Final Destination

It's been a turbulent few months in the Johnson household, to say the least. We've picked everything up and moved once again, one final time, to Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where the weather is mild, the trees are green, and the dairy is fresh. I won't torture you with the tale of woe concerning the buying of houses, the changing of jobs, the unreliability of moving companies, and so on. I would rather talk about how well the boys are doing, how generous our friends have been, and how we finally feel like we've found our home after nearly eight years of bouncing around, wondering where we were supposed to be.

When we left the ministry in 2006, we felt a bit lost, but we also had a new purpose in getting Christie through nursing school. When she graduated in 2009 we toyed with the idea of traveling, simply to see if there was a place out there that fit our family better than Arkansas. As much as we love the Ozarks, especially Bentonville and Rogers, we felt like we didn't fit in. We had made good friends and found a healthy homeschool community, but we were restless. If you've followed this blog, you know we hit the road in early 2011 to see what the world had to offer.

It brought us first to Harrisburg/Hershey, Pennsylvania where we immediately found friends in the homeschool community, and developed a lasting friendship with the Foley family. We hated to leave, but we felt that our adventure must continue, plus we needed to be closer to Boston. Two years later, we find ourselves back in Pennsylvania, five minutes from the park where we first got to know so many wonderful people, and eight minutes from the Foleys. This also puts us in proximity to a ton of farmer's markets, local dairies, great restaurants, Penn State (where Christie now works full-time and I will eventually have my heart transplant), libraries, shopping, bike trails, parks and so many other great things I can't list them all here.

Not our house - the view from the front porch nearly every day

As soon as we get a few more boxes unpacked, I'll put up pictures of the actual house. We're taking our time because there's a lot of furniture to buy, but one of the first things we did was paint the boy's room. I figured they've barely been able to hang a poster on the wall in years, so even though there are more pressing things to be done, I was anxious to finish this. Here's a small teaser, more to come:

Brennan wanted penguins and Rich wanted turtles, so we're making that work together, sort of...

More than the house, there's a sense of belonging, and permanency that we haven't had in so long that Brennan doesn't even remember it. Now he's immersed in a world of friends, playing, and a place he can call his own. At 8, it's about time.

Brennan with his buddy, Sean

It was clear that we belonged on moving day. Jilted by our movers, nearly 21 different people showed up to help us unload our van, including two neighbors whom we'd never even met!

Kirsten Waldron in typical non-plussed mode. Ron Ratcliffe considers stealing Dave's CD's, and Avery and Kate goof off for the camera.

Kristie Waldron, Stacy Foley, and Jen McCurdy. Triple Trouble.

Jake Waldron mugging.

Kirstin and Kate realize there are more of these shelves than any sensible person could ever use...

Mark is probably sick of Dave's books at this point, but soldiered on valiantly in the 97 degree heat.

The best thing is that we feel like we're finding our feet again as a family. The boys are happier than I've ever seen them. We've spent a lot of time playing games, at home and at the mall where a local bookstore sponsors a game night once a week. The boys even won some prizes there by participating in a Where's Waldo scavenger hunt that spanned the whole Lebanon county area.

Brennan wipes out Kate and the Ratcliffe girls at Snake Oil

Maxim teaching Rick to play Magic: The Gathering

At Infinitos at Rich's early birthday party

Brennan loves Eleminis

Rich killed everyone at Flame Wars

They found Waldo! Rich, Brenna, Kate & Maxim. Brennan won a $50 gift certificate to the game store, and Rich won a basket full of pet goodies for Blitz.

We've spent time in the park, read together at night, had game night, devoured the new season of Master Chef, eaten at our favorite restaurants a few times, and spent time with friends. It's the way life is supposed to be. The Foley's housewarming gift sums it up:

It goes to show that life never turns out how you expected. Here we are in Pennsylvania, in a beautiful old house that's a bit like us - a little beat up from the adventure, but still strong at the core. A little older, hopefully a little wiser, certainly richer for the experiences we've had. The hills of Pennsylvania, downtown Little Rock, a ski resort town in northern New Hampshire, a stone's throw from Long Island Sound in Norwalk, Connecticut. The metro area of Springfield, Massachusetts. And all the places we explored in-between. The coal-mine towns of Danville and Sunberry, the Poconos, Dallas, St. Louis, Raliegh North Carolina, the visits to Delaware, Baltimore, NYC, Hartford and of course, our beloved Boston. I am hard pressed to not cheer for the Red Sox and compare all seafood to Boston cuisine. Boston, small and over-crowded, opened its arms to us so many times when we were worried and despairing. Our first experience there involved a woman we'd never met giving us her phone number and address if we needed a place to stay. Boston opened its doors and its heart to us and will forever be "our" city. It's where our kids learned that people are the same, no matter what they look like or what language they speak. It's where they learned to explore food. It's where they rode a subway and a taxi for the first time. It's where we all learned that the world is so much bigger and wondrous than we'd ever thought. The doctors, transplant coordinators, and nurses that held our hands, patiently took our phone calls, and loved and embraced our boys call Boston home. It's because of their concern for us that we are where we need to be now. And of course, the friends and family along the way that have encouraged us so much. The Johnsons, Bostics, Foleys, our incredible cousins, friends like Lisa and Smitty who quietly pray and hope for us. For all this we are truly thankful. 

The fall brings new things - an attempt to cyber-school, new clubs and activities for the boys and our family, new friendships, and inevitably new food. These things that are the essence of life, more so than careers or money. We've believed that for a long time, but were often forced to re-arrange our priorities to get to this place in time. Now, it's time to live. And hopefully to laugh a lot more.


  1. 8 minutes? Who's driving when you do that? It's 4-5 minutes, depending on crossing rodents.

    I'm standing here reading this and part of me can hardly believe that it's true - you are HERE. Permanently.

    I love that all of us are giddy about that. It's not really seeming to wear off or be "normal" - it is exciting and wonderful. The most-oft asked question around here is, "When are we going to see the Johnsons next?" It's a fun question to answer, because the response is generally something like, "In a few hours" or "Tomorrow" or "This afternoon" or "At game night" or "At dinner" or "At the park."

    Thank you for being YOU and for moving here. Many slogans for this chocolate-loving area talk about life being sweet. Well, life just got a WHOLE lot sweeter. :) We love you!

  2. Just ignore the posted speed limit signs. You can make it in a few minutes. It's so awesome to have you here. Now we don't have to cram everything in over one or two weekends--YOU LIVE HERE NOW! Here's to tons more fun! We love you guys!

  3. Why thank you, Im so glad you love ME! (JK) :P We love you guys too! :D Oh, and Boquinha, when are we going to see you next? >:)