Firsts at the Farm

WOW. This has been one helluva weekend, in a good way. Really, it’s been one big awesome week. We have had friends and family staying with us. Two of our best friends got married. There were so many parties, sleepovers, dinners, get togethers and baby snuggles that I had absolutely no time for posting a dang thang. Now, it’s time to play catch up because boy, oh boy do I have lots to share.

We love making everyday a little (or a lot) adventurous, but it has been slightly harder to keep up the adventures now that we have Luna in tow. No big deal though, we like a challenge. Our most recent adventures have just been a little closer to home. Zoey came to visit for about 10 days and she put together an enormous party at our Uncle Kelly’s farm.

We had twenty something people, horses, tractor rides, mac & cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, banana pudding, brownies, cookies, fruit, veggies, hummus, cornbread, dirt bikes, babies, cats, chickens, cows…everything you could possible need for a day of fun on a farm. Being Luna’s first time on a farm I did what every good Mom would do and worked all morning to put together an appropriately themed outfit. Luna’s got to learn that any activity can be fun if it includes getting a cute new outfit.

My "cowgirl" look ended up looking more "gangster"
My “cowgirl” look ended up looking more “gangster”
We weren't able to get a get photo before the overalls had to be removed.
We weren’t able to get a get photo before the overalls had to be removed.

Our little friend Parker was with us for the day too. Husband and I spent a lot of time watching him and I got a glimpse of what life would be like with two kids…busy, very busy. Parker rode a horse for the first time! Before getting on he looked a little weary at the giant animal in front of him. Two seconds after being in the saddle he was yelling “faster!” and swinging his red cowboy hat in one hand. Cutest. Cowboy. Ever.

on fence first time fast corral

Parker also learned to lasso, drive a tractor, chase chickens, play in rundown cars, scare the crap out of us and get so caked in mud that he had to be stripped down and hosed off before going home. Favorite quote of the day? “Not everyone should see my booty!” before Husband hosed him off.

driving

 

old car

 

Most of us took a tractor ride around the whole property and hunted for dinosaur eggs and giant chickens with Parker. It was meant to be fun, but I think we ended up causing a life-long fear of non-existing animals for Parker. whoops.

hayride

 

Luna's first tractor trailer ride
Luna’s first tractor trailer ride

It was a day full of “firsts”. Our friend Derek crashed on his first dirt bike ride. Steve had his first lasso lesson. Parker had his first day as a cowboy, and even Luna had her first time on a horse!

uncle kelly first horse

Even Husband managed to find something dangerous to do.

boys

We were all completely exhausted by the end of the day, but luckily only Parker had to be hosed off before heading home.

worn out
worn out

Cheers!

 

Being Homeowners

Whenever Husband and I moved in together, many years ago, we made chocolate chip cookies.

It was about 10pm, I had work the next day and for some reason fresh cookies sounded like the best most delicious idea ever.  So, we went grocery shopping, made cookies and ate them in bed while watching reruns of Friends. Doesn’t get much better than that.

As we snuggled in bed with our cookies and Ross and Rachel, I looked at Husband and said, “Being a grown-up is fun”. Husband smiled and said, “I know…when we were little and forced to go to bed early we always imagined that our parents stayed up eating cookies and watching TV. Now, I know we were right.”

And, you know what, 6 years later, being a grown-up and living together is still fun, sometimes we still make cookies in the middle of the night and we definitely still watch Friends. HOWEVER, after the sugar rush, lack of sleep and a very messy kitchen reality starts to soak in a little. Bills have to be paid, chores have to be divvied up, bad habits must be endured and fights and arguments are inevitable. We quickly learned that being a “grown-up” is not all fun.

We lived in apartments for a couple of years in Tennessee, a year in Albania and a couple of years in New York. Those years were great, but our last year in New York we were getting the itch to be homeowners. We looked for months in and out of Manhattan, but somehow found ourselves in a modern home from the 70’s right in middle of Tennessee. Our first few weeks in our new house had a familiar feeling of euphoria…

We had SO MUCH space! A 3-bedroom home in the country is basically a mansion compared to our less than 400 square feet on the Upper East Side. We had friends over all the time to eat, drink and play games (still doing that). I had just found out I was pregnant, so lots of time was spent daydreaming about the nursery and raising kids in our new home. We have a garage connected to the house, which is amazing. We basically never have to face the elements…no more carrying groceries in the rain, defrosting my windshield or slipping through snow. We have a dishwasher, bathtubs, our own washer and dryer. We also have land, which means the dog and cat can run around freely whenever they please, and if I don’t feel like taking Belle on a walk, I don’t have to! Yay for owning a house!

Now, as you may have guessed the elation of being a homeowner has started to wear off a bit. Owning an older home means that basically everything breaks, and we can’t exactly call our landlord or super to fix it. EVERYTHING is up to us. Husband and I have learned a lot about being a handy-man this year. The really big nice yard has to be kept up. There is no trash service so we literally drive our trash to the dump. We have a ladybug infestation (yes, that’s a real thing). We got mice (problem almost solved), and we have a very pesky woodpecker.

A couple of months ago we were continuously awoken by the knocking of a woodpecker that we would walk out and attempt to scare away so we could go back to sleep. One morning, while Husband was shooing the bird away in his boxers at about 7am, he looked to his right and actually saw a deer standing next to him just watching the whole spectacle. Neither the bird nor the deer seemed to care that there was a human standing there screaming and flailing his arms about. Apparently, no animals fear us.

Now that pesky woodpecker has pecked holes out of the side of our house…one more thing we need to fix. Our to-do list of things we do not actually know how to-do is very very long.

The good news is, we are mostly still enjoying it. Even as we remove every single dish from every cabinet, and scrub down the kitchen with bleach and set-up mouse traps…even as we grit our teeth and sarcastically say “boy, being a grown-up is so fun”…even when the garbage disposal clogs for the 50th time and water floods under the sink… we are grateful. Owning our house is not easy and definitely not always fun, or even affordable, but it’s ours. It’s our home together and it will be our home for a very long time.

We may not always feel grateful in the moment, but at the moment when we figure out how to fix the broken garage door, finish painting a room or learn while my blow-dryer keeps blowing the breaker, it’s awesome. Hopefully those will be the moments we remember in 20 years, and hopefully we won’t be invaded and taken over by wild animals by that point.

Cheers!

Chopping Down Our Own Tree

country cove

When I was very young we had a real tree at Christmas time, but most of my life we had artificial trees. Husband always had a real tree growing up, and once, before he can remember, they chopped down their own Christmas tree at a tree farm. Now, that we are semi-grown up and able to pick our own tree for our own house we agree that real is the way to go, and why not pick it out at a tree farm?

trees

Over the weekend, we went to Country Cove in Murfreesboro, TN to pick out our tree, chop it down and take it home. I didn’t really know what to expect on a tree farm, but it’s exactly what it sounds like…a big farm of trees. The farm was cute and complete with a souvenir shop, a fire pit, free hayrides and a wreath shop.

souvenier shop fire pit

 

There were two different types of Christmas-y looking tree to choose from if you want to go the chopping down route, or you can buy a pre-cut tree of a different species.

picking

It was Freezing and I am now unable to button my winter coat, so I was running through the fields trying to find the perfect tree as quickly as possible. I was really surprised at how small most of the trees looked. I wanted a tree that is at least taller than us. Eventually, we found a whole group of tall looking trees, but then they all looked too perfect. I made Husband decide on “the one”. I pretended to cut it down for about 2 seconds, but Husband did all the actual work.

handsaw

chopping actual chopping

I imagined us using a big ax to chop down our tree…in reality we had to use a little hand saw, but it worked just the same. After the tree fell (aww, sad) it was our Husband’s  job to drag it back to the main house. Once we got it back some young guys quickly scooped it up and got to work. The guys put our tree on some sort of shaking machine to knock off all the loose needles. After it’s turn on t the giant vibrator, it went through a contraption that wrapped it up in netting so it could travel easily on top of our car.

dragging tree shaker tree pooper

While they worked, we enjoyed the free hot cocoa and hot apple cider. Nice touch, Country Cove.

hotdrinks

The strapping young men tied the tree on top of our car. We drove home, realized we don’t own a tree stand, stopped at Walmart…and Voila! We now have a tree!

loading

 

our tree

Our tree turned out to be a 7 foot tree, so I guess they look smaller out in the field.  Now, all that’s left are the decorations.

It took us an hour to get out to the tree farm, but it was cute and fun and I can imagine this being a family tradition with kids, so I think we’ll be back. Any of you have a fun tree-getting tradition?

sunset

Cheers!

Cheers!

Family Day on the Farm

My parents stayed with us the past weekend and finally got to see our new house. It was a quick and busy trip with all the new house stuff and the gender reveal party, but we still managed to squeeze in some Tennessee fun. Saturday was spent on Uncle Kelly’s farm. Yee-haw!

the barn

Meet the farm cats, Tigger and Luna.
Meet the farm cats, Tigger and Luna.

I always enjoy a day in the farm, but this time Uncle Kelly had a BIG surprise…or a little surprise, depending on how you look at it. One of his horses had a baby! A baby horse! OMG, baby horses are the cutest softest fuzziest things ever! The Mommy horse was surprisingly chill and didn’t seem to mind all of us in her stall fawning over her baby. The baby was surprisingly calm enough to let us love all over him. His name is Shakey. He shakes and wobbles just like baby Bambi.

shakey nursing meeting Shakey

It took every bit of me to not lie in the hay and spoon little Shakey. I’m so in love!

My parents got the full farm experience. They rode the dirt bikes. (BTW, it is terrifying to know that both parents are on dirt bikes at the same time…it’s not like either of them are regular bikers.) They also got a fancy professional horse riding lesson from Kelly. They have both ridden horses many times, but Uncle Kelly has a very special way with the horses. He’s basically the horse whisperer.

mom on bike dad on bike dad on horse

Uncle Kelly showing them how it's done.
Uncle Kelly showing them how it’s done.

We had another special surprise from Uncle Kelly too. He offered to take us on a tractor-pull wagon tour of his property. He must really like my parents because this was first time I have heard anything about a wagon tour.  My Mom-in-law decided to drive the tractor while the rest of us piled in the back of a very questionable wagon.

tractor ride

About 3 minutes into the trip one of the tires actually fell off while going over some rough terrain. This did not stop the tour. We finished the next half hour while riding on three tires and one rim. It made the whole experience more exciting.  It was thrilling.

Can you spot the missing tire?
Can you spot the tire that is about to fall off?

The farmland is beautiful. We got to see baby twin calves that were two weeks old AND another baby calf that was only one day old! So many babies!

cows

There’s nothing like a day on the farm with your family to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside…and a very southern too. The fact that it’s far away from everything and near impossible to get a phone signal makes for a nice one-day getaway. I forget how sweet it us to not be glued to cell my phone and to just enjoy the people (and baby animals) around me.

my face

Thanks for the day on the farm Uncle Kelly! Be back soon to check on baby Shakey!

P.S. I'll be reviewing this comfy maternity poncho from MarieNohr very soon!
P.S. I’ll be reviewing this comfy maternity poncho from MarieNohr very soon!

Cheers!

Fair Food!

I heard there was a fair this weekend and immediately made plans to go and eat lots of fried disgusting fair food. I have been very healthy during this pregnancy…working out, eating healthy, drinking gallons of water, but I need treats ever once in a while too. Fried fair food treats just happen to be my favorite.

Yesterday, we joined my in-laws and went to the Wilson County Fair in Lebanon, TN. We ate A LOT.

A catfish sandwich…

catfish sandwich

Fried green tomatoes…

I took this after I devoured the first two..
I took this after I devoured the first two..

homemade chocolate ice cream…

ice cream

Corn on the cob, my favorite!

The picture proved to me just how desperately my hair needs to be trimmed.
This picture proved to me just how desperately my hair needs to be trimmed.

Fried peach cobbler pie…not as good as it sounds

fried peach cobbler

And the holy grail…curly fries

yes!!!!
yes!!!!

Of course, fairs in the south offer so much more the fried goodness. There are photo, art, quilting and canning contests. There are also lots and lots of animals! People come from all over the state to show off their horse trotting skills, their perfectly proportioned goats, their jumping donkeys and their prize-winning chickens. (There were tons of rides too, but who cares when there are petting zoos!)

animal shows

trying to pick out a pet bunny, which Husband quickly put a stop to
trying to pick out a pet bunny, which Husband quickly put a stop to
Baby pigs!
Baby pigs!
and I just had to hold a chicken
and I just had to hold a chicken

I did everything I could to come home with a little farm of my own, but Husband has yet to be convinced that raising chickens is a good idea. I’m certain he’ll see the lights…eventually. Now only a few more weeks until the state fair! I still need to get a funnel cake and a blooming onion!
Cheers!

Our Wildest Spelunking Adventure

The day I announced I was pregnant my Mom basically said “No caving!” along with a list of other dangerous activities we enjoy. I assured her I  would not be caving while pregnant, “I’m not crazy, Mom.” Mostly, I was sure the opportunity to go caving wouldn’t come up anytime soon. If it did, I assumed I’d be big and pregnant and unable to crawl around in tiny tunnels of mud.

Enter Sara.

While planning Sara’s itinerary I thought about caving, but decided not to mention it (hoping Husband wouldn’t think of it). It took him a total of 5 minutes to plan a caving trip from the moment the idea came to him. The fact that I am carrying his child did not phase him. Let’s face it, if everyone else is going caving, so am I! I’m still early in my pregnancy and I  promised myself I’d be extra careful and take things extra slow. After all the doctor only said NO skydiving.

We went with a group of friends that included our expert caving friend, Mike. I have entrusted my life in Mike more times than I would like to admit. We always go caving with him, and because we are clueless inside a deep dark cave we believe every word he says. So, once again we followed him into the woods in Middle of Nowhere Tennessee to the opening of a big empty cave. This particular cave, is one we have searched many times before. We call it the “water cave” because, well…it’s wet and full of water.

Mike told us that new passages were recently found in the cave, so it would be a new adventure for ALL of us, including Mike. Now, before I get into the details of this caving exhibition I want to explain that 1) It is VERY difficult to take photos in a cave. It is pitch black (except the light of our headlamps). It is wet, dusty and muddy. Plus, none of us would dare take a nice camera into a cave. 2) It is very hard to describe what spelunking is like, but take my word for it…this was the wildest caving trip we have EVER had. (Wildest, not most dangerous)

It all began when we entered down through the mouth of the cave. It gradually got darker as we inched our way over the large stones and into a cave with 6 inches of water flowing across the bottom. We have had A LOT of rain in Tennessee lately and it showed in this cave. To avoid treading into deeper water we walked along the edge of a wall lined with rope from previous cavers. It was slippery and scary, but we had each other, the rope and lots of previous experience.

entrance

deeper
You can see where the water starts here.

close-up

After the slippery edge, we crossed over the water, up a muddy wall and into a tunnel just big enough to crawl through. At the end of the tunnel we had to slip through a skinny crack head first in order to get to the next room. Believe it or not, head first was easier than feet first. Lucky for us, Husband let us use his back as a brace for each of us as we followed him.

Me and Mike looking up from the crack we slid through.
Me and Mike looking up from the crack we slid through.
Stalactite and stalagmite
Stalactite and stalagmite
We found this little guy on the way. He's proof that we aren't the only crazy people who do this.
We found this little guy on the way. He’s proof that we aren’t the only crazy people who do this.

Then, the fun arrived. In this next room was a tunnel made of mud. Not only was it made of thick slippery mud, but it sloped down hill. We all took turns sliding all the way down the tunnel getting covered from head to toe in mud. Unfortunately, we found a dead end at the bottom of our muddy slide. We had to crawl up through the mud to get out, which wasn’t hard until someone started a mud throwing fight.

the aftermath
the aftermath
"You got a little mud on your face..."
“You got a little mud on your face…”

From here, things got REALLY interesting. We searched, climbed and crawled a lot more and came to a drop-off, a drop-off over a large pool of water. Of course, Husband and one of the other guys immediately climbed down to check things out. After lots of persuading, the rest of us were convinced to follow. They managed to convince me to follow them by carrying me through basically any scary spot I refused to do by yelling, “but I’m pregnant!”

The room we dropped into was un-be-liev-a-ble. There was a waterfall in the distance that ran into the most beautiful flowing small pools of water which flowed into a very large pool of water and at the top of a huge rock was a raft! Obviously we got the raft. I mean who has the opportunity go rafting in a cave?!?! Three of us (including pregnant me) got to lay on the raft and paddle while the rest of the group had to swim in the freezing cave water. We paddled/swam to the edge of the water. We realized we could go no further and paddled back. It was a surreal adventure.

Now, freezing, muddy, wet and tired. We decided it was time to find our way out of the cave.

We didn't get any photos of the big pool or the raft because we were so preoccupied...
We didn’t get any photos of the big pool or the raft because we were so preoccupied…
These are the small pools that flowed into the large pool. The do not do the sight justice. It was beautiful in person!
These are the small pools that flowed into the large pool. The do not do the sight justice. It was beautiful in person!

Mike, of course, knew the way out, but it took more climbing, crawling and knee scraping to get there. Caving is always fun, but there is no bigger sigh of relief than when you can see the sunlight coming through the opening.

before after

Sara got a real Tennessee spelunking experience, and thankfully, she loved it. However, I think my next caving trip will be after Baby Z arrives.

Cheers!

 

The Farm

I’ve been in Nashville for a month now, and finally found time to make it out to Uncle Kelly’s farm. Zoey had plans to create her own “tool belt” for work on set and the rest of us tagged along for just good ol’ fun on the farm. Uncle Kelly, who is an expert at creating beautiful handmade leather goods,  worked hard on Zoey’s project, Husband and Dad-in-law rode the dirt bikes until they hurt themselves and I wondered around trying to break in my barely worn cowgirl boots.

Uncle Kelly working away
Uncle Kelly working away
Zoey designing her new bag
Zoey designing her new bag
My boots are so happy to be worn!
My boots are so happy to be worn!

Photo 11

Leather tools
Leather tools

Photo 15

We were also treated to lunch at the local “meat and three” which is the BEST homemade southern food! OMG, I am so hungry right now just thinking about it. Everything is buttery, full of flavor and reminds me of home (the Texas home).

Photo 1

 

Cousin Steph decided to join us and the two of us spent an hour roaming a tiny portion of the 50 acre farm and picking wild blackberries. We ate fresh berries until we were stuffed, then brought back armfuls for everyone else.

Photo 1 Photo 12

 

The rest of the day was spent loving on the animals and making my own leather bracelet.

Photo 7
Zoey and her fancy new belt

Photo 10 Photo 4 Photo 3 IMG_6902

 

Sometimes, I love being a country girl…sometimes.

Cheers!