Day eighteen, the last night



Sunshine warms my face, and Gus sleeps at my feet as I enjoy the breakfast/ lunch that Christian made for me. I slept in for the first morning of my time here, and had no agenda for the day. Christian had asked that we go to a beach since we have spent all our time working on the cabin. John wanted to work a few more hours on the property so the rest us took off for Bennett Bay. The boys and Gus venture down the beach to rock hop and climb to the end of the bay. Jessie, her friend Jas, and I sat down to soak up the sun.

It was hard to believe that this is my last full day on the island. I am so thankful for the time here, and the house is looking great. I created a little vignette of my grandmothers hats, purses, gloves and jewelry in honor of her amazing collection. I have loved seeing my children invest in the house that was built by their great grandparents. I am so proud of their hard work, and how their investment will pay off for future generations of our family.

We ventured down to jump off the dock, and even though Isaac and John did not jump, we all walked together down the hill and onto the dock. It is moments like this that I treasure. I etch the moment in my heart, and know that I will be able to recall this feeling, this smell, this special time in the future.

We end the night at the lighthouse. A beautiful sunset, a baby seal barking out to his mamma, and the waves slapping the shore. This is a perfect day, a beautiful night and fitting end to my special time on my special island.






Day Eleven on my island, the roles we play.


Day Eleven on my island, the roles we play.

As I sit on the very clean deck tonight after dinner with the four kids, I hear the ferry blast three small honks. It means someone is in his way. It always makes me laugh because what vessel in their right mind would get in the way of a ferry. It’s like a tonka toy getting in the way of a real semi truck. Not smart!

It has been an interesting time as I observe how the three boys work together. It comes as no surprise that Isaac is the designated foreman. Any job that happens, is because he decided that it should. Isaac tells the other two what to do, how to do it, and will take over if he feels they are not doing it correctly(which of course is how he thinks it should be done.) Isaac has a brain that sees the problem, knows the most efficient way to fix it and has a hard time when others do not see it the same way.

Christian is the middle man. He works hard to make everyone happy. He admires Isaac but is annoyed with him at the same time. Isaac try’s to be a teacher but if you do not do it exactly as he says, he gets frustrated and wants to take over. He shows Christian what to do but in a way that is unintentionally demeaning. Christian tolerates Isaac very well, he knows he actually does have the best way to do it but to admit that makes Isaac too powerful so he purposefully does things a bit different. The power play between them is quite comical. Isaac dictates, shows how it should be done. Christian complies for a minute or two then spaces and does it his own way. Isaac then finishes the job, because he can not stand to have it done anyway but his.

John is definitely the grunt labor, and happy with his role. Tell him what to do, give him the heaviest load and he is pleased. He looks up to Isaac, counts on and trusts him to give him a task he can accomplish, and succeed at. John also adds the humor and intelligent conversation as he whistles while he works, asking the other two questions about the NBA and NFL and any other bits of information he wants to share from the pod casts he has been listening to. John has a great attitude, a strong body and a willingness to follow directions. Isaac loves working with him.

They are all so different, and they all have their positives and negatives. I have worked hard to stay out of it as much as possible. In some ways they each know their roles and play them very well. They do get quite a bit accomplished and I am so proud of them. At times, I can see Isaac tire of the in charge role, and he gets snippy with me when I question any of his choices. Christian escapes with his basketball workouts and his need to bug Jessica. John just rolls along, ignoring everyone else when he has has had enough, and retreating to his iPad and headphones.

All things considered they do amazingly well. We are a close family that works together, plays together, and for the most part get along. As they get older, and their relationships are defined less by being in the same household, and more by the relational ties that they have built, it will be interesting to see what the future holds. I am now off to the lighthouse to catch the sunset, and if I am lucky, whales.





Day six on my Island, My cup runneth over


As I enjoy another sunset on my island I am overcome to the point of tears. It has been a perfect day and my heart is full. My sister and her husband who have not been here for many years sit in front of the lighthouse while my three teenage boys jump from log to log, and rock to rock, trying to out run our dog Gus. They push, shove, and scare each other, try to be King of the rock and basically act like the kids they are. It is a freedom the island offers that is like no other place I have ever been.

We have just had dinner at the oldest building on the Island. The Spring Water Lodge. It sits just above the main public dock with flowers overflowing and a perfect view of the ferry’s passing through. It is a long-standing tradition to have dinner here once while we are on the island. We sit on the deck and enjoy good food while laughing and watching the activity on the dock and water. It is extra special because the last time Kathi was here was for my grandmother’s funeral. We sat on this very deck and drank a toast to one of the most amazing women in our lives.

Before dinner we had been sorting through pictures at the house. History captured of lives well lived and a how a house became a home. As I have moved so often in my life, this is the one place that has remained constant since I was born. This is my true north. To share this place with family and friends is a highlight of my life. It is like gathering all the people I love and giving them a piece of my heart. If I can share my island, I can give away the best of who I am, I can share the beauty and joy that fills my soul and in giving it away, my cup runneth over.






Day one on the Island



Day one on the Island

I awoke to the sound of a ferry horn, and sunshine streaming through the trees outside my window. I rolled over and was surprised to see that it was seven. I texted with my sweet husband and then I rolled over again and was back asleep for another hour. Vacation has begun.

Besides being here at the cabin to soak up the extra hours of sleep, restore my state of mind and read a few books, the boys and I have quite a few projects to accomplish. For about twelve years we have had an amazing woman living in the cabin. She stayed rent free but was responsible for the up keep of the house, and needed to find somewhere else to stay when our family would use it. It was a win-win situation and Tina became a very important part of our family.

In December of 2011 she moved to a new home that she and her friend/ love interest/ past roommate built together on the island. Tina is an artist and a bit of a free spirit. She was also a pack rat and the house was stuffed corner to ceiling with books, artifacts, art being worked on, art finished, and art abandoned for another time. She had been given the bigger of the two bedrooms, and of course most of the cabinets and drawers, as we were only there 8 weeks out of the whole year. She also had furniture and knickknacks of her own which made the cabin a bit cramped for space.

This is my first trip to the cabin after she has moved out. I get the honor of making it the Medcalf home once more. I get to pick out what of my grandmas pictures we want to hang, where the furniture will go and create the spirit of our ancestors while bringing it into the twenty-first century. I am thrilled.

I started in the back bedroom where we have put most of our stuff. When my grandma died, my sisters and I did a huge clean up, go through the house, have a garage sale thing. What we have left is a small smattering of china, art, books and memorabilia. Still it takes time to go through, clean up, dust off, and decide what we want to keep and what we are willing to give away. Not to mention the drawers full of pictures, slides, and letters we chose not to deal with earlier.

It feels good to be productive and we did get the back room done. The book-case that had been ready to fall down was taken out thanks to my handy and strong boys. The queen bed was moved into the bigger empty bedroom, and things rearranged to make room for the twin beds that have been ordered. I sorted through thousands of pictures and though it was difficult threw out the vast majority. My biggest suggestion for all you photographers out there is labeling people, giving specific dates, and location are by far the most important thing you can do for anyone who loves you.

I’d say it was a productive day, still made it to the beach for Gus to chase his ball and Isaac to show off his rock skipping talent. The more physical work is coming but today I celebrate the gift of having the home be the Medcalf Passview in a more physical form than it has in a long, long, time



Saturday Story Time: I see you and I am blessed

Saturday Story Time: I see you and I am blessed


I found this when I was looking through some old documents tonight hoping for inspiration for my blog.  The man I married has done so very much for our family and for me.  I wonder how often we forget to say the simple things because we think the other already knows how we feel.  I wrote this over four years ago, and only a few things would need to be changed today.  His job now takes him away from us on a weekly basis and instead of pouring his heart into his sermon’s and congregation he ministers to families at their greatest time of need in the hospital.  His sacrifices, his commitment to our family and these now teenage children has not wavered. I see him and I am blessed.  Who do you need to tell, not before it is too late, but simply because you have been blessed by who they are.


To my dear husband,


There are times when I am sure it feels like you are all alone and your work goes un- noticed and un-appreciated.  This is not true, so hear me when I tell you:


I see you and I am blessed

I see you in the morning when you are tired and want to stay in bed,

But you get up anyway,

I see you and I am blessed

I see you making sure that the boys know you love them before they go off to school,

I see you and I am blessed

I watch with amazement as you juggle your office from the church facility to home so you can be here for the dogs, kids and me,

I see you and I am blessed

I notice your commitment to heating our home, your worried eyes as you see the kids and want to make sure they are warm,

I see you and I am blessed

I have observed your skills as a man of the house,

doing our laundry, cleaning up the kitchen, never complaining as you continue through the weekly grind,

I see you and I am blessed

I am aware of your commitment to this wonderful church,

called Cascade Covenant.  A gift from God that you have sweat blood and tears over for the past 7 years,

I see you and I am blessed

I see the joy that you receive from giving to others,

your unselfish demeanor that guides our lives,

I see you and I am blessed

I observe the countless ways you labor with love to make our home a place of refuge, joy, peace and love,

I see you and I am blessed

I see you when you do not think I am looking and I feel honored to be the receiver of your desire, devotion, love and sense of humor these past 17 years,

I see you and I am blessed

I have observed your walk with God, your integrity and desire to always do the right thing,

I see you and I am blessed

I notice the time, consideration, brain power, research, prayer and intimacy with our savior that brings an incredible message to your

church family, week, after week, after week

I see you and I am blessed

I am aware of the passion and competitive nature that brings a pride unbridled of your children and their success as athletes & students,

I see you and I am blessed

I know the tears you have cried as you have hurt for John, not only for his vision but for his story and his journey to manhood,

I see you and I am blessed

I take in the effort you put in on a daily, sometimes hourly basis to do what it takes to make our living here in Bend possible,

I see you and I am blessed

As we go to bed each night, having been honored with another day

I see you and I am blessed


I truly am the most blessed woman and I love you more than I can say

do not ever forget, wonder or reflect on your incredible life without knowing,

I see you and I am blessed







Saturday Story Time: Sports, Traveling, and Family



I sit outside on the grass. Gus is with us this trip and so I want to give him as much time out of the car as possible. From where I sit I can hear the buzzers from the different courts going off, the squeak of the sneakers on the court and male voices indistinct but clearly coaching. I do not have to be in the gym to know the smell, the sweat, the emotion that is rising to the top of the building and leaking out the sides. This scene is going on all around the country, for our family it is basketball. For other families it may be gymnastics, volleyball, a chess tournament, or a jazz band concert. It is the life of any family that has kids that are involved in any extra curricular activity.

As I continue my time outside of the arena, kids of all ages come by. Dad’s and coaches always talking about the game that just finished. Discouraged, encouraged, heads low, big smiles, I see it all. Swaggering, man-child young men, with beards and tattoos, spinning the ball on a finger and swearing about a bad call. Little boys, holding on to their mom’s hand, as they excitedly relive the one shot they made.

This weekend was a short trip. Just a two and a half hour drive. Others, are much further. The ride to the tournament is always more exciting than the ride home and the car smells so much better on the way their than the way back. I put Gus in the car, walk to the entrance. I pay my five dollars and enter the gym. Today it is at a basketball facility called The Hoop, more often, it is at high school gyms. The format is the same, no matter where they play. It is either hot, or very cold. It is loud, and whistles are hard to distinguish from one court to another.

We watch our children compete, and yell at the Refs. We celebrate their victories, and complain about their losses. The ride back to the hotel or home is very quiet, or very animated depending on the outcome. Christian is always quick to thank you for coming to his game. He loves to have you there, and even though he rolls his eyes at my big mouth, he makes sure we know he is aware of the sacrifices we are making to give him the opportunity to play. Isaac is off with another team at a different tournament. In June “Summer ball” starts and they will be on the same team again. Jessie will play as well, so the juggling begins again.

These weekends are time-consuming, expensive, and at times, very stressful. These weekends are fun, the friendships made are special, and the competition and exposure for our kids is important. We are lucky because both Scott and I love the game of basketball and road trips are a way of life for us. I often get asked how we manage with four children involved in multiple sports. I guess we do not think about it that much, you just do it.

As a family we bond as we share in each others victories, and defeats. We have conversations on the trips that do not happen any other time. We share in the love for a game and our love for each other. We have made choices, and though it sometimes makes me crazy, and I think I hear basketballs bouncing in my sleep, our family is closer and stronger because of the sports involved life we have chosen.



A Black Cloud Week

The black cloud seemed to follow me everywhere this week. You know the one where every tiny thing you think is just one step takes one hundred? That was this week. The kids are normal teenagers, but every little thing they do not do seems like a gigantic war against you personally. One quick phone call ends up being three hours of holding, and elevator music to answer a question that they got wrong in the first place. The dog decides that you do not have quite enough on your plate, so he rolls in the mud, and covers your window in smeary dirt because you will not let him in the house. You know the kind of week.

It’s the week when the weather changes, and you step in gum in your favorite shoes. It just happens. My week has been full of these kind of moments and more. Isaac tweaked his bad knee again, Jessie, who is usually my sanity life line, had a couple of typical teenage reactions to me this week. She texted me “Yeah, Yeah” four times in one conversation, and ended it with “Whatever.” Christian, bless his heart, failed his permit test for the fourth time. Everybody I talked to had some sort of crisis big and small. Scotty was incredibly supportive, but I know he feels guilty he can not be here, and I feel bad complaining when he is sacrificing so much to help us remain in Bend. Lila was moody and well… you get the idea.

Some days are just so, I don’t know, daily. I have fought depression since I was a teenager. I take antidepressants and over the years have been learning the power of self-care. I have walked three times this week, taken my vitamins, tried to get enough sleep, and yet, still struggled to keep my head above the rising water. My tolerance level is pretty high, and I can juggle a whole lot but this was just one of those weeks.
You know the type where all those things you swore you would never do, or say like you parents did, and you find them coming out of your mouth. The times when you wonder which came first, kids or alcohol? There are weeks like that. I had one this week.

Tonight I met a friend for a drink, and we sat for three hours lamenting our busyness, the joy and despair of our kids, and parents, getting older. We shared our nightmare of a week with each other, and both listened in horror to what the other one had to go through. We laughed, cried and laughed some more. We tried to out do each other with the worst of stories. It is always good to know someone else struggles as much as you. They think you are amazing for all the things you manage, and you thank God you are not having to deal with what they are.

We left after those three hours in the same exact position we were before we met. We both still had too much to do, in too little time. I still have four teenagers, a dirty dog, and a schedule that looks like a subway station at rush hour. She still has to deal with all her craziness as well. These three hours did not change anything, they changed everything. The cloud has not gone away, but now instead of focusing on the darkness, I can once again see, that rain, is what makes the flowers grow.

Fill In the Blank Friday With a Johnson Twist

A friend of mine started doing Fill In The Blank Friday’s. I have really enjoyed them, and thought maybe I would give it a try. My twist on it will be the blanks come from me and they will be filled in by family members. This week John and Christian graciously said yes to this new idea. It was actually really fun to hear their answers. Just another reflection of their unique personalities. Hey this might really catch on and become the new “thing” in communication and understanding your kids.

When I asked John who is 16 and my least communicative child, he was like okay, but don’t make the questions hard. I told him he did not have to think, just whatever came to his mind. Christian my 15-year-old who has alway been my “Curious George”, wanted me to ask more questions after the ten and then asked my answers for them. I wonder what Gus our faithful dog would say … hmmm not a bad idea!

John’s Fill in the Blank Friday:

The thing I like most about myself… No Idea

The thing I like least about myself… No Idea

The best part about being in the Johnson family… Its Complications

The worst part about being in the Johnson family… Its Complications

If I had to move to a different country I would choose… Jamaica or Brazil

Other than sleeping I spend the most time… Watching sports

When I need to relax I… Watch sports

My favorite part of our house is… The TV room and basketball court

The funniest person in our family is… Isaac

My mom’s blogs make me… I don’t know, I don’t read them much

Christian’s Fill in the Blank Friday:

The thing I like most about myself… I am a giving person

The thing I like least about myself… I am short

The best part about being in the Johnson family… Support and Love

The worst part about being in the Johnson family… The Arguments

If I had to move to a different country I would choose… Canada

Other than sleeping I spend the most time… Playing, watching, or reading about basketball

When I need to relax I… Read and listen to music

My favorite part of our house is… My bed and the basketball court

The funniest person in our family is… Isaac

My mom’s blogs make me… Happy, because they make her happy

May 8, 2012, 11:09 pm
Filed under: blessings, child care, dogs, friendship, humor, love, Parenting, pets | Tags: , , , , ,

My little Lila turned three on Sunday.  Now of course she is not mine, she is the daughter of Adam and Sara, two amazing people whom I love dearly.  Lila is also the sister of Hannah who is pretty much the best big sister I have ever seen.  When I started taking care of Lila she was just three months old.  Now she is three years old.  Wow! Time sure does go by quickly.  I went to her party on Saturday and did some face painting. It was very fun and she is such a happy girl.  Here is my acrostic for her.


Laughter is her most used form of communication

Irresistibly cute, and very aware of it

Lover of all animals, especially her Bunny and Gus Gus our dog

An imp who loves to push buttons, and see how much she can get away with



Moving constantly, why walk when you can hop, skip, tap, or run

Affectionate and free with her hugs, kisses and love

Y, spelled a bit different but still her favorite question and answer. “Why?  Why Not? Why Yes?”

The Roller Coaster To Letting Go

“Seriously, do you have to ask me every day about my grades? I know what you expect, I have it under control” Isaac says to me in an exasperated voice. We were catching up on the weekend and I was trying to get a handle on the week coming up.  Isaac was on my bedroom floor with Gus our dog on top of him.  I start to reply, and stop.  I think of a million things I want to say, and  just remain quiet.  This is extremely difficult for me.

John, Jessie, Isaac and I are sitting down together for a meal for the first time in what feels like years, but is actually about a week.  Christian is at a basketball practice, the NBA play off’s are on and Isaac is mad that I am making him have dinner with us when he could be watching the game.  That is what DVR’s are for, I said.  “You seriously nag a lot” Isaac announces at the dinner table. He then goes on to ask John if he remembers that time over Spring Break when Jessie and I were gone and just the boys were in the house, and I had told them all they needed to get done, and they did it before I got home, and nobody was there to nag them about it.  Wasn’t that great?

Then out of the blue Jessie asks him if he is going to move out when he is 18.  Now my mother alerts are going off loudly.  What did she just say? Isaac turns 18 in October, he would never move out before he finished high school.  Where would he go?  I feel a slight panic in me, and my blood pressure is going up.  “You could move in with Troy” she says with a smile.  Now I am white as a sheet, now I am having flash backs from the day he was born, now I am sure I have lost my baby and first-born child as soon as October hits.

My defense of sarcasm kicks into gear.  There is no way you could make it on your own.  Too many bills, no car, what would you eat?  You could not live on your own your senior year in high school.  Isaac of course counters with he could do whatever he wants, he would be 18. He would be an adult and he could do it if he wanted to.  I am stunned, when did this happen? I am a nag, so now my son, my first-born child, wants to leave the nest?

The conversation moves on but I do not. I am back in the birthing process, praying for a healthy boy.  I am reading “Bam Bam Bam” for the one-hundredth time.  I am laughing as he learns to talk.  I am in awe of his Lego creation. This can not be happening.  I mean of course we are talking about colleges and we do have four teenagers but…

After dinner I play a few rounds of Family Feud with Isaac on his Ipod.  He has now moved back to the family room and is watching his beloved NBA playoffs and playing this game.  He has brought his dinner plate with him as he wanted more but did not want to stay at the table.  I get up to go, and bite my tongue to keep myself from “nagging” him about making sure it gets in the dishwasher. I am not a nag I think to myself.  What if that is all he remembers about being in our family is that his mom was a nag?

I go to sleep praying that he will stay until he graduates, maybe even longer.  I wake up after a good night of sleep.  I come down stairs to get going on the day.  The kitchen counter looks like crap, Isaac was supposed to clean it before bed.  I go to let Gus out, and in the family room I find his dirty plate, and cup.  Isaac’s shoes are on the floor and the couch looks like it has been hit with a bomb.  I try to find my happy place.  I try to remember how worried I was that he might leave.  I try to find those motherly feelings of compassion and love.  I fail.  When does he turn 18 again?  Not soon enough.