Thursday, June 20, 2013

Three Things Thursday

Thing One: our trip to New Hampshire
We spent the last week in New Hampshire with 60+ members of Phil's extended family. Don't worry--it wasn't one of those family reunions where you have to wear name tags and eat three different kinds of Jell-O salad; we actually know and like each other (and the food was awesome). While the weather wasn't perfect, we made the best of it, and enjoyed reconnecting with people we'll only get to see a handful of times in our lifetimes. I've only seen most of Phil's cousins two other times before this trip (our wedding, if that even counts as spending time with people, and the last time we did this, three years ago), but they're so quick to love that I always feel welcomed. Moo did great on the planes and was obsessed with any girl of any age (oh my) as well as canoeing, kayaking, and riding on the pontoon boat--pretty much anything water-related. Love that kid's sense of adventure.
Unfortunately, I got a stomach bug toward the beginning of the week and just yesterday started feeling like myself again. I even felt like eating three mini Reeses cups and later three chocolate chip cookies, so clearly I'm back. :)

Thing Two: book rec
I recently finished reading Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns). I always loved her on The Office and knew she was one of the writers, and I also like her new show The Mindy Project, so it was an easy summer pick for me. The book is one of those you'll finish in two days tops.

Some nonfiction is written by people who have interesting stories but who aren't writers; this isn't one of them. Because Kaling is a writer, the both what she says and how she says it is interesting and well-crafted. And really, really hilarious. I laughed out loud several times. And I almost never laugh out loud when I read. If you're looking for an easy, funny, summer read, this book is for you. (Girls only, though.)

Thing Three: funny Moo story
It was Sunday and somehow Moo knew that it was church day (possibly tipped off by the dress I wore--a rarity in my case). In the process of getting all of us dressed and out the door, Moo said "church."

"Yes, buddy. We're going to church where we learn about Jesus and how much He loves us."

(as if I was the stupidest person on the planet) "Momes."
(Translation: "No, Mommy. We don't learn about Jesus at church. We learn about Moses.")

I'm glad my VBS story time stuck with him. Here's him one day after VBS playing "Momes" at home:

Never too early! Thankfully, Jesus made a comeback this week and is all he wants to talk about (a sweet post for another day).

(And yes that's a paci in his mouth. When he's not sleeping. Don't judge. We've been going through teething hell over here the last two months. I'm fine with it.)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I Ain't No Gourmet Chef, But...

Continuing the cooking posts, I want to make it clear that I'm just a regular person who's burned a few meals but loves to cook and experiment in the kitchen. Here are a few no-nonsense tips that have moved me from "making" frozen dinners to making up my own recipes:

Make friends with your neighbors. If you're like me, you'll start to make something and realize that you a) don't have enough of an ingredient that you need or b) the recipe calls for an ingredient you don't have (and/or will never use again). Never fear! Odds are a neighbor has a 1/4 teaspoon of allspice or the typical cup of sugar.

Follow the recipe exactly the first time (if you have to substitute or omit, see #3). Cooking is an art, yes, but it's also just a matter of following directions. You don't have to get all toss-the-contents-of-the-skillet-up-in-the-air-and-add-a-dash-of-whatever-you-want the first time you cook something. Just follow the recipe. Most of the time, it turns out great and you don't have to be a cooking genius to do it.

Google is your friend. I can't tell you how many times I've googled "substitute for sour cream" or "recipes with broccoli, chicken, and cream cheese." If you don't know what to do, ask. And the easiest place to find answers is online. Take heart: there are a lot of other clueless people in the kitchen just like you and me who've found solutions and shared them in cyberspace!

Subscribe to cooking magazines or read them online. 95% of the new recipes I try come from magazines I read. I really only subscribe to Cooking Light and Real Simple, but they give me plenty of recipe ideas (and sometimes too many even with just those two magazines). Figure out what and how you like to cook and find magazines/cookbooks/online resources that meet your needs. In both magazines I get every month combined, I might pull four recipes to try. I pass over lots of other good ones because I need to have practical expectations for myself. Instead of having a pile of recipes that's so big I never make anything, I pull a few and make them happen. If I like how it turns out, the recipe goes into my recipe notebook; if not, I throw it away. 

Cooking is a skill; practice does make better. Just out of college, I "made" bagged salad kits and added plain boiled chicken to it. Bleh. When we were first married, I graduated to hamburger helper, basic meat and veggie meals, and experimental grilling on the small George Foreman I owned. Eh. And now, I'm no gourmet chef, but I've found a creative outlet in cooking and have done it so much that I rarely measure ingredients, often add ingredients not in the recipe, omit ingredients without worrying about it, and try new recipes almost weekly. If I can do it, you can too!

My recipe rule: If a recipe takes longer than the time you have (for me over 30 min) and/or if it has ingredients that are obscure and that you won't use again, don't make it. Don't even pull that recipe out of the magazine or dog ear the page in the cookbook. Just move on and don't feel guilty about it. (Or save it for that rare occasion when you have time to yourself and just feel like making something special.) Otherwise, just order something like it next time you go out to eat and save yourself time and probably money. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Lest you think it's all tantrums and tears over here...

Baby Girl Johnson will be joining the world in mid-October!!! This is the time to overuse exclamation points, people.

And since everyone weirdly wants to see preggy pics (probably so we feel better about ourselves since we're not as fat as the pregnant lady), here's a recent pic of me at 21 weeks:
I want to say a million things about this girl, my daughter. So many thoughts and dreams and hopes and fears and prayers. So many things I want to say right. Say beautifully. But motherhood has taught me that I won't always say things right and beautifully, and that's okay. Maybe that's one of the things I want her to know most: Mama won't love you perfectly, but she'll love you wholly, fiercely, faithfully, enduringly, and I'll point you to the only One who gives perfect love.

Raising a girl sounds wonderful and daunting all at the same time. I look forward to showing her what a strong, humble, wise woman of God looks like while feeling the full brunt of modeling womanhood to her. I anticipate an intimate friendship unique to us, but also seasons of tension and misunderstanding. I'm excited about helping her navigate this world thoughtfully, but also expect conversations about skirts being too short and why you may not have a cell phone at age eight. It's those joys and sorrows of parenthood, knowing that my heart is about to expand to an unimaginable capacity while also knowing that she will experience pain, confusion, misunderstanding, and injustice that I can't protect her from all the time (nor should I). It's a beautiful tension, and one I welcome.

In the midst of all the deep what-it-means-to-have-and-raise-a-girl thoughts, I'm also enjoying lots of light-hearted thoughts, like how to decorate her room and what to name her. Speaking of names, send me your best ideas--first and middle names! Girl names are hard. My requirements:

  • Must be at least a little different since our last name is Johnson
  • Must mean something more than "wetlands" or "dove hunter." Extra points if you can make a spiritual connection
  • Must be appropriate with our last name (this one will get you if you're not careful...Ophelia, anyone?)
  • Does not have to be Biblical just because our first child has a Biblical name, but we're not opposed to Biblical names either.
For now, she's Baby Girl. And I can't wait to meet her.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Lest you think life is all roses and rainbows over here...

I wanted yesterday to end.

At least ten lying-on-the-floor (or sidewalk) tantrums due to one or all of the following: teething, lack of sleep, general toddler shenanigans? Yep, we did that.

Vacuumed the house and then made muffins (what was I thinking?) with a toddler, resulting in vacuum #2? Yep. Did that too.

Burned one little boy's hand while holding him (to avoid more crying) and attempting to make an omelette at the same time? Totally did it.

Sleep-deprived child who took a 45-minute nap for the second day in a row? Oh yeah.

Husband who had to work three hours later than expected? Uh huh.

Of course I finished the night with a sneeze that made me wet myself because I've been through childbirth for the boy who made me question motherhood today.

And then I read this cliche but timely little nugget on a friend's Facebook page:

And I spent five minutes before going to bed thumbing through pictures of that boy on my phone. 

And I love every little bit of him. 
And I'd do yesterday over for him if I had to. 

And it's a good thing because today started at 5:22 a.m. with more tears. 
Today is a gift. 
Pay attention.