Monday, August 31, 2015

First Day of School 2015

Pull out those uniforms, the pencils, the shoes,

give mom a kleenex, for she has the blues,

yet she will not show it, her smile will not crack,

Bears won't see her teary if they turn to look back.

For, "today is the first day of school!" they all cheer,

and I'm praying the Lord will give us all a good year.

E-Bear to First Grade,

G-Bear to Third,

Buddy Bear to Pre-K,

it feels quite absurd!

And we're off on another school year adventure.
MoMo and Papa joined us for morning pictures and the plaza send-off.
We were all holding our breath a bit as we walked to the plaza lines and waved to each other at the school bell.  MoMo saved the day by taking Buddy Bear, J-Bear and me out to coffee after drop-off.  She must have known that I wasn't ready to go home to an empty house and that her offer of treats would keep Buddy Bear and J-Bear distracted from the fact that their older siblings weren't around.  Her idea worked, thanks Super-MoMo!   We returned home highly sugared and caffeinated.  Then, MoMo offered to do the first day of school pick-up, and both E-Bear and G-Bear reported good days when they returned home.  

After our wonderful summer together, the new routine is sure to be an adjustment for all of us.  But, as we reminded each other, there are great things to learn and good work in store for us at school this year.  We are so blessed to be a part of and contribute to such a wonderful school community.  
But please, keep us in your prayers in the coming days!

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, August 30, 2015

State Fair 2015

School is coming,
and because Labor Day is arriving so late, school is coming early this year.
But before we surrender to the start of school, there is one last thing we must do:
tackle the Minnesota State Fair!

In true Johnson fashion, we made the trek twice this year.

Our first trip featured our favorite family-friendly activities.
Our second trip is always with MoMo and Papa, and features our favorite activities
to do with them (i.e. rides, animal barns, and milkshakes to name a few).

We had a great time perusing the docks and boat lifts on Machinery Hill:

The kids lent a hand at the Little Farm Hands Farm,
(note the height of the chickens: G-Bear is already too tall for the tractors,
and this was undoubtedly E-Bears final year.  At least the younger siblings will have
TWO helpers next year!)

and then they were rewarded with rocket pops for their hard work.

The Littlest Bear and I took note of a rather affirming sign,

and then we spent over an hour in the outdoor kids nature space next to the EcoExperience building, where the kids dug in the sand, played in the water, made buildings out of recycled boxes and made meatballs in the dirt.  They were dubbed "coyote kids" and each got a paw print stamp.
It was a highlight for sure.

Then, we watched the parade,

ate pronto pups and shared a jumbo root beer,
(yes, there really is a jumbo root beer in there somewhere, along with four straws)

which we easily finished!

And even after still more walking and perusing,

this crew remained in high spirits

or at least willing to go with the flow.

Undaunted, we managed construction projects at Home Depot,
(checkout the hammering by J-Bear!)

and spent more than a little time being treated to rides at the Kidway by Papa and MoMo,
which included the bumper boats,

the tractors,

and the fabulous Lady Bugs,

which were truly, delightfully fast.

We entered a coloring contest at the Moo Booth,
(Buddy Bear and E-Bear would later learn that they were chosen as winners!)

 and  ended our days in the Alphabet Forest, which has become our tradition.

It is the perfect place to rest tired legs and unwind after a big day.

This year, the kids took time to write several letters,

including one that E-Bear wrote all by himself to Uncle C, letting him know that he hoped Uncle C would come to the Fair soon, "and please bring Aunt K."

G-Bear worked hard on the Alphabet Challenge,

and won an Alphabet Forest Blue Ribbon for her efforts.

 We mustn't forget to acknowledge that the award for Littlest Trooper and First Time at the Fair
goes to the Littlest Bear, as it was his first year at the Fair and he was truly a super-trooper both days.
Consider yourself inaugurated, Littlest!

After so much fun, we returned home exhausted, 
just in time for school to start tomorrow.
Time to snuggle into bed.

Thanks, Minnesota, for another great year at the Fair.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

August Moments

August has been a sweet month for us.  Far from dull 'Dog Days' of summer, the weather has been glorious and we have enjoyed every moment of being back home and soaking up time together.  With the Littlest Bear joining us and our long trip in July, this summer has gone by especially fast.  The kids are enjoying time together so much and so am I, which is the pay back of so much hard parenting work for me and both discipline and loving relationships on the part of the kids.  I don't feel remotely ready to say goodbye to our family summer days, but the calendar says change must come all the same.

Here is a glimpse into our days this month.  

Learning Time mornings  
(cursive for G-Bear, reading for E-Bear, letters for Buddy Bear, 
math review for everyone, and a little piano sprinkled in)

Painting on the deck,
(the pictures are, clockwise from the left:
Field of Poppies, by G-Bear; Go Bama, by E-Bear; Stained Glass Window, by E-Bear;
Orange Flower, by G-Bear; Yellow Rain, by Buddy Bear; Jungle, by Buddy Bear;
Nighttime, by J-Bear; Sunshine, by J-Bear; and Blue Flower by G-Bear)

Nelsons with Daddy,
(the kiddie scoops are so big, our whole family splits only three!)

Playing Spud at the park with the boys,

Daily Walks to the quad to climb trees or ride bikes,

Picnic lunches on the quad with books to read,

Watching the Littlest snooze in his bouncer in the kitchen during breakfast each day,

Trips to the library to get Magic Tree House CDs and books,

Watering the garden of tomatoes and cantaloupes,

Coloring at the art table in pjs,

making forts in the basement with leftover boxes,

being builders, playing dress-up,
(a space rocket and its launch pad)

a visit to the cabin and rainy day face paint,

reading More Paddington Bear and Uncle Wiggly
and nightly walks around the block when T gets home.

Could it be possible that each summer really does get sweeter?  

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Buddy Bear goes to the dentist

If the post title sounds like it could be the title of a new children's book,
that is because it could.

Our Buddy went to the dentist for the first time this weekend,
and he rocked it.


Clean teeth?

Awesome smile and sunglasses?

Buddy Bear says he's got this one covered.

 Happily Ever,
Queen B

Monday, August 24, 2015

The Best Part of the New Minions Movie

Recently, MoMo took the Bear Crew to Mall of America for an afternoon that included the ferris wheel and the new Minions Movie. The kids reported that the movie was "awesome" with only a "few scary parts."

Aside from the fact that my kids can now spy Bob, Kevin or Stuart from over a half mile away, or that they constantly shout out "Banana!" every time they see something yellow, my favorite ramification of the movie viewing comes from the fact that the Minions apparently refer to each other as "Buddies."  This consequence has particularly reverberated in J-Bear's vocabulary, and she has adopted the word to refer to her siblings collectively as a group.  Now, on any given day in our house you may here:

"Hey, Buddies!"

"Buddies, where are you?"

"Mommy, where Buddies? I no find them."

"Buddies, come wook!"

"Buddies, time eaaaaat!"

"Buddies, wha you doING?"

"Mommy, when I wake-up, I say, 'wake up buddies'?"

This new habit is an adorable replacement for the classic Midwestern "hey guys" or the quintessentially Southern "hi y'all!"  I am hoping it will stick around for quite some time.  On the other hand, amidst all the "Buddies," "Bananas," and general hullabaloo of our life, I can't help but occasionally feel like I'm actually living inside a Minions movie.  Does that make me the Despicable boss?

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Thursday, August 20, 2015

August in the Garden

Forgive me if you couldn't get a hold of us the other day.
We were out at our front yard garden for most of the morning.
You see, a cicada had crawled out of its underground den,
and we couldn't wait to watch it hatch out of its shell.  
And wouldn't you know, 
it takes a long time for a cicada to find a good place hatch out of its shell,
and it takes even longer for it to hatch out.
So, here we have been for most of the day, watching the cicada hatch.

Life is so magical with these kids.

Tonight, the buzzing in the darkness will have a whole new meaning.

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Heard Around the House This Week: Vacation Edition

"Better than Disney World."
~E-Bear, rating his opinion of our summer vacation in Hilton Head and Indiana

"Are there roller coasters in Disney World?  Then, I like them the same."
~Buddy Bear, rating his opinion of our summer vacation in Hilton Head and Indiana

"Mommy, I get out bed, want come see you."
~J-Bear, explaining to me why she crawled out of her crib for the first time while on vacation.

"Mom, do you know what I am wishing for?  A day when you and I get to spend the day together, just the two of us.  A Mom's Day out.  Could I make a list of the things I would like to do together?"
~G-Bear, making my day at the end of vacation.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The hardest part of returning from vacation, according to Buddy Bear

Sweet Buddy Bear loves his dad so much, and he loves to have our family together.

While we were on vacation he said to T:

"Daddy, do you want to know the best part of vacation? There is no work."

Of course, Buddy Bear meant that while on vacation, T didn't need to leave for work in the morning.

So, you can imagine our Buddy's disappointment when he woke up on Monday morning.
Yes, Buddy, Daddy does need to leave for work this morning.

Tears in his eyes, Buddy Bear took his usual place on the landing to wave good-bye to Daddy.

For some of us, it's unpacking, for some of us it's the laundry,
for some of us, it's the return to a schedule or waking up early again,
for some of us, it is saying good-bye to Daddy for the day;

for all of us, it's hard when vacation is over.  

Happily Ever,
Queen B

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Moments from Road Trip 2015

When you head out on a seventeen day, cross country road trip to reunions with family and friends two weeks after having a baby, there are certain to be many memorable moments, some highlights, some low lights.  We have returned from a week in Hilton Head with T's family, followed by a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of eight college friends and their families in Indiana.  Here are a few teasers:

Pushing through the exhaustion of a full day of packing 
and finally climbing in the car to pull out at 10pm.

Low point:
Waking up every 15-20 minutes throughout the night to feed a baby, 
comfort a toddler or change a diaper, only to have the toddler "wake up" for the morning at 2am and want to chat for the rest of the morning car ride.

Sunrise over Indiana after our first night on the road.

Seeing the sun rise over Indiana at the end of our first night on the road.
T had driven through the night, we were 10 hours into our 24 hour drive, 
and with the exception of J-Bear, none of the Bears were even awake yet.
We finally stopped at Chick-fil-a to celebrate with breakfast.

Looking into the back of our minivan and seeing the seats full of Bears.  
What precious cargo!  What amazing blessings!
I don't think that T and I could have ever imagined this 
when we started out on this journey together 9.5 years ago.

We passed the miles in the car with new sticker books from Melissa and Doug, 
and by listening to Magic Tree House books on tape (10 hours!),
a BBC audio book version of the complete Tales of Narnia (17 hours!),
watching a few VeggieTales (4 hours!),
and sprinkling in a few hours of Radio Lab podcasts and Paul Harvey Clips.

Low point:
Having to adjust headphones for back seat passengers.  
If you live by the headphones, you die by the headphones.

Our stopping points along the way were treats in and of themselves.
We stopped in Mars Hill, NC at the end of our first full day of driving.  T had always wanted to see Mars Hill growing up, and we happened to be driving near enough to make it our stopping point for the night.  After a hearty dinner along main street, we snuggled in for an early bedtime in our hotel to recharge.  Ahhhhh.....

From Mars Hill, we continued onto Charleston, SC.  We ate dinner near Charleston at the fantastic Five Loaves Cafe (definitely worth a second trip), and then spent the night and the following morning at the Inn at Middleton Place, on the Middleton Plantation.  

Low point:
The traffic getting onto Hilton Head Island at the peak of Saturday tourist arrival.
So close, and yet, so far.

The shouts of joy from family members and the smell of Jim and Nick's BBQ
 welcoming us once we did arrive at the house in HH.

Low point:
Having to leave our family and cousins, with tears in our eyes, as we left HH one week later

High point:
Realizing that we still had a whole week of vacation left, 
with some of our closest friends and their kids.

And those are just the moments from the Road Trip.  Get ready for the moments from the vacations....

Happily Ever,
Queen B