Monday, December 29, 2008

Christmas Presents and Lessons

I learned a very valuable lesson this Christmas. What is that you ask? Now that I'm a mommy Christmas is going to involve a lot more work. I came to this realization while putting together a Fisher Price Grow with Me kitchen at 2:00am on Christmas morning. Where were Jeremy and Emma while I was attempting this feat? Good question-they were both sleeping. Nice huh? A few spiked eggnogs and an hour later the kitchen was complete and I was more than ready to go to bed. Here's a pic of the finished product:

We went to my mom's house on Christmas Eve and then Jeremy's parents on Christmas Day. As usual we had a ton of fun and ate way too much food. Emma scored a ton of loot this year. So much in fact that I had to go through her toys over the weekend and put some away because her toys were taking over the living room.
Our poor dogs will now have to suffer through new torture thanks to the battery powered car Emma received from my mom and Harry. Daddy is teaching her how to run the dogs over-nice.

In other news I'm really looking forward to 2009. I have a theory you see and I believe that 2009 will be a great year. All of the wonderfully important and special events in my life have happened during an odd numbered year so I'm anxious to see what's in store. This weekend we will finally have Emma's 1 year pictures made and also some family photos that had to be rescheduled due to Emma's last hospital stay. I'm really excited about this (even though I still didn't manage to lose my last 10 "Emma pounds"-darn Christmas goodies) because she is a fantastic photographer. And, Jeremy and I will celebrate our 6 year anniversary. It seems very weird that we've been married that long-I'll dig up a picture of us when we were younguns' and post next time.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Down to the wire

OK, normally I'm super organized and have all of our Christmas presents bought weeks in advance. Not so this year. I'm still scrambling to buy some last minute gifts. There are a few people left that are still present-less because I have no idea what to buy for them! Jeremy's dad is not very difficult to buy for (anything Razorback will do) but we've been trying to think of something different to get him this year because we always buy him Razorback stuff . . . and does anyone have any suggestions on what you buy your mom's fiance for Christmas who you've only met one time for like 2 minutes? What's the proper etiquette? Do we have to buy him something? And if so, what?! Grrrr! Oh well, there are still a few days before Christmas so I can procrastinate a little longer!

I FINALLY got to see Twilight over the weekend. (Thanks MeMe and PopPop for watching Emma!) First let me say I absolutely loved the book and I'm fully aware that movies typically do not measure up to the book (for me anyway) but I was super excited to see it because I've heard nothing but good reviews. Well, unless you count some of the guys at the RR-but really, this is more of a chick flick anyway so I ignored their comments. The movie was good, and I probably would have liked it even better if I had not read the book. But since I had . . . I was a little ticked off because they added in scenes to the movie that were not in the book, the sequence of the storyline was changed up slightly, and they left out a lot of stuff. I know that you can't fit everything into a movie that was in the book but they left out stuff that I thought was important and made the book so great. Jeremy went to the movie purely because I begged and even he said he was lost at times because it seemed like scenes were missing. Sigh. Movies just aren't as good as the books . . .
Saturday night we squeezed Justin and Brittany into the backseat of the Envoy with Emma and all drove to Iron Mountain to see the light display. Everything was going great until Emma started hurling in the backseat. When she is snotty and has sinus drainage it sometimes upsets her stomache and triggers her gag reflex-and poor Brittany and Justin got to see it firsthand. (Sorry guys!) Luckily I have a survival kit in my car complete with diapers, wipes, burp cloths, and a change of clothes. After she threw up though she was fine and anxious to get out of the car. Jeremy, Justin, and Brittany went out to the marina and I kept Emma in the car for a little while but she couldn't stand it so I loaded her up in the stroller and bundled her up in my coat and we took a walk too for about 5 minutes. She fell in love with this display that had 3 Christmas trees that lit up along with music. We must get some of those next year!

Here we are in front of Emma's trees. (I have crappy ponytail hair and glasses on so just ignore me in the picture):
And here's a picure of Brittany and Justin (they photograph so well all the time-it's just not fair:)):

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Week in Review

So, the first week in December did not exactly go as planned. We lost Jeremy's grandfather, PaJoe, early Thursday morning due to congestive heart failure. For those of you in the Malvern area PaJoe owned and operated the local barber shop on Main St. for many, maany, years and was an absolute character. I have two "catch phrases" that I will always remember him by. The first was his greeting-Anytime you saw PaJoe he would stand up (because he was too much of a gentleman to remain seated) and give you a big hug. I would say "Hi PaJoe, how are you doing/feeling today?" To which he would reply "Oh, I'm as mean as ever." And then when you parted you would again get the standing hug and a "I'm glad you got to see me today!" So, while the entire Johnson family is very sad to see him go it is also a blessing in that he is no longer in pain/discomfort and he is now with God.

So, while dealing with the loss of PaJoe we also still had to pull off the first of 2 Santa Trains on Saturday. Jeremy and I would have easily backed out, but his dad was insitent that we still participate; mainly because we had promised our 4 year old nephew Holton that he could help Uncle Jeremy drive the train. And apparently, Jeremy is now cooler than Santa Claus-I really don't think there is any higher praise from a child do you? Holton was so proud of himself and actually did get to "drive" for a minute. And let me tell you, I could learn a thing or two from him about the inside of a locomotive. Holton could name every control in the cab and what it could do-he was even telling Jeremy what he needed to be doing. Thomas the Train is one informative little show!

And, I bought Holton and Emma little engineer's hats and had their names embroirdered on them. Holly said Holton wore his hat that night to his "girlfriend" Elizabeth's house. Aren't they adorable? (It was so cold Emma wore her's over her toboggan)

We have sort of made it tradition that our Christmas card picture is from the Santa Train but I'm not sure that will happen this year. Emma was so bundled up in all of the pictures that you could only see a fraction of her face and she's just too cute to not be the focal point of the pictures!
Getting a present from Diana Claus while waiting to catch a ride on the train . . .

Also, I've had two things running through my mind continuously over the last week. The first is the realization that I am utterly and completely addicted to my cell phone. I am now one of "those people" that cannot live without their cell phone. Mine died and I immediately got it replaced with a new HTC smartphone but could not get all of my information downloaded to it for about a week. I am so dependent on having my email, calendar, and 300+ contacts on my cell phone that I almost went spastic. It. Was. Not. Pretty. I get calls at odd times in odd places (10pm on Sat night at Walgreens for example) on my cell phone from customers, other railroads, etc that I HAVE to have full and complete access to Windows Outlook. Nevermind that I have a laptop- I need it on the phone also! Sigh. Oh well. There could be worse addictions . . .

And the second thought nagging me is a comment that one of my customers made. Now, I've known this guy for 4 years and he is wonderfully kind and I'm sure did not mean to offend me, but he did. Following Emma's last hospital stay he was calling to check on Emma and see if I needed any help with the Santa Train. He made the comment that if he could do it all over again he would insist that his wife stay home with their kids while they were growing up and place more importance on that than the lifestyle they both worked to maintain. That was not word for word, but hidden in there I felt a subtle rebuke for still working. I really have been struggling with guilt for continuing to work after Emma was born ever since she was born; only made worse now by her asthma. I think it is up to each family to decide what is best for them and there are days when I really wish I was a SAHM. But, it's just not feasible for me for two main reasons-1) Jeremy makes good money, but I'm paid very well for the $$ I generate for the railroad in new business and contract negotiations. It's a simple matter of we cannot afford our bills on his income alone. (Jeremy jokingly says it's my fault for going to college and being a smarty pants!) 2) I love my job and it is the type of job that will be quickly filled if I vacate it. With a railroad you have certain geographic limitations so if I leave AKMD and then get ready to jump back into the workforce my job will not be waiting and it will require that we move to find a similar position. So, I do the best I can and make sure I put Emma's needs first. Luckily, AKMD is willing to work with me and allow me to be there for Emma when necessary.
And, to end on a light note-we finally traded belated birthday presents with our friends the Stuckeys (their daughter Ava had a birthday the week after Emma but we were not able to attend each other's parties) and Emma loved the baby stroller they got her. I tried to show her how to use it properly-I strapped her little baby doll in and tried to get her to push it around the house. OH NO. She threw the baby in the floor and crawled into the stroller herself. Then daddy got the idea to turn our hallway into a drag strip so he would push Emma down the hallway as fast as he could, do donuts, etc and she would just squeal and laugh her little head off. Here is a picure of her mid-360 turn. I see a lot of gray hairs in my future from this little adrenaline junkie. I'm afraid she's going to take after me (3 broken arms, stitches 7 0r 8 times . . . ).

Here's hoping Santa Train #2 and week #2 are not near as eventful . . .

Monday, December 1, 2008


We started a new Turkey Day Tradition this past weekend- my mother-in-law Robin decided that every Thanksgiving the grandkids would decorate Gingerbread Houses. So cute! So we had two teams- Team Holton was made up of my four year old nephew and his mom Holly and Team Emma was made up of me and my sister-in-law Brittany. I didn't think to take any pictures of the work in progress but you can see our finished masterpiece below. It was a blast and I really think Emma will like this once she is older. Holton thought it was great and wanted to eat the house as soon as he was finished with his. I really don't blame him because it smelled wonderful!

The Johnson family is fiercely competitive so we were joking the whole time about who was "winning". Of course we told Holton he won but I think Brittany and I kicked butt in the creativity department due to our outrageous (and slightly scary) gingerbread men and Emma's name on the side of the roof (Brittany's genius idea). But, when it came to neatness Holly's mad 1st grade teacher skills kicked our butts. Her icing was all straight and neat . . . I think Brittany and I were laughing too hard to get it right. Oh well, there's always next year!

We also put up our Christmas decorations this weekend. We're still not completely finished but we did manage to get most of the inside stuff up. And, for the first time ever we are actually putting Christmas lights on the house. I've always decorated the front porch and put a few things in the yard but Jeremy wanted to put lights on the house for Emma because we discovered that she LOVES Christmas lights. Poor guy was outside on the roof yesterday hanging lights in a freezing cold drizzle. That's some love right there.

This was our first experience decorating with a toddler in the house. Needless to say the entire bottom half of our tree is shatterproof balls and ornaments we found at Walmart. I highly recommend them-they are Emma tested and completely unbreakable. It was so funny trying to decorate the tree though because I would hang an ornament and Emma would come right behind me and take it back off and throw it down the hall. It takes a lot of effort to squish this large tree into our narrow living room. Especially now with Emma's collection of toys . . .

Her favorite Christmas decoration so far though is the Christmas Train that I put around the tree each year. See how helpful she is . . .

All in all it was a great weekend and we're so glad to have M back home and back to her usual mischievous self.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Hospital Recommendation . . .

If you ever need a recommendation on a hospital we should be your first call. Seriously. Poor little M wrapped up her THIRD hospital stay on Sunday. Her cold I mentioned last week turned real serious real quick as it brought on an asthma attack that landed us in the hospital last Thursday. She's back home now and doing well. (By the way our recommendation would be St. Joe's in Hot Springs. 3 different stays, 3 different hospitals. National Park was ok but the rooms are so small Jeremy and I both couldn't stay overnight.)

Her first hospital stay was at three months for pneumonia. Her second hospital stay was at 7 1/2 months-this was when we found out she had asthma. I still have nightmares about that day. When she got up that morning she was breathing slightly heavy, but she had a stuffy nose and it just sounded like it would when any of us are trying to breathe through a stuffy nose. I dropped her off at daycare and received a call from them 5 hours later saying something was wrong and I needed to come and see her. When I got there she was wheezing really loudly and her chest was retracting deeply (this is when your chest sinks in below your rib cage as you try to breathe-it means you're having to use extra muscles because you cannot get enough air). I took her straight to St. Joe's and they rushed us right to an exam room even though the wait was 2 1/2 hours. Her oxygen level was only 78 (more on oxygen levels below). 5 days later she was released from the hospital. She's been on daily asthma medication ever since.

To me, asthma is very hard to predict because it can happen so suddenly and the symptoms are similar to that of any normal cold. Plus, I've never been around anyone with asthma. It is definitely not like what you see on tv where it's clearly obvious that someone is having an asthma attack, and she can't tell me that her chest feels tight so I have to just look for the subtle signs. Emma's asthma seems to become critical when she has a cold (hence our third hospital visit), so I pay extra attention when she's sick. And even then I think I underestimate her asthma. For instance last week I took her back to the doctor on Thursday because her cold just wasn't improving and I noticed a very slight retraction of her chest. I truly did not expect another hospital stay, but her oxygen level was hovering between 89-90 so they admitted her to bring it back up to a safe level. Lesson learned-if I even suspect something might be off-take Emma to the doctor ASAP. Thank goodness I did.

Now about oxygen levels-the respiratory therapist during our latest hospital stay took the time to explain the oxygen curve to me. Here's what I learned- Most people function on an oxygen level between 91-98 and this is completely normal. 89-90 is considered borderline. Once you reach 88 there is a significant drop in oxygen in your body. Image 89 as the edge of a cliff and 88 is stepping off. Even though it doesn't sound like a significant difference it truly is. An oxygen level of 70 can cause death. Remember when I said Emma's level on visit 2 was 78? yeah. I said a furious and heartfelt thank you prayer when I learned this. At the time I realized it was serious but no one took the time to explain to me how serious. It makes sense now when her nurses kept remarking about how great I was being-all calm and collected and being patient with Emma. Hello! I had no idea a few points was all that was separating her from possible death people! I would like to think I would have still been calm, but who knows.

Moral of the story- Don't ever let anyone criticize you for taking your child to the doctor too often or over minor things. Better safe than sorry. Trust me-Emma's file will be a mile thick before too long because I am not taking any chances whatsoever. What was that- a sneeze? To the doctor!

Our Little Trooper

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The sickness

Poor Little M has been sick for the past three days- running fever, throwing up, and having some breathing difficulties with her asthma. We took her to the doctor and she's on some antibiotics so hopefully things will turn around. Emma is such a little trooper-the only hint that she's sick is that she is very clingy, as in I have to take her to the bathroom with me and STILL hold her the entire time. Doesn't she look pitiful? This is right before her bottom lip sticks out and she starts crying.
My boss is in from Florida this week and I have a completely full schedule at work so Jeremy and I have been alternating staying at home with her, but Mommy is still best when she's not feeling good. Jeremy gets stressed out by constant crying and I come home to a wrecked house.
I really hope Emma gets to feeling better by this weekend because we have an appointment to get our pictures made by a wonderful photographer in North Little Rock. She did Emma's daycare pictures in the Spring and they were fabulous, but that was her last time at the daycare. So now, we're traveling to her. I was so disappointed in her daycare pictures for the Fall. The person you did them was terrible-Emma had snot on her face, you could tell she had been crying, and she just looked dazed in general.
I don't often get to have "expensive" pictures, we usually go to Sears and have to face the butt- crack girl, but I think Emma turning 1 warrants expensive pictures. I finally talked Jeremy into it and then had to battle him on his clothes. He just doesn't understand that colors need to coordinate and was offended when I restricted his color choices. He wanted to wear a blue thermal shirt from Old Navy that said California across the front in yellow . . . please pray for me.
In other news, I think my brother and his family may be coming to Arkansas for Thanksgiving-yay! They live in Florida (part time in Louisiana due to his work) and I haven't seen them in TWO YEARS! I am so excited! I also used their visit as motivation to get Jeremy to finish my hardwood floors-only about 100 sf left!!
And, as part of our ongoing renovation nightmare-it looks like we're going to have to replace a wall and some of the floor in our bathroom. yeah. Apparently water has been getting behind our shower wall and has rotted out part of the wall and the floor under the tub. Where is Ty Murray when I need him? The next time I say the words "we can update this house in no time-let's buy it" SLAP ME, please.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Santa Train- Choo Choo!

As many of you know I'm in charge of a little thing called Santa Train. If you're from Magnet you know what I'm talking about.

(YES- I work for the railroad that always blocks the highway at Butterfield, and NO- I will not make them move no matter how many times you call and complain. Suck it up!)
One of my varied duties for the railroad is to organize and pull off the Santa Train each year. TWO Santa Trains to be exact since we are now running a train in the Warren/Monticello area on one of our other branches. Each year we organize sponsors and have stops from Malvern to Mt. Pine where kids can meet Santa, receive a gift, play some games and eat some yummy food. It's really a great community event and helps a lot of children who may not otherwise receive any gifts for Christmas (think Jones Mill children). At any rate, I also have the privilege (or power) to say who gets to go on a train ride also. We have some space on the caboose where friends and family can ride-this is not advertised to the general public so you didn't hear it from me. Space is limited but lucky for those of you reading this you know someone with pull . . . If you'll be in the area on Saturday December 6th give me a shout and I'll get you on the train. Jeremy will be engineering for a portion of the day so our nephew Holton is going to ride in the cab of the locomotive and "help" Uncle Jeremy drive.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Birthday Extravaganza

Emma turned the Big One on Saturday 8th. The fact that she's one still continues to surprise me. On the one hand it doesn't seem possible that an entire year has flown by, while on the other I don't remember what our life was like before Emma-it feels as though she has always been a part of our family. I can vaguely recall what if was like to sleep past 5:30am during the week and 6:30am on weekends . . .but loss of sleep is a small price to pay to have Emma in my life. (Jeremy doesn't suffer from any loss of sleep so I don't see any downside for him! :) )

She had a very big birthday. She was so excited by all of the preparations that she refused to take a nap and was fighting the inevitable crash by about 3pm. She was strong though and held out until 5:30!

Some pics of her party:

The Birthday Girl

The cake . . . Are you picking up on the theme yet? I designed the cake myself, thank you very much, but Ambrosia gets credit for baking it. And yes, it tasted as good as it looked. The leftovers are killing my weight loss goals . . . I have no willpower . . .

Emma LOVED her cake!

Emma's future BFF and her mommy

HoHo and M


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Brawl and a Show

For those that didn't know, one of our other four legged kids had surgery last week. Dakota is Jeremy's 9 1/2 year old lab (he got her waaay back when we were dating) and she is THE BEST dog ever. She was having some issues that are too disgusting to detail so after a late night call to the vet and an early trip to the office the next morning for yours truly, Dakota had surgery last week to remove an infection in her uterus and also be spayed. In order to recouperate she has been staying in the house. Normally this would not be a problem, except Maybell and Dakota both like to be Top Dog and tend to brawl. So, last night all three dogs were crowded around Emma's highchair while we were eating supper (Jeremy was working late so I was manning the zoo on my own) and behaving themselves quite well. All of a sudden I hear Dakota growling. Apparently Maybell is sniffing inside Dakota's personal space bubble and before I can do much more than stand up to try and separate them the fight is on. And let me tell you-it was vicious. Dakota may be a senior citizen and recovering from surgery but she doesn't take any crap. So, Rosie runs away, Maybell and Dakota are trying to kill each other, I'm trying to get between them and Emma is screaming at the top of her lungs. Long story short it took me FOUR tries to separate them and I finally had to lock Maybell up in her kennel. Looking back it was very ironic that both dogs were trying to literally rip the other's throat out, but the instant either one accidentally bit down on my arm or something they would immediately let go-I guess I can be thankful for that at least.
In other news, I think I'm going to talk Jeremy into going to the movies with me in a couple of weeks. This would be the first movie we've gone to since before Emma was born. Twilight is set to hit theatres on Nov. 21 and I desperately want to see it. I read this book purely by accident while stuck in the Dallas Airport trying to get to Omaha for a Union Pacific meeting. I wandered into the bookstore and the cover of the book caught my eye. As most of you know I'm addicted to supernatural stuff-vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, etc- not cult/obsessed addicted-merely harmless entertainment. ( I also own every Harry Potter book). Anyway, I fell in love with the book and wound up reading all four books in the saga. I'm psyched about the movie and I hope it's not a disappointment. Now I just need to round up a babysitter . . .

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trick or Treat

I was a little worried that Emma would freak out with the hood on her kitty costume, but she acted like it wasn't even there. I bought this at Cracker Barrel of all places a month or so ago and I think it is just too adorable.

Jeremy forgot all about Halloween until I called him and reminded him, THEN he decided to stop gossipping with his friends like a little girl and come home from work. (And for those of you that don't know any men who work in the railroad industry-they gossip like little gray haired ladies. These guys don't have anything on the women, I promise. Working with them is like watching a real life soap opera.) Anyway . . . so he was running late and I decided to just go ahead and take her to my mom's house first. I'm all about schedules these days and wanted to take Emma on her rounds before she got sleepy and cranky, which happens around 7pm every night.

Nana gave her some goldfish, which she proceeded to grind into dust. And then tried climbing on the table for the BIG bowl of candy.

Next we went to see Aunt Brittany and Uncle Justin and the Meme and PopPop. Emma's new favorite word is PopPop, which needless to say drives MeMe crazy. You can literally say to Emma, "Say MeMe" and she'll go "Pop Pop Pop Pop". It's hilarious. You can practically see the steam coming out of Robin's ears. John and Robin live on Pine Bluff St so there were TONS of trick-or-treaters. Emma would go to the door everytime someone came up and just stare at them in their outfits. We had to cut our visit short though because the crankiness hit. All in all, not a bad 1st Halloween.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Battle of Wills

Emma and I have been locked in a fierce battle of wills for the last two weeks. I'm determined that with her first birthday just around the corner she needs to branch out from formula and baby food-she's just not having it. I've been trying to introduce new foods to her for a while now, but she won't eat anything other than fruit and crackers (goldfish, vanilla wafers, etc). It really has me concerned because I'm pretty sure her doctor is going to tell me take her off the bottle during her one year checkup. She cannot survive on fruit and goldfish!

Well, the battle finally reached a pivotal point on Friday night as we were bumping heads over a Gerber Graduates meal of spaghetti sauce and pasta rings. Every time the spoon got near her mouth she would clamp her lips shut. She would lick the sauce off of her lips afterwards but wouldn't let me get a bite in her mouth. I gave her the spoon and all that resulted was our obese dog got a face full of spaghetti o's.

This goes on for about 15 minutes, with Jeremy watching the whole time. Finally, he senses that I'm about to jump off the nearest cliff and he grabs the spoon and gets her to take a bite on the FIRST TRY! WHAT!? He comes in and has probably only fed her solids a total of 10 times in her entire year of life, and gets her to eat. I was both pissed and relieved. Of course, after she takes the bite he hands the spoon back to me and sits down to watch again. So, I give it a try-and get the clamped lips AGAIN. Then my darling husband stands up, takes the spoon from me, and proceeds to speak to me like you would a 5 year old- "Now, Stephanie. Watch carefully, I'm going to show you how to do it one more time then you're on your own." He is so lucky that Emma's spoon was blunt . . .

I got the hang of it, finished feeding her and the crisis was averted. Once she decided to stop being stubborn and eat she actually enjoyed it. So do our dogs who now camp out under the high chair during every feeding.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Peer Pressure

Alright! Those of you that complain I don't keep you informed of the mundane lives of the Johnsons win-I've got a blog now. I can't promise how often it will get updated but I will try my best.

Emma has been growing like a weed and actually took her first unassisted steps this week. She only made it about four steps before tumbling into my arms but it's a start. And she is into EVERYTHING! I think I'm going to have to nail down all of our possessions. She's getting so rowdy that even the dogs are scared of her now. Rosie still ignores Emma and refuses to be petted (or slapped in Emma's case) for more than a minute, but Maybell will lick Emma in the face (yuck) and put up with all the tugging and slapping Emma dishes out. I really think that poor dog doesn't feel loved unless she's getting beat up on. Do they have therapy programs for dogs that confuse abuse with love? And let's not even get into the craziness she creates in her walker. Rosie and Maybell literally hide when I put Emma in her walker because she will chase them all over the house laughing like a loon.

A few weeks we took her to the pumpkin patch and that was fun. Actually, I don't think she cared a whole lot (evidenced by the picture) so it was more for the grown ups. Even the dancing chicken didn't warrant a smile.

But now we're getting geared up for Halloween and then a string of birthdays in November. Holton's birthday falls on the 1st, followed by Emma's on the 8th, another friend's birthday on the 10th, and the 13th as well as my sister's. Whew! Good think Emma likes cake.

I'm stressing about her party because it has to be perfect-you only get one 1st birthday. Jeremy told me to drop the OCD complex and just have fun because she wouldn't remember it anyway. Yeah, that was helpful!
Sorry everything is a little jumbled, I'll try to make future posts pretty but I'm running out of time today.