Monday, November 28, 2011

Su-prize su-prize!

The super secret surprise weekend was rather fun. Since it was almost 2 weeks ago now, and I am almost caught up with the work that piled on my desk while I was gone 1 day of work ... I shall tell you what the super secret surprise was. Ready, set, go!

Mom and I drove up to Walla Walla, Washington on Nov 17-20. If you think Walla Walla is not interesting, well you would be almost right. It is a cute town, great food, crappy drive from Utah in the winter. So why Walla Walla? Well we went up to see a ball game.

The back story? I was a nanny from 1994-1996 & 1999-2000 for the same family in Chicago. When I got there my boys were young: Dylan was 4 and Brady was 1. Well now D is 21, a senior in college; B is 18 and a freshman in college. D goes to Washington University in St. Louis and B goes to Stanford. Smart kids. Good kids. Handsome handsome men! D plays basketball for WASHU and B is in the Stanford band. And yes they have time to study!

Another back story. I recently had a bout of insomnia. Like BAD. Like go to the doc because I could not sleep and I was rather depressed. I have never really been depressed, so I did not know what it felt like. It was bad. One night I was laying in bed, not sleeping, so I grabbed my iPad and started surfing the interweb. I decided to check and see when D's games started because sometimes they broadcast them. I shot straight up in bed when I saw that they were playing 2 games in Washington State in November.

WASHU was playing Whitman College in Walla Walla on Friday and then a game in Spokane on Sunday. I had 1 day of vacation left. I asked Mom if she wanted to drive up there with me and see his game. She was all in. So we left Thursday after work, drove to Boise, then on to Walla Walla the next day. D had no clue we were coming. As it turned out his folks were the team parents that weekend away. What luck! So we met Jim and Laurie for dinner before the game. I do not remember it much because I was SO excited to see my boy again!

I think D was surprised.  What a handsome man he is. I wish I had a digital pic of him when I was his nanny to show you. Bright red hair that was kept in a bowl cut for years. His hair is short, he is ridiculously tall, and what a gentleman. He was always a great basketball player. Now, as I brag about him, he is the captain of the team and was last year too; his freshman year they won the DIII National Championship. Yea, he is that good.

This is D after the game. They won, of course! I knew my boy would not let me down! (they played a game on my bday last year, I asked him to win the game for me. He did. Obedient kid too!) Though the game in Walla Walla was close!! I went horse from cheering and yelling throughout the game.

This is Mom, D, and I after the game at a restaurant. His dad had to get the dead animal in the pic. Bless him. I made this sign for him with his number. Mom and I both wore WASHU shirts. Good looking kid, right? He reads my blog, I can only imagine him right now going "Um Steph, a little less about how handsome I am, kind of creepy, you know?" Alright, message received, but you are handsome D.

I was glad to have one hour to sit and chit chat with him. Sadly I did not have enough time off of work to stay for the game in Spokane. 18 hour round trip drive for a 2 hour ball game. You bet!

Love you D. Thanks for indulging your favorite nanny (self proclaimed!) for a night.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dreams - Grandpa Edition

Both of my grandfathers died before I was born. Grandpa Johnson split when my dad was a little kid and died not too long after. Grandpa Parker died just a few years before I was born. I have a cousin not much older than I am that talked about Grandpa Parker often when we were growing up. She would say things like "Do you remember when Gramps ..." and I would always have to remind her that he died before I was born. From what I have heard of Gramps I would have liked him. My only 2 run-ins with Gramps include walking in to Grams house (which I now live in) and seeing Gramps leather strap hanging by the back door and the smoke in the wall paper. The strap was more of a threat to be good. We knew it was there, we knew we would be paddled with it if we did not behave. I remember Grams grabbing the strap and chasing after one of my cousins who was a bit of a boundary tester. She caught him, he got the strap. I still laugh when I think of Grams chasing him around the back yard; she may have been old but by golly that woman could move. The second encounter with Gramps was just recently when we were stripping the wallpaper in the kitchen and we hit the layer from when he was alive. The house filled with the noxious smell of his cigarette smoke. We had to open the windows and vacate the house while it aired out. He was the last person who was allowed to smoke in Grams house. One more piece of back story for this dream: There is a room in my basement that was my Mom's bedroom back in the day but has more recently been a storage room. This room is not cleaned out of my Aunt's possessions yet. There is a wall of closet space in this room that I have NEVER seen the inside of. I am 35, I have known this house all of my life, I have lived in this house for 2 months now, I have never seen the inside of these closets. Plus the room scares me just a little. I think it is the scary wallpaper.

Well in my dream last night I was moving the Aunt's things out of this storage room and my things in. I opened the closets and found that it actually led to a 3 room cave under the front lawn. In this space I found a bunch of Christmas decorations, Grams paints and a bunch of cards left over from her boutiques, Then there was a closed door. My cousin, the one one who is just older than I am and remembers Gramps, was there helping us move things. She and I opened this door together. It led to my Gramps secret workshop. It was full of wood creations he was working on when he passed. There were toys for kids, violins and bows (some of the bows were made out of old wood hangers ... just because) and all of his tools were still hanging where he had left them. The cool thing about this super hidden place was that there was no dust or cobwebs. I found a really cool cookie jar in the shape of a pig that I HAD to have (I am allergic to pork ... so why not?) When I opened it up I found that it was filled with hard tack candy. (Grams used to have a bowl of hard tack candy sitting out.) I picked up a really cool looking violin, one of the wood hanger bows, and started to tune the instrument. (No I do not play the violin) But magically I was able to start playing "Oh Susanna" flawlessly. My cousin asked me how I knew how to play that song, and my response was "Grandpa's violin is magical." Then I woke up.

The funny thing is that when I woke up this morning I felt like I actually knew Gramps. Like I had these fond memories suddenly of Gramps because I had spent time in his secret room. It made me want to run down to this room and open the closets to find these rooms. Then I had this sudden fear again that it would all be not real (of course it would not be real, it was a dream) so I did not go down. I need to find a pic of Gramps so I can put it up in my house. I have to admit it was the most lifelike dream I have had in a LONG time. It makes me miss Grams and Gramps. Grams only died 10 years ago or so, so I knew her very well. Now that I live in Gramps house I miss him. I miss him and I never even knew him. Is that possible?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Amazing music video

I am on a super secret weekend vaca with Mom, it is a fun surprise I have been planning for a while. More on that Monday. Well my friend Heather sent me this video and I LOVE IT! So please allow me to share!!

I love watching ASL music!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The 2nd craziest thing I have ever done ... or the one where I show you the outside of my house

I am not a very adventurous person, so this may sound boring to many. I also may define crazy differently than you. Taking a red-eye to New York for a madcap weekend is not crazy to me. Diving in a frozen lake for a Polar Bear plunge is crazy to me. Lining up at midnight for an after Thanksgiving Day sale is crazy to me. Strapping wood on your feet and throwing yourself down a mountain for fun is crazy to me. Seeing Twilight movies is crazy to me (just kidding!) So there is your frame of reference. 

One day, I may tell you the craziest thing I have ever done. Not today. I am getting ready for a long weekend vaca with Mom. 

Last night I left my office early to run home and get my leaves up off my grass before the lights went out. Whose idea was daylight savings? I would like to meet that guy (wasn't it Benjamin Franklin? I actually would like to meet that guy!) and tell him it was not a good idea in my opinion. Of course I am not a farmer so having daylight early is not important to me. I am in HR, so we like daylight after work to get things done. Just sayin. 

So I get home, put together my riding lawnmower ... oh did I mention I have a riding lawnmower? It is pretty sweet action. Two of my brothers did help me with this step. Pat was driving by and came to help. We discovered there was no gas in the mower. What?! So I ran to get gas and then Ev came by to teach me how to use the darn thing. Off I went after a brief tutorial. Let me show you what I encountered first:

This big apple tree is in my back yard. It has some nice low hanging branches ... for now. I will cut them next year. It was an adventure mowing under them. By 5:30 the sun was down and it was pretty dark. I was determined not to quit. The lawnmower has headlights. I know, right? So I flipped them on and kept going. Well Sister dropped by around this time. She came around the back to see what in the world I was doing. She vowed to stay until she could not stay any longer so that "if I knocked myself out mowing under the tree someone could call 911." I did the only logical thing anyone could do: I went downstairs where I have stored the construction supplies and pulled up the halogen lamp. Plugged that puppy in, and shone it on the back yard. (Is that the right tense of shine?) I finished the back yard and headed to the front:

Where I ran into trouble was on the side. That dumb apricot tree is pretty bare. I could not believe how many leaves there were. So here is where I encountered an audience. My neighbor was out in his yard with a pal working on a project also with a halogen lamp. Oh did I mention my Aunts live next door to me? Well they do. So Aunt C came over and just shook her head, but told me she was proud of me for not giving up. The neighbor just laughed and laughed; I told him I wished I could tell him that I am normally not that person, but to be honest I really am. Picture me, on a riding lawnmower, mowing by the light of halogen lamps, wearing an awesome winter hat. I was not going to give up! Was not. And for the record I HATE apricots. 

Yup, that is what I felt like ...

So the project that should have taken an hour, took 3. I finished at 7:30. I bagged 3 huge bags of leaves and grass. I missed a few spots. I have bumps, cuts, and bruises to prove that it was a fool-hearty mission. I am allergic to grass, so my eyes itch and I am sneezing. BUT, I did it. I mowed my lawn for the first, not the last, time. This morning the apple and the two little trees on the side of my house shed more leaves. I shake my head and fist at them. Who mows their lawn in the dark? Could it BE more dangerous? (Thank you Chandler for your guest appearance!) Second craziest thing I have ever done. 

Oh, by the way, this is my house. House meet my internets. Internets meet my house.

I am fully aware that I have not posted the "moved in after"photos. Once one box is unpacked I seem to find another one. So it'll happen one day. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Annual Christmas Boutique

For any of you new to the blog, please allow me to introduce you to our annual boutique. The back story is thus: When we were growing up my Grams had a Christmas Boutique every year from November through December. She sold greeting cards, wrapping paper and homemade crafts that she made throughout the year. It was so much fun to go to her house and look through the different things she was selling. I still to this day cannot see a white light bulb without picturing the bunnies she used to make. Fast forward 30 years: my sisters and I all had our own businesses and decided, along with some cousins, to resurrect the family Christmas Boutique. 

This year we are holding out boutique the Saturday after Thanksgiving. You know, eat turkey, the crazies go shopping on Friday (Colleen will be one of you) then Saturday come on over to Mom's place and enjoy browsing everything without the angry crowds because you picked up the last Wii game or Barbie. We have the foods, we have the fun, plus we have the nice warm house!

Saturday November 26
10:00 am - 3:00 pm
7792 South Coolidge Street (90 West) 
in Midvale (Utah)

My sister Colleen owns The Busy Bean (I may have mentioned it once or twice) where she makes beautiful handmade fabric creations. Plus she names her products and sewing machines, which is just cool. She will have some items on hand or, as always, she does most of her work as custom orders. All items will be done in time for Christmas delivery. 

My SIL Kate is a brilliant photographer via Kate Johnson Photography (I may have also mentioned this one). She is running a special this year where she will have her screen set up at the boutique and for $35 she will take your family photo and give you 5 images on a photo cd with a card template that you can take anywhere and have your Christmas cards printed in time to send out before Christmas. If the family cannot make it, she is doing an outdoor shoot on December 10. Appointments are STRONGLY encouraged for both days. Of course she would be happy to schedule any time that is convenient for you. (Holla acting buddies, she also does headshots!)

I used to sell Pampered Chef. I miss it sometimes, but frankly did not have the time to devote to it. However, I am hosting a catalog show (there will not be a consultant on hand) for you kitchen gadgets. If you need something from Pampered Chef but cannot make it to the boutique the address to order items is enter my name as the host (Hi, I am Stephanie Johnson) and you can order that way. Party closes the 26th. 

We always have others join us, though at this point I really cannot give you a list of everyone (have a business and want to join? Give me a call or shoot me an email.) I will talk my brother into making his AWESOME caramel apples. And if she is up to it we have a lady who makes BRILLIANT chocolates. That is not a guarantee, however! 

See you then if you can make it. We always have snacks, and often sit around chit chatting. Let's be honest, that is half of the fun of a boutique!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A wayward text

I got this text last night from a pretty great guy ... whose identity I erased from the image to protect the innocent ... but had to share!!

I had gone to bed early, so for a minute I thought it was a dream. I was really confused as to why he was inviting me to go on vacation with him and his family. I mean we are friends, but we certainly are not "dating." That is one way, though, to take things to the next level. 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A First Date ... of sorts

I had to run home today because they were fixing my treadmill and I had to pay for it, a very grown up thing to do. My brother in law Brad uses my house during the day on Wednesdays for work so that Sister can sew, and my folks watch their kids. He is a brilliant tech blogger for Engadget, have internet can work. If you like tech things, especially phones and tablets, you should follow him on the tweets; I do not know how to do that, but there is a link on his Engadget page. I do not know how many times I have said "Brad how do I do this on my phone?" Bless him!

So anyway, the date ... of sorts ... so I ran home during lunch to make sure the guy did the work right on my treadmill. While I was there I made myself a turkey swiss sandwich for lunch and offered to make one for Brad. Then I sat down at the table and we ate lunch together. I sent Colleen a text that said "Just having a lunch date with your husband. Whatever." She send back a text that says "Lucky." I have seen people who are more technologically unchallenged than I show their iPhone screen in a blog post. I just do not know how to do that. Brad how do I do that on my phone? What is wrong with you that you do not know how to use your phone? Shut up Matt's Italicized Voice! (that will only make sense to 3 of you!)

We were eating our respective turkey sandwiches I noticed it was rather cold in my house at the same time I noticed Brad's hand was shaking. So I went to turn up the heat and Brad says "Oh don't worry about it, I always get nervous on the first date." snort! Sometimes Brad actually is funny!! So I just had a first date with a married man. tsk tsk

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Pause from House pics

I need to give Sister's Sister-in-Law credit for these pics, but I only know her name is Melanie, I only met her once, at their wedding ... but by the look of these pics she is a picture taking genius! (Every family needs at least one) She could not have caught the personality of these two great kids any better. So one day if you live in the Tri-cities in Washington and are looking for a photog, let me know and I WILL find out more info on her to pass on. Mad props to Melanie for these GREAT photos!

Mac is now 2, LoMo is 3. How I love these girls! I admit it does kind of bug me that I have been growing my hair out longer than Mac has been alive and her hair is longer than mine ... but whatever, she still is stinking cute! And I have taught these two girls that a bird says "kaa kaa, kaa kaa, tukki tukki!" Mac says the kaa kaa part, but waits for me to say tukki tukki. 

Mac thinks like I do, it is obvious!! Check out the uber flattering pic sewing here. Little MJ tongue action

Mac is roaring like a monster, she has a really deep growl

LoMo laughing at her cousin.This little ones laugh is so sweet

So I am sure this is not what happened here but this is what she looks like when any of her clothing gets wet before she has to change them

I honestly do not know why, but this pic makes me giggle. Hard. 

Mac is working on a super special training today, good luck mostly to Colleen who has a long day ahead of her. If you run out of DC, Sister, let me know! I can't bring you any more, because you live in Egypt, but I will think hard about you and drink one for you ... vicariously.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

House Pics - During Edition

My aunts moved out of the house August 20, it took 2 months of work to get it to where I wanted it to be. It was indeed a labor of love for me. I do not think my hips will ever be the same. My calf muscles sure have never been this pronounced. 
This is my bedroom with some of the wall paper gone. We found 2 layers here.

The cable company sent a contractor to install my cable. This is what it looked like. This is also where I found that if I complain enough I get the cost of the install taken off and one month free service! 

The ceilings in the bedrooms had the cottage cheese stuff on there ... oh and it was painted over. My brothers are so great to scrape it off. It also pays to have asthma so I do not have to do the work!! 

Brad and Everett worked really hard to get it off and sand down the walls. Brad told us after I took this pic that he is actually smiling under his mask. Bless him. Funny kid!!

This is my bedroom with all of the ceiling and wall paper gone!!

Under the ceiling I found that an old vent had been "fixed". There are quite a few of these fixes in the house. You should see the fix down the stairs. It is card board!

This is the kitchen wallpaper layer 5. When we hit this layer the house filled with the smell of old cigarette smoke. My grandpa was the last person who was allowed to smoke in the house. He has been dead for almost 40 years. 

 This is the dining room, the wallpaper in this room came off so easily because the wall had been painted, then wallpapered. If I have not yet told the internets enough, do not wallpaper your house. OR if you have to wallpaper, may I recommend painting the wall first?