Monday, January 31, 2011

Christmas at Mom's

 I love being home for the holidays. I love my in laws and spending time with them, I love seeing and experiencing new places and traditions and next year we may even stay in the Philippines to experience the holidays here.  But there really is no place like home. My mom puts a lot of time and effort into her docorations at Christmas time and it is well worth it.  Her house is filled with the Christmas spirit. It is decorated in such a way that it isn't overwhelming but there are reminders of the season everywhere.  The front room is full of nativities that the grandkids love to play with, the family room and tree decorated with Santa Clauses everywhere.  There are signs and pictures on the wall reminding us of the reason for the season, our Savior Jesus Christ.  Her Christmas tree is massive and beautiful and fills the room with that faint, warm light that you only get from lights on a tree.  It feels warm and cozy and full of love.  I love being home for the holidays.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Home for the Holidays (Post #7)

I feel bad that I have waited this long to post about the holidays cause some of the details are starting to fade.  I am only 33 but sometimes I think I have the memory of a 70 year old. 

The week in Utah was so much fun, but one thing that was not fun was dealing with my dog that seemed to have lost his mind in the time that we had been away. My parents were kind enough to take Archie in and take care of him.  I am not sure if I can even manage to express how much this meant to me.  One of the hardest things about moving to the Philippines was deciding whether or not we should bring Archie with us.  Once we visited in May and saw the conditions he would be living in as well as the resources like Vets and such, we just felt that bringing him with us was not even an option.  Then came the decision of whether or not we would have to give him away permanently.  I definitely did not want to do that, but we asked everyone we knew to take him and it just didn't seem to be something anyone could do (completely understandably).  Well, my mom stepped in and said that of course they would take Archie ( much to my dad's dismay).  He has done well there.  They take amazing care of him.  He gets way more exercise living there and he gets tonz of attention.  My dad totally spoils him!  Well, in repayment for their kindness  he actually bit my mom.  This happened just days before we arrived home and it was not a nip.  He broke the skin.  The second day we were there we got to see a sample of how horrible he was being when he actually lunged at Ben, baring his teeth and growling like Old Yeller (at the end of the movie).  It seriously scared me!  I have never been afraid of my dog. That was a scary/sad feeling.  I honestly thought we might have to put him to sleep.  I stayed up that night worrying and crying. 

So, day 2 of our trip home was spent taking Archie into the vet.  The Doctor did some tests and really felt that it was just Archie's way of "testing boundaries".  He had decided he was an equal to my dad and that my mom was some little pion that he didn't have to listen to or respect.  So, in the next week while we were there we got everyone in the house onto the training bandwagon, teaching Archie that he was the lowest guy on the totem pole (keeping him off the couch, not jumping up on people, lots of making him sit, etc).  And ya know what, he was SO MUCH better!  I guess some dogs just need more structure and I left my poor parents with that kind of dog.  Sorry mom and dad!  We are SO GRATEFUL to have left our "baby" with such amazing and patient people like you!

Below are some GREAT pictures of my mom "training" Archie and my adorable niece, Avery.  She LOVES to play puppy and she wanted to be "trained" too.  They both even got treats (Archie got Pupperoni while Avery got chocolate chips and marshmallows)


Lay Down

Dance (gotta love that my mom was dancing too)

Shake (notice Avery's tongue, she totally gets into character)

How can you not love this guy? 
 I know some people honestly cannot understand the feelings I have for my dog.  Ya know what....I don't care:)!  I love this guy and miss him every single day!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Temporary House Guest

This was what we came home to (except scurrying free through our house).   I have to "thank" Disney for making me not hate these things.  When we bought the trap I was walking around the store singing "Cinderelly, Cinderelly" and thinking of Gus Gus:)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Home For The Holidays (Post #6)

 Since we were not all together for Christmas, my mom decided to have us celebrate Christmas when we were all together. All of us from out of town had arrived back in Utah by Monday, December 27 so all of the Johnsons got together and had a second Christmas morning. Everyone was there, all my siblings, their spouses (or soon to be spouse) and the kids. There were a total of 23 of us. We did the traditional reading of the Christmas story from the bible and then proceeded to open presents. It honestly felt like Christmas day. It was crazy, loud, and amazing!  We had so much fun just being together. Oh, and it wouldn't be Christmas without my moms traditional waffles with ice cream and strawberries. YUM!

Some of the beautiful Johnson girls.  Whether born in or married in, we have a pretty good looking family:)

The nieces loved being together and just being crazy

All we wanted when we got home....FOOD.  We got it in the form of gift certificates to some of our favorite places!

Only Nate could manage to get a camcorder for under the $40-50 limit.  Lucky Jordan and Melissa.

Mom and Dad with her new Kindle.  Honestly I think the best gift for them was having all of their family around them.

Eating waffles with ice cream and strawberries.  I LOVE the adoring way Addy is looking at her daddy.

Even Archie got a present, a nice coat for his cold morning walks.  He HATED it! haha

We got the nieces and nephews personalized Cebu shirts.  They LOVED them!
Just an indication of the mess that was left
The WHOLE clan looking "normal"

And more REAL normal for us!  

 The amazing thing is, the morning was just PART of the Johnson holiday.  That night we got together with the EXTENDED Johnson family and celebrated more.  We missed Grandma, this was our first Christmas without her, but I bet she was pretty pleased that we all got together.

Some of the group....not a great picture, I know!

I don't know if there is really any way to express how much I love my family. Some of the in-laws (Ben included) tell us that the Johnsons are a tiny bit "arrogant" because we think we are so awesome, haha!  But honestly, just looking at these pictures I feel there is complete truth to the statement "Happiness is being a Johnson".

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Self Portraits by Hailey

My adorable niece got ahold of my camera, This girl is ALL personality. 

We sure love you Hailey Rain!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home for the Holidays (Post #5)

Chirstmas Day was extra laid back this year.  Since we had stayed up so late opening present on Christmas Eve we all slept in until like noon.  Ben and I got a hotel room while staying in Salem and it made for some VERY late mornings.  I felt like I didn't really deal with jet lag on this trip, but maybe that's because we stayed up til like 3 AM and slept til like noon every day while in Oregon.  It was a nice break.  We spent more time with family on Christmas.  We also went and visited some friends.  The first stop was to the cemetary to visit Isaac.  Isaac Bergevin was one of Ben's best friends through high school.  He was there the night we met and the night of our first date.  He was killed in a car accident that summer.  That's a story for another post, but we wanted to stop and leave a little Cebu souvinier. We were also able to go visit Jared and Amy Nelson and the whole Nelson clan.  Jared is another one of Ben's best friends from high school and was in an accident the September after we met, also a story for another post.  We try to see them as much as we can so visiting them while in Oregon was a must.  It was fun to catch up.

The day after Christmas was our last day in Oregon.  We attended church at Ben's home ward.  That's always a treat because he literally grew up in that ward and people love the Crisanto boys.  After church we just hung out at the house and played the new Mario Brothers on the WII with everyone.  We said a quick family prayer and were on our way.  It was an amazing week and such a treat to spend so much time with the family.   I don't admit this enough, but Oregon is beautiful.  Ben is always trying to convince me that we will end up there.  While I disagree, I can completely appreciate the amazing beauty that state has to offer.  While driving up the 1-5 to the airport I was looking out the window at the sprawling emptiness, the green fields, trees, hills and thinking "this is SO different than Cebu".  Instead of feeling sad that I don't live in a place like that right now though, all I thought was "We are SO lucky to be able to experience THIS and THAT.  Who else has the chance to experience so many different types of beauty".  We really are so lucky.

Our flight to Utah was uneventful and my dad was there at the airport, ready with thick winter coats to shield us from the cold.  We were very unprepared for what we met.  It was FREEZING!  The drive back to the house was full of just chatting, catching up, driving by new construction, the new Pioneer Crossing and so on.  When we drove up to the house it really felt like we really hadn't been gone that long.  But, when I was greeted at the door by my Sister in Law, Melissa, with the biggest hug ever and by Archie (our dog who is currently living with my parents) jumping all over me and acting like he was going to have a heart attack I could not help feeling like we had been missed just as much as we had missed home. I gave my mom a big hug and we were home.

Even though we arrived at the house close to 10 PM it was still lively.  My sister, Kristen, her husband  and two kids were there from California, my brother Jordan and his wife Melissa from St George, my mom and dad, and my brother Adam and his wife, Tonna,  there from Maine.  We got right back into the norm of the holidays.  We sat down to play games and Ben went to watch the big screen tv that he had missed so much.  It was a wonderful night and we were just so happy to be home.  Plus, my moms house at Christmas is amazing and really really made me feel like we were home for the holidays.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Home for the Holidays (Post #4)

The next few days in Oregon included much eating, hanging out, shopping and just enjoying the company of family.  One of my favorite things about being with Ben's family this year was that I can now really talk and chat with his parents and aunts about the Philippines.  I talked with Ben's aunt Naomi and Rebecca extensively about little experiences we have had, the food, the weather, the culture and it was just fun to really be able to connect with them on a new level.  That is one very great thing that is happening because of living in this country.  I am able to better understand my in-laws and their culture and I think it is really a great thing for our relationship.

On Thursday of that week we went out to the Woodburn outlets and shopped to our hearts content.  I got some cute clothes, including a skirt and a dress which will be great for the new year and my new resolution to try and dress a little nicer for work.  We also went to Costco.........................................LOVE COSTCO!  I might have told you all previously about a store in Cebu called S&R that is owned and run by the same company as Costco.  It has a lot of the same brands of products and a lot of things we just can't find over here.  When we first went to S&R we thought, "wow, this is JUST like Costco.  It feeels like we are in American Fork".  Well, let me just tell you, when we walked into Costco in Salem I almost burst out laughing.  I turned to Ben and said, "S&R is NOTHING like this.  This place is HUGE and beautiful."  Haha!  It was funny to realize how quickly our perceptions can change.  It was so much fun to just walk the isles of Costco.  Loved it.

On Christmas Eve during the day we went out shopping with Ben's siblings, DJ, Elisha and Archie.  We bought tonz of stuff and just had a good time.  We ran into Brother Rank and his family  (one of Ben's young men leaders from his home ward) at the Lancaster Mall,  which we do EVERY time we are there for Christmas.  It's almost become a Christmas tradition.  Ben and I went and got me dinner at Chipotle.  Yum!

Later that evening we just hung out at the house, watched tv and relaxed until midnight when we opened all our presents.  This is much different than my house.  Christmas Eve is the night where we have tonz of family over, play games and we open one gift (always pajamas).  After being married five years I have gotten used to the way my in laws do it and actually really enjoy it now.  Ben's mom was telling us that the tradition of opening presents at midnight comes from her childhood.  Growing up in the Philippins they did not get much in the way of presents, but every Christmas Eve the children would be woken up at midnight and have a huge meal.  That was it.  It helps us appreciate all the many blessings and gifts we receive.

I was spoiled by Ben's parents who got me a Kindle.  I LOVE IT!

We got the girls these Hello Kitty bags in the Phils.  They can totally pull them off:)

Ben finally got his Five Finger Vivrams for the beach, he's quite happy.

We got the guys shoes (with the Philippines on them).

I HATE this picture, but the point is I got Ben and I these CHEESY shirts made for our PJs this year.

Typical activities in the Crisanto house on Christmas Eve

Adorable, right?

We got Ben's mom a water bottle that said something about Filipino on it, she liked it but next year wants us to bring her some dried each her own!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Ben's Science Project

This is what happens when you leave sweaty clothes in a plastic bag in a humid climate for 2 weeks.  Yes people,  that's mold!