Friday, March 1, 2013

Simone's Birth Story, Written & Photographed ...

This little blog is so neglected now; at least I'm catching the major life events right?  No.  Well, sort of... I caught the recent birth of our third, Simone via my other blog; my new photography blog (still a work in progress),  

You can view the Photo Birth Story here: 
or the written birth story at this post, on the same blog:  

Feel free to check it out!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Five Alive!!

Taya recently turned 5.  (And she just started Kindergarten!!!) And to continue the kick-start of what I want to make tradition (like I did recently with Dyllan), below is her '10+ Things I Know About You' list.  But first, a ton of pictures capturing the last several months of her being age 4.  :) 

Princess Party!

Goofball in the Botanical Gardens of St. Louis, MO.

Marilyn Monroe moment next to the St. Louis Arch.

Face painting=extreme contentedness for Taya.

 Camping in Ouray, CO!

Lots of swim lessons this summer.  : )

Crazy hair day at dance camp!

Dance camp performance!  

She adores her daddio and loves playing with him any chance she gets.  I'm glad they have such a good relationship.  : )

An early firework shot off while waiting for the real show on the 4th of July.

Silly lady ...

10(+) Things I know about you Taya ...

Your favorite dance move in your repertoire is to do a killer hand on the hip, head down, sassy pose.  You must pull that card about 15-20 times per song.  ; )  And it's soooo cute, I mean sassy.

You teach a very proper and informative pretend sunday school lesson.  

You love to comfort others.  If another boy or girl is upset about something, or has hurt feelings, you like to put your hand on his/her shoulder (sometimes), and tell them it's okay, and then come up with an idea of something to do or give them that might cheer them up.  

You also like to run the show, much of the time.  You've got lots of ideas and lots of originality.  Some of your friends like for you to run the show, and some of them prefer to run the show as well ... which makes for interesting times ... 

You have the hugest smile once you see me pull up to pick you up from kindergarten each day.

You loooove kindergarten.  You're making friends quickly, which you always have (this quality will always be such a blessing to you - not everyone has this ability).  You love to tell me what you did that day, what number ranking your day was & why (that's our little routine - a scale where 1=worst, 10=awesome).  And you love the songs they sing with you.

You love the feeling of doing grown up things.  This is more fun to you at school with your practical life skills (cleaning, jobs, etc., that they have you do) than doing it repetitiously at home (ie.  put dishes away? = onslaught of whining).  

You love working with your hands.  Tracing, coloring, crafting, wiping, scrubbing, brushing, anything 'hand-ing'.  

You love our games of 20 Questions, I Spy, and Name That Tune, and often initiate them on our car rides.  

You like to sing, and know many of the songs I sing to you girls at night (I love to See the Temple, You Are My Sunshine, I Am a Child of God, Summertime, Dixie Chick's lullaby...).  You join in with me on almost all of them these days.

You love to swim.  Though you sometimes complain when you find out you have a swimming lesson, you're all smiles and giggles in the pool.  You're doing great at it too.  I'm really proud of you.  

You like to make cards and gifts for your friends.  If only I were as good about mailing them and carrying it out as you are about suggesting them ...  : )

You love to Skype with your grandparents, cousins, and a few good friends too.  Half of the skyping session turns into exchanges of silly faces, if you have willing participants.  : )

You are proud to have learned to ride your two wheeler this past winter.  You picked it up so fast once you tried it; I had no idea you were so close.    

You do a great pretend photographer.  And you do it often.  ... Squinting your eye just so, turning any willing and nearby object into a camera and telling your pretend or real subjects to pose this way and that way...

You are becoming a bit of a better eater despite a tiny appetite.  Things you like that you didn't use to:  carrots, you've gotten better with green smoothies, and lettuce. 
I love this girl so much.  I'm proud of the great big sister that she is and how she is learning to help around the house more and more.  It's so nice to see her just loving kindergarten too.  

Monday, July 16, 2012

Dyllan? Two? What?!

My little pip squeak, also known as Dyllan, turns 2 this week!!  I'm shocked since time has flown, as most moms always are ... what?! - this can't be!!!  How could she possibly be having a birthday, let alone turning two?!!!!  ; )  

Anyway, I love that little gleam in her eye in that picture above - sums her up pretty well in my eyes.  Others don't realize because she doesn't show this to you unless she knows you pretty well, but she is a little fire cracker with lots of personality.  Paul & I constantly find ourselves saying to each other ... '....She's crazy ... She's crazy!' - in an utmost loving way of course - actually, it really is with love - because her craziness makes us smile all the time.  Both she & Taya crack us up, but in fairly different ways I think.  We're still pinpointing those ways.  But Dyllan will be so chill (I wasn't huge on using that word until she came along - now it just rolls off the tongue because it fits her so) or seemingly even disinterested one minute, or when visitors or strangers are around, and then the next minute, she'll be squealing and laughing and/or screaming for what she wants.  I can't quite seem to describe it. 
We found this cute book at the library recently called 10 Things I know About You; can't seem to find it online right now.  But it made me want to write 10 or more things I know about my girls every year...
I'll give it a whirl.

10 Things I know About You Dyllan ...

I know you like to say 'Boo!!' and smile whenever you're playing on your own in a room & I walk in on you. 
It never gets old for me.  Will you do me a favor and say 'boo!' with a smile when I walk into your room in 14 years?  ; )

I know you also like to play peek-a-boo with anyone sitting behind us at church, or simply just flirt away.  It's funny, because it doesn't match your 'I'm disinterested in you' vibe that you give off in a funny way most other times.  Needless to say, fellow church friends love your games & flirty entertainment.
(Don't worry.  I'm not asking you to do this one in 14 years.  Unless it's a practical joke.  And not in church.)

I know you love 'doggies!!' and want to pet one whenever and wherever you see one.  ...Despite a couple of harmless, but potentially fear-inducing nips in the past from your dog-cousin, Tiki.  You simply are giddy about 'doggies!'.  

I know you are extremely sneaky.  And award winning in some other realm when it comes to climbing skills.  And that you are extremely lucky to be pretty unscathed by this lethal combination.  (We must just be really good parents then huh?)  ; )

I know you adore dress-up lately and like to put on dress-up dresses (especially mini-mouse), despite them being 3x your size, every day - usually multiple displays a day.  You must not be your sister's sister. (wait, is that how that goes? ;)  ) ... She just barely realized the glories of dress-up in the last year and a half.

I know you are a bottomless pit & that somehow that still shocks me multiple times a day, every day.  ... What?!  How can she be hungry again?!! ...  You especially love bananas, rice, celery, cheese, pancakes, apples, and lots more,  and you're diggin' our green smoothies lately.

I also know you're starting to show a picky side lately.  And I am at a loss.  We can't seem to trick you into an unwanted bite at any cost.  And 

Speaking of, I know that once your mind is made up, it's set.  I don't need to say stubborn though!  You just have a set mind.  I have no idea where you get that (both Mom & Dad, and Taya can be guilty of this).

I know you might as well have a pantry for a playroom.  We are far overdue for putting a temporary lock on that pantry door (spilled beans, rice, cereal... helping yourself to your own snacks, the list goes on...).

I know you love to dance!  Your variation of moves includes big arms, bounces every which way, summersaults, and more.

I know you say 'Again, again!!' when you want something (such as for me to pick you up while we're dancing) - even on the first time - every time.

I know you adore your sister, and are copying her more than ever these days.  You have the highest & lowest of emotions with her; intense screams erupting with no notice over an unshared toy (or anything suddenly decided 'desirable'), sandwiched by laughs & giggles and more laughs & giggles.  I love watching you two have fun together.  You fill a place for each other that no one else can.

I know you run to your dad with all wild force, slamming into him every time he gets home (and sometimes you do this to me too), saying 'Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!!!'

I know you love to get 'pummeled'/rough housed by your daddy, or tickled by me, and are non-stop kicks & giggles every time.  Endlessly.

I know you understand the meaning of a good cuddle and are earning major browny points (just kidding, kind of) for the art of leaning your head on my shoulder every time I put you down to sleep (your dad is a little jealous b/c you only give him the head lean/cuddle about 30% of the time that he puts you down ; )  ).  We enjoy good couch cuddles & rocking chair cuddles too.  May you always have this cuddly side.  Lucky for us, your sister is pretty cuddly too now.

I know you are learning the beauty of story time with each other more and more.  And I am so glad.

Okay, so that was definitely more than ten, and I know I have thought of so many more in the past, but this sums it up for now.  We love her so much, and love the dynamic she brings to our family.  I can't wait for my parents to get to know her better when they get home from their mission in France this Fall.  Taya adores her too, and is such a good big sister to her.  

We celebrated her birthday tonight with my brother's family.  She loved her balloons, new bouncy Rody toy, books, pink toy car, soft stuffed dog, the frosting on her cupcake, and her birthday hat.  
And we love her.
Did I mention that?


And now for an onslaught of pictures ... to make up of the lack of posts maybe?  ... or really b/c I'm just simply indecisive.  : )

Curls & bows don't hold a candle to bed head piggy tails...

Or fan blown morning hair .... And who says supermodels can't have jam & cream cheese on their faces?  It's the new thing, I hear.  

No caption necessary.

I must have had bad breath here.  ; )

Totally a flattering expression for me.  I should make it more often.  

Anyone want to enter their 2 year old against my 2 year old in a pull up contest?  Didn't think so.  You're intimidated by this picture ...
(seriously though, she seems to be surprisingly strong)
Rainy Day Play ...

The little somethin' somethin' we did for Mother's Day ...

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

And she asked ... "Why won't my arthritis go away?"

Tonight Taya told me something.  We were reading the scriptures about how Jesus healed a blind man.  She stopped part way through and said "Every night in my prayers I ask Heavenly Father to make my Arthritis go away, but it never does."   
--- Whoa....  I just about shriveled up & melted & at the same time had the desire to stand strong for her more than ever before.  What an important moment.  I put the scriptures down & bundled her up extra tight and looked at her, and told her I was proud of her for praying for that night after night because I knew that meant that she believes in Heavenly Father and believes that he'll help her.  And I told her how Jesus did heal this blind man, and He has healed others too.  And I told her how there are many people, tons of people, ... most people, who have 'hard things' - like Arthritis ... and that Jesus hasn't just taken away those hard things, but that He & Heavenly Father ARE helping those people - especially when those people ask for their help.  And I asked her if she remembered what Jesus' Atonement was.  And reminded her that Jesus has felt what she feels, that He had a time in the Garden of Gethsemane where He came to her  ... Taya.  And felt her physical pain.  And felt the times where she wondered why God hadn't taken away her Juvenile Arthritis pain.  And that it's nice knowing that He, (and a few other kids with JA that she has met too) - know what she is going through.  I asked her if it is hard that her dad, Dyllan & I don't have arthritis and don't know what she feels.  She briefly answered yes, while fidgeting around and going through a series of 20 different positions during the conversation (as a serious conversation with an almost 5 year old does not equate looking at each other's eyes and sitting still for 10 minutes - I wouldn't have it any other way).  Most of all I told her that she could keep asking Heavenly Father to take away her arthritis or just to help her be happy even when her arthritis bothers her, and that he may take it away soon - or later - or never, in this life (I've already told her how she won't have it in Heaven), but that he absolutely knows what's best for her and that we are here on this Earth to learn.  And that most of our learning comes through things that are hard.  I asked her to think about if she had been the one in charge of teaching Dyllan how to walk, and had had the magical power to snap her fingers & automatically make Dyllan walk - if she would do it, and if Dyllan really would have learned how to walk.  She seemed to kind of get my (rough, on the spot) analogy.  I told her I love her and I snuggled her and looked in her eyes.  And I told her that I wish I could take her JA away, but that I think she is going to teach people great things with it.  And that she is going to show people that she can be happy even when her body feels miserable (though her body's misery is not always visually obvious).  And that Heavenly Father may really need her to do that for other people.  

I don't know exactly how much she digested.  She can usually take away quite a bit from important conversations, so I wasn't afraid to give her a full answer.  I wanted to write this down because I know she may mull this question over in her mind again. She actually did tell me as I tucked her in, that she asked Heavenly Father for it again tonight in her prayer and that she wishes it would go away.  But I think, and believe, that she will internalize bits of this conversation over for years to come (we may have long & abridged versions of it again many times).  I remember a talk in church one day a couple of years ago where the woman speaking referred to praying daily for her kids to develop strong personal testimonies of their Heavenly Father & Jesus Christ.  I loved that and have often included it in my own prayers since then.  Taya & I actually happened to talk briefly about testimony a couple of times this weekend (including in this conversation) - and based on the way she answered some simple questions (with NO pressure/influence) on what she believes or doesn't believe from church - helped her to realize that she already has her very own testimony right now.  And that her testimony is what helps her want to ask Heavenly Father for help with her JA in the first place.  

I love this girl.  I fear sometimes that we have trigger points in our personalities with each other that give us a little more friction than I would like (I know, I'm the adult right?).  But I pray that all of the good times we have together each day confirm to her how much I love her and am there for her.  And that I would take her JA if I could.  I pray that those good times and expressions of love and snuggles, and silliness, and listening, and more - give her a rock in our relationship, while I figure out how to resolve and handle with good character those trigger points of ours.  

I am so glad she told me something like that tonight.  Because it gave me an extra chance to tell her so many important things.  Things that I pray she'll seek, and hold onto, and seek, ... and hold onto, again and again. 

Juvenile Arthritis....  there are easier things in life, and there are harder things too.... and we're always trying to find the balance in the way it's handled and talked about in our family - to help her think of it as a footnote in her life, instead of a definition of herself, and as something that she can be happy & fulfilled in spite of - all while trying to show enough plain, simple, oh-so-needed empathy.  Empathy without any extra clauses, without babying, or life lessons attached for that matter.  Just plain empathy.  What everyone needs sometimes. Hopefully I showed enough of it in this critical moment tonight.


 (I wrote this as a record more for myself, and for Taya.  Don't feel you need to comment.)

Monday, December 26, 2011

A Christmas Miracle!! - I blogged!! ; )

Here is our Johnson Family 2011 Christmas Update!  I never have been too great about getting Christmas updates out ...
So somebody tell me where to start …  I give you incredibly detailed accounts of our kids’ milestones right?  Well, Dyllan (a girl in case you need a reminder ;) ) is 17 months old now.  Today, she ran up to me and told me the colors of the rainbow!  Word for word, she just said, Mom – “I know the brilliant colors of the rainbow! – violet, emerald green, crimson, amber, indigo blue” … she’s a cute one she is …         Oh yeah, and that conversation actually went something like this  … “Abbadududubababab … gitikagitikagitikagitika … betabetabeta bababa …”  - but I just knew what she really meant (because I’m a good mom ; )  

In a nutshell Dyllan is:  walking.running.babbling. saying a few words.climbing.smiling.frowning.climbing.smiling.climbing.smiling, and climbing some more.  She has a fun personality mixed with chill, mellow moods (we still call her Chillin’ Dyllan) back to back with spastic laughs, growls, wrestling, frequent squawks for food and a general proving that her mellow moments are just that – moments.  She keeps us (especially me) BUSY & makes all of us smile constantly; We can’t imagine life without her.  

Taya is still a social bug, mixed with occasional brief shy moments.  She digs on swimming in the summer, and dancing all year long.  She is the queen of pretend and can teach a mean Sunday school/preschool/dance lesson.  She still doesn’t miss a beat, and is a little chatter, so who knows what stories she has shared with you friends & neighbors ….  Sigh….  Ha.  She & Dyllan are both affectionate girls & take good care of each other – which means Paul & I get frequent hugs – we’re soaking them up one by one.   Paul & the girls have almost daily ‘pummel’ sessions; where Taya will even say ‘Dad, pummel me!’ –or pretend to pummel her own babydolls – and Dyllan will just run up & maul Paul  – Dyllan is into the rough housing just as much as Paul & Taya.  I love just watching them, and occasionally joining in on a (gentle) tackle because they just don’t get any happier than in those moments.  My version of this with the girls are our regular dance parties J - regularly dancing our little hearts out to music.  Now don’t you get any blackmail ideas …

I still have some fun with cooking, occasional hostessing, designing, and Church involvement as a Primary counselor, but my main time commitment besides my most important momhood/sisterhood/wifehood/daughterhood callings has been photography.  But a lot of you already know that as I have regularly blasted Facebook and my website with my latest photo shoots (; that’s what this update is really about right? … self-promotion ; ) ).  Photography has been an interest of mine for a long time, and having the chance to do it as a part-time gig has been really fulfilling.

Paul is still designing up a storm at SmithGroup in Phoenix.  He rides his self-restored fixie bike to the near-by express bus every day, is helpful around the house, helps our Bishopric out as Ward Clerk, loves to hobby around (including wood working; just this week he made a rocking horse [but elephant] for one of our Christmas presents to the girls), throw hoops, and occasionally mountain bike the desert hills we live in.  Oh yeah, and if you know him well, he is still good at those unpredictable (yet predictable) mid-day 5 minute naps - one of his signature marks.  And while I’m poking fun of Paul, yes, you can see that I still have my signature mark of being a bit long winded sometimes!

This year has notably been one of small miracles for us; from a Priesthood blessing that practically dissolved an Arthritis flare-up of Taya’s literally overnight (her flare-ups usually last months), to a seamless home short sale in time for us to move into my parents’ house just 25 minutes away while they serve an 18 month mission in France, to repeated financial blessings happening immediately upon Tithe payments, to prayers being answered when in search of seemingly small but important items, and other experiences where we undoubtedly felt the comfort, guidance & peace of the Holy Ghost, our Heavenly Father, and our Savior, Jesus Christ.  We are so grateful for the Lord, Jesus Christ.  It is hard to go a day without seeing the beauty of His creations, sacrifice, teachings, and love for us personally and individually.  Our hearts swell at this time of year, feeling the added peace brought to the Earth in celebration of His birth & life.  We pray that your year has been one of gratifying perspective, love felt & extended, and Testimonies grown & shared.  

With love,
Paul, Breanne, Taya (4) & Dyllan (17 months)  … and … ???          …(just kidding, no third child right now.  Seriously !  – NO third child right now – just a joke)  

Thanks to Molly Wagner for helping us get a few photos of our entire family, and not just the usual, Paul & the girls  :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Free day at the zoo for you THIS Saturday!!

It's true!  You & your family can get into the zoo for free this Saturday!  ......
(with a little, but GOOD catch) ....
It's the annual Phoenix Arthritis Walk, helping to raise money & awareness about Arthritis, including Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (which is what our dear Taya has had since she was 18 months old or so).  You check-in at 7am, walk 1 mile starting at 8am (right through the zoo - wake the animals up!) & then have the rest of the day to roam the zoo, go in and out - for free! 

A few facts about Arthritis for you ...

Did you know?-Arthritis is the most common cause of disability in the United States.
-Juvenile Arthritis is one of the most common childhood diseases in the U.S.
-Two thirds of people that have doctor-diagnosed arthritis are under the age of 65.
-Arthritis results in 9,367 deaths (I'm doubting these are children) and 992,100 hospitalizations annually.
-Arthritis and rheumatic conditions cost the U.S. Economy $128 billion annually.
-50 million adults (nearly one in 5) & 300,000 children suffer from arthritis.
-By 2030, an estimated 67 million Americans aged 18 years or older are projected to have doctor-diagnosed Arthritis.
-Walking 30 minutes a day can reduce your risk of developing certain kinds of arthritis.

Which brings us back to walking for arthritis THIS Saturday, Phoenix Zoo, be there or be square (no pressure though - except that I'll be your best friend if you show up, but still, no pressure)!

Here is the link:
(you can sign up through this link to save time, or on the morning of)

And maybe next year I'll give you weeks or months notice instead of days notice, unless I'm in the middle of moving this time next year (I won't be, so I think we're set).  Better late than never though because who doesn't like a free day at the zoo for the entire family? 

Comment, email or call me if you have any questions. 

I'll follow this up with a little bit more about Taya's arthritis soon because I don't think I've updated you on that in a while here on the blog.  People do often ask me about it though (which is 100% fine with me).  For now, I'll just tell you that her medicines (Enbrel & Methotrexate) are helping her significantly, so she is doing fairly well on those. 

See you back here soon!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Balloon Baby Cakes

Dyllan is 8 months old now. Time flies when you're whimsically doddling balloons (that would be a pretty sweet past time to have wouldn't it? pretty sweet, or eventually, a bit boring .... "What do you like to do in your free time?" ... "Well, army crawl, bobb my head lots, and oh yeah - whimsically doddle balloons ... Lots of that").

She is still pretty chill, but shows us plenty of personality too, with a variety of growls, squeaks, squeals, and other baby sounds. Any time we say babababa (with a certain rhythm) she shakes her head back & forth while smiling, egging us on for more smiles & bababababas. Dyllan's skill resume now includes:

army crawling ... 1st of March-present

sitting up ... late February/Mama's birthday to present

eating pinches of select table foods, with her newest asset: 2 bottom teeth ... 1st of March to present

drinking water (sparingly, for those in a tizzy) from a sippy cup ... mid-March to present

in training: currently perfecting the skill of sitting herself up

Fancy this: her weakest point is also her strongest point: She's not much for baby foods & bottles/formula, and she has turned that into an accelerated eating pace. She's on track to be sipping tea (herbal) from porcelain with her pinky finger daintily pointing in the air by 12 months. Like a Men's Wearhouse suit, I guarantee it.

Balloon complements of Chick-fil-a. It was so perfect with her outfit, I had to slap (gently) a headband on her, throw my white backdrop up & snap a few photos.
We're quite in love with this lil' Darlin Dyllan.