Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You.
Psalm 63:3

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Checking in

Home again, home again.

Thanks to Southwest Airlines and my daddy-o,
who took us to and from the airport,we arrived home Tuesday afternoon. 
Thank you, Dad. 
And thanks for turning the heat up. And for the bread. 
And sending my computer off (for the second time) 
and delivering it when it arrived fixed...for reals, this time. 

All is right with my world...

I think I shed a tear when I put my flip flops away.

Back to life we go. 
School, sandy laundry, hats and gloves.

And for no reason whatsoever, here are some other Florida pics.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Life's a beach

I can confess to you after the fact that I have been wondering...what are we doing here? Vacationing in a strange, bustling city without a car. Where we can only seem to get sketchy information from our hotel hostess. With a hotel neighbor who continues to remind us that our children are too noisy. In a neighborhood where our slow strolling must be punctuated with strategic redirecting of our young reader's eyes so that he does not have time to decipher the saucy t-shirt slogans.

Yes, and exactly how much is it going to cost us to be here? And just where is our travel agent? That would be me.

Sweet Man, who is ever skillful at redirecting me in my second-guessing moments (they actually drive him quite batty after 10.5 years and he can anticipate them before I speak,) even said something to the effect of: Hmmm, stuck here without a car...snow-bound at home? Which would I prefer?

Oh, yeah, I was taking him down with me on yesterday's overcast afternoon. We didn't move far from our bed. Finally, we mustered the gumption to saunter down the promenade to the CVS to try and find mac & cheese for under $4 a box. Very exciting.

But today...days like today are what compel me seaside. And seaside we were...almost entirely. The water was turquoise and refreshing, but very swimmable. International sun worshippers filled in the beach. We saw manatees making their ways up and down the coast. Bug and Bean dug and built and laughed as the waves licked their creations. I finished my latest Anne Rivers Siddons book...perfect beach read.  We each only have a few small rosy patches of evidence to account for spending 5+ hours in the sun. And no mutiny...ha!

Apres-beach, we enjoyed baths and naps and Go Fish and Sweet Man's grilled chicken....

And I'm learning some valuable lessons about making future vacation plans.

By the by, that lapbook plan...not really happening. Oh yes, we are watching the Olympics, but not much schoolwork is being done. As of Thursday, I declared this week Spring Break.

Spring Break rocks...or as my brother would say...Eat, &$**?, tattoo. He's saucy...and we all know I'm not getting a tattoo...yet. I've thought about getting life's a beach or something else appropriate. Oh, and there have been multiple opportunities here. Nope, I've passed them all up, for now.

As the overwhelming majority of the days in my life can be described: I have everything I need and more. Hmmm, might be a good inscription on my forearm.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010


I have a setting on my camera that is called "snow/beach" ~ in terms of light and exposure they are very similar...but in real terms, we know they are not. Right, my homies?

We've settled into our little hotel a block from the ocean. Yesterday we spent traveling and procuring sustenance...note to all: don't buy ice cream at the store when your transportation is a taxi...just one of those little lessons we're learning without our own car.

The beach is beautiful. It's not warm, per se...but warmer than home. The weather is high 50's to mid- 60's but should be going up each day of our stay. (Update: Friday is supposed to be 68...Monday~80)

The hotel is charming but has perhaps seen better days. And the wi-fi is weak...we are in a far corner of the building, so I sit in the twilight by the pool posting.

The plans for the rest of our vacation have yet to be made...there will be mutiny if I make my husband and children go to the beach and then to our little hotel pool for the rest of our days here. So, tomorrow...excursions and adventures.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The view from here

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Greetings, from sunny South Florida!

We barely escaped another big snow and it sounds like more is on the tried to keep us home and succeeded delaying our take-off for an hour and a half...but quickly our flight was above the fray and into blue sky. The babes were wide-eyed and thrilled...I love to fly (especially take-off!) and am so glad they enjoyed it.

Bug and Bean once again proved to be great on the Johnson Traveling Team for their first air travel experience. There were many questions and a few harried moments, but really, we all rolled with the punches and enjoyed the day.

Sweet Daddy rarely checks any baggage on his frequent flights, and suggested we carry-on everything. I packed strategically. So, each kid had a wheeled suitcase and his/her booster seat rubber banded to the case (thought we needed them for the flight...I was wrong.) And I had my 2 bags and 2 other bags. Mucho luggago...and not thinking it all through, I forgot that I couldn't just leave a pile of bags to go to the restroom...we had to take everyone and everything. Whew...ah, well. SD will be traveling home with us...he can lug it all.

Bean asked many in-flight questions such as, "Is that man safed?" I had told her and her brother to keep their seat belts on until the light above us went out. In order to be safe, she had to stay buckled until she had to get out of her seat. That's Bean, making sure everyone follows the rules...including the flight attendants.

We flew to Tampa and saw a guy from my brother's high school class on the flight. When we landed in Tampa, I saw the mayor of my hometown...she was stuck there as she tried to get home. Funny seeing people I know, in a far-off place. Our flight continued from Tampa to Ft. Lauderdale...and then a 20 minute cab ride to the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure...the site of Sweet Man's annual meeting.

Today, we explored...walking to an area with some stores. My frugality came back to bite me. There are 5 restaurants here in the hotel...and room service. I wanted a less expensive option for lunch. After asking for a map from the front desk, we set out....40 minutes later, we saw a Walgreens in the distance and knew that other shops and restaurants were nearby. Not quite the walk I was expecting. Ah, well.

We made up for all that exercise by spending the afternoon at the pool...if you click on the link, the picture of the waterfall on the left and the cabana on the right is pretty accurate...I sat in beyond that waterfall and watched the kids frolic in the water. Perfect. Ah, well.

Tomorrow, Sweet Daddy is finished with his meeting at noon and we're off to another place for the rest of our stay here.

Perhaps this is a whole other post...but on days like today, I'm thinking:
I don't believe in luck, so I'm not lucky. I do believe in blessings, but to say "I'm just blessed" doesn't feel right, either. Again, fodder for another post.

My heart skips a little when I wonder if this is His plan for me? I hope I'm on the right track at least with my little world. I know I need to work on reaching out to the big world. I guess I don't know what to call this unbelievable life I in friendship, love, and life experiences. How did I get to be here, with these people, in these places, with more love and fun than I could ever have imagined?
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Friday, February 12, 2010

In the spirit

We <3 the Olympic games...really "stop life, gather round the glow of the telly for hours" devotion. I may not even answer my phone during...oh, wait, I rarely answer my phone on the best of days...anyway....

Although we will be on Florida's east coast for 9 of the Olympic's 16 days, our attention will be on the snow and ice of British Columbia.

And instead of doing our usual school curricula (and so I don't have to lug it to the beach,) we are trying out the educational resource of lapbooks

Tonight, the children are asleep but not in bed, the television is on, and I'm entranced with the Opening Ceremony. I'm sure I will get the shivers at the lighting of the's really one of the coolest spectacles ever, in my humble opinion. Imagine, if that gets me goin', what it will be like to see the Light of the world.

And just to really get in the spirit...we went ice-skating again today. And we <3'd that, too. I am a proud momma. Both babes are doing really well on the ice, but this boy of mine...he'd fall and smile and get right back up. We'd agree to do a couple more laps and when we were done, he'd negotiate for a few more. My apologies that this video is shaky and sideways...I'll have to remember not to turn my phone when I am capturing future precious moments...and maybe I should have stopped skating myself.

What a great couple of weeks we've had, with Sweet Daddy at home with us...and being snowed in for just the right amount of time....all kinds of other adventures...and soon, off to the beach (leaving Monday...don't cry for me.)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Christmas card album

My longtime friend (remember, I don't call anyone old...especially as I approach 4-0) who has creative, fantastic designs, shared this wonderful idea with me a few years ago.

You know all those precious photos you receive in Christmas cards or as the cards? I told her that I can't bear throwing them out. For all those parents who bathe, coordinate, and primp their families  into looking spectacular for a photo shoot (not us!) or the engaged sending their "save the date" pics...seems unjust to toss them along with the junk mail to be covered with coffee grounds, right?

So, she suggested this solution: take an inexpensive photo album that holds 5 x 7's and put photos/cards in it. (Trimming is sometimes necessary to slip pics in.) Love it!

This is our third year keeping the album, so we don't take photos out from year to year unless we have an updated picture to replace an older one.

It is a great tool when we are on our far-off adventures with Sweet Daddy...a fine way for the kids to see and think and pray about people we may not see often enough: grandparents, friends, missionaries we support...and it mitigates the homesickness.

I mention it today because I just today found our black album in one of our black traveling trunks out in our dark and cold garage...anywhooo....Bean promptly ripped our book out of my hands and hasn't put it down since.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Mr. G's birthday

She pulled off the surprise...he was flabbergasted, stunned, overwhelmed...just the reaction she was hoping for these many weeks.

What a fun night...fine job, Mrs. G....

Sunday, February 7, 2010


We celebrated in the snow...and then by the fireplace.

My sweet boy is six. Oh me....

Not much fanfare this year...but it's a year we won't forget. A year of becoming a reader, a better swimmer, a reluctant two-wheel rider, a savvy traveler-in-tow, a better explainer of feelings, a kindergartner, a "just-right for Bean" big brother, a brother in Christ.

Happy Birthday, Bug!


Friday, February 5, 2010


Just like many of you...we are snowed in...and loving it. It started about 10 this morning...we had 7 inches by 4pm and it's still going. The world seems simpler tonight and we have no choice but to do the things for which I wish I had more time....snuggling, playing games, watching movies with my babes, soup, reading books, baking and eating those baked goods....

Actually, that's about how our lovely week has been...time, two parents, special outings with each kid, a good Recovery meeting, 4 complete days of schooling (cheers!,) a boy's night out for Sweet Man and 2 girls' nights out for me.

This afternoon, it wasn't so peaceful...we were visiting friends (mucho fun) and trying to get a few things taken care of in the neighboring town and the usual 10 minute drive became about an hour and a half long. I had time enough to take pictures from my traffic jam. After arriving home, my brave Sweet Man finished up errands so that we can celebrate our boy...tonight, just after midnight he will be six (gulp.) More on that later.

I'm so thankful for this warm, safe space to tuck in. So, I pray that wherever you are you are happy, healthy, and cozy.

Monday, February 1, 2010

$.99 Margaritas?

We have a mini-tradition with our friends, Abi & Charlie...Tumbleweed (tex-mex restaurant) on Sunday afternoon (kids eat free!) or Monday evening...we probably make it 6 times a year, when our lives are normal and we actually live here.

This weekend, we were making plans...for Monday...let's do the usual....

...but later, I thought...we go out to dinner all the time...and they practically live around the corner from our sometimes homebase...can we just...get together here? They graciously agreed.

Much better...except that I can't take orders and fulfill meal would have to do...

(Here are the vidiots...)

Chalupa (at least that's what my mom called it)

In a 4 qt. crockpot, combine dry pinto beans with broth (I used chicken,) onions, garlic, oregano, cumin, chili powder, chopped green chiles...easy peasy...add as much as you think you like.

Cook the snot out of all day and night and all day again. Check occasionally to make sure there is enough liquid...drying out is bad.

Crank pot up to high, add 1 slice bacon for the last 4 or so hours,  and remove before serving. Finally add cooked chicken...I cooked 2 whole chickens (in seasoned water) yesterday, then separated the broth and the meat. I cannot abide (oooo, such a very intimidating phrase) dried out chicken in the crockpot, ick, so I added the cooked chicken (about 3 breasts and some dark meat) for the last hour...just to warm it up. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with warm tortillas, cilantro rice, cheese, lettuce...etc.

And good friends who bring brownies & ice cream & margaritas...and one cute puppy.

 Way better than Tumbleweed, even on $.99 Margarita night.