Friday, April 30, 2010

There's nothing like big sister...

I was gone for the cutest moment of the week, but I wanted to share it anyway, especially to document it for future days when big sister is getting on his nerves....

Earlier this week E-Bear got caught in the foot path of a taller, bigger adult.  A bump on the head and a fall to the floor later, he was in tears and crying (perhaps a little over-dramatic?).  Daddy T and Nana were both there to come to the rescue, but the little man would have nothing of it.  He stood up, and to everyone's surprise, ran with open arms to his big sister.  G-Bear reached out, wrapped her little arms around her brother and gave him a big hug.  "It's okay, baby boy,"  she cooed, rubbing his head with her hand.  Before long, all was well and E-Bear was healed.

The only thing sweeter than E-Bear choosing the healing hand of his sister was G-Bear's compassionate willingness to be the healer.  Thank you, G-Bear, for your sweet heart toward your brother.  He idolizes you, we can see it in his eyes.  There is nothing like the love of a little brother and big sister.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Happy 27th, Sis!

One day late (I am going to blame this on studying yesterday for my exam), here's to Auntie Katie, my little sister forever, who celebrated her 27th birthday yesterday.  You can keep up with her life with hubby Travis and my adorable niece "Parkin" at Tito's Roost.

Happy Birthday, Auntie Katie!  We miss you and love you!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I know Nana is visiting when...

I return home from work to find:

New shoes on E-Bear's feet,
A new haircut on his head,
G-Bear wearing a new Tinkerbell PJ dress
(complete with matching slippers!),
Happy Meal leftovers in the fridge.

Lest I make it sound like my kids are the only ones being spoiled, I also returned home to find:

New paper-towels in the kitchen,
8 loads of laundry folded,
The sink, which has leaked for 4 months, is fixed,
The kids are bathed, have been to the park, to lunch, the zoo, the mall and the home-improvement store all before naptime.
The number of meals I have cooked since Nana's arrival on Saturday: Zero.
At dinner last night?  Cookies AND milkshakes for dessert!

Who could ask for more?!

We love our Nana!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

My math for the week

5 out of 6: The number of days T will be out of town again this week.  Thank goodness Nana is here!

4 out of 5: The number of Johnsons trying to sleep last night at midnight.  G-Bear was still singing in her bed, reminiscing about the wonderful day we had all had with Nana.

3 out of 4: The number of days I have left on my pediatrics rotation.  Hooray for (almost) finishing core rotations!  Three weeks off with E-Bear and G-Bear, here I come....

2 out of 3: When assessing dehydration status in a child, the number of clinical signs needed to indicate <5 percent dehydration, a number then multiplied by weight loss in grams to calculate fluid deficit in cc's.  But then I still have to choose which fluid to give. Ugh. I think I have been studying too hard.

2: The number of kids I am going to cover with kisses tomorrow when I get home post-call.  Sorry, couldn't make it just one.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Hear His Voice

"My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."  
~John 10:27-30
This is one of the readings from church on Sunday.  I am struck by how many voices there are clamouring, even demanding, my attention everyday.  Which one am I going to listen to?

There are the voices of the demands at work, which can make me feel inadequate and remind me of all that I don't know.  There are the voices of the chores left to finish at home, making me feel behind and inefficient.  There are the voices of worry and uncertainty, making me fear the future. 

In my moments of insecurity, what voice am I listening to?  The Shepherd's Voice is soft and gentle, full of peace.  It is not coercive or punishing.  His hands are strong and secure, and so are His promises.  Whatever the future, whatever the to-do list, whatever the demands, His voice is sufficient to guide us.  "My sheep, listen to my voice...."

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Honey Ginger Chicken Bites

Here is a great, quick recipe that I am making this afternoon from one of my favorite recipe sites:


I am going to refrigerate them and put them on my salad tomorrow and pair them with rice for my chicken-nugget-loving bears.  

Happily Ever,
Queen B 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

My second-to-last call day on pediatrics...presented to the department on newborn vitamin K deficiency bleeding (the reason we give vitamin k injections to babies at birth) and rocked a baby to sleep tonight as I studied for my pediatrics final.  The best part of a Thursday night call?  Home on Friday at noon and a free weekend with my crew!  And Nana is flying in on Saturday night for a weeklong visit.  Can't wait!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Overheard in the house this week 4...

8.  "Mom, I am tired of doing these stairs!"  ~G-Bear, bemoaning the length of the trip to the park, which includes 3 flights of stairs up and over railroad tracks on a pedestrian bridge
7. "Up!  Dawwwwn.  Nah!  Up!  Daawwwn.  Nah!"  ~E-Bear, happy that he can now request to be picked 'up,' but still having trouble deciding what he wants.
6. "Mommy, tap the balloon, mommy.  Tap it riiiiiiiight here."  ~G-Bear, trying to coax me, once again, into tapping the button on my Chicken-Dance-singing-birthday-balloon from Grandmo.  
5. "Wook, mommy!  That man is not wearing any clothes!  He must be going to swim in the lake."  ~G-Bear, shocked by the sight of a runner wearing only running shorts.
4.  "Weeee!  Weee!   WEEEEEE!"  ~E-Bear, running with all his might toward the swing at the park.
3. "This is my special neckwace.  My daddy brought it to me from afwica."  ~G-Bear, super-proud of her necklace that T brought back from Kenya.
2.  G-Bear: "Daddy, like tickles!"
T : "Oh you do?  Well, so does your mommy...."
G-Bear: "No daddy, mommy doesn't like tickles."
1.  Playing "I spy" on our walk home:
T (referring to a STOP sign up ahead): "I spy the letter 'S'..."
G-Bear: "I see the letter eSSSSS!  On the OCTagon!"

Thank you, Sesame Street!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Picnic at Lake Como

Mmmmm, it was an awe-inspiring evening here in Happily Ever Johnson Land.  Got off work in time to make a quick picnic dinner, and we drove over to Lake Como for dinner and a walk around the lake.  We snacked on Mexican Spaghetti and apples and sweet tea.  E-Bear choose to eat only apples.  T got some great pictures.  Hard to beat family nights like these...

The sunshine was calling us outside...

G-Bear, enjoying the view and wearing her "Afwica" necklace

Chasing the "puppies."

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, April 19, 2010

A little bit, everyday

T and I survived our weekend of call. Boy, are we ready for an early bedtime.  I have never been great at staying up most of the night.  Post-call days are good reminders that our bodies are programmed to have 8-10 hours of sleep everyday.  You can't store it up ahead of time.  You can't save it from your last weekend off.  We need regular sleep everyday to function properly.

I was reminded today that my relationship with God is the same way. His gift of Peace is a continual gift, but it is not something that I can store up. Missionary Sarah Young has put it this way, reflecting on Exodus 16:14-20: 
 Just as the Israelites could not store up manna for the future but had to gather it daily, so it is with God's Peace.  The day-to-day collecting of manna kept God's people aware of their dependence on Him.  Similarly, God gives us sufficient Peace for the present, when we go to Him in prayer and petition.  If He gave us permanent Peace, independent of His presence, we might fall into the trap of self-sufficiency.
Peace missing in my life today?  Maybe I have been trying to run on peace "stored up" from several days ago.  Today is a new day, full of its own struggles, circumstances, pitfalls, temptations--which is why, like the Israelites, when I look to yesterday's manna for sustenance I may find only maggots.  I need to approach the Throne of Grace anew, today, bringing today's petitions and concerns, laying them at the Lord's feet and trusting Him with a thankful heart.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Call Night Mac'roni & Cheese

When I am away on call, I always feel better if I have left something homemade in the fridge for the kids' dinner.  Here is our go-to meal for call nights and other crazy nights.  It is simple to make, reheats well and the kids love it.  The veggies and protein can be varied or omitted entirely depending on household tastes or what is on hand:

E&G-Bears' Favorite Mac'roni & Cheese
1 lb Whole Wheat Pasta (any shape)
1-2 cups peas, broccoli, peppers or mixed veggies frozen or fresh
2-3 Tbsp butter
1 small onion chopped (optional)
3 Tbsp flour
3 Cups milk
2 Cups shredded cheese (we use one cup each sharp cheddar and mozzerella)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp Pepper
8-12 oz chopped ham or chicken
1/4 cup bread crumbs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees  
2. Bring pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions.  In last 2-3 minutes of cooking time, and  add veggies to pot.  Drain well.  Set aside.
3.  In a medium saucepan melt butter over medium heat, sprinkle flour and whisk until combined to look like oatmeal.  Slowly whisk in milk, one cup at a time.  Heat over medium heat until thickened and starting to boil, stirring constantly.  Whisk in cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Remove from heat.  Stir in cheese.
4.  Combine pasta, veggies, ham and cheese sauce in a 9x13 pan coated with cooking spray.  Stir to coat.  Sprinkle with bread crumbs.
5.  You can cover with plastic wrap and store in refrigerator overnight or bake immediately for 30 minutes (until warmed through and bubbly).


Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, April 17, 2010

After a long fun day...

Two little munchkins fell asleep as we pulled into the driveway!  
We painted on the porch, walked to the library, went to lunch at Lake Minnetonka, got milkshakes at Snuffy's, stopped to see Grandmo and Papa, and even went to 5 o'clock church.  After no nap, these two kiddos were whooshed.  Now T and I are headed to the porch for some homemade iced tea.

What a great Saturday!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Friday, April 16, 2010

Happy 29th!

Here's to calls and emails all day long from friends and family making me feel so special.

Here's to my sister, who rounded up her entire Boston-based kindergarden class and lead them in a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday" over the phone on my voicemail while I was at work.

Here's to getting off work early enough to wake the kids up from their naps and go play at the park together on a beautiful afternoon.

Here's to leftovers defrosted in the fridge so that I didn't have to make dinner tonight.

Here's to my mom, who brought me into the world 29 years ago....and showed up just before the kids' bed time with a cake, presents, and a "Chicken Dance"-singing-balloon (just try imagining G-Bear's nirvana moment as she played with that balloon).  Grandmo later apologized for the balloon.  Gotta love the Chicken Dance song.

Here's to T, who walking in from call just after Grandmo, and got to eat cake with us too.  

Here's to Jesus, who has guided, carried, and even dragged me though the last 29 years of my life.  Help me in the year to come.  And thanks for a special day.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

You know you are a mom and a med student when...

...You wake up, begin your day and don't realize it's your BIRTHDAY until you check email.  Thank goodness for facebook friends--you all are keeping me in the loop ;)

Don't worry, T is on call, or he would have been there to remind me. 

Maybe I can blame it on my age :)

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Eating well on a food stamp budget?

T sent me an interesting article today, asking the question of just how well a family of four could eat on the average 4-person food stamp alotment of $68.88/week.  Remembering that food stamps are intended to supplement a family's food budget and not be the sole allotment, he AP asked two chefs and the editor of my favorite food magazine (Everyday Food by Martha Stewart!) to plan out 7 days of meals for a family of four with that budget.  I read with great interest, because I am always looking for ways to flex and stretch our food budget in better ways to get to the end of the month!

You can read the full ABC News article here.  I found several points interesting:

-The chef experts tried to stay within budget while still staying true to their nutritious, health-conscious menu ideals.  They did this to varying degrees of success, often going over budget rather than sacrificing nutrition. 
-Overall they were all able to come up with what sounded like reasonable week meal plans that were heavy on fresh produce, modest on meat and strong on whole grains and legumes and dairy--all of which sounded pretty good to me.
-The experts noted how much advance thought and work went into planning the menu, shopping and preparing the made-from-scratch meals they proposed.  They acknowledged that this would be a hard thing for many families, especially with two working parents, erratic schedules or less knowledge about home cooking. 

The article made me realize again just how much organization, education (both about nutrition, cooking and even math!), planning and just plain work goes into preparing meals for a family every week.  Whew!  I sort of got tired just reading the article--mostly because I know the feeling!  But it also made me appreciate how families need more than just money to succeed in putting good food on their table.   Wouldn't it be cool if cooking and meal planning resources were more available to families in need?  Something to think about.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And the Match is....

Wake Forest!  

Whew, what a day!  We found out this afternoon (much later than we expected) that T matched to fellowship in North Caroline at Wake Forest!  We are so excited to see what God has in store for us there!

G-Bear is going to flip her top when she realizes that some of her cousins will be living only a mere 1 hour away.  She has no idea now....we don't want to get her excited too early.

We are still processing and taking it all in.  T already got some nice calls and notes from the staff he will be working with, and we are happy and excited about the outcome.  Thank you all for prayers for us today!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, April 12, 2010

We Matched!

...Don't get too excited, we don't know where.  

Today was the Match Notification Day for the Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship Match.  T found out that he matched to a fellowship program, but we still have to wait until tomorrow to find out where we will be a year from June when he finished his residency program.  

We should know sometime tomorrow (Tuesday) morning!  We will share the news as soon as we get it!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

U.S. Fertility Rate Dropping Below Replacement Level

The National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC just released preliminary U.S. birth statistics for 2008.  The report, which you can view here revealed some interesting fodder for discussion:

1.  The birth rate in the United States fell 2% in 2008 to 2,085.5 births per 1,000 women.  This is BELOW the population replacement rate of 2.1 children per woman. 

2.  Teen pregnancies also fell in 2008: The birth rate for US teenagers 15-19 fell 2 percent in 2008 to 41.5 per 1,000, reversing a brief two-year increase that had halted the long-term decline from 1991 to 2005.

3.  Sadly, the number and percent of births to unmarried women both increased to historic levels.  

4.  For the OB/GYN-inclined in the audience, the cesarean delivery rate rose for the 12th straight year, to 32.3 percent of all births. The percentage of births born preterm declined by 3%, to 12.3%.  The rate of low birthweight was unchanged for 2007-08 at 8.2 percent (except for minor decreases for hispanic and black mothers).

Some will recoil and others will cheer at various aspects of this new data.  I will reserve my perspective for now but hope to comment later if time allows.  I will certainly be bringing this up at work tomorrow. 

To all of you that did have a baby in 2008, thank you!  You gave birth to hope and to the future.  But, as any parent knows, birth is just the beginning of our tough job.  The road of parenthood is not easy and we have years of work ahead of us, but as parents we are building up treasures for the hope and life of the world.  Keep up the good work!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Overheard in the house this week 3...

7.  "Wook! An Egg!"  ~G-Bear, Easter morning, on the hunt.
6.  "My party!  Look, my party! Its my party!" ~G-Bear, sharing her enthusiasm over the decorations in the dining room for her birthday.
5.  "Daddeee, byeee byeeee daddeeee."  E-Bear, carrying around my cell phone, held up to his ear.
4.  "You play the p'ano, Mommy...I play the 'tar."  ~G-Bear, assigning air-piano and air-guitar instruments to play along with the songs in the car.
3.  "It feels AWWWsome out here, it is so nice 'n warm right now!" ~G-Bear, enjoying the sunshine and 70 degrees Friday afternoon.  
2.  Me: "G-Bear, what do you say if you want someone to help you?"
      E-Bear, from across the room: "Peese!"
1.  Grandmo (whispering) : "G-Bear, remember the cake we are getting for your mommy's birthday this week is a SURPRISE, so don't tell her, ok?"
     G-Bear (not whispering): "Ok, A Surprise! ...... Mommy, guess what?  We got you a CAKE at MoMo's house for your BIRTHDAY!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Homemade Granola Bars

Mmmm, I can't wait to be home long enough to make these yummy homemade granola bars posted by a friend on her amazing blog, Finding Joy in My Kitchen.  

Dark Chocolate Cherry Granola Bars - by SnoWhite
3ish C oats
2 C Rice Krispies
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 C dark chocolate chips
1/2 C dried cherries, chopped

In a large bowl, combine oats, Rice Krispies, chocolate chips, and cherries.
Add the sweetened condensed milk.
Stir to combine.
Pour into a greased 9x13 glass baking dish and, using a spatula press gently pack the bars down a bit.
Bake at 350 for ~22 minutes (a little longer if you want harder granola bars).
Slice into bars
Store in an airtight container for 1 week, or in the fridge 1 week longer.

Yum, I am hungry just thinking about them!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

An Outing with Dad!

A sunny day, 70 degrees, and Jamba Juice with Dad while Mom is away on call.  What could be better?
But, wait.  What is wrong with this picture?
You may notice that the size of E-Bear's Jamba is decidedly larger than his sister's....Perhaps even larger than the size of his whole upper body....
He seems to have no problem pounding it down, however, and G-Bear seemed rather able as well....

The coolest dudes on the quad today were the Bears.

And it was pretty nice to spend the day chillin' with Dad!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Friday, April 9, 2010

Earthen Vessel

"But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us."
~2 Corinthians 4:7

How can I make a difference in the world today?  I am a weak, earthen vessel, cracked and worn from life in this world.

'Let Me fill you with My Love, Joy, and Peace,' says the Lord.

My weakness is not a deterrent for God to work through me.  The more cracks in me, the more holes in my earthen vessel, the more His all-surpassing brilliance and power is able to shine forth onto others from within me.  

This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says:
"In repentance and rest is your salvation,
in quietness and trust is your strength, 
but you would have none of it."
~Isaiah 30:15

Today I am seeking quiet in the midst of the busy world.  My heart is trusting in the promises of God.  If I am strong today, it is from the Lord.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Round of Applause

E-Bear does lots of things that melt my heart these days, among them are his sweet "peeese" (please), "sawwweeee,"(sorry) and "tang-too" (thank you).  Another is the way he eagerly applauds life right now---clapping has become his way of expressing excitement, delight, approval, or all of the above.

For instance:
~We finish praying before our meal.....E-Bear can hardly wait until the end of the prayer to applaud our efforts.
~In the car singing along with a song.....E-Bear is back in his seat, clapping along with his own rhythm.
~T or I walk in the door at the end of the day.....E-Bear is standing at the top of our entryway stairs, clapping his heart out.
~Time to go get paci and blankie for bedtime.....E-Bear is bolting for his room, clapping "Pappi, pabbbi!"
~G-Bear just went pee pee in the potty.....E-Bear is at her side with applause, a ready admirer.

That's our little prince. Keep it up, E-Bear! What a blessing to treasure today with you and all the joy you bring to it!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Check, please?!

Life isn't alway a fairy tale here in Happily Ever Johnson Land. Two nights ago, for instance.

I always appreciate the way that my variable working schedule gives me glimpses into both full-time home motherhood and full-time working motherhood. T and I have noted before that when we are both working, the pressure to eat out is far greater (despite our limited budget and delight in home-cooked meals). No matter how good the intentions, it is just too hard to get dinner on the table all 7 days in a week when both parents are running late, tummies are hungry and kiddos need hugs and attention the moment mom and dad walk through the door.

So on Tuesday it was no surprise that when I got home 45 minutes late from work T thought eating-out sounded like a good idea. We settled on our favorite local Indian restaurant, because if we were going to eat out, we were going to splurge on our favorite. E-Bear was in a nasty mood, but surely food would help that, right? We should have known we were doomed as we put the kids in the car and G-Bear announced: "We're going to dinner? I want mac 'n cheese!"

So there we are, being seated in the restaurant, suddenly aware how small and quiet it is because E-Bear is already screaming and his highchair clogs up so much of the floor it is almost touching the adjacent table. T is holding his head in his hands already because he has a headache from not eating all day. Surely, if we just get some naan...

"Mommy, I want mac 'n cheese...."
Me: "Um, G-Bear, I don't about some yummy rice?"
E-Bear: "uh, uh, uh! Ma, MA, WAAAAAAAAA!"
Waiter: "Can I bring you something to drink?"
Me: "Do you have chocolate milk?"
Waiter: "No I am sorry."
G-Bear: "Chocolate milk!"
Waiter: "I am very sorry---"
Me: "--Don't worry, regular milk is fine. We will have 2 orders of naan, the saag and the paneer. And for the kids..."
G-Bear "I want a MEAL!" (**Editors note: I think this is G-Bear's new way of requesting a Happy Meal--and given that we don't do McDonalds on our own as a family, I don't know why she would be requesting this...unless I have uncovered a little GrandMo babysitting secret. Confessions, GrandMo?!**)
Waiter: (mercifully) "I will bring some rice and chicken for the children right away."

You have never seen cuter Indian chicken fingers--curried chicken fried in tempura batter--or ones brought to a table faster. That placated E-Bear for about 2 minutes, the naan helped for another 90 seconds. T was almost feeling well enough to take a bite of naan when E-Bear lost it again. By this time, 5 of the 8 other tables are looking up from their plates to catch a glimpse of the action.

G-Bear: "Mommy, where is my meal? Can I have some more rice?"
Me: "Sweetie, your chicken finger is right here. Do you want some Ketchup? E-Bear, do you want some milk?"
E-Bear (throwing spoon and rice to the ground): "Nah! Nah! WAAAAAAA!"
T's head is now back in his hands.
Me: "E-Bear, do you need a time out?"
E-Bear: "Nah."
Me: "ok, then let's finish our rice and chicken..."

So, after 6 E-Bear meltdowns, 1 time-out on the front steps, 2 baskets of naan, 4 plates of rice for G-Bear and 2 tylenol for T , the whole restaurant knew my kids names and the waiters looked exhausted from checking on us. But, they still hadn't brought our main dishes. Queen B was desperate.

T: "Let's get our food to go. We can put the kids to bed and eat it at home."
Brilliant. Why had eating out sounded like a good idea again?

We tipped well.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

One week to a Match...

Tonight we are one week away from the Sports Medicine Match for T. We will find out the day before if he Matched somewhere for fellowship, and the following day we will find out what program he Matched with. This Match won't affect us until a year from this summer, because he has one more year of his current program to finish before he can start a fellowship. But, all the same, it will be nice to have a year to prepare for our next step, wherever that next step may take us. As for me, once we know about T's fellowship assignment I will get to start looking at residency programs for myself...many decisions to come in that regard as well.

Our prayer for the Match is: "Your Will be done, Lord!" We are trusting in His Great Plan and His Provision over our lives. All the same, we know our weakness too, and we always treasure knowing others are supporting us in prayer. If you think of us in the next 7 days, ask the Lord for ours to be willing, trusting hearts and that the plans we begin to make following the Match would first and foremost be glorifying to Him.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, April 5, 2010

He is Risen!

Here are some more pictures from our amazing Easter and G-Bear Birthday weekend together:

G-Bear with her candle at the Easter Vigil.

The whole Happily Ever Johnson crew at the park

Baby "Parkin"

Have you ever seen happier grandparents?!

Happy Easter! Love from us to you!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Birthday to you, G-Bear!

Dearest G-Bear,

Happy Birthday to you, my beautiful princess. Amidst the pink bunnies, boa "fluffies," and pretty party dresses for your birthday today, all I really see is the spirit of a precious child of God, growing up so quickly, one I love so dearly. Daddy and I are so proud of who you are: Saying "thank you!" with a hug after opening each gift, helping E-Bear up when he fell down, softly stroking cousin "Parkin" while sharing your toys, dancing your heart out in the aisle at the Easter Vigil, and, yes, even a big poopy in the potty--this is who you are today, the G-Bear who we love.

We have many more happy memories of you from this year past:
*April....Starting out this year at age 2, having just learned how to say your own name....
*May.....Running down the aisle at your aunt A's wedding, never dropping a petal, wearing your pretty "fairy" dress....
*May.....Your Baptism with your brother, our last day with Dee before he died....
*June....Gardening with Papa, planting our pepper plants together, playing "Set, Go!" running games on the track, sweetly telling E-Bear "whet go, baby, whet go," as he learned to grab her long brown hair....
*July.....Reading "Wocket in My Pocket," a then-favorite book, to yourself on the couch because you could remember the rhymes without any help, learning to count to ten, "three, eight, ten, three, TEN!", swimming in the pool with your floaties all by yourself....
*August...Saying goodbye to the condo and your crib in the closet, moving into a big-girl room at our new house...
*September...Starting to sing the alphabet on your own: "H, I, Jwa, K, blah, mlah, ba, bo, PEEEE...", hard nights sitting on the potty when we just couldn't poop
*October...Picking apples together at the orchard, giggling with E-Bear in the back seat, trick&treating in your fairy crown and tutu...
*November...the last month of your sleep sack and white crib, snuggling in the bunk beds at the cabin for Thanksgiving, saying the blessing at dinner for yourself...
*December...Christmas with the cousins in North Carolina, singing your favorite Christmas carol, "Jingle Bwells," getting your "Big-Girl-Bed," fluffy pink comforter and all, and sleeping in it for the first time, making sprinkle cupcakes for Ethan's first birthday and helping him open his presents so nicely....
*January....Standing in your Tower and playing playdo, reading "Jewemy Fisher" by Beatrix Potter together at bed time, making snowmen together in the snow (and you LOVED the cold so much more than your parents!)
*February....A trip to the "Beach" with all the cousins and Nana---a week of ice creams and wave pools, sun, sand and fun. Hiding under the covers in the morning when we come in to "wake" you up.
*March....Endless days on the potty and your first successes with panties, fearless trips down slides at the park, even the big twisty slide, all by yourself, learning to say "Ape-will forwth" when asked when you would be three and holding up how many fingers you would be when April 4th arrived...

G-Bear, we have so many prayers and hopes for your year ahead. Continue to love and grow with your brother: he already looks up to you so much and treasures your smiles and hugs. Continue to grow in your love of God: your prayers and tender heart already please Him so much. Continue to smile your gorgeous smile and dance your joyful dances that bring joy to everyone who sees you. Daddy and I love you so much. Happy birthday, dear G-Bear, happy birthday to you.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Overheard in the house this week 2...

8. "Puppy!" ~E-Bear, pointing to a squirrel.
G-Bear, knowingly: "No, E-Bear, that is a SQUIRREL."

7. "My Daddy! My Daddy! My Daddy is home!......Daddy, I went Pee Pee!"
~G-Bear at the sight of picking up T from the airport.

6. "Puppy!" ~E-Bear, pointing to a kitten.
G-Bear, now insistently: "No, E-Bear, that is a KITTY!"

5. "Nummy, MUMMY, NUMMY, peese, Peese, PEESE!"
~E-Bear insisting, er, requesting, to have a piece of the "Sprinkle Cake" we ate at T's welcome home dinner.

4. "Puppy!" ~E-Bear, pointing to Big Bird.
G-Bear, now exasperated: "No, E-Bear, that is BIG BIRDIE!!"

3. "Have fun with the babies, mommy. Keep them safe."
~G-Bear to me as she, T and E-Bear departed from visiting me at the hospital on my pediatrics call night.

2. "Puppy!" ~E-Bear, pointing to a person coming out of a store with a large bag.
G-Bear, giving up: "What! Where!?!"

1. "Goodnight, Mommy-princess. I love you very much. And I love my Daddy very much. I am sooooo happy."
~G-Bear kissing me goodnight.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Not alone in suffering

Our fasting and prayer yesterday on Good Friday were dedicated to our friends, recently married, who yesterday faced surgery for her recurrence of breast cancer. The fact that these dear friends, our age and just newlyweds, are faced with this unbelievable trial feels so wrong and unjust. As T and I fasted and prayed for her surgery as part of our Good Friday remembrance, we experienced anew the reality that we are not alone in our suffering. We have a Living God who suffered ultimately for us on a cross and holds us intimately in our suffering today.
Here is a excerpt from a note T sent to our friends in an email on the eve of her surgery. It is a fitting reminder for Good Friday:

"There is nothing I can say that will bring you more comfort than your knowledge of and faith in Christ. Our true human condition is certainly desperate at all times yet we tend to fluxuate between feelings of sheer invincibility and complete vulnerability. True insight into our delicate, even fragile nature is given sparingly and for that we must be thankful. Yet some of those who have suffered much are drawn so close to Christ as to occupy a position that he rarely, if ever, grants access to. It is a place only gained by trial and only understood by those that bear the scars of the journey. But make no mistake--it is a place of intimate and infinite blessing. You are given a place at the table where those bleeding meet a cup of blood and broken spirit meets broken bone. And then there He is. Your Host. The Host. And all He asks is for your trust and your love.
British pastor John R. W. Stott wrote the following concerning the God he knows and the suffering we experience. I referenced it in the eulogy of my father when he passed away a little less than a year ago:

"I myself could never believe in God were it not for the cross. The only God I believe in is the One Nietzsche ridiculed as 'God on the Cross.' In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it? I have entered many Buddhist temples in different Asian countries and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time, after a while I have had to turn away. And in my imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wretched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me! He laid aside His immunity to pain. He entered our world of flesh and blood, tears and death. He suffered for us. Our sufferings become more manageable in the light of His. 
 There is still a question mark against human suffering, but over it we boldly stamp another mark - the Cross, which symbolizes divine suffering." ~John R.W.Stott

Please pray for our young friend. May the message of Good Friday: ultimate hope amidst ultimate suffering, be with you and point you toward the Resurrection power of Easter. God bless you.

Happily Ever,
Queen B