Sitting by the window I find myself itching to write. Out the small oval portal of my seat I can find nothing but blue ocean and fluffy white clouds. I am alone, actually the flight is full, I have a couple from Australia next to me but for all intense and purposes I am alone. I have no husband here, none of my four teenagers, no sisters or other family, I am alone. It is almost a foreign feeling to me, a novel concept, a dream/nightmare where I am not quite sure how to behave. I can not remember the last time I traveled by myself. This is not a trip to see anybody, not because I am needed anywhere, not for an anniversary, birthday or another worthy occasion. This outing is a designed vacation to a beautiful destination just because.

I think I am in shock, I have not eagerly anticipated this trip, I have been almost embarrassed to tell people what I was doing. “Who are you going with?” “Whats the occasion?” “What will you do?” Alone? You are going alone? Well, not completely, my parents will be there when I arrive, they are generously giving me a couch to sleep on in the condo of their resort for five nights. I have not been alone with them for five days since I was last living with them twenty plus years ago.

I am going to a familiar place, a fabulous resort in Ixtapa, Mexico where my parents bought into a time share about 14 years ago. I have come every other year for Thanksgiving week with my whole family- my kids, my sister and her kid, my other sister and her husband, and my parents. This is the off year, the year my parents go by themselves. I have never been here alone. I do not know Ixtapa without my kids, and husband, and sisters. I have no experience, no memory, nothing to anticipate doing because I have never done it by myself.

I have been told that I do not take care of myself, that I do too much, that I push myself too hard and need to be better at self care. These are wise words from good friends and family. An opportunity came for me to go to Mexico, by myself and I actually did it. My amazing husband encouraged me to go, my kids said why not? My parents actually seemed pleased at the opportunity to have me alone.

The turbulence of the plane brings me back to reality, I hear the flight attendant droning on about the mileage program. I look out the window, see the ocean, the blue sky and I take a big breath in, exhaling slowly; letting the stress, the hurried chaotic life I live on a regular basis leave. I am here by myself but in reality far from alone.



Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game

My daughter Jessica is now a junior in high school, in eighth grade she was kicker for the junior high football team.  Now she kicks for the JV football team with hopes to be the Varsity kicker her senior year. She is 17-17 in extra points and has two touchdown saving tackles.  Her nick name given by the coach is “perfect”. She wrote the following essay for her writing 121 class is allowing me to share it with you.  I love that girl and am so proud of her choices.

Bend Senior High Football: More Than a Game


The bus rolls to a stop in front of the dreary Marist High School in Eugene, Oregon. Behind the cracked and faded paint, worn away by the constant rain, stands a football field. The vibrant, lively green stands out against the white and black buildings, which happen to be the Marist High School colors. I gather my scattered items, displaced after the three-hour bus ride, and file off the bus with the rest of the team. Lacking clear direction, we congregate near the sidewalk, lost sheep without a shepard to guide us

“Boys, follow me.” Coach Brown’s voice reaches us through the fog. There is a rustle of air as all 30 boys, and the other Bend Senior High coaches, start to walk at the same time towards the voice. Silence settles over the players, just like the layer of mist as they march towards the locker room. Dressing and preparing for the game happens in a hurried manner, and when everyone is done, Coach Brown poses one question to the team. “Why do we play football?” Then, he promptly exits the locker room, clearly expecting us to follow in his wake.

As I stumble out, the rest of the team by my side, my mind is preoccupied with the question. I don’t notice the click of cleats on concrete, the mist which instantly soaks deep into the bones of every person, or the small crowd gathered on the rickety visitor bench. My mind is deep in thought, contemplating what my answer would be. For many people who don’t have first hand knowledge of playing football, the answer may be clear based on preconceived ideas about the sport. Football has earned a bad reputation from all different levels, starting at the pro level, and working all the way down through high school. Professional football is often associated with scandals, money, and hard hits. College football can give the appearance of dumb jocks who receive special treatment, for instance, lower standards to be accepted to the college. Collegiate players then receive full ride scholarships, and still complain about not being “paid”. High School Football is often seen as a popularity tool, a team of dumb boys, and a method of entertainment on Friday night. People with these preconceived notions may quickly be able to jump to a conclusion to answer the question, I however cannot. 

“We’ve prepared for this”…“This is our time”… “Hit hard, go hard”. I am brought back to reality by the snippets of conversation I hear. The words ring out, a call for greatness from each and every player. Like a pack of wolves, chasing their prey, the team sprints to the sidelines, ready to play. The mist picks up to a flat-out rain, leaving all on the field as wet as if they were in an actual shower. As we take the field for the first time that night, our crisp white jerseys, and white pants, contrasted with the glinting, gleaming blue helmets, shine bright despite the rain, our armor as we ride into battle. The whistle blows, and I, along with the rest of the team, start running towards the Marist football team, a carefully synchronized and practiced art of kickoff. My foot solidly connects with the ball, letting out a thwack as it sails in the air to the other team. Seemingly in slow motion, a white helmet of the Marist team scoops up the ball, and begins to return the kick. I watch in slow motion as the white helmets makes it past not just one, two, three guys, but the entire team. Suddenly, as if the slow motion clock was turned to fast forward, the white helmet is in front of me; I am the only thing standing between him and a touchdown. 

Now might be a convenient time to mention I am a girl, playing on a high school boy’s junior varsity football team. Like any of the boys would do, I solidly plant my feet, and take the hit. As I stand and dust myself off, my mind registers the roar of the crowd, so loud, one might believe we just won the world championship. The boys, also known as my teammates, stand stunned for a second or two, then proceed to attack me, jumping, hitting, and punching me, in other words, their way of celebrating. I look down at my once white jersey, which is now covered in mud so much so that one would never guess the jersey was originally white, and think to myself, “This is why I play football.” Forgetting what everyone else believes is the culture of football, I realize why I play. The determination, seen in the pre-game cheer, the will power to do what the other team cannot, the desire for greatness, kinship, and empowerment that one receives, this is why I play football.

A shrill whistle cuts across the field, signaling halftime. Soaking wet, and cold, yet totally excited from the first half results of the game, the boys and I stride into the locker room. As we sprawl out, draping ourselves across various benches and seats, Coach Brown walks up to some of the players talking and checking in with them. A few of the other coaches are talking to players, giving valuable advice, and others still are in a corner talking to each other. Brown walks by every player, sometimes commenting, giving a compliment, or just a touch on the shoulder. When done with this, Brown once again poses the question, “Why do we play football?” I glance around the room, and every single eye is on him. No one talks, whispers, or moves. He has captured our attention. In this moment, I see Coach Brown in a new light, no longer Coach Brown, but Father Brown. He is a dad to each and every player in the Bend High football program. He talks, comforts, teaches, helps, and also poses the difficult questions. Continuing with this thinking, the boys on the team are all brothers, they sweat together, change together, win together, lose together. The other coaches are uncles, providing good tidbits of information, and supporting the role of Father Brown in raising us into a proper football program. In the middle of this family analogy is me, the single sister. While I am off in space thinking about the question of why, and the new realization I just came to, Coach Brown has moved on, and is talking about the game. “We need to protect Jessie, she is our kicker, we need her, she should not have to save the touchdown with a tackle.” This plays right into the idea of me being the sister, protected by the brothers and dad. As Brown wraps up his halftime talk, and we once again prepare to take the field, I find another answer to the question of why. I play for family, the family I found in the team. 

As one pack, we storm the field, ready to play for 2 more quarters. The second half of the game rushes by, filled with pouring rain, clashing helmets, and the occasional touchdown on our part. The final whistle is blown, and the game is over. Tired, yet excited about the win, the boys and I pile onto the bus, dripping with rain water, and sweat from a job well done. As we sit on the bus, patiently preparing for the long drive home, Coach Brown comes on the bus, and says proudly, “I think you have figured out why we play football, for the feeling that each of you feel right now.” Despite the cold, wet, miserable temperature, I feel a warm glow deep inside my body. The feeling of hope, determination, tenacity, discipline, and self-empowerment provide this fire inside me. Football gives life light, warmth, meaning, in other words, football provides a reason to live. 

The bus slowly begins to pull away from the droopy, worn down buildings that make up Marist  high school. A boy on the team, leans over to me and says, “Feels pretty good, right?” I only nod my head, but in my mind, there is so much I want to say. I think about the culture, family and personal gain that comes from football, and believe that every person should have the opportunity to experience something like this. I turn my head back to the boy, and say, “Football really is more than just a game.”


Managing Monday’s: Blog Post Number 365: A Goal Achieved

You should write a book, was a much repeated comment from friends and family. This was often said with a laugh, or a sympathetic smile as I would share one of the many adventures from my life. I have always loved to write and telling stories came fairly easy, but a book felt very overwhelming. A friend of mine suggested I try blogging. The rest as they say is history.

With the help of a good friend from my past, Melissa Ansley, Kari’s Khaos was created. I set the goal that I would blog daily from my birthday for one year. Today is the 365th day of blogs. It has been an experience, a wild ride, a dream come true, and sometimes a total pain in the ass. I wanted to get in the habit of writing again, find out if any one really wanted to hear anything I had to say, and share the good, bad, ugly and usually funny moments from my chaotic life.

I just went back to my profile and below is what I wrote a year ago.

It is my 44th birthday today. I am embarking on a new adventure. Kari’s Khaos has been born. I am committing myself to one year of daily blogging. Many requests for me to write a book, or to teach a class on parenting, or for advice on various topics ranging from menu planning to trans-racial adoption as well as good friends just calling me to hear what is going on in my life so they can feel better about the relative calm in theirs has led me to this adventure.

Do you remember the movie City Slickers with Billy Crystal? He and two of his buddies go on this cattle drive. In the scene I am thinking of he is helping a cow give birth, he has his arm inside the cow’s uterus, is covered in dirt and he pulls out his hand slimed with blood and cow birth and screams “ This was not in the brochure”. I think parenting is a lot like that. In raising my four children I have thought to my self many times that same thing. Then I think, wait, what brochure?

I am a mother of four teenagers. Three boys and one girl. Two are adopted from Liberia, Africa at ages 4 and 5. John is legally blind, Jessie is a TAG student,
Christian is an amazing athlete and Isaac is a great overall normal teenager. All my kids go to public school, I have had to fight and learn the system so my vast array of needs have been met. I love to cook, read and laugh. My husband of 21 years is my best friend and strongest believer in my writing ability.

I hope my experiences with raising kids, working and being all that we are asked to be in this highly social, multiple tasking world will encourage you, and help you see even at life’s worst moments, there are others who have survived, and lived to tell about it. Welcome to Kari’s Khaos comments are welcome and new friends a huge benefit to this blog.

It has been a great journey, thank you for being a part of it. Stay tuned for my next adventure and keep laughing, sometimes it is all we can do!
For now I will celebrate my accomplishment with a drink!

Fill in the blank Friday Johnson style, miscellaneous

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Continue reading

Day fifteen, games


Day fifteen, games

The seven of us sat around the table. John has been talking loudly about his strategy, confident of his plan and then gets saddled with the Queen of Spades. Jessie, poor girl, can not win at Hearts if her life is on the line, and Isaac always wheedles his way in the top three. One of the highlights of being on the island is playing card games and board games with the family. As I type this at the dining room table, Jessie and her Granpa are playing cribbage. I learned to play cribbage at this very table with my grandpa.

We have broken the table playing “PIT”, and I have been in tears laughing as our family tried to explain “Apples to Apples” to a new friend. Isaac is the games master and loves to win. He has a very strategical mind that serves him well in most games. Our favorite in the past few years has been “Settlers of Catan” and night after night here you can find us at the table trading for brick and building roads. It has actually been one game that the winning is pretty evenly divided among us.

This year I bought a new game, “7 Wonders” a complicated game that has us all a bit perplexed as to how to win. It is very fun, and I think a new favorite, but it is yet to be decided. Throw in a game of Hearts or a few hands of Casino and this family is set. I love to play because it is multigenerational, and traditions passed from one generation to another. It is a fun way for all of us to connect and find more common ground. I know that this will be one of the memories painted on their hearts when they think of these summers on the island.

“Well Granpa we are even for the night, one win each” Jessie says with a smile. “I was just taking it easy on you” Granpa replies with a smile. Isaac comes back into the room and asks what game are we all playing tonight. I laugh and say well if last night was any indication it does not matter because I will win. This of course sets in motion a heated and animated discussion about who wins the most. The final word being Granpa because he has lived longer than anyone else and therefore has more accumulated wins. Not a bad argument, I will have to remember it for the future.




Sunday Blessing: Words of Wisdom


Sunday Blessing: Words of Wisdom

If I had My Life to Live Over

If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I’d limber up. I would be sillier than I have this time. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I would have fewer imaginary ones.

You see, I am one of those people who live sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.

I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to live my life over, I would start barefoot earlier in the Spring and I would stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.

~ Nadine Stair
85 years old
Louisville, Kentucky

I found this in a drawer with my grandma’s pictures. She actually lived how this woman wanted to. May I have the wisdom and courage to do the same.





Fill in the Blank Friday Johnson Style: Sports


Fill in the Blank Friday Johnson Style: Sports

I am on the island with my three boys and my dad and so once again my fill in the blank is all about the male point of view. It kinda cracked me up that as I asked these questions the brothers would try to guess what the other would say and had a hard time coming up with one answer. “Ooh that’s a hard one” they would laugh and say one thing, then switch their answer then back, then think of someone, or something else.

What is your favorite sport to play?

Isaac: Basketball
John: Football
CJ: Basketball
Gpa D: Golf

What’s your favorite sport to watch on TV?

Isaac: Pro football and Pro basketball
John: Pro football
CJ: College football and basketball
Gpa D: College basketball

What is your favorite sport to watch in person?

Isaac: Basketball because you can get close to the action
John: Football
CJ: College football
Gpa D: grand kids sports

If you could meet one sportscaster who would it be?

Isaac: Charles Barkley
John: Jeff Van Gundy, Chris Berman
CJ: Kirk Herbstreet, Brad Nessler
Gpa D: Dick Vitale

If you could meet one athlete who would you choose?

Isaac: Lebron James/Ray Lewis
John: Derek Rose/ Tim Tebeau
CJ: Stephan Currry/ Russel Russbrook
Gpa D: Drew Brees

Favorite college football and basketball teams

Isaac: FB = Oregon State Beavers BB = University of Tennessee Volunteers
John: FB = University of Florida Gators BB = University of Florida Gators
CJ: FB = University of Texas Longhorns BB = University of North Carolina Tarheels
Gpa D: FB = university of Oregon Ducks. BB = Gonzaga University Bull Dogs

What is a sport you have never played but would like to?

Isaac: Lacrosse
John: bike the tour de France
CJ: Golf
Gpa D: Ice Hockey

What X-Games or Olympic event would you do if you could?

Isaac: Luge
John: Big Air Motor Cross
CJ: Half Pipe Snowboarding
Gpa D: Bobsledding

What is the most embarrassing or funniest thing that has happened to you while playing a sport?

Isaac: In sixth grade shot a basket for the opposing team.
John: I tackles an official on my way to tackle my guy.
CJ: I was at a basketball tournament on an Indian reservation and with a full crowd I air balled a free throw.
Gpa D: I was in graduate school playing on a golf team and I hit a ball into a tree and it needed up behind me.

What is your proudest moment so far in your sporting career

Isaac: I was sick a lot this season and so when I came back to play they had me on the bench. In my first game back off the bench I scored more than any other player and got my starting position back.
John: Dead lifting 330 pounds
CJ: Coming back from a 20 point deficit at half to lead my tam to a win by one and I had my high score of 34 points.
Gpa D: being chosen to be All League football as a junior in high school