July 31, 2015

On the Countdown to School!

I now wake up at 5am every. single. day. Kill me. But, really, ugh! It's pretty much the worst. Honestly, I love it though. Only for the fact that I don't get to waste the day away and I get to see part of the sunrise, and that's just beautiful.

Aurora is (mostly) all smiles in the morning and Dan and I have gotten into a good routine of helping each other get out the door on time.

Right now we only have one car, so this has pretty much been our schedule:

Drive 20 miles to drop Dan off at work by 6:30am.
Kill some time driving super slow and creepy-like on the streets of Parker so I don't take Aurora to the babysitter too early.
Drive back 10 miles to drop off Aurora at the babysitter (whom she is absolutely loving--basically, Esther is the best... and Desiree, who fills in when Esther can't) by 7:00am.
Then drive back 10 miles into town to do meetings at the high school for new teacher orientation by 7:30am.

THEN Dan and I are off at different times, so I leave the car with him in town, and I catch a ride with my cool new co-worker, Katie (who reminds me of my most wonderful cousin, Melissa--yeah, Melissa, I know you're probably reading this so I'll tell you all about why later!), for the 20 mile drive back out to my school for meetings there.

Later, Dan picks up Aurora on the way back home, and then we ALL work on getting my classroom ready until late and we go home for a late dinner and an early bedtime, so we can do it all again the next day!

Phew! Just typing that made me tired... Oh, wait, maybe I'm tired because I'm up past my new bedtime of 10:00pm... Yeeeaaaahhhh...

Anyway, that's been our crazy schedule for the last week and next week, we bump it up to needing to LEAVE the house by, at the latest, 5:30am, so Dan can be to work by 6:00am to drive the school bus.

Speaking of Dan, I'm going to brag on him for a minute. He hates it when I do, but I don't care! The man deserves some recognition, because he's just freaking awesome!

Dan took his final driving test to get his CDL (commercial driver's license), and he crushed it! For real! He got 100% and he's the only one the instructor has seen! So, pretty much, if you want safe kids, have them ride Dan's bus! I'm super proud of him!

He got his bus route and he'll be driving one of the three routes for my school, so that's exciting! He'll get to know my "kiddos!"

haha so I had to say "kiddos", because I've recently observed that that is the word here. I don't know if that is an Arizona thing, or a Parker thing, or I've just never noticed many people referring to our students as "kiddos", but they ALL do it here! haha So if I start calling my students, my "kiddos"... yeah, you all know where that came from...

Anyway, back to Dan... the other day, I finished with meetings at my school and I text Dan on the way back to my classroom asking if he'd be able to bring Aurora and come to the school to help me with my room. When I reached my classroom, he was already in there, and he had managed to get ALL my student desks cleaned (they had permanent marker on them)

Today, he helped me put up a "Blast Off To Reading!" bulletin board design in my room and it looks fantastic! I'll have to post a picture later of that so you all can see his great work! AND he wrote down the title and the author for every. single. chapter book I have in my classroom library, and that's a lot of books! (THANK YOU AGAIN FOR THE BOOKS, MOM!)

Aurora has been SO patient and flexible with my crazy, new teacher schedule!

AHHH! Her and Dan win the prize for Best Family! I mean it! You have no idea how much I love them!

You guys, school starts here on M-O-N-D-A-Y. MONDAY! That is in 4 days!! Oh. My. Heck! 

I'm so excited and nervous and overwhelmed and enthused and just a whole bunch of emotion right now! 

Seriously though, this is what I am supposed to be doing. This school year is going to be crazy and busy and a learning experience, but I think it will go so well! I already love teaching!

July 20, 2015

Happiest Moments

Today I'm definitely feeling the love for my husband, Dan.

We were watching t.v. together tonight and some guy was walking along side his wife and said, "That was the happiest moment of my life!" about some time when he accomplished some thing (yada yada) and Dan said, "Well, obviously the wedding wasn't that great!" haha

So that got us talking about what our "happiest moments" in life were...

We both said we had a tie with two moments; our wedding day and the day we became parents. But Dan said that days didn't count; it had to be a specific moment. And for the next hour or so after that, we were able to relive our wedding day and the day Aurora was born, as we discussed some our "happiest moments" on those days.

It was perfect.

I look back on all we've been through in these short 4.5 years of marriage, and, wow, we've really had it good! I mean, like everyone, we've had our share of hard times, but I'm more in love with Dan now, than I was then, AND we now have the sweetest little girl in our lives to add to our love.

There are so many moments each day, that make me happy I married my Dan, but over the last couple days here are some reasons:

♥He has been absolutely instrumental in getting my classroom ready for the school year! Honestly, I would NOT be ready for students to be in my classroom without him!

♥We found a new show to watch called Impractical Jokers and it was so fun and relaxing to just die laughing, like really laughing, over the stupid things they do on that show. If you've never seen the show, you'll have to watch it... Dan and his friends/brothers could do the show... But really, I love laughing with Dan!

♥He is always willing to serve someone and he's so friendly. It's been great to get to know all our new neighbors, ward members, and co-workers because Dan has a way of making everyone feel like they've been good friends with him for years. He has jumped right in when anyone is in need, no matter how long he's known them and I'm so impressed.

Yeah, so there's my mushy post for the day... Don't worry... I won't make this the only blog post for the week haha

July 17, 2015

Arizona Living

Oh, hey there, blogging world!
Did you forget about me?
Did you forget about us?
I hope not!

I never forgot about you... I know that a move or two and no internet connection has really hindered our relationship, but I promise to do better!

For now, I'm shooting for once a week posts about the crazy, everyday lives of the 3 Johnson's, and hopefully, that will keep our relationship going strong!

So, a whirlwind update will start right... about... now!

On April 22nd, we moved back home to Cedar City and lived with my parents while we figured out where we wanted to be and while Dan helped out his dad, Steve, with work as he finished out his chemotherapy for Cancer.

That went great! We loved being near both families, and we especially appreciate my family for making that sacrifice to have three added house guests for an extended stay!

We definitely made the most of our time in Cedar, even making frequent visits to St. George, spending much needed time with all our family and friends... because we also made a major family decision while there that would move our family 6 hours from home, to a whole new state!

Dan and I decided I'd put my teaching degree to use and I'd apply for elementary education jobs. I first applied in Southern Utah to stay near home, but the more we thought about it, the more we felt we needed to do something else. I joined a great website for teachers that lets you select states you'd be willing to work in and all the jobs available in those areas--I put in all states surrounding Utah and quite a few jobs came up.

We researched those places and weren't feeling good about any, until jobs came up in the small town of Parker, Arizona.

We'd never been to Parker.
It's pretty much as big as Parowan, Utah... small.
We had no idea why Parker sounded good.

But I sent in my resume, and the principal of a school in the district contacted me to set up an interview.

I interviewed over the phone and it just. felt. right.

Two days later, he offered me the position as the new third grade teacher at the school and two days after that (and much praying and discussing), I accepted!

With a job in place and a home to rent from the school district, we made plans to move to Parker, AZ!

Dan worked his booty off to get our family prepared to move and I am so grateful for him and his willingness to support me in this new venture!

On June 22nd, we packed up our Budget moving truck and our family of three, and we were on our way to our new home... having NEVER seen it before! We broke the trip into two days, and stayed one night in Las Vegas, Nevada at our friends, Dan and Amber Shoemake's (that was so fun!).

On June 23rd (my birthday!), we made our way from Vegas, down through California, and across the Colorado River into the Colorado River Indian Tribes land and outter farming communities of Parker, Arizona to our new home right down the street from my new elementary school.

The drive was desert views; barren, harsh, desolate, and Dan and I were nervous as ever as we awaited the sight of our new area, but I will never forget the beautiful views of HUGE palm trees, gorgeous green farm fields as far as the eye can see, and the refreshing, blue water of the Colorado River as we came into Parker. Wow! Our nerves were immediately calmed and we were ready for the beautiful adventure we had ahead.

Fast forward to almost a month of Arizona living and we are loving it! We have been SO blessed and I know, our prayers are being answered! THIS is where our family needs to be. So many things have fallen into place; it's insane!

♥We have been able to see so many beautiful sights all up and down the Colorado River; from Lake Havasu City down to Yuma.
♥Our only neighbors when we arrived were my principal, Brian, his wife, Heather, and their son, Tillman, and they have made us feel so welcomed!
♥Despite having to first move into the house next to the one we were really supposed to move into, and then a week later, having to move again into that house, we were blessed with a cute little 3-bedroom home to live in!
♥My classroom is HUGE and there is SO much stuff there already for me to use...I am so happy, I could cry!
♥Dan got a job with the school district at the bus garage driving school bus for the school year almost immediately, AND they offer paid training! Then today, he was offered a position in their warehouse for the hours in between bus routes, so that we can successfully navigate living 20 miles outside of town, having one car, and one spouse work in town and the other 20 miles out.
♥We found TWO wonderful babysitters for Aurora; one Monday through Friday, and one as a fill-in on the days the other can't. She will get to experience so many fun things with both and friendships have formed between us already!
♥We have been blessed to be in a small ward, where we feel like family; the ward party is tomorrow and then Sunday, we've been invited to dinner with another family in the ward!
♥Dan and I already feel so much closer to one another, as we've had to rely on each other more being away from everyone and everything we know... Our family relationship is already growing stronger and we've become better friends!
♥And although, moving is always financially stressing, we have been able to make it...

Blessed! We are blessed!

So that's the fast version of our lives over the last month. It's different than Utah, but we love it.

AND as of today, it's officially official... We both have Arizona driver's licenses! haha

OH! And I helped another guy rescue a scared and lost little baby boy from the middle of the street today! I was driving to the park with Aurora when I drove past a boy around Aurora's age wandering in the street in nothing but a diaper and large shoes... in 104° weather. So I continued around the block to see if I could see some family (no luck) and as I came back around to the boy, I pulled up to a man in his car who had the police on the line to report it. We talked briefly and I let the man know that I would get the boy from the street while he was on the phone with the police department, then together we waited for them to show up.

By the time the police arrived, the cute and sweaty little boy was clinging to my neck crying as I held him in my arms and wouldn't budge. The other man gave his statement and left. Then I waited with the boy and the police officer for Child Protective Services to arrive since there was no sign of his family. Luckily, I got the boy to drink some water and got him cooled off a bit in the air conditioning of my car... and then just before CPS arrived, the boy's mom came walking down the street! She thought that maybe he had followed his older brother out the door without anyone knowing... Needless to say, I held the boy (and Aurora) for about an hour before his mom came... crazy. I gave my statement and my license to the police and then I went to pick up Dan from work.

It was an eventful trip to the park!

March 25, 2015

Wednesday Is My Day Off

Wednesdays are my day off... usually. And today, I had the day off... because it's Wednesday. SO I had big plans for my Wednesday, to have fun hanging out with my little cutie, Aurora all day since it was just going to be us.

But then we both slept in and I thought I'd have to babysit my friends' little girl after school and things just weren't working out.

So I was bummed. And Dan's out of town, helping his dad, Steve, with his courier business since he's sick from starting chemotherapy and having a bad cold on top of that. Ugh!

I was just feeling stuck in the house and down.

Around 3:15pm, I was packing Aurora into her car seat to go pick up our little friend from school, when her mom called to say that she ended up getting off work early and I didn't need to babysit today! Woo! Not that I don't love our little friend, but I had "big plans" to do something today, remember?

So I kept Aurora in her seat and we headed out the door with $21 in hand and a plan to find toddler shoes for my walking babe. OH MY GOSH! I forgot to tell you guys! WE HAVE A WALKING GIRL ON OUR HANDS!

Anyway, I needed to stretch that small wad of cash in my wallet as far as possible because I also needed diapers... hmmm... yeah.

For you moms who buy diapers, you know that this was basically not going to happen. Diapers are freaking expensive.

Lucky for us, I remembered seeing an ad on Facebook about a diaper sale happening at a store here in St. George called Traders Discount Markets, so before we left the house, I called them to see if they had some in stock... They did!

Oh! And I also called the Iron County School District to have them activate my application for some open elementary teaching positions! Eeek!

But then, we were on our way!

You guys.

Traders had diapers on sale for pretty much HALF OFF the regular price for the EXACT brand we buy!
I wanted to jump up and down for joy! I didn't.
And I wanted to buy all the diapers on the rack! I didn't do that either... only $21, remember?
So I left there spending only $15 for 138 diapers! That is a steal!

People, that was step 1 to turning my day around.

Step 2 happened after searching Walmart and Target for semi-cheap toddler shoes, to no avail, and ending up at the D.I. (All Target brought us was a fun little jam session with the Beats by Dre headphones haha)

I tried a few pairs of shoes on Aurora at the D.I., had her walk around in them (that was adorable), we chose two pairs, and then we paid for them! Guess how much?


I spent EXACTLY what I left the house with. Oh, success, you make me happy.

Then we drove around for a bit, enjoying the beautiful scenery of St. George and the summer-like weather before stopping by Albertson's on the way home.

Just one question for ya, Cedar City... Why the heck did you get rid of our Albertson's?! That store has everything! haha I love it!

I left with comfort food (guacamole, chips, a mango, fruit leather, and mini ice cream cartons) and pictures of my cute shopping buddy, so that went well.

When we got home, I watched a small portion of Lilo & Stitch with Aurora before putting her to bed. I am so lucky to be her mom! She is the sweetest thing!

Oh! And I got to talk to one of my best friends, Natalie Wade, tonight on the phone and she let me know that she will be coming to visit St. George in two weeks! I was so happy! I miss her!

AND THEN right after that, I checked Instagram to see that I had WON A CONTEST!!! It wasn't anything huge, but I never win! Never! I was so excited! You all have no idea!

I won a cute little stuffed bunny for Aurora from Apple Park Kids!

And then my cute hubby text me to say he missed me. And my dad called. And my sister-in-law, Kaela, posted a picture for me on Facebook saying they missed me being there.

So even though I'm alone tonight, I don't feel lonely. And even though my day seemed doomed, it turned out pretty good.

March 24, 2015

Recipe Time--Stuffed Pepper Enchiladas

I (greatly) modified this recipe for Healthy Stuffed Red Peppers that I found on the Six Sisters Stuff blog. Now it is slightly less healthy, but we ended up liking it better than we like stuffed peppers, so it works! It got a thumbs up all around, plus a "Please make that again!" from Dan, so I thought I'd share. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Stuffed Pepper Enchiladas
Author: Liz Johnson
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8

1 lb. lean ground turkey
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 red or orange bell peppers, chopped (I used one but if you like more peppers, add more!)
3 Tb. minced garlic
3 Tb. taco seasoning
1 tsp. paprika
dash of salt & pepper
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1 can corn, rinsed & drained
8 soft flour tortillas
2-3 cups cheddar cheese
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 green onions, diced
Sour cream

1. Preheat oven to 350° F

2. In a large skillet, brown the ground turkey with the chopped onion and peppers, adding in the garlic, taco seasoning, paprika, and salt & pepper for flavor.

3. When turkey is browned, stir in black beans and corn and continue to cook for a few more minutes.

4. Remove mixture from stove and using a large spoon, put about 2 spoonfuls of the meat mixture into each tortilla one at a time, generously sprinkle cheese over the mixture, then roll the tortilla and place seam side down in a 9x13 glass baking dish horizontally. (You will have left over meat mixture!)

5. In a separate bowl, combine red enchilada sauce and diced tomatoes, mixing in the rest of the meat mixture.

6. Pour enchilada sauce mixture over the rolled tortillas and spread evenly, being sure to fill in any cracks or empty spaces between tortillas.

7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove and cover with remaining cheese. Continue to bake for 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

8. Remove from oven and sprinkle top with diced green onions.

9. Serve with a dollop of sour cream, if desired.

March 16, 2015

Weak? No! Week!

Well pretty much, this has been the best week and I'm super sad that it has to come to an end!

Last Sunday, I was just arriving home from an awesome weekend in Cedar with Aurora, visiting both sides of the family, taking pictures for my sisters, and attending a baby shower with some of my oldest friends. And when I got home, I got to see my handsome husband after what felt like forever!

We then spent the next few days relaxing (a.k.a. sleeping in...kinda..., staying up late, and binge watching Netflix) since I had the week off and Dan had a few days off, and it was amazing! Mostly because we had time together! We did take a break from the relaxing to have a game night with our friends, Mike and Bobbi, but that was okay because it was a blast! They are some of our favorite friends!

Dan had to work on Thursday and Friday night, but that was just stepping stones to a great weekend.

Friday, my parents came down to attend the temple, and I was lucky enough to spend some time hanging out with my sister, Steph, and my niece, Grace, since they both came along. It's been awhile since I've been able to have time with her by myself, and I didn't realize how much I missed it! I sure love that sister of mine. And little Gracie has my heart... because I'm her favorite aunt... wait... what? haha

We went to the D.I. and did some serious second-hand shopping. I got a cute shirt and Steph got a whole slew of wonderful things. It was a great time!

Saturday morning, Dan arrived home from work at 8:00am after a graveyard shift and didn't even bother going to sleep haha We headed straight into our weekend festivities.

First we watched my dad and sister, Erin, compete in a horseshoe tournament here in St. George. Aurora had fun and even found a little bench just her size on the bleachers so she spent quite some time just bouncing her bum up and down so the bleachers would come down and make noise haha

Erin and my dad both played well, my mom did some scoring, and Dan and I had fun playing with my camera.

We then left Aurora with Erin and Steph so we could go to Mesquite with Dan's family. THANK YOU FOR KEEPING OUR BABY GIRL HAPPY FOR A WHOLE NIGHT LADIES! WE LOVE YOU!! Apparently, they did all sorts of fun things while we were gone and even went to the splash pad with the babies! SO cute!

But anyway, before we left town, Dan and I did a little shopping at Rue 21. We went with the intent to buy Dan a new outfit, but we ended up buying me flip-flops. What can ya do? *wink*wink*

We then met Dan's family and our friend, Mike Nessen, at the Wal-Mart (but not before Dan and I bought more stuff... haha sunglasses for Dan, bandaids for me, and a $5 movie we've been searching for--the 1st Fast and the Furious. Boom.) and we made our way to Mesquite by caravan!

The main event of our evening, an MMA fight called Mayhem in Mesquite, wouldn't be starting until 6:00pm, so we spent a little time blowing some $$ dolla dolla bills $$ (haha) on the stupid tables at the Casa Blanca where the fight was and we were staying. It was fun to play, but I am pretty much unlucky, sooooo it's a good thing we always set a low limit on what we can play. Dan made his cash flow last a lot longer than me! And Mike, who started the night with $20ish, ended the night with $300ish. He wins!

The fights were held in a giant event tent and there was a lot of people there! We had good seats though so we could see really well and, I'll be honest with you... I totally fell in love with MMA! I'm as shocked as you! haha But really, it was the coolest thing! They are true athletes! Wow! The girls were my favorite to watch; they may be small but they can pack a punch!

And we had so much fun cheering and laughing with Dan's family. That was the best part.

After the fight got over, we cruised around the Casa Blanca and The Virgin River and we ended up seeing our friend, Steve Starley, who we haven't seen in about a year AND my cousin, Dan Barclay, who we haven't seen since the family Christmas party last year. It was great to see them both, but crazy that we have to cross state lines to reconnect! I swear, we always end up seeing someone we know in the most unlikely places.

The next morning, we all got ready and then went to The Virgin River to hit up the brunch buffet there since we all decided that spending money on the buffet for dinner at the Casa Blanca the night before was our biggest gamble of the evening... haha it was horrible.

Lucky for us, the buffet at The Virgin River was a. maze. ing. We decided we will for sure go there for brunch again! I had a made-to-order omelet and I even ate french toast and pizza on one plate. What more does a girl need?!

Do yourself a favor and follow this ranking system if you ever decide on the buffets in Mesquite:

For dinner?

Eureka: YES! YES! YES!
Casa Blanca: Noooooooope!
Virgin River: Maybe.

For brunch?

Virgin River: Your only stop. Yes.

You'll thank me later.

I basically ate way too much and after being up for 36 hours straight, Dan's food basically knocked him out! We said our goodbyes and then Dan and I drove back home. We chatted on the drive back and I drove. There was construction in The Gorge... but that was alright with me, because it meant more time to talk. I've said it before, but conversations with Dan are the best. No matter what we are discussing, I always end our chats with a greater feeling of love and appreciation for the man I call mine.

I'm in love with that man.

We were also pleased to see that things went extremely well back home while we were away. Erin and Steph are definitely hired for next time! Plus, it was fun hanging with them for a bit while Dan took a nap. I am lucky to have the sisters I do and I'm luckier to call them friends.

Dan took them back to Cedar and will be there for a few days helping his dad, Steve, with deliveries since he has started chemo therapy treatments for his cancer. (So far, so good on that end of things though!) And I'm home with Aurora so we can babysit tomorrow.

I'm counting down the days until I can meet up with him in Cedar on Tuesday! I mean, I have to go! It's the only chance I'll have to see Becca, Alex, and Lucas before they move to West Jordan!

Yeah! Alex just got a new job! I'm going to miss seeing them when we go home, but help me in wishing them luck in their new adventures!