Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Baby News from the Johnsons!

Affectionately named 'Owl Baby' by big sis Lucia

Big news from the Johnsons....

We're expecting a baby! And not only that but it's a BOY!!! 
He already has our hearts but will be in our arms this August. 

We could not be more excited! If you know my family, then you know that this is a day the Wallgrens thought might never come. With 7 little girls running around between me and my two sisters, we've all wondered if having a boy was even possible. Turns out it is but I still can't quite believe it. I made sure our ultrasound tech was really really really sure before entertaining the idea myself. We're glad to be the ones to usher in a new Wallgren era.

I am 20 weeks today. Half way already and feeling great.

Lucia has been convinced its a girl so she'll have to get used to the idea of having a brother instead of sister but regardless, she'll be a great big sister. She loves to help take care of babies and I imagine she'll love taking care of her Owl baby even more. She often comes up to my tummy, kissing it saying "I love you baby".

Lucia also has a 'baby' in her tummy named 'Claire Baby'. According to her, it's always in there but here she is pretending with a blanket under her shirt. Her baby is usually sleeping. But then when Lucia's stomach grumbles, she says "uhh! the baby noises!"

Bring it on, Baby Boy!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Lucia Lately...3 Years Old

Miss Lucia Gloria turned 3 last week on March 6th! Here she is in the special outfit she picked out to wear on her birthday. If you know her, then you know she of course would want to wear a sparkly skirt and all pink. She has strong clothes opinions these days and it's a rare day to see her without a skirt on. She's definitely turning more each day into a girly girl loving all things pink, sparkly plus nail polish, lotion and choosing her hairstyle. She named this style the "Elsa ponytail" after Elsa from Frozen, not me...I'm not cool enough.

Lucia is (mostly) an absolute joy these days. She loves to play, laugh, make new friends at the park, read books, create art, dance when the credits come on at the end of a movie and snuggle. She's a goofy girl that "cracks myself up" as she says. Her language and memory skills continue to amaze us but these days she's into making up new words like "this cheese is too helpy" or "the covers are too flumpy". Mostly adjectives but funny when she makes them part of her normal vocabulary. Also funny when she says things like "I promise" or "trust me" when I know from how she uses them that she doesn't fully grasp their meanings yet. She is definitely a people person, learning others' names and using them often, engaging with her eyes and her contagious laugh.

She has been sleeping in a big girl bed for some time now. I took a while to dive into that world plus potty training world mainly because we had so many changes and transitions recently which usually does not work in favor of toddler transitions. But I have to say, I do not regret waiting til she was older because she has been more ready which make things easier for her to understand and easier on us overall. We still have some work on potty training but in general she is doing great. She sleeps a bit shorter now that she can get up from her bed but still gets a solid 10-12 hours of sleep and knows that if she comes to snuggle at night, it's only for a few minutes then she goes darting off back to bed herself.

Most of all when I think of Lucia, I think of how sweet she is. She loves to take care of her 'friends', the few stuffed animals that live in her bed. Before she goes to sleep she carefully tucks them in, kissing them and calling each one 'sweetheart' as they take their places. And she is even more generous with her love for Matt and I. I can't even count the amount of times in a day that she comes up to me, kisses me and says "I love you, Mama" in a such a tender voice. Sometimes over and over within the span of a few minutes. Then the icing on the cake is her newest repeated heart-melting phrase "You're the best Mama".

 Here are some more pictures from her big day and the weekend of celebration...

When she woke up on her birthday, we made some pancakes and had a Disney dance party. She said "this is a beautiful party, Mama", ha!

She 'helped' me dip some rice krispy treats in white chocolate and sprinkles but in reality, she basically just did this.

Then we were off to the library to play and pick out some new special books and movies.

 And we topped the morning off with a special lunch trip for a Happy Meal.

That night we had a fun family party for dinner, cake and presents.

 Lucia was excited about the new bike we gave her and hopped right on to practice. The funny thing during opening presents was that each time we said, "this is from ____ ", she thought we meant "to" so she would begrudgingly walk over and hand whatever gift she just received back to them. No Lucia, that's for you, you get to keep it! I guess we need to work on the difference between to and from.

Sommar and Lucia even had time to Skype with their Chicago cousins.

Best compliment from my cousin, Anne, "your mom is here because she may as well have made that cake". Yes, mission accomplished! This is the cake that I (and she) grew up eating every birthday so we are carrying on the tradition.

Though Lucia basically just ate the frosting, the ice cream and the chocolate part of the rice krispy treats, leaving this mess of desert when she was all done. A few days later, I blended up some left over cake (different left overs than the ones pictured above), chocolate ice cream, milk, chocolate chips and ice to make a cake milkshake. It was a great way to use leftover cake and they tasted super yummy, almost like a Frosty.

 The next day was a gorgeous one reaching almost 70 degrees so we headed to one of our favorite parks.

Throwing rocks

 Scooping sand, floating shells

Finding little crabs

We spotted a few otters swimming about so we walked over to get closer.

Then we spotted this eagle flying and went to get a closer view of it perching atop this tree.

Soon after getting close to the eagle, it flew off towards something about 50 feet away from us. As we look closer, we see an otter making it's way up the beach to bring a fish to it's den and the eagle swooping down to snatch that fish out of the otter's mouth. Well, the otter kept at it and got up to it's home with the fish. It was quite the site.

 So we walked over to get closer to see if the otter would come back out (it didn't). We could hear little pup squeals so I'm glad the eagle didn't get the fish. I mean seriously, how lazy could the bird be? Go get your own fish.

Lucia had fun getting creative with this knotty, root-y tree. She was decorating it and seasoning it with 'salt' and 'pepper'.

I noticed this spot where a rock had been engulfed and overcome in the growth of the tree, probably long, long ago.

Soaking up the sun

Then it was time to go...

 We enjoyed some food by the harbor in Olympia

 And went to a movie for a very special treat. Lucia loved it!

Happy Birthday Lucia!

It is our joy to be your parents and watch you grow. We can't wait to see what this year brings for you. And we will try our hardest to see you and love you just how we find you.

I read a Henri Nouwen excerpt about parents and their children recently that I liked:
 "Children are their parents' guests.  They come into the space that has been created for them, stay for a while -  fifteen, twenty, or twenty-five years - and leave again to create their own space.  Although parents speak about "our son" and "our daughter," their children are not their property. In many ways children are strangers.  Parents have to come to know them, discover their strengths and their weaknesses, and guide them to maturity, allowing them to make their own decisions.

The greatest gift parents can give their children is their love for each other.  Through that love they create an anxiety-free place for their children to grow, encouraging them to develop confidence in themselves and find the freedom to choose their own ways in life."

And so we will try our best to do that.

Brown Rice 'Make-Your-Own' Sushi Bowl

One of my favorite recent dishes for our family lately has been these 'Make-Your-Own' Brown Rice Sushi Bowls. It's all about the toppings. Tons of them piled high and all nutritious. It doesn't take much effort but a bit of time to chop everything up to make accessible to everyone.

I make a cup of brown rice according to the Martha Stewart's directions instead of the package's (1 cup rice to 1.5 cups water for short grain, cook for 30 minutes). This way keeps the rice from getting soggy. Add some soy sauce, or other yummy sauces to the rice (like rice vinegar, siracha, sweet chili) and top til your heart's content. Here are some suggestions:
  • Shredded carrot
  • Diced cucumber
  • Edamame
  • Green onion, chopped
  • Caramelized onion or shallot (I mix a bit of salt, sugar and balsamic vinegar with the onion and saute on low for about 30 minutes) 
  • Quick pickled onion or shallot (I mix a few tablespoons of sugar or honey with the onion, then place in a mason jar and fill with red vinegar until onion is covered, let pickle in the fridge for at least an hour before serving)
  • Fried eggs (must have in my opinion!)
  • Avacado, chopped
  • Greens of any sort, chopped
  • Keep it just veggies or add some beef, chicken, shrimp or crab
  • Spicy peppers, chopped

  The beauty of the dish is that everyone can customize it to their liking.

Here was my daughter's: more simple with rice, egg, carrot, cucumber and edamame

And here was mine loaded up with rice, carrot, 2 eggs, cucumber, green onion, edamame, caramelized shallot and not so traditional to Asian food, jalepeno. The combination was delicious, especially with runny yolks covering everything. Next I'll have to work on a Mexican version.

Monday, March 2, 2015

The Winter Months

This photo should be called "Every Morning in Washington". Dewy drops covering the grass, dew coating everything. But these days the weather has been quite nice and sunny so the dewiness doesn't last long.

We finally have internet in our place so I am going to re-welcome 21st century living with a new blog post. Ah, it feels so nice to be reconnected.

 So here's what we've been up to lately...
Lots of trips to Portland looking for housing. We try to break things up by hanging out with friends there, finding new places to eat and exploring new parks. This was from one of our visits to one of our favorite parks in January. I couldn't believe the beauty of the coats!

Even flowers in bloom.

From a day of hanging out with friends in Gig Harbor.

Here's Lucia's 'stage' in our back yard. "Let it Go" has been performed here many times.

And these are the rock yards behind our house where Lucia loves to play. There used to be actual play sets there but she doesn't need to know that.

So way back in the beginning of February there was a little game called the Superbowl. And we all know it didn't go well for Seattle. We'll just say that the food and the company were good.

Visiting Daddy at his office

Lucia has been taking a tactile art class. She has been loving it and I have been loving leaving this kind of mess at the classroom.

 Although we will be living in Oregon, we still needed to update our plates and licenses in the meantime while we're in Washington. And I never even fully memorized the old plates from Illinois, oops.

Recently our car's brakes started malfunctioning. After bringing it to a mechanic and finding out the brake line rusted out, the guy asked if we and the car had been living somewhere else. When I answered 'Chicago' he said that the salt on the roads helped to rust out the brakes. So glad we don't have to deal with that anymore. Getting it fixed felt like leaving Chicago winters behind for good...and good riddance.

Lucia spends much time in the yard playing with Daddy, mostly playing baseball, throwing balls over the house, running around and playing with the mole-made dirt piles.

Then coming to the window to say hi to Mama.

Scoring some serious V-Day loot

Hanging out at the Olympia harbor, one of our favorite spots.

And we love the park by the harbor too

Recently there were some days where the water in the harbor was jam packed with jelly fish. Like, one of them every single square foot throughout the water from top to bottom. You can see just a few of them above in a picture from a later day.

The sunset was so beautiful last week that I just had to drive out to a clearing to get a better view of it and Mount Rainier.

Lucia has made great progress in potty training these days, yay! Not all good yet but much progress.

Hanging out at our friend's downtown Seattle apartment.

 Check out that mountain view in the background. I love it!

 Last weekend we had the chance to do some touristy things in Seattle like going to Pike's place market. It may be a touristy place but I got the best plums I've ever had there as well.

 That same day we headed to Discovery Park and started out by the playground chasing bubbles. And of course I wasted my camera battery at the stupid park and then had none left for when we got down by the water and had THE-MOST-BEAUTIFUL-VIEW-EVER of the water and surrounding mountains. Ah well, we had fun and the images live in my mind. Plus the pictures of Lucia playing below are pretty cute.

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