I don't know about any of you, but this past month I've had just enough extra time to breathe! I'm embarrassed about my lack of postings, but then again, life must not revolve around my computer! We've done so many fun things this month: Riding the Santa Train, Christmas Eve Service with ALL THREE involved singing (go figure!)..., Christmas morning (thanks to Kjer and Brett, a WII!!!!). We've had so much High School Musical I could.......actually, I roam around all day singing the songs. I will try to upload picts from today's family fun day: Snow tubing in the mountains! Kenton is such a nut about snow, he's even willing to wear duct tape gloves. :) And tomorrow, we hop on Amtrak for an early morning ride to Portland. Picts to come. I promise to be better!
Monday, December 31, 2007
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Those of you who know me really well know the past year living here in Maple Valley, WA has been a "learning experience." There are many times I feel like we live in the boonies, pretty far from civilization. The nearest Target is 20-25 min. away (okay, I'm a brat), the nearest Super Walmart is 30 min. away, and there is no Aldi or Hobby Lobby in the entire state. I find myself at home much more often than not (yeah, it's a good thing..) I am pleased to report, however, I've found a new place to get my haircut (a not-so-easy task when a girl moves to a new area): this fabulous salon called "Cosmetique" located in a manufactured home within a mile of our house. I pass this sign almost every day, and I'm SO TEMPTED to make an EVENING APPOINTMENT. At least it always gives me a little out loud chuckle. Today, I finally had my camera with me in the car. I thought you'd enjoy it. Now, granted, not all the salons here look like this. In fact, there are some pretty nice ones around. I'm just partial to this one. :)
Posted by gretchen at 1:18 PM
Saturday, December 15, 2007
I took this pict just last week. The boys worked extra hard to finish their homework early, clean their room, and got to stay up an extra 1/2 hour to watch Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Remember those days when you were a kid? The three snuggled up on the couch and had such a fun time. I tried not to blink. I know I will blink and next they'll be teenagers and then I'll blink and they'll be all grown up. I just love these times.
Posted by gretchen at 5:37 PM
Saturday, December 8, 2007
Wow. How can it already be 7 years ago we recieved the gift of you, Samuel! I remember getting the call that you were ready to be picked up. What joy! Another boy! I immediately thought how cool it would be to have two boys, brothers and friends forever. We gathered up our stuff in less than 2 weeks and flew with Isaac to Bogota to recieve you. The next morning Carlos drove us to FANA, the same place we recieved Isaac 2 years earlier. They brought you out, an adorable chunkola, full of soft black hair (we had to take you for your first haircut at 7 weeks old!) busting out of the bottom of your outfit. You were such a happy pirate from the start! Grandpa Gord and Aunt Kjerstin came a week later to meet you and spend Christmas with us in Colombia. It was a dangerous time in the country, so we mostly stayed in the hotel and enjoyed getting to know you. We had no idea if we would have to stay 8 weeks or 2 weeks. Thankfully, our paperwork was done in record time and we got to travel home in only 3 weeks.
We love you so much and are thankful for the gift of you! You have grown into such a great young boy with a tender heart for the things of God. You are the first to defend your sister whatever she may be doing. God surely planned you for our family! We always needed a happy pirate.
Posted by gretchen at 11:12 AM
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
As I'm at home cleaning the house so babysitters can come tonight, I had a couple of thoughts. I was wondering if there are any of you out there who experience these funny things:
1. I have to scrub down and sanitize the ACTUAL SOAP DISPENSER in the bathroom, because it is black with dirt and grime. How does that happen on a soap dispenser?
2. Sometimes I even get out "company soap". Has anyone ever heard of this? No kids are allowed to use it. It's sometimes called "adult soap". (sounds naughty, eh?)
3. Why do I find candy wrappers under the beds when we ate through our Halloween candy weeks ago? (I know what you are saying. "I can't believe she lets her kids eat candy in bed." FYI: I don't. :)
4. I wait until I see company DRIVE UP THE DRIVEWAY to wipe the yellow off the toilet. (and then I forbid any boy from going potty until they are gone.) :)
5. Even though I wipe the family table down at least 3 times a day, why do I need a power washer to get down to the wood before company comes? And have you EVER checked UNDERNEATH the table to see what is wiped there. unbelievable treasures.
6. All of Kenton's family has the cleanest washer & dryers I've ever seen. They look like they are in a showroom. Do any of you dust your washers and dryers?
7. Secretly, in an evil land all of my own, I take the vacuum cleaner to the kids room and vacuum up all those little piece of Legos and Playmobil on the floor.
8. Our favorite line in "Christmas Vacation" is "fixed the newelpost!" (sorry if you don't get that one)
Posted by gretchen at 11:20 AM
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Well, we've been here in Seattle now for a little over a year. Guess what it's doing outside? RAINING. For the fourth day in a row, and the forecast says it will rain the next four days (and I'm banking on the whole winter). I'm sure you've heard of that urban legend that it rains all the time in Seattle. It's not all true. I think there was a 3 week stretch in August where it was sunny and warm. We get such a kick out of the weather forecasters' clever words...Rain...showers...drizzle...partly cloudy (I would have said "mostly cloudy"...partly sunny.... So far it has not bugged me all that much (although I am getting fat and lazy), but if any of you out in cyberspace have a free condo in Hawaii or something...well...LET ME KNOW!!!!!!!!!!! :( Also, I'm taking creative ideas for indoor kids ACTIVE activities. I think their eyes are bugging out from too many "movie nights"...
Posted by gretchen at 4:01 PM
Thursday, November 1, 2007
Mia woke up yesterday at 6am, carrying her pumpkin bucket into our room "ready for candy"...The boys soon followed dressed and ready at 7:15 and already chasing each other through the house. Then we sent them off to school for the day. HAAA. We prayed for their teachers yesterday! Now I remember why, when I was teaching, I SO DREADED this day of Halloween. Kids too excited for the evening and the next day the extreme low after too much sugar. It's much more fun now that I'm not a teacher. :) The boys brought home tons of loot. Mia lasted for about 20 minutes and then came home. The best is when they go to bed and we get to sift through for the good stuff!
Posted by gretchen at 8:26 AM
Thursday, October 25, 2007
I haven't posted in awhile, because one of the most events in my life took place a couple of weeks ago. My sweet sister, Kate, went home to be with her Lord Jesus. Here was a life used by God to bring people closer to him. Kate was 6 years older than me and severely disabled her whole life. She was such a huge part of our family. She shaped so many parts of me and has made an enormous impact on our family. If any of you are raising a special needs child, I've got the person you need to talk to: My mom! (but wait a week or so, she's in the midst of radiation treatment for breast cancer) Yes. When it rains it pours... But God is still good.
We just got back from a week of memorial services in Ohio and Indiana. Our family had such fun recounting so many memories. We took her everywhere we went, despite the stares and strange looks, fed her meals and we all took part in her strenuous therapy program. We loved her sweet smile and sparkly eyes, her huge hugs, her love for her nieces and nephews. What a blessing she was! I will not say “rest in peace” because I believe she is not resting…she is dancing and singing, able-bodied at Christ’s throne.
Posted by gretchen at 11:53 AM
Saturday, October 6, 2007
I've never in my life heard parents cheer louder from the sidelines. Yes, today, after 4 very painful non scoring games (at least on our side), ISAAC'S SOCCER TEAM SCORED A GOAL! (now, granted, it wasn't HIM, but this is a team sport isn't it?) These guys are trying so hard, but, in the spirit of the Bad News Bears, finally it happened. Yahoo, little Maradona! It's in your blood, you know! So glad Grandma and Grandpa Held could be here for 2 weeks of games. Fun stuff.
Posted by gretchen at 4:23 PM
Sunday, September 30, 2007
It's official. Samuel is 7 years old as of today! He is pretty sure he grew a whole lot last night and I might agree. Now if he would only be done sucking that thumb! We are on a 2 year rotation for having a "friend" party, so this must be the year! He chose a pirate theme (same as 2 years ago). Does that surprise any of you who know him? We had a whole crew of looting embezzlers (including Grandpa and Grandma Held!). So much fun...an old fashioned scavenger hunt, pinata (Mia was just as fast at scavenging for candy as the big boys), gold nuggets and worms for dinner. Samuel kept saying "where's the rum, matey?". Oh Lordy. So glad the other parents weren't around. Kenton said not until his 9th birthday party. ha ha. It was very loud, but very fun. And a whole lot of "aaaarghs".
The best part? The next morning he woke up early for a soccer game and scored a hat trick (3 goals in one game)! Way to go, Samuel. We love you & happy birthday!
Posted by gretchen at 5:41 PM
Friday, September 21, 2007
You know the feeling you get when you have so much to tell an old friend so you never call because there's too much to tell? Well, I'm attempting to get back on the saddle after a long a busy summer. School just started (yes, just started), so we're getting back on track after having an average of 7-8 boys playing at my house all summer! I couldn't get to the computer for fear my house would crumble around me if I wasn't supervising! Any of you relate?
So forget the previous posting about pictures from the summer. It probably won't happen. :) If it does, well, what a treat that will be! :)
Posted by gretchen at 5:21 PM
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 11:31 AM
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
For those of you wondering, we DID actually celebrate Mia's birthday! Even though I told her not to turn 3, she went ahead and did it anyway. She is growing up way too fast. We all enjoy her so much and what a blessing she is to our family. She keeps us all laughing, especially her brothers with the things she comes up with. Yesterday, we were in a pirate store on the waterfront. She put on a huge pirate hat and said, "look mommy! it matches me! arrrrgh!" Happy Birthday, sweet one! We love you!
Posted by gretchen at 8:14 AM
Wednesday, June 20, 2007
One of these days I will do a photo montage of funny things seen only in Washington. But before that happens, I MUST relay this story. How I wish I had my camera. Please let me know if any of YOU have had an experience like this in YOUR part of the country.
We were on a Sunday afternoon drive (you know the kind. driving around in neighborhoods you can't afford, trying to find a screaming deal on an acre lot with a 4 bedroom house...) This neighborhood had beautiful wide streets, various people walking their dogs who always happen to kind of look like their owners. I strained my eyes, because around the corner comes an owner with 3 awfully big dogs. Wait, I thought. Is this a dream? No, not a dream. It's just 3 llamas on leashes being "walked" around by a woman (yes, she did kind of look like one). They kind of prance down the street toward us and all of a sudden I break into uncontrollable laughter. I felt like we were right in the middle of Jurassic Park, watching from our vehicle as 3 llamas stare eye-level into our car. Man, what a cool neighborhood that was. I'm pretty sure I can say "only in Washington".
Posted by gretchen at 9:44 AM
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
as summer rolls into full swing, I am officially issuing a "blog disclaimer". I am setting the goal for one post a week! We are going all over the place (Portland, family camp, Indiana, Tennessee) & will be gone awhile. I hope to post every so often, to keep all of you informed, of course! I will be seeing many of you anyway, but don't go too far!
Posted by gretchen at 9:01 PM
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 4:05 PM
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
While one car was in the shop getting fixed because a rock (boulder) hit it ($250. deductible), I was driving the other. I was looking over my shoulder at this unbelievably nutty driver on my left (meth-induced) thinking "should I call 911 and report this?"...meanwhile...BUMP! Somehow I bumped the brand new LEXUS SUV in front of me. It was my first time in any kind of fender bender...barely a little dent on his trailer hitch, no damage on mine. (why does a Lexus SUV have a trailer hitch anyway?) Can anyone out there tell me why a Lexus trailer hitch costs $800. to repair? So now I either pay $800. for the fix or watch my insurance premiums rocket. Can anyone say YUCK? Oh yeah, and meanwhile the LITTLE TINY rock spot on the windshield decides to grow into a huge spider. So there's another $250. deductible. WHOOO HOOO! At least our bikes work!
Posted by gretchen at 9:34 PM
Friday, May 18, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 8:06 PM
Saturday, May 12, 2007
It's so hard to believe this great kid is 16!!! Holy cow. I remember when he was just 2 years old, climbing on the roof...What a nice nephew he is- such a helpful and kind friend to everyone around. He has a heart for the Lord & it is evident. David, I'm thinking about getting you a wolf's head hat like your scout master. What size do you wear? I bet it's XL, now that you're 16!!! And try to DEAL today with your big sis going to prom. I know it's a madhouse around there! Ha ha.
Posted by gretchen at 9:03 AM
Wednesday, May 2, 2007
"Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16
MERCY and GRACE!! Well after almost a week waiting, I received news today that all the tests were benign. Thank you, Lord! God has taught me so much in the last week about what truly is important. I have a new compassion for those who are dealing with diseases like cancer and I have an altered view of life. Oh, it is never very fun when God is trying to teach you something! I never like that part. I always try to tell God that I will learn even without the trials, but I guess he doesn't believe me! My brother asked me if I went skydiving or rode on a bull named Fu Man Chu. I didn't, but if I had the chance I probably would have!
thank you all for your prayer support!
Posted by gretchen at 5:32 PM
Tuesday, May 1, 2007
Well, amidst the day to day life in a busy family (in between painting my living room, doing laundry, helping with homework, rushing kids to the potty, hamster races, etc.) I received a call from my Dr. that some yearly tests of mine came back with unusual abnormal cells. I had an endiometrial biopsy last week (ouch!) and am waiting on those results. Needless to say, it has thrown us back a little. About 40% of the results come back with significant problems like Cancer. Yeah, something I DON'T NEED right about now! Please hold us up in prayer the next few days as we wait for the results.
Posted by gretchen at 9:07 AM
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
ready, okay? like totally a great big congrats and shout out to my youngest neice, who like totally made the HIGH SCHOOL CHEERLEADING TEAM for next year at Harrison High School in West Lafayette, Indiana. She will be a freshman (or is it freshwoman?) Head nodding, pyramid building, cheesy smiling, cool dancing, loud yelling, sharp clapping, lips puckering, yes, this girl can do it all!!! We are so proud of you. Way to go, Anna! Just wondering if your dad will make you wear your homeschool cheerleading skirt for the team....hmmm We'll pray for you!!
Posted by gretchen at 5:08 PM
Thank God the little critters never showed up at our home! The kids are very tired of me asking them every few minutes, "are you scratching your head???" I think it's safe now. And an update on Lizzy the hamster: we tied up her wheel (so as not to be temptation or stumbling block) and she is now up to using 3 (count 'em) legs! In case those of you reading this blog are young'uns, the music being played is a great song of the '80s by Lionel Ritchie (yes, Nicole's dad), "Running with the Night" (thought it fit perfectly with our hamster theme.)
Posted by gretchen at 7:30 AM
Sunday, April 22, 2007
In the meantime since the race, sad news... Lizzy lost control of her back legs and now drags them on her wheel at night (until bloody.....talk about the eye of the tiger!) Do any of you have one of those little carts we could attach to her torso to help her get around?
Posted by gretchen at 1:48 PM
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
The weather is getting nicer and nicer out here in Seattle! Yay! We've been able to get out many times as a family & take in firsthand much of what Kenton had promised we would see in this beautiful state. This outing was on Sunday, a hike in the rainforest (as Isaac promptly corrected me, "the TEMPERATE rainforest, Mom.") The boys pretended they were Joe and Frank Hardy the whole time & totally were in their "boy" element! Mia loved it, too. She is definitely an outdoors girl. We hiked up and down the trails to the Green River. Kenton, you were right...A beautiful state it is!
Posted by gretchen at 8:55 AM
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Last week I noticed the boys playing with their friends, switching bikes, switching helmets, etc. I said to myself, "I know they shouldn't share helmets, should I say something?" I squelched my OCD desire to yell out to all the neighborhood and say "KIDS, WEAR ONLY YOUR OWN HELMETS! YOU COULD CATCH SOMETHING" (I am a little like that old lady on Saturday Night Live...) I said nothing and I felt a little proud that I am not a nutjob after all.
Our family then decides to go on a very nice bike hike Sat. & Sun. together. We had a ton of fun. Kenton & I were bantering back and forth about "making" the boys wear helmets. K- "Don't make them. I never had to wear one & I turned out okay..." G-"why is it such a bad habit to get into?" Anyway, the mother bear enforced and made them wear their helmets.
We get home & the boys go over to see if the neighborhood can play. Oh no, they can't play, because they are getting their heads shaved for EXTREME HEAD LICE! (yes, after just borrowing our helmets) For those of you who know me, this does not sit well with me. at all. I am having dreams of headlice infestation. Help. Now, why did I make them wear their helmets??? Ayyyy, pray for me the next week!
Posted by gretchen at 3:31 PM
Friday, April 13, 2007
Yes, another week off of school! We've had lot of fun though because we took a trip (to SEATTLE!) Our B&B was quite a bargain (we stayed at home)... The Seattle Science Center, Seattle Center, Butterfly House, Red Robin, Family Fun Center, & the Great Wall Mall (for gotcha dinner). You folks who've been to China would love the Great Wall Mall (TOTALLY JUST LIKE CHINA, including all kinds of "dry goods" and very "fresh" seafood) I'm thinking the Pingjiang reunion should be here next time.
Posted by gretchen at 2:54 PM
Friday, April 6, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 9:15 AM
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Our niece, Kathryn (a senior in HS) has her first real job!! Poor girl, she had to start during Spring Break when the rest of her family was living it up at the Embassy Suites. We're so proud of her! She is headed to PURDUE SCHOOL OF NURSING in the fall! Yahoo! In the meantime, she will work as a CNA in a nursing home. I LOVED my time spent working in the old folks home. But then again, I didn't have to give any old men baths. :) Right, Kathryn? Grandma H. says she'll get used to it in no time. Kathryn is not so sure...(about the bath part!)
Posted by gretchen at 7:00 AM
Last night was "what you want to be when you grow up night" at Awana. We have big news. Samuel has made a career change. Apparently, he no longer wants to be a pirate when he grows up (although that is a close 2nd). He wants to be a "Mexican Cowboy" or a "Caballero". Where in the world did that come from? :) One thing, our boys DO have incredible imaginations! Isaac wants to work at the animal shelter. (that's fine with us, as long as it's not to fulfill a judge-ordered "community service" sentence. And Mia? A princess is fine for now!
Posted by gretchen at 6:49 AM
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
NINE! Count 'em! Where has it gone? We're halfway to 18. Yikes. We've been celebrating the birthday for a few days now. We had a small "family party" on Sunday with a "dog" theme. We're trying to expose this side of the family (Johnson's, Ferullo's) to strange things like plastic tablecloths, paper plates and of all things...CORNDOGS!!
Then on Monday night Isaac got to choose the restaurant for "Funday Monday". His first choice? Old Country Buffet, where he could get Popcorn Shrimp and Mac & Cheese. I'm definitely not sure about that place, but the kids loved it. Hilarious. I lost my mind laughing when Kenton looked over to me in the middle of the meal (through the balloons) saying, "that ham is outstanding..." I'm pretty sure he was serious. I love that guy. He'll eat anything and like it! I could not stop laughing the whole night. Never in a thousand years would I have imagined the fun children have brought into our lives! And why does it always feel steamy and hot in a place like that? The best part? On our way home, we adopted "Lizzy", a new hamster (pictures coming soon). Oh the fun times are just beginning!!
Posted by gretchen at 11:49 AM
Friday, March 16, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Granted, not ALL Sunday mornings begin like this...but I'll take these when I can get them. We try to make Sunday mornings special around here (so as not to end up at church totally growling...). The kids even get to eat PopTarts (sorry, Grandma!) if they get dressed on time. It is amazing though, when we get home it looks as if a tornado has hit our home. Oh well! At least the roast in the oven smells good.
(okay, just kidding about the roast..)
Posted by gretchen at 4:07 PM
Sunday, March 11, 2007
Thursday, March 8, 2007
Wednesday, March 7, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 3:26 PM
Friday, March 2, 2007
Thursday, March 1, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 2:00 PM
Tuesday, February 27, 2007
Not much new going down around here this week. I'm still working myself into circles trying to "downsize" our house and reorganize to make our smaller house work! I feel like a dog chasing its tail. Or maybe more like a manatee chasing its tail? Yesterday, I switched the office/playroom to the boys' room, the boys' room to Mia's room, and Mia's room to an office. (tried to get it all done while Kenton was on the slopes for the day). Yeah, it wasn't quite a "day's work". Maybe by summer I'll get it done.:) well, maybe next summer...
Posted by gretchen at 9:23 PM
Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 8:31 PM
Saturday, February 17, 2007
well, it's official now. we knew this day would come (at least we had a feeling the last couple of weeks...) our dryer is officially broken and the washer is in its final stages. how we LOVE spending $ on things like that! I inheirited the problem from my g'ma rudolph-doing wash at least 1x a day. now we're paying for it after 10 faithful years every day. any recommendations out there for front loaders???
Posted by gretchen at 12:32 PM
Friday, February 16, 2007
I'm grabbing onto whatever I can here...Sorry for all you covered in a huge blanket of snow, on my walk yesterday (which I do regularly IN THE RAIN!) I saw crocus blooming! Spring is really on its way. I'll be glad to see that after our first full winter in Seattle. Yes, it rains a lot. a lot. A whole stinkin' lot! :) Again, if any of you have a timeshare in a warm place you're not using...
We had a great Valentine's Day. Mia and I helped out in both the boys' classrooms. Wow. Fun, but exhausting. I kept thinking, "How did I EVER last a whole day in the classroom?"
We also had our 2nd small group Bible Studay at our house last night. A great group of 5 young (well... yeah, young, couples.) We're the old farts there. :) It feels like we really are getting to know people here, which is great. And thanks to Gma & Gpa Held's rearranging ideas and Gpa Gord and Kenton's brute strength, our living room now can hold 10 people!
Posted by gretchen at 7:07 AM
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Tuesday, February 6, 2007
The middle of last night proved to be full of activity at the Johnson Home! In perfect timing with Kenton being gone, I had (all within about 45 min. one Chinese princess throwing up all over her crib and self, one Colombian peepeeing all the way through to his mattress, and the other Colombian crying "missing his Daddy"...WHEW... what a night! To top it off, we were out of laundry detergent. The great thing? God gives extra grace exactly when needed. I was actually thinking as I was holding the bucket in front of Mia for the 3rd go round (I know this is the bizarre part), "I actually love this part about being a mom. I am so blessed to be the one here to help." I think it's those sweet, sad eyes saying "help me. you're my only hope!" It's probably just how God looks at us sometimes. And thank you God, that I have a carpet steamer.
Posted by gretchen at 10:27 PM
Sunday, February 4, 2007
Saturday, February 3, 2007
Posted by gretchen at 4:27 PM
Isaac decided to run away this afternoon after getting into some trouble with his mom. He thought maybe life might be better in another family that didn't have so many rules and chores. I let him take his coat, but that was it (the other stuff in the house is the family's). He took back his Christmas present he gave me (a fancy music box/globe), because he said he bought it with his Awana bucks. I said that was fair, but I wanted a picture to remember him by. We were going to be sad without him, but he had to decide. He left at 1:38pm.
Posted by gretchen at 4:09 PM