Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy December 26th!

Well.  Another Christmas Day has come and gone with all the flurry and fun associated with it.  We have had a wonderful (yes, stressed at times, but mostly just wonderful) December. I have so enjoyed having both of my college girls home. Our house has been full of family, crafts, puzzles, legos, dolls, and lots and lots and lots of cooking!  I have spent hours in my kitchen these last few weeks.  But for the most part, I have enjoyed every minute.

Like most of you mamas, I slept 4.5 hours Christmas Eve night.  I kept myself fortified yesterday with coffee and mocha punch.  I also took a 15 minute nap later in the afternoon.  We had a delightful Christmas Day---my parents came Thursday night.  They spent the night and spent most of yesterday with us.  It was such a blessing having them here!  My mama and daddy helped me so much in the kitchen preparing our special Christmas dinner.  I usually don't have our special meal ready until 4:00 or so, but yesterday since I had so much help, we ate before 2:00!

So I slept late this morning, and I have so much to do (clean-up from the Christmas fun) that I don't really know where to begin!  I am also already thinking forward to the new year next week and all the goals I want to set for myself.  I love January 1 with its blank slate.  I like to make New Year's resolutions and goals for myself.  In fact, I have so many areas that I intend to work on and improve that I told Jimmy that he may not even know me any more. :)

I jotted down a few areas that I intend to set goals for myself.  I wish I had a day to be alone and just think and write plans, goals, ideas, etc.  I would love to read Pinterest for hours to learn new ideas for meeting my goals, but the reality is none of that is going to happen.  So, I will work with what time I have.  A little bit here and there while cleaning up our December/Christmas Day festivities.

Here are the areas I intend to work on.  I hope to blog specific ideas and plans as I make them.
Feel free to share any ideas you may have as well.

  • Bible Study 
  • Hospitality
  • Fitness
  • Healthy Eating
  • Planner/Homemaking Binder
  • Homeschool
  • Housecleaning
  • General cleaning out
  • Leisure
  • Vacations
  • Office Items (Bills, Filing, Budget, etc.)

And here are my precious children!

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Fall in Review

Since I have been such a failure at blogging lately, I decided to share a few photos that give an overview of our fall. Much of my life over the last few months included lots of traveling.

I traveled to Tampa and back 4 times since August….driving three of those trips and flying only one. 
I saw Olivia and Julie run in two XC meets, and Jimmy was able to see four of them.

I made several 2 hour + trips to Tennessee and one to Clinton, MS for Clay's high school XC meets.

We attended five (or maybe 4? I already can't remember….there were 7 home games in all….) Mississippi State home football games, complete with all day tailgating, visiting, etc.

When we were home we diligently completed our schoolwork, and we have listened to hours upon hours of audio books for both Sonlight and Clay's English class in our car while traveling hundreds of miles. 

Some pictures in no particular order…...

 Olivia and Julie at one of their XC meets

 Madison, Julie, and Olivia at their XC Nationals Meet Banquet

 Julie and Cassie at a XC meet

 Olivia and Julie at a XC meet

 Joe, Leanna, Kelly, Lynn, Jimmy, and Me at a MSU game.

 Lynn and I were unable to attend our homeschool group's field trip to the pumpkin patch, so we just took our children on another day.  We pretty much had the place to ourselves.

 Leah with a rabbit at the pumpkin patch

 on the "hayride" getting their pumpkins

 We attended the Prince's Halloween party.  This year Jimmy and I did not dress up because I simply could not find the time or energy to plan and make us costumes!
Leah was Honey Lemon from Big Hero 6.

 Sam dressed up as his uncle Sam Johnson.
Sam Johnson and Sam Johnson.

 One glorious night in October Leah and these other sweet girls were baptized into Christ!

 Olivia and Julie texted this picture to Jimmy one night……It was an ENO party.
It looked pretty dangerous to me, and I did not ask how the people in the upper ENOs got up there.  Olivia is 2nd or 3rd from the top. Julie is 3rd from the bottom.

 Another December tradition for our family is to run the St. Jude Marathon or Half Marathon.  This year Jimmy ran the full, and Lynn, Leanna and I ran the half.  Leanna and I are happy to be finished in this picture!

 Here we are, freezing before the race.  
Lynn took these pictures which is why she is not in them!

The three amigos before the race. 
Lynn and I wore matching outfits. Our leggings had Christmas lights on them!  :)

 Jimmy and Julie and the XC Nationals Meet Banquet

We went to see the Nina and the Pinta which were docked on a nearby waterway.  Of course these are replicas, but it was an interesting tour.

 My children, Lynn's children, Leanna, children, and a few cousins outside one of the ships

Clay, Leah, and Sam wanted to have an ENO party of their own.
(They used a ladder.)

Monday, December 7, 2015

December Traditions

Now that it is December 7, we are in full holiday mode around here.  Over the years we have established several December/Christmas/New Year's traditions.  When thinking about holiday traditions for your family, don't try to do everything you read or hear about other families doing.  That would be too much!  It's fun to look on Pinterest, just remember that comparison can lead to either pride or despair….neither being a good option.

I'll share what our family does.  We started simple and small, but over the years of moving, and with the arrival of more children, we have added some new traditions.

1.  Thanksgiving:  We celebrate Thanksgiving Day at my parents' house with my parents, my two younger brothers (and their families), my grandmother, and sometimes my uncle.  My mother usually does all the cooking, which is such a blessing!

2.  The Christmas Tree:  We buy a live tree from a local nursery either just before or after Thanksgiving Day. Now that I have children in college, no matter when I buy the tree, we wait to decorate it until the girls are home from college. I serve popcorn, hot apple cider, and hot chocolate, and we listen to Christmas music while we are decorating the tree.  I always get frustrated while putting on the lights!

3.  Christmas Countdowns:  We have two different ways of counting the days of December until the 25th.  One is putting an felt ornament on a felt tree calendar that my mother made for us when I was a child.  She restored this calendar years ago for my children to use, and they love it!  The other way is a basket of wrapped Christmas-themed books.  I wrap 24 books at the beginning of the month, and they take turns unwrapping one book a day.  We read the book each night at bedtime.  I have had these same books since Olivia was little!  I actually have more than 24 books, so I just choose my favorite 24 to wrap and put the rest in the basket for them to read at their leisure.

4.  The Sibling Store:  I set up a "store" of gifts that I have bought for my children.  Each child shops for his or her sibling from my display.  Some years all children buy all of their sibling gifts from me, some years they don't buy any, and some years it's a mix….for example, Clay needs to buy just one gift from my store this year---he has either purchased or made a gift for his other siblings.  I began the sibling store many years ago when my children were younger.  I did not like taking them around town to shop for their siblings. And often they did not have enough money to buy what they wanted.  So I buy a few things for each child (that I know they will like), and I charge a flat rate for each gift. Usually $5 a gift, which is a bargain!  They like to spend their money on one another, and I like for them to have appropriate, non-overwhelming choices.  Of course, if they want to make their siblings a gift instead of buying it, that's great!  After "buying" or making their gifts, they wrap them and put them under the tree.

5.  Pajamas:  I always give my children a new set of pajamas on Christmas Eve.  They all act surprised by what the special Christmas Eve gift is!  :)  (I know that they know what they are getting!)
Some years I have sewn them all pajamas pants, but most years I purchase them.

6.  Baking Goodies:  We have our standard recipes that we make each year, and I also try one or two new recipes each year too.  I spread this holiday baking over 3 or 4 sessions to keep from being overwhelmed.  The kids love helping me!  We package some of the goodies in small containers (that I buy 75% off each year after Christmas) and give to each family in our church's congregation.  I make other containers of goodies for various other people like my hairdresser, our barber, our mechanic, etc.  We also give goodies as favors for the families that attend our Johnson Christmas Party.

7.  Cookies:  We make sugar cookies every single year for the children to decorate.  They always make some special ones for Santa Claus.  Some years we make gingerbread men too.  And one year I made homemade gingerbread houses for my kids and Lynn and Leanna's kids too to decorate.  That was fun, and I may try that again this year.

8.  Family Gatherings:  We celebrate with my parents and the rest of my family on the Saturday before Christmas.  The cousins all draw names and exchange gifts.  We take turns hosting this party, and this year it will be at my house.

I host Jimmy's extended family for a appetizer/soup/dessert party one night near Christmas (it all depends on Jimmy's work schedule when I can have this party).  This is a fun time for all of his aunts, uncles, and cousins to gather for food and fellowship.  Since we consider Lynn and Kelly family, they come to this party too!

On Christmas Eve we go to Jimmy's parents' house to celebrate with his mother, siblings, and their children.  It is also Jan's birthday, so we give her birthday presents before the meal, and then we switch to Christmas mode after the meal.  We eat lunch together and then exchange gifts.  Jenny, Megan, and I do most of the cooking for this event.  :)  We come home to eat supper (I always leave some sort of soup cooking in the crock pot), and I give the children their special Christmas Eve present.  Surprise!

9.  Christmas Day:  Santa Claus comes.  We eat a special breakfast and leisurely open our gifts to one another.  We stay in our pajamas all day!  I cook a special mid afternoon meal--steak, shrimp, potatoes, and salad.  Jimmy visits the hospital and takes a little something to the nurses on his floor that have to work that day.  The children play with their new toys and games, and I relax as best I can.

10.  The Elf on the Shelf.  I almost forgot.  We started this elf thing last year just a week before Christmas Day.  That is another blog post. (Or I may have blogged about it last year.  Let me check).

I think that's all.  I send Christmas cards, and I have Christmas dishes that we normally eat on through the month of December.  But I haven't gotten them out yet this year!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 2, 2015


It's December 2, and I flucuate between I AM SO STRESSED OUT PANIC MODE and oh, December is such a lovely month, and I am enjoying all our family traditions.

We enjoyed a fun-filled visit from our two college girls and Julie's roommate, Ellie, for 6 days.  It was delightful to have them home!  We bought our Christmas tree, visited Granmomma, spent Thanksgiving Day in Forest with Mims and Pops and all of my family, decorated the tree, took our Christmas card picture, had Russ and Megan and kids over for supper, and attended the Egg Bowl (and tailgated all day prior to the game).  Whew!  Six packed days!  And I washed and ironed mountains of laundry.  :)

I always give my children a new ornament or two to unwrap as we begin decorating our Christmas tree. This year I included Ellie, and I also added two more fun surprises to their gift bags……a new Christmas t-shirt and a fun holiday-themed fleecy blanket.  The blankets are the perfect weight--not too heavy--and they are so soft!  I also had one more surprise.  An "old-fashioned" popcorn maker.  The kind that you put a little oil and the kernels in the bottom of the maker and plug it in.  In about 5 minutes you have delicious popcorn!  I served that with apple cider and hot chocolate while we decorated the tree. I have served popcorn, cider, and hot chocolate over the years, but always microwaved popcorn.  There is no comparison.  That popcorn was so good!

I actually have an hour and a half right now, before my English students arrive, so I am going to get out my Christmas shopping list and update it as I go through the bags and boxes of items I have already purchased.

Tip for today:
Finalize your online shopping list and order very, very soon!