Two weeks ago I spent 8 days  near Dallas, Texas with my amazing friend, Lidia from Oh So Posh Photography. We taught two 2-day Rise & Shine Workshops geared for advanced photographers looking to work on perfecting their newborn and child photography techniques. I expected the week to be crazy busy, totally fun and full of new experiences. What I *didn’t* expect was to walk away from the trip with two new friends (hey Anne AKA Forever Alone!). We stayed up most nights past 1 AM, talking about everything under the sun like we were a couple of 15 year old girls having a week long sleepover. Lidia got me to drink a glass of her healthy “green juice” and I got her to take wacky Instagram pictures of herself making ridiculous faces.

Because of my work schedule meaning more traveling, and my newfound priorities, I’ve decided that whenever I travel I’ll be bringing one of the kids (or the husband) along with me. This trip I brought my middle kid, and only boy, Nicholas (or Nicholas Pickleous Pie as he’s called by many people who know him!). He was coming off a 4 day hospital stay for a scary run in with osteomyelitis (bone infection) in his ankle, so it was a much needed time away with mama 🙂  Nicholas and Lidia’s daughter, Isadora hit it off and there wasn’t one time in 8 days that the two argued.

Nicholas picked this trip to come with me on as soon as he found out it was going to be in Texas. He had visions of cowboys, cacti and cattle ranches in his little mind and was severely disappointed when we landed in Dallas only to find out that it wasn’t a desert and everyone pretty much looked, talked and dressed like they did in Indiana! So when Lidia and I had a day between teaching classes, we set out to find some “real” Texas fun for Nicholas and Isadora and found it relatively close to Lidia’s house!

On our only other completely free day, Nicholas and I met up with Jen from Sugar Photography. I had started following Jen’s blog over two years ago when she was waiting to adopt her youngest daughter, Coco. People make comments to me all the time about how they “stalk” me…well I have been Jen’s number one blog stalker over the past few years and we have exchanged emails over the years and struck up a long distance friendship 🙂 As soon as the Rise & Shine workshop was planned for the Dallas area, I just knew that I had to meet up with Jen, even if it was just coffee! WELL…Jen was determined that Nicholas and I saw the “real” Texas and immediately said she was taking us to the Stockyards, so we met up our last day in Texas and made the 45 minute drive to Fort Worth with enough time to hit a store to buy “authentic” cowboy and cowgirl hats for Nicholas and Coco, let them each ride a mechanical bull (they were champs!) and grab front row seats on the curb to watch the daily cattle drive.

I don’t know how many times that day Nicholas gave an exuberant, “THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!” but it was a lot. The kid didn’t stop smiling and within a few minutes, he and Coco were teamed up against Jen and I, hiding behind bushes from us, splashing in decorative fountains and laughing at each others’ funny faces. And just like with Lidia, I felt like I instantly had made a connection with Jen. I plan on taking the entire Vanoven clan back to Texas soon and can’t wait to carry out our plans of a dinner party involving Jen and her soon-to-be (June!) husband, their combined SIX kids, and Nick and I with our 3 kids. I’m not sure my mind can fathom the mayhem that is sure to happen!

We’ll be back soon <3

I’m on Instagram, it’s a free app for your smart phone and you can follow me (rachelvanoven) Here’s all my favorite phone pictures from our week in Texas!

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