67 In Articles

Happy in the Heartland


I feel quite confident if I were to summarize our trip thus far it would result in a very long post, so I’ll hit the highs and it will still be really long.

First, thanks for your condolences regarding our very long and loud trip up here. We did have a DVD player but Mr. Mouse took no interest in it whatsoever. It was only 24 hours after we arrived that I came to the conclusion that the horrific car ride was worth it. And it only took a few hours to me to realize that I didn’t pack warm enough clothes and we all were freezing on the 4th of July. Who woulda thunk it? Apparently, not me. The cool temps have been quite the respite from our 100+ degree days we’ve had for weeks in South Alabama. Our morning coffee on the porch has required sweatshirts.


My roots run deep in rural Southern Illinois. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, if you like rolling farmland, soybeans and corn— oh— and there’s oil too! The children have enjoyed running wild through the corn fields, getting dirty, spending time with family, and playing with “Mom’s” toys.

This is my dad, he’s from here, loves his farm, his windmill, his unsweet iced tea… oh, and yellow too!


This is my mom, she’s from here too.


And, so is the rest of my family. And this one-room school house is from here too. Dad bought it for $1 and had it moved 150 yards onto his property. It was built in 1940 and my parents host all family functions in it. They painted it, added lights, a new back porch and an additional bathroom. The kitchen {which was originally a library} was in it and they just added a fridge. It’s perfect for family gatherings and keeps everyone out of the farmhouse!


I’ve never lived here. Although, I’ve spent many summers here and I fully intend for my children to spend a lot of their summers here too. {pardon the picture, this is what the majority of our pictures look like if they involve more than 1 child}


Erika and I were put in charge of the “decortations”. Did you notice it was Christmas in July?


After all our hard work, Erika and the baby took a breather and I couldn’t resist a quick picture!


Nagrom was there when we decorated. Any guesses as to who Nagrom is? Anyone? Anyone?


Despite the ardous journey, Hornet won me over and I took a few pictures of him too. He’s seen here with cousin McKenzie who I wish lived next door to me.


Following the 4th of July fesitivities we had a little shower for Erika and Baby Girl!


The men were in on it too and Justin won a shower game. He said he never knew there were games at showers. The game had to do with animals and I suspect this is why he won. He won bath salts… he was elated.

Game Winner!

We always love spending time with Cousin, we probably have 3,451 pictures of the 3 of us, but can never resist one more.


We did some sparklers on Saturday night. {Did you see the new header?}


We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time outside… rocks, wiffle ball, man sheds, puddles, corn, and clovers.












Last night, as the sun was setting, the neighbor girls {who happen to be 6-year old twins} came by for show and tell. I almost fell over.


They brought their brand new fuzzy puppies Sally & Sarah {which I’m sure, by now, have new names}.


While we went nuts over the precious fur balls…


Justin talked to Brian {the girls’ dad} about his FANTASTIC garden that he plants on my parent’s farm. His garden makes me want to go home and till ours up and start all over.


The sun set behind the barn and we all went to bed and fell fast asleep.


It has been wonderful and the fun has just begun! If you’re so inclined to see more pictures click here to link to the set I’ve started. I also added a Flickr badge to the right hand column of the blog, it links directly to the pictures in the “Farm Set”. If you want to check in before I post again I’ll be updating and adding pictures of all our adventures there.

Good night!!

**ps- Have any of you noticed Morgan’s teeth? They have become so straight since she stopped sucking her thumb. I’ve not edited them at all… they have laid down and straightened up and I never thought it would happen!! Rejoicing in her victory over thumb sucking… if you have a little sucker, make ’em stop! You’ll be shocked at the difference in their teeth in a matter of a few short months! Now I just need to take away Paiger’s paci! 🙂

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  • Miranda
    July 6, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    Once again BEAUTIFUL pictures. It looks lovely there, no wonder you love it. The pictures capture your feelings for the place and people you love.
    Did you ever finish those nightgowns for the girls? I'm looking for a good pattern. Just curious!
    Enjoy the rest of your stay.

  • Elizabeth
    July 6, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Lets see….what do i love about your post? um, everything! I love the old schoolhouse. I have a thing for old schoolhouses and old churches. They are so charming!

    The kids are precious as always. I love the girls cute haircuts….and Erika's belly is cute too!

    You've really got the camera thing downpat. I guess I just need to read more. I take hundreds and a handful turn out.

    Glad you enjoyed your 4th with your family:)

  • Sarah's Fab Day
    July 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Oh my goodness, I'm truly in love with your parents home. I grew up in the midwest until I was 9 and my parents moved to Arizona. Last summer we had the opportunity to take the boys back for the first time to visit my grandparents and all of those nostalgic feelings for fields and farms came rushing back. Your pictures are gorgeous!

    I have a thumbsucker too and the other day he actually asked me, "Mom, if I keep sucking my thumb am I going to have freaky teeth like Mater (from the Cars movie)?" I about fell over because I had to say yes. Your little comment is making me really hope I can get him to stop. Please cross your fingers for me.

  • Gray Matters
    July 6, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Glad you've recovered from your car trip! Great pictures – I'm guessing Nogram is Morgan . . . I might be checking out the fabric shop you found in Ozark soon. I've got two more weeks in Dothan and may take a little trip up there.

  • Elizabeth
    July 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm

    Oh, and my guess on who Nagrom is? It's Morgan spelled backwards!

  • Dave and Mandi
    July 6, 2009 at 8:24 pm

    Beautiful family and pictures.

  • The 5 Bickies
    July 6, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    This is a gorgeous post – the photos, the family and the fun times. It sounds like you are having a ball!

    I adore the school house too!

  • Caroline Hester
    July 6, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    I need to know where Erika's watch is from… I love it! Great pics! Your children get more beautiful by the minute!

  • Paloma {La Dolce Vita}
    July 6, 2009 at 8:36 pm

    You have such a beautiful family! I love seeing your pictures. You have such a great eye for photography.

    I'm also guessing that Nagrom is Morgan spelled backwards. Add me to the list of people who really like Erika's watch!

  • Adriene
    July 6, 2009 at 8:51 pm

    OH, I have a finger sucker….with crazy teeth. I hope to get her to stop soon, we are trying. Any tips?

    Enjoy your family time, thanks for sharing your life with us.

  • Julie
    July 7, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Just wanted to drop in and let you know how much I appreciate you! I look forward to your updates every day and love hearing about your great family adventures. Thanks!

  • the sweet life with olives
    July 7, 2009 at 1:57 am

    wow darby that all looks dreamy and wonderful! Quality family time in a majestic setting and the one room school house… we should all have one of those in our backyards!
    We are back in Rome now and the whole family slept til 10:30 this morning, hello jet lag?!
    It was so great meeting you and all your crew in person. You were just as warm and funny and loving as I knew you would be, but it was great to have the confirmation!:-) My only regret…? Wearing that horrific hippy like blue head band in the pictures. I'll make sure to add a comment in my recap about how HUMID it was in Florida!!;-)

  • kapeck
    July 7, 2009 at 4:15 am

    Gorgeous Pictures! Looks like you are having an amazing time!

  • JennyMarie
    July 7, 2009 at 4:39 am

    beautiful pictures, beautiful family. love the new header. love, love, love the photos.

  • Scattering Lupines
    July 7, 2009 at 4:41 am

    Nagrom=MORGAN backwards, of course! We use to make whole sentences backwards when we were little! It's so much fun… and I love the technique of writing with the SIDE of the chalk. I never could do that. Made my skin crawl. LOVE love LOVE the puddle picture!

  • Abby Maddox
    July 7, 2009 at 5:00 am

    I KNEW the pictures would be marvelous and you DELIVERED! thanks for uploading all of those to share with us! It looks like yall are having a much-deserved great time. You look GORGEOUS in the picture with the three distracted kiddos, and Erica's cute belly ALMOST makes me want to be pregnant again 🙂 Have fun!

  • Tara and Felix
    July 7, 2009 at 5:05 am

    Great pics! Love the cornstalk ones! Have a great vacation!!

  • Megan
    July 7, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Love the pictures! It's gorgeous on your parents farm. I'm with you on the respite from the southern heat. We just moved to PA and I have LOVED the cool evenings and the fact that I can walk to my car mid-afternoon without breaking a sweat! Enjoy it before you have to return to the blazing heat.

  • JMW
    July 7, 2009 at 5:45 am

    The photos are works of art – how beautiful! Also, please share how you were able to ween Morgan off her thumb. I'm struggling with my 4-year-old. Mavala Stop worked for a little while, but she even conquered the icky taste just so she could get to that thumb. Colorful band aids don't work either. Any advice?

  • Amanda @ Serenity Now
    July 7, 2009 at 5:48 am

    I want to know what kind of camera you use! 😉 It must be a magic camera b/c your photos are gorgeous!!! The one in the cornfield belongs in a magazine!

  • aedozier
    July 7, 2009 at 5:52 am

    The pictures are just AMAZING!!!! The one of your girls together with Paige's head tilted is gorgeous! Can't wait to see more!
    Enjoy your family time.

  • mimi
    July 7, 2009 at 5:54 am

    Beautiful pictures Darby! It looks like a neat farm. Thanks for sharing and I hope you all enjoy the rest of your trip and have a more peaceful trip home!

  • Dona
    July 7, 2009 at 5:55 am

    What fun! Have ya'll decided to stay forever? I am loving the pictures- especially the ones with the people wearing jackets and sweaters! There is only one problem- Daddy Boy's hat- what happened to his "real" yellow hat? I think I remember it had something like HEC on it- anyway, that was a great hat, it made him look so much cooler than the hat he is wearing in those pictures! I might be able to get him one if his other one is worn out- I can't imagine that it is though- it was a tough hat- rugged! To be worn by tough men- real men! Ok enough about the hat! Have fun!!!

  • paula
    July 7, 2009 at 6:06 am

    such gorgeous photos!

  • morethanthestarsinthesky
    July 7, 2009 at 6:07 am

    Love all your pics! My favorite is one of the girls having jumped in a puddle and the water caught in the air. Very sweet pics!

    Amanda in Alabama

  • Megan
    July 7, 2009 at 6:08 am

    What a great trip. It looks like yall are having a ton of fun. I have to admit that on the 4th my kid and I were at Barnes and Noble and I swear I saw Morgan there. Then I felt like a creepy internet stalker because I knew the kid from internet pictures. Then it almost felt like a celebrity sighting! THEN I remembered you werent even in AL.

  • Becky
    July 7, 2009 at 6:09 am

    that is just such a wonderful place to call your 2nd home! it is delicious. now, tell me you are gonna have that picture of raiger and nagrom blown up and on a wall in your house somewhere. perhaps next to a cute pic of you and your sis?? so cute. and i adore E's belly. precious. and i spied her new watch! tell your dad that sugar really does make tea better lol!!

  • MyLittleHappyPlace
    July 7, 2009 at 6:10 am

    I am in complete awe of the beauty and serenity that so clearly is your family's farm.
    What wonderful, wonderful time this must be!

    P.S. – Guess there's some "teeth hope" for my thumb-sucker – Whew!

  • Amanda
    July 7, 2009 at 6:22 am

    you are a wonderful photog! looks like a ball- yes, the 4th was quite chilly here…love the midwest! love the dot dresses for the girls too! charlotte is a BIG thum sucker – i am not sure we will ever get her to stop…she is so attached to this bunny blanket, can't have one w/ out the other…she just turned 4…and her teeth look good and straight, our dentist said not to worry…how old is morgan? and i am totally not your stalker but i'll throw it out there again…if you wanna ramble around thrifting and antiquing or whatever, i am game and just a short hour away!

  • Elizabeth
    July 7, 2009 at 6:59 am

    Those puppies are adorable! And Erika is just glowing.

  • rachelshingleton
    July 7, 2009 at 7:13 am

    OH WOW! Those photos in the fields are absolutely INCREDIBLE. Definitely frame those! Gorgeous girls!

  • kt
    July 7, 2009 at 7:29 am

    so, i guess i'm not the only one smitten with your beautiful pictures. they just keep getting better and better. i think i need to start getting more pointers from you. maybe it is time for a new lens for me! 🙂 thanks for sharing your life with us, once again!

  • Natalie
    July 7, 2009 at 7:41 am

    i think you are now a full fledged photog…great pics! and you beat me on the whole "taking pictures on the actual day of the forth" seeing as i didnt take a single one.


  • Dianne
    July 7, 2009 at 7:50 am

    This is the prefect summer vacation…farm life…nothing like it! Oh how I remember the clover head crowns…beautiful.

  • The Harris Family
    July 7, 2009 at 7:57 am

    AWESOME post! I love it. I'm cracking up thinking of your hubby lounging in the bath with his pink bath salts. SO sorry the DVD didn't work bummer! I won't leave for a long trip with out it!

    Love the post! PS that pic of feet splashing in the water would make a nice header too! Adorable! I love your headers and am inspired by your photography!

  • The Harris Family
    July 7, 2009 at 7:59 am

    PPS- When you figure that paci thing out please post on it! I'm entering that now! Ugg! :0)

  • cedwards55
    July 7, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Darby, Your pictures are amazing. I think your trip of 11 hours and 50 minutes was worth it for all the memories you are making. Love the old school house turned into the Party Palace. Being an Illinois Girl, I can hear that corn growing!
    Blessings, Lorac/Carol

  • Cstargel
    July 7, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Love, Love, LOVE YOUR BLOG!!! So glad I found it! Glad you guys had a good 4th! What a neat place –

  • Love Being a Nonny
    July 7, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Love this post…course, I love them all! I would LOVE to have a house just for parties!! One of my drawbacks in not entertaining more often is having enough room. What a nice thing to have in your back yard!! Love it!!!

    And of course, I see that others have commented on Morgan's name being written backward!!

    It's hard for me to see you and your sister together…weird really how much the two of you look alike!!

    And, congrats to hubby on bath salts!!

  • Caroline
    July 7, 2009 at 8:54 am

    I noticed morgans teeth right away in these pics. Amazing. GO NAGROM! 🙂
    your pics are great. love the one of Erika's bump and the one splashing in the puddle.

  • Hannah Fields
    July 7, 2009 at 8:57 am


  • beki
    July 7, 2009 at 9:07 am

    You make me want to pack up my family and MOVE 🙂

    July 7, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I TOTALLY noticed Morgan's teeth (Nagrom)! She looks like a different little lady.

    And, I also now want to move to rural southern Illinois! And have puppies like the twins'.

  • pam@pixelimpress
    July 7, 2009 at 9:19 am

    love the clover headband. reminds me of my 6-year-old niece who was sporting one in cleveland this past weekend when we visited.

  • Anne
    July 7, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Dabry, if you are wondering how to make some extra cash, I feel certain you could submit these pictures somewhere and make a killing!! Such beautiful photos and what a blessing that you all can be together!

  • Andrea
    July 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    Darby, I grew up in So. IL, although further south than you are now I think (in Marion). We were just "home" and seeing your pictures made me long for my old home even more.

    Thanks for the update on your trip.

  • awhitaker
    July 7, 2009 at 9:50 am

    Darby, I was introduced to your blog through friends in Tallahassee. Thanks for inviting us to sneak peek into your family's day. My husband is a former farmer from Blakely, Georgia and it pains him daily that he is not farming right now, but living in the "big city". I hope and pray that we can raise our future children to appreciate the beautiful land we have been given as they roam cotton, corn, and peanut fields one day.

    I loved the pictures and had to comment on what seems to be great memories and great stewards of the land that you are creating in your children.

  • tsmith
    July 7, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Beautiful pictures! We lived in Evansville, IN for 11 years while our three girls were growing up. I remember all the corn fields through there, southern Illinois. Field of Dreams it was! I remember all the ag commercials on tv during the winter while living in that area…getting the farmers ready for spring! BTW, I looked at your flikr, and the pic with your daughter in the corn, as she's walking away, on the right, there's a hole the shape of a heart in one of the stalks of corn! I looked at it twice to make sure of what I saw!

  • Meredith
    July 7, 2009 at 10:35 am

    What beautiful pictures!!! I love the blue sky, green grass, and red barn. Just beautiful!

  • r- m val
    July 7, 2009 at 10:39 am

    these make me want to move to an illinois farm!
    1. your girls are DARLING!
    2. your sis is just the cutest pregnant gal! love the shots of her, especially the one of your little princess touching her belly!
    3. the photography of the kids in the puddle, and the sunset behind the barn, and the girls feet on the tractor… i could look at them all day.

    so glad you're having a great trip. now can someone come put a feild in my backyard and build me a porch and a swing to enjoy my morning cup of coffee!?

  • Anonymous
    July 7, 2009 at 11:53 am

    Beautiful pictures! You are so talented. I love reading your blog, seeing your pixs and trying your recipes. We did the chicken & zucchini foil packets last week – yummy and very easy!!

  • kristy
    July 7, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    what great family photos! thanks for sharing them all! hope you continue to have a wonderful time.

    ps — it's been quite cool here in kentucky as well. crazy for july!

  • Hillary @ The Other Mama
    July 7, 2009 at 2:42 pm

    The old school house is the best story ever!! And all the pictures are amazing, of course. I love the one with Morgan and Paige on the tractor- so precious. I was going to say it was a frame-r, but they all are!
    There is something about being in your old stomping grounds that were never really yours. We spent our summers at St. George Island in FL- my mom's family grew up there- so I kind of know that feeling. It was always a magical place with summer crushes and great sunsets. I LOVE being able to share it with Jason and the boys now. I hope y'all continue to have a wonderful visit!

  • Susan
    July 7, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    those are beautiful pictures!!! thanks for sharing! 🙂

  • The Rauths
    July 7, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    wonderful photos and looks like a great family vacation! i know you or erika have posted about this before but what brand is her watch (the one of her and baby girl)?

  • Katie D.
    July 7, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    You' are such an inspiration. Everything I aspire to be in a Mother someday. Full of grace, appreciation and love for your family. Thanks so much for sharing and inspiring. 🙂

  • stewart and james
    July 7, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    okay, i know the last thing you need is a 57th comment (especially one as long as this is about to be) about all the glorious-ness that is this post but i have six (yes, six, when i realized how much i loved about this post i start making a list as i read) things i must share. 1) your new header is toooo precious. 2) new header's preciousness is rivaled only by the gorgeous belly shot of e and baby. 3) isn't the school house the site of e & chance's wedding (reception at least…)? 4) if i ever do have children and at least one of them is a girl i think i have to have a red polka dot dress like the ones your girls are wearing in the photo with you and JM. 5) that Christmas tree with American flags all over it almost made me fall out of my chair (and i've only had one (and a half) glass(es) of wine). 6)i love morgan's backwards name. Mary James does a few letters backwards but the entire name reversal is a new one and quite adorable! 7) (this didn't make the pre-written list) i love y'all! have so much fun being TOGETHER! xx -a

  • Jess
    July 8, 2009 at 4:42 am

    pictures are AMAZING!!!…and so glad you survived the trip! what a beautiful country we live in!

  • sashyjane
    July 8, 2009 at 7:53 am

    So… do your parents need a third daughter?

  • Jennifer
    July 8, 2009 at 8:06 am

    gorgeous pictures!

  • Cara
    July 8, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Though it would be hard to go wrong with such a beautiful setting (that farmhouse! the cornfield! those little toes!), your pictures are truly stunning. Your learning curve on that new camera has gone off like a rocket!

    I adore your red and white necklace. Care to share where it's from?

  • Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 9:29 am

    First the pictures are amazing. And second do you have a pattern for the red polka dot dress that your beautiful girls are wearing? I just absolutly love it and want to make matching ones for my girls. Enjoy the rest of your trip!!

  • sarahhowsweetitis.blogspot.com
    July 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

    You are really getting the hang of taking beautiful pictures! I have the same camera but my pictures do not look professional like yours! Good job!

  • Anonymous
    July 8, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    alright–it's storming here and I'm ready for yall to come back home. Enjoyed catching up on our vacation! -Justin

  • Jessica
    July 10, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    man, you really are a great photographer! that post you did a while back tutoring how to take pics like you do is worth a long hard study!

  • Li x 2 == Lili
    July 15, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    I really love your pictures. I just bought a new Canon XSi camera and still trying to learn it. Would you give me some pointers?

  • abigail
    January 13, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    hey- i think you posted about this somewhere but i am also curious about the girls adorable red and white dresses. did you buy or make them? if you made them, do you have a pattern and who made the fabric? i love them! thanks!