Saturday, February 27, 2010

Oxford Half Marathon

Early this morning, Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, and I traveled to Oxford to participate in the Run for Hope Half Marathon. The temperature was 28 degrees when we began the race! However, by the end of the race I was pretty warm. Olivia dropped her headband after about 4 miles and a man running behind me saw it and said, "That's a Johnson's headband!" I spotted it too and carried it in my pocket for the remainder of the race. Even though I did warm up, I did not remove my headband or gloves.

The race course was brutal! The hills were frequent and extremely long. One steep downhill was almost as bad as all of the uphills. It was difficult to run (slowly jog) down that hill! As the finish line approached, we had to climb one last, tough hill. I haven't downloaded my watch onto the computer to see, but I think that I walked at least twice going up that last hill. Even though there was less than half a mile left. This race wore me out! Running all of those miles on my treadmill was not adequate preparation for the hills of Oxford! I am still pleased with my time---2 hours, 6 minutes. Julie ran with Jimmy, and Julie did her personal best for a half-marathon--1 hour, 51 minutes. Olivia chose to run alone, setting her own pace, and she finished in 2 hours. I am so proud of all of them!

In spite of the tough course, I thoroughly enjoyed this race. I ran with my friend Dorothy, and we just had the best time. We talked non-stop the entire race. The time actually went by quickly, it was just really tough to keep running those last couple of miles. When we finished, we enjoyed delicious post race refreshments, and I won a door prize!

Olivia and Julie before the race

Fellow Spartans who also ran:
Forrest (the half), Josh (5K), Olivia, and Julie

Dorothy and I approaching the finish line--Dorothy did not get hot! She wore one short sleeved shirt; I wore three long sleeved shirts!

Me, trying to catch my breath after finishing

Dorothy, my running partner

Julie and Olivia after the race

Jimmy and I resting after the race

The race volunteers spent about an hour handing out door prizes. Prizes were awarded by race number. I kept looking down at my number to make sure I would recognize it if it were called out. With 500 people inside the conference center, it was hard to hear the numbers when called. Right at the end of door prize distribution, I heard my number! I had not even seen what they were giving I was expecting a gift certificate to a local restaurant, maybe a gift basket from a cute store, or a cooler or some type of race bag.

Imagine my surprise when they told me what I had won!

Two airline tickets to anywhere in the U.S.!!!
What a door prize!

Thursday, February 25, 2010


I haven't blogged much lately for a couple of reasons......1. There hasn't been really anything exciting going on here in the Johnson Home, just keeping up with the daily routine of homeschooling 4 out of my 5 children and doing lots of housework. 2. I am so busy actually doing these not-exciting but time-consuming activities that I have not had any time to blog! I do have a few random things.....

Julie got contacts on Monday. She has done really well with them. I have not had to help her one single time. She just puts them in and takes them out like a pro. She is so happy be able to run without wearing glasses!

Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, and I are running a Half-Marathon (13.1 miles) this Saturday in Oxford. I have trained for it, but I am still apprehensive. I have run 99% of my training miles on the treadmill in my heated workout room. The weather is supposed to be a windy 27 degrees Saturday morning! We are going to freeze! I think the high for Saturday is 40 something, but it will be so cold when we start! I am looking forward to running with my friend, Dorothy, but I am nervous about running for 2 hours in the cold!

We have taken a rabbit trail in our Mississippi History studies. The Civil War. After we read about all of the battles fought here in our state, we were interested in the war in general. So now we are reading another book about the Civil War. It is called Civil War for Kids. It is one of those activity/text type books that I bought from the gift shop at Shiloh National Park a couple of years ago. I am reading aloud the text (which is giving us a great overview of the war), and the children are choosing some of the activities to complete on their own. They like to do that. Olivia made hardtack (what the soldiers ate) one day this week, and they all ate it! I am also still reading aloud from two other Mississippi books daily. They are marking on a blank Mississippi map all of the places that we read about and they are recording interesting Mississippi facts in their notebooks.

Leah is reading well. She is at that stage where she likes to read aloud her little beginner readers repeatedly. The first time she reads a new book, she is a little slow.....Julie overheard her reading a new book to me, and she stated that could not believe that I had to sit and listen to that (it sounded painful to her!). Then she realized that this was the 4th time that I have sat with children who were beginner readers! I consider it a great privilege to teach my precious children how to read!

Our family has enjoyed watching both the Olympics and American Idol recently. Like everyone else, we love the athlete's stories! We are so proud of our athletes!
Last night on American Idol I liked Casey James, Tim Urban, and Alex Lambert....oh also the 16 year old boy that sang second I think...Aaron maybe? I always enjoy hearing the boys sing better than the girls....I really can't remember any of the girls' names yet. I also like Andrew Garcia.

Jimmy is off for a couple of days so we have a short break from school. We plan to work around the house, run errands in town and also find something fun to do. My parents are coming tomorrow to spend the night and keep the three younger children while the rest of us freeze at the race!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Menu Monday

Before I share this week's menu, I have a question. How do you organize your coupons? I have been using a 3 ring binder with baseball card protectors, but many of the coupons are too large for the compartments, and I am having a hard time inserting them. I also have a small filing box with ABC dividers, but it is a little too small for some of the coupons too, and I really like flipping through the binder instead of the file box.
Any suggestions?

I checked out 4 times at CVS today. I spent $.12, $.46, $8.42, and $10.70. I used Extra Care Bucks each time ($2, $2, $5, and $3). For my total of about $20 I purchased: 4 cases of soft drinks, 1 box of Multi Grain Cheerios, 1 box of Fiber One Granola bars, 4 Colgate toothbrushes, and 1 tube of toothpaste. I also had 3 coupons. I plan to go to Walgreens later on in the week.

This week's menu:

1. pesto pasta, salad
2. beef strogonoff, salad
3. BBQ pork chops, potato salad, baked beans
4. spaghetti, salad
5. tacos, Mexican rice

For more supper menu ideas, please visit

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A Good Day

Today was a good day.

We began our morning leisurely. Jimmy, Sam, and I sat in bed drinking coffee (Sam had chocolate milk) and visiting while I caught up on emails and blogs on my laptop, and Sam watched Curious George. Soon we were joined by Clay and then Leah. Olivia and Julie had spent the night with a friend.

Next, Jimmy and the children began running errands and working outside. It was a beautiful day--warm and sunny! I cleaned the basement for about 2 hours, and then I picked up Olivia and Julie. We all ate lunch, and then Jimmy went back outside to work while I worked another two hours doing housework. Later in the afternoon I drew with sidewalk chalk on our driveway with Leah, and then Julie, Leah, and I took a walk in our woods. We are trying to mark a new path to expand our running trails.

When Sam woke up from his nap, he found me in the woods. He was so proud to show me all of the "work" he was doing out there. He built a pretend fire and a little log bridge going over a small ditch. I watched him run back and forth across the skinny little bridge (that is very high) going across our creek. I am so afraid that he is going to fall in one day! This is the same creek that Clay broke his arm on when he was four----jumping across! Leah was just 4 days old when this happened. Thankfully, Jimmy was available to take him to the hospital! I digress!

I gave our dog Lilly her second bath for the day--Olivia had bathed both of our inside dogs earlier, but Lilly got out when we were in the woods (still wet), and of course she rolled all around in the dirt and leaves. She probably got in the creek too! So I bathed her again. Then I cooked supper.

We enjoyed a meal of grilled chicken, ranch potatoes, cantaloupe, and salad. Julie and Leah helped me prepare supper. Leah tore the lettuce, and Julie peeled the potatoes, cut up and peeled the cantaloupe, and cut up the other vegetables for the salad. They were such good helpers.

Throughout the day I played Scrabble with various friends on my phone. I really enjoy that game! I have really increased my vocabulary!

After supper we watched the Olympics for a little while and then we got ready for bed. I had some really dirty children today---you know they have had fun playing when they are filthy! Everyone had their baths and washed their hair, and I put sweet smelling children to bed.

It was a good day.

Saving With Coupons

I am still clipping coupons, still planning my weekly menu based on what's on sale at Kroger, and still frequenting Walgreens and sometimes CVS. And, I am saving a good bit of money!
I began this money saving adventure at the beginning of January. I thought I would try it for a month to see if the time spent clipping coupons would be worth it, and yes it is worth it! On my last three weekly Kroger trips I saved $25, $23, and $20 with coupons! On products I was buying anyway! That is one of my criteria for clipping coupons, to only clip coupons for and buy products that I would normally buy anyway. It really is working! I love handing my little stack of coupons to the checker, and I am so proud when he or she comments on how much money I saved! I could save even more if I had coupons for produce and milk (I buy 6 gallons a week). I spend a lot of my grocery money on those two items.

I know that some of you are buying a month's worth of groceries for your family for the same amount that I spend in a week, but I am learning. I am spending less than I used to, and I hope to get even better at it! Before coupon clipping and carefully making my list, I typically spent $250 a week at Kroger for groceries, and $250 a month at Walmart on paper products, pet products, toiletries, etc. I know that amount shocks some of you, but that is what I spent. We ate all the food I bought, and we used all of the products too. I am now not buying any less, but am spending less on the items I buy. For the past several weeks, I have spent from $138-$202 on my weekly Kroger trips, and for the month of February, I spent $175 at Walmart. That is a significant reduction in spending!

I welcome any tips for further reducing my spending, so please leave me a comment!

Friday, February 19, 2010

An Object in Motion

Newton's first law of motion states:

"An object in motion will stay in motion and an object at rest will stay at rest unless acted upon by an external force"

I have been reminded of this law of motion as I study science with my older children, and I have decided that this law of motion applies to me! On days that I bounce out of bed (well bounce after I have had coffee!), and immediately get to work (Bible reading, running, laundry, starting school on time, etc.), I find that I accomplish so much. Once I get going, I am unstoppable. The more I do, the more I can get done. I am a ball rolling! The key for me is to not stop. Because once I rest, it's all over. Most nights after supper, when we are all still sitting around the table, I will look at the table with all of its dirty dishes, cups, napkins, and food. Then I look beyond the table at the countertops, stove, sink--all ready to be cleaned--and then I look at Leah (who sits beside me), and she knows what I am going to say! In fact, as soon as I look at her after we are through eating, she will say to me, "I know, you shouldn't have sat down!" I have said that so many nights after our meal. I shouldn't have sat down to eat, because now I can't get up! It's true. To get that last burst of energy to clean the kitchen one last time, is almost harder than the hours of work I have accomplished all day. It's all because I am now an object at rest, and an object at rest wants to stay at rest!

On days that I don't bounce out of bed, or am dragging for whatever reason, it is so hard to motivate myself to get going! If I sit down at the computer, I want to stay sitting down at the computer. If I am sitting on the couch reading aloud to the children, I want to stay sitting down on the couch reading to the children. So for me, the key is not to sit down. To keep moving. To keep working on my "To-do List". Often times when I find that I am moving slower than usual, or seem intimidated by all that I have to do, I just make myself get going. I know that once I push myself to get to work, that I will become that object in motion, and I won't stop until the work is done!

Or at least not until I sit down to supper.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

A Special Blog Post

I invite you to read the recent post by my precious sister-in-law Amanda. Click here. Amanda is married to my youngest brother, Rhett, and the two of them and just gone through the most difficult journey....with such grace and dignity.....and they have given God the glory through it all. Amanda and Rhett are the strongest people I know. Please continue to keep this special family in your prayers.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Saturday I had to go out of town unexpectedly. Jimmy had to work, so his sweet sister, Jenny, agreed to come over and stay with my children. She brought her 6yo little girl and two boxes of donuts, and she stayed here at my house with my five children, her little girl, and two more of my brother's children. 8 children. At a day's notice! I was so very thankful! She fed them all the yummy breakfast she brought and lunch too. She also washed, dried, and folded three loads of laundry! She took the trash out and dragged our two huge garbage cans from the highway back to our house (not a short driveway....running up and down it 3 times = 1 mile!). She changed the sheets on Sam's bed (he had wet the bed during the night), and made up the other children's beds too. The children were all playing happily when I got home, and to see that clean, folded made my day!

Thank you so much Jenny!!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Valentine's Fun

When I stopped participating in homeschool co-ops last year, I promised the children that I would try my best to provide them with one social opportunity each week. Once a month we have homeschool bowling, and every other month we have homeschool skating. Beyond those two activities, I have to get creative.

Today I invited two mothers and their 9 children (who are Leah's and Sam's ages) over for a little Valentine's fun. Olivia graciously set up a crafting table for them complete with glue, markers, scissors, and a variety of pretty, colorful paper, heart cut outs, feathers, and foam stickers. The children created Valentine's cards for each other and their family members while the mothers and I enjoyed conversation! Olivia, Julie, and Clay all helped me set up the snacks, and Clay vacuumed after everyone left. They were so sweet to help make the afternoon fun for Leah and Sam.

Sam did not get a nap today before our guests arrived, so when I sat down to drink a cup of coffee and chat with my friends, he climbed in lap and promptly fell since I was holding him the entire time, I don't have any pictures!

It really was a lot of fun!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Past Couple of Days

have been both ordinary and busy......

Jimmy was off Monday. We spent a couple of hours cleaning house, and then I began the slow, tedious process of copying and pasting my 2009 blog posts into a word document, so I can have it published into a book. Yes, I did blog last year about keeping up with this task on a daily basis, so it wouldn't be so overwhelming...well, I must admit that I failed to take my own advice! I am very, very behind! In fact, I am just starting over, because I decided to copy and save the posts on my laptop so Megan can help me with the uploading.

Yesterday while the older three children were at piano lessons, Leah, Sam, and I sat in the car waiting for them----it was just too cold and rainy to run errands. To waste some time, I went to the Starbucks drive-thru and tried a new drink: Cinnamon Dolche Latte. Delicious! I am normally a mocha coffee person, but this cinnamon drink was fabulous! I tried the frappachinno version last week, and it was equally yummy! (I have no idea how to spell frappachinno.)

Also yesterday, one of my children excitedly reported that it was hailing outside! Actually it was sleeting! You can tell that we don't get much winter precipitation around here.

Last night was our monthly Keepers at Home meeting. Olivia and Julie joined the other older girls for a Bible study and then visiting and working on various craft projects. Both and Olivia and Julie crocheted. Leah's group had a lesson about baking bread from scratch. They made some little rolls, and they were delicious! They also learned about all kinds of healthy items that can be ground and added to homemade bread.

Today we had a productive school day followed by more house cleaning, running, and a visit from new friend (that I met through blogging!). She is planning to homeschool next fall, and she wanted to come over and look at all of my school stuff. We had a nice visit, and I hope that I helped her to make some decisions about curriculum. Julie made and served us brownies!

After she left, I finished my laundry for the day (three loads), and did some more house cleaning! We had supper (crock-pot lasagna), cleaned the kitchen one last time, and then our whole family gathered in the den to watch American Idol. I diligently worked on copying and pasting my blog posts while watching. I think I am finding some favorite contestants, but I can't remember any of their names yet.

Right now Julie, Clay, and Leah are playing Uno, Olivia is crocheting, Jimmy is playing Scrabble with all of my friends on my phone (they can always tell when he is playing instead of me---better quality words!), and Sam is climbing all over everyone and all over the furniture!

It's time for me to get everyone ready for bed!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Superbowl Supper

Tonight after our evening church service, we are having a few friends over to watch the Superbowl. Well, actually, the men will be watching the Superbowl....the ladies will be in the kitchen, visiting and taking care of the food!

This is what I fixed for tonight:

Hot Chicken Wings

1 bag frozen chicken wings
1 stick butter
1 cup Frank's Hot Sauce

Bake the wings (I put mine in two glass baking dishes) for 45 minutes on 375 degrees--I put my oven on the convection setting, you may need to bake longer if you use the regular setting. I just put the wings in the dishes frozen.
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the hot sauce, cooking on low until heated through. Pour the sauce mixture over the wings and cook the wings another 15-20 minutes (longer if you are using the regular oven). I prepared the wings today up until the second baking. I plan to convect (is that a word) for 15-20 minutes when we get home tonight. I doubled this recipe, and ended up with four 9 x 13 baking dishes of hot wings.

Hot Chicken Dip

2 cans chicken, drained
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/3 can tomato soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup Hellman's mayonnaise
12 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 tsp. garlic salt.

Mix all ingredients with a mixer. Put into a baking dish and heat at 350 degrees until bubbly. I cooked the dip this afternoon, and after it had cooled a little, I put it in the refrigerator. I plan to pop it in the microwave to reheat it when we get home. Serve this chicken dip with wheat thins.


2 lbs. ground beef
1 bag onion/pepper blend
3 cans pinto beans
3 cans petite diced tomatoes
1 pkg. chili seasoning

Brown meat and onions. Drain and mix with all other ingredients in the crock pot. Cook on low until ready to serve. I am serving the chili with Frito's, saltine crackers, sour cream, and grated cheddar cheese.

I am also cooking some frozen chicken fingers, which I will serve with ranch dressing, honey mustard, and BBQ sauce.

My friends are bringing a vegetable tray, another dip, and three or four desserts.


Friday, February 5, 2010

A Flip Flop Day

It started out as a normal day.

I got up fairly early, spent some time drinking coffee and reading my Bible, and then I ran on the treadmill. I made sure all of the older children were up, and I prepared chocolate milk for the younger two--so it would be ready for them when they woke up. I was just fixing to shower and dress for the day when I saw the text.

Jimmy forgot to take something that he needed to work, and asked me to bring it to him.

My previous plan for the day was to complete school with the children, put Sam down for a nap after lunch, and then go to town to buy groceries and run other errands (including buying a birthday gift for a party that I thought was on Saturday).

It is a 20 minute drive to Jimmy's clinic. I decided to just flip-flop the day--instead of going to town twice, I would take what Jimmy forgot and then just do my shopping while I was out. We would do school and laundry after lunch, instead of before lunch.

My brain could not focus on algebra very well at 3:30 PM, and I got very sleepy reading out loud to the children. It seemed strange reading out loud without a cup of coffee in my hand.

Overall, it worked out okay. I definitely prefer school and chores in the morning, but I can be flexible. I never did get the clean clothes folded, but we met Jimmy at a restaurant for supper, and then we all went to Barnes and Noble. Fun!

And then I sat down to look at what was going on on Facebook.....and I saw something kind of of my nephew's birthday party.....that was tomorrow! Well, I thought it was tomorrow. I even bought the gift this morning! I ran to double check the invitation that has been sitting beside my calendar for over a week. Yes! The party was today, Friday, not Saturday like I have thought all along! We missed it!

Sam was asleep, and I was doing Algebra!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A Few Family Photos

A lost tooth!
Really, a lost fell out in the parking lot of a restaurant. We looked everywhere, but we never found it! Leah wrote the Tooth Fairy a note explaining the situation.

Bundled up and ready for an early morning long run

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Scrapbooking Supplies Swap

Saturday, I decided to swap my scrapbooking supplies and "not currently being used" school supplies (books, workbooks, the children's finished notebooks). I have a nice set of cabinets with a countertop on one end of my schoolroom. That is where I stored the unused school stuff. In our adjoining storage room, I kept my scrapbooking supplies, neatly organized in an old entertainment center. But the storage room is just that, a storage room! And no matter how often I clean it and reorganize it, it still looks like a storage room, and I did not like getting my scrapbooking stuff out in there. Over the last couple of years the storage room has become home to three cats, so I couldn't leave any scrapbook work out on the table overnight--unless I wanted it shredded by the cats! So, I made the switch!
The schoolroom cabinets needed a little bit of cleaning out, so I tackled that while I was moving things around. I also have a tall freestanding cabinet that I use for paper and various school supplies like notebooks, pencils, markers, scissors, etc., and I have an additional closet where I store more supplies on the upper shelves, and the Little People toys on the bottom. I cleaned out all of these places and moved things around.

the schoolroom cabinets, before--notice all of the stuff that had been piled up

This is what most of the upper schoolroom cabinets looked like--school books

another before picture of the cabinets

Stuff had gotten pretty out of hand in this schoolroom cabinet!

An up close view of the messy counter

This is where I previously stored my scrapbooking supplies--in the storage room.

Now for some AFTER pictures!

A nice, clean countertop, ready to be scrapbooked on!

A cabinet storing all of my smaller scrapbooking albums

A cabinet storing various scrapbooking supplies

boxes of photos and supplies

the rest of my photos--they are organized and labeled by year

the freestanding cabinet--upper part

the freestanding cabinet--lower part

the top part of the other closet. I am storing my larger scrapbooking albums here plus my larger boxes of photos and scrapbooking papers

the Little People storage area

I was so happy to have this switch made! I put all of the school stuff that was in the cabinets in the entertainment center in the storage room. Since the two rooms are connected (by a door that I can close!), I have easy access to my school stuff when I need it, but I can use the clean schoolroom to actually work!
I am very pleased with the results!
Maybe I will work on my scrapbooks soon!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010


Just so I will remember that some days I actually complete my to-do list, I want to record what we did yesterday. Very busy!

Everyone woke up on time, completed chores, and were ready to begin our Bible lesson at 8:00. I even made blueberry muffins. Usually we eat cereal or oatmeal, but since I didn't run yesterday morning, I had time to cook something. I try to cook breakfast 2-3 times a week.

We all worked very diligently, and all schoolwork was finished and checked by 1:00! It helped that Olivia had tests in 2 subjects--tests take less time than the actual lessons, and also she had read her literature assignment over the weekend. We also finished our current read aloud, Adam of the Road. It was a fabulous book! As always, I am sad when we finish a good book. I am not sure what our next read aloud will be. For today, we will just read extra in our Mississippi History studies. I may begin Minn of the Mississippi today. I am not even sure if that's the title.......but that's close!

We enjoyed a quick lunch, cleaned up the kitchen, and left for piano lessons at 1:35. I dropped off the older three for their lessons, and Leah, Sam, and I went to our family doctor's office. I had to have blood drawn (I am taking some kind of medication for a fungus on my fingernails--I have had the fungus for 3 three years now.....and your blood has to be checked for something while on this medication). Leah had to have some stitches removed from the bottom of her foot. She had a mole removed. Sam is accustomed to taking an afternoon nap, so as soon as I sat down in the waiting room, he climbed in my lap and fell asleep. He slept through the whole doctor visit--through my blood draw and all! He woke up an hour later when I put him in his carseat.
We ran by the bank on our way to pick up the older ones.

Next, I took the children by Sonic for a milkshake/blast snack. I fortified myself with a Route 44 Coke! Next stop, the Midas place. We were there until 5:00. Sam entertained the waiting room, Olivia and Julie crocheted, and Clay and Leah played with my phone. The car maintenance work was complete, and we were off Walmart!

I hurriedly did my monthly Walmart shopping. I was so happy that I saved $16 with my coupons! Wow! I saved $15 at the grocery store on Saturday. Actually, my total Kroger card savings on Saturday was $74! Wow again!

I picked up a pizza at Walmart to cook for our supper. When we arrived home, Olivia and Leah helped me unload the car and put everything away while Julie and Clay ran on the treadmill (Olivia had already run before we left for piano). We ate our supper, cleaned the kitchen again, and then I got everyone ready for bed. Somehow throughout the day I washed, dried, folded, and with the children's help put away three loads of laundry!

I was exhausted!