As with most things, my packing game has dramatically changed since having children. What used to be a strategy of planning outfits a week in advance has become a joke of loading all the things into suitcases two hours before we hit the road. And I mean all the things. The priority isn’t even clothes anymore. There’s always a Target close by if I forget to pack underwear for someone. No, the priority is all the kid crap gear. May all the dramatic feelings commence if I forget a baby monitor or pack n play. Sound machines? Don’t you dare forget them again & be forced to use the free app on your phone to play fake ocean sounds on repeat in your kids’ room while you sit in your own bed unable to check Instagram or watch Netflix. What is this world coming to, I ask you?

If we’re getting real on priorities, though, I should say I am still a snack packing queen. We may only be leaving for less than twenty-four hours with the plan of stopping at restaurants along the way, but my snack bag looks like we’re heading to the beach for twelve hours straight. Snacks are just part of the road trip experience for me. Plus, snacks serve as my travel coping mechanism I choose to embrace as well as push on my children. Can I get that on a t-shirt?

It never fails. Blake & I hardly talk in the final hour leading up to a road trip. We are in full mission mode– loading said crap gear, straightening up all the rooms so we don’t come home to a mess, washing lingering dishes, changing thermostat temps, & making sure everyone has gone potty. When we get in the car, we instinctively high-five. We did it. We haven’t even technically begun our trip, but we’re already won the war because preparation is the entire battle. And some people say it’s too daunting to travel– even on tiny road trips like this one– with small kids. And I get it. But I can’t wait to take big trips with our kids one day so I’m considering this our practice ground, & it’s already become considerably easier. And by easier, I mean I’m becoming much more flexible & mellow. Sometimes.

It was late afternoon the Friday before Mother’s Day. We had planned to meet Sierra (Emma’s birth mom) for lunch in Waco the next day to celebrate Mother’s Day with her. Usually when we meet up in Waco, we go to the Silos because I think it’s the Waco law now that everyone attend if within 50 miles of city limits. But it was forecasted to rain, & we knew anything with JoAnna Gaines name on it would be maxed out to the gills on a holiday weekend centered around motherhood.

This led us me to searching for an alternative plan. I had an agenda for how I wanted this Mother’s Day weekend to go. If we went to Waco, we could have a little family getaway together & then when the actual Mother’s Day got here, I’d live it up Father’s Day style & do my own thing ALONE. Genius.

On VRBO, I found this precious but spacious house perfect for a family our size (or bigger) & the dates were somehow available. I’m pretty sure I booked this house on the coattails of a cancellation because I’ve since looked at their availability, & they’re pretty popular. (I booked the week we were going. I’m telling you. I am not the planner/packer I once was.) When I sent the owner a message asking about restaurants, she referred us to the Homestead Cafe. And that’s when all the pieces started to fall into place.

Cafe Homestead  is part of Homestead Heritage, which is described as an agrarian- and craft-based intentional Christian community. Its literature stresses simplicity, sustainability, self-sufficiency, cooperation, service and quality craftmanship. And while the house we were staying in wasn’t on the actual property, the family who owns it is part of the community & uses this VRBO as part of their business. It is rare that I arrange a unique opportunity like this for my family without a lot of research & planning on the forefront, but I’m going to call this a rare instance of happy-mother’s-day-i’m-dropping-this-trip-in-your-lap-you’re-welcome-love-MotherMary (She is the mother of mothers, so this feels right).

Because Blake had worked that day, we didn’t roll into the driveway until it was already dark outside so we would have to wait & meet the family in the morning when they came to get us for their morning farm chores. When we walked in the house, we were immediately greeted by a piano that looked like it had taught one hundred hands how to make music. In the girls’ room, all sorts of picture books were on display about farm life & gardening as well as a babydoll & a board game or two. We had picked up dinner just before arriving, & the girls made themselves at home on a couple of barstools as we found colorful kids’ plates & cutlery in the cabinets. Outside the back door was a garden & a view of the chickens wandering around on their grass. It wasn’t until we had the kids in bed that I ventured into our bedroom, which was super spacious & connected to a master bath that I wanted as my own. (We’re renovating our bathroom this summer, & I definitely took some mental notes.)

The next morning, we headed off to Cafe Homestead for breakfast (we were meeting Sierra for lunch but figured we would take advantage while in the area). And I am here to say I have dreamed about their food ever since & guarantee I would thoroughly enjoy eating here for every meal for all of my days. And if you are a tea drinker, you MUST try a London Fog. The best I’ve ever tasted, & I’m certain it’s because their milk is as fresh as it comes.

We headed back to the house so we could meet with Billy, Ashley, & some of their kids for farm chores. It was raining by this point, but the girls had rain jackets & boots, & the rest of us didn’t mind getting wet. If anything, I think it added to our experience. It’s funny– I asked Ashley if they had four kids because four kids were with them at this time, & she said, they had nine with one on the way. I almost fell over into a bucket of goat’s milk.

Their kids were the nicest– they taught Collins how to milk their cow, Coffee, & how to feed their chickens all of their kitchen scraps. The girls stuck around with us as we walked back to the house, pointing out different things they were growing in their gardens. They helped Collins pick a carrot & an onion, & they picked a few different herbs for us to taste. When their fourteen year old daughter explained to me why they were growing stevia & how they create a concentrate out of it, I was this close to asking if I could come live with them as an apprentice.

I could have asked Ashley a thousand more questions, but it was time to head back to meet Sierra. By this time, the parking lot was filling up & there was already nearly a two hour wait at the restaurant (we walked right in for breakfast). There was so much to see & do though so we didn’t mind. We watched two blacksmiths work on forming a hammer, we learned about how they grind their wheat to make flour (I bought seven pounds, of course), & we walked through some gardens & saw some animals, including a peacock Collins couldn’t wait to show me.

Sierra & her grandmother & boyfriend had just arrived, & it had started to rain again, so we made our way to the restaurant’s porch to finish waiting for our table. I’ll say it again– the food was amazing. It’s possible my favorite salad ever is on their menu. You may think it’s ridiculous to order a salad at a place with so many options, but when you think about eating lettuce (& everything else) that was grown right there, it’s hardly a boring, tasteless salad. Plus, it came with a homemade roll & butter. Sold. Plus, we ordered their queso, too, so you know. And it’s worth saying every person who worked there was incredible kind. At the table next to us, a baby started crying, & one of the staff came over & asked to hold the baby so the mom could enjoy her meal. I mean….

By this point, the kids were pretty wiped, but we did step into the bookstore before leaving because I had talked with Ashley about some resources to help me start my own vegetable garden. You know I can’t leave somewhere without a new book if I can help it.

Bottom line– I can’t wait to go back. They have two festivals coming up– one for Labor Day & the one they’re most known for the weekend after Thanksgiving. If we don’t get to go to one of these, I may just make the trek on a random Saturday just for a stroll through the garden & a London Fog.


  1. Jenn Winegeart on May 28, 2019 at 1:29 am

    You’re such an inspiring mom. If you stopped right now your kids could grow up and say “wow, I’ve learned so much from my mom.” What a neat adventure to teach them about gardening and farming. Sounds like a special time.

    • Jenna Winegeart on June 17, 2019 at 6:45 pm

      You are so kind, Jenn! Thanks, lady…so much. You & Lincoln will have to come garden with us sometime.

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