Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Fun!

This year we had a full on adult night out. Merrilee and Richard co-hosted a New Year's Party in downtown Houston. To enjoy the full experience, we found overnight sitters for the kids and got a hotel room downtown. We had an awesome time, but managed to only squeeze in a few hours of sleep. At least we did not have to drive home with all the crazies. And the kids had an amazing time on their kids sleepover party. They did the craziest activities and had pure kid fun, like pie eating, donut dunking, and shaving cream cleaning.

Pics from the evening:

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Houston Children's Museum

Today we loaded up the kids and went to the Children's Museum with Grandma Anne and my BFF and her kids. Despite the INSANE crowds, of course every kid on holiday was at the museum, we had a great time. Children museums always give me sensory overload, but the kids love going. The Houston one is amazing. I think we covered 30% of it in 2 hours. I would love to go back when there are a few thousand less people there. I love any time I get to spend with Michelle, so that made the day win win. The kids have gone through their ups and downs getting along, but considering they only see each other a couple of times per year, and they share equally strong personalities, they did pretty good.
Shane climbing thru the 3 story structure

Morg and Myann hitting the spots

Dance Party

After the museum, we went to my fave kind of bar - The Chocolate Bar. There are not words to describe the joy this place brings me.

Christmas in Houston Take 2

Opening presents with three kids makes taking pictures very challenging. I realized this after I looked back at all my pictures and realized I have very few pictures of the kids opening presents. It is too chaotic, but here are a few from opening presents with Grandpa Jo and Grandma Anne. Also pictures of Christmas fun at their house.

Looking fancy before going out for New Year's

Braxton and Shane sporting the santa hats

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in Houston Take 1

Once we arrived in Houston, it was time to open presents with Merrilee and Richard. We were all spoiled with our presents. One of Myann's gifts definitely has proven to be a highlight for all three kids, her pink guitar.
Myann had to play her guitar with Uncle Shane.

Not sure how to explain Myann's hairdo

Anders loved hugging this reindeer

Great Grandpa and Anders

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

I promise to post some updates as soon as we slow down. This month has been insane, in a good way. Fun pictures to come.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Letter

Note to self, never write a Christmas letter in the middle of the night when you are really tired and never ask your husband to proof it for omissions. This year I had some major omissions from our Christmas letter, but since there is no way I can reasonably send out 110 more letters, I am posting the letter here with some amendments. I am also thinking this may be our last Christmas letter. With the blog, the letter is becoming less necessary and I have a horrible time summarizing our year in a letter, as evident by the terrible job I did this year. The omissions are posted below the letter.

As you can observe, this letter is inevitably late this year. Not from lack of inspiration, but too much inspiration and I could not decide how to condense our year into a one page letter (Brian’s rule is that it must be one page). So here I sit in Dallas after another inspiring night with just more to add. I just left my brother’s house where he received a group of carolers. Not just normal carolers, as if there were such a thing these days, but a group of friends from church, college, and life. They got together to spread a little Christmas cheer and lots of goodies. They stayed to visit and I was able to experience just a little bit of the amazing support system my brother’s family has in Dallas. Of course they have my mom and stepdad and Danielle’s parents, but they also have an amazing group of friends who have rallied around them. For those small few not on facebook or some other form of mass media, my brother’s cancer returned this year with a vengeance. He started with a new tumor in his heart, which has now spread to his liver. He has tried a couple different forms of chemo, but they have not worked as well as the doctors would like, so he is starting a new chemo a couple days after Christmas. We are praying for another miracle and that he will beat this cancer for a third time.

Our year in brief:
2008 ended with a Laynor family reunion in Dallas, short but sweet. I introduced Shane to the world of skiing, and he mastered it in no time. I’m thrilled to have a new skiing buddy, since his Daddy is still not a fan. In January we had visits from Aunt Sandy and Cheryl and the Cross Family. In February we took, what we hope to be an annual ski trip to Big White (Canadian ski resort) with the Prizemans, and really enjoyed the time. Sadly, as we packed for the trip, Brian’s uncle and friend, Uncle Brad, unexpectedly passed away. Brian spent his birthday in Omaha celebrating the life of Uncle Brad and sadly saying goodbye.

In March, my brother and his family were able to follow through on their plans to visit even though they thought the news of his cancer would derail the trip. They came and we had a wonderful time of skiing and showing them winter life in Spokane. In April, Brian and I made a quick weekend trip to Austin for a benefit for my brother organized by a group of high school friends and my sis-in-law Tiff. Yet another example of how I was inspired this year. The benefit turned into a mini reunion, and served as a reminder that 15 years is nothing between friends. In July we returned to Texas with the whole family to celebrate Brian’s Grandpa’s 90th Birthday. He is an amazing man who can still hang with his grandkids far into the night. We also had a big July 3rd party in Houston so we could visit with friends that we don’t get to see enough on our Texas trips. Sometime this year I also realized that this was our last year not dictated by a school calendar, so we took advantage with lots of trips. Brian was not always a willing participant, but he agreed and actually used his work vacation days for the first time EVER! September was a trip with my parents to the San Juan Islands, Vancouver Island, and Vancouver. Absolutely amazing and I already want to go back. I went on a much needed getaway weekend, to Dallas, to meet my friend Tricia for the Britney Spears concert and shopping. October was our getaway to San Diego. Ok, so Brian worked, and I hung out with friends, family, and coworkers. We had a visit from the Martinez family and then Brian had his guys’ weekend in Vegas. November was one week in Orlando at Disney World with my dad and stepmom. Lots of fun, but 7 hours is a long time on a plane with 3 small kids. And now it is December, and we are in Dallas. Boos Family reunion this Christmas and then on to Houston to celebrate the New Year with Brian’s family.

This year has brought to the forefront something I already knew but never fully appreciated… my brother and I have been blessed with the best and most amazing friends and family any person could hope for. Everywhere we go, we seem to find the best of the best, we were born into the best, and married the best. In celebration of Christ’s Greatest Gift, I pray that we give the same love and support that we receive.

If you don’t follow us on the blog, this is a bit on the kids: Shane is 4 ½ and already challenges us in the academic department. I pray next year he has a patient teacher who is willing to answer his inevitably tough questions. Myann is our very strong-willed 3 year old, who is too cute for her own good. Anders has just begun walking at 15 months, but then again he is the same size as his sister, so carrying his own weight has proven to be a challenge. He is the sweetest baby constantly giving out hugs and kisses, though I am frequently the lucky one who gets most of those kisses.

Merry Christmas
Brian, Kari, Shane, Myann, and Anders Johansen

Not sure how I missed these, they were huge events in our year. First, the Texas trip included the luxury of taking our wonderful babysitter, Tina, with us to Texas. Amazing coincidence, but Tina has family not far from where our family lives in Houston, so she helped us on our flight there so she could fly to Texas for the first time to see her family. Most would balk at Houston in July, but Tina is a lover of heat, so she enjoyed the miserable heat. Brian could not be with us on the flight back home, so Grandpa Jo and Grandma Anne flew back with the kids and I. I loved the help and they got to experience a bit of what our trips are like. Back in Spokane, we enjoyed having a bit of family with us. I always crash hard emotionally when we leave Texas, because I love being surrounded by so many family and friends, and it is always hard for me to return to Spokane, so having my in-laws in Spokane helped both the kids and I with the transition. One highlight of their stay was biking the Hiawatha Trail. It was a beautiful day and we all enjoyed the bike ride, even Grandma Anne who crashed into the wall in one of the tunnels. Fortunately no injuries, but it provided lots of laughs.

In August, we had an amazing time when Richard rented a lake house in Coeur d'Alene, ID and Richard's family and Brian's mom and siblings all arrived for a week of fun at the lake. We had some wonderful family time and enjoyed boating and jet skiing. It was a full house, like 20 people there at any given time. Brian loves Coeur d'Alene, so I know he enjoyed having all his family there to experience it.

And how can I forget my last weekend before leaving Spokane, where I was blessed with another mom's weekend. This time it was Seattle with two of my wonderful friends and we stayed with another friend who had just moved from Spokane to Seattle. We enjoyed a day of shopping and an evening of sushi and dancing at a piano bar. Seriously one of the most fun nights in a long time. Then Sunday we met up with another friend at the Pike Street Market, always a hit, and ended with more shopping.

I'm sure there is more that I missed, please forgive me, but my brain does not retain things like it used to.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


December was a big month for doctor appointments. Shane got all his school shots. Can you believe he starts school in 9 months? I am freaking out.

All the kids were troopers and barely cried. Myann cried the most and it was obviously for attention.

Weight 43 lbs (75%)
Height 42 1/4 inched (50%)

Weight 31 lbs (50%)
Height 36 1/2 inches (25%)

I was shocked by Myann's weight. I shouldn't be because she has gone threw a growth spurt and has outgrown a lot of her clothes, but I still think of her as my tiny thing.

Weight 28.4 lbs (90%)
Height 32 inches (75%)
Head circ 19 1/2 (95%)

Anders continues to be our big boy. His head is huge. I have to buy 3T/4T hats for the kid.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Myann is 3!!!

Happy Birthday to my wonderful little girl!!! This is how much I love you...your nonartsy mommy is making you Pinkerella cupcakes just as you requested for school. My only hope is that most of the kids have not read Pinkalicious and will not notice that mine do not look nearly as pretty as the ones in the book. But by doing this I am teaching you a valuable lesson, be willing to try something new for someone you love. I love you and will risk my own pride to try to make you happy. And in the spirit of Pinkalicious, you said you are not going to share any of the cupcakes with your teachers because you are going to eat them all yourself. You said you will share some with your friends though.

What an amazing year with you it has been!!! You went from this near baby to a complicated, emotional, and lovable little lady. The lovable part is my favorite change this year. You were not the most lovable baby, but this year you have become so lovable and your daddy and I love every minute, well almost every minute of it. Somedays I wouldn't mind having a moment alone in my chair, but I know the day will come when you won't want to sit draped over me and I will miss it. Though you were a little late to talking, you made up for it this year and have become incredibly verbal. My car rides are never quiet and usually you and Shane are competing for talk time. You follow Shane everywhere and want to do and be just like Shane. I think deep down you like girly stuff, but most of the time you play tackle, superhero, and "shooting guns". You are a product of having an older brother. You have nominated yourself as Anders' second mommy and LOVE to tell him what to do and what is not ok and safe for him. Poor guy never can eat around you because you think everything is a choking hazard.

You still love men, and have your select women that you grace with your presence and affection and those women know who they are. We are working on potty training, and I think you would do better if only I could put forth the full effort.

Last night we had a mommy daughter night of manicures and pedicures. Being with you was a highlight. You were such a big girl and too happy to have your nails done. The nail ladies loved you and insisted on taking you home. I warned them that impulse would be short-lived. You are the cutest, which draws everyone in, but you have a willful nature that can be daunting. Your daddy and I are sometimes exhausted by that will, but are so happy that we have such a strong daughter who knows what she wants and will settle for nothing less. I pray that you will hold tight to that will, but go a little easier on me.

We hope you love your birthday, celebrating at the Lion King show.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Some Women are Geniuses

Seriously, the inventors of the "Elf on the Shelf" are awesome. I bought in to the commercialization and purchased one at Hallmark. Brian of course wanted me to just buy an elf and use the gimmick, but I like to support the great minds who came up with the idea, so I bought the real deal. So far so good. Of course, my children with their completely unoriginal naming tendencies, named the elf "Elfie". Shane began his 100 questions. Why isn't he real, why doesn't he move, why doesn't he talk, why can't we touch him, why can't we watch him move, when does he tell Santa, on and on. But bottom line, they are thinking twice before behaving badly because they are afraid the elf will report back to Santa. As for now, I have told my kids they are already on the naughty list and will not get on the nice list until they have major attitude improvements. Is it just my kids or do all kids get worse this time of year? Shane has had a great few months and now the past 2 weeks have been terrible. Last year he was so bad that he DID NOT get presents from Santa. I know, call CPS, we may be the only parents to actually follow through and not allow presents from Santa in our house. My mom was mortified and threatened to wrap gifts and sign them from Santa. They got gifts from family, but none from Santa. I don't even think he noticed, so a lot of good that did. I told him that he may be the only kid to go two years in a row with no gifts from Santa.