Taite’s 8!

ED9A2674This week we celebrated Taite turning 8!

Its always hectic this time a year and I often times feel bad that Taite has to celebrate his birthday a week before Christmas. I truly have debated throwing him half birthdays so that he can have a fun summer birthday party like his brother Caleb. We celebrate Travis’ birthday in December as well (the 9th). So between those two birthdays and Christmas, its always busy this time a year.

Taite at 8 is full of humor and hugs. Although he is getting older this cutie loves loving from his mom and even dad. He has always been so affectionate and I love that about him.

For Taite’s birthday we kept it simple. Travis’ oldest sister Tracy was in town, her 3 girls and his dad. So we celebrated with them. Had cake/ice cream, a meal of Taite’s choice (which happened to be spaghetti). We also took Taite roller skating.

Taite at 8 is in 2nd grade.
Has done great with school this year. Learning to read better, entering the realm of harder math :) – and is always fascinated with a fun science experiment. He still is so athletic. Loves to climb, dig in the creek and is almost always with his brother Owen. Those two are like two peas in a pod. So cute.

Below are a few photos from his day.



His little brother Reed watched on the side lines.


The little camo fleece Reed has on reminded me so much of Taite many years ago wearing the same jacket.

Here’s a flash back.

Clifford Rider

Him and Reed look so much alike!

He looks guilty...




Travis’ 3 nieces skating together



Aunt Tracy loving on Reed.


We found some skates to fit Reed too- he insisted he could do it on his own though, which resulted in a melt down later.

Sure was cute while it lasted.





Loved seeing him so excited over his little minecraft man he got.


Happy Birthday again Taite. We love you!

Cashew Milk? – Banana Bread

Back when I lived in NE NC. I had a friend who’s children were allergic to Peanuts, eggs and dairy. Their families sensitivities to food really opened my eyes to the struggle that can bring. I really cannot imagine what she goes through looking for specific foods for her children to eat. Although I suppose that is her normal. :)

One of the things I would find hardest to deal with in the realm of allergies, would be dairy. My family consumes SO MUCH dairy…. we go through about 4 gallons a week! Between baking, bottles for Reed, cups of milk for breakfast, recipes calling for milk, etc..etc… our family of 6 can rip through some milk.

I though have never been a huge dairy person. Besides cheese, I consume very little milk. When I was pregnant, I remember not wanting to drink milk because the idea of consuming something that came from a cow’s utter grossed me out. Am I alone in that weirdness? haha…. I had some weird tendencies and anxiety issues during my last pregnancy and that was one of them.

So entered the milk alternatives.

I wasn’t keen on the whole “soy milk” idea.. so I turned to almond milk. Almond milk works GREAT and I have never had any issues with it at all. My mom in fact (a vegetarian) drinks only unsweetened almond milk. It is a great milk alternative for those with dairy intolerance or allergies.

cashewmilkRecently however, I was introduced to a new milk by SILK (who also makes almond milk and soy). This milk is Cashewmilk!

Here are some details as to what you get with Cashew Milk.

• 50% more calcium than dairy milk*
• Lactose-free
• Dairy-free
• Cholesterol-free
• No high-fructose corn syrup
• Plant-based
• Silk Cashewmilk is verified by the
Non-GMO Project

• Responsibly produced
• Free of gluten, soy, casein, peanuts, egg and MSG*
• No artificial colors, flavors or preservatives

Because I do not drink milk plain, like in a glass… I asked my husband to drink it and tell me if he thought it was similar to cow’s milk for him. He said it was not in the sense it had a nutty aftertaste. He did say however, if he could not drink “cow’s milk” – he could see where this would be a great alternative.

I also let me kids try this. They did not like it plain (again because it was not something they were use to). They did however drink it up without a second thought once I added in some chocolate :) I dont think they could tell any difference at all. It is very rich and creamy.

This also worked so well with my banana bread recipe. Feel free to try the recipe below with the Cashew Milk or milk of choice. You’ll love it!

Banana Bread using Cashew Milk


  • 3 C. freshly milled whole grain flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/3 C. honey granules or sugar
  • 1 1/2 stick unsalted butter softened
  • 3/4 C. Cashew milk with 3/4 TBS lemon juice (turns it into a sour milk aka buttermilk variation)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 ripe crushed bananas
  • 3 eggs


  1. In medium sized bowl mix together all your dry ingredients (except the sugar).
  2. In a larger bowl take your soft butter and mix it with your sugar until blended into a paste.
  3. Then stir in your eggs into sugar mixture.
  4. Add in your Cashew Milk, vanilla... and mix well.
  5. Then add in your 3 ripe banana's (smashed).
  6. Once that is mixed together add in your flour one cup at a time until everything is blended into a thick batter.
  7. Pour into your loaf pans (I used two small loaf pans, I believe they are half pound loaf pans). This recipe will make 2 of the small loaf pan sizes or one large loaf pan.
  8. Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until tooth pick comes out clean.
  9. Enjoy! :)
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banana bread

So, if you are in the market for a dairy free milk… keep an eye out for Silk’s Cashew Milk.

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.


boba carrierPopping in to say hello and to also say, bye haha, for a week or so. I have family coming into town Monday… so inbetween attempting to make my home some what presentable… (its not always put together, promise). I also took on another job for Boba. Yesterday I braved the cold, as well as all the awesome models and my friend Charlene, to photograph from 11am-5pm. The 1st few sessions by far were the coldest. I think the temp. on my phone said 34F? Brrr. So chilly. My hands were so numb I had trouble buckling the carriers on the models.

To add to the task of a busy week, Reed came down with a bug. We have thankfully avoided most colds floating around right now. Many of my friends kids have had the flu and nasty stomach bugs. We have had zero colds… until Yesterday haha. Of course, on a day I had to be gone ALL day and a day my husband worked, we had a sick kid. Reed had a fairly high fever…. no other symptoms but very cranky. So Travis had to use a sick day… which was fine (He hasn’t used any in like 2 years). Reed seems better today, fever has broke, but he woke up covered in poo. TMI. So gross. He has been extremely fussy and very easily annoyed :) – he also is cutting two year molars right now. Which may explain the bug? who knows.

So between the craziness of work, the boys, some home school (we’ve been slack), cleaning… sickness and my lower back giving me a fit… the realm of blogging is going to take a hit.

All in all though, can I just say how thankful I am for work? It is hard to balance motherhood with work…. and yes it was cold yesterday, but I am thankful for the ability to do what I do. It really is fun and I do enjoy it. Minus the cold :-D

Thankful for my husband SGT being flexible as well and allowing Travis to stay home with his kids. Was a help for sure.

November Favorites

SO behind on blogging >.< – but thought I would do a November favorites list real quick.

brushes1. Still loving Root Pretty’s mineral make up. Like I mentioned last time, I have tried MANY mineral make ups. I must admit, im very impressed with theirs still. I wear Golden Tan. If you contact them they can help you pick a shade. Oh and they have samples, so you can try a few shades out first before buying a full size shade. For those curious the brushes I use. I am using REAL TECHNIQUE Brushes that I found on ebay for like $12.99 (the entire set). Love them. [note: I am not an affiliate for root pretty, although Id love to be!]

2. Loving the Electric Blanket Throw I found at our local walmart. $19.99 – and well worth every single penny!! I have used that thing every night since I bought it and cant imagine getting into bed without it now :) – it works great and isnt to huge that it bugs Travis (who is always hot, har har har).

3. I have been diffusing Christmas Tree from RMO non stop this month. Got to admit, that is a favorite of mine right now in the essential oil world. Also my coupon DREAWCHRISTMAS at checkout and save $2.00 off that oil blend. You can also use that same coupon on their Ginger Spice or Candy Cane blends. (Expires end of December 2014)

4. Loving Cardigans! Aliesha from Feathers in our Nest sent me an email with a few “dress up” ideas – cause well, I lack a lot of fashion sense haha… I need all the help I can get. I went thrifting the other day with a friend and found some awesome Cardigans! One was GAP Cashmere, flawless condition for $2.00.

5. Trader Joes Pumpkin Butter – if you live near a Trader Joes go get some before they sell out. Its a seasonal thing they sell… oh I love how it smells!! I keep it in my kitchen and when I feel like my hands or arms get chapped, I put that on. Never gets old.

boots6. Walmart’s Levi Skinny Jeans - I was in the market for some new skinny jeans… and tried a lot at Thrift shops with no luck. I was at Walmart getting some things with my mom before thanksgiving and saw those. Tried them on and was very surprised at how well they fit. Great rise and very soft denim, but not to soft. Very impressive for walmart jeans :)

7. My new Croft and Barrow Boots. I got them on sale for $24.00!! such a steal. I think original price tag was high 60’s. Very well made and fit perfect. They came from Kohls.

8. New Playdo Recipe I got from my friend Nichole. A mom of 9 ;-) – Ive tried a few playdo recipes, this is my fav!


Here it is:

Easy Playdo


  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 2 tsp. cream of tarter
  • 1 Tbs. oil
  • 1 cup water
  • a few drops food coloring (I put like 6+)


  1. Throw all those ingredients together (seriously, just throw them in no particular order into a non stick pot).
  2. On Medium heat stir everything together (including the food coloring) until blended... as it heats up, it will thicken.
  3. Once mixture thickens and begins to stick into one big giant blob, remove it from heat and then place blob onto some wax paper.
  4. Once cool, knead til soft and you are done! :)
  5. Store in ziplocks or air tight rubbermaid containers. Enjoy!
  6. Oh and if you want to get snazzy, add in some drops of your fav. essenital oils. I did this and my boys actually didn't like it haha, they said it made the play do smell unusual. So for me, that wasnt a hit... but you can do that, if you want.
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That is it for this month’s favorites! :-)

Comment if you like these kind of post.

I have a few post I want to do soon. One being a video showing you all my favorite iPad APPS :) – that will take some effort tho, but I do plan to do it soon. Hopefully.

I got a busy week shooting more photos for Boba the 11th and 14th… and I also have a portrait session the 10th and Travis’ 38th bday (oh baby!) will be tomorrow. So, yea, its busy here haha. Plus we have family coming in next week, so some where inbetween all that, I have got to get my house in order. Not to mention, home school the boys. ~_~ – I get a wee tired thinking about it all at once haha. Blessings.

Dwelled Friendship

ED9A7250Many months ago. I would say around 8 months ago…. Travis was put onto a new shift at his work. Prior to the switch in hours, he would work from around 1pm-midnight every 5 days and then off two days. The huge difference in his schedule vs. other normal jobs, was not only the hours but also the off days. His job switched off days every 3 weeks…. and then rotated days. He rarely had weekends off…. and having him away at night for me, was very difficult.

You all who have read my blog know that :)

He thankfully got put onto day watch… which means he is at work from like 6am-4pm most days….This was huge for me and helped me A LOT… I felt a lot less secluded from the “norm” of routine as a home schooling mom… I felt the hours he was given helped me to function better and relate more with those around me… since he was gone when all the other peoples husbands were gone. I can’t even begin to tell you how ALONE I felt when he worked nights…

No one EVER wanted to do anything with me or my boys in the evenings… any time ladies planned “nights out” I couldn’t go, because I had no husband there to watch my kids… and Travis very rarely had weekends off or fridays off… so any time there was a church get together for couples in the evenings, I would have to go alone. It was not fun… I found myself very depressed over it.

Travis’ new schedule as amazing as it was for me over all, the one con was that he had to work Sunday Mornings now… He only gets Sunday Mornings off like every 6 mo… so for example this year he had part of sept/oct off on sundays, but wont have Sundays off again until almost summer!

The church we attend here… that you all know has been unreal amazing for our family. Who took us in when we had no place to go…. sadly does not have evening worship any more… I use to be a bit anti-Sunday night service when I was a Pastors wife. I never really appreciated that service until we were out of the ministry and placed into different situation. I now have a new perspective and am a huge supporter of churches that offer Evening worship still :) – while it may seem outdated to many, and pointless… it can and very much helps those families out who don’t have the normal schedule or routine as most. Also those with really young kids… I am sure can relate to not wanting to get up super early on a sunday… and would rather go in the evening. Amen? :)


So when Travis started his Day Watch schedule… we began the search for a church in the area that offered evening worship. We tried A LOT. I think we tried at least 5 churches… Some were just not our style… others were really cool, up to date but seemed to lack in the area of depth in the sermons…. It was a struggle to find a church we felt a connection with and I know that a big part of that was because First Baptist is and forever will be a home to us… so having to look elsewhere to worship, when we love our church so much and Pastor Johnny, for both Travis and I was hard.

I am so thankful though that we kept looking… and God provided a small new church plant for us to discover. The church is called Sojourn. Their Pastor Trent is similar in age to Travis… and his wife Emily was very sweet. We enjoyed the worship and laid back style… and even better was the fact this church did not meet in the morning only at night. So their evening service was full… and they had a great children’s program set up… and snacks for the kids upon arrival. Was very homey and engaging. Our boys LOVE it. They always ask us now “Are we going to the small church?” :) – haha – which isnt an insult. Those who know what First Baptist looks like here, will get that. Any church compared to it, is small. :)

ED9A7272So we have been going there for a few months now. One sunday while there, the Pastor encouraged the ladies to attend a new bible study they would be starting for the women. His wife would be the one leading.

Initially when I saw the invite to this, my first thought was.

Why Bother.”

I knew our time here in this area was limited. I just felt it… and I just wondered if it was worth it. Why get involved with anything else? Why get to know new people in a close way, when I would have to leave again?

During this same time I really began to struggle in the area of friendship over all.

With all the job hour changes…

The inability to feel or be connected to many of the groups we were previous a part of… I really began to feel that sense of hopelessness in the area of strong friendship…

Satan really fed me a lot of lies during this struggle… at times Id just tell myself over and over, no one really cares about us, otherwise they’d come see us… Why am I always the one to make the plans….

Yet, as I looked at my cell phone I had 8 txt messages from a friend Candra…. or 2 missed calls from my best friends Shannon back in NC.

I dwelled in self pity a lot and I know that my dwelling there and growing in my insecurity and bitterness made me push people away.

I know too that my dread of another move… yet knowing we had to move, also caused me to not try… trying felt to hard. Even though we have not gotten a confirmation on the upcoming move, I felt little by little, that parts of me no longer were here. As if I was mentally preparing myself again, for another change… and a new life. Which can be exciting but if im honest, its hard too. Even though I know God is moving right now in this process….

For me though, with friendship. I often wondered. Would they care if I moved?

Many didn’t when we moved other times.

I would constantly replay over and over in my mind friendships in my past, that I poured so much into, yet after another move, that was it. An email here, a random facebook comment there… and that was about all that became of things. Could have been my doing. Could have been theres. Whatever the case, it wasn’t easy… and I truly mourned friendships that were broken for a long time… and still do at times.

So, when I saw that bible study invite and I didn’t want to go.

In fact I told my friend Shannon about it…. and she encouraged me to go and said “Had you not gone to the home school field trip many years ago, we would have never met.” A field trip group which btw, I never attended again after that one trip. I went to that single field trip and met the most amazing friend and to this day we talk daily. Id consider her a sister we are that close. Id adopt her kids if something ever happened to her. That close.

I would think back on the time I put myself out there as a photographer in NC… and went to a “photographers christmas party” where I knew NO ONE… and ended up meeting so many amazing photographers, some of whom I grew closer with than others… and one in particular that is still very much a part of my life today… that friendship would have never been, had I not stepped out and put forth a little effort….


God I firmly believe uses friendships in a way to refine us… and while some friendships may be short…

Some may be deeper than others.

Some may be hurtful and cause bitterness at times….

I have learned over these last few months that its worth putting forth effort…. and while I am far from perfect in that effort… and I do find that I can only pour so much if it is not poured back…

ED9A7291I am thankful despite my doubts… hesitation. My negative dwelling.

That I went.

God was able to use that small bible study group to teach me a lot… and while I may not be best friends with these ladies… I am very thankful to have met many of them and gotten to know them. They were each able to touch me in a way and for that I am thankful.

It was a great reminder to me, to always be genuine… to be transparent…. and to be open for God to do a work.

So to the ladies at Sojourn. Thanks for letting me get to know you :)


To the many others I have become friends with over the years…. and for whatever reason we don’t talk. If you happen to read my blog. Know I love you. I have very few friends to this date that I dont still love dearly, even if we haven’t spoken in years.

Thankful for the ladies of City of Refuge… ladies who taught me how to open up more… That group too was used in a way I needed so much. God used a bunch of broken, curse word flying, jacked up Pastors wives (I included lol), to minister to me in a way that I cannot even fully express.

God is amazing… and Good… and there is just so much to be thankful to Him for… I could write page after page about things I feel so blessed to have, all because of a loving Lord who cares for me.