Sunday, November 21, 2010

A Very Special Day of the Year, November 21st

On this day 16 years ago, on a beach in Cozumel, I married my best friend and soul mate.


Time has definitely changed our appearance but our feelings have only grown stronger. Reflecting, we have had bumps, laughs, tears and lots of fun. I am truly blessed in my life.


We are like wine, we just keep getting better with age. Or, so we like to say that, to keep a positive outlook on aging. I pray that we continue to have fun and love life together for the next 50 years.

Another reason this date is exceptionally special is because it is the day we gave life to a beautiful set of twins. What a great anniversary gift. They were 5 weeks premature and had to spend seven days in NICU but we were blessed with healthy babies. Even scarier for us was how we were going to take care of them. They were so tiny and seemingly fragile.


Big Brother & Sisters were a tremendous help! I don’t know how we would have survived without them. They were nervous, anxious and a little jealous at the thought of us having another baby, let alone two at once!


But, the sibling bond began the second they heard two heartbeats. We all used to sit around the couch daily and the kids would take turns with the doppler on a hunt to find the twin’s heart beats.

The day the twins were born, all of my children were there. And, I will never forget something my Ob/Gyn said to me, after being introduced to my family and observing our interactions in the room, during labor. He told me he had never seen a bond like we had as a family and it was apparent how much we all loved each other and this was going to be a great day! He told me I was extremely blessed. Of course, it made me cry to receive the greatest compliment of my life.


It didn’t take us long to figure out how to take care of such a big family. Jeff and I found a balance between babies and teenagers and I think we did a pretty good job.

I cannot imagine what our lives would have been like if we had never made the choice to have another child. These twins have been a blessing to all of us. They make us laugh. They make us want to pull our hair out at times, well, actually a lot of the time. They keep us young and they keep us a tight family.

I have a couple of wishes and desires for my life. One would be for time to slow down. I do try to stop and smell the roses but it still just moves too fast. I cannot believe 8 years zoomed by so quickly.


A couple of days ago, a friend said to me, “you have a great life. It seems that everything you have ever tried to do, you have been successful and that you have never really had any hardships.” This comment made me really think about how he gathered that impression and then I realized what it was. Jeff and I both together and individually have had hardships. But I believe why my friend would perceive otherwise is because we have always chosen to look at the lighter side of like. If it was broken we fixed it but we didn’t let it ruin our day. If it wasn’t working, we changed it and if it still didn’t work, we changed it again.

So my other wish, is that all of my children grow into loving adults, husbands, wives & mothers and fathers. That they have a friend who would say to them, what my friend said to me. That they learn that loving and laughing is better than sulking and crying. And that they realize life is truly what you make of it!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Trip to American Girl Doll Store

Hillarie & Pete adopted a beautiful girl named Emily. This was the first weekend we got to meet her. I wanted to make sure it was memorable for her so I decided to buy her a set of Bitty Baby boy/girl twins and Aunt Catherine wanted to get her the double stroller.

I couldn’t wait for her to arrive. Hil had told me so much about her. I was so taken back by how tiny she is. She is a perfect little peanut. As soon as she arrived, we hopped in the cars and headed to the American Girl store.

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Emily is wearing one of Elli’s dress up outfits. She didn’t want to take it off, so we let her wear it to the store. She and Elli bonded very quickly.

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Emily really has no idea where we are or what we are doing. She has no clue what is on the other side of those big doors.

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When we first walked in, she was so overwhelmed all she could do was point. We finally got her to the baby section and she found a stroller to play with. She loved pushing the stroller around the store.

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Emily played with every doll in her reach.

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Emily took all of their hats off and Elli would come behind her and put them back on.

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Here are the girls with their dolls. I asked Emily what she was going to name the girl doll and she said , “Elli.” I asked her what she was going to name the boy and she said, “Boy.” The sales lady & I both got a kick out of that. I was expecting her to say “Kai.”

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It looks like Boy is giving Emily a kiss.

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Elli got a new outfit for her doll.

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The girls with their loot bags. Notice the brown box. This was the stroller. Emily could not understand why she couldn’t have it out of the box and push it around the store. We kept telling her we had to wait to get home and put it together.

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Emily had to ride with both of her babies in her seat.

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As soon as we got home, she and Uncle Jeff put it together and afterwards, very rarely would you see Em without it!

What a great trip!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Dreaming of Horses

It has always been a dream of mine to have horses. I wasn’t sure how, when or where I would have them, but I knew, one day, I would have my own. Aunt Catherine shared this same dream. Considering she moved her home to the farm, she has a better chance of figuring out how to have a horse. She purchased one a few years back, a beautiful Paint that she named Shadow. Shadow was never really trained for riding and has been grazing on the farm ever since.

Aunt Catherine and I often talked about how we would like to have a couple of horses when the kids were older. With them being older, it would be easier for me to leave them at home and be able to take trips with her around the country to go trail riding. We talked of carrying tents and supplies in saddle bags and heading off into the mountains. The dream didn’t seem unachievable but it did seem that it would be a long way off.

One afternoon I got a call from Aunt Catherine, asking me to talk her out of buying some horses. Uncle Jerry was driving a bus for Waco Transit and had met a woman with horses that she wanted to sell. There were 2 Paints, (a stallion & a mare) and a Quarter horse (a bay mare). He thought it would be a good idea to buy them but she was unsure that she could handle them and also worried about having more untrained and unbroke horses.

It is funny how life works some times. I had just received an unexpected bonus from work and so did Jeff. Between the two of us we had enough money in bonuses to buy all 3 horses, transport them, vaccinate them & train them. After thinking about it over night, Aunt Catherine decided she wanted to purchase the Paint mare and that I could purchase the other two and keep them at the farm. I was so excited, I jotted down the number and called the horse owner right away and made arrangements to drive down the following day to meet the horse.

The small farm was very run down and the horses were in very weak fences with little grass. The first thing I noticed, though, was how beautiful they all were. Instantly, I bonded with the stallion. We stood and stared at each other for the longest time and I just felt an instant connection with him. While, I was enamored with all of them, there was just something about him.

The horse owner explained that she was unable to care for them anymore and that she had been turned into the state by her sister for neglect. She was issued a warning. Considering her health issues were consuming both money and time, she decided it was best for the horses to sell them quickly.

We purchased the three horses that day. We made arrangements with a family friend, Spring to transport them for us. Aunt Catherine and I knew it would be a lot for us to handle since we have very little experience, the horses have no training, and were in poor condition, but together we would be successful.

20100412_austin_trip_0025 This pictures shows the poor condition Abby was in the day we brought her home. All of the horses coats were in bad shape because they had not been wormed in a very long time. Their ribs were showing and they just looked depressed.


This is Cheyenne, formerly named Stormy. I decided the second I saw here that her name would be changed. I wanted names that we could relate to and she just looked like a Cheyenne to me.


This is Waco, formerly Dandy Don. That is definitely a name that had to be changed. Such a masculine looking horse needed something a little stronger. I tossed around lots of names and decided I wanted something that represented the farm or my family. We settled on the name Waco because this is where our family is really rooted.

After getting the horses home, we worked on grooming them a little bit and trying to get them acclimated to their new surroundings.


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Here I am with Cheyenne.2010_March 128 Aunt Catherine is giving Waco kisses.


The very first task at hand, once they were home to have the vet come out, perform a Coggins test, vaccinate them and castrate Waco. It was interesting to watch the castration procedure and I took lots of pictures. Of course, they are graphic and would not make a good Blog. In this photo, the doctor is documenting the procedure. We all got a kick out of seeing him sit on Waco like a chair.

Waco’s procedure went without incident and he was soon up and walking around. It would take another month to 6 weeks before the testosterone would be out of his system. All of the horses passed their Coggins test, thankfully. We were unaware that you are not supposed to buy a horse without being first presented with a Coggins certification. This is a disease to horses that is much like AIDS to humans and it is highly contagious. If one of our horses had it, they would have to be put down immediately. In addition, all horses within a 5 mile radius of our farm would have to be tested. Because the Coggins testing is so rigid there hasn’t been an incident reported in this part of Texas for many, many years. We were still nervous. Thankfully, they were all just fine.


Once we were sure we were Coggin’s free and everyone had their shots, we sent them off to training. They would stay in training for 6 weeks. It was a long process and we were anxious to get to ride them.


This is Cheyenne in training. Look how healthy she is.


Abby has gained around 100 pounds and still has another 100 to go but such an improvement can be seen here.


Here I am on Waco. He doesn’t want to go very fast but he is progressing.


Kai riding Cheyenne after she came home from training.

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This is one of my most favorite photos of Waco. Compare it to the picture above and you will notice that his ribs are no longer showing.


Cheyenne and Abby are much healthier too. They all still need more training and we will tackle that next spring. Then we will hopefully be trail riding before the end of the riding season. Today, the horses have free roaming all over the farm and visit the river frequently. Letting them roam has completely changed their personalities. They act like loving and affectionate dogs, rather than horses.  

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Having Fun With A New Camera

To begin, my Nikon would no longer focus. After two trips to the camera shop and then finally sending off to Nikon, I learned that it would cost much more to have it fixed than to buy a new one. I instructed the camera shop to have the camera sent back and not to fix it. I was determined to pick it up from the store because I did not want them to be able to repair it and sell it out from under me.


In the meantime, Jeff’s friend from work gave us a really good deal on a professional SLR digital camera and we took him up on the offer. Soon after, the camera shop I chose, indicated Nikon mistakenly fixed my camera. So now I sit with a mediocre camera and a good professional SLR. I decided to keep both and got a good deal from the camera shop for mistakenly fixing my camera.


This post is merely about getting used to the new camera and the things I find beauty in. 

Beautiful bright green moss growing on a log at the camp site after a heavy rain.

A moment where I caught Elli and her daddy between the trees swimming in the river. I love how she is looking up at him and he is reaching out to her and they are unaware that I am watching.

Often times we cook hot dogs down at the camp site.

This is one of my favorite photos of all times. Kai looks on as PopPop shows him his gun. Kai is mesmerized by my dad and I can only imagine the thoughts that are running through his mind. Rudy the lab adds the perfect southern boy-to-man touch. Simply priceless and definitely a shot I will blow up and put in my house.

Elli at the Clifton rodeo. With all of the commotion, I wonder what she is thinking, quietly to herself.

This is Waco after gaining weight and getting to a much more healthy state. He is just so beautiful. He is a Medicine Hat Paint. Medicine Hat is used to describe the ears. It looks like he is wearing a hat. Paints with these types of markings on their ears can have no connecting Black/Brown and they must have at least 4” of white all the way around.


The Cherokee Indians felt this type of horse was a prized possession. They are rare in their markings and there are myths that indicate riders were invincible while riding a Medicine Hat. I am not buying into that myth. This is considering while riding, Waco became spooked and he ran me into a tree. I suffered a pretty nasty bruise on my arm for approximately 2 weeks.


Maybe the “invincibility” just indicates no death with riding?

The barn that has been standing on the farm for over 100 years. We are trying hard to restore it, but it will take a lot of time and money.m The inside is very solid and we actually use the stalls for the horses. The wood work on the inside is amazing. If the walls could talk I would listen for days!

Kai is looking at some cattle during a Rodeo in Clifton.

In this shot, I am just playing with the camera and snapped one of Elvis traveling in the car on the way to the farm. I thought the picture looked interesting.

I have always loved cows and I enjoy taking pictures of me. Aunt Catherine finds this very odd. I am not sure why, but there is so much character in their face. I always wonder what they are thinking.


In this picture we are at the Rodeo in the barn looking at the “show” cattle. These two were head to head. I am not sure if they were mother and child or two random cows. I was just interested in how they were standing.


Yes, I admit, I find beauty in odd places but at least I look for it. Are you looking?

Texas Bluebonnets

A tradition among Texans is to take family pictures in the Bluebonnets every year. We are blessed to have so many Bluebonnets growing on our farm. I have a lot of fun taking shots of the kids.

I love the more candid photos. Often times if I just sit and watch them, I catch an amazing shot, like this one. They are the best of friends and twins in every way.


I am pretty certain that I have great subjects for my photographs. They are so patient with me and allow to photograph them many times so I can get “the” shot.

I also enjoy the beauty in the flowers.

The kids know that it is against the law to pick these flowers but since they are here on the farm, I let them pick a few. Elli thought it would be funny to stick them in my pocket so I could go to jail.

We didn’t get an opportunity this year to capture all of us together but there will be many more opportunities to come, as it is a tradition that will never die.