Six Ways My 6-Year-Old Puts a Smile on My Face!

It’s secretly a parent’s favorite thing to do.

The kids are playing, it’s awfully quiet, and instead of taking a moment to relax – by yourself – upstairs, you decide to venture downstairs to see what mischief they might be getting into.

Like a burglar in the dark, you creep your way towards the room hoping to catch them red-handed, either drawing on the wall, or destroying their brother’s LEGO set, built the night before.

Instead what you witness causes an immediate glow to your face. What you expected to be a scowl, has turned into a huge grin. You try to hold back your laughter as you watch your child playing toys, engulfed in their own imaginary world or Stormtroopers, Hot Wheels, ninja turtles, or whatever Barbie’s do.

The moment unfortunately doesn’t last too long before they look over their shoulder, yell “STOP!” or “HEY!” and usually come out you with said-toy.

But it’s this moment, often hard to catch on video (though I’ve managed a few times but for a matter of seconds) that brings me great, great joy.

I’ve tried to figure out how to capture these moments. You can’t videotape everything (though some people try to), but you want to remember all of these times your face was lit up. You want to be able to look back 10, 20 or even 40 years from now and laugh about those innocent times, before they were teenagers, young adults, dare I say, parents.

My blog has always been about sharing our stories with ourselves (and whomever else that travels alongside of us) – a so-called history book for The Johnson Five.

With Lia’s sixth birthday today, I tried to figure out how to “celebrate” her in words. Last year I wrote about the song “Cinderella” and how it will forever remind me of my daughter, and in the past I’ve written about five things I’ve liked about her, and the day she was born.

This year I thought I’d write six ways Lia puts a smile on my face, without her knowing she’s putting a smile on my face.

Note: These aren’t the only six ways, there are probably six hundred ways, but since she’s turning six, so I’m writing six. Here are the six:

Allowing Me To Let It Go:
I’ve had a stressful last few months. Frustrated with everything life was throwing at me, I needed something that allowed my mind to get away, or should I say, allowed myself to “Let It Go”. If I’m feeling down and out, and need a quick pick me up, this video will do that for me every time, all the time.

Up, Up and Away!
There’s just an innocence with watching a lone person on a swing set swaying back and forth, back and forth, wind in their hair, smile on their face, their feet kicking in and out. Lia loves to get on a swing set and go, and go, and go. She’ll swing for chunks of time, and I’ll be watching from inside the house, peeking from a corner of a window, watching her, realizing that right now she’s free, she’s innocent, she’s content, she knows nothing about what lies ahead of her in life. It’s free, and makes me relaxed.

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Al-guh-rith-uhm
This one might sound silly, but for me there is something so special, and that makes me light up, when Lia talks. I know, I know, I’m probably over-exaggerating a bit, or maybe bragging a bit, but she has a gift of language that I haven’t found in another (now) 6-year-old. I used the word “algorithm” as an example, because the other night Lukas had trouble saying this not-that-easy word. I turned to Lia and said “algorithm”. She repeated it exactly as its enunciated – and then again, and then again. She has always been quick to enunciate words properly, words that she shouldn’t be able to enunciate. Even when she speaks Portuguese her dialect is perfect. Unlike Lukas, who has that Gringo dialect, she enunciates every Portuguese word the correct way. I wish I could say she got that from me, but her mother was a quick learner when it came to learning the English language, and even now people are amazed that English is not Lis’ native language, as she has just a hint of an accent, unless she’s ticked or excited, then we know we’re in trouble – or doing something right. ;)

I’m On a Bike Yo!
She learned to ride a bike when she was 4-years old, though it seemed like it took forever because of her fear of taking off the training wheels. Then we took the training wheels off and ZOOM! She hasn’t stopped yet! She’s had no fear on a bike, peddling and cruising, weaving in and out of other bike riders. She’s never had a fall, and even recently, when she was on her new 7-speed, zig-zagging on the trail near our house she remained in control. This after her bike tire got caught in the gravel, she swerved to cut it loose, but held on to her handlebars, taking control of her bike, her butt bouncing on her back tire, slowing her down so she wouldn’t crash. Once she was okay, we all had a nice laugh, as Lia jumped off the bike crying, “I’m okay! I’m okay!” But the fact she had control of her bike the entire time was impressive. 

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The Imaginary World of Lia
As mentioned in the intro, there is something so peaceful, and innocent, when you’re watching kids play by themselves. I’m sure my mom felt the same way when I was playing baseball in the backyard with my league full of imaginary baseball players. Okay, so she thought I was crazy, but whatever. I can relate when Lia is outside singing and talking with her friends.

She’s Funny … and Not Just for a Girl
I’m not going to list one-liners she’s said around the dinner table, mostly because I don’t remember them. Since she was little she always had a witty sense of humor, the kind that combined with cuteness, could end up being a dangerous competition as she gets into young adulthood. It’s hard to sit still at the table, or when we’re playing UNO, when she’s reeling off jokes. What I love most is that she makes her older brother laugh, the one that usually annoys her (and vice versa). Lukas has an infectious laugh, and it often ends in tears, so seeing her make him fall over in his chair, brings great joy to a dad that often has to peel her slapping hands away from him.

That’s it! Six simple things that Lia does, that she doesn’t know she does, that makes me smile!

Happy Birthday Princess Lia!

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Filed under Lia, Birthday, Life With Three Kids

My Oh My Magical Mariner Moments!

It’s Friday in mid-September and for the fourth night in a row I’m watching baseball.

Sure, it was hard to watch baseball when I either didn’t have cable and/or the channels that produced those games for the past five years, but the real reason I’m sitting here watching baseball in mid-September is that for the first time since 2001 the Seattle Mariners are in postseason contention with just two weeks remaining in the regular season.

For the first time in recent memory, I have a vested interest in the pennant race. I’m checking scores and standings wondering how the Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals and Oakland A’s, all teams just a game or so ahead of the Mariners with a dozen or so contests remaining, are performing.

2023273112Do I think the Mariners have a realistic shot at making the World Series? Not really. They lack a heavy hitter, the kind that I hoped they would get to supplement the signing of All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano. I had hoped for the signing of ex-Texas Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, who Cano publicly said he wanted, but they sat back, and Cruz has gone on to knock in 104 runs and smack 39 home runs for the American League East-leading Baltimore Orioles.

And for those of you that complained about the signing of Cano, sure $240 million for 10 years is a lot to spend on a second baseman, but he’s been a leader since the first day of Spring Training, and though it seems like every time I watch him he grounds into a double play, he’s a superb fielder, is hitting .321, driving in 78. More importantly, I’ve noticed that he’s the first to console a pitcher after a wild at-bat, he’s the first one out of the dugout to congratulate his teammates after a score, a true clubhouse leader for a team that has lacked one since the days of Edgar Martinez (remember Ichiro’s knock? He just wanted to play, not lead). Yahoo! recently posted a nice piece complimenting my thoughts, you can find that here.

Braves Mariners Baseball-4Now, do I think this Mariners team could wreak havoc in the playoffs? Absolutely. Especially when you have an anchor like “King” Felix Hernandez. What was that that slogan from that Lake City “club” that always caught our eyes? Hundreds of beautiful ones and one ugly one? In reference to the Mariners and their pitching it’s “Hundreds of young ones and one old one?” My apologies to the revitalized 35-year-old Chris Young. If you have the kind of arms the Mariners have, you’ve got a good chance to win not just the Wild Card but possibly even a series.

After last year’s Super Bowl confusion caused some to wonder, “Why don’t you root for the Seahawks, you live near Seattle?” I thought it was best to explain my love for the Seattle Mariners, before everyone jumps on their bandwagon (though the ‘Hawks bandwagon is so full, I’m not even sure Seattleites realize the M’s are this close to a postseason berth) and start to think I am a latecomer to this party.

I will always be a San Diego Padres fan (established June 6, 1986), and if for some miraculous reason the two teams were to meet in the World Series, I would root for the Padres. But considering both teams have only reached the postseason nine times (five for San Diego; four for Seattle), and that only the Padres (twice, 1984 and 1998) have reached the World Series, there are probably better odds that Levi makes a World Series before either of the Padres or Mariners.

I moved to Seattle in 1992, and was followed in ’93 by “Sweet Lou” Pinella, and the current logo and colors. My first love had always been baseball, and since I moved from the professional baseball-less state of Hawaii, it was easy to get excited rooting for the Mariners, and be back attending baseball games.

I have fond memories of attending those Mariner games, both from the Kingdome and Safeco Field. I took pictures of the ‘Dome’, just days before they imploded it, and I attended both the first time they allowed fans to view Safeco Field (I remember walking through the tunnels of the 300-level and then viewing from high above, the beautiful fresh grass of the stadium; A friend of mine commenting that I looked like a kid in a candy store.), and Safeco Field’s opening series in July 1999, versus my Padres.

I remember screaming at the TV in excitement as Ken Griffey Jr. scored from first on what is now simply called “The Double” in the clinching Game 5 of the 1995 American League Division Series. And since it continues to give me goosebumps, I’ll post it here.

I remember listening to the radio on my drive home during the disappointing 1997 postseason, when the M’s won the AL West with arguably the best player (Griffey, who won the AL Most Valuable Player), shortstop (Alex Rodriguez), pitcher (Randy Johnson) and designated hitter (Edgar Martinez), and set a record for home runs, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles three games to one, with Johnson losing twice. Ugh!

I remember sitting on the wrong side of a Red Robin bar when Carlos Guillen squeeze bunted home the go-ahead run in the Mariners’ 2000 ALDS sweep of the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, our side of the bar was on a delay, so I heard an eruption while Guillen dropped the bunt down and then Rickey Henderson trotting across the plate. I had my own mini-eruption.

And then the 2001 116-win season … Double Ugh!

Alright Kevin we get it. You like the Mariners, but where are you going with this?

In honor of the Mariners push for the postseason I thought I would post my top 10 My Oh My Mariner Moments. These are games I physically attended. These are games that stick out in my mind, that hold both on and off-the-field memories for me. I’m sure there are some that I’m leaving off. I’ve had the privilege of sitting up in the Safeco suite and getting free food and drinks. I’ve rode the Sound Transit train to many of Sunday ballgames. I was there when Griffey returned, heck, I learned about Michael Jackson’s death while sitting in the Diamond Club during an afternoon game versus the Padres. And I’ve spent many of fun times with many of friends at baseball games. My apologies to those that may read this that think, “He didn’t mention the game that … ” If I forgot something please remind me.

And now here are my top 10 Mariner Moments …

No. 10 – All-Star Scalpers!
This first one isn’t quite a Mariner highlight, but back in 2001 the M’s and Safeco Field, hosted baseball’s annual All-Star festivities. My brother, a couple of our buddies and myself decided we wanted to not just attend FanFest, but the actual Home Run Derby. Problem was we didn’t have tickets, and we didn’t have a lot of money. Luckily we sweet talked a scalper, paid less than ticket value (the Derby had already started) for tickets scattered all over the stadium and snuck our way into the centerfield beer garden so we can watch Sammy Sosa and Jason Giambi hit mammoth home runs (oh, the pre-drug testing days). After further review Luis Gonzalez (another rumored steroid user), actually won the competition but I’ll remember Sosa hitting one out of the stadium, and Giambi trying to break the windows of the Hit it Here Café.

Kevin 007No. 9 – You’re Out (and You Have the Right to Remain Silent …)
Since we’re no longer on speaking terms, I wasn’t excited to give Youngest Brother that much chatter in my blog. But when he’s 11-years-old, is influenced by my dad’s business partner to jump over the rail pregame to snag a loose baseball that’s sitting yards away from (speaking of steroids) Jose Canseco, is then arrested, viciously handcuffed, loses the ball in the “scuffle”, and I’m standing there shocked, screaming for my parents, and watching my dad, with his wannabe Tom Selleck mustache, pulling his best Carl Lewis impression by hurdling aisles of Kingdome seats, sprinting towards us … it probably deserves to make the top 10 (and maybe higher now that it’s bringing back memories). Youngest Brother was detained for a bit, before both the Sheriff, the Kingdome security office and my livid father were able to realize it was a simple, and possibly stupid, mistake. In these overbearing times of more and more security, it’s weird to look back and think that we actually thought it was okay for him to do that, but we had seen it the night before (and the dude got away with it) and thought … let Youngest Brother do it, he’ll do anything.

Rally TimeNo. 8 – The Post-Wedding, Pre-Reception Bachelor(ette) Party!
Lis and I were hitched in Brazil. No ceremony. No rehearsal dinner. No pomp and circumstance. And unfortunately no bachelor party. It was nice, but looking back, we probably should’ve done a better job of planning it. Either way, when we returned from Brazil my mom had planned a nice wedding reception for us. But something was missing, that bachelor(ette) party that we never got to have. The one that I had dreamed about – taking a limo with my pals to a baseball game. In my dreams there was a suite, however in my dreams my mom, aunt, brother’s girlfriend and MY WIFE were not part of it! Well dreams don’t often come true for me, and this was one that turned out better than expected. I remember wearing our rally caps (and looking back the caps worked as the M’s scored three runs in the ninth to defeat the Orioles 3-2), I remember my mom dishing out hot dogs, microwaved at home and wrapped in tin foil, but most of all I remember hanging with some of my best buddies, my parents, my uncle and aunt, my late uncle, and my wife and having a darn good time.

No. 7 – Pretty In Pink M’s Hat
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As a baseball fan it’s always an extra special moment when I get to take my kids to their first professional baseball game. It took me a few years to convince myself to take Lia to her first game. She’s always been a little busy, which translates to less easy to handle for a length of a baseball game. When Lia was three (okay, that’s younger than I expected) I took her to her first M’s game. We played at the playground, we walked around the stadium, we watched maybe an inning of baseball, and I bought her a pink M’s hat that she wears, and still reminds her of her first Mariners game with Dad.

No. 6 – The Kid
Lukas attended his first game when he was eight months old. Since then he’s attended more than a dozen games. As I have mentioned, I’m a dad before anything else, meaning I’d rather take my son to a ballgame than take some of my best friends. The first few years he was not very interested. We would spend most of our time wandering the ballpark, and hanging out inside the playground in centerfield. Occasionally on a Sunday after a game, he’d get to run the bases and I would get the opportunity to walk the actual field. Then he turned seven and became a sports fan. It’s been enjoyable going to ballgames the last couple of years. He asks questions, knows the players, pays attention to the games, out of town scoreboard, the ball, strikes and outs. Last year my buddy Ian, gifted us with tickets to an afternoon game, where Lukas and I sat 10 rows behind home plate. We felt like we were catching King Felix. This year Ian invited us to an event through the Volunteers of America where Lukas was able to visit, get pictures and autographs, and even ask a question to a few of the players. “Who’s your favorite Star Wars character?” And the past few days when I’ve been planted in front of the TV hoping for them to bite into the A’s Wild Card lead, he’s been there with me, watching and rooting alongside me. He’s come a long way since he was two and fell asleep in his Caillou chair. Thank you God!

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No. 5 – You’ve Been Zito’d!
IMAG2874Lis has never been a baseball fan, but when you’re temporarily living in this strange country, friends with a strange man, that wants to take you to a strange sport, you’ll try it out. Lis’ baseball debut was a memorable one. We were watching pregame warm-ups, standing along the railing on the left field side, watching the Oakland A’s pitchers throw long toss. One minute they are throwing back and forth, the next the ball is spiraling toward us, faster than a change up. I flinched. Lis, staring off to wherever she may have been staring, didn’t see it coming, and just like that SMACK! The ball had hit the hand holding her camera (they weren’t digital back then, so the film came flying out), and her thigh. She had stitch marks on her finger, ended up having a huge bruise on the side of her thigh. The camera was busted, ruining any shot we had at a photo op (where were you camera phones?). We retrieved the ball, she told the player, in her broken English, “Hey! You hit me!” And then Barry Zito apologized, signed her ball, and ended up winning the 2002 Cy Young award. The oddest coincidence, the game took place on April 7, 2002, three years to the day that Lis was diagnosed with leukemia.

No. 4 – Welcome Back Baseball; Welcome Back Life!
I had no idea when I had purchased tickets to the September 18, 2001 Anaheim Angels versus Seattle Mariners contest, that I’d be attending the most emotional baseball game of my life. It was a week after the September 11 attacks, and like everything else, baseball had been shutdown, taking a week to remember, honor, reflect, weep, and clear out the absolute confusion of what had happened to the country we love. Major League Baseball resumed play on September 18, and my parents, Youngest Brother and me, were in attendance. During that week, anytime I heard President Bush mention the word “resolve” I had chills down my spine. I found myself confused, frustrated, and often emotional, at just watching the images from that day. Well, the M’s game took all those bottled emotions, put them with 45,000 other fans that were experiencing the same emotion, creating a spout that allowed a week long build of tears to just flow. The M’s handed out little American flags, there was an emotional pregame ceremony and moment of silence, EVERYONE belted out the Star Spangled Banner, we waved our flags throughout the game, and then they played Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful” during seventh inning stretch and well … DONE! Youngest Brother said, “If I ever need to think about crying, I can just remember this game.” Oh, and the Mariners won 4-0, their 105th win of the season, clinching a tie for the American League West, a title they would earn the following day, en route to tying a major league record with 116 wins.

No. 3 – “Just Move the Cone”
Not sure why I always volunteered to drive. Hmm…maybe I didn’t volunteer maybe I was forced to, after all I had a ’95 Acura Integra that fit maybe 3-1/2 people comfortably. It was October 15, 2001 and Ian, Wes, Aaron and I were headed to the pivotal Game 5 of the American League Division Series. The Mariners had won 116 games in the regular season, and were supposed to cruise in their first round series against the Cleveland Indians. Except they stumbled. Shut out in Game 1 by Chuck Finley, bounced back in Game 2, got slammed 17-2 in Game 3, in Game 4 they used a little “Two Outs, So What?!” comeback magic forcing a Game 5 at Safeco Field. I had been to a few games during that magical 2001 season, but I had never seen the crowd so tense. We were quiet, we were nervous, we were anxious, we were scared. Ian and Wes attempted to bring their own “SoDo Mojo” to the game, saying they would stand up the entire game, I think it worked for an inning or two, or at least until the M’s put the first two runs on the board in the second inning. Thankfully this allowed the crowd time to relax, and by the end of the game, the M’s had clinched their second trip to the ALCS. Now to get the car … parking was crazy, but we noticed a spot that was loosely coned and (it’s debated on who actually) suggested “Why don’t we just move the cone over?” Just enough to allow my little car to squeeze in. We debated, took a vote and, moving the cone won. Except that it lost, because when we returned my car was no where to be found. After calling the tow company we realized that their office was across town, near the Space Needle. We walked a few miles to a bus route, took a bus through downtown, walked up a residential hill on the backside of the Needle, across the Seattle Center, and finally to the tow company where we realized the bill was $300-plus, oh, and the car is actually in a storage near Safeco Field. That’s right, on the other side of town. Livid, I borrowed money from my folks, paid their outstanding bill, told them they were jerks, and thankfully met nice enough people that were also ticked at the tow company (is anyone ever not ticked at a tow company?), that would let the four of us cram into their buddies’ truck and make the trek back to the lot. We learned a valuable lesson that day: Never, EVER move the cone!

No. 2 – Last Minute SoDo Mojo!
IMG_20140409_194055Those pesky Yankees. There is a reason so many didn’t like them, especially during the late ’90s and early ’00s. Before they did it to us in 2001, they did it to us in 2000. Ian and I scored tickets to Game 5 of the ALCS, the Mariners trailing 3-1, I can only assume that the person that scored the tickets didn’t want to watch the M’s lose a fourth straight, and watch the Yankees celebrate on our home field. It was October 15, 2000 (funny, No. 3 on this list also took place that day), and the tickets we scored sounded too good to be true. Turns out they were true. Game 5 of the ALCS and we’re sitting 10 rows behind home plate. The M’s scored one early before the Yankees bounced back with two in the fourth. Things didn’t look promising, the Yankees bullpen had been lights out, so the later in the contest, the less our chances looked. In the fifth inning the M’s struck, Alex Rodriguez singled off of ex-Mariner Jeff Nelson, giving the M’s a 3-2 lead, and Edgar Martinez and John Olerud followed A-Rod with back-to-back home runs. The crowd erupted. We were hugging each other, we were hugging the ladies behind us, it was an amazing comeback, victory and experience. Ian’s always been my M’s buddy (at least pre-Lukas), and he and I were able to celebrate an incredible game, at a stadium we so cutely have our names engraved on a brick.

No. 1 – More Like Sojo Mojo!
In what may forever be the most thrilling sporting event I’ve ever attended, No. 1 on this list is the school-skipping, early birthday present, stadium shaking, ear drum bursting, one-game playoff between the Los Angeles Angels and our Seattle Mariners. Down 12-1/2 games on August 20, the Mariners made comeback after improbable comeback, thus the slogan “Refuse to Lose”, en route to tying the Angels and forcing a one-game playoff on October 2 (a day before birthday No. 18) for the American League West championship, and a chance at the M’s first postseason series in it’s 19 year history. The M’s broke first, scoring one run in the fifth inning. They would nearly tear the roof off the Kingdome, when Luis Sojo’s bases loaded double, combined with throwing error, allowed him and three others to score, giving the M’s a 5-0 lead. The Mariners would end up winning 9-1, with Randy Johnson tossing a complete game, including the game-clinching strikeout, and Hall of Fame announcer Dave Niehaus’ famously saying, “Randy looks to the sky that is covered by the dome and bedlam!” It was complete bedlam! I had never, and have since never, been a part of that kind of atmosphere. My parents, friend and I celebrated with everyone. We were hugging the people next to us, behind us and in front of us. People were running onto the field, leaping from the outfield bleachers (see below video), all to scoop up some dirt from the mound, and become a part of Mariners history. It was history, the most important moment in M’s history … until “The Double” trumped it days later.

Go M’s!

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Filed under Baseball, Life With Three Kids

I Like It!

Who had the UNDER on the Johnson Five returning “back home” within two years?

I know it’s only been a month, but I’ll have to admit that unless something drastic happens, the UNDER looks like a bad bet.

“Oh you just wait until you have six inches of snow to shovel off your driveway!”

“Wait until the dreaded winter comes along and your commute becomes a crawl.”

“Wait until the new friends you are making get to know you, and start to tire from your goofiness, wannabe expertise in sports, Star Wars, and Boyz II Men. Wait until you get involved in the community and ask them to be a part of something you’re involved in.”

I know, I know, it’s not always going to be Pleasantville or The Truman Show (two movies from the ’90s that more than a couple of people have compared our new little town to), but …

I LIKE IT!

When we left the Sky Valley I assumed there would be some remorse, some non-pizza induced heartache, some restless nights when I laid awake tossing and turning, worried about the goings on in the little town of Sultan, missing the non-responsive attempts to get the family together for a Sunday afternoon BBQ, or miss inviting myself over to my parents’ house to watch sports. I thought the kids might miss asking Lis over and over again if she could text our neighbors to see if their kids could come out and play.

A little over a month into uprooting my family from the west side of Washington to about three miles east of Idaho, the Johnson Five are realizing it that we may really like our new home.

A little over a month into uprooting my family and what’s not to like?

The weather has been nice. Sure the winds pick up quite a bit, and we get the occasional thunderstorm, but overall it’s been clear days and warm nights where the temperatures don’t drop much and we’re able to enjoy a post-dinner walk, bike ride, or football toss in the park.

When we moved here we vowed to take advantage of the perks our new town had to offer, like bike trails, summer events in the park and a close proximity to everything.

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9.4 miles to McDonald’s, makes the McDouble easier to handle.

In the past we weren’t able to jump on our bike and ride that far without driving alongside speeding vehicles on a two-lane highway, or without borrowing a truck to transport our bikes to a trail that we can ride long distance on. In the last two weeks we rode our bikes to Post Falls, Idaho (19 miles round trip) and the Spokane Valley Mall (15 miles round trip), crossing just one major intersection, and leaving directly from our driveway. Sure, we may have committed child abuse by letting Lukas and Lia peddle 34 miles, but it’s all in good fun, and something we couldn’t do where we used to live.

Lia singing "Let It Go" with the Spokane Symphony - and a bunch of random kids.

Lia singing “Let It Go” with the Spokane Symphony – and a bunch of random kids.

Another perk is having three beautiful parks within walking distance from our house. One Sunday we went to church, came home for lunch, went to the lake, came home for dinner, and finished it up with a walk to the park. Minor league baseball is a 15-minute drive from home, and the surprisingly, gorgeous resort town of Coeur d’Alene is just 20 minutes from our home.

The neighbor kids (and there are at least four that are regulars) do the extremely odd thing of knocking on our door to see if the kids can play, and just tonight, I got to walk 15 steps to the neighbors to watch Monday Night Football.

I’m sorry but … hmm, not really.

Remember how I liked getting involved with too many things? Well, I couldn’t let that streak end!

I went to a Relay For Life meeting, spewed my RFL experience and knowledge, and just like that I may be one of the chairs for next year’s event! It’s actually given me a new energy towards my favorite FUN-draiser, as this is an event that had just 11 teams, 10 that were corporate teams, and is in a community that is primed for this event. Can I get a, “What! What!”

I’ve also volunteered to teach the 4th and 5th graders in Sunday School! That’s right church folks, we wanted to tour a few churches to find one that had things we were looking for: a need for service, small groups, young families, youth and a youth program. The first church we visited was, like us, getting a fresh start with a fairly new pastor, very new youth minister and new ideas. We figured this was the perfect time to come in. The church had plenty of young families, a ton of kids, an importance placed on small groups, and, when someone overheard me talking about my past work with the youth, they let me know about the opportunity to help out with Sunday School. Hmm…I think God led us to the right place.

We have since joined a small group, which for Lis and I, being a part of a small group was a turning point in our faith (thanks Plates!), and love it. There are four kids Lukas’ age, six girls Lia’s age, and a boy Levi’s age. It’s awesome (dare I use the word blessing?) to see how excited they all are to attend church and our small group. Levi, usually a chill lil’ fella, continues to smile when he talks about his new friend. He’s never had a friend before. Kinda precious.

Lukas is slowly adapting to school. It’s been kind of a struggle for him as it’s a new school, with new people, but the aforementioned small group kids have welcomed him into their lunch table, and he rides his bike to and from school with a neighbor friend.

IMG_20140902_212319The one down part about this area is that it’s very hard to get into a basketball program. They love their sports (especially basketball), so getting him into a competitive league has been difficult. In that aspect we do miss our Sultan Youth Basketball program.

Lia has entered Kindergarten, and well, as she’s always done, she’s rocking it. She’s so excited to learn, rumor has it she pulls the old paper out of the recycle bin so she can come home and do it again. She’s always been a quick to learn, so we worried that maybe, just maybe, she may be more social than focused. So far, so good. She gets to ride the bus to school, which she was excited about, and has already made a bus buddy.

IMG_20140916_090406As mentioned Levi has made a buddy through our small group. He loves sharing a room with his brother, and having a downstairs where he can escape to, so that nobody knows he’s playing with LEGOs, Ninja Turtles, or dressing Stormtroopers up in doll clothes.

I’m not the only person that admits, “I like it!” Lis is very fond of our new surroundings, loving the fact that she can ride her bike anywhere. Sure it’s a little odd having only Levi around, but we’re both excited that Lia is in school for a couple of hours.

Me? Well thanks for asking. Work is … work. At least I get to interact with humans and not cardboard cutouts of Danica Patrick. TGIF means something again, and I actually look forward to wearing jeans on Friday. My wedding ring fits onto my ring finger for the first time in seven months (dislocated it playing basketball and haven’t been able to slide it over my swollen knuckle), and personally, I feel the happiest I’ve felt in years.

Call me Truman, or call this Pleasantville, either way I like it!

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Filed under Levi, Lia, Life With Three Kids, Lis, Lukas, Work

Rebranding A Blog … and Myself!

As November nears, so does the ninth anniversary of Lis’ remission.

We often take the fact that she’s still here for granted, using the seventh of April (the anniversary date of her diagnosis), and our annual American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life fundraising event, as the only days to reflect on how her cancer battle changed our lives for the better.

This blog has become a reflection of both her victory and the fact that we overlook this life-changing event.

I started typing a journal back in April 2005, found out about these weblog things a month later, and began posting Lis’ journey as a way to tell family and friends about how she was doing without answering numerous emails asking, “How is she doing?”

All of a sudden people from around the world were sending prayers and well wishes our way, inspired by our story. It was pretty incredible.

In the years since we’ve talked less about that cancer diagnosis and more about Star Wars, my love/hate relationship with sports, and our little family. What do you expect it’s been nine years since she was considered in remission, and since then a lot has happened with us.

That’s why, after nine years of being “Lisy’s Battle with Leukemia” I’m changing my blog to “Life with Three Kids.” Call it the rebranding of a blog!

(Heck, thanks to my PopBlerd! buddy, I was even able to nail down the domain name and hosting privileges for this site. Thanks Mikey! You’re awesome! The rest of you go follow PopBlerd! right now! The dude knows his music!)

Why the change? Well lifewiththreekids.com is easier to remember than mylisy.wordpress.com. Plus, life with three kids has become my favorite thing in life. It seems to be the one thing I’m passionate about, enjoy doing (the majority of the time), and am okay at (again, some of the time).

That insurance thing … eh. The sports thing … everyone does that. The fantasy sports thing … everyone seems to do that too. The writing thing … again, with the Internet isn’t everyone a writer these days? Life with three kids? Now that takes some serious hard work and dedication!

I also hoped prayed thought there’s an off-chance that someone may stumble across my dad blog and think, “This guy seems alright! Let’s sign him to a multi-year, double-digit dollar-per-hour contract for our website.” I wish!

I have stumbled across numerous Mom or Dad blogs (there’s even a Disney show that the kids like called Dog with a Blog), that give insight, stories and opinions about parenthood. Why not me? I like poking fun at myself and my kids on the World Wide Web.

I want to be like Stan … but with less hair.

The rebranding of my blog came at a time when I was focusing on “rebranding” myself as well. When people ask me what I do I want to tell them that first and foremost, I’m a father of three and a husband of one. I mean, who wants to meet another lowly insurance agent? Next time you see your insurance agent, give them an embrace. After all they are people too, you know. Except underwriters.

Our move to the other side of the mountains (I’ve learned that people over here call the west side of the mountains The Soggy Side. The people on The Soggy Side, call our side Idaho), has helped with this “rebranding” a fresh start filled with new people and surroundings. I’ll tell you more about that in the upcoming days. Aren’t you excited?

What does all this mean for my blog? Not much.

Again, lifewiththreekids.com is easier to search for, type into your URL bar (the official name of that space is escaping me right now), and may allow non-family and friends to accidentally come across it while searching for things like, “Why did I have three kids?”, “I hate my life with three kids!”, “Why don’t my only child friends appreciate my life with three kids?” or “I have no life with three kids.”

I’ve also restarted my Twitter account and started a Facebook page (though through Lis’ account since I’m still fighting the Facebook urge – and doing darn well I thank you very much!) that is focused on Life With Three Kids!

IMAG2829If you’ve read my blog long enough you know that what our family does, and what I write about, is usually focused on my life with three kids. I like spending time with my family. We like to spend time together. I like to have them included in everything I do. Heck, Lukas even gave his NFL predictions in my annual NFL prediction post a few weeks back. (Lia, Levi and Lis chose theirs by using the table mat from McDonald’s picking their NFC and AFC champions based on the helmet design. Levi took the Chargers over the NY Giants, I’m thinking he took the Chargers because of the lightning bolt that resembles Lightning McQueen. He did admit taking the Giants because “THE BLUE ONE!” Lis took the fleur-de-lis design of the Saints over the Colts. And after typing fleur-de-LIS I realized the coincidence in her name and fleur-de-lis. Fleur is flower in French, which would mean Lis’ flower, and I’ll stop there before we get into dirty jokes. Meanwhile, Lia continued her curious infatuation with Native Americans. She picked the “Indians!” also known as the Redskins, though I think they prefer … I don’t even know anymore, over “my dad’s favorite team” the Colts.)

Where was I?

What I hope to accomplish with my blog is combining updates for my family and friends on The Soggy Side about what and how we are doing over here, with stories about parenthood, being a father of three kids, being a husband of a mom with three kids, raising three kids in this crazy world we live in, and being a Christian father attempting to raise Christian kids in this crazy world we live in. Yes, I’ve poo-poo’d about religion quite a bit, but for the first time in my life I’ve totally been “Whatever you want God, I’m on your magical ride!” and you know what? I’ve been consistently happy, like for a month straight, for the first time since – I’m going to go with when Lis and I were first hitched. That’d be 11 years for those scoring at home. Seriously, I sit in traffic on the way home with a smile on my face. It’s pretty awesome.

So yes, I will include stories of my faith, and how I’m a continuously struggling, yet growing Christian man overgrown boy, and father.

These four people (the three kids and the one wife) are the most important people in my life, and after spending too much time attempting to include everyone else into our world (what the *be strong* was I thinking?!) I’ve realized, my sole focus needs to be on leading them.

Okay, so this blog may be inviting you into our world now, but … whatever it’s different!

Let’s have fun!

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Sports, Society and Kids

If you’ve read my blog for more than a few months you know that there are few things I love more than sports. My wife and kids being one of them. And actually, that might be it.

As my eldest, Lukas, has gotten older he’s become more and more interested in everything sports. He loves playing competitive basketball (and actually was born with a decent shot), wants to get back into soccer, likes to toss the football, and he and I have gotten into some intense Wiffle ball games in the backyard. Not to mention his “imaginary” football, basketball and baseball tournaments he plays out in the front or backyard of our house. Funny how something as silly as “imaginary” sports and tournament brackets are hereditary. Without going too far off the rabbit trail, for five to six years – when I was a kid – I had an imaginary baseball league with imaginary players (and some of my friends, both real and stuffed), stat sheets, transaction reports, a postseason and more. If I find both the paperwork and courage to post them, I’ll definitely link them to this post.

130926_askbryan_insideThanks to my too-much-nonsense-knowledge of most sports, and his subscription to SI for Kids, he’s also gotten to know the players, teams and positions they play for, which makes me proud when he can look at a Carolina Panther Madden ’15 toy at McDonald’s and assume that the nondescript toy represents reigning Defensive Player of the Year Luke Keuchly.

This year I trained him in the nuances of fantasy football. He did multiple mock drafts, learned that kickers are always taken last, and don’t snag a defense before the next-to-last round, unless it’s one of the top five and you’ve already taken care of your core roster.

Now that the season is starting I’m trying to train him on the fact that nobody is going to trade Trent Richardson for Calvin Johnson. Sorry buddy!

And now that he’s more acute in following the NFL and certain players, I’ve had to introduce him to the reality of football, both on and especially off the field. There are some dumb dudes out there (SEE: Wes Welker, LeGarrette Blount and Le’Veon Bell) and there are some bad dudes out there (SEE: Ray Rice).

Which sucks.

These days drugs and abuse suspensions are mixed in with injury reports and box scores.

I’ve had to talk to him about the drugs that players like to sneak into their body, in hopes of making them indestructible, to “recreational” drugs that are frowned upon in football, but yet society seems to celebrate the use of it. (Have you watched a movie lately? Smoking pot has become the norm, it’s either used in a very amusing way, or used as a way for people to just “hang out”. It’s legal in Washington State, so it can’t be that bad right?)

And now Ray Rice.

Thankfully in fantasy land I told him to stay away from Rice. He’s old and will miss the first two games. He hasn’t asked too many questions – yet, but now I’ll have to explain to him that a player he once liked as a running back is no longer in the league because he decided to knock out his at-the-time, soon-to-be wife, and drag her limp body out of an elevator. The dude didn’t even have an “Oh crap!” moment after KO’ing her. He just stood over her, then dragged her out of the elevator.

As it always has, sport seems to mirror society, or in some cases, like of Brooklyn Dodger great, Jackie Robinson, changes society.

We introduced him to Robinson by watching 42 together, telling him if he had any questions, please ask. It was weird for him to see a time when blacks weren’t allowed to play sports, thankfully times have changed for the better, but unfortunately we still have to hear about ex-Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and most recently Atlanta Hawks owner Bruce Levenson, making stupid comments about race. C’mon now! Just treat everyone the same, it’s pretty easy. Dad loves Peyton Manning because he’s fun to watch, he loves Boyz II Men because he loves their voices, he married your mom because we love each other and have a great time together, not because Manning is white, Boyz II Men are black and your mom is Brazilian … okay, maybe the latter.

Recently Lukas started asking questions about Michael Sam, the first openly gay football player, mostly because Sam’s every move has been all over the news. They were all football related questions, thankfully, because I’m not ready to explain sexuality with him. And not just Michael Sam’s sexuality, but sexuality overall.

His good buddy talked about all the girlfriends he had in third grade – THIRD GRADE! – and Lukas just laughed it off saying he doesn’t ever want to have a girlfriend. His other buddy asked him if he’d rather kiss a girl or a boy. Lukas answered correctly by saying, “None!” It wasn’t until the fifth grade that I had my first crush, in eighth grade my buddies and I made the comment, “I’m glad I don’t have a girlfriend. Then we’d have to do what they want to do.” This was after we lost our lunch buddy to a girl. And it wasn’t until my senior year in high school that I actually kissed and dated a girl. Things turned out alright – I think.

I guess I should look at these opportunities as a way to open conversation with my son about drugs, abuse and sexuality. Sure Lukas is entering the double-digits in his age (he’ll be 10 in mid-October), and his eyes will be open to things like drugs, alcohol, abuse, and dare I say, girls and sex?! NO! But I wanted to keep my son pure and innocent for as long as possible, unfortunately the world seems to be moving too fast for me.

The questions about sexuality – when they come – may be more difficult to answer, but the answer about Ray Rice is much, much easier.

Remember never, ever hit a girl. And nothing good ever happens after 1am.

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2014 NFL Preview: Who Might Rain on Another 12th Man Parade?

Expect more turmoil in the Johnson household when the Super Bowl rolls around.

Like last year Lukas and I will be torn on who we want to win the Super Bowl. Unlike last year I won’t have to worry about my non-loving football dad yelling “Go Hawks!” and taunting me throughout the contest, and that’s not because I moved to the other side of the state.

It’s been a different sort of football offseason for me this year. After sitting through one of my worst sports viewing experiences of all-time (more on that in a bit), I vowed I wouldn’t pay attention to any NFL news. I blocked all notifications on my phone, Facebook feed, and Twitter feed about the NFL. I put my Manning jerseys on sabbatical. I focused my attention on my first love, baseball, skipping over any NFL free agency frenzy, OTA news and the draft. And then came Johnny Manziel.

Darn Johnny Football.

I don’t know what it is but he had me (and millions of others) glued to the NFL draft, waiting anxiously to see who would pick him and where he would end up. I didn’t even like the dude in college, but I was rooting for him now. I even went as far as to make my second stupid NFL bet in four months (my Super Bowl buzzcut was the first), betting a friend of mine that if Manziel drops past pick 8 in the NFL draft, I would take him in the fifth round of our 16-team fantasy draft in August. He was drafted No. 22 overall, I took him with the third pick in the fifth round of our fantasy draft, thus ruining what was a good start to my draft, and forcing me to select Carson Palmer for insurance purposes. UPDATE: Manziel has been benched thanks to a lackluster performance in the preseason and a middle-finger wave to the Washington Redskins Native Americans. Since he and Palmer have the same bye week do I drop Manziel? I’ll keep you posted.

I still vowed to stay away from football in the middle of baseball season, but eventually fantasy football preparations came around and … here we are! My third straight NFL season preview!

I’m no expert. I’m not an analyst. I don’t breakdown film. I don’t throw stats at you (which I miss because 14-year-old Kevin would pepper you with stats to prove his point. Gosh, I miss those days when the only thing I was interested in were sports and stats. Now there are three kids, attempting to please my wife, wondering when we will please each other, work, paying bills, making sure I LIKE stuff on Facebook, you know LIFE!). I do some reading about each team, and when I get my Sports Illustrated I do a lot of reading, depending on my toilet time. But mostly I’m going off of feeling.

Feeling.

Yikes, just realized I am a very “feeling” person. I am always worried about hurting people’s feelings. I wonder how people will feel about everything. I love the feeling that my favorite music gives me. I love the feeling I get when I watch my kids do whatever they may be doing. I love feeling up my wife. Feeling. I do a lot of stuff based on feelings. And after writing ‘feeling’ 11 times I am wondering if I spelled it correctly.

Last year I felt like the Seattle Seahawks would win the Super Bowl. They did (though I had them playing the Houston Texans, who finished with the worst record in the NFL). The year before I felt like the Atlanta Falcons would defeat the Baltimore Ravens in the Super Bowl. Instead the Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers, who defeated the Falcons in the NFC championship game. Two years before that I felt the Green Bay Packers were the team to beat, turns out I was right, correctly predicting them to win Super Bowl XLV.

This year … you’ll have to wait for that answer (or skip the nonsense and scroll to the bottom of this post – JERK! I’m sorry I hope that didn’t hurt your feelings.)

Before I start, a little housecleaning items to discuss.

Gone are the days of Team 1A and Team 1B. I know that caused people a lot of confusion when the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos, along with the hometown Seahawks, were making postseason runs.

“Wait, you like the Colts? But I thought you were a Peyton Manning fan?”

“Oh, jumping on the Broncos bandwagon because they’re in the Super Bowl eh?”

“Wait, don’t you live in Seattle? Why are you rooting against the ‘GO HAWKS’ and rooting for the Broncos?”

So let’s clear this up.

After the Broncos were humiliated in the Super Bowl I decided that I’m going all in on ONE team. This way it hurts less when only one team is throttled and not two. And that team?

The Indianapolis Colts.

I’ve rooted for the Colts for 10 seasons while Mr. Manning played for them. I struggled through their 2-14 season, hoping and praying to replace Manning with Andrew Luck. I rooted for them during Luck’s first season and my fandom was tested last season when the Colts and Broncos faced each other in the regular season. I found myself rooting more for the underdog Colts than my beloved Peyton Manning. And then Luck led them on that wild, incredible Wild Card weekend comeback win over the Chiefs, where I fought through every emotion possible, eventually tearing up when they pulled out the win. That’s when I thought, “That’s it! This has been my team! And this will be my team from here on out!”

I still rooted hard for the Broncos, and had confidence that they would put up a fight in the Super Bowl, but … that’s all I have to say about that. Watching that game (while living in the Hawks Nest) with some friends and family was brutal. I spent most of the third quarter watching a bootlegged version of Frozen with my daughter (Let It Go, Kevin, Let It Go!). The weeks afterward were brutal. Not since John Paxson’s dagger to the heart of KJ, Barkley and the rest of my beloved Phoenix Suns in the 1993 NBA Finals, did I feel such disappointment and heartbreak while watching a sporting event. I couldn’t take it! No more “GO HAWKS!” No more blue and neon green! No more talk about how Manning choked again. Writing this makes me bring back those memories, I must stop, a new season is upon us!

I haven’t given up on Manning. I’ll still root for the Broncos. But only one team’s schedule is in my daily planner (yes, I’m a dude and use one! Leave me alone!) and on my HTC EVO Design 4G by Boostmobile calendar – the Indianapolis Colts!

IMAG1833And those Seahawks? If my buddy scores free tickets for us again I’ll dress the 12th Man part. I’ll borrow that ‘Hawks hat. I’ll bundle my No. 32 James (for ex-Colts running back Edgerrin James, who played all of seven games for the ‘Hawks before he retired in 2009) over a sweatshirt, I’ll stand the entire game, and I’ll scream while the ‘Hawks are on defense. But darnit, I can’t help but admit that I’m holding out hope that this side of the mountains are a little less 12th Man bandwagon crazy, because this team, with their Legion of Boom, and Skittles lovin’ running back, are going to be darn good again.

As I do every year I’ll give my rundown of each division, along with a not-that-bold prediction about each division. Every year there are a couple of hits (and mostly misses) that make me look like I know my football.

Before the 2012-13 season I predicted that the Colts will rebound from their 2-14 season and actually surprise people (they surprised me, by earning a playoff berth), and predicted that the 49ers were the best in the West but that the Seahawks will return to that spot in ’13 (49ers outlasted the ‘Hawks in 2013, then finished 13-3 in 2014 and blah, blah, blah!). But I also stated that Jamaal Charles and Peyton Hillis will rush for 1,000 yards each (Charles 1509, Hillis 309, do I get bonus points for closing in on 2,000 yards?) and that Aaron Hernandez would have a better year than Rob Gronkowski (not only did Hernandez battle injuries on the field, but he battled demons off the field, and is now sitting in prison).

Before last season I said Manning will test Patriots quarterback, ol’ what’s his face’s single-season touchdown record. Nailed it! Manning 55, Gisele’s Babies Daddy 50! However, I countered that by saying that Cleveland running back Trent Richardson will finish as the No. 1 or No. 2 running back in all of fantasy football. Richardson was traded to the Colts before Week 3 and was a complete disappointment. I’m still all in on Richardson in 2014, but won’t be making any bold predictions about him this season.

Quit yapping Kevin! Let’s get to those predictions!

Oh, and to make it more fun, Lukas wanted to throw in his playoff predictions, so I’ll add those to the bottom of this post.

AFC East
New England Patriots (2)
Miami Dolphins (6)
Buffalo Bills
New York Jets

No surprise here! I’m taking Miami because rumor has it they beefed up their O-Line, nearly made the postseason in 2013, and didn’t feel excited about Cincinnati, Baltimore or those Houston Texans. Buffalo, despite what could end up being an exciting young receiving core, and the Jets are still a solid quarterback away from a postseason berth.

AFC East Not-That-Bold Prediction: Kenbrell Thompkins will be singing Aloe Blacc’s “The Man” this season, earning Tom Brady’s trust and passes, and leaping him into the hearts of fantasy owners.

thompkins

AFC North
Pittsburgh Steelers (4)
Baltimore Ravens
Cincinnati Bengals
Cleveland Browns

Once again it’s a crapshoot with the AFC North. I’m taking Pittsburgh because they came on strong towards the end of last season, have a solid back in Le’Veon Bell, and well, they are the Steelers, they can’t possibly miss the playoffs in three straight seasons can they? Any one of these teams can come away with this division – except the Browns. With Josh Gordon suspended for the season, their fans clamoring for Manziel (wait until Week 5 Dawg Pound), and Manziel not being ready for the hype and speed of the NFL, the Browns are still about a year away from serious postseason contention. Look out for their defense though…seriously.

AFC North Not-That-Bold Prediction: Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Cincinnati are known for their D’s. However, Cleveland will be the best defensive team in this division. Too bad about that offense eh? Expect a lot of 17-13 games when these four teams face each other.

Karlos Dansby leads what should be a good Cleveland defense.

Karlos Dansby leads what should be a good Cleveland defense.

AFC South
Indianapolis Colts (3)
Houston Texans
Jacksonville Jaguars
Tennessee Titans

As mentioned I’m all-in on the Colts – once again. I want to pick them as a No. 2 seed, but they have a couple of tough games, plus, despite the so-called improvement on defense, and on the O-line, I’m still not sold that it will lead to improvement. The Colts are still an 11-5 squad, Andrew Luck continues to amaze everyone, which is good enough to get by in this lackluster division. The Texans will be vastly improved, but need a quarterback. I like what the Jaguars are doing (give them a couple more years) and the Titans … will they really have a backfield of Washington Huskies (QB Jake Locker, RB Bishop Sankey)?

luck

AFC South Not-That-Bold Prediction: Ryan Mallet or Kirk Cousins will be the Houston Texans starting quarterback by year-end. EDITOR’s NOTE: This note was written three days before the Patriots traded Mallet to the Texans. Now for Mallet to take over the QB job from Ryan Fitzpatrick and I will have nailed my first prediction before midseason.

AFC West
Denver Broncos (1)
San Diego Chargers (5)
Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders

The Broncos did everything they possibly could in trying to assure themselves a return to the Super Bowl. DeMarcus Ware, Aqib Talib, T.J. Ward and Von Miller the entire season will help the defense immensely. Manning will regress a bit (he can’t possibly throw for 60 TDs could he?), but the addition of Emmanuel Sanders will counter the loss of Eric Decker. After watching the Chiefs fall apart in against the Colts in last year’s Wild Card game, and really since their bye in Week 10, it’s hard to pick them to rejoin the playoff picture. With a strong offense and decent defense, I’ll take the Chargers to earn the sixth-seed. Oakland’s just a mess, I mean are you seriously going to start Maurice Jones-Drew and back him up with Darren McFadden?!

Mr. Manning has a new toy this year!

Mr. Manning has a new toy this year!

AFC West Not-That-Bold Prediction: Fresno State alum, second round draft pick and soon-to-be Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr will be the rookie quarterback we’ll all talk positively about by the end of the season. Seriously, they can’t go with Matt Schaub all season can they? UPDATE RIGHT BEFORE I PRESSED ‘PUBLISH': Carr is starting Week 1.

AFC Wild Card Round:
Indianapolis easily over Miami
San Diego over Pittsburgh

AFC Divisional Round:
Indianapolis over New England
Denver over San Diego

AFC Championship:
Denver over Indianapolis

Denver Broncos v Indianapolis Colts

When last season ended I was quick to throw out a Colts – Niners Super Bowl in 2015. But the offseason happened (and in Denver really happened), the Broncos improved a ton and Manning, still burning from this year’s Super Bowl debacle, will earn another shot at that elusive second ring. Meanwhile, as disappointed as Colts’ fans may be about losing to Manning, they’ll realize that what they have in Andrew Luck may be more special than what they had in Manning. Heck, Manning didn’t continue to take them to three levels of the postseason in his first three years did he? Psst…the answer is no!

NFC East
Philadelphia Eagles (3)
Washington Redskins
New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys

Think the Eagles were fun to watch last year? Welcome to Year 2 of the Chip Kelly era. The Eagles will be high-flying, their defense, already strong, will be improved thus making them a tough match-up for everyone on their schedule. The Redskins, will still be trying to find their way on offense, as will the regressing New York Giants. How ’bout them ‘Boys? They’ll be fun on offense, but unable to stop everyone on defense.

NFC East Not-That-Bold Prediction: Tony Romo will nearly double Eli Manning’s touchdown and interception numbers.

tonyeli

Interceptions on the field. Not-so-much off the field.

NFC North
Green Bay Packers (2)
Chicago Bears (5)
Detroit Lions
Minnesota Vikings

I must be a Detroit Lions fan because every year I want to take them as a No. 5 or No. 6 seed, but the NFC is so tough, I’ve got to leave them out. Odd to say because in years past it’s been all about the D, but the Bears offense will be fun to watch. I’ve gone all-in on them in fantasy, targeting Brandon Marshall, Matt Forte and tight end Martellus Bennett. Still, how can you pick against a healthy Aaron Rodger, Eddie Lacy and Packers defense? I’ll take them in what could be a tough division battle. Oh, Minnesota … I got nothing.

NFC North Not-That-Bold Prediction: A healthy Jay Cutler means that Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte end up as the top receiver and running back in football.

We gonna have fun this year!

We gonna have fun this year!

NFC South
New Orleans Saints (4)
Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Buccaneers
Carolina Panthers

I wanted to pick the Falcons to surprise people (Why?! Why do I always pick the Falcons?!), but there are just too many holes. The Bucs are well-improved both on and off the field. The Panthers went 12-4 last year, but just have only one offensive weapon, and though Cam Newton can both run and throw, he can’t catch his own passes either, so I’m picking the steady Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, and their too-many-to-name running backs as the division champ. I have them as a four-seed just because this division may be the toughest in football.

NFC South Not-That-Bold Prediction: Too late to call out sleepers, but Saints’ wideout Brandin Cooks will win Offensive Rookie of the Year.

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NFC West
Seattle Seahawks (1)
San Francisco 49ers (6)
Arizona Cardinals
St. Louis Rams

Odd to say, but thanks to the loss of Aldon “Da Bomb” Smith (for nine games), and Navarro Bowman, it’ll be the Niners offense that gets them into the playoffs – barely. They’ll need to hold off conference-mates Arizona, along with the Falcons, Buccaneers and Lions. Meanwhile with another ACL tear for Sam Bradford, the Rams will be looking toward Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota in next year’s draft.

NFC West Not-That-Bold Prediction: Welcome to the Wild Wild West! I know ex-All-Pro tight end Tony Gonzalez said the Denver Broncos will go unbeaten. Wrong! The Seattle Seahawks will flirt with the ’07 Patriots and ’72 Dolphins as the only unbeaten teams in league history. Seattle plays most of its non-divisional tough games at home (notably, Green Bay and Denver) and only have to worry about division foes Arizona and San Francisco on the road, along with possibly the Eagles and Chiefs, if you consider those two teams tough. I don’t. Meanwhile, Denver goes to two of the toughest places to play, Seattle and New England.

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NFC Wild Card Round:
Philadelphia over San Francisco
New Orleans over Chicago

NFC Divisional Round:
Seattle over New Orleans
Green Bay over Philadelphia

NFC Championship:
Green Bay over Seattle

Green-Bay-Packers-Seattle-Seahawks

Just like the AFC title match, these two Week 1 opponents will face each other, this time with a Super Bowl appearance on the line. Knowing what I know about the 12th Man, Thursday night’s opener against the Packers will be more raucous than the NFC Championship game, meaning Green Bay, despite a close loss in Week 1, will be tested for the title bout. Aaron Rodgers seems like he handles pressure better than some quarterbacks I’ve come to admire, and has enough swagger to counter the cockiness of the Legion of Boom and their fans.

Super Bowl:
Denver Broncos over Green Bay Packers

Back to the original line of this post. Lukas, for some reason (favorite color green?) likes the Packers. You all know I love Manning. Once again we’ll have opposite rooting interests. This time I feel I will actually be smiling after the game. Thanks to Denver’s D and Manning dreading last year’s result, I’m taking the Denver Broncos in what might be Manning’s last ride into the sunset.

Lukas’s Predictions:

As mentioned Lukas set up his own playoff bracket and here’s what he has in store for this season:

AFC Wild Card:
New England over Kansas City
Cincinnati over Houston

Why Houston? “Their defense is stinkin’ good.”

NFC Wild Card:
San Francisco over Philadelphia
New Orleans over Tampa Bay

Why Tampa Bay? “That was a tough one. They’re the only one that might be good.”

AFC Divisional:
Denver over New England
Indianapolis over Cincinnati

NFC Divisional:
San Francisco over Seattle
Green Bay over New Orleans

San Francisco OVER Seattle? He blamed that on experience stating, “Just because the 49ers have been to the final four three years in a row.”

AFC Championship:
Indianapolis over Denver
Green Bay over San Francisco

Super Bowl:
Green Bay over Indianapolis

Despite having the same prediction as SI’s Peter King (King has Packers over Colts too), Lukas admits that he had this predicted after last year’s Super Bowl, and that he thinks it’s the Colts and the Packers time.

See you in February!

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Moving On …

It’s so hard to say goodbye to yesterday … but I’m looking forward to what tomorrow brings.

I leap at any opportunity to use a line from a Boyz II Men song in any one of my nonsense posts – and this time it was somewhat fitting. Of course the second part of that first sentence wasn’t actually in their 1991 hit “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday,” but who’s counting anyway?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VastXQ_hPb0

NOTE: If you didn’t read my prior post then SPOILER ALERT, the Johnson 5 is moving across the state to a suburb of Spokane called Liberty Lake.

NOTE II: We finally got internet so even though this was written a few days back I finally have a chance at posting it! I’m so excited!

This past week has been filled with all sorts of emotion, a little bit of stress, frustration, and some hope.

IMG_5110Our weekend opened up with our annual church camp-in.

Saturday night the church recognized Lis and myself for our dedication and service to the church. We were honored with a beautiful quilt, and two photos of me and the yutes I spent every Wednesday for the last two years hanging out with.

IMG_5092

The mini-ceremony (not really a ceremony, just Pastor gathering everyone around and then him making me cry as they said nice things about us, so whatever you call that, that’s what that was, um kay?) was emotional, as this was the church I became a Christian in, the church we returned to four days before we learned of Lis’s cancer diagnosis, the church we served in, and the church that became a second family for us. Oh, and the church Lukas and I were baptized in … more on that in a bit.

I attempted to express my gratitude but, in this aspect I’m my father’s daughter, I became too emotional to fully convey the message I wanted to convey. I hope they all understood what I was attempting to say under the blubbering mess I was. I have no idea how Pastor Jeff does it. So calm, cool and collected. I guess that’s why he’ll always be one of the best speakers in the business (or any business). Not fair!

IMG_5172The emotions – and tears – continued Sunday morning when I had the privilege of watching Pastor Jeff baptize my son in Lake Roesiger. Lukas accepted Christ last year, but we waited until he was positively sure he wanted to make the commitment of being baptize, to have him baptized.

I joined him as well, being re-baptized, this time on my own accord (was baptized when I was 8 years old), and by my friend, my Star Wars ally, and my pastor. I felt I owed it to myself to be baptized, not only as a Christian (and 15 years after I committed myself to Christ), but by my pastor and in front of our church family.IMG_5252

That afternoon we had our self-titled “Get Lost Johnson 5 BBQ” where friends and family came out to wish us well, tell us we were crazy, or just have fun and play volleyball.

We had a great time! It was wonderful seeing people from all walks of our lives attend. Family (well most of them, guess a non-Evite – despite a Facebook and text invite – was enough for my youngest brother and his family to skip out on visiting with us before, after and during our BBQ), old friends, new friends, church family, young adults from our youth group, basketball buddies, Toastmaster and Chamber members, our kids’ friends, kids and parents I coached with, parents we met through school activities, what a wonderful blessing to have these all of these people in our lives, and to come out and “celebrate” with us!

Thank you all for your support!

Not one to pass up on making an entrance, my buddy, and Relay For Life partner-in-crime, Jerry Dixon came rolling in after work blasting Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” before following it up with the aforementioned “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye (to Yesterday)” and my mom’s favorite “A Song for Mama”.

IMG_5355A man after my own heart, Jerry always knows the perfect song to play at the perfect time, and he nailed this one! Looking for a DJ for anything, please let me know and I’ll get you in contact with Jerry.

I laughed and, blamed the sun for the early tears. Afterwards he pulled his Bronco to the front yard, as we moved the party to the volleyball “court” and we spent the next few hours, playing volleyball, watching Lia perform “Let It Go” in her bathing suit, dancing, laughing and having a great time.

This was a blast, something I’ll forever remember, and again, thank you to everyone that joined in on the fun!

Tuesday was moving day, and I can’t thank my buddy Ian, and my wonderful mom, enough for helping Lis and I pack the not-big-enough U-Haul truck. Thank you for your immense help! Couldn’t have done it without you … well could’ve, but it would’ve taken forever and Lis and I probably wouldn’t have liked each other for a couple of days.

Thanks (don’t you hate when people just post non-stop “shout outs” to friends and family?!) also to my dad and Erik for helping pack the back-up trailer.IMG_20140805_145018

Wednesday, Mom joined us as the Johnson 5 headed on up to the east side. I had a nice little bonding moment with Lukas and Lia, as the three of us spent five hours in the cab of the U-Haul joking around, napping (well they napped, I drove), and chatting about what we were leaving behind and what we were looking forward to.

Wednesday through Saturday was some of the more exhausting days I’ve experienced. A day after loading up the U-Haul we unloaded the U-Haul. Lis was a woman on a mission, unpacking every box and attempting to organize the house within a certain amount of hours, like MacGyver trying to disarm a bomb. I’m hoping that she takes a day to just relax, regroup and find her smile. It’ll probably be a few weeks.

My parents hung out with us for a few days, helping with both entertaining the kids, and getting things organized. One last THANK YOU to both of them for all they’ve done for us – FOREVER!

UPDATE: We are finally fully moved in and I’ve started work! A job at a small insurance office in West Spokane. The commute is about 25 minutes, I like that I get to work with people and in a cozy office, I’m just having doubts thinking that maybe I should’ve spent more time looking for anything but insurance. There are a lot of businesses nearby and maybe a day or two of passing out resumes would’ve garnered something closer. Oh well. I’m sure it’s because I’m doing something new (and actually commuting). It’s only been a week but we love the area. It’s clean, it’s pretty, bike trails and parks surround us, the weather has been nice, and after two days both Lukas and Lia were playing with neighbor kids. Kinda cool, the old school way of making friends, “Knock-knock, can I play with Lia at your house?” Absolutely!  

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