Archive | December, 2015

Puzzles Puzzles Puzzles

29 Dec

It feels like we’ve done 50 jigsaw puzzles in the last few months. Because of listing our house and the renovations this summer, we had our dining room table in our garage for the first six months of 2015. Then when we pulled it out, we had too many dinner parties in the new pub room to really get any puzzles going. But then the fall happened. And so did all our puzzles.

We went through every one in the house we had that we hadn’t done yet, including this 2,000 piece monster that my mom had insisted we take from her years ago that I equally insisted I would never do. But then we wanted a challenge because we were going too quickly through 1,000 piece puzzles. And boy did we get it.

IMG_20151229_080408We call it “the blue puzzle”. And I hated almost every moment of putting it together — plus it took us weeks.

IMG_20151229_081458We did feel really good when we put the final piece in. Which, tragically, was not the actual last puzzle piece.

puzzleSo then we got this one as an antidote. It was really, really fun and I loved every minute.

IMG_20151229_080129We did a couple 1,000 and even a 500 piece one; then, after Christmas, we put together this 2,000 piece in two days. I couldn’t believe it! We’re getting too fast.

So now there are several more 2,000 waiting in the wings, and then we want to do a 3,000. After that, we’re debating if we want to do a 5,000 piece or just bite the bullet and go straight to 18,000  because there is one I particularly like. Once you get up to the big puzzles, there are a lot fewer options, and I really care about the picture I’m putting together. Plus I can generally tell how easy or hard a puzzle will be to put together, and I don’t want to do any more that remind me of our blue puzzle.

When Dave first mentioned doing a really large puzzle, I thought he was crazy. Until I did some research and realized they don’t actually make you do 18,000 or 32,000 pieces at once, because really, that would be insane and unmanageable. They generally keep the big ones to about 4,000 to 4,500 a bag, which I totally feel comfortable doing. And so we’re going to!

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten to such a puzzling state that last night we watched, and actively enjoyed, YouTube videos of people putting together really large puzzles. And other people making puzzles.

You might say we are addicted.

But look how cool.

Advertisements

Meeting Santa and other Xmas activities

23 Dec

Early December we went to Stone Mountain to have breakfast with Santa. It was a benefit for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, and it was really fun. The food was surprisingly good, we sang Christmas carols, lawyers dressed up as elves and did a really good job, and we waited anxiously for Rudolph, Santa, and Mrs. Claus.

WithSanta-036

WithSanta-038

Walter still doesn’t really like meeting Santa (he’s more a fan of the general idea or if Santa stays in a cartoon movie), but he did like picking out a gift from the giant tables full of toys!

You know your day is going to be good when there is Mod Podge and glitter involved. This week we made Christmas ornaments and had a ball. They were little nativity scenes, and Walter’s were very abstract in their final display. But like he reminded me, it’s just a mom, dad, and little baby. A good story for all!

IMG_20151217_065958

Because I refused to go to the Botanical Gardens Lights yet again this year, I did some research and we opted for the Atlanta Motor Speedway lights, which made my husband really, really happy because you get to drive on the track!

holiday lights

The line is long to get in, but not terrible as long as you don’t hate the company you’re with! I annoyed my FIL by turning Christmas carols up and singing the entire time. It was fun driving through the concession area at the speedway, and I especially liked any light-filled tunnels, and the reindeer who flew over our car. It was tacky and ridiculous, but Walter loved it, and I enjoyed the novelty.

Then there was Santa’s village!

IMG_20151219_204211036Christmas-themed coloring pages.

IMG_20151219_205210673_HDRRiding the horses!

IMG_20151219_205642990Family carousel selfie!

IMG_20151219_210110508Walter loved all the colored lights since I refused to put them on our tree this year!

At least it was cold for this event, since it’s supposed to be close to 80° and raining on actual Christmas Day here in the ATL. We’re looking forward to a relaxed Christmas vacation filled with puzzles and movies and food and pajamas… Happy Wassailia everyone!

How to be a Diva: 3 steps

22 Dec

The Diva Cup:

It will literally change your life. You’ll never have to worry if you have a tampon on you. You’ll barely have to think about your period except a couple times a day. You’ll save oodles of money, plus you’re helping out the environment AND your body. What more could you ask for? OK, I sometimes supplement with a reusable cotton pad, but I’m equally excited about those. It’s this kind of stuff we should be sending to girls and women who can’t go to school or work because of their periods.

diva

Magnesium Supplements:

I used to have terrible PMS, and, once my period started, I would take 600mg of Ibuprofen every 3 hours for four days just to survive til the next time I could lay down. Granted, my period has been better since I had my son, but it still wasn’t easy. Now, my period sneaks up on me (no zits either!), and I take only 400-800mg of Ibuprofen per day for the first 2-3 days of my period. I eat relatively healthy, but this supplement is my favorite so far of all the new supplements I’m taking. One 500mg pill every other day, and poof my PMS went away.

magnesium

Women’s lit:

Taking Charge of Your Fertility (which is not just about getting pregnant), Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Nursing Mother’s Companion, and Period Repair Manual. It’s important to graduate high school and go get a college degree… but what about learning about your own body? These four books will get you started in the best possible way.

There are many stages to our lives as women. These are the best books I’ve read and cover most of what you would want to know about what physically goes on inside of you. Don’t be afraid. It’s pretty miraculous and really, really cool.

Ladies Book Club

8 Dec

It’s been fairly transformative to be a part of this neighborhood, women-only, book club since this summer.

The last book we read was My Life in France by Julia Child — though written by her great-grandnephew. Who is a fantastic writer. He made me fall in love with Julia. WWJD: my new motto.

IMG_20151114_123256

Julia married “late” in life, but to a fantastic man who whisked her off to Paris where she learned to love food and become an expert cook and then an international bestseller and beloved TV star.

julia_child_le_cordon_bleu

IMG_20151114_123119

IMG_20151114_123041

Paul Child: photographer, wine lover, graphic designer,  and lover of the world.

Julia and Paul Child

And a new dear friend Hannah, among others, brought her to us, and then threw us a dinner party with all Julia recipes — it was all Julia, all night! A beautiful night in a beautiful home with beautiful people.

IMG_20151111_214119347

And our goody bag was a fondue package which I shared with Dave and friends at a game night later in the week.

IMG_20151114_204244826

Sharing just makes everything better.

Edison didn’t get it right on the first try #infertilityproblems

7 Dec

Dealing with secondary infertility is hard. On one hand, you’ve had a kid, so you don’t fit in with people who have primary infertility. And then, you don’t fit in with those of an abundance of fecundity. My least favorite reaction, that I’ve gotten from many people, is: “At least you have one”… is that supposed to make me feel better? Or stop me from feeling my feelings? Do you think I’ve forgotten how lucky I am to have my son?

But really it’s my own internal thoughts that drive me nuts. I keep wondering… If God is in charge… does he not want me to have another one? If that’s true, is it because of Walter or because of me? Is Walter so special that I need to do even more for him? Or am I not a good enough mother to deserve another one?

Then on my good days I think… maybe the kids I produce are just so very awesome that it takes a long time to get it right. My one stellar kid equals like four regular kids.

Or, maybe not everyone is supposed to get pregnant whenever they want. Maybe it’s normal to space out kids every five years or so.

Maybe I’m supposed to adopt? I feel it calling to me.

But all I really want, at this point, is to stop thinking about it. I want to stop being reminded every day by either myself or external factors that there is even an issue. I need to live in the moment.

Comme ci, comme ça

12241038_10153485173694425_5490774137094924888_o

Right now we’re at a bit of an impasse. My regular midwife says “Oh plan a big trip you can’t get out of, and then you’ll get pregnant.” The fertility specialist I’ve seen once says it’s either endometriosis or unexplained infertility, both of which require IUI or IVF. Neither of which I’m planning on doing.

I’ve had a saline sonogram (which was terrible) and an HSG (which was not). Lots of bloodwork and ultrasounds. Charting: BBT, CM, cervical position. You get really good at understanding the acronyms on TTC conceive boards.

You read about people who have been trying for eight years with no success, and you feel incredibly lucky. You read about people who are frustrated after four months, and you want to say: chin up, you don’t have it so bad.

We’re looking in to supplements and diet changes, as I’ve been reading a lot about naturopathy and fertility. I basically do it all wrong as it stands, which I suppose for my body really matters (even though I think I was much more unhealthy before I got knocked up with Walt). We’re also seriously thinking about adoption. Hopefully in the next year or two we’ll add a bundle of joy to the Johnston clan, no matter what biology throws at us. And if Dave is lucky, it won’t be several new kittens.

Thanksgiving in pictures

6 Dec

IMG_20151120_224915360My brother came into town from Brussels via a giant company party in Mexico. The Paris attacks occurred right before he left, and then Brussels was on lockdown most of the time he was in Atlanta and my sister-in-law and nephew were back at home.

IMG_20151120_234111619I’m glad this chick loves me.

IMG_20151204_212325Retiring Dikembe Mutombo’s number.

IMG_20151126_091819597_HDRMy happy little kitchen helpers to help me make the pumpkin pie.

IMG_20151126_114906And it turned out yummy — Julia Child’s recipe.

DSC_0246-2My family.

DSC_0261Walter and his cousins.

DSC_0251
My youngest cousin and his new GF.

IMG_20151126_153856561Of course there was croquet on the lawn before dessert.

IMG_20151126_153900853Rafa enjoying frustrating Walt.

IMG_20151127_095003024More Krispy Kreme. We live too close.

The Master of Weekends

5 Dec

I don’t usually post about how often I post, because I find that to be one of the most annoying clichés used in blogging, but it’s been so long that WordPress has changed in my absence. For anyone new reading my blog, there’s enough to slough through for days! I’ve been writing for over three years, and if you get through that – and you’re savvy enough – you can probably find some horrid livejournal account I wrote as a teen out there somewhere in internet land.

But for those of you who have been with me for a while, I just saw that I’ve only posted once in the last three months. This isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. I have 18 drafts waiting to be edited and put out there for the world to read, but a lot of them are of a somewhat political nature. And my personal posts usually involve photos, which has been hampered lately by my desktop crashing, along with my photos. I will post more, and soon, it just isn’t the right time yet. As Julia Child says, asked when her next book will be done: “When it is done.” She is my newest hero.

I recently had a perfect weekend. It was perfectly miserable outside every day (and was for at least a week straight), but I managed to find the only time it wasn’t raining on Saturday to photograph some very sweet girls I used to nanny. I really appreciate the chance to stay connected, to take these photos every year, and to see them grow up.

DSC_0167-2

The weekend really started on Thursday night, when I had a girls’ night out with Katye and Whitney at a Junior League event at the Williams-Sonoma in Ponce City Market. We had the babies with us, who were of course the talk of the party because they’re so stinking cute. I got to be Brady’s date — he fell asleep on me for 45 minutes! We also were given a coffee demonstration of a Nespresso machine, which I now want. The coffee was fantastic. Probably some of the best coffee I’ve ever had. And the tastings were delicious, but we still ordered from Panita Thai as soon as we got home. I feel confident saying that it claims the prize of most delicious Thai food in Atlanta right now.

IMG_5768

My mom dropped off Tashi, her adorable shih tzu, on Friday, which was great since it got very cold all weekend and we just cuddled in front of the fire all day reading, puzzling, watching movies, playing Legos, building with Magna-tiles… I love being stuck inside, because I love indoor activities. I could read books all day long every day. Saturday night we watched the movie Whiplash, which is a fantastic, well-done, very intense film about a budding jazz drummer. I loved it, and it also set the stage for our next and final evening of that fabulous weekend.

Sunday was the most interesting day. In the morning Dave and I made the most delicious breakfast burrito we’ve ever made before, which Walter of course refused to eat. Then we cleaned up a bit, puzzled some more, showered, etc. We again ordered Panita Thai for take out with my parents at my mom’s house. We needed to drop off the baby and my mom’s dog because we had a concert to go to!

The week before, I decided to check for Puscifer tickets on a lark, assuming there would be none as Tool shows usually sell out in a few minutes (or less) for much bigger venues. I had wanted to buy them a month earlier when they had gone on sale, but we didn’t have it in the budget at the time. Lo and behold, there were seats available for the cheapest price! And wouldn’t you know it, they turned out to be great seats! So of course I bought two as soon as I had cleared babysitting with Nini.

Maynard James Keenan likes to perform with Puscifer at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, which is wildly fantastic because the place was designed specifically for musical shows, and the seats and bathrooms are of high quality. So are the people working there, and the decor. It is where grown-ups go to listen to music. And, as it turns out, I am becoming one of those grown-ups who likes a decent place to see a show.

IMG_20151108_222134962-2

Walt, on the night of the show, kept telling us that yes, he was 18, not three, and he should be allowed to go to the concert with mommy. Oh, children always want to grow up too fast!

It was dangerous driving around Sunday night, with the rain, temperatures, wind, and wet leaves everywhere on the road. We took back roads after making a pit stop at Lowe’s to buy a new doorbell and to use the restroom. I am nearly blind at night, but I had on my glasses and was trying to help. At one point we almost ran in to a deer. When we finally got to the theatre, I was frisked pretty good coming inside. It was 90% airport intensity.

Once inside we traveled up to the Grand Tier, stopping to grab a couple Monday Night Brews on the way. This very nice concession stand gentleman worker showed me a picture of “my baby,” by which I thought he meant grandbaby, since he looked pretty old. Whoops. There was a long moment of awkwardness as I congratulated him several times, and took off.

We got to our seats just as Maynard walked out and the show started. It then proceeded to be a perfect experience, except for the time a girl dropped her phone on Dave’s head, forgot to apologize, then interrupted us for several minutes shouting about getting her phone back as it had dropped down several rows. The man in front of us, who had been enthusiastically dancing to the songs in his seat (because in this place you sit when you listen to music), got yelled at by security for being on his phone, then he half stood up and shouted to his girlfriend about gosh-knows-what for half a song before leaving for a bathroom break. Sometimes people-watching is more interesting than the main act!

But what a show Maynard puts on!

To me, it is like church. The music he creates with others and the entire experience (when he cares, because I’ve seen how he acts when he’s just doing something to make money) is spiritual. It has always been this way when I see his shows — and really any other amazing live performance, especially music.

On the way home from yet another wonderful evening with Maynard & co., we stopped to get hot Krispy Kreme donuts and a decaf coffee. And one of their 2016 coupon calendars that features pictures of cute animals posed with donuts. Cause who doesn’t need one of those?