… and this …


You know when you get sucked into having to look at someone’s vacation pictures? Or their KIDS?

I am getting pathetic and I am sorry.

“…and THIS is Avery yesterday. And THIS is Avery today.”


Let me remind you I rarely get adult interaction (Trying to get a life, I swear to you.) and so this is what I am reduced to.

“… and THIS is Avery trying to crawl.”

I also have other children, although I do realize it doesn’t really help the content level for you.

It just helps when I talk about them all so that they don’t start to compare. Because they do. Annoying but keeps me honest, I guess.

When it isn’t warm enough to be outside, we do a lot of this kind of stuff.

I purchased a huge roll of butcher paper and use it all the time for drawing.

I start by drawing frames and then labeling them (my best friend, my bedroom, titles of my favorite books), and then Claire fills in the frame with her words, stories, and pictures.

Keeps her out of trouble for a minute or so.

Got her hair all cut off again yesterday (chin length).

So cute. I’m sure you will see a picture soon. (Sorry.) haha


… and THIS is Woody. Making a comeback from the depths of the toy box.

I need a night out. Or a vacation.

Someone help me.




barefoot + bubbles + January 2015


Because it was 71 degrees in January.

Belly laughing at the bubbles floating by.






grace mae + avery + caeden – claire


The weather is insane here. Almost 70 degrees today and very close to that yesterday.

So after school, we headed to Spearfish to play at the park.

Claire (with an awful bad mood/attitude the past few days…needs more sleep or a pop on the butt. Something!) decided she wanted to play alone and left Cade, Grace, the baby, and I to do our own thing.

So we took some pictures (Caeden is behind me for all of these, trying to get Avery to look this way. He never does look, of course.), walked around, and played.

(Meanwhile, Claire is happily playing “Princess” in the play structure and refuses to be a part of any of this.)



First up is Grace and Avery. Grace is truly a sweet, doting sister.  Asks me all the time, “Do you love having babies? Because I love being a sister.” Makes my heart swell for obvious reasons. This little buddy has tied us all together in a way that cannot be undone.

She doesn’t let up, either. Just before school, while we are still in the SUV, she reminds me not to forget to give Avery a nap. And also to remember to feed him.

I’d be insulted if Caeden or Claire ever said these things to me, haha. But it’s just Grace being a little Mommy. Very sweet.



Cade made it into a picture! He and Grace are pretty close – they tend to play better together (both like video games whereas Claire does not), and hang out quite a bit. It’s a funny dynamic, but it’s very easy to think Grace and Caeden are the older siblings, and Claire and Avery the youngest.

Love getting a picture of them together because rarely do you see how their relationship works -how close they really are.  Rarely (in pictures) is it just them.

They act just like brother and sister. Caeden calls Grace out a lot on things (like being bossy) and Grace lets him (whereas she would never let Claire get away with that). And in the next breath, he defends her. It makes me happy to see how much he loves her (he knows our schedule for her down cold and looks forward to Mondays and the Tuesdays when we can get her from school).

A weak/hard dynamic between the kids was a fear I had (and sometimes still do) when we initially got married. Would Caeden and Claire feel left out because my name was Johnson (as was Grace and Rylan’s)? Would Grace feel weird coming and going? Would she be able to pick up where she left off?

The entire thing, (and from what I hear from other blended families — it is normal), has taken time. We have all needed to get used to the way things are.

Grace has another home and her own Mom. Her own toys and her own rules when she is there.

When she is here, she has learned to share, to follow our family rules, and somehow this girl has learned to transition back and forth like a champ.

It hasn’t always been so easy, especially when she was much younger, but now things flow pretty easily.

We find ourselves waiting for Grace (which is a hard thing because life still needs to go on when she isn’t here, but it feels like we are cheating her when we do things without her … so we wait … and then she comes home and tells us all the cool things she did with her Mom and I get dirty looks from Caeden and Claire … haha … oops.).

And Caeden and Claire have taken her in as one of their own. Neither would ever EVER ever say that Grace wasn’t their sister.

Just yesterday we ran into Grace’s teacher at Walmart, and she was visiting with Claire. Claire said, “I’m Claire. Grace’s sister.”

Not step-sister.


And while Grace acknowledges me as her step-mom, she doesn’t associate c2 as step-siblings, which is so wonderful.

I want them to always have each other. And they will.

I think about the girls going to college around the same time, having a career, getting married and then starting families … they will have each other through it all.

When I think about all of this, having a big family is worth every sleepless night, chaotic morning, and each busy, busy, evening.

What we are building will last forever.

Anyway! Not sure where that came from, but back to the play by play:

After the park, we headed to Walmart, because the kids each had their own gift cards to shop with (thanks again, Aunt Pam!).

Caeden got donuts (Please don’t get me started. Makes my skin crawl but he was in tears because every Xbox game he wanted I told him no (all rated M), and he is too old for toys, and he loves to eat … and Aunt Pam said he could use it for anything he wanted without interference from his Mother. SO. Donuts.).

Claire got a mermaid doll because “her tail is squishy.”

Grace scored twin baby girls. (Twins that I must also feed and put down for naps while she is at school, mind you.)

Then we came home late – past dinner time, past bath time, and let the night’s routine slide.

It felt good to be outside and enjoy the kids instead of just “managing” the day.


To let them set the tone.

Felt like summertime!


Easy (well…parts were easy) Like Sunday Morning (technically afternoon)

It’s hard to tell, I know, but which one needed a nap?

She rallied for a picture eventually, though.

Cade. Such a good boy. Starting to be so self conscious. He approved of this photo to share (only).


Then there is my grass-eating, won’t look up, 9 month old cupcake.

And my handsome husband.

We ventured out yesterday for a shot in my foot (thank you, Doctor Johnson), and lunch (Mexican because when I said, “Baby, I don’t care where we eat. What sounds good to you?” … I was sending telepathic waves “Chips and Salsa. Chips and Salsa.” It worked!).

Then the park just before Fusspot came unglued and cried all the way home. It’s a long drive!

We remembered that scheduled nap times aren’t to be messed with. And then we sort of laughed …and then sort of went silent, like, “Where did this baby come from??!”

You know that moment don’t you? It fades into a daydream of margaritas on the beach because had you not had children, you would for SURE be living somewhere tropical without a care in the world.

But then you jump into the backseat, sitting on your 6 year old’s lap, trying to “shhh” the baby, while you will your blood pressure not to rise.

(Still worth it. He smells amazing.)





And then there is the holiday party we attended, where we all got to watch my husband tear up the dance floor with his version of the Macarena.

Never underestimate the power of a good belly laugh!

And then we finally watched Gone Girl.

I read the book and couldn’t wait for him to see the show so we could talk about all the levels of crazy out there.

Thanks to this movie, my husband will never look at me the same way again.

What?! Cool Girls really do not exist?! …Do you have a diary? What is your blood type again? … and then he slept with one eye open all night. haha






portable magic

circa 1975 to 2015.