Friday, November 25, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving !

Happy Thanksgiving, from the Johnsons!

This was Willow's first Thanksgiving--but since she didn't really get to eat any of the food, it was just a normal day for her.

When dad came in from an errand, he dropped his hat on her head. She didn't really know what to think about it--so shocking!

What is this cold thing on my head?

Willow had been sitting in the kitchen while I started getting the corn souffle ready.

Making my own corn souffle.

Watching Winnie the Pooh with her dad while I was cooking in the kitchen. This is the scene where Winnie the Pooh sings, "I'm short fat and proud of that"...we sing this song to Willow all the time because it's fitting of her current state as well.

Adam had to work a half day on Thanksgiving Day--all the teachers have been working hard to continue the re-accreditation process for our school. Thursday felt like three days for me. Day 1, I was at home taking care of Willow and our ayi came over to help. Day 2, Adam came home and we gave Willow a bath and prepared for the water to be shut off again (we were given advance notice this time). I baked a little and we watched a few tv shows. Day 3, I finished cooking, Willow watched Winnie the Pooh with Adam, and we went to our friends' house for dinner (where about 15 of our friends were gathered). We brought cheesy biscuits, corn souffle, red velvet cake, and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake to share. Here we are sitting with our friends, ready to start eating all the delicious food!

After dinner, people played games and ate dessert...see all the desserts?

But throughout the evening, there was a shadow over our heads because we were missing one very important person. Our hosts' daughter had had a long seizure that morning and so was spending Thanksgiving day at the pediatric intensive care unit in a Chinese hospital near our apartment complex. This is the second time she has experienced a seizure like this so the doctors are trying to figure out what the underlying cause might be. She is still at the hospital today, undergoing many kinds of tests. She is only 1.5 years old and I feel so deeply for her parents. I can't imagine going through this with Willow! They are hoping she will be released soon. Right now, her parents can't even be in the same room as her, which just breaks my heart. Please be lifting up the whole situation right now. You can read more about it here.

On the way back home, we were carrying so many dishes and had a little mishap when we reached the gate of our complex. Whoops...there went the cheesecake. I couldn't stand the thought of throwing away almost half of a cheesecake, especially when I love cheesecake so much. So we googled the possible disadvantages of accidentally ingesting tiny pieces of ceramic...should we risk it?


Thursday, November 24, 2011

My New Interest

Being a stay-at-home mom is awesome. I love being able to stay with Willow and my stress levels have decreased significantly. Even though I don't get to sleep in, I have the option of staying in my pajamas for a while and playing my with my giggly baby.

But when the housework is mostly done, and Willow is napping--my new addiction is looking around Pinterest. What is Pinterest? It's a website that allows you to collect pictures of things you see around the internet and place them in categories (or, virtual pin boards). It's like marking a website in your favorites or using bookmarks. This can be used in so many ways--and if I was still teaching, I would be having a hay-day with Pinterest! Not only can you "pin" things that you see while surfing, you can also see what all your friends are pinning. From recipes, to craft projects, to home decor and fashion--Pinterest is basically limitless and so much fun!

What do I use Pinterest for? Mostly to "ooh and ahh" at--because I don't really have the freedom to try all the awesome ideas floating around there...either because almost all the furniture in our apartment belongs to our landlord, or because I don't have any of the supplies and wouldn't know where to get them...Still, I collect items of interest when I see them, because I have full faith that someday I will try out those nifty organizing ideas and DIY projects.

Mostly, I can find quite a few do-able recipes on Pinterest. I've been trying out new menu items here and there throughout the week and really enjoying the process of broadening my the scope of what gets created in my kitchen. It's one way that I can still express creativity from day to day.

The other day I saw this one DIY idea on Pinterest that I actually had the supplies for. How surprising! I had a cookie sheet that I can't use because my easy-bake toaster oven is too tiny. I had some colorful paper and magnets...I even had a magnetic notepad that I hadn't used yet. So, this is my little craft endeavor on our Friday-after-Thanksgiving-break!

I have the habit of planning out our meals every week so that we know what to purchase at the stores/markets and to eliminate waste of those things that we buy. Also--it helps me not stress out about what I should make for dinner if I've already thought about it...and it forces me to stay out of those cooking ruts I've mentioned before. So, I can switch out the little tabs under the magnets with different menu items--and I can write ingredients I need for the week on my shopping list...yes.



This year, I am thankful for so much--here's what comes to mind without any effort. There's even more, I'm sure, if I were to really think back on this whole year...So, so, so much.

-Adam; he's such a wonderful husband and a great dad. I love getting to spend my life with him.
-Willow; she adds so much joy to my day, I can't imagine how we lived without her!
-Hospital bills; there were so many, but between insurance and some gifts, they are starting to dwindle away.
-Adam's surgery; was a success and his knee is healing super well. Also, the ginormous $53,000 bill has been covered by insurance--and the hospital waived the rest. They even reimbursed us the $300 we paid up front before Adam was prepped for surgery.
-Trip to America; we were able to spend three months in America this summer!
-Willow's safe arrival; there were no complications, and even though labor was long, it was worth it (and becoming a very distant/foggy memory).
-Willow's passport/visa; what a hassle! But I'm so thankful it's over and she has the documents she needs to live in China with us!
-Mom and Emma's visit; what a great chance to spend more time with them and show them Shenyang and Beijing.
-Staying at home; what a blessing to be able to watch Willow grow up every day--and not having to stress out about having to teach 3rd grade and be a mom (how do people do that?)
-Our home; it's so nice to have a comfy place that is relatively warm. A place where we can relax and enjoy spending time as a family. Even though my kitchen is small, I'm thankful for working appliances. And it's so cute to see that Willow is most comfortable when she's at home.
-Great friends/community; where ever you are in this world, we're so thankful for you!
-Dad's work; my Dad was able to get a job this year--which has been such a relief to me! Even though he has to work so much, I'm thankful for HIS faithfulness and provision.
-Cheesecake; so thankful for cheesecake.
-Raspberries; so thankful for raspberries.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Life lately

Today, I discovered that Willow is too big for her 6 month sized dress, was too big for her 6 month sized pants (causing a nasty explosion up the back)--which resulted in learning that her nine month clothing fits just right. What the heck?! She's growing so quickly, and I'm starting to run out of clothes for her. It's a good thing we'll be in America soon to pick up the rest of her clothes we didn't bring in the summer because she's going to need them before we know it. She's almost twenty weeks old, and I can hardly believe it!

Adam is still plugging away at his grad work--and I'm proud of his ability to stick with it despite all the other responsibilities that he has. I was a bit thankful this past weekend that the high school lock-in that was scheduled ended up being canceled. It snowed on Friday, so the bus companies didn't feel like driving later on that night, causing the events scheduled for the evening to be postponed. I was glad because Adam would have been gone all night otherwise--it was great to have him around a bit more this weekend! It sounded like it was going to be a fun lock-in, however. They had organized this humans vs. zombie all-night game that sounded pretty intense/funny/scary.

So...yeah, it snowed on Friday. Willow's first snow! The temperature has dropped significantly and my summer baby does not know what to do in this bitterness. Every time we go outside she freaks out for a few minutes.

I'm just waiting for auditions to happen on December 1. There's not much more I can do until after auditions. I'm really curious to see who will audition and so excited to cast "Little Women".
I've also been spending a bit more time experimenting in the kitchen with some new baking and dinner recipes. I've been pushing myself to broaden my range of meals so that I can avoid cooking ruts. I find that I'm more motivated to cook (vs. going out/ordering in) if I'm making something that is new. If it's the same old recipes every week, I get bored. So, lately I'm trying out about three new recipes a week. Lots of yummy desserts too. My favorite this month has been red velvet cheesecake brownies. Yum.

We'll be in Illinois for Christmas this year! Right now the plan is to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Adam's extended families, and then go up to the Kang side of our family for some Christmas celebrations. We'll hopefully spend New Year's in Wisconsin with my Korean family, and then we'll be bouncing back and forth between Momence and Lake Villa. We haven't been home for Christmas in two years, so we're a little excited. Christmas in China is just....different. And celebrating it is very low-key since it was just the two of us. Now, we'll have to prepare ourselves for balancing time between our families and try to not over-eat all the great food. This is our first Christmas in America as a married couple, and as parents! Willow won't even notice what's going on because she will be jet lagging (are we insane?).

That's a little update about what's going on these days! Willow is growing/learning, Adam is staying busy, and I'm waiting for Little Women to kick into gear.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

4 Months

Willow Rose

Willow is now on her fifth month of life, having completed four months in this world. She is more precious than ever to us and is learning so much every day. I have decided that I love this stage of life. Here are some wonderful reasons why my four month old baby is the best:

1. sleeps through the night consistently--about 10 or 11 hours every night.
2. takes four naps during the day, giving me a chance to work around the house or rest.
3. talks a lot in her low, raspy baby voice--so adorable!
4. learns new skills and improves old ones every day
5. notices everything around her and is very curious about her surroundings
6. kicks, squeals and flails endlessly (no matter how tired she is) when she's on her changing table
7. loves to attack the toucan bird on her bouncy seat
8. has learned how to cuddle and snuggle and likes to hug mommy
9. reaches for objects that are out of arms length (including the food that I'm trying to eat)
10. tries to sit up, but usually topples over or bends forward too far
11. is determined to eat her toes, but still can't get them in her mouth
12. gets frustrated when she isn't as coordinated as she wants to be
13. giggles when her dad plays with her
14. likes to spend time outside, it is very calming to her
15. rolling over is her new obsession