Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Real Meaning of Easter

No worries in our family that the kids might miss the real meaning of religious holidays. Joseph couldn't even tell you who the Easter Bunny is but he can tell you this:

"So there was a tomb and it had a door. And there was a big rock in front of the door. And there was somebody inside. I went and pushed the rock aside (sweeping hand gesture) and inside there was . . . a turtle."

A turtle.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Princess

I hoped to get a sweet picture of the children cuddling in their Easter finery but they weren't really in the mood for that sort of thing so you will have to be satisfied with the following sequence of Margaret:

She never stops moving so the pictures are all blurry. She didn't quite understand that she couldn't look through the camera and get her picture taken at the same time.

We went to the Vigil on Saturday night and the children remained awake for every minute of the three-plus hour Mass. We weren't expecting such a long liturgy so we all slept in through Easter Sunday Mass but I dressed up the children again, anyway, and showed them off at the Open House we always go to. But the pre-Vigil pictures are the best. The cute flower clip was out of the hair and lost before we even left the house and we had to put a pink cardigan over the dress before actually going out. The cardigan was pretty cute, but it diminished the princess effect somewhat.

Happy Easter everyone!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

St. Joseph, St. Louise and other fun

In many European countries it is the custom to celebrate "Name Days" in place of birthdays. Your Name Day is the feast day of the saint whose name you share. We do this in our family, too. We don't have particular traditions associated with Name Day celebrations, yet. This is really the first year that Joseph is old enough to notice or care about things like that. This year was a really big one, though.

The Feast of St. Joseph is a big feast in the Catholic calendar. It is normally March 19th. But this year that day falls during Holy Week and we aren't allowed to have feast days during Holy Week. St. Joseph is important enough to transfer liturgically, however, so he got officially moved to March 15th this year. March 15th is, every year, the feast of St. Louise de Marillac, so it was also sort of the minor Name Day for Margaret Louise. (In case you are curious, St. Margaret is celebrated in November and St. Dominic in August). We also were excited to celebrate Eric's first day off in months and, to top it all off, our good friend, Brett, invited us to a St. Patrick's Day party for Saturday evening.

The kids celebrated by getting the stomach flu.

This weekend has me rethinking the wisdom of allowing children to sleep on absorbent surfaces. The kids' actually have an odd version of this bug. Joseph was sick Wednesday night and then more or less fine for two days. Both kids were sick Friday night and then fine all day Saturday. We canceled our Zoo plans and recovered from the night before by sleeping in until 10:00 in the morning but decided we were all well enough to go to the party. Bad, bad idea. We owe Brett big time. Fortunately, he lives only six blocks from us so when first Margaret, and then, an hour or so later, Joseph threw up all over all of Brett's absorbent furniture, we were able to get them home in a hurry.

Both kids' happily ate their usual Sunday pancakes this morning and are now happy on the couch with Joseph's Name Day gift from us, Tinker Toys.

Tinker Toys are pure genius. We struggle with building toys for Joseph. He really needs things that stick together but he's not quite up for the patience required for Legos. Legos, and even Duplos, take a long time to build up into something interesting. But Tinker Toys get big fast. It even advertises this feature on the can, so I guess Joseph isn't the only kids who gets excited by this. Joseph's own creations in the last 24 hours have been mostly limited to scepters so that he can reign as King Joseph. But the great thing about Tinker Toys is that Eric and I want to play with them, too. I began a space shuttle yesterday and Eric built a swing set and a roller coaster. After seeing that Tinker Toys have the ability to simultaneously occupy both of my children for the entire time it takes for me to make pancakes, I may never want another toy for them again.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


We thought you'd all like to share in our excitement--Eric finished his dissertation today! We are definitely allowing ourselves some celebration this evening but, as I'm sure many of you know, there's done and there's Done.

The writing is all finished as of today, and tomorrow Eric will turn in the last chapter to his director. He's been submitting chapters as they've been completed and, so far, he's had only minor corrections for each one. So we're optimistic on that front. But after Eric makes all those minor corrections and resubmits the dissertation for final approval it then has to go to the other two members of his committee. They have a few weeks to read it and approve it. Then the dissertation goes to two outside readers--"outside" meaning outside the school of Theology (this step doesn't make any sense to me, either). After that he has to get all the formatting approved with the Provost and then he gets to defend the dissertation before the committee and two outside readers. The idea is to get all the problems worked out before the defense so that you aren't too worried about failing then, but it's still a rather grueling session.

If each one of these steps happens in a timely fashion Eric could graduate in May. He will certainly have his defense before the end of May but there are a lot of people involved and a lot of red tape to get through, so we are not counting too much on that May graduation. It's not that big a deal but it would be nice to go to graduation and have it all official before we move on from here.

So Eric isn't quite, really, done but the bulk of the work is behind him and we are both feeling immense relief this evening. Eric has been working long hours six days a week in addition to teaching this semester and it's wearing on the whole family. We're looking forward to a day at the Zoo on Saturday and maybe a bit of downtime after Easter.

We'll keep you posted as things develop. Eric is still job hunting, though there are several good prospects out there right now. Thanks for all your prayers and encouragement!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

And We're Back . . .

All you fans of the The Johnston Kids can thank my grandparents. They spent about ten hours in the car on Sunday in order to hand-deliver their "old" camera to us. We met them at my sister's apartment outside Philadelphia and had a lovely visit. The kids love to go visit Aunt Laura and Uncle Paul and, really, what's not to love? Paul is a real fireman and flies a remote-controlled helicopter. Laura showers Margaret with girly clothes. And they have cats.

Joseph, "fishing" for the cats:

Margaret, hanging out in the cat condo:

Laura wasn't around for the cat condo session. We had to cram in all the really fun activities before the social-worker came home. And, actually, I wouldn't let Margaret do that again. I was pretty glad that Paul, the EMT, knew some tricks for getting heads out of holes.

Anyway, we all made it back alive and we are living it up in the beautiful Washington springtime. I'll try to put this snazzy camera to good use making up for lost blogtime.