Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I love this time of year when my blog book comes in the mail!

I use www.blurb.com.  It's super easy and downloads your blog posts for you (a MUST for me--other online printing companies like Shutterfly don't do that automatically for you).  You just download their FREE software onto your computer and throughout the year (like every 4 months or so) I'll upload my posts to the software and organize it as I go. Otherwise, it could be a daunting big task at the end of the year to organize. The only thing you pay for is the book when you're finished!

Blurb's software (Booksmart) will automatically import all posts into a simple layout with the pictures, then I like to go through and change the layouts, add more picture pages and put more pictures that I didn't put on the blog.   Even though it would be cuter, I don't change any of the fonts because that would just take too long. I just like to keep it clean and simple.  I do standard landscape.

For about 150 full-color pages, it costs between $50-$65 (I always try to wait for a promo code), and it takes about 10 hours of work all together.  Not bad if you keep it up and don't leave it until December:)

This is why I blog. Yes, I do it so that some friends and family can see what we're up to. But mostly I do it to keep our own family journal of events throughout the years.  Keeps me motivated to keep it up and we love looking back through our stories and pictures!

 Once you've downloaded Booksmart, here are the steps to get your blog imported:

To get your blog downloaded to Booksmart:

  1. Open Booksmart
  2. Click "Start a New Book"
  3. I do the Standard Portrait size, but you can do anything you want.
  4. Select a layout: Blog to Book (second options from the bottom)
  5. Now you log in to your blog. You pick "Blogger" on the left and put in your username and password.
  6. Then if you have multiple blogs like I do, you tell it which blog by checking it. So I check ONLY benandcamille.blogspot.com.
  7. Now it will download the entries. After it does, you check all the ones you want imported into your blog, then you're ready to go!
Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, January 23, 2012

18 months

I really can't believe she's nearing TWO! She's sure grown up a lot these last 2 weeks.  She's more independent, has a mind of her own, knows what she wants... and usually gets it:)

She still doesn't say much, just lots of babble talk.  It's funny how much they learn from other kids. No matter how many times we adults tell her things, all she needed was one week with Reese to finally start saying "momma!"  Yay. Thanks Reese.

Her front two teeth are finally visable (so cute).

I also gave her her first hair cut (thank goodness... I didn't realize how good she would look without a mullet).

She's got a bad case of hives right now... yuck. Hope that goes away soon.

Height: 31.75" (50th)
Weight: 22.4 lbs (20th!)
Head: 47cm: (60th)

She is so funny at this age. We are laughing a million times a day over things she does.  She's sweet and happy (90% of the time), loves Elmo, her baby doll, monkeys, books, computers, nursery, dancing, and being outside (even when it's 30 degrees).  We are just wild about this girl and still race to be the first one to peek at her before we go to bed every night.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Here With Us

This last week in California was one of the most special and spiritual weeks of my life. I can't even begin to go into detail of all the miraculous and tender mercies we experienced as a family.

Tiffany was scheduled for an induction on her due date, the 12th, so Claire and I packed up and drove down Monday (she was an ANGEL for all 12 hours) and we stayed for a week. 

Reese and Claire were so good for each other. Claire has been around other toddlers, but she must deep down remember their connection because she and Reese were so cute together. They learned so much from each other too; Claire finally calls me "momma," she says "no" and learned a couple of other small words. Reese learned how to use a spoon to eat and now says "uh oh" and what a hippo says (mouth wide open) and other cute things. 

Every morning after breakfast, they took a bath together:

And after their bath, they went to the park. Man, I miss California weather! It was perfect and wonderful every single day.

Here is a little video of some of the clips of them during the week:

For those of you who don't know who Tiffany is, please start HERE.  My dear cousin Jared passed away suddenly on November 30th, 2011 leaving behind his pregnant wife Tiffany, and their 17 month old girl, Reese.

During the week, we shared many tender moments as a family. A few breakdowns, and lots of nights up laughing and talking about our memories with Jared.  Wednesday, the day before she was to be induced, was a really hard day for everyone. There were so many mixed emotions in all of us as Jaclyn's birth was the following morning.  No one could put a finger on it, but we all felt down and sad.  Jac's birth was something that was anticipated and dreaded, happy and sad, exciting and emotional all at the same time.  We all missed Jared and thought about him a lot that day.  Tiffany received a blessing from my uncle Alan that night.  It was then that things changed. He was standing in proxy of Jared and we all felt his presence.  There was a renewed strength, peace, and comfort in everyone after that.

Early Thursday morning, with babysitters in place (thank you, everyone who helped), we all headed to the hospital. It was a very hard process for Tiffany to do.   They started her on pitocin and the contractions started immediately. After only a few painful contractions, she received an epidural and was able to relax.  But the waiting game was tough and it was hard to be there without Jared.  We were all very emotional.  We had another family prayer and it was very spiritual... and as some things are too sacred to describe, I can only say that Jared's entrance was undeniable. 

Tiffany made these posters of pictures I took from Reese's birth to help her visualize Jared:

I love this girl.  
(And she is actually my cousin as well! We are related a while back so I think we're 3rd or 4th cousins!)

After a couple of hours, Tiffany was finally able to get some sleep and when they checked her when she woke, she was a 6.  Thirty minutes later, she was a 10 and it was go-time. I have never witnessed nor heard of a faster, more smooth delivery. After less than 15 minutes of pushing, she was here.

Jaclyn Christine Johansen was born at 4:23pm on January 12th:

And she was perfect.

7 pounds, 4 ounces and 19.75 inches long:

She looks so much like Reese, but mostly just in the nose and eyes. They have their daddy's eyes, that's for sure.

Big sister Reese came later that evening to meet Jaclyn:

That first night, I stayed with Tiffany in the hospital and helped with baby Jac. She is the sweetest baby. 

Because recovery was SO fast and went so incredibly well, Tiff was able to leave the very next day. We were happy to get her home.  With lots of helpers, 2 amazing mothers, and Jared and angels on the other side, these 3 girls are well taken care of.   There was just miracle after miracle that occurred this week. Maybe someday Tiffany will share them.

Tiffany is so loved by her Heavenly Father and is one of the most amazing mothers I have met.

Here is a tender, very special video that I put together for the family:
(Note that Jared had a designated spot on her right {which was where he was last time}, so notice when she looks to her right, she is looking towards Jared)
This was taken at Reese's birth exactly 18 months ago:

(Wish it weren't so shaky at times... I blame my emotions)

My testimony of our God, His love for us, His plan for us, and the reality that He LIVES, has grown immensely these past 2 months.  The miracles are undeniable; they are indescribable, and they are REAL. That is the word for me that describes what has taken place with these intimate events--REAL.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is REAL.  This church was restored by a REAL prophet, Joseph Smith. We have a REAL prophet living today, Thomas S. Monson.  The Book of Mormon was not made up, it is REAL scripture translated from REAL prophets of old, to be used as a companion with the Bible.  We are surrounded daily by REAL angels; helping, guiding and protecting us.  This life is but a small speck in the eternities and it has been testified to me that death from this life is really just a "going home."  All the more reason for us to live this life to the fullest, serve others every day, be better every day, appreciate and love our families, and strive to keep the Spirit with us every day.  I love and miss Jared.  I have had the gift of feeling his love and appreciation for me. I know we will see him again, and what a fine reunion that will be.

Email me if you'd like to write a letter to Tiffany or  donate to the girls' trust fund HERE.