Alicia & Ben » Blog

We were in Utah from 8/1 to 8/8 this year.  We packed a lot of fun and visiting into the trip.  Let’s see if I can remember what all we did:)

We had McKay’s birthday celebrations on 8/2.  McKay’s 6th Birthday blog post has tons of pictures and details.

On the morning of 8/3 I met my BFF from high school for breakfast.  We had fun catching up and laughing about times gone by.

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Then we drove up to Alpine, Wyoming for Ben’s Johnson Family reunion.  It’s a place where 120 of the nicest, happiest people on the planet sit around and laugh and visit for a few days.

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On Saturday afternoon we drove to Idaho Falls to visit Grandpa Clint’s resting place and for the Fish Fry on the Johnson Family Farm.  Visiting the grave was one of the highlights of the trip for us.  The kids could really feel something and were very calm and sweet.  It was a special stop.

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McKay lost his first tooth by natural causes while we were on the farm.  Now he’s missing three teeth on his left side.  He’s still cute, though!


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Sunday we spent at church and had supper with all of Ben’s siblings and Mom.  The kids loved the cousin time!

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On Monday we went to Provo Rec Center and swam with Grandma Cliffie, Lane’s family, Bret’s family, Des and boys, Christy and girls, and Troy and kids.  Lots of fun!  Sadie was brave and adventerous.  Jax and McKay were not.  Very typical.  One of these  years those boys will get in touch with their wild sides, I just know it.

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After swimming we stopped by the Creamery for an ice cream cone and walked through the Bean Museum.

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After returning from Provo we packed up again and Troy was kind enough to take us up to Wasatch Stake Park (maybe that’s the name?) for some stocked pond fishing for the kids.  Ben was worn out so he stayed home with Grandma Cliffie and Andi.  The kids had a great time and we caught three fish.  I always feel sad for the fish and guilty about catching them for recreational purposes yet I have fun at the same time.  Complex feelings about fishing.

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We woke up super early on Tuesday and caught an 8:20am flight home to Florida.  Farewell Utah.  See you next year!

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My sweet baby boy turned 6.  I know Andi is my baby now but I’ll always think of McKay as my baby, too.  He is the most adorable, most affectionate, kindest little kid.  My heart skips a little beat every time I look into his sweet, dark brown eyes. I thank my lucky stars every day that he’s mine!


His birthday happened to fall on the first day of Ben’s Alpine Family Reunion this year, so we celebrated him a day early which also happened to be Lucy’s 3rd Birthday.  We arrived into Utah late on August 1st and Christy picked us up from the airport and we went to the Haggard Home.

On the morning of August 2nd he woke up to a cutely decorated house, cousins to play with, and a few presents to open.  He requested that I keep his birthday plans a surprise.  So, all throughout the day we had surprise destinations planned, delicious meals, and a present for him to open after each activity.  He loves a good surprise!

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We started the morning with Kolachi’s, a Czech pastry.  I thought they were delicious!!!  He took a few bites and then asked if he could have a bowl of cereal:) Fine by me.

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After breakfast we quickly got ready and headed up to Sundance Stables for a short little horse back riding session for each kid.  Children under 8 can’t ride unsupervised so the employee at the stables took each of the kids on a 15 minute walk through the forests.  It was beautiful and the kids had a fun time.  Poor Jax got a little carsick and lost his breakfast, but everything else went smoothly!

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After horseback riding and a present we went to Sundance to ride the lift up to the top of the mountain.  We had planned to hike to Stewart Falls but the 3 mile hike sounded a little too exhausting so we skipped it.  We loved the peaceful ride up the mountain.  Sweet Andi nursed and slept the whole ride up. I loved holding her sleeping little body and taking in all the mountain beauty!

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We ate lunch at Bearclaw Cabin at the top of the mountain.  Beautiful scenery in all directions!

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After the lift and another present we headed to Blickenstaff Toy Store where we let McKay pick out a toy.  They kids enjoyed wandering and exploring; it’s a very interactive and interesting store.

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Next we picked up Maddy and went to Scales and Tails – a warehouse of reptiles in West Jordan.  I think this was the highlight of the day for the kids.  It was so hands on – the kids could hold and pet any non dangerous animal that they wanted!  An employee stayed with us for at least an hour and a half showing us animals, teaching us about the animals, making funny jokes about the animals, and letting the kids pet and hold the animals.

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After that….another present!  Then we grabbed Thai take out and ate McKay’s favorite meal, Panang, at Christy and Matt’s house.  Cliffie and Natalie joined us.  We ended the day at the fire pit two blocks away from the Haggard Home with fire building, smores, and the final presents.

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You never know how many birthdays you’ll be blessed with in this life so I think it’s important to make each one really special:)

I love that little boy!

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Tuesday, July 4th, DC.

Parade with Grampie.

Old Ebbitt Grill for for a late lunch/early dinner.

Fireworks with Kimmy.

A little history about, “Old Ebbitt Grill, Washington’s oldest saloon, was founded in 1856 and boarding guests read like a Who’s Who of American History. President McKinley is said to have lived there during his tenure in Congress, and Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, Grover Cleveland, Theodore Roosevelt and Warren Harding supposedly refreshed themselves at its stand-around bar.”

I loved it all!  It was crowded but not nearly as bad as I expected.  Our hotel was two blocks from everything and it was so convenient being so close. I left the parade early so Andi could cool down, nurse, and nap.  It was a 5 minute walk. Fantastic!

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We woke up early the next morning to see “the big Lincoln” as the kids call the Lincoln Memorial. It was so peaceful and quiet at sunrise. It was hard to get up early but I’m so happy we went. It’s my favorite spot in DC and I always feel a deep sense of gratitude and respect and patriotism when I’m in that space.

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We grabbed donuts, checked out of the hotel and left on a 9am flight back to Tampa.


It was a busy, fun, tiring, meaningful, patriotic 4th of July trip!

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One of the highlights of the trip for me was getting to see my former college roommate, best friend, and the person who introduced me to Ben – the one and only, Marnie!  I love her!  I’ll always love her.  We were meant to be friends and so much of who I am and the life I have is because of her influence and encouragement and love.   She’s just as wonderful and hilarious as I remember her!


She lives in Long Islands with her husband and five kids (!!!!!!  WOW !!!!!!) but she met us in Philadelphia with her two oldest.  We had a great time chatting, laughing, and see the sights – liberty bell, home where Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, and Independence Hall.  There was an fun scavenger hunt going on for the 4th of July and that made things a little extra exciting.



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We ate lunch at Reading Terminal Market – a large indoor market with, “Everything you need to create a memorable meal, from cookbooks, to table linens, to kitchen ware, to fresh cut flowers, and more.” It was crazy crowded, hot, and loud.  I circled with Sadie, McKay, and Andi in the stroller for 15 minutes trying to find a seat. We finally found a situation where two chairs were available and one was across.  So we sat there with an old man next to us and I nursed Andi.  It was awkward but one of those experiences that builds character and is fun to laugh about later but not really in the moment.  This what what the kids thought of Reading Terminal Market….

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A few of the sites….

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George Washington used this chair for nearly three months of the Federal Convention’s continuous sessions. James Madison reported Benjamin Franklin saying, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.”  I’d heard that story several times so it was really exciting to see in person!

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Oh the rain, it poured on us after we left Independence Hall.  We ran two blocks in heavy rain and laughed so hard we almost wet our pants! I was uninvited but decided to hop under an umbrella of a very nice Indian couple while we were waiting for a light to change.  They thought I was crazy but once they saw I had a baby they didn’t mind me standing so close.

We stopped by the new temple after our goodbye’s and arrived home late and tired but happy!

The next day was Sunday.  We enjoyed church, and then a fun evening visiting with friends and family.  Bret and Shannon, coincidentally, live in the same ward as Steve and Dorthy Grenhalgh who are good family friends.  Steve is the missionary who taught and baptized my dad.  They’ve remained close and we would visited them when we were kids and they in turn visited us in Florida.  Dorthy was a stenographer for George Bush and gave us a behind the scenes tour of the White House when we were kids.  She’ll always be a famous person in my mind because of those childhood memories. Ben’s Uncle Glen and Aunt Kim happen to also know the Greenhalgh’s so they came for a visit with cousin Clint, too.  They’re all really wonderful personalities and we had a great evening!

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Once we were finally got our chores done we went to a nearby waterpark with Bret and Shannon’s family.  The kids loved it and I think they say this was the best part of the trip for them:)

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That afternoon we headed into DC and checked into our hotel. We stayed in the historic Willard Hotel. Lincoln lived there for a time (along with two other sitting presidents), MLK stayed there and wrote his I Have A Dream speech there, and Julia Ward Howe wrote the lyrics to “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” while staying at the hotel. Other noteworthy guests include Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, Emily Dickinson, Charles Dickens, and the Duke of Windsor. Also, part of Minority Report was filmed there. So much history!

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We all (Kimmy, Dad, Bret, Shannon, and kids) went to dinner at Matchbox and then headed over to Capitol Hill to listen to the dress rehearsal performance of A Capitol Fourth. We arrived a little late so we only heard the second half and the seats weren’t great but we had a great time nonetheless!

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We said our Farewells and Thank You’s to Bret and Shannon and family and walked our very lonnnnggggg walk back to the hotel.  The kids were tired and wanted to join the homeless people and sleep on the side of the road but we convinced them to carry on and we finally arrived back to the hotel around 11 and quickly went to bed.:)

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Just returned from our fun 4th of July in DC.  We had a lovely time visiting with so many friends and family.  It was fun to see the sights and monuments but the highlights were visiting with so many people we love!

We arrived on Wednesday, June 28th.  My dad, coincidentally, traveled up on our same plane.  We knew we going up around the same time but didn’t realize it was the same flight.  It was fun to have his help and company.

Bret, Derek, Tyler, Katelyn, and Kimmy all met us at the airport and we went out to dinner at Matchbox.

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After dinner Bret offered to take Sadie and Jax back to his home while the rest of us quickly checked out Kimmy’s nearby apartment, which was surprisingly nice and fancy.  We brided McKay with ice cream to stay with us since there wasn’t room in Uncle Bret’s car for him.  He was happy to oblige and I was happy to get ice cream.  I’ve slowly started reintroducing dairy and Andi hasn’t shown any fussiness.  This was my first time having real ice cream in 5 months.

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On Thursday, June 29th, the kids played around the house for a while and then we went paddle boating in DC at the Tidal Basin.  It was hot but lots of fun!

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Bret and Shannon and family headed home afterwards and we walked the loop to the Jefferson, Roosevelt, and MLK memorials.  I loved it all!  The kids enjoyed the first half but got hot and tired about half way around.  I wish we could have gone slower and enjoyed all the history and quotes but we rushed through the second half for their sakes.  Andi was a champ and after nursing at the Jefferson she slept the rest of the time!

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We stopped at Sister Thai Cafe for dinner and it was a big hit!  The one food we all love and agree on is Thai.  It’s McKay’s absolute favorite and he really ate loads on this night.

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We ended the day with a dip in Bret and Shannon’s community’s pool.  Very refreshing for the kids after a long, hot day!

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Friday, June 30th, we visited the Natural History Museum with my dad, Bret, Shannon, and family in the morning.  The kids enjoyed it, I think?  They asked a few times if we could go back to “Derek and Tyler’s House” and play.  That was probably the highlight of the trip for them – time playing with cousins.   DSC_2789 DSC_2802 DSC_2816 DSC_2821 DSC_2824 DSC_2829 DSC_2832

After the Museum we visited Kimmy at her Nike Georogetown store and then got Georgetown Cupcakes.  That was a very long wait but they were quite tasty!

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I love Georgetown!  One of my favorite spots.  I find it all inspiring and everywhere I look I feel the need to take a picture – doors, beautiful homes, vines, foliage, architecture, brick roads, inviting paths, and so much history.  I love it!  Unfortunately I didn’t have my big camera (perhaps a blessing because I would have been so distracted) until we got back to the car so I only got a few quick pictures of my only willing participant, Sadie.  Good ‘ole Sadie!  So sweet to indulge me.  I didn’t have the right lenses and I was rushed so I didn’t get anything memorable but I’ll go back one day.

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