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Fickle, Fickle Amber

22 Jun

Hi, my name is Amber and I’m a blog-host flip-flopper. I’ve been through about four blogs in the last five years…I want to commit to one blog hosting site and one blog, but I’m just constantly bombarded by new ideas, old hankerings for the simplicity of blogger… you guys know what I’m talking about. Anyway, this week I started a new blog. Again. I don’t think this one you’re reading now is going to make it. We’ve just outgrown eachother–I’ve changed. I feel good about the new blog, I think this could be the one. But I’m going to need your support, readers, bloggers…random web surfers in the back. Please click. Help me commit. No one can do this alone.



Memorial Weekend 2011

6 Jun

Q:Wait…what? Memorial Day? What happened to California part 2? For that matter, what happened to February, March, April and most of May?

A: Ummm…yeeah. So I’ve noticed that I go through cycles of blogging activity. The down times (no posts) are usually during times when I am experiencing technical difficulties in running my life. Nothing huge. Just…stuff. So don’t cry for those lost months or the blog posts that could have been. They are gone and they ain’t comin’ back.

Q: So, you’re just never going to finish writing about your trip to California, or the rest of your homeschool year, or post pictures from your daughter’s birthday or quote your son’s latest verbal eccentricities?

A: I might get around to a catch-up back post. Or I might not. No pressure on me.

Q: Fine. So, Memorial Weekend?

A: Right. You may or may not remember (depending on your lack of reading material/mental stimulation over the last year) that my hubby’s family has an annual tradition of gathering in Idaho on Memorial weekend at a little, slightly-run-down-but-heavily-sentimental-to-the-Johnson-clan spot called Mack’s Inn. There is always rain, that’s guaranteed, and because there is always rain, there is always mud. Most of the time there is also snow.

That’s right. We crazy Johnsons use the weekend most Americans regard as the official kick-off of summer to congregate in one of the only places in the United States that is still experiencing winter. And we like it.

Some fish, some ride ATVs (yes, they put helmets on)…

…we (our small section of the clan) almost always do some hinking…

(the elk like this trail too)

…and spend at least one day in the good ol’ YNP.

This year we took the official guided tour of Old Faithful Lodge, which we have never done before, and it was pretty stinkin’ cool.

And even though we all live in the American west and see them on a regular basis (I could name three ranches within 20 minutes of my front door), we still, for some reason, feel compelled to pull over and take a picture every time we see a Bison.

Just like tourists.

How was your Memorial weekend?

California, Part One

20 Dec

Oh how quickly it came and went! But our trip to LA to visit my two sisters and Broinlaw (thanks for the grammarian awesomeness, Miss J), was so much fun. The traveling party consisted of Me, B, R, and L, plus my parents, hereafter referred to as Nana and Papa. R had his fourth birthday while we were there- I can’t believe my little boy is 4!- and what will probably be that December baby’s first and last birthday pool party. December pool parties don’t generally work out in MT or ID. Anyway, the rundown of said vacay

First airplane ride for a very excited R, but L, who is apparently a seasoned pro after our Cedar City adventure, chilled in the airport ‘reader’s corner’ with Papa. She did get excited on the plane- it was fun to watch her face. I couldn’t see R, who was sitting behind me with Nana, but she said he was ecstatic.

Friday afternoon we drove from Long Beach Airport to No Ho, where Big Sis and Broinlaw live in a storefront space that functions as both home and art studio.

We got settled in, then went to dinner at local joint PitFire Pizza-yum-, then back to the house to work on the gingerbread train…

… and get the kids and the grandparents to bed. Then the sort-of-grown-ups sat down to watch Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog.

Ok. How had I not seen this before? Big Sis and Broinlaw, were like, “What? How have you not seen this before?” I know. That’s what I just said.

LuV it.

If you, like me, live, apparently, under a rock, and have not seen this before, and plan on watching on my advice, be forewarned: not a comedy. Hilarious. But not a comedy.

You’d have to watch it for that to make any sense.

Anyway, on with the vacation. Little Sis arrived via San Francisco commuter flight in the wee small hours, and Saturday morning we all had a pajama picnic at the park near Big Sis’s place.

Then, after getting dressed, it was on to The Getty! ~sigh~ The Getty. Unfortunately we had only a few hours when we really needed a few days. I saw maybe a tenth of all I’d hoped to see. Guess we’ll just have to go back!

The gardens and the architecture are art in and of themselves. But then you go inside…

Oh, I love the love (excuse the repetition) that is so apparent in this painting.  This is The Farewell of Telemachus and Eucharis by Jacques-Louis David (in case you didn’t know).

Doesn’t Degas look like a moody, Byronic sort of fellow?

And, back outside…

Okay. That’s one long blog post. And that was only Friday and half of Saturday. Part Du at a later date. Merry Christmas!

Love, AM

I’m in Love…

11 Oct

…with these books. Here’s a new list of Super Reads.


The illustrations in this book are all hand-stitched quilts. It is mind-boggling. And the story is simple and heart-warming as well.




Classic Cicely Mary Barker who, like her fellow Frederick Warne and Co. author Beatrix Potter, was educated at home and self-taught in art.



A semi-fictional tale of the childhood of the poet Pablo Neruda, written with unforgettable beauty.

And I had to take my own photo of this one because the one on Amazon just doesn’t do the artwork justice:


I may have mentioned before that some books make my stomach jump up to meet my heart, and my breath catch in my chest…
… you know, the way you felt when you were in elementary school and that certain special someone walked around a corner and looked at you…
… or sat by you, or brushed your hand as you walked by. This book does that to me. Funnily enough, that’s also what it’s about. First love.

And I hope my posting those pictures is not totally illegal.

Anyway, Free Unsolicited Advice: Read these books. And after you’ve read The Dreamer, join me on my Pam Muñoz Ryan kick. I read Becoming Naomi León yesterday, and Paint the Wind and Esperanza Rising are on the list next.

Anyone else fallen in love with a good book lately?


A Deuce of Moose, etc.

4 Oct

Random things I’ve been wanting to share for the last month or so…

A little homeschool fantastico:

New books to kick off our new school year. We are reading Little House in the Big Woods first, and doing things along with the Ingalls as much as we can.

We harvested our little garden as the Ingalls family harvested theirs.

R is learning his letters, one per week. This is our letter A monster. Because the A says AAAAA!

More letter learning...

...this alphabet is yummy!

We did an art project from the 'Barefoot Book of Earth Tales'...

These are our take on Aboriginal Song-Line Paintings.

R went mixed-media with paint, leaves, grass, and a bucket of wooden clothespins.

Our travels…

The Deuce of Moose (drinking river juice). *snort*. Ah, I just can't help myself. In the Tetons, in case you couldn't tell.

And our new pup, Camper. Because, as R put it, "He will like to go camping with us."

Wordless (Almost) Wednesday

26 Aug

How about Very Few Words Wednesday? And it is still Wednesday for a few more minutes, at least in my time zone.

Me, L, and R, Camping Trip, Lake Como. This is how we do back-to-school.

Science: The refraction of sunlight through this tarp turns my belly-button green.

Hey me too! Results of experiment may be duplicated.

Theater Arts: Shadow Puppet show time!

More Science: Hands-on study of the Pine Butterfly.

Proper handling of the specimen...

Observe in natural habitat...


Physical Education: Climb and conquer.

Climb, conquer, and chillax.

Math: 1 Boy + 1 Tube...

...+ 1 Girl + 1 Tube...

= 4 days of beach fun.

Visual Arts: Sand sculpture fortress.

A collaborative effort.

Culinary Arts: The menu? Mischief...

... and S'mores.

Language Arts: Write it all down in your journals guys!

And don't forget bedtime stories in the tent.

The world is our classroom.

Learning is Life.

"Thanks for taking us camping Mom."

You’re welcome munchkins. I love you.


AU-gust, AU-tumn… It really would make sense.

17 Aug

I may have mentioned this before, but here it is again: I really don’t like August. It is my least favorite month of the year. June and July are sufficient summer enough for me. By the time August rolls around I am done with the heat, done with the sweat, so done with the bug spray and bbqs. And the mornings start to get cool, and my hopes start to get high.  And then, by noon, I have to take off my sweater.


The kiddos and I took the afternoon last Friday and dilly-dallied our way down the Bitterroot Valley to the Daly Mansion and the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. Aside from the weather being hotter than we (I) anticipated (hoped),  it was one of those pretty, pleasant, picture-perfect days. Exhibit A:

We spotted a Great Horned Owl, a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird, an Osprey and, of course, the requisite ducks and geese. We hiked and played in the sand and walked in the river. R grabbed handfuls of that slimy moss that covers the river rocks near the banks and threw it around while singing a song about slippery muck. L read every available brochure and pamphlet on the various plants and wildlife and mumbled non-six-year-old things like, “Huh. Well that’s interesting,” and “So, venomous is a synonym for poisonous.” It was a hands-on, in the dirt, field day and we loved every minute.

On a completely unrelated note, B gave me a beautifully bound tome containing the seven novels (yes, seven) of Jane Austen for our anniversary last month and I cannot express how much I looove this book. I had read Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice previously, as well as making a couple attempts on Emma (don’t get me started), but I had never read Persuasion, Mansfield Park, or Northanger Abbey, and I had never even heard of Lady Susan. Needless to say, I’ve been in Austen-land for several weeks now, specifically Persuasion-land at the moment, my last stop, but I just have to say- Austen fans sit down- I really liked Northanger Abbey! I was pre-disposed to dislike it, I think, given that all the Janeites I’ve ever spoken to roll their eyes at the mention of it. But I, who have always considered myself an Eleanore Dashwood, felt like I was reading the seventeen-year-old version of myself in Catherine Morland. And Henry Tilney- swoon! I admit I was a little unsatisfied with the abruptness of the ending, but overall I liked the story quite as much as S&S or P&P. And the same for Mansfield Park. Fanny Price, in my humble opinion, gets far less credit as a heroine than she deserves. Agree or disagree?

And on a somewhat related (in a slightly convoluted way) note: I sometimes like to pretend I’m British. Just in my head. Put on the British accent and, bob’s your uncle, things are just nicer. Which may be why I love these girls so much. Though, neither of them are British either. But check out Melissa’s t-shirts (I met her once. Super nice.)I’m thinking about joining the Bronte-along… if I can put down Austen for a little while, that is. I do love Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights… never read The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. But I want to have time to re-read all the Harry Potters before the next movie comes out in November as well (sooo excited!). There’s another reason to want to be British right there: proximity to the awesomeness of Rowling. And, blimey, much better slang.

Keep Soaring,