Headed East. Boston & Manchester, NH.

We are off ! Headed for the East coast. Our second of the three fall 1/2 marathons will be Sunday morning in Manchester with Boston site-seeing to follow. We are excited and nervous at the same time as this one’s for Kip.

Tomorrow we fly to Boston.

Tomorrow morning, we are getting up early to take the girls to Grandma’s and then Ryan and I will head to DFW to hop on a plane to Boston! This upcoming weekend is one that is sure to be special. A memory maker.

We are going to Manchester, NH to run in a half marathon. But not just any half marathon. My Dad was registered to run in this race…the last race he had registered for and one none of us could have ever imagined that he wouldn’t be here to run in. He & my sister did this race last year and both had registered to do it again. Here’s a pic of them last year that I absolutely love. It captures so much.

So we are all headed North to run it in his honor. In fact, my brother Kelly is going to pick up my Dad’s bib at the expo and run as Kip Clark. Knowing my Dad – he would love this and think its neat.

My Aunt Debbie (Dad’s sister) and her family live there and we will get to stay with them for the weekend. I look forward to spending time with them. My Dad loved visiting Boston and New Hampshire – he along with my sister Jen have told me all about it there and I can’t wait to see the sites and experience it for myself.

Its going to be a special weekend and one of celebration of my Dad’s life. I will post pics and details about the weekend and race day soon. But, in the mean time, we certainly appreciate your prayers…for my siblings, Ryan, and myself as we travel and as we run – no doubt, it will be the most emotional race we’ve done.

The scary horse puppet.

Last night at bedtime, we had our first experience with one of our kids being scared to tears and not wanting to go to bed. We’ve been asked about monsters before, but usually they take our word for it that monsters don’t exist, so its a quick conversation and no tears are involved. Well, last night was a different story.

Addi tells us that she doesn’t want to go to bed because of the horse that comes in her room. What? She went on to explain that the night before last, a horse came in her room and gave her a kiss. A kiss? Not a kiss! And she did NOT want the horse to come in again. Of course we tried to tell her that horses don’t come in houses, our doors our locked, he’s not real but if he were Daddy wouldn’t let him in, maybe she dreamed it, etc. She was highly upset and it delayed her bedtime about fifteen minutes. Might have been part of the plan? But regardless, I felt bad for her…my poor baby was scared!

We asked Kamryn, “Did you see a horsey?” hoping she would say no, to ease her sister’s mind. Well, her response was, “Yes! And a bear came too and said ‘ROAR’ to me and I hit him.” Oh my, what imaginations! Kamryn did try to comfort Addi by saying things like, “I like horses and sheep too.” and “If a horse comes in the door, Daddy will spank it.”

Finally after asking a series of questions to get to the root of her fear, we found out that there is a scene in one of our Baby Einstein videos (which they really don’t ever watch anymore, since they are older), where a puppet horse scares his friends by peeking his head through a door. A boo! She doesn’t like that part, says its not nice and apparently has made her scared to go to bed. In case you haven’t seen this horse, here he is. Pretty scary looking huh?

He better leave my baby alone & stop trying to give her smooches at night! Or else, Daddy will spank him.


My cousin, Christi.

My cousin, Christi, was born two weeks after I was and literally ever since then, she has been one of my very best friends. We grew up together. We were always together as kids, played together often and fought like sisters. Then, when I was in sixth grade and Dad became a pastor- my family moved away and we were heartbroken to leave one another. But, we always kept in contact and visited each other. We went to college at Tech together and shared an apartment…us, along with her sister, Staci, and our friend, Amanda. Yep, 4 girls in a two bedroom apartment – fun times! We were in each other’s weddings. We were there for each other after the birth of our babies. We have been through a lot together to say the least. Now that we are older, have our own families, and live about an hour & a half from each other – we just don’t see each other as often as we’d like. And if we do, its usually at a big family function where we really don’t have much time to really talk. So we planned a night for just her & I to have a girls night out – just the two of us to catch up, share, laugh, and be silly like we used to. We did this last night & I loved it! We had a great time. I am thankful for her and the rest of  my family!

Happy birthday, Jeff!

My little brother Jeff has always been the hugest Rangers fan. I mean, he is serious about it. He watches every single game and if he can’t for some reason (work, school, etc), he records it and watches it later. Talk about dedication, do you know how long baseball games are?! When we would go to my parent’s house, Mom, Dad and Jeff would always seem to be watching the Rangers and usually all be wearing some kind of Rangers paraphernalia. It was cute.

My Dad took Jeff to a lot of games in Arlington – memory makers, as he called them. They would go early for hitting practice and stay through to the end, even if it was very late. And even when Dad had to work the next day. He even took the family a couple of times. Such fun! My Dad loved baseball & the Rangers.  This passion for baseball was a big thing that he & Jeff shared – it was “their” time together. Jeff also played baseball throughout High School and my parents loved being involved, going to his games to cheer him on.

I can’t tell you how special it is for the Rangers to make it to the World Series FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER the same year that my Dad passed away. Also, just so happened to be the same weekend as Jeff’s 20th birthday. What a birthday present! When the 9th inning came to an end and the fireworks started at the Ballpark in Arlington, tears were flowing all around. This is more than just about baseball for my family, it is more of a huge celebration of years of cheering them on together and all the wonderful memories that were made…especially for Jeff. I love you Jeff & am so proud of the man you have become! And of course, you know Dad is too.

Precious Punk'n.

I am so thankful for my girls. ALL OF THEM (including Bailey our tiny-toy poodle). Traci and I often call Addi and Kam “our precious punk’ns”. Our friend Adriane snapped this one of Addi yesterday on her first official field trip. Below I included another punk’n pic of her that makes me smile too. Happy October!

Birth-week 2010.

I try to get as much out of my birthday week or “birth-week” as possible. This year was no exception. Last year, Traci and I took a weekend trip to Broken Bow OK to camp at Beavers Bend Sate Park. It was awesome. As we left the site last year we determined that we would be back this year as well, setting it as a new annual tradition.

Early this Spring we found some cheap flights on Southwest Airlines’ site. I was able to easily convince my brother Ross to come down for this round of camping. We immediately booked the flights, marked the days off at work and began to plan and get excited. Fortunately that time passed quickly and October the 13th was upon us.

Wednesday: we headed out to Dallas to fix my iphone, eat Chuy’s and pickup Ross from the Airport.

Thursday: ran at OUR trails, toured Tyler, had coffee at Down Town Coffee Lounge, played Wii, cooked pizza for dinner and chilled.

Friday: more of the same, packed for camping and dinner at Villa Montez.

Saturday:  headed up to Quitman to deliver our precious babies to Grandma then continued North 2.5 hours to our camping destination. We setup camp, floated the river, and cooked fajitas. Perfect.

Sunday: we packed up, hiked, then headed back for a bomb chick fried steak and chocolate cake at Grandma’s then home. Unfortunately the day ended with a Redskins loss but none-the-less a great day.

Monday: we woke with 2 mini-visitors wanting to climb into our bed, blankets it hand. We once again got a few miles in at the trails, ate some Stanley’s for lunch, then headed back to Dallas for Ross to fly back home to Minnesota.

5 consecutive days off will spoil anyone and render the returning day semi-useless. Ha! So thankful for a great birth-week celebration and the opportunity to spend it with a few of my favorite people in the world.

Check out more pics on Traci’s post.

Monday. And it’s a GREAT day.

Its a beautiful Monday. I have spent all morning with two adorable munchkins and have constantly thanked God for this new opportunity he has given our family. I don’t actually begin work until tomorrow. I’m excited to get started, but am thankful to have a day off to recover from our fast and furious weekend to Austin. The girls just went down for a nap and I’m getting caught up on emails, FB, and laundry.

This weekend, we headed down to central Texas, one of our favorite places to be. Saturday after our last long run before this weekend’s half marathon, we drove into Georgetown. We had a relaxing evening hanging with my brother and his family as we chowed down on Cheryl’s chicken & dumplings. My girls LOVE their cousin Kendrick. It’s a bonus too, because when Kendrick is around, she plays with and watches the girls for us, so it gives Mommy & Daddy a break!

Sunday morning, we went to the 11:15 service of the Austin Stone and it was, as always, amazing. After church, we enjoyed a great lunch at a tasty pizza place with Ryan’s cousin, Aaron. We also went over the Ivey’s new house and recording studio. Ryan and Aaron spoke in audio language for a little while. You know…where to put this acoustic panel, how to position the monitors, how to trap bass, what sound absorption material should be on this wall, etc. All that stuff is way over my head! It’s so neat to see how God is using the Ivey’s as they intentionally live a life of mission there in Austin. Inspiring! We look forward to hanging out with them for a full week next month on our cruise…7 weeks and counting.

Sunday evening, we headed back to Georgetown. My brother Kelly is the Minister of Adults at his church there and was having an ordination service that night. It was a special service and I’m glad we were there. I am so very proud of Kelly and feel blessed to be his sister! My favorite part of the service was when he gave a high five to the sky from the stage. Dad will certainly be missed in everything we do, but never, ever forgotten. Love you Kelly!

Another first.

September 30th. Today is my Dad’s birthday, his first one in heaven. He would have been 63 today. Just 63. Hard day. Two years ago on this day, I posted this blog for him on his birthday. I miss him today. And I will miss him tomorrow. Trying to focus on all of the many good memories and how blessed we were to have him. I love you Dad & knowing that everyday is a celebration where you are, does make me smile.

Big changes taking place!

God is amazing. He has truly blown us away over the past few weeks, as we have seen pure evidence of His hand at work in our lives regarding a very specific situation. For those of you who haven’t heard this story, here you go…

About a month ago, I started praying for clarity regarding my job situation. (That is a long story in and of itself, I won’t bore you with details.) That very same week that we began to pray that God would reveal whether I should stay or go, He made it extremely clear to me that it was time to look for something else.

So, Ryan and I started talking about the possibilities of what’s next. We weren’t sure what was going to happen or how it was going to work – but we knew full well that God would provide. One of the options we discussed included me staying home with the girls and maybe working part-time or something. The more we discussed this particular option, the more excited we got! Addi starts school next year and the thought of spending more time with her, and with sweet Kam, before that happens thrilled my heart. They are at such a fun age! This is something we have always wanted, but its never worked out or been feasible. So, we started praying specifically for God to open just the right door in order to allow that to happen. He knows our financial needs and the debt we are working hard to payoff. We decided I would stay at my current job until that something else came along.

I started to keep my eyes open and talk to some people, trying to be proactive. Then one day last week, one of my favorite clients that I’ve been working with for over a year now, called up to the office to talk about a billboard design we were working on for him. He then proceeds to tell me all about this new marketing job he would like to hire for at his company. Someone who would do all marketing, public relations, event planning, etc. for him and mostly…(are you ready for this?)…WORK FROM HOME. What? Are you kidding me? He was telling me about it in case we knew of anyone interested, not knowing that I would be! So, I went straight home during lunch that day and emailed him expressing my interest. One thing led to another – I met with him and his wife to discuss and that next Monday, he called and offered me the job! I start October 5th as the Director of Marketing at Brown’s Landing and am super pumped. It’s more than I expected on so many levels. What a blessing, straight from the Lord.

Next step was finding a 2 day preschool to transfer the girls to. Um, can you say HUGE savings? Going from full-time daycare to a 2 day preschool makes a major, positive impact on the budget. Even though I’ll mostly be working from home, there will be a couple of days that I’ll need to be out and about, meetings, luncheons, etc – stuff that would be easier…well, kid-less. Plus, we want to keep them in a structured learning environment. Wouldn’t you know that one of our friends in our community group – his mom owns one of the best preschools in town! And sure enough, she had spots for BOTH girls. Ryan and I went and toured the place, got the paperwork, met the teachers, and enrolled them. Couldn’t have been any easier. Again, another blessing straight from the Lord.

We are very humbled and amazed at how God orchestrated all of this down to every single detail. We also appreciate the prayers that were lifted up on our behalf. He has once again, blown us away! He always provides and we are thankful. I don’t know why I ever doubt – EVERYTHING is in His hands.

And I am stoked to spend even more time with these two cuties!!!

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” — Matthew 6:26

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us…” — Ephesians 3:20

A Proud Big Bro.

I love being a big brother.

When my little brother Ross was a toddler, he developed an infection in his hip that started off in his ear. Kamryn recently had beginning stages of this that we caught before it got worse. Anyways, Ross’ infection required surgery in order to remove the gunk which seemed to be a pretty big task 20+ years ago. I remember that he was in either the newspaper or TV news. After the procedure, it seemed as though he would randomly fall often as his muscles and whatnot began to heal.

Years later when he ran, it made me nervous. Nervous because him running often ended in a scrapped knee or elbow as he would still fall from time to time. I really don’t know this was due to the infection/surgery or just being a kid leaning to run, but I remember catching myself in lookout and nervous mode when that dude ran.

Fortunately everything turned out fine. Actually, that boy is crazy into biking, climbing, running, swimming, softball, soccer, snowboarding and most likely 8 or 9 other sports these days. We have had the opportunity to run together in 2 San Fran half marathons. This pic was from 2008.

Recently he participated in a mini-triathalon up in his region of Minnesota. Below is a pic of the 3 sports. He has done such a great job training and being dedicated to making this goal achievable. I am a proud big brother. I am so thankful for him and his drive.

It is interesting, now that we are older, how I still get nervous when he runs. Not physically so much but emotionally and spiritually as he continues to run life’s journey. I guess that’s love and common big-bro mentality? There are so many obstacles; so many tempting detours that we all face. Fortunately we are not alone.

I am proud and so thankful that we have a great relationship even today. I am also thankful that he still loves me even though I practiced WWF wrestling moves as he was my wrestling buddy for years and endured countless matches of torture.

Our Training Schedule, Routes and Todays 13.1.

Traci and I alternate days for running as our girls (obviously) cannot be left alone for hours at a time. If I have Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Traci will have Tuesday and Thursday. The next week we swap. Running in this town is amazing. We have some favorite routes for sure. We have mentally engrained maps for 3, 4, 6.25 and 10 mile jaunts though the beautiful Azalea district and to the South Tyler Trails. Morning is best for both of us as this is the coolest time of the day and I love the feeling of getting the miles out of the way. A great feeling for both work days and weekend relaxation. Usually we set aside the weekends for our longest runs though I have managed to get a few in during the week. With three 1/2 marathons right around the corner, it’s time to consistently surpass double digits for long runs.

Occasionally if the girls are spending the night at Grandma’s on the weekend, Traci and I will run the same weekend day and which allows us to start at the same time. Today was that day for us. With our princesses off in Quitman last night and their sweet uncle Jeff volunteering to bring them to us in Tyler this morning, we were set for our longest run this training season, 13.1 miles.

We had talked through how to add 3 more miles to our 10 mile course last night on the way home after dropping off our babies (romantic kidless conversation huh?) and had it set. We came home watched a movie, passed on our usual weekend wine and were in bed by 11. It is interesting how that even with our girls in good hands both last night and all morning we still ended up going to bed at a reasonable time and getting up to run early this morning instead of sleeping late. Sacrifices of a runner I guess.

Laced up and ready, we walked out the door at 6:30, sunk our Garmin GPS watches, untangles our earbuds and began our warmup walk. We start about 1/10 of a mile down the street which is typically enough steps to stretch, get the blood flowing and wake up those deeply essential joints and muscles that are still upset that I’m up and ready to strain out every bit of their stored up energy. After a kiss from my beautiful bride and at our starting line position it was time to press start and play and get going.

You can listen to a lot in about 2 hours. I am a fan of the Austin Stone and Village Church podcasts as I believe that both of those Matts are awesome teachers. I often use my running time to feed on the Word as that is one of may favorite ways to absorb it. I listened to part 2 and 3 of Matt Chandler’s (Village Church) series on the book of Colossians and then some good ol’ Jack’s Mannequin. Our path took us through the rich folks neighborhoods, down Sunnybrook, across Broadway, down Donnybrook, across the Loop, 5 miles on the trails and then back the way we came.

The temperatures were fine, not great; About 75-80. My ankle joints start yelling at me around mile 11. After enduring the full milage I popped some ibuprofen, drank a cold water and 2 small glasses of chocolate milk. Uncle Jeff was soon to arrive with my 2-still-in-pajamas cuties. Traci finished a few minutes after sporting her “I was successful and made it” smile which I  always hope to see and am so proud of. This chick is good!

From there we had breakfast, got cleaned up, cuddled with our girls and were off to Grace to worship our great God. So thankful that Christ is who He is! What a freeing and captivating truth. Rarely do tears flow from my dried-up eyes while proclaiming my thankfulness in song, but today was an exception. If you were in front of me I apologize for my tone deficiencies as it is tuff for me to be on pitch when I’m choked up. Some days I just get overwhelmed by His love. The greatest days are the ones when you can praise Him at the top of your lungs when your world continues to crumble.

Now the girls are napping and ribs are on the grill. Onions, tomatoes, garlic and peppers are roasting in the oven for homemade salsa. Octoberfest in hand, Redskins vs. Cowboys at 7 and Traci is making homemade Butterfinger ice cream. Family day at its finest.

How great is our God? How great is our God indeed!

What's God Up To?

If I built a spreadsheet and noted every detail of each overwhelming trial the past few years of my life and then in the next column followed up each crazy struggle with the specific way that God came through and did something great (as only He could), you would be amazed. [Maybe I should… might be a great book!… or EXCEL workbook.] The most powerful lesson that we have learned is to ALWAYS TRUST OUR CREATOR. He knows every detail of our life beginning to end. Think about that. Like really think about it. I truly believe that He is always working to refine and strengthen me and for that I am humbly grateful.

With the recent tragedy of Traci’s dad, both Traci and I have felt a deep motivation for living a life with eternal significance. Recently, Traci received news from her job that she would be making about a 1/3 less due to “hard financial times for the company” which begins a new set of questioning. I have finally began to really soak in the brutal reality that this world is truly broken. I have also been contemplating the question “What’s God up too?”.

When I look around I see lots of specific struggles with friends and family. Seriously tuff stuff. However, it does seem that we have really been hit hard on all sides for a few years now. Is it just me? Am I delusional? Is my observation selfish? I really don’t know the answer to these. Really, I don’t know. In my spreadsheet equation of the struggles + God’s provision = ALWAYS TRUST OUR CREATOR, I have learned not to stress and therefore I will not this time either. However; with this reoccurring theme in our life I do question “What’s God up too?”.

Happy Birthday Addison.

4 years ago on August 31st our beautiful daughter Addison was born. That day as I held her tiny self in my hands and fixated my focus on her sleeping face, I really was in shock. Shock I guess to the weighty reality- that this was MY BABY GIRL. Fast forward 4 years and I hold her little girlie body in my arms and gaze into her little girlie face and I am in shock. Shock I know to the weighty reality- that this is GOD’S BABY GIRL.

Happy birthday dear Addi.

August 31, 2006 marks a huge milestone in our lives. At 4 that morning, my water broke and before we knew it…our first child entered into the world! Our sweet Addison Kate is 4 years old today. Um excuse me, but how did this happen? Just five minutes ago, I was holding her swaddled in my arms – bouncing her, singing to her, calling my mom while trying to get her to stop crying!

Now, she is 4, going on 13. Smart, curious, busy, particular, beautiful, caring, thoughtful, tender, musical, eager to please, and the list goes on and on. She is one amazing little girl! I told her this morning…”Addi, I LOVE to be your mommy.” And I do. I feel so incredibly blessed to have both of  our two beautiful daughters!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY!

You Eat What You Pay For.

I watched the documentary FOOD INC. the other day and it really stirred some concern. Its a great, informative video and back-stage view of the food industry and its control. I actually spent about an hour after it was over in a daze. Big business endorsed by our ever protective government [cough] has really changed today’s food from what it was when we were growing up.

The thing that saddened me the most about it was the way it seems as though the “all about the dollar” mentality ends up hurting fellow human beings, real people. From the mass of farmers that struggle over the decision to make a paycheck or putting their ethics aside and give in, to the immigrant workers that are involved in most of our food preparation and packaging getting penalized and tossed to the side as disposable, to the health consequences for you and me consuming products that are  genetically modified, fed weird diets, or tainted due to the lack sanitization laws and animal civility for the sake of more, faster, cheaper, we only ending up hurting ourselves in the end.

One story that really caught my attention was about a lower income family who could easily convince themselves that it was far more tasty and economical to support the Dollar Menus than buy fresh and healthy produce from a supermarket. Wow isn’t this so true. They also said that it was cheaper for them to buy this cheaper, less healthy fast food AND the medications (that were now required probably due to long term eating of these foods) than to buy healthy foods. How sad is that? I was telling Traci that it’s as if the food industry was owned and operated by the pharmaceutical giants to produce this weird imbalance backing people into this same spin and therefore inducing type 2 diabetes, obesity, clogged arteries, etc. just to make a profit off of medications, off of fellow humans, you and me. All for the dollar.

In lieu of this, we are seriously considering some big changes in what we eat. As runners we typically eat very healthy. Lots of grilled foods, brown rice, juices, and vegetables are a norm for the Dixon’s. Rarely do we eat out and even rarer is it for us to eat fried-anything. We have been discussing portion size a lot and have been doing a good job at limiting awesome things like ice cream, to just enough to get a good flavor fix from it instead of filling up on these super tasty yet less-than-ideal calories.

The next step is coming. We love farmers markets and will increase our shopping there this month. Not for sure how extreme we are going with it but we will definitely be doing the organic thing ASAP. Many say organic is too expensive and as I do agree (as it is a fact) that legit organic food is more expensive (really due to lack of demand) to buy in the store over non-organic. However, if you team up portion control with organic foods it can really offset the cost. Actually I do believe that it will end up being cheaper in the long run. Especially if you can avoid those prescriptions and hospital stays. We are definitely going to start spending our dollar even wiser than before as you really do eat what you pay for.

Any thoughts out there on this? Any suggestions or research you can share? Anyone make the change and can tell a difference? Any cool stories? Please share.

–These comments posted via FaceBook–

Family Vacation #1

We just got back from our first official Dixon family vacation. My parents were able to give us a few days at a North/central Arkansas community called Fairfield Bay. We loaded up the girls on Thursday and headed for a 6 hour drive into the mountains. With no plans other than cook dinner, swim, hike and love on our babies, we accomplished just that and it was valuable.

Growing up my little bro and I were blessed with the opportunity to go on many family trips and stay at all kinds of cool places similar to the Arkansas setup. We loved theses trips growing up and my parents always made them fun for us. Plenty of swim time, mini golf, chill time, site seeing, exploring, etc. and we always had a blast. Many great memories for sure.

It’s interesting – these family vacations now that I am in the parent role. Seems as though Traci and my desires were not about us, but what we felt our babies (yes, they’ll always be referred as such) would want to do. Weird how easy and self-less it was for us to plan it this way! Our main goal was to squeeze as many smiles out of those precious pumpkins as possible. Swim every day! No, no – swim twice a day, every day! Yippie! “Can I have another cookie?” “Heck yeah! Here’s TWO extra cookies!” I actually feel semi-awkward at how much I stared at their little butts while frolicking in the kiddy pools this week. I loved it and already miss the ever passing time we have with them in this stage. Family vacations are about the family which really is about the happiness of the kids which really is to increase the joy of  the parents… interesting revolution there. We didn’t get a lot of rest and didn’t come back with a renewed sense of “go get em” but enjoyed the time with these angels. Priceless.

You can check out some pics of the trip at Traci’s blog. Peace!

We’re outta here.

This week, we will be heading to the mountains to go on vacation & I COULD NOT BE MORE READY. Ryan’s parents graciously booked us a resort a few months back. Little did we know what was going to be taking place with my Dad & how badly we would NEED this time away.

Our plan is this. To not have any schedules or obligations, love on our kids as much as possible, read, lay by the pool, hike, run, sleep, cook some new recipes, and rest. Truly rest. Hoping and praying for continued healing during this time away and maybe even some restoration.

Addi and Kamryn are SO excited…this is their first official vacation. Up until now, Ryan and I have left them with Grandma and gone places alone…which is also very important and we will do this later on in the year on our cruise (yay!). So, we’ve been talking to the girls about “our family vacation” for months now and being that its just a few days away, they are pumped! Addi has been telling her teacher every day, “In _ days we will be going on vacation!” Of course she also feels the need to tell her sweet teacher and her friends, “YOU are not going…just me, Mommy, Daddy, and Kamryn.” Side note: We are working on our manners and the way we talk to people right now with this one especially. But needless to say, they are excited! And so are we. Happy to have time away, alone together – just our little family.