Sunday, November 08, 2009

Fransiscan Benediction

Our pastor left us with these words after church today.

May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain to joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done,
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Check it out!

Look at my photo blog.

I'm just figuring it out, but I hope you enjoy it!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The I Do's

They did it! It's done! We have another Johnson in the family. After a lot of preparation, anticipation and excitement Zach and Janlee were married last Saturday in a very beautiful ceremony. It ended up indoors because of the snowy weather that morning, but was lovely nonetheless. Congratulations to my brother and new sister!

Monday, August 31, 2009


My students and I were standing in the hall after school waiting for parents and siblings to come, talking and laughing together. One of my students was snapping his fingers together, and I couldn't figure out how he was doing it. So he showed me, still I couldn't get it to make the sound. One of my girls was there also and she looked at me and said "you have to make your finger lazy." I guess that is probably the most literal way to explain what you need to do. Even with my lazy finger, I still couldn't get it to work.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I have always hated change. It throws me, it messes with my mind and it makes me kind of crazy. Just ask Anna. Poor thing, she survived two move-ins with me, and is still my friend. Thanks Anna. Or Vanessa. She probably wanted to revoke her and Grant's invitation for me to move in with them. Thanks Vanessa. Or my parents, who sat with my in my new apartment after moving to Wichita and assured me I had made the right choice as the tears rolled down my face. Thanks Momsy and Faja.

I am beginning to realize that my dislike of change is because I like to be in control. Not that I have to boss everybody around and control every little detail of every little situation. It's probably good that I can be aware of this, so that I can react in a better way to change. I need to just let stuff go, and maybe my hatred of change is a way of me feeling a little more in control of situations that I can't.

My brother is getting married. I couldn't be happier for him, nor could I have picked a more perfect person for him to spend the rest of his life with. I am very happy for them both. Yet, when Jan's mom asked me last summer if this was hard for me, I teared up. It's change, I can't control it. My relationship with my brother is changing, as it should. I can't control it. He is going to be a husband, he is making his own family. I can't control it. If he weren't focusing his energy and time this, if our relationship didn't change that wouldn't be good. He is doing what is right. I miss the way things were. But I am excited for the way things will be. I just need to let go, and let it be, and accept that I don't have control and that's okay.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Summertime Joys

I am thankful that I have summers off. Here's a little of what I've been up to.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Wooing Victoria

Vanessa and I met a man last night named Alan. He was getting off the shuttle bus downtown, and it was parked behind us so we waited frustrated that we couldn't move while all the people got off. He must have sensed our frustrations so he came over to chat. We learned that Alan is in his 30's, divorced after being married for 12 years, two kids and that he is going to be in a fundraiser auctioning off dates with eligible Wichita bachelors next week. Alan is not looking to find the woman of his dreams in the auction, he has already found her.

He told us that he started dating Victoria two years ago, right after his divorce. Unfortunatly, with all that a divorce entails, he needed some time to figure out his life and so he and Victoria ended things. In the time since their relationship ended he has figured out that she is the one, and he began writing her love letters, he said he had written over 80 of them. Alan delivered his box of letters to Victoria last week, along with a ticket to a theater production later this week. He told us that he will be in the seat next to the one on her ticket, hoping she shows up. It's the big last hurrah, and he said that if this doesn't work out, then he'll be able to move on.

Having a man woo you, every girl's dream.

Good luck Alan, go get your girl.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The Backpack

I was cleaning out my closet for a garage sale and I came across a backpack. It is kind of bluish purple, periwinkle some would say, and there is a makeup stain on the outside pocket where Sarah Purlee, my freshman roommate dropped some Clinique foundation. Despite my efforts, it never did come completely out. I had filled this backpack with books for class, papers, notes, snacks, water, pens, pencils and probably 100 tubes of chapstick throughout my college career, but since then have not had a need for it. So it sat. It sat in my apartment, got loaded full of stuff for the move, and has been sitting in my closet ever since.

I pulled it out for the garage sale, thinking that I could make a few bucks if I sold it. After all, it is a Jansport, they last forever. Then I remembered one of my students, who has been carrying his books to school in a rolling suitcase. Granted, it is a small one, but still inconvenient and not at all as functional as a backpack. I decided to take my backpack to school for him. I, after all, don't need it.

When I called him over to my desk at the beginning of the day to give him the backpack he seemed subdued. What was I expecting? Fireworks? A parade in my honor because of my amazing demonstration of gratitude and personal sacrifice? Maybe. But instead I got a smile, a thank you and it was done. I looked at him as he walked out of class that day, backpack on his back, superhero suitcase in his hand, and hoped that if nothing else he will one day pay it forward.

The next day when I was out in the hallway taking down student work, I saw my now former backpack hanging on his hook. I smiled to myself and wondered what kind of treasures he had filled it with. I unzipped the outside pocket to find his take home reading book, and inside he had his folder and homework. I guess what else would a 2nd grader need to haul in his backpack?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Thoughts on Mom

Here's what my 2nd graders wrote in their Mother's Day cards. I think they are so sweet, and truly from a child's perspective. Enjoy!

Deer mom I love you. Your the best mom in the hole wid world. Becasue your spechl to me And you help me with every thing. And you give me food. And wash the dishes. Love, C.

Dear Mom you are the best cooking at the cishin you are a nies to me you clen my room and your room. You are a clean house. Love, N.

Dea Mom, I love you. You'r spacial to me. thank you for taking car of me. Don't forget that I love you. Love, C. (She also wrote hers in Spanish, which really impressed me!)

Dear Mom. You are a nice mom. You are fun. Love, D.

I lov mui mom. Love, R.

Deer Mom I love you mom. Love, D.

Yo de cedo. i love you. do me ases acome. you make food for me. Love, O.

Dear Mom, You are nice to me. Think you for cooking us food mom. When you are nice to me, my filling don't hrt. Form, A.

To Mom. Mom I love you and you are the Bist mom in the wo wrot and I love you and have a Happy Mother's Day. Love E to Mom.

Dear, Mom. Thanks for being nice to me. Thanks for cooking. Love, M.

Dear, Mom. Happy Mothers Day! Also you are speical! Love, R.

Derd Mom. Tocku for ben a nist mom. Tocku for ben the bist coock in the house. You are the bist mom cust you givus the tening we want. Live, E.

Dear Mom. I love you for being my mom. I love you for being my mom. I made suthing for you. And a card. And suthing. It has colas. Love, K.

Dear Mom, I love you so much becus you clen my room. And I love you becuse you wahs my cloths. Love you! Your daorther, C.

Dear Mom, Thak you for all the thing you do for me. I'm glad I em your boy.

Dear Mom, You're the best mom. You cook good think you that. Love, A.

Dear Mom, Youa re the best mom. You are beatiful. I love you! Love, L.

Dear Mom, I love you. You are the best mom ever bend in my flamree. Mom you roke. I love my mom. Love, D.

I hop you have a very happy Mother's Day. You are the dest mom in the wrold. Love J. To Griselda.

Monday, May 04, 2009

I Can Feel It

I can feel it, it's looming around the corner. Change. I hate it. Life, unfortunately...and fortunately I guess, is full of it. School is ending, summer is coming. Change. I can feel the anxiousness coming on, I feel nervy.

Friday, May 01, 2009


Please helpe me lift up Esther, my dear friend and co-worker, and her family. Her father in law is currently in Kansas City at KU Medical Center undergoing tests on his kidneys. The doctors here said there is about a 95% chance that the growths they found are malignant. It is hard to see a friend going through such a tough and challenging situation, and sometimes even harder because all I can do to fix it is to pray. Ironic how that sounds "all I can do". It is sometimes the only thing to do.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Children Are Mirrors

I saw racism today, not in a raw or violent way. The racism I saw was more disappointing, more saddening than a violent crime. I saw racism in a 7 year old child.

It was not aimed at any student in my class, and it was said by someone that The United States would label as a minority. It disappointed me.

The comment made was about a picture of an Asian person in one of our vocabulary PowerPoint, which I made. When making them last year, I intentionally incorporated pictures of people from all cultures and races, specifically because I thought that my students being primarily of minority groups, needed to see their faces reflected in the pictures they see.

I realize that I don't fully get it, being a white woman, and I probably never will. I will never be judged based on what color my skin is, or my appearance. My students more than likely will be, if they have not already. I was so greatly saddened by today's events, it disappointed so much because I thought they would get it. Or I think they should. I don't know.

During my long lecture to my two students, I tried to explain to them what racism was and why their comments and jokes were not okay. I talked about how some people call others "dirty Mexicans", and how that made me angry and how this was the same kind of thing. I talked about how 50 years ago, kids with different colored skin couldn't go to school with kids who had white skin. Their faces were so serious, I hope they understood.

I know these kids didn't think up thier jokes, they heard them from someone at home. Children are the best mirrors. If you ever want a reality check, hang out with some kids for a while and they'll mimic every quaility you don't want mimiced. They pick up on the smallest things so remember to watch what you say and do.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Funeral Playlist

1) Catch My Disease - Ben Lee
2) All Creatures of our God and Kind - David Crowder
3) Far Away - Ingrid Michaelson
4) Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Do You Have a Sword?

A student had a birthday this week. His mom brought in a 9 inch circular cake (which I had the pleasure of cutting into 23 pieces). After talking to her in Spanish for a minute or two, he walked over to me and proceeded to ask: "My mom wants to know if you have a sword to cut the cake."

Sometimes, there are no words to respond to what comes out of my students' mouths.

Monday, April 06, 2009


Schedules make my head hurt. I'm at work - planning out my week and getting reading for today. Here's how my calendar looks:

Monday - obedience classes with Truman
Tuesday - ESOL classes after school
Wednesday - 8:00 team meeting, IEP meeting after school
Thursday - IEP meeting after school

I am already tired.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

We Belong Together

I've been living with Grant and Vanessa for about 2 1/2 months now. In a way, we've settled into a groove with our non-traditional living situation. My students have been the least phased by the changes; they know Vanessa because she worked at Cloud last year. They either might have a distant relative, cousin or friend living with them, or they know someone who does. Also, Vanessa and my coworkers have gotten over the initial questions about our living arrangement.

Friday we were bowling (very poorly I might add) for kids, and so I got to meet a lot of Vanessa's coworkers as well as their families and friends. Vanessa was introducing Grant and I to a friend of a coworker, and it went something like this.

"This is my husband Grant, and this is our roommate Abi."

Puzzled look.

"Yeah," I said, "We belong together."

I was semi-joking, but aside from my own family, and families I've nannied for, Grant and Vanessa and Luke and Laurel are the closest thing to my actual family. Laurel and I have fought like sisters, Grant is like another brother, and Vanessa and I give back rubs and watch trashy TV. These are people that I am completely myself around. They see my beadhead in the morning and they've seen me cry. They love my dog. There is something amazing that happens when people's lives are intentionally intertwined with one another. I only hope that where ever I end up going in the future, that I will always have people with which I can create a community.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

A Patchwork of Thoughts

I rest in God's truths. He has plans for each of us, that we have a purpose and that there is a plan for our lives. Although I may not see it today, tomorrow or even months from now, God's truths remain constant. His plan for my life is great, greater than I could ever imagine. Does my finite nature then limit my view of what God can do in and with my life? Do I, by default of my limited view, become my own roadblock?

Plans for us to prosper, far away from harm. Great are you God. Plans for us a hope and a future in your arms, you'll be found by us when we seek you.

Show me what this season in my life is for. I have been trying to seek you, show my what this season in my life is for.

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could; some blunders and absurdities have crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; you shall begin it serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bowl For Kids' Sake

Vanessa works for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Kansas, and we are all participating in a fundraiser on April 3rd called Bowl For Kids' Sake. I am in need of your pledges! You can make a flat pledge, or a per pin pledge. My goal is to raise $25o, so if you can help me raise money for this great organization thanks in advance! My link is:

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Vacations bring much needed peace, sleep and just time to check out. I really liked being able to spend time with Christi, Anna and Janlee. Glorious!

Saturday, March 07, 2009

She's Looking For You

"Abi? It's Mary. A mom is out here, and she is not happy with you and she's looking for you!"

This is the phone call I got on Wednesday, from a teacher on the playground, during my lunch. After being home for a day and a half with the flu, I came back to work, and was greeted with insanity; basically a 2nd grade classroom after a sub.

To make a long story short, there was an issue of honesty, no one would tell the truth, so they all lost some of their recess. When a parent came to school to fill out some paperwork, she saw my entire class standing against the fence, and she was not happy with me.

Me, on the other hand, was in mid-chew, enjoying my mostly bland (applesauce, water, crackers) post-flu lunch. Hmm, what to do? Should I hide out in Sue's room? She'll never find me here. Or...should I go and find the parent, be proactive and try to resolve the situation before it becomes me and the parent and an administrator.

I opted for the latter.

Walking into the office, I spotted her. Thankfully she speaks English. She was talking to the secretary, pointing her finger and looking clearly not happy...with me. I walked up to her, put on my best "I am really happy you are here" face, tapped her on the arm and said "I heard you were looking for me!".

We stepped out into the hall, she told me her frusteration, I told her I was sorry that this happened. I told her my side. She told me she was sorry for getting frustrated. As it is with most issues, listening solved anything that was an issue. I didn't change my mind or back down from my decision of disciplining my students, and she felt better because someone listened. Our conversation ended with an apology from her and both of us agreeing it was time for a vacation.

Spring Break is 4 school days away. I think we'll both make it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I have been trying to think of a blog post, and I have actually had lots of ideas lately. I guess there is just a lot going on in my head. They've ended up being all compiled into one pretty random blog post.

I was driving home from work a few days ago and I saw a new gang tag of a building. For those of you who don't know, a tag is when a gang graffitis their number, name or something on a building in their area. I didn't think anything of it, and I wondered to myself if I am getting numb to it, or if it just doesn't worry me as much as it used to.

I've seen the same man sitting on a lamp post twice when driving home from work. I guess I must do my best thinking then. I worry about who he is, where he's going, and if he has enough to eat.

I am tired of people disappointing me. In the little and the big stuff. I feel like I should just expect disappointment, and I think that means I am becoming jaded. I don't want to be.

I worry about getting married one day. Two people close to me are experiencing, in different ways, the pain that infidelity brings. It breaks my heart for them, on so many levels.

My heart also breaks for a little girl at my school, who no matter the outcome of recent events, is a victim.

I feel like I am on the verge of giving up on one of my students, as I was telling Vanessa tonight. It's been seven months, and I have seen little progress from him. After working with him today I was incredibly discouraged, and I don't know where to go or what else to do.

I admire Vanessa, her strength. I have watched her this week and been amazed at her enduring strength; she is one of the strongest people I know.

I admire Grant as well, his unconditional love for his wife. He impresses me. His patience and love are evident.

I am thankful that I have friends who have let me into their home, and thus also into their lives. The opportunity that we all have to be incredibly real with one another is amazing, and overwhelming at time.

I am excited for spring, a new beginning.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

25 Random Things

1. I have an extra vertebrae named Louie. Sometimes he likes to scream.

2. I love my siblings, my whole family in fact.

3. I am legally blind in one eye.

4. I have a fear of settling in my life.

5. I never went to 6th grade.

6. Shoes are my weakness.

7. I strongly believe that coffee belongs with cream and sugar.

8. I wish I got more sleep.

9. I miss the snow.

10. I love the ocean and the mountains, yet somehow have found myself living in between them.

11. I enjoy cooking, for people and with people, and then lingering over a good meal with great conversation.

12. Kaylee, Esther, Mary, Sue and Kathy helped me survive my first year of teaching, and continually keep me sane and grounded at work.

13. Most of my great memories involve Anna.

14. I am so thankful that I didn't marry Ben.

15. My favorite sandwich is a BLT.

16. I have no problem eating by myself at a restaurant.

17. I am learning to be more patient.

18. I try to take pictures and be creative. It's a work in progress.

19. I love Top Chef.

20. My parents are wise, I am thankful for their insight and support.

21. I worked at a cheese store for 3 years.

22. Truman wakes me up really early everyday, but I can't be annoyed with him for long, because he is so lovey.

23. My biggest hope is to someday be a mom.

24. I blog.

25. I love getting to experience the world through the eyes of 2nd graders. It brings newness to each, otherwise monotonous day.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Hippie Moments

The outside of my door right now is a giant heart, with our names in hearts all around, and in the middle of the heart are the words "One Love."

Right now we're listening to Bob Marley and making posters of ways to help the earth.

Hippie moments for hippies in the making.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I don't always think Kansas is the most beautiful state. But on days like we had this weekend - seventy degrees in January! - it is a nice place to be. I really like the colors in this picture.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Truman and Dakota

Truman and I moved a week ago, and now Truman has a friend. Dakota, a red lab, is almost 4 years his senior, and is overwhelmed at times by his puppy exuberance. I have to smile because every morning, he gallops up the stairs to go see if Dakota is up yet, and looks so disappointed when she isn't. Truman steals her toys, bites her ears and always wants her to play. Dakota can outrun Truman in the backyard, and is starting to fight back when he bullies her into giving up her toys. Sometimes, we catch them in lovey moments, sitting together, playing nicely or being snugglies. Even though they don't always know it, Truman and Dakota love each other a lot.

Monday, January 26, 2009

For Special Ed Teachers Everywhere...

...with Tiffany (my parent's friend who is a loyal reader of my blog) in mind.

The Rotary has a program called "Reading Is Fun" or RIF. We have the RIF readers come out a few times a year to read to our kids and then each child gets a book that the Rotary donated. Two weeks ago we had a RIF day.

On Friday, we wrote thank you notes to our Rotary Reader. One of my precious special ed. children wrote the following:

"Dear Mr. C,
Thank you for the boob."

I had tears in my eyes I was laughing so hard, and I didn't have the heart to tell him. He realized the error of his ways a few minutes later, and fixed the mistake.

Teaching second graders always has a few laughs.

In other news, I moved this past weekend! No more apartment living! I am living with some friends, Grant and Vanessa, you know them I'm sure, and being in a house with people is a nice change from being in an apartment with no people. Truman has a dog friend Dakota, and a cat who hates him, Nora, to play with, and a fenced in backyard to romp in. On a cold, but sunny Saturday, I had 5 awesome friends carry, pack, and unload my belongings, and now I need to only go back and clean the apartment and another chapter in my life has been written.

And lastly, a special shout out to Tiff, my parent's friend from church, who reads my blog, and is keeping me accountable!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Like That One Teacher

I have a student who comes to me for part of the day - the special education teacher and I team during that time, and he's receiving services. This student has a sister. She is in first grade.

After school today, one of the paras came in and needed to talk to me. She said that she had gone into a first grade room, and there was this little girl with a sticker on the side of her nose. Now you know that I got my nose pierced about 3 months ago, and she apparently noticed this. When the para asked her why she did that, she responded "I'm like that one teacher!"

So that makes me wonder, what else do these perceptive little minds pick up on, and who's watching you?

Friday, January 02, 2009

For Julie

And if the darkness is to keep us apart
And if the daylight feels like it's a long way off
And if your glass heart should crack
And for a second you turn back
Oh no, be strong

Walk on, walk on
What you got, they can't steal it
No they can't even feel it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight...

You're packing a suitcase for a place none of us has been
A place that has to be believed to be seen
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom

Walk on, walk on
What you got they can't deny it
Can't sell it or buy it
Walk on, walk on
Stay safe tonight

And I know it aches
And your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Home...hard to know what it is if you never had one
Home...I can't say where it is but I know I'm going home
That's where the heart is

I know it aches
How your heart it breaks
And you can only take so much
Walk on, walk on

Walk On by U2