we have been on our Fall Break, I have been frustrated by my lack of completing everything on my "To Do" list each day. I have planned way more than I have time for this week!
So yesterday I decided to try something new. Just when I got out my paper and pen to make that "list", I decided to leave it blank. I just stuck it on my calendar and began working. Each time I completed a task, big or small, I wrote it down. I tried to fill the entire page! (It is a small 4 x 6 sticky note page). The already done list really won't work for me on a regular basis---I need to make sure that I don't forget something important, but for worked great!
Here is what I did:

read Bible
cleaned schoolroom bathroom
made my bed
tidied up my bedroom and bathroom
entered October receipts into my excel budget spreadsheet (all of them! I had gotten really behind!)
paid bills
reconciled 2 months of bank statements on Quicken
vacuumed the kitchen, eating area, den, basement stairs, and the entire upstairs
mopped basement stairs
shopped with Jimmy (alone) for running rain jackets---it is supposed to be cool and raining for our half marathon tomorrow
cleaned the kitchen 3 times
watched The Spirit of the Marathon with the entire family--the girls and I folded about 6 loads of laundry while we watched it
put away my laundry plus Jimmy's, Leah's, and Sam's

It was a productive day!

A couple of side notes:
While I spent 2 hours at the computer working on the budget, paying bills, reconciling the bank statements, entering dates on my calendar, etc., I kept Leah and Sam busy and happy by giving them all of the trash mail. As I opened up a bill I gave them the envelope plus all worthless inserts, receipts, and junk mail. They had a ball! They spent the entire time playing "office". They found empty boxes to put all of their "mail" in. I also gave them some return address labels that they loved. Sam spent a good bit of time shredding his mail, but that was ok. The first thing I did after playing office was vacuum!

The Spirit of the Marathon was an excellent movie! It followed several people as they trained and then completed the Chicago Marathon. The people ranged from elite runners to novices, with a few people that fell somewhere in between. I did not see the homeschooling mother of 5 children featured! I guess I am off the hook for running a marathon! (Although a friend of mine who is a homeschooling mother of 7--the youngest of which is only one year old! just completed her first marathon in September and will be running another marathon in December!!!) I have often said that I just don't have the desire to run a full marathon, but after seeing these women from all walks of life and of all ability levels train and complete a marathon, I think I may change my mind. I have two friends (one that I just mentioned) that set and met a goal of running a marathon before they turned 40. Well, I missed that milestone! So maybe I will set a goal of running a marathon before I am 50!
Jimmy is running his second marathon in December!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Straight Teeth and Lost Teeth

Yesterday Olivia got her braces off! She had worn them only one year, but the orthodontist said that she was ready! Here is a picture I took of her before we went to the orthodontist.

After--at the orthodontist office
We had to go back several hours later for Olivia to pick up her new retainers. They are clear, and she must wear them 24 hours a day for 3 months! She is not too happy about this. The retainers have made her teeth very sore!
Olivia took this picture of herself to show her new clear retainers

Last week, Leah lost her second baby tooth! It had been only 2 weeks since she lost her first tooth. Losing this tooth was as uneventful as losing the first one. I was waiting in Sam's bed, ready to read bedtime stories to Leah and Sam, when Leah came in the room and calmly announced that she pulled her tooth! The tooth fairy visited again, and this time she gave Leah a paper dollar. Very exciting!

Can you see the missing teeth?

Now you can really see them!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

A New Blog

I would like to invite you to read the new blog written by my sister-in-law, Amanda, who is married to my youngest brother. The name of this new blog is Blessings 4 Life.
Amanda and Rhett are expecting their 3rd child, a precious baby girl named Caroline. Recently their lives took a very sudden and very unexpected turn---Amanda has created her new blog to chronicle their journey, a journey that is already marked by amazing faith and strength. Please join me in praying regularly for Amanda, Rhett, and their unborn daughter, and please take the time to visit their blog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Day With the Girls

Today marked the first day of our Fall Break. We take a fall break from school each year, and Jimmy takes this week off from work too. This year we are not traveling anywhere too far. We plan to spend the rest of the week catching up on errands, household chores, and home repairs. Jimmy also has to finish studying for his upcoming board exams.
This morning Jimmy took the boys to the Memphis Zoo, to Target, and then on to visit his parents--who had a tree fall on their century old home last Thursday night. Jimmy had not had an earlier chance to survey the damage.
While the boys were gone, the girls and I shopped! About twice a year I take Olivia and Julie (and sometimes Leah too) shopping for clothes and shoes. I can still buy things for Clay, Leah, and Sam without them trying them on, but Olivia and Julie are at the age that they really need to try clothes on before we purchase them. Plus, shopping without bored boys can really be fun! We shopped, ate a late lunch, and then I took Olivia and Julie to their piano lesson. During the lesson, Leah and I went back to the mall. After picking up the older girls, we all went to cross country practice. Leah played on the playground while we all ran. I really enjoyed running outside today. After practice, we went back to the mall to finish our shopping. We finally finished up around 7:30 and came home to delicious smelling soup that I had left in the crock-pot.
The boys arrived home about an hour after we did. I asked Sam what he saw at the zoo. He replied, "I didn't see any snakes. I saw a lion eating a pumpkin!"
It was a fun but tiring day!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Recent Spartan Fun!


The last several days have been full of Spartan fun! Thursday's xc practice included shaving cream games! After a 30 minute run, the runners played freeze tag using shaving cream as the "tag", and then ended the fun with a shaving cream "free for all".
I cleaned the children up the best I could before letting them get into my van!


The Team!

Early Saturday morning, Olivia, Julie, and Clay ran our local Race For the Cure 5K. They all ran well! Their times are in the sidebar under race results. Julie won 2nd overall female, and Olivia won 1st place in her age group.

Olivia and fellow Spartan Ashley with their plaques

Julie with her plaque

After the race we hurried home to prepare for the arrival of the Spartan team and their families--we hosted a cookout for them. Kelly graciously cooked around 80 hamburgers and 100 hotdogs.

Thanks Kelly!

The children and all of their teammates, siblings, and friends had a grand time running all over the place! They played in the barn, in the backyard, in the woods, and on the driveway. There were people everywhere! I estimated about 125 guests!

Spartans lined up for lunch!

When the food was all ready, we lined up the children. They came in the front door of my kitchen, fixed their plates, and then went out the back door for drinks. They all ate in the backyard. It was quite a sight!

My sweet friends Kim and Lynn helped me clean up! Kim vacuumed tons of dirt! It took her over 30 minutes! Lynn unloaded my dishwasher, cleaned up the kitchen, and washed a sinkful of dirty dishes (after filling the dishwasher with dirty dishes.) Another friend (I am not sure who) collected many bags of trash and took them out too. Thanks to all of my sweet, helpful friends! After we got the bulk of the cleaning done, some of the remaining moms and I sat on my back porch, drank real cokes, and finished off two large zip-lock bags of homemade chocolate chip cookies.

What a fun day!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just a Normal Week

This week hasn't been too exciting, yet around here, our every day life could be considered exciting to some!

Last Friday when I was traveling home from the Homeschool Camp, I ran over some sort of metal object in the road (going 70MPH down the highway!). I tried to avoid hitting it with my tires, but I still somehow managed to snag it, and it pierced a large hole in my fuel tank! I was unaware of this at the time, and I continued to travel 30+ more miles home. While we were unloading the van, Julie came upstairs and said that she smelled a very strong "gas smell". I ran down to the garage to investigate, and I found gasoline pouring from underneath my van all over the garage floor. It was running like a water faucet! I immediately called my friend and mechanic Scott. Unfortunately he was off work that day, but I explained what was happening to his coworker who promptly called Scott at home and sent him over to my house. Scott graciously pushed the van out of the garage, cleaned up the gasoline from the floor, and called a tow truck! By this time my whole house smelled like gasoline! I opened several doors and ran a few fans for a couple of hours. The temperature was dropping, however, and I finally had to close up the house. I went to turn on our heat, and guess what? It wouldn't come on! I knew it would be Monday before I could call our appliance repairman. Thankfully, even though it remained cold throughout the weekend, our house never got too cold. The other heating units still worked, so they kept the house warm.

This week I have had to be very creative in transporting the children to various locations. We have an extra vehicle (Jimmy's truck), but it will only hold 5 people. On Sunday, we took two vehicles to church services. Monday we just stayed home from piano lessons, and a friend picked up the older three children for xc practice. Tuesday, Jimmy was off work, so he was able to take the children to practice. Yesterday, Scott (our kind family friend and mechanic) came out to my house and gave Clay a ride to church. This allowed me to take the rest of the children. Jimmy met us there and we all came home in our two vehicles. Today we had yearbook picture appointments and Olivia had an orthodontics appointment (she gets her braces off next Tuesday!), so I took 3 children with me for the first trip into town. Next I dropped them off and picked up the other 2 children and took them to town for their yearbook pictures. That took all morning!
The van is supposed to be ready sometime this afternoon! Just in time to take the children and my niece to xc practice!

We have been working in the yard a little this week. Jimmy and Sam worked on clearing a little more of our running trail, I began preparing the pool for winter, and we all worked together in getting the porches and yard tidied up. We are hosting a Spartan Family cookout this Saturday! Tomorrow we will finish up by weeding and cleaning the grill.

Other excitement this week included mountains of laundry, schoolwork, housework, and two birthday parties.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Black Bean Soup

Since the weather has finally gotten cooler around here, I am cooking a few different soups this week. Tonight I am serving Black Bean Soup

2 Tbsp. butter
1-2 onions, chopped
1 tsp. refrigerated chopped garlic
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. chili powder
3 cans black beans
3 cups chicken broth
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1.5 cups chunky salsa

Cook onion and garlic in butter until soft. Meanwhile, puree 2 cans of beans with a little bit of the chicken broth. Add this mixture plus all remaining ingredients to pot. Simmer for at least one hour. If you need to put this in the crock pot, I am sure it would be fine on low for a few hours.

Serve the soup over tortilla chips with grated cheese on top.

Whenever I try a new recipe like this, I also make some macaroni and cheese. That way if some of my little children do not care for it (after they have tried it of course) they can just eat the mac and cheese on their plate. I do not serve something else if someone doesn't like supper, but if it is something new, or something really too spicy for the little ones, I include something else on the menu for them. That way they don't think they are getting a special or different meal because they didn't like what was prepared. They just eat what they really like.....after trying the new item!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Tupelo Invitational 5K

Yesterday we began our day by participating in the Tupelo Invitational 5K. Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, and I ran. (Clay was on a homeschool Father/Son Campout with my daddy.) The temperature at the beginning of the race was 38 degrees! It was cold!! My mother was here to help me with Leah and Sam while we ran, and they stayed inside the car most of the time. This 5K race was held on the Tupelo XC course, and Tupelo High School was holding a XC meet as soon as the 5K was over. I really don't like trail running, but I decided to do this anyway. I needed to get a few more miles in this week, and this was a fun way to do it. Our homeschool cross country team, the Spartans, all participated too.

Cold Spartan girls after the race

Cold Spartan mothers after the race

Anna Beth, Amy, Kim, and Karen, trying not freeze while awaiting the awards ceremony

more cold Spartan girls--that's Olivia wrapped up in the bright green and blue blanket

Even more cold Spartans!

Some of the Spartans with their Tshirts--Tshirts were awarded to the overall female and male winners, and also to the top 3 finishers in each age group. In the 10 and under male and female groups, all 3 winners were Spartans! Julie won 1st in the 11-19 female. Spartan Catherine was 3rd in the 11-19, and Danielle was overall female winner. Spartan Zac won 3rd in the 11-19 male age group. I won a Tshirt too--3rd place in the female ages 40-49!

To warm up after the race, Jimmy took all of us plus my mother and Spartan Catherine to Cracker Barrel for brunch. Yummy!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Homeschool Camp

Last Thursday and Friday, Lynn and I and our 9 children attended a Homeschool Camp. A nearby homeschool group holds this annual two day/one night camp at a facility called Rustic Youth Camp. There is a reason that it is called rustic! When we were registering for the camp, I remember someone vaguely mentioning that some people stay overnight in a hotel, but I told Lynn that it would be much more fun to stay in the bunkhouse! We wouldn't want to miss any fun! Well, we experienced this wonderful rustic camp to the fullest, and if we attend next year, we are certainly making hotel reservations!

All kidding aside, my children and I had a wonderful time! The campout was so well organized. I could tell that the mothers had spent many, many hours planning and preparing. The camp's theme was science, and the children were divided into age groups for an afternoon of 5 science classes. I had children in 4 different classes. I spent all of my time with Sam and his class, where the theme was the five senses. Sam had so much fun smelling, tasting, listening, touching, and seeing various items.

After a delicious potluck hotdog supper, we had a time of fellowship complete with singing and exhortation. Then it was upstairs to the bunkhouse for sleeping! The boys slept in a separate bunkhouse. Clay and his friends were asleep by 10:00, but were up and playing outside shortly after 6:00 AM.

Here are some highlights of the fun-filled two days.

Clay, John Parker, Carson, and Jared waiting for lunch

Clay and Julie in one of their science classes

Sam playing on the playground

Silly Sam on the swing!

Sam's class painted pumpkins on a shirt using an apple. Sam painted his shirt pretty much by himself.

Playing in homemade shaving cream--Did you know that you can mix shampoo and water and mix it with a beater, and it turns into shaving cream? We used strawberry and tangerine scented shampoo.

in line for supper

Julie made a new friend

and so did Olivia!

Sam was super excited about sleeping in a bunk bed--especially since he got to sleep on the top bunk! I chose a corner bed, and put Sam on the side by the wall. I slept with him to keep him from falling out! (Plus he likes to smell my hair all night!)

Avery and Leah slept on top bunks too!

Here is a partial view of the sleeping quarters.
On Friday morning after breakfast the children completed various crafts. Olivia, Julie, and Clay carved pumpkins. They thoroughly enjoyed doing this!
Sam making a spider out of pipe cleaners and a blow-pop

the finished product

Leah making a yarn pumpkin

a finished apple and pumpkin

Julie carving her pumpkin

Clay displaying his finished pumpkin

and Olivia with hers

One special treat was meeting a fellow blogger in person! Dawn from Catch Me If You Can is a member of the homeschool group that holds the camp each year. Lynn and I were delighted to meet Dawn! Dawn has visited this camp many times, and she knew to stay in a hotel! The picture below was taken on Friday morning---after our restful night in the bunkhouse! Dawn is all refreshed, complete with fixed hair and make-up. Lynn and I are sporting the natural look, complete with no shower and un-fixed hair!

Lynn, Dawn, Me
This camp proved to be a fabulous experience for both my children and me. I loved meeting and visiting with the other Christian ladies, and the children enjoyed making new friends too.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

No Title

Saturday Jimmy surprised me with a fabulous new cell phone! I have had so much fun playing with it! In fact, I told Megan last night that I may never blog again! I was kidding, of course, but I can do so much on my phone that I have not used my computer in days!

Last week our local church hosted a week long gospel meeting. The preacher was excellent, and I was challenged, convicted, and motivated each and every night. I continue to strive daily to serve God in everything that I do.

Also last week, Leah lost her first baby tooth! Usually the loosing of baby teeth here at the Johnson home is accompanied by much wailing and copious amounts of tears. As usual, Leah is different! We were on our way to our church service, and Leah casually announced, "My tooth fell out." That was it! No tears, no wailing, really no excitement at Leah. The whole van broke out in cheers! Yay Leah! She proudly showed her gap to everyone at church, and by the time we left, she had been awarded a few dollars from generous friends! Whenever anyone asked Leah what she hoped the Tooth Fairy would bring her, she always responded, "Either a dime or a penny!" Well, the Tooth Fairy was feeling generous, and she traded that tiny tooth for a shiny half dollar and two quarters. This thrilled Leah!

It is still raining here, every day! After every race and every cross country practice I am washing muddy, wet clothes and towels, and hosing off and drying out running shoes. Our workout room is lined with shoes drying in front of fans. I bought the cutest rain boots for our family (except for Jimmy and Clay), and we have really put them to good use!

Monday night the girls and I attended our monthly Keepers At Home meeting. Leah's group stenciled aprons, and Olivia's and Julie's group continued to work on various projects like crocheting, knitting, soap making, bow making and scrapbooking. Each girl brings what she would like to work on, and they all sit around tables and chat and work. Fun!

Jimmy and I signed up to run a half marathon together on October 31st. It will be a date! I am looking forward to spending some uninterrupted time with him. It should be a fun day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

MC Cross Country Meet

Another Saturday, another muddy cross country meet!
At least it didn't rain during the meet.....just for days before! The course was extremely muddy, and the parking was basically one big muddy field! Several school buses got stuck!
In spite of the weather conditions, the Spartans had great fun and ran a super race! We had three Spartan girls finish in the top 11 (#5, #6, and #11)! Around 50 schools competed with about 100+ runners in each race. The varsity boys ran well too!

the varsity boys with Coach Heather

Coach Heather and the varsity girls team

the varsity boys and girls

Danielle and Julie warming up

Catherine, Olivia, Julie, Mary, Emilee, Danielle, and Courtney

Varsity Girls Team

last minute coaching before the race

Uncle Russ and Aunt Megan came to cheer us on!
My parents came too, and as usual, it was so nice having the extra help with Leah and Sam!

McCain and Clay---they managed to get just as muddy as the runners!

What did the girls do while waiting before and after their race????


Friday, October 9, 2009

Corinth Rotary 5K

Last Saturday morning, the Spartans ran in the Corinth Rotary Club 5K. It was the perfect morning for a race--the weather was sunny and cool. Our children had so much fun, and they all ran well too! In fact, the green shirts were awarded many trophies!

Clay in action!
Run, Clay, Run!

Granmomma came to watch the race.

Julie with me and Sam--smelling my hair!

Jimmy and Sam (who did not want his picture taken!)

The "trophies" for this race were unique---they were actual running shoes with an engraved medallion tied on the shoelaces. So cute! Julie was the overall female winner, Olivia won 2nd in her age group, and Clay won 1st in his age group. Jimmy and I just watched this race and cheered everyone on!

Olivia with her shoe

Julie with her shoe

Clay with his shoe

This 5K was very well organized! The race shirts were technical, the race was chip timed, and the race announcer was excellent! We all had a fabulous time!