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. ūüôā


“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.



Things to Watch Out For on the Farm

The girls and I hopped in the truck this morning for a ride along with the farmer as he fed. I brought my camera along today because sitting in the house on these cold, drab days washing dishes, “catching up” on laundry (2 farm kids and a husband that is splattered with manure daily and I have the reel of “This is the song that never ends, it just goes on and on my friends” on replay in my head except it’s with laundry), and feeding hungry kids and a husband all at different times leaves this mama feeling a little uninspired sometimes. So, when I feel uninspired, I go out looking for inspiration. Granted, it’s a little more difficult with winter not being the most beautiful of seasons, but it always there if I’m looking. ūüôā Today, it came in the form of literally “looking.” Or maybe I should say “watching.”

The first stop on our feeding rounds is the heifers and the not-so-favorite bull.

This is Instinct. He’s two years old. Give him another year and he’ll be a muscled up, mature Jersey. Any bull is unpredictable. We always operate with caution no matter which breed of bull we’re dealing with, but Jerseys have a reputation for being extra ornery. Given half a chance, this dude will clean. your. clock. He’s a beautiful safety hazard. If Instinct were to tell you a little bit about his likes and dislikes, here’s what he would say:

“Hi, my name is Instinct, and I like my grain. Quickly empty it into the feed bunk and we’ll have no trouble here. Disclaimer: I may or may not bristle up, bellow, and paw the ground at you while you empty the feed. Depends on the day. Depends on my mood. Should you find yourself on the other side of this fence with me, my “instinct” to show you who’s boss around here will no doubt manifest itself. Drive that tractor through my field and I will exercise my right to headbutt the hay bales on the front end loader. Try…just try to put one of my lady friends in the squeeze chute and that mess of metal and I will throw down! Oh, and after I’m done with this grain, I will show you how creative I can be with feed bunk placement. I fancy metal art projects. I DON’T fancy people.”


We caution anyone that comes to the farm: Watch out for Instinct.

Shortly after, we drove through my dad’s pasture to check his beef cows.

Lot’s of new babies are being born and, that being said, you really have to watch out for little black blobs in tall grass.


We scoured the ground while driving through the field so as not to run over a calf and look what we found!

One must always watch out for hidden calves.

And then one must always watch out for mamas.


It goes back to that whole “cleaning your clock” idea. Jerseys are so used to being messed with and their natures are usually docile and gentle. Beef cows, on the other hand, can make for some entertaining stories every once in a while. For example, the farmer got chased back into his truck yesterday after trying to find out the gender of a new calf. His truck barely got out unscathed. Dents in farm trucks are a common occurrence. That mama apparently wants her calf’s gender¬†to remain a¬†secret. (SO wish I had been there and seen that!)


The last thing that we always have to watch out for are these two. They might be little girls, but they are FEARLESS. No concept of danger = turning Daddy into a nervous wreck, sometimes. But, neither one of us would trade raising them in the country on a farm. Teaching them to watch out for things…and for each other…will come.

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.



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’….


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.


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.


And Taegan-approved, to boot.


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


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


I have never seen my child this desperate.


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.


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.



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!






Winter Scenes in the Country

To celebrate the upcoming (hopefully) week of nicer weather, I decided to share some snow pictures I took one day a couple months ago. These are the things I see when out and about our farm.


Heifers… and pines. Glorious pines.


Snow-covered rocks in water like glass.


Filthy trucks caked in red dirt insulated by a layer of snow accented with a few icicles here and there.


White horses. There are few things more beautiful than a white horse in snow.


Black horses. I couldn’t leave her out.


Red horses. (More just kept appearing!)


Men carrying axes. (????)


Men breaking ponds. (Phew! I was concerned.)

Have a lovely week and a happy Valentine’s day!