Well, old man Winter decided to show his face around Petaluma this morning. He's an early guest - I thought he was supposed to arrive on the 21st! As long as our heater is on (which you will be glad to know PG&E lit the pilot last Thursday), we don't mind his visit. It's really pretty actually. Everything is sparkling in the sunlight. I went for a walk to take these pictures but couldn't go too far because my socks were so thin my feet felt like they were going to freeze and break right off. I think as a Californian I'm a bit unprepared to face 25 degree weather. I guess the city thinks so too because they actually coned off streets that were deemed too icy - which I'm sure a northerner would find rather humorous. Don't those Wisconsin folks drive over a frozen lake all winter? (I know the answer is yes. And in light of that I want to say "thank you" to my parents for moving 2000 miles west.) =)


I guess we should have registered for two sets of bedding? On Monday morning after washing the bedding I was remaking the bed and went to put the pillowcases on and instead of the pillows going into the cases, the cases practically tore in half. These are not just any pillowcases either, they are our wedding present pillowcases that my parents gave us three years ago. Our incredibly soft, ridiculously high thread-count, superior Egyptian cotton pillowcases. I am incredibly disappointed to see these go. I may even make handkerchiefs out of them for posterity. (Maybe our grandchildren will want a little piece of our first Crate and Barrel pillowcases?)

A couple of weeks ago our fitted sheet split right down the middle too. This also was a wedding present in a way, in that we bought it for ourselves after returning some registry items that were duplicates. I can remember standing on the third floor of Macy's Men's at Stoneridge trying to justify the cost of this (sixty dollar? eighty?) sheet -"We'll spend eight hours a day lying on this piece of fabric!" Actually, the price really does seem quite warranted if you look at it that way. Maybe I can convince Paul again... I replaced the sheet two weeks ago with a sheet of the Bluelight special variety. And guess what? The two-week old sheet is already completely pilly. It's downright horrid. I hate sleeping on it and I swear that I have gotten less sleep because of those pills. (I'm weird like that though, I can't sleep well with bunchy sheets or while wearing pajama pants or socks. I seriously just got goosebumps thinking about how awful it is to sleep in pajama pants.)

Is anyone still reading this post? I know that I should be grateful that my problems amount to deteriorating sheet sets and not being able to sleep in socks. But I do just miss our nice lovely bedding and I'm feeling a little nostalgic because it was one of the first things that belonged to us as a couple.

We're still sleeping on those pillowcases by the way - afterall, they are only ripped halfway down the middle on one side. So far the other side is still in relatively good shape. I learned from the K-Mart mistake (which was way more extravagant than buying the fancy sheet the first time around if you look at how poorly it's held up already!). You have to hold on to these good things as long as you possibly can!

Now I've got "Jack and Diane" in my head. You know, "Hold on to sixteen as long as you can! Changes come around real soon make us women and men." Oh John Mellancamp. How your gift of poetry has stuck with me. Thank you.

And you're welcome, reader, for this wonderful post.


A day in the life of a stay-at-home preschool provider. Well, this represents more than one day, but every day is always filled with books, art, and eating.Today I got another little girl to join us! Woohoo! I'm so excited. She's two and her name is Ansleigh and her family seems cool. This blog post is very picture heavy because I'm too excited about having another kid coming to my house that I don't even know what to say!


Autumn has arrived! The other day Ava (the 3 year old I watch) and I went for a walk and collected a basketful of leaves for an art project. As we were leaving the house to go on our leaf hunt she looked up at the sky and decided she would wear her rain slicker and galoshes "just in case." (Really, though, who wouldn't want to wear ladybug boots?) As we were walking down the street and marveling at all things waterproof, she stopped right in the middle of the sidewalk and exclaimed, "AND! these are bendy boots!" and proceeded to demonstrate how easy it was to squat down while wearing her boots. It made me laugh and very glad to being doing what I do.


This past week our kitten, Minnie, discovered that she can climb fences! It's really quite scary to think of all of the trouble she can get into now that she's out in the big, wide world beyond our little backyard. I made her a makeshift collar out of a scrap of ribbon I had and attached a little piece of paper to it with our address and phone number on it, just to be safe. So far though, she just perches her little body on the fence most of the time. It's a little scary to know that she's wandering off, but she does look cute up on the fence with the ribbon around her neck.


Last Friday I turned twenty-eight and Paul and I went out to dinner at Dempsey's to celebrate.  I'm sure I've blogged (can that really be turned into a verb?) about Dempsey's before - it's this great little microbrewery restaurant situated on the riverfront in downtown Petaluma.  It's fun to go there because you can park downtown and then walk across the river on a little footbridge (more on that later), and the scenery is particularly charming after dark as they have strung lights in the trees lining the riverbank which dance on the water's surface.  The restaurant itself has an outdoor patio overlooking this whole scene and even though it was drizzling that night we chose to sit out there.  It was a wise choice too because with the exception of one other couple sitting on the far opposite end of the patio, we had dinner to ourselves. Thanks to an umbrella over the table the rain didn't bother us either.  It was a very nice, memorable evening out.  It was made a little bit more memorable on the walk back to our car as well.  That quaint wooden footbridge, the first rain of the season, a slight downward slope, and my flats proved to be a rotten combination.  With seemingly no warning, my feet slipped out from under me and I fell really hard on my rear end.  It totally knocked the wind out of me, but I regained my composure quickly.  It was actually quite comedic.  Knocked down but not defeated, Paul dusted me off and we went home and ate huge slices of birthday cake.  It was truly a joyful, memorable evening.

P.S. You might think that Paul and I look like we are totally wasted in the picture above, but I just want to clarify that when you are outside and it is dark when a flashbulb goes off in front of your eyes it's incredibly difficult to keep them open.  Believe it or not, we took about 6 pictures prior to this one and this was the only one in which both of us actually had our eyes semi-open.  I wanted to keep trying to take pictures, but Paul's like Chandler from Friends - after a while he forgets how to smile (which you can sort of tell in this picture) - so he asked if we could stop.  Below are a few priceless "out-takes:"
Apparently, we're not so photogenic. Paul said he was trying to get something out of his tooth in that one picture - guess he forgot what we were doing.  


I hate political games.  

As I have previously written, I am currently in the process of obtaining a license through the state of California to operate a childcare facility in our home.  This process basically includes: attending an orientation to the licensing process and CA Title 22 requirements, submitting an application, getting fingerprinted, passing a T.B. test, attending a CPR/First Aid class, and finally, having a home inspection by a representative of the licensing department.  I have completed every step in the process and I am now ready for the final step - the home inspection.  Sounds pretty straightforward, right?  One would think so, until one remembers this is a government agency and, even worse, a government agency whose budget has been recently cut.

So this morning I called the local social services office and spoke with my "analyst," Kelly, in the hopes of scheduling the home inspection with her.  When she picked up I stated the reason for my call and after a long pause she said, "Yeah... did you apply recently?"  To which I responded, "I'm not sure what your definition of 'recent' is, but I applied at the beginning of August, so it was over a month and a half ago."  Then after another long pause, she replied, "I have been instructed by my supervisor not to schedule any inspections with new applicants.  If you have a problem with this I'd suggest you phone your state representative."  I laughed when she said this which I think confused her, but that is such a ridiculous statement to me!  

Clearly they are trying to get me to be a player on their team in this silly little political game.  They are not stupid.  They know that A) the government is elected by the people, for the people, B) if they want more money for their department they must make the budget cuts have a direct negative effect on "the people," and C) if they can rile up enough of "the people," "the people" will go to the government and make demands on behalf of the department and then they win by getting the money they want.  Maybe she was hoping that I was stupid enough to fall for this ploy?  But why would I join their team when they are punishing me because they were punished for mis-allocating my tax dollars?  

Perhaps I'm wrong about all of this, but it just seems like nonsense to me.  I'm seriously considering being an unlicensed childcare provider, which sounds kind of horrible, but since when do you need a license to take care of kids?  Besides, perhaps these budget cuts won't allow them to find unlicensed childcare providers since it won't allow them to license childcare providers.  (Did I mention that I already paid them $85 to obtain a license?)  I really don't feel like playing.  

P.S. Analyst Kelly just called a few minutes ago.  I think she was a little unnerved by my response (or lack thereof).  She told me to call back in a couple weeks and said that maybe then I would be at the top of her list.  She also asked me to not give anyone her name if I did complain.  This makes me feel a little bit better, like I have some control over the situation.  She called me and she seems worried that I might get her in trouble.  But still, I just don't want to play.


My new foray into the world of childcare has officially begun!  For the past couple of weeks I've been taking care of a sweet three-year old girl.  It's been fun and exhausting at the same time.  It's surprisingly taxing to always be playing some sort of role (teacher, patient, mom, dog ((yes, dog)), principal, etc.) when you are a twenty-seven-year old girl! I'm glad she's an imaginative child though, and I certainly don't want to be the one to kill that imagination.  By the way, I think I've raved about the Goodwill in a previous post, but I got all of the above-pictured items at the Goodwill for well under $10 (total).  I'm completely addicted to thrift stores and garage sales now.

Paul has been very busy getting ready for school which is to start this Wednesday if all goes as planned.  He is down at the school today (Sat.) helping to move furniture into classrooms, although his classroom still needs to be painted and carpeted.  It's funny because last year the room he was in at the old location had odds and ends stored in it and tiles hanging off the ceiling until 2 days before school began, and so it was a last minute push to get his room set up for the first day of school.  I guess this year will prove to be the same.  Maybe that's just part of the profession - you have to be flexible.  This year Paul is teaching grammar (which encompasses English & Latin grammar) for 6th, 7th, & 8th grades, literature for 7th & 8th grades, and Bible for 6th grade.  So, six classes total, with 2 periods for each grade - a nice balance.  Oh, plus once a week he'll be teaching a guitar elective.  

Anyway there you have it - another brief update on our lives.  And, once again, I'll try to get Paul to post something.  He really does have something to post about too and it's pretty cool.  A couple of things actually.  I have to laugh as I am typing because my right ring finger has this humongous monstrosity of a blister on the knuckle.  I threw some zucchini (homegrown from our own garden, I might add...) into some very hot olive oil last night (stupid, huh?) and received a nice splash of burning oil on my poor unsuspecting finger.  Not only that, but this burning flesh came in addition to my awful cold which began with a sore throat and high fever and has settled into a nice seal-bark cough. The idiom when it rains it pours seems to be an accurate assessment of the way things go in the Johnson household. I guess that's just life.


It's been awhile since I've done this blogging thing - I feel a little rusty. First, I should say that we gave away (I'm always tempted to say "got rid of," but that doesn't sound very nice) two of our little kitties a couple of weekends ago. I know that it's said that animals have keen instincts, and those kittens seemed to know that their day of separation had arrived.  They were just exhibiting really unusual behavior - hiding inside instead of playing outside like they normally would - and this was hours before the people who were going to give them a new home had arrived.  It was no treat rounding them up when it was actually time to hand them over to their new families either.  One cat lady got scratched on the hand trying to keep Chewbacca from escaping her makeshift kennel and was bleeding quite a bit.  I offered her a band-aid, but she refused and sort of ran to her car, toting a crying Chewbacca in a plastic file crate with a piece of a cardboard box for a lid.  I can imagine that he may have escaped that contraption before they reached the stop sign at the end of our street.  Two teenage girls also came for a kitten as their cat had recently "passed on."  We gave them Sam because he/she was the only one we could catch. So we were left with this one, Minnie.
Minnie!  The runt of the litter who would hiss at us and run away if we got too close!  In a way it felt noble to keep Minnie, like we were making some sort of selfless sacrifice since she was too shy and mean, and maybe too weak and small, to give away.  Much to our surprise, however, Minnie has turned out to be the sweetest, cutest kitten of all!  She must have really gotten picked on by her siblings because now that they are gone she has a completely different personality.  Anyway, enough about cats.  Although I will say that we bought one of those soaker hoses and all of the kittens loved to drink the water from that hose and that is what they are doing in that top picture.  And Minnie really enjoys sleeping in the shade of the green waste bin for some reason. 

We also recently found some cans of paint under the house and I repainted our steps and deck.  As you can see, even just one coat made a huge difference.  And best of all, it was a totally free make-over.  We always seem to be finding things like this at our house that previous tenants have left for us.  I always wanted some of those metal hanging flower baskets and Paul found two of them, in perfect condition, laying between the side of our house and the fence.  There was also this great piece of furniture someone left in our garage that we recently salvaged:

Can you believe that that was just sitting (on its side I might add) in our garage?  It was only partially painted, dirty, and covered with cobwebs but - with the aid of Paul's skateboard to get it out of the garage and into the house (skateboards are fantastic for moving heavy things!), and about twenty bucks worth of paint and new hardware for the drawers - we now have a nice big hutch with lots of storage space sitting in our dining room.  And partly due to the inspiration of that virtually free piece of furniture, our dining room is now going to become a little playroom.  In case you didn't already know, I've quit my job as the secretary at HCS and I am in the process of obtaining my license to have childcare in our home.  I'm really excited about it!  I've put out an initial ad to take care of a child from one family, as that is all I can do until I receive the go-ahead from the state.  So far I've only gotten two responses which I did not respond back to because I thought that they were weird.  One was from a man named Fetcher who said that he was temporarily visiting the U.S. with his son, but the way he worded the e-mail it sounded almost like he was looking for housing and not a nanny, or maybe even a wife.  He talked about how quiet and patient he was (not his child, but Fetcher).  He also asked for a full name and address to send the initial check to, in order to hold his child's spot.  Weird.  Needless to say, I deleted it.  I also deleted the first response I received mostly because in her e-mail the mom spelled the word "interested" like this: i-n-t-r-e-s-t-e-d.  I'm kind of kidding about that being the reason, but that did bother me and I did delete it.  Anyway, more on that later as more developments occur.  And I'll try to get Paul to post too.  


The time has come. Two out of three of our adorable kittens will likely be gone by the end of next week. We are considering keeping one as a playmate for kitty, but we can't decide who to keep. Should we keep the slow one, Minnie, who walks in circles and runs away as soon as you come near her, but who is hilariously entertaining and will chase anything that moves (except humans)? Or should we take Sam, the one sleeping on my lap in the picture above who is definitely the cutest and follows Kitty around everywhere like they are playing a game of follow the leader? Or should we keep Chewbacca who is the friendliest and most curious and follows Paul and I around everywhere we go? Big decisions to be made. =)  


Displayed above are some photos from our trip to Disneyland earlier this week. (Can it really still be the same week?!) For those who were there, the top photo makes me laugh so hard I cry every time I look at it! I really need to get off of the computer, but here is a brief update on our summer thus far:

Paul is in Austin, TX for a teacher training conference - it's awful not having him home and I can't wait until he returns (which, thankfully, is tomorrow). He's having a great time though. I called him on Wednesday night as our former college pastor, Steve, was giving him a tour of the city and the first thing Paul said to me was, "we have to live here." Apparently, Steve is an excellent tour guide.

I am working full-time right now for
Kala Brand Ukulele. It's a cool job and I'm learning totally new things. I spend my days taking orders over the phone
listening carefully to differentiate between the letters "C," "E," "T," & "B" (every product has a code and it's surprisingly difficult to hear these sounds without seeing the person's mouth - it can make a big difference as C=concert B=baritone T=tenor and E=E.Q., as I'm sure you were dying to know), entering orders and receiving customer payments in Quickbooks, filing mounds of invoices, and practicing my Hawaiian phrases.

We still have our kittens, although we will be getting rid of one of them soon. They are pretty big and very fast and feisty. I haven't been letting them out of our laundry room while Paul has been gone because I don't think I can catch them all by myself or contain them in our yard. When I go to feed them they come charging at the door and I have to nudge them back with my feet. Usually one escapes under the door, but it's a lot easier for me to round up than three.

Our weather has been nasty due to the fire in Napa. It's smokey and hazy all day long. I can't wait to see some blue sky again! On our way home from Disneyland Paul and I stopped at this bike warehouse in Torrance called XYZ bikes and he bought me a 24" (I'm short) vanilla cruiser like this one. Because he had to leave at 3:30 in the morning on Wednesday, immediately after we returned from Disneyland, it's still sitting in the box. I'm hoping for some clean air and blue sky this weekend so we can go bike riding through the countryside together!



Introducing (from top to bottom) Minnie, Chewbacca, & Sam. Our kittens have grown from little blobs of fur into miniature cats. They walk (Minnie generally walks backwards), run, spin in circles (Minnie does this constantly, we think she's trying to figure out how to get out of reverse), chew on plastic bags, fight with each other, jump at sudden noises (Chewbacca is particularly jumpy), lick bare feet, and eat kitten chow. They are really cute and very entertaining to watch. 

I took this one picture of them before they could walk and it really reminds me of that Genesis video for that song "I Can't Dance." Paul denies any similarities, but it makes me laugh every time I see this picture.

Last Friday night we got to spend the evening with a group of Paul's students. HCS recently had an auction and one of the items to bid on in the silent auction was bowling and pizza for four with Mr. & Mrs. Johnson. We had a really great time and they are a hilarious bunch. They were so funny that as Paul and I were walking to church on Sunday morning we were recounting the funny things that they had said and could barely stand up we were laughing so hard. Good times.  


Three peas in a pod.

Kitten wrestling.
More kitten wrestling.

Chewbacca (guess who's getting attached!) was the first to open his eyes.


We have rats in our house! (Not really, but don't they kind of look like rats?) In the wee hours of the morning on Thursday, Kitty Johnson gave birth to three kittens. Actually, she gave birth to two kittens before we left for work and when I came home for lunch, a third one had appeared! They are really pretty cute even though they are still deaf and blind and spend all day nursing or sleeping. We'll post more pictures as they mature and start to play!


Paul and I went to the lovely V. Sattui winery in St. Helena today. The weather was perfect as we sat on the lawn under the shade of a tree, talking, people watching (unfortunately, one woman we watched passed out), eating some very delicious sandwiches, and, of course, drinking a glass of wine.  V. Sattui is one of my favorite places to go because they have this amazing barbecued tri-tip. I seriously have no idea how they make the tri-tip so tender and flavorful, but I have never had anything like it anywhere else in my whole life! Suffice it to say, I highly recommend visiting the V. Sattui winery. 


Summer weather is here! Hurray! 


I feel like we are past due for an update on our blog. Which reminds me that we have some overdue library books as well... Anyway, today is the last day of our week-long spring break. We had a really good vacation - we were able to accomplish a few projects around the house, spend time with friends and family, and recreate. (This is a tangent, but I just read somewhere that the word recreation is generally misused these days to simply mean to go for a bike ride or something, when really it originally meant to stop, think, and "re-create." Although, I do think that going for a long walk and thinking about one's life seem to go hand and hand. So maybe the modern definition of the word is not so far from its origin.) I could go into great detail about all of the things that we did, but I'm feeling rather lazy. And no one really wants to read all of that junk anyway, right? The pictures above were taken on Easter Sunday post-sunrise (I guess that's obvious!); the following picture was taken pre-sunrise of that amazing full moon.

The photograph doesn't do it justice, but I can still picture in my mind how truly breathtaking that morning was. Everything was so still and quiet and pristine. Paul and I got up before dawn that day, feeling pretty sleepy and grumpy and a little overwhelmed by the things we had to accomplish before heading off to church, but when we saw that moon, we suddenly remembered what day it was and what was important (and not so important) about that day. We spent a long time in silent awe.    
Anyway, Paul is bugging me to get off the computer and watch something with him. But for those who have been to our house, I have to post a picture of our latest improvement. Last night we had the bright idea to move our computer out of the dining room and into the small alcove between the kitchen and the back porch. The computer is basically just sitting on a board that is attached to the wall, but it makes a great desk area, which we sorely needed. I don't know about Paul, but I feel more prepared to face the last nine weeks of school already. (Yay! Only nine weeks left!!)
Hasta luego,

P.S. Can anyone please tell me why you can't click on the pictures in these posts to make them open up full size in another window? I haven't changed the settings, and I can't figure it out. The only thing that has changed is that we now use Safari instead of Firefox. Also, why is one paragraph of this post spaced differently? 


The weather has been fantastic the last couple of days around here and it reminded me of how wonderful it is to live in California as others are still braving ice and snow. (Seventy-three degrees in February?!) These pictures remind me of a lazy summer day, the kind of day that Paul and I are quite eager to return to. It seems to me that the picture of the sidewalk should have a wayward scoop of vanilla ice cream melting on it. 

Before we get to summer vacation though school will be quite busy. Paul is organizing an art show that will be held next Friday, and shortly thereafter we'll be holding a speech meet, spelling bee, and science fair. Then we'll have spirit week, diem compite, an old-fashioned school-wide picnic, Butter and Eggs Day parade, and the school auction. Many activities to cram into only fifty-seven school days! But I think we can handle fifty-seven days of craziness, knowing that summer vacation is on its way. =)

By the way, it's probably obvious, but I didn't take either one of those pictures. They really are both in Petaluma, but I found them on flickr.