Tag Archives: Christmas

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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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The Annual MamaJohnston Christmas Card

6 Jan

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Every year I love sending out a Christmas card. I love picking out the photos to use (and the taking of the photos!), designing the card, hand addressing and stamping over 200 cards during a time of year when everything is hectic anyway — and joyful of course! And I really love how I spend all year reading books so I can create an annual recommended reading list, and I hear back from a lot of people about that idea!

This year, however, is a bit bittersweet for me after last year. In 2013 I sent out our cards and one of my friends sent back a very cute card about The 12 Southern Days of Christmas with a note inside and I thought, “Oh gosh I really should invite him over for dinner since we haven’t seen him since Walter was born and that’s way too long” but I didn’t get around to it for three weeks and then I got a call from a mutual friend saying that our professor had killed himself. And now he will never know how much I regret not turning around instantaneously to send him a quick email saying “Yes, I want to see you!”

At his funeral I heard another friend say that she had gotten a surprise Christmas card from him as well, and I can’t help thinking that he was saying goodbye or maybe even reaching out one last time and all of us failed him.

So I will continue sending out the yearly Johnston holiday card, because I love snail mail and take every opportunity to share a bit of paper now and again with friends, but I will always think of the professor when I do so. I hope he sees all my 2014 and beyond cards from that peaceful afterlife we call heaven.

During Christmas you must go visit a holiday light show

3 Jan

There were many joys this Christmas but one of the best was going to the Botanical Gardens Lights show with a little boy who is in love with lights. “Lights light lights” was his first word, after all.

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Amazed by the infinity pond of lights.

IMG_20141221_190634610~2 The guard lady asked him to quit touching the lights. Eh, he wasn’t hurting anything, just examining what it did to the reflection on the water when he moved the strands.

IMG_20141221_190834600~2 It was really hard to keep him from running on to the lawn to play with the lights. I could bring a camping chair and sit and watch this for hours.

IMG_20141221_210526991~2 Afterward we went to Hearth and ordered a million pizzas, yum. Walt was maybe a bit tired, but what a trooper!

For Christmas

28 Dec

Truth be told I missed going to service at our church on Christmas Eve, but besides that this has been the best Christmas I’ve had in a long time, and they’re usually pretty good. For the last 11 years (of adulthood) I’ve either been in Europe celebrating Christmas or at home attending lots of family and friend gatherings (usually with out of town visitors too since so many people I met in various schools around Atlanta have inevitably moved out of town again but everyone always comes back in town over the holidays). I like to be social, but it is very hard to party all day every day and still get the work done that I usually need to, take full-time care of my child, and do all the extra Christmas stuff I like to do: make and send Christmas cards, get a unique gift for each person on my gift list, decorate, etc., and also take care of our house well enough to sell it! Don’t look now; it’s still trashed from the present extravaganza this week.

Our biggest wish for 2015: we are trying to move to the suburbs. My/our dream is happening! Space! Schools for Walt (if homeschooling doesn’t work)! A fenced in yard! Plenty of craft space (that one’s for me). Great garage for all of Dave’s tools. We just have to sell our house first, by March 7th. And we’d prefer to not lose a ton of money now that the economy is doing pretty well again. I think. I guess that depends on which news source you listen to.

I had fun this year making gifts for family. Mostly paintings and other framed work.

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Dave’s family had this sign growing up in their cabin at Lake Rabun.
So I made a painting of it (the original is wooden) to give to his sister.

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I love established signs, so I decided to make my own. I made copies for siblings with appropriate states (or in one case Germany), names, and dates.

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My favorite! A garden of grandchildren hand prints for Nini!

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This was another awesome painting I did for my newest nephew. I love it and plan on making more to sell on Etsy. When I open that Etsy shop I’ve been planning to do for the past year. Maybe 2015 will be my lucky year when everything on my to-do list gets done!

Today was the last day that family was in town, which is sad, especially since work starts back again tomorrow. I can’t say enough how much more I like David being around all week with me and Walter rather than at the office. It’s just been a joy to celebrate the holidays with the many people that I love.

A thoughtful little moment in my life.

16 Dec

I was driving home from my favorite church meeting of the year last night and thinking about how lately I’ve been all “I’ll be happy when this happens” or “Once that gets done I can be happy,” and that’s just not a good way to live. It is putting qualifications on my general enjoyment of life. And while lately it has been very stressful no matter what mood I’m in, I simply need to be happy in the present. I can’t say “Oh if our house sells everything will be OK” or “If I can just get pregnant again I won’t have to worry about that anymore.”

Christmas is just one more time of year that reminds me of what I have to be thankful for. A beautiful, healthy boy. A nice roof over my head. A lovely husband to share my mealtimes and accomplishments and sorrows with. Clean, running water. Lots of friends. The ability to dress as I want and study what I please. An annoying yet cuddly kitten. I could go on and on.

Our church’s Joint Session meeting is always in December, and the deacons and elders meet for supper and sharing of our faith stories. It is an introduction as well as a deepening of understanding among some of our fellow members. Two years ago I shared my story for the first time, and as I had looked around the table there were many I didn’t know. Last night there were so many familiar faces, it was wonderful to know what being a part of something can do to integrate you into a system. I could have stayed on the outside looking in, but being in the mix is much more exhilarating. I believe I’ve made friends for life through this church, no matter where I might fly off to.

For those of you who know me well, you might know that I am a skeptical yet trusting person. Those things might be contradictory, but hey, life is full of the unexpected. When I was a kid I was enamored by the phrase “Expect the Unexpected” (frequently bombarding my family with the acronym ETU). I don’t know what life will bring, whether it be glorious and glittering, or if I will be able to make lemonade with the lemons, but I hope I continue to be both trusting and skeptical. I think my skepticism keeps me on my toes, and I can also use my trusting nature (some might call it naiveté) to make sure I don’t drown in the negativity that is so easy to wallow in.

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A Forget-Me-Not Thanksgiving Weekend.

5 Dec

We’re breezing in to December and I bet Christmas will be over with before we know it. I hope it’s as good as our long Thanksgiving holiday was. Thanksgiving is by far my favorite big one of the year. It doesn’t have quite the same amount of pressure that Christmas does, and all obligations are over by Thursday evening. Then you have a full 3 day weekend to enjoy yourself. And this year the weather was perfect to choose between being out and about and sitting inside relaxing.

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My brother came in town. He lives in Europe now and his job doesn’t send him to America as often as his old one did. I miss when he and his family lived in Woodstock. It was far but we went out there once a week for family dinner. And now we want to move out that way and live outside of the city. So we’d be close if they ever moved back!

He convinced me to go out to Virginia Highlands for a night on the town with our cousin. I took my first Uber ride, which was interesting. What a great service to provide! Our driver was a very nice man from Aghanistan driving a very nice, clean car. A friend of my cousin’s was a very cool and interesting international woman about to move with her husband and son to 4 acres in Tennessee. Jealous! And she had a friend with her who was a black woman, who after I got to Atkins Park, left in 30 minutes, saying the bar was “too white”. I have to say that I agreed with her.  Also, they still allowed smoking in the bar, which I despise.

A friend of mine and I think we should open up a “bar” where there is a back room with a nanny and a lot of beds. A play area. A very family friendly bar. And taxi cabs with good car seats for children. That should be a standard. You can’t expect a parent to be lugging around a 25lb car seat when they travel. Traveling can be so stressful even without that extra burden to worry about.

Children are the future of the world. Everyone everywhere should be willing to help protect, teach, and raise our children, so they grow up figuring out even more than we know. So there is hope for the future. Some people can have more children than others. We all have to share. That whole “village” aspect of community is important. Let’s go back to the basics.

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Here’s all the stuff we brought to Thanksgiving. Camera and tripod and toys and change of clothes and diapers and a booster seat… oh and of course a little boy and his glass of chocolate milk.

The next day was a rather relaxing Thanksgiving. I don’t remember what we did in the morning, but after nap we headed over to my aunt’s house. My mom has three sisters, which I am also jealous of. I grew up with two brothers. I always wanted a sister.

My aunt and my uncle live in a very beautiful house in Brookhaven, and at least 20 people were there for dinner. It was very stuffed at the table (but we all fit!), and they even had people helping us out to clean dishes and get us drinks and dessert. I was very appreciative  and surprised that they elected to work on the holiday. I guess at least in some small way we all do that day though, am I right? And you never know how people are going to define “work” to themselves. Money can make anything worth it, if it’s the right amount.

IMG_20141127_172818499~2Someone is excited about dinner!

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He hasn’t been eating as well lately. Just wants bread! And cheese! And oranges!

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We had a lot of fun! I’ve been working on my photography skills. I love this group photo.

On Saturday we drove up to Marietta to look at a house for sale. And then we hopped over to Kennesaw Mountain State Park and walked through the Civil War battlefield and monuments. There are lots of trails around and lots of people jogging and horseback riding and such around there. When we got lost trying to even get there we were in a roundabout where people were loading their horses into their trailers. I loved it.

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A lot of Union soldiers were killed here.

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Duggy was a pain in the butt. He couldn’t stop sniffing at everything and constantly tugging on the leash. And marking. I think the issue is that he really likes to be in familiar territory. I can’t wait to move to a place with a yard!

Sunday our dear friend Kate wanted to throw one of those Friendsgivings, so we did. 12 people came to sit around our table, bringing wine and delicious food — ham, yum — and great conversation. Dave and I only had to make the broccoli casserole and the grasshopper pie. And I gave everyone dishwasher friendly glasses so cleanup was easy!

A beautiful weekend. An exciting week this week. Christmas is coming!