Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Back to School Fun

Dancing and wiggling before his teacher came to the house! 

Dori is going for an edgier look this year, thus the rocker t-shirt and the spiked hair.  

Can't believe 8th grade is here! Thanks to grandma Gerry for sponsoring their uniforms this school year :) 


It's been a fun and busy August for the Johnson boys.   We enjoyed quality time in the Ozarks with all our besties.  Ben and Alex went cliff diving and did all kinds of insane adventurous stuff.  Then as soon we returned we went straight into "back to school" mode.   

Chris went to Nebraska for the big fight with all his buddies.  He stayed an extra day to watch the eclipse since he was in the path of totality.  He said it was beyond breathtaking.  Looking forward to 2024 when Texas will be in the direct path for the eclipse.  Time to start party planning for that!  

Today Dori started the 3rd grade!!!  Two weeks ago Ben and Alex started the 8th grade!!  All three boys have a great things coming ahead for them this fall.  

Dori will be preparing all year to take the STARR Test for the first time (gulp!).  He'll have a modified version to perform with the assistance of his homebound teacher and his speech therapist from the district.  Thankfully they'll be able to work with him because if not he would be responding "Ravioli!" and "Night Night!" to all the questions. :)  He'll be learning all kinds of neat things in Science, Math and English/Reading.  Last year he had a blast with all the books and stories Miss Carolyn would share with him -- anything that rhymes is awesome for him.  Math will be tactile.  Since he doesn't respond as much to visual cues (like flash cards or pictures) she realized that if he didn't want to verbally respond he would answer simple counting and math questions by tapping the answer with his hand to her (tapping 3 times to signify the number 3 for example).  He'll also learn how to be more compliant at accepting "No" as an answer (which honestly nobody on the planet ever tells him "no"), and switching from task to task while remaining calm (instead of screaming because he doesn't want to switch to another activity that he doesn't deem as fun).  So wish Dori luck as he learns "Big Boy" stuff this year!  We still look at him in awe ... thinking that originally his life expectancy would be around 3-6 years; and here we are roughly a month away from his 9th birthday. Yay Dori! 

Ben and Alex have a super exciting year ahead.  They will be preparing and going through Confirmation (lots of prep classes, faith formation activities and lots of community service).  They also will be applying for high school.  It's a big process -- they will be preparing for a comprehensive entrance exam (it's like an SAT/ ACT test required to get into any of the parochial high schools in Dallas), preparing a resume of their accomplishments/ activities,  they need to get letters of recommendations from teachers and other adults, taking high school campus tours to narrow down their choice, and going through individual interviews with their top high school and a family interview with the admission committees.  In the meantime I'll be panicking the entire time and doing lots of screaming throughout the process.  At least that'll give us a little preparation into the college admission process and hopefully I won't be as freaked out about that at that point.  Chris is cool as a cucumber so he'll keep us all from feeling overwhelmed during this exciting time.  They'll find out by spring break which school(s) they were admitted to so we can't wait!  

Ben is playing on two different select basketball teams and Alex is playing football for St. Rita.  Ben has always been an eager athlete, but something must have happened over the summer because Alex is in beast mode about football.  He loves talking about it and loves making things happen.  They've had plenty of practices and one scrimmage at this point so we'll be ready to cheer him on once the season officially gets started.  Go Spartans!

Saturday mornings will be SO MUCH SWEETER now that College Game Day will be airing again on ESPN.  Pretty much nobody except for Chris knows my obsession with College Game Day.  Chris says I like it more than he does, and that says a lot since he is a college football fanatic.  So please don't call or text me during the College Game Day show because I'll either be laughing at the signs in the crowd, crying at one of the tear-jerker stories, or just attentively watching while drinking my coffee.  You have no idea how excited I am! 

We continue to pray for all our friends and fellow Texans going through the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  In just one month we've seen the WORST of American culture (Charlottesville) and the BEST of American culture (Houston).  Although the devastation is enormous and the recovery will be arduous, it has given us a glimpse once again on how wonderful of a nation we can be when people forget about all the political ideologies and prejudices that divide us and instead choose to focus on our common humanity that unites us.   No president, no governmental agency, no celebrity can unite us; only WE as individuals can unite us.  It's been a blessing to witness from afar here in Dallas.  

No matter where you live, you can directly help those in need.  If you shop on Amazon, area organizations helping have posted registries of items they need.  Simply click, order and their desperately needed items go directly to the organizations on the ground helping now. 

Amazon.com has become a big way people are offering specific help and sending items directly to organizations helping Hurricane Harvey victims. Here is a list of Amazon Wish List links to donate! 

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Hellooooo Summaaaaah!

Today is the official first day of summer for Ben and Alex, and today was also Dori's last day of 2nd grade.  Dorian had a blessed year with his teacher Miss Carolyn who always knew how to bring out the best of him through music, laughter and lots of love.  Here's a little video of Dorian listening to his new favorite book today during his last class.   https://youtu.be/reAsyaicarY



So long 2nd grade! This handsome fella is getting ready for a fun summer and with lots of honeys! 

Ben and Alex said "Adios" to the 7th grade and had a blast going swimming with their friends after school yesterday at the country club alot of the Spartan families belong to.  A big special thank you to the Riley family -- Matt and Katie were always so kind in letting the boys walk to their home after every day after school until Chris or I picked them up.  We're confident that the boys probably ate 3 tons worth of food and drank 30 gallons worth of juice boxes, sodas and water bottles from their fridge after school so thank you Rileys for being so awesome with our boys and being such an exemplary St Rita family!

Congrats on 7th Grade Baseball Dallas Parochial League Champions St. Rita Spartans! The kids had a solid squad this year and it was a lot of fun to see them win the championship game on their last week of school.  Ben's select basketball team (the Wolf Pack) also won their league last week so we've been enjoying lots of celebrating these past couple of weeks.  

Since the last time I posted in February we bought a new vizsla puppy (Gracie).  She is such a sweet heart!  Luna didn't want anything to do with her, but she has slowly grown on her.  She has been a wonderful addition to the family!  



In other late breaking news, I accidentally ran over Gracie last week.  Yikes!!  Miraculously she'll be back to normal in 8 weeks with the help of lots of love, reconstructive jaw surgery and a small fortune.  She is ready to get back in action and play even though she gets sedatives twice a day to avoid messing with her wounds or moving her jaw too much.  She has more energy on sedatives than most normal people have after 3 red bulls.  Luna is keeping her distance from Gracie during the meantime.  Poor Gracie!  



Our two champs -- Ben for the DPL Baseball championship and Alex for participating in a special performance with the choir at school for their principal who retired this week.  We are so proud of them, they had a fantastic year. 


Thanks to the Mazurs for going with us to the 2017 Wish Night at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas earlier this month.  We had a great time and it was fun getting all dressed up for a great cause.  If you see me posting a lot more about Make-A-Wish these past few months is because I'm now officially on the regional council for Make-A-Wish North Texas.  It's a lot of fun meeting other Wish families, being a part of Wish reveals, and raising awareness and funds for amazing families across North Texas. 

This past week Chris and I celebrated 19 years of marriage.  Time certainly has flown by quickly these past 19 years and we look forward to many more years to come.  


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Happy start to 2017!

Christmas and the new year came and went in a flash and I can't believe it's already mid February.  In fact today happens to be my mom's birthday.  She would have been a youthful 79 years old today. Ben and Alex also are still floating around in their post birthday celebrations -- they are now officially TEENAGERS!  We had a great time spending Thanksgiving week in NYC... we had a blast attend the parade and visiting all the sites.  Both boys are playing basketball for St Rita... Ben is on the A team and Alex was happy to make the B team (there's 4 7th grade teams so he truly was happy to make the B team!).
 Ben is #24 on his select team The Wolf Pack
Here's a picture of the B&A (lower right corner) during their last day of school at the Christmas party.

Here is the B-Team St Rita Power House 

Dorian has continued to be awesomely defy the odds and spends his day singing, demanding to be rocked by his nurses, and making us laugh.  He loves Luna and calls out for her when he hasn't seen her around, and his favorite part of the day is when Chris comes home from work.  He helps me yell for Ben and Alex and is always Mr Nosey Rosey when the boys are working on homework in the kitchen.  We didn't have a night nurse last night so we stayed up late playing; here he is wishing you all a happy Valentines Day.  Don't let his cuteness fool you.  He is such a funny stinker. He ate a lot of  beans yesterday and his breath was stinky.  Marcia kept telling him jokingly "Dori your breath stinks!" and he would respond by puckering up his lips and blowing into her face each time she would say it.  Niiiiiice.    
  

Central Park NYC over Thanksgiving 

Gangster Dori 

Here is a picture of Cary -- my mom's best friend who I was able to visit 2 weeks ago in Florida before my annual girls trip to Marco.  Cary will be 96 YEARS OLD at the end of this month and she still takes the time to lecture me on how to be more romantic with Chris. She is the original Love Doctor.  She has always been such a blessing to my sister and I... we love her dearly!  She and my mom were always Lucy and Ethel (my mom was the crazy fun Lucy and Cary was the level headed partner in crime Ethel).  

Please join me in praying for our extended i-cell family around the world.  Since December many little i-cell earth angels have bravely earned their wings. Cold and flu season is always hard on our warrior babies and this season has been particularly hard on many.  We pray for their families to find strength and comfort in the memories of their dear children.  

Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the month and hoping your new year is off to a wonderful start!  


Monday, October 31, 2016

October 2016

Dorian new favorite song of the moment is Bruno Mar's "24 Karat".  The first time he heard it he couldn't keep still; he was stomping his legs and tapping his hands on his tummy.  So we surprised him with a 24 Karat-themed birthday party.  The party lasted all of maybe 5 minutes because he just wanted to go down for a nap, but he's been enjoying all the love and attention from everyone asking him about his birthday for the past couple of weeks.  He started telling everyone that he was going to be 9.  Then he'd laughed and say he was going to really be 8.  Dorian makes 8 look GREAT!



Then later that night we co-hosted the 8th Annual Halloween Spooktacular.  We had a fantastic turnout!  Over 50 people came and danced the night away.  Everyone really outdid themselves with their costumes this year, it was a great time.  Most importantly, we were able to raise a nice amount of funds for Make-a-Wish North Texas.  It's nice to see that because of the generosity and loving hearts of our friends and families, other kids in North Texas will be closer to getting their wishes granted.  

Seventh grade is whizzing by quickly for the boys. It's unbelievable that November is here already!  Last month we were able to take them to Chicago for the Nebraska/Northwestern game with our friends the Bargens and the Fitzgeralds from Nebraska.  That was a blast!  

Chicago fun! 

Last month was also Nenita's QuinciaƱera in San Antonio.  So much fun!

Both Ben and Alex will be playing basketball for their 7th grade team at school starting in a few weeks.  We're proud of Alex for signing up, he hasn't played basketball in quite a few years.  Ben is nearly finish with the Wolf Pack basketball season.  Alex stepped up and joined the G.H.O.L. committee (Get High On Life).  Last week was their big red ribbon week (after many weeks of preparation) and Alex had a blast doing all his skits and having Chris be the keynote speaker for the culmination of the week's activities.   

Dorian has really turned a corner when it comes to his schooling.  His teacher and speech therapist always leave so happy on how well he has been doing.  He anticipates cause/effect better, he is recognizing his sight pictures/words more and he is even successfully joking around about certain words and numbers with Miss Carolyn in a very intentional way.  He makes us so proud! 

Here is a picture of the boys right before they had their 7th/8th grade school dance.  Both boys were extremely nervous about the girl situation but when Chris picked them up they were all super excited and asked when the next dance would be.  
7th Grade Boys

Chris as the infamous Pablo Escobar, I was super star Whitney Houston in a bathtub. 

Freeze!  You have the right to remain adorable!  Dorian is a police officer this year. 

Friday, September 2, 2016

And We're OFF!

School year 2016-17 is in full swing at Casa de Johnson.  Ben and Alex are in the 7th grade and are getting back into their groove after starting back on August 16th.  Dorian is officially a 2nd grader and today is his first day of school.  He enjoyed posing for pictures before the school and jumped right on in with all his songs with his teacher Miss Carolyn.  It amazes us how he retains information so well, especially when it revolves around music.
When I asked Dori to smile he wouldn't.  I said "Show me your teeth then" and this was his response. 

Handsome fella 
He finally cooperated with the obligatory First Day of School pic.  Second grade here he comes!


Alex is trying some new roles at school.  He joined the Choir so today was his first time singing at Mass.  He said he was a little nervous so I told him to just lip-sync "Watermelon" in case of emergency.  From vantage point it seems like he held it together well and didn't have to do any fake singing :).  He also started this week on the GHOL committee (Get High On Life) in planning for all the substance awareness activities at the school this year.  We are so proud of how he is stepping out and doing new things outside of his comfort zone.  Since he isn't playing any sports this fall he takes Luna on a (minimum) mile-long walk everyday when Ben leaves for practice.  It's amazing how he comes back and the gps odometer is always like 1.01 miles.  I asked him how he walks exactly a mile and he says he just goes down the street in a straight line until it's 1/2 mile then just walks back.  I said you're missing the point on walking in lovely surroundings.   ha ha ha!


Ben has pleasantly surprised us!  He is adamant about getting his homework done, his handwriting looks like a real 7th grader wrote it (not a drunken lab monkey) AND he even works ahead on his homework during the weekends without us prompting him.  I asked him if he was abducted by aliens and if all this responsibility is a veiled cry for help.  He confirmed all is well and that he is just being responsible.  WHAAAAA???? He is also busy with his basketball team the Wolf Pack and has been enjoying going to the Michael Johnson Performance Center twice a week to work on his athleticism.


Chris and all the other Wealth Management team have moved from their Dallas office (very close to the boys school) back to Addison.  He's beating me on working out alot and eating healthier so he must be getting ready for the rigors of watching college football.  To say that he is happy with the return of the college football season would be a sad understatement.  Let's all pray Huskers have a solid winning season!  We'll be traveling to watch them play against Ohio State with our friends the Mazurs (of Oktoberfest and ski trip fame) so that should be a great time!
Chris watched me MC a Make-A-Wish event a few weeks ago.  Thankfully there was plenty of beer for him to sit through all my bad jokes on stage!  It dawned on us that last week was Dori's 1 year anniversary of getting his Wish.  What a huge difference a year has made!  He continues to make us laugh and bring so much joy to all that love and care for him.  So in the words of the youngins on social media we continue to live the life #BLESSED 

GO BIG RED!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Summer Winding Down

The boys officially are mourning the fast approaching end of their summer.  They have both done a nice job in their reading comprehension and grammar tutoring.  Today was their last day of tutoring and now we'll soak in the next few days until they ramp back up to school on August 16th.

This summer flew by entirely too quickly.  Chris treated us to a spontaneous trip to Mexico where we all had a relaxing time in Puerto Morelos.  We visited with my sister and Valerio during a pit stop returning from our annual trip to the Ozarks.  Last weekend we enjoyed a day trip to San Antonio in preparation for Nenita's QuinciaƱera next month.  The boys practiced their bachata dance routine for 5 hours!  Ben has kept busy with his basketball team this summer so it's been good to keep him busy.  Alex has been busy FaceTiming friends from school while playing with them online at the same time and talking politics.

Dori has had a nice stable summer, no major setbacks or scary close-calls like we had exactly a year ago around this time.  He is very talkative and loves his music more than ever.  Today another nurse turned in her 2 weeks notice so we'll be sad to see her go.  She is so reliable and responsible I was hoping she'd be a longterm placement for us.  Evidently Dorian and I must be tyrants... oh well.  ha ha!  

This summer has flown by in one huge fun blur.  This is one of the first summers where I'm not counting down the days for the boys to go back to school.  I'm actually pretty sad that they'll be gone during the days.  It's probably because now that they grow older we tend to "hang out" more and have real conversations compared to when they were little.  Chris told me I'll be a hot mess when they leave for college.  I didn't deny it because I know I will!    

Check out this video of Dorian singing his little heart out to me yesterday.  He is quite the crooner and is so fun to hang out with.  He is such a delight!

The boys had a blast at our annual Mom/Kids trip to the Ozarks.  Stacy is always a great host and the kids do an awesome job of packing in as much fun as possible!  

We loved our Mexican trip to Puerto Morelos!  

The beaches were lovely and the boys loved spending their time enjoying that crystal blue ocean 
behind us.  
Dorian always making us laugh with his wit!  He has really blossomed in some special ways this summer (being even MORE talkative, showing how well he remembers things, and having new favorite songs).  


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

End of School Year and Beginning of Summer

Wow it's amazing how quickly the past couple of months have flown by!  Toward the end of the school year both boys were very busy with school projects and finals, Ben was busy with basketball, and Alex was busy with baseball.  In the final months of school we also had some staffing changes with Dorian's nurses so there was alot of interviewing and training happening all in the background.

We surprised our nephew Nicholas in early May for his masters graduation party in Georgia.  Ben and Alex had never been to Atlanta so they enjoyed seeing all the major landmarks. Their favorites were the Coca Cola Museum (because what kid doesn't love all you can drink soda?!), and they were really into all the behind-the-scenes action at CNN.  We were even able to catch the Atlanta Hawks play against the Cavaliers in the early playoffs.  On our final day we were finally able to see Nick, his wife Jen, my sister & Valerio and all of Nick and Jen's friends.  But oddly enough their biggest entertainment was riding the elevators over and over again at our hotel.  It was spooky and cool for them all at the same time.  Next time we'll save a ton of money and just take them to down town and have them ride those elevators for hours on end-- just kidding!
Fun at the Braves game. 
The scary yet mesmerizing elevators.  

Chris showing how proud we are of Nick by beating him at Beer Pong.  

Dori worked really hard for a couple of weeks with his teacher on making me an adorable Mothers Day artwork and singing me a song.  He was kinda in a cranky mood when he started to perform it but he livened up really quickly and sounded so cute while singing along to his well rehearsed tune.  It was so heart warming!  He is so precious and his teacher and nurse had been so patiently working with him behind the scenes, it really meant alot to me. 

Alex enjoyed his baseball season with the St Rita's 6th grade league.  He decided to give soccer a rest and we were proud of him starting something new.  He won some impressive awards for his writings and for loving Social Studies this past year. We are so proud of both of them for stepping it up academically this year.  YAY! 
Winner Winner (academic) Chicken Dinner 

GO SPARTANS! 
Dori and Papi catching up on their day after a long day of work. 

For Memorial Day weekend we took a trip to Kiawah Island, South Carolina for our friend Bryan's 50th birthday.  The kids all had a blast playing in the ocean and watching movies together.  Our full day was perfect weather but then a tropical storm came in so we did lots of card playing, movies and eating with everyone.  


Ever since Memorial Day weekend Dori has had on and off days with fevers, respiratory distress and sleepiness.  After two rounds of antibiotics and one round of steroids our pulmonologist recommended we go to the ER to get him chest x-rays and have lab work done to check his carbon dioxide levels in his blood.  X-rays revealed his left lung was partially collapsed due to a respiratory infection (more than likely viral because his strep and pneumonia all came back negative.).  We spent from 2PM-9PM in the ER until he was stabilized enough to bring home.  Since then he has been progressing from needing to be on all his "heavy duty" breathing machines (his bipap trilogy vent) and his rebreather mask (the mask that has a baggie attached to it) for when he eats.  Poor fella has been bored to death in his room since we can't easily transfer him from room to room on all that equipment he isn't typically on when he is healthy.  His will to be "in the mix" and his stubbornness to not want to miss out on the fun and commotion in the other parts of the house have willed him to get better.  He is now able to breath for 30-60 minute stretches at a time on his nasal cannula.  Here is a picture of him on Sunday night when he had his first bath outside of his room.  He was so happy to be out of his room surrounded by the rest of us.  I caught something in the ER so I've been on antibiotics and steroids so this week is finally when I've been able to hang out with him more without the fear of getting him sick from whatever crud I had all stuffed up in my lungs.  Thankfully nobody else came down with anything. 
Last week Alex also had his adenoids and tonsils removed.  We've had an exciting 1st two weeks of the summer with Dori in the ER and Alex getting his tonsils removed; but we've managed to still work in alot of fun and family time.  Here is a picture of Alex eating some super soft Mac n Cheese at the Cheesecake factory earlier this week.  
Last weekend had a nice time with our buddy Alden from KC who spent the weekend doing all kinds of silly things with Ben and Alex.  

And here is a picture of Chris and I, celebrating our 18th wedding anniversary on May 30th!  Crazy how quickly the time has flown by... I told him we finally made it to the "adulthood" part of our marriage since we're 18 years in.   ha ha ha!  
Wishing Chris and all the wonderful dads that may read this a wonderful father's day this upcoming weekend!  This is one of the last pictures we all took as a family together with Wynnie.  Please say a special prayer to all the fathers we hold in our hearts this year; this will be our first  year without Chris's dad Dave.  I'm sure my dad and his dad have gotten well acquainted at this point and are having a grand old time together.  
The boys and I are truly blessed to have such a loving, fun and supportive Big Papi in our lives.  It's neat to see how their relationship continuously grows and blossoms as they all get older.  Dori still thinks that Papi is the coolest person on the planet and is always excited to hear his voice, being held by him after he comes home from work, and having their frequent R&B jam sessions in our bar area while watching sports (to very questionable music that normally is not suited for 7 year olds which makes it even funnier!!). We call Dori "White Chocolate".   Life is good and we're thankful for all our friends, family and nursing staff that help make that possible. Wishing you all a great summer... stop on by and see us when you get a chance!