Saturday, December 31, 2011

On the sixth day of Christmas (otherwise known as New Year's Eve)

For the sixth day of Christmas, a priceless memory:

six nights, scant sleeping,

five first time puffs!
four at St. Nick's feet,
three playmates,
two crawling buds,
and a joyful, thankful family.

Amidst all the idyllic pictorial memorabilia, I have no pictures for today's memory which is probably for the better.  Lest we forget that life with little munchkins doesn't stop once the sun goes down, this entry is a shout-out to the sleepless nights of the holiday season.  Traveling to be with family over the holidays is amazing and worth it.  We wouldn't have it any other way.  Time-zones and new surroundings always take a toll on sleep, however, not to mention the excitement of all things Christmas.  We always return home happy but exhausted. We traveled home late into the night on Wednesday, stayed up even later unpacking to get a jumpstart on our first day home.  Then, after a full day of errands on Thursday, we had one child throwing up all night long.  Poor peanut.  T and I took turns rotating between bathroom duty and resting on the floor in the hall outside.  Just as I finished the fifth load of bed sheets and towels at 5am, our youngest awoke.  Finally, last night, tummy cramps kept our Baby Bear unhappily awake every few hours.  Tonight, on New Year's Eve, the thought of voluntarily going to bed before midnight sounds almost too good to be true!  

No pity needed, I'm not pouting.  We are trying to treasure these moments despite our sleep-deprived state.  In twenty years when I am misty-eyed and missing the awesome wonder-filled moments of these early years, I want to remember to be thankful for the blessing of a full night of sleep!  So tonight, T and I rang in the New Year by watching football and cooking Indian food (thanks, Mom, for the awesome Spatulart bowl scraper!).  We have had enough late-night excitement around here lately. 

 We don't know what is in store for the new year, but we trust in God to lead and provide.  May all 366 days of 2012 (remember, it's a Leap Year!) be blessed!

Friday, December 30, 2011

On the fifth day of Christmas

For the fifth day of Christmas, a photo memory:

Five first time puffs!

Not sure what to make of them at first.
Pincher grasp at work.



Who authorized this?  I thought those were my puffs!

four at St. Nick's feet,
three playmates,
two crawling buds,
and a joyful, thankful family.

Baby Bear tried his first puffs for the first time on Tuesday and they were a huge success. 
What a great Christmas time treat for our little guy!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

On the fourth day of Christmas

For the fourth day of Christmas, a photo memory:

Four at St. Nick's feet,

three playmates,
two crawling buds,
and a joyful, thankful family.

Thanks again to our Christmas Eve visitor, who delighted the crew!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

On the third day of Christmas

For the third day of Christmas, a photo memory:

Three playmates,

two crawling buds,
and a joyful, thankful family.

By the end of a week together, G-Bear, E-Bear and Cousin H are like siblings.  They have shared beds, bathtimes, story times, late nights, early mornings, ideas, adventures, toys, sippy cups, ups and downs.  They are able to both delight each other and push each other's buttons.  Somehow, what the other is doing is always more interesting.  The antics of these three have made me laugh and remember the sweetness of holidays past while growing up with my own cousins.  May these relationships grow and blossom in the years to come so that they become even more beautiful and special. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the second day of Christmas

For the second day of Christmas, a photo memory:

Two crawling buds,

and a joyful, thankful family.

Baby Bear has been inspired in many ways by his cousin this Christmas.  Only eight weeks older than our Baby Bear, T is setting the pace!  Thanks in part to his encouraging example, Baby Bear has been full out crawling since Christmas Eve.  G-Bear and E-Bear have to be careful where they build their block towers and favorite toys these days.  Baby Bear and Cousin T are now an unstoppable duo.  Just wait until T teaches Baby Bear to walk!

Monday, December 26, 2011

On the first day of Christmas

For the first day of Christmas, a photo memory:

One joyful, thankful family.

MoMo and Papa have hosted an amazing Christmas weekend.  Our Christmas Eve crowd was intact for the first time in years.   We had a member celebrating her 90th Christmas and two baby boys celebrating Christmas with us for the first time.   We also had a visit from Santa for the first time since I was a little girl.  E-Bear was especially welcoming, assuring Santa that he would sleep soundly that night (and then demonstrating!) and singing jingle bells at the top of his voice with his new bell shaker.   What a special celebration.  We are so thankful for our family.  

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011!

May this day bring joy and peace, for God is with us and He is our hope.

Merry Christmas to you, from all of us in Happily Ever Johnson Land!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Blue Ridge Christmas

Last weekend, the Bears and I celebrated the end of our epic Alabama roadtrip in the best possible way.  We met T and all of the Johnson clan at a cabin in Blue Ridge, GA.

Thanks to Uncle L, who came up with the idea and the cabin.  We had an amazing time celebrating with 9 cousins, all 6 years and under, eight parents/siblings, and one awesome Nana.

There were birthdays and storytimes...

Christmas crafts, cookie baking and amazing cooks in the kitchen
(thanks, Aunt H, Nana, Aunt K and Aunt A!),

a Christmas train ride and special meetings,

and lots of fun in between.

Believe it or not, the cabin had a room of triple decker bunkbeds, and all the cousins slept downstairs together.  What a treat!  This crew is growing up so quickly. "Can we stay at this cabin with our cousins?" My Bears asked as we drove away.  It is sweet to be with family who we admire and love so much, especially this time of year.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Toast to Paci

Tonight we toasted E-Bear with peppermint milkshakes at Chick-fil-a.  Our newly minted three year old has weathered two nights without his paci at bedtime, so we celebrated as promised with his chosen treat. I am so proud of how he is handling the transition.  As he set his paci in a "special spot" last night, he broke out into the Sesame Street refrain: "bye, bye, binkie...binkie, bye, bye," and then happily hopped into bed.  Now, as we have discussed (thanks, Aunt K, for the suggestions!), his teeth will have a lot more room to grow in his mouth at night!

Hang in there, E-Bear, you are doing great!

Eight Excellent Baby Bear Months

Baby Bear is eight months old today.

He makes eight months look good.

But don't let him fool you, he's not laying around much these days.  
He's really quite busy making the most of every moment.

Whether noshing at the table at dawn,

playing at the playground mid-morning,

wrestling in the afternoon,

swinging at sunset,

 or scooting toward bedtime,
this little man is taking the season and our hearts by storm.

Every time we go to get our mail at our community office, the staff say,
"He is always smiling, never grumpy!"

It is true, Baby Bear, your smile brightens our day,
and you flash it even more now that you've carved out two more top teeth!

Thanks for being my buddy in the backpack, for always waking up with a smile,
for sharing your voice with us (bah, bahs, and mah, mahs), 
and for giving us the raspberries (thwerpppppp!) every once in a while.  

We're so thankful for these eight months with you.
We love you.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Nine Days of Christmas Prayers

Advent is slipping away.  Christmas is almost here.  This season reminds us that we have a Hope.  We will find Him lying in a manger, poor, cold and helpless.  In His precious face, we behold the face of our all-loving God.  

Amidst the sorrows of life, may this season bring joy and hope.   As Christmas approaches, I am praying this especially for several friends and for my family as well.  This Christmas Novena is a wonderful nine day prayer for this week before Christmas.  

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Fun Cars Party

What could be better than a birthday morning full of pjs, birthday crowns, cousins and presents?

Nothing, except maybe a birthday evening filled with crafts, cousins and a Cars birthday cake!

Our E-Bear sailed into his fourth year (!!) feeling loved and adored, thanks to our family who can celebrate with the best of them.  MoMo's birthday box arrived intact with a Lighting McQueen tablecloth, tattoos, cake plates and presents to delight everyone.  We had our cereal with traditional birthday sprinkles to make breakfast extra special.  And a special hip, hip goes out to E-Bear's siblings and cousins who showered him with birthday songs and enthusiastic help during present time.  

We love you, E-Bear!  May you have a blessed year as a three year old!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Happy Third Birthday to you, E-Bear!




I'm turning three!

Dearest E-Bear,

What a blessing it is to celebrate three years with you today.  You have grown from a smiling little babe, into a train loving toddler, into a energetic preschooler.  There is so much that we treasure about you these days.  You will always be our precious first-born son, but you are so much more as well.  You are kind and tenderhearted, inviting toward others. You are your sister's best friend and playmate.  You are the delight of your little brother, so gentle and sweet toward him, considerate of his needs. You take life by the reins, plunge headlong into the challenges of your age, and yet you still make space for sweet, quiet moments.  This year with you has been filled with fun and milestones:

January......You are our pickiest eater at dinner, unless I'm serving noodles, but you eat breakfast with the best of them.  Every morning when I wake you up, you ask if you can play with your trains -- oh, the mornings we have had at your train table.  When we went to see Sesame Live together, you welcomed the muppets by name with enthusiastic cheers and claps, which is how you make me feel when you welcome me home from work too.

February....Whether reading library books with your sister on the couch, or solving your favorite jigsaw puzzle, you manage to stay busy during the long, cold winter.  Your focus and attention to your puzzles is impressive, and you are even teaching your sister a thing or two!  We loved your first spontaneous prayer at dinner time.  You also enjoyed your first weekend sleepover at MoMo and Papa's while Mommy and Daddy were out of town together.

March.... You cheered for the princes at Disney Princesses on Ice, no less enthusiastic than your princess -loving sister.  As the month passes, you are always asking me if you can "put a bean in the basket" for our Lenten preparations, and the prayers you add to our prayer chain are just as sweet.  You and your sister remain inseparable reading and make-believe buddies.   I pray almost daily that you remain this close always.

April....Snowsuits in April and a superman cape at your sister's birthday, you start the month in style.  You are giving my big belly lots of kisses for the baby these days. You are so ready and willing to be a big brother that you give up your crib for a big kid bed and are able to reach the light switch yourself, all in one afternoon!  When your little brother arrives, you take it all in stride, never flinching in your tenderness and sweetness....Except during our family Easter egg hunt at Papa's house, when you relentlessly hunted those jellybeans!

May....You have grown out of your first bike helmet, and you are helping Papa plant flowers in the garden.  You are, at the same time, the big brother looking out for the baby, and my little boy who asks me to kiss scrapes and bumps.  We rarely see you without your Prince Philip cape on, except when you're wowing us in the pool during your first swimming lessons.  At the playground, you are tackling the tallest twisty slides like a big kid, and you fit in like one, especially when you are holding hands with your sister's class on her end-of-the-year preschool field trips.

June....You are loving Shel Silverstein poems these days and excelling in your lessons at the pool and in your kite-flying skills.  At our last visit to the doctor, you impress Daddy and me so much by offering to be the first one to get shots.  You were so brave even though they hurt. You express yourself so well these days, and you are always making us laugh with your expressions.

July....It's a big month for us, from Fourth of July at "Cousin Brett's cabin" for GG's birthday, to our big move away from Minnesota.  We made up our "Lightning McQueen" bedtime song together at the cabin, and you developed an affinity for stickers during our long cabin weekends.  We treasure the last of our summer days in MN together with MoMo and Papa.  Then, you anxiously await our moving truck and help me pack up our playroom (your bedroom!) when the time comes.  Everyday, you ask me, "Mom, is it time to go to Norf Carolina?!"

August....A new home, a new room, and you take it all in stride.  You and your sister love sharing a room together.  Meanwhile, your love of Superman has arrived, and you love your new caped shirt.  You take Tweetsie Railroad by storm and we survive our first earthquake at the lunch table.

September....You are so excited to start school for the first time, and you only tear up after I've left your class.  The first week is harder on me than it is in you, and by the second week you are racing to you classroom door.  You are also quick to fall in love with Alabama football this season, a boy after your dad's heart.

October....You love jack-o-lanters and can't wait to be Woody for Halloween.  You also love your teachers at "Bible school" every week, and they adore you.  Everyday we visit "Mr. Gary" at our community office to practice trick-or-treating, so by Halloween at Papa's, you are a pro!

November....You have been potty training at school, with little help from mom.  By now, you are picking out your first pair of Cars underpants!  Unfortunately, the automated flushers cause us some problems on our travels.  All the more reason for you to be proud when you learn to stand at the potty: "See, I did it, Mom!" you say in delight.  Chick-fil-a lunches with Dad after Bible school are one of your favorite treats.

December....Christmas is a truly magical season for you this year, and we love to experience it anew through your wide eyes.  You are a generous giver on our Saint Nicholas day.  We make Advent wreaths and you decorate our Christmas cookies, and on our long interview travels you are a super-duper-trooper.  You now are able to respond to inquiring minds that you are "two-and-a-half," just in time to turn three.

Sweet E-Bear, thanks for always inviting me to join in, whether offering me your snack, part of your treat, or asking me to join you in playing with your trains.  Thanks for being your sister's best friend.  Thank you for delighting your brother.  Daddy and I treasure you.  May God continue to bless you with a tender heart for others and a powerful love for Him.

We love you, buddy.  Happy Birthday.