Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas in Sandpoint

We had a wonderful Christmas at home this year. I thought I'd share some photos from our day.
Last night the girls decorated sugar cookies for Santa. I'd say there is plenty of sugar on that plate to fuel him for a whole night of sleigh riding and gift delivering, wouldn't you?
Can you tell what the favorite gift was?
Wasn't it thoughtful for Santa to bring this gift for Izzy? Pretty soon, I'll have her trained to do all of the housework. There is always that one gift that takes a minute to appreciate... And then there were the panties from Mom & Dad. Izzy talked Kirk into putting on four pair before he finally said no (the phrase 'wrapped around her finger' comes to mind). She wouldn't take them off for most of the morning. Maybe someday she'll wear them on the inside (we hope before kindergarten). We began and ended Christmas with a little sugar. My favorite cake - Chocolate Peppermint Torte. Delicious (if I do say so myself).

Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

What could be better than skiing with your sisters
on Christmas Eve?...
Skiing with Santa and his helpers, of course!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Last night the girls hosted a caroling party for their friends.
They sang their favorite Christmas carols to our favorite neighbors.
Then came inside for some hot cocoa and cookies.

...and some whipped cream (thanks Kirk!).

Just two days till Christmas!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Break

It is DAY 1 of Christmas break. It was sure nice not to get everyone ready and off to school this morning. We had a nice breakfast then did all of our chores. Then it was off to the dollar store for the girls to do some last minute shopping. We also stopped by the library for some books and DVDs to keep everyone busy these next few weeks. This afternoon's activities... making cookies! Only 5 more days to Christmas (well, 4 1/2 according to Hannah)!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas!

Little Helper

Izzy is my little helper. As soon as she even thinks I might be mixing or baking, she immediately scoots a chair up to the counter and demands to participate. Her favorite job is to mix. Although she also likes to pour and measure. She's not really much help right now. And sometimes she is downright in the way. But I hope in a few years she will still be happy to stand beside me in the kitchen and help out.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Growing up as a Johnson, there was something that we could always count on during the winter... SKIING ON SATURDAY. My father spent many, many years on various volunteer ski patrols. I think he did this for many reasons. First, because he loved skiing. But it was also a way to fiance skiing for a family of eight.
I have many great memories of skiing (it being my favorite sport). But one that came to mind last night was a memory of wintry Friday nights spent with my Dad, in a cold garage, tuning and waxing skis. Our local ski resort, Schweitzer Mountain, has been open for skiing since Thanksgiving weekend. But since Kirk and I prefer to ski on snow rather than tree stumps, we opted to wait for a few more storms. Today was our first day on the mountain. In preparation, we dug out the ski wax, iron, file and edge tuner. I am not as diligent as my father, but I do enjoy a good tune and wax now and then. Especially in preparation for the first day of the season.
Thanks Dad for all you taught me and for all of the time you invested in our skiing. It has been a great source of enjoyment in my life. I love sharing skiing with my kids. Tomorrow is their first day of the season.
**Thanks, Dad, for supplying our family photos on CD. I love to have them available. Kudos to Kirk for the new photos. He's getting pretty good, isn't he?

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Honor Roll

We have reached a different stage in life. As a 4th grader this year, Hannah is receiving letter grades now. No more vague 'satisfactory' or 'unsatisfactory' marks on report cards. From now on, it's the real thing. Her homework comes home with a percentage correct instead of just a smiley face. I feel so fortunate that she has Ms. Litvin this year. She is great at challenging each kid at their level as well as motivating them to do as well as they can. Hannah came home from the first week of school with a determination to get straight A's. And... she did it! She is one of four kids in her class who received all A's this past quarter. This not only got her a great report card, but put her on the school honor roll. I am so proud - especially because I know how hard she worked to achieve this. On top of great grades, she has been a great information resource since starting 4th grade. Ask her any question on Idaho state history and she'll probably know the answer. Very handy.

No Sugar - Grand Finale

Actually, there was no 'Grand Finale'. After 10 days we called it quits. Cutting all treats out of my diet was just plain torture. I bought a wonderful bag of mint M&M's at Target and have been eating a few every day. Just enough. My brother (a diabetic since age 8) gave me the best advice...
'A little here and there, but only when planned for. Plan well.'
Kurt, I hope you don't mind if I quote you. Thanks for the sage advice!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Rough Morning

Paige is learning about responsibility... the hard way. This morning she just couldn't seem to stop playing and start getting ready for school. I try not to nag (although sometimes it just comes out, no matter how hard I try not to), so I gave a gentle 10 minute reminder before her ride was due to pick her up for school. Then I bit my tongue - several times - while she played, and talked, and looked for clips for her hair, and talked to Izzy, and played some more, etc. When her ride showed up she wasn't even close to ready.
I pulled out some Love and Logic techniques and said 'Oh no, it looks like you will miss your ride to school today. How do you think you will get there? I hope you don't miss anything important. That will be so sad.'
First Paige reacted with excuses... 'I was hurrying as fast as I could', 'Izzy was in my way', 'I can't find my socks'
Then with rage... 'I'm going to miss school and it's all your fault', etc.
Finally with pleading... 'When can you take me?'
My reply... 'Well, I'm taking Maren to preschool in 45 min. I'd be happy to drop you off on my way'.
When she realized this would result in her being tardy and possibly missing some school, she was in tears for quite some time. By the time I dropped her off at school, she was meek and repentant. I can't wait to see how early she gets ready for school tomorrow.
The problem with parenting is that it's never cut and dried. One minute I want to yell at her for not doing exactly what I say. The next, I want to do everything for her so . Someday (before they are all grown up) I hope I find that happy middle ground where I teach them to be responsible for themselves and also let them know how much I love and support them.

Monday, December 7, 2009

No Sugar - Day 8

No Sugar. What a stupid idea! How did we ever come up with that? However, I have to say that I have done pretty well. Definitely not perfect. But the cinnamon roll was my only major slip up. What I have really figured out this past week, is that I think about treats and baking way too much. I've also realized that it's not nearly as much of a temptation if it's not around. I haven't been baking and I haven't had anything too tempting near at hand. That has helped. Only one more week. Yippee!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

25 Days of Christmas

In order to get into the Christmas Spirit, we spent one night this week planning out activities for each day leading up to Christmas. Now we have a calendar full of holiday events to look forward to every day. Some are big - like the Nutcracker. Some are simple - like reading a Christmas story or baking cookies. Fun ones include skiing and caroling. Others are our yearly traditions - like a Shepherds dinner and decorating the Christmas tree. Tonight we did something new. We attended family night at the local Festival of Trees. It was fun to see all of the different and clever trees. Unfortunately, we missed Santa by a few minutes. But the girls assured us that it was OK, because that wasn't the real Santa anyway. How could the real Santa travel all of the way to Sandpoint right now? He's too busy getting all of the gifts ready, right?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Unfortunately, I don't have any great pictures of Thanksgiving. Just some cute ones of Maren dressed up for her Preschool Feast. But that doesn't mean Thanksgiving wasn't great. We spent it with Kirk's family. Kim & Lared hosted dinner at the farm. Leave it to the Whitby's to provide two different kinds of Turkey plus a Ham. The food was delicious and being surrounded by family was even better. The rest of the weekend was spent shooting, shopping (Kirk's idea, not mine), running, haircuts at Verna's salon, late night games of Rummikub, a temple session and, of course, plenty of eating (including sugar!). We have so much that we are thankful for. Spending the weekend with family is one of them.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

No Sugar - DAY 1

Actually, it is technically day 2. But since I couldn't help myself and ate a cinnamon roll that I had made for FHE last night, I decided to adjust my start date. Cassi, you were right, I was foolish to think I could resist.
Starting what, you ask? Two weeks without sugar. Crazy, I know. But I am trying to eat healthier and loose those stubbornly remaining baby pounds. My friend, Cassi, and I decided we would forgo sugar for two weeks. I am not cutting out every ounce of sugar, but trying not to eat foods with high amounts of refined sugars. No candy, cookies, sweet breads, jam, syrup, chocolate, etc. Fruits and naturally occurring sugars are OK.
This is going to be hard for me. It is the Holidays. I love chocolate and baked goods. Hey - I love to bake. But I am curious to see if I can make it. Today, at least, was a success. I even wrapped Christmas gifts for Kirk's employees which included bags of chocolates (their favorite) and Christmas candies. I resisted. My stomach rumbled, but I held fast. It may be that I have a reserve of sugar built up from everything I consumed over the Thanksgiving weekend. Hopefully, that will carry me through a little longer.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Crazy Hair Day

Last Friday was Crazy Hair Day at school. Paige opted for the poofy curls while Hannah went with twisty loops.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Put to Bed

I tucked my new blueberry plants into bed for the winter. Don't they look cozy in their blanket of pine shavings? I almost want to climb in and snuggle down for the winter with them.
Here are my garden beds with their black winter sheets. Don't they look sleek? I used to buy fancy garden cloth to cover them with. But a roll of black plastic from Home Depot does the same thing for a lot less $. The plastic keeps the cats out (they love it as a litter box), kills the weeds and helps the beds warm up quickly in the spring.

Let the Snow Begin!

Friday, November 13, 2009


I thought I'd better post a photo of Halloween. We began with a little trick-or-treating around the neighborhood then moved to the church for chili, games and yet more trick-or-treating. Lots of sugar was consumed that evening.
Maren - big lady bug
Isabelle - little lady bug
Paige - butterfly fairy
Hannah - equestrian rider

Lion King

If you have the opportunity, get tickets and go see the Lion King. It plays in Spokane until December 6th. We took Hannah and Paige last night. We were all mesmerized. The costumes were beyond amazing. The singing was spectacular and and the scenery was something that I could never have dreamed of. Paige put it best when she said (in the middle of the performance - very loudly) 'This is sooo much better than the movie'!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Ski Swap

The ski swap is coming up on Saturday. Snow is in the forecast. Skiing season is getting closer! Yippee!

Last night the girls tried on all of their ski clothes and ski gear. We made a list of what we need for this coming season. What luck! It looks like only our feet grew this year. We need two pair of ski boots and two sets of poles. I don't know how my parents outfitted 6 kids to ski each year. I can barely keep up with 3! It will be interesting when Izzy makes it 4.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Paige is in 2nd grade and really becoming a great reader. She is also learning to spell, but most of the time she still spells phonetically. I love this stage. Last week I felt like a broken record as I told the kids (for the gazillionth time) what they could and couldn't have for after school snacks. I must also add that Halloween was not that long ago and candy is still on their little minds. Candy is not considered an appropriate after school snack at our house. Anyway, after repeating myself yet again, I asked Paige to make a list to post to the refrigerator door. Here is her list of Healthy After-School Snacks... The photo is poor, so if you can't read it well - here is what she wrote: gogurts frut mufins cand pars carits uplsos cereal penit butr tost bred ches stiks penit butr and selre left over school lunches (Hannah) homemade granola (Hannah) pears (Hannah) Can anyone guess all 11 of Paige's items correctly?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Where are the falls?

This last weekend we packed up the car and headed off to Ione, Washington for a scenic train ride with the kids and my parents. It was a fun trip traveling from Ione to Metaline Falls and back in the fall colors. The kids had fun riding the train - especially when the conductor wasn't looking and they hung their heads out the window with the wind in their hair and the scenery whizzing by.
When we arrived in Metaline Falls and started back to Ione Paige (almost in tears) said, "But we didn't even get to see the falls. What was the point?' When we explained to her that there aren't any 'falls' in Metaline Falls and that we were on the train just to enjoy the ride, she was a little crestfallen. Without anything to anticipate for the rest of the ride she found just riding the train was fun. There were also some other highlights besides the ride...
We were able to spend lots of time with Grandma and Grandpa.
We did get to eat kettle corn and drink hot cocoa.
We also rode right over the Pend Oreille River as it funnels into the Box Canyon Dam.
And the scenery was beautiful.
The train rides are put on by the North Pend Oreille Valley Lions Club and are over for the season, but keep an eye out next year. They have rides starting in July. Check them out at

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cat People

After already having a dog in our married life - and knowing the work that goes into taking care of a pet - we were quite reluctant to add an animal to our already busy life. But I have been pleasantly surprised. Max and Sophie are happy when they get attention and just as happy left to themselves. They need food, water, a place to sleep and clean litter box. The girls have been doing a great job of meeting all of those needs, so I have been able to enjoy two sweet pets who like a little ear scratching and tummy rubbing every once in a while. The girls get to enjoy a little responsibility and lots of love and affection. Who would have known? Could I be a cat person after all? Probably not, but they are cute.