Alicia & Ben » Blog

I’ve been thinking a lot about patience lately.  Mostly I’ve been wondering how to get more of it!  I thought parenthood was supposed to make us more patient but I feel I’m becoming less so.  It was easier to be forgiving and calm when the kids were smaller.  Now I’m tired of teaching and saying the same things over and over again especially since I know they know better.  My patience runs thin.

Parenting is a blessing but it can be hard. There are days when I’m grumpy, tired, or distracted.  Days when I struggle to deal with the extra messes, temper tantrums, arguments over toys, and whining.  I’m not really a yeller; although, I have yelled.  Mostly I’m sad about the times I’ve talked to the kids with a tone of annoyance or irritation. A good compliment can lighten my mood for days; an insult, sadly, sticks with me even longer.  I know how it stings to be corrected or feel my actions are disappointing or annoying to another person.   I don’t want my kids to feel that heaviness and sadness – worried to make a move for fear they’ll be told “No!” “Stop!” “Are you going to clean that up?”  “What were you thinking?” “Why do you always fight?”  “Why is your room such a mess?” “Why can’t you all get along?” “Do things this way, not that way”!  I’m guilty of saying all those things.  There’s a way to correct and teach without it sounding mean. That’s what I strive for when I communicate with the kids – a voice and tone of patience, love, and respect. I want them to know we all try our best but forgive freely when mistakes happen.

There’s been a sentence stuck in my head lately – “You don’t get a second chance at raising this child”.  I’m a person that needs second chances. I usually perform poorly when first learning a new sport, craft, or skill. I catch on eventually, but it takes me a few attempts.  In regards to parenthood I keep thinking how I need to do it right the first time.  Obviously there will be bad days and experiences, but as a whole, I need to get it right. The little years are critical years and I wonder if I’m doing all that I should. Now that Sadie and Jax are in school I’m realizing how my influence is diminishing as they grow older. McKay will soon be off to school; I won’t get this year at home with him again alone to play with him, teach him, and help him know his worth and my love for him.

A friend recently passed away and her son posted a quote from Max Lucado that read, “When you are in the final days of your life, what will you want? Will you hug that college degree in the walnut frame? Will you ask to be carried to the garage so you can sit in your car? Will you find comfort in rereading your financial statement? Of course not. What will matter then will be people. If relationships will matter most then, shouldn’t they matter most now?”  I hope I live and speak in such a way that my children know that they are my greatest joy and their happiness and well-being is my #1 priority.  I love them.  Oh I love them!


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  • January 23, 2015 - 1:00 am

    Julie - I always feel this way. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t regret something I did or didn’t do as a mother. But I also believe that my children are learning to forgive and that when I apologize and keep trying to do better, it helps them learn that we all make mistakes and the important thing is to keep trying. The Atonement can heal their hearts and minds and make up for my shortcomings as a mother.ReplyCancel

The boys had their hairs cut this past week.  It was McKay’s first time with a professional. My unprofessional cuts in recent months were unsuccessful. Both boys were perfect statues. I think they enjoyed the experience. My little champs!

I asked them to model the new styles:


Jax thinks he’s a rock star now.


The day after their haircuts Sadie got a cut of a different kind – a frenulum cut.  The frenulum was keeping her two front teeth from coming together so during her cleaning they offered to lazer cut it.  She took it like a champ!  Incidentally, I had the same thing done at her same age.



While I was snapping the above picture of Sadie McKay came running by and collided with me. The camera smashed against my nose and I ended up with a cut, too. It hurt….had a headache for 2 days. Honestly wondered if my nose was broken.  I didn’t take it like a champ.  I have a lot to learn from my kiddos.

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  • January 19, 2015 - 9:29 pm

    Shannon - Oh! That looks like it hurt. So sorry. The boys haircuts are cute though. Hope you’re feeling better :)ReplyCancel


I had planned and prepared for a really quiet December this year.  My Christmas shopping was pretty much done by December 1st.  We put our Christmas tree up early and skipped some of the extra decorating with the Christmas village and elaborate outdoor lighting.  I just wanted to keep things simple and slow and meaningful.  One thing I didn’t expect was all the inquiries I would get from my photography business!  In the last six weeks I’ve shot somewhere around 12-15 photoshoots and 2 weddings.  It’s been wonderful; I’m grateful things have picked up. But it’s definitely not been the slow, peaceful December I had planned for.  Turns out we had a little glitch the last year and a half and the contact form on the website wasn’t notifying us of client inquiries.  So, during a website overhaul I found all the missed messages and corrected the problem – things have been quite busy since.

Ironically one of the things I meant to do was take our own Christmas card pictures and send Christmas cards.  Finally, the Sunday before Christmas I snapped a few at home before and after church in a last ditch effort to get the cards sent…..still didn’t happen, though.

Nonetheless, I thought I’d share the pictures and our yearly review here.  :) Consider this post our Christmas card that never was sent.



McKay, our ‘baby’, is now a whooping 3 years old, though, he’s still very much babied and insists on being carried.  We fear his leg muscles may atrophy from lack of use. He was kind enough to potty train himself this past year despite our protests (we were in the middle of packing and moving the week he decided he was done with diapers).  His favorite activities include watching TV (unfortunately) and piecing together puzzles.  He loves fruits but passionately hates vegetables.  He speaks with a charming New England accent. He’s way too opinionated about his wardrobe and insists on wearing his “fastest clothes” each and every day.  Sunday is the one day he consents to dress up but sneaks his fastest clothes into the car and changes the second we get out of church.  He’s the family comedian, absolutely adorable, and overly loved by the whole family.


Mr. Jax is a responsible, organized, intelligent little guy.  He enjoys structure, challenges, and music.  He started preschool this year and it’s one of his greatest joys.  He begs to go……even on weekends!  Jax learned a hard lesson this year about the dangers of jumping from a sofa onto an exercise ball.  He has a BYU-blue cast in his room as a physical reminder to think before he acts.  Incidentally, he learned to ride a two wheel bike the day after he broke his arm, so, it didn’t limit his activities or physical development.  He was a lovely, relaxed baby but he’s become more emotional and stubborn over the past year. We offer daily prayers that his easy going temperament will one day return.  His soul is deep and sweet and we know he is a treasure.


The little lady is growing up way too quickly!  She’s enduring 1st grade but would much rather spend her days at home doing crafts and playing with dolls, all the while humming a tune and skipping about.  She loves poofy skirts, jumping on the trampoline, Frozen, chocolate chips, and animals. Sadie is extremely feminine yet loves to play with her brothers and many male cousins and is adored by the boys at school.  She’s a tooth-losing machine, has a bottomless pit for a stomach, and her teacher reports she’s one of the best behaved children she’s ever had. She radiates happiness and goodness and love.  She fills our home with lots of loud laughs and giggles. She’s a perfect, darling little girl and we thank God daily for blessing us with such a sweet daughter.

As for us, we’re tired but so happy!  This year felt exceptionally busy.  Each year kicks off with Ben’s busy season when he works long hours and we don’t see much of him for two months.  Then in March we sold our house in two days after listing it on a whim. We lived with Alicia’s parents while searching for a new home, found a new home, renovated the new home, and moved into the new home.  Thankfully the kids have adapted beautifully through the changes, and though the move was stressful, we’re so grateful to have a little more space and be so close to Ben’s office in our new home.  Our church service took up significant amounts of time this year as Ben was young men’s president and Alicia was the stake girls camp director (which she barely survived!).  Alicia’s loves her little escapes to photo shoots where she can be creative, meet new people, and earn extra money to support her hobby.   We celebrated Alicia turning the big 3-0 in July by booking a much-needed relaxing family beach getaway during which we were sinfully lazy.  Ben learned all sorts of new skills this year – how to removed old tile, replace plumbing fixtures, install toilets (third times the charm!), install fans (though, the lights tend to come on in at random times all through the night – still working out that kink), and refinish a staircase (see pictures below).  We’re still quite fond of each other and treasure the time we have together.

DSC_4645We’re thankful for dear friends and family who love us (despite our shortcomings) and hope and pray for our well-being and happiness, as we do for theirs. We’re thankful for a Savior whose love and life gives us hope and peace in hard times.  We’re grateful for God’s plan – the understanding of it gives this life meaning and purpose.  We’re grateful for the Savior’s example and teachings which we can use to pattern our lives after and in so doing feel happiness and peace.  We trust in His plan and follow His prompting as we navigate through this life.


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  • January 12, 2015 - 10:20 pm

    Shannon - I know I have told you this a million times Alicia, but I just love all of your pictures! Your blog is so enjoyable to look at and I love what you write too. I never got to Christmas cards either. I don’t even think we got a picture during the holidays of all of us together. Oh well. Miss you guys!ReplyCancel

  • January 12, 2015 - 11:38 pm

    Christy - I too love your blogs and all of your pictures! Maddie’s greatest wish is spending time together with your family. We all love you and Ben and Sadie, Jax, and Mo. Can’t wait to see you again soon!

    your favorite siblingReplyCancel

  • January 13, 2015 - 1:20 am

    alicia - Thanks! You guys are great. I absolutely never get tired of hearing people say they like my pictures :) You can say it as many times as you want!!!! It still brings me happiness.ReplyCancel

My favorite holiday? Christmas. Such a happy time of year filled with yummy food, reunions with loved ones, excitement, anticipation, traditions, and much-needed breaks from school and work.

We had our yearly Christmas Eve celebrations with the extended family:


I think almost everyone had eaten by this point and there were still mounds of food left over.




We had more participation and enthusiasm with the Nativity reenactment performance this year.  Joseph was Joseph. Tori was Mary.  Sadie was an angel.  Jax was a wiseman with James and Carter.  McKay was a shepherd and Charlie was his cow-dressed lamb.


The designated photographer this year was Ethan.


Christmas morning came all too quickly.  Ben and I awoke to the quiet rustling of presents being opened around 7am.  Or perhaps it was the sound of candy wrappers being opened?  I think they went to their stockings first and began taste testing.




We went to the Homestead around lunch time for a few hours:

The boys enjoyed scaring each unsuspecting family member with the rat remote control toy.

DSC_5142The drive home McKay slept clutching his favorite toy: his remote control car.  Jax belted out tunes all day using his microphone and speaker.


We had Christmas dinner at Mike and Sarah’s house.  My parent’s present to the grandkids was this inflatable water bouncy house toy which will rotate between our houses.  It was a big hit!

Merry Christmas to all! So grateful for the birth of our Savior and the joy we feel remembering and celebrating it each year.

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  • January 6, 2015 - 9:11 pm

    Shannon - We missed celebrating Christmas with you this year! We had so much fun being with all of you last year. It looks like everyone enjoyed their gifts. That picture of you trying to break into the packaging of one of the gifts looks a lot like what I was doing as presents were being opened. Why do they have to make it so difficult? Hope you’re having a great new year so far!ReplyCancel

This year we started a new family tradition – Christmas Adam. Adam comes before Eve; therefore, Christmas Adam is the night before Christmas Eve, where, in the Johnson household the kids get to open one present and we have a slow meal of cheese fondue followed by a dessert of chocolate fondue followed by a camp out in the family room around the Christmas tree while watching a Christmas movie.

Last year it occurred to me that so many of our family Christmas traditions involve the extended family, which is great, but I wanted some that involved just the 5 of us. So, I adopted and adapted an idea from my favorite blog and added it to another idea from Aunt Kim…..wallah – our version of Christmas Adam!

I must say, it was a huge success this year. The kids were so excited to finally get the Christmas celebration underway! They didn’t love the cheese fondue but they tried it.  I think the chocolate fondue experience was one of the highlights of their lives. After dinner they ran circles around the house for a half hour, laughing deliriously all the while.

My only regret is we didn’t do anything spiritual/scriptural this year.  I’ll have to add something next year.  Any ideas?

On to the pictures….

We let them open one present in the morning before Ben left for work.  Sadie opened an Elsa dress.  Jax opened Woody. McKay opened Buzz Lightyear.

Christmas Adam

They played with their toys most of the morning and most of the afternoon was spent watching a movie, jumping on the trampoline (they were sweating like pigs, it was hot that day!), and cleaning/prepping for the evening.  Jax must have asked me 100 times during the day, “Is it time for ‘fun do’ yet Mommy?”


I’ve never done fondue so this was new for all of us.  The dip-able foods included shrimp, steak, chicken sausage, broccoli, carrots, mushrooms (my favorite of everything), apples, bread, and pretzels.



Turns out eating fondue produces some interesting, odd pictures….

Christmas Adam2




Happy, hyper, sweaty children running wildly around the house:



Movie time:


Ben and I fell asleep around 9PM with the kids. It was great! We slept on the sofa and the kids on the bed on the floor but it wasn’t super comfortable so around 4AM I caved and went up to my bed. Next year I hope to stick it out the whole night:)

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  • December 28, 2014 - 7:11 pm

    Shannon - What a fun tradition! Looks like all of you had a great time, especially the kids.ReplyCancel

  • December 29, 2014 - 2:38 am

    Natalie - This is so cute. It looks like so much fun. I might probably have to steal this idea when I grow up. :) Love you guys!ReplyCancel