News Story.

A few weeks ago, a sports reporter from the Dallas Morning News emailed me and asked if we could set up a time for her to interview me regarding our Turkey Trot family tradition. She had read the story I submitted in the “Why we Trot” contest (which you can read about here) and said it intrigued her. I love that she wrote this article for 3 reasons:

1. My Dad’s legacy remains and he still continues to impact others with his valuable influence.

2. Dad loved reading the newspaper, collecting memorable days’ papers, and being in the paper. He would have thought this was just too neat!

3. I love my family and I love our memory makers. I love sharing our experiences with others.

You can read the story here.

Our Trip to New England

We had a great time in New Hampshire & Boston last week. It’s beautiful there in the Fall – the display of oranges, reds, and yellows on the trees, snow on the ground, the hills and mountains, the coast, the history…it’s amazing. If you are new to reading this blog & don’t know the history of why this trip began, you can read all about last year’s special trip here and here.

The vacation was filled with much laughter, some sweet reminiscent tears, and good memory making. It’s always great to see my family that lives there. My Aunt & Uncle are great hosts and we always have a blast with them and my cousins. We did a lot of different things this time around, which was cool. And my brother Jeff and Ryan’s brother Ross (from Minnesota) came this year too, which was awesome! We ate a ton of food, tried some tasty New England brews, toured Fenway Park & Sam Adams, drove down the coast, walked on the beach (even stuck our feet in the ocean, even though it was frigid!), shopped a bit, ran the Manchester Half, and just enjoyed all being together.

The race was truly great experience for me. My little brother, Jeff, decided months back that he wanted to run his first half marathon in Manchester. In honor of Dad. So we put together a training schedule & he prepped for months. I decided that I would pace myself to run with him for this race. I wanted to absorb and enjoy the experience together as we trotted through the streets of this beautiful town in a race that my Dad did. Special. Jeff did great, tackled the tough hills, and finished. Quite the accomplishment & I was a proud big sis! Ryan and Ross together too, which was neat for them. Ross & my cousin Mary achieved their best time ever for a half. High five to the sky!

World Series Game 4.

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend game 4 in Arlington this Sunday night with my little bro-in-law Jeff for his 21st birthday.

The Dixon’s are probably the weirdest most inseparable couple in modern history. Anytime one of us is out with someone else, the other is insanely jealous. Not because we’re jealous in the sense of jealousy, but because we just enjoy each others company and our likes and hobbies are identical. Actually in typing this I’m creeping myself out. All this to say, with Jeff and I attending the game, Traci and the girls decided to join in the festivities and so we made a day point five out of it.

We booked a hotwire.com hotel for the evening so that we would not have to drive back after the game. It is only 2 hours from Arlington back to Tyler but 2 hours at the end of a game and long day is not my favorite way to drive it. Also, any excuse for me to take the day off from work is fine with me. Traci planned to take the girls back to the hotel while we were at the game for girl time including hot tubbing, toe nail painting and jumping on the beds.

We left town Sunday after church and headed to the big D. We arrived around 3 to join up with long time friends Clay and Lauren for some pre-game tailgating. The girls had a blast running a muck as we enjoyed the food, company and the fact that we were actually there at a World Series game. Still excites me to think about being there.

Around 5:30 Jeff and I said bye to the Dixon women and headed in. The best part of walking into Rangers stadium is walking thru the corridor towards the inner field. Stepping out from the tunnel and letting your eyes open up the the vastness of The Ballpark in Arlington. The green grass, the massive amounts of seats, the dirt infield and all this stage’s grandness.

We found our seats and instantly started snapping pics.

After receiving the beating of Game 3 we were nervous for this one. We definitely didn’t want to be at a game like that one. We were very hopeful though especially since the Rangers have been good at not losing 2 in a row as of late. All of the pre-game stuff was great and it was exciting to see all the seats fill up as it got closer. It was time.

Our pitching was superb! And the home run by Napoli was just perfect. I’ve been a Nap fan throughout this season and to be there when he blasted that one was just great. We had a blast and enjoyed literally every pitch and hit as the game continued. The victory was very sweet. Even leaving our seats and heading down the winding ramps, the fans continued to cheer and celebrate this World Series win.

After one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in forever, Traci and I  got the girls and headed to Katy Trail to get in some mileage. Beautiful place. Also in typical fashion, we made it to some of our favorite hot spots in Dallas including the Apple store, Rangers Fan store, In and Out Burger and of course Central Market. What a great getaway. We made it back into Tyler just in time to settle in and get our game faces back on for another Ranger’s victory last night. Cheers to October baseball! Go Rangers!

World Series, here we come!

Well…technically, just Ryan & Uncle Jeff are going to the game on Sunday. But, the girls & I are tagging along for tailgating & a night away in a hotel in Dallas! Plus, it’s Jeff’s 21st birthday, so we wanted to be there to celebrate with him. Some friends of ours from Odessa {Lauren & Clay Hightower} are gonna be there too, so we plan to hang with them as well. Bonus! Most of you know how special the Rangers are to my brother but if not, you can read about it here. Our generous & very kind sis, Jen, wanted Jeff to be there. So she treated him & Ryan to tickets! How awesome is that?

Today, when I picked up the girls from their schools {separately}, I told each of them what we were doing on Sunday. Keep in mind, they have no clue what words like “tailgating” or “World Series” even mean. They do however LOVE to stay in hotels…I mean, who doesn’t? Thought their reactions were great! Another memory maker weekend coming right up. Go Rangers!

P.S. I heart my new iPhone 4s & its video capabilities amongst all of the other amazing features.

Ryan’s Bday Weekend Celebrations.

Ryan turned 32 last week. I tell him all the time, he just keeps getting more & more handsome every year! I love my man and love sharing life with him. I’m certainly happy to celebrate the day he was birthed! And we don’t just do birthday celebrations around here. Oh no, we do birthWEEK celebrations. So since last week was Ryan’s birthday week, we did lots of fun stuff!

Starting on Thursday, his actual birthday, with blueberry pancakes for breakfast. {Yes, no shocker, a lot of our celebrating includes food!} He received some gifts in the mail, cards, and of course FB messages throughout the day. That evening for dinner, we went to one of his favorite Thursday night spots – BWW (a.k.a. Buffalo Wild Wings). Some Caribbean jerk wings, potato wedges and BlueMoon seasonal for celebration dinner #1. Followed by a pumpkin cake back at home…

Friday, Ryan took the day off in honor of himself and his birth. I think everyone should do this! After we took Addi to school {poor thing felt a bit left out hence one of the reasons we decided to do this}, Ryan, Kam & I went to Einstein’s for a pumpkin bagel & coffee. Kam calls it “Little Einstein’s” which is so cute, we obviously don’t correct her. Then, we went for a 5 mile run at the trails. It was a lovely, cool morning which resulted in a very enjoyable family run. Then, we took Addi her lunch at school and then went to do a little birthday shopping with birthday $ – fun! Lunch at McAlisters {shout out to our friend, Stephen!} for their awesome sandwiches & 99 cent kid’s meals. Then, back home for some chill time.

That evening, it just so happened to be our Date Night Co-op night which was a bonus for us – perfect timing! So, Ryan & I got to go out on a date. We went to BJ’s Brewhouse for dinner & shared a delicious deep dish pizza. Then on to the mall to walk off some calories from our cheesy, meat-filled, greasy dinner. Ending at a bookstore to peruse before going to pick up the kids. It was a great, relaxing night. Here we are looking rather cool {ha!} on our way out.

When we arrived to pick up our kids at Date Night Co-op, little did Ryan know that me & my friend Robyn had planned a mini-surprise party for him! Some of our friends stuck around after “Date Night” to enjoy some cake &  celebrate with us. I know I’ve said it before, but I will say it again…we are so, so thankful for the friends the Lord has blessed us with here in Tyler!

Saturday, the celebration continued. We took our girls up to Quitman to stay the night with Grandma & headed to Longview for the Switchfoot/Anberlin concert! We love both of these bands and the fact they were going to be playing on the same night in the same venue was amazing. We left a bit early so we could stop for dinner before the concert. Chowed down on some yummy fajitas & then headed to the Belcher Center at LeTourneau University for a rockin’ good show. Our seats were perfect – not far from the front, in the center, right in front of the sound board. Awesome. After we left, we came home totally pumped & ready to go out & change the world…adrenaline & motivation after hearing Switchfoot is crazy. We sat out on our back patio with a glass of wine until well after midnight enjoying deep conversation & relishing in the Ranger’s victory!

You might be thinking, surely that’s it….but no! There’s more! Sunday, after a 10 mile run together, we headed back to Quitman for birthday lunch that my Mom made. For everyone’s bday, she asks what you want her to cook and you can put in your request. Here was Ryan’s request: chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and chocolate cake. And Mom’s cooking, as usual, did not disappoint! It was SOOO good. Gotta love homemade southern cooking, especially after a long run!

And that my friends is how you celebrate a birthday, don’t you think?! Such a great few days.

Happy birthday, Ryan Marc Dixon!

Why we trot.

A few weeks ago, the YMCA Dallas Turkey Trot posted this contest on their Facebook page…

So, I entered. I sent in this story on the day of the deadline (which was my Dad’s birthday)…

Hello, my name is Traci. My family participates in the Turkey Trot each year. Why you ask? Well here goes.

My dad, my sister, my brother, my husband and I have ran it for many years. It’s truly a family affair! We live in East Texas about 2 hours from Dallas. We have made it a tradition to wake up very early on Thanksgiving morning, pack up the car with Gu packets, water bottles, iPods, etc. and head to the Big D in anticipation of the big race! This was initially my Dad’s idea and he LOVED it. His excitement was contagious. Anytime he could plan something for his kids to do with him to make a memory, he was all over it. We would go and run the 8 miler and then head back to feast on the awesome Thanksgiving meal my mom had stayed home to prepare. The 8 miles at the Trot always feels great with such awesome views of the city and an overall holiday joyfulness in the air. Plus, running that far leaves you guilt-free to pig out the rest of the day!

This race has become even more special since my Dad passed away suddenly in June of last year at the age of 62, after a run ironically. He inspired us in so many ways- to live life to the fullest, making the most of every opportunity, cherishing time with family and friends, and making memories. This race was a “memory maker” for our family, as he used to call it. So, my siblings, husband and myself continue to run this race every year in his honor. The tradition will continue for years to come, no doubt. We end each race now with a high five to the sky. We are thankful for the memories we have with my Dad at the Turkey Trot.

And this is why we trot.

And I won!!! Got an email this morning letting me know & they posted this on FB today…

WOOHOO! High five to the sky!

Upcoming.

I love Fall for many, many reasons. You may remember…I’ve posted many a blog about why Fall is dear to my heart. But mainly in a nutshell it’s this: cooler temps, pumpkin spice candles, additional coffee, scarves, races we run, camping, holidays, and all the time off Ryan has which equals more memory making for our family!

Here are some things that are upcoming that I am super excited about.

  • In a week & a half, we’ll be running in the Tyler Rose Half Marathon. The starting line is about a mile from our house. I always love doing races right here in our beautiful city.
  • In two & a half weeks, Ryan, Jeff & I will be heading to Longview to see Switchfoot AND Anberlin in concert. What?!!! Seriously, two of our all time favorite bands. Together. On the SAME NIGHT. We are stoked!
  • Five weeks from tonight, we’ll be packing to leave for New Hampshire & Boston! We are registered to run in the Manchester Half Marathon. I can not wait for this trip. We had such a great time last year. You can read all about it here and here.
  • In eight weeks and a day, it will be Thanksgiving. In 12 & a half weeks, Christmas. Wow! Another year, flown by. Also, Ryan’s parents are coming in from Virginia for Christmas, we are looking forward to seeing them!
  • In eleven & a half weeks, my baby girl Kam turns FOUR! We will celebrate with a “hot chocolate” party as per her request.
  • In fifteen & half weeks, Ryan & I will be running our very first FULL marathon in Houston.

Dixon Dance Parties.

What goes on when the sun goes down in the Dixon household? You guessed it. At least 2-3 times a week, we’ll all go upstairs to “Daddy’s studio” for epic dance parties. From the robot to what we like to call the sprinkler, our girlz got mad dancin skillz! And as an added bonus, all the jumping around and booty shaking helps release a lot of energy resulting in instant falling asleep and more quiet time for Mommy & Daddy later. Such fun!

We adopted another Apache!

Last night, we went to the “Adopt an Apache” Mixer at Tyler Junior College (a.k.a. “Daddy’s work”) to meet our new tennis player for the year. Our friends, Dash & Shae, started this program last year – you can read about it here. Such an awesome ministry opportunity! We enjoyed participating in this last year and really enjoyed getting to know our player. She has since moved to Colorado & is attending a different college. So this year, we got a new player & we are pumped to be her family while she is here in Tyler. She is from Ecuador originally and then moved w/her family to Canada. So coming to Tyler, Texas is a rather huge change for her! Very sweet girl & we are excited to get to know her more & watch her kick some tail in tennis. We found out she is a runner and loves barbecue – she was totally meant for us. :) The girls had fun at the Mixer last night learning how to hit the ball & seeing how far they could throw it in the air. Plus the ice cream sundaes to top off the evening were a huge hit!

Sporadic Updates

  • We went to White Rock Lake on Labor Day and intended to run 3 miles while pushing the girls, then head on to do a little shopping & eat some lunch in the big D. Due to the beautiful day that we were given with cool temps & nice breeze, Ryan says, right after we took off, “I say we just go all the way around.” So…9 miles later, we did just that. All the way around the lake & it was great! It was a good run. The girls enjoyed the relaxing ride. We followed it up with a trip to Central Market, World Market, the Gap Outlet & In & Out Burger. Fun family day! Thank goodness Ryan can push this 100 pound beast…

  • Kam started back to Pre-K this week. She moved up to the 3 year old class, even though she’s closer to 4. Easy to forget she’s still only 3 years old since she keeps up with her big sis and is SO tall! Since she has a late birthday, she will always be one of the oldest in her class. Unlike Addi who will always be one of the youngest (but still bossing everyone around, I’m sure!). We feel blessed to have such great teachers for both our girls this year. Here’s Kam’s first day of school pic…she was so excited. I think she was getting a bit bored since Addi’s been at school & was so ready to go! “Mommy, what can I do?” was becoming a frequent question over the past couple of weeks.

  • Official marathon training has begun for us. We are closing in on the 4 month count down. Yikes! January 15th is the big day! Training won’t be too bad or different for the first couple of months…about the same as what we typically do. Just trying to watch what we eat a bit more. November & December will be cuh-razy though! Here’s an example of what one week in December looks like this….

Mon: 5 miles, Tues: speed work at track, Wed: 10 miles, Thurs: rest, Fri: 4 miles, Sat: 20 miles (WHAT?!)

  • We LOVE to cook. One of our favorite ways to spend the weekend evenings is whipping up a good meal together. We have some great friends who also share this passion for food. So we plan cooking nights with them and have such a great time! We pick a style of food (Italian, Mexican, etc) and then each pick a recipe or two to fix together. This past weekend, we decided to do an Asian night. Ryan & I brought the ingredients & recipes for pork & spinach pot stickers & napa cabbage fried rice. Jen & Stephen prepared beef with broccoli & veggie egg rolls. Um yes, it was AMAZING! Makes my mouth water just thinking about how good it was. Our kids play, while we cook, enjoy a glass of wine & loads of laughter. Awesome way to fellowship with sweet friends!

  • Things here in East Texas are finally cooling off a bit and becoming bearable to be outside again. Yay! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I love Fall. I couldn’t be more excited for the upcoming season and all it brings. We took the girls to ride their bikes for the first time in months at the trails. Very enjoyable. Summer has been tough…super hot, humid, and down right miserable outside. I’m pumped to get out of the house more and enjoy the great outdoors over the next several months. So good to be able to breathe again!

  • Hypothetically speaking…if Kam was an outstanding singer & guitar player & recording her debut hit album & designing artwork for the album cover, I would insist she use this photo. What do you think? I mean really.

  • Ryan & I will begin teaching a marriage study at our Community Group this Fall. We are using a compilation of books & material from conferences we’ve attended. We’re calling it “Pink & Blue.” We are excited about it & pray that God will do great things in our group…beginning with our marriages!

Happy 5th birthday, Addison Kate!

August 31, 2006

August 31, 2011

Our lives were forever changed five years ago when God blessed us with this girl. What a joy she has been to our family! She has a heart of gold and a smile that lights up the room.

We love you Addi Kate & are SO proud of you! Happy 5th birthday, big girl.

Addi’s 1st Day of Kindergarten.

Well, we did it. We got through the first day! Let me clarify. What I really should say is that I got through it…Addi absolutely LOVED it! She’s a champ. She marched right in her classroom, went straight to to her desk and sat down like a pro. No tears, no whining, nothing. I helped her put her backpack up, put on her name tag, hugged and kissed her a billion times, etc. Then when I felt the inevitable tears welling up, I knew it was time for this momma to leave. I kissed her one last time (or maybe twice) and headed out the door looking back to wave just a few times (or maybe 5, but whatever). She was good to go – ready for her first day as a big Kindergartener! Her teacher really is awesome. I am already thanking God for her and her loving heart. And I’m stealing this idea from my cuz-in-law & doing it tomorrow!

When we picked Addi up this afternoon (after sitting in the pickup line for 30 minutes, ugh! note to self: walk next time!), she literally did not stop talking for probably a solid hour. And I loved every minute of it. Here are some things she told me that made me smile…

“When coach talks in PE, we do not talk.”

“No screaming in the bathroom. And only one pump of soap, that’s it.”

“Rain cloud words are like if you say things like ‘I hate something’ or ‘I don’t like your shirt.’ Sunshine words are like when you say ‘I love you’ or ‘Good job on coloring that page!’ So I told Mrs. Jeanes’ that I love her. That’s a sunshine word.”

“Guess what? I minded my teacher all day. Are you proud?”

“Guess what I love about Caldwell? The whole day!”

“I was patient when I sat outside waiting for you to pick me up. But it sure was hot!”

“I didn’t really eat all of my lunch and a lady said to me, ‘you only have certain amount of time.’ So you need to just send two things to eat, not three Momma. Just a sandwich and apple and that’s all.”

“Momma when you left, I was kinda sad. I thought I was going to have tears, but I didn’t. Is that why you wrote ‘I love you’ on my goldfish bag?”

So so proud of my big girl!!!

Summer Vacation

Last week was AWESOME. It truly was. We had such a great time on vacation to San Antonio. Away. Together. Making memories. It was a perfect blend of relaxation and fun activities. I am so blessed to have these people as my family!

Some highlights from the week were…

*Taking a boat ride on the river & Kam saying over & over, “How cool is this?!”

*Staying in a resort that was right on the Riverwalk and directly across from the Life is Good store and Ben & Jerry’s – BONUS! Let’s just say we went to both stores more than once. Or twice. Phish Food is GOOD.

*Listening to the giggles & squeals of two happy girls experiencing & seeing new things.

*Enjoying the sun and water fun at Schlitterbahn and our rooftop pool then relaxing in the hot tub on the patio at our resort each night.

*Spending the day walking on Main Street in Fredericksburg -what a neat town!

*Listening to jazz for a bit outside of one of our favorite places called The Landing.

*Checking out another place featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives – The Cove. Catching up with old friends over dinner while we watched our girls dance to the live band.

*Visiting the SA zoo, a local brewery, and of course dining on the Riverwalk enjoying the yummy Mexican cuisine!

*Hearing Addi say, “This is the best vacation ever!”

*Having coffee, quiet times & reading books on the patio overlooking the Riverwalk each morning.

*Taking naps each afternoon with my man.

*Finally, last but not least – pushing the buttons on the elevator in the resort! Ha. Apparently this was the most fun thing for the girls!

Kansas City is cool?

Who knew? Kansas City is such a neat place! We certainly had no idea. We made a plan to meet Ross, Ryan’s little brother, & his girlfriend there for the weekend. We were trying to find a decent halfway point between us here in Texas and him there in Minnesota. So, Kansas City it was! We booked a hotel and went with it, not knowing that there is actually a lot of fun stuff to do there. We were pleasantly surprised & had an awesome trip. KC has a lot of things to offer a tourist. Here are some of the places we went & some pics (sorry the quality is mega lame, I need to upgrade to 4G!).

Kansas City Zoo – highlight was definitely the new Polar Bear exhibit, it was awesome!

Country Club Plaza – 15 blocks of shops, restaurants, & fountains – so nice in this area!

Blanc Burgers & Bottles – amazing, fresh, juicy cheeseburgers & fries with a very cool modern vibe. Check out what they served the fries in – how cute! My girls would have loved that.

Oklahoma Joe’s BBQ – WOW, this place was incredible. Definitely a hole-in-the-wall dive. We waited in line for probably 30-45 minutes, but it was well worth it. Tasty ribs & probably the best onion rings I have ever eaten!

Grinders Pizza – We love the show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, so I always check to see if Guy has visited a town we will be going to. This dive has been featured on the show, so we had to check it out! Plus they had pizza & live music – can’t go wrong with that! It was yummy & a lot o fun. Our chairs at our table were from an old airplane.

Gordan Biersch – We did a brewery tour & tasting here, which was interesting!

Shawnee Mission Park – Of course, we had to find a place to run. We fell in love with the trails here & went twice over the weekend. Gorgeous! Hills covered with trees and a nice paved trail that goes along ponds & a lake – it was peaceful & beautiful. Ryan & I ran 5 miles on Saturday & then went back Sunday for another 3.

Another perk of the trip were that I got to see my long-time friends Rachel & Amanda. Rach just moved to KC the Monday before our trip and Amanda (her sis) was there helping w/the move. I’ve known them since I was 16. We became friends when we moved to Lubbock and have been ever since, even though known of us live in the same town & haven’t for years! These girls are like family to me. They are the kind of friends that you don’t see often but when you do, it feels like nothing has changed – it’s automatically comfortable. Such a bonus getting to see them & Rach’s two baby girls!

Great weekend away & we really enjoyed spending time with Ross & Bre. And we’ll definitely add Kansas City to our list of fun places to visit!

Bounce Your Eyes.

Lust is a big deal! Temptation is EVERYWHERE, especially for men. I have had recent conversations with friends and family about this very topic. Seems as though it’s an attack on all sides. You can’t even scroll down news sites without topics of sex and pictures that promote sexual thoughts or activities from hitting your eyes.

There are plenty of sexually attractive women in our world. Many great men have been beaten into submission and entrapment with lust in the way of pornography, addictions and improper relationships. Most of these have lost friends, careers and even their precious families as a result of not keeping this built-in weakness/susceptibility in check. As anyone who has struggled in any area of sexual lust and temptation would tell you, it all started with a glance.

A handful of years ago, we took our FUSION youth group to a conference in Dallas. One of the main topics of the weekend was sexual purity and why it’s important to your integrity, your future spouse and honoring to our Creator. One of the speakers mentioned that the best way to snuff out visually stimulated lust was to “bounce your eyes” from the attraction before it took root in your thoughts which then usually leads to action.

Practical application being when you see an image (still or in motion) that sparks that sexual nerve, you literally make it a practice to look away while stopping sexual thoughts and redirecting them on something else. Paul gives this great list of things for re-focus in Philippians 4:8.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

From media to college campuses to the corporate world there is no place immune to the reality of temptation. Actually while perusing around the post run tents Sunday after the 2 Hot 2 run 15K, an attractive, breast-pressed, provocatively dressed 20 year old was passing out samples of AXE hair gel to men. Another one of those, “sex sells” marketing campaign that we see so often. Unfortunately for us men, it can be crippling and even works..

God created us to be sexual beings. For us to be attracted to attractive women is not a problem nor a sin. God created us with this attraction and desire… AND a remedy to the desire by way of His design in marriage. The problem isn’t when we are visually stimulated but when that “glance” provokes lustful thinking and that hunger then fed with thoughts or actions.

So, all this to say I have been practicing the “bounce your eyes” concept for years now and it really does help. It seems as though I have actually had a lot of opportunities recently to strengthen my eye muscles! Not that I am perfect, but practice and prayer are our best allies. A destroyed testimony and marriage is victory for our enemy. My encouragement is to add this habit to your arsenal like I have to help fight this battle. Your integrity depends on it. Your God, family and your wife are worth it!

A look back…

I’m having a total sappy Mommy moment right now. Every now and then, I like to look back through pics (I now have a mere 13,671 in my iPhoto) and see what was going on during the same month in the previous year. Brings back a lot of emotions & feelings of what was happening at that particular point in time. Memories galore. Sometimes when I do this, it brings tears. But most of the time, it makes me smile. So tonight, I looked back through May of 2010.

It was right about this time last year that we had family photos done. I can’t believe how much the girls have changed compared to this year’s family photos! So then, of course, I had to go back a little further to May of 2008 & 2009. Brings a smile to my face looking at these punkins and how stinkin cute they are! Kam was a chunky monkey!

On one hand, it seems like 2008 was SO long ago. So much has happened since then. But on the other hand, it seems like just yesterday. They are just growing up so fast!

2008

2009

2010

2011

Addi’s Pre-school Graduation.

Ah, the end of the school year. Feelings of accomplishment, joy and relief as you close the page on another chapter of life. Those memories bring a sense of peace and nostalgic gratitude now that school is oh so long behind me. Summer. Sleeping in. Pools. Discover Zone with my little bro every day. HOORAY to the end of the school year!

This Tuesday my first born baby participated in her first official graduation. Chalk it up! Pre-school… done.

In February, as do most eager parents, Traci and I toured the school Addison will soon be attending Kindergarten. Walked through the large cavernous halls, heard the standard surface level and over rehearsed welcome lines and even peered into a few colorful classrooms. After leaving the elementary school Traci expressed her fear in how that her baby (mine if she’s acting tooty) is going to be so little inside the huge school. It is indeed crazy how fast your kids grow up and the thought of them attending a “real” school often overwhelming and frightening. Is her teacher nice? What are you gonna do if someone pushes my girl? Is she really gonna climb that many stairs? etcetera.

Addison had been talking up the day she would graduate from her class as does any student anticipating the next chapter of life. She would come home from class talking (non-stop and also not unusual) about the songs she was going to sing for us in the ceremony. She also asked us multiple times if we would be proud of her and pointed the question of “Are you gonna cry?” to Traci, to which she responded “Probably!”

Tuesday we had it all planned out. I was going to take a super long lunch, meet Traci, Grandma, Memaw and Jen at the school for the 12 o’clock commencement exercise. Upon arrival we crowded into a little picket fence corral and awkwardly awaited the start. The announcement was given that we were going to wait till all family members who were planning to be there arrived before they would let the kiddos loose. A few times the question was asked “Is every family member here?” to which Traci and I looked at each other with sadness knowing how much all of us wished Poppy was in attendance with us that day. Once all family members arrived the tiny, insufficient CD player was cued and the march to the customary Pomp & Circumstance began.

Down the hall behind us trotted about 15 little munchkins adorning frog shaped baseball caps and custom, craft-time created t-shirts. My eldest offspring, one of the last in line, made it to her assigned mark on the floor and then made eye contact with the front row filled with her adoring fans both parties excited for this occasion.

With a smile produced by proud yet shy emotions, Addi’s, Traci’s and even my eyes began to tear up.  Addi even had to use her paint blotted t-shirt to dry her cheeks. So precious. The school owner was addressing the audience with a speech of thankfulness for us lending them our children. Her voice became more and more distant as I felt the same of how God has lent this little one to us. We exchanged a ton of smiles and even a few small waves throughout the introduction.

The service continued with a couple cute songs with motions, obviously to reassure all attending parents that their dollars went to more than play time and Dora. Songs about numbers, phonics, and just plain silly songs made the playlist. Many children mumbled along, some sang in great participation and one decided he’d rather throw his frog hat around the staging area guaranteeing him some “time-out when we get home.” Of course our eyes and ears were focused on our little porcelin doll as she was on it! Every word. SPOT ON! Every motion. SPOT ON! Proud indeed.

Moving on through the ceremony it was diploma time. The class teacher (our’s being the sweet Ms. Heidi) would call the student to come forward and step up onto a bathroom stool for all to see. Addi’s name was called and she walked into place, climbed the tiny step stool and was handed her diploma. With this, Ms. Heidi read the diploma which asked the question of what they wanted to be when they grow up. “When Addison grows up, she wants to be a runner.”, Ms. Heidi said with her perfect teacher inflection. Addi’s semi posed smile remained. Precious.

After the 64 song ceremony, everyone hugged their kiddos and took pics to freeze yet another memory in time. I had picked up a single rose on the way to the school to give to her. After a hug I proceeded to give it to her to which she responded, “Daddy, oh wow! Why is the stem so long? We are going to need to cut it. Oh Wow. It’s beautiful.” all in her typical one breath complete and over-compounded sentence. [gee, i wonder where she gets that from] We took some pics, the girls drank some punch and ate a cookie and then we headed out the door to our next destination. A celebratory Chuy’s lunch was in order.

While sitting there at lunch that day I couldn’t help but think of the days we were still awaiting little Addi’s arrival and one specific memory came to mind. When Traci and I told her parents that they were going to be grandparents I remember receiving a call from Traci’s dad that day telling me that they were on there way that night to have some “celebratory nachos” at their Quitman Mexican restaurant. Ironically over 5 years later, in honor of my special little girl’s pre-shool graduation, another passage in her tiny life, we had celebratory nachos.

The next chapter begins for her early this fall. With this new challenge she will face uncertainty, fear and ultimately a chance to grow. She looks to us for guidance. She looks for us for strength. Her little blue eyes are attentively focused on how we live and who we really are, how we face our very own challenges. She looks to us to show her value and to model what she wants to be. Her ideology of a husband and a father are based on me and my leadership. What an daunting and delightful responsibility. I am so thankful for who she is, what she has already learned and how she has grown. Thank you God for lending her to us.

Sincerely-

One wreck of a daddy.

Up in the sky.

One day last week, the girls are I were out running errands. We were driving down the road and Addi asked me why the sun was “being lazy bones and not waking up?” I told her that it was just cloudy and might rain. She kept looking in the sky and proceeds to take the conversation to a much deeper level…

Addi: “Mommy, I’m trying to see Jesus and Poppy up in the sky, but I can’t.”

Me: “Oh honey, we won’t be able to see them until the day we get to go to heaven.”

Addi: (with tears in her eyes): “But Poppy’s not gonna see me as a little girl. He won’t remember what I look like. Maybe I should go ahead and go to heaven now and grow up there?”

Me: (trying not to cry): “Mommy doesn’t want you to go to heaven yet, I want you to stay here with me. But one day, hopefully far far from now when you are old, you will go. Poppy will remember you, baby. And he’ll be so excited to see you.”

Addi: “Well, maybe I should send him a picture of me as a little girl. I think he misses me.”

Me: “I bet God gives Poppy a window out of heaven every now & then so he can look down and see you growing up and I’m sure he smiles really big when he sees you!”

Addi: “I miss Poppy.”

Me: “I know sweetheart, me too.”

It seriously blows me away how much this girl understands and how her heart is still grieving the loss of her Poppy. She talks about him almost daily. I heard recently on the radio that usually the first experience kids have with death is the loss of a pet. Nope, not in our case – is what I muttered under my breath when I heard that. It’s so very hard to lose a parent. It’s also hard to see your children’s hearts breaking because of that loss, even close to a year later. I can only imagine how my own mom feels. But, gosh how thankful I am that I can say with absolute confidence to my children that one day we will see him again. Thanks to Jesus, we have that hope! One day, we will look up in the sky and see Dad/Poppy and Jesus very clearly. And no matter how old we are when that day comes, he will recognize us and welcome us in to paradise with arms wide open. Then, there will be no more heartache, no more pain, no more tears.

But in the mean time, here’s a pic…

My Flower Garden.

I got a precious Mother’s Day gift this year. A beautiful gift that I will enjoy for months to come. Sunday morning while eating breakfast, the girls walked up and handed me this sweet homemade card (thanks to their creative graphic designer Daddy).

I’ll let the pictures tell the story. What a perfect gift! Loved it. Every moment of it! My heart is full. I love being a mom and I adore my family!