New Neighbors and the Crazies they Live Beside

We got new neighbors this week. The two girls with six schnauzers living inside have moved on. I always get nervous when someone new moves in. Mainly because I hope they understand exactly what kind of crazy they are now living next door too.

You see – Our house is a mad place!!!

I know some like to pretend their homes are bliss, filled with magic fairy dust where mom and dad declare their love in words like- You’re my soul mate, My one true love, my best friend, our marriage and love get better and better with each new day, we have the most amazing kids, blah, blah, blah… 


It seems sometimes in life all we share is the best days- But behind closed doors daggers fly as mom and dad tag team and race from one end of the house to the other. A child screams, something crashes, the cat somehow got shut up in the dryer, “Child 2 has got the scissors and he looks evil!!!” the list goes on and on. 

Being a family is tough and sometimes you wonder if you should just order a life supply of magic erasers.

There isn’t a day goes by I don’t yell at two little sassy toddler boys.

I know, I know… God forbid it – How dare I yell at my kids? I mean think of the emotional damage I’m doing.


I never wanted to be that parent. I wanted to be the calm, patient parent who corrected with a peacful time out and the child would be compliant to the Tee.

Okay, you can stop laughing.

Seriously, stop laughing.

It’s not funny.

I really feel bad about it.

The truth is I yell at times.

Get Down. Stop that. Don’t hit your brother in the head with a dump truck… And no matter how many times when they are diving under beds, scaling up the fridge, peeing in the tub, or squirting tooth paste all over the place you wonder to yourself –

My God what do the neighbors think of me…?

Listen, parenting is tough. You’re going to get mad. Pull out your hair. Hide in the basement where you’ll binge eat on Oreos. The important thing to remember- No one has life figured out. So stop worrying about the neighbors.

So enjoy the adventure story you are writing. Maybe the neighbors are the strange ones…

Do you have any rough parenting stories…?  I would Love to Hear them- Comment below.

J.J. Johnson A Geeky Dad who Reads, Writes, and Loves God…

Kids Say the Most Darn Things

Kids say the most darn things.

It’s true- If you have kids you know exactly what I’m talking about. I can write a humor book about all the things my kids have said.

(Well, what Miles has said. Bennett isn’t quite two yet and his most comprehensible sentence is “I wan dow.- Which I translate to mean: I want down.) 

kids

I love my kids- And turning them into GEEKS is a lifelong mission of mine. But for the time being- I’m cherishing the craziness of raising two toddlers. So here are a collection of my favorite child sayings… Or, toddler sayings…

“I have bones in my belly, so I need milk…”

“You flushed the toilet, I needed to say goodbye to my poop…”

“You need a hug, you mad at Miles. Hug make you happy…” (Always his way of avoiding a spanking)

“Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why, daddy? Why…”

“Twinkle, spider, up the water spout…” (Itsy Bitsy Spider remixed w/ Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star)

“Bennett pulled me into his crib, I not climb…” (As he & Bennett are in the crib asleep together)

“I need to turn the dark on…” (As he flips all the lights off in the house.)

Miles Reprimands mommy…

MOMMY: “Bennett Lucas Johnson”

MILES: No mommy, I don’t like that. It’s just Bennett.”

“Aunt Jess, you go at Red Lights and Stop at Green ones…”

Trying to get him to nap…

Aunt Jess: “Miles lay down and take a nap…”

Miles: “Yes, Jess, Yes… (As he continues to roll around and not nap)

“Aunt Nelle, we need to find a beetle with a missing leg…”

“Water breaks my bones…”

I’m certain if I thought about it longer, I could come up with about twenty more. But the truth is, with all the bruises, crying, sibling fighting, head bumps, messes they make (My God the messes) and no matter how many times I crash on my pillow at night after I have pulled what little hair I have left out- This is one of the greatest ages.

It’s the age of small dinosaurs that you step on barefoot, crayon on the walls, the age where they desire to be hugged when they’ve gotten hurt, the time when they actually get excited when you walk in the door, and the time they realize what light sabers are and how to use them.

It is the age of Toddlers- Cherish them- Always.

French Press Coffee: One Secret to Surviving Fatherhood

french press coffee

A great cup of French Press Coffee is one of my secrets to surviving Fatherhood. Let’s face it- Being a father is tough, especially after you’ve worked all day and come home to discover the kids are bouncing off the walls.

Like it or not- Men need an out from time to time. Kids are a blast: But after watching an endless loop of Veggie Tales, or listening to a child cry when you’ve said: “No, you’ve had enough snacks tonight…” There are times you just need to sit and catch your breath.

I have a ton of secrets. I read my Bible, pray, talk to my wife, read a novel, watch Arrow or Flash, but most times- It’s just sipping a nice cup of French Press Coffee.

So here are my steps to making a great cup of Joe.

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I like Speciality Beans from a local roaster. My wife (being a Chef and involved in the Food Service industry: Check out her site- www.planprepcook.com) always goes to great lengths to ensure I am fully stocked on the beans I need. I use beans from two different companies EOTE Coffee and Hoboken Coffee Check them out- They are both great.

COFFEE2

As you can see in the screen shot above, I weigh my beans out (for a single cup) to 15 Grams.

Then I measure out 240 Grams (or 8.5 Ounces) of Purified Water. This gives me roughly a 1 to 16 ratio in my coffee.

Coffee3

When I grind my beans I always set it to be a Coarse grind. So I recommend a Burr Grinder and finding one that is both timed and has a coarse grind setting. After you’ve ground your beans, drop them into you French Press Pitcher. Be sure your pitcher is cleaned and dry before using.

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Heat your water to roughly 200 to 205 degrees. And then pour over your grinds. Some people like to pour in just enough to soak the grinds for about 30 seconds. Doing this helps some of the gasses escape. Others just pour it in all at once. (Which is what I do.) I also stir it for a few seconds to make sure the grinds aren’t all settled in one spot. Then I wait 4 minutes, press, then pour into one of my Geeky Mugs I have available.

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Now this is the way I do it currently, and I am by no means an expert. So if you have tips or tricks you would like to share- Let me know. I’m always looking for the perfect French Press. (Click Here- Tweet)

Crying Children and Busted Lips: I Still Fear of Failing…

I have failed at a lot of things in life.

But you know what they say- Failures lead to success. Right…? If that’s the case I should be successful in more things than I currently am.

But one of my biggest fears is failing as a parent.

The other night our youngest, Bennett, was pushing his dump truck and slipped, fell, and busted his lip.

Blood was everywhere. On me. On him. On his shirt.

I panicked.

In a fit of anger I grabbed the Dump Truck and tossed it outside. I wasn’t sure what else to do.

So I did what every man does when he is clueless about the kids- I called my wife.

bennett

In the panic of the moment I didn’t even give her time to answer before I said: “Bennett’s bleeding, it’s everywhere, and I don’t know what to do, get here quick…” Then I just hung up. (Have I mentioned I have a tendency to be a little overdramatic).

Looking back now that it’s over I realize it wasn’t the smartest course of action. My wife with calm and grace even let me know that. At the end of the day it was only a busted lip and Bennett was back to his normal happy self not to long afterwards.

In Life we will fail. That’s a fact. Sometimes we fail because we aren’t ready, or we don’t have the full knowledge of what we face.

I like the way Jeff Goins put it in a recent Blog Post:

After his first mentor died, Luke Skywalker showed up to apprentice under Yoda. Luke thought he was hot stuff and cut his training short, which resulted in his hand getting cut off.

The point is this- We will fail. We will fail as parents, as spouses, in business, and as writers. It’s not the fact that we fail that matters most- It’s what we do afterwards and who we turn to for guidance.

First I turn to God. I turn to His word. Seek counsel in the depths of Scripture.

But I also turn to my wife: She is my best friend, and the one person I trust more than anyone. She may not have all the knowledge I need for every aspect of life- But she has the encouragement and provides the support.

Who do you turn to when you’ve hit rock bottom…?

Diapers, Snot, and Books…#NovelDad

Lessons Learned from a Father who writes

I think it is safe to say that I’ve been absent for quite some time. Well over two months in fact. If asked I’m sure I could provide a list of ideas about where I’ve been. Everything from flying around in a TARDIS with the Doctor to shooting Cowboys with Wyatt Earp to… Well you get the point. However, I feel I can justify my absence without an imaginative stretch, I mean my excuse is a pretty good one.

bennett1On August 2st my wife and I welcomed our second son Bennett Lucas Johnson. That’s him to the right hanging out with a pretty good looking guy. While he has been the polar opposite from his older brother (Who was Colic, Jaundice, Screaming through the night…) he still comes with a list of constant needs that must be met. I mean, all babies have their moments when you feel as if you are ready to pound your head threw a wall because knocking yourself out may be the only option to guarantee sleep and a small moment of peace and calm.

I make it sound so horrible don’t I… I will stop with the drama. The truth is, I don’t mind it. It’s a joyful occasion filled with moments I capture in my memory. Years from now I hope to lean back and study a picture, maybe find myself triggering one of those sleepless nights. Will I laugh? Cry? Or just sit and wonder where the time went… Regardless, I hold on to these small chapters I have.

So there you have it. My excuse for my absence. But let’s take it a step further. It’s not that I have just been taking care of a newborn, I’ve learned a few lessons over the past few weeks as well. In fact, two very important principles come to mind.

1)      First- I am a very selfish man.

To an extent I believe we all are. If we were to step back and look in the mirror and really study the reflection, I don’t think we would be all that shocked to discover our own Mr. Hyde’s starring back at us… We all value our own self-worth to an extent. We all want that moment to our self, that extra hour of sleep, a moment to finally sit and watch the show that’s been on our DVR for weeks… We may not admit it or recognize it, but it’s there. We need to please ourselves, and normally that’s found it time.

Now, is there anything wrong with that? Not really. Taking a break keeps our minds fresh, and let’s face it, our spouses probably enjoy our company more as well. But there are moments in life where we have to put ourselves second. That’s been my challenge.

bennett6I tend to get frustrated way to easy. I want time to write, the house is messy and I feel I need to stop and clean, I don’t have time to do this or that… The list goes on and on. My selfish tendency get to me, but it’s the things that I’m selfish about that bother me. Because those things are un-eternal and small. My boys have taught me that to ignore their desires in order to meet mine, really destroys the impactful moments I can have on them. I’m scared to death to see the world my children will grow up in. So much I changing, and not for the good I’m afraid. If I want them to stand for the truth, God’s truth in a way that is honorable and bold- Then I need to take every moment I have to influence their lives.

Does that mean I give up writing, give up my dreams, working out, a healthy diet, my personal goals…? No. But it does mean I might need to give up that one TV show everyone watches in order to meet both my desires and theirs.

2)     Second- I am nowhere near Joyful enough.

I often describe my oldest son Miles as a possessed freight train that flies through the house destroying everything in sight. In many ways he is. He moves from one toy to the next toy. After a few minutes he’ll skip to terrorizing our two Miniature Chihuahuas, to grabbing the cats tail and dragging him through the house, diving off the couch onto his bean bag chair, to pulling every DVD case out of the cabinet, to screaming and stomping around the house when I tell him he can’t have another cookie, to unrolling an entire roll of toilet paper and stuffing it all in the toilet… The point is he is quite active. But one thing remains consistent… He is always smiling.

I have found I don’t smile or laugh near as much as I should. I’m not sure why. I have everything to be happy about. You see, I have had to learn that life isn’t about the things I don’t get, or that I don’t get accomplished. It’s about knowing God, making him known, and being with those you love. Being with my wife and kids somehow gives me the moments when to smile, is what I needed most. My kids, my wife, they give me those moments.

A few weeks ago I walked through the house picking up toys Miles had scattered across three different rooms. It was late, I was exhausted, and knew that work the next morning would require both black coffee and a Red Bull to survive. I asked a simple question, more rhetorical. Actually I was talking out loud to myself. I said- “Miles, are you ready for bed?” I wasn’t asking the question to be answered, it was my hint to my wife that I was exhausted and was ready for bed. 

Now let me clear a few things up about Miles. He wasn’t quite two yet. His vocabulary consisted of the words No, More, Snack, Bye, Uh Oh, and Water.  That’s it. I don’t think he truly understood the meaning of any of those words. But in that moment, as soon as I asked the question, he took his binky out of his mouth and said in a very matter of fact tone- No.

To many reading this, I’m certain you could care less. But to me, in that moment, being that tired, I found myself laughing hysterically. I’m not really so sure why I laughed that hard, but I did. And I realized I needed more moments like that with my children. Moments where they made me laugh and enjoy life.

bennett5Now, I don’t claim to have a ton of wisdom. Nor do I feel as though I have the answers to all of life’s problems. But one thing I do know for sure. I’m a dad who loves to write stories, and my God, wife, and kids are my inspiration to do so. When I watch my children I see them enjoying life, even little Bennett who is just learning to smile. I pray I always remember to do so myself.

I’m happy when I’m zoned in, working hard on a story, a story I hope others enjoy. That’s my desire and hope. To tell a simple story. My boys help me get there, and drive me forward.

They are a part of a reason I do what I do…