Tuesday, December 30, 2008

News from the Johnston parents . . .

. . . because, let's be realistic, we will not be getting a Christmas letter out this year.

Eric had two noteworthy experiences this fall--neither of which should be news to most of our readers. But everything is more fun with pictures, right? We moved here to cold, snowy Minnesota because Eric was offered a pretty neat job opportunity. As I said in an earlier post, it wasn't the perfect job--and it wasn't meant to be a long-term career--but it was a really great job. Unfortunately, that job disappeared in October along with many others across the nation. He was working for a business that could not keep paying him during a rough economic season. It was quite a blow initially but we had some time to think through next steps. Coincidentally, a long-outstanding government case was settled in our favor the same week so we decided that Eric should spend the fall applying for academic jobs and doing some writing rather than looking for low-wage part-time work.

I have had a Mary Kay business since last spring and was pretty happy for an excuse to take that up again in a more serious way. It's really a lot of fun for me and it fit in well with Eric being home more during the day. So we've spent the fall with Eric home trying to work out of our bedroom and me heading out many evenings. It's been a pretty good arrangement for all.

Eric also officially received his Ph.D. this fall. He can now officially be called "doctor." It was pretty spectacular and I photographed the conferral of the diploma for all those who were unable to be there.

The arrival of The Tube via USPS:

The unfurling:

Looks official:

I didn't catch any shots of Eric updating his CV--sorry about that.

Next for us in the New Year--Eric has submitted a fair number of academic applications and has a few more in progress for this month. He is also pursuing some short-term work for the remainder of the winter and spring. And he is networking for adjunct positions for summer and next fall. We are hopeful that a wonderful teaching position on the East Coast will work out for Eric but the job market is competitive so we are also making plans to "make do" here in the Great White North a bit longer if necessary.

I intend to keep working in some capacity even after the newest little Johnston Kid arrives in February and I'm glad I have a way to earn income that is quite flexible--and fun!

And with that, we will return to posting about the children in our next installment . . .

Friday, December 26, 2008


I know. I know. I'm a pathetic excuse of a blogger. I started this blog with the intent of weekly posts and I managed to average that the first year. But this last year has been full of lots of twists and turns and surprises. Some updates on that later. I am resolved to revive regular updates here and I hope to get out a bit of a backlog over the next week.

To begin . . . Christmas for the Johnston Kids.

We really try to celebrate Advent and Christmas as two distinct seasons. The kids were the enthusiastic recipients of two different Advent calendars this year and I saw why these are so popular. It was a great visual for the kids as they anxiously awaited the start of festivities. Gifts arrived in the mail several times each week throughout December and as the pile of wrapped surprises accumulated Margaret, especially, needed a lot of diversion to keep from jumping out of her skin with excitement.

But the big day finally arrived. We brought in a tree on December 23rd. We had hoped to score a tree as cheaply as we did last year but we chickened out on waiting to the last minute because of a forecasted snowstorm. The local hardware store had huge inexpensive trees for sale and Eric brought home the biggest tree we've ever had to go in the biggest home we've ever had. I so wish I'd caught Margaret's face when Eric came through the door with a tree. She just stood in total awe yelling, "Whoa!"

Both kids, of course, had a lot of input on the proper care and feeding of trees.

We decorated through the day on Christmas Eve. Eric let me handle the lights because I'm fanatically picky about light placement. The kids helped me place the ornaments during the afternoon--mostly by requesting that I place all of the ornaments "on the highest branches."

Our Christmas Eve dinner this year was cheese fondue--beautifully prepared by Eric who always ends up doing the holiday cooking because I wear myself out with other preparations by the time dinner rolls around.

You might think we're crazy for combining open flame, skewers, and crazy children but they actually did really well. Joseph was really careful with everything and Margaret pretty much only wanted grapes for dinner.

We open gifts throughout the twelve days in our family. We brought a few to Eric's mom's for Christmas morning, then there is about one gift each day until Epiphany when we give the kids their "big gift." But Eric's mom sent over some special Christmas Eve gifts--new pajamas for all. It was tempting to post a picture of my cozy new nightgown but I'll just leave you with the kids who were very excited about their cozy new jammies. In fact, if you look you can see that Margaret put hers on immediately and wore them all through dinner.

We enjoyed a wonderful relaxing Christmas Day with Grandma Marga and family. Caramel pecan rolls for breakfast, lots of gifts for all, and a fantastic beef tenderloin dinner.

I'll post pictures of gift highlights a bit later and I do hope to get in a few "back issues" from this fall over the next week. Merry Christmas everyone!