November 12, 2012


Well, it's been about a month since my dryer broke. I really have no one to blame but myself. The poor thing was here when we moved in 10 years ago, and who knows how long it was here before that. I also beat it up after its washing counterpart died several years ago and we replaced it with the biggest capacity washer on the market. Adam even said to me when we got it, "Now Jess, I know how you are. You aren't going to be able to fill this washer and then put it all in our dryer. Our dryer doesn't have the ability to dry a load that big." That would be the point where I rolled my eyes. I agreed, but knew I wasn't going to listen. He wasn't the one who had to do the endless amounts of laundry our family produced. I'm serious. The laundry in this piece is stupid.

I probably should have listened, because it broke at the worst possible time, of course, and we won't be able to afford a new one anytime soon. Oh well. It really isn't that big of a deal. I'm very thankful I still have a washer. (*knock-on-wood*) When our washer broke, I washed laundry in our bathtub by hand, and that was when we only had half the kids. If that happened now, I'd be stuck in the bathtub all day long until my skin fell off.

There are some downsides to this whole ordeal. First, the kids and Adam are always complaining about scratchy towels, stretched out socks, or having one sleeve of their shirts being stretched so far it touches the ground. Do I send them to work and school looking like fools? Yes. I'm a blimp right now, so stretched out clothes make me feel thin.

The second thing that stinks, is that I can only do one load of laundry a day. Well, I could do more, but that brings me to the third inconvenience. Space. I have a clothesline in the basement, but it only holds about 3/4 of a load. I told my mom, I still use my dryer to dry clothes, but this is what I meant.......
Lesson 170: by saying you use your dryer to dry clothes, you mean hanging laundry on top of it = white trash

The next thing that is frustrating is the amount of time I have to spend on one load of laundry. I never realized how lucky I was to be able to go down to the laundry room and rock out about 5 loads of laundry in a day, and only lose about 15 minutes of my life. (Not counting the folding. That takes me hours after the kids are asleep.) Now, going down to "do" laundry takes me 15 minutes just to get the stuff out of the washer onto the line and try to figure out where to put the extras that don't fit. Then it takes me 10 minutes everytime I go down to check on the progress and flip it all around so it dries evenly.

That part wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have little ones who capitalized on these opportunities. It seems to be prime time for sneaking candy and destroying the house. I'm sure you're thinking, Why don't you have the older boys help? I've tried. It doesn't work out. An example for you...Jovie and Stone were going to come down to do laundry with me, so I asked the 4 older boys to keep an eye on the twins. I even told them if the twins got out of hand to come down and get me. It wasn't like I was miles away, I was one whole floor away. I thought everything would be alright. I was wrong. When I came back up, the twins were nowhere to be seen.

"Where are the twins?" I asked.

Marky looked at me and replied, "I don't know. Where are they?"

"Uh, you tell me. Weren't you boys supposed to be watching them?"

"Oh yeah, I forgot."

Frustrated, I went upstairs to find them splashing in the toilet wearing pee-soaked toilet paper hats. Yeah...the older boys are about useless in that department.

The dryer being taken away from me has been mildly aggravating, but I'm not going to complain. We're so very blessed to just have clothes to wash when so many are deprived of that luxury. So, when I feel myself getting frustrated, I stop and say a prayer instead, a prayer for anyone who doesn't have a washer or dryer, or those who don't have clothes, and it even makes me think of those who don't have clean water.I have been so blessed, and it's bizarre, but I'm kind of thankful for my broken dryer because it has caused me to be a tad more appreciative and prayerful, and I can always use help in that department.

Dear dryer,

Thank you for all the years of dried and perfectly-fitted clothes, and towels that didn't rip with a little pull.


P.S. Sorry I killed you.

November 6, 2012

A Johnston Halloween

I may think Halloween is a financial nightmare, but everyone else in my house seems to love it. It was much easier when the kids were smaller and didn't care about their costumes. Now it's as if their lives will end if they don't have the costume they desire.

The Halloween whining started as soon as school did. Adam and I both have a creative gene floating around inside of us, and our kids have all been blessed to have acquired these genes. But this means big costume ideas. Unfortuanely for us this year, their costume wants came from obscure video games. Jude and Marky wanted to be a character called Slenderman, and Jet was insistant on dressing like a Creeper from the game Minecraft.

Adam, being like some Halloween Fairy, saying, "All your Halloween dreams will come true", was up for the challenge. Luckily, Party City made these new costumes called Morphsuits, and one looked close enough to Slenderman that Jude was happy, but there was nothing close to a Creeper that we could buy in a store. This 8-bit costume nightmare is a Creeper.... 
The night before the kids' school parties, I helped Adam finish Jet's costume. I laughed, because at one point Adam stepped back and said, "What am I doing? I need to chill out. This is a 7 year old's costume for school. It's not like some other 7 year old is going to critique my work."

Lesson 165: stressing out and trying to perfect a cardboard box costume because you're scared of what a bunch of 2nd graders are going to think = white trash

I personally think he rocked it.
The kids love it so much it became like a family member. The boys took it everywhere with them, and when Stone first saw it, he hugged it and said, "I wuv you Cweeper!" Here's the Creeper watching Jet play Minecraft with the other brothers.

Lesson 166: a chunk of cardboard being treated like a long lost brother = white trash

The costumes were a hit in 5th grade, I hear, though not many fellow classmates knew who they were supposed to be.

After carving pumpkins, it was time for Trick-or-Treat. Did I mention the kids carved their own pumpkins this year? That is quite an accomplishment. Adam and I have spent countless years carving multiple pumpkins by ourselves, with cramped hands, and kids screaming in our faces, "Are they done yet? Why aren't they done yet?!" The only exception was Jovie's pumpkin. It wasn't actually a pumpkin. It was a big gourd that was bought because it looked like Yoda's head. It was practically uncarvable and caused Adam to break out the jigsaw.

Lesson 167: using a jigsaw to carve pumpkins = white trash

Trick-or-Treating turned out to be an experience, as usual. Because of the hurricane it was pushed back to Saturday, so Brett couldn't sit at our house and give out candy while the twins slept. We had to take a double stroller AND a wagon.

The other thing that turned out to be a problem, was Jet's costume. The poor kid was stuck in a box. He could hardly hear, had no peripheral vision, and couldn't walk up and down stairs. We'd be walking somewhere, then turn to see Jet wandering around aimlessly on the other side of the street. Then there was the problem with his head. Every time he'd look down in a candy dish, his big block head would fall off into the bowl. Adam finally ran back to the house and grabbed some tape. He came back and wrapped a ridiculous amount of tape around his costume. Being in Pittsburgh, we have a lot of hills, and where there are hills, there are a lot of stairs. It got to the point where Marky would go up to a house and say, "I'm getting candy for my brother down there," and he'd motion down to the bottom of the stairs where a kid in a green box stood flailing his arms.

We did make it though. The kids were all troopers, as were our neighbors. I was a tad embarrassed when my family walked up to a house and the man said to his dog, "Uh oh, here comes the rush!"

Lesson 168: your family being "the rush" during Trick-or-Treat = white trash

Halloween may have been a slight hassel, but it doesn't seem so bad now that I can eat my weight in Snickers bars!

Lesson 169: Trick-or-Treating around the block and being able to fill an economy sized diaper box to the brim with candy = white trash

There are some advantages of a large family! :)



Adam and I are usually quite private about our political beliefs. We believe that everyone deserves a right to vote for whatever candidate they feel is worthy, and that is what is so beautiful about our country. I did, however, wake up with something weighing heavy on my heart.

Many years ago I stood in my freshman dorm room staring at a stick with a plus sign on it. My heart sank and panic ripped through my body. I remember thinking, This is a nightmare! My Catholic upbringing was screaming CHOOSE LIFE!, but my head, that knew my situation, was yelling HAVE AN ABORTION!

I was a smart young girl, attending a great college. I had a wonderful scholarship, and was getting good grades. I was going to make something of myself, and my family couldn't be prouder. The other side of my situation, I was in a relationship I had no business being in, and that's all I'm going to say about it.

I thought long and hard about my choices, but in the end, God's Spirit spoke louder and I had the ability to choose life. I wish I could say that everything worked out and life was peachy, but that isn't what happened. Actually, it was quite the opposite. In choosing life, I also chose to see the disappointment in my family's eyes, to feel the judgement of society who looked down on me for being pregnant with no wedding ring on my finger, to be the living stereotype of being "the head cheerleader who graduated and got knocked up and made nothing of herself", and got to hear from many, many people how sad it was that I threw my life away. No, things did not go well at all.

Sure, it may be sad to some who think I've thrown my life away. But in actuality, I now believe to give up one's life for another is one of the greatest privileges you can experience. The past 14 years of my life may have been harder than I ever could have imagined. And my choice has led to much heartbreak and hardships that at times were, in fact, life threatening, but never once, NOT ONCE, did I wish that my son wasn't here. And if given the choice, I would suffer it all over again. I may not have become the person I had planned on being, but I feel like the whole experience has helped me grow into a better person, the person I was meant to be.

Please know that I am not judging anyone who has had an abortion. That is never my place. I am just trying to tell my own story. I look at my tall, gangly 13 year old son, who is a beautiful light to this world, and I am terrified to think that I had the power to extinguish that light. Now that he's here, and I hear his hopes and dreams, I realize how scary it is that I thought my own dreams for my life were more important than his actual chance at living.

So, today I am voting for the little ones who currently don't have a voice, because I'm hoping someday, along with my own son's voice, theirs will also be heard.