Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween out and about

Happy Halloween Weekend!  The goblins are already out in our neighborhood.  We live in a college neighborhood, so this weekend has been one of the rowdiest of the school year so far.  While I find myself rolling my eyes at all the ruckus passing by our house late at night, the kids have had a much better attitude.   They have being totally entertained by the costumed students prowling the neighborhood this weekend.  

Today we had lots of fun getting ready for tomorrow.  Here is a sneak peak at the 2010 Johnson Pumpkin Patch:

We spent the day trying on our costumes and attending a local business district's Halloween festivities, complete with trick-o-treating through the stores.  E-Bear got really good at saying "trick-o-treat!"  G-Bear was already a pro.

Tonight we went for a walk down to the Minnesota Gopher football stadium to catch a glimpse of the Halloween action and the night game hosting Ohio State.  We stood outside the gates of the stadium with the kids, watching the megatron and oooing at the crowd.  Suddenly, a man inside the gate reached through the giant bars and handed T two tickets for his third row, end zone seats.  "Here," he said, "would you guys like to see the game?  I won't be needing these tonight, they are my extra tickets."  

Oh my goodness! We were speechless!  We raced into the stadium with the kids and found the seats, right behind the goal posts in the middle third row.  We couldn't believe we were getting to watch the game so close to the field.  It was E-Bear and G-Bear's first football game, and we all had a blast.  Too bad the Gophers got clobbered.  You would never know it by the smiles:

We even made it onto the jumbotron, and if you watch field goal replays on YouTube from the game, you might just see us: behind the left goalpost in the third row  :)  

I hope that nice man who gave us his seats could see our smiles from where he was sitting.  I wish he could know how much fun it was for us to get to go to the game, what a truly special treat it was for us.  I was so taken aback by his generosity to complete strangers.  Hopefully our family can pay the blessing forward to others in the future.  Random acts of kindness truly make the world a better place.  

It's been a wonderful Halloween weekend for us so far.   Have a safe and happy All Saints' Eve!  

Friday, October 29, 2010

My Grateful Heart

"Give thanks in everything."  ~1 Thessalonians 5:18

At the end of a long day, when the week is dragging on, giving thanks can be a rejuvenating exercise.  Rather than focus on the negatives of the day, which is so draining, why not end a day with thanks?  

Here are my Grateful Heart mementos from today.  What are yours?

~For my sweet daughter, her amazing flexibilty, and the way she loves school so much.  Two different family friends have helped me by taking her to school this week while I'm at work and our babysitter cares for E-Bear in his cast.   G-Bear has taken the change of routine perfectly in stride.  Every morning, she wakes up hoping that it is a school day.  Today she was so excited to bring Halloween treats to share with her classmates.  When she returned from school with a bag full of candy from the class party, she was so eager to show E-Bear and share it all with him.  Thank you, Lord, for G-Bear.

~For dear E-Bear, who remains happy and playful despite his cast.  Tonight we tried a bath for the first time in his cast, and while he didn't love it, he was a good sport, holding his leg in the air while I sponged him off and scrubbed his hair.   Tonight as he and G-Bear played with her candy on the couch, my heart melted how they delighted in showing each other the "treasures."  He licked his lollypop treat with such enthusiasm after dinner.  May my heart be as thankful for the little blessings of everyday.  Thank you, Lord, for E-Bear.

~For my wonderful T, who never complains when dinner doesn't turn out well and remains ever patient at bedtime (even when I feel frazzled).  He stays up late with me as I study and lets me keep sleeping in the morning as he gets ready for work.  I still think about him all day, whether I am at work or at home.  I am the most blessed woman in the world to be married to T.

~For the chance to study dermatology with great doctors this period, for mentors who invest in T & in me, for all the friends who have helped us get through this week with E-Bear being hurt.  For the Amazing Miss R who loves my kiddos and takes all their up & downs in stride.  We are surrounded by others who have generously blessed us.  

The rest of the day just seems to melt away, doesn't it?

Time to crawl into bed.....
......with a grateful heart.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Life with a Cast

We are making the most of things with a cast here in Happily Ever Johnson Land!  
We are so grateful for all the prayers and good wishes that have been coming our way.

G-Bear has been a great buddy to E-Bear.  
We are finding lots of quality activities to do as a family while sitting around together.  
The conversations between the kids on the couch have been priceless:

Chatting it up together on the couch.
 I must confess there have been several extra computer viewings of Sesame Street the past few days:

So, what IS the Letter of the Day?
Pssst, don't tell Mom, G-Bear is snacking on the couch ;)
We have been truly grateful for friends who have helped us this week as well.  Our friend, Nana V, brought over dinner and surprises for the kids last night.  What a treat for all of us!  I arrived home to an amazing meal prepared.  The kids peels of laughter and joy were a true delight as they opened their surprises.  E-Bear still won't let the new airplane out of his sight.  G-Bear has colored half of her new coloring book.  The smiles say it all:

We're making lemonade out of lemons here in Happily Ever Johnson Land!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Grocery Bag

Gotta have a plan for the week!  It is dermatology surgery week for me, T is buckling down for an upcoming exam and we have one in a full leg cast!  Here's hoping and praying for many guardian angels in my kitchen and in my house.

Day One: 
Ham & Pineapple Pizza with whole wheat pizza dough
The ham is chopped, the pineapple ready.  
Prep the crust in the morning and let it rise all day, 
open some some tomato sauce and mozzerella,
and we are eating in 30 minutes when I get home!

Day Two
with roasted potatoes and corn
These are the same meatloaf muffins I made 2 weeks ago.
They were awesome the first time. 
I saved half of the batch in the freezer for this week.  
Since they are fully cooked, just warm them and dinner is ready!

Day Three
Slow Cooker Pot Roast 
with onions, carrots and potatoes
Haven't found my recipe yet, but its hard to go wrong with
pot roast and veggies in the slow cooker all day.

Day Four
homemade bread
My friend recently posted her recipe for this soup.
She is a fantastic cook, so it goes on our menu for this week.

Day Five
with Apples and Carrots
This dish by my friend SnoWhite was so amazing 3 weeks ago,
it is making a second appearance.  I can't wait until friday ;)

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Johnson First, A Broken Leg

St. Luke,
gospel author and physician.

Last night T and I took the kids to attend our Archbishop Nienstedt's annual "White Mass" for healthcare providers.  The Mass is sponsored by the Twin Cities Catholic Medical Association and is celebrated every year around the feast of St. Luke, the patron saint of physicians, which occurs on October 18th.  We had a wonderful time celebrating and thanking the Lord with friends and colleagues.  But little did we know that we would need the the prayers of St. Luke in a different way later in the evening because.....

...As I made dinner and the kids watched the Alabama game with T,  sweet E-Bear slipped off the couch the wrong way, landed on his leg and wouldn't get up.  No matter how much training you have, minds still spin when you child is howling and won't walk.  I was grateful that my husband is not only patient, level-headed and kind, but also an excellent orthopaedic surgeon.  We let E-Bear sleep through the night in his own bed, but we were up early this morning to see if he would walk. When he still wouldn't stand up, we knew it was time for an x-ray.

E-Bear and G-Bear were both troopers in their own way during our time at the hospital.  Many stickers and plaster wrap later, we had a casted leg!

E-Bear and his cast.  "Don't worry, momma!"
Even though the day was filled with some bummer and we have 2-4 weeks ahead of us with a long-leg cast, we have a lot to be thankful for:

E-Bear is fine and is on the road to recovery.
He holds the record of being the first Johnson to ever get a cast.
The nurses, residents and staff who took care of us all have worked with Todd,
 know us well, and were abundantly kind.  

And we knew that God was watching over and St. Luke must have added his prayers for us, because the orthopaedist who was on call (and put on E-Bear's cast!) is not only one of Todd's favorite mentors, but had been at the White Mass with us the night before as well.  Coincidence?  I think not.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Merit Badges of Motherhood

Who says merit badges are only for girl scouts?  Here is a great original post by a dear friend of mine, characteristically extolling the impressive feats of mothers everywhere.

Maybe I will start making Mommy Merit Badge Sashes for all my friend's on their birthdays.  Oh my sweetness, check these out, somebody already makes Mama Merit Badges.  I love it.  Very creative.

Now that I think of it, merit badges alone may not be enough.  I think I am going to add "Chief Executive Officer of Potty Training" to my resume.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Halloween in Minnesota

You know you live in Minnesota when your three year old asks during dinner:

"Mommy, will Halloween be here after the snow comes?"

Hopefully BEFORE, G-Bear, hopefully BEFORE.

Is it really that cold here already?!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Life in Dermatology

Did you know that there are over 2,000 dermatologic conditions that have been described?  Good luck to me, trying to learn them during these next three weeks while I rotate through the dermatology department.  My required, 300 page dermatology text doesn't even begin to scratch the surface!

Medical school is an exercise in humility.  I constantly find my self wavering between relief and gratefulness that I am getting to do these elective senior rotations and horror at the amount of information that I still don't know.  It is sort of like parenting in many ways: I am infinitely thankful for my children and terrified by how much I have to wing parenting most of the time.

I will need more than luck, so wish me God's grace and wisdom as I tackle all these rashes :)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Grocery Bag

Meal planning is one of the keys to success during a first week back to medical school rotations.  There will certainly be unexpected curve balls in the week.  Best to have the fridge stocked and the recipes prepped.  This week is filled with simple, easy-prep meals to get us through.

Day One
Easy Meatballs from Everyday Food
and Oatmeal Irish Soda Bread
with salad greens
These meatballs and sauce are amazing, only requiring one pot. 
You can cheat and just use your favorite tomato sauce instead of making your own like in the recipe.
The bread is my new favorite quick bread. 
I found the recipe in a grocery store flier.
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Yum.  I love making this because I have lunch for the rest of the week.
Definitely add garbanzo beans.

Day Three
and steamed broccoli
Super-quick.  Super good.
Recipe and Photo from

Day Four
Barbeque roasted salmon from Cooking Light Magazine
and steamed green beans
This recipe is a Happily Ever Johnson Hall of Famer.  
I used it to impress and whoo T way back in the day.  
Fancy enough for company, but comes together in a snap. 

Recipe and Photo at

Day Five
Ham and garden veggie shells
from Joy in My Kitchen
This looks like a winner.  Especially after a long week.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Overheard in the house this week 6...

"E-Bear, let's play a game.  I will be the princess, and you can be......just a boy."

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Friday Surprise

Lilypie Maternity tickers

Hooray for Baby Three!

We are so excited to share our Friday surprise with everyone!  
Announcing Baby Three, due on his/her Mom's 30th birthday.  
We are so excited.  Please keep us all in your prayers in the coming months.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Surprise on Friday

Ok, so here's the deal.  I have a surprise for Friday.

No hints.

No spoiling if you've been privy to the inside scoop.

There will be a clue somewhere on the blog tomorrow and then Friday I will post the surprise.

How fun is that?

I love surprises.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

They will know we are Christians

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord
and we pray that our unity will one day be restored.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
they will know we are Christians by our love.

We will work with each other, we will work side by side
and we'll guard each man's dignity and save each man's pride.
And they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
they will know we are Christians by our love.

In 1963, Peter Scholtes wrote a song called "They will know we are Christians," while pastoring a church on the South Side of Chicago.  The beautiful lyrics are above.  

When I think about how I want to live out my faith for my children and for the world, these words often come to mind.  Jars of Clay has performed a great rendition of the song on their album, Redemption Songs.  Tonight T and I were listening to the album again.  I think I played the song on repeat 4 times, and prayed the whole time.

May the world know us by our love.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Grocery Bag

I am ready to savor this week.  It is my last week of before returning to work and the last week for most of the Minneapolis farmers markets.  *Sigh*.  Whoa, I stand corrected, (by an early morning comment from the Minneapolis Farmers Market itself!) the mighty Mpls Farmers Market remains open 7 days a week, even as others phase out.  I'll be shopping there until the last stall closes.  So, while I'll have to adjust to life back at the hospital next week, I won't have to head back to the grocery store produce section just yet.  

Thank goodness for the beautiful weather and all of our autumn family fun.  Here are my meal ideas to get us through this week.  Thanks for reading today.

Day One
Corn Chowder from Food & Wine Magazine
with grilled cheese squares
Everyone should have a favorite corn chowder recipe.  This is mine.
It's a delicious, hearty soup that we love.  I add bacon and top with fresh parsley.  
We cut our grilled cheese into mini squares: perfect for little fingers and for dipping.
Corn Chowder photo at

Day Two
Beef & Cheesy Noodle Bake from Cooking Light
This is a great baked pasta that hides veggies from picky eaters.  
It is another favorite dish in our house.
Beef & Cheesy Noodle Bake photo from

Now, at some point in the week you are going to want to buy a rotisserie chicken or cook a whole chicken like me, so that you will have plenty of cooked, shredded chicken at the ready for the next two meals.  But before you throw out your leftover chicken, DO YOURSELF a FAVOR and SAVE SOME MONEY and use your bones and chicken leftovers to make chicken stock.  It's so easy!  Just cover the carcass with water, some salt & your favorite herbs in a crock pot and cook on low overnight (after dinner!) or for 10-12 hours.  Strain the broth off the solids & either use it right away for your next dinner or freeze in containers for future use.  As T has proclaimed, "this is the REAL stuff.  It just tastes better."

from Pam Anderson's Perfect One-Dish Dinners
Use some of  you cooked chicken in this delish dinner.
My aunt is a fabulous cook and recommends this with rave reviews.  
I can't wait to make it myself.

with homemade wheat bread
Yum.  Great for study nights with friends...they always ask for the recipe.  
Great way to use your new homemade broth and cooked chicken.

Creamy Chicken Soup photo at

Day Five

Thanks for meal planning with us this week!  A great place to find other menus is at Menu Planning Monday, hosted by Organizing Junkie.  

Blessings on your kitchen.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tough day in sports

Yesterday was a rough day for the sports fans in my life.

The #1 ranked Crimson Tide lost for the first time in 20 straight games in a surprise upset to South Carolina.

Later last night, the Twins lost a third play-off game to the Yankees, bringing an end to their season.

Talk about a bummer day.

Except that we had the pleasure of cheering my younger cousin to victory, who played in his final varsity high school soccer game last night.  His team won a nail-bitter with two spectacular goals in the last 20 seconds of overtime.  The whole extended family was there in team colors with a giant sign for him.  We are good at embarrassing, er, supporting each other.

Others have written far more eloquently than I can about the way favorite sports teams bring fans to tears of joy or sadness.  While I was never a die-hard groupie growing up, my dad and brother are Twins fans par excellence.  Then I married a man who, for 5 months of the year, lives and breaths Alabama football.  We listen to the Alabama radio station online to hear the running commentary during the week.  We have found every free means known to man to view the games on internet, iphone or tv during the season (which is harder than you might think when you live in Big 10 country).  The whole family starts getting nervous for the game by Thursday night.  T combs the blogs for the inside scoop before the game.  The kids know where to find their shakers and are ready with their cheers come game time.

And you know what?  I love it.  When T sits down to watch the game on game day, I am right there with him, wishing we were at the stadium.  And yesterday, I have to admit I was not only sad for Alabama and crushed for my guy who had to watch his team lose, I was rather sullen myself.

As we watched the Twins lose later that night with the rest of my family, my dad wondered out loud:
"Man, here I am pulling my hair out over a bunch of millionaires who are losing a play-off game.  Makes you wonder at what point you have become too invested in a team."

There is some truth to my dad's observation.  For instance, we have banned post-losing-game bad moods in our house (didn't need to worry about that much last year in an undefeated season).  But as I have learned through loving T, there is something special about the bond between sports fans and their teams.  And this weekend I am glad to have one.

Two in a tree

What happens while Dad is in charge?

Non-stop fun!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Joy for everyday

"You can find Joy even in your most difficult days."
~Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

Yesterday was a fabulous day filled with happiness in our house.

But not all days feel like yesterday.  I was reminded of this as I did some spiritual reading during nap time.  I was reminded of the many days when happiness is elusive, when my mood is sour, my heart discontented.  Can I hope to find Joy even in my most difficult days?  What if my days are even harder than they have been in the past?  What if I lost someone I loved?  Faced disease or injury?  Sometimes joy feels as fleeting as the summer sun this time of year. 

In Jesus Calling, I was reminded today that some of the world's most miserable people are those whose circumstances seem the most enviable.  Some of the greatest saints the world has ever seen had nothing, died penniless and suffered greatly in their lives.  These examples and my own experience force me to admit that true joy must not depend on my circumstances.  

In the book of Habakkuk, a prophet offers a compelling testament of faith and finds joy in all circumstances, even those that feel the most devastating or dreary.

"For though the fig tree blossoms not,
nor fruit be on the vines,
Though the yield of the olive fail
and the terraces produce no nourishment,
Though the flocks disappear from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
Yet will I rejoice in the Lord
and exult in my saving God."
~Habakkuk 3: 17-19

Incredible.  Lord, let my heart draw close and rejoice in you when my day seems too hard.  Because that might be my today or tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ring Bearer & Flower Girl

Our wonderful babysitter, the Amazing Miss R, got married this weekend.  G-Bear and E-Bear were fortunate enough to be the flower girl & ring bearer, respectively.  We are still re-living the fantastic experience of getting to be a part of Miss R's & Mr. Z's special day.  At dinner tonight, when T asked G-Bear what she did today, she replied, "We had a great time at the wedding."  

Here are a few of our favorite memories from our big day.  Thanks to Miss R, her family & Mr. Z, who lavished love and tenderness on my munchkins and included them in such a cherished day. 

First, there were many preparations:

Getting dressed with the wedding party at the church.
T was in charge of helping E-Bear with the bow tie.
Miss R even took time out from her preparation to braid G-Bear's hair.  Wow.

Getting ready with Jr Bridesmaid (and our beloved friend!), H.

Had to take a photo shoot break to pass some time.

Gotta love the smile on this guy.

Dressed up and looking good.

 Then there was the official photo shoot,

The bride and her adoring entourage.
 and some last minute practice to make perfect.

In the real procession, the kids blew away my every expectation.  They not only walked together down the aisle, but G-Bear dropped her petals and E-Bear smiled beautifully.  The only near-panic moments came after they successfully made it down the aisle.  E-Bear was distressed that he didn't get to go stand with Miss R, who arrived shortly after him, and G-Bear was distressed that the runner was pulled up the aisle, covering the petals she had carefully dropped for Miss R to see.  I assured her that she could drop even more petals for Miss R on the way out.  

Then there was the rice toss for the happy couple,

a few hugs and enthusiastic waves good-bye,
A few enthusiastic hugs and waves good-bye
 and of course, family pictures before the dinner dance reception.

MoMo & Papa were so proud.

Our whole crew
After dancing our hearts out at the reception, T and I carried the happy and exhausted flower girl and ring bearer to their chariot toward bedtime.  As we left the reception, G-Bear sighed blissfully, 
"Wow, THAT was a long party. And VERY fun."

Congratulations to Miss R & Mr Z.  
We love you.