Category Archives: life

Bad Days and Miracles

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On January 31st Rachel and I welcomed our second son into the world, Oliver Bruce Johnson. Bringing a child into the world is beautiful, miraculous, joyous, and mysterious. But newborns are challenging and we’ve experienced more than we bargained for. Rachel had some complications during the delivery, which I won’t go into now, but it’s left us experiencing an array of contrasts over the past week or so. There has been profound joy side by side with suffering. Pain, frustration, exhaustion, anger, longing, sadness, anxiety have all been swirling around in our hearts and minds. We’ve had bad days, yesterday was particularly challenging and yet despite all that, God has been faithful and held our spirits aloft. We’ve been trying to take each day one at a time and there are so many reminders of God’s love; sun shinning into apartment, Rachel’s mom helping out, friends and family visiting, friends bring meals, good food, good coffee, the Olympics, frangipane, laughter, music… all miracles. And the greatest of miracles: our children. Archie our first and Oliver our newborn certainly test our patience at times, though never cease to bring us joy, lighting up even the darkest of moments. God is good, in the midst of suffering, God is good.

Long Overdue Update

It’s been just over three months since our last post. I’ve been meaning to post an update, but just haven’t had the time. It’s a slow day at work today, so I figured I might as well get something down, even though it’s not on my time… shhhhh… don’t tell. Here’s what’s been going on with us the past few months, in list form, because who doesn’t like lists, right?

-Rachel is pregnant! 🙂

-It’s been a tough pregnancy, especially August and September 😦

-Our Volvo started to die, so we bought a minivan.

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-At the end of August our renters moved out of our house after one year.

-With the help of Rachel’s family and our friends we spent nearly 10 days getting our house ready to sell.

-We put our house up for sale.

-We found an apartment in St. Louis Park and signed a one year lease!

-We found out we’re having another boy!

-At the end of September we drove out to Montana.

-In Montana we visited my Grandma and Aunts and Uncles out at the The Farm.

-Archie drove a tractor and pretty much loved everything about the farm.

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-Once in western Montana we stayed in a really nice, but cheap condo on Big Montana in Whitefish.

-Spent a lot of time with my sister Stephanie and her new baby boy, Wyatt. Archie was very cute with Wyatt… he’s going to be a great big brother! Sadly, cousin Mark was away in California.

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-Spent time with my parents.

-Spent time with our good friends Tom and Sharon.

-Went to many of our favorite spots: Tupelo (a great restaurant), Apgar, and Polebridge.

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-We drank a lot of coffee and drove a lot.

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-Once back in Minnesota we started moving into our apartment after nearly a year living with Rachel’s parents.

-Living with Rachel’s parents ended up working out really well, but it’s sure been nice having our own space again. It’s been a good transition for all of us, including Archie!

-Unpacking continues…

-Being pregnant has still been tough for Rachel, but she’s doing a lot better than she was at the end of the summer. Praise God!

-Our house didn’t sell, but we found some great renters!

-Letterpress… well, we haven’t done much letterpress lately and probably won’t be doing much for awhile with the new baby coming. However, that doesn’t mean the dream is dead. We’re just taking a step back for the time being until we have more time to commit to it. In the mean time we plan to do some projects here a there when time allows. In fact we are currently working some business cards! More to come on that.

watercolor alphabet flashcards

So, we have a little reader on our hands.
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I’ll often be getting ready in the morning, and I will peek over into our living area and see a scene like this: Archie immersed in one of his favorite books. Since he was pretty little, we have intentionally tried to foster a love of reading. The library has become part of our weekly or every other week routine. We read to him often and he is always requesting different books. I definitely think this is something you need to foster, maybe kids can love reading on their own without much parental involvement, but in this day in age, with screens so prevalent, I think it really falls on the parents to open kids’ minds to the love of reading.
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So, since he loves “reading” or looking at books, I decided to make him some alphabet flashcards to teach him the individual letters. I’m sure you can buy something like this, but I thought they would be fun to make, especially since I’ve been into watercolors lately.
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So, I bought some blank flashcards and then just painted one letter on each card in different colors. Once they were dry, I outlined the letters with a black sharpie. Easy peasy. I bought little ring enclosures at Target to bind them together.
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While I was at it, I decided to make number flashcards too, 1-10. IMG_2505
It was a fun, easy project and I hope it helps him get to know his letters and numbers at an early age!

Quitter

As some of you may know, I work for a  here in Minneapolis and one of the motivations for us starting a letterpress business, is for me to be able to quite my job. For one, I don’t really enjoy my field of work and am not a big fan of the corporate environment. Also, I want to be able to spend more time with my family. The more and more we’ve talked about doing letterpress the more I’ve started to drag my feet at my job and be annoyed by it. Both Rachel and I keep hoping I can quite my job sooner than later. However, my attitude about my job has recently changed after listening to the audio book version of Quitter by Jon Acuff.

Archie visiting me at work

Archie visiting me at work

The book explores transitioning from you day job to your dream job, but in way I wasn’t expecting. The core message was actually hard for me to hear, but exactly what I needed. Acuff talks about the pitfalls of quitting your day job when your not ready for your dream job. He discusses how keeping you day job while pursuing your dream job can give you a lot of flexibility, especially financially. The book also made me look at how I approach my job. I’m constantly complaining about it and not doing it to the best of my ability, but in reality I’m incredibly blessed by my job. It allows me to support my family, so much so that Rachel doesn’t have to work. It gives us the financial flexibility to test the waters with our business. I like the people I work with, and honestly, it has a lot of great perks. Here are a few other things I learned from Quitter:

-Your day job can provide opportunities to learn, that will be valuable to you in your dream job.

-Performing poorly and having a bad attitude at your day job will carry through to your dream job. Likewise, performing well and having a positive attitude will have positive effects on your dream job.

-Learn to fall in like with a job you don’t love.

-In terms of time management while working a full time job, pursuing a dream and having a family: do less of the things you like and do more of the things you love.

-Once you’ve put in the work, have prepared financially, are organized, and have made peace with your day job, then you’re ready to quit your day job.

If you’re in a similar situation of trying to get out of your day job in order to pursue your dream job, I would highly recommend this book! As for me, I’m going to take what I’ve learned and put it into action.

Archie-isms

Our son, Archie, who is 2, is at such a fun age. His vocabulary is increasing by the day and he is constantly cracking us up. We thought we’d share some of the crazy, cute things that daily come out of his mouth!

He can say a few things that contain a string of 4-5 words…like:

“Where did that come from?” ….which sounds like….”wherethatcafrum”

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or ” what happened to the cave?” (he’s really into caves, tunnels, bridges and forts lately) …which is more like…”whathappenthecave?” again all meshed into one word…

Whenever we see a Target logo, Archie says “Target!”… brand recognition at an early age! Maybe too early! But his dad does work there, so it makes a little more sense 🙂
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• He calls any and all cereal “oboes”, we think it originated from him trying to say cheerios, but he is constantly asking for “oboes”. And when he wants water he asks for “Abba”…but he’s starting to say water the correct way which makes us a little sad.

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• Whenever he asks for something, we usually say “Do you want X?” and instead of saying yes, he always says “okay”. He says “okay” to everything. And if he’s kind of panicked, he’ll start a string of okays….okay, okay, OKAY!

• He loves being outside. Whenever we walk out the door, he raises his hands in delight and says “Ahside!!” It’s pure joy for him to be outside. You would think he’s never been out of the house.

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• When he’s really having fun doing something, like running or getting wet by a sprinkler, he’ll exclaims over and over “FUN!”…

• Or when he doesn’t like something, he’ll say, “Ike it, Ike it!” in a mad tone! Or sometimes he says “No Ike it!”

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• When he wakes up in the morning, he usually comes into bed with me to snuggle, which he calls “Nuggies.”

• Whenever he sees a coffee cup he wrinkles up his nose and makes a sniffing noise. It’s so funny and cute. He must think that coffee has a strong smell.

I hope we can remember these precious little Archie-isms. He is our joy and we are so thankful for the gift that he is in our life (even if he is a lot of work sometimes).

Rachel’s favorite blogs

So, I would definitely call myself a connoisseur of blogs! There are some that I have been reading for years now, which kind of seems crazy to me. Of course not all of them that I follow post everyday, but a lot of them post pretty regularly. I feel like I have really received an education from some of them…on how to live naturally, bring up a child, nurture a strong family, be creative amongst limitation, etc… Most of the authors are moms, but I wouldn’t consider these “mommy” blogs.

First up: Posie Gets Cozy

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Posie gets Cozy is a blog I have known about for a while, but didn’t start reading it regularly until this year. It is authored by a woman in Portland, OR who adopted a little girl this year. She’s an amazing artist and I have been totally captivated by her aesthetic. She takes the most stunning pictures of her home and– often the same pictures throughout the different seasons. The things she loves are innocent and cute, and I think I have found courage to love those things again– the things that I thought you kind of had to stop loving once you got a design degree. I’ve learned about Tasha Tudor and Carl Larsson from her–both children’s book authors whom I’ve checked out books at the library on to learn more about. I’d totally recommend her blog! I just bought her Maggie Rabbit kit, now I just have to make it!

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Jen Loves Kev is a blog I’ve been reading for a long time now! I feel like I could be friends with Jen if we lived in the same state! She posts on life with her adorable two daughters, fashion, motherhood and everything in between. She posts quite often, so you get a great peak into her day to day life– the good and bad, easy and hard stuff with a really honest perspective which can be hard to find in the blog world.

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Carpe Season is my friend Liz’ amazing food blog! She and her husband, Eric, who helped get our blog up and running, manage the blog together. The amazing writing with the awesome photography make for a really nummy blog! Liz is also a fellow blog lover, so we always have fun chatting about the different blogs we have come across! Check her blog out if you need a recipe for dinner tonight!

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Bleubird is another blog I have read for a long time. She seems like she is kind of burnt out from blogging, but I still enjoy seeing glimpses into her life. I think I like seeing how people live, the choices they make…I like hearing and reading people’s stories and I guess that’s why I keep reading this one. She has two children from her past marriage and two from her current marriage. Their family is pretty hipster, I guess…I don’t know how else you would describe them.

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Oh, Journey Mama, your words are so soothing. She writes from their home in Thailand, where they are raising their 5 children. She is a writer, so her posts are just like honey. So beautiful. She writes very honestly about motherhood, living in another culture, living with little material possessions and about faith. It’s neat to see Jesus faith lived out in a non-Jesus culture. Her archives show all the places they have lived. Sometimes I love going through archives on blogs to see where people have come from.

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I think I started reading Nie Nie right after she had had her plane crash. Her story is pretty remarkable, and since she blogs daily, I read her blog quite often. She loves motherhood like no other blogger which I find really neat. She values the day-to-day tasks of being a mom above all else.  She sometimes writes snippets about Mormonism that I find annoying, but other than that I really commend her on keeping a positive attitude amidst so many ongoing physical trials in her life.

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I found Emphasis Added! through another blog a year or so ago and I think I am drawn to it, because the mom who writes it is so different than me. She works full-time for a major company in Chicago and has two little girls. Her life seems super hectic to me, but she is very positive and always keeps her head up. She’ll post about crazy expensive clothes and galas she goes to…it’s a fun peek into a totally different world!

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Simple Mom is a great resource for moms. Tsh Oxenreider, the author, has a team of contributors who post on so many relevant things. I also enjoy listening to the Simple Mom podcast, especially when I have long drives from the burbs to the city. She is real, and a great writer.

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And finally I am sharing about Soule Mama. She lives in the Northeast with her 5 children. They farm and knit and homeschool and write daily about what they experience through the different seasons on a farm. I’d love to just go and live with them for a week to be a part of all of the life they have going on! I’ve read some of her books too, and they are all awesome– with great ideas on re-using things, making handmade gifts, etc.

Hope you’ve enjoyed a peek into some of my favorite blogs. If you are a blog lover, what are some that you find yourself going to again and again? I’d love to know!

Penny Tile

As I mentioned in our last post, we’re planning on doing some work to our house to get it ready to sell in September. The main project we’ll be undertaking is updating the kitchen. On a recent trip to Home Depot we came across some really cool penny tile we might use as a back splash. I consider myself pretty handy, but finish work scares me, especially tilling. Anybody have experience doing a tile back splash? Any advice, tips, or tricks? Below is a video on how to install penny tile from one of Rachel’s favorite blogs, Young House Love. Doesn’t look too hard…

On another note, we’re planning on doing a give away later this week, so be on the look out for that and spread the word!