Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Good news,
we just closed on our house.

No, this doesn't mean we're moving again.
We bought the house that we have been renting for the past year.

T said he always thought that buying his first house would be a little different,
involving carrying me across the threshold or a big move-in celebration. 
Instead, we went to lunch after our closing 
and came home to our home as we've lived for the past year.
Except now we own it,
and that feels so sweet.

So, let us know if you need moving boxes,
because we won't be needing ours!

Welcome home, Happily Ever Johnsons!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Little Eyes Looking Up

This weekend, while we were up at the lake, Papa took a moment to sit and enjoy the view.

Unless you look carefully, 
you might not notice Buddy Bear's shadow in the chair next to Papa.
He was enjoying the view too, right next to his beloved Papa Bear.

This quiet, precious moment reminded me that there are many, many moments in life
when a young person's admiring eyes are upon us.
Unless we look carefully, we might not notice.  
We might not know that we're being watched, learned from, admired.
 Thus, we have all the more reason to pray for the grace of a loving heart and worthy actions,
that little eyes might behold us in moments of grace, and embrace a path of love for their own lives.

Surely, Buddy Bear beholds that in his Papa.
May little eyes behold the same in each of us.

Monday, August 26, 2013

One week until the return of Grocery Bag!

I am sure that no one has missed our Grocery Bag more than I this summer.  
Honestly, I haven't even missed it that much.
There have been too many fun things to do!
Enjoying our new J-Bear, traveling to visit family, spontaneous celebrations, evening playtimes:
who needs or wants to meal plan in the summer months?

But, this footloose and fancy free living can't last forever.

School starts next week: first grade for G-Bear, pre-k for E-Bear, J-Bear's 4 month milestone
and a new teaching job for me.

We need to be prepared.  We need a plan.  We need our Grocery Bag.

So, after a very long summer/post-partum hiatus, 
we'll (try to) welcome Grocery Bag back next week.

I promise to try to do it with a smile.  
After all, I treasure these summer days, and I will miss them.
Surely, many blessings await in the approaching autumn.
Hopefully, a little advanced meal planning will help us enjoy them to the fullest.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Multi-tasking Dad

T excels in many ways....

...Husband, father, son, surgeon, I could go on and on.

I think I'll add Sherpa to the list.

Let's see that one more time from another view:

Thanks, super dad!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Friday, August 23, 2013

Celebration in Hilton Head

So, why were we all in Hilton Head?

To celebrate Nana, of course!

Nana can gather a crowd like no other.  
Rightfully so, because she has invested years of love into many, many lives!

We needed a whole week to celebrate Nana this year. 
We even brought a few additional adoring fans to help us celebrate in style!

Nana's children's in-laws couldn't miss the fun!
At her birthday dinner, thanks to Aunt A, we presented Nana with a book of notes and pictures from dozens of her most adoring fans.  It was beautiful to watch her enjoy the loving words and sentiments on the first few pages.

Nana reading her birthday book
All week long, we savored the fun of being together.  

But the week was about more than playing in the pool, 

eating big meals, 

playing at the beach, 

and riding our bikes (although all were wonderful).

Most of all, our week was about nurturing a love of family life that Nana has cultivated in our lives for many, many years.  The week was a gift to Nana, a gift to ourselves, and perhaps most of all, a gift to our children.  

Fittingly, Nana was surrounded by several other amazing couples who raised her children's spouses with a similar love for family and family life.   

One thing was quite evident during the course of the week: Nana and Dee, MoMo and Papa, KK and Papa, and Grammy and Grandpa have done a wonderful job as parents and grandparents.  They leave us with big shoes to fill....

...which makes us all the more grateful for their ongoing example.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cousins at the Beach

Last week, we met up at the beach.
The path was winding, and it took us a while to get there,

Welcome to Hilton Head, where the beach is waiting.

but it was worth it.

Gorgeous Harbor Town

Together, twelve cousins played the days away,
each one growing like a weed.

Nine of the twelve cousins.  

In the hot August sun, the water beckoned.  It didn't disappoint.

The surf: just slightly cooler than bath water.

Our days were filled with new adventures both on land

There were many sand castles to master.

and in the sea.

E-Bear tried to master the boogie board.

 Whether young

Buddy Bear spent hours digging in the sand.  He never complained about sand in his suit.

or young at heart,

we were grateful to soak up the seashore moments. 

And, when we were sufficiently soaked, we headed back to the house
where more family fun awaited....

Monday, August 19, 2013

For the birds

Tonight at dinner, Buddy Bear decided he didn't like his cheese quesadilla.

His solution was quite inventive.

He spat out his bite of tortilla onto his spoon and offered it up in the air:

"Hey, birdie!  Eat this!  Eat this, birdie!"

While none of our feathered friends took Buddy Bear up on his offer, 
I am sure they appreciated the sentiment.  
I, on the other hand, was trying desperately not to laugh.

Angels sing for J-Bear

This past week, our sweet J-Bear was baptized.

The angels in heaven are singing.

J-Bear's baptism day was tremendously special for all of us.

We were able to have her baptism during our family reunion with T's whole family.
She was surrounded by her loving cousins!

J-Bear had all her grandparents beside her: MoMo, Papa and Nana, with Dee there in spirit.

And, J-Bear was baptized alongside two of her cousins!  Awesome!

Our little lady handled the big day with her usual easy-going aplomb.
For the rest of the week, I could smell the chrism oil on her forehead.
Such a sweet, sweet smell for a precious child of God.

 G-Bear, E-Bear and Buddy Bear welcomed J-Bear with open arms after the baptism.  They were so happy for and proud of their little sister.  

Sweet J-Bear, we're so thrilled to welcome you into the Body of Christ.
May you continue to grow in wisdom and stature, in the favor of God and man.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Chick-fil-a, oh how we've missed you!

We were recently down south to reunion with T's family.  Our first stop was key.

The mocha cookie milkshake was delicious, friends.  The nuggets were perfection, as always.  And check out the super fun kids door at the storefront!  

Those are some happy travelers!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A nice thank you

Recently, T and I were braving the TSA line at an airport on our way to a family reunion.  The kids knew their routine and were doing a great job following instructions.  As I came through the security line, a gentleman who had watched us pass through leaned my way.

"You are raising a very nice family there, Mom."

"Thank you very much," I answered.

"No, no," came his sincere reply, "thank YOU."

The stranger's affirmation was one of the most meaningful compliments I have ever received.  As a family of six with four young children, we draw frequent comments from strangers.  Some are encouraging, some are expressions of wonderment, and occasionally we encounter baffled bewilderment.  Such comments are an expression of the varied cultural perspectives toward children these days: from worthwhile challenge, to foreign concept, to social and environmental burden.  There is a broad commentary on our lives!

The reason this stranger's compliment meant so much to me is because it resonated with the wider mission that T and I see for our lives as parents: namely, that we are serving our neighbor, society, the world, through our parenthood.  Our children are gifts we treasure.  We strive to raise them to also be gifts to the world: beacons of hope, soldiers of peace and laborers of love.  

The stranger's sentiment of gratefulness for our parenting was touching; one I intend to pass along to other parents in the future.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Just another August day

we ate cereal in our pj's with T, who didn't have to go into work until mid-morning.
Then, the kids played together in the living room while I packed us for the day.

we ate lunch on MoMo's patio with Auntie K and Auntie Cindy.
Three little babies bounced on our knees.

the kids went to a neighborhood "Kid's Camp" all afternoon
while we ladies went for a window shopping walk with the babes.

we said good-bye to Aunt K,
and Buddy Bear fell asleep in the car on the ride home.

MoMo joined us for dinner on the porch.
The kids played bounce pass in the yard.

the air was perfect as I weeded the garden.
The bells struck nine and it was still faintly light.

G-Bear is one day closer to first grade.
E-Bear helped me pick tomatoes,
Buddy Bear said "Alabama" for the first time.
He also said "Thank you," rather than signing it with his hands.
J-Bear bounced on the bed with her daddy, giggling with delight.

A lot can happen on 'just' another August day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Beginning at Home

A gentle reminder, a fresh perspective, 
as the week begins anew:

Friday, August 2, 2013

Three months with J-Bear

Guess who is three months old today?

She sucks her fingers,
grabs her toes,
flexes her tummy,
and wrinkles her nose.

Her smile lights up the room.

J-Bear is laughing,
she's cooing now too,
delighting her siblings,
with all she can do.

Her smile lights up the room.

She sucks on her paci,
grabs sister's hair,
loves sling rides, sitting outside,
being together anywhere.

Her smile lights up the room.

We've loved each and everyday with our easy-going J-Bear.  She is quite content to be along for the ride.  I treasure the feeling of her asleep on my chest, the way she pulls up her knees when I wake her from her nap, and the way she will still fall asleep in the bouncer right in the middle of the evening action.  Thank you, Lord, for these three months with J-Bear.