The Alphabet Wall

Faith started kindergarten this August, and she is loving it. However, she is struggling a bit with learning her letters. So, after talking to her teacher, and doing some thinking, I decided that our blank wall in the dining room, (which I’ve been struggling to figure out what to do with) would become a “teaching space.” Thus, the alphabet wall idea was born.

So, being at home, and having thought that I could be creative, I headed off to a craft store for supplies. I made up my alphabet templates, and then cut the letters out of fun scrapbook paper, and glued it on coloured card. It ended up taking me almost a full week to get it all done! Turns out I may be creative, but not incredibly fast!

At the end of the week, the girls and I had a fun time putting up the letters on the wall. I’m pretty happy with the end result. It adds some colour to a drab space, and has already helped Faith with her letters! Win, win.

Putting up the letters.

Faith helping with the paper flowers.

 

 

 

 

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Picnic in the Park

On Sunday we went to Aldridge Gardens for a picnic. Again the weather was spectacular, and the gardens were beautiful. We relaxed the afternoon away and munched on all sorts of treats.

The kids played while Woz, Em, Scott and I sat and chatted the afternoon away. It was awesome!

The kids stopped for a second so that Emma could snap a couple photos.

The gardens have a nice big lake that we sat next to, and then walked around when we worked up the energy to go for a walk.

The light was gone, but here we are at the cute little boat house looking at the huge fish and turtles!

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The Parkers Steam to Town

Woz, Em and Nate came to visit! Sharon jumps for joy!!!! It was fantastic to have them here to see our little corner of Birmingham. It was SO fantastic to be able to sit and chat and catch up on all that we’ve both been up to in the last few months! It also meant Minties and Chocolate from Australia for me, so there was no loosing there!

On Saturday we went out with the kids to a Railway Museum and took the kids on a train ride. I have to say, the sights that you see from Puffing Billy are slightly more impressive than the interstate that we passed under, and the golf course that we steamed passed! However, the kids loved it which is all that matters, and the weather was amazing, so a fun day was had by all!

All hyped up and ready to go!

 

Me and my girl.

 

The Johnsons plus one! The girls loved having Nate here.

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Alabama State Fair

It’s been State Fair season in the US in the last couple weeks, and we thought it would be fun to get in on the action! We were super excited to check out what they had to offer us, especially since the advertising had been going non-stop for weeks, and there were billboards all over town about it.

The one thing we were especially excited about (and that is to say, mainly me) was that there was an “Exotic Petting Zoo” advertised, and the animal on the billboards was none other than a kangaroo! I thought that was hilarious. Exotic animals – bah. I know it is for this side of the world, but it tickled me to think that we were going to the Alabama State Fair, and the girls were going to get to pet a kangaroo! Alas, my super photo op was not to come to pass – we saw no kangaroos! Sad night for me. The girls weren’t too disappointed though, they fed cows, sheep, goats, and a camel, so they were suitably impressed.

Faith was all about the rides!

This swing ride went SO high! I was biting my nails on the ground!

Emma was happy on the ground!

We also got to delve into the wonderful world of “fair food” – yum. The funnel cake was highlight for me! Scott said mine isn’t as good, which makes for a challenge for me to pick up my game! I could have returned every day just to sink my teeth into another one of those crunchy, sugary, fatty treats! Hmmm, just typing about it is sending me right back there!

Funnel Cake! Oh, the yumminess!

 

Digging in!

 

Not a great shot, but you can see all of us!

 

The girls, smurfing it up.

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Will the real ‘Scott Johnson’ please collect his email?

When I started this new job, it didn’t take me very long at all to discover that I was not alone here. Being given the email address ‘Scott.Johnson2@…’ implied that there was also a ‘Scott.Johnson@…’.

Checking the corporate directory, I discovered that there are in fact four of us in the company: Scott, Scott 2 (that’s me, even though I was fourth to arrive), Scott G. and Scotty. All Johnsons. (There’s even 3 (other) Sharon Johnsons too.)

I occasionally receive emails for Scott (the first one), and he for me, as our names appear identical in the directory: we’re only differentiated by our job title, phone number and email, none of which people look at when Outlook prompts for a decision. Whilst we work in the same building, we haven’t actually met yet.

In one of our exchanges he (Scott) informed me (Scott) that he (Scott) would sometimes receive emails that should have gone to Scott G., and that they could be quite interesting, as he (Scott G.) works for Corporate Security.

The reason that I bring this all up now is that yesterday, I received one that should have gone to Scott G. As it was of a sensitive nature, I thought I should call him to let him know. I left a voicemail, and then a strange occurrence happened: He returned my call – the phone informing me that ‘Scott Johnson’ was calling. I then picked up the phone and said my usually greeting, “Scott Johnson”, to which he replied, “Hello Scott, this is Scott Johnson, returning your call…”

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First Day of School: Grown Up Edition

After the girls had their first day of school experience, I, Scott, have had my own.

Sharon and I met whilst we were both studying Theology and Ministry at Ridley College in Melbourne. After getting married and starting back in full time IT work, I tried to keep up the studies part-time in the evening to finish off my degree, but distance, time and forthcoming children all made this too difficult (I lasted only 1 semester!). I did one subject by distance a few years later, and whilst it was beneficial, the experience just wasn’t the same as the classroom. I eventually ‘cashed in’ my subjects for a 2 year degree that had been created in the time since I’d left Ridley, as my time had run out to finish it all off.

Part of the interest in doing study is that I enjoy it. With the change of life moving overseas, I was keen to see what study options would be available in the US. I have no expectations about starting a masters, or getting credit to upgrade my 2 year degree to a 3 year one, but am just interested in being able to do some sort of formal study.

Another piece of thinking for us was that being new to the neighbourhood, city, country, continent and hemisphere, it would be a great way for me to meet some like-minded people and expand our circle of contacts here.

And so Tuesday night, I started my first semester at Highlands College. (I don’t think you needed a photo of me getting ready to head off, like there is for the kids…) This college is run by the church that we go to (Church of the Highlands), and grew out of its ministry training and development program. It’s one evening a week, plus being involved in a Sunday service on a rotating roster that will have me involved with practically every part of the running of the church (except Nursery and Preschool – that’s reserved for the ladies). Outside of class time there are requirements for personal study, reflection, being in a small group, and possibly the most challenging aspect for me, exercise.

Yep, one of the assessment pieces is a workout log showing that I’ve done four 30 minute workout sessions each week through the semester. They really do take a ‘heart, soul, mind and strength‘ approach to Bible and ministry training.

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Weekend Wedding in Wisconsin

This past weekend we journeyed 13 hours north to attend the wedding of Jessica Bradford. The Bradfords are dear family friends that we have known since our PNG days, and it was SO fantastic to be in the same country at the time of Jessica’s wedding! I used to babysit the Bradford kids in high school, so seeing their youngest get married was incredible! I tried not to feel too old thinking about that!!!

The wedding was fantastic! It was an amazing celebration of these two young people who both love the Lord, and love each other! What a fun thing to be a part of! We had a great time catching up with all the rest of the family as well, which was great.

I have to admit to unfortunately not having very many good photos from the wedding. I really need to work harder on taking photos rather than getting caught up in watching and chatting! I’m sure you all find it very hard to believe that I was more interested in chatting than capturing the day! Ha, ha.

Anyway, here are some photos of the day!

The girls waiting for the ceremony to start.

Obviously the ceremony had Faith on the edge of her seat!

 


Faith sampling the lemonade.

Emma contemplating who's is best - Grandma's of course!

Perry and Sandi Bradford - Parents of the Bride!

Me trying to take a picture - I don't know how people master these! At least whilst looking up you can't see all my chins!

Okay, how grown up does she look with her hair straight?!?

Me and Jessica! She was a beautiful bride!

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And Indiana makes 11

On our trip to Wisconsin on the weekend we knew that we’d end up staying the night in a state we hadn’t yet been to. The two top contenders along our route were Kentucky and Indiana.

After arriving in good time in Louisville, Kentucky, we pushed on into Indiana, aiming for the town of Columbus. When we stopped there, we discovered that the hotel chain we use was full, and that pretty well much was every other hotel in the town. We also met a woman that was heading in the opposite direction to us, and she informed us that the next town in our direction was also booked out. So back on the road we went.

We made it to Indianapolis, but couldn’t find the hotel we wanted, and didn’t want to double back to try and find it, or any other, so we pressed on.

We eventually made it to Lafayette, Indiana, where we stayed the night. Lafayette is famous for… well, the two things we noticed were corn and the wind farm – a large array of windmill power generators in the fields of, you guessed it, corn.

Actually, it isn’t fair to say that Lafayette is famous for corn – we were in the Mid-West of America, where it appears (from our travels anyway) that any spare piece of land is used to grow the stuff.

And so Indiana became the 11th state that we’ve visited/stayed in. Wisconsin had already been counted from my visit there in December, but now the whole family has been there.

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First Day of School!

Well, the time has finally come! Both of my girls are now at school! I can’t hardly believe that Faith is now in Kindergarten. I know everyone always says it, but the time really has flown by! We took some photos of the girls on their way off to school with their friend Skylar. You’ll all note how apprehensive Faith looks at starting her new adventure! NOT!

Skylar, Emma and Faith strike a pose before heading off to school! No fear here!

The girls were very excited about their new shoes that were purchased for the start of school, and insisted that we get a photo of them as well, so I think I would be remiss if I didn’t share it will all of you as well. As you can see Faith and Emma really went for the “less is more” theory when it came to sparkles and colour! Can I here a “BLING”!

We dropped the kids at school. Faith didn’t want us to get out and walk her to the door, she wanted to go with the girls! She didn’t even look back – she just walked right into the place like she was meant to be there, and you know what, she is!!

I came home to a very empty and extremely quiet apartment! I have been doing pretty well at not feeling sorry for myself, but I will admit that occasionally I do get a bit lonely and wish for another voice in the house! I also must admit that I caught myself chatting to myself yesterday! Ho-hum, it begins!!!

I now have no excuse for not having the house in ship shape order, so I have been working on keeping the house work up to date, and I now have time to finish some projects around the house that have been neglected over the summer! More photos to follow whilst I work through them!

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Birthday Fun!

Well, I am officially no longer in my “early 30’s”. Last Monday was my 37th Birthday. I had a pretty quiet day with the girls, which was great, because Scott and I had been away for the weekend, and I was lazy!

For my Birthday, Scott had asked the girls what they thought I would like as a present. Faith suggested something for the kitchen, which Scott thought was a good idea. He asked her what she thought I’d like, and she said, “maybe a wooden spoon or something like that.” How thoughtful my 5 year old is – a wooden spoon – yippee! Of course, had she bought me a wooden spoon I would have showed nothing but excitement at her thoughtfulness, but luckily Scott and Emma were thinking bigger!

Emma suggested a waffle iron. Not a bad suggestion, however I do wonder if she was really thinking of me and how much I would enjoy waffles, or if it was a little closer to home! Nevertheless, we would have all gotten a great deal of enjoyment out of a waffle iron, but again, Scott was thinking bigger! Yippee for Scott.

So, I am now the proud owner of a KitchenAid mixer! Hooray! It has been something that I have long desired for my kitchen, and it will be greatly loved and given plenty of fun work outs! I have also made it quite clear that when returning to Australia, this item will be non-negotiable in the packing process! Scott has already researched what we need to do to run it – we have to get a large transformer – so I’m thinking that it will be an interesting carry on item for me in the future! Ha!

I didn’t want to cook on my birthday, so Scott and the girls took me to the Cheesecake Factory, which is a favourite of all of ours for special occasions! From the second picture you’ll be able to understand why. The girls are out of focus, but I think you’ll all agree that Scott got the right ingredients in focus in this particular picture! Yummy!

I want to say a HUGE thank you to all of my lovely friends and family from all over the world that sent me birthday wishes. I felt extremely spoiled to receive so many phone calls! I was also very impressed that everyone managed to get the time zone dramas sorted out! Well done! Love, Love, Love to all of you, from Alabama!

Me and my girls! They are growing up so fast it's scary!!! Aren't they beautiful?!

 

Strawberry shortcake and Vanilla bean cheesecake! So good!

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