Thursday, September 30, 2010

Worthy of the Calling

Dear Queen B,

On behalf of Ephesians 4:1-3,

I would like to urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received as a Christian.

Be completely humble and gentle.

Be patient.

Bear with others in love.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

This is your calling.  Today.  Tomorrow.  Always.  May God give you grace to live it.


Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Lookin' Good

Can you guess who is the first guy in Happily Ever Johnson Land to own a tuxedo?  I will give you a hint, it isn't T.

E-Bear has a new tuxedo!  Who knew they came in size 2T?  That's right, our little big man is going to be (provide all goes according to plan) the ring bearer on Saturday in Amazing Miss R's wedding.  Don't worry, his "tuxedo" is 100% polyester and it costs less than I would have paid to rent one for him.  I felt like I was getting a steal of a deal.  Or saving us right into the poor house.  One of the two.

I promise pictures from the wedding this weekend.  He is going to look so handsome.  Just like his daddy.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Finding Contentment in Two Worlds

As I continue to work through my decisions regarding medicine, residency and what is best for our family, this recent piece in my alma mater's Alumni Weekly caught my eye.  The writer is a graduate of Princeton, Harvard Business School and mom of two.  While choosing to keep a foot in the professional world, she has passed up attractive jobs that would require longer hours and more time away from her kids, instead opting for positions that aren't as stimulating but allow her flexibility or part-time commitment so she can spend more time with her kids.  She reflects honestly and openly in her piece about her discontent and struggles with this, wondering if, "in being unwilling to give up either world, did I end up doing a poor job in both?"

Canyons: alluring beauty, beasts to straddle
Like the author, I realize that it is a privilege to have the opportunity to wrestle with the problems of how/whether to straddle the mother/professional divide. Sometimes, though, the privilege feels more burdensome than uplifting.  The divide can feel like a canyon, and while canyons are alluringly beautiful in their mystique, they are a beast to straddle.

I realized, as my heart resonated with her struggles, that I have a real problem with contentment.  I am not content to have others determine my path, nor am I satisfied by having the opportunity to choose for myself.  What gives, Queen B? 

This weekend I attended a Christian Women In Medicine conference for a few hours in Providence, RI.  As I described my current position and decisions to others in a small group, one woman encouraged me with Proverbs 16:9:

"A man devises his way, but the Lord directs his steps."

It is my prayer today that the Lord would be the one to direct my steps in the next year as I make hard decisions about my work/home life balance.  I pray for all other mothers who are privileged enough to have to face similar questions, but find them burdensome rather than freeing.  And I pray that my contentment would not lie in a hope of a "perfect balance," (because really, IS there even such a thing?) but in the Lord who is my Savior and Creator, who created me to love Him, love others, and do His good work in the world.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

p.s. The piece is called "A Foot in Two Worlds."  It is available online and was printed in the September 22nd issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


The kids and I are loving our post-Boards celebration trip in Boston.  We are visiting my sister, brother-in-law and my niece, and even GrandMo tagged along.  It is a glorious fall weekend here, reminiscent of the lazy days of summer.  Today we arrived early to the Boston Beantown Jazz Festival in South End, to partake in the freebie samples, the amazing food, the Target Family Fun Park and of course, the Jazz music.

The Target Family Fun park was amazing.  This is a shout out to all my buddies working at home headquarters, who are coming up with all these great philanthropic Target Corp ideas.  You know who you are.  We are loving it!  The area had an "Instrument Petting Zoo" filled with all the orchestra instruments you can imagine for the kids to try out.

Uncle T helped G-Bear with the flute.

E-Bear tried out the trumpet.

 The trombone was particularly popular.

After we painted pictures at the painting easels, colored real tote bags for the kids and tried out the percussion section,
E-Bear, undaunted by the size of the drum.

X is for Xylophone!

Team Johnson on the snare.
 we just had to make a stop at the inflated jumpers and the ball pit.  My munchkins wasted no time mastering the art of ball pit jumping:

All this fun was free!  Plus, free face painting, soft pretzels, slushies, and a huge inflated slide for the kids.  Once again, thanks, Target!

We had a nice long walk back through the city before hoping on the T to get home.  You should have seen the enthusiasm with which we ride the T.  The kids couldn't contain their peels of delight as we walked (they jumped) on.  Other passengers couldn't help looking in our direction, wondering if we were serious.  Choo!  Choo! Whoo hoo!  WOW!  The delight of children brings a smile to even the roughest faces.  And we got plenty of smiles.  Thank you, Jesus.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Multiple Choice

A 29 year old woman walks into your office with her two children.  She states that she is exhausted from studying for her recent board exam.  Her brain feels like it has been put in a blender on the "puree" setting.  She states that she took the exam yesterday and it was very challenging.  She is not sure how she performed, but she is relieved it is over.  Her children are precious and adorable and you find it difficult to pay attention to their mother because her story is very boring.  She does not smoke, takes no medications, has no major medical problems and lives with her husband and two children.  Her family history is non-contributory.   

Which of the following is the next appropriate step in your management of this patient?

A.  Offer to babysit her children so that she can take a nap for an hour.  When she thanks you and says that won't be necessary because she will try to go to sleep at 9pm tonight, breathe a sigh of relief.   

B.  Tell her that even if she didn't pass her exam that God still loves her and has a reason why she would need to commit time to study for it again.

C.  Remind her to get a lot of sleep tonight because tomorrow she is taking her children on a flight to visit her beloved sister in Boston (and thank goodness that her mother is flying with her this time).

D.  Hold up a mirror so that your patient can she her greasy hair, wrinkled t-shirt & jeans, the circles under her eyes and say, "well, look at it this way, at least you are smiling."

E.  A, B, and C, but not D, because even though D is true it wouldn't be a nice thing to do.

Hooray!  We are coming back to life around here with a lazy morning (no early morning studying!), loads of laundry, kitchen clean up, and nice long afternoon naps.  Our treat of the day was getting E-Bear a haircut and going to G-Bear's preschool pictures.  The photographer even took some pictures of E-Bear for us, which made me eve more thankful that we had just gotten his haircut (goodbye, fraternity boy hair)!   What a nice change from the past few weeks.  

Thanks to all of you who have been praying for me and to those of you who kept us going with your love and friendship during the past few weeks.  I am so grateful!

p.s. The correct answer is E.  I know D is tempting.  Resist the urge.  

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Board Exam!

I am on the verge of emerging from my board-study haze.  Boards is on Tuesday, and while part of me worries about not performing to my expectations or (eek) not passing, I am mostly just wanting it to be over.  I don't know that I have done a great job of balancing my studying with all my other responsibilities this time around.  I sure have tried, but it will be nice not to have the cloud of a big exam hanging over my head all the time.

So, no posts from me tomorrow....because I will be doing last minute cramming.  Sorry, Grocery Bag, you will be neglected once again.  Survival study mode means lots of soup, leftovers and last-minute meals around here.  Thank goodness for MoMo, who is feeding us tonight and tomorrow.

On Tuesday, I will be running the gauntlet of multiple choice for 9 hours.  If you think of us that day, please pray for me!

It is good to remember that God's plan for me is already in place.  The test may be hard or easy, but He will  decide my future.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Surprise for MoMo!

Our beloved MoMo and Papa have returned safely from their romantic Canadian get away!  

As promised, it is time to reveal my present to MoMo for her 60th birthday.  With the help of over 30 family members and loving friends, I put together a book for my mom: 

"Celebrating 60 Years of Greatness!"

Thanks to the 30+ people who contributed, this present really was a testament to the amazing woman who is my mom.  The book was is 40 pages long:

People from all arenas and periods of her life sent me emails, letters, photos and handmade pages that I was able to compile into the book.

What a little cutie!
The time, creativity and love that people poured into their contributions was heartwarming:

The GrandMo Paperdoll page, complete with interchangeable outfits and accessories of infamy, was particularly spectacular:

More examples:

We were so excited to give MoMo & Papa hugs and the present that we were waiting for them when they pulled in from the airport.

We snatched them away to dinner so that we could give her the gift right away.  G-Bear was especially proud of the card, because she had signed her name for the first time:

The first reactions:

Grandmo couldn't believe it.  She was totally surprised and overwhelmed.  She couldn't wait to get home to start reading the book.  

Trust me, it will take her a few days.

Thank you, thank you, thank you to each and every person who helped contribute to this present.  It meant so much to my mom.  Our personal family experience has taught us that we must take every opportunity to tell our loved ones how much we love them while we are still together in this life.  When it comes to my mom, 40 pages of love is just a taste of how many lives she has blessed, but it is a fantastic start.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Luncheon for Miss R

Our amazing nanny, Miss R, is getting married in a few short weeks.  This past weekend she and her beau let us host a bridal party luncheon in their honor.  You may have noticed that I skipped my Grocery Bag post this week...that's because we are still feasting on the delicious leftovers!

The Menu

(Southern Living Magazine)

Spicy Shredded Beef
(Two beef roasts and 28oz of salsa in a slow cooker for 10 hours)

("Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2," Plume Books)

Heart-shaped Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches
(for the kids in attendance)

Buffet #1

(Fine Cooking Magazine)

Greens with feta, pear, pine nuts & balsamic dressing

Cherries, peaches, pineapple

Tortellini with dipping sauces

Buffet #2

And finally....

(from More From Magnolia)

G-Bear and I had so much fun making the frosting together:
One of us was working hard...the mixer.
Tasting the pink frosting was the best part.
It piped beautifully out of a ziplock bag

Such fun!  Hopefully we did justice to the fabulous bride-to-be.  Although I did the ultimate entertaining no-no and tried a few new recipes for the first time, the menu was a success (i.e. did not run out of food and no one ran screaming from the kitchen), is certainly repeat-worthy and highly recommended.

Now back to those leftovers....

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Monkey See, Monkey Do

Today is a beautiful, lazy Sunday at our house.  I am taking the day off from studying for boards and recovering from throwing a big Bridal Party luncheon for our soon-to-be-married babysitter, the Amazing Miss R.  While the kids and I were playing together, I had a moment that reminded how innocently impressionable children can be.

G-Bear wanted to play haircut with me.  For a three year old who has never had a haircut, this should be hilarious, I thought.  At least she has seen her brother get a haircut once or twice!  G-Bear had me kneel down on the floor so she could reach my head.  She proceeded to deliver me with cups and lids from the kitchen kid tableware drawer, so that I could put them on my head.  There I sat, looking quite ridiculous, kneeling on the ground with cups and lids on my head.  Then, who should arrive next to me, but E-Bear, with a cup and lid in his own hand.  He plopped it on his head and knelt down beside me, scooting close so that our legs were touching.  And there we sat, still looking ridiculous, getting our "haircut" while kneeling down with cups on our heads.

It was so fun to have E-Bear join in the imaginary "haircut" that was nothing like the real thing.  As I sat there next to my little 20-month old parrot, who was happy just to be part of the fun, it occurred to me that he had no sense of how silly we looked or how unrealistic the game was that we were playing.

And so it is with most behaviors my children see in myself and others.  G-Bear may have more context than E-Bear, having seen some behaviors and my reactions to them before.  But at this point a primary context and guidance for the behavior they will adopt as their own is that which they see others do, especially me and T.

So today I am reflecting on my actions, my habits, my patience, my tone of voice.  I am praying that I might be a good role model for my kids, so that their behaviors and habits might likewise be good ones.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Happy Birthday, Grandmo!

Happy 60th birthday to my amazing mom!  

She's a class act, folks, and a tough act to follow.

Mom is frolicking in Canada with my dad to celebrate the big day, and I can't wait until she gets back so that we can celebrate her in person.

I admire my mom so much.  The farther along I get in parenthood, the more thankful I become for the woman she is, the love she always gives, and the example I have in her.  She gave me life, and as if that isn't enough, she continues to give so much, to me and so many other people, everyday.

Hopefully her breakfast in bed today can compare with this spectacular spread of celebrations past :)

Happy birthday, Grandmo!  I can't wait to give you your amazing birthday gift.  Here's a hint....

.......just kidding, no hints.  You'll just have to wait until she gets back.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Savoring Summer

The air is crisp here and the temperature has dropped.  It's as if Mother Nature knows that school has started and September has arrived.  As we kiss our amazing summer good-bye, here are a few shots from our last week.  We enjoyed friends' birthday parties, a visit from our cousin Sparky, a last day at the Fair with our Rochester friends A & B and baby C, and a trip to the cabin.

Last family picture at the Fair.
Mrs. A and Baby C, hard at work at the Little Farm Hands Farm

B & A with our tower of cookies.  It was our 5th year in a row together at the Fair!
Must mean residency is almost over...

After the Fair, we headed North to the Cabin.
The view on the way to the cabin.  With corn this high, it must be September.

The last days of summer wouldn't be complete without roasting marshmallows.  We have read about Curious George roasting marshmallows, but little did the Bears know how fun it would be to actually try it ourselves!  

First, we roasted,

Then we assembled 
(notice the grahams and Hershey's cleverly cut in half!).

Then, we feasted!
E-Bear plans his attack.

Worth every gooey, messy bite.

You should have heard the chorus: "Mooooore?"  No wonder we call them S'mores :)

Finally, we cleaned up.  
When E-Bear is 20, I will still be seeing him like this:

And that, as they say, is a wrap.

Before officially signing off to summer (sniff, sniff!), I would like to thank one special guy who helped make mine so very special.  He has toiled through his first two TOUGH chief year rotations with grace and patience.  And he has helped me savor the moments and made lots of memories with us.

T, I love you.

Onto Fall!  Lots more fun to be made and enjoyed.  May God's blessings be upon us all.