Baby Dixon Adoption Story: Part 7

Well, this truly isn’t what I thought this post would be about. And honestly, I’ve been putting this off for weeks. Even sitting here now in our quiet home office while Miles naps, my heart aches and tears fall onto my desk as I type out these words…

Our adoption fell through.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again and again: Adoption is beautiful but hard. And you’ve seen here on this blog the good, bad and the ugly. And we have now officially been put into the category of having a “failed adoption.” We knew there would always be a chance in adoption that the birth mom could change her mind. But, we truly didn’t really see this coming. At least not the way it played out. It all felt so certain, especially there at the end. It all felt like it was so perfect. SO meant to be. We’ve been talking about having twins for a good part of this year and have two of everything. We were all set for our #dixontwins.

God brought us all together for a reason. Just not the one we thought.

So, what happened?

You know, honestly…we aren’t sure. And we may never really know. You see, up until the day that our birth mother delivered baby boy, we felt certain in the adoption plan. She even called us when she was heading to the hospital. But then, the next two days were quite confusing and emotional. Without going into much detail, I’ll just say this…the last phone call I received from the birth mom was in the middle of the night to let me know that “they were sending her back home because the baby wasn’t ready to come yet.” When in actuality, he was already born and they had decided to parent…which we later found out from the agency. That’s the last communication we’ve had with the birth mom. Which is hard considering we’ve worked for 5 months to build a relationship and felt like we had such a neat connection.

It’s been an interesting and rocky road for sure, but we know who ultimately is writing our story. It’s not us. And thank God that His ways are higher than our ways and His plans are always greater than our own. The story He writes is always better. So we trust and hold on to this truth. And we pray for the baby that was born that night. That God would protect him. That God would work miracles in the birth mom’s life. That she would come to know the Lord. That somehow they would be able to escape poverty and find a stable place to live. That the boy would grow up being loved and fully cared for well and one day that He would come to know Jesus. Addi, our oldest daughter, who we learn so much from daily, has been praying that for quite some time. She told me one day months ago, “Momma, even if (birth mom) changes her mind and that’s not our Levi, that he would still get saved one day so we can at least meet him in Heaven.” Oh precious, what a heart you have on you.

We grieved this loss greatly. And are still processing. It’s hard to see the duplicates of everything we have in the nursery. It was very hard to watch our girls grieve. That honestly might have been the hardest part! The emotions of a lost adoption are hard to explain. We have felt anger, confusion and most of all, sadness. We have felt so loved through this process by our family and friends. They have come and wrapped their arms around us, cried with us, brought food, sent flowers, fruit or an encouraging note and just loved us well through this time. God has blessed us greatly with these people. Our people. We are forever thankful. Thank you.

Now what? We pray, we trust, and we do the only thing we can. The next right thing…

So now, we are in the process of updating our profile with our agency and gearing up to go back in the “waiting families pot.” Now that we have sweet baby Miles (post to come about his birth soon!), we have to have a new home study and update everything on file. Moving forward with this is such a weird feeling and honestly hard to even think about it. We prayed about it for several days and came to this conclusion: God called us to this. We know in our hearts that our Levi is still out there. We must proceed and it WILL be worth it. What if Jesus gave up after things got hard? Look at all He did to adopt us into His family.

Because of the gospel, we have no choice…we take the next step. Now to see what Part 8 will bring!

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#babyDixon Adoption Story: Part 6

Twins?

Let’s just talk about this for a second.

God sure is funny isn’t He? You know, we had our daughters very close together…Addi was 7 months old when we found out we were pregnant with Kamryn. So, we sort of did this once before! Had two babies about the same time. For years now we have been asked if Addi and Kamryn are twins. And it was crazy and is a complete blur and we had no sleep and on and on and on…BUT, we loved every minute (well, ok, most minutes) & it was obviously totally worth it. Let’s throwback to those times…here we are at the Tyler zoo pushing 2 strollers!

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So honestly, having two at the same time again doesn’t scare us THAT much! Plus #thoseDixons sort of like crazy adventures. Not sure if you’ve discovered that about us yet :) We are VERY excited. Yes, it will be different this time around because they literally are arriving within weeks of each other (or less)…not 16 months! But we are  thrilled about the “twins” that God has created to join our family very soon. When we originally heard that the birth mom that chose us was due just a short 2 1/2 weeks after I was, we just laughed. 2 girls. 2 boys. Goodness gracious, here we go!

What have we done to prepare?

After learning of the news that we had been chosen several months back, we have been on a mission! When I found out I was pregnant earlier in the year, we had already started to prep the nursery for one. Then, when we got the call from the agency in June, we just started doubling everything!

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We truly feel so blessed by the amazing friendships & family in our life. We’ve had friends give us baby stuff that they no longer need. Several sweet friends planned and hosted a beautiful baby shower for us. We’ve received so many generous gifts, it brings tears to my eyes!  We are fully loaded. We have so much stuff it’s crazy! Our drawers and closets are full of clothes. We have gadgets, bumbos, play mats, bouncers, bath gear, double pack-n-play, boppies and on and on. I also have some twin mom friends that have given me some fabulous tips…and will for sure be a resource I will tap into after they arrive! Thankful for these wise, beautifully brave mommas that are there to help. And you know Grandma is having a hay day with this! My mom & I have gone shopping a few times for various things and she’s loading up her house too!

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A few frequently asked questions we get about our boys….

1. When are they due?

Miles will arrive on October 30th or sooner because I have to have a c-section (since I’ve had 2 previous ones). Levi is due November 22nd. 23 days later.

2. Do you plan to breastfeed both of them?

Yep, I’m sure gonna try!

3. What race is Levi?

He is African American. So yes, our twins will be one black and one white! Beautiful.

4. Are your girls excited?

Oh my goodness, they are SO very excited! They can’t wait. They talk about the boys all the time and even fight over who’s gonna get who. Kamryn thinks Levi will be sweet like her. She says Miles will be a “stinker like Addi.” Hahaha! They pray for the birth mom. They totally geek out and squeal anytime I buy new outfits or a gift arrives. They are giddy! And knowing how helpful they will be is awesome…they will be little mommas.

5. Is Ryan glad to have some boys in the house?

You know what…Ryan has been the sweetest and best girl daddy ever. It has been an absolute joy watching this over the past 9 years. Our girls ADORE their daddy. But YES, he is excited to play ninja turtles and trains with boys! He’s excited to think of future camping trips, hiking trails, and football. He’s pumped about adding two boys into our crazy fam. And I know he will be an amazing boy daddy too. Thankful for how he loves us all. By the way, he’s been such a fabulous support to me during pregnancy. He willingly eats whatever sounds good to me so he’s proud to show you his “pregnancy” progress!

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Well folks, that’s about it. Our adoption story thus far. We are prepped & ready. We have done and continue to do all we can. Now, we just continue to pray and wait to see how the rest of the story will unfold. God’s story is always better than ours and we hold on to Ephesians 3:20…”He is able to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine.” We have faith that God has been and is in control of everything. From the timing of when the babies will be born. To the adoption process, those 48 hours at the hospital and all that that will entail. To bringing two baby boy bundles home and starting our life as a family of 6! We pray often each day for God to go before us as all of this is beyond our strength or power. We know He already knows how all of this will play out and this gives us hope and comfort!

THANK YOU for following our journey and your prayers & encouragement along the way. Your prayers specifically for the birth mother are much appreciated over the coming weeks. The final post in this series, Part #7, will be after babies arrive!!! We can not wait to bring them both home.

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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!

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.

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!

Kam’s Hot Chocolate Birthday Party

A few months back, Kam informed me that she wanted to have a “hot chocolate” birthday party. Easy enough! So this past weekend, my baby turned 4 and we had her a partay. Did you hear that? MY BABY TURNED 4, PEOPLE!

This sweet litttle bundle who just looked like this yesterday…

Now looks like this today…

I think as soon as you become a parent, you enter into some kind of weird warped time zone. Seriously, I’m amazed at how fast it goes and at the same time challenged to cherish each precious minute of each day! Anyways, enough of the sappy mommy talk (before I start crying!) and on to the birthday party.

A hot chocolate birthday party is what she wanted, so a hot chocolate birthday party is what she got! After all, it’s not everyday YOUR BABY TURNS FOUR. Here’s what we did to celebrate. On the invite, we told everyone to come in their pajamas to the party – since it was a mid-morning party on a Saturday, we thought this would be appreciated! Each of the kids got to decorate a chocolate cupcake to enjoy along with their cup of homemade hot cocoa in a snowman mug. We had a buffet of marshmallows, peppermint sticks, mini M&M’s, different colors of icing, and holiday sprinkles. I also made marshmallow snowmen (thanks Pinterest), which were a hit! After this fine dining experience a.k.a getting hopped up on sugar (sorry mommy friends), we had storytime. Ryan read one of our kid’s favorite books called Snowmen at Night. Then, we went on a snowman hunt (thanks to my friend Rach for this fun idea). I printed out blue snowmen and hid them all around the house. I told the kids that last night, twenty snowmen had snuck into our house & hid (you know…as a follow-up to Snowmen at Night) and they had to help find them before they melted! Then, it was time to open gifts & pass out goodie bags. Each kid was able to take home their snowman mug too. All in all, I think it was a fun party & Kamryn had a great time and felt special. Addi said it was the best party ever! Love that my girls appreciate such simple things like hot chocolate.

Happy birthday to the sweetest four year old ever!

Run for Sight 5K

Our friends, Josh & Maggie Ghrist, are missionaries in Mombasa, Kenya. Right now they are in the states on furlough while also raising funds to support their ministry, Lighthouse for Christ.

Lighthouse for Christ is a non-profit ministry in Kenya dedicated to healing the physical and spiritual sight of the people along the coast of Kenya. They provide free eyecare and treat 30,000 people yearly, who could not otherwise afford to fix minor or major eye problems. Awesome.

To help raise money for this great cause, we are helping the Ghrists plan a 5K event. If you live in or around Tyler, you should come & run for sight! Saturday, December 3rd at Faulkner Park in Tyler. Runners, walkers, kids, strollers, doggies – all are welcome!

Click here for more details.

Click here to print registration form.

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!

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!

In the studio with Cody Whittington.


I have had the privilege of working with Cody Whittington for a few years now. Back in our Quitman days, he and I worked countless hours on his recording projects while sipping on countless lattes at our StudioJava.

Recently he has moved off to the wonderland of Austin to pursue a more adventurous life with his beautiful bride. Since that time he has been songwriting and recording new material from his home. About once a month he drives up to spend time with me here in Tyler to work on his soon to release record.

We are about 90% finished with recording, edits and mixing. After that is complete we will work on artwork and duplication.

I am so blessed to get to work with this guy and truly admire his dedication to pursuing his passion for music. Here is a snippet of a song we recorded this summer. Enjoy.

Need You To Notice [Sample] – Cody Whittington 2011

Girls Weekend

This past weekend, the girls in our community group went to Dallas for a weekend away and we had a great time! No kids, no husbands, no houses to clean, no dishes to do, no laundry to put up, no butts to wipe, no lunches to make, no work to do – just sweet friends, good food, and a quiet rooftop pool. It was awesome! We laughed so much. We acted silly. We ate way too much food – Simply Fondue, Mattito’s, and Bread Winners, oh my! We stayed up way too late. We had deep converstations. It was good for my soul! I am truly thankful for my beautiful girlfriends and the blessing that each one of them is in my life. So much fun ladies!

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!

Recipe Exchange Party

I hosted another recipe exchange party at our house last night. Good times. Any excuse to get a bunch of girlfriends together to hang out, laugh & eat is guaranteed fun! My friend, Hannah, & I switch out on who’s hosting it and we try to plan one each Spring and Fall. She did it last Fall, so I was up. Spring came and went, so this time it got pushed back until Summer, but hey…whatever works! Several people have asked me, “What is a recipe exchange?” – so I figured I would make a post about it…

There are many ways to do a Recipe Exchange Party, but here is what we do:

1. Send out an invitation or evite a few weeks in advance. Ask everyone to bring X number of copies of their recipe to share. Last night, the theme was “Summertime” – so we asked everyone to bring easy, light summery recipes.

2. Make something for each person to take their recipes home in – folder, bag, packet, recipe box, basket, etc.

3. Purchase small gifts to give away as door prizes and for the winners of the games. You can find cute & very inexpensive items for this! I picked up some summery, fun plastic utensils, pot holders, and a wine bottle carrying case.

4. Find silly games to play. Every adult needs to “play” every now & then, right?! We did a game called “Guess that Spice!” I picked out 10 spices out of our spice cabinet and covered them all w/random magazine clippings. I numbered each one and created a sheet with #’s 1-10 on it and printed copies for everyone. The point of the game is for each person to smell each spice and write down on the sheet what they think it is. After everyone made it through the line, I asked them what they put for #1 – we went around the room and heard each guess, some of them quite funny I might add! Then, I would tell the correct answer. We did that for all 10 spices and whoever had the most right, won the prize. Our winner guessed 7 out of 10…not bad! Side note: I made Ryan do the game the night before to make sure it wasn’t too ridiculously hard and when he got to red pepper flakes, he sneezed like 14 times. HA!

5. Prepare and serve snack foods that go along w/your party theme. For our “Summertime” party, we served ice cream sundaes with toppings, watermelon, lemonade, cookies, and chips & fresh homemade salsa.

6. To do the “exchange” portion, you just have each person tell where they got their recipe, any tips on how to make it, why it’s special, etc. Then, they pass the recipe copies around and each person gets one. Then, the next person goes…and on & on until everyone has everyone else’s recipe. So after last night, I have close to 15 new yummy recipes to try!

Busy Overdose

Sorry we’ve been slacking on the blog front! Apparently life took  an extra dose of busy over the last few weeks and forgot to tell us. So, we’ve been running around like mad trying to catch up to it! As of today, we are just now getting back into a somewhat normal routine. Here are some updates from the last few weeks…

*I entered my mom into a Facebook contest that Sterling Grace, a local jewelry store, was doing in honor of Mother’s Day. They were asking people to submit a vintage photo of their mom along with a story of something “old school” she still does. The winner would get a $300 jewelry makeover. We looked through, found the perfect photo, wrote an entry with the help of my siblings, and submitted it! And…SHE WON! She had a blast picking out her new jewelry. Such a neat store with beautiful stuff! Here was the entry:

*We got to go to the Chuy’s VIP Sneak Preview Event! Remember when this happened? I kept hearing rumors about Chuy’s opening here in Tyler so I decided to email someone and get to the bottom of it. I found the email address for the VP of Real Estate & Development on the Chuy’s website and sent him a little email (what? you gotta do what you gotta do when it comes to creamy jalapeno!). Well, he confirmed it right away and then because of that very email (and my friend Joe Terrell) it made the news! Anyways, my new BFF Michael Hatcher invited me to this VIP Sneak Preview night – how fun! I was totally giddy about the whole thing and impressed that he remembered me. We got to order whatever we wanted off the menu – it was all free and delicious! First time being a VIP & I felt like all that & a bag of chips w/creamy jalapeno, of course.

*Ryan has been working so hard for hours & hours on finishing up the mixing & mastering of our church’s live recording and it sounds amazing! I am SO proud of him. His talent truly blows me away. Our friend & worship pastor, Jon Jenz, just sent off the final disk today to be duplicated & hopefully it will be up for sale close to mid-month. So exciting! We are blessed to have such talent in our church to lead us as we worship our creator each week. Can’t wait to see the final art & have an album in hand! Proud of Jon, his team & my audio engineer hubs!

*I turned 31. Wow. I’m officially beyond 30 – like actually IN my 30’s now. How did that happen? This year’s birthday was bittersweet. Sweet because I got to hang out with dear friends, enjoy good food & wine, and felt massive amounts of love for which I am beyond thankful. Bitter because all I could think about was last year’s birthday and what happened exactly one week later. Realization that this was the first birthday without my dad brought sadness and tears, but at the same time, it brought even more determination and motivation to make this next year count. I’ll strive to “keep on keepin’ on” as a 31 year old to make memories, hopefully make a difference, and live each day to the fullest.

*We went on a fabulous canoe trip with friends on Buffalo River in Arkansas. It was, in one word: amazing. We drove up to the river, literally unpacked our cars into the canoe and took off for 3 days. Canoeing during the day & camping on the rocky shore at night. The river was gorgeous and very clear! Who knew bathing in a river could be so refreshing?! The river had a steady flow to it, so canoeing was relaxing and peaceful- minus the sporadic splash fight ambushes. :) Oh, and there was this one incident of me crashing into a tree, getting scraped & bruised up and almost flipping our canoe, but other than that it was peaceful! At least now I have a story to tell. This trip was seriously just what we needed at this time in our lives. God, as usual, couldn’t have coordinated the timing any better really. With June 4th approaching, this gave us time to breathe, reflect, cry, set new goals, and just be still.

*The High 5 to the Sky 5K is coming up this Saturday, so we are working on final details for that. We ordered 80 shirts for all those who preregistered and each day, more come trickling in! The charity that we are donating all proceeds to, Project 7, is just thrilled and are providing water and other items for all race participants. So great & overwhelming to have such support as we celebrate the life of my dad in this way. This event will be such a special tribute and we appreciate all of you who are helping us make it special!

*Addi & Kam are LOVING summer. All throughout April, Addi would ask, “is it summer yet?” They have been waiting patiently for swimming weather. This year we have several options of places to swim and they are absolutely eating it up. Our neighbors have a pool, my little brother Jeff has a pool at his apartment, and several other friends have pools too! Bonus. So we’ve been swimming a lot since the weather turned warmer and the girls couldn’t be happier. I think they might be part fish! Or as they would tell you, mermaids.

Into The Woods.

This weekend me and 4 of my church buddies ventured into the woods. Destination: Lincoln Park Parrish. Ruston Louisiana.

There is just something about being out in nature staring at a campfire for hours on end. It’s relaxing. It’s good for my soul. It’s therapeutic. I really think that I am going to have to increase my time out in God’s creation this year. We enjoyed gourmet campfire food and endless coffee thanks to my buddy’s generous and never-ending supply of Keurig k-cups. What? You don’t have a Keurig coffee machine with you when you go camping?

We left Friday afternoon for the 2.5 hours drive East, setup camp in the headlights of our vehicles and started the fire. When the coals were hot, we grilled some steaks and fire-baked some potatoes. Some late night coffee and caramel yummies from a gracious wife topped off our evening. Conversations grew until our sleeping bags’ calls grew louder.

First night was a bit louder than expected. I am a light sleeper since the birth of Addison. That daddy sense coupled with my audio “ear” wakes to just about any out-of-the-ordinary noise. Like my tent-mates SNORNING! Around 7 am, our camp was awakened by a crazy loon outside our tent squawking with the joy of the Lord. The new day was thankfully dry, for now at least. I was able to get the fire revived with a little “breath air” and then our breakfast burrito factory cranked up. Ashed bacon and eggs are bomb! Really though anything with cheese in a tortilla is just fantastic.

After breakfast and a devotional which encouraged a “day of prayer” we broke off into some solitary times with our Creator. After about 15 minutes of walking around in exploration mode, the rain that we had been hoping was only speculation showed up on the scene, and in full force. Thankfully I was able to take refuge under a random RV awning to wait out the storm which I monitored with my iPhone’s Weather Channel Ap. What? You don’t have 3G service when you go camping?This allowed me to be still and read John 13-15. Great stuff.

A few hours later the clouds broke, the skies opened and we were able to proceed with our day and lunch. My buddy in charge of lunch for the day had a grip of ingredients available for us to make our own campfire stew. Burger meat, onions, peppers, potatoes, spices and BBQ sauce wrapped into individual aluminum foil packets created to cook on the hot coals of our fire. Bomb. Some delish cookies his kind wife sent along followed the lunch. I love cookies!

Shortly after lunch 1/2 of our crew had to head back to the real world. Temps dropped in response to the day’s rainfall. Dinner Saturday was some great chili doused with more great meaningful conversation. Ear-plugged this time, I snuggled into my mummy sleeping bag, pulled the draw string tight around my chest and fell fast asleep.

Sunday morning brought more coffee, more breakfast burritos and a 5 mile run around the park’s lake…4 laps. Not a huge fan of laps no matter how scenic the surroundings. My mental state just becomes dull as my inner ear invokes dizziness. The temps were perfect. The companionship with God on my run was just what I needed. Some comfort from my heavenly Father. The other 2 guys that remained got some valued time in too. One fished in the picturesque lake. Another biked on the famous mountain bike trails. Camp was broken down, the SUV was loaded and before we knew it we were on the road home.

I LOVE CAMPING! The smells, the foods, the sounds, the smoke in my eyes, all of it. They seem to awaken memories of great camping experiences in the past. One in particular with my brother-in-laws and my father-in-law in the mountains of Ruidoso New Mexico many years ago. Still though my favorite part of this trip was that it was knitted with conversational thread of God from the moment we met, ’til we parted ways. From how we can serve Him to what He’s been teaching us recently. How we can work to be better men and servants in our families and how important it is to sometimes just sit at our Savior’s feet and listen. It is so great to have other men from different backgrounds unified in Christ to gain from and share with. Everyone has something to contribute. This weekend was exactly what I needed. A great time with my brothers in Christ strengthening relationships only deepened through adventures like this. A great time to feel alive again. A great time to think, refocus and return with motivation. A fantastic journey into the woods. It does make sense though why trips like this are so valuable. We are in fact, Wild at Heart.

Weekend Madness

This past weekend was crazy busy. Felt like we had one thing after the other after the other! Last weekend was like that too. This coming weekend appears it will be much of the same. I’m starting to see a pattern developing! Life is just busy, but it’s good stuff.

Brown’s Landing had a booth at the Home Products Show which started Friday night, so I worked that all weekend while the girls had some extra Daddy time. It was a fun and successful event! I LOVE my job and the people I work with. We made a lot of great contacts and spread the word about our beautiful development. Here is a pic of our booth. Ryan designed all of our printed materials, doesn’t it looks great?! Handy having your graphic designer live with you!

Saturday night, after working the Home Show all day, we went to a “Mystery Dinner” that a couple in our Community Group hosted. We had no idea what to expect! I love this kind of stuff. We received an email Saturday morning telling us the location where we were all supposed to meet. In front of Walmart at 6:30 and bring $10 per couple. Once everyone was there, we were given the rules. We had 12 minutes to plan something to cook and go shopping for all the ingredients. We could only spend $10 on it. Fun! People at Walmart probably thought we were crazy. Ryan and I decided to cook green chile cheeseburger sliders. Then, we all went back to our friends’ house and they had appetizers waiting for us to eat while we all cooked our dishes together. We laughed a lot and enjoyed some tasty food!

After the Mystery Dinner, we headed to Starbucks to meet up with one of our old youth group (Fusion) kids who was in town for the evening…who is now a man and is getting married this summer, gosh I feel old! It was great catching up with Keith and meeting his woman. I love our Fusion kids and am so thankful they still desire for us to be a part of their lives, even though we live miles and miles away! They are a big part of our lives – such great memories and awesome experiences we had with them. They are all very special to us. Also, note to self: never allow your 3 year old to drink frappuccino at 9 pm at night!

Sunday, we had church, then a meeting about a partnership our church has with a group in Haiti over the next five years, and then more Home Show! By Sunday night, we were all whooped. Ryan and I watched a movie and BOTH fell asleep, which is rare. :) Thankful to have a few calm days this week!

Livestrong Austin Half: Recap

This past weekend was fast and furious! I’m still recovering. We left Tyler Saturday morning first thing, kid-free & caffeinated. Along the way, we met up with our friends Mike & Ame who were also on their way to the ATX. Ame had decided several months ago that she wanted to complete a half marathon before she turns the big 3-0. Well, she turns 30 in March, so she picked the Austin Half to be her goal. Awesome! I love it when my friends decide to take up running. In fact, some other friends are running their first half in April and I hosted an official “half-marathon training” meeting at my house several weeks ago – am I a nerd or what?!

We followed speed racer Mike & Ame the rest of the way and of course had to make a pit stop at Chuy’s before we could do anything else. I mean, nothing says pre-race food better than chips, creamy jalapeno, and spicy tacos, right? Then, we all headed downtown to the race expo. Oh my word, it was packed OUT downtown! So much traffic and so many peeps. We finally found a place to park in some neighborhood on some street and headed in for our packets. I know I’ve said this before, but I heart race expos. They always make me feel like an actual, real, legit runner. Such great energy at these events. Being around other people that enjoy the same hobby as you as you all prepare to embark upon another challenge together – I don’t know how to explain it really. It’s refreshing and inspiring! Check out our swag… (don’t mind the blurry photo, time to upgrade to iPhone 4)

After loading up on protein bars, organic cereal samples, and Greek yogurt, we headed back to our car. Then, on to watch my niece play basketball! We had such a great time catching up with my brother and his family. We laughed A LOT. Not sure if we were all just really tired or what, but everything was funny. I’d share stories, but you wouldn’t think they were funny, trust me. Definitely a had to be there kind of thing. Good times. That night, we headed back to their house and cooked spaghetti to carb-up. Enjoyed a glass of wine as we tried to rest and relax and head to bed as early as possible. The alarm was set for 4:15 a.m. – YIKES.

I don’t know about you, but waking up before 6 is really hard for me. Well, waking up before 5 is just plain ridiculous. It’s the middle of the night for crying out loud! We threw on our race day attire, pinned on our bibs, drank some coffee, ate a Cliff bar and headed out the door as quietly as possible. We met our friends at their hotel and proceeded downtown to the starting line. Austin is such a cool city. Gotta love a race that starts in front of the state capitol building! National anthem was sung, introductions of all the race big wigs were made, and then it was announced that Lance Armstrong himself was there and running in the half marathon with us. Neato! I never actually saw him, but knowing that he was running was a cool thought.

The race itself was a lot of fun. Hilly, but fun. I decided to run with Ame, I wanted to be with her as she accomplished this pre-30 feat! The route was neat…running down Congress Avenue through downtown and by Lady Bird Lake. There was an insanely steep hill around mile 12. But, we conquered it and finished under her goal time! She did awesome. I was very proud of her. Ryan beat us, of course. I think he finished right behind Lance. ;)

After the race, we went back to Mike & Ame’s hotel to shower. Do you know how bad one stinks after one runs 13.1 miles? Peeeew weeee! I was craving a cheeseburger, so Ryan & I Stopped at Saltgrass on our way back to Tyler for this plate of deliciousness…

Crazy, but very good weekend. My hips were sore from climbing all of the hills! We’ve taken several days off from running, but I’m already itching to get back out on the road. Next up…Tyler Azalea 10k in March. H52S!

A fun day at the park with friends.

My friend Jennifer just had a baby a few weeks ago…sweet little Gabe! Thanks to her and my other friend, Robyn, I get to cuddle with precious bitty newborns often. And, I have several other friends expecting this year too. We are literally surrounded by kids & I love it! Well today, we made plans to meet Jen & her wee ones at the park to walk & have a picnic lunch…she was itching to get out of the house & we always love an excuse to hang! The Springish weather this week is gorgeous and we wanted to enjoy some time outdoors while it lasts. When we arrived, we ran into Lauren & her kids (bonus) and so they joined along. We had such a great time walking, talking, playing, and eating. We are so thankful for the community of friends God has blessed us with here in Tyler!

[I just put new batteries in my camera, so I was on a mission today to get some great shots.Thought I’d share my faves!]

ATX Half this Sunday!

This weekend we are heading to central Texas for the Livestrong Austin Half Marathon! I am stoked about this race. Minus some tough hills, I’ve heard awesome things about this one. It’s Austin, so of course there will be live music throughout the entire run thanks to the local bands. Pumped about that. And no doubt we’ll see some interesting running costumes! The last race we ran in Austin, we saw an Adam & Eve couple running. Yes, only wearing leaves.

The course takes you by the UT campus, around the Capitol building, along side Lady Bird Lake and through downtown – how cool is that?! Plus, we have a good friend that is running her first half marathon and so, my plan is to run with her. She determined she wanted to accomplish a half before she turns 30 next month. So proud & excited for you Ame!

If you are really bored on Sunday morning, have an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad and want to track us during our run, here’s how! Go here to see the free app you can download in iTunes. Ryan’s bib # is 8185 and mine is 11565. The app looks really neat! It will show us as cute little dots, our location on the route, and our pace.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend away and making more memories. I’ll, as always, be sporting my Dad’s Livestrong bracelet during the run. High five to the sky!