Monday, September 01, 2014

Summer 2014 Reading Program

Today the third summer reading program came to a close.  The terms this time around were for the boys to read at least 10,000 pages for $100, beginning after the last day of school and ending before the first day of the next year (tomorrow).  For every 100 subsequent pages, they'd receive another dollar. There's also a stipulation that each book must contain at least 100 pages and excessive pictures disqualifies them.  Each book was also subject to a three-question quiz, where three correct answers were required, and three incorrect answers disqualified the book.  For a quiz, I would randomly choose a page and read some text aloud, omitting a key name and having them fill in the blank, or I'd ask a question like, "What was John's dog's name?"

Owen took the lead, finishing up with 12,174 pages read for $121.  That's 70 books.  28 of them were Fear Street or Goosebumps.  Owen's longest book was The Adventures of Indiana Jones that was like a book made after the first three films.  It had 602 pages and he was intimately familiar with Short Round, described what happened when one opens the Ark of the Covenant, and told me all about the Holy Grail.

Jack also met the requirements, reading 10,971 pages for $109.  This was 61 books.  He also is an R.L. Stine fan.  His biggest book was an elementary school reading textbook with probably 30 stories in it.  It had 709 pages.  He read it in one morning.

Both boys really liked the 39 Clues series.

And we blew a bunch of money at the candy store today.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rough Road

Not long after Nick started working for Fidelity we realized that to really move up in the company he'd have to transfer to a branch instead of staying at the phone site. This also meant that we'd eventually have to move. He would often look at which cities were hiring, nothing too serious though. Earlier in the year a friend he worked with transferred to a branch in Seattle and has loved it from the start. About two months ago he told Nick another branch in the area was hiring and he could get Nick an interview. Nick mentioned it to me but it was such a brief conversation I didn't think much of it, it was basically "Hey Kara, what do you think about living in Seattle? (me) Uh, I don't love Seattle, I don't want to live there." A week later he had an interview and shortly after was offered the job! It was such a fast thing that it just never came together very smoothly. We were both still working right up until the move so every spare minute was put towards packing and finding a place to live. It was incredibly stressful to have our entire life packed into a moving truck with no where to move into. The kids were super excited to spend a few days in Idaho with my parents while Nick and I drove to Washington to try to figure things out. A couple days later I flew back to Utah and then drove up to Idaho and the kids and I headed out the next day, still with no house to go to. After living at a sketchy hotel for another week (it did have a pool!) we finally found a house! So we've been here about a month now and things are slowly getting back to normal. Boxes are unpacked, but we're lacking some important furniture. The boys are sleeping on the floor for now until we find them a bunk bed. And we sold our couches before we moved so, for now, two lovely camp chairs will have to do. But we have a house and we're together so we're making the best of it. Washington is certainly different than Utah, I actually miss it. I think I mostly miss the familiarity and ease of getting around in Utah. I can't go anywhere here without using GPS and more often than not google maps doesn't quite work. I don't know how to recycle and the trash can is tiny and only is taken every week so that's something I need to quickly adjust to. It's only rained two days so far but those two days were pretty rough! I'll need to figure out what to do with kids on rainy days. Kids are happy here, they're excited to start 3rd grade in a couple weeks and Nick is really liking his new job. So, all in all it's going pretty well and I'm glad for that. I really do hope we come to love it here because I'm tired of moving!

Sunday, May 05, 2013


Now that tax season is over I (Nick) have my weekends back.  And with the free flights (if you don't mind the risk of being stranded), the boys and I decided to take a quick trip to New York City.

The flight out was a redeye.  We left Salt Lake a bit before midnight and arrived at JFK around dawn.  None of us slept.  But for just $9/lb, you can eat your heart out at the airport buffet.  The quality of the food is somewhere between Arctic Circle and day-old McDonalds.

After "breakfast" we hopped on the subway to visit Manhattan.  This is what we saw right outside the first subway station.

Kinda fun to see.  Then we immediately lost our bearings; we were surrounded by skyscrapers and the compass on my phone didn't seem to want to settle on which direction we were facing.  But after a couple of minutes we figured it out and headed north.  At the southwest corner of Central Park, we took a quick break at a pretty cool statue of Christopher Columbus.  So next is Central Park, which is... really, really big.  2.5 miles long, half a mile wide.  As soon as we got there, I sat them down and talked to them about the importance of staying where they could see me, of staying put if they got lost, of talking to someone in a uniform if they still couldn't find me.

We were all pretty impressed with the size of the park, so much so that Owen and Jack wasted no time running off and getting lost.  It's one thing to lose track of your kids at Walmart.  It's a bit different here.  You go through the stages of Lost Kid a little bit faster (Annoyance, Concern, Fear, Panic, and then when they are found, a mix of Anger and Total Relief).  We had a more serious chat this time that included some tears and threats of heading right back to the airport but they shaped up and it wasn't an issue from there on.

A couple hours later we made our way to the Natural History Museum, which the boys immediately recognized from Night at the Museum.  I've gotta say, the Smithsonian museums in DC are better.  And free.

Prior to the museum, we grabbed lunch from a street vendor.  It was the first time I've had falafel.  Probably the last time I'll have falafel.  After all this we hopped back on the subway down to the southern end of Manhattan so we could see Lady Liberty.  The tours are all closed down right now because of Hurricane Sandy damage but we could still see from where we were.

At this point we were all a little tired from the walking and not sleeping.  So we hopped back on the subway and headed to our hotel in Queens. 

It's a pretty long ride, and the car was full most of the way, so I stood while the boys slept.  

When we got to the hotel we grabbed dinner and then I told them they could stay up as late as they wanted.  It wasn't very late.  We were all exhausted and were asleep before 9pm EST.  The best thing about the hotel, they'll tell you, was the free breakfast buffet!  Please, friends and families, do not fall for this marketing trick.  The waffle maker hadn't been cleaned in months, and I had to screen what they were eating out of fear for their health.  But they had bacon, and between the two of them my boys ate half a pig.  The next day we wandered a little bit and then headed back to the airport.  It was a short trip but I had neglected these two for the entire tax season and wanted to spend some time with them.  I'm glad I did.  I think Alaska is next.

Monday, April 22, 2013


I've been putting this off for a week now and I'm still not sure of what to say. It's something that's been on my mind for a while now but I can't seem to put into action. I love being a mom but it's not something that comes naturally to me. I didn't babysit when I was younger and I didn't dream about getting married and having kids or being a stay at home mom. I wanted college, a career, and marriage down the road. Obviously plans changed rather quickly. Motherhood was a very hard transition for me and sometimes I feel like I haven't come very far. Parenting is hard as it is but when you feel like you're not programmed for it the task becomes that much more frustrating and difficult. Lately I've been feeling like I have been taking the back seat and haven't been applying myself as much as I could...and should. I want to be a great mom, partly so that when my kids are grown they'll tell me just how great of a mom they have and couldn't have asked for anyone better. Selfish, yes, but I'm okay with that. The other (bigger) part is that I truly want my kids to grow up feeling they are ready for the world and that they can accomplish whatever they dream. You need a mom for that. A dedicated mom. I tend to get caught up in everything that isn't going right and the things that need to change that I forget to enjoy the good moments. I came across a quote recently

         Don't let yourself
       so concerned
       with raising
       a good kid
       that you forget
       you already
       have one.

All of these feelings had been intensified this past month as we prepared for Jack and Owen's baptism. The fact that they are old enough to be baptized is crazy. Childhood comes and goes so fast and here we are watching our babies grow up and make these big decisions and all I can think about is how this isn't going to last much longer. They were a huge example to me by being so brave and confident in their decision to be baptized. They were both so so excited and it was so fun to be a par of that. I hope that I can be that kind of example back to them. 

I also wanted to remember some of the best parts of that day. It was a stake baptism and there were 5 kids total. The only girl being baptized is in Jack and Owen's class at school and they all share the same birthday so they were excited to see her there. One of the other boys being baptized was the oldest of 5 kids and the two youngest were baby twin boys. Watching them really brought back memories and showed how far we've come from those crazy days. Then there was one other boy from our ward. The bishop from each ward introduced the kids and told everyone a little bit about them. Our bishop called Jack up first and he walked right up and stood so proud and happy there at the pulpit. Here is what he told about Jack (which Nick wrote for the bishop)

Jack Ryan Johnson

Born March 12, 2005, at 10:01 PM.  Jack was born one minute before his identical twin brother. 
Jack loves art.  He likes to color and create; he is often writing stories.  He likes to discuss ideas with his mom and dad. 
He’s very excited to be a cub scout and to learn all the new skills and fun things that come along with scouting.  He has always been a big fan of camping and the outdoors.   He’s also our little academic.  Jack does math problems for fun, and his mom and dad were a little bit startled recently to find that he can do some math problems in his head faster than them.  That isn’t supposed to happen for a few more years. 
Jack is also very driven.  When he wants something, he goes after it.  He does what it takes to get what he wants.  Jack excels in school and is already talking about graduating from college.  He’s thinking about things at eight years old that his parents were thinking about at 28 years old.
Jack is committed to choosing the right as a serious commitment following his baptism.  He has a sense of doing what is right and plans on following through.  Jack is a great kid. 

Owen is much shyer than Jack is and I wondered if he would have a hard time going up when the bishop called for him. Well, he certainly didn't hesitate to go up so I knew he was excited but once he got up there he looked very timid and didn't want to look at anyone. When he gets like this he gets this funny look on his face like he's trying so hard not to smile and his lips get all pursed together. It was kind of funny to watch but he did great. Here is what was said about Owen

Owen Chase Johnson

Born March 12, 2005, at 10:02 PM.  Owen was 3.5 pounds when he was born.  He always likes to mention that he’s littler than Jack and should get some advantage at whatever they are doing.
Owen is one active boy.  He has always been a big fan of action.  Anytime we go anywhere, he wants to go on his bike or on the scooter, and he’s also learning to skate.  Owen has no fear at all about trying new activities.   He loves the water and swims as much as he can.  He loves to play and spends as much time as possible outside, except when it is cold.  Owen likes to travel, particularly to Idaho to see his grandparents.  He also likes to read books and tell us all about the funny parts.  Owen really likes Calvin and Hobbes and sometimes is just as wild as Calvin and Hobbes.
Owen is an especially good big brother to his sister.  She adores him.  They like to watch movies together.  Owen likes to build things and make grand plans for his future. 
Owen has been looking forward to his baptism for some time.  Owen is a very special boy and his parents are very proud of him and his decision to be baptized.

It was then time to go to the font for the actual baptism. Papa Brent and Papa Don were the two witnesses for both. Jack again went first. It was very surreal to watch Nick enter the water and then reach for Jack. Jack was very quiet and looked like he was shaking a bit because of being nervous. We had talked beforehand about what would happen and he was most concerned about Nick joking with him or making him stay under water for a long time. When he came up out of the water there was a noticeable gasp from Jack almost like he felt he was under too long when it was really only a couple seconds. I think he was ready to get out right afterwards. Then Owen's turn. He, too, looked very nervous but he displays his nervousness quite differently than Jack does. Before he entered the water we could all hear him giggling, it was so funny and so Owen. Afterwards Nick confirmed them both, this time Owen going first. Nick did a great job and it was perfect. I would have been so nervous about doing all the priesthood stuff. I am so grateful that their dad was able to baptize them and be a part of this special day.

I am also extremely grateful to all the family and friends that came to be with us. I know that the boys may not remember much from this day but it's something that I will always remember and to know that so many of you supported us is very humbling. I made a personal goal this year to get to know and support our family more this year. It's difficult when so many live so far away but this has made me want to make a better effort to make it to important events because they really do mean so much. We love you all!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's Happening

I have two handsome boys who are pretty dang excited about getting baptized. I'm having a little trouble coming to grip with the fact I even have children old enough to get baptized. These two little guys made me a mom and what a roller coaster ride it's been ever since. It's amazing how much they amaze and challenge me every single day. Being a mom is certainly a trip, I wouldn't want to imagine a life without these two. I hope I can do them right by being everything they need and teaching them to be good, honest, loyal young men. They are quite dear to me and I am deeply proud to call them mine. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Daddy!! IT SNOWED!!

"I have to wear my new boots!"

"This is the best Christmas ever!"

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Oregon 2012

It's pretty sad that we only make it to Oregon about once a year. I absolutely love it and there are always a few must-do's every time we go. This trip ended up pretty different than past trips, though. First of all, uncle Cameron came home from his mission so it was pretty fun to see him again and hear his homecoming talk in church. 

Second, we flew there! There's some definite perks working for an airline and flying is right there at the top. We had no problems getting on any of the flight and the kids had a fun time. Leyla even had to sit by herself on our first flight and she did amazing, no problems the entire flight. It was so nice to not be in the car the entire day to get there and back home. 

Third, the weather was pretty amazing and didn't rain a single time while we were there. The kids loved that they could swim at Grandma Ned's pool, we've definitely never been able to do that in the past. 

 Fourth, Nick and I got the chance to head to Seattle over night with some friends. We did a lot of walking around the Space Needle, the Pacific Science Center, the waterfront, and Pike's Place Market.  Best of all, though, we hit up a Mariners baseball game where I scored a foul ball! It was a great little getaway and super fun to see our friends Chris & Jayme again. 

At the Pacific Science Center they had a butterfly house that was filled with beautiful plants and flowers and tons of butterflies. It was so cool to see them flying everywhere around you, I loved it.

As if that weren't enough highlights from the trip, here's a few more.

Leyla cut some chucks of her own hair earlier in the year and it just wasn't growing in very well so aunt Ash gave her a super cute new 'do, she loves it! She was actually crying this morning because she thought her hair was getting too long again. Thanks Ash for both our awesome hair cuts!

We got some Chipotle to-go one evening just in time for this cute girl's soccer game. She did awesome, way to go Eliza! All the kids had so much fun playing together, it's really too bad we live so far away and don't get to see them often.

Had fun hanging out at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We're certainly out growing our vacation room there, if we have any more kids we're going to have to find a new place to stay!

One night we drove over to this old school in town to see quite an amazing site. Thousands of Swift birds fly in every night and funnel down into the school's chimney. It was so cool to watch, I definitely recommend it.

Tillamook ice cream and cheese is always a hit...

...along with a stop at the beach, of course.

Oregon 2012 was certainly a hit! Now that we can fly maybe we can get there more than once a year, fingers crossed.

Second Grade

Even after such a great summer we were all ready to get back to school and back to a regular routine. I wish, more than anything, that they could be in the same class. They specifically asked not to be in the same class but it would be so nice for them to be doing the same homework, going on the same field trips, returning library books the same day...convenient stuff like that. And one of these days I'll even remember who has what teacher. They're such smart boys, I hope they'll always like learning and have a desire to do well in school. If only we could get rid of the behavior problems and it would be quite perfect! That could happen, right?

Remembering Summer

We had such a great summer! I was really nervous when school was coming to a close, our apartment is so tiny and all I could imagine was constant fighting and boredom day after day all summer long. Thankfully, we came up with a few solutions so that we would always have something to do. Between the Pass of all Passes, the library, a membership to Discovery Gateway and movies in the parks we had summer covered. It was nice to be able to get out of the house so much and always have something to do if we wanted. I think the kids had a great summer, too.


 New bikes

 New parks



 Having fun together



 7 Peaks

 Learning to catch

 Yummy food

 Bike races

 Work parties


 Swimming every week

 Selling lemonade

 Lots of reading

Lots of sleeping


Here's to an amazing summer!