Let it be known

On the twenty-first day of September, in the year two thousand eleven, Magnolia Jane McInnes Johnson walked across the living room unassisted for the first time.

There was a lot of cheering on and laughing, and she fell down when she was almost to me, but got right up and made it the rest of the way. She's a really big deal.
We had a well-child check with the doctor yesterday. She weighs 18 pounds 13 ounces and is 29 inches long. She's healthy and happy and her eighth tooth just broke through. She got three shots. It broke Cora's heart as much as Magnolia's.

She's a super flirt with everyone she sees. I get caught up in her kisses and lovey faces all the time. If she sees you, she's waving and saying hi, smiling, and telling you that you are important. Take notice - it makes you feel good. She can make a day better in an instant.

She still yells pretty much all throughout a meal (usually just at a restaurant because she wants a little bit of what everyone else has), but we're working on that. Or just getting used to it. She also really likes feeding herself and will not so shyly snub you if you try to feed her. She's perfectly capable.
She's into pointing out parts of a face: Nose, eyes, ears, mouth. And she really likes eye brows, too.Her hair is getting longer and fluffier. Yes, she can now pull off pigtails. She is definitely sporting a mullet, but it's cute, and the ends of her hair curl a little.
I love her. I love her - I love her - I love her. Oh Goo, I can't wait to see your face in the morning.


I've been thinking about my grandparents. I hardly ever [if ever] ate a dinner at their house where the table wasn't set. And I ate a lot of dinners there. I pride myself in knowing how to set a table properly. It's ingrained in me. I appreciate them for that. I don't think we ever ate buffet style either. The food was on the table. Last night, I made an old standard, enchiladas, but Cora and I set the table, and brought all of the food from the kitchen to the dining room. There was something so lovely about it.

I loved it when my grandma made pancakes. She followed the standard recipe using Bisquick. They were the best pancakes in the world. My favorite breakfast was pancakes with scrabbled eggs and sausage - the eggs were scrambled in with the sausage. And when the syrup mixed in with all of it. Wow. If there were left overs, which there always were, my grandpa and I would go out into the back yard, tear the pancakes into bite sized pieces and throw them to the birds. We'd watch the birds come and eat our offerings. He also did this with any left over bread.

They taught me that you could make something out of nothing. When I ran out of glue for a school project in elementary school, I learned that flour and water together make paste, and it's just as good as glue. I made a shoelace clamp-a-mid in fourth grade [to keep your shoelaces tied] for an invention fair from things I found in their shed, or "dryer room" as Grammy called it. Some old paneling, scotch tape, rubber cement, and voilà. I can't remember if I did the cutting or Grandpa did, but he was out there with me giving me direction when he thought I needed it. My invention made the Mesa Tribune. I remember wondering if my biological father, Lance, saw it, and if he would know it was me. [Random tie in.] Grandpa read the paper every day, and was the one who spotted it. I would have given Irl and Betty Lund credit for helping that brilliant idea come to fruition.

Sometimes I miss those times. I love my grandparents. My grandpa passed away in 2001. My grammy is 87 and will be 88 on April 25th. They taught me about simplicity. I don't need a lot. I know that, I'm happy for that, and I'm so glad they're the ones who shared it with me - even if I'm sure they spent much of their lives wishing they had more.

Hi, I'm new here.

Tonight was Cora's school carnival. The carnival came complete with a bake sale. I made our favorite cookies and sent them in. I thought about individually wrapping them or grouping them, whatever, but then I thought it would be nice to have individual cookies to sell for .10 or so each. Really, I had no idea, I've never done this before.

We'd been at the carnival for a while when we passed the baked goods. I saw our cookies still wrapped up and didn't think much of it. After we ate dinner, I went back to survey the table for dessert. I looked at the cookies and saw something that caught me off guard. $10. Flattering, right?

Panic struck. They're selling the whole thing! Those cookies are on my Fiesta platter! [Can you tell what's about to happen?] I walked briskly back to Jake and let him know what was up. He said, "Do you want to buy it?"

I swallowed my pride that I was one of those people, took a twenty over the the bake sale, looked at a few things so I didn't look suspicious, then said I want that one. I left with a ten and my beloved Fiesta platter full of Chewy Chocolate chocolate chip cookies. At least I know they're vegan, right?

Here's the cookie recipe because I know you're curious [the dough is so good]:

3/4 c canola oil
2 c sugar
2 tsp vanilla

1 TBL + 1 tsp flax seed
1/2 c soy milk
(this replaces one egg)

Oil mixture and flax mixture

2 c flour
3/4 c cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

Mix dry ingredients with wet ingredients

1/2 c - 1 c chocolate chips

The dough is super thick and fudge-y. [And did I mention delicious?] Roll into 1 inch balls and flatten a bit.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Don't over bake! 10 minutes does it. Be there to count down the last few seconds.

Let cool on pan for a minute or so and then move to rack to finish cooling. Makes about 3 dozen.

Dear Ashleigh Lorene Sorrell Rose

I have this fiery little friend named Ashleigh. She's a red head. And I don't know if I loved her first because she was one of the few people I'm taller than, or if it's because I felt like I knew her before I knew her when Jake described his first BYOP pumpkin painting experience at her parents' home in the fall of 2003. But I do know that I've loved her for a long time.

Today is her 27th birthday. My first experience with an Ashleigh Birthday was when she turned 20. She sat at the head of the table and said "Thanks for coming to my birthday soiree." I'd never heard anyone use soiree for real before. I was happy to be there, and every year on her birthday, I think she's a big deal. So, dear friend, here's to you:

I've enjoyed being with you for many a big event in your life: Getting an internship in D.C., and when you had to respectfully decline it for some important reasons. Listening to the stories of you with a gimpy Christina wandering around D.C. while she was super packing her pocket knife - ready to ward off anyone who looked at either one of you the wrong way. Your first grown up job at Project Transformation, your struggles elsewhere, and you finally landing at United Way...even if I sometimes miss the good ol' days in Financial Aid in our super sweet work study spot. You were a ridiculously fun co-worker. It floated my boat to long-distance house hunt with you. And it was a great honor to stand with you when you married Andrew.

I appreciate your passion for good food, your love of other cultures, your slippage back and forth between English and Spanish, how you make a joint effort with everyone and anything you come across, that you still have Rita, your desire and effort to make the world a better place in whatever way you can, that you bought sunny yellow sheets for Cora at your house, that you came to see us in Chicago and sent your husband up to help when we left, the way you seem to balance so many things effortlessly. This list could go on and on.

One of my favorite things about us is the way you were around so much when I was in the hospital in labor with Cora forever. I'll never be able to tell you how much it meant that you came to see me so often, parking fees, crazy wheelchair driving and all. And then there was the night during the week I was able to go home, and you took me to (dare I say it?) McDonald's! And we ate cheap hamburgers because I really wanted one. Maybe I ate two, I can't remember. Stupid irresistible chopped up pickles. But the moral of the story is you are always there.

Of all the things about you, there is one simple thing I appreciate the most: your friendship.

Much Love,

Reflection from a very tired woman about a very important thing

Sometimes the Oklahoma City bombing seems like it happened so long ago. It was a long time ago in my life. I wasn't quite 10. I was already married and living in Oklahoma when the 10th anniversary came. I watched the service in the living room of our apartment, just 3 miles from the actual site of the bombing. At the completion of the service, a bagpiper led the families of the victims and former president and first lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton, from the church across the street to the site of the memorial. The bagpiper slipped and fell on the steps. The camera crews looked elsewhere as he got up, and when they showed him again, playing his tune, I cried. Ten years. So many lives affected. A city completely transformed.

9/11 seems like it could have happened yesterday. I was a junior in high school. One of my best friends had been killed in a car accident less than a month before, my grandpa had passed away in January of that year. I don't really know what ten years feels like, but if I had to guess, it's something like the distance I've placed between the two latter events. There are times when they are still painful, when I miss them so much my emotions overcome me, but the constant sting of loss has dulled. The same kind of distance cannot be placed for the way our world was changed 10 years ago. We are reminded of the atrocities carried out by human beings against human beings almost daily in the new way we our securities must be guarded. In the wars being fought against terrorism. In the acts of terrorism that occur around the world.

I rode passed the OKC Memorial today on the scooter.I thought about both days, April 19, 1995 and September 11, 2011, and how different the passage of 10 years felt between them.

I guess I don't really know what to say. What happened was unfathomable, and trying to imagine a world where 9/11/2001 was just an ordinary day is impossible too. What if everyone would have gone to work, made it home, and to their destination without incident? Not only would the victims and their families not know what it's like to hold that title, but there wouldn't be victims of the aftermath either - no casualties of war, no children left without a parent because of the ongoing fight against terrorism. There was a finality to the bombing in Oklahoma City. It was local, the perpetrators were caught, put on trial and punished accordingly. 9/11 left the world with an impossible task. The only thing that is possible, in my control, is to remember.

So today, just like everyone else, I am remembering, but I think memory inspiring an action would be even better. In a message, President Obama said:

"With just a small act of service, or a simple act of kindness towards others, you can both honor those we lost and those who serve us still, and help us recapture the spirit of generosity and compassion that followed 9/11."

I still feel anxiety creep in when I see a plane and a building in the same field of sight. I still remember seeing the first plane in the sky leaving from Sky Harbor in Phoenix after planes were allowed to fly again. I was on the band bus on the way to a football game. The bus driver told everyone to look out the window, that we were witnessing something historic. It made something inside feel normal again. For the record, I still feel weary of yellow moving trucks, too. But I can't lose hope that with all of the bad stuff that happens at the hands of a few, there are always so many more who would do something good, and that all of those good things can have the same type of everlasting impact. I guess my resolve is one I've made over and over: I'm going to try to be a little bit better.

Random Palooza

The weather has been beautiful. I find myself thanking God several times a day for the reprieve of the heat. I love being outside - basking in the blue skies and sunshine - without fearing heat stroke.

And then I was watching the news tonight, and apparently the heat is coming back next week. Ummm. Bright side...bright side....Ah, I haven't laid out a single time this summer. We have reclining adirondacks. Early next week, I will be on our side deck in my swim suit next to no pool, baking my skin. Everyone needs at least one good bake right? I am from Arizona. It's not like I'm going to be out there for 5 hours with no sunscreen. And I'm trying to figure out how to cover my face adequately. The melasma on my face never went away after I had Magnolia. I don't want to aggravate it. I mean, I'm religious about applying my moisturizer with 30 spf in it every day.

Dot has an issue. A gas issue. A smelly gas issue. For the last little while, every time we run any sizable amount of hot water, whoa. Knock out sewer smell. From what I've read, I've deduced that we have a venting problem. The sewer gasses aren't properly venting and the steam from hot water carries the smell into our house. So...what to do..?

You know how sometimes your kids go through stages where it's like "Who are you?" I do. And I know that when those stages have run their course, you fall in-love with that little person all over again - and even more in-love than you've ever been before. This will require its very own post. But let it be known that I am so in-love with my darling daughters, and this crazy awesome trip called motherhood never ceases to amaze me.

Cora is enjoying school. A lot. I was getting worried every time we rolled up and she wouldn't get out of the car to go to the car teacher. Then last Wednesday (approximately three schools days ago), she just got right out and that was that. Now instead of tears and talking about how she doesn't want to go to school, she can't wait until it's that time. She especially enjoyed PE this week. Tomorrow we're meeting her best school friend, Lillian, at Douglas Park for lunch and then they're walking to class together. I hear they like to hold hands. Cora and Lillian have both been talking about spending the night with each other. In good time.

I've been making a to-do list for Dot, aside from her gas issue of course. Her yard is so sad looking. This summer=drought. Our lawn was in bad shape when we moved in. Hopefully this fall will be the answer. She also needs a new fence along the street side of the backyard. I'm feeling a 5-foot white picket. I have done so little in the way of decorating. It is time. I need to tackle painting the ceilings and the trim. The stray marks of wall color that landed on both are finally bothering me enough to do something about it. I've thought up the girls room, and the winner theme is: Bohemian Bazaar. I love pinterest for the ability to accumulate ideas. No more gobs of emails with links in them from me to me. And when Jake gets paid again, we're tackling going to start tackling the list. He goes from the end of May to the end of September before he gets consistent paycheck. No joke. And it's not even a full paycheck until the end of October. I was incredibly impressed with our ability to save throughout the school year to make it through the summer. Go team!

All right. There's always more where random came from, but I'm capping it off for the night.

If a song can be a prayer, then this is my prayer of thanksgiving

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the sun in the sky

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the clouds so high

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the whispering wind

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the birds in the spring

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the moonlit night

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the stars so bright

Thanks a lot
Thanks for wonder in me

Thanks a lot
Thanks for the way that I feel

Thanks for the animals
Thanks for the land
Thanks for the people everywhere

Thanks a lot
Thanks for all I’ve got

Thanks for all I’ve got



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