Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Two Words

Buddy Bear knows a lot of words.

Unfortunately, he can only speak two of them: "Tickle" and "Hi."

Is there any wonder he's frustrated with me when I don't understand what he's saying?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The NC Crew

It's been one year this weekend since we moved to NC.
These six cousins have made the most of every minute.  
They are best buddies, with a year of memories to last a lifetime.

We love you, cousins E, S and T.
Thanks for sharing all of your joyful noise with all of us.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Pushing Through the Restless Days

Summer is like parenthood.
Most days are wonderful.
Some days are harder than others.

Lately, we have had a spell of restless summer days around our house.
Maybe it's the heat.
Maybe it's too little sleep.
Maybe it's the burden of having too much choice over how we spend our day,
 and the boredom that creeps in as a result.

Whatever the reason, the past few days have been filled with 
too many timeouts, 
too many interventions,
too many scowls and not enough 'yes, ma'ams,'
too many crabbys, not enough happys.

You might say that my kids and I are getting in the way of our summer fun.

Hard parenting days make me a restless parent.
I don't enjoy messes.
I don't enjoy timeouts.
I don't enjoy fussing.
I don't enjoy discipline.

The restless parent in me wants to throw in the towel,
I want my career back,
I want out of the house.
I want to feel important, 
I want to feel valued.

But at the point when parenting becomes the hardest, 
at the point where I become the most restless,
that is where my parenthood becomes most important,
most valuable,
and has the greatest potential.

So stick it out, Johnson Bears.
Finish the time out, pick up the mess, give a big hug and head out for more.
The lessons learned on restless days make for better days ahead.
There is so much summer fun left to enjoy!

And stick it out, Momma.
Say your prayers, get some sleep, make a plan, hold your tongue, put on humiltiy,
have some patience.
Parenting through the restless days makes for better days ahead.

Thanks to these great women for two posts that offered great perspective on a frustrating, restless parenting day: AWOL Mommy's post on "Vocligation", and Leila's post on "Competence vs. Perfectionism."  Truly, these are great reads for any day.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Best of Baltimore

We just couldn't make T go to Baltimore all by himself last week.
I mean, the poor guy would have be stuck at a conference all by himself.
The last time he had to do that, it was over Thanksgiving and he was the saddest guy on earth at the happiest place on earth.  We couldn't repeat that sage, not with only two weeks of fellowship left!

So, we tagged along.

Outside Lord Tyler's in Fells Point

I think Fells Point is still recovering. :)

Baltimore is a remarkably family-friendly city.
Stay near the water, and either walking, boating or busing to your destination is a cinch.

There is plenty to roar about at the Science Museum,
Don't worry, no dinosaur bones were actually threatened in the making of this picture.

the dolphins put on quite a show at the National Aquarium,
G-Bear and E-Bear spent the rest of the night pretending to be the dolphins from the show.

batting practice at Camden Yards is not to be missed,

Way to go, slugger!
Put 'em in, Coach.

the trains at the Railroad Museum will really take you back,

and there are plenty of new heights to climb,

G-Bear saw the climbing wall and was determined to try it.

especially the really high ones!

Can you believe this?  What did you do with my cautious little girl?
She made it to the top twice, folks!

I promise, T really was attending a conference, and he attended it faithfully!
But, when he came back each day, we made the most of every minute.

Our three Bears were troopers through our long car rides and daily walks.  They were just as enthusiastic about exploring the city as T and I were.  E-Bear was always up for a boat ride. G-Bear was like a sponge at the museum exhibits, asking so many great questions and wanting us to explain everything.  Buddy Bear took total command as an independent walker, and quickly became an expert at wandering off by himself.  But, oh, we had so much fun just being together.  We slept like rocks at night because of all that we enjoyed together each day.  

That makes for a happy Johnson crew all around.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

From Mr. Bed Head

Seriously, Mom,

it's time for a haircut.

Oh, but I love those curls, Buddy Bear!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Grocery Bag

This week we'll be continuing our pantry clean-out quest and preparing for a visit from Nana!  Here are my plans to get through dinner.

Day One
Green lentil curry from Food & Wine Magazine
with basmati rice and whole wheat tortillas
A great lentil dish, but BEWARE the cayenne pepper!  
I cut waaaaay back on what the recipe calls for, opting for more of a sprinkle.
Photo and recipe from Food&Wine

Day Two
Pulled pork tacos from Everyday Food Magazine
with whole wheat tortillas and mango
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Mattar Paneer from Indian as Apple Pie
with basmati rice
Recipe from Indian as Apple Pie
Photo from Kevin Eats

Day Four 
Mediterranean veggie burgers from Everyday Food Magazine
with carrot sticks and strawberries
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Mozzarella and chicken calzones
with strawberry spinach salad 

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Get ready for the day

With my coffee in hand and this prayer on my lips, may I be ready for the day, Lord!
Fill me with your gifts, and make me eager to serve You in faith, hope and love.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Our Big Next Step

Next week, T will be finishing fellowship.  
His graduation will mark the end of a full decade of medical and surgical training.
This means that it is time for us to make our move, yet again.
We have loved living in North Carolina, and I am pretty sure that we have several boxes in the closet that I have never even unpacked.
All the same, we'll be off again come the end of August.

We are so excited to report that we have accepted a job for T in Minnesota.  It is a great opportunity for our whole family.  We faced a difficult decision, faced with several wonderful practice options, having to choose our location between many loving family members.  We recognize that these kind of difficulties are the best kind to have in life, and we remain so grateful for the support, encouragement and graciousness of both of our families as we contemplated our next step.  Truly, God amazed us in the process of this decision.  We are surprised and excited by the way God brought so many details together.

"Trust the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  
In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path."
~Proverbs 3:5-6

So, bring on the boxes, the tape and the labels!  Thank you, Lord, we're ready for our next big step.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Grocery Bag

After many long and wonderful journeys over the past 6 weeks, we are home until we move next month.  Over the next six weeks, we'll soak up our North Carolina favorites, the best of the farmer's market, and clean our our pantry.  It is hard to believe that we've been here a year.  So, as our re-entry and exit begin simultaneously this week, here are my plans to tackle dinner.

Day One
Gnocchi with summer vegetables from Everyday Food Magazine
with homemade bread
One of my new favorite summer pastas, fresh and delicious.
Photo and recipe from

Day Two
Cauliflower soup from Fine Cooking Magazine
with spinach salad and homemade bread
Our kids love the creaminess of cauliflower soup.  It's an easy way to sneak in vegetables.
Photo and recipe from Fine Cooking

Day Three

with chickpea flour pancakes and berries
Madhur Jaffrey's recipes are some of our newest favorites.

Photo and recipe from MyKitchenTable

Day Four
Pasta with peppers squash and tomatoes from Everyday Food Magazine
with strawberry spinach salad
We love to make this pasta with Trader Joe's Apple Chicken Sausage.
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Tofu curry by Indian as Apple Pie
with basmati rice and steamed snap peas
Another great recipe by Anupy Singla
Photo and recipe from Indian as Apple Pie

Blessings on your kitchen this week!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Our Swimming Girl

The 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials will always hold a special place in my heart.  

Note the closed fist swimming stroke.  She had a bandaid on her finger that she didn't want to loose in the water.  Swimming with closed hands!  Now that is dedication, or something like that.

They inspired my girl to swim across the pool by herself.

Now, she is swimming underwater by herself too.

Way to go, G-Bear.

Anyone else excited for the olympics?

Thursday, July 12, 2012


What do you get when you combine eight energetic kids,

two awesome dads,

two happy moms,

and a morning at the park?

A rocketing good time!

Thanks to the beloved G-ville Family for hosting us for two wonderful days in the midst of their newborn babymoon, active summer schedule and week off from work.  They effortlessly absorbed our crazy crew of five into their fun-loving routine.  We're already excited for our next time together!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Splash pool for Buddy Bear

Last spring, MoMo was kind enough to offer to buy Buddy Bear a water table for his first birthday.  I was grateful for her generous offer, but politely declined.  I knew we would be moving again this summer and didn't want to accumulate any more large objects before packing up again.  Also, the only space we could realistically put a water table would be on the porch, in the space currently hosting three bikes, a stroller and our painting easel.  Hopefully I don't sound like a total grinch.

Well, Buddy Bear sure has shown me.  I didn't think he would ever find out that I turned down such a fun birthday present for him.  But I am sure that he must have. He seems intent on showing me how much fun he would have playing in a splash pool water table.  No water table from MoMo?  No problem.  Who needs a bonafide splash pool when you have a home with two toilets?

That's right, our little big man takes every chance he gets at playing in the toilet.  He's ridiculously good at getting to the bathroom in a flash without being noticed.

Then, the other day we were all waiting turns to use the bathroom before heading out to the store.  G-Bear was at bat with E-Bear on deck, and to conserve water they were being diligent not to flush in between turns but to wait until the last person finished.  Before it was my turn, I was called away by a brief phone call.

When I returned to the bathroom a few moments later, E-Bear and G-Bear were washed up and diligently putting on shoes by the door.  Where was Buddy Bear?  Thaaaat's right, splashing away in the toilet, half soaked.

And what was that white glob of goo in his mouth?

Yup, a big glob of soaked toilet paper that he had fished out of the toilet.

Take that mom.  No birthday water table?  No problem.

 Suffice it to say, I will not be recounting this story on my application for mother of the year.

And if you stop by our house, please close the door after you use the bathroom.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Best Breakfast of the Week

This morning I was making breakfast for the Bears when Buddy Bear came out of the playroom.

He toddled over to me with a big smile on his face.  In his hands he was carrying a pot from the play kitchen.  He had carefully filled it with puzzle pieces, miniature figurines and toy balls.  It looked just like the "kitchen special" creations that G-Bear and E-Bear often make for each other when they are pretending to be cooks in the kitchen.

Buddy Bear stretched his arms out and offered his pot to me with a giant grin.

"Here's your breakfast, Mom!"

He didn't say it, but I knew he meant it.  We sat together as I took out each piece of "food" and pretended to munch on it.  Smile after smile spread across his face each time I sampled his creation.  I offered each piece to him and he pretended to eat it, smacking his lips and laughing.

His siblings have taught him well.  Thanks, Buddy Bear, this was the best breakfast of my week!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Grocery Bag

It's HOT out there!  We're really enjoying these long, summer days.  The challenge for dinner is to use all the great fruits and veggies of summer without heating up the kitchen.  My plan for staying cool at the end of the week is to stretch a rotisserie chicken into three meals and bake one double batch of dinner rolls for use with two dinners.  Here are my ideas for the week.

Day Two
Salmon with herb crust from Everyday Food Magazine
with spinach salad and blueberries
Photo and recipe from

Day Three
Baked couscous with summer squash & herbs from Cooking Light Magazine
with watermelon & coleslaw
Photo and recipe from

Day Four
Rotisseri chicken & cheese quesadillas with pineapple 
and zucchini and yellow squash gratin from Everyday Food Magazine
Use some of the chicken tonight and leave the rest for sandwiches tomorrow.
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
whole wheat rolls from Finding Joy in My Kitchen,
 grapes and carrot sticks
Tonight, use the chicken bones to make stock for tomorrow's soup.
The rolls are fantastic--truly worthy of a double batch
Photo and recipe from

Day Five
Corn chowder from Food & Wine Magazine
with whole wheat rolls from Finding Joy in My Kitchen
Photo and recipe from

Blessings on your kitchen!