Alicia & Ben » Blog

Note: I wrote this a few months ago but hesitated to share for fear it was too negative.  After some time, I decided to share because it’s the reality of parenthood – ups and downs, love and frustration, happiness and exhaustion.  I think it’s healthy to remember and share all of it so I can have empathy for young mothers when I’m an old woman:)


Sunday afternoon I was upstairs with Ben and Jax when McKay came running up with a big smile declaring he had a present for us.  He delivered a Love Note to us from Sadie.  I read it aloud to the group: “Dear Daddy, I love you.  I love you because you get me water.”

I laughed a painful, sad laugh.  Kids.  They’re so cute yet so cruel, ya know?

Ben was confused.  “It seems so sweet.  What’s wrong with it?” he asks.

Ugh….how can I explain.

Sunday morning I spent getting myself and three kids ready for church.  I always have.  I’m starting to think I always will.  Ben was at ward council.  So I fed, bathed, and dressed the kiddos myself.  No biggie; I’m used to it.  If Ben was home he’d be helping but he has obligations.

At church Ben sat on the stand because the whole ward council spoke.  No biggie.  I’ve sat by myself with the kids for 5 of the last 7 years.  It’s not easy but I’m used to it.

After Sacrament meeting I go to my calling in Primary.  More kids.  I don’t mind, truly.  It’s fun to be down there and I like knowing what’s going on.

After church Ben had meetings so I took the kids home and changed them out of their nice clothes into their comfy clothes.   By then I had three hungry kids begging for lunch. I prepare a gluten-free favorite of chicken panang.  It’s not easy to be limited to gluten-free meals but we make it work for Sadie’s sake.

So I prepare the meal and we sit down to pray and eat.  Still no Ben but he’s doing great things so I’m happy about that.  I’d eaten about 3 bites of food when Sadie asked me to get her a cup of water.  The kids have ONE responsibility at meals: their water.  All they had to get was their water. That’s it.

Our conversation went like this:

Sadie: “Mommy, I’m thristy”

Me: “Sadie, you know you’re supposed to get your own water, Honey.  I just sat down and I want to eat. I haven’t sat down all day.  I asked you several times to get your own water.  I’m not going to. Can you please get it.”

Sadie: “Mommy, pleeeasssee will you get it for me? I’m really tired.”

Me:  “Sadie, I have done 29 things to prepare this meal.  I’ve measured the rice, rinsed the rice, cooked the rice.  I’ve cut up the chicken, onions, mushrooms, peppers, and celery.  I’ve opened cans of coconut milk and bamboo shoots.  I’ve cooked the meal, plated the food, gotten you silverware and napkins.  I asked you to do ONE thing – get yourself water.  I’m tired and I want to eat.  You can get yourself your own water.”

Sadie: Tears up and cries

Me: “Oh Sadie!  You’re not in trouble; I’m just tired. Come on, honey.  Let’s do it together, ok?”

Sadie and I get everyone waters.

So later when she delivered her note to Ben, “….I love you because you get me water” it felt like a slap in the face. It made me wonder if I’ll be remembered for the thousands of daily chores I do and the kind, encouraging words I express throughout the day,  or will I be remembered for the one moment when they felt disappointed because I was tired and choose to be selfish.  Are my kids going to look at their childhood and think of the handful of mistakes I made and overlook the thousands of things I did right?   I’m worried they will.  That’s sad.

I realize parenthood is not a popularity contest but sometimes I feel like the deck is a little unequally stacked against a mother.  It’s so easy to love the dad, especially Ben. He’s fun, extremely involved, and more patient (because he’s not as worn out).

But, ya know, I think I’m a pretty good parent, too.  Even if I don’t get them water!

I’ll just keep doing my best.  I’ll teach them responsibility and hardwork even if it means arguments and grumpiness.  I’ll keep trying to be patient and forgive myself even when I fall short.  Hopefully one day they’ll be parents and understand just how hard I worked and how deeply I loved them.  Because I do.  I love them like I never imagined I could love anything!


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The boys just finished up their spring soccer season.  Jax loved it; McKay liked it.  I think the heat was getting to McKay by the end.  The boys played great all season!  They each got quite a few goals.  Jax was the oldest on his team, so that may be a partial reason he was so successful!

Ben made a cute highlight video of their best moments.  Enjoy!  The audio is his favorite part:)

And, a few pictures…..

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I wanted to do a blog post tonight and share pictures of the kids lately.  Only problem???  Most of the pictures I take are of strangers.  When I’m home I want a break from photography. I’ve been taking more and more pictures, but less and less of them are of my kids.  So I’m going to blog about why I’m cutting back from photography.

Things have been busy lately.  I say that a lot.  I’ve been saying it for years. But lately, wow – new record for busyness, and I think I’m on the verge of burnout.   It feels like every moment of the week is scheduled – Monday, Thursday and Friday evenings are usually photoshoots, Tuesday afternoon we have Sadie’s Singer’s Company class, and Wednesday we have Karate.  So every weekday afternoon/evening is booked.  Saturdays are crazy – 9AM soccer for the boys, 11:30 karate for Sadie and Jax, I usually have at least two photography commitments, and seems like there’s always a birthday party, YMs activity, or obligation in the afternoon/evening. Then there’s Sundays…..Ben’s is currently the YMs president and I’m the primary president, so that keeps us fairly busy, too. There’s so little time for free play, parks, bike rides, or lounging at home.

So, I’ve decided to cut back with photography.  A hard choice for many reasons.  Hard to walk away from income and clients when I’ve worked hard to build the business.  And, I like feeling successful and I feel like the busier I am the more successful I am, which I know is not true, but it feels that way.   I told three people no this week.  It was hard.

Then I look at the kids and realize how quickly they’re growing up and how much I want to be with them to play, explore, and create fun memories and the choice is clear.  Who needs money, success, or an early retirement?  I just want more time with these three:

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I LOVE photography and definitely want to continue.  I just want to rework things. I’m trying to figure out my 5 year plan.  I’m considering pursuing weddings more and family photography less.  I like weddings because they’re more profitable and I can get it all done on a Saturday when Ben’s home.  That would open up our weeks.  The only problem is I feel like I’m better with kids/families, and I don’t get many leads for big weddings.  I’m trying to work through those obstacles.

I have a two day photography conference this week in Orlando that I’m really looking forward to and hoping to get some answers to questions I’ve been having.  Hopefully it will be helpful!  And, hopefully, we can get headed down a path that will be a little more balanced.

Meanwhile, the kids are adorable and perfect!  Ben insists they get more love and attention than 95% of kids on this planet, despite my evenings away.  Ben is an extremely attentive parent, so, thankfully, I never worry when I’m away.  So grateful for their support!

A few fun pictures from lately….


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  • June 7, 2016 - 9:53 pm

    Jess - Cute cute pictures!! Love your sweet family :) It’s not easy to walk away from something like this, but it’s inspirational to see that you’re taking more time for family!! Love you, Alicia!ReplyCancel

The kids caught on to the fact that there’s a cool place called “Disney” that other kids get to go to. They’ve been wondering when they would get to visit this cool, unknown “Disney” destination.  And, truth be told, I’ve been feeling a bit of parental guilt that the boys are 4 and 5 and they’ve never been there.  It does seem like a necessary part of childhood.  And we only live 2 hours away.  And Ben and I have been to India, Maldives, Hawaii, and Thailand in the past 3 years. Seemed unfair to not take them even if the expense, crowds, heat, and rides are not my cup of tea.

Kimmy was in town last week and she wanted to go, so we finally went.  My dad came too.  It was nice to have extra adults to hold their hands and sit with them on rides.  Grampie was very much in demand.  All the kids wanted him all day. We bought 4 day passes so we’ll be going back 3 times in the next 6 months.  It was nice to know we’d be returning and we didn’t have to fit every last ride into this visit!  We were there most of the day – from opening until 11pm.  What a long day!  The next morning I had a sunrise session, boys had soccer, Sadie and Jax had karate, we had a party at a splash pad at 1, I had a sunset photoshoot, and then a family dinner in downtown St Pete since Kimmy was in town.  Tiring two days.

Anyways, we rode Buzz Lightyear first and that was their favorite of the day because of the built in laser guns.  It’s A Small World was good but not a huge hit.  They were scared of Pirates of the Caribbean.  Sadie’s favorite thing of the day was meeting the princesses.  Her face was bright red and she was so star struck she could barely speak.  It was darling!  We were all very entertained by the light parade and fireworks show, though, we had  a tree blocking our view.

The kids have been saving their money since Christmas so I think they were most excited to finally spend that money on the toys.  We told them they could each buy a toy during the day and one at the light parade.  Sadie chose Minnie ears, Jax choose a sword, and McKay choose a knife.  Those moments of toy obtainment were probably the happiest in their day.


DSC_4960 DSC_4965 DSC_4966 DSC_4981 DSC_4987 DSC_4993 DSC_4996 DSC_5000 DSC_5009 DSC_5022 DSC_5024 DSC_5035 DSC_5038 DSC_5041 DSC_5043 DSC_5058 DSC_5061 DSC_5070I only brought the big camera for the morning and then left it in the car after lunch.  Here are a few phone pictures:
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  • May 2, 2016 - 8:32 pm

    Jess - So darling! I’m glad you all had a good time! I can’t wait for a Disney trip! It seems its been forever, probably since we were all kids!ReplyCancel

  • June 5, 2016 - 2:59 am

    Desiree - I can’t believe y’all hadn’t been. I don’t think we’ll tackle that one for a few more years. For something that expensive they better remember it. :) Looks like a fabulous timeReplyCancel

They say bad things come in threes.  We’ve had 3 broken bones, 3 split heads, and 3 knocked out teeth in the last 3 Years.  So, I’m pretty sure we’ll be good for a while now!!

I thought it would be a bit therapeutic to review the past and lay it all to rest.   **Warning to any with hemophobia.  Proceed with caution.**



#1 Broken Bone – This kicked off the bad luck!  McKay, at around 18 months, was running in the family room with a toy baseball bat in his hands.  The bat got tangled up in his legs and tripped him, resulting in a broken fibula and tibia.  We were shocked!  Actually, I’m still shocked.  It was such a benign fall.



#2 Broken Bone – I wouldn’t say the kids are big risk takers or dare devils.  Most of our injuries are bad luck.  All?  No.  This injury falls into the category of Poor Decision instead of Bad Luck.  We were at my parents house and Jax jumped from the sofa onto an exercise ball.  A bad, bad decision! For which he paid the price.

Actually, I paid the price.

Lesson learned.

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#3 Broken Bone –  Apparently the lesson wasn’t learned.  He broke the other arm almost exactly a year later.  The kids were jumping on the trampoline as I was swinging in the nearby hammock.  Jax was down on all fours, bouncing, and came down weird on his arm.  I watched it happen and it didn’t look dramatic, but sure enough, x-rays said it was broken.  Trampoline bounce gone wrong!  Darn.

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Time for the teeth…..

#1 + #2 Knocked Out Teeth – This injury still pains me to this day and wins the award for The Worst of All Johnson Injuries.  Sadie and McKay were playing in the family room. Sadie was tickling McKay and he fell off the sofa.  No big deal?  Lots of kids laugh and fall off sofas unscathed.  Maybe?  I think???  Anyways, he was laughing so hard he never got a hand down to break his fall and landed on his face.  I heard the cry and ran to him. I knew from the cry this was a bad one!  His tears were flowing, his blood was gushing, and when I wiped the blood away I had two teeth in my hand!  I’m usually cool under pressure but my heart dropped with this one!  I had to sit down because I was a little shaky.  I had Sadie call Ben at work with the message of, “Come home now!”  We sent the dentist pictures but there was nothing that could be done.

Took me a while to recover from this one!  I grieved for days for the loss of that perfect little smile.  We had a retainer made for him with two fake teeth but it always falls out.

I still miss those teeth :/

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#3 Knocked out Tooth – This falls into the category of Poor Decision Making again.  I was at my brother’s house helping him move and the boys were upstairs playing.  Using the lid from a bin, Jax thought it would be fun to replicate the scene from Home Alone when Kevin slides down the stairs on a sled and out through an open door.  Jax was successful in his attempt so McKay decided to give it a go, too.

McKay was not successful, unfortunately

He went tumbling forward and face-first into the railing.  His tooth was knocked backwards and he split his frenulum.  The tooth was wiggly for a while and it’s a little discolored but it did reattach, thankfully!


#1 Stitches – McKay was running and fell into the corner of a desk.  Stitches.  That child had THE most perfect smile and plump little baby lips.  Tore me up inside to see it ruined.  The scar has faded, and though I still see it, no one else seems to notice it.

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#2 Stitches



My Head.


There’s a little more to it, but that’s the just of it.  I did what I’ve told my kids a thousand times not to do – moved in front of a swing.  So dumb!  I learned my lesson.


#3 Stitches – McKay was riding his bike, lost control, and the handlebars met the underside of his chin.  It was a pretty jagged cut so we had it stitched up.  He never shed a tear after the initial 3 minute cry when it happened.  My mom took him to have the stitches removed (we were in Thailand) and he never cried that time either.  My brave little accident-prone soldier.



That’s it!

At least I hope that’s it.




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  • April 10, 2016 - 11:16 pm

    Desiree - goodness! Mckay has had the bulk of the pain but they all look pretty nasty. We haven’t even startedReplyCancel