Friday, February 20, 2015

Welcome back!

What can I say? I'm guilty of keeping you all in high suspense for more than a year now. Oh wait, it's only been four months or so. Well, call me the Annual Blogger anyway.

That doesn't mean nothing's happening or that I am totally unable to think any more. Lots of things are happening, and I am still able to do sixth grade math, so all is not lost.

I have actually kept a short list of blog fodder, things like:

My review of ACE (admittedly not applied according to the instructions.)

One great benefit of testing (hindsight from someone who does as little testing as possible.)

Piano lessons by coercion. (Long-ago but not too long ago quote from coerced child, "​​Making kids pay for piano lessons they don't want to take is like making people pay for Obamacare." Ouch. She had a point! The child's appeal was approved.)

The fact that sometimes when your kid feels tortured because you are making her do the "hard thing", she has no idea that you are being tortured right along with her.

And the fact tha​t it can be difficult to discern whether your children are growing up or growing out.

And how forcing my kids (and myself) to fulfill a commitment to a public speaking co-op many years ago was one of the best mom decisions I ever made.

And what, exactly, are the fine lines between "dating" and "courtship" and "friendship". (Somebody tell me, does that period belong inside the quote mark or outside?)

And how being in the ministry is making me an introvert. (I don't think that's what's supposed to happen.)

And how much I love my husband. You're a very good man, Mr. Diamonds-in-the-Rough.

And how, at the moment, I am really fighting the fleshly discontented-with-winter-and-really-looking-forward-to-spring bug, even though winter really hasn't been too bad this year.

How did this get in here? Having a flashback.

And how much I still appreciate this blog post right HERE, even though we've been doing this for years and years.

So you see I do still think about things. I just don't write everything down any more.

Aren't we all growing up?!

I'll be back, maybe even before 2015 comes to a close...
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning.
James 1:17

For I am the LORD, I change not.
Malachi 3:6

Thursday, November 27, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving Day to each and every one! It's a wonderful day here in the Johnson house. We began our Thanksgiving dinner with prayer and a verse of "Thank You, Lord". The roast (yes, ROAST BEEF) filled the house with fabulous olfactory stimulation. It's been a few years since we have had a roast, and wow, maybe it won't be quite so long before the next one! There was something special on the table for everyone: for Pastor J, the roast and gravy; for Alison, the sweet potato and marshmallow thing; for Amy, my mom's glazed carrots and my famous make-ahead mashed potatoes; for Betz, pineapple cole slaw; and for Emily, homemade bread that didn't make it to the table. (It's hard to make bread when one is out of yeast. I thought I had some in a clear bag in the freezer. Turns out the content of said bag are a mystery ingredient.) There was no bread, but there was a free apple pie from Costco and some ice cream to top it off. 

After dinner, my sweet husband presented all of us ladies with a beautifully written card, and gifts, too, for the girls. I never have anything meaningful for him. :(  So I am working on something for next year already. That is a secret, since he reads this blog (when there is something to read.) 

It's so nice to have everyone home today. ♥ Those of us who are home-bodies (that would be Betz and Em and I) have especially missed Alie, because she is gone so much of the time. When she is not at work or teaching violin or hanging out at work after her shift, and not hidden away in her room using her iPhone, she is a whirlwind of joy and happiness, so her absence is noticed. Pastor J is working loooong hours, which has messed up our normal supper schedule; and we never know if our beloved Amy will be home for supper. So it was very good to have everyone around the table laughing together today. 

Things have sure changed over the years. I no longer have a child or two who says each year that she is thankful for a warm bed and blankets. The things the girls appreciate now are things like good preaching, personally meaningful Bible verses, co-workers, missionary friends, laughter, and Caribou Coffee. 
Um, yeah, the tree trunk is the wrong color, but it's okay. And yeah, the leaves are all falling off, but autumn is over in MN anyway. Our leaves have all fallen and blown to the next state. We really need to have Thanksgiving tree branches with snowflakes on them instead of leaves--hey, there's an idea for next year.
Personally, I am especially grateful to the Lord this year for my wonderful husband. He knows that love is a VERB and not a FEELING, and he practices every single day.  I am grateful to him for taking "for better or for worse" seriously, and never giving up on me. I am grateful for the Lord putting my husband into the ministry, and for the things that God teaches us together over the years. I am also thankful today for the remnant of brain tissue that remains in my head, for dirty dishes and laundry, and for snow. And later this evening, I will be really thankful for an afternoon nap... 

Bless the Lord for his unfailing mercy, grace, and love.

Charge them that are rich in this world, 
that they be not highminded,
nor trust in uncertain riches,
but in the living God,
who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;
1 Timothy 6:17

Sunday, September 21, 2014

As one daughter posted recently, "How many newspapers in the country get a column on how to be saved?!" It's a blessing that the local paper where our church meets invites area pastors to contribute a regular column. We see many "Focus on Faith" articles about being a nice person and about life's problems, but never one about how to be eternally saved--unless my pastor husband wrote it. In this geographical area that is steeped with religion, maybe the pastors think everyone is safe from judgment, so they don't bother to address that. Or maybe the pastors don't tell how to be saved because they don't know how. The fact is, lots of people here, probably the majority, are leaning on their baptism. That's convenient--baptismal regeneration eliminates the discomfort of repentance and a personal relationship with the Savior, Jesus Christ. It also doesn't produce any new creatures whose "old things have passed away." Christ's name is well-known here, but is He?

LEAD pastor, mind you. Now that is funny! :)

And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region.
Acts 13:49

Friday, July 4, 2014

July Stuff

Oh my there is so much to record, and I never get around to it. Blogging is a time-consuming effort, but totally worth it when I see the happiness it brings to my kids. They just love to read my old posts. Too bad I don't write more often. I'm only about three years behind...

Today is Independence Day, 2014. As I stepped into the shower and thanked God for hot water (again), I also thanked him for this nation. In spite of all the horrible things that are happening in the U.S. of A., I am still grateful to live here and to have the liberties that I do have. The trouble is not all the U.S. government's fault --  if we humans would just govern ourselves, we wouldn't have half the trouble that we do. As long as people want a right to do whatever their flesh desires with no accountability, and as long as they say, "Don't judge me," (translation --"Let me sin in peace!"), we're going to have trouble. God didn't say not to judge; he said to judge righteous judgment. How do we know what is the righteous standard is that Jesus Christ talked about?  I'll give you a hint. The Bible is where you'll find that standard of righteousness. Why do most people believe same-sex "marriage" or abortion or any number of other evils is wrong? Because it's wrong. God said so. But some people don't want even GOD telling them what to do. And that is a big problem for all of us.

Okay, end of unfinished soapbox moment.

We've done lots of projects, and we've left a lot more undone. I learned to make some pretty good bread without even using the bread machine. Betz started an online math class. We went to family camp in Missouri. Amy is becoming an awesome early childhood education expert. Alison was promoted to Culvers management and is now teaching violin lessons in three towns. We planted a vegetable garden and decorated the front step with some potted flowers. Emily started a quilt. We went on a train ride. I cultured (and shared!) real live, Russian kefir for several months. Mr Diamonds started a job. I started another blog (silly me.) The floors got mopped. But both girls' bedrooms need paint and some cheery decor. The top of the kitchen cupboards needs scrubbing. The fridge needs cleaning out. ...Eh, it's not going anywhere.

Today was another project day. Our poor, cheaply upholstered piano bench, which is assembled and disassembled and hauled to church every week, was really looking pathetic. I fixed it this morning with less than $1.50 and a borrowed staple gun. Put that in the pile of projects that I have looked at for months, thinking, "I should fix that."  Another one of those projects was moving the sewing table downstairs and the piano upstairs, along with our big desk. And cleaning out under the basement stairs. Thankfully we have Amy. She's great at tackling those formidable things. She does it cheerfully and completely. Love that kid!  

Speaking of Amy, she is graduate #2 in this family, hooray!  But she deserves her own post about all that.

Remember this project
Well, it didn't work. The spray adhesive didn't stick to the foam, not one bit. I think we used Elmer's spray adhesive the first time. As a result, the board and print flopped behind the sewing table for the past two years, gathering dust. Last night Amy dragged me to OfficeMax for new prints, and to Target and WalMart for a different aerosol adhesive that would stick to foam. The dusty old print went in the trash, having been scratched and smeared the first time through. Amy cut the insulation board down using a hand saw, leaving the rough edges. Then she painted the edges with $.97 black craft paint and waited impatiently for it to dry (approx. 20 min). Next step, she sprayed the back of the print and one side of the foam board, then carefully lay the print down, smoothing out the air bubbles with a rolling pin. A couple hours later (or less) here's the finished product:
Might cut that larger border down and repaint, but otherwise it's all good! Except I might change my mind about which wall we want these on, especially if we find a free, small couch or comfy love seat for the other corner of that room. It's so cool have these professional-looking prints for a small fraction of the price.

Next project, that blog header. I'll be back.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Apology to self for my disappearance.  I was going to change my blog decor, got distracted while it was still a mess, and forgot I had unpublished myself.  Here we are still in a mess and since it's late at night, it will stay that way for a while.  Looks like my blog housekeeping and my house housekeeping share a common trait.  After all, the mess isn't going anywhere...

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Brief Announcement

Those of you who are local, I have started an additional blog endeavor, The Garden Gazette.  This is the blog of the Cambridge Community Garden.  Come by and see what's happening this season!  (Looks like it's time to change out that snowman header, yay!)

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Man-sized English muffins
On the back of the Gold Medal unbleached flour bag there is a recipe for a no-knead artisan loaf you can put together in five minutes. Since my bread machine bit the dust quite some time ago, I have been using that recipe, slightly altered (because I always alter recipes), for weeks now. When we were growing up Mom always had some sort of rolls on the supper table, or at least I remember it that way. Supper just doesn't seem like it is complete unless we have our habitual bread with it. I know, it's filler, right? And my body could really do without it. 

But the other day I ran across this variation of their basic flour bag recipe on the Bread in 5 website  -- griddle-baked English muffins

Had to try 'em.

As you can see above, only four fit in my 10" skillet. (They really aren't yellow -- that's my camera, sorry.) These are MAN-SIZE English muffins! That wasn't the recipe's fault, but mine. I sort of forgot the dough would grow while the unbaked muffins were resting on my counter top. I used a wide-mouth canning ring to cut them, getting only 8 English muffins out of what would normally be a nice sized loaf of bread. So these are like 4-5" in diameter. Unlike the shrimpy Thomases English muffins, there is no problem getting these babies out of the toaster!
Whoops, sorry, I tore off a piece before taking the photo.
I am wondering what I will be filling my days with after all my kids are grown.  I won't be an expert at anything, but maybe I will have at least tried lots of things.  :)

I think for my next trick I will be making this apple strudel bread. Or maybe not. It does feel futile to bake for a family of six. But I love them... and I love bread, too.  Okay, you talked me into it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

April 29th. Yes. It is STILL snowing here. The scenery has not changed much since the last time I used this photo. It's been a popular one with me this season. Okay, we do have some grass greening up now, and the trees are starting to bud, and I have seen a few bugs out. But it will be snowing, or at least raining, for the rest of the week. 

So we decided we would go do something that every other mom in our town is probably thinking of doing this week, too, and that is swimming at the local motel pool. We are hoping all the other moms are planning to take their kids later in the week, and we'll go today.  

So we drive the 1.1 miles to the motel and behold, disappointment! A sign on the door says the pool and hot tub are closed until further notice. Can you imagine being a ten year old, beside yourself with anticipation, and making this discovery? Life is cruel.

We are fortunate to have another motel 15 miles away, another one that has public swimming hours. But they open later. On the phone they don't sound nearly as friendly, but we'll sneak in there in a bit and get three good hours of swimming in before the federal school, lets out. 

News:  Betz is now wearing glasses, much to her discomfort. She is very cute in them, but you know how it is when you feel conspicuous. Amy is graduating this spring and even though I knew that, the event has kind of snuck up on me. I need to at least order some announcements. Emily has joined the Junior Master Gardener Program for our county. Not sure what that entails yet, but I hope it instills in her a love for growing things. I discovered, or maybe rediscovered, the Project Based Homeschool website and book. I always seem to come across these things in the spring, and then by the next fall I'll be back to ordering very "box"-conforming textbooks for school. I'm hoping that will change this year. It can change. I can change. I can, I can. Lord willing, I will change.

Time to go swimming. Hopefully the pool will be empty. :)

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