Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Bike Rides

We took our bikes when we went to Edisto Island, and used the bike path frequently. The bikes were certainly a highlight of the trip. We rented a couple trail-a-bikes for the smaller kids and a bike trailer. Elsie and Evie would trade off with Eli and Jack for the trail-a-bikes. All four couldn't wait for their turn. It was a perfect way to navigate through the island traffic without worrying about safety. Last year Emily had just switched over to a 21 speed mountain bike, and it was a little much for her. She obviously has grown a lot in the last year and can handle her bike much better. Our beach house rental backed up to the bike path, and Emily got to do some "big girl stuff" and rode by herself around the block and back around the bike path. She loved riding her bike. 

Once we got home, we decided that Emily was old enough to go on a big bike ride out of the neighborhood with us. She rides her bike a lot in the neighborhood, but we have worried about her ability to navigate traffic.  I took her on a 10 mile ride through roads my running partner and I would train on before the half marathon. The roads are mostly back roads, and they have pretty large inclines. 

We decided to take our backpacks and bring some baggies to pick blackberries. I am not gonna lie... about half way through the first bush, I remembered what a friend told me about this year being a horrible year for cotton mouths. Emily and I did a lot of leaning over to pick the berries after that. 

One of the largest hills seemed to be troublesome for Emily. I thought she was right behind me, but when I got up to the top and turned around, this is what I saw. 
She told me she planned on running up the hill with her bike and jumping on at the top before I noticed. We laughed and laughed. Then, she decided that the top of the hill was a great place for a water break. We pulled our bikes over to the side of the road, and pulled out our water bottles. But poor Emily. There was only one fire ant hill in sight, and unfortunately for her, we saw it too late. 

I quickly pulled off her socks and shoes, and picked the fire ants off her feet, ankles and legs. She had bites all over the place, and some were already starting to blister. And we still had about four miles left to ride home. Thank goodness Emily is tough! 

We had a great time on our bike ride, and collected enough berries to put in a cobbler with some peaches. Scott said he was a bit jealous of this time with her, and the next night he took her out on a late evening ride. He said they enjoyed watching all the fireflies through the corn fields. I think she and I will take another late evening ride. She is getting so big so fast. 

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Summer Nap Time

My kids have always been great sleepers. When they were babies I took some credit for that, but then all credit moved to Mrs. Shari who had them down for a nap every day precisely at 1 p.m. And in a perfect world, they would be home for nap time at exactly 1 p.m. Obviously there is no perfection in the Johnson household, so when 1 p.m. comes, these sweeties drop where they are. 

I can sleep in the chair

I can sleep on a boat

Or in the floor... 

Or in my mommy and daddys bed.

I can sleep anywhere! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Mrs. Shari

There are a lot of growing up moments in our house this year. Elsie and Eli are registered for Kindergarten, and while we are totally excited about this new adventure for them, we were all very sad about their last day with Shari. To be honest, it sort of snuck up on us. Emily started to going to Mrs. Shari when she was just a year old. Since then, I took a year off to be with the kids after the twins were born, and every other year Shari has taken care of them. That means we have been bringing our babies to Shari's house on the way to work for seven years!
Mrs. Shari has been taking care of "teacher's kids" for years, and she knows so much. She rotates toys in and out of the kids' hands, so they don't get bored. Her backyard is like a park. She gets every kid she keeps to nap AT THE SAME TIME which really, is worthy of an award in itself. At the time of writing this, all three of my kids are sleeping. Yes, even Emily. She would take that 1-3 nap every day if she could. My friends are always amazed, and while I would love to take credit for their nap-taking ability, all credit is due to Shari. Another thing my kids all love about Mrs. Shari is the food she serves them. There have been many times I've heated up a hot pocket at school only to remind myself that my kids are eating a much better lunch than I am,and I am so thankful! Their favorite is still baked spaghetti. Years ago Shari gave me the recipe. My kids all informed me that it doesn't taste as good as when Shari makes it. 
Elsie and Eli have already asked when we're going back to visit her and her husband Henry. Scott and I will never forget the way she loves our children, and the way she grew us as parents with her wonderful advice and knowing perspective.  I'm not sure how much time passed between Elsie learning to put her own shoes on by herself, and Elsie actually showing her daddy that she could do it. But I'm sure Shari probably had to surpress a grin as she watched Scott put those shoes on Elsie, knowing that Elsie could do it herself, but chose not to. She knows our children so well!

The last morning that I dropped Elsie and Eli off at Shari's house, I cried all the way to to school. Scott picked them up that final Friday, and my unemotional hubby was a wreck! I know there will be other teachers in their lives who will love Elsie and Eli, just like those who love Emily. I am just so thankful for the love they've been shown by Mrs. Shari and Mr. Henry. We will make sure they never forget!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Sick Day

We've had a stomach bug circulating around the house. It started with Eli. He had the "just got in bed" puke. You know the one where the kid is all clean, straight from the bath, teeth brushed, fresh pajamas, and in a nice snuggly warm bed... and then "it" happens. Yuck. But the good news is that was it. That was Saturday and he's been fine ever since.

This girl however? Well... she is struggling. So I find myself with her this morning.... a sick day.

Now I totally get how frustratingly hard it is for a teacher to make sub plans. Sometimes I've been sick, but thought "well shoot. If I can just make it walking from one side of the class to the other, then I will be fine. Not worth the making sub plans. Suck it up Johnson!" And on to work I go.

But this girl? This girl needs her mommy. So that is that.

Right now she's curled up asleep in our bed. I think she likes the heating blanket and has made herself a nest out of the blanket and some favorite stuffed animals. You're not surprised that I've been in to check on her more than several times, really just because I wanted to see her in precious sleep. You've done it too.

Today will probably bring lots and lots of snuggles and way too much Disney Jr. Elsie's favorite right now is this show called Sheriff Callie. Its about a cat who dresses up like a sheriff and rides around on a pony. Of course its her favorite, right?

There will be lots of napping I suppose, and eating toast and Gatorade. Probably lots of Elephant and Piggie books. Those are my favorite too.

Elsie will probably be just fine tomorrow and will return to Ms. Shari's. But until then we have this sick day. A weird little unexpected day to spend just the two of us. And while it is never fun to see a child not feeling well, there is something special about having the day to spend entirely doting on that one child. Today will be a good, sick, day.

Sunday, August 11, 2013


This trip was dual-purpose. First of all, there was a new sweet little girl to meet. Baby cousin Kora was just ten days old when we got there to visit. Mindy drove Kora and Camille to our parents' house and was waiting there with her sweet girls when we arrived. Kora seemed content to let us pass her around and give her snuggles.

Camille seemed wide-eyed to see her "big cousins" play. She would try and attempt what they were doing, but mostly watched as they ran around doing "big people" things. Elsie and Eli loved that they got to be the "big ones." They had a fabulous time playing together.

The second purpose of this trip was to celebrate Grammy's 50th birthday. I love my mom for so many reasons. And this picture tells the story of another. We spent her 50th birthday celebration at John's Incredible Pizza. (For my Southern friends: think a much bigger Cici's/Chucky Cheese/Sparkleberry Fair) I just love this picture of her on the bumper cars. She's awesome. 

 And of course its hard to tell who had more fun: Papa or Eli.
A quick aside about Papa: This basically sums up my kids visit with their Papa. I have never figured out why they get so much joy from being hit with pillows. Every time we're there, they take my mom's throw pillows and beg for Papa to knock them down. They even retrieve the pillows so he can do it over and over again. Two things I appreciate: First, the kids giggling when they're hit. Second, my dad's sound effects. Yep. They love their Papa.

Other things that I love about our California trip:
 I have an awesome Brother in law. My kids love their Uncle James, and on this trip, Eli especially loved the checkers games they would play together every night.
 We loved the San Luis Obispo Thursday night farmers market. I've never been to another farmers market like it, and I love that I've gotten to go once the past two summers.
 Many morning started out on Avila Beach. Papa is known for being an early riser, so it was no surprise that we ended up at early breakfasts before walks on the beach or on the pier.

We also had a great time visiting old friends. I didn't get any pictures of me with Jenny, but we loved catching up while our kids played. We swam, and fed the cows. The kids had a great time! 

The only thing we didn't love about the California trip was that Scott stayed back to work on his writing. He got lots of things done while we were away but we missed him and he missed us. This meant that I traveled by myself with the three kids. Really, the kids were no issue, but the fear I had was more to do with the handling of suitcases, carry-ons, car seats, and such. But we managed just fine. Emily was amazing and I was so grateful for her help. I think the kids and I saw it as a grand adventure, and treated it as such. I'm thankful for my little traveling companions! And thankful that we get to go back to California in December, with Scott this time, to see our family at Christmas. 

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Summer Eats

 In the summer there is an abundance of fresh produce, and lots of extra time that doesn't come with the school year. Last fall I fell in love with brussell sprouts. I love to roast them in the oven with some olive oil, sea salt, and a bit of pepper. Yum. Last Sunday we headed to Trader Joes after church and they had some yummy brussell sprouts, and while not in season, I thought they would go great with some corn and fresh peppers I had on hand.  I also picked up a bag of quinoa, which was a new ingredient for me. I'm a lover of Pinterest of recipes, and the site didn't disappoint. I decided on one and this was the result.  I could only get my kids to take a bite, but I think Scott liked it.

Let me back up on that for a quick aside. 

Scott never really says he "likes" anything. When he thinks something could be improved, lacks salt, or something he gently offers his opinion. However, he is never quite willing to out and out say he "really likes" anything that I make. That would be too easy. His response that lets me know it was yummy is always the same. He smirks and says, "It would taste better with Frank's Red Hot on it." He doesn't actually put the Franks on it, but just gives me a hard time. Lovely. 

Another great item on the menu this week was fresh picked blackberries. My family and I love to pick fresh produce. We go to Pomeria to pick strawberries every April, blackberries in June, blueberries in mid-July, and apples in the fall. Another aside.

A few years ago before the twins were born, my grandparents came to visit. We decided to drive up to Hendersonville for the day to pick apples. The trees were turning and it was a beautiful drive and a fabulous time. However, on the way home my grandfather joked sarcastically with me about how "fun" it was to go out and pick fruit just like he did as a farm labor worker when just a boy. I felt horrible. Can you imagine? Come on guys, let's go pick some fruit! What a fabulous time! I had totally forgotten that as a child in California my grandfather lived in a mobile dirt-floor tent community where they picked fruit from a very young age. Luckily he thought it was funny, and didn't even mention that until the drive home. Thank goodness for his grace. 

Anyhow, for us, fruit picking is fun. The kids picked these blackberries with Grandpa Paul and Grandma Mary Monday while Scott and I unpacked the suitcases from the beach trip. In just an hour they came home with a few pounds of beautiful berries. The berries were far too bitter to eat by themselves, but tasted great in this cobbler. This is my all-time favorite cobbler recipe because its awesomely easy, and tastes great. Just ignore the part about the stick of butter! 

Creeping Crust Cobbler
1 1/4 C flour
1 C sugar
1/2 C butter
2 t. baking powder
1 t salt
1 C milk
3 C fresh fruit

Place butter in 13X9 pan and place in oven while preheating to 350. Mix dry ingredients. Add milk and stir. When butter is melted, pull from oven and pour batter on top of butter. Add fruit directly on top. Bake for 22-28 minutes or until golden. 

Hopefully this week we will head out to Red Bank to pick blueberries! Last year I think we picked over twelve pounds. I just finished the last bag in my freezer last month. You can catch an earlier rendition of blueberry picking here

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Beachy with Friends

So do you see these awesome kids? My friend Becky and I have been dreaming about getting these kids together for more than ten years. Ten years? Yep. No type-o there.  Becky and I used to sit around and think about how our lives would change as we got older. At that time there were no husbands. No kids. Both of were starting our first teaching jobs. We weren't in a hurry to grow up, but rather I remember us being very aware of the current rare time in life that we were finally "adults" yet nobody depended on us. We were independent of our parents, yet also independent of others.  We knew that would change, and it did.  All we knew was that when marriage and children came... we wanted to do that part of our life together too. 

We often talk on the phone about our "parallel" lives. It seemed that the struggles that Scott and I were having with life, wether it with a career issue, parenting frustration, or just juggling the finances of raising a family, the Andersons were there with at the same point in life. Though South Carolina and Colorado are far apart, the similarities in life pulled us even closer together. 

 Watching our kids play was beyond "fun." It was a dream. They got along and played so well. Some of my favorite parts of the week were the downtime around the house with play dough, hot wheels, or a picture book. Emily read a lot to the littler ones. And by the way, our twins were born in the same month as Evie. Jack is only two, but thinks of himself as four. Eli and Jack loved that they had the same pajamas. That was an accident. When they walked out of separate rooms in turtle pj's Becky and I could only mutter "parallel lives" with a smile.
This was how we spent most of the mornings in to early afternoon. 
 We towed the kids to the beach in bike trailers and took a ride for snow cones and dinner around the island. That was a beautiful bike ride for sure.

One night at dinner Becky and I surprised Scott and Jay with a shark fishing trip. I was a little unsure, as was she. We didn't know what expectations to have, but it was affordable, and looked like fun. We sent them off the next morning and took the kids in to Charleston for a day's adventure.
 I think its safe to say the dads had a great time. Scott and Jay both caught a couple sharks each. We were thrilled they had such a good time. Ironically, their captain is currently on a realty show that airs Sunday nights called Top Hookers. It was fun to come home and watch their captain compete on the show.
 This is some of what we did while the boys were fishing. It was hot, and so this was inevitable. We walked all the way from King and Market streets to the waterfront park. Quite a trek for an 8 year old, three 4 year olds, and a 2 year old.
 Most of all we did a lot of this. One of my favorite things about the beach house was that the dining room table had enough seats for all nine of us to gather around. And we did. A lot.
 We also took trips like this to Botany Bay
 And played...
 and played...
 and played...
 on the beach.

 All of us loaded on to a shrimping boat and spent a couple hours dragging the nets. While it was great, and tasty, to pull up shrimp, it was also fun to watch the kids sort through the other flounder, rays, various fish, and jellies that came up in the net with the shrimp. Then the kids would throw those things back and watch the dolphins swim along-side the boat. This was one of my favorite days for sure.

 I think all of us finished a book on the trip. Emily finished two. So when it was time to go we were ready, but already talked about the trip we would take next year. Everybody agreed and we put the deposit down the day before we left, guaranteeing that we wouldn't let ourselves put it off with the rigmarole of life. The tradition is set! I couldn't be more thankful for such an amazing family to share life with than the Andersons. And as my kids grow up, I pray especially that my girls will have an amazing friend to grow in life with so that when marriage and motherhood come, their friendship will encourage, motivate, challenge, and love. And I pray they will never take it for granted, and that I won't either.