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Edwards Apple Orchard, 2015

Dear Photography and Travel Diaries,
Nestled amongst the farm grounds in Poplar Grove, IL lies Edwards Apple Orchard. 
It is a fall destination as much as it is a tradition. 
Another free weekend lead us back to the airport, where we scored four seats to Chicago to visit family. And within that visit, Edwards beckoned.

A series: how daddy dissolves a tantrum.
*Captured by Bri*
When my MIL pointed her phone at us and said, "act lovingly," this happened. 
We have a photo just like this from when Landen was still being pushed in a stroller. And I am so happy this is one of our traditions.

*Last two photos of this post taken by LS

A Tale of Two Seasons In The Same Week

Dear Photography Diary,

This is what we came home to, a far cry from the palm trees and ocean views; but I'll take it. October does some gorgeous work with our trees and bushes. In the span of 36 hour's time, we went from the sunny, humid temperatures of southeast Texas to the crisp, cool fall colors of Minnesota.

Even so, the kids had energy to burn.

I said Yes To The Dress, again.

Dear Diary,
On Monday 10/12, I slipped into my wedding dress.

Believe me, I was so elated the 'dress I said yes to' a decade ago still fit! And, I finally got use out of the fur stole we purchased as a back-up in case the weather on our October wedding day called for something extra. (It was 85 and sunny instead!) I dressed the kids into their Sunday best (M in an old flower girl dress and L in a coordinated shirt-and-pants outfit), and my husband donned his black suit.

We drove to a nearby apple orchard (with permission from the owner to have full access), found a row of trees that had erupted in fall color and commemorated 10 years of marriage with a photo shoot by the lovely Kimberly Halverson. (She used to be a flight attendant for the same airline Nick flies for. Her talent speaks for itself, and has also done freelance work for the business Nick co-owns. Check her out here!)

She has since released a preview of the shots she took, and my reaction transitioned from laughing-until-my-stomach-hurt to feeling my eyes well up with tears. Not only did she capture the hilarious essence of our two children (who stole the show and I wouldn't have it any other way), but also the representation of what 10 YEARS meant for Nick and I. My 22-year-old self had no idea where the most important walk of my life down the aisle to meet the man of my dreams would take me, but my 32-year-old self knows - college graduations, three states, three apartments, numerous job transitions, a fresh start, two kids, 1 mortgage, plenty of traveling, 8 cars and with a lifetime of memories to go - here we are. 

I wanted to reach through my screen and hug Kim, to claim her as a new bestie and beg her to pack me into her suitcase when she embarks on her next adventure to New Zealand for the selfish purpose of seeing life through her lens. She has frozen a collection of the most precious moments in our family's story, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

... And excited to take delivery of all of the images!
Here's to the next 10 years, and beyond.

Photography :: Kimberly Halverson @studiokh #studiokh


Dear Travel Diary,

This week, I learned something about our lifestyle - it gives us the freedom to be spontaneous, to go to the airport and put our names on a list for an open seat, and to expand our horizons beyond our zip code.

This scenario also means we miss one flight, run across the terminal to attempt another, then succeed on a third (United), only to find that it has no working bathrooms for a 2.5-hour flight. Ahh yes, the joys of flying standby.

The rest of the trip was just as eventful, for which I'll let the pictures do the talking. It was my first and the kids' first time to Houston, Texas, and the experience did not disappoint.

Sun's out, buns out

This was the scene I drank my morning coffee to. Do you think I can grow a palm tree indoors?

I fell in love with the Gulf Coast and its inlays all over again, which was affirmed with a trip to Kemah, Texas. We spent an entire afternoon playing on the Kemah Boardwalk, riding it's rides, walking through its splash pad, and relaxing with the expanse of the ocean in front of us. This was another first for the kids', where land meets sea; and I would not be opposed to owning some waterfront property.

We fed stingrays. And they freaked me out! Yes, they'd really breach the surface of the tank to get food, and then splash us when a swarm tried to move at once.

On the last day of our trip, we visited NASA with our friends. Picture this: upon entering the Space Center, four excited children stopped dead in their tracks with their eyes as wide as saucers. They couldn't wait to explore the exhibits, aiming to do everything at once. Unfortunately, it meant the four adults couldn't do much reading about the exhibits, but that just means we have to go back!

We saw the space shuttle Independence attached to its 747 transport. We saw the Saturn V rocket that was used in the Apollo missions. We toured the grounds via tram, and walked through the observation hall of NASA's main research building. Inside, there is a mock-up of the International Space Station. And we learned about NASA's future - the Orion, which will soon land on Mars.

Patriotism ran high that day, and it is an amazing thing to consider what a crazy dream can lead to. It was our parents' generation who said they'd walk on the moon, which at the time seemed unfathomable. And now, the sky truly is limitless. Landen's mind, especially - was blown.

*Captured by Bri*


Dear Photography Diary,
As I work on this post, I have a Vanilla Pumpkin-scented candle burning. I have Halloween decorations up, and I have a few outdoor decorations waiting in the wings to be displayed for trick-or-treat. Fall is here. 

Quite possibly one of my favorite images of all time - taken at an apple orchard close to our house.

Although summer reigns supreme as my favorite season, I have to admit - I am so happy to live in a world with Octobers. Mother Nature paints such a beautiful masterpiece comprised of rich colors and bountiful harvests, that I am inspired to curl up beneath a blanket and a mug of coffee only to get lost in a new book. Then I remember that I too, am a Mother - and a moment's pause is rare.