Sunday, January 22, 2012

Free Family Fun Night

Over the last year or so we, like many other families, have cut back on a lot of luxuries in an effort to save money.  One of the frivolities is going out, whether for dinner, or the movies or some other activity that the kids enjoyed doing that usually involved spending big bucks!  We started having Friday Movie Night at home.  Sometimes we will download a movie on the PS3, other times we will just watch one of the gazillion movies we already own.  We also try to do a fun dinner at the house, that we wouldn't normally have during the week, such as hot dogs over the fire pit (very cheap meal...yet fun family time) or fondue.  But we are always looking for other options for an inexpensive evening out.  One that we have found to be a true winner in our household is the Campfire Movie at Ft. Wilderness (Walt Disney World Resort).  I know it's hard to believe that anything Di$ney related could be free.  Not to worry, there are definitely ways to spend money during this evening out...but it is also possible to have a completely free evening (if you don't count the gas $ spent coming and going).

(we did splurge on a box of popcorn)

Ft. Wilderness Campground is one of Disney's resorts.  They play a Disney movie (rated G or PG) every single night in a big outdoor campfire setting.  They have stadium seating set up in the very back.  They have some "log" style benches in the middle and then they have a big open area for laying blankets down to watch the movie.  Parking is FREE!  Bus ride to the Meadows Trading Post (a.k.a. Campfire) FREE!  Entrance to movie FREE!  Best of all you can bring your own snacks and drinks (or you can purchase some from the snack bar).  You can bring your own Smore's ingredients and roast them over the camp fire (or you can purchase some from the snack bar).

The late Fall/Winter is definitely the best time of year to go.  The crowds are not too big.  The weather is gorgeous.  Plus the movie starts and hour earlier than it does in the Summer months (due to longer daylight hours).  This website lists the months movie schedule so you pick the best movie/date to take the family.  Camp fire is lit at 6:30pm, Chip and Dale perform around 7pm and then the movie starts at 7:40 (times about an hour later in the summer months).

We took the kids on Friday night and saw the movie Brother Bear.  Which was awesome because it had been YEARS since the kids had seen it they didn't even remember what the movie was about.  So it was like taking them to a new release.  We love living this close to Disney.  We have taken advantage of the Campfire movie on a number of occasions and the kids enjoy themselves each time.

(waiting for the bus)

Friday, January 20, 2012


I've been reflecting today.  Reflecting on parenthood.  More specifically, motherhood.  I know all mother's deal with guilt at one time or another, but sometimes I truly feel like I'm on an island.  A friend of mine recently left her full time job to stay at home with her three kids.  I am well aware that although this is the life(being a mom) I have always dreamed of and wouldn't change my "career" for anything in the world, I know that I was raised in this environment so it wasn't a foreign concept to me.  However, so many people were not brought up in a household where Mom was at home through out the day.  So for them to make a decision to stay at home with their kids, it is probably a much bigger struggle.  I decided to write my friend some words of encouragement in her upcoming journey.  And her reply caught me by surprise somewhat.  She called me "Super Mom".  And as I read this I both laughed and cringed at the same time.

Now, I'm not going to lie and I'm going to try to say this without sounding like I'm bragging.  But I've been called this before.  And sure it makes my ego feel good to hear someone say this about me, but in all actuality when I hear this I am secretly rolling my eyes or snorting in sarcasm.  Because when I hear these words said about me, I instantly think "wow, I must really have them fooled if they think I'm a great mom!"  My mind instantly starts replaying the fact that I totally lost my cool with the kids over a dirty sock left in the bathroom, or the dinner of frozen chicken nuggets and canned green beans I fed my family one night or the ginormous pile of clothes waiting to be ironed for the last month and a half.  Even my dear sweet hubby tells me ALL. THE. TIME. what a great mom I am and I just stare at him in disbelief...because he actually lives with me.  He hears me rant and holler over the dirty sock in the bathroom.  He eats the frozen chicken nugget meal with canned green beans.  He digs his clothes out of that massive pile and irons something himself.

So I ask, how do we combat this enormous guilt we are plagued with as mothers?

1. Try to focus on what we HAVE accomplished in a day/week/month:
"Finally, brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report: if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." Philippians 4:8

 2.  Be grateful for each and every situation you are in:
"Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." Philippians 4:4-6

3. Turn to Christ and His Word in our moments of weakness:
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.  Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities that the power of Christ may rest upon me." 2 Corr. 12:9 

 Yes, I will still have days where I feed my family a less than gourmet dinner.  And yes, I will still have days where I go all Archie Bunker on the kiddos.  And you can bet your biscuits there might be a day where I don't invite you in because of the entire contents of our kitchen may still be sitting in the sink with leftover chicken nuggets and canned green beans hardened into a crusty layer.  But, I know that in a few years I will look back upon a quiet/clean house and say thank you Lord for giving me this life.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A note from teacher

On Tuesday, Brady's teacher sent a note home to me.  I don't know about anyone else, but anytime a note comes home that is stapled closed and addressed to "the Parents of Brady Johnson" my heart skips a little beat.

Here is what the letter said:

Mr. and Mrs. Johnson,

I just wanted to take a moment to let you know how proud I am of Brady.  He has been working very hard in reading and math.  As a result he is making steady progress in both areas.  He has a great personality, and I can always count on him to break out the dance moves.

"His Teacher"

And in case you have forgotten how cool his moves are, check out this old post!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Change your blog roll...

Just in case you all didn't realize, Rachel A. has moved to a new blog site.  Please make sure you update her on your list.  Her new blog is also in my sidebar.  It's called Ever Growing.  She's an amazing gal who has some great things on her blog!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

1994 - Eternity

18 years ago I was just 18 years old. 18 years ago I married my soul mate. 18 years ago I envisioned this fantasy of what our marriage would be like. And 18 years later I am living every girls dream! Happy anniversary to my favorite husband in the world...oh wait, he's my one and only!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

16 Week Update

This pregnancy is really flying by!  I had my 16 week checkup this week and everything is going very well.  My OB came in to the exam room with the doppler and listened to the baby's heartbeat for a good amount of time.  Then he said "boy...dark hair...right handed!"  I asked him if this was his official prediction and he laughed and said "Oh those are just a bunch of old wives tales, they don't mean a thing."  So of course that evening I told the kids what the doctor had said and Brady (who has decided he likes being the only boy in the family and wants another sister) said "MAAAANNNN, when I wanted a boy I got a girl.  Now that I want a girl it's going to be a boy!"  I tried to explain to him that the doctor was just being silly and he had no idea if it was a boy or a girl.  But Brady is convinced that since the doctor predicted it to be a boy, then it must be.  We scheduled the BIG ultrasound for January 31.  But don't get your hopes up because we are not going to find out the gender.  We are however, going to check the kids out of school early that day so they can go with us.  I'm trying to post a gender poll on my side bar, if I have any readers left after my long hiatus, feel free to vote.  The big reveal will be sometime in June! :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Flashback Friday

Abbey - 1 1/2 years old

Brady - 1 1/2 years old

Kinley - 1 1/2 years old

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Day 5 of the Daniel Fast

Matthew is doing awesome on the Daniel Fast.  Not only has he not had any caffeine or sugar since Sunday, but he's still been a relatively nice guy to live with (ha ha - no seriously, I haven't seen any grumpiness at all).  And as an added bonus, he's been doing all the dinner time cooking this week.  Matthew LOVES to cook and he is really good at it.  I can only tell you the jist of what he made, because he rarely follows a recipe and just adds stuff here and there as he goes.  Here are the meals we have had so far this week:

Sunday (lunch at church): Roasted potatoes, brussel sprouts with onions and garlic.  The recipe in the book called this a Roasted Potato Salad, but his was more like roasted vegetables (it was not served cold)

Monday: Chipotle Chili - MMMMMMMMM.  This was D-Lish!  Kidney beans, black beans fresh tomatoes and all kinds of good seasonings.  We served these over Tostito brand corn chips which have no other preservatives in them, several of the websites we looked at said these were allowed, but after rethinking it we are pretty sure they are probably fried and not baked.  So if we have this again during the fast period, Matthew will have to leave these off.  This meal was a hit with the kids too.

Tuesday: Whole wheat spaghetti and fresh marinara sauce.  Again made with fresh tomatoes, garlic, onions, peppers, mushrooms, basil and I'm sure some other stuff that I'm leaving out.  We did put butter on mine and the kids pasta, but Matthew went sans butter!  The kids devoured it.  It was Uh-May-ZING! 

Wednesday: Leftovers.

Thursday: Stuffed bell peppers made with black beans and whole grain brown rice.  Matthew and I thought they were very good, the kids however were not big fans of the peppers.  But they "choked" it down and got two desserts for their efforts! :)

I have to say...I was not looking forward to the brown rice and whole wheat pasta.  But so far the meals have been great.  I can see ourselves making the switch (maybe not 100% of the time) to whole grain/wheat for the future.  If you want more details on any of these recipes, let me know and I will be happy to try and pin Matthew down on the specifics!  Happy Healthy Eating Ya'll!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Fellow Bloggie...Check it out!

One of my dearest friends is this amazing photographer.  She has recently decided to further pursue her amazing talent.  If you live in the Lakeland area and need a photographer, check her out.  You can see her blog/portfolio here and also keep updated on her new stuff by clicking on her blog link in my side bar.  We are going to have her do some family pictures as well as some newborn pictures as soon as the newest member of the family arrives.  You can be certain I will be sharing those with you all this summer.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Relationship Status...

Dear 6 a.m.

We have been in a very committed relationship for the last 4 months.  I realize you must feel like I have abandoned you over the last two weeks.  But I just want to say, it's not you it's me.  I needed to take some time to regroup, reorganize and reevaluate our relationship.  Although I may have spent a lot of time with 8 a.m. and even flirted with 9 a.m. a couple of times, you were never far from my mind.  However, after this two week hiatus from our relationship, I have come to the realization that I do in fact still need you.  So if you could please forgive me for putting you on the back burner temporarily.  I would greatly appreciate you not taking your hurt and anger out on me anymore.  I will be honest and admit that I don't know if I am ready for a long term relationship with you, but for now I know you are what I need.

Your Faithful Companion

Monday, January 2, 2012

The Daniel Fast

Matthew has decided to participate in a popular Christian fast known as the Daniel Fast.  This is NOT a diet to lose weight.  It is an opportunity to commit yourself spiritually through prayer.  The Daniel Fast is based on the book of Daniel in which a number of young men are brought to King Nebuchadnezzar's palace to live for a period of three years.  During these three years in the pagan palace these men "receive a set amount of food and wine from the king's table.  However, Daniel resolves not to defile himself by partaking of the royal food."  He requests to eat only fruits and vegetables and drink water only.  Because Daniel stood up for what he believed, the Lord granted Daniel with special insight and knowledge as well as the ability to understand dreams and visions (Daniel 1:17).  Many years later Daniel is still receiving the visions from the Lord and in Daniel 10, he receives a particular vision that disturbs him greatly and he goes into a state of mourning (which is also known as fasting) for a period of three weeks.  In this chapter it speaks of the "diet" he ate during this period of time when he prayed vigilantly to the Lord for not his own needs, but for the people that he loved.  This is where the Daniel Fast comes into play.  The theory behind fasting is that when your body is hungered or craving a particular food it is a physical reminder to stop and pray.  Matthew has asked me to participate with him and although I support him in his desire to embark on this journey, I will not be joining him fully.  There are several reasons for me not taking on this challenge.  #1 being pregnant, although this is a very healthy food list, I feel like I would not be able to get the adequate calories and nutrition needed. and #2 I think this requires a strong spiritual desire that I don't feel I have been burdened with at this time.  I feel like if I were to commit to this fully, I would be doing it for the wrong reasons (because Matthew asked me) and not because I have a very specific need or desire to be in that spiritual frame of mind.  But since I want to support Matthew in his goal, I have agreed to help him prepare meals for the whole family to enjoy at dinner time.  I will not eat or drink anything from the "no no" list in front of him.

He is using the book pictured below as his guide/cookbook.  The basic idea of the diet is a vegan diet only more restrictive.  A vegan diet consists of any fruits and vegetables and any food that does not contain any animal products.  So no meat or dairy.  The fast goes a step further and says no artificial sweeteners or preservatives as well as no enriched grains of any kind.  And since Daniel drank only water, that eliminates all other, soda, tea etc.  This is where most people suffer the most.  I know I for one can not eliminate the small amount of caffeine I am able to drink.  Weak, I know...but I'm just being honest.  Over the next couple of weeks I will keep you all updated on Matthew's progress.  I will also post some of the recipes that we try.  Yesterday (January 1st) was day 1.  And it did make Matthew physically ill not having had any caffeine.  However today, he has felt much better.  I know there will probably be a few more days of him feeling the withdrawals, but in the end I think he will be amazed at his physical health as well as his spiritual health.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year!

Long time no post, I know.  Things have been crazy hectic.  I enjoy reading all the blogs I follow, but just finding the time/energy to actually write something on my own has been on the bottom of the to do list.

2011 was filled with many shocks/surprises both good and bad.  Just after the kids started back to school, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I have not written about it up until now as it has been a very difficult thing to accept.  The Lord has answered many prayers on her behalf and although she is enduring a very trying treatment schedule, her prognosis is the best we could have hoped for.  Please continue to keep her and my dad in your prayers.

In October, we also received some very shocking news (for those who have not heard yet).  We are expecting our fourth child.  After the initial shock wore off, we were overwhelmed with excitement at the blessing we have been given.  So much of our married life had been spent trying to conceive and dealing with losses.  And now to have the Lord give us another child is...well...overwhelming to say the least.  For the first time in my life I can say, without hesitation our family is complete (come mid-June).  I look back and recall many days/nights I questioned why I had such a burden for children if it was not the Lord's desire for us to have any(more).  I prayed he would remove that burden from my heart and give me peace.  When we finally had Kinley, people would often ask if she was the last one.  My answer was usually "I'm not sure, I guess we'll just see if the Lord sends us anymore."  Even though deep down I felt like with all we went through to have her, more than likely no more children were in our future.  I didn't have that same aching and yearning for more children after Kinley was born, but I was never able to say with certainty that our family was complete.  But the Lord not only gave us this special surprise baby but he also gave me that peace that I had been seeking and praying for.  The Lord always answers prayers.  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it's no and sometimes it is not yet.

As we start this new year, we have much to be thankful for and much to look forward to.  My mom's chemo treatments should end sometime in mid April.  After that she will begin radiation treatments.  And right around the time she finishes her final radiation treatment her seventh grandchild will be born.  I am confident the Lord will continue to provide us all that we need in 2012.  My prayer for you all is that the Lord is ever present in your lives as well.