Category Archives: Family

Celebrating 90 Years!

We celebrated my grandfather’s 90th birthday this past weekend! Thanks to my Daddy Ken, I have a completely unrealistic idea of what aging looks like. He still works out and up until a few years ago he was the one teaching an exercise class for seniors. His mind is as sharp as ever and he is in better health than many people who are 20 years younger. Also he is kind of hilarious. See below. 😉


Daddy Ken is the one who taught me how to drive. He has always been exceedingly patient with me and showered me with kindness and love. I can’t think of one time when he has ever spoken harshly to me.

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He taught me how to cook eggs in bacon grease and how to mix cereal and how to eat molasses and butter together properly. He taught me how to cut my own hair into layers so I wouldn’t look like a total ragamuffin in between my visits to see him when we lived overseas or when I was in college.

us with dk

When we moved overseas and would come back to America for visits, his home was the one place that felt like a home-away-from-home to me since he lived in the same house for nearly all my life.

the add ons{The “add ons” as they call themselves. Daddy Ken with his sons-in-law and grandsons-in-law}

He taught me about fidelity and loyalty and true love as I watched him care for my grandmother who battled cancer on and off for 20 years. And then again as he cared for his second wife, sweet Mrs. Carolin, as she recovered from a stroke.

dk and carolin

He taught me that having fun doesn’t stop at a certain age. Being silly and laughing with family and friends has always been high on the priority list.


He taught me about being a faithful follower of Christ. He leads by quiet example and it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

rach and daddyken

This is my grandfather. He is truly one of the most special people in my life. I am so very thankful for the nearly 30 years that I have spent being blessed by him. Happy 90th, Daddy Ken!

Love Rach

Marty’s Healthy Muffins

Usually when I talk about family recipes, I’m talking about ones from my side of the family simply because I learned most of what I know about cooking from my mom, my mom’s parents, and years of trial and error. But every now and then I’ll realize there is something missing in my repertoire thanks to my mother-in-law.

rach and marty

For example, she taught me to stop being afraid to cook fish. And she also introduced me to Jiffy cornbread. Which isn’t a family recipe or anything, but I always thought that I didn’t like cornbread until I tried Jiffy. Mmm!

toph and marty

And over the past few months she has been making the most delicious muffins every time we visit. Even when I was feeling especially sick, Baby Girl has loved these health-ified muffins so we’ve been making them at home as well.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (3)

Marty’s Healthy Muffins


3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1 tbsp Stevia
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup blueberries OR 60% Cocoa Chocolate Chips


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium mixing bowl mash bananas and mix in Stevia. Add beaten egg, vanilla, and applesauce and mix together.

2. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add dry ingredients to banana mixture and mix until just combined. Pour into prepared muffin tins (either use non-stick spray or muffin liners).

4. Bake 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top. Makes a dozen delicious muffins.

Marty's Healthy Muffins (1)Made with chocolate chips!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (2)Made with blueberries!

Marty's Healthy Muffins (4)Covered in butter and served with a glass of unsweetened almond milk – my fav!

The first time Marty made these for us at Christmas, I literally ate 8 of the 12 muffins she made over just a couple of days. Baby Girl had not been impressed with many of the foods I had been trying to feed her so this was a huge win for me (I had been losing weight at that point). Since then I’ve continued to love these and so has Christopher! They are moist and sweet without being laden with sugar and butter (well, except for the butter that I slather on the muffin just before eating, ha!). Served with a glass of almond milk, they have become my favorite snack when we visit my mother-in-law!

Love Rach

Family Weekend Highlights

We spent this past weekend with my family so I thought I’d share a couple of highlights with you guys.

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We picked this particular weekend to get together because it was the weekend that Beauty & the Beast was released! It was SO good! Just absolutely loved it! And yes, I cried. It was just so beautiful! Worthy of a few happy tears. The Tale As Old As Time dance scene… gorgeous! {side note: the guys went to see the Batman Lego movie and really enjoyed it as well}


This weekend also included a little dress up. 😉 This is my niece, Makenzie, in her mom’s wedding dress. You can see more of her photos here!

christopher and kenzie

Speaking of Makenzie… her relationship with Christopher is one of the sweetest things. I love how much she loves him! Really all our nieces and nephews adore him, but then he’s awesome. So it just makes sense. 😉 So excited to see him with our little girl this summer!

rae and abs

This weekend also included lots of baby related things! Lots of family hand-me-downs were given (so many sweet outfits!) and we even went shopping for Baby Girl! This little girl has so many outfits and she hasn’t even been born yet, haha! It’s no understatement to say that my family is excited! And then my sister, Abby, took photos for us on Sunday afternoon before we all left. Wanna see??? Here’s one of my favorites!


Ah, I just love this. I love the genuine smiles (because Christopher was making me laugh) and just how you can so easily see the excitement of our faces! So so sweet. I am so very thankful!

Love Rach

Celebrating 60 years!

This past weekend we celebrated my mother-in-law’s 60th birthday!

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For her birthday we decided to surprise her by gathering notes from people who love her and putting them together in the scrapbook. I’ve mentioned it before on this blog, but I definitely got lucky as far as mother-in-laws go. She has never been anything but kind to me. Always so loving and supportive. And that has meant the world to me. So putting this scrapbook together was a delight! I loved reading each note as I received them because it’s so cool to see how she has had an impact on so many people over the years.

Isn’t her reaction precious?! Ah! I just love it! I’ll be totally honest with you guys – my father-in-law (who has suffered from early onset dementia for many years) has been in the hospital a lot lately and he isn’t doing well. We have had a lot of hard visits over the past two years (especially the last year) and these past few months have been the hardest yet. Saying this sort of slow goodbye to a loved one is just heart wrenching. So bringing her this little bit of tangible joy that she can turn to over and over again in between our visits was the best way we could think to bless her right now. Seeing her reaction made us so glad that we did this for her!

We also gave her a little homemade coupon book full of things she loves to do. Her face when she saw that “mini golf” was included was priceless! We were so glad to be able to bring a little joy to her over this weekend. Happy 60th to my mother-in-law!

Love Rach

Ohio Trip

We spent this past weekend in Ohio visiting my oldest sister’s family. For those who don’t know, they live in Prague (check out this post for our recent trip to visit them there!). However, thanks to a business trip, they are hanging out in Ohio for a bit so we went up to visit them!


This is us with our niece, Katka and nephew, Marek. They are so fun to spend time with! Melissa (their mom/my sister) and I have talked a lot about parenting over the years and this weekend I started asking her oldest (Katka) what she thought of her parents parenting. It was fun hearing her perspective (turns out she thinks her parents are doing a pretty good job). 🙂

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Katka is very excited to meet her cousin the next time we see them! She loved feeling my baby bump and offering name suggestions. 🙂


My sister’s family! As always, we had a wonderful visit with them! Even though they live in Europe, I’m so thankful we’ve made an effort to see each other as frequently as we can!


We did plenty in Columbus, Ohio over this weekend (including visiting the zoo, walking around the Ohio State campus, walking around downtown, eating lots of delicious food, and playing at parks), but this is the only other photo I have, haha! We ate at Skyline Chili and it was delicious! Though, I’ll be honest, half that cheese came off before I ate it, haha! 😉


I’ll leave you with this shot from yesterday at the airport. Baby Girl has POPPED! I can’t figure out if this is because I really have grown this much or if this is the first Baby Bump photo we’ve taken near the end of the day versus in the morning. I definitely ate a lot of dairy this weekend which tends to bloat me. So I’m not sure how much of that is Baby V and how much of that is the cheese I had for lunch. 😉 But either way, Baby Girl is growing and making sure everyone knows she’s here! This is the 4th State she’s visited while in utero, but her first flight! I’m excited for all the adventures we’ll have with her on the outside too! 🙂

Do you have far-away family that you still get to see on a regular basis?

Have you had Skyline Chili? If so, did you actually eat all that cheese?! 

Love Rach

New Year’s Eve at the Lake House

We celebrated Christmas with my family over New Year’s weekend at a lake house in Alabama. It rained nearly the whole weekend so we spent most of the time chatting, playing games, and doing crafty things. The weather was dreary, but we had an awesome time together! I made a video with a few of the highlights, but first a couple of notes:

1. Christopher got a Virtual Reality Headset so most of the family tried it out including my mom and grandparents (clips included below). However the best reaction was definitely from my sister, Holly (the whole last minute of the video). I literally laugh out loud every time I watch it!

2. We have family devotional time every night with my family when we’re together (that’s the clip of us all sitting around listening to my grandfather). This weekend I was reminded once again how thankful I am that I got to grow up in a family surrounded by people who love Jesus.

Okay, enough notes, on to the video!

Happy 2017 friends! I’m so excited for the amazing things this year will bring!

Love Rach

All the Christmas Things!

I keep hearing from people that they’ve taken down their Christmas decorations already and I have audibly gasped every time, ha! To me it still feels like we’re in the middle of Christmas because we will be celebrating with my family over this coming weekend. Plus we all know I’m not taking down Christmas decorations until mid-January anyway. 😉 I’ve been terrible about updating here lately, but photography busy season is coming to a close so I will have a little more free time on my hands again. Until then, I want to fill you in on a couple of fun Christmas things that have happened over the past couple of weeks!

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Christmas parties! We went to three big parties this year and I took photos at… none. Ha! Totally got caught up in talking and didn’t even think to pull out my phone. Thankfully, I was able to snag the photo above from a friend’s Facebook from one of the parties. So there it is, proof of at least one awesome party we attended. 😉


We went to our first ever Drive Through Nativity and it was awesome! For local people: it was held by Longview Heights Baptist in Olive Branch – we definitely plan to go again next year!

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Lessons & Carols at St. John’s Episcopal is one of our favorite Christmas traditions every year! For more on why we love it so much see this blog post.

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Another yearly tradition is making cookies and delivering them to our neighbors. This year one of our teenagers came over to help us with these creations. She is super talented!

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Our church hosted it’s first ever Christmas Eve Service (except that it was a Christmas Eve Eve because of how the holiday fell this year). It was absolutely amazing. I hope they’ll do it again next year!


We celebrated actual Christmas day with my parents-in-law and you guys… it was a great weekend. Which is huge. Because of Christopher’s dad’s failing health we have made a point to visit them as often as we can over the past couple of years and most of those visits have been really difficult emotionally. So to have a weekend together marked with so many good memories was so precious to us. It felt a little like a Christmas miracle. 🙂

Have you already taken down your Christmas decorations? If not, is that coming soon?

Anyone else still have Christmas celebrations to come? 

Love Rach