Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are you ready for some football?

'Bama Nation is getting ready for a big game this weekend.  T usually reminds us around Tuesday that it is time to get ready for the game on Saturday.  The Bears have been doing their own preparations over the past few weeks by trying to figure this whole football thing out.  Last weekend, after watching the games, G-Bear and E-Bear announced their approaches to the game:

E-Bear (enthusiastically): 
"Mommy, I'm a football player and I would KICK the ball so the odder team can't get it!"

G-Bear (perplexed):
"Mommy, if I was there, I would get the ball and tell them that they all have to share it."

Depending on how you feel about football, you may be either delighted or disappointed that my kids aren't in charge of the game this weekend.

On a similar topic, our fabulous apartment community handyman recently discovered our allegiance to the Tide by spying our Nick Saban refrigerator magnet while fixing our broken washer.  He announced that he was a Tennessee fan and that we were lucky he didn't know we were Bama fans before he fixed the washer.  Holy moly!  I guess I am lucky to have a working washer.  The season has definitely started.

Roll Tide!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Already forgiven (no matter the mess!)

Tonight T had a dinner meeting, so the kids and I tackled the evening routine by ourselves.  Baby Bear became exhausted during dinner. He had an unmistakable "put-me-to-bed-now-or-else" look in his eye that I couldn't ignore.  E-Bear and G-Bear were enjoying their noodles and applesauce at a snails pace, partially because they were busy singing songs from today's music class to each other.  I knew Baby Bear wouldn't last until the noodle bowls were finished.

I announced to E-Bear and G-Bear that I needed to go put Baby Bear to bed.  I would be in the bedroom for a few minutes.  I wanted them to take a break from singing, keep their hands to themselves, and carefully finish their bites with their bottoms on their chairs.  When I returned, we would finish dinner together, take a quick bath, and then have a bedtime treat if everyone cooperated.  Then, bold woman that I am, I went to the bedroom to put Baby Bear to bed.

Some might say I like to live dangerously.  Two preschoolers at the dinner table, alone, with nearly-full bowls of food is a recipe for trouble, even on a good day.  I don't consider my kids to be overly mischievous, I am simply realistic about their level of judgement.

From the bedroom, as I nursed Baby Bear, I could hear the whole conversation at the table.  If I wanted Baby Bear to fall asleep, however, I couldn't announce my 'watchfulness' to the Bears by shouting to interject or intervene.  I made the decision that, unless bodily harm seemed imminent, I would let them handle the next few minutes by themselves and deal with the consequences afterwards.  I said a prayer for the carpet and prepared myself to forgive them for any youthful infraction they might commit in their next few moments of independence.

I was ready to forgive them, before they misbehaved.

For me, this was a momentary insight into the grace-filled parenthood of God.  He watches our every moment, even though we often forget that He's there.  He knows how our capacity for good is often obscured by our sinful nature, yet He allows us freedom to choose our actions.  He is ready to forgive us (thank you, Jesus), knowing our sin even before it happens.

I returned to the table to find two delighted Bears playing finger games and making spoon sculptures together.  No dinner bites had been eaten, but neither was there applesauce on the walls, noodles smeared on the floor, or underwear on anyone's head.  But more importantly, if there had been, I was just as ready to forgive as to correct.  Hopefully next time, when I need it, the Grace of God's parenthood will be present in mine.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Misty Eye Moments

Parenthood is full of moments that make you realize how great life is and how quickly it is passing by. Here are a few of my latest misty eye moments:

While helping the kids ride bikes:
G-Bear (to T holding the handle of her bike): " Daaaaaad, let me go, let me go!"
T (to me): "That's what she's going to say to me in twelve years when she's learning to drive."
G-Bear (now stuck at the bottom of a hill):  "Daaaaad, will you please come help me?"


Freshly 5 months old, Baby Bear was playing in our Exersaucer for the first time this week.  When he would become unhappy with something, G-Bear would run to the rescue, delivering a chew toy, a paci, a blanket, whatever she thought he needed.  As she sat and played with the Exersaucer toys with him, I realized I had seen her do it all before, nearly 3 years ago, with E-Bear.  When I asked her if she remembered when E-Bear used to play in the saucer, she said she didn't.  But I remember.  She is still the same sweet sister, one brother later.  

My big boy E-Bear, racing into preschool with his backpack on, give me a big hug and a kiss and a wave today before darting off to play with the classroom toys.  One week ago he was a super sad dude when we parted ways at the classroom door.  Not anymore.  He brought home an apple tree picture today and was so proud to show it off at dinner.  That's my E-Bear.


Baby Bear has no interest laying on his back anymore.  Set him down, and he is rolled over on his stomach almost immediately, ready to watch the action.  He is happy as a clam on his tummy, as long as he can see what's happening.  Just don't step on the little guy chillin' in the middle of the floor!


T has been home early these days from work, a welcome change for all of us.  From the kitchen as I make dinner, I can hear the peals of laughter from the playroom.  T is simultaneously ordering food from a chef, playing pretend with a princess, holding a happy Baby Bear in his lap, and checking his email so that I can have the kitchen to myself.  Is it any wonder that he's my prince charming?


We all take our shoes off when we come into our house.  This particular day, the routine took our breath away.  We know things won't always be this way.  

Thank you, Lord for these precious days.  Help us parent these sweet souls with your grace and wisdom.  

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Grocery Bag

This week we are all about regaining our routine after a week of travels and family fun.  Meal plans are a key way for my to keep our sanity in check during re-boot weeks like this one.  As the weather gets colder, I am dusting off some of my favorite fall recipes to make them for the first time this year.

Day One
Ham steaks, baby lima beans
and Honey roasted root vegetables from Cooking Light Magazine
I broil our ham steaks for a few minutes once the vegetables are done cooking, and voila! 
This is one of my favorite fall dinners. 
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Hamburger stroganoff from Cooking Light
with spinach, broccoli slaw and blueberry salad
This lightened version of the classic dish hits the spot every time.  I don't change a thing, except I use grass-fed beef.
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Lentil chili from
with homemade bread
This is a tried and true fall favorite, a hearty main using lentils.
Photo and recipe from

Day Four
Corn and fingerling potato chowder from Cooking Light Magazine
with biscuits and carrot sticks
I love chowders, and I can't wait to try this one.
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
with mixed green salad and orzo pilaf
This dinner is great because we can all eat the various parts our own way.  Our kids usually enjoy eating everything separately, while adults will enjoy the satisfying wraps.
Photo and recipe from

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

When Mom's away...

My meeting yesterday was brief, oh so brief.

....good thing that the wait time at Krispy Kreme was too!

Let's hear it for doughnuts with Daddy!  Thanks, T, for stepping in during my appointment, and for spoiling us all in the process (he even saved a doughnut hole for me!).  Can you imagine the revelry if my meeting had been longer?

Friday, September 16, 2011


"I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation."
~Philippians 4:12

Yesterday I sat in on a class of third and fourth graders.  Their teacher passed two rocks around the group.  One was quite rough and dull, with jagged edges and inexact sides.  The second was smooth with a polished look, nearly oval in shape.  The teacher asked the students to tell her which rock they thought had enjoyed an easier life, the rough rock or the smooth one.  I was impressed that every student except one chose the smooth rock, guessing that it had enjoyed the easier life.  I bet that many adults would answer the same way.

The students' teacher was gentle and wise.  She surprised the students by telling them that the answer was exactly the opposite of what most of them had guessed.  The rough rock was rough because it had been been buried in the ground, protected from the abrasion, conditioning and polishing of the harsh elements.  As a result, it was rough and dull and jagged.  The smooth rock had instead been subjected to years of tumbling, wear and abrasive polishing at the bottom of a rapid stream.  The result was it's lovely, smooth and polished appearance.

The teacher was using the rocks to illustrate an important truth about Christian life.  In the world, a life of ease without significant hardship often appears outwardly beautiful.  The rocks, however, were intended to represent our souls and interior life.  We often desire a life of ease and comfort in our pursuit of happiness and fulfillment.  But when it comes to our souls, God uses the trials and struggles of life to polish and refine us according to His perfect design.

I am tucking this one away for a day when my kids need some encouragement. When I am feeling discontent, may I remember it myself.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Boston Re-Cap

I know, I know, it has been days since we've checked in.
But don't worry, this crew has been up to something....

...They have been quite busy delighting their grandparents and exhausting their parents!
Let's here it for a great family weekend in Boston!

Cousin Sparky is a great hostess and a master at sharing her toys.  
G-Bear loves to have her cousin tag along on all manner of imaginary adventures.
Fortunately, cousin Sparky is delighted to do so.

Then there is sweet cousin T, whose smile charms all the ladies at the park,

and the big boy of the group who is busy blazing a trail....

....for these two charmers to follow!

Thanks to Uncle T and Aunt K for hosting our crazy crew for five days, sharing their friends, neighborhood zoo, splash pool, late nights and coffee pot with us.  We're home and ready to hit the sack early (the kids fell asleep in the car on the way home and no one woke up when we carried them into bed!).  It must be a sign of some great family time.   

Friday, September 9, 2011

Best Buddies

Best buddies, 
through thick and thin, 
even through the first week of school.

It's been a big week for us around here, but the Bears have weathered it well.  I couldn't be more thankful for their friendship and love for each other.  This weekend we are celebrating with a visit to the Boston cousin contingent and a rendezvous with MoMo and Papa.  What fun!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Prince Philip

As overheard during playtime.....

G-Bear: "E-Bear, look at this sticker!  Look who it is!"

E-Bear: "Oh, yeah, Prince Philip!  He's my BOY!"

Brought to you from the house of "Tangled" hair, red caped princes, Cinderella slippers, Jessie and Woody cowboy hats and Toothless-Hiccup dragon games. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

First Day of School 2011

Today is the first day of school here in Happily Ever Johnson Land!

A special hooray goes out to E-Bear, who enjoyed his VERY FIRST day of school today.

Last year there were quite a few tears on our first day of school.  This year, we had only smiles, as both E-Bear and G-Bear get to go to school together.  We are a blessed bunch.  

Our routine this morning was quite a bit different than it has been all summer.  Breakfast was mini-wheats and bananas in the car (can you tell we were running late?),  at 10 AM I was attending a parents' meeting alone with Baby Bear rather than watching Sesame Street with the kids, and at noon we were leaving school rather than changing out of our pjs!  Yikes, that's a lot of change for the Mama Bear!

We're excited about our new school and teachers.  We dropped G-Bear off at her classroom first, and she wasted no time climbing to the top of the pillow loft that was filled with books.  E-Bear was so brave when I dropped him off at his room.  When I picked him up he reported that he had been sad a few times because I was "not at the class" with him.  I bet he just said that to make me feel better ;)  All in all, a great first day.

Today we are especially thankful for G-Bear's teachers last year, who laid a strong, loving school foundation for our whole family.  We are ready to put our best feet forward for this new year.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Grocery Bag

It's pasta week at our house!  We have unpredictable schedules and lots of firsts to enjoy this week, which will leave little time for dinner preparations.  Here is my plan for the week.

Day One
This sauce is delicious, quick and light.

Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Sweet potato mac & cheese from Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Our favorite healthy alternative to the traditional.  
You'll never know the sweet potatoes are there!

Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Sweet hot tofu from Cooking Light
with basmati rice and steamed broccoli

Photo and recipe from

Day Four
Risotto pasta with peas and mushrooms from Fine Cooking
A fun new way to cook pasta.  We'll give it a try!

Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Our favorite pad thai 
with fruit salad
This is our favorite homemade version of this awesome Thai dish.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

UNC Gameday

It is college football's opening weekend! 

We may not have been the starting offensive line, 

but we were pretty good at blocking the sidewalk. 

This crew looked so fierce, man, could they clear a section.

Just kidding, this was actually after the game, not during it.
We don't exit any place quickly.

Carolina blues looked good on everyone today.

The smiles were sterling,

and so too will be our memories.

We have Uncle T, Aunt K and the cousins to thank for our awesome day.

Would you believe that we arrived before the game started
and left long after the crowd was gone?
With six kids 5 years and under, that is impressive and a sign of a good time.

We'll sleep well tonight, especially because all of our teams won today.  Gotta keep everyone happy around here ;)

Happy football season!