Archive | June, 2013

How to get your eyebrows waxed postpartum

26 Jun

It had been months since my last eyebrow waxing. Maybe since my cousin’s wedding, which was 8 months ago. There is only so much plucking I can do before I give up. So when Jason and I decided to have lunch together today up in Chamblee, I knew it would be a good opportunity to stop by my favorite and only trusted nail salon in the city, A Nail Fame.

I wasn’t quite sure what to do with Walter. A couple weeks ago I got a bang trim by my fabulous friend and stylist Laura at Mint Salon, and I was able to hold Walter in my lap with the cape draped over his head while he played with the silver clips in her apron. That worked. I figured it would be a similar situation today, only with my eyes closed and the baby dangerously close to smearing hot wax all over my face.

They led me into the back room and I mentioned I had never brought the baby in before and I would probably just hold him. The entire staff are very friendly Asian ladies – and one male – and the lady who would be working on me walked out the door to talk to her friend. I thought I heard something along the lines of “holding the baby.” I knew this spelled trouble because Walter has an aversion to being held by anyone but me and Dave. He still cries when his grandparents take him from our arms. But rarely he can be intrigued by strangers or deal with it, so I told them he’d probably cry and handed the baby to the lady holding out her arms.

He held his breath for so long between cries I thought he was going to pass out. It was the quickest eyebrow waxing I’ve ever had to endure (yet still good work) and the whole time he was screaming while the lady bounced him up and down in the room with us and I swear both of them were looking at me like “when will this horrifying time be over?” Though she did refuse my repeated idea that she could hand the baby back to me.

When I came out of the room holding Walt again, every pair of eyes in the salon stared at us as we walked up to the cash register. I don’t think it was only that we had disturbed their relaxing pedicures but that maybe I had had some cosmetic waxing done on my little boy. I was tempted to say something along the lines of “Belated circumcision! I’m surprised he didn’t cry more!”

I gave them a big tip.

Lots of people like to try to hold Walt, including this sweet fellow churchgoer. As the assistant pastor said when he saw this picture: “It looks like they have the same expression on their faces!”


Mama’s “I wish I was still at the beach” Post

25 Jun

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Mama, I love the beach!!!

No pinching allowed.

I love the Atlantic surf. Early morning walks are the best. If you don’t get to sleep in, that is, which we didn’t, cause we have a 10 month old.

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My mother’s sea shell collection from her daily walks.

The pool was great too. Chewing on a hat in the pool? Even better.

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My dad’s signature pose.

Lazy breakfasts every morning. We went through a lot of bacon. Walt enjoyed his French Toast!

In the name of the Father, Son, and Atlantic Ocean, amen.

Our condo.

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Hunting sharks’ teeth.

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Mama the waves are over there!


At the beach, we’re a hat family. Just leave me here, I’ll be OK, thanks.

Neighborhood Tidbits

24 Jun

The Peachtree Road Race is next week. Neither Dave nor I have been training for it. Unless training for a 10k involves a lazy week at the beach with lots of food and alcohol. We could have taken walks on the beach, but instead we looked for sharks teeth.

I was out for a walk the other day when an old man who lives next to the purple house with the amazing garden stopped me and Walt to invite us to his 97th birthday party. He told me that I could bring my husband and that I should BYOB. I started doubting his lucidity when he said Obama was invited to his birthday party too. And then that he had signed the Constitution. At least he knew who the current President was. At one point he said his day was bad because he had to pay the city a $250,000 fine for gas tanks in his trunk (Illegal gas tanks? What was he talking about?) and then later told me he had never had a bad day in his life. I thought I liked his quirkiness until he said he had never met a baby he couldn’t take from it’s mama.

Sometimes we have this interesting young gentleman help us with our yard work. He did a good job the first time and then the next few times we’ve wondered why we keep offering him money for his work. This weekend was the final straw. He did such a bad job mowing the lawn that David not only had to redo it but fix where he scattered mulch everywhere. He also put an almost dead bird on our porch, imploring us to nurse it back to health. After he was gone I noticed that the bird was no longer on our porch. I asked Dave about it and he was clueless as to its whereabouts. Until we spotted it in our vegetable garden, laying among the corn stalks.

Some nitwits planted a very pretty garden around the beautiful oak tree in their yard a couple weeks ago and this apparently hurt the oak tree. The leaves on several of the branches are dead now, and they need to call an arborist immediately before the whole tree dies. Those Johnstons don’t know a thing about gardening around established oak trees, it seems.

The little purple flowers in our yard are called Sentimental Blue Balloons. The name alone makes me want to buy more of them, besides the fact that they are so pretty.

Why does our neighborhood Kroger not sell spicy hot salsa or spicy hot cheese dip? Who decreed that medium hot was acceptable?

At the beach.

19 Jun

I love the beach. There is nothing like a beach vacation. Traveling the world is an amazing thing, but there is something special about staring at the ocean, relaxing, and grabbing a glass of wine while you do so. The ocean is a mystery to me. So vast, so full of life, directed by the moon… Just looking at it makes me feel small, yet also meaningful. The tiniest plankton play a big part in a giant whale’s life.

The view from our back porch. I love the Atlantic!

My dad rented a beautiful condo on the beach for an entire week for us. I don’t think I’ve ever stayed so close to the beach. I was able to take Walt out for a walk before breakfast, before anyone else got up this morning. It’s a very large and wonderful condo. We’ve spent most of our meals cooking them together as a family, which has been fun; even the cleanup isn’t so bad. The only thing that could make this whole week better was if I had remembered to bring my own pillow from home. The car was so full I’m surprised I hadn’t packed our entire bed!

At a rest stop on the way down. Apparently plane rides are more fun for Walt than long car rides. Which means I don’t like long car rides anymore either.

My brother and his wife and baby girl were able to join us for a few nights as well. They come from Miami, so Ponte Vedra Beach is midway between all of us. Perfect! We don’t get to see them very often, and usually when they come to Atlanta they stay with our mother, so it was great to stay in the same condo with them. The house was very full with babies and laughter and beach balls! Maia is only 4 months older than Walt, so I love getting them together.

Sweet cousins. So big already!

We of course went as soon as we could to the Palm Valley Fish Camp for dinner. That place is a delicious, unique seafood restaurant with the best desserts ever. Always recommended for any occasion.

Trying his first fried fish.

Family fun.

Loving his Uncle Brad

My sweet, sweet family. How I love them! This was a happy 1st Father’s Day for David, the best father I could ask for my little boy ever.


18 Jun

Our flower garden is blooming all over, and I wanted to capture some of the prettiness while I had a chance. I love the variety of color we now have!


Double Knock Out Rose


Trying out different focal points with the camera.


Hydrangea from last year looks so pretty this year.


Buddha that marks/protects our sweet kitties’ graves. In front of him are the only flowers that grew from the seed packets I spread out last year.


Lilies, lilies, daisies, and gardenias!


The color of these lilies is much prettier this year than last year. When they were new last year they looked a little burnt.


Can’t remember the name of these flowers, but I love the color and happiness of their blooms.

Mama’s Laundry Thesis

17 Jun

I used to never worry about laundry before in my life. I used Tide with Bleach or Oxyclean, and that was that. But now, with a baby, with cloth diapers, with my burgeoning sense of environmentalism, I am transforming.

Based on a friend’s recommendation I had switched the family laundry to Charlie’s Soap. I liked it okay. Our clothes didn’t smell dirty, at least, even if they didn’t smell like a fresh linen breeze like I was used to. But the cloth diapers were getting more and more stained every week, even with baking soda and vinegar in the wash too.

So I switched to Nellie’s Laundry Powder. And wow. The diapers are almost white again. I do need to get Dave to hang a clothes line, because the more my house feels like a family farm, the happier I am. Our clothes smell even better. And, the laundry container has this very cute picture of a woman and her dog happily doing laundry. That’s an awesome 1950s housewife sales tactic. I fell for it. Because if anything I’d like to be a 1950s housewife on a family farm; I could pull it off in those cute dresses.


I use our Downy ball for adding vinegar to the wash, both regular and cloth diapers. I have also stopped using dryer sheets and never used fabric softener. In the winter I put safety pins on clothes to help with static cling. I’m not sure that really does much, but apparently dryer sheets are the devil’s handiwork in terms of chemicals and such. I haven’t really needed to use baking soda since I switched to Nellie’s, but I’ll add it to things like sheets and towel loads for a little extra power.

How I wash our Charlie Banana diapers:
Knock off poop and separate before putting in dry hamper. We do a load every three days. Heavy cold cycle with 1/3 scoop of Nellie’s. Heavy warm cycle with 2/3 scoop of Nellie’s. Put in dryer for 65 minutes on low. Pull out covers, dry inserts for an extra 35 minutes. It took many, many tries before I figured out the pattern that worked for us.

Funny thing was, when we got back from California and started using cloth diapers again (we used disposables on our trip), Dave said, “I’m so glad we’re back to cloth diapers and wipes. They’re so much easier.” I never thought I’d hear him say that, but it makes me happy!

99 Bags of Mulch in the Yard

12 Jun

A catchy song and literally true! I was naive and thought about 35 bags of mulch would cover three garden areas. That turned out to be incorrect.

Things are a’changin’ around here, and I like it. My mother generously has devoted a lot of her time to help my project, and my husband, yet again, graciously put out a lot of hard work for another one of my ideas. Luckily it’s a home improvement, so it’s easier for him to say yes when it involves him spending time at Lowe’s.

I have always hated the AT&T box in our front yard. The feelings have only been growing over the last few years, especially when we found out there was nothing to be done about it. So we decided to put a lot of effort (and some money) into fixing up the yard so the box wouldn’t be so prominent.


On the right side of this beautiful picture taken two years ago during Atlanta’s big snow storm, you can see the box. There is also a large AT&T cylinder. There used to be Egyptian reeds blocking the box from view, but AT&T tore those up. Eventually we got them to plant new ones, but they never grew and only made it look more hideous and messy. In the picture you can also see the ivy that surrounds a very large, very pretty oak tree. However, this old gem makes the grass surrounding it never grow. So. Our solution:

Step One & Two: Build retainer wall and till new garden area.DSC_0242 DSC_0243 DSC_0246

Step Three: Buy lots of dirt and mulch. Distribute.
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Step Four and More: Till topsoil into Georgia clay. Plant new plants. Lay down landscape tarp. Cover with mulch. Enjoy!

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We also covered the previously existing garden with black mulch and added a couple more plants for extra color. The hostas have been entirely unhappy the last three years in their current spot, so they transferred to under the dogwood and replaced with beautiful hydrangeas. Azaleas (pink and white and purple) will eventually grow big enough to block the box. The whole yard is cleaned up and beautiful. Very exciting!

But of course, we’re not quite finished. We still have to put borders around the new garden and finish up a few other things. The plants around the mailbox look very unhappy and thus ugly. But I think that’s the way it is when you own a house; an ever-evolving project.

Our California Trip part III, or How Walt cried when he saw the Pacific Ocean

5 Jun

Funny thing about our child. Long plane ride? Fine. Staying up til all hours of the day and night? OK. Seeing a beautiful ocean? Tears of despair.

Our hotel was right next to the Santa Monica Pier.

Estimating whether we could make it to the beach before lunch.

No baby, I’m not trying to torture you. Most people love the beach.

Showing Walter what “ocean” and “horizon” and “waves” are. Before we dipped his toes in, of course.


Meeting up with old friends.

Mama’s happy to be near the ocean!

No, not some peaceful, enlightening experience. True and utter horror.

David got the flu too. The tissues made an entrance into our family photos!

You can’t even tell that a bird just pooped on me.

And then we helped Uncle Frank and Aunt Margaret pack for their cross country move. Residency in NJ!

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Breakfast on the Promenade before the plane ride home. Much bigger plane this time. We were so much more comfortable, and all of us took a long nap together (sweet memories). Delicious ending to a wonderful trip. When are we going back? Walt told me he’s desperate to see San Francisco and experience wine country!

Our California Trip part II, or How we tortured the baby with lack of sleep

4 Jun

Being sick, traveling all day, then dinner with red wine made going to bed “early” on Thursday night easy. Which then made waking up at 4am with the baby less painful. When he’s only a few feet from the end of your bed, there’s not much choice in the matter. Unless you’re David and you can sleep through baby wailing. He’s been able to do that since the baby was born. I am still incredibly jealous.

That morning was hazy. We nursed, fed the baby, played on the king size bed (Walt had a lot of fun crawling around and face planting into the sheets), and went out to breakfast. Half the family went to an invite-only doctor luncheon, father-in-law wanted McDonald’s, and I wanted to walk around to a local coffee shop. Besides, I needed tea for my sore throat. And we had to hit up the grocery store for more baby food.

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Walt got a good nap in after breakfast, and I would have too except David woke me up to tell me he was going to walk around with his dad and brother-in-law. I’m not sure willing myself to go back to sleep for an hour gave me any more rest, but when you’re sick, it’s always nice to be still.

We met up with everyone for lunch at a Thai restaurant nearby, before trying to get Walt another nap before the graduation festivities at 5pm. He briefly slept and we headed off. California weather is beautiful this time of year, and graduation was outside. We were all worried about getting too hot but it turned out to be a little chilly. Walt lasted through two student speeches filled with inside jokes, a commencement speaker who’s sending private citizens into space and revolutionizing medical technology (I want to read his book), and his uncle being hooded before he lost it. We took him to a vacant building nearby, found a bit of the last sunshine of the afternoon, and I nursed him. We were lucky that he fell asleep on us many times this trip. He used to only want to sleep on us when he was a newborn, but the older he grows the harder it is for him to stay asleep on us. It was a treat to be so cuddly with our baby this weekend.

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Walt’s first big vacation was with his whole Johnston family! Great-Granny, all his uncles and aunts (including his gestating cousin!), his grandparents, and his parents!

A lovely Johnston family photo!

Lookin’ good in Cali


Getting lost on the way to a celebratory dinner at Killer Shrimp did not help the baby sleep issue. It was almost 9pm by the time we got there, parked, and ordered our food. Walt hardly ate anything all evening and was clearly at the end of his patience, although he still was delightful in spite of everything. Dave and I ended up getting our food to-go so we could put the baby to bed. I couldn’t imagine trying to keep him up a couple more hours. It would have been cruel. We were disappointed to leave, but it turned out that a little hotel picnic, whispering so we wouldn’t wake the baby, was really fun and definitely a unique experience for us. That shrimp was good!


Our California trip part 1, or How the Johnstons brought the flu to LA

3 Jun

I have to admit that I am really impressed with my child. I don’t think every nine month old could travel cross country with such elegance and awesomeness. I was worried about the plane flight, the time difference, and sharing a room with the baby. Turns out I didn’t need to worry about any of that. He rarely ever cried, slept like a champ in his random hotel crib, didn’t wake us up in the middle of the night (unless you count 4am the first morning as the middle of the night. Which I would have if we all hadn’t gone to bed at 9pm California time), and never complained about pressure changes or cramped spaces on the flights.

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I had been sick the few days before we were supposed to leave. So sick, in fact, that I didn’t think I was going to be able to go on this long-anticipated trip. In all fairness to the other passengers stuck on board with me and to my body, I probably should have stayed at home in bed. But my brother-in-law only graduates from medical school once! And I really didn’t want David to go to Los Angeles without me and the baby. And if I was at home sick, I wanted him to take care of me, which wasn’t going to happen. I had even talked my mother into coming over and staying with me and Walt until I felt better.

So it took me until ten minutes before David was supposed to leave to decide that I was going too. The baby was still napping and neither of us were packed. Luckily my in-laws arrived – to pick David up – and instead of freaking out they helped us get ready. I sure am glad these people love me! We left 35 minutes later than expected, stuffed 7 people in a car meant for 6 (even though everyone had a seat belt on), put on the automated food machine for the cat, and ran out the door. We made it onto the plane right before they closed the doors!

I tried not to cough or breathe on anyone too much. There were tissues everywhere in my pockets and bags, and descending on the plane with that sinus pressure was the worst thing I have ever experienced on a plane. And I have had some bad plane rides before. My head has never hurt like that before, and I thought it was going to explode. Literally. But it didn’t. Thank goodness.

We had to double back to the car rental shop for a larger car seat, and by the time we got to the hotel my father-in-law needed a beer before we even checked in! I would have joined him except I try not to drink until after I’ve put the baby to bed for the night since he still nurses. Which ended up being a godsend on the plane because nursing calmed him down or let him nap whenever he got fussy.

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We stayed at this wonderful hotel right next to the Santa Monica pier that had delicious king sized beds and a housekeeping staff that was nice enough to drop off a fresh box of tissues every day without us even having to ask.

Dinner the first night was early – California time, at least – and at this place with a wonderful outdoor patio. We don’t get to do that very often in Atlanta due to the heat, bugs, rain, and humidity. I enjoyed myself even though I couldn’t hear anything or breathe through my nose. It’s hard to take cold medicine when you’re nursing. So much to worry about concerning milk supply and what the baby will get when he eats. But I stuffed myself with garlic rolls and red wine anyway! And I even had a bite of tiramisu for dessert!

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Walt was a trooper and lasted until the car ride home. Then we quickly washed the plane ride off him and tucked him into bed before falling asleep ourselves. Hello, California!