End of 2012 & 2013 happenings.

A lot has transpired over the past several weeks around here! I figured it was due time for a blog post full of updates. One of my goals for 2013 is to blog more as it really is a great release for me to type out thoughts on here!

So sit back, relax & prepare yourself for the whirlwind of happenings that have taken place or are currently taking place in the Dixon home…

1. We trained for 13 weeks with some members of my It Works team to run in the Dallas Half Marathon in December. We called the training program “13 weeks to 13.1” and it was so much fun! Every Saturday, we met together for our long runs. Ryan & I were both super proud of 4 friends that accomplished their very first half! Running is one of my favorite things to do and when you combine that with friends, it’s even better. We came back from this race & immediately registered for our next one – the Austin Half in February!

2. We decided this past summer at Ryan’s brother’s wedding that we wanted to throw a New Year’s Eve party for our friends. While we danced the night away at Ross & Bre’s reception, we laughed and had a blast. We decided then & there that we were going to plan a huge party to celebrate life with our friends and what better day to do it than New Years! So we did. For months we made plans, hired a DJ, found a location, created a menu, invited friends and my It Works team, bought decorations, etc. I love this kind of stuff so it was right up my alley! December 31st came and the night was just what we had hoped for – a night of dancing the night away, laughing, and an absolute blast. We even had party crashers coming over from the ballroom next door!

3. Two weeks prior to the end of the year, we got word from our landlord that he wanted to sell us the house we currently live in & absolutely love. This news was definitely an answer to prayer! We had asked him months before if it were an option as we were to a point that we wanted to buy instead of rent (thank you It Works!) and he wasn’t quite sure since he had just purchased the home less than two years ago. Ryan and I felt in our hearts that this home was made for us and our family but we began to look around at other homes for sale here in Tyler. We probably looked at 8-10 houses but nothing really stood out to us or felt right. Nothing compared to our current home. Then, we got that call one day that our landlord had been approached to buy another rental property and he felt it was a great time to sell this house to us so he could purchase the other one. Um, OK! We’ll take it. And so the last two weeks of the year, although crazy, we got everything together & prepared so we could close on December 31st. Yes, a lot happened that particular day! Closing at noon and party that night – wow.

4. The house was just another piece of the puzzle for one particular area of our life that we had been thinking and praying about for a while. For years, Ryan & I have talked about the possibility of adopting a son. But really that all it has ever been discussed as – just a possibility. Until really about 6 months ago. As most of you know, I started with the It Works company in January 2012. It has rocked our world and given us many opportunities for which we thank God for daily. We never thought we could ever afford to adopt…until now. God has also opened other doors along the way that has opened our eyes to this “possibility of adoption.” For one, we found out that Ryan’s company offers grants to employees who adopt. Another is the sweet friend I have made who is on my It Works team that used to be a social worker and has offered great advice and guidance. Third, our awesome cousins in Austin and other friends here in Tyler that have been such a great example to us as we have watched them adopt- what an amazing thing to watch unfold. And finally, hearing an Adoption message series from the Austin Stone Church a couple of months back. All of these things combined made us realize that God was saying – “it’s not a possibility, it’s a reality & the time is now.” Both Ryan & I feel at great peace about this decision and are thrilled for what’s to come and how God is going to work in our family’s life. We are praying now for our son – if he’s already out there, yet to be conceived or in the womb. The girls pray for their “baby brother” at night too, which melts my heart. We mailed off our pre-application forms today along with a required family pic (below) to the agency and would love and appreciate your prayers as we begin this journey to add to our family!

5. Ryan & I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary on January 4th. TEN YEARS?!!! Wow, that went incredibly fast. The past ten years have brought a lot of ups and downs but one thing has always remained the same – our love is STRONG. It’s amazing to me how easy it is to love this man, really. I couldn’t have ask for a better mate to spend my life with – my best friend, my partner, my lover. He and I go together like peanut butter & jelly. To celebrate, we went to a place we’ve wanted to go for a while…Sonoma Valley! We’ve been to Napa several times but had never ventured over to Sonoma. Being the foodies & wine connoisseurs that we are, we thought what better way to spend our anniversary than in a cottage in wine country, cooking & eating! We found the perfect spot near the Plaza – a quaint Victorian style cottage that was warm and cozy. The week was perfection and we thoroughly enjoyed the time away. It was a great start to a fresh year as we had time to fully focus on each other and set new goals for our marriage, our family, our businesses, running, etc. Cheers to another ten, babe!


Holiday Giveaway on 12.12.12.

Who would like to win a bottle of our awesome Defining Gel??? On my team, we call this stuff liquid gold. You can read all about it on my website here. I LOVE my gel and use it daily. It helps tighten and tone skin similar to our popular wraps!

  • Minimizes cellulite appearance
  • Diminishes appearance of varicose veins
  • Improves skin texture & tightness
  • Softens and hydrates
  • Made with natural ingredients
There are 3 ways you can enter to win!
1. Go “like” my page on Facebook & then comment below saying you have done so.
2. Take a look at my website & comment on this blog post with 1 product that interests you the most.
3. Comment here with your email address and what your personal health goal is for 2013.
The more comments you leave, the more entries & chances to win you have! Good luck. I’ll randomly select & email the winner by 5 p.m. tomorrow! Thanks for entering.

Addi’s Dance Improv

Every year at Addi’s school, they have the opportunity to enter a piece of art into a contest. Addi always wants to do it because 1. she LOVES to create stuff and 2. if you enter, you get to attend the ice cream party – hello! most important reason, right here. Here was the post from last year and her painting that ended up going all the way to state! I can’t believe how tiny my babies look in that post – geez, how quickly they grow in a year’s time. Ok, so. Prepare yourself. Here is this year’s submission. She chose to make up her own dance routine for her art this go round. We played this song maybe 3 times to let her rehearse and practice. She called me into the room when she was ready and I hit record. This is what happened…

Addi’s Art Project

Can you believe that? I had to pick my jaw up off the floor! I know I’m partial, but seriously…I was AMAZED. I showed Ryan and he was blown away. Pure, raw, natural talent right there. And all improv! I’m one proud momma.

Doing the next right thing.

Last night we went to a mentorship training at our church for a program we are involved in called Gospel Village. (Which they are desperately needing more mentors by the way, if you have an interest, please let us know! The demand from Tyler schools is very high. There is a great need.) Anyways, at the training, they made mention of an email that Ryan had sent to the director about his experience thus far mentoring. She said it “flooded the church offices” the day he sent it. I had not read or heard about this email until it was mentioned last night so immediately when we got home I asked him to send it to me!!! I read it and it brought many tears to my eyes. Our mentee boy is changing OUR lives through this program. And wow…I am so incredibly thankful to be married to a man who has a heart like this:

“The greatest hour of my week is now on Tuesday.
Every Tuesday I now have a very special appointment from around 11am till noon. I drive 1/4 mile down the road in my late father-in-laws, beat-up, blue Chevy truck to Caldwell Elementary. I get out, check in at the front desk, then head though large halls of this worn-out school towards the cafeteria.
I walk though the doors and am greeted with chitter chatter and turning heads like a celebrity just walked in. I then use my “where’s Waldo?” skills to find the prettiest face in the room, my daughter Addison. She waves at me with the hugest smile and welcomes me over to her table and the space that she has saved for me.
I spend about 30 precious minutes in conversing with her all-the-while in awe that she is mine. I ask about her day so far while she eats her usual peanut butter only, peanut butter sandwich. She doesn’t stop smiling. Neither can I. Her table buddies can’t help but fill me in with all they have going on in their little lives as well. Surrounding table kiddos make their presence know as well which usually results in [school counselor] and the other lunchroom adults working to control the volume.
At around 11:25 [mentee’s] class walks into the room. Addi alerts me of his arrival, makes me hug her, tells me she loves me and then goodbye. I leave her table to join up in the lunch line with [mentee] and his class.
I greet him and his buddies with a high five. [mentee] usually says with a smile, “Hey Mr. Ryan!” and asks “Did you bring money for food?” to which I always say “YES!!!”. We go though the line, he helps be get chocolate milk, juice and the usual Tuesday flavorless and undercooked pizza option. I see the underlying pride in his step as he seems to really appreciate that I am here. Here for him. We check out at the register and walk outside to the vacant metal picnic tables overlooking the playground.
For the next 30 minutes, we have time without the cafeteria clamor to talk. Simply talk. Life, goals, sports, school, friends, influence and Spiderman. He was just awarded the opportunity to participate in a student leadership council meeting by his teacher, Ms. [teacher], which meets every Tuesday. This has provided some great talks for him and I as we discuss leadership, good versus bad and examples of both. A golden opportunity for me to share great things that my mentors in life have taught me.
My late father-in-law “Kip”, Traci’s dad, was an amazing mentor to everyone he came in contact with. He had an crazy way of motivating people to go above and beyond. He truly was above the norm. He preached and lived a life that was intent on living it to the fullest. Today one conversation that came up was in regards to leadership and making good decisions. I told him that one of my favorite things the Traci’s dad taught me is that, “When you don’t know what to do next, you do the next right thing.”
The lunch time goes so quickly. We ate then played a game of UNO as we talked. We then leave to throw away our trash and put up our trays. By this time his class is usually in line to go back to their room but today we got a bit distracted by our game. I walked him to his room, dismissed with a high 5 and then said our simple goodbyes. I always end with, “Thanks for having lunch with me. I’ll see you next week” which usually receives a simple “Ok. Bye Mr Ryan.”
I then walk differently down the stairs, past the undersized administrations office and back though the doors that I came in less than 1 hour ago. The difference now is I am full. Full of a sense of worth, value, purpose and positive impact. I drive back home in that old, battered, blue truck reflecting on my influence and thankful for those who have influenced my life in the even the simplest ways.
When presented with the opportunity to serve in this manner, I really didn’t feel comfortable with the one-on-one as that is honestly, not my style. It is a heavy responsibility and one that I did not want to take 1/2-hearted or without focused intention. When debating with the decision to become a mentor with Gospel Village, those words of wisdom from my favorite mentor, Kip, rang true again. When you don’t know what to do next, do the next right thing. This has been not only the right thing to do, but has also become literally the greatest and most important hour of my week.”

Shepherd’s Pie (thank you, Paula Deen)

I love this super easy, super tasty recipe! Last night, we cooked dinner for a friend’s birthday & I made them in individual ramekins. It’s from Paula, so yes – it has butter & sour cream & then a little bit more butter. YUM!

Ingredients

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed vegetables or niblet corn, prepared
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 to 10 medium red new potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 12 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 cups instant biscuit mix

Directions

Beef Layer: Saute onions in 2 tablespoons butter. Add ground beef. After beef is browned, add tomato sauce; Mix in vegetables. Add salt and pepper, to taste.

Potato Layer: Peel and slice potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Cook in boiling water for approximately 15 minutes or until fork-tender. Whip potatoes with electric mixer; mix until moderately smooth. Don’t over beat them; a few lumps are nice. Add 1/2 cup heated milk, 1/2 cup butter, and sour cream. Salt and pepper, to taste. Whip until mixed. Adjust thickness by adding more milk, if desired.

Biscuit Layer: Combine biscuit mix and 1 cup milk. The mix should be thinner than normal biscuit mix but not runny.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan, or any similar casserole dish. Layer half way up with the mashed potatoes. Next, spread a layer of mixed vegetables or niblet corn on top of potatoes. Then add a layer of the meat. Pour biscuit mix over meat. Melt 4 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over top. Bake for approximately 35 to 45 minutes until top is golden brown.

Addi’s Luau Party

My big girl turned 6 last Friday! While trying to decide for months and months what kind of party she wanted to have (because this is a BIG deal, you know), her new Aunt Bre suggested a luau. Addi LOVED that idea so we went with it. Aloha!

Ryan grilled jerk chicken & pineapple kabobs & made his delicious mango salsa. I put together some hawaiian ham & cheese sandwiches and ordered tasty cupcakes from a friend. We bought flowery leis & headed out to the lake for the party. We figured if you are going to a luau, what better spot than by water!

Addi had a blast with all her friends, which of course fills my heart. We played Hot Pineapple (instead of Hot Potato), Musical Beach Towels (instead of Musical Chairs), and of course the Limbo!

We had a fun time celebrating our Addi and the 6 years of joy she has brought to us. She is one amazing little girl!

The skinny on what’s been going on…

I just wanted to update you all on our journey with It Works! Global. As you all know, I signed up as a distributor back in January. It has truly been an amazing ride! The opportunity to get in on the ground level of a Christian based company that is growing exponentially has been huge for our family. The company has grown over 400% since the beginning of the year. They set an annual goal of $100 million for 2012…it’s only July and we’ve already accomplished this mission! With our “first to market” product, the Ultimate Body Applicator, and our all-natural supplements, this company continues to grow & expand by leaps & bounds. The crazy part is, this is only the beginning of things to come! The market is not saturated by any means and there are still so many areas & people that have yet to hear about It Works!

Ryan & I have been thoroughly impressed with not only the products but the people in the company. The corporate leadership team truly cares about the distributors and strive to help us as much as they can achieve our goals. They provide all the tools you need to be successful in this business. They strive to help families get out of debt. They want to put cash in our pockets, not just reward distributors with cars or other gifts, which I like! The CEO & his wife are precious, Christian people (former teachers & coaches), that care & pray for us daily. They have a servant leadership perspective which is why I believe their company is so blessed. We just spent this last weekend in Florida at a corporate training event with all of these awesome people and are coming home pumped & inspired! We definitely feel we are in the right place at the right time.

I wanted to share this with you guys for two reasons. First, if any of you (or anyone you know) has an interest in joining my team & jumping on board this great opportunity, let me know! I would love to help you get started. I get excited to share about it and would be happy to call you or email info. It is changing our lives and the lives of several of our friends & family every day. We have been able to start multiple savings accounts, get out of debt, give more, and travel more! It all sort of feels surreal and we are so, so thankful. The thing I love is that you don’t have to be a salesperson to be successful- you just share & people want these amazing products! Second, please pray for Ryan & I as our business & team continues to grow. We want to be good stewards with what God has blessed us with. We cling to the verse in Luke, “to whom much is given, much is required” and want to honor God along this journey. We also want to be good leaders as we help others reach their goals in this company.

Thank you all so much for your support & prayers!

Give me a push.

We went for a run a few mornings ago and then let the girls ride their bikes afterwards. They love to ride bikes at the trails. Their little legs get quite a workout! Towards the end of our loop around the park, Addi was getting tired and would ask me for a push. I would gently push her along and she would peddle for a while and then need another push. Kam is pretty fearless when it comes to riding bikes…she whips around, goes up & down hills like nobody’s business. Addi on the other hand it a bit more timid, we really have to coach and encourage her. It constantly amazes me how different our girls are.

Anyways, as I walked along side my babies that day, I got to thinking. I hope & pray I can always be there for my girls when they need a little push in life. Those times when things get downright hard, when they set a goal to accomplish something, when their hearts get broken, there’s a big test at school, a friend lets them down, they lose the game, they want to try something new, etc. I want to be there for them when they need me most. To help them keep going. To press into Christ, learn from mistakes, grow in trials, and move on. To keep on keepin’ on, as my Dad used to say. We tell our girls all the time, “Dixons don’t give up!” I want to encourage them to be the best they can be while loving them the best that I can. I want to motivate them to achieve their dreams and accomplish their goals. I want them to know that mommy loves them no matter what and I will always be there to give them a little push when they need it.

I love these two and thank God for them and the way they push me to strive to be a better person.

East Coast Tour Stop 2: Asheville, NC

After leaving the beautiful state of Alabama, we headed north to Asheville, North Carolina for the weekend. Oh my goodness, was this a beautiful drive! This is pretty much what it looked like the entire way…

Wow, what a great drive – just gorgeous. These views never got old! Minus the traffic we got stuck in Atlanta, it was smooth sailing. We got to Asheville Friday evening, checked in to our hotel and headed to dinner. We went downtown to the Mellow Mushroom and devoured some amazing pizza. This was our first experience at Mellow – glad to know there is one in the DFW area. We will be visiting it! The girls thought it was pretty fun to be out passed their bedtime eating pizza! Took our leftovers and headed back to hotel to crash out after a long day of traveling.

The next day, I worked a bit that morning. Can I just say that I love being on the ground floor of a company that is growing exponentially – the opportunity, everywhere is HUGE! Makes it much fun. Anyways, after I got done talking with salons and spas…we swam, walked around downtown to see the sites, toured some breweries, saw some really cool art, ate more good food and just enjoyed our time in this beautiful city. Asheville really is a neat place!

Next stop: Virginia & Washington D.C.!

East Coast Tour Stop 1: Birmingham, AL

We had such an awesome time on our massive road trip! Surprisingly, we actually loved driving. We didn’t know what to expect, but it really wasn’t bad at all! The girls were so good and we had a ton of fun at each of our destinations along the way. As promised, I’m posting a series of blog posts on each of our 5 stops.

We left Tyler on late Thursday afternoon, after Princess Dance Camp. (Side note: How stinkin cute are these 2? Hannah is one of Addi’s BFF’s and they attended this camp together & had a great time.)

Anyways we got on the road after dance camp and a crazy busy/stressful day for Ryan. We popped 2 Confianzas and drove all the way to Birmingham, Alabama – our first of many stops. To kick off our trip, we decided to stop for dinner and have some true Louisiana cuisine. Aaaaahhh yes, Chickfila. What? Who doesn’t crave Chickfila on every single road trip? It has to be done. Local cajun food? Nah, give me waffle fries and honey mustard.

Louisiana on to Mississippi. It was neat crossing the Mississippi River, which I learned was the largest river system in North America. Bridges amaze me. To think of all the work, design, architecture that goes into building a structure that safely transports humans across a body of water – it’s astounding. I sort of wanted to get out & run across it, but realized that might not be the safest idea.

From about Jackson, Mississippi on to Alabama, it was dark so we couldn’t see much. Ryan and I had some great talks while the girls slept. We tend to solve all the world’s problems on the road. We brainstorm, make plans, set goals, talk about frustrations and things we’ve learned, etc. I love these sweet times with my husband. Two exciting things did take place during the course of the evening. First, we hit, or should I say exploded, an armadillo. I guess when this happens in Texas, it’s not quite as dramatic – they just roll over, legs up. But in Mississippi, this little guy didn’t stand a chance…it was like one of those alien scenes on Men in Black. Bam – a million splattered pieces. Good thing the girls were asleep while Ryan and I gagged for about ten minutes. Second exciting thing…I downloaded the ever popular app, Instagram and started using it on every photo for the entirety of the trip. I get to choose a cool background scheme or frame for each one? Neat! Why have I not done this sooner? It enhanced my already obsessive compulsive desire to photograph every single thing. My family loves and is never annoyed by this. Ever. Instagram Exhibit A: here’s what the trip from MS to AL looked like…

Thank the sweet Lord for creating coffee beans. We arrived in Birmingham well after midnight. I walk in to check us in and there is literally no one to be seen in the lobby or front desk. I stood there. And stood there. And stood there. I called the hotel and the phone at the front desk rang and rang and rang and rang. I was totally creeped out and felt like I was on a scary movie or Punked. I called again. I stood there some more. FINALLY…someone came around the corner (from a smoke break) to check me in. Clearly, he was not aware that we just traveled clear across America, for the love. We checked in and crashed out! The next morning, we enjoyed a yummy breakfast before mommy had to get to work. These girls are pure sunshine.

I had an appointment with a salon regarding It Works. After a great meeting, they signed up to join my team! I just love this company and how many new people I’m getting the opportunity to meet. The products are awesome, but the people make it so fun! After a few more stops in AL, we hit the road again headed to Asheville, North Carolina…which we L-O-V-E-D.

Stay tuned for more Instagram goodness headed your way!

Road Trip 2012

Tomorrow afternoon, we will head out on to the open road for the mother of all road trips. 2,500 miles. 6 states. 10 days. 2 kids. 1 car. We may have lost our minds. Prayers are much appreciated!

A night in Birmingham, Alabama, weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, most of the week in Lorton, Virginia, a couple of days in Chattanooga, Tennessee, one night in Jackson, Mississippi and then back to the great state of Texas. This trip is part work/mostly fun. Ryan will be working remotely, like usual. I have some appointments for my It Works! business along the way. We are pumped to see the mountains. We are looking forward to spending time with family in VA and TN. The girls are stocked up with coloring books, brand new crayons, movies loaded on the iPad, snacks galore, new batteries for their Leapster Explorers, books, map of the USA, etc. They are all set. Plus, they couldn’t be more excited to “stay in hotels and swim.” I’m personally looking forward to exploring states I have never been to, tasting new food and seeing more of God’s beautiful creation. I plan to write a blog post about each city we stay in, so stay tuned to hear all about our adventure!

Mini Vacay, My Amazing Team, First Tooth & Teacher Appreciation Gift

Wow! I’m a blog slacker! Seriously. I apologize for my lack of attendance here in blogland. Heck, no one probably even looks at this thing anymore. Is anyone even out there? Hello? Can you hear me? Anyone? Bueller? Attention: I’m finally posting a blog!

Mini Vacay

This past weekend, we headed down to San Antonio with friends for some time away. We had a blast! San Antonio is a great place for family vacations. It’s just close enough where driving is not terrible. There are plenty of options of things to do for both children & adults. We did Sea World and Schlitterbahn. We headed to the Mercado & had delicious mexican cuisine & margaritas at Mi Tierra. We rode a “Cinderalla” carriage ride. We laughed. We got up hastily at 12:30 a.m. & carried our sleeping children down 6 flights of stairs when the fire alarm at the hotel was going off. OK, so that part wasn’t fun. At all. Nor was it very funny to find out that someone decided to pull it for a dirty joke. I was sort of impressed by the fact that I followed all the rules of a fire drill: touching the door before opening it, taking the stairs, putting on a hat to cover nasty bed head, etc. It was a great weekend with friends!

My Amazing Team

My It Works! team is blowing it up. I’m quickly figuring out that “ground level” is an understatement. Thankful I jumped on board with my friend Ashley called me in January! I have a great group of ladies & a few men that are seriously killing it. I love this company. I love helping people get healthy. I love making new friends. And I won’t lie, making extra money is a perk too! We paid off our last credit card this month…woohoo! If you haven’t checked out our great products, click here. Good stuff!

First Tooth

Is it weird to get teary eyed when your first born child loses her first tooth? I mean really, enough is enough. First we did this thing called Kindergarten and now this? I can’t take it! She’s growing up way too fast for my liking. She was such a big girl about the whole pulling of the tooth deal. It has been loose for a while, but when she came home from school yesterday after consuming an apple for snack, it was hanging by a thread. So big girl went and got some floss and yanked that thing out like it was nothing at all! She was so proud. We were so proud. Tooth fairy came and left four quarters. Addi was way pumped by that (which thankfully she wasn’t disappointed since she made mention of “maybe the toof fairy will leave like one hundred dollars or something” the night before).

Teacher Appreciation Gift

My friend Amy was kind enough to share this crafty idea with me. I am lacking in the area of crafty, I’m just saying. So glad I saw Amy while in San Antonio and she gifted me with some of her craftiness. We have truly been blessed this year with fabulous teachers! As you recall, I was pretty worried/upset/depressive/anxious about Addi starting Kindergarten. Ryan & I prayed for her teacher months and months in advance. And boom, God provided an amazing person to us for Addi’s first year. Seriously couldn’t have asked for a better lady to teach and lead my daughter each day. And Kamryn’s preschool teacher has been awesome as well. Both ladies are super caring and give 110% every day. We are so so thankful for both of them. With it being Teacher Appreciate Week, I wanted to give them a little something to shower them with appreciation. Cue Amy’s crafty idea. How cute is this poem? I loved it! And I hope Mrs. Jeanes & Mrs. Kelley know that we mean every word!

Green is for the inspiration you give me each day.

Blue is for your patience in showing me the way.

Orange is for your warmth and caring style.

Yellow is for the way you always make me smile.

Red is for my life that you have touched this year.

You’re a very special teacher just like this jar, that’s clear.

You place knowledge In children’s hands

and melt into their hearts and lives forever.

You’re a “Magnificent” & “Marvelous” teacher

Thank you for being my M&M.

Train Trip

The last email I got from my Dad was on a Thursday. He passed away that Friday. Here’s the last part of his email…

If we ever get the chance to do the train ride to Dallas thing – it is great!  I am pretty sure your girls would be bored to death with the 6th Floor Museum though, so something else would have to be done to entertain them for the 4 hours in downtown.  You and Ryan would love the trip, the museum.  Of course, you would need me to go so you would have a tour guide.  :)

Have a great Thursday.  I love you much.

This email has remained in my Inbox for nearly two years. I can’t delete it. I know I never will. It’s a great reminder to me to make the most of each day we are blessed with. Because we may never get the chance to _____ fill in the blank. Today is a gift the Lord has given, make the most of every opportunity. I love & miss my Dad greatly & cherish all he taught me.

Tomorrow, we are taking that train ride. In honor of my Mom’s birthday, the whole fam is taking a train from Mineola to Dallas. It will be a special day & I’m excited to celebrate with my Mom who I am so thankful for. We’ll go visit that 6th Floor Museum. Then we’ll head on to eat lunch in the West End & spend the afternoon in downtown Dallas before hopping back on the train back home. I am pumped about this memory maker. Although, it makes my heart sad that Dad won’t be there as our tour guide…it makes me SO happy to know that one day when we all get to heaven, he’ll be waiting. And he will give us one heck of a tour up there, no doubt.

Pics to come!

Cowtown 10k

I know, I know. I’ve been MIA from blogging for a while & for that I apologize. Hello, my name is Traci, in case you forgot. Life has been utter insanity lately! Between our normal jobs, the girls’ school, my new It Works biz, running, happenings at True Vine…whew, it’s been crazy. AWESOME…but crazy!

Anyways…

A couple of weeks ago, Ryan & I drove up to Fort Worth for the Cowtown 10k. It was a fun weekend! The night before the race, we went to a quaint little Italian restaurant, Taverna by Lombardi, in downtown Fort Worth that was recommended to me by my boss who lives there. The food was absolutely delicious! Brick oven pizza ranks high on our list of favorite foods. And that risotto was killer. Cheers to a fun date night with my love!

We met up with some old friends Saturday morning at Will Rogers Memorial Center for the 10k and had a blast! Sure makes a race go by quickly when you get to run along side friends you haven’t seen in a while and catch up. One friend I hadn’t seen in over ten years! This is one reason I love running so much. Gives you a chance to travel to different places and share the experience with friends!

That’s all I got for now! I hope to get back to a more consistent blogging schedule soon. Until then…have a great week, friends!

What happens in Vegas…

Last weekend, we up & flew to Vegas to surprise one of our very best friend’s for his birthday. It was SO.MUCH.FUN. Do you have those friends that you don’t see very often (maybe once a year) but when you do it’s like nothing has changed? No warming up needed, just instant comfortableness. <yes, I made that word up. Those friends that make you laugh until you cry. Those friends who you can be completely open, honest, and totally yourself in front of. The friends you can talk and talk and talk and never get tired of talking. I hope you have those kind of friends because they certainly are special! Our longtime friendship with Danny & Ashley is like that and we cherish it.

Some wild and crazy things happened in Vegas, I’m not gonna lie. I guess I’ll break the whole “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” rule and tell you about our mini-vacay. Here are the crazy things we did:

1. We ate an incredible amount of oversized portions of greasy yet completely irresistible food. I mean seriously, look at this. Prepare to drool…

2. Hold on to your hats for this one. We stayed up until at least 10:00 p.m. every night which was really pushing it. I mean good grief, that was midnight Texas time! We would go put on our glasses & comfy clothes, come back down & play the penny slots. We party THAT hard.

3. We actually hit the jackpot one night! $20 on a penny slot…what luck. Holla! Cash out, cash out, cash out.

4. We celebrated Danny’s 21st (ahem) birthday at a fabulous Italian food joint in Caesar’s Palace. I think all four of us could eat Italian for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Quite a carb-filled bond we share.

5. We walked around, shopped, saw the sights & new casinos, perused through art galleries, and just enjoyed each other’s company…away from everything else. It was a blast! Thanks again for devising a sneaky plan Ashley, we loved it. Until next time!

Our chopping block is a “beautiful thing.”

One of Ryan & I’s favorite shows on the Food Network is called Chopped. The premise of the show is that four competitors are given a basket full of odd ingredients (i.e. baby octopus, bok choy, animal crackers, etc.) & they have to create quality & tasty dishes which, as you can imagine, is very tough. First round is to create an appetizer dish within a certain time limit. Then, each dish is judged by a panel of experienced & knowledgable chefs lined up on a chopping block looking table. One dish is “chopped” and that competitor is out of the game. The next round is the entree dish. Same thing…given another basket of weird ingredients to make an entree dish within 30 minutes. Judged. One dish is chopped and on to the final round. Dessert. Two competitors are left and fight to win this kitchen battle. There is always sweat, sometimes blood, and often times tears. The unchopped winner gets $10,000 and usually has a neat story as to what their plans are with the money. Is it weird to cry while watching Food Network? This show gets me every time!

Watching this show the other night got me thinking about my Dad. He taught me a lot during his life here but I continue to learn from him even through his death, his legacy. You see, he made Ryan & I this chopping block a few years ago. He wanted to make us something when we moved into our house in Tyler as a “house warming gift.” He knew we loved cooking & this made for the perfect gift. My Dad was a master craftsman. God blessed him so much in this way, he was a true talent. He could take an old, plain piece of wood and make it beautiful. In fact, he used to say that one of his favorite things to do was “making beautiful things for people he loved.” He was giddy about it anytime he had the opportunity to use this gift of his to give to others. This chopping block has sat on our kitchen counter and has been used almost daily for the past several years. And every single time I use it or look at it, I think of Dad and brings a smile to my face, sometimes tears to my eyes. I love that we have this gift that is so much more than just a piece of wood – it holds so many sweet memories and reminds me of my Dad’s love.

I want to/need to give more to those that I love. I can’t build a darn thing, I’m not talking about wood here. I am not a crafty person! But what I can do is give more freely of quality time, more love, more support, more memory makers, more laughter, more shared meals, more of a shoulder to cry on, more help to those in need. These can be “beautiful things.” I pray that what God blesses me with, I can in turn be a blessing to others. I want to live with my hands and arms wide open. This was actually one of my New Year’s resoultions: Give more. Any selfishness of mine needs to be chopped.

Reset Button

Do you ever have those days where you feel like you’ve just been slammed, have one thing to do after the other, email after email, phone call after phone call, appointment after appointment, your head is spinning, places to go & people to see all the time and on & on & on…and then repeat. That seems to be my life as of lately. Don’t get me wrong, I am certainly not complaining…life is good and the things occupying my time are good. Awesome, really. It’s just BUSY! I have a feeling I’m not alone here. Or maybe I am just weird?

I told Ryan last night, I feel like I need a reset button. You know when your phone is acting all crazy doing weird things and so you just hold down the power button until it shuts down and then comes back on again. Reset and then it works. Or your computer is stuck on something, the little dealy won’t stop spinning, or something isn’t opening correctly. Push restart. Reset and then it works. This is what I need. I need to completely reset. I need some time to shut down, recharge and start back again so I can be at my full potential. A sabbath. God told us this was important and I can see why, especially the older I get. Lately, other than my 7 hours of sleep, I haven’t had anytime like that…just peace and quiet.

This reset for me is usually long distance running. Of which I have been taking a mini break from since the marathon. I’ve gone a few times to the Y to run a few miles on the treadmill. But that’s about it & is such a short time, it doesn’t really count. I’m ready to get back to it and soon. Hours away to think and process and pray. I need & desire this time several times a week for my own sanity (and for the betterment of my entire family!).

What are ways you reset or recharge?

Maybe Ryan & I just need to escape for a few days to the mountains for a camping trip. What do you say, babe?

I just love you so much.

We have designated every Wednesday night as “Dixon Family Night” in 2012. It was one of Ryan & I’s New Year’s resolutions – to set aside one night each week that we marked on our calendar and would not schedule anything with anyone else on that particular night. These nights would be different than other regular nights filled with homework, reading, chores, laundry, etc- we would specifically do something fun & different together. Just our little family.

We have done a variety of different things thus far. Sometimes we stay home and play games like Trouble or Hi Ho Cherry-O. Sometimes we rent a new movie, put on cozy pj’s and munch on popcorn as we all snuggle on the couch together. Sometimes (like tonight) we go out for ice cream and to the Just a Dollar store to let the girls pick out one treat each…”anything you want in the whole entire store!” It’s very exciting as you can imagine. ;) We have really enjoyed these nights and cherish the special memories that we are making with our girls at this age.

Tonight as we were sitting in TCBY enjoying our yummy frozen treat, Kamryn randomly looked up with watery eyes and her chocolate covered mouth and said, “Mommy, I’m so glad you are my Mommy. And Daddy, I’m so glad you are my Daddy. I think I’m gonna cry because I just love you so so much!” Melt my heart. The girl literally had tears welling up in her eyes as she spoke. Here was our sweet four year old daughter expressing how much she loved us and how thankful she was that we were her parents. PRECIOUS. What a sweet moment & one that I want to remember (especially when she becomes a teenager!)…so I came right home and documented here on our blog.

Baby girl, I thank God everyday He gave us you & Addi and let us be your parents! What a great blessing and amazing gift. I just love you so much too.

My heart is full.

Houston Marathon 2012. Traci’s Story.

There is only one word to describe running in a marathon, in my opinion.

WOW.

Seriously. It really was such an awesome experience and one that I will never forget. (My muscles rudely reminded me everyday for about a week after!) Huge memory maker that ranks up high on the list. And yes, I’m already wondering when we will do it again one day!!! Maybe Disney next time? Napa Valley? NYC?

It was neat to run a marathon, yes. But it was even neater (or more neat?) because of these two reasons…

First, running with a team of friends was absolutely what made this event more special. Ryan and I LOVED that we were able to do this with people we love. Christy, Mike, Jordan, Tim – we were honored and so proud to do this with you all. Christy & I ran the entire thing together and knowing she was right beside me pushed me on when I was struggling. We encouraged each other, reminded each other it was time for Gu, etc. There is definitely strength in numbers! She’s been a great running buddy & I have truly enjoyed all the miles we’ve logged together. And as usual, I adore knowing my handsome hubby was a few miles ahead of me and would be awaiting my arrival at the finish line with a proud smile on his face. Knowing this always motivates me. When we slugglishly found each other after the race, we both looked at each other with tear-filled eyes and hugged…we did it. We did it together.

The second reason this weekend was made so special was having family and friends that traveled to Houston to cheer us on as well as those that supported us from afar as we tackled this goal. It was overwhelming the love we felt. To know my mom, brother, and babies were waiting for me at the finish line kept me going. Thoughts of my dad motivated me. I hoped and prayed that God would give him a window that morning. To spot friends along the course holding signs brought tears to my eyes. I can’t thank you enough – seeing your faces at mile 4, 11, and especially 22 made all the difference.  Thank you to everyone that sent emails, texts, and FB message encouraging us throughout the weekend – you guys are so great! The whole experience was made complete because of you.

The run itself was a good one overall. I felt good, no weird pains or breathing issues. I felt hydrated and full of energy. We were maintaining a good pace. My iPod was playing a good playlist that Ryan had made for us. I was jamming, enjoying the route, chatting with Christy, and soaking in the experience. Up until about mile 22. Uncharted territory. The longest we ran during our training was 21 and that was HARD. As we entered into the last four miles- this unknown, I was getting a little nervous. With only 4.2 miles left, I was really starting to feel the exhaustion and “wall” that everyone refers to. I tried to shift my focus to other things besides the fact that we had been running for nearly 4 hours, that toenail that was about to fall off, and my chest muscles that were tightening. I prayed a lot more during these last few miles. God, give me strength. I was almost there. Nothing was standing in my way of the finish line now…I was tired, my feet were burning and going numb, but I still was moving one foot in front of the other with a fairly decent pace. It almost felt like my body was doing its own thing at this point and I was just watching it. We came to the “1 Mile left!” sign and my heart started to pump even faster with excitement and adrenaline. This was it….the last stretch. Then, finally in the distance I could see it. Surreal. The place that has been a huge unfathomable goal for many years…the finish line of a marathon. There were a ton of people lining both sides of the street as we turned the corner and headed to the end. I turned down my iPod to listen to the cheers and to see if I could hear my family. Everything was a blur & I couldn’t really focus on anything around me…maybe because of the tears in my eyes. Just a few more steps…DONE! 26.2, complete. My goal was to finish at 4:30. I finished in 4:28. What an amazing, indescribable feeling and one that ranks high on the list of greatest moments of my life. I thank God for this special day. High five to the sky!

It’s here.

OK, friends. It’s here. The marathon is in THREE DAYS. Final confirmations received, bib #’s assigned. Oh my word. I am getting super excited and super nervous all at the same time!!! I have been so busy this week, I honestly haven’t thought much about it until today…and right now my stomach is in knots! We have one more run on our training schedule for 2 whole miles tomorrow and then that’s it. All that’s left to do is load up the iPods, charge up the Garmins and head to Houston! I can’t believe this is really gonna happen. This dream will become reality. That item on the bucket list can officially be checked off.

I am pumped to be able to participate in this adventure with some awesome teammates! I seriously could not do this alone and appreciate the encouragement each one of them gives me. There is no way I could have completed those long training runs by myself! I am thankful for Ryan and my running buddy Christy who has spent many hours on the road with me. We have had good runs and hard runs. We have struggled and laughed. We have sweated and froze our tails off. She too lost her father suddenly a few years back. I can’t speak for her, but I feel like running together these last few months has been therapeutic for the both of us. A blessing for sure. Everyone on our team has different reasons for registering for this marathon. It’s so neat and so inspiring how running means something different to everyone. In fact, a few days ago, Ryan’s cousin Tim wrote this note on FB. I LOVED reading this and just had to share….

Houston Marathon

by Tim Ivey on Sunday, January 8, 2012 at 5:32pm

I used to find it silly when someone dedicates something to someone, whether it be a work of art or a book, or even a personal accomplishment.  However I realize now that dedicating something to someone is not just a nicety or obligatory notion, but it’s an acknowledgement that the thing that has been achieved could not have been achieved without this person(s); whether it be by simple motivation or greater forces.  A week from today I’ll be running the Houston Marathon with my cousin Ryan, his wife Traci, and a small team of others along with thousands through downtown Houston, near where I grew up.  I wholeheartedly understand and realize that I am not the first person to run a marathon, and I am not the first person to attempt, nor will I be even close to the fastest person.  However, not many people have run a marathon after being morbidly obese for most of their lives.  Just 8 years ago I weighed 396 pounds, and could never have dreamed up training for something for 6 months and being psychically able to finish such a feat. Weight loss + the subsequent complete life reversal was not achieved on my own, and for that I am eternally grateful.  So I dedicate this half of a year of training, and the 4 (or so) hours next Sunday on the Houston asphalt to a couple who helped to revolutionize my physical life, and subsequently by emotional, spiritual and so on.  I would like to publicly dedicate next week to Dick and Teresa Young.  Aside from my immediate family members, I have never in my life had two people who believed in my more than the Youngs have.  Before, during, and after my weight loss journey, they were a constant motivation, encouragement, and hard love giver.  I know beyond a doubt that I would not be where I am today if not for their relentless love and patience.  Even though we now are half a country apart, they will always be a part of my family.  Thank you to both of you, and just know that I will be thinking of you during every one of those grueling….I mean fabulous 26.2 miles. 

I’m so proud of Tim, my other teammates, and of course my wonderful husband and am stoked to be there with them as we finish those 26.2! It’s gonna be a great & special weekend. My goal is to soak up every minute of it. Houston Marathon 2012, here we come. HIGH FIVE TO THE SKY!

P.S. If you have any interest in tracking Ryan or I as we run on Sunday morning, you can register here to get status updates via email or texts. My bib # is 7912 and Ryan’s is 5698.