Three 31


JESSICA // #BridalPortraits #LostOakWinery

Now that this lovely lady is enjoying life as a newlywed and has officially changed her last name, I can finally share her bridal portraits!

Jessica and Grant got married at Lost Oak Winery in Burleson, Texas and I took these photos there too. The winery is absolutely gorgeous and just completed a major renovation. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend stopping for a visit, tour of the vineyards, and wine tasting in the gift shop.

I met Jessica a couple years ago when I joined the fitness center. She was a personal trainer and group class instructor and now she’s the general manager! I couldn’t be more proud of this girl from North Dakooooooota and I’m blessed to call her friend. She’s as sweet as they come and beautiful – inside and out.

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Jess’s mother wore this hat at her wedding and Jess wanted to incorporate the precious piece into her bridal session. Even though she did not wear this piece at the wedding, I’m so glad we got shots like this one. I absolutely love family heirlooms!

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Grant’s mother collects squirrel figurines and sent the engaged couple these kissing squirrels. Confession: it took me FOREVER to balance them on the support wire of a grapevine to get this shot … but totally worth it.

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Not only did I get to take Jess’s bridal portraits, but I was also a guest at their wedding and it was simplistic, charming, fun, and beautiful – everything a wedding should be! Every detail was perfect and reflected the couple’s personality. They also have jokesters in their family. Grant’s brother gave the most HILARIOUS Best Man Speech I’ve ever heard.

Grant and Jess, congratulations you two love squirrels and thank you for letting me a part of your special day. Big hugs and blessings!


Lollipop, Trachea, Leather Bracelet + The Apocrypha

I can’t take credit for the inspiration behind this post but I have to share because it’s full of goodness, sweetness, and a gentle reminder for all of us.

Some of you know that a dear friend of mine found out he has throat cancer and within a week of the diagnosis underwent two major surgeries to insert a feeding tube and remove tumors and lymph nodes. He also had a trachea placed at the base of his neck.

Even though Brandon is fighting against the Big Bad C, his faith and sense of humor have not lost their intensity. I am so blessed by Brandon and his wife, Celeste, and their two teenage daughters, Kirsten and Britton. I don’t consider them friends because they are family – plain and simple.

It had been a few days since I had seen them all, so I took Kamden for a quick visit Friday afternoon. Little did I know that Brandon was expecting Mini Man and had a project planned for him. Brandon is an avid woodworker and leather craftsman, there’s nothing the man can’t or won’t do. With lollipop in hand (Brandon’s gift during a visit last week), Kamden climbed on top of a stool and watched with enthusiasm every move Brandon made. He also kept an eye on the two dogs, Dot and Daisy.

Kamden has seen Brandon several times since he got home from the hospital and not once has he reacted, or even noticed the swelling, bruises, or staples. Kamden doesn’t care that Brandon has a trachea or the dining room table has been converted to a juicing bar with baskets of fresh produce and protein powders. Celeste said it perfectly in a recent post on CaringBridge – Kamden’s lack of reaction to Brandon’s new hardware is kind of the way God sees us – perfect, bright-eyed and full of love. 

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I’ve been reading and studying books in the Apocrypha lately and, thus far, Sirach has been the most fascinating. The Book of the All-Virtuous Wisdom of Joshua ben Sira, commonly called The Wisdom of Sirach or simply Sirach, and also known as the Book of Ecclesiasticus (not to be confused with Ecclesiastes!) is full of ethical teachings. Though it is not recognized as a canonized part of the Old or New Testaments, it is highly recommended for life instructions, reading, devotion, and prayer. The teachings address parent/child and husband/wife relationships, genuine friendships, politeness, duties towards self and others, and, above all, obedience to God. With Brandon in mind, Chapter 38 (concerning physicians and health) really hit home:

Honor physicians for their services, for the Lord created them; for their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king. The skill of physicians makes them distinguished, and in the presence of the great they are admired. The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and the sensible will not despise them. Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that its power might be known? And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. By them the physician heals and takes away pain; the pharmacist makes a mixture from them. God’s works will never be finished; and from him health spreads all over the earth.

My child, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly, and cleanse your heart from all sin. Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of choice flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford. Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; do not let him leave you, for you need him. There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians, for they too pray to the Lord that he grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life. He who sins against his Maker, will be defiant toward the physician.

Whether or not you attended a worship service today, this will preach!

Thank God for friends who are family. Thank God for skillful physicians and nurses. Thank God for toddlers who care about lollipops and puppy dogs instead of tracheas. And thank God for the faithful who, despite their circumstances or cancer diagnosis, will not be moved from The Rock that is higher.

Finally, I encourage you to follow Brandon’s journey via CaringBridge by clicking here.


Celebration Luncheon for the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas

I don’t know much about superheroes (this particular fact drives Husband insane) but I’m confident mothers – and dads – deserve a cape of their own. I’m a mom of one and moms of multiples, whether it’s two or 15, impress me!

I had the most wonderful time yesterday celebrating the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas at their annual benefit luncheon at Ridglea Country Club in Fort Worth. I became an official registered human milk donor – #5644 – on May 19, 2014 and pumped exclusively for 14 months. In that time, I donated in excess of 3,600 ounces, nearly 29 gallons of breast milk. To put that quantity into perspective, critical NICU babies typically consume about an ounce of breast milk each feeding.

Yesterday’s luncheon afforded me the opportunity to finally meet some of the board members and administrators of the MMBNT, medical professionals from area hospitals, corporate sponsors, and other donor moms. It’s an amazing feeling to sit in a banquet room full of men and women who wholly support milk banking, and I’m blessed to be among them.

Amy Vickers is the milk bank’s executive director and has such an incredible heart for mothers and their babies. I would do anything for this woman and the milk bank, including inviting a TV crew with lights and cameras into my home for an interview to promote human milk banks!

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The guest speaker at the luncheon was January Harshe from Birth Without Fear. January is a wife and mother to six children (hello – where’s her superhero cape?!) and lives in Austin. BWF is a community of people who encourage, empower, inspire, support, and educate women on pregnancy, birth, and post-partum issues. I have to be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect when she stepped on the stage but I was pleasantly surprised and her message was spot-on. The next time you see a new mom or dad, don’t ask about their newborn who’s probably sleeping peacefully in their car seat or carrier. Instead, ask the mom or dad how THEY are doing. Give them a hug. Offer to bring them a prepared meal. Wash a load of laundry. Take out the trash. Mop their floors. Or sit and rock the baby who has been crying nonstop all day (and night) so they can enjoy a shower or take a nap, or both! A simple act of kindness has a profound affect on a parent. (The same is also true for parents of toddlers and teenagers who are just trying to survive a day full of poopy diapers and raging hormones. You get my drift?!)

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And, finally, the lovely lady I credit for introducing me to the milk bank process and handing me an application to donate: Simone Summerlin. She’s the bee’s knees and I love her to pieces. When I joined the milk bank in early 2014, and Kamden still had rolls and fat cheeks and no neck, Simone was the donor coordinator and readily available for an impromptu visit from Chubby Cheeks when it was time for me to deliver a cooler full of frozen breast milk. When I got sick and lost my abundant milk supply, Simone wiped away my tears. Now, she’s moved up to higher places and has a fancy-schmancy job title (programs director) and I have to call in advance to schedule an appointment to see her. I can’t be mad at her though, she’s too darn cute …

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AND PREGNANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Simone recently announced she and her husband are expecting their first child in March 2016. I could not be more excited for two people to have created another human. Cletus the Fetus is already loved by so many people, including me – Auntie Nee.

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A big THANK YOU to Husband for his infinite support; sponsors for their generous contributions; milk donors who supply the liquid gold; and, the milk bank staff for all their hard work, including the luncheon. I’m already looking forward to next year and taking Mom-friends with me!

Do you like the top I’m wearing? It’s the “Find the Tide” poncho from Kiki La Rue, you can purchase it here. And yes, I wore white pants after Labor Day.


Resolution Update // September 2015

It’s fall, which means I have less than three months to complete as many items on this list as possible.


Lose 20% of my body weight
Take advantage of health coach provided by insurance – Spoke to a health coach on September 15.
Eat breakfast every day
Take a daily multivitamin
Exercise four days a week
Work out with a personal trainer
Drink 150 ounces of water every day
Complete a juice cleanse
Complete a 90-day challenge
Eliminate something from my diet each month (i.e. sweets, fried foods, sugar, fast food, etc.)
January – Rough start at the beginning of the month, but I’ve managed to stay away from excess sugar for two and a half weeks. Small steps.
February – I avoided tomatoes like the plague.
March – Still avoiding tomatoes.
April – No tomatoes.
May – No tomatoes.
June – I don’t remember the last time I ate an actual tomato but I have had tomato-based products a couple of times: pizza sauce, barbeque sauce, and ketchup.
July – Tomatoes are back, at least a little bit, and I’ve not reacted.
August – nothing eliminated S
eptember – nothing eliminated

Be showered and in bed by 10:30 every night
Learn more about and use essential oils
Find a skincare routine that works for me
Participate in a “new-to-me” group exercise class January 9 – tried a 60-minute cycling class, January 24 – tried INSANITY, January 28 – Zumba with Miss Ivy
Schedule annual appointments with OB-Gyno, eye doctor, and dentist January 16 – comprehensive eye exam; January 19 – purchased eyeglasses at Warby Parker; January 20 – teeth cleaned; January 21 – cavity filled (booo!); August 27 – teeth cleaned (all is well)


Create a blog post calendar … and use it!
Attend a blog conference
Attend a creative writing workshop
Publish a blog post every day for a month SUCCESS – I posted every day in the month of June. Check out 30 Days of Manna.
Publish a “how to” post
Publish an original recipe
Continue the weekly FINISH THIS link up FAILURE – I did not make it 100 weeks. I think I stopped at #73. Whatever the number, this link up was beginning to be a burden, lacked direction and creativity, and I made a commitment to myself at the beginning of the year to eliminate things in life that were not satisfying and/or joyful. I’m grateful to the participants, and I apologize for not noticing them sooner about it’s elimination, but my Wednesdays are improving already – despite it being one of my busiest days of the week!
Start a blog series January 5 – Monday Musings began; January 24 – weekly meal plan with menu/recipes
Meet five bloggers in person
Host a sponsored giveaway
Host a bloggers’ watch party for 50 Shades of Gray February 13
Continue writing for MOMquery 
Continue writing for Sweet Jesus Girls


Organize and back up my photos
Sell my current camera and upgrade to this one I’ve changed my mind and WANT this one.
Acquire a 85mm prime lens
Acquire a telephoto lens
Expand Three 31 Photography by scheduling at least 10 sessions
Take a Lightroom class
Join a camera or photography club January 19 – first meeting with Cleburne Photography Club


Refinanced our home mortgage for a lower interest rate February 11
Execute our living wills
Create a gallery wall in the living room
Hang a family picture above mantel/fireplace
Rearrange the living room furniture
Buy new comforter + bedding for guest room
Buy new side tables + lamps for master bedroom
Repaint the side table in Kamden’s room
Install new kitchen sink + granite countertops
Make our home more energy efficient
Have a technology-free weekend
Find a cleaning schedule … and use it!
Eat at a celebrity chef’s restaurant
Try a new recipe every month
January – Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole Husband’s reaction was meh.
February – Blueberry Muffins
March – pork tenderloin in the Crock Pot
April – French Onion Chicken Noodle Bake Husband’s reaction was yum. He went back for seconds … and thirds. He has since renamed the dish “Chicken Scratch.”
May – ?
June – homemade granola bars
July – Peach Crumb Bars and Homemade Nutri-Grain Bars with Strawberry Jam
August – M&M Cookie Dough No-Churn Ice Cream
September – Apple Pie Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Buttercream Frosting

Make the perfect omelet
Host a dinner party with other couples/families
Host a “Friendsgiving”
Host a game night
Meal plan for a month … and stick to it!
Use the Crock Pot once a week for a month
January – used the CP three times (roast beef and pinto beans)
February – meatballs and homemade spaghetti sauce
March – roast beef and teriyaki pork tenderloin
April – pinto beans, roast (twice), and meatballs
May – roast beef
June – pinto beans
July – beef roast and vegetables
August – pinto beans and pork teriyaki
September – no CP used this month, sadly

Save loose change and cash out at the end of the year
Purge the entire house and donate or toss things we don’t use
Have my car detailed inside and out
Sell my car and buy a used SUV or crew cab pickup truck


Find a Bible reading plan (such as this one) that works for me … and use it regularly!
Read and study Scripture regularly and more thoroughly
Seek opportunities to improve (i.e. parenting, photography, blog writing, etc.)
Have regular conversations with Lisa January 14 – the shenanigans have begun!
Create a new resume
Get a job with new resume
Join a professional organization and get involved in the local chapter
Finish The Story Bible study May 27
Lead a small group Bible study August 27 – Finished the 12-week study series, “12 Women of the Bible”
Read 12 books (one per month) 1. Being Christian – Rowan Williams; 2. Captivated By You (Book 4 of The Crossfire Series) – Sylvia Day; 3. Chic & Slim: How Those Chic French Women Eat All That Rich Food And Still Stay Slim – Anne Barone; 4. Fighting Back With Joy – Margaret Feinberg; Grey – E.L. James
Keep a prayer journal August 21 – began a prayer journal
Keep a blessings/gratitude jar
Participate in a swap
Get my hair cut at the start of each season January 16 – hair cut; August 5 – hair cut
Have my eyebrows “threaded” by a professional
Get a facial/mani/pedi every other month


Create a 529 Savings Plan – January 30
Potty train (no more diapers) by second birthday
Continue weekly classes at The Little Gym  January 8 – Kamden was promoted to the “Birds” class (for kids 10-18 months);  May 21 – Kamden graduated from the Birds class and got promoted to Beast status. He still wears the medal around his neck. Kamden’s last class at TLG was August 24.
Enroll in Kinder-music
Schedule one play date a month
Mommy + Me photo session for Mother’s Day SUCCESS – May 8



Plant a tree
Make a special craft or memento
Install book shelves in his bedroom
Read a book before bedtime every night Kamden’s favorites are Little Blue Truck and God Knows You.


Surprise Husband with a meaningful gift
Continue donating breast milk to the Mother’s Milk Bank of North Texas January 5 – Donated 332 ounces. January 22 – My pumping days are officially over. You can read why here. As sad as I am, I was able to donated 3,650 ounces to the MMBNT.
Donate to a charity
Throw a surprise party for someone I attended a surprise birthday party on August 15, that counts, right?!
Attend a wedding Jess and Grant “tied the knot” on September 6 – it was such a great wedding full of family and friends, beautiful location (Lost Oak Winery), delicious food, and hilarious toasts from the maid of honor and best man.
Attend a baby shower May 2 for RevL and RevT and Baby E
Leave a 100% tip for excellent service
Volunteer at least five hours each month
Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity
Send a “just because” gift to someone
Send 12 handwritten notes (one per month)
Send a care package to a soldier
Celebrate special milestones (i.e. birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) with greeting cards


Go to Bova for a custom ring design consultation
Go to Bova and have my ring and earrings cleaned
Have a ladies’ night once a quarter
February 13 – dinner and movie
March 13 – breakfast with the Zachry’s (and Kamden too)
August 8 – dinner with moms

Attend a college sporting event
Attend a professional sport event
Invest in quality luggage … and use it!
Visit three museums January 6 – Perot Museum of Nature and Science in Dallas; February 20 – Clinton Presidential Center & Library; July 14 – second trip to the Perot Museum; August 14 – Dallas Aquarium with Kamden, Mom, and Aunt Georgia
Visit Ruthie in Austin
Visit Lisa in Virginia
Visit Jenny in North Dakota
Visit Jacqueline in Houston
Visit Heather in Houston
Visit Jen in Arizona
Visit a Presidential Museum February 20 – Clinton Presidential Center & Library in Little Rock, Arkansas
Visit a popular landmark I’ve never seen before
Go to Lake Ouachita (Arkansas) with Husband’s family
Go to Fredericksburg, Texas
Go hunting
Play a round of golf April 10
Go to a drive-in movie
Shoot a bow-and-arrow
Compete in a shooting sport
Complete a fitness challenge
Go paddle boarding
Attend a cooking class
Attend a line dancing class at Billy Bob’s

And for good measure …

Read and study the Bible for 31 consecutive days following a specific reading plan. DONE!

Exercise 1,500 minutes in a month, or 75 minutes every week day, and avoid “bad for me” foods. FAIL!

Walk a minimum of 8,000 steps every day for 31 days (must wear pedometer). PARTIAL SUCCESS – I wore my pedometer every day but I did not get a minimum of 8K daily steps. But some days were better than others and there were even a few days where I walked in excess of 10K steps, so maybe I averaged 8K instead. I’ll try harder next month.

Walk 10,000 steps every day for 30 days. Begin the “Total Transformation” challenge at the gym. Exercise like it’s my job. Purchase a pair of cycling shoes with bike clips. The month of March was a resounding success at failing miserably. The only thing I accomplished from this list was purchasing a pair of cycle shoes with bike clips, which I thought I did this in March but it doesn’t really matter.

Submit five articles for SJM. Fail, I only submitted two. Exercise 2,000 minutes in 31 days. Fail.

Write four articles for SJM. FAIL – All of my writing efforts this month were focused on “30 Days of Manna.” Exercise 2,000 minutes in 30 days. Semi-Failure. I logged 1.505 minutes in June.

Write four articles for SJM. FAIL – I submitted one. Publish a weekly health update. SUCCESS! Log 2,000 minutes of exercise. MAJOR FAIL! Make reservations for a mini family vacation. FAIL.

Register for a 5K race. FAIL.

Meal plan for a week SEMI-FAIL and submit two articles each to SJM and MomQuery DOUBLE FAIL.

Schedule five mini-photo sessions at church’s pumpkin patch.


Mind + Body Transformation: Weeks 12 + 13

Weekly Update

Weight on September 26, 2015 // 264

Current Celebrations:

  • Brandon is home from the hospital and his sense of humor and ornery personality are in full gear. #TeamBrandon is going to kick cancer’s ass!
  • I had a lengthy conversation with the LM Health Coach last week about my struggles and goals, health wise, and I don’t want to disappoint him. I know what I need to do but I’ve got to follow through. Food is good and life is hard.


  • Scale went back up this week.
  • Too few trips to the gym and too many non-healthy meals.

Pounds Lost:

  • Zero

Goals for the week ahead:

  • Enroll in the gym’s “Walk-Tober” competition with a personal goal of 1,031 (10th month with 31 days) minutes of exercise logged during the month of October
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat more fruits and vegetables – like I told the Health Coach I would!

5K Practice:

  • No 5K practice recently.


Weekend Shenanigans

Last Wednesday morning, our weekend plans looked like this:

  • Thursday – a day-trip to Salado to visit a friend and her new baby
  • Friday + Saturday – an overnight stay in East Texas with the in-laws/grandparents
  • Sunday – church and dinner with Pastor and small group leaders

Then, by Wednesday evening, our plans changed. If you have an opportunity to help someone, just do it. There is nothing written in the Book of Visiting Grandparents that we *had* to visit this particular weekend anyway. Thankfully, they were understanding when we explained what we were doing and for whom.

Britton and Kristen are friends I consider family, the daughters I’ll never have, and the nieces I spoil. It’s pretty awesome being Auntie Nee to these two lovely ladies.


When their mother asked me to love them extra while their dad was in the hospital, I jumped at the opportunity. Husband, Kamden, and I were happy to be their hosts. We provided the room and board while they entertained us with their contagious laughs. Husband and Kirsten are kindred spirits with their introverted personalities and they both eat dry cereal out of a cup. Weirdos! Kamden loved the extra attention – story time with Kirsten at the table and funny selfies with Britton en route to the fro-yo shop.




Just when we thought our weekend couldn’t get better, Tropical Storm Jackson made landfall at the Hutchison Homestead. Husband and I went from having two teenage girls to two toddler boys at our house in just a few hours.

Kamden and Jackson met at The Little Gym a year ago and are now classmates in pre-school. Jackson is an only child too and Kamden definitely displayed some defensiveness (i.e. hoarding toys and clinging to Daddy), but once he realized Jackson was staying for the long haul, all was well. And what better way to welcome Jackson to the ranch than show him the flatbed trailer or how to climb a fence?!





When your bubble blowing lawn mower quits working, your buddy helps fix it. Or stares at it. Or stomps on it. Or both. It’s the ranch way.



The boys eventually made their way to the barn to sit on the tractor and bang wire panels against metal walls to make as much noise as humanly possible. They succeeded. Jackson was seriously excited about sitting in the driver’s seat on the tractor too!





After a quick snack and hydration break, it was time to play with balls, more bubbles, and stand on the big pile of rocks.




To cap off our evening, the boys decorated the concrete in front of the garage with sidewalk chalk and took turns riding the tricycle. At one point, while Jackson was sitting in the seat, Kamden was standing on the back. Jackson didn’t like it so he’d turn around and push Kamden away. Can’t say I blame the kid! (Notice Jackson is holding his piece of chalk while steering the tricycle and Kamden is covered in dust and dirt from the rock pile. It’s a hard life for these two toddlers!)



It was a crazy, whirlwind weekend full of laughs and kiddos from 20 months to 16 years. Husband and I had a blast, but we all took a nap Sunday afternoon!

How was your weekend?


Mind + Body Transformation: Weeks 10 + 11

Weekly Update

Weight on September 10, 2015 // 258

Current Celebrations:

  • Kamden is doing wonderfully at school.
  • Husband has been off from work all week.
  • It warms my heart to help friends/family in need.
  • Newborn cuddles are the best kind.


  • Too few trips to the gym in the last two weeks
  • Food is my weaknesses.
  • When ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people.

Pounds Lost:

  • Zero – still at 258 (though it did get as high as 264 last week).

Goals for the week ahead:

  • Go to the gym Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.
  • Drink more water.
  • Eat less crap.

5K Practice:

  • No mile5K practice this week or last.

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