60 In Life

**Celebrating 6** {state park style}


Hello Rovers… good Tuesday morning to you! I hope the sun is shining and the air is cool where you are.

I’ve got so much to share with y’all and I’m afraid this will be a quite involved post… so fasten your seat belts.

First, this is for my friend Edie so she’ll know that I will not be letting her down. I’m taking part in her “12 Days” tutorials and thankfully she saved the slacker for day 12.Β  I couldn’t do something super simple… what fun would that be? So I’ve been locked up trying to come up with a little something for you rovers to make for Christmas…


Next, Morgan turned 6 on Thursday.


We had a low-key night at home with friends… with homemade pizzas and lots of fun.


We decided this year to forgo an “invite-your-friends birthday party” and do a little trip down to the beach instead. We rented a cabin at Grayton Beach State Park for the weekend! It’s {very reasonable, clean, & accommodating} and not too far from Erika’s house which is perfect because my cousin was in town from Chicago for the weekend and together they planned a slam-up birthday celebration Friday night for Morgan!

We settled into our cabin Friday night, caught the tail end of the sunset and then we were off to MommaSissy’s house for a birthday gathering!



{picture above stolen from Erika without permission}


Morgan loved every minute of it the beautiful cake, the balloons, the candles… especially her new bike that Daddy picked out just for her!



The Raiger was a little under the weather but managed to perk up when she too got a present for Morgan’s birthday!


We settled into our cabin Friday night and the Rover instantly thought he was a big BOY {or “boo” as he says} because he didn’t have to sleep in a crib. Saturday morning brought a yummy breakfast and lots of exploring to do… first around the cabin until the temperatures came up a bit, and then on our bikes, which was interesting because we didn’t exactly know what would best fit our needs so we had a various array bicycles that the bike man brought to us. We weren’t sure how long Raiger could ride so we had the bike buddy on the back of the bike for Rover and a trailer so that if Raiger tired she and Rover could be toted behind. Anyway, thankfully bike rentals are reasonable {with free delivery!}… we rented an assortment and borrowed some from E and Chance too!







I rode a mens Trek mountain bike with toe clips. I’ve not been on a bike in a long time, which was fine… until I rode the bike into sand. Did you know you can’t ride bikes in sand? They come to a screeching halt. If your feet {with tennis shoes on} are in the toe clips you might not be able to get your feet out very fast and you might fall over with the bike… consider this a warning if you ever want to ride a bike in sand… I am living proof you can’t. There are thankfully no pictures to accompany this story. And thankfully the only thing injured was my pride.

The property around the cabins was beautiful. The kids had so much fun exploring and picking {just a few} flowers for mommy, while Rover did his job protecting us from all the imaginary warriors that were attacking from every angle.








The cabins were modest but wonderful. No tvs, no phones… only a little cheesy “beach motif” but the kids loved it and so did we. They were clean and smelled clean {which may sound funny… but they really didn’t smell old or musty, probably because they’re not old, nor are they musty}. We took the futon cushion off the couch for Rover to sleep on, but normally the couch {below} would have had a cushion. Erika hooked Morgan up BIG TIME with craft and art supplies for her birthday, so there was never a shortage of things to do around the cabin…



Around lunch time Erika and Cousin {Erin is her name but rarely do we call her that} came by to pick me up for lunch…


We laughed really hard over lunch and had a great time.


Later that afternoon we headed east to Rosemary Beach to meet my friends Eiler, Paige, and Amelia… they were up to their eyeballs in cute BBTN clothing and wanted to shoot some pictures of the kids. I worried about Rover in a clothing photo shoot and at least they’ve been warned {via the blog} that Rover really, really, really doesn’t care for clothing. Miraculously he cooperated and I was so thankful to have Justin’s help in dressing him! It was so fun to watch them work their magic… and really good to see them all, if only for a short while!


p_d_e_a copy

Amelia and Ashley had heavy hearts as they had recently heard that a friendΒ  {Kristin} who works in the shop with them had suddenly lost her 9 month old baby in the middle of the night. Kristin was a sorority sister of mine at Auburn and my heart too ached at the news of her loss. Will you all please pray for her family as they grieve the immeasurable loss of losing a child?

We parted ways and took the girls and Rover out for pizza in Rosemary Beach at Cowgirl Kitchen and then headed back to the cabin for roasted marshmallows behind our cabin in the “state park” grill… our day was so full and so fun.









Sunday morning brought more of the same: art at the cabin, exploring on bikes, and a trip down to the beach, which was a short walk {or ride} from the cabin…
















This is the very impressive and massive boardwalk/ramp/stairs to the beach from the cabins. It has to be to ADA code and I’m telling you it is very cool… especially if you had a wheel chair so that you could make your way very easily to the beach.




This is for our friends Lindsey & Steven…


Sunday morning we packed up and headed over to Erika’s for a visit before we left! I let Morgan use my camera so we could snap a quick “cousin” picture before we hit the road! She did pretty good for her first picture ever {that’s not on a camera phone}…


And something tells me you all will ask about the cabins so here are my thoughts on them {bullet style}.

  • basically it’s a fabulous state park in PARADISE
  • clean, affordable, comfortable
  • they provide towels & sheets
  • we let the kids use their {state park} sheets but they were polyester and I’m glad I brought a set for our bed… and we brought our own pillows but theirs were fine
  • the fire place cranked out the heat and heated the whole cabin in no time flat {but there is central heat & air too}
  • the cabins are duplexes {I asked upon check-in that we get one that wasn’t occupied next to us and I warned her “we’re super LOUD” πŸ™‚ Which is mostly true! }
  • the flapper in our toilet was broken when we got there butΒ  “Ranger Rick” was there in 5 minutes to fix it
  • the cabins aren’t located at the Grayton State park {between Watercolor and Grayton Beach} they’re 1 mile west on 30A {just west of the 283 intersection that takes you to The Red Bar}
  • the cabins are in a “gated community”, so NO traffic which is great when you have kids + bikes
  • there was plenty of exploring to do on bikes inside the “gated community”
  • it is beautiful, pristine, and unobstructed “old Florida”
  • the beaches are beautiful and not far from the cabins: you can walk, drive, or bike to the boardwalk
  • we saw a deer on our bike ride which was really exciting for the kids
  • it was quiet, fun, and we made great memories as a family… for a little over $100/night!

The only negatives I can think of:

  • I didn’t think about bringing hand soap or dish soap or coffee so I madeΒ  a mad dash to Publix early Saturday morning for these essentials {& groceries too}… besides that the kitchen was adequately stocked with cookware, utensils, appliances etc
  • a few occasional chairs would have been nice in the family room {especially since we disassembled the futon}
  • no pets allowed

Here are a few more cabin pictures for your viewing pleasure:





The bathroom was clean and everything worked fine {after Ranger Rick fixed the potty}. No tub, just a shower… but it was clean. I didn’t take any pictures of the bedrooms besides this camera phone picture, we pushed the girls beds together and put Rover on the futon cushion on the ground. They also jumped a million times from the beds to the futon cushion!.


Hello, is anyone still here? I had a lot to say… and I still have more to say, imagine that! I’ll be back again soon!

Bye, friends!

::ONE LAST FINAL THOUGHT::Β  A state park vacation may be in order for our birthdays from here on out… wonderful memories were made!! If y’all have any state/national parks that we should add to our list… let me know!

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  • Emily
    November 9, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Beautiful! I love staying in cabins in state parks. We usually go to Mentone, AL to their state park. The new cabins are awesome and the town is beautiful!

  • natalie @ this old southern house
    November 9, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    love the pics in the trees.. beautiful.
    we always went to lake rabun (a georgia state park) growing up to camp and bike. very beautiful…but beware of the bears! hehe!

  • Elizabeth Mills
    November 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm

    I was just wondering where did you get Paige’s fleece from? It is so cute!

  • Nichole@40daysof
    November 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Even before you mentioned the photo shoot, I was thinking how impressive it was that JM was clothed in all of the photos. Maybe he’s just a “home nudist”? πŸ˜‰

  • Jenn
    November 9, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Hi! 2 questions…when will their be more shirts available?:-) also, I am so sad to hear of your friend losing her 9 month old, I will definitely be praying for the family. I can’t even imagine how they feel. It makes me feel panicky for my own children and I was curious if their was a cause or was it just random? If this is intrusive please forgive me and feel free to not answer. Thanks for your blog, I love reading.

  • Joy
    November 9, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    Such a great post! So sad to hear about the family that lost their baby. Will be praying!

  • Kristina A.
    November 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I love all of your pictures, they are absolutely beautiful! Staying at a state park is an absolutely wonderful idea! It makes me sad to think that the 9 month old passed away? I am pregnant right now and can’t imagine what those parents are feeling right now. If you don’t mind me asking how did that baby pass?

  • Erin
    November 9, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    that was wonderful! i loved all the pictures! what setting did you shoot the fire pictures with?

  • Katherine @ Grass Stains
    November 9, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    I can imagine that this will HAVE to become a family tradition in years to come … I think your kids will demand it! Looks like so much fun. On a sadder note, I will keep Kristin and her family in my prayers. Such a tragedy.

  • Kristee
    November 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

    You would so steal Will’s heart with this State Park getaway! He is a fan! Looks like a wonderful birthday celebration for the entire family. Love all the pics!! So sorry to hear about that little 9 month old baby. Heart breaking! See you soon!

  • Melissa
    November 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    What a perfect birthday weekend! I grew up going to state parks for holidays and LOVE them. Sadly ours are not quite as nice as yours but still usually clean and sufficient. Just the perfect family getaway. Wonderful photos as always.

  • Carrie
    November 9, 2010 at 1:53 pm

    Darby, Kristin goes to our church and we are in a MOMs bible study together. my heart is just aching for her…she (and her family) need to be covered in prayer…as of now, they still do not know the cause…(maybe SIDS?) please everyone reading, just continue to pray for her, her husband and their 3 yr old little boy. thanks for praying,
    Carrie Allen

  • Lindsey
    November 9, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    firstly, that was the longest post in history. but secondmost, i loved it! LOVED, LOVED, LOVED all the pictures. my kids would love all those trees to climb in! maybe next time, we’ll rent the part of the duplex next to you and see who’s louder:). i’ve wanted to try it out so i’m glad to have your review. thirdest, thanks for the picture. steven will have to practice before he can ride AND hold a child. special skills. so glad ya’ll had such a great time celebrating morgan! we’ll have to take a trip to cumberland island off st marys in georgia one day. absolutely amazing! …praying for the family. haven’t talked to carrie, but i think she goes to church with them. so incredibly sad…

  • Ashley
    November 9, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Looks like a WONDERFUL weekend!!!
    We too have started to forgo big parties and go on little family trips. Makes such great memories!!
    Love all the pictures πŸ™‚

  • Christie
    November 9, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    What a great weekend and a wonderful way to celebrate your big girl’s birthday! Your kids are precious and remind me so much of my little family — and I could just eat up JM!!!

    I am so sorry to hear about your sorority sister’s baby. I cannot even imagine the heartbreak of losing a baby — definitely will say some prayers for them!

  • Katharina
    November 9, 2010 at 2:33 pm

    So beautiful pictures (as always πŸ˜‰ looks like an awesome weekend! Can`t believe it is still THAT warm!
    Love the family picture!

  • paige
    November 9, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    can’t wait to see what you whip up for edie’s 12 days!
    loved the park scoop. who knew.
    give raiger a hug from big raiger.
    looks like morgan had a birthday weekend blast. art supplies are the best!
    loved meeting the fam.
    ya’ll are THE cutest

  • Ellis
    November 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    I have never commented before, but enjoy reading your blog. My husband and I stayed at a great little state park in Florida last spring. It is called Wakulla Springs State Park. We found it because we were on the way back to Mobile, AL from Orlando and wanted to stay somewhere for one more night to prolong our vacation. I was about 8 months pregnant when we stayed there and we had a great time! It doesn’t look to be too far from where you were.

  • Ashley
    November 9, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Looks like yall had a great time and those pics in the trees are beautiful! I was amazed at those beautiful twisty trees around there when we were there a few weeks ago!

  • Lyndsay M
    November 9, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    gorgeous pictures! My family loves National Parks and, growing up, they were our vacation spot of choice. All of my national park recommendations are a little bit further away from you, but if you are ever traveling, you must try out:

    Acadia National Park in Maine
    Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
    Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
    Mount Zion National Park in Utah

    These are my fav’s

  • Dianne
    November 9, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    Hi Darby,
    I loved every picture in this post. Your family is amazingly loving and warm. We are just back from our daughter’s wedding!!! I will email you a picture soon. πŸ™‚
    xoxo Dianne

  • kristen
    November 9, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    What a wonderfully fun weekend (and a great idea for a birthday celebration)! Happy Birthday Morgan!!

  • Nelle
    November 9, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Happy times! Hope Morgan will remember this special birthday with your beautiful photos of her. Our family loves Barren River State park in Kentucky. We would all go for Thanksgiving as family from ATL, Chicago and Michigan needed a place to meet in the middle. They have multi cabins on cul de sacs and we would pull out the tables and have turkey dinner outdoors. Great for big families…tennis courts and I think an indoor pool. Thanks for the tip on Grayton Beach. My grandmother’s rental cottage is in Destin.

  • edie
    November 9, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    we must have been separated at birth—oh wait, you already have a twin. but anyhoo, i’ve been thinking about you all day, slaving away in that gorgeous sewing room so then i hopped over to your blog to email you and offer to make you cocktails while you sew and profusely apologize for adding any more stress to your life and what to my wondering eyes did appear, but the most gorgeous little swathe of fabric to which i’m sure you are working all kinds of magic.
    {the world’s longest run-on sentence}
    so then i breathed a heavy sigh of relief and wished i live close enough to bring you that cocktail.
    you must have read my mind.
    love you, glad you had a wonderful weekend.
    heavy hearted and praying for kristen.
    we have hope in the resurrection and in the One who heals all broken hearts.
    my love to all and a special kiss for the birthday girl,


  • Stephanie
    November 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    Another post I can live through! Such a great experience. I love the fact that you get the kids out into nature. I grew up like that and hope to give that to my kids. Love your posts.

  • edie
    November 9, 2010 at 3:43 pm

    ps. is that a peek into erica’s house?
    ’cause everything about those two pics caught my eye.
    the bookshelf, the art, the skirted table.
    i need her in my life.
    that is all.

  • Amy
    November 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

    Happy Birthday to your sweet girl! What a special birthday! The pics are beautiful and inspiring as always. I will be praying for the family who lost their baby. So very heartbreaking! May the Lord bless and keep this family!

  • Shireen
    November 9, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    Amazing post! So glad yall had a good family weekend!! Yay!!!

    LOVE the visual of you halting to a STOP on the bike once you hit the sand! Ha!!! πŸ™‚

  • Kristen
    November 9, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    LOVE your Blog! I too have a twin sister, Kelly. And she and I along with 2 of our best girlfriends stayed in the Grayton Beach State Park cabins a couple of summers ago. We loved them! They were super affordable, clean, and a convenient drive to the nicer Seaside area! Your pictures of the cabins have gotten me dreaming about an encore trip for us! Thanks for posting πŸ™‚

  • E @ Oh! Apostrophe
    November 9, 2010 at 4:42 pm

    Looks like so much fun! Happy Birthday to Morgan! And ohmygosh she looks so grown up! I love your pictures… especially the ones where the littlest Rover is clearly in motion πŸ™‚

  • Melissa
    November 9, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    I am a new follower to your site – I so enjoy it! I had to throw my two cents in when I saw you were in Grayton. We live in the Panhandle and love, love Grayton. Glad you guys had such a great time.

    P.S. Can’t wait to make the cinnamon honey spread for our friends for Christmas. Was excited to find the little jars last week, now on to pick out fabric!

  • Jessica
    November 9, 2010 at 5:41 pm

    Oh my gosh! We were supposed to go to Grayton Beach State Park last weekend also! We decided we didnt want to drive the RV that far for a short weekend so we went to Lake Griffin State Park instead–nowhere near Grayton Beach SP!
    I’ve heard Anastasia Beach SP is awesome–we just made reservations to go there for my birthday! We also made 6 other reservations for different state parks. I told DH my wish for the girls is to give them good childhood memories to look back to, when they grow up.

  • Jessica
    November 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Oh, one more thing, we plan to buy a map and pin all the state parks we’ve visited together. You should do the same! The kids will love it!

  • Linley
    November 9, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    Hey Darb! Wish I’d of know you were in Grayton, we could’ve squeezed in a coton colors photo shoot of your kids!! πŸ˜‰ Gonna be back around the holidays? Let me know…

    Kristin’s news is just devastating, glad you have your network praying for her too.

    Talk Soon!!

  • jenn
    November 9, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Check out Lake Point Resort State Park in Eufaula – WONDERFUL!!!

  • Stacy P.
    November 9, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    So cool! We used to do Grayson beach wayyy back when. We’re actualy huge St George Island fans now. There are great homes to rent and one whole end of the island is a state park.
    Plus it’s flat, so you really could ride your bike the length of the island. We didn’t–since we had the 3 kiddos, but we stayed in The Plantation on the opposite end from the park and had plenty of places to ride there.

    Beautiful photos!

  • Tara
    November 9, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    when we lived in Montgomery, we loved traveling over to Grayton Beach!

    I’ll keep in mind the state park…sounds right up our alley.

    Okay…I have a fabulous state park for you….we stayed there about 6 years ago…it’s in Beaufort, South Carolina. It was featured in Southern Living once…you all would love it…so much for families to do!!! It’s not near as beautiful as Grayton Beach…but you’d enjoy it!

    Can’t wait to see what you do for Edie….

  • McKenzie
    November 9, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    Oh my goodness, could your family be ANY cuter? I just want you to know how much I treasure reading your posts! I’m only 22-years-old and probably a long way from having a family of my own, so I live vicariously through you and your cuties– so, thanks!!

  • HannahJ
    November 9, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    I just spent my birthday weekend at a little getaway beach cottage too (much cooler beaches this time of year up in CT- but beautiful still!) I posted about it today as well… happy birthday to your little one! Oh- and the black and white tree pic with Morgan climbing is GORGEOUS!!!!

  • Samantha
    November 9, 2010 at 8:54 pm

    I live about 20 mins from the Grayton state park, and we have talked about taking our girls there for a camping trip, just for something different. Thanks for sharing the pics and the info. I can’t wait to make plans for our trip!

  • Ginny
    November 9, 2010 at 9:47 pm

    I second everything you said about the cottages at Grayton. We have stayed there and it is the perfect “no fuss” cabin. War Eagle Darby, hope to see you on the plains this weekend!

  • Melissa (melissab74)
    November 9, 2010 at 10:42 pm

    Wow! I’m impressed with those state park cabins. I’ve always just assumed that all state park cabins were old and musty! Looks like an absolutely wonderful weekend! You got some great photos too!

  • Chrissy
    November 9, 2010 at 11:08 pm

    Happy birthday to sweet Morgan!! And those pics you took with various people in the trees … they are all amazing!!!

  • julia
    November 9, 2010 at 11:28 pm

    Considering how much it costs to stay in Grayton Beach/Seaside, those cabins are a steal!

  • NatalieJean
    November 9, 2010 at 11:41 pm

    Your kids are GORGEOUS! Hope your little one had a sweet birthday!

  • Elena
    November 10, 2010 at 3:05 am

    Hi Derby!
    I’m from Ukraine. I read your blog about 5 months! I admire you and what you are wonderful mom !…. It was an amazing birthday!!

  • Justine
    November 10, 2010 at 3:48 am

    Your photos are always so good – glad that Morgan had a happy birthday. πŸ™‚

  • Jennifer Kolb
    November 10, 2010 at 7:20 am

    I love the fabric on your office chair. What fabric is that?
    You have a beautiful family.

  • jo
    November 10, 2010 at 7:55 am

    not to sound too pathetic or weird but truly, there is nothing like waking up before my rover, sitting down with a cup of coffee and getting to read a wonderful post from my favorite blog. thank you!

  • Brenna
    November 10, 2010 at 9:52 am

    Long point state park. About 30 minutes south of my parents house.
    It is the most beautiful state park. That and the Disney Ft. Wilderness Camp Ground is great for kids.
    This is long points website.

  • Cousin
    November 10, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    It was so great to see you all and spend Morgan’s birthday with her. I love the pics and love you!! It was one of the best weekends I’ve had in a long time! XO

  • Sara Jane
    November 10, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    What a sweet picture of Rover at the bar!

    When we lived on Wilmington Island, my parents would put us in the basket thingies on the back of their bikes and ride us on the beach. I think to ride on sand, the tires have to be the super skinny ones.

  • Tracy
    November 10, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I may sound dorky, but it makes me smile when you call ME “Rover” … I so hope I live up to the name! JM is just yummy … totally makes me giggle … I teach Kindergarten and I have a few “Rovers” in my room who make me giggle one minute and wishing for industrial hooks to hang them from the next! Praying for your friend … cannot even begin to imagine.

  • Ashley Smith
    November 11, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Small world, my husband went to school with Kristen. Her family is def in all of Tallahassee’s prayers. I cannot imagine

    cant wait to see your little ones in the bbtn catalog. I’m a rep for them and look forward to seeing the new spring stuff!

  • Melissa
    November 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

    One more comment to this post – I sent it to my sister as she is also a fan of Grayton. She and her husband were in town for Mountain Film and happened to catch your photo shoot on the beach!

  • alison g. (brazil)
    November 11, 2010 at 6:48 pm

    I actually forgot I was reading a single post – you take us through so beautifully, and the pictures – so perfect.
    Looks like Morgan is one sweet, happy and blessed six year-old!

  • Amy Rusk
    November 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    You may want to try Turkey Run State Park (https://www.turkeyrunstatepark.com/). It is in Park County, Indiana. Absolutely beautiful with little cabins to stay in and lots of trails to hike, creeks to play in, and canoe trips to take.

  • Dina
    November 12, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    What a super idea for a birthday celebrations…when my lil Elliott gets older, that might be right up his alley!
    And where is that awesome brown and pearl bracelet from? It looks like Erika…I love it!!!

  • Orneryswife
    November 13, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    My absolute favorite day of all time (and I am old enough to have clocked a few days!) was spent one afternoon about a year ago at Seaside. Ornery has “had” to work at Ft. Walton Beach (Hurlburt) a lot with his job programming flight simulators, and I have been blessed to be able to travel with him. I am pretty sure that area of America is my all time favorite. What a delightful way to spend a birthday–in fact that day when we were there, I made plans to do just that on my 60th!

  • Molly
    November 23, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Wonderful post!
    I love your artwork hanging up…the one’s w/ the dots on them. Where did you find those? I am looking for something like that in my living room. Thanks!