Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

We've let the kids in on a little secret this year - they've never actually stayed up until midnight on New Year's Eve. We've always lied and told them it was midnight when it was actually anywhere between 8:00 and 9:30. A few years ago there was a party at an outdoor hockey rink that we went to and we left at 9:00 and told the kids it turned midnight when we were in the car. We did the countdown and everything and the kids rolled down their windows and yelled "Happy New Year" at the top of their lungs to anyone who would listen. They were in bed by 10:00.

But this year they are wise to the whole plot so they are watching the clock. I think they're bored and tired and probably want to go to bed (I want to go to bed) but we are determined to see 2009 come in. We'll all be in bed by 12:07.

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Happy Birthday Sam!

My baby boy is TWELVE years old today! I can't believe it! He has a mustache and he's almost as tall as me, and soon enough, his voice will change. I found a note in his pocket when I was doing laundry written in pink ink that said, "Will you go out with me? Yes or no." It's so like Sam to just shove it in his pocket and forget about it, meanwhile some girl is spending her whole holiday break wondering what the hell he's thinking. This is his last year of childhood, then it's on to teenage-hood. Boo hoo!

Happy Birthday Sam! I love you to the moon and back again!

Monday, December 29, 2008


Today Sam was helping Mitch outside hauling a power washer into the shed. He was pushing it and it was really heavy. Mitch said that if he pulled it instead, it wouldn't be so hard on the ole' nutsack. Sam said, "It's okay, Dad, it's not that big yet."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yesterday in the car Sam and Kira were talking about Sam's pet crayfish. Sam and Kira both caught a bunch of crayfish in August in Rainy Lake. Two of Sam's are still alive and living in an aquarium in his room. They eat lunchmeat. One is named Cheesecurds and the other is named Fries. Sam used to have three of them, but one day one was gone. We still don't know where it went. I suppose it climbed out of the aquarium and got away, but we can't find it anywhere. It is probably living in the toilet, growing more and more every day until sometime in the dead of night it will emerge and kill us all. Anyhoo.... Kira had a few crayfish that she kept alive for a while, but most of them died because she left them out in the sun, and her last one, Bad Eye Guy, died in September. Sam asked how Bad Eye Guy died because he couldn't remember, and Kira got a far away stare on her face and said in a sing-song voice, "Bad Eye Guy died... he died a long time ago..." She scares me sometimes.

Third graders

Kira tells me that her school is haunted. Many many years ago, in the olden days (the seventies) a kid died in the boy's bathroom and now he haunts it. He bit her friend Austin in the arm one day. No kidding! There are two janitors at Kira's school. They are both old (in Kira's eyes) but Randy is nice because he has a horn on his trashcan, and Bob is not so nice because he never talks and he is the one who always gets called to clean up puke. Apparently Bob IS the ghost. He died in the bathroom when he was a kid. This story went through school for a few days and then some brave kid actually asked Bob if it was true. Bob told them that he is not the ghost, Randy is. Randy was once Bob's baby and he died when Bob brought him to work one day, and now he came back as an old man ghost and he helps Bob, his dad, with his work. (morbid) I don't know if this is all true, seeing that this version of the story is coming to me through about 15 third graders, but it is interesting, isn't it?

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nyquil hangover

I have the worst cold in the world. I feel like I'm breathing through a coffee stirrer, my throat feels like I drank lava (HOT lava). I took Nyquil last night because I LOVE Nyquil. I took the recommended dose, one full dosage cup, but I think it was too much because I still feel it and it does NOT feel good the day after. I think that particular dosage must really be for a 350 pound alcoholic with the metabolism of a hummingbird. It feels like when I was sleeping someone took out my lungs and stuffed dirty, soggy dishrags in them, and while they were out my rib cage got run over by a bus with tire chains on it. My brain feels like it was injected with Novacaine and today my whole body feels like your lip feels when the Novacaine starts wearing off. I feel like I look like this:

No, it's worse than that, it's this:

Nyquil must be a gateway drug because I can't wait until bedtime to take more.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ghost Mustache

We drove up to I.Falls today for Christmas with the Lindahls. I was playing my iPod through the radio and Unwritten by Natasha Bedingfield came on. I downloaded this for Kira a while ago because I want her to listen to empowering lyrics, you know, positive stuff to encourage her to be all that she can be and all that. Well, Kira doesn't understand the lyrics to Unwritten. Here's what they actually are:

Staring at the blank page before you
Open up the dirty window
Let the sun illuminate the words that you could not find

Reaching for something in the distance

So close you can almost taste it
Release your inhibitions..... blah blah blah

Kira thought the one line was: Reaching for "the gho -ost mustache"

That changes the whole song! It's no longer empowering as much as it is confusing. Then Take a Walk On the Wild Side by Lou Reed came on. She heard those lyrics loud and clear and had lots of questions. Here's the lyrics:

Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybodys darling
But she never lost her head

Even when she was given head

She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side

Thankfully, she directed her questions to Sam, who is just as clueless of the many rich and varied meanings of "head" as she is. Sam thinks it probably means that she punched someone in the head, and while she was in the fight, she didn't lose her head and get punched herself.

Sam also said that he got some gum in his stocking this morning that "is so minty it's painful." I tried some. It is. It feels like taking a straight shot of vodka and it also makes diet coke taste like silly putty. I don't recommend it, but my breath is still fresh, so maybe I should recommend it.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Hockey is in full swing again. Kira is playing this year, but Sam isn't. (To me this means there's half as many games I have to avoid) He couldn't get permission from the Duluth Amateur Hockey Association to play for Hermantown, where he goes to school, (stupid) and he's really not that into it anymore anyway. They start checking in Pee Wees anyway so I think he would have hated that. Not very safety conscious. Last year when his team won the championship they were all so happy that they pig piled in the middle of the ice. Sam skated around and watched until the last player jumped on, and then he went and casually leaned on the pile for a few seconds just to be a part of it. That was enough.

Kira is playing for the neighborhood team again and Mitch is coaching so I'll probably have lots of good stories to tell because those kids are nuts. There is a boy named Dylan on her team, and he is super cute, super scrawny, and pretty wild and obnoxious. This year he's also a bit of a second grade ladies man. There was a new girl in the warming house the other day. She took off her helmet and she has a fuzzy face. She's really blond and she has kind of a peach fuzz beard. Dylan noticed right away and Mitch was thinking he was going to watch Dylan point out the beard, and then get beaten to a pulp by the girl, but Dylan went right up to her, softly rubbed her cheek and said, "This means you have lots of friends."

Monday, December 22, 2008

This one is gross

Our house smells like shit. The septic tank is seeping gas into the house because of all the snow on the roof. Apparently (and I don't understand the mechanics of it) it should go out the roof, and if it doesn't, it should go out the top of the tank outside, but that is also covered with a ton of snow and there's no seepage out there. So it is coming out a pipe in the basement and Mitch's quick fix is to put duct tape over the opening but if someone takes an especially hot shower (which we all do because the house is so cold because the FURNACE DOESN'T WORK) the tape BLOWS off. Mitch tells me that the top layer of sludge in the tank gets all heated up and the gas expands and has to go somewhere so it comes in my basement. How disgusting is that? It's just a smell, but I think it has psychoactive side effects. I normally love my house with all it's quirks and everything, but when it stinks like this, I want to slosh it with gas, light a match and walk away.

Yesterday, right after I took a scalding shower, the furnace guy called and said he could come over and look at the furnace. He'd be over in two minutes. I was mortified because I didn't want the furnace man to think the smell was from ME and wonder about my eating habits. I prodded Mitch to explain about the vent/hot shower problem, but he brushed it off like "who cares what this guy thinks, he's a dopey 20 year old kid who probably doesn't even notice." I wouldn't care what this kid thought of me in most situations, and I wouldn't bother to set him straight if he thought I was even as bad as a serial murderer, but to have him think that I could take a poop and fill an entire house with home-perm/public-gas-station-restroom-stench was too much so I had to go down there and act all casual and friendly, "Hi... How's it going? Do you smell that? Yeah, it's our septic tank, it's not venting properly. It's totally nothing I did, you know, personally..... okay? okay... so .... Lots of snow huh! Yeah, we'll be shoveling alot....." and then wander away. I don't want to be known down at Curtis Oil as "Stink Lady" or something worse.

Today I got Mitch to go out for coffee and we went to Home Depot and got a cap for the pipe opening and tomorrow morning I'm planning to dig out the outside vents. Hopefully that will fix it or I might end up going to jail for arson.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Things Kira thinks about when it's quiet in the car

Today, she said, "If I had to carry a rock around with me for the rest of my life, I would hope it was a really small rock."

Which got me thinking of things like this she's said in the past:

"What if there was a truck on the road that said 'wide load' on it, and you stopped it and all it had in it was one little hot dog?"

"If there was a gate that said, 'Keep Out' and it was made of french fries, what would happen if you ate it?"

"If I had a rock band, it would be called the Invaders, and We. Would. Rock."

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Early Christmas

We had our Johnson family Solstice/Christmas celebration tonight. The kids had a FANTASTIC time. Sam got an R/C motorcycle that has a "gyrowheel" and he's ecstatic about it. Here's a conversation Sam and Mitch had about it on the way home in the car:

Sam - It was so nice of Grandma and Grandpa to get me the number one brand of remote control motorcycle!
Mitch - How do you know it's the number one brand?
Sam - Because it says so on the box.
Mitch - Don't you think all the boxes might say that?
Sam - No, I saw a commercial for this one and I know it was true because it was live.

Kira got a snow globe that she loves and is sure is handblown. She also got a very beautiful glass paper weight with dolphins in it. It's ironic that the klutziest, most hyper kid in the world is crazy for glass breakables. Seems kind of masochistic. They aren't broken yet. I'm giving them a week.

When we got home we discovered our roof vent is blocked because of the ridiculous amount of snow we are getting, so sewer gas is seeping out of one of the basement drains. Also our furnace stopped working, AGAIN so we got the wood stoves going, and and poured lots of water down the drain where the gas comes in, and now the house is warming up and there are just subtle undertones of the shit stench. Idyllic holiday night.

Here's Mitch while were opening presents. I might make it my Christmas card next year.

Friday, December 19, 2008


I was looking through pictures today and I came across pictures of our trip to California. If you ask Sam what he did in California, he'll tell grand tales of battling the big waves with his surfboard. Here's what that looked like.

As I've said, Sam is a very cautious person but that doesn't stop him from trying new and dangerous things. He just does it carefully. Occasionally the water would come up far enough to lap up over the surfboard and gently refresh the belly of the dog that was keeping him company.

Then I came across this picture.

There was a park where we would go and feed geese and pigeons. Kira caught this bird on the fly. Seriously, it was flying and she grabbed it out of the air and proceeded to cuddle it until it was, I can only imagine, begging for death. That same day Sam and I were sitting on a bench when the geese started going into a feeding frenzy. We got scared and put our legs up and were starting to panic. Out of nowhere, Kira flew in and kicked the most menacing goose right in the breast hard enough to make a satisfying thumping sound and she told us that we needed to let them know who is boss. They backed off right away.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Caution is My Middle Name

I haven't really told a lot of stories about Sam yet. He is just so nice, and quiet, and sweet, and normal (most of the time) that he sometimes falls into the shadow of Kira's over-the-top craziness. He is also very crafty, and VERY careful. The picture to the left is him building a tree house at my sister Amy's cabin. He looked and looked for a tree to build it in, and then finally decided that putting an amateur-built dwelling in an unstable tree was just plain dangerous so he decided to make his "tree house" on the ground. It's under the deck right now.

A few years ago there was a party at school. There was a limbo game. As usual, Sam approached it with caution. Here's the kid that went under the stick before him.

Now here's Sam, after analyzing the situation, taking the safest route. My favorite part of this is that he turned his head so it takes up less space between the ground and the limbo stick.

Kira Gets Her Way

This blog has started me organizing all my pictures. It seems like it will take forever, but I'm finding some good stuff that's reminding me of funny stories. This picture was taken when Kira was five and she decided to teach herself to ride her bike with no training wheels. While I was taking the training wheels off, she got her hockey helmet, (you know, just in case) and then she started. She isn't a person with a lot of patience and perseverance so luckily she was able to ride in just a few minutes. Then she decided that she needed to be able to turn around at the end of the driveway. She couldn't do it. She tried and tried, but couldn't make a sharp enough turn and she kept running off into the yard. She was inconsolable, I mean crying so hard that she was almost hyperventilating and her face was beet red. I finally convinced her to take a break, I said, "Do you want to come in the house and get a drink and cool off? What do you think would help you relax?" To which she said, through blubbering tears, "How about an accordion?"

Here's her at Christmas later that year.

Location, Location, Location

This is one of my all-time favorite pictures of my kids. They built a pretend ice cream truck out of a huge cardboard box, and they each had a window to sell things out of. Sam decided to park the truck so Kira's window was against a wall. She didn't get much business and was mad about it. Sam was like,"Well, what are you gonna do? That's business!"

Hands Off Ladies, He's Taken!

I was emptying the dishwasher this morning and the spaghetti scooper was in there again. It's in there almost every time I empty it. So I asked Mitch why and he said, "Oh, sometimes I scratch my back with it." He's so classy. I think I read in Emily Post once that when one uses a kitchen utensil to scratch one's back, it's only polite to wash it in the dishwasher afterward.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Yesterday Kira came home from school and told me that she needed to tell me the funniest story in the WORLD, but in order to tell the story, she needed to swear. She said her class was lined up and walking through the hall where they met up with another class going the other way, and they all happened to be right next to the bathrooms that yet another class was using. There was a hallway traffic jam, and Kira heard a kid ask, "What does A.C. stand for?" (Apparently he was reading a sign by the janitor's closet) and another kid felt inspired and yelled out, "Ass Care!" and the entire hallway full of kids broke down in hysterics. Kira included. She's still laughing about it.

Cold Enough For Ya?

Mitch says to me today, "It's pretty warm out this afternoon." It was zero degrees. It's the kind of cold that makes your lungs hurt when you breathe it and makes your neck cramp up from shivering before the car warms up, and he says "It's pretty warm..." Does he have a high threshold for pain or is he merely delusional?

I heard a doctor on the news this morning talking about the cold and if it's dangerous (because apparently there are other delusional Minnesotans running around dressed like it's Indian Summer) and he said, "Of course it's dangerous. We're 60% water and water freezes at 32 degrees."

Thank you doctor. I knew I was right.

My New Buddy

This is my new friend, Birdie. She was originally named Zazu Lee by her last owner, who also thought she was male. I've been researching cockatiels and she is obviously female by the noises she makes and her behavior. (I really sound like I know what I'm talking about, don't I?) She is five years old and we got her from an ad on Craig's List.

Kira and Sam are desperate to have her love them, so of course, she doesn't. She gives them the occasional hiss and sidles away from their probing fingers as fast as she can sidle. (which is pretty cute) The kids have grown up enough now where they can be trusted to be alone with a pet. I can trust Kira around Birdie now, unlike when she was two and I left her alone with my parakeet Carl, and she put shoes on her hands and clapped him. Hopefully Birdie will never get shoe-clapped.

Birdie absolutely loves Mitch. She squeaks whenever she sees him or hears his voice. She flies to him if she is feeling especially brave, and when she is on his shoulder, she smashes her feathery body right next to his face and grooms his beard, his hair, and if she's quick enough, the occasional nose hair. She likes me enough, but nothing like she loves Mitch. All I do is clean her cage, feed her, groom her and entertain her. I'm like her mother. Mitch is like a superstar.

A Picture Says a Thousand Words