Wordless Wednesdays

Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Rather Strange Series of Vignettes- Part One

Sometimes, when I wish to write, I have so much to say and so much to remember that it's nearly impossible to organize my thoughts in a cohesive manner. That means it's time to just. write. And so, with my apologies in advance, here is Part One in a Rather Strange Series of Vignettes that will hopefully convey some happenings in our life here in Yakima lately.


I tried out a new chiropractor this week, and if you know me, you know that I am fiercely devoted to my bi-monthly visit to the beloved chiropractor. But as I mentioned, this was my first visit to this particular chiropractor. I thought of it as a bit of a "test-drive". So off I went. I parked in the back parking lot, and because I'm a genuis, I walked around the building to enter in through the front door. I opened the door, and at first I wondered if they were closed and had forgotten to lock up. There were no lights on, and nobody at the receptionist's desk, but there appeared to be light coming from an exam room down the hall, so I ambled down only to find myself at the back of the building where I had originally started out from. There was the chiropractor, adjusting a patient, so I sat down in the waiting room, filled out my paperwork, and waited. Soon enough, it was my turn. We chatted for a bit about my medical history, and he seemed pleasant enough. He was very enthusiastic and spoke in a very smooth, melodic voice, and was quite excited when he found out I was a former gymnast. He exclaimed,"Oh, I LOVE adjusting gymnasts!" Um, okay. Weird. Moving on...I laid face down on the table, and he procured a strange-looking device that somewhat resembled an iron, as in something to iron your clothes with. Except this "iron" looked like it had a small, green, leather jacket on. It turned out to be a massager thingy. So he diligently "ironed" my back and shoulders for a few minutes at an alarming rate of speed, telling me the whole time it was going to relax my muscles before the adjustment. Fine. I'm relaxed. Kind of. Then it was adjustment time. He proceeded to adjust every single muscle, joint, cartilage he possibly could, and very aggressively. He then tried to pull my head off of my body, not once, not twice, but three time. I was just about to say, "Yeah, that's attached," but mercifully, he stopped. Then he pulled out the iron again, and ironed away, chatting all the while about my muscles. Then he tried to pull my legs off, but to no avail. He then procured another tool, and this nifty little gadget resembled a rather small jackhammer. He hammered away for a bit and I nearly kicked him after it hit a reflex area in my back. I almost burst out laughing at this point, but I was determined to see this adjustment through, due to the fact that it was turning into one of the most bizarre doctor's appointments I had ever had in my entire life. He continued to chat away about my muscles and how one of my legs is shorter than the other and that was because of my hips, etc. And then, just like that, we were done, and he was continuing to chatter in a soft, almost hypnotic, tone of voice about hiking trails. He disappeared for a moment and reappeared with a piece of paper and a pen. He began to draw, if one could call it that, various maps and directions to trails. He talked almost nonstop and scrawled away in what appeared to be ancient Sanskrit. "Yes, this trail is very nice, you go up to Englewood, turn right, go up the hill," he cooed, "and you can park right here, and the trail is off to your left," and here he made an abrupt stop, looked straight at me, and said in a completely different tone of voice, "Snakes." "Snakes?" I queried. "Yes. There are occasionally rattlers." "Oh, my." I said, because I didn't know what else to say. He then launched right back into daydream mode, took 10 minutes to draw three more trails (which I did appreciate, and I even saved the paper, even though I can barely decipher it. It's the thought that counts.) I said thank you, paid him, and walked back to my car. That was Friday. As I type this, it is Sunday afternoon, and my body is telling me that I need to try a different chiropractor. Preferably one that doesn't use a small jackhammer. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Outer Limits of Sanity, Part Two

I promised I would be back, and I am a woman of my word. Except when centipedes are involved. Then you're on your own, bub. As I write this, however, I am sitting at my new desk area (!) in our "new" house (!) in Yakima, Washington, without a centipede in sight. And so, WE MADE IT!! WE REALLY MADE IT! I am still in a state of shock that we actually did it. I am still in a state of shock that we took five small children on a plane (granted, it was only 4.5 hours) and managed to survive. Many people have asked me how the flight went. I'll tell you how it went. Other than Lucy screaming for the last 3 hours of the flight, Kate screaming during the descent, Daniel getting up to pee no less than TEN TIMES, Lucas falling asleep and peeing on his seat cushion, and David requesting snacks every 20 minutes, it went great! The way I see it: Nobody threw up. That automatically qualifies as being a good flight. But I'm getting a bit ahead of myself here. I need to tell you about December. I need to write about Kenosha in a way I've never really written before, except that one time I entered a Real Simple writing contest about "Life Lessons" and "What's The Hardest Lesson You've Ever Had to Learn???".  (sadly, I lost the essay when our old computer crashed. It was pretty darn good, too.)

And so, December.

It started out great! I went to a Christmas tea, we put our house on the market, we had showings almost immediately...things were going SWELL. And then, about halfway into the second week of December...

I got the flu on Thursday. The REAL flu.
I got mastitis on Friday.
I got laryngitis on Saturday.
I coughed almost non-stop for the rest of the month.
I struggled with complications from the flu for the rest of the month. Bronchitis, etc.
I struggled immensely to just wake up and get out of bed. I had never been more exhausted in my entire  life, not even with newborn babies or 5 pregnancies. My boys would have to wake me up every day, and I would hear the girls crying for me. It was horrible. Really, really horrible. And during this entire time of illness, life went on. The house was still being showed. Preparations were still being made. People came over and brought meals and were so very good to us, and somehow, by the grace of God, we made it through. I also decided to stop being a stubborn cuss (yes, I just called myself a stubborn cuss) and go to the DOCTOR, of all things. And guess what else I had during December? Mono! Oh, yes indeedy. That would explain the immense exhaustion. Oh, my dear friends...never take your health for granted. I am far from original in my declaration, but never, EVER take your health for granted.

Talk about the outer limits of sanity!

Anyway, I started feeling better just in the nick of time, because before we knew it, the movers had arrived and were packing up our lives (I almost died three times when they moved my piano. Three times!!), and life in our sweet little house of 8 years was over. I was so very thankful to have had the chance to walk through the house slowly when they were done and practically see the past 8 years replay before my eyes. This house, this house with the beautiful woodwork that literally took my breath away when we first stepped foot into it, this house with the hardwood floors that put joy into my heart when the sun's rays fell just so over them, this house where I stirred up batch after batch of granola on those old, speckled countertops, this house where we started our precious family and brought 5 babies home to love, snuggle, and raise, this house where friends and family gathered to visit, eat, be loud, laugh, discuss books, scrapbook, and make the finest of memories, this house where I learned how to be a mom and a wife, and this house where we grew so much together and we loved and we cried and we fought and we learned and we forgave again, and again, and again. What. a. home. it has been for us. And I am in awe of God and His grace, and I will always be able to look back on my time in Kenosha as the most pivotal moment in my relationship with God. I feel as though I have come to know a completely different God than my perception of Him from my youth, and this is a good thing.
   When we were house hunting 8 years ago, I told Steve over and over again that I would never live in Kenosha. (yeah, about that...be very careful and NEVER SAY NEVER!!) I had just finished my degree at a university in Kenosha, I had two incredibly intense relationships that ended very painfully and with much drama during my time at college, and God brought Steve into my life at a time when I least expected it. I was sick of Kenosha and beyond ready to leave the past behind and get the heck out of Kenosha before we put down any more roots. I wanted to start somewhere fresh! New! Where nobody would know me!! Where I wouldn't be plagued by memories everywhere I went! Forget this town, man. I've got places to go. But, quite obviously, God had other plans. We ended up buying the house in Kenosha mainly because 1) we loved it. 2) it was a much better choice for Steve's commute to work. We took the plunge.

But then.

The housing market bubble burst with an incredibly swift and wicked vengeance, and when that bubble burst, man; it blew up in our faces. Gone were the hopes that we could pack up and sell in five years and MAKE A KILLING. Ha. Ha. *painful laugh* And so, I had a choice. We always have a choice. I could either:

1) Curl up like a baby and cry for years on end, OR:
2) Try to get to know Kenosha in a way that would be new to me.

Well, I can't stand it when people mope around and act powerless to change themselves. So I embarked on Operation "Bloom Where You Are Planted". When I had finished teaching piano for the day, I would explore. Try to find little places/hidden treasures I had not known about before. I would end almost every expedition with some time spend by the lake. And I fell madly in love with the lake and tried to run by the lake as often as possible. I don't know about you, dear friends, but when I am by the water, I feel God's magnificence and an incredible closeness to Him. (I plan on retiring on a small island by Seattle. Hi Steve!) Before I knew it, I was enjoying my life in Kenosha because I chose to see the good things. God blessed me with the most incredible circle of friends, and we shared our lives together. And that, my friends, is a heck of a lot better than curling up like a baby and crying for years on end.

Why am I sharing this incredibly personal journey with you? I want to encourage whoever might be out there that it is more than possible to find your life right where you are. I want to encourage you to not lose hope, or give up. That "The only place in life worth seeing is the place of seeing God" (Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts. Read it. Be changed.) Because when you view life through His lens, well, things really aren't so bad.

And now I sit here, with everyone asleep above me, dirty dishes in the sink, and I think that I'm awfully glad that we are slowly leaving the Outer Limits of Sanity. If you know me, you've shared in the journey. Let life in Washington commence! The adventures will continue!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Outer Limits of Sanity- Part One

There has been an unfathomable amount of upheaval around here lately, and I've had many questions about WHAT ON EARTH IS GOING ON, and I am here to answer those questions for all those inquiring minds out there. This will probably be a ridiculously long post, but I shall strive to write my little heart out and make it worth your while. I might get emotional. I might scream. It is possible I will take a bathroom break or two. And so I sit here with a hot cup of Orange & Spice tea to tell you that Something Huge is happening in our lives. Something I've dreamed about for years. Something I'm thrilled about and slightly scared about and quite sad about, all at the same time.

We are moving.

2000. miles. away.


Yes, it's true. After waiting, and waiting, and WAITING for four, somewhat agonizing years, we finally know where we are going. It's been quite the experience. I will tell you that it is very, very difficult to pretend your life is not in limbo when it really is. Every decision you make concerning homes repairs, children's activities, etc., is constantly being weighed with, "Gasp! But what if something happens in the next few months with Steve's job??" I fully realize that life just happens sometimes, and there is not much one can do other than roll with those punches, baby, and wait for the fun to really begin.  We've really run the gamut of possible relocations these past few years. At first, it was Iowa. Iowa Iowa Iowa for three years. Oh, yes. Most definitely. Once I really wrapped my mind around returning to a life in a cornfield, I was pretty okay with it. Sure. I can do this. I lived in the country my entire life before I met Steve-O. I did the small town thing. And while there are certain aspects of country living that I still miss terribly (THE PEACE. THE QUIET. Running around like a small, feral child. Wait; what? Never mind.), I've become quite accustomed to life in a small city, and I kinda like not having to drive 15 minutes just to put gas in my car. Plus, I like drive-thru coffee. ALOT.  Anyway...I was all right with Iowa. BUT THEN...

Just like that, nope. No, you are not moving to Iowa. We've changed our minds. Um, okay. It's not like we've put our lives on hold for the past three years or anything like that. But I got over that pretty quickly because...

For two, glorious months, it looked as though we were moving to Minneapolis. Now THIS I could get into. My only stipulation was that I would need a coat that covered my backside COMPLETELY. And about 7 more pairs of Cuddlduds.  But I could handle the cold, because it was MINNEAPOLIS, PEOPLE.

But it was not to be. I kind of felt like this.

After a few more months of hemming and hawing, we had our answer. Yakima, Washington. After a whirlwind past few weeks which included a trip to Yakima for myself and Steve (Kate was our chaperone. :-) getting our hardwood floors refinished, and many, many nights of staying up until 1:00 am cleaning and organizing (as God is my witness, I'm done staying up until 1:00 am to CLEAN, ever again), here we are with our house on the market and me trying to keep a house with 5 kids ready for showing at any given moment. I have never been closer to becoming insane. I shall look back at this time in my life as existing in the outer limits of sanity. Nothing more can really be said of the matter.


I have more to say about living in Kenosha, WI for 8.5 years when I said I would never, ever live in Kenosha. It's been an extraordinary time of personal growth. It's been incredibly difficult at times. I want to share what I've learned, and I might actually be serious for once.

But you'll have to check back another time to find out. :-)

Stay tuned, friends. And thank you for reading.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

And then I turned Thirty

Well, it happened. I passed out of the most agonizing decade of one's life that is supposed to be simply wondrous and filled with all sorts of excitement and living life to the fullest and all of that other garbage do you know what I felt when I first awoke? Relief. Sure, there was a tiny jot of sadness that I'm no longer the youngest kid in the room, but really; I'm fine with that. A professor once told me that your 30's are far more satisfying because you know yourself far better than you did in your 20's, and you begin to "hit your stride". While this may not be true for everyone, I am finding this to be very true for myself. I think about when Steve and I were goggly-eyed newlyweds, and while those early days were wonderful in their newness and sweetness, I would not exchange what we've worked through and built together for all the honeymoons in the world. And so, goodbye, 20's. Even though I will remember you as the decade in which I graduated from college, got married, bought a house, had 4 (soon to be 5!) kids in 5 years, I will not miss the growing pains. I am genuinely looking forward to the adventures that my 30's will bring. Who knows what the future holds??
  This year, I had the delightful experience of having my birthday occur during our family vacation, which, I might add, was disaster-free this time around! Praise be unto the Lord!! No ER visits! No visits to the walk-in clinic! No barfing children! Sure, there may have been two brown recluse spiders in the shower during our stay, but no one got bit, so who's complaining? Not I! Ah, but it was a glorious day.  I drove ALONE into town with the WINDOWS DOWN and MY MUSIC playing as LOUD AS I COULD STAND IT because I COULD and darn it, I wanted to hear the music again. Do you hear me? I WANT TO HEAR THE MUSIC AGAIN. AND THEN... Brunch with my lovely sister Meg at Early Girl Eatery...surprise pedicures booked by my mama and little seester Angela...and just a fantastic time in Asheville, North Carolina. My love for North Carolina is no secret around here, and I was beyond relieved to see that the mountains were as beautiful as ever, the tea just as sweet, the foliage just as lush, and the pulled pork just as smoky as I remember. It is a grand thing to not be disappointed. To top off an outstanding morning, Steve and I were miraculously able to enjoy a date, thanks to the mad babysitting skills of Meg and her Ricky. A yummy dinner at Luella's Barbeque, followed by some wildly delicious ice cream and a most wonderful time of lazily wandering around one of the most amazingly astounding bookstores I've ever been to in my entire life. It was pretty perfect. And what's better than that? So take that, Thirty. I fear you not. Here's to embarking on another decade, even more adventurous than the last.

Oh, Baby.

Well, hi there. It's been a ridiculously long time, but I was busy bringing this sweet girl into the world...

Her name: Katherine Jane Johnson.
Born: August 5th, 3:11 am (yawn!)
Weight: 7 lbs, 11 oz.
Length: 20 1/2 inches long

And for the fifth time, we are smitten. Kate turned one month two days ago, and while this past month has been filled with sleepless nights, major nursing issues (sorry, gentlemen), figuring out life with 5 kids, homeschooling older kids with a toddler trundling around screaming and going all mafia on everyone else and a tiny newborn in tow, I totally can't imagine my life without her.  I am grateful. 

3 boys and 2 girls! I can only imagine the adventures we'll have. In the meantime, I will do my best to do a weekly post here at The Epic Adventures of Skarymop & Co. It will most likely be a little bit of everything. Food, recipes, pictures, and my rather useless musings on life, liberty, and the pursuit of sanity. Or something like that. Ahem. Thank you for reading, and enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Well, why not?

It's Friday. It's late. I should be sleeping. I've been desperately trying to capture a bit of creative time lately, which for me includes some form of writing. I'm 36 weeks pregnant (I think). I think I'll need hip replacement surgery after this sweet babe arrives. And tailbone. And feet. And, well, you know, pretty much everything. I made homemade bread this week. Why do I not make it more? It is so very wonderful and extremely therapeutic. I'm in the process of "sealing the deal" with potty training my youngest boy. Sorry if that was too much information for you. Oh, wait; nope. Not sorry. In the process, I'm quite certain he has relieved himself in nearly every square inch of my household. On the flip side, my floors and carpet are incredibly clean! I made greek yogurt this past month, and am now convinced that it's the only way making homemade yogurt is worth the effort. STRAIN THY YOGURT, I TELL THEE. STRAIN IT, I SAY! There are 4 dishes in the sink right now. To wash, or not to wash? I've been obsessed with Klondike Bars during this pregnancy, namely the dark chocolate covered ones and the mint chocolate chip. What would I do for a Klondike Bar? Probably far more than I'd like to admit. For no reason whatsoever, here are a few important things to remember about parenthood:

1) If you are naked, they will come. (sorry)
2) If your modesty is compromised in any way, shape, or form, they will come.
3) The odds of this happening are multiplied exponentially when there is only one bathroom in the house.
4) Three small boys using one bathroom will prove to be a tipping point. At least it is for me. If this is not the case for you, congratulations on being a far more holy person than I.

I think that's all for now.

Now here's some completely random pictures for you!

Well. They may crawl into the dishwasher, use the floor for a bathroom, take turns injuring each other, and magically go deaf when asked to clean, but they are my heart and my life. Here's to the everyday, and may you enjoy the sanctity of your own bathroom this weekend.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Art of Generally Paying Attention and A Most Rewarding Salsa (or two)

I am a firm believer that one of the greatest skills you can cultivate in your life is the art of generally paying attention to the world and people around you. Not only does this bode well for functioning decently as a responsible human being, but my, oh my, does it make life far more amusing. Steve is often amused at how easily amused I am when I relate stories to him from my day with the kids.
Me: "AND THEN...there was this man in a white van with a HUGE white beard! It was FANTASTIC!!"
Steve: "Um. Okay, Mary."

Does this make me a simplistic person? THEN SO BE IT. You could miss out on a tremendous amount of marvelous things if all you strive to do is wildly careen from one task to another on your already-insane to do list. Slow down. Just sayin'.

And now for something completely different. Story time!

I went to Target the other day BY MYSELF (with thanks to my mother in law), and although I did my utmost to not waddle across the parking lot, I doubt as to whether I succeeded or not. My mission was simple: a new water bottle for one of the kidlets, and a basic t-shirt for myself, due to the embarrassing fact that I had spilled iced coffee from Dunkin' Donuts all over the front of my shirt in the car. AWESOME. I normally wouldn't have bothered, but I had to hit the grocery store after Target, and I was a bit of a coffee-scented mess. I waddled to the maternity section and found a decent plum-colored t-shirt that looked absolutely NOTHING like a maternity shirt (why. must. everything. be. skin. tight.), but I knew that resistance was futile, so I threw it in the cart and went on my penguin-esque way. I was nearing the end of my quest, and made a quick stop in the party supply section to pick up some plates for my youngest son (3! On Monday! I WEEP.) Two young ladies walked past me, then proceeded to have the following conversation VERY LOUDLY in the next aisle:

Girl #1: "Oh my gosh; I just saw ANOTHER pregnant lady!"
Girl #2: "Wow, that makes, like, FOUR pregnant people we've seen today!"
Girl #1: "Yeah, and this one's about to pop, too!!"

They walked out of the aisle and were continuing to talk about this while looking directly at me. I threw them a look that said,"I'm pregnant. NOT DEAF."

Good. Grief.

I waddled as indignantly as I could out of there, bought my stuff, changed into my "maternity" shirt, and then spent my first two children's college education at the grocery store. It was a good day. The End.

And now...

Because if you're still reading this, you've been terribly patient with me...

For this, I give you salsa.

TWO. Salsas. Salsi? Oh, dear.

I went craving-crazy the other day and re-created a delicious, super-fresh pineapple salsa I had at Urban Burrito in Asheville, North Carolina when we went to visit my sister at the end of May (more of that adventure to come!!).

I rarely just throw a recipe together. I am fiercely devoted to recipes and measurements, but this just kind of happened. And it HAPPENS (bwa ha ha) to be delicious.

Pineapple-Cilantro Salsa
By Mary J. Johnson, expert imitator of penguins

-One medium-sized pineapple, diced quite small
-1/4 c. chopped cilantro
-1 small green jalapeno pepper, diced very small
-1/4 c. red onion, diced very small

-Prepare all ingredients, then combine in a serving bowl. Allow salsa to sit in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors develop and meld. You can certainly enjoy this with your favorite tortilla chips, but this would also be wonderful spooned over some grilled chicken. 

After such a sweet and light salsa, you might feel the need for something a little more savory and spicy. Allow me to introduce to you...

My Mom's Hot and Zesty Salsa
From me mum.

-1 10 oz. can diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained.(my mom always used Rotel brand, and I use it, too)
-3 large cloves of garlic, peeled
-A small handful of cilantro
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt

-Place all ingredients in a mini food processor, and blend, blend, blend! If you do not have a mini food processor, you can certainly chop up the garlic and cilantro quite fine and stir it into the diced tomatoes and chiles. It will just be chunkier than the food-processed version. This salsa really shines when served at room temperature. My mom made this quite often for football games and other gatherings. It really is my favorite tomato-based salsa. It is HOT, and the the kick from the chiles is a bit delayed. Be warned! :-) 

One more thing:

Dear Target,
Your summer bowls are thrilling to my soul. Thank you for being awesome. 

The Penguin Woman.

Get outside. IT'S FINALLY SUMMER!!! Even in Wisconsin! I took the flannel sheets off my bed! Triumph! Oh, and Happy Father's Day!