Addi’s First Protest Letter

We got home from our fabulous New Hampshire trip last night after flying all…day…long…and when we walk in the door my Mom catches us up on what’s been going on with the girls while we’ve been gone. Then she proceeds to hand me this handwritten, very passionate & opinionated note (while totally cracking up).

Apparently while at school yesterday, Addi was presented with the opportunity to participate in karate. And apparently she does NOT want to participate in karate. AT ALL. Little Miss Addison Dixon wrote the following letter to her teacher.


If you want to go to karate stand up. If you want to stay in class sit down. Karate is a bad choice. You hit and kick. You have to be safe and responsible and respectful. Big kids can but little should not. Addison does not want to go to karate. I’m going to stay in the class and learn. Addison wants to do a dance recital. Gramma had a long talk with me about karate and we decided not to do it for now.


How awesome is that?! I’m sure her teacher got a big kick out of that this morning when Addi waltzed into class and handed it to her. I definitely had to “scrapbook” this to show her when she grows up! Her first official protest letter. I have to say, reading this made me so so proud. After laughing and being impressed with her writing skills, I was proud to see that she is fully prepared to stand up to what she believes in! If she feels karate is a bad choice because you kick and hit, then she will not do it. She would rather stay in class and learn. Hahaha, that’s my girl!

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.

Note from Addi’s teacher.

Addi has been doing great in Kindergarten. Thank you for your prayers for our family as our baby girl embarks on this new school journey! She loves it and is chatty cathy every day when I pick her up, filling me in on every detail she can remember about the day {which I absolutely love!}. Ryan was off on Friday, so we took Addi a cheeseburger for lunch and sat with her class on the patio. They had won the opportunity to eat outside instead of the cafeteria as a reward for something they had done earlier that week. It was a gorgeous day out & it filled my heart to watch Addi with her friends. She is just so joyful!

We feel so blessed to have an awesome teacher this year for her too. She’s a Christian and that permeates through everything she does. About a week ago, I received this email from her & it brought tears to my eyes & totally made my day! I just had to “scrapbook” this & share it with you. I’m one proud mommy!

I just wanted you to know that Addison is such a joy! I listen to KVNE all the time! Even in class. She knows most of the songs and will just belt out a tune. :) Sometimes she sings without the radio.  Today I brought some sycamore leaves to extend our discussions about Fall. She said “I know a song about a sycamore tree.” Addison & I sang to our class about Zacheaus. (not sure of the spelling of his name)  Even as a kindergarten student, she is ministering to those around her. You are doing a great job with her! She is a blessing! Thank you for sharing her with me this year!

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!!!

That’s just what He does.

I woke up this morning with a case of the mommy blues. This is the final day before the big day. Tomorrow is Kindergarten! I know this is not a sad thing, I really do. It’s a great thing in fact. Maybe I’m just being silly. I’m a worry wart by nature, so I have that working against me. Honestly, I was feeling quite sad today. My mommy friends tell me this is normal which makes me feel better and less like a cry baby.

But baby, I got the blues.

This morning during church, our worship leader started the service by praying that we could focus & put aside whatever we brought with us today. I prayed along with him but my mind was consumed. My focus was elsewhere, at least at first. I was standing there during worship feeling very weepy as we sang, “all of my life, in every season – you are still God, I have a reason to sing…” Thoughts of my baby girl starting Kindergarten in the morning flooded my mind. I wondered if we have taught her everything she needs to know for this. I was figuring out what I should send her for lunch and if she would stop talking long enough to have time to actually eat it…or would she starve all day? I was thinking about how hard it was to believe that I was even old enough to have a Kindergartener! (Not to mention the gray hairs that are sneaking up a little too fast for my liking.) I imagined what it will look like as she walks into her classroom in the morning in her cute new outfit & pink princess backpack. Will she cry when I leave? Probably not. Will I be able to stop crying when I leave? I have to, I have a meeting to get to. One chapter of life ends and another one begins. Tears.

Then out of the blue, I started thinking of and missing my Dad terribly. I thought to myself how proud he would be of Addi & how he would have given her a pep talk just like Grandma did yesterday. How he would like her school- the old building with such character, he would think it’s neat. I thought about how this was yet another milestone that he will not be here for. And friends, I felt downright sad. But the song kept on going, “I will rejoice, I will declare, God is my victory and He is here.” Dad would tell me to do the next right thing, I told myself. Chin up, Traci. Keep on keepin’ on. Then, I’m not even kidding, the very next song started….”turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in His wonderful face…” My Dad’s favorite hymn!!! While pastoring, he would have the church sing this song at the end of the service before leaving as a reminder of where our focus should be. This song was even sung at his funeral. More tears.

In that moment, it felt like the song selections were just for me. Maybe Dad put in a special request for me? :) I felt God’s presence so real – He was listening to the cries of my heart. He doesn’t think I’m being silly. He loves me. He knows how much I adore my Addi and how much I daily miss my Dad. When I’m sad or worried, He provides comfort. He held me in His arms this morning and let me cry. He reminded me to focus by turning my eyes toward him and “the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory & grace.”

He saw my heart and gave me that song, I just know it. That’s just what He does.

I blinked. They told me this would happen.

To my dear Addison Kate,

Today I took you school supply shopping. I’m not exactly sure how this happened given that just a few days ago, you looked like this…

But it’s true. You begin a brand new phase of life on Monday. You start Kindergarten! People have always told us not to blink because our kids will grow up so quick. I’m really starting to believe it now, sweet girl. I blinked and here we are.

Today, as we shopped for crayons, glue sticks, and big girl jeans, my heart was bursting with pride and tears filled my eyes. I love you so much, I can hardly stand it. Your curious mind, tender heart and fun sense of humor are such a joy to your Daddy & I, baby girl. I know you will absolutely love school. Your love of learning, structure, and schedules will help you adjust to this new phase quite well, no doubt. You are a social butterfly and are so kind to others, I know you will make new friends quickly. I’m sure your teacher will appreciate you helping her, as I know you will, to organize, instruct, and control your classmates. The excitement in your eyes when we talk about Kindergarten thrills me and eases my anxiety. You aren’t nervous at all like Mommy is, you are so brave!

As we left the store today, you said, “Mommy, hold my hand.” It was all I could do, as I felt your little hand in mine, to not start crying right then and there while walking to the car. I thought to myself how I wish I could go with you to Kindergarten and hold your sweet hand. You know, just to make sure you get through the day OK. Wipe your shirt off when you spill on it, wash your hands before lunch in the cafeteria, dry your tears if you fall down in the big huge hallway, and straighten your hair after recess. But I can’t, big girl. And you probably wouldn’t even want that knowing you! I reminded myself that you are a gift to us straight from the Lord. You ultimately belong to Him and we just have the amazing honor to care for you, help you learn and grow, and love on you like crazy for as long as we have each other here on this earth. And you know what? HE will be holding your hand at school every single day, which is even more important! That brings gobs of comfort to Mommy’s heart and it should your’s too. You are in good hands, punkin. And when that bell rings each afternoon, I will be right there waiting for you. Excited to hear all about your day as I know you will have much to say, as always.

I love you Addison Kate and I love being your Mommy. We are proud of you and know that God has great things in store for your life. Now…I’m gonna try hard not to blink again because I’m certainly not ready for any graduation or marriage ceremonies!

You just never know…

…what’s gonna come out of their little mouths! They definitely keep us on our toes and laughing most of the time. Here are some funny/sweet Addi & Kam quotes from this week.

“Momma, can you make us a baby brother? We need a prince to dance with. Both of us. For our vacation.” – Addi

“Husband, stop calling me so much! I know you hate your job and I know you’re ready for vacation. But seriously, you have to stop calling me. Ok. I love you so much too and I’m glad you called.” – Addi (on her play phone)

“Addi don’t suck your fingers and then touch me. That’s disgusting!” – Kam

“I just wanted you mommy. I want you.” – Kam (after waking up this morning – MELT MY HEART)

“I don’t want to be a human, I want to be a mermaid!” – Addi

“What in the name of hobby dobby is that?” – Addi

“Dear Jesus, thank you for everybody and everything. Help everybody sleep good. Amen.” – Kam

“All the napkins are gone, little sweetie.” – Kam (talking to Addi)

“You are freaking me out! That’s ridiculous.” – Addi

“Mom, why are you so excited all the time?” – Addi

“Look momma, I”m a turtle!” – Kam

Addi & Kam: The Latest.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted an update on the goings on of a certain 4 year old and a certain 3 year old. And let me tell you, there is a lot going on! So here goes.

We’ll start with the eldest. Addi Kate is maturing by leaps and bounds. She is our 4 year old going on 16. She keeps us laughing most days and other days, we try hard not to pull our hair out…errrr, I mean we are blessed to learn patience. She still asks a million questions a day and is a perfectionist in all things. She’s our rule-follower and if she messes up, she is very hard on herself. “I’m a bad Addi” is her phrase when she’s in trouble. She loves hanging out with her friends and has become a fish this summer, we go to the pool at least once a week. She is so caring and tender hearted. If someone gets hurt, she cries. She says things like, “that’s ridiculous” or “you’re freaking me out” or “would you like to play in my bedroom slash toy room?” Also when asked a question, instead of responding with a simple “no”, she says, “I can not” with emphasis on the not. She CAN NOT wait to start kindergarten this Fall and talks about it often. She knows that we are going on our family vacation in August and when we get back, she gets to go to school & she is PUMPED. She also knows exactly what she wants to do for her 5th birthday party – where she wants to have it, who’s on the guest list (she lists them daily), what kind of cake she wants (half Spiderman, half Princess), and what games we will play. She has it all planned out! I believe she is a lot like her momma in this way. She likes to organize, prepare, lead and learn. She is quite the dancer (not exactly sure where she learns some of her moves!) and also loves to run. She actually ran a whole mile recently around the track, which of course makes us proud!

Little Kam keeps us on our toes. I’m fairly certain she is one of the clumsiest people I have ever known. If it can be spilled, Kam will spill it. If it can be scratched, bumped, or bruised, it will happen to Kam. If you think there is any chance she can fall, she will. Poor baby is not very graceful! She’s a lot like her momma in this way too, I’m afraid. (Remember the story of my falling & busting my knee on the Golden Gate Bridge during the San Fran Half of 2008?) Recently, she has found a new love of singing and always asks to listen to “Daddy’s music” (a.k.a. Love Has Spoken – Grace’s new live worship album) every time we get in the car. And she BELTS it out – mostly falsetto and mostly off-key but always sounds beautiful to us! Kam is a sweetheart and is very sensitive. All it takes is for Ryan to raise his voice and she will burst into tears. She is easy-going, positive, cuddly, and mischievous all in one. Her cuteness can be deceiving at times! When she’s in the other room and being quiet, you can guarantee she is up to something. She is learning to color in the lines, but is definitely free-spirited. Her favorite word is “because” and uses it at the beginning of most sentences. Uncle Jeff always asks her to say “hamburger” because she says it like “hambooger.” Kam likes to ride her bike and drink bath water. She’s our cute little mess!

Our house is a mess.

Our house is constantly a mess. I clean and pick up daily, but it never fails…

There is always glitter on the kitchen floor. Always a toy to be stepped on in the hallway. Always water on the bathroom floor. Always feathers from a dress up boa on the living room rug. Always dirty sippy cups throughout. Always popsicle stained shirts. Always globs of toothpaste in the sink. Always books on the floor. Always crumbs on the couch. Always marker all over the kitchen table. Always empty bubbles on the back porch. Always mini flip flops by the back door. Always hair bows and clippies by the sink. Always something in the potty. Always barbies in the bath tub. Always dresses on the closet floor. Always coloring pages scattered in my office. Always dirty mouths (or butts) to wipe.

But you know what I’ve determined? WHO CARES! These little culprits are worth every time I bend over to pick up a toy or get another paper towel to wipe off something. They are worth every mess, spill, and stain. Because of these two girls our hearts and lives are filled to the brim with love unimaginable, incredible joy, and a ton of laughter…all of which are incomparable to these little inconveniences. In fact, I thank God for a messy house! It’s just a constant reminder of these beautiful blessings He has given to us.

What makes you beautiful?

Having two girls is so much fun. Our house is filled with pink. Dresses, flowers, tiaras, dress-up stuff, glitter, play makeup, plastic jewelry, the works. No hiding the fact that we are raising two princesses, that’s for sure! But lately, something about all of this has kind of been bothering me & Ryan. This may be completely normal, but it sort of makes us sad. We are already seeing signs of how they worry about the way they look, compare themselves to others and even cry or throw fits if their hair is messed up or they don’t like the dress they have on. Not all the time does this happen, but quite frequently. I mean really, you are only 3 (or 4) years old! It’s really surprising to us how much they genuinely care about their looks at this young of an age…that should be the least of their worries! “Momma is my hair messy?” or “I want a dress like _____has on.” or “I like my bangs this way instead.” We’ve had to remind them, fairly often lately, that beauty is not about the way you look. I’ll say, “What makes you beautiful?” to which they respond in unison, “Your heart!” (They are learning!) We tell them all the time how beautiful they are when they smile – it doesn’t matter what clothes they have on or what their hair looks like, God made them perfectly and loves them just the way they are. If you have girls, I’d love to hear how you deal with this issue! I love my princesses, but always want them to know they are beautiful for reasons way beyond their dresses and hair.

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!





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.


One wreck of a daddy.

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!

Mother’s Day: Surprises & Survey

All week long, Addi has been talking (shocker) about how excited she is to finish the “mother’s day surprise” for me at her school on Thursday. She has been so excited to work on this little project and give it to me.

“Mommy, are you going to be sooooo excited?”

“Mommy, are you going to cry tears of joy?”

“Mommy, you will really really really like what I will give you to put on the fridge so you can look at it every day!”

Adorable. Well, today when I picked her up from school, she was ecstatic. There she stood by the door holding a little white, sticker-covered bag and a huge smile on her sweet face. “Mommy, Mommy!!! Here’s your gift!” We loaded up backpacks, went & got Kam from her room (who had a gift for me too, but wasn’t in the best of moods thanks to a lip-busting accident on the playground) and headed to the minivan. As soon as we were all piled in, Addi opened my gift for me. (Isn’t that usually the way it works? I never get to open gifts for myself anymore!) And there it was…my new pink magnetic frame, to hang on the fridge & look at every day, with the most adorable 4 year old holding a sign with words that mean the world to me. Melt my heart. Addi was right, I did cry tears of joy! What made this gift so special was how much it meant to Addi to make it and give it to me …priceless.

Kam made a precious gift too! I’m sure her teacher helped just a little. It’s a clip board that she colored, has a sweet little poem on it, her hand cutout and a cute pic of her face inside the flower. So creative! Kam told me I could use it to make “lists” – perfect. So thankful for my beautiful sweethearts.

Also, along with Addi’s gift was a folded piece of pink paper that totally made my day. I opened it up and it said in big letters at the top: A Mother’s Day Survey Created for You by Your Child. This seriously cracked me up, so I had to type it out for you and share. Her teacher interviewed her and here are Addi’s responses…

What is your mom’s real name? Traci

What do you call her? Mommy

What does your dad call her? Baby

What does your mom like to do? She likes to kiss me.

What is her favorite color? Pink

What is her favorite food? Salad

What is her favorite drink? Tea

What is her favorite restaurant? Chuy’s

How tall is your mom? 6 inches

How much does she weigh? 6 lbs.

What is your mom’s favorite TV show? Alice in Wonderland

What does your mom do while you are at school? She works at Brown’s Landing.

If I gave your mom $100, what would she buy? A curtain

If you could spend a whole day with your mom, what would you do? We would swim.

If your mom was sick, what would you do to make her feel better? I would take care of her.

Ha! She was right on on most of them. Clearly, Alice in Wonderland is NOT my favorite TV show and if given $100, I would probably not buy a curtain – but how stinkin cute?!

I love my kids. I am blessed beyond words to be their mommy.

Daddy/Daughter Campout.

Last Friday night I set out on my first camping adventure with my baby girls. My good buddy Mike was able to secure some land for our day point five campout about 20 minutes North East of Tyler. This is a great spot due to the proximity and the available camping amenities. About a month ago Mike was mentioning an upcoming father son campout to which I butted in and proposed the question “Daddy/Daughter”? “Of course!” was his reply. Sweet action! The Dixon’s were in.

I LOVE camping and any excuse to do more of it is perfectly fine with me. Since the birth of our children I have always desired to establish an at minimum annual camping trip with them. Being only 3 and 4 now, I was a little concerned that my hands would be too full taking both Addison and Kamryn. I was told that if I took one girl, I had to take both. Understandingly I agreed that was going have to be the plan. Challenges are good, right?

As the days approached I started putting out feeler statements like, “Who wants to go camping with daddy in a tent”?! to which Addi with her typical inhaling “Huuuuuhh!” continued her response with “I DO!” Kamryn however was skeptical as expected. She LOVES her mommy and the thought of mommy not being there took some convincing. That’s when the mention of Twizzlers, shelled peanuts, fruit snacks, and cuddling were thrown into the bargain. The chip that sealed the deal though was the statement about riding there in daddy’s truck. They adore riding side by side with me in Kip’s single cab pick-up.

With everything I could think of taking to occupy the “down time” that camping desperately beckons, I made sure to pack paper and crayons, comfort blankies, kites and snacks out the waa-zoo. Some how in my plea with Traci not to pack too much girly stuff, Addi and Kam’s clothes still happened to get packed into princess backpacks alongside their pillow-pets. Lovely! I’m in for it.

We excessively packed everything a week long camping trip would require, loaded it into the truck and set off towards our destination for the night. On the way I discussed what to expect when camping. I told them that camping was all about “Chill’n in God’s creation.” Actually I made them repeat that by posing the followup question, “Girls, what’s camping all about?”. “Chill’n in God’s creation.” was the nearly in sync reply from the two tiny angles to my right. “That’s right!” I closed the statement specifically for the oldest of the two angels who has some difficulty with “chill’n” as you could put it for this intense and overly questioning, 4 year old teenager.

In excitement we were some of the first to arrive. We traveled down the green grass field road on the property to the small fishing pond over the hill. This is where the festivities would be held. Beautiful. We met another father and his son and chatted about where we should setup our tent for the night. We found a semi-flat area and started working. The girls insisted on helping and I insisted to not prohibit their “helping”. We tacked the tent to the ground with its stakes, slid the fiberglass poles into the proper sleeves and then lifted the poles into place as the random formless tarps became a tent. Squeals and the joyous comment “Huuuuh, IT”S SOOOO BEAUTIFUL!” was exclaimed. Awesomeness.

We proceed to fill our house for the night with our gear. We built a pallet out of some old comforters and sleeping bags, rolled out their adult sized mummy sleeping bags and then topped them with their favorite blankets and pillow-pets. I laid out my mat and bag right next to theirs and smiled in wonder as to what night-time would  bring.

Burgers and hotdogs were on the fire. All the participating dads and their sons had arrived and setup camp. Dinner was served, we ate the smoked saturated goodness and then decided to take a walk around the pond while there was still light. When we got to the other side we walked into a huge field of weeds/wildflowers. Addi and Kam frolicked about in the field. They were seriously yelling, “It’s SO BEAUTIFUL!” and “Oh WOW!” as they skipped through the weeds. Reminding me that the simple positive side of things is what is most important. Usually on strolls through our neighborhood we are posed the question, “Can I pick one of those?” to which we always reply, “Those aren’t our flowers. We can’t pick other people’s flowers.” This evening however, these were THEIR flowers. Ripened for the harvest and bloomed for their happiness. They were in what their tiny minds conceive as Heaven. I watched with gladness and a heart full of joy, a taste of what I perceive as Heaven.

We headed back to our campsite, set our camping chairs around the refueled campfire and awaited s’more time. As the other groups were still out exploring we decided to take another shorter walk now that it was getting dark. With their new special camping flashlights in hand, my little chicks followed me around the pond again. This time we couldn’t help but notice the night time beauty. The sky was clear as the 90 percent full moon began to take over the duty of illumination. “It’s sparkly and beautiful!” Addi stated in seeing the moons reflection on the slightly ripped waters of the pond. In returning with the other families, we made the customary campout dessert then headed off to bed. Before that though we had to “go potty” and brush teeth.

Fortunately for us there was a “cabin” on this property available for just that. Unfortunately I have 2 girls under my wing for this campout and every time they need to “go potty” we had to load up in the truck and drive up the hill to this house. I’m sure all in all we made about 6 trips there in the short span of time we were there. This house was the typical late 70’s house that has been stuffed with old hand-me down beds, tvs, that “old piano that we can’t figure out what to do with” and cookware specific for the weekend getaways and guest lodging that takes place here. The girls found this house a bit creepy at night, so did I. Usually we went straight in, did what we were there for, then scurried back to the truck. Adorning one of the wood planked walls was an old western, sepia colored saloon-like photo with some old cowboys holding rifles. The question was asked if those were the people who lived in the house. Another question was if this house was where the 3 little pigs lived. I couldn’t help but answer yes to that one.

We drove back to our tent, changed into out p.j.’s and got the girls snuggled into their sleeping bags which easily swallowed up their tiny, delicate bodies. All you could see was their sweet little round faces poking out from the top. Super cute. With a couple tight squeezes and more kisses than usual, we closed the day as in ritual with prayer and the “Barney song”. I laid down, slid into my bag and then the questions really started. They usually request to “iChat for a few minutes” at home and I knew with this new experience it would take a while for them to feel as ease and fall asleep. A few minutes of chatting and we were all fast asleep in our “beautiful” tent.

The next morning I woke to smiling girls, the sunrise, 40 degree temperatures and a nauseating headache. We took our customary morning trip to the potty and began to prepare breakfast for the group. Kam and Addi both held their share of fishing poles and even got a bit muddy. After breakfast we drove around to discover more of the vast property and the other ponds. I even talked chicken little (Addi) into crossing over a 2 by 12 board “bridge”. Next we broke out the Barbie kites and played more in the flower filled field. Beautiful day but as the minutes increased, so did the intensity of my headache. We quickly broke down our tent, threw our equipment and unrolled sleeping bags into the bed of the truck, said some quick good byes and headed home to rest.

Asking the girls what their favorite part of their first camping trip was Addi said “sleeping” and “throwing rocks into the lake”. Kamryn answered, “Going potty in the 3 little pigs house.” All in all this was a great first camping experience. I was honestly quite skeptical going into the weekend with Kamryn’s non-committal answer and the thought of these princesses enjoying the art of “chill’n in God’s creation.” They LOVED it and so did I. I am so excited to be able to continue what we’ve only just begun with this new adventure. I am a very proud daddy of the two cutest little campers around.

Girl talk.

Today on the way home from school, Addi was talking (no shocker here) about what she wants to name her two girls when she has kids. Cute how she just assumes she will have two girls like I do! She said she would name one Haley and the other Janie. I asked her what their middle names would be to which she knowingly responded, “I’ll probably let my husband give them middle names.” Good plan. This comment quickly led to another discussion…as like most all our conversations, jumping from one thing to the next like a spastic ping pong tournament. She said, “Momma, I don’t know what my husband’s face will look like or what his name is.” I told her that she will meet him one day in the future. One day far down the road, a long time from now, when she’s older, like waaaaaaaaaaay later. [I mean, good grief give this momma a break and let Kindergarden get under way. I’m already an emotional mess about that one. I know I’ll blink once and she’ll be walking down the aisle!] She said, “Where will I meet him?” I told her maybe at college or church and they will become friends and then fall in love and then get married like Momma & Daddy. Bounce, on to the next subject…”Momma, when are we going to the Ranger’s game?”

This quick little conversation got me thinking. I pray all the time for present things for my children: for them to have a good day at school, for them to sleep well, for protection from injury and sickness, to not potty in the bed or suck their fingers, etc. But one area I have neglected is their future – maybe because I’m not ready for them to grow up! I really do need to spend more time praying for the women they will become, for them to seek after Jesus in all they do as they continue to grow, and for their future spouses. So, I made a new goal today as a Mommy. I want to begin praying now for those two little boys out there in the world that will one day grow up and marry my two little girls.

Addi’s right, we don’t know his name or what his face will look like. Only God knows what the future holds. I pray now that whoever this beautiful, precious girl gives her heart to one day will treat it, hold it, protect it, comfort it, nurture it in the same way my spouse does mine! Thankful for Ryan and the example he is to our girls. God truly did answer my prayer (and I’m sure my own mother’s prayer) by giving me a spouse like him!

Surprise, we’re going to see the dancing girls!

Last night, we had big plans for our girls. The Apache Belles, a dance team at the college where Ryan works, are putting on their Spring Show this week. The Belles are pretty well-known across the country and do performances and productions all over. Last year, Ryan did the audio for the Spring Show. That was a beast of a two weeks for me err, I mean for him. I took the girls one night with a friend to watch and they were in awe – they loved it! They called them “the dancing girls” and even proudly told people that their daddy went to work with “the dancing girls.” Lovely. I’m sure some people were thinking what the heck? This year, even though Ryan isn’t doing the sound, he was able to score some free tickets for the fam. So we decided to keep it a surprise…what fun!

We made a night of out. To start, we went to eat dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings – 60 cent boneless wings – with Uncle Jeff. The girls love to eat here because it’s one of the rare times we eat fried foods! We asked them while at dinner where they thought we were going for our surprise and we received answers like, “the park? ice cream shop? Grandma’s? Starbucks? Bealls?” Got to love their sweet, simple pleasures! After some delicious BWW, we stopped by for some ice cream. I mean, what better way to cool off your burning mouth (thanks to Caribbean Jerk & Mango Habanero sauces) than a scoop of chocolate peanut butter cup! They thought this was their surprise at first. So they were pumped to find out that this was just our final stop before THE surprise. After we got back in the car, I asked again where they thought we were going. “water park? the mall? and then finally and randomly Addi yelled, “to Daddy’s work to see the dancing girls?!” When we responded with a big YES, shrieks filled our van. It was priceless.

We got to the auditorium and headed as close to the front as possible. From the moment the show started until the final kick, their eyes were glued. Although Ryan was ready to leave at intermission (ha!), we stayed the entire time which was a good two hours. Sparkles, high kicks, music, singing, dancing, twirly dresses…our prissy girls were in heaven. And although I enjoy this show too, it’s the smiles on their faces that make it awesome for us. It’s the little things in life, you know? With a small amount of effort, a random night in Spring became a special night for us. Another memory maker for the books!