Regular Joes

By: Brady Evans Venables

Well, we’ve finally done it. We just sold the farm. Moved into a subdivision. Downsized from 6 acres to .3 acres. We don’t see our horses every day anymore. They’re 2 miles away from our neighborhood being boarded. We’ve officially changed our lifestyle – we used to exude “horse people” status and now we are just regular joes.

The farm

The farm

Why did we do it? After quitting our jobs in North Carolina 5 years ago and giving up our nice, comfortable home to live on the farm? Why sell it and start all over again? It was the kid.

We used to work arm to arm on the weekends – we’d do some manual labor, hop on the horses for a ride, take showers, and head to town for a dinner out. The baby came along and with the baby comes a full time caregiver. We began tag-teaming farm work and parenting, passing in the night, doing “shifts,” barely connecting with each other. We felt guilty for not having family time, guilty for not having horse time, guilty for not having couple time.

Our family on the farm

Our family on the farm

It all started when my husband walked in the door and said “sometimes I almost wish we didn’t have this farm,” sighed, and collapsed on the sofa. I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted off my chest because I had been thinking the same thing for weeks but was too scared to say it.

We started talking about selling the farm, tabling the discussion, and bringing it up again. We started looking at the finances of moving and boarding the horses, perusing for houses in family-friendly neighborhoods, and crying.

Halloween outside our new home

Halloween outside our new home

We knew what we had to do. Sell the farm. Prioritize our family. Get rid of the guilt. About 15 months after our first discussion about giving up the lifestyle, I sit here in our new home with a tiny yard and neighborhood pool, having just visited the horses 2 miles away, and sigh. Relief.

Our son won’t grow up on the farm and learn “work ethic” like everyone claimed he would. But he will learn the value of family and he can learn work ethic like my husband and I did – in a regular suburban home. We miss it. We don’t regret it. Learning that missing something and regretting something are two very different emotions was an important step in this journey.

A Pantry Essential

By: Brady Evans

When you think of a pantry item you should never be without you may immediately picture flour, rice, canned vegetables or soup. I’m here to tell you that the pantry item on your
grocery list you should never be without is SALSA. Salsa is cheap, adds tons of flavor and salsafiber to meals, can be used a million different ways, and you will soon see why it is the MVP of your pantry.

Recipes you can make – from slow cooker feasts to quick and dirty snacks – with salsa are endless. Whether you are a vegetarian or live on meat, salsa is here to turn your dinner dilemma into a dinner you can’t wait for!

Here are some of my favorites that feature salsa as the main ingredient:

Salsa chicken – Combine one jar of salsa and chicken breasts (or a couple of cans of black beans) in the slow cooker and allow it cook all day.  Chicken breasts can even start frozen.  Serve over rice, in tacos, or in burritos when it is dinner time! Protein, veggies, and flavor!  What’s not to love?

Scrambled eggs and salsa – Scramble some eggs and top with salsa for a spiced up spin on your usual breakfast. Or have this breakfast for dinner.

Salsa soup Recipe here – Salsa, protein, and some chicken broth are combined to make an awesome soup. Top with a squeeze of lime, avocado chunks, and some cilantro and you’ll feel like you are eating at a restaurant.

Salsa chicken chiliRecipe here – Warm up with salsa chicken chili. You’re only four ingredients away from your new favorite meal.

These four recipe ideas should add some spice to your meal routine!

Teaching Our Children

By: Brady Evans

My heart broke over Christmas break. I was with my son for two weeks straight because I’m in education and have the luxury of that winter holiday break. And there we were, sitting in the living room, kissing each other, and wrestling, and hugging each other, and talking when I decided that I’d sing some nursery rhymes. After all, at 20 months he seemed of-age. So I busted out the first song that came to my mind, “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” I saw my son, standing in front of me, smiling, and he immediately began the hand motions of the spider crawling up the spout, the rain coming down, and the sun coming out.  And initially I smiled SO BIG and SO PROUD because he knew this song and was executing it so beautifully with such a grin and we were having this special moment. And then it hit me: I didn’t teach him this song. I didn’t teach him “Itsy Bitsy Spider.” He learned that from daycare. And tears filled my eyes.

Hanging out in the daycare parking lot after I picked him up because I couldn't stand to just drive straight home without spending quality times. Most days little buddy is asleep when I leave for work so it is nearly 24 hours when I see him again.

Hanging out in the daycare parking lot after I picked him up because I couldn’t stand to just drive straight home without spending quality time. Most days little buddy is asleep when I leave for work so it is nearly 24 hours when I see him again.

What else does my little boy know that I don’t know he knows? What other vocabulary words, songs, lessons, and more am I failing to reinforce at home? What else did he learn from daycare and not from me?

Don’t get me wrong. It isn’t that I don’t want daycare to teach him. Of course I do. I toured daycares and asked questions about curriculum, lessons, and more (my husband and I are both teachers so obviously it was a priority) but that moment when he sang that song like he’s been doing it for months just hit me hard. I had a feelings of pride, gratitude, jealousy, and hurt all rolled into the tears that filled my eyes.

Watching his obsession with understanding how the wheels on his little bike work - I assume he does this at daycare too - pushing and pulling and analyzing how the wheels turn on their grocery carts and walking toys

Watching his obsession with understanding how the wheels on his little bike work. I assume he does this at daycare too – pushing and pulling and analyzing how the wheels turn on their grocery carts and walking toys.

I know I can’t be the sole teacher of my child and I don’t have a monopoly on filling his brain with knowledge. I know sweet Benjamin will learn from other people throughout his life. I know my son loves his teachers and smiles adoringly at them and I know they love him. They KNOW him. They know when he’s happy or may be slightly feverish. They know what he likes (swinging, books, fans, and lights) and what he doesn’t like (dirty hands, tall slides). And I am thankful for that. I am thankful that I trust his teachers and caregivers to love him, take care of him, and teach him.

Brady and Benjamin

Knowing that even though daycare spends more time with him, nothing replaces mom.

But I never will forget that feeling of not knowing what he knows. Seeing him, at 20 months, have this amazing skill he didn’t learn from his parents. It’s just another artifact of being in a family where both parents work very, very full time jobs.

Virtual Christmas Cards

By: Brady Evans Venables

Our whole lives have gone digital.  Televisions are so crisp that they are almost 3D. Lights are LED and are no longer incandescent. Our smartphones organize everything for us and more. We primarily communicate via Facebook, text, and email. Maybe by telephone if we have to 🙂

Christmas cardsYet, the holidays are the time of year when we all throw back to traditions of yesteryear – mailing greeting cards. Cards get pinned to the refrigerator or placed on the mantle. If you’ve had enough time, you may have searched Pinterest to create a unique holiday card holder.

As for us?  We don’t do Christmas cards. When we had our son, people started dropping comments about looking forward to cards. People would post comments on particularly cute pictures on Facebook saying, “This one is Christmas card material!” I love receiving cards; don’t get me wrong. But I just can’t think about getting cards printed in October or November to mail in December. Choosing the right photo, the right layout, the right stamp. Addressing the envelops! The cost!

So this year, I stayed true to the digital world we live in and used  You basically type in the words you want, upload a few pictures, and you get a movie-quality video that you can email to your loved ones or post on social media. We’re just a few days out from Christmas and the rest of the holidays, but if you are feeling the urge to get a last-minute holiday greeting out, give Animoto a try!  Here’s ours.

Limiting Our TV Time

By: Brady Evans

We are in the middle of moving. We were living on a small hobby horse farm and we gave it up in favor of subdivision life – where kids are riding bikes instead of horses, lemonade stands are summer activities rather than mending fences, and spare time is spent chatting tvwith the neighbors rather than mucking the barn. We are giving up a lot that we’ll miss but we are also gaining a lot that we’re looking forward to.

In the move, we were without television for about two weeks. Just tonight it was reconnected. And I’m a little bit sad. I loved the two weeks of silence. I loved that the impulse of turning on the TV after work to check the news was gone. Having no interference in conversations was nice.

TV has an importance place in our life, for sure. I learn so much from television. I use it for entertainment on Sunday nights (The Walking Dead!).  It helps me stay connected to local and national events. If you aren’t careful, though, it can become an additional “family member.” Always interjecting – interrupting conversations – participating at the dinner table.

So now that the TV is back, what can we do to make sure it doesn’t regain the place it formerly had in our family?

  • Set an egg timer or timer on our phones to limit the amount of TV
  • Put the remote in an out-of-the-way location
  • Turn it off while doing other activities instead of having it as background noise
  • Don’t channel surf – if something we are interested in is on, watch it.  If nothing we’re interested is on, then lose it.

Now that we don’t have the farm – the chores, the to-do list, the hobby – we may fall into unhealthy media habits. Even though we’re in a neighborhood now we can still definitely get out and be just as active with a little special attention.

What I Do for Fun

By: Brady Evans

The other day someone asked me what I like to do for fun. I sat there, stunned into silence. I know I have fun. I laugh and smile. I take pictures and post them to Facebook and Instagram. But what do I like to do for fun?


I know what I used to like to do.  I used to like to ride my horse, train for endurance runs, and run my food blog.

I can’t remember when I last rode my horse, I haven’t run regularly since 2013, and my food blog no longer exists on the Internet.

I am embarrassed to say that what I like to do for fun is play with my child and spend time with my husband. I am not sure why. There’s this expectation, maybe put forth by my own consciousness, but probably put forth more by society, that I am supposed to have something external to my family that I do for fun. Being a mom can’t be my fun. Parenting can’t be my hobby.


Why? The thing I look forward to every day is picking up my son from daycare. I live for Saturday morning naps with my baby. My husband and I have pillow talk each night about how our son is growing and developing. We relive the funny things he did or retell stories of his day that the other parent may have missed.


I don’t run anymore. I don’t ride my horse. I don’t food blog. I don’t miss those things. What I do for fun is mother. And that’s okay. It shouldn’t be embarrassing. I should be proud of it. This stage of life is no longer about me – it is about us. So when you ask me what I do for fun, consider asking what WE do for fun. We walk our dogs, we go to the park, we have tickle fights, and we read books about animals.

The 21st Century Baby Book

By: Brady Evans

My child’s baby book is actually an email account. When I was pregnant with him I secured his name as an account with my email provider and began writing him short notes. Now, 18 months since his day of birth, I imagine his inbox is filled with hundreds of short notes, images, and videos documenting his life.

Letters to my son

That’s what this world has become.  Paper baby books aren’t a thing much anymore, I imagine It wasn’t much of a thing even in my infancy. My book is only partially filled out from my days as a baby. We all organize and live by our phones, so it made so much sense to me to be able to document milestones and memorable events via my phone rather than sitting down and filling in the blanks on some printed template. What if I want to share things that there are no spaces for in the book? What if there are spaces in the book for things I don’t know?

Letters to my son

I haven’t yet imagined the day when I will give him the credentials to sign into the email account. And it may be painful – after all, the account is filled with memories from loved ones who may have passed on by that time. And when I give him the credentials he may not even care to sit down and take the time to read through the overstuffed inbox. But I know when he’s in my situation – hopefully with a child of his own on the way – he’ll wonder about his childhood and this is the perfect way for us to document it.

Letters to my son


By: Brady Evans

I am currently holding myself back from getting a tattoo.

I look around and see coworkers, strangers, and people I admire intellectually, professionally, and socially with tattoos.  I watch the news and see tatted skin.  I drive tattoo-1179512through Lexington and into Columbia and pass by at least 6 tattoo establishments.  No one talks about tattoos anymore.  When referencing someone, no one ever says, “AND he had TATTOOS!”  No doubt they are becoming more acceptable and more the norm.

I heard a story on NPR about Ice Man (by the way, I remember when he was found in 1991 – I was just in elementary school but it made a huge impact on me) and I heard that he was tattooed.  Tattoos have been present in our culture for a long time!

So, I am sitting here holding myself back from getting a tattoo.  I already have two.  This surprises most people.  These two stay hidden all of the time – one is on my ribs and the other on my shoulder.  They stay hidden because I am still not sure what people think about them.  I wanted them in a place that was covered day to day.  But then…what’s the point of a tattoo if no one sees it?  Are tattoos for the wearer or the viewer?  A part of me thinks both.

My dog died.  That’s what my new tattoo will be about.  The grief my husband and I have experienced is new to both of us and has surprised us both.  For some reason I think that tattooing her memory on my body will help.  It probably won’t.  It will, however, give me a reason to bring her up (when people ask about the tattoo – if it is not hidden).  I will see it in the mirror and be reminded of her.

What’s your opinion on tattoos?  Tacky?  Unprofessional?  Sweet?  Do you have a tattoo?  Why did you get it?

Cloth Diapers

It is Sunday again so that means that it is laundry day. Doing laundry on the weekends is not novel to most families. It is a time for many mothers to catch up and do load after load after load in between the other tasks of grocery shopping, cleaning, and spending time together as a family. In between my loads of work clothes, toddler clothes, and casual clothes, though, I have another type of laundry going on.

Cloth diapers

Diaper laundry. A lot of people are surprised when they find out I cloth diaper. Some older people, somewhat familiar with the idea from generations past, ask if I have a diaper service. Hm. We can hardly get delivery pizza out in Gilbert, SC let alone diaper pick up and drop off.

I decided to cloth diaper my son when I was pregnant. It took a lot of convincing on the part of my husband to get him on board. Why would we do something so gross when disposable diapers are readily available? How could we dare wash bodily fluids in the same washing machine as our clothes? Are we really going to invest $300 in a stash of cloth diapers when we could just put some diapers on our registry and go from there?

Cloth diapers

So why was I so insistent on cloth diapering? First – it isn’t that crazy of a thing. Many of our parents and certainly our grandparents did it. Second – cloth diapers have come a long way. They aren’t the “plastic pants” of generations past.

Over the span of 2.5 years of diapering, these diapers are estimated to save us $1800-$2200 with an initial investment of only a few hundred dollars. They can be reused for subsequent children as well.

They are better for the environment. It has been estimated that it takes 250 years for a disposable diaper to decompose!

They are adorable.

Some people try to mention that I’m wasting water by rinsing and then washing the diapers. All they have to do is look into how much water is used in the making of disposables.

About washing them in my washing machine – if any parent thinks they’ll never be washing vomit or poop clothes in their washing machine at home they are sadly mistaken! And while we’re talking about poop clothes – in 16 months all of our “blow out” diapers have been disposable we’ve been using while traveling. We love how dependable our cloth diapers are.

cloth diapers

Having this cloth diaper chore probably adds 45 minutes to my week of “stuff to do.” The rewards are worth it, though. I feel good about doing another thing to help the environment, I’m never rushing to the store because we’re out of diapers, I’m not spending any money on diapers, and I can do less laundry on days where we let the diaper be our “pants” because they are so cute!

cloth diapers

If you are interested in cloth diapers, don’t be intimidated. They are easier than one would think! Here are some resources:

Letting Go of the Farm

By: Brady Evans

I’m learning the difference between missing something and regretting something.

The farm

My husband and I are trying to sell our farm. The farm is the reason we moved to South Carolina. It is the reason we jumped into the world of horses. It gave us so much purpose, inspiration, and LIFE for years. But it’s gotten to a point where it drained us of purpose (any purpose other than farm things), inspiration, and life. It was a constant to-do list; we were ridden with guilt every moment we spent NOT working on it. The chores separated our new little family on the weekends.

My husband and I both work full time. My husband travels. The brunt of it ALL (work, motherhood, farm) falls on me a lot. It got to be too much.

The farm

We agonized over the decision. Would we regret leaving the farm? We worked so hard to buy it. We’d never get it back if we sold it. When the baby is older and things are a little easier will we be sorry?

The farm

And then we learned that we could miss the farm without regretting selling it. We know there are many times in a person’s life where changes must be made and things happen beyond our control. And we miss what changed or we miss what might have been. But that doesn’t mean we regret walking one path over another.

When we give up the farm, we will gain a lot of things. The things we gain – time, flexibility, and more – are just as important and valuable as the things we lose.  We’ve purchased our new house and are excited to move in. We haven’t left the farm yet because life has been too busy to list it for sale. But we are so excited for our next chapter.