Everyday Spectacular

Imperfections. Ramblings. Life to the Full.

Archive for the tag “kids”

Parenting Success

Tonight was a bit of a rough one.

Imagine both kids crying in their rooms over mistakes made and dealt with today.

Imagine one of those kids telling me he figures he must be pretty close to the end of his second chances with Jesus.

Imagine the other telling me she doesn’t know if she can find peace to sleep because she’s so mad at herself.

Imagine me trying to speak grace into the turmoil, teaching truth, extending forgiveness, wrapping love, singing peace.

Imagine my momma heart crying right along with them.

Growing up can be so hard. I remember learning these lessons as a kid, but I didn’t realize how hard it would be to be the parent.


I did have a bit of a success moment yesterday though. Let’s dwell on that, shall we?

I was at the grocery store with Mykah and heard this gem pop out of her mouth….

“Mom, what’s a pop-tart?”

Success, ladies and gentlemen, there you have it…that my kids will know grace, love and forgiveness but not pop-tarts.


Tooth Question

2 quick things…

1. My son has discovered my blog.

(Hi, Carter, for when you read this!)

I am nervous. Truly I am.

He did give me permission to continue to write about him and Mykah though, so I guess I will work through this in time.

2. My son lost one of his front teeth last Thursday.

He is nine and a half. It’s about time those front ones came out.

The tooth fairy did not come that night.

My son lost the other of his front teeth last Friday at school.

That night he had to write a special note for the tooth fairy that said something along the lines of “Dear Tooth Fairy, please leave me some extra money as I have now lost two teeth and then literally lost the second one.”, which he put with tooth #1 in a baggie under his pillow.

The tooth fairy did not come that night either.

She finally showed up sometime SATURDAY MORNING.

My mind is just boggled.

When I was a kid, this never happened.

Is anyone else having trouble with the “collector-of-the-teeth-and-the-leaver-of-the-money” lately?

Any good theories on this?

(See, Carter, I care that you are reading my blog and thought we should discuss with the kind people on the internet the deep dilemmas in our household these days.)

Thanks for your help everyone!


I’ve learned that there is a certain part of the day that works best for trying to engage my son in good conversation…bedtime.

Now, this may be because he would like to prolong bedtime as much as possible (which I’m pretty sure is a passed-down gene through my side of the equation, so I can’t complain much), but I will engage his heart whatever the reasons behind him offering it up.

And, sure, there are nights that I am exhausted and just want him to GO TO SLEEP ALREADY.

But those nights that he is willing to engage and I am willing to engage, oh, the conversations that happen.

We got into quite a conversation about children in orphanages two nights ago, after he asked me, quite randomly, how much it cost to adopt a child.

We talked about the difference between fostering and adoption.

We talked of Children’s Aid and International Adoptions.

Carter told me he thinks I get paid a lot of money to foster, and he wanted to know what I do with all that money, because that money would buy a lot of beyblades and video games.

Well, Yes, Carter, it would. However, it would also buy formula and supplies for the baby, and a little left over which goes into the household budget. (Budgeting will need to be another lengthy discussion we have soon!)

I ended up telling him that he actually knew 2 children from an orphanage in Romania. (A wonderful family from our church that is a beautiful example of Christ’s love.)

He was wide-eyed and oh so curious.

We talked for a long time about the choices that we as families and individuals get to make.

We talked of fostering and the ways our family has decided to impact the lives of children.

We talked of God’s priorities and how we get to choose how we spend our money and our resources and our time.

It was so very good.

And then he was crying….tears in his eyes .

And I asked him what was wrong.

And he said he just kept thinking of all those babies in the Romanian orphanage.

So he prayed for them that night, a sweet prayer to Jesus to help those babies find homes.

I left his room with tears in my eyes.

And I can’t help but think that he went to sleep believing that maybe one day, he will be part of the change, part of living pure religion.

James 1:27 “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”


There’s something I just have to talk about today, and it can be a controversial subject to be sure. But I am not going to start some huge “pros and cons” conversation or try to make anyone feel the exact same way as I do about it, okay?

Let’s be adults and talk for a moment about this idea of home-school.

Now, I know quite a few moms and I follow some blogs of moms that home- school their kids. I admire these moms, I really do. They are passionate women who believe deeply that it is their God-given responsibility to teach their children at home. I hear their stories and their lesson plans and wonder if I have somehow missed my life’s calling.

I have also been a part of several conversations outlining the benefits of homeschooling and the horrors of today’s public school system. These discussions can be good, but again, can leave me feeling like perhaps I have been a bit cavalier about the choice of where our children will learn algebra and the fine points of grammar and vocabulary. (Side note: in my initial writing of that last line, I spelled grammar wrong…which honestly just makes me laugh.)

Should they be learning the periodic table around our own kitchen table?

Have I chosen something “lesser-than” by choosing to publicly educate my kids?

Am I shirking off something meant for me to shoulder?

If their education should be THEIR highest priority, should it also be MY highest priority, my sole responsibility?

These are thought-provoking questions to be sure.

But I just feel like it needs to be said that I HAPPILY do not home school my children.

Sure, I feel the occasional mommy-guilt. You know, the guilt that tells me that there are scores of women out there doing more for their families than I am, that a good mom would want to be with her kids EVERY WAKING MOMENT.


But, I make a repeated decision to tell that voice, that mommy-guilt voice, to go sit in her room until she can come back and play nice.

This is the right choice at this time for our family.

How do I know?

I’m so glad you asked. I actually have that answer.

It came to me just this past week, as the bus pulled away from the stop with my little darlings tucked safely inside on their way to a day full of learning, adventures and their friends.

I know that home-schooling is not for me because of the sense of euphoria that swept over me on my walk home. I am really and truly happy that I don’t have to home-school them.

Yes, the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ that strengthens us…I know that I could probably figure out a way to home-school, but in this case and in others, it doesn’t mean that I have to do all things.

I love my time with my kids and I do teach them all the time. I engage with their spirits. We talk. We discuss. We do life together.

But I do not home-school my children for their sake and for mine.

I’m happy. They are happy.

I get to just be mommy, and that works for all of us.

Thank you, Jesus, for the teachers that will teach them this year at school.

Thank you, Jesus, for all the time we will spend learning together at home.

Happy home-school and school-school year everyone! Blessings on you and your choices!

For your momma-soul

A dear friend sent me this song this morning, and it really encouraged me. Perhaps you could use the reminder too?…

Mind Control

My kids have this disease where they get OBSESSED with one particular movie and then they watch it over and over again. Actually, now that I’m thinking about it, this is their obsession, but my disease. Seriously, I end up shaky, with a headache and against my will, find myself quoting entire scenes to myself as I try really, really hard to ignore the TV. I’m thinking about asking my doctor if there is a pill that will make this just all go away.

Anyway, lately the show of choice is Disney’s Kim Possible. I got the entire first and second series for free with my Disney points. (Did you know each Disney movie hiding out in your house has a code inside that you can collect and redeem for free stuff? It’s sort of like buried treasure, but not quite as glitzy.) At the time of my redemption, I was feeling quite proud of my thrifty-ness, since Amazon was selling these series for around $100. Lately, I have just been looking for my headache medicine.

There is this one episode where Doctor Drakon steals a mind control machine and is able to make everyone do what he commands. Of course, he’s the bad guy and in the end, the day is saved and mind control is a thing of the past.

BUT…here’s what I was thinking about at 3:30 this morning when I was up feeding the baby….wouldn’t it be so cool if each parent in the world was given a mind control machine that only worked on their own children?

You know, for emergencies only.

Like, for later today when my kids go to put Kim Possible, episode 359 into the DVD player.


Then suddenly, they “decide” to make me a coffee and rub my feet and sing my praises instead.

Either, I am a genius or I need more sleep.



Good Marriage

Jeff and I have just wrapped up a 3 week sermon series on marriage. This was our first attempt at tag-team preaching with each other. We looked at expectations in marriage, taking out the accumulating trash, and some ideas on communication.

It was wonderful. It was exhausting.

Am I the only woman in Ontario that gets a baby and then increases my workload?!

For anyone that might be interested, the podcast is here: http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/jeffrey-johnston-epic-change/id275923312

I asked the kids individually this past week what they think makes a good marriage. I think you will enjoy their responses.


Mykah, “When you get married when you are older.”

Me, “Like how old?”

Mykah, “Like when you are seventeen.”

Then over dinner the night before the last message I brought it up & told them I was going to share their answers with the church because I liked them so much. She wanted to be reminded what she had said, so I told her.

Then she said, “I changed my mind. I meant to say eighty.”


Carter just may be smarter than anyone gives him credit for…

Me, “Carter, what do you think makes a good marriage?”

Carter, “Love.”

Me, “Anything else?”

Carter, thinking hard, “I think it’s good if you marry someone you’ve known since you were a kid.”

Me, “Why is that? I didn’t know daddy when I was a kid.”

Carter, “Because then you’ve had time to know a lot about them.”

To throw him off a bit I said, “But what happens if you don’t actually like what you know?”

He said, I kid you not, “Then you’re just going to have to get over it.”

(Which is probably the best marriage advice I’ve heard.)

So he concludes by saying, “I think a good marriage is made up of love, knowing a lot about each other and not getting a divorce.”

Next time we’re asking Carter to preach.


My parents are ridiculously generous towards us. I tell them often, you don’t really have to be so amazing towards us, but they love to be a blessing. So, by now, after years of this spoiling, I have decided to just graciously, humbly accept their gifts.

The latest blessing was a Spring Break trip for the four of us Johnstons with the two of them, the doting grandparents. We flew down to Miami and then did a four night cruise on the Carnival Destiny. Jeff and I love cruising. LOVE IT. But we have always cruised without the kids, and so I couldn’t wait to take them on their first cruise. And I have to say, it was more amazing than I had even hoped for. Not only did we get to spend time with my parents, but the kids were extremely well-behaved, and they adored everything about the experience, especially their beds that had come down from the ceiling and the towel animals.

The cruise stopped at the port of Cozumel one of the days and we went to swim with the dolphins. This is one of those experiences that just sounds so unbelievably COOL, but yet had previously been on my “Something-I-will-only-do-if-one-of-my-children-is with-me-And-probably-only-if-someone-else-pays-the-fee” list.

(What? You don’t have one of these lists?!?!?)

It was my lucky day. I had both of my children with me and my money got to stay in my wallet, so dolphin-swimming it was.

Carter and Grandpa went first and we watched as they did all sorts of tricks with the dolphins. They even got to lay on a small boogie-board and then the dolphin pushed them back to the rest of the group. My face was in a perma-grin watching my son fist-pumping excitedly over and over.

When it was time for Mykah and I to get into the water, I was praying she would be ok. She tends to need some time to warm up to new experiences and people, so this was quite a bit out of her comfort zone. And let’s be honest, any time I have to get into a swimsuit, I am quite a bit out of my comfort zone too.

We were in a group with only one other lady and we were given a female trainer who took us to spend time with a baby dolphin, Donna-hey (okay, that’s probably not how THEY spell it, but that’s the best I can do!)

I’m thinking thoughts of “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Embrace every single minute of this. Share this special moment with your daughter to the fullest.”

Then a little while later as I am standing on the slimy platform in the water amidst small swimming fish, holding up Mykah because she couldn’t comfortably stand up, “Ok, this was not exactly what I was expecting.” But we shook Donna-Hey’s fins and kissed her and offered up our cheeks for her return kisses. Mykah was pretty quiet, but I could tell she was proud of herself for what she was participating in.

And then the TRUE once-in-a-lifetime-experience occurred.

Donna-Hey was upside down so we could see her underside again.

Our trainer was distracted by something momentarily and had turned away from us.

“Ummmmmmm….excuse me,.” I say while waving my free hand that was not wrapped around Mykah’s waist. “Is that what I think it is?”

Oh yes.

Our sweet baby dolphin was POOPING.

And then the trainer just smiled apologetically while swishing and swirling “it” around in the water, not 12 inches in front of us.

Now, I ask you…How many people do you know that can say they paid to watch a dolphin poop?


You now know one.



I wrote “the kids don’t seem hungry…think they would notice if I don’t make dinner tonight?” as my status update on Facebook yesterday.

Seven of my friends “liked” this, and I wondered if I could blame them for any complaints I did receive from my children.

One of my friends wrote “They wouldn’t notice until bedtime. Then they would be suddenly starving. “, which really is about the truest thing I know about kids and eating.

They want to eat at the most inconvenient times, like at least three times a day. And usually when I have another agenda for that time frame, like a nap. For me.

I did feed them, by the way.

Eggs in a basket and leftover roasted vegetables.

And they ate.

Ok, they ate a FEW bites.


Externally I said, “Eat your vegetables.” (Ok, truthfully, I had to say this several times.)

Next time, I am SO not bowing to my guilty-momma-conscience.

She is WAY too bossy and I hate the space she takes up in my head.

Next time we are SO having ice cream and chocolate.

Now that’s a dinner we can all agree on.


Sweet moments with our kids don’t always happen despite our best intentions.

I was reminded of this YET AGAIN this week.

My son had refused to participate in the kids Christmas program at our church.
And, when I say refused, I mean that in the strongest sense of the word.
He refused to be a break dancing shepherd and he refused to read a Scripture, the two options available to him.
He has sat through several weeks of practices, not participating in the slightest.
This lack of participation was apparently perfectly acceptable to him.

This lack of participation was perfectly unacceptable to me.

Let’s not even bring into this discussion the fact that we, his parents, are the pastors of the church. That’s entirely irrevelant.

The simple fact of the matter is I am a mother. And as a mother, I have strong motherly desire to see my little darlings performing up on stage. I want everyone to see my children and affirm that they are wonderful and oh-so-cute.
I want pictures.

Is this too much to ask?

Last year Mykah, only 3 at the time, refused to participate in the production because she wanted to be a person, not an animal.

I think the stubborn gene must come from Jeff’s side. (AHEM.)

Anyway, I was determined that both of my darlings would participate this year.

When normal rationalizing with my son did not work, I tried this one yesterday,just one wee day before the play, “Carter, you could really help Pastor Heidi out and do a Scripture reading. ”

Nothing but more heel-dragging.

How about this one?….”Carter, you could do this and say that it’s your Christmas present to Jesus.”

Nope, don’t get excited…He wasn’t feeling spiritual. No visible change in demeanor or response.

As a last resort…”Carter, we will give you extra DSI time if you will be in the production.”

And, did it work?

Oh yes, it worked!

And, here’s proof that not only was Mykah a person this year, she played Mary…

My momma heart is happy today.


I have yet another thing to add to my mental list of “things-that-should-just-not-be-allowed-to-happen” list.
Ok, while this list has actually not been written down, I do find myself adding to it every so often.
I’m sure you have one of these too…

For example, you are in a grocery aisle and a very smelly person is hovering beside you and you can literally feel the stench transferring to you…that would go on the list.
It’s just gross and wrong and list-worthy, and while this has not happened to me recently, I can almost guarantee that it will most certainly be my lot the next time I am out.
Sort of like a blogger’s version of “name-it, claim-it.”

Let’s think of another one, shall we?
You are in that same grocery store and purchase a nice looking pork roast to cook for dinner.
You carefully plan your day around the time it will take to cook the roast and additional side dishes, so that all will be beautifully set out for your husband and children at 6:00.
You are (surprisingly) on schedule, slicing into said pork roast at 5:57, when a great rush of something (angels’ wings perhaps?) causes a disturbance with the knife and suddenly your beautiful roast is in a heap on the floor.

Sadly, this actually DID happen to me this week, and while this scenario definitely belongs on the list of things that should never be allowed to happen, I still served the roast for dinner.

Consequently, if you ever end up at my house for dinner, and I serve Pork Roast Surprise, well, you have been warned.

I would like to humbly request just one more entry for the list for this week…
I woke up feeling strangely tired yesterday.
Then I realized that I had been dreaming about my children, as in, taking care of them
Ummm, I have to draw the line here, people.
My brain is just going to have to get this one sorted out.
I am entitled to a few hours a day where I am not waiting on little people, aren’t I?!?!

Wait, AREN’T I?!?!?!?

Tattooed with Love

Having two small children has taught me to function in a relatively normal way even while in the midst of much noise and activity. This is not to say that I don’t try to manage the noise level in my house …ie: “Carter bring your high-pitched-excited-voice down a few octaves!” and “Mykah, No screaming, that is unacceptable.” But I have learned to (most of the time) accept that the peace and quiet I was used to before I had kids, is only now seen in rare intervals, usually after my little munchkins are tucked into bed for the night.

I had a relapse last Wednesday. Jeff was at Prayer Meeting, and the kids and I had just finished dinner, which, in case you were wondering, was absolutely delicious banana-pecan pancakes. I told them to go play upstairs before it was time to get ready for bed. Miraculously, they went. And then another “miracle” occurred…a half hour went by in which I was able to check my email and clean up the kitchen with no interruptions. The only problem was that at around minute 33, I realized I had heard absolutely no noise coming from upstairs, hence my relapse into a sort of before-I-had-kids-thinking in which I only have to be concerned with myself. Oops. 

If you have no children and are reading this, you may not understand the problem with 33 minutes to yourself in the evening.

But if you happen to be a parent and are reading this, you already know that 33 minutes to yourself in the evening usually follows by some sort of destruction of property involving nail polish or toothpaste or both, or a call to Poison Control or at the very least, every bit and every piece to every toy, game and puzzle will be on the floor of one of kid’s rooms.

Last Wednesday, I forgot.

At minute 33, this is what I heard from the top of the stairs. “I wrote on Mykah’s face because I love her.”

Oh boy.

When they both came down the stairs seconds later, I had one of those moments when as a parent, you are trying to instantly size up the situation and come up with an appropriate response.

I looked at Mykah, proudly pointing to her black marker-ed cheeks. I looked at Carter, who was much more timidly approaching me. I tried to summon from deep within a stern voice in which to reprimand them both.

And then I laughed. Oh, how I laughed.

And then I grabbed the camera.

 The strangest thought I kept thinking about was how still Mykah had sat in order to have Carter’s “love” decorating her face. I wondered just what he had said to her, that she was willing to participate in this artistic venture. I wondered if he had described the masterpieces he was going to draw or if, all on her own, she decided to trust him with her face.

During worship on Sunday, I felt God whisper to me, “When is the last time you sat still enough to experience MY love?”

Here I am, Lord. Tattoo away.

Hero Day

Today is Father’s Day. I am a fan. I know that there are lots of people out there that may say, “why do we have to have a holiday celebrating people we should be celebrating every day?”. I say, why not!

Dads are often the unsung heroes of the family. In our family, when either of the kids gets hurt, they immediately cry for me., their mommy. Since I am with them, all day, every day, they are used to relying on me. It’s a bit unfortunate that they are unable to see that it is actually their dad who is the biggest champion of this family… Their dad, who goes to work and earns the money. Their dad, who often has to be away from them when he would much rather be home. Their dad, who adores them and would do anything for them. Their dad, who sold his Harley this week, in order to free up some money to get us into a house of our own.

Which is so much like my own dad. I admit that it wasn’t until I was older, that I was able to see just how much my own dad loved me. Oh, he was affectionate and supportive and went to all my sports activities, and I actually don’t remember ever questioning his love for me as a kid. But dad was a fire fighter and worked 24 hours on and then 48 hours off. Then in those 48 hours “off”, he worked long hours for a trucking company. He was a busy guy. He worked hard…for us. It wasn’t until I was in high school that I began to realize he worked to provide for me and my mom and my sister. He worked to send us to Christian school. He worked because that is what good dads, no, champion dads do. And on Father’s day, I hope my dad knows how very much his daughter loves him. (even though his card will arrive late…which is probably no surprise to him!) He’s a hero, my hero.

I am getting ready for church now. My church. The church where Jeff is the pastor. I didn’t even get to fix him a nice breakfast this morning because he gets up at 5:30 on Sundays and is out the door before anyone is even up yet. (I know what you are thinking, that perhaps if I was a better wife, I would have had breakfast ready for him at that time, but hey, at least I have room for improvement in years to come!). He’s preaching this morning, a sermon called “Just like Daddy.” I hope he knows that I want our kids to grow up wanting to be just like him. He’s a hero, our hero.

Fantastic Day

His mercies were new.

My kids were excellent.

I cleaned the bathroom floor in a major way.

Mykah kept her big-girl panties dry until 4pm.

I re-organized my closet.

I received a fun drop-in from some friends.

We played at the park.

I felt the sun.

Jeff made steaks for dinner.

I made it through a grueling 1 hour Body Step class tonight.

My Ford Explorer said that it was 82 degress when I left the gym at 7pm.

It is exactly 24 minutes until 24 starts.

There is an apple pie AND an apple crisp waiting in the fridge.

I love my life.

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