Monday, January 30, 2012

Sam's 6th Birthday

Saturday was Sam's 6th birthday!  He was so excited the night before his birthday.  We began our day with Sam opening his presents, and then we had bacon and eggs for breakfast.  His cousin, Joey, spent most of the day with us.  Sam and Joey played legos all day long!  Later that afternoon we all went to Joey's house for supper.  We all really enjoyed our visit with Joe and Leanna and their four children.  

Here are some pictures from Sam's big day.

 a gift from Leah

 posing with his gifts

 He liked the cake!

 blowing out the candle

 the Lego-themed table

 Olivia hot-glued a lego on each fork--cute!

 Sam's presents

One last picture of the lovely cake!

To be such an ugly cake, it tasted so good.  I determined that the problem with the cake was the icing.  I miscalculated the amount of water when doubling the recipe, and I never could get the consistency right!

Happy Birthday Sam!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Remind Me To NEVER Make a Birthday Cake Again!

I went to bed at 1:00 AM last night.  The cake was looking pretty pitiful, so I just refrigerated it, and hoped for the best this morning.

When I woke up this morning, this is what the cake looked like!

It slid to one side overnight!

I have been drinking a lot of coffee today!

I used a knife and two spatulas and took off the top layer of the original leaning cake.  I had an extra layer that I did not use last night, so I placed it under the layer I sliced off.

I added the smaller layer for the Lego man's head bump.

I wedged in a couple of legos, because the cake was still leaning.

I iced it the best I could....
Just Pitiful!

The Finished Product!

I looks NOTHING like the cake I copied from Pinterest!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Lego Man Head Cake

It seemed like a good idea a couple of weeks ago!  When Julie and I were scrolling through Pinterest looking for cute ideas for Leah's and Sam's birthdays, I saw a couple of pictures of a lego man yellow head cake.  What a bright idea!  I knew I could make that!  I even watched a You Tube video that featured step-by-step instructions.   Unfortunately, I could not find the link to that video tonight.

Sam's 6th birthday is tomorrow, and he plans to get up bright and early!

I began mixing and baking Sam's birthday cake at 8:00 tonight.  Actually, Julie mixed the first two cake mixes, and I mixed the second two.  Yes, this cake requires four cake mixes!  And we added 1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, and 1 cup sour cream to every two mixes.  As soon as we were ready to pour the batter into the pans, I realized I had a very big problem---I had only one pan of the correct size, and I had to bake 4 layers!  The fourth layer as well as the fifth smaller layer are in the oven right now (at 11:15 PM), and I still have to let the last layers cool and then ice the entire cake.  I am hoping to be in bed by 1:00 AM.

I will post pictures tomorrow, hopefully of the finished product.  I am sure that the second I am finished tonight, I will go to bed!

While Julie and I worked in the kitchen (baking cakes as well as preparing some other food that Sam requested for tomorrow), Olivia wrapped all of Sam's gifts for me!  That was a huge help.  Jimmy, with an audience of Sam, Leah, and occasionally Clay, made homemade fruit and nut bars (kind of like Lara Bars, but for half the price).  There was a lot of measuring and mixing going on in my kitchen tonight!

I am almost through decorating the kitchen table for Sam's big day.  I couldn't start on it until he went to bed, because it will be a big surprise for him.  The theme is....LEGOS.  I will take pictures of the table tomorrow too.

I am not sure how we will ever eat all of this cake!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Homemade Doodle Paint

I love Pinterest!  I have found so many cute ideas on there, and yesterday we tried one.  Here is the link to the original directions for Homemade Doodle Paint, and here is a recap of how we did it here at our house.

What You Will Need:
  • all purpose flour
  • salt
  • plastic squirt bottles (I got mine in the cake decorating section of WalMart--$2 for 2 bottles)
  • coloring--the original directions suggested gel icing, like I have in my picture below, but I found that regular food coloring produced much richer colors.

I found that mixing 1/3 cup flour, 1/3 cup salt, and a little more than 1/3 cup water made the right consistency.  I began by using a whisk, and then when I added the food coloring, I just used a spoon to stir.  If you want more paint, you can use 1/2 cup of each ingredient.

I mixed each color in the same glass measuring cup, so I had to wash the cup and spoon after every color.

This is the pink, made with red gel icing.  After making this light pink and a light blue, I switched to food coloring.  Much better!

Spoon the mixed paint into the squirt bottle using a funnel.  I snipped the end off of paper sno-cone cups to use as my disposable funnels.

After making eight different colors (and this took me about 30 minutes), Leah and Sam were eager to begin painting.  To paint, you just squeeze the bottle and draw.

Here are all the colors I made.

We used our doodle paint on cardstock.  The original directions suggested using poster board too.  I wasn't sure if the paint would dry, but the children painted last night while I was cooking supper, and this morning, they are dry.

Some of the finished products:

 by Sam

 by Leah

 enjoying the painting

by Leah

 by Sam

by Leah

I am not sure how long this paint should be stored, so I am going to encourage my children to doodle with it for the next few days.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Insanity Day 44

Yes!  I have completed 44 days of the exercise program called Insanity.  Yes, I am insane for doing it!  But I have surprised myself.  When I first began back in December, I was not sure if I could make it through the first week, much less 44 days!  I am no longer sore every day, and my knees are holding out.  Most days I do the workouts at around 6:00 AM, but on days that I cannot do it that early, I make sure that I do the workout before bed.  I have done a workout as late as 8:30 at night, and then at 7:00 or so the next morning.  I have not missed one single workout!  The schedule is 6 days on, and then 1 day off.  One week I had to take the off day on the 6th day, and then exercise on the 7th day when Sam was sick.

I am seeing light at the end of the Insanity tunnel.  There are only two workouts left that I have never done, and I will do both of them this week.  The rest of the 19 days are repeats of various Level 2 workouts.

Here are a few highlights:

  • I have not lost a single pound!  In fact, I have gained 4!  I am hoping that it is muscle!
  • I did not take my "before" picture.
  • I did not take any body measurements before I began, but I DID take them on Day 21.  I plan to take the same measurements on Day 63.  I am hoping for improvement.
  • I am loosely following the Insanity eating plan.  The plan recommends that you eat five times a day, beginning with 300 calories at each meal.  When you enter Level 2 (week 5), you can increase each meal to 400 or 500 calories.  I am trying to eat 5 times a day (really not a problem!), but sticking to 1500 calories a day is tough.  Some days I do, and some days I eat over 2000!  Maybe that's why I have not lost weight! 
  • I am much stronger than when I began.  I can do 16 push-ups without a break (boy push-ups!).  I can keep up with the people on the video throughout the entire warm-up and usually through the first and sometimes second round of each circuit.  I improve each time I do a workout.
  • I have never sweat so much in my entire life!
  • Jimmy bought me a heart rate monitor.  I love seeing my heart rate and the amount of calories I am burning. 
  • I am much more flexible than when I began.
  • I have really enjoyed this exercise program.  Shaun T. is very encouraging.  
  • I am comforted by the people in the video collapsing on the ground at the end of the workouts (like me!).
I do miss running a little bit.  I am not sure exactly what I am going to do when the 63 days of Insanity are complete.  I will definitely get back to running, but I don't want to lose all of the strength I have gained.

I am so glad that I chose to tackle Insanity again.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clay's Hobby

Clay first started collecting knives when he was 10, I think.  For the last couple of years he has saved his hard-earned money to purchase knives, and he has also received a variety of knives as gifts.

Lately, he has started making his own knives.  He found directions online for how to make a knife from a railroad spike.  Who knew?  A knife from a railroad spike?


I am not exactly sure of the knife making procedure, but I do know that it takes a good bit of time.  This is one of the reasons that Clay gets up early to complete his chores and school--so that he can get to his hobby.  I know that some of the steps involve fire and a grinder.  Clay has also constructed his own tools that he uses in his forge.


That's quite a transformation!  I think that he has shined and ground this knife even more since I took this picture.  The knife is really sharp!


What a cool hobby!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Our Day

What a day!

I got up at 4:55 AM, and I have been going full force ever since!  That is the key for me--getting up early.  I began Phase 2 of Insanity today, and the workout was 1 hour, 24 minutes.  I haven't exercised that long since the marathon on December 3.  Believe it or not, I have not been dragging all day.  (Lots of coffee).  Leah and Sam both have alarm clocks now, and I set them last night for 7:30 AM.  They both got up, and we were ready to begin school at 8:15.  I was able to get all schoolwork done with all five children today!  Yay!  I pulled out the school day schedule I made last August, set my phone timer for every segment, and pushed through all day.  We even had a one hour home ec class, and my girls got a lot of work done on the skirts they are making for themselves.  I trimmed a pattern for a cute outfit I plan to make Leah for the spring while they were sewing.

I also did my housekeeping chore for Monday (clean the boys' bathroom), supervised and helped Leah and Sam do their Monday chore (dust their rooms), completed three loads of laundry (folded and put away too), and cooked supper.  I really, really think what made my day so much more successful than last week was a few things:

1.   I got up early.
2.  I followed my schedule and changed activities when it was time--even if I wasn't through with what I was doing.  Like this morning I still lacked three chapters of my daily Bible reading when it was time for me to exercise--I will read those final chapters tonight.  When the timer buzzed for the 15 minutes snack break to be over, I stopped folding clothes and got back to school.  I only allowed 3o minutes for lunch.
3.  I was mentally ready for a hard day.
4.  We did not leave the house today.
5.  My children were glad to be back on a predictable schedule.
6.  I went to bed early (for me) last night--10:00.  This helped me to get up early.
7.  I spent absolutely zero time on the computer.  I just posted my workout from this morning on Daily Mile.

In other news, Clay has been diligently working on creating a knife out of a railroad tie.  It is really cool.  He has built himself a sort of forge--complete with handmade fire tools.  He has been working on metal working and blacksmithing for quite a while now.  He is still an early riser, and a hard worker.  He gets up, completes his chores, and then gets started on his schoolwork, usually while I am still exercising in the morning.  Then he uses his hard-earned free time to enjoy his various hobbies.  When he has the knife complete, I will take a picture of it.

I am hoping and praying for another productive day tomorrow.....and I am also praying that I will still be just as pleased at the end of tomorrow if the day does not go how I plan.  I have to remind myself that how I deal with interruptions to my schedule affects my whole family.  Following a schedule is nice, but dealing with life's little problems with patience and a smile is even nicer.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Leah's 8th Birthday

Leah celebrated her 8th birthday last Thursday.  She is growing up to be such a sweet young lady.  Leah is kind, generous, and loving.  She loves to do things with her sisters!  She   enjoys drawing and coloring, crocheting, and sewing.  My children are all growing up too fast!

I surprised Leah with a La La Loopsy themed birthday table.  She loved it!  

Those La La Loopsy dolls are so top-heavy!  It took me forever to get them propped up!

Leah began her special day with opening her gifts from us and my parents.

 Leah with her presents

Leah, sitting with Daddy and Sam while opening her gifts

After Jimmy made me the crafting table for my Christmas gift, I was inspired to sew.  I was also inspired to sew after Leah asked for matching outfits for her and her American Girl doll for her birthday.  I looked online at those outfits, and they cost around $100!  I decided that I could make them matching outfits!  I haven't sewn in years, but I was so excited to begin!  I worked many, many hours sewing skirts for Leah and her doll and a long sleeved shirt for the doll to match a shirt that Leah already had.  All of that sewing is one reason I felt so swamped last week, but I enjoyed the sewing so much!

Leah knew that I was making her a birthday gift, but she had no idea what it was.  Here are some pictures of her opening the gift.

beginning to look inside....what can it be?

What is it???

A skirt!
And one for my doll too!

Here they are!

Julie helped me out immensely last week!  She made Leah's birthday cake and decorated it all by herself!  It had buttons on it to go along with the La La Loopsy theme.

the beautiful cake

the birthday girl surrounded by her family (minus the family photographer!)

Leah asked for me to cook sausage and cheese muffins for her breakfast and potato soup for her birthday supper.  Actually, Julie made the soup!  Leah wanted to go to Chick-Fil-A for lunch, so we ate at the Chick-Fil-A in our mall.  After that I took Leah clothes shopping at The Children's Place.  Most of her playclothes, and all of her church clothes are hand-me-downs from her two sisters.  I thought it would be a nice treat to let her pick out an outfit that was brand new to her!  She chose two very cute skirt outfits and a pair of hot pink flats.

At the end of a very fun day, Julie gave Leah the birthday gift that she had lovingly made for her.....a crocheted La La Loopsy doll!  It is precious!

Leah with her new doll

Happy Birthday Leah!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Still Swamped!

I cannot get into a groove!  After taking 3 weeks off in December which actually stretched into 4, I have not had a fully productive school day since we started back!  I cannot figure out what is wrong, but I am not anywhere near getting everything done.  My older children are completing all their schoolwork that does not involve my assistance, but the things that depend on me are holding them up.  I am behind in Clay's, Leah's, and Sam's Sonlight reading, behind in checking Olivia's schoolwork, and behind in the little bit of help/tutoring that Olivia occasionally needs (like go over her study guide for her upcoming science test).  I am also behind in our official home economics class, however my girls have completed many hours of home ec while helping me clean out and reorganize during our Christmas break and also by helping me prepare for Leah's birthday--Julie baked and decorated Leah's birthday cake and cupcakes all by herself!).

This weekend I plan to pull out the school day schedule I made for us back in August, and start following it.  Previously, I was setting the timer on my phone for each segment, and running a pretty tight ship.  It is apparent that I need to do that again.  When we started school back a couple of weeks ago, I abandoned the schedule, and was trying to go with the flow---that is not working!  Another change that I made that is not working is sleeping later than normal on school mornings.  I have not been getting up at 5:00 AM, and that has got to change!  I am setting my alarm for 5:00, and I am going to hit the floor running!  Well, hit the floor running to the coffee pot!

I am trying to choose to enjoy my days, but it seems like by my slowing down my personal pace, so much is getting left undone that it is actually causing me more stress!  Does that even make sense?

I am going to work on finding the balance between "getting it all done" and "enjoying the process".  I hope I have a better report in several days.

How is your January?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


Since we started back to school last Thursday I have been swamped!  I have not had a chance to blog, and I am already behind in my reading the Bible in 90 days!  Day 9, and I am already behind!  But I will catch up.  Leah's birthday is Thursday, and I have been sewing her a gift.  She is going to be so surprised (I just hope I get it finished!).

Anyway, we are all fine here at the Johnson home.....I just have not have much computer time.

I am working on choosing books that I want to read in 2012.  These are books that I plan to read in addition to the Sonlight and Notgrass books that I pre-read for my children.

I am also trying to choose to not get overwhelmed by life in general and the daily clutter specifically.

I hope you are having a good January so far, and that you are having success in keeping your resolutions or focusing on the word you have chosen for 2012.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Back To School

After a much enjoyed break from school, we are beginning again this morning.  I was NOT ready to dive back into school.  In fact, I had scheduled us to begin Monday, January 2, but I chose to be spontaneous, and gave us a few more days off!  We have had a wonderful break, but it is time to jump back in.

I have not gotten up at 5:00 AM in about a month, but I did this morning.  I know I will be needing coffee around 2:00 PM today!  I am hoping and praying that our day goes smoothly, and that everyone is eager and cheerful all day!  (Me too).

Wednesday, January 4, 2012



Like I said yesterday, choose is my focus word for 2012.  I have many more things to choose in addition to choosing to be spontaneous.

Jimmy gave a short talk/invitation at our Wednesday night church service a couple of weeks ago.  He said that we are not forced to serve and obey God or follow Jesus.  It is our choice.  A choice that we all must make.  By not choosing to serve God, we are choosing not to serve Him.  That got me to thinking....every action and reaction we make is a choice.  And we are in control of our choices.  From the big choices, the ones that affect the salvation of our souls, to the multiple small ones we make on a daily, even hourly basis, that may also affect our service to God.

So this year I want to make myself aware of the choices I make.  I want to choose the better thing, each and every time.  How do I know which is the best choice? Some are easy.  Some are hard.  But the answer is always found in God's Word, which leads me to my first choice.

1.  Choose to spend time in God's Word.  Daily.  More than once a day.  I began reading the Bible in 90 days for the 3rd time on January 2nd.  I didn't start on January 1st, because I just decided that I wanted to do this again on December 31st, and then I spent a couple of days contemplating how I wanted to do it.  Did I want to read the Bible straight through?  Which version did I want to use this time?  Did I want to read the Bible chronologically?  Which chronological plan should I use?  Where were the 90 day chronological plans?  After much going back and forth, and actually starting two different plans on January 1, I decided to use the straight through the Bible in 90 days plan offered on You Version.  I am using my iPad, and I am reading the English Standard Version, the version I read the first time I did this, one year ago.  I still want to read the Bible chronologically, and I found a great one year plan that includes explanatory notes, but I am going to do it after I do the 90 day plan again.  In addition to reading most or all of each day's readings first thing in the morning, I also am going to choose to read my Bible when I have little snippets of time instead of playing games on my iPad/iPhone.  I like to take my turn with Words With Friends, or play a round of Moxie 2 or Solitaire when I have a spare moment....but this year I am going to choose to read one more chapter in my daily Bible reading.  

2.  Choose to continue to exercise.  I met a huge goal for myself last year.  Run a marathon.  In fact, I ran two marathons last year.  Now, that I have met the big goal, I was unsure of what my exercise goals should be.  So my goal is to just continue.  My short term goal is to complete the 63 day Insanity program, exactly as it is prescribed.  I am currently on Day 23, and so far, so good.  After completing Insanity, I am not sure what my exercise program will be, but it will involve getting back to running, and I will choose to continue exercising!

Right now I am going to have to choose to close this post and get on with my day.  I have many other goals/choices to list, and I hope to get to that tomorrow!

Joshua 24:15
And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell.  But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.

Colossians 3:1,2
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My 2012 Word


I have finally decided on a word--choose.

I considered simplify, savor, and slow down, but after much consideration and prayer, I have chosen choose.  Yesterday when Jimmy came home from work after working over 30 hours straight, he asked me if I had made any New Year's Resolutions.  I told him that I was doing just like I did last year--choosing one word to focus on all year long and applying that word to all areas of my life, instead of making a list of resolutions.  I still make a list of goals of course, but they are all related to my focus word.  Anyway, after I explained all of this to him, he asked me what my word was.  I replied that I had not completely settled on one word just yet, and I shared him what I had narrowed it down to.  He immediately said, "I know what your word should be!---spontaneous!"  This was welcomed by much laughter from the children.  As if spontaneous could be my focus word!  How would I set goals for the year focusing on a word like spontaneous?  If I focused on being spontaneous, then I would not even list goals or resolutions, right?  That would not be spontaneous!  

But his suggestion did get me to thinking.  I can be inflexible.  I do like routine.  I must have my days and weeks planned out in advance.  If Jimmy comes home from work announcing that he would like for the whole family to load up and go to Sam's or the mall for a dessert or something like that, I panic.  When will I do the dishes?  What about those items on my to-do list that still need to be crossed off?  To say that I am NOT spontaneous is an understatement.  Can I make a spur of the moment road trip?  Ha!  What do you think?  My natural response to anything that deviates from my plan is "no".  But then most of the time I will think it through and figure out how to make it work.  

I asked Jimmy to qualify his desire for my focus word to be spontaneous, and he responded that he would like for me to do (plan) one spontaneous thing each week.  He said if I never tried new things or new ways of doing things that I might miss out on something that I really liked.  So really more than being spontaneous all day, he wants me to try new things---and trying new things is spontaneous to me.  I do live my life in a rut of routine.  So, for 2012 I am going to choose to be spontaneous along with choosing all kinds of other things as well.

I have a whole other list of choices I want to make this year, but I will blog about that next time.  This list of things I want to choose includes my original goals for 2012--plus one more goal--be more spontaneous.

Monday, January 2, 2012

More After Pictures

When I shared pictures of Sam's completed room yesterday, I forgot a couple.  The first two pictures are of his closet.

Sam's desk

As I was taking down the Christmas decorations last week, I moved furniture and my rug around to vacuum.  Then I decided to try a different furniture arrangement.  We have lived here for seven years, and the den furniture has not moved!
Here are some pictures of the new set up.  I really like it.

That little bench in front of the coffee table was made for me by Sam.

Here is my schoolroom while I was moving the schoolbooks out of the storage room into those white cabinets.  The white cabinets were full of my scrapbooking supplies that I moved back into the storage room!

This is my fantastic new table that Jimmy and Clay built me for Christmas.  I love this table!  It is the perfect height, and gives me such a large work space.
It's covered with the things we brought down from the sewing room.

All cleaned off now!
To the right of the table are shelves holding our stuff.  The boxes have labels listing their contents.

This brown entertainment center stores scrapbooking supplies on the left.  The brown chest on the left also holds scrapbooking stuff.  The right side of the entertainment center and the white chest of drawers holds sewing supplies.

The boxes underneath the crafting table hold small scrapbooks, stuffing, bows, fabric, and the sewing machine cabinet (white).  We roll the sewing cabinet out when we need to sew.

Another picture of my supplies.  I know that my containers are not matching nor are they color-coordinated, but I just used what I already had.

Another gift from Jimmy--a pegboard.  I love this!  I had so much fun hanging all of those things on the pegboard.

This is another wall in the storage room--The shelves hold more of our stuff as well as the ribbon holder Jimmy made me several years ago.  I use that table when I am making bows for presents.

One last picture of the crafting end of our storage room.