Alicia & Ben » Blog

One of McKay’s birthday presents this year was an annual family pass to Lowry Park Zoo. It’s nice when we remember to gift experiences rather than just materialistic possessions. So, my parents chipped in and we bought the pass just in time to take advantage of Swaptember. In the month of September all zoo pass holders can also have free admission to MOSI, a children’s museum, and the Florida Aquarium.

LOWRY PARK ZOO – 8/29/14 (Friday afternoon when Ben got off early)


Laughing about the monkeys.




First roller coaster. A bit of a shocker for him. He didn’t cry but he didn’t really like it either.




Cautiously brushing the goats. He reminded us of the time he was so scared of them he crawled up Auntie Natalie.

MOSI – 9/6/14 (Ben was sick so I took the kids one Saturday)







FLORIDA AQUARIUM – 9/30/14 (Went with new friends – Ashley and Nathan)


Trying, to no avail, to pet the string rays.


Walking through the fog.


Black light area.



LOWRY PARK ZOO – 10/6/14 (Sadie gets out of school early every Monday which gives us time to do interesting things in the afternoon)


Carousel rides are always a hit!


Loved to see them hold hands during the Wallaby Walk-a-bout.






They have a splash pad area which we’ve never explored, much to the kids’ disappointment. This day the kids insisted I bring their bathing suits. I was so impressed with how adventurous Jax was. Usually he won’t get his face or head wet. For the record, Jax packed his bathing suit and it was a 6-12 month size. It fit him just barely.




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  • October 7, 2014 - 3:13 pm

    Joe - That face from Sadie in the last pictureReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2014 - 11:13 pm

      alicia - Priceless. They’re becoming more ‘hip’ in the poses they want to strike.ReplyCancel

  • October 13, 2014 - 4:20 pm

    Shannon - I love the new look on your blog Alicia! Did you do it or have some help? Either way, it looks great.

    I’ll have to remember your idea about gifting fun experiences instead of just material things. I’ve really struggled with what to buy as gifts recently for my kids. I really don’t want any more toys in my house. Doing something fun together is much more memorable and special I think :)ReplyCancel

    • October 14, 2014 - 11:11 pm

      alicia - Thanks Shannon! I customized a blog template. So, I had help but then also did some myself ;) I think it still needs a little jazzing up but I was bored with the old layout. :)

      I have found that it’s getting harder to find gifts for the kids, too! We really just like to have the passes for places (children’s museum, aquarium, zoo) and find that birthdays are a good excuse to buy them.

      Thanks for the comment!ReplyCancel


At first it was a little strange to have just one child at home. I kept looking around for another child or two. All morning I wondered and worried about where and how they were. I was anxious to see them and I wasn’t focused or productive. And, it was a little dull – it felt wrong to do anything fun or interesting without them.  So we sat home instead, being careful not to do anything too interesting.

McKay didn’t know how to occupy himself. He wanted to be held or watch TV – nothing else. Sweet little guy even shed tears a few mornings as Jax happily marched out the door.

But now….

Well, now we’re figuring things out and it’s a little wonderful. It’s wonderful to not break up fights. It’s wonderful to be able to work with two-thirds less interruptions. It’s wonderful to be able to focus on McKay and his funny thoughts and fascinating questions.

Lately we’ve been busy with playdates, errands, and projects. We’ve been busy making friends and going on outings with new people in the area.  In the past most of our playdates were spent with Sadie’s friends.  He’s so excited to have his own friends.  Each Thursday we’ve been going to open gymnastics.  He seemed a little lost the first week because he didn’t have Sadie and Jax to follow around, but now he’s catching on that he can choose where to go and what to do.  Some mornings we go for walks.  It’s been so long since I’ve gone on regular walks because Sadie went through a phase during which she had a passionate hatred for walks.  We haven’t had too many lazy-stay-at-home mornings. But I love it when we do!  The lazy mornings usually include a morning show, magnetic blocks, and puzzles.










Side note about McKay: He is very, very picking about the clothes he wears. He only wants “fastest shorts” which are lose gym shorts (he has three he’s loyal to; one pair were worn 5/7 days last week) and “fastest shirts” which are t-shirts. Sunday or special outings are the only days we fight with him about his clothes, and part of his conditions are that I put his fastest clothes in my bag and he gets to change as soon as we get out of church/special event.

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  • October 6, 2014 - 3:09 am

    Christy - His hair is so long! And beautiful. :) He reminds me a lot of Jax in some of these pictures, especially picture 6. Glad you are both enjoying your mornings just the two of you.ReplyCancel

    • October 7, 2014 - 12:11 pm

      alicia - Yes, I think I’ve decided to let it grow. I said I never would but I just love it longer. :)ReplyCancel

Twelve of our tall palm trees got a clipping last week and in the process we were presented with three homeless baby squirrels. The tree trimmer knocked on our door and handed each of the kids a squirrel before I could say a thing. Sadie was thrilled! Jax was cautiously curious. McKay was a speechless statue who seemed amused and concerned. I laughed and ran for my camera.  Funny how we each react differently to life events.




While we were talking the mother came back to the nest and was squeaking for her babies. The babies started squeaking back. I asked Jax to set his down by the tree to see if the mother would come for it. He was so gentle and sweet.


Sadie, on the other hand, wouldn’t give hers up. She ran upstairs and asked Ben if she could keep it. The tree trimmer gave her the idea. Apparently he raised a few when he was a boy. I heard Ben laugh and yell from the upstairs bathroom (he was doing baseboards), “What is THAT?” She asked him if she could keep it and he told her, “No Sadie, no more pets.” She cried and was quite upset with Ben. Happy I didn’t have to be the bad guy.:)



Jax’s kept crawling up inside his costume. He loved the warm, dark, soft hideaway. Jax sat frozen letting him hangout while I researched what to do and called around to a few places.


In the end, we made them a little nest and put them by the tree the mother had fled to. They slowly started disappearing after an hour and a half. We never actually saw the mother come for them but I hope it was her and not the neighbor’s cat.

They were cute!


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  • September 26, 2014 - 12:29 am

    Shannon - Each of the kids do have a different reaction to the squirrels. I especially love the one with the little squirrel clinging to Mckay’s shirt. He has such a cute reaction.ReplyCancel

  • September 27, 2014 - 2:54 am

    Desiree - Super cute. Ben is so mean some times. Hope the momma got her babies back in the nest.ReplyCancel

This past weekend I had the creative time of my life at Clickaway, a photography conference sponsored by ClickinMoms.  This was the first conference they have done and it was in Salt Lake City.  Too convenient to pass up!  It was Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  We have the Southwest Companion Pass so one child could fly free with me.  Jax was the lucky child.  My mom had McKay during the days, Sarah picked Sadie up after school, and Grandma Cliffie watched Jax.  Thanks to all for your babysitting services!


My mom gave Jax $10 to spend on his trip. He was thrilled! He was sweet and used some of it to buy presents for Sadie and McKay.


“Pose for the camera, Jax.” This is what he does.


Loved having one-on-one time with him!


The Fullers (family friends; Ben’s employer) have a beautiful second home in Salt Lake within walking distance to the convention center so I slept there all but the last night.  It was perfect.  This was my view when I went to bed and woke up:


I almost slept with my contacts in so I could see it more clearly as I was falling asleep and waking up.  It was fun to walk through Temple Square each morning on my walk to class.

The conference schedule was packed!  So many interested classes from brilliant photographers!  All my favorite topics: lighting, lightroom, posing, couples, candids, equipment, lifestyle, composition, beach photography, off camera flash, travel photography, creativity, etc.  It was really a thrill for me.  The first class began at 8:30 and the last one ended late afternoon and some evenings there were shoot outs.


My all time favorite blogger: Ashley Ann Cambell. I’ve read her blog, Under the Sycamore, for years. It was so exciting to meet her! Blog:


Took a class from kellie Penn all about posing on wedding day.

I learned a lot from the classes.  Although, one thing that surprised me was how much  more I knew than I realized.  I went into the conference nervous to admit I was in business and the words, “I’m a professional photographer” have never graced my lips.  I have never felt legit as a photographer.  But I realized how far I’ve come and that I knew more than I realized.  And I walked away with a lot of inspiration!

I’m so happy I was able to go!  It was a rejuvenating and motivating few days.


Holding my newest niece for the first time, Lucy.


Showing Grandma Cliffie his tricks.


Saw Troy, Jadyn, and Jace for about 20 minutes.


Playing in the park the last night.


She has the best head of hair!



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  • October 1, 2014 - 6:04 pm

    Mary - I don’t always say it, Alicia, but I LOVE YOUR BLOG!!!!! I think you are not only an amazing photographer but also an amazing and gifted writer!!! And I love you to the moon and back!!!ReplyCancel

It’s been a week since we had to have Shadow put to sleep. He was almost entirely blind, deaf, and was having difficulty getting up and down. Although, I never thought it would be, it was very clear that it was finally time.

That dog was difficult to live with – all the shedding, barking to go out or come in every 5 minutes, and mischief right up until the end. But I sure miss him. He was a good dog. I should have been a better caretaker.


Kids saying their farewells


Shadow came to live with us when I was 16. It was around Valentine’s and we were told he was almost one so we just decided that valentine’s day would be his unofficial birthday. Our neighbors, the Joneses, had rescued him from the neighbor of Mrs. Jones’ sister. His original owners couldn’t get him potty trained and frequently mistreated him. One day Mrs. Jones’ sister over heard the neighbor yelling and hitting Shadow and she offered to take the dog since they were always so frustrated with him. The owners gave Shadow to the sister but after his temper softened he came knocking asking for his dog back. The sister said no and the man was upset. The sister brought Shadow to the Jones’ house to avoid further contention with the owner and a possible dognapping. They were searching for a good home for him and I felt I was the answer. My parents didn’t agree. I begged and they refused for weeks. My mom slowly started to fall in love with him and after forcing me to make promises to care for him, walk him, and take him once I was on my own they agreed to let us keep him. I was ecstatic!

Shadow, unfortunately, wasn’t the easiest dog to live with. He frequently had accidents in the house during the first year. He was scared of brooms or any stick and would hide at times. So sad! He ate food off the table when our backs were turned. He barked. And he was a lot of work, and frankly, I didn’t keep up my end of the bargain. There were several times my mom almost got rid of him. Once she had him in the car and they were heading to the SPCA. I was sobbing and told her if she got rid of my dog that I would NEVER forgive her. Off they went. Back they came. I was so relieved! Thanks mom!

Once Shadow and I went to the Wiley’s house and unbeknownst to us he had an accident and poor Heather, faithful friend that she is, stepped in it! We felt so bad.

When we were newly weds Ben made me cupcakes for my birthday. I couldn’t figure out where Ben had left them as I was preparing to frost them. I looked in the over – no. I looked in the microwave – no. I looked in the fridge – no. I called Ben had work and he said he had left them on the counter. I called out, “Shadow?!?!?” He had the guilty look and went to his crate. He had eaten all 12 cupcakes including the wrappers!!! We never found a crumb.

Shadow and I had a bit of a falling out once kids starting appearing in our family. I didn’t want one more thing to take care of. So we began shared custody with my parents. They’d take him for a few months and then we would switch back. We loved him but no one wanted to live with him.

Sadie enjoyed Shadow the most and she cried the hardest when she said goodbye. Jax was just starting to like him. He would burst into tears whenever Shadow barked. FOR YEARS. Drove me crazy! McKay mostly liked to walk him on a leash and boss him around.

We shared many good times together.  He was a great dog. Most likely my last dog.  We miss the old man but I’m happy he’s at peace.


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  • September 10, 2014 - 6:16 pm

    Shannon - So sad to see Shadow go. I didn’t know the back story to how he became yours. What a sweet story :) I’m sure you’ve got lots of fun memories of all the mischief he caused and happiness he brought to the kids. So no more pets, huh?ReplyCancel

    • September 16, 2014 - 8:54 pm

      alicia - Nope! No more pets :) Maybe a bunny or hamster or something in the future. I think that’s about it, though.ReplyCancel