Category Archives: Me

Updates: Websites, Weddings, Work, Writing

Hi! Here are some updates of our life over the last few months.

Most of my blogging time these days goes to http://www.AverageAdvocate.com I have been excited because recently I have had people guest blog (finally)! I need the help, the other opinions/experiences, and the networks which other people have. So this is great. In addition, I was a contributor to the Human Trafficking Daily (a web news site) with my book review on Not For Sale. Score! In case you can’t tell, really getting this going has been important to me. Its the merger between some of my passions and a skill- my little small fish and loaves.

Of course, being mommy is still my main job (I hear this rumor I should expect this for at least the next eighteen years). Avi is now four and Josiah is now two. They are so much easier now, having grown a bit older.  We love them bunches! And it seems anyone else who meets them does too! As of yet, Avi is a drama queen and Josiah is a soft-spoken linguist.  They have had their fill of wedding this summer. My cousin Brett’s wedding in Wisconsin, Josh’s brother Ben’s wedding in New Jersey, and Josh’s dad’s wedding in Tennessee.  Annoyingly, none of these weddings were at a beach! Oh well. But, apparently, we discovered that getting down with sweet dance skills is my kids’ fave thing to do!

I have also been working for my church , J10 Church, as “connections chick” for coming up on a whole year now. I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and hopefully I have been a blessing there too. I wouldn’t say it has been easy at all in any way. But I think the job fits me; I feel content in it. Although I do confess, I also feel like I am about to screw something up at any moment! So, on a positive note, it draws me to God.

Because it is writing related, I can easily share with you the book review posts I randomly write for my friends’ website, Reading Teen. This is total fun and fluff for me. Here are some others posts beyond what I have shared to you before:

This is my most favorite review because I thought it was really funny, the author of the book asked me to write it, and a lot of people liked it 🙂

http://www.readingteen.net/2011/08/cascade-river-of-time-2-by-lisa-t.html

These are some other not-so-thrilling posts:

http://www.readingteen.net/2011/07/waterfall-river-of-time-1-by-lisa-t.html

http://www.readingteen.net/2011/07/choices-by-katrina-l-burchett.html

A buddy and I pretended we were the site’s typical authors, and did an IMM for them. They are on either side of us, coaching us on the books we were supposed to let their readers know about. To us, this was hilarious, but maybe its just because we are all friends. Here you go anyway!

What is Going in Life of Late

Life has pretty much been the same ol’ same ol’ here in Northern Virginia. Not that I am complaining. As usual, I have an obsession, which of late has been my FADs (Friday Adventure Day). I started a blog about these weekly adventures, adding in traveling tips for moms with little kids at www.adventureday.wordpress.com. So far, I really haven’t gotten too much done. I am learning a lot about official REAL blogging (not like this personal blog here) which is a whole new set of information to me. Web design, themes, and SLO & SEO  was equivalent to SOS in my thinking when I started! Considering it was kinda throwing off my focus, I think God helped remind me that its all cool and I don’t need to be obsessed. And, with that gentle reminder, I am not obsessed! I guess we will see where it ends up now, if anywhere.

Also, as is typical, I am still taking classes. I am so very ready to be done. Which is why it is especially nice that I will be done SOON- three more classes left! I have fun writing papers on poverty, justice issues, international relationships, and interpersonal relationships. I love what I learn, I just hate doing the work to learn it. This coming week I have a huge paper due on intercultural business. Fun, fun, fun! So, if I keep up with my homework after the kids are tucked in to their beds, I should graduate from Ashford University at the beginning of August. Thanks to Josh, the Hills, and Becky for getting me through this! I know I won’t regret it!

And, as usual, I am still involved in my church, facilitating a Bible study, hanging out with the people in my SPHERE (and hopefully making a difference in their lives, as they often make in mine) and helping Jill out with L2F Needs Network. Within this past month I’ve been helping a Pakistani family settle into their new home in America after they fled religious persecution. L2F, other community members, and people in churches have almost entirely provided everything they need. Also, we collected, packed-up, and had a team deliver a bunch of stuff (baby necessities and medicine) to an area in Haiti which was very close to the earthquake epicenter, and is not very reachable to large relief organizations. Here is a cool video about it:

In addition, I have been trying to create a home-garden. Its a fun activity for us to do outside and, yes, it was my obsession just prior to the Adventure Day Blog. I think my obsessions are always semi-creative (music, cooking, blogging, painting, gardening) which might mean I can blame them on my partial artistic personality.  I am even on the map as a Triscuit Home Garden! Wow, how THRILLING! Josh has even been adding to the flowers and vegetables, by practicing his slingshot off the porch, to his targets. Okay, I guess he doesn’t shoot my plants, but its nice to all have something fun to do in the same area together outdoors.

Lastly, and most importantly, I’ve been taking care of the kids. I like them. They are growing up. Maybe in honor of Josiah’s first birthday next month I’ll actually write out his birth story! He still has no teeth, but he is cruising around pretty good. He is a happy baby. Sweet little Avi is a mischievous lover of her brother. I don’t even know how to begin to describe Avilynne these days. Sometimes she makes my heart melt, yet other times I just want to lock her outside of our house. She is trying very hard to speak English, repeating our pronunciation of words over and over. I am terrible at pronunciation, as is she. But, unlike me, she is improving. Here is a link to a Spring 2010 photo album of them.

As always, if you haven’t, please support Thai Song, and what is going on in the makings of this awesome inspired fair-trade organization. Buying a bag, which these sweet women create from nasty trash, helps change lives! Feel free to check out and support the co-director (yes, my cousin’s) blog at: http://brittanyfox.missionsplace.com

So, these are the updates on the Johnston Family of late!

Problem Solving: Scrabble, Relationships, and Cars

Yes, I realize the terms within this post are a little weird. I blame that on my applied psychology textbook. Yes, I know that its odd I am talking about a guy jumping out of a burning skyscraper. Really, it wasn’t my idea. This post is responding to a specific prompt; it is a discussion essay I wrote for my current class, focusing on business psychology. I was really bored writing it, so I tried to liven it up a little bit with some scenarios which made it somewhat more entertaining for me. Besides, my professor asked for some real-world examples : )

Problem solving is a basic skill that ideally would be carried out by everyone, yet making healthy decisions is not always the order of the day. Many only rely on intuition to solve problems, which can actually be a great thing, if the experiences we have had in the past have built up our intuition to make healthy decisions. If a man jumped out of a skyscraper which was on fire, later contributing his survival to what he learned in business school, what he would be referring to would be the set of decision making skills he obtained in school.  The way he responded in the crisis was by learning to view the need to make quick decisions as a catalyst, rather than resorting to emotions as the guiding factor. Responding to crisis, not considering the fire as a stressful situation, yet instead as an exciting opportunity to strategically think through is what he learned was most important. Possibly, after making good decisions in times past, he wired his intuition to act in a way which then saved his life.

The man who jumped out of the skyscraper learned a multi-step process to filter problems through. In our everyday life, beyond just in times of crisis, we can use the same set. For example, imagine you are playing

the game Scrabble. First, you recognize the problem scenario: you are challenged to put a seven letter word, beginning with the letter “z,” in a spot which gives you triple-word score, yet somehow connects to the word “bubble.” The second step is to analyze the cause or underlying factors of the problem:  you want to win the game so that you will not lose a $50 bet to your Uncle Bobby-Joe who does not believe you can win an English-language game after studying Japanese abroad for the past three years.  The next step in solving the problem is searching for creative alternatives. So, while your Uncle Bobby-Joe is guzzling down his coffee, you take your letter tiles, place them in front of you, and scramble them into every possible formation. You can make zroidbe, zoirlde, and zoudire (which you note, are not words). Then you discover you can connect to a “b” while arranging your letters just so.  You can make “zebroid,” which is a word (you remember a tour guide explaining that this is what you call the offspring of a zebra and a horse).  You choose this word, making a decision, and then implement it, by setting the tiles down on the board. After, you evaluate your decision, which you found agreeable, as it gave you enough points to win the game and get an addition $50 in pocket-cash.

This above example might seem silly, yet even when we play games we make decisions. On a more serious note, many people might go through the same process when trying to overcome a difficulty in an estranged relationship, whether it be a spouse, a parent, or a friend. In this case recognizing what the problem is can be much more challenging, as there are often multiple problems. Even after journaling or going to counseling to analyze the root causes of the problems you have been having with whomever, knowing what to do about it can be just as challenging, if not more so. There are many other factors that can influence your decision such as your value system (such as, you don’t believe in divorce), your knowledge (communication techniques), emotional intelligence (you feel so hurt or angry its hard to not be swayed by these feelings), personality, creativeness, and the politics surrounding the relationship.  Even after weighing the pros and cons, and making a choice to try to reconcile the relationship, then you have to take the step. This step can be the hardest, as implementing a decision can require a lot of strength, time, resources and energy, let alone sometimes it requires help. Lastly, once again, you can evaluate the decision, whether it was the best thing for to continue this relationship, even if it required a lot of sacrifice.

The important actions we must take in having a successful ability to make good decisions is the ability to analyze, whether it be really spending time discovering what the problem is, or really thinking through possible solutions. In another life scenario, a decision I have been questioning for awhile, is what car should we buy and how and when should we buy it. As I am a creative person, also known as a dreamer or visionary, thinking of creative alternatives is one of my strong points. Creative people tend to make the most of problems in which the sky is the limit, but in this case, the boundary for creative alternatives is more like the size of a small cottage, if not confining cage.  I cannot invent a new method of buying a car, let alone have the
skill to invent my own car. Also, another factor I struggle with is being easily influenced. I care a lot about being diplomatic and am always aware of inter-relational dynamics (political considerations). As I am a people-pleaser, I often don’t want to make a decisions that might influence another, wanting them to be as happy with me as possible. This can cause me to worry that making the ethnic dinner, involving a combination of new flavors, might not be everyone else’s favorite, and therefore I allow my level of emotional intelligence to hinder my decision to create. In the case of getting a car, I want my husband to be perfectly satisfied with whatever car we get, and I want it to be a good fit for our kids in addition just to the pros and cons I already am analyzing. I have been researching types of cars and their reviews from various sources, in addition to learning about how to get the best deal when buying a car new, used, down, or with a loan (and from where to get a loan). I often find myself overwhelmed by so much information that I experience analysis paralysis, in which I can’t make a decision because there is too much information to accurately process. Even so, I am sure I will be able to make a better decision than I would otherwise, without taking everything into consideration, even if I am not convinced that it is “perfect.” The one thing I learned from this section in our material was that I do not need to be indecisive as I am already well-equipped to make good decisions, thanks to my past experiences and the decision making process I already typically use. Instead of letting stresses, crises, time-constraints, emotions, too much information, or placing too much value on what everyone else might prefer affect my decisions, I should just enjoy the opportunities I have to solve problems, being energized as I let myself be creative in making decisions. Not surprisingly, this makes me feel a little more relaxed.

DuBrin, A. (2004). Applying psychology: Individual and organizational effectiveness (6th Ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson / Prentice Hall.

Adventure Day

Did I tell you that I am starting a new blog? I was thinking, if I am doing all the work to drag my kids around D.C., anyway, I might as well write about it to help other moms out. Deep down, I want to be the travel guru for every local mom of young kids. In reality, I am trying to set something up so that I can help at least a few people like me. It is far from done yet, but your welcome to check it out Adventure Day Blog. Feel free to give me any feedback! Maybe I’ll change the name, maybe I’ll change the format, who knows. But, this is something new and exciting for me. I’m learning the new skill of basic web design, too, which is different.

Adjustment

“You are a beautiful daisy. You have many tiny seeds. They are the future. Your children are your 1st mission field. You are a world changer and a diaper changer . . .”
~A Mothering Friend

I have been marveling that my fingernails are a millimeter long. I don’t think they’ve been that long since I was four. Too busy to bite or pick. Hallelujah.

Today was AMAZINGLY beautiful outside. In general, it has been a wonderful world outdoors. My irises are blooming. It never ceases to amaze me that plants spring up from the ground out of no life and become bright shades of colors. Abet, mostly green. I just love color.

Josiah is a week old today. He did not like his first sponge bath. He is a handsome sleepy little man. But when he is awake he is takes the world in with alertness and softness. I like him a lot. He eats 2-3 hours around the clock, though at night sometimes he will do 3.5 hours. I long for the day when he will sleep through the night.

Avi is handling the new little brother well. She calls him “I-ah” and always tells him “hi” with great amounts of exuberance. She also likes to kiss him (i.e., try to crawl up on, or tackle without grace while extending pouting lips). Yet, she has also been very whinny and more tandtrumish. There is an aspect of jealousy for her mommy and daddy. Actually, she is probably getting more attention in general, though, with both of us at home, and daddy having to take care of her more when I am with “I-ah.”

I am healing great, though I have been having alot of neck and back pain and its also difficult to walk or climb stairs. My milk is starting to settle into normalcy, and in general, my body is adjusting much better with this second baby. Josh has been having to stay home, in large part, mainly to help me carry Avi as I can’t carry her or Josiah in his carrier. Hopefully my body will continue healing well this week, and I’ll start to know how to handle two kids plus the household well enough so that He can go back to working at work.

Emotionally, I haven’t been as “well.” I was crying every five minutes by day three. Thankfully, the minutes between tears has been growing exponentially, and I do believe I haven’t even cried one time today. So far. Thankfully Josh seems to have decided its one of his main goals to help me see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I think I am starting to. We WILL adjust, and we WILL survive, even thrive with two kids! In a few months I’ll surely be so ecstatic about how well we are doing that I’ll want to become pregnant again, asap! Okay, maybe that last one is more like the light of a train coming to smash me at the end of the tunnel than just the glow of the happy sun. But generally, I think my eyes are starting to focus more on the joy of this life-change as opposed to sleep deprivation and how overwhelming everything feels. Anyways, surely I’ll forget that “we WILL adjust” in a couple minutes and start crying again, but hey, its a process.