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.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Need to Blog It: 2nd Up; He was takin' out the trash ...

So here we are catching up on Halloween.  It was a memorable, fun Halloween.  Here in Arizona, I can never seem to get into the festive mood until say ... a couple of days before Halloween (after all, temps are at least in the 90s still...) ... and then sometimes, just sometimes I guess I really go for it.  Because this year, we went to a pumpkin patch, a neighborhood Halloween festival, went to/helped carry out our church Trunk or Treat party, made pumpkin soup (& the traditional pumpkin carving/pumpkin seeds), passed out candy to the smell & taste of apple cider & pumpkin bread on the scene, and dressed up to the nines, er, I mean zeros. 
You'll see ...
Wardrobe epitome of a 3 year old:  favorite Halloween shirt that lights up (= my least favorite, but it was okay when relevant - she continues to wear it once a week or so) AND a tutu. 
There is nothing more romantic than taking out the trash.
He is my janitor.  I am his trash. 
(except we both know, I ain't no trash)

You're welcome for the actor's theater rendition right there.
Cutest (but apparently worried?) 3 month old Jazzercise Instructor:
And happy Baby Ballerina ...
Happy little Tinkerbell ...
Pretty darn cute ...

Sexy stache complements of mutilated teddy bear fur from Goodwill children's section. 
Rat's nest hair complements of ... me.  (shoulda' seen the rats nest when trying to detangle it in the shower that night.  Scare-eee.! 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Oh my sweet, Sweetie Pie

Dyllan.  Sweet, sweet Dyllan.  I'm not one to use the words 'sweet', 'precious' ... and those descriptive types ... (no hatin' if you do).  But sweet is just the best way to describe Dyllan.  She is so happy & easy going.  She shares her personality in a soft & endearing way.  She loves to smile at strangers, softly look away, and then look back & smile again.  She loves to talk (growl too) & we can't get enough of the sound of her voice.  I loved this age with Taya and I am again savoring it with Dyllan. 
A few more things about our little 7 month old (just barely) is that she has stayed in the 97% or so for length & started at 75% for weight, but dropped to 50% in weight by 6 months.  From what I can tell, she's just about got legs for days.  And she's still got her endearing little baldy head, my big floppy ears, & her angel's kiss on the forehead, which is fading some.  She eats solids, but we just barely slide that spoon into her mouth each time - she's mildly interested (though everything else goes into her mouth of course).  75% of the time, she pretty much hates being in the car, and she's a little stubborn in getting to sleep sometimes, & has a slight case of Mama's Girllitis, but the rest of the time, she is, well, like I said, as sweet as they come.  She gets up on her knees a little bit & will soon be rocking on all fours any day or week now.  She is also a little jumping bean!  Jumping, kicking ... maybe she'll love dance, track or soccer one day : )  Who knows. 
Still nothing gets her to smile or laugh more than one of our smiles & eye contact.  We love this little baby girl, and as my friend, Erin (Turley) would say 'She's a keeper!!'

As you can see, she (along with Taya) continue to be my most popular photo subjects. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Bad Mom Fix

Fix for a day where you feel like your mothering has been less than desirable ....  make a food face!  
Flax see fro may or may not be eaten up by your 3 year old. Guaranteed to make 2 year olds laugh & 3 year olds smile. No satisfaction guarantee for children 5 & older.

Actually, I don't remember having any particular bad mom moments on that day, but I know when I make entertaining & fairly nutritious food for Taya, I temporarily feel a little more like wonder mom. 

And then we go back to normal.  And my head shrinks back down. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Need to Blog it: First Up? Christmas

I'll be doing some posts from 2010 that I just can't get out of my 'need to blog it' mindset.  So Christmas is the first. 
The first few photos are of a Christmas thank you dinner of sorts that we did.  It's always nice to be able to reuse the ol' wedding decorations (vases, twigs & falling berries) and feel resourceful!  We really enjoyed this & it added to the spirit of Christmas. 

My first try at Tirimisu (Mormon style, which means Pero & grape juice substitutes for the usual coffee & rum).  I was pretty proud of myself to be honest. 
(Whenever I hear or say the phrase 'to be honest', all I can think of is how my old boss told us commission only designers/salesmen not to use that phrase because it implies that at other times you're not being honest.  So I guess you can take this blog post & assume I am not being honest with you the rest of the time.  So really, we did not do a nice Christmas dinner, and those were not my wedding decorations.  Now you make up the real story for me ...
We were able to include various family traditions such as the meat dish, Rouladen, a Johnson family New Year's tradition.  And I loved being able to use my recently-found-again vintage goblets; a keepsake of mine from my Grandma & Grandpa on my dad's side. 
Now I just want to share some of our Christmas decorations & the photos I had fun taking of them.  I love being at home at Christmas time. 
My sister was paid this year to decorate an office lobby for the holidays ... I think that would be so fun. 

I love this painting below that we gifted ourselves in Christmas 2009; 'Jesus Washing Peter's Feet', by Ford Brown.  We bought the poster print & Paul cut it out with an exacto knife & shellacked it onto a 1.5" thick piece of MDF/wood. 

I straight out stole this photo idea from Jana's blog.  You did after all, tell us how to do it right Jana?

Ikea & Target ornaments (child proof too!) collected over a couple of different Christmases can still pull off a nice tree  : )

This piece has meaning to me because my parents gave it to me years before I was even married.  They bought it on a special tour to Jerusalem & Egypt.  Though I would love to somehow collect the rest of a nativity set to go with it.  Maybe I'll just have to make it to Jerusalem myself one day : )

Who needs fancy shmancy wrapping paper when you can have princess wrapping paper?!  ....
I'm like the rest of the trendy world & still love all things birds. 

That little painting above my kitchen table Christmas center piece is indeed of Taya if that's what you were wondering.  Paul painted that a year or so ago, inspired by the style of this artist that we've come to like.
Can't go wrong with cranberries in a vase of Trader Joe's Christmas flowers (well maybe you can if it's all starting to get old, and this one was in fact, ... but still, i'n't it perty?)
This photo below isn't Christmasy, but it was in my Christmas photo mix, and in loving memory of Taya's fish named 'Nemo Fishy', I am posting it.  He lived from her 2nd birthday past her 3rd Christmas. 
(According to my earlier blurb, maybe even this could be a lie though, what do you think?)
Taya's first reactions to her Christmas stocking, including her first true bike from Santa. 
(I'm actually a little lacking on Christmas pictures of Taya & Dyllan due to a combination of being too involved to stop & take pictures, as well as having been sick on Christmas, boo hoo).
Quick learner.  Proud dad.

And  to cap it off, check out this spectacularly crafty Nativity puppet set that Paul's sisters made & gave to us this year.  It's a great way to tell the Nativity story with little kids, and carries the tradition on from years past when Paul & his siblings used their own Nativity puppet set made by their talented mom. 

It was a great Christmas.  I soaked up every day of it being in our own home that we've worked so hard on over the years, knowing it was our last here.  Plus, having Taya be so thoroughly into it this year because of her age made me realize just how much I like Christmas as a mom.  Busy - YES.  But also complete with happy, happy memories?  YES.

**I feel like this post was kinda braggy; if so - well yikes, I apologize.**