The Family that Hays Together

Last weekend was a momentous weekend in my years on the farm.

It all started with knowing Dad, Mandy, and the farmer would be gathering up all the square bales from a neighboring farm we cut hay off of and split between the owner and ourselves. So, I was aware of what Saturday’s plans were; I just wasn’t aware of what MY plans were until my dad informed me Friday night that I would be driving. Driving meaning I would pull the trailer with the truck as the rest of them walked along beside, picked up the square bales, and hefted them onto the trailer. Sounded simple enough even though I’d never done anything like that before.

So, what do I do? Arrive ready to do it straight up farm girl.
20160924_1157501Dad has to hook up the trailer and tells me to go ahead and drive the truck to the field. Since he’s in the passenger seat, I’m already feeling a fair amount of anxiety–because I have a good feeling he’s not going to get in the driver’s seat and back the honkin’ truck up to the trailer himself.

Me: “Are you going to back up to the trailer?”

Dad: “No, I’m going to coach you.

Oh no…said the city girl who 1) is not an expert backer and 2) cannot read hand motions or follow directions.

The farmer was already headed down the dirt road and saw us–or more importantly me in the driver’s seat–cross the road into the field. He later told me he wished he could have stopped and watched because he knew it would be good. Brat.

So, he has me swing around to where the hind end of the truck is in front of the trailer, hops out, and proceeds to wave me on back.

“Ok, straighten up a little! 

I straighten.

Straighten up your wheels!” 

I am straight.

“Straighter! Turn your wheels to the left!”

How is that straight?? He’s walking towards the driver’s side window.

Pointing at the steering wheel, he says: “When “Ford” is straight in front of you, you are straight.”

It wasn’t. I was looking at the tires the whole time.

Ok, so now that we got that part accomplished, he continues to hand motion me back ward and then throws up the fist that means stop. Well, I found that the difference between my husband’s fist and my dad’s fist is that Dad means for you to slam on the brakes while my husband means an easier stop.

Therefore, I have to pull forward again.

I think we did that about 3 times before Dad said, “Two inches. That’s all we need. Two inches.”

Finally, we got it as Mandy was pulling into the field on the side by side. Dad waves and points at the truck like “HA HA! Isn’t this a kick in the head?” Her expression mirrored his.

Little did I know he was going to continue to make me drive. He hopped back into the passenger seat and by this time, I’m being more vocal about my anxiety. “Dad, I’ve never done this before! I’ m going to take out every fence post from here to there! I’m not coachable!”

Long story short, I’ve watched my husband more than I realized, swung wide where I needed to, used my mirrors, and trusted Dad to tell me how best to maneuver through tight spots.

So, now it was my turn to learn what “bucking bales” was all about.


Even though it was 94 degrees outside, look how beautiful it is! It was my job to slowly drive the trailer down the lines of square bales so all the farmer and Mandy had to do was walk along and throw the bales on the trailer. Then, Dad grabbed them–as I’m continuing to drive, mind you–and stacked them. He may be eeking ever closely to 60, but he’s still spritely. Staying on two feet while stacking 60 lb. bales on a moving vehicle is definitely for the sure-footed.


I’m just guessing here, but the “bucking” part seemed to have to do with your knee motion as you heft the bale onto  the trailer. You use your knee for an extra nudge up.

You don’t know how many times I giggled thinking about making the farmer chase the trailer with one of those bales. If Dad and Mandy hadn’t been working like dogs themselves, I totally would have done it. Don’t feel bad for him. He’s ornery.


There’s Mandy. I got the cush job, for sure. She’s She-ra.


Fun fact: Mandy did not grow up on a farm and had no experience with farming until she met my dad. And yet here she is, buckin’ bales and later shouting “GIRL POWER!!” as she jumped out of the truck after grabbing a quick drink of water. I’m feelin’ it, man. I’m driving the diesel in 4-low with a trailer full of hay behind me.

The trailer soon grew as full and high as it could get. I gladly hopped out of the truck and into the backseat so Dad could drive. I wasn’t feeling so confident in my newfound skills to think I could maneuver the squirrely path back to the highway without losing half the bales. In no way did I want to be the person that made all this hard work for naught.

And when Dad lost about 8 bales in a ditch along said squirrely path, I was just thankful it wasn’t me.

We arrive back at my Dad’s barn where the hay will be stored…


and go to work undoing all the work we did before. And by we, I mean not me. I have the VERY important job of making sure all of this gets documented.

First, one must pick up the bale.


Then, one must throw it into the barn where the man in black awaits…


to stack it all over again.


Mandy climbed to the top of the heap to continue to push bales down for the farmer to throw. He likes to throw stuff.


In other news, MUSCLESSSS!!!! I’m likin’ my job right about now…


The sweaty assembly line. Mandy may or may not have tried to take my beloved out a couple times with a flying hay bale. Don’t feel bad for him. He’s ornery.


Sweaty sweeper. Boots were not working in anyone’s favor that day. If you look at the two above photos, you’ll see that the truck and trailer is practically parked up a cliff. Slick hay + very worn boots = an extra element of fun while working. Sliding around like they were on slick floors with socks was not part of the objective that day. So, we look like OCD farmers instead. Something appears to have my dad very perplexed here.


Mandy doesn’t take herself too seriously. That’s one of the things I like about her. Are we surfing or working here? Well, both…in an attempt to keep herself from sliding off all the bales straight into the farmer. I personally think Mandy and I add a lot of fun to the workplace. They wouldn’t know what to do without us. No laughter. No shenanigans. Possibly more productivity. I mean, can you imagine?

But seriously, Mandy’s one of the hardest working women I know.


Last one of that load! Did I mention that I really like my job? This view never gets old. 😉

We still had some bales left to load, so back to the neighbors for the rest of them.


After those were loaded, Dad and the farmer had some straggler hay in the corners of the field.


In goes the hay, out comes a square bale.


The farmer hopped in one tractor and Dad had to drive this one out. Mandy was in the passenger seat of the truck. Who does this leave driving the truck with a trailer load of hay down the squirrely path to the highway? ME! This is bad…this is very, very bad.

But, you know what? I made it. I made it the whole way. Without losing ONE bale which totally showed my Dad up.

It mattered in no way that they double strapped everything that time.

Winning’s winning.

It was a good day.


More Photos by the Sea

It was one my favorite things ever to see my girls experience the beach for the first time! That’s one of the best parts of being  a parent–getting to see your kids take in the world. How they process it. Seeing things through little eyes that haven’t seen much and listening to their thoughts about it. They absolutely loved it!



Getting photos of my oldest at this moment has to happen with her being unaware. Depending on the mood, she’s either too busy or too shy for much picture-taking, but I sneak them in when I can.

Taegan was a little afraid of the ocean. The sandbar in Destin extends a great length into the ocean, so you can go out a long way and still be in shallow water, but we couldn’t ever entice her to come past the rough part where the waves roll into shore. She was a beach bum most of the time and successful in talking Aunt Bailey into taking her to the pool that was close by.

The little one, on the other hand…


She loved walking along the shore and letting the waves crash on her feet…or her knees…or her waist. Truth be told, we had a very difficult time keeping her out of the water! Luxe has no fear. Caution is not a word that occurs to her. Taegan was even cautious at this age, so I’m not sure what Luxe being the exact opposite means for the future. Probably some gray hair and a few strokes along the way. I love her adventurous spirit and sweet disposition, though! Taegan’s cautious spirit is wonderful, too! She’s a strategic, practical thinker who doesn’t mind some responsibility. She’s thoughtful in the sense of thinking of everything. She doesn’t let her parents forget much and she looks out for Luxe.



“Ocean! Come to Mama!” My thoughts exactly, kid. 🙂


“Too close! Too close!”


Another one of my most favorite things right now is watching her run. It is hilarious! She’s very bow-legged and has chunky, sweet baby thighs. On top of that, we’re not setting any speed records anytime soon, so the mixture of all that makes for the best kind of entertainment.


See, look at her–she’s back in it; just can’t get enough! And we can’t get enough of watching her. I can’t help but think God is looking down on all of us enjoying His creation with the same expression the farmer has seeing her enjoy these moments. I’m in love with this photo and all that it speaks.


The Farmer took this one with his phone and I think it’s just precious.


Love these two so much and everything that I’m still learning about them! Looking forward to exploring many, many new places with them!

Me and My Guy

Our trip to Florida was wonderful! We couldn’t have asked for better. The girls were little peaches! Minimal amounts of whining/yelling during our drive and both of them slept all night, every night. It was the first time we had gone on vacation as a family and we’re so grateful for the memories we came back with.

There will be a couple posts about our trip, but this one’s just about me and my guy.

Here he is. Smolder-smile and all. The best part? He has no idea how charming he is.Especially when he’s got 2 adorable girls in each hand.


And let me just preface the next round of pictures with this–we I am not great at being photographed in displays of public affection. Especially when it’s my mom behind the camera. To be honest, I couldn’t feel cheesier. BUT, these pictures did turn out pretty cute…

This photo is symbolic for me. Funny story…Leslee was vehemently against taking a photo like this. Again, the cheese factor…but when I started going through all of them once we got back, it inspired reflection. It takes me back to 12 years ago when I stood at the altar about to embark on a whole new journey. I was willing to walk away with him into deep waters because I knew there was no one else on earth I’d rather embrace uncertainty  with than him. And the same still goes for today.


Let the awkwardness commence…Must I stand so close to this guy??!


I guess he’s alright. One thing that people might not know about my husband until they’ve been around him a lot is that he’s incredibly funny. I’ll admit, when I met the guy, I was drawn to him because he has a broody, kind of mysterious exterior. I liked it. So, to find out there was a goofball with a heart of gold underneath sealed the deal. I was a goner. He says I bring out the goof.


But, it’s obvious that we feed off each other. One of my favorite things about us is how much we laugh. At ourselves, at each other, and at common things that we decide to make funny for our own entertainment. You have to. Life gets heavy if you can’t laugh with someone special.


Parenting–some more deep water, but we’re trusting the good Father for guidance on this part of our journey. And enjoying the laughs along the way, as well.

Me and my guy…


by the ocean feeling small and embracing uncertainty. The vastness has a way of doing that to a person. However, the sea is full of rejuvenation and empowerment, as well. It’s an amazing place to press “reset” and remind ourselves that we are part of something so much bigger than us. A place to witness something beautiful for our enjoyment and for His glory.  A place to remember that He’s got this–whatever IT is–…and He’s got us.



June-July: A Continued List

So, after the fair, we all went home and crashed for a few days. I did, anyway. The farmer never crashes. He drinks 72 cups of coffee a day.

And my daughter has a Red Bull drip somewhere on her person. I’ve yet to find it, but I’m certain it’s there.

3.Once I got over the morning/all day sickness, I started taking a few photos for people this summer, which has been fun.

My cousin and her family

My cousin and her family


My nephew

My nephew


My baby brother

My baby brother


That moment right before the wailing begins. Pitifully precious.

That moment right before the wailing begins. Pitifully precious.

4. I’ve been going to doctor’s appointments monthly for pregnancy checkups. Here’s the first belly bump selfie I took at 17 1/2 weeks.


5. My mom met up with Taegan and I in the city one day for lunch. I took them with me to my doctor’s appointment, but first I got this picture that I absolutely treasure.


I didn’t realize until this picture how much Taegan looks like her grandmother!

6. We took a little trip down to the creek and packed a picnic. This was Taegan’s treat for learning her Bible verse and 5 sight words. It was Luke 6:31. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” I got this told to me just last Sunday when I refused to carry her purse at the restaurant we had lunch at.


She loved it.


A better playmate than Daddy can’t be found.


And then Banjo comes in at a close second. We learned that day that Banjo finds skipping rocks very upsetting. Every time the farmer tossed one, he would race down the shore barking and whining. When he got to the water, he would attempt to “rescue” the rock by diving under the water. This is when he realized that there are a multitude of rocks at the bottom of a creek and attempted to bring them all to the surface all the while barking and whining because this was just an impossible task.

A tranquilizer would not have been out of the question.

There are times when his intelligence is very impressive, but then there’s the rest of the time…


Another picture I treasure.

7. On the Fourth of July, we had a family reunion at my aunt’s place. My grandma is one of six children and those six children and their descendants were who comprised this reunion. I had the task of coming up with shirts for the kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids of my grandma. Her name is Betty.

So, naturally…


This was Taegan’s shirt.


That’s pronounced JEE-Jee-ma and that’s what the great grandkids call her. It’s a lot shorter than great-grandma and it just fits her.

Here’s almost everyone (and their spouses) that make up Grandma Betty’s line. My shirt said “Granddaughter 05” because I’m the fifth person that came out of these genetics. The farmer’s shirt read “Married To 05” on the back.

family reunion

grandma's siblings

Grandma and her remaining siblings. They lost a beloved sister some years back.

We ate, played games, sang out of the church song books.

This family doesn’t get together and not sing. We’re all singers and singing must be done. If you don’t sing, everyone stares at you like, “Why aren’t you singing??” We’ve all been doing this since we were kids.

Singing family

My aunt compiled songs that my grandpa wrote along with songs written by grandma’s sister. All the songs were published in church song books over the years, so we each got a little booklet full. They couldn’t be there with us in person, but they were definitely there in song.

While we were sitting there, someone asked Aaron to start telling stories. Aaron’s quite the storyteller and his go-to’s are always the ones about running off one of my great-aunt Sandy’s boyfriends. When Sandy was dating this guy, her nephews were in all in the 16-18 age range, I believe. They set out to run this guy off and totally got it accomplished.

They were just awful to him.

Aaron's stories

Sandy during stories

You can tell she’s really torn up about it.

My dad was one of those nephews. Look at him. It was fun watching them all relive it.


Dad and Justin (the oldest of my brothers)

I never get tired of those stories. And Aunt Sandy has no regrets. I would try to tell them, but I could never do them justice. Aaron holds a captive audience by telling and acting them out.

Later that evening, we did some fireworks and everyone said their goodbyes hoping it wouldn’t be so long before we saw each other again. My husband only just met some of my family in July and we’ve been married 10 years.

That’s all I’m going to be able to do for now.


More to come.


Still to be continued,



My Trip to Orange Beach, AL

I left two almost two weeks ago for a trip to Alabama with my good friend, Mallory. We had never taken a trip together before, so we were both very excited. We’re both planners, so this time we planned not to plan. We were going to buck the system and just go with the flow.

Honestly, I don’t know that the trip could have gone any smoother compatibility-wise. We both get up early. Neither one of us takes forever to get ready. We both enjoy just being on the beach and soaking up some sun. We both love to shop. We both love to eat. We both love to read. We both love coffee.

The love of coffee being the most important part, naturally.

So, we were set to leave before the crack of dawn Monday morning. Mal waited to the night before we left to inform her husband what time we needed to leave their house for the airport. 4:45 a.m. His incredulous response was “Fuh-fuh-fuh…???” He was a good sport about it, though.

At 6:00 a.m., we were bound for Chicago. Once we got to our terminal, we only had about 20 minutes to wait before we boarded our plane to Pensacola…where unbeknownst to us we would sit for over an hour waiting for our pilot (who was flying another plane) to get there. No part of that was fun.

Finally, we were off and we landed at Pensacola. We headed to the car rental desk to pick up the compact car I had reserved only to find out there were no compact cars left. Of course, they upgraded us to the next thingt they had available.

A bus.


This is a 2014 Chevy Traverse loaded with leather seats, sun roof, back-up cam, three-rows of seats, and a TV screen hanging from the ceiling for all the kids we didn’t bring with us. I was kind of excited about this vehicle until I started driving it and found out I couldn’t drive it. Backing this thing up was a nightmare. No wonder it has a backup cam… YA CAN’T SEE ANYTHING OUT THE BACK!! And I’m just way too much of a control freak to trust anything but my eyes to see everything that needs to be seen when backing up. At one point, I made Mallory get out and direct me out of a parking spot because it is just really hard to maneuver a bus in a small parking lot. And trust me, we needed about a 1 acre lot to turn this thing. Driving this did give us a lot of laughs, though…when we weren’t screeching…or cringing.

The drive to our hotel was about 45 minutes and the first thing someone from Orange Beach asked us was, “New York, huh? We don’t get many New Yorkers around here.” (Our Traverse had New York plates.) I wanted to say, “Yes, sir. That’s correct. And I can’t park this thing because I’ve only ever taken taxis anywhere.”

After stopping at the hotel, we went in search of place to eat. Mallory had been to Orange Beach before, so she directed me to a place called The Wharf where shops and some restaurants are located. There’s a café there called Southern Grind that has salads, sandwiches, and most importantly, gelato. I scarfed down a Honey Walnut Chicken Salad sandwich, pasta salad, kettle-cooked chips, one scoop of Coffee Toffee gelato, and one scoop of Raspberry Cheescake gelato.

After that, I honestly don’t remember much about that day. Probably because I got up at 4:15 and everything got kind of foggy. I think we might have done a little shopping and some more eating that evening.

Oh, and we walked on the beach.



Tuesday morning, we got up at 6:30 a.m. and headed down to breakfast. We stayed at the Hampton Inn & Suites in Orange Beach and I would highly recommend it just based on the breakfast and the view out the hotel windows. Unfortunately, this is what it did all morning.

photo 3 (1)

Yeah, it’s pouring down rain.

Every time we thought it had let up…

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It was more of this.

And we were very…

photo 2 (7)

First World Problems


About noon, it finally passed. However, the overcast, cloudy skies stayed with us for the rest of the day. We didn’t even care at this point. We had come to Orange Beach to sit out on the beach and, by golly, that’s what we were going to do.

photo 5 (4)

And we were very happy.

I took this cute little picture of the beach and Mal’s feet. It’s one of my favorites from our trip.


So, we stayed out there for about 2 1/2 hours. We decided that sunscreen was probably unnecessary since it was so cloudy. I mean… I know you can still get burnt if it’s cloudy, but it takes longer…right?


As the afternoon crept into early evening, Mal and I started getting redder and redder.

We went to Lulu’s in Gulf Shores that evening. Excellent, by the way. The restaurant is right on one of the channels and it’s open to the water. The only thing cooling you are ceiling fans and the breeze. It was lovely.

On our walk back to “the bus,” we decided we were going to invest in some Noxema for our ever-increasing lobster state. My skin was starting to become unwieldy and stiff. With every step, Mallory was going, “Ow. Ow. Ow. Ow.” Meanwhile, we’re both laughing at the sheer stupidity of what we had done.

We got back to the hotel and put Noxema on so thick that we were totally white and walking like mummies. It was then we decided to run down to the hotel lobby, grab some coffee, and settle in for a couple episodes of Scandal on Mallory’s iPad.

Have you ever smelled Noxema?

It has a very distinct, very strong scent. Eucalyptus oil. Menthol. Chemicals. If you haven’t smelled it, you’ll just have to trust me. It’ll clear your sinuses. It’s stout stuff.

Back to my story, we’re on the 7th floor of the hotel, so we’ve got a little bit of a ride on the elevator. We pull on sweats and long-sleeved shirts to cover up our completely white skin and head down the hallway like a couple of weirdos trying not to let anything touch.

We get into the elevator…and have to stop at every floor on the way down to let people on. By the time we get to the first floor, we’re all packed into this little elevator like sardines and I’m about to die because I am 100% certain that everyone in that elevator is being assaulted with the odor of Noxema.

When we got off the elevator, we laughed so hard we cried. (By the way, the maids cleaned our room every day after that and the smell still lingered.)

On Wednesday, we got up early and did our now morning ritual of breakfast and coffee while watching the ocean. However, we were too burnt to enjoy the beach that day. We thought it best to give ourselves a break so we could go out and do it all over again on Thursday.

With sunscreen.

So, we decided it was a good day to sit on the hotel deck (in the shade, of course), read our books, and then maybe go get some pampering. A couple of facials, massages, mani/pedis. We called around and there were no openings. Very disappointing since my husband was the one that encouraged a spa day and told me to get the works.

For lunch, we headed back to our favorite little lunch spot (Southern Grind) and I ordered unsweetened tea for my drink. This is when the guy at the cash register goes, “Where are you girls from?” I said, “Missouri.” He goes, “Wow! You’re a long way from home! You two are too burnt to be from around here. That’s how I always know.”

I thought to myself, Pfsshh, it was because I ordered unsweetened tea.

But, we were pretty burnt.

We stayed at The Wharf and walked in and out of shops for a little while. After that, we decided to head to Gulf Shores and go to a nail salon for mani-pedis.

I feel it is important to remind you at this juncture that we are still very burnt. However, Mal had a nice tan going on her legs and feet already due to taking her kids out for recess every day. (She’s a kindergarten teacher.) I, however, did not have that going in my favor. Therefore, I was very…very red. My feet, ankles, and the tops of my legs were not ok. I put my feet in the warm, bubbly, fizzy water and knew inside of my heart of hearts that this was not going to be good.

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This was taken right before I settled in for the most excruciating massage of my life.

It started with just letting my feet soak and a lady working on my nails. Everything was going just dandy until she walked away and came back with a wet washcloth. She slapped this blazing washcloth on my already charred arm and proceeded to massage-slap the top of the washcloth. At this point, I did one of those close-mouthed shrieks and said, “MMMMMMMMM!!!! I can’t take it!!” She laughed at me and honestly, who wouldn’t? It was perfect punishment.

However, I wasn’t done yet. After the wash cloth fiasco, a different nail technician sits down in front of me to work on my feet. Meanwhile, I hear Mallory say to hers, “No hot stones, please. No hot stones.” I immediately turn to mine and say, “No hot stones for me, either!” He goes, “No hot stones?” I say, “No hot stones…and no hot washcloths, either. Cold washcloths” He chuckles and says, “You are very red.” No, really??

After he gets my toes in tip-top shape, he pours this green gel into his hands and rubs it on my leg. It is at this point that I discover the grittiness of this substance and think to myself, These people are enjoying this! Seriously??!!! He never looked up or he would have seen the tormented cringe on my face. My guy was a little ahead of Mal’s at this point so a minute or two later, Mal looks over at me wide-eyed with “This does NOT feel good” written all over her face.

Meanwhile, my nail tech is Helga from Hades rubbing lotion on my red, exfoliated leg like he’s trying to give somebody an indian burn. And I am shaking trying to control the laughter I’m holding back at the hilarity of my current situation. It hurt. So. Bad.

Pain equals beauty, right? Lots and lots of beauty here.

He painted my toes beautifully and I got up to move to the nail painting station. I sat down next to a kind woman who said to me, “Oh darling,’ your poor legs.” I chuckled and said, “Yeah, that exfoliating massage didn’t help me any.” She had to laugh while she said, “Oh honey, I imagine it didn’t. We’ve all been there.”

When we left, our finger and toe nails were gorgeous and we went back to the hotel and sat on the beach for a bit. It was late afternoon by this point and we put on sunscreen. ‘Cuz we’re smart like that.

For dinner, we went to a place in Orange Beach called Fishers. It was on the marina and it was beautiful, as well. We sat outside right off the dock with this as our background.

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Some of the boats we saw were like mini-yachts. These were some of the smaller boats. Ha! There was one this size for sale. Let me tell ya, it was a steal. $229,000.

Mallory ordered something really pretty. It was called something like “Shrimp Tasso with Rice.”

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We always ordered something different so we could share some of what the other got. It was yummy!

Then, we tried to walk off some of what we ate on the beach that night.

Do you like long walks on the beach? Why, yes, I do.

Not hard to see why, either.



Thursday was our last full day in Orange Beach and we were determined we were going to make the best of it. We got up, went for breakfast and coffee, got some more coffee and watched an episode or two of Scandal. (When you get up with the chickens, you have some time to kill.) We did not come to the beach to come home without a nice tan, so we went out Thursday (with sunscreen) and just enjoyed the water, the sun, and even got to see a “dolphin” swim by. I distinctly remember saying, “Aw, how cool! I hear dolphins like people.” Mallory wasn’t so sure.

We left Friday morning and on Friday afternoon, red flags were posted all over Orange Beach because a swarm of 7 or 8 sharks had been spotted by a helicopter close to shore. The carcasses of cleaned fish were washing that way with the tide and the sharks had an easy meal.

That night, we went to Grazie Café, an Italian seafood restaurant. It was the best of the restaurants we went to. Mal ordered a seafood linguine and I ordered a seafood pizza. They were both absolutely delicious! We ate seafood every night we were there. You don’t go the coast without doing that. That would be just…wrong.

I bet you’ll never guess what we did after that.


Yep, another long walk on the beach.


I couldn’t decide which one of these two I liked the best, so I’m showing you the same picture over again.

This one’s different, though.


We got out a little earlier for those three. Before sunset.

I never tire of taking these pictures because the view is ever-changing even though it stays the same.


Friday morning we got up and did the same thing we’d done for the last three mornings. Ate, drank coffee, and read while we listened to the ocean. It was bittersweet. I was looking forward to seeing my sweet little family at the airport, but I didn’t want to leave this place and the good times we’d had. I knew it would be a while before I got to do this again with our second child coming. Some people are totally willing to travel with babies. Kudos to those folks. This chick is not that brave.

This might have something to do with the fact that the only child I’ve ever had required no sleep for a whole year. Even after that, it was still dicey.

This might also have something to do with why we waited 3 1/2 years to start trying to have another one. The farmer and I both spent many a night up with her and we really had to think about whether we could handle another Peanut if we got one. She ran us through the ringer! She’s been such a joy to raise, though, that we thought doing it all over again would be totally worth it! And hey, maybe we’ll get one that will sleep 20 hours a day!

I digress.

We packed everything up, said our farewells to Orange Beach, returned the bus to the rental desk, and hopped on our plane from Pensacola to Chicago. The lady sitting in front of us was informing everyone that this was her son’s first time to fly. He must have been a little nervous because shortly after take- off, Mal and I badly needed those oxygen masks the flight attendant showed us how to use.

We weren’t looking forward to our layover at Chicago. We had almost 3 hours to wait. This is when I decided I strongly disliked Chicago O’Hare airport. First, they made us sit on a hot plane for over an hour at the terminal on our way to Orange Beach. Second, on our long layover, their WIFI did not work on Mallory’s iPad, so we couldn’t even watch Netflix. Near the end of our layover time, they inform us that our connecting flight to Springfield has not left Minneapolis yet. (I realize this is not the airport’s fault, but I don’t care at this point.) We waited 2 more hours for a total of 5 hours in the Chicago O’Hare airport. This is when I decided that from now on, I would avoid Chicago O’Hare like the plague. I’ll fly to Canada for a connecting flight before I’ll fly to Chicago.  Plus, she and I both froze while waiting in the terminal. And we already had hoodies on.

So, we sat and we waited. We waited and we sat. We walked the whole airport. We read. Finally, Mallory turns to me and says, “I think I need a Red Bull. I’m really starting to feel exhausted.” About 10 minutes after she drinks all of it—I won’t lie. I took a few swigs, too—she’s climbing the airport walls. I kind of knew what I was in for because I’ve gotten to experience my friend on Red Bull before. We’re sitting there with our teeth chattering from the frigid temperature, so she stands up and proceeds to run in place—while she’s still talking to me—all the while smiling and laughing. I’m pretty sure one of her eyes might have had a slight tic to it. I’ll admit I was standing, as well, bouncing on the balls of my feet because I was FREEZING!! But, unlike Mallory, I wasn’t on the verge of doing jumping jacks after I timed how quickly I could sprint the entire Chicago O’Hare airport. I started laughing. I couldn’t help it. I looked at Mal and said, “Hi, everyone! This is my special friend, Mallory.” She died laughing and got this huge, open-mouthed grin and started waving real big. We fell into the seats laughing with tears in our eyes. Sitting there waiting was pretty awful, but I can’t imagine how bad it would have been had I been there with someone that didn’t try to make the best out of it. Both of us are pretty good about the “it is what it is” mentality.

Finally, at 8:00 p.m., we arrived at Springfield. I was anxious to see my husband and daughter. I knew I was sorely missed and that’s a wonderful feeling to come home to. Once we got outside the terminal, I spotted my husband’s face behind some other people. Knowing Peanut was down below him, I couldn’t keep from smiling. I reached them to find Peanut with her arms full of a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. “Surprise!” she said. My eyes got a little wet. I squeezed her and stood up and squeezed my husband. It’s nice being missed.

It was a wonderful trip. Lots of laughs and a whole lot of memories. I can’t wait to do it all over again.