Friday, May 30, 2014

Our New Bike

I has been over 10 years since I owned a bike. We just made a serious upgrade.

I don’t enjoy spending time in the car, but that is tricky with four kids to transport. We are fortunate to have many of our destinations within close proximity in our neighborhood. Still, little legs can still only walk so far and even if I have the energy to walk, I can only fit so many kids in our double stroller. Enter the Yuba Mundo bike. This cargo bike is awesome.

I met the Mundo through my husband and our local bike shop. I was inspired and convinced by this family of six.

Finally, this week we officially took the Mundo leap of faith and brought our bike home! T rode it back home from the store with the three oldest. The verdict? "This bike is so fun, Mom!"

Our Yuba crew
As you can see, the full outfit includes our attached chariot stroller, a front handle iBert seat and a back "peanut shell" seat, not to mention the "monkey bar" attachment for the big kids.   Admittedly, the bike will take some getting used to.  It is HEAVY with all the kids on it!   And, the kids feel super secure on the bike, which can give them a false sense of security.  I don't want them climbing in and out of the monkey bars without me, because of the danger of tipping the bike.  But, with the ground rules and a few miles under our belts, we are a super happy crew.

T and I can't wait to be out with the Yuba this summer!  We'll be sure to share updates on our Mundo escapades.  Cheers to warmer days and outdoor family travel.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, May 26, 2014

Help with sunglasses

Buddy Bear and J-Bear are quite the pair.  
Like their sister and brother before them, these two are fast friends.

The other day, J-Bear snuck into the kids room and found some sunglasses.

Hmmmm, these look nice.

Now, if only I could figure out how to put them on.

No, not quite.

I know,  I'll wake up Buddy Bear!  He can help me!

Buddy Bear, will you help me?

Well, sure, J-Bear!  That's what big brothers are for.

 Hoooooold still.  Watch out for your eyeballs.

There you go, little sis.
 You look great.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Fix your heart on Jesus

One child is fussing.   A diaper needs to be changed.  Two children are tussling.  The phone is ringing.  We're late for school.   Backpacks are missing.  Shoes need to be tied.  A child needs help on the potty.  The new lawn needs to be watered.  Toys must be picked up.  Breakfast is burning.  The bills must be mailed.  We're out of milk.   This is just one moment of many in the day, and it is only 7:45am.

Thank you, Lord, that I am reminded:

"We are surrounded by many events that move us from one place to another. But we asked for the grace to have a fixed heart, like Paul: so as not to complain about the persecution he went in search to another city; he began to preach there; to heal the sick; realizing that that man had enough faith to be healed; then, calm this excited people who wanted to make a sacrifice to him; then, to proclaim that there is only one God, with their own cultural language. One thing after another ... And this can only come from a steady heart".

Is my heart steady today in the Lord?  Or do all of these tasks, interruptions, demands discourage my heart and make me want to hide? 

"With this example, we can ask ourselves today: What kind of heart do we have? Is it a fickle heart which like a dancer, like a butterfly flits from one to another…always in motion; Is it a heart that is scared by the vicissitudes of life, and is hiding and afraid to give witness to Jesus Christ; is it a brave heart or a heart that has so much fear and is always trying to hide? What does our heart care for? What treasure does our heart custody? Is my heart fixed upon creatures, the problems that we all have ? Is my heart fixed upon everyday gods or is it a heart fixed on the Holy Spirit? "

"Do I let myself get carried away by these things or face these events with a fixed heart, that knows where it is? The only one that gives firmness to our hearts is the Holy Spirit. It would do us good to think that we have this great gift that Jesus left us, the Spirit of fortitude, of counsel, who helps us to move forward in the midst, surrounded by every day trials. We should do this exercise today, ask how our heart is: Firm or not? And if it is firm, where does it dwell? In things or in the Holy Spirit ? It would do us good! "  ~Pope Francis, Monday morning homily

Monday, May 19, 2014

Grocery Bag

May it a busy month, but don't give up on meal planning just yet!  It saves so much time--time we could be spending playing and riding bikes outdoors.  We still have cooler, rainy weather around here, so I am keeping it warm and comfortable this week.

Day One
Roasted zucchini and tomato pasta by Everyday Food Magazine
with raspberries and romaine salad

Day Two
with mixed green salad and pears

Day Three
Curried lentil and chickpea stew by All You Magazine
with homemade rolls and orange-broccoli slaw

Day Four
Veggie fried rice from Cooking Light Magazine
with potstickers and cabbage slaw salad

Day Five
Soy-maple glazed tofu with broccoli from Everyday Food Magazine
with jasmine rice 

Blessings on your kitchen!

Friday, May 16, 2014

G-Bear on two wheels

Zoom, goes G-Bear on her bike.  

Today, she asked me to take off her training wheels.  
A little while later, she was riding her bike in the backyard!

A ride around the block solidified it.  Our girl is officially on two wheels!

E-Bear can't wait to make it happen for himself.  Hang in there, buddy!  Be patient.  You're almost there too.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Celebrating the Eighth....

Yesterday, T and I celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary.

Together, we have embarked on great adventures, tackled every difficulty, faced everything that life can dish out.  Truly, T is my prince.  Yet, eight years together proves that love isn't found in fairytale.  Love is found and made in the real life moments we face together.  Love is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not proud or rude, it does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful, it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth.  Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (Cf 1 Corinthians 13:4-8).  Does that sound too simple, too easy?  In practice, it can be really hard, a huge gift, and a tremendous overcoming of self.  Love never fails. It never ends, which is why we promised "for better or for worse." 

Thank you for these eight wonderful years, my love.  I look forward to many more.  I love you.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

On Mother's Day morning, T woke me with chai tea in hand.  I could hear the kids were already up, but I didn't know what they were up to until they arrived in our room a few minutes later.

"Happy Mother's Day!" They cried.  
"Come down stairs, we have a surprise for you!"

Down in the dining room, the table was set for breakfast, "just like you do for us, Mommy!" Donuts from our favorite neighborhood bakery were on each plate, courtesy of T. 

My kids have never done this before, and I was really touched.  They had done it all themselves, without any prompting from T, and it was so sweet for me to see the pleasure in their eyes when I commended them all.  My smiles brought them so much joy.  

E-Bear made me a lovely potted flower and G-Bear painted a flower pot for me as a gift.  There were also colored paper bracelets and a paper crown for me to wear from the kids!  What a treat!  I felt like one treasured momma.

I am so grateful to God for the opportunity to be a mother.  My latest reading is Holiness for Housewives and other working women by Hubert van Zeller.  It is the perfect food for my soul this month.  In it, van Zeller quotes G.K. Chesterton:

"How can it be a large career to tell other people's children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one's own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman's function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute. I will pity Mrs. Jones for the hugeness of her task; I will never pity her for its smallness.”

Increasingly, I am aware of the hugeness of the task of motherhood.  It demands my every resource, talent and ounce of energy.  God, that you would make me worthy to the task, for your glory, for the sake of these precious little souls and for the good of the world.  

Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Thank goodness for the Kneekers

When you are learning to walk,
it helps to have a fan club,

a sturdy shopping cart,

kneekers on your knees 

the proper stance,

and the determination to try again.

J-Bear has all of these.

She's blazing a trail, and it is hard for me to keep up.

Way to go, sweet girl!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Crew on the bikes

Any given afternoon when we get home together, a familiar chorus rings out:  "Mommy, can we go biking?"  G-Bear is trying her bike without training wheels.  E-Bear is storming the pavement, speeding away with courage.  Buddy Bear has switches off between trying his strider and pedaling the trike.  J-Bear is content in the backpack.

I love taking my kids to the nearby quad and watching them speed around, free as birds.  I am thankful that they love their helmets (an affection I never developed as a child) and for their bravery and persistence when they fall down.  We're a cautious group, but a determined one!

I can't wait for warmer weather and summer days.  Hopefully we'll see some training-wheel free biking, some striding, and maybe even a bike for me.......we'll see :)

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Another One Year Old

Every time we go through the one-year mark, I am amazed by how much I still have to learn about this stage (or every stage, for that matter).  Is our house child-proof?  I thought so, until two weeks ago when J-Bear started furniture walking.  What foods can make her choke at this stage?  Never mind my medical training.  Can I possibly make it through the day with only ONE nap time, not two?  How am I supposed to make it through daily Mass when my wiggleworm starts wriggling while I am still genuflecting?
I remember how, as a first time mom, I marveled at the mothers who seemed to have it all together with multiple children.  If I ever give you that impression while we’re out and about, I assure you, its a ruse (albeit a well-intentioned one).  These days, I take comfort in the value of my experience, while trying to enjoy the greenhorn feeling again.
So as I raised the celebratory single candle in honor of my daughter, I also raise it in salute to all of my fellow moms who have helped me through this stage before and will surely help me through it again.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First Piano Lessons

For her birthday, G-Bear received piano lessons.  Three weeks ago, she met her teacher.  She is off to a fantastic start.  G-Bear's first song was "Old MacDonald." Each day she ran to the piano as she got home from school, ready to practice.  I know the day will come when I will need to remind her, but so far she has been so excited to practice that she hasn't needed any help from me.  

Mrs.  H gave G-Bear such a nice compliment this week: "G-Bear, you listen very well and you follow instructions.  You are very easy to teach."  G-Bear glowed to receive such a generous compliment.  What a wonderful blessing to watch G-Bear enjoy the piano and lessons so much!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Fun to be one!

Who is one year old?


Now, let's try to get a cute picture with your hair bow, okay?

No?  Aw, you pulled it out!

Yesterday, we had a "Fun to be One" brunch party for J-Bear.  The first birthday decorations were the ones we bought when G-Bear turned one, and they have now graced four Johnson Bear first birthdays.  Awesome!

Unfortunately, J-Bear was so tired after church that she slept through her birthday brunch.  Sheesh, this one year old stuff is exhausting!  But, that was okay, because we saved her cake until dinner.  By dinner we were blessed with an impromptu gathering of friends, and it was time to bring out the cake!

The strawberry shortcake recipe is wonderful for first birthdays.  The whipped cream and shortcake are just sweet enough, and fruit is always a hit with the kids.  

J-Bear wasn't sold on the princess birthday crown, but she loved it when we sang her "Happy Birthday" song.  We snapped a super quick (and fuzzy) family picture and then cut her a piece of cake.

What do you think, J-Bear?

Pretty yummy, huh?

J-Bear's verdict was that shortcake is awesome.  
She was pounding her tray for more after eating her piece.

 Cheers to your first year, J-Bear. 

Happy birthday!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Wiggle Tooth has left the building

When I picked G-Bear up from school on Friday, she had a surprise to share.

That's right, she lost her first tooth!  

"Wiggle Tooth" had really been hanging in there.  But today during recess, one of G-Bear's intrepid friends offered to pull it out with a tissue.  Success!  G-Bear got a plastic bag from her teacher and has been showing her tooth to everyone.  We even went out to dinner to celebrate.  

So far, no tooth under the pillow, because we have several people that need to see the tooth first.  G-Bear asked me as she went to sleep, "Mom, do I HAVE to put my tooth under my pillow?  I think I want to keep it." Whatever you want, sweetie.  First teeth are really special.  

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Happy 1st Birthday, J-Bear!

Dearest J-Bear,

Our little May Flower is one year old today!  You enjoyed whipped cream and Cheerios with your siblings this morning.  You loved peeking through the birthday glasses all by yourself.  You are showing us that it is truly fun to be one!  We are so thankful for this wonderful first year with you.  As always, the first year has been full of milestones and wonderful memories.

May...You are our first water birth baby, and we can't wait to bring you home.  So much so that you come home with us after only four hours.  G-Bear got to see you before she left for school. We are all so excited to meet you, and this first month with you is dreamy.  At one month you are making funny faces and celebrate my reunion with Daddy and me at Princeton.  You are the first Johnson Bear to sing with the Lils!  Your snuggles are priceless, I love having you near me all the time.

June...You are still so little!  You love walks with Daddy in the yard.  You work so hard just to look at our faces, studying every feature. Your snuggles and coos are already an irreplaceable part of our days.  E-Bear and G-Bear love to hold you on the couch, but I can barely stand to put you down :)  Buddy Bear loves to help you with your paci or give you kissed on your head.  He likes to point out your eye, and we have to encourage him not to poke you by accident.

July...Sucking your fingers, reaching for your toes, flexing your tummy and wrinkling your nose.  You are laughing and cooing, love sling rides and time watching the sky outside.  Your smile lights up our days.  You can sleep in the bouncer the in middle of the action, and you still pull up your knees when I wake you up from a nap.  I love having your asleep on my chest.  You get to meet your twin cousins during our trip to MA, your first trip on an airplane!

August...I am packing away the newborn clothes!  You are happy and contented because you are always along for the ride.  I love to hold you, basically all the time, occasionally interrupted by a stint in the bouncer.  But these days, you also appreciate a nap in a nice, dark room. You are munching on your toes and hands, playing on your playmate and watching your favorite purple elephant.  Toward the end of the month you are sitting in the Bumbo.   You are also baptized in Hilton Head with your cousins, which was a very beautiful morning during our family vacation.

September... I love sitting with you in the Bumbo in the garden or have you sleep next to me in the afternoon while I work.  You are our little autumn flower!  You greet each day with a smile and help us do the same.  You surprise me by reaching out and touching me for the first time!  Your siblings love to wake you up in the morning.  Buddy Bear loves to see you and tickle you.  E-Bear loves to make you laugh, hold you and distract you.  G-Bear loves to play with you on your mat while I make dinner.  You can hold new toys, pull the grass, and put beads in your mouth to chew.  You laugh at our reflection in the mirror.  These are your last days snuggled in the sling, and I treasure them.

October... You sat up for the first time by yourself and we put away the bouncy seat.  Sigh.  You get to borrow the highchair from Buddy Bear while I make dinner.  You love the Johnny Jumper!  You got your first tooth right before Halloween -- a perfect toothy smile for the autumn celebrations.   No sleeping through the night for still love to wake me up.

November...You are sitting up on your own and have your first sit up bath!  Buddy Bear is ready to share the highchair with you, so now you have a spot at the table.  You love books, tickles from Daddy, your jumper and your sleep suit and playing with your siblings.  Who cares that you never sleep through the night?  First food (sweet potatoes!) at Thanksgiving at the cabin!

December... You are often dressed up by your siblings during afternoon playtime.  What a special first Christmas it was with your cousins!  You got your third tooth!  You also got to try Cheerios for the first time on New Years Day. Yummy.  Way better than rice cereal.  These are your last days in the exersaucer.  You will be uncontainable soon!

January...No matter how cold the day, you never complain.  You are such a trooper in your puffy purple suit.  Your favorite food is Cheerios (unless you are smacking your lips to nurse!), followed closely by Chick-fil-a IceDream.   You love to slap the tray for more!  The book basket and the musical shelf have become two of your favorite escapes.  Your mischievous smile melts my heart.  No one can make you laugh like E-Bear.  All your siblings love to dote on you.  I am so thankful that you are a good napper, and so sorry when I have to wake you up for afternoon pick-ups.

February...Your one-legged crawl is so cute!  We can't contain you anymore.  You love to chase Robie and your siblings around the house and dig in the plants by the door.  No more sitting quietly during church, now you want to wiggle out of my arms!  Nothing makes Daddy cringe like when you grind your teeth :)  Bath time is one of your favorite times, especially with your siblings.

March...Your delighted clapping keeps all of us smiling!  You are standing with the help of furniture and greet us from your crib with a wave and a "hi!" Your brief nursing strike at the beginning of the month gave me a scare, but thankfully we persisted and you aren't done nursing yet!  You're a trooper to go skiing for the first time, in the backpack on my back.  You say "bah-bee" and love to snuggle your blankie and dolly.

April...You wake up so happy each morning (after being up at 4am to eat).  You are standing by yourself, not yet walking alone, but you can push the shopping cart by yourself.  You love to stand at the kids' cabinet in the kitchen and throw cups on the floor.   Thank goodness for the "Kneekers" that MoMo gave you!  You love to pull out the hair bows that I put in your hair.  You love to dig in the mud in the yard.

J-Bear, you are full of spirit!  I love the adventure of going through this stage again with you.  You are sweet, mischievous, independent and adventurous, and you always want to be in on the fun.  You will be walking before we know it and talking more too.  We're excited for every day with you.  For now, happy birthday from Daddy and me.  We love you, sweet girl