Last week I had an amazing and much-needed day with my friend Nicole. Between work, family and kids I don’t remember the last time just the two of us hung out and it was absolutely perfect. It happened so sporadically and I can’t thank the Lord enough for making our open schedules and phone call happen the day before.

On Friday I dropped the girls at their Grandmas and headed to Nicole’s house. We loaded up Brandon’s truck and headed out to the beach. I am usually not a big beach person these days, having kids has made me super aware about a) Cancer and b) Sharks. Not sure why b is such a big thing but boy are they prevalent in my brain when there.

Nicole definitely pushed my comfort zone with the water and it was so worth it! We had so much fun and the day was exactly what my brain and soul needed.



I am definitely ready for round2. I saw stingy rays and a few families of dolphins came by the sandbar and put on a little show with jumps and splashing all around. It was a totally different view being farther out in the ocean on the SUP (Stand Up Paddle) YOLO board above the waterline. I could even see 2 baby dolphins just barely getting their tail above water to flap. I brought my goggles and swam in the water looking for shells while Nicole was out, and we would swap. We even went out on the board together which was fun and definitely tested our balancing skills. A beach trip has never passed so quickly. I think the only time we were out of the water was for a snack or grabbing a phone for photos. I actually got a water proof case for my phone but it’s gonna take a bit more practice learning to focus under the water.

I would love to take the girls out soon to watch from the beach. They are great sand castle builders and shell searchers :)

4 Years and a Girly Celebration

Today we celebrated Sarah’s 4th Birthday. To commemorate the event we had a small get together at our house with a few of her sweet friends. We had 4 of her closest little girl friends over for a craft and playtime. What was going to be an outside painting activity turned into homemade cloud dough inside because the weather flip flopped on us and turned really cold yesterday.

It was sweet and simple. We had goldfish, apple slices and oranges and one of her friends brought some cupcakes and a birthday banner that they made for her. We did snacks, craft and had a short stint outside while we pushed them on the swings. The girls did so wonderfully together. The idea was pretty last minute and I was thrilled to hear both families were available when I asked them earlier this week. 6 little girls, 3 moms and an almost 3-month old boy who smiled and napped almost the entire visit :)   It was such a nice way to celebrate our little girl turning one year older.

Here are some photos I took during the morning. I even got a group shot at the end which I’m so glad for because it is real and a beautiful memory for me as Sarah’s mom. Trying to get 6 toddlers and a baby to cooperate for a photo is always an ambitious goal and I love how it shows how crazy that can be :)


sarahs4 (3 of 1)

sarahs4 (6 of 1)

sarahs4 (9 of 1)sarahs4 (4 of 1)

sarahs4 (7 of 1)

sarahs4 (8 of 1)

sarahs4 (5 of 1)

sarahs4 (10 of 5) sarahs4 (11 of 5) sarahs4 (12 of 5) sarahs4 (13 of 5)

365Project (65 of 1)-3

365Project (65 of 1)-4sarahs4 (14 of 5)


We have a street down the road that I’ve always enjoyed walking. A neighbor (and his extended family) have a pasture that keeps getting new animals. When we moved here it was cows. Next they added some horses, then some goats, and most recently, donkeys.

I’m an occasional runner (in training). I practically have the couch to 5k program memorized. Or at least the first 3-4 weeks of it, I never seem to finish. One of my favorite strips to run is the area with these pastures. One of the best purchases I’ve ever made was our jogging stroller. It’s saved my sanity on probably 100’s of occasions. The girls learned to moo, neigh, baaaaa, and he-ha pretty early in life because we practice each time we go out. It’s a fun addition to our days.
I now keep extra carrots aside to take with us because we’ve learned cows don’t like gold fish, animal crackers, or cranberries. Apples and carrots though, big fans :)

I met the owner a few years ago when Sarah was a baby and we were out walking. He told me they loved the things mentioned above and sugar cubes. I don’t carry around sugar cubes, so we stick with the others. We’ve also learned that if your kid is eating a snack while standing at the fence, goats and cows will lick goldfish right of their hands and then look at you disapprovingly bc it isn’t what they wanted. Silly animals.

Here are a few photos from our visits to our four legged neighbors.


and going way back to the start…

IMG_4304 IMG_6975 IMG_7022 IMG_7442

Our Little Chicks

It’s funny how much having children can change a person. How rewarding it is to see the fruits of the hard work we put in. From the simple things like teaching manners, “please” and “thank you”, watching their individual personalities bloom from the very foundation that we lay before them. Learning and seeing how they observe everything we do. When they start to question and critique us. Want to know reasoning behind actions. The “why” behind it all. Knowing this truth has made me want to be a better person.

There isn’t an age where we begin to instill the desire for hard work into children. From the moment they enter our world they are watching our every move.

Becoming a parents means taking on new roles. One of those responsibilities is being an educator. There’s no better way to do that than letting them see us live our words. Teaching by example.

One of the ways I’ve been doing this recently is by working our home. The very surroundings that we live in and sleep around. I often joke about wanting to have a green thumb. To be able to grow things. Whether it be flowers to smell or herbs to consume. To view the fruits, or in this case vegetation, of hard labor. I want my children to understand this use and grow their desire. If one day they take it on for themselves, I will be overjoyed. Until they are at the age where they can decide whether they do or don’t enjoy working with their hands, I am going to teach them how it’s good and the many ways they can do so. Show them that they can choose to create something big from almost nothing. Use and learn skills and crafts to better our lives and the lives of those around us. I feel it’s important to know that it costs time and effort to reap rewards. This is something that bleeds over into all elements of our lives. From relationships and jobs to hobbies and schooling. We don’t always get back physical rewards when we put in hard work, but it grows us and teaches us. It shows us the ways to do things and when/how to alter methods when we see what does or doesn’t work.

I am a hands-on learner. Always have been. That fact made learning in school pretty interesting over the years. I could read a textbook ten times over and not understand a concept, but if you show me how x + y = z on paper it clicks. I don’t yet know how my children best learn, so until then I will instruct them in the manner that I know best.

Maybe that’s one of the reasons I love letting them get dirty. Encouraging them to play in the mud and dirt. Painting with our fingers and letting them taste playdoh to find out for themselves that I’m not joking, it truly isn’t worth eating. I don’t know. All I am sure about is that I have a lot of joy watching my children get excited about learning. My heart is constantly growing in new ways. Even when I see them fail. Letting them know it’s okay to not always win or have the success they were expecting. To see when they need encouragement and an extra push to try again. Or in some cases, take a break and move on to new things. Trying to find the balance that works for each of us.

Since getting a swingset in our backyard we play outside even more than before. We will start out in the front yard, watering our plants and riding tricycles and cozy coupes, to venturing into the jungle of our back terrain. A space that has a lot of possibilities. Most currently they involve digging, playing with the hose, learning how to swing, finding lizards, and watching mommy try to kill all the ants. A lot of activities that keep us busy.

I mention to Stephen, more often than he likes, how fun it would be to have some chickens. To raise the girls with some backyard “friends”. Of course I mean ones that we know are there. I’m not counting the families of squirrels, rabbits, birds and who knows what else we have on our property.

We are getting a few trees removed soon and I’ve been slowly trimming back some of the overgrowth that’s accumulated over the past few years. More land, more to mow?! Ooorrrr, more land, more space! And where there is space there’s opportunity!

Recently we got to take a visit to my friend Rene’s house. They live on a nice sized property about 10 miles from us and have some fun animals that the girls don’t get to regularly see. When I found out that there were chickens, goats, pigs and some baby chicks in that mix, I knew we had to make a visit. My friend Amanda picked us up one morning and we headed over to have some fun hangout time. Conversation for the mom’s, outdoor adventure for the kiddos. Always a great plan in my book.

After some phone map navigation we found our destination and set the kids free to investigate the open space. Another great thing about living out in the country. That’s definitely a statement I never saw myself making when I was younger. It’s amazing how much time and age changes us.

I’m pretty sure I was just as excited, if not more, about seeing, petting and feeding the animals.










Elanor & Jacob getting some proper chicken introductions!

I think it’s time to rent a goat. I’m sure it would chow down all our weed-trees a lot faster than I’m getting to them. Baby steps. One week we can try a goat and then we can work our way up to a hen or two. Maybe I should get the girls to draw pictures of baby chicks and give them to their dad. That worked for me and a kitten when I was a kid.


A Houston Wedding [day 4]

Day 4. The last of our trip. It was time to pack, load up, and head home. We did ourselves a favor and slept until 8:30 that morning. We headed down for our last free meal and loaded up the car to head out.

About an hour outside Houston we stopped and picked up some donuts. Nicole snapped these awesome shots…



We drove and only made stops for gas and taco bell. I’m not sure what exit we used for lunch and a bathroom pitstop, but it was the worst I’ve ever encountered. The sink/faucet was corroded and they had a beaten up bottle of dial dish soap to wash your hands. Then, at the taco bell up the street one of the stalls had a door hanging off the hinges, and well, it made me create a mental ‘never again’ list for interstate exits. Classy place, obviously.

During the drive Nicole and I rode in style by watching one of my childhood favorites – Mighty Ducks: D2. I love watching movies from the 80’s & 90’s and seeing how awesomely corny they are. It’s something I think Stephen finds weird, silly, and hopefully kinda cute. I don’t ever make him watch them with me, but you can be sure our kiddo’s will be raised following my cinema expertise!

We got back and dropped off the McKenzies and then headed to pick up the girls. When we arrived their reactions were beyond ideal. Sarah opened the door and was saying “Daddy! Daddy! ” while jumping into his arms and Elanor was getting super excited pumping her arms saying ‘Dada! Dada!’ I followed in behind him and Elanor practically leapt from my dads arms into mine. She immediately smiled and laughed while pumping her arms and then laid her head on my chest. It was perfect.

I didn’t realize how much I missed them until that moment. They are so amazing. I missed them like crazy, but we kept so busy doing stuff that I didn’t let myself over-think it. In case you don’t know, or have an extra amazing brain that allows you to not do so, a mom’s worst trait can be unnecessary worry. The devil is sneaky.
Our girls are amazing, and we love them so stinkin’ much.

When we got home I went ahead and started all our laundry to get it over and done with. The next morning I was unloading the dryer and I found this in the lint trap…


Nicole, I found one of our missing room keys! Turns out it was hidden inside my dryer at home the whole time ;)

That wraps up the Houston trip of 2014, Ringl & McKenzie edition. The next trip we have planned isn’t until July 4th weekend to the Lake House in Alabama. That’ll be a blast! I’m already looking forward to the watermelon and bbq. And the bacon at breakfast. Oh guys, the wafting smell of bacon… is it July yet?!?

A Houston Wedding [day 3]

Well, it’s official, I love vacation. Thankfully being a part from the girls didn’t feel as real as it was because facetime and instant texts/pictures. I sent them videos and mom and dad were fantastic at sending me some as well. It definitely didn’t feel like they were over 8 hours away from me. Thank you again, mom and dad, we couldn’t have gone on this trip without your willingness to take them in for 4 whole days. Now that my brain is thinking about it, we should probably go on another trip so Stephen’s parents can have them equal time! What do you say, mom? ;)

Back to trip recap… We are now on Saturday. The wedding day. The main reason for this fun trip. Once again, we all woke up strangely early. I was feeling nice and lazy so Nicole and I headed up to the gym and did a little workout. After feeling refreshed we grabbed some grub and headed out for another day of who-knows-what.

 The view from our room


We grabbed some fajitas for lunch, because, when in Texas, right?!




Nicole is awesome at grabbing phone shots!


Heading out to watch two awesome people get hitched



Group shots with a phone… quality stinks, but better than nothing!


The reception was at an arts bar. It was packed with all these old tiffany lamps and chandeliers.

Our awesome friends Sarah and Stephen Shaw were at the wedding and reception. It was so awesome to get to catch up and talk. They have a new baby girl, Ada, and I wasn’t sure if they’d be able to come, so when I saw them both after the wedding I was so excited. Hooray for adult time!


The reception was a lot of fun. Nicole and I danced and then Stephen got out on the dance floor, and that, friends, is a sign of true love!

After leaving the reception we headed back to the hotel and played some more cards. You think I was kidding about cards, but we don’t joke around about games. Or actually. that’s exactly what we do. That’s sorta the point.


After heading up to the room for the night we put on a movie, ‘Catching Fire’, the second of the Hunger Games trilogy. Stephen got it for me for my birthday. I watched it while everyone else slowly drifted off to sleep. It was a pretty long and fun-packed day so it didn’t take me long to follower their lead.

A Houston Wedding [day 2]

Friday started off just like any good vacation. We slept until 7 and woke up totally refreshed. Of course the fact that I automatically woke up at 7 AND felt refreshed is far from my norm. I’m telling you, those mattresses were magic.

Nicole had gone for a quick run and after she got back we all headed down to eat. The hotel had free hot breakfast and it was really good. Eggs and bacon at zero additional charge?! Yes please!

After filling up we decided to go and visit some shops and had a real relaxing time just walking around. It was so nice not having a set schedule or somewhere we had to be until that evening.



Nicole and I walked around a few girly shops and the guys surprised us with some coffee. I’m definitely a fan of venturing out and returning to a tasty beverage from a handsome man! I should meander more often.

Stephen and I were attending the rehearsal that evening and Brandon and Nicole took advantage of the alone time to go on a hot date ;)  Look at them looking all spiffy. (Spiffy?! I promise I’m 30, not 60…)



At the rehearsal


The Rehearsal dinner was at the restaurant JD and Kate had their first date. It was really nice inside and had amazing landscaping right outside all the big windows. The food was delicious, which was an extra awesome bonus!


After catching up with a lot of friends, and meeting some new people, we were dropped off at our hotel and found Brandon and Nicole hanging out on the roof in the hot tub. We went to visit them after hitting up the cookie bar and it seems a load of kids decided to follow suit. It didn’t take long until the hot tub turned into a crowded warm kiddie pool.

After heading back inside we decided to hit up the hotel lounge and play some cards.



Brandon and Nicole are our euchre partners. We love playing cards, and pretty much any game for that matter. Nicole and Stephen stomped Brandon and me. I love playing cards, a game where you can talk and goof off all at the same time.

Not surprisingly, day two of our trip was another resounding success. Rest, relaxation, lots of laughs and even more tasty food. It was exactly what we were needing.

A Houston Wedding [day 1]

A few weeks ago Stephen and I had the amazing chance to travel to Houston. Our friends JD and Kate were getting married and we made the trip over with our awesome friends Nicole and Brandon.

We left out on Thursday after dropping the girls off at my parents. We made it about an hour out of town and stopped for lunch at a bbq place in Daphne called Moes. It was delicious.




Back seat hangs with Nicole. We spent the drive chatting, watching movies on a laptop and playing a boat load of 20 questions. The drive went decently fast. The boys swapped driving and navigating. I’m definitely a fan of hanging out during a drive and having zero responsibility.


The hotel had a cookie and drinks bar from 8-10, so of course we hit that up our first night there. To celebrate turning 30 I had myself a white chocolate macadamia, and it was so good. I never buy packaged cookies and these reminded me why – nothing tastes as good as desserts straight out of the toasty oven.


We got to the hotel around 8:30 and decided to head out on foot in search of some dinner. We landed at a pizza place that was exactly what I wanted. Pizza is by far my favorite food. I have no idea why, but it never gets old. Ask Stephen, he can attest. I’m pretty sure if there was one food he’d have me limit for dinner it’d be the amazing, delicious, cheese covered delicacy of pizza.



-A photo to always remember my 30th BDay-


Nicole and I were really excited to check out the hotel, so after dinner and the cookie bar we headed to the rooftop. It was a bit chilly so the pool was out of the question but it was fun seeing all the city lights.


Sharing a room with these two was a lot of fun. Nicole and I passed out while the guys watched an episode of Star Trek.


The room was really nice and the beds were so insanely comfortable. I didn’t wake up one time the entire night. I don’t remember the last time I slept that good and that hard.

We had an amazing drive over and that awesome night of rest was the perfect start to an amazing trip.

Quarters Add Up

On occasional Fridays I attend a “swap meet” of sorts at a local church. There’s a real cool local online network for selling and buying items, and it’s unlike craiglist in that you have to be accepted into the private group and it’s for women only. Really removes a lot of the uncertainty and sketchiness of craiglist. Plus, I’m a huge fan of scoring items we want or need at a fraction of the cost.

Since having children Saturday morning garage sales no longer make the cut, so when I found VarageSale I got that chance again. Garage sales straight from my living room couch. Rain or Shine. Morning or Night. Pajama pants or normal day wear. I’m sure you are catching my drift, it’s been a helpful find and resourceful tool. Making money off items that we no longer need is a win-win in this house.

There are different ways to buy and sell items. They have multiple group meets, such as the friday one I attend, or you can do private meets or porch pickups. I’ve scored a lot of great deals and actually sold enough stuff to go on a 4 day trip to Houston and pay for everything in cash, our hotel bill included. As a stay at home mom it’s helpful to find ways to make a little extra money here and there. It has a funny way of making me feel like I’m contributing, and not spending our day to day finances. Getting the girls & myself brand new or lightly used clothing for garage sale prices, or selling our own to cover all the costs is a great way to balance out my “salary”.

Over the past several months of attending the Friday meets I have finally found the easiest way to find and exchange/purchase items. The church has a fenced in playground, so of course the girls LOVE to come with me and meet friends there. If I’m lucky my friend Sara, sister Miriah or my mom will also be there so we can take turns making our meets while the others chat and the kiddos play. It’s a pre-arranged playdate where we can make a little money and/or leave with our newly acquired goods. Plus, it means mommy chat time, which is always appreciated.

Here are some pictures from our most recent meet up. Kids in their happy place.





Little Miss Evangeline


Mom in the Playhouse


Playing House


Elanor has discovered she likes slides!


Online garage sales, you guys. It’s like ebay, but local, cheaper and if the clothes don’t fit I can resell them and instead of paying for and shipping them in manila envelopes I get to use up all my unused plastic target bags.

It takes a lot to impress me, internet, and virtual garage sales just won you a gold star.