{ Saying Good-Bye }

This day has been looming over our heads for weeks. We have been trying to busy ourselves in the situation by lending out bedding and anything else we could to help the Johnson’s so we wouldn’t actually have to think about them leaving Georgia. Today was the last day of school for the kids, so we checked them out early and set out for one last hurrah with our friends before they left.

We headed out to IHOP for lunch, a nice safe place to overtake with our four adults and twelve kids, and settled in for some last minute talks and good laughs. We were hoping we would get Brittney our waitress who we always have who knows all our kids by name, but instead got another equally talented waitress. She memorized all our orders, no pen and paper for this gal, and managed to deliver them all to the right people and all perfect. There’s some IHOP talent.

Austin and Ryan IHOP blogRyan and Austin

Brianna and Katie IHOP blogKatie and Brianna

Brooke and Emily IHOP blogBrooke and Emily

Erika and Abby and Megan IHOP blogAbby, Erika, and Megan

Monae and Lisa IHOP blogMonae and Lisa

     Afterwards, we let the kids say good-bye outside and took our last pictures together for a couple of years. It was so interesting to see how they all were taking it.

Brianna-sad, but trying to be brave and hide her tears.

Austin-“Must climb something, must climb something! Oh, here’s a wall, I can climb this, yeah, that will make me feel better”

Brooke-concerned about getting her report card treat at the store.Yes, a girl after my own heart-denial and shopping, that will make us feel better.

Erika-sad and wanted to keep hugging Megan.

Abby-sad, but not really understanding where Germany is anyways, and then getting more confused when the kids talk about the Johnsons going to Utah first. Too much for a four year old to take in.

Scott-ready for his nap, wants his binkie in the picture, wants to try to grab and terrorize Matthew one last time before he leaves the country.

All kids IHOP blog

All 12 of our kids!

I ran the kids back home where Brianna watched them until the piano teacher came and helped watch them for awhile, while Aaron headed over to their house to start loading up the luggage. When I got back to their house it was very weird to walk through their house it being completely empty. Oh, how we will miss you Johnson family.

The drive up Aaron and I talked, mostly about non-Johnson topics for fear that tears would start rolling-from me mostly. At the airport is when reality starts to hit. Why is saying good-bye so hard! Because it means we love our friends so deeply, and that’s a good thing. We have never lived close to family, so we have made our friends our family, and the Johnson’s have been no different. It will be a hard few years without them, but we can’t wait to hear of all their great adventures they will have while in Germany.

After dropping them off at the airport, Aaron headed home and I continued on to do a little shopping while in Atlanta. We don’t make it up there very often, especially since the temple is being renovated and not open, so a chance to go shopping was what I needed to take my mind off of things.

Of course, as soon as I pulled out of the airport terminal I started crying so that didn’t help much to take my mind off of things. As I sat driving and reflecting on what fun times we have had with them, a thought came to my mind that hadn’t before. One of the hard things to think about was our plans to build a house just behind the Johnson’s, and all the fun we would have with them. It suddenly struck me how much harder it would have been to say good-bye had we already been in our house and had shared even more special times with them. Our house not selling, and our new house not being built was maybe just a tender mercy from the Lord in sparing our precious feelings. Thank you  Heavenly Father for helping me keep perspective when sometimes not fun things have to occur. Lemons into lemon aid-His specialty.

      Starbuck Family IHOP blog    The Starbuck Family 2010Johnson Family IHOP blog

      The Johnson Family 2010


{ It’s a …BOY! }

My ultrasound appointment was scheduled for this morning, and the kids had been counting down the days. We left them at home with Brianna in charge (I am loving having a built in babysitter), and Aaron and I went to the hospital alone to see the first few peaks of our little baby. We were considering begging the tech to write down on a piece of paper the baby’s gender, but they are so funny about that and usually won’t do it. I decided that I am not one for surprises and it may be best to find out first and then surprise the kids. Everything looked good. The baby was kicking the ultrasound doppler and not in a good position to see all of the spine (lucky for me I get to have another ultrasound in a couple of weeks to see baby again), but the tech was sure she could tell the gender. A boy! It will be so fun to have two boys close in age.

The last pictures that she took he was sucking his thumb and had the hiccups. It always so exciting to get to actually SEE your baby move around and kick and know they are healthy and strong.

New baby ultrasound scan blog

The kids wanted to be surprised about the gender of the baby, so Aaron and I came up with a plan to tell them. We stopped by the mall and picked up a cute little onesie that said little brother on it and wrapped it up with one of the ultrasound pictures. The tag on the top of the present said:

“Congratulations! You are the proud big brothers and sisters to a brand new..”

New brother onesie blog 

We offered to have them open it up right when we got home or bring it to the pool where our friends were waiting to go swimming and open it there. As excited as they were, they opted to bring it with us to the pool and share our joy with our friends.

The kids were split in their votes for what they thought the baby would be. Austin, Brooke, and Erika thought it would be a boy; and Brianna and Abby thought it would be a girl. We let Scott open the box (he being a neutral party to the matter), and all were excited to see that the newest little Starbuck would be a little boy. We can’t wait to meet you little brother!


{ Brooke’s Award Ceremony }

As the school year comes to an end, each grade at the kids school hosts an award ceremony to recognize the kids achievements throughout the year. Brooke’s was today, and she was excited to find out the awards that she got. They don’t give out too many here, most are back in the classroom-so Brooke was honored to get a couple of awards in front of the whole first grade and all their parents.

Brooke awards ceremony She waited patiently for the ceremony to begin. I love her little fingers all markered up with markers. She constantly has marker tattooed hands from all the coloring she does.When we can’t find Brooke, she is most likely in the playroom coloring something.

Brooke showing award Okay, totally blurry picture taken from the back of the room with a squirmy toddler on my lap and a talkative four year old standing up balancing on one foot on the chair next to me, but I love it! Why you may wonder. Because one of my own children without any prompting, stopped, turned to me and smiled for a picture! And not only that, she did it twice!

Brooke with award Brooke ended up receiving an honor roll award for getting all A’s throughout the year and also the creative writing award. We are really proud of you Brooke, and love you so much!


{ Binkie X 2 }

Scott two binkies

Scott has continued the tradition at our house of being in love with his binkie. At night he likes to sleep with two of them, but inevitably ends up losing them behind his crib. He cries, then in walks sleepy-eyed mommy to the rescue to move his crib out from the wall and retrieve his precious binkie. You would think the hassle would be enough for me to just wean him off of it, but no chance. The convenience and quiet it too much to pass up for now.

At dinner tonight he was being his funny self, and thought he would put on a show for us by putting both binkies in his mouth. He loves the attention he gets at dinner time, and makes a regular routine of trying to do things to amuse us during his after dinner show.


{ Hansel Play Starring Austin }

Austin Hansel 1Austin Hansel 2

Austin has been participating in Drama Kids at school this year. Their end of school play was a parody of lots of different nursery rhymes and stories. Austin was Hansel from the story Hansel and Gretel.  

Austin lines    Austin smiling    Austin saying someones lines

It was fun to see his cute sense of humor come out on stage. He remembered all of his lines and even some of the other kids. In the last picture, he had mouthed someone else's lines, and then covered his mouth when he realized what he was doing. It has been a fun year for him, and one of sacrifice too. He showed real dedication to go after school one day a week instead of coming home and going outside to play. For Austin, that’s HUGE! Good job superstar!


{ A Forgotten Picture }

Scott and Monae blog

I did actually have a picture taken of myself on Mother’s Day. It somehow didn’t make it in the original post. Enjoy-they are few and far between!

{ Mother’s Day }

I love the way my kids and husband always spoil me on Mother’s Day. Homemade cards and gifts, flowers from Aaron, a meal I don’t have to make, and letting me take pictures of all my cute kids. I love being a mother. I don’t think I ever realized how much work it would be, and more important how much joy I would have. There’s something about looking into the eyes of these sweet little people that makes you feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. They are so precious and I love them dearly.Kids Picture blogThanks family for letting me feel the joy of being your mother. I love you!

Brianna blog

Brianna 11 years

Austin 10 year old picture blogAustin 10 years

Brooke blogBrooke 7 years 

Erika blog

Erika 5 years

Abby blogAbby 4 years

Scott blogScott 17 Months

  Scott blowing flower 1    Scott blowing flower 2  Scott blowing flower 3   Scott blowing flower 4

Aaron and Scott

Aaron 37 Years.

Man, I love this guy!!

{ Austin’s 10th Birthday }

Austin 10 year old picture blog

10 years ago when I was pregnant with this handsome young man, I was due on Mother’s Day. He ended up being delivered by C-Section early because he was breech, but now 10 years later we finally get to celebrate a day together. Mother’s Day and his birthday. I was looking at the list I made last year of things he liked to do at 9, and really not much has changed. He still loves the outdoors much more than the indoors, he climbs trees and anything else he can find, he still goes barefoot everywhere, and he still is my sweet boy. I can always count on him to be in tune if I am in a bad mood and he will try to lift my spirits. He loves to play around with Scott so much. They wrestle and tickle each other and act just like boys! All the girls in the family adore Austin. They follow him around outside waiting for the next great idea he has of what to play, and at dinner or at movie night everyone wants to sit by him. We love you so much Austin. We love the great young man you are becoming and the sweet peace you bring to our home. Happy 10th Birthday!

{ Austin’s 10th Birthday Party }

We celebrated Austin’s birthday on Saturday by going out to eat with our friends the Johnsons at Red Robin, having the Johnson kids over to play, opening presents, having cake, and playing together the rest of the day. He had saw his presents wrapped and setting out on the front table for a couple days and had his guesses of what they might be. Lucky for him, the girls aren’t real great at keeping secrets so he had guessed a few before he actually got to open them.

          Austin opening presents blog     Austin with new watch blog

I love this picture of Austin and Scott. He just adores that boy so much. I kid him that he spoils Scott. He can’t bear to see him cry, so if he is in his crib at night supposed to be going to sleep, Austin will sneak in and try to rescue him. He gives him almost anything he wants and is so kind to him. I love to see my boys love each other. He is obviously showing him the ropes so that by Scott’s 2 year birthday he will be an expert in gift unwrapping.Austin showing Scott presents blog  For his birthday Austin didn’t have any outlandish requests, and was happy with all the cool things he received.

  • Lots of new clothes
  • Bop-It game
  • LaCrosse sticks
  • A new watch (one of his only requests)
  • A Sole Skate

          Austin on foot board blog      Austin with foot board blog

Austin with cake blog


{ Erika’s Pre-K Field Day }

Erika and Abby Pre-K Field Day blog

Today was Erika’s first field day, and she was so excited. She has reminded me all week of all five things she needed to bring with her.

  1. Wear shorts
  2. Wear tennis shoes
  3. Wear sunscreen
  4. Bring Water
  5. Wear a white shirt for her Pre-K class color

Abby, Scott, and I were happy to tag along and join in in some of the fun activities she did. They raced under parachutes, ran relays, played on the playground, played with hula hoops, and finally after the kids were all hot and very tired-went inside. I think all the kids took a nap that day during rest time.

Erika with Parachute blog

        Erika holding parachute blog      Erika running under parachute blog      Erika running relay blog

Erika Pre-K blog


{ The Strawberry Patch }

One of our favorite things we have done while living here has been going to pick fresh strawberries from a farm not to far from our house. The kids love just picking the strawberries almost as much as eating them. We looked at our calendar and tried to find a time to fit it in among all the soccer practices, piano lessons, and end of school activities. Last Friday was a NO SCHOOL day, and presented itself as the perfect time to grab some friends and head to the farm. Aaron was on OB call the day before, which worked out perfect as he had the day off too. The kids have been looking forward to it for days, excited to spend a whole afternoon with their friends. We packed up some lunches and drinks, loaded our vans full, and headed an hour east to the strawberry patch.

I packed a fun farm style picnic with corn on the cob, pasta salad, apple juices, chicken waldorf sandwiches for the adults, PB sandwiches for the kids, and old fashioned candy taffy and lemon drops in a brown bag for a the drive home. Erika wth basket  blog

Picnic 2 blog                Corn on the cob blog Pasta salad blog

The strawberry patch  had a tent covered area with picnic tables that we set up our lunch at, got the kids settled, took lots of pictures, and by the time we finally sat down to eat our lunches the kids were almost done and requesting to go pick strawberries. Luckily, the Johnson’s had brought a spare Frisbee to entertain them until we could get down a little food and have some chat time.

Kids picnic blog

Katie and Brianna

Brianna and Katie picnic blog

Ryan and Austin

Austin and Ryan picnic blog

Brooke and Emily

Brooke and Emily picnic blog  

Megan and Erika

Erika and Megan picnic blog


Abby picnic


Luke picnic blog

Lisa (happy not to be the one pregnant this time), Deirdre (8months pregnant), and Me (15 weeks pregnant)

Moms picnic blog 

              Erika picnic blog    Brianna picnic blog

After endless pleas from the kids, we finally packed up our lunch stuff and headed to the fields to find some big juicy berries. The kids each grabbed a basket for picking and in a little train headed down the path.

Group off to pick strawberries blog

“Hey guys! Wait for us!”

Scott watching group blog

“Come on boys, we don’t need those guys anyways.”(I love this picture! So cute!)Little boys picking blog 2   “Follow me. I’ve been to this place before. I know where the big berries are.”

Scott leading little boys blog


      Scott looking for berries blog   Scotty looking in bucket blog   Scott tasting berry blog  

      Scott eating blog   Scott looking for more blog    Scott thrown up blog

While the other kids went off with their friends to pick, Aaron and I followed Scott around watching him experience his first time picking berries for himself. He was a little unsure about eating one after we picked it, but once he tried it he was hooked. He would pick one, take a big bite, throw it down and then pick another one. All we had to do was follow his little trail of half eaten strawberries to find him. After only five minutes his face was covered with strawberry evidence. It was a good thing the lady in charge allowed us to eat some of the berries, we would have had a hard time getting past her with this messy face toddler otherwise.

Brooke, Erika, and Abby soon came back to show us their buckets of red strawberries they had collected. Brooke’s was filled to the top, Erika’s was half full-she was very particular about only picking the very biggest and reddest ones, and Abby had about three in hers. She was enjoying eating hers as well as searching for only the best ones worthy of her basket.

           Brooke with strawberries blog Erika and Brooke in field 2 blog                    Abby blog Erika eating a berry blog  

Erika and Brooke in field blog

Abby and Erika decided to join us for awhile in search of more to fill their baskets. When we had come to the strawberry fields two years ago we had come a week earlier in the year. The kids were able to go down just half a row and fill up their baskets. This time, just a week later in the season we really had to search for some big berries.

            Aaron picking with girls blog Strawberry mounds blog 

Aaron and Scott blog

Abby and Megan in field blog

Austin and ryan in field blog

Brianna ryan katie in field blog

Erika holding braids blog

Aaron and Scott standing blog

Strawberry fields blog

Aaron and Scott took a break from picking for Aaron to throw Scott up in the air. Scott loves this at home, and is all giggles when Aaron did it today.

Aaron throwing up Scott blog

They then played our other favorite game with Scott-asking him questions like,”Where’s Scotty?” and waiting for him to think, point to himself, and them giggle at how funny he is. OR “Do you want to be tickled?” and watch him try to tickle his own little armpits or double over trying to hide his armpits from us. He is really fun at this age. He is definitely all giggles and all about putting on a show for us.

Scott 17 months

             Scott smiling blog     Scott pointing blog

             Scott smiling with teeth blog     Scott smile

The weather turned from hot and sunny, to windy, and finally to overcast and very cloudy. We took as many pictures as the kids would allow, then headed back to the covered porch to join Deidre and Ashton who were resting there. Poor Deirdre, she is very pregnant and was such a trooper to roam out in the muddy fields with us chasing a toddler. She finally enjoyed watching us and enjoying some really yummy strawberry ice cream from the comfort of a rocking chair in the shade.

The kids rested on the rocking chairs while we had our strawberries weighed. We ended up getting three baskets worth which was just enough for us this year. I am not up to making too much jam, so just enough plump berries to eat, a few to freeze, and some to make smoothies seems just about perfect.Baskets of strawberries blog

Austin 9 years

Austin on chair blog

Abby 4 years 

Abby on chair blog

Brianna 11 years and Matthew Johnson 11 months

Brianna and Matthew blog

    Our whole group (All 13 kids)Strawberry patch group on porch blog

With red stained hands, mouths, and shirts; bellies full of ripe red strawberries, tired legs from walking up and down the rows, and three tired babies, there is really nothing left to do but go home after a fun day of picking. Thanks Johnson’s and Davis’ for such a fun afternoon.

Group done picking_edited-1