The Farmer’s B-Day Celebration and Recipes from the Weekend

The farmer turns 36 on Tuesday (gasp!), but since Tuesdays are crazy days in this household, I decided we would celebrate this weekend. So, I cooked and I ate and I cooked and I ate some more.

Not only was it a birthday celebration, but I also wanted to try some new pie recipes. I don’t make a habit of making pies because I kind of….

like to…

oh, maybe eat them. But, the Fall Festival at Taegan’s school is coming up next Friday and there’s a pie contest. Naturally, I must try and win.

One: Because it’s for a good cause. They’re going to sell the pieces that the judges don’t try.

Two: I’m not one to shirk my civic duties and if civic duties mean I have to bake and taste test pies all weekend, then, as much as I hate it, I will do it. Somebody has to. You never know…a pie might make a difference in the world.

Now, before I go on anymore, if there’s any possibility that someone reading this might be a judge at this community pie contest, STOP READING NOW because I’m going to share the pie recipes I think I will be taking in this post.

So, anyway, Friday night I made dinner for the farmer. I like to pilfer through my cook books every once in a while and pick out something I haven’t tried yet. My husband loves pork chops, so I found a recipe in one of my Pioneer Woman cookbooks titled: Pork Chops with Apples and Grits. I told my dear, sweet husband this is what I was making for him and he said…

“I think it might take me a little longer in the barn tonight.”

I wasn’t discouraged, though. The grits were cooked with bacon, onion, and loads of cheese and I had a good feeling, even though he’d never had gree-its before.

Here’s the link to Pioneer Woman’s recipe if you’re curious:
Porkchops With Apples & Creamy Bacon Cheese Grits

When the meal was prepared and set before him, one bite of grits and he was in love.

With the grits, I mean. That’s all I’ve continued to hear about this weekend. How much he loves grits. Grits is his new favorite thing and where have they been all his life?

“Grits are so much better than mashed potatoes.”

“How do they make grits?” (Curiosity demanded that he Google it.)

“Of all the meals you’ve made this weekend, I’m pretty sure nothing topped the grits.”

“Pork chops and grits…nothing better.”

All of that being said, I’d say my celebratory birthday meal was a success. Happy Birthday, my love! I’m glad I could bestow upon you the sensory gift of some ground up corn.

However, before I started the farmer’s birthday dinner, I had baked a pie. I don’t advise baking this pie before dinner because you still won’t be able to enjoy it after dinner. It’s a Pecan Cheesecake Pie by Jocelyn Brubaker of Inside BruCrew Life.

DSC_1072

Yeah…

Letting this chill and waiting until the next day was pure torture. I took a picture of it for you before I devoured it. Upon the first bite, it was, of course, delicious. But, I looked at that piece of pie and thought, “I’m’a take you to the nex’….

level.”

This is the point at which I got the sea salt out and I gave that baby a good dusting.

Oh. Mama.

Took it right over the top.

I dusted the rest of the pie with sea salt and took it up to the neighbors because I have absolutely no self-control. It got rave reviews. It’s deliriously delicious.

After I made this pie and dinner, I had to make another pie because I had already baked the crust earlier. It was getting late and I was tired, so the farmer and Taegan pitched in. This is a family-made pie.

DSC_1084

It’s just called Chocolate Pie and it’s a recipe from one my favorite blogs, The Pioneer Woman. Everything she makes is amazing, so I knew I probably wouldn’t be disappointed.

And, let me just say, there’s chocolate pie and then there’s Chocolate Pie. This is CHOCOLATE PIE.

The chocolate part of the pie is a homemade pudding that uses bittersweet chocolate. I took this pie up to the neighbors, as well, and was asked, “Ok, what is in that??” I knew exactly what she was asking…it’s the bittersweet chocolate.

It’s decadant and dark and divine.

DSC_1075

And Taegan-approved, to boot.

DSC_1074

That is no small feat, folks. This child is picky in the extreme.

DSC_1077

Even if her hair is slightly hobo-ish in these pictures.

DSC_1095

I have never seen my child this desperate.

DSC_1093

So, let that be a testament to how good this pie is.

The last meal I treated the farmer to was Sausage & Hashbrown Breakfast Casserole from Penny Pinchin’ Mom.

DSC_1068

Don’t judge the recipe by my food photography skills. I tried. However, this picture would have been remiss without the farmer’s Tabasco in it. Did he saturate my casserole in this?

Yes. Yes, he did. (If you are not familiar with my husband’s love for this condiment and how it comes between us, click here Tabasco.

This recipe is so simple and so wonderful. Of the two meals I made this weekend, this one was my favorite. I made some very small modifications to it because I know what we like.

1. I used hot breakfast sausage. In my opinion, there is nothing better than hot breakfast sausage in any recipe calling for sausage.

2. I healthified it. I used the 97% fat free versions of the soup.

3. I used 2% cheddar.

It’s also a recipe you can make the night before and just put in the oven the next morning, but by the time I made supper and two pies, I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

Rave reviews for this recipe from the farmer and I. I didn’t even have to salt it and when I don’t have to do that, I know it’s a flawless recipe.

The farmer knew it when I looked at him with wild, maniacal eyes and just bobbed my head up and down. That’s my tell. It’s very subtle.

That evening, we went to a fish fry fundraiser for the Tri-County Fairgrounds. Goodness gracious, did they know how to cook some fish! Might have been the best I’ve ever had. It was fun! They had a live auction for a lot of really great donations. Gift cards to restaurants, local stores, gift baskets, pies, veterinary supplies, trips to Silver Dollar City and other Branson attractions, quilts. All kinds of things. The fundraiser was for repairs to the barns on the fairgrounds. I read this morning that they raised $4,800 in the three hours it lasted. Not bad! Not bad at all! Especially for a cold, rainy night!

We gave the farmer our gifts this weekend, too. I always try to write him a letter on birthdays and anniversaries. Something really sappy and gushy. This letter was wrapped in a gift, though.

He lost his wedding band quite a while back. The poor guy searched the entire farm for it, but finally gave up. So, I decided that it was time to put a ring on my husband…again. This time, I chose something that is very “him.” Rugged, masculine, outdoorsy, and shiny.

(Huh?)

DSC_1098

It’s tungsten with a wooden inlay. He loves it. He gazes at it adoringly.

Taegan and I also got him this.

hoodie pic

He loves hoodies. Who doesn’t?

I also got him something very practical, because my husband is nothing if not practical. Two pairs of work jeans. Now, the farmer isn’t particular about work jeans.

But his wife is.

If I have to see my husband covered in manure every day, I don’t want to see him in anything other than Levi”s. 527’s to be exact.

He still gets splattered with manure, but he looks oh-so-very-good during it while wearing those jeans.

It’s really the least he can do.

I hope all of you had a lovely weekend!

We’re gearing up for spirit week and fall festival now. Stay tuned for photos of Taegan. Tomorrow is pajama day and Tuesday she has to dress up like a storybook character. It’s going to be fun!

 

Breauna

 

 

 

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.

Traverse

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.

DSC_0519

DSC_0506

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…

photo 1 (7)

It was more of this.

And we were very…

photo 2 (7)

First World Problems

sad.

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.

DSC_0450

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?

Wrong.

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.

photo 2 (5)

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.

photo 4 (1)

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.”

photo 5 (2)

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.

DSC_0496

DSC_0489

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.

DSC_0542-2

Yep, another long walk on the beach.

DSC_0542

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.

DSC_0548

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.

Huh?

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.

The Village That Raised Me

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to write something for the moms that shaped my life. I had the privilege of being surrounded by some very special women as I was growing up who each had a very unique influence on my life. In fact, they still do.

1. My mom

Bailey's wedding day & misc 024

She’s number one on the list and she’s number one, period. She gave birth to me. She raised me. After I had Peanut, my appreciation for my own mother soared to new heights. Newborns are a lot of work with little reward at first. I reflected on my mom being a first-time mom with me and I knew that somebody felt the same love and responsibility towards me as a child that I felt towards my own. Knowing the power of my own feeling about motherhood helped me realize hers towards me. And I had to call her and say, “Thank you, I never knew exactly what it took until now.

As a little girl, my mom was everything I wanted to be when I grew up, naturally. She was the epitome of beauty, class, grace, and poise from the beautiful suits and dresses she wore to work to just the way she interacted with people. She was quiet, but warm. My mom has always had a way of putting people at ease. She’s easy to talk to, full of wisdom, and never judgmental.

She taught me all about how to walk in heels, how to appear graceful (even though I might be one of the biggest klutz’s in the world), and she shared with me a love of fashion and make-up. Even though she worked full-time and was a single mom, she never missed a school birthday party and brought cupcakes. She’d surprise me with McDonald’s for lunch every once in a while. I remember all the little kids asking me if my mom was a super model. Seeing her walk into school always made my day because I was so proud of her. And she was always sitting front and center for every school play and concert. She juggled a lot when I was little, but still created happy memories for me even amidst seasons of upheaval in our lives.

She gave me confidence as a child and told me to “never brag to others. Only to Momma. I want to hear every last detail about how awesome you are.” She’s still the first person I call when I’ve been successful or have good news to share.

Our personalities are very different in some ways. I’m a little more high-strung. However, I watched how that comforting presence worked as a child and try my best to exude it myself. It helps me temper the type-A, compulsive side of myself. Mom somehow found a way to help me figure out how to be both driven and likeable at the same time.

Other women have had a very strong influence on my personality, but there’s just no way a person can have more influence than your mom. And no matter how old you get, she never really stops raising you. And you never really stop needing her to.

I love you, Mom.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

2. Grandma Betty

IMG_7622

She’s right smack dab in the middle. My little sister, Bailey, is on the far right. Continue left and you have Chelsey (Aunt Rachel’s daughter), Aunt Rachel, Grandma, Aunt Julie, Alisha (Aunt Julie’s daughter), me, and Peanut

Wild horses could not have dragged this wonderful woman away from anything my cousins or I were ever involved in. She’s my dad’s mom and without her, I might not have known that side of my family and that would have been such a terrible tragedy. My parents divorced when I was five and my dad left Missouri, worked in multiple states, and just wasn’t around much. However, my parents shared joint custody and it was Grandma that usually came and picked us up on Dad’s weekends. We got the chance to play with our cousins, bond with our aunts and uncles, and go to church with people that I adore and still go to church with. Even if it wasn’t Dad’s weekend, Grandma would still come and pick us up for church if we wanted to go. No matter how far out of her way she had to come. Sometimes, my mom would meet her with us. Mom never tried to stop us from going with Grandma. Raising kids that loved the Lord was important to her, as well, and Grandma was always tickled pink to come get us.

I’m surrounded by musical people on both sides, but Grandma never stopped singing. She taught me all about how to sing gospel and I remember how all of us kids would just sing song after song with Grandma.  I still can’t get enough of singing and a lot of that has to do with her.

Another thing that is so wonderful about Grandma is her love. She loves everybody. She’s warm, kind, generous, and I’ve had friends adopt her as their grandma. I’ve never encountered one person in my entire life that doesn’t like her. Just saying her name alone makes people smile, even if they haven’t seen her for years.

She’s something else and an immeasurable part of why I still walk in Christ today.

Thank you, Grandma. I love you.

 

3. Aunt Rachel

Still playing. :-) Helping Peanut hit the piñata. Deja vu.

Still playing. 🙂 Helping Peanut hit the piñata. Deja vu.

Aunt Rachel is that aunt that you just absolutely adore. She is my dad’s sister and when I was growing up, I thought she was the coolest thing ever. Her energy was endless and she was always up for a good time. Rachel didn’t just send us kids out to play; she played with us. She taught me how to bat, helped me swim, drove us around with Ace of Base blaring while we all sung at the top of our lungs, set us up at the dining room table with an endless array of crayons, colored pencils, paper, stickers, etc. You name it, she had it. Her kids and my other cousin, Alisha, are like my own siblings. We all loved going to Aunt Rachel’s because her home was filled with fun, love, and peace. Rachel and her stable, drama-free life was always such a constant for me. I always felt so safe there because nothing ever changed. And I look back now and admire her so much for taking on a passel of kids for a weekend and doing it without seeming the least bit overworked or haggard.

As I got older and entered my teenage years, I turned to Rachel a lot for guidance. She seemed to always have it so together. I wanted to be just like her in that regard. We are kindred spirits when it comes to knowing exactly what we want, but once in a while, I needed her input on whether what I was wanting was a good thing or not. She never led me wrong and she was always one of the most encouraging people in my life. She believed in me and her faith in my ability to do whatever I set my mind to was always a driving force.

Rachel was always laughing, always smiling, and always outgoing. Studying her helped me become more that way. I wanted to have the comforting, calm presence of my mom, but be able to be comfortable in my skin around whoever I encountered like Aunt Rachel. She taught this somewhat introverted girl that being quick to smile and laugh opens a lot of doors. Like my own mom, she was always encouraging me to let people see the person she saw. She always told me how funny I was and that I needed to speak up more. It was always my mom and my aunt Rachel that appreciated my sarcastic, goofy, sometimes morbid, sense of humor and that gave me confidence in myself.

Today, I would say that I’m a pretty even mixture of my mom and Aunt Rachel. Not exactly like one or the other, but a mixture that makes me uniquely me.

Thank you, Aunt Rachel, for always being so solid. You taught me about home and gave me a picture of how I wanted my own to be. I love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

4. My mother-in-law, Fae

Taegan and Grammie

She didn’t raise me, but she raised the man I’m married to and without him, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. He picked me up, dusted me off, and showed me what love was supposed to be. The farmer restored my faith in humanity. He showed me that some people don’t expect anything from you; they just do things out of the kindness of their hearts. He could never have done this if he didn’t possess a kind, generous, selfless heart…just like his mother’s. Fae has never been anything but kind and welcoming to me and I love her dearly.

Peanut loves going to Grammie’s house and Fae just lights up every time she sees her. It warms my heart.

Fae, you are part of the village through your son. Your heart shines through him and I can’t even articulate what he is to me or what he’s done, but I know he wouldn’t be the man he is without you. Thank you for raising the man that saved me and thank you for everything you still continue to do for Peanut and for us. We love you. Happy Mother’s Day!

 

5. Mandy

Mandy didn’t come into my life until I was already married to the farmer. My dad had brought her back to Missouri with him and something about her quiet, down-to-earth nature made me feel like maybe he had somebody special here. He must have thought so, too, because he married her.  I’ll admit that my relationship with my father was a little better than non-existent at the point she came into my life. He and I had very little in common (I thought), and I found it difficult to be around him, let alone carry on a conversation. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to, I just felt like maybe too much time had passed for me to really bond with him. He had missed out on so much and I knew nothing about him, as well. However, with Mandy, she and I had to get to know each other, anyway. She learned about me and I learned about her as well as learning things about my dad that I didn’t know. I’m sure my dad learned about me from her, too. She was the messenger there for a while, but, over time, she created this bridge through which my dad and I were able to reconnect.

Eventually, Dad and I had a conversation where he just laid it all out and I saw his heart. That was when my defenses officially came down and I’ve never looked back since. Mandy instigated all of that. She helped Dad see what he needed to do to get back on track with me and she helped me see that he really wanted that. She gave me hope.

After I had Peanut and I’ve seen how my dad is with her, I can’t help but melt. He’s my dad. I never stopped loving him, but he makes it so easy now. He makes me proud.

Taegan and Mandy

And then, Mandy, as if you didn’t already do enough, you love my daughter. You love her like your own. You helped me so much with Peanut and there’s a special bond there between the two of you. I can’t put it into words, but it oozes out when you’re together. She thinks you’re great and so do I.

Happy first Mother’s Day, Mandy! When you had Chaser, I’ll admit, I was worried about whether you would be able to balance it all. I shouldn’t have worried. I mean, this is you we’re talking about. You still continue to go above and beyond. You do your best not to miss anything and I love you so much for that. Thanks for being Peanut’s “Nanny” and a person that she can always count on. I’m certain that she will consider you part of hervillage when she reflects back.

You’re also a person I can always count on. Thanks for being my friend.

 

That is my village and I thank God every day for placing these women in my life. Each one of them is so special and I’m blessed to know them.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there!

With love,

 

Breauna

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter on Her Birthday

005

Taegan,

Four years ago today, I first met you and my life changed forever. I fell into a kind of love that I didn’t understand up until that point. I looked at you and your face said, “Hi. I’m yours and I already love you. It’s nice to finally put a face to the voice I’ve been hearing.” I felt known in a way I had never experienced.

 

IMG_8401
I can’t help but look back at that day and still be in wonder. That was the day God entrusted me with a little soul. And He chose to give me yours. Out of all the ones He could have given me. He chose you for me. And the way your presence in my life has changed my soul is something I can’t even put into words. On that day, a transformation happened. A girl became a woman. A woman became a mother. And a sinner felt sanctified. My purpose had never been clearer.

 

045
These past four years I am certain that you have taught me just as much as I’ve taught you. We’ve learned a lot together, you and me. I’m still flying by the seat of my pants. I will be until you’re grown and you’re making your own choices. I bear the weight of guiding you through life to make the right ones. That responsibility is quite heavy, but I consider it an honor, as well. Raising you to this point has taken me on the greatest spiritual journey of my life. I’m stronger, better, kinder, and softer than I ever was before you. You will continue to grow and change, but the pleasure of getting to raise and know you is all mine. Maybe I got the earlier part wrong. Maybe God entrusted you with me. Your existence continues to make me the best version of myself.

 

003
Now, we await the arrival of your little brother or sister and you call it “our baby.” Like the family has collective ownership. I think it’s the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard and I can’t wait to see you take on your role as big sister. I’m not delusional enough to think that the two of you will be sunshine and rainbows all the time, but I look forward (with a moderate amount of anxiety, honestly) to the new dynamic of our family. You already love this baby and your influence will strongly shape the person he/she turns into.
I need you to know that even though today is your birthday, I get the gift. The gift of coming this far with you and the hope of traveling much further. Even though you won’t be an only child anymore, you are my firstborn. The impact you have had on my life thus far is immeasurable. That impact is yours.

DSC_0105
Daddy and I love you more than words could ever say and we wish you the best birthday a 4-year-old could ask for.


Always yours,
Mommy

Country Blues: A Journal Entry

I’m not having a “rainbows and sunshine” kind of day. Literally and figuratively. For one, it’s cloudy, windy, and a random raindrop can be felt when you walk outside. I love the rain, but today it’s only lending to my melancholy because I’m having an “I feel isolated and miss my family/friends” kind of day. To tell you I didn’t have these kinds of days from time to time would be dishonest. And even though I keep this blog lighthearted and fun, let’s be real here: Life is not always so. There are things I want to do, people I want to see, favors from long ago  I want to return that are not always possible because I live a good distance from where I’m needed sometimes. When in these moods, I try to give myself a pep talk that goes something like this: “It is what it is, Breauna. You are where you are. You are way out here because that’s where God wants you–for now or forever. You can’t always save the day. You just have to do the best you can do.” And then I do my best to remember the wonderful perks that arise out of my current circumstances:

1. I am far away. I’m far away from all the bad things that come with city life. I’m far away from family and friends, but that just makes the time I do get to spend with them that much sweeter. I treasure it because I don’t get opportunity to take it for granted.

2. I get to stay at home with my daughter. I get to sit in the living room floor and play board games. I get to teach her. If my husband didn’t dairy farm, I don’t know that I would have the opportunity to do all of that  and I feel that it is so important. On top of that, when I’m needed somewhere, I don’t always have the ability to get there quickly, but at least I have the opportunity to get there. I wouldn’t even be able to entertain the idea if I worked.

3. Not only do I get to stay at home with my daughter, but I get to see my husband on and off throughout the day. Once in awhile, he might have time for a project I have in mind and we get to work on it together. Every bit of progress around here is ours and there’s reward in that.

4. A look out the window is to see the glory of God and His great blessing. The pastures, the hills, the flowers, the cattle, the buildings that help my husband provide for us like he does… The list goes on and on. Living off the land and relying on nothing but hard work and faith brings a person closer to God. It has for the both of us and I hope that it can only rub off on Peanut, as well. We’ve hit our hard times in farming, but the blessings far outweigh the troubles.

5. A man doing something he loves, knows, and is good at it is something to see. My heart swells knowing that the farmer finally feels like he’s doing what he was meant to do. I said earlier that “I’m where I am because that’s where God wants me to be.” Well, the same can be said of my husband and… wherever he goes, I will go.

6. I wouldn’t have opportunity to write about country life if we didn’t live in it.

7. I would never have known that I really enjoyed photography because I would never have had the opportunity to play. Country life inspires me. It makes me want to take the pictures. And the pictures make me want to write the stories.

8. We’d probably never have a Blue Heeler named Banjo if we lived in the city. For one, they need a lot of space. Two, his name just wouldn’t make as much sense. I remember the first time the farmer told the staff at the feed store why his name was Banjo: “Breauna named him. Pretty sure she thought there were some scenes reminiscent of Deliverance down here.” I wanted to crawl in a hole. Fortunately, they thought it was quite funny.

I know I’m leaving all kinds of things out, but I already feel better. Hopefully, some of it inspires you to remember what your blessings are on a “down” day, even though they might be different than mine. In fact, leave me a comment. What helps you on a melancholy day? What are things you wouldn’t get to experience if your circumstances were different?

Thanks for the therapy session. 🙂

Breauna