End of 2012 & 2013 happenings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


East Coast Tour Stop 2: Asheville, NC

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

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

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

Next stop: Virginia & Washington D.C.!

East Coast Tour Stop 1: Birmingham, AL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for more Instagram goodness headed your way!

Road Trip 2012

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

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

Train Trip

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

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

Have a great Thursday.  I love you much.

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

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

Pics to come!

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!

Upcoming.

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

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

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

Summer Vacation

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

Some highlights from the week were…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*Taking naps each afternoon with my man.

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

Kansas City is cool?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

2010 Recap Through Pictures

I am VERY excited about 2011. A brand new year. A fresh start with renewed motivation.

This past year has been a whirlwind to say the least. Over the past few days, I’ve been reflecting back on 2010 and everything that happened. By far, the hardest year of my life. The hardest year in my family’s lives. Looking back on 2010 for the rest of my life, I know it will always be known as “the year Dad passed”…however, I also know that some great things happened this year and some awesome memories were made. I started looking back through pictures reminiscing on the good things and thought I’d scrapbook in one post a recap of the year. I am thankful for the blessings of 2010. Even through the tragedy and darkness, the Lord provided rays of sunshine to give us hope and make us smile. A little over a month before my Dad died he sent me this email. I re-read his emails often and have shared some on this blog. But this one, although short & simple, means so much to me and I think of it often…

2010 was definitely hard, but I WILL keep smiling! I have so much to be thankful for. And even though 2011 will no doubt bring its own set of hardships, I know that THIS WORLD IS NOT MY HOME! The joy that only comes from the Lord is my strength.

I’m hoping to jam pack a bunch of new memories for the Dixon clan in 2011 and live life to the fullest. Cheers to making each day count!

Us at Kiepersol Winery on New Year's Eve.

With love,

Traci

2010 Recap Through Pictures

January

Ryan & I celebrated 7 years of marriage & went to Shreveport for a little getaway.

I hosted a Recipe Exchange party at our house.
Read this book with our community book and it knocked our socks off. Good stuff.

February

It snowed! The girls got to build their first snowman.

Went to the Extreme Home Makeover Kickoff here in East Texas!

Some friends gave us a jogging stroller and have used it non-stop ever since.

Got to see Singing in the Rain at TJC – Ryan ran sound for the show.

March

The weather turned beautiful and we started playing outside again!
We ran in the Azalea 10k right here in Tyler.

April

We started a Date Night Co-op with some friends.

Went to see Switchfoot at TJC!
Hunted easter eggs with cousins.
Ran in the Capitol 10k in Austin.
Went to a Texas Rangers game with Poppy & Grandma & Uncle Jeff!

May

We walked the Tyler Race for the Cure 5k with Poppy. This was the girls very first race to participate in!
We celebrated Mother's Day in Quitman with Grandma.
We had our family pictures made at one of our favorite places in Tyler - the trails.
Had a blast celebrating my 30th birthday!

June

Aunt Debbie came to visit from New Hampshire.
June 4th. My dear Dad passed away suddenly after his morning run. Now he is running and living it up in Heaven!

We enjoyed swimming in the evenings at our friends' pool.

Aunt Jen treated the girls to the Tumble Bus!

July

Addi played in her very first t-ball game at school.
We escaped for a family vacation to Fairfield Bay, Arkansas.

August

Addi started Pre-K. Kindergarten days will be here before we know it, oh my!
Addi turned 4!
Kamryn had a blast at Jumping Jacks.

September

We made a trip to Lubbock to visit old friends.
We "adopted an Apache" through the TJC Tennis program.
Ryan did a live recording at KE Cellars.
We had a night away in Dallas to see a friend get married.
Got together with friends to give Robyn a baby shower. Mayleigh was born in November!

October

Got a new job working for Brown's Landing as their Marketing Director!
The girls started a new school on Tues/Thurs.
Went to Georgetown for Kelly's ordination service.
Started going to Story Time at the public library regularly with friends.
Ran in the inaugural Tyler Rose Half Marathon.
Ross came to visit from Minnesota and we went camping in Beavers Bend.
Andy's brought back Pumpkin Pie concrete for the season!

November

We flew to Boston to run in the New Hampshire Half Marathon in honor of my Dad. High five to the sky!
Ryan built our fire pit.
Another baby shower! Brunch with friends to celebrate Jennifer's baby boy on the way. He'll be arriving in the next few weeks!
I ran in the Bambi 5k Run while Ryan was at home sick.
Ran in the Dallas Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning.
My mom cooked a feast for our Thanksgiving meal and Ryan carved the turkey.

December

Went on a Caribbean Cruise with cousins & made new friends.
Ran in the White Rock Half Marathon in Dallas. 3 halfs in 3 months achieved!
Kamryn turned 3! And I made my first decorative birthday cake.
We celebrated Christmas in Georgetown with family.

HAPPY NEW YEAR FRIENDS!

The Last 2 Weeks.

My 2 week Christmas break is officially over and man has it been great. Not due to any fabulous vacation or life changing events but just because. The time I’ve had to just chill and read and tickle and love have been fantastic. I look forward to this time of year and huge benefit to working in education since last years break. It always seems to go so fast. Fortunately I still have the weekend before Monday’s return to the workforce.

The first week flew by with mostly loafing. I really can’t remember anything significant about the week other than some great loafing. Then a trip to Georgetown for Christmas with my bro-in-law and his kind family last Thursday thru Sunday. The girls had a blast spending time with their cousin Kendrick and are still enjoying the fruits of giving friends and family. Christmas was great as usual minus the giant vacant spot at this years festivities. Makes me feel more mortal and family like.

This week has been different than the previous. My miles have picked back up and soreness has returned to my legs. Reading has taken a huge emphasis this week. I am about to finish a book that I started last Friday. More on this in future posts. We have cleaned house and rearranged. Early Spring cleaning? I have had a list of self declared projects that I have been wanting to accomplish during this year’s break. On the list were: leaves, oil change, replace bathroom cabinet door hinges and replace garage security light. Of these, all of them were accomplished. I’ve been working on the vast and overwhelming leaf removal project for about 2 months now. My West Texas friends have no idea what this even means. Man it feels great scratching even the littlest tasks off a to-do list. Makes me feel more handy and man like.

Most of all though, the time with my little family has been priceless. It really is amazing how the consecutive days with this much interaction with them makes me want to be around them even more. I am so blessed with this gift. Sure there are days when bed time cannot come any quicker but for the most part it was a great as my mom-in-law’s chocolate cake. The hugs and giggles are golden as I try to pause the moments in hope of somehow slowing down time. Time that’s quickly escaping like an opening handful of dry sand. A few nights this week at the close of our night time routine, Addi has asked with her eyebrows slightly raised in her face’s expression of excitement, “Daddy, is tomorrow another family day?” With much joy my answer has been a pause-less “YES!”. Questions of, “Can you tickle me?”, “Can we dance?” have been answered likewise. Moments like this make the whole break of great value. Makes me feel more fulfilled and daddy like.

It’s neat to see how they are developing physically, mentally, socially, and spiritually. Traci and I are really working on leading our precious girls by example. Teaching as we go and acting how we are wanting our kids to act. Fortunately we are about to start a parenting series in our Grace Community group as we could use so much help on aisle 10. We have began implementing a small “for girls” devotional with a story, verses, application and some questions. Still yet to see if it’s doing much at this age but really it’s about establishing a good habit/routine. One thing I want to impress on my family this upcoming year is to be more philanthropic. More giving of time and resources. More on this in future posts. Really when life comes down to final weight of worth, that’s what it’s all about. Adding value to others. Extending the grace that’s been so freely given to me. Fulfilling purpose. Makes me feel more humble and servant like.

A very special weekend.

This past weekend’s trip up north was awesome. From laughing hysterically to sharing memories to finishing 13.1 in honor of Dad to shedding tears together – it was a fabulous and very special time. The healing continues.

Ryan summarizes it so well, I figured I’d just send you over to his blog to read about it here.

Thanks to everyone for the prayers and for those who sent us encouraging texts, emails, and FB messages! I’ll leave you all with some pics.

Manchester 1/2 Marathon.

Just got back to reality from our great trip in Manchester New Hampshire. We stayed with Kip’s sister Debbie and her precious family at their cozy 1920’s house. We had a great time exploring Manchester’s great landscape and establishments. Ate some great food including breakfast at the famous Red Arrow Diner and drank some great New England stouts, porters and pumpkin ales. We even made it into Boston for a brief time for a walk thru the park, frosty beverage at Cheers and dinner at the 2nd oldest restaurant in Boston. The East coast is full of rich history! I can’t wait to go back! Next time more Boston for sure.

We woke up race day (Sunday) to temps right above freezing. Some coffee and a Cliff bar as ritual for breakfast as we warmed our bones by the fire in anticipation for the run. The colors in the trees are beautiful this time of year. It really is a site to see. The leaves began falling last week which helped set the Fall setting for our story. Traci, her brother Kelly and I each had some clothing article of dad’s. I wore his shirt, Traci wore a pullover he gave her and Kelly wore Kip’s race bib and even the same outfit that Kip wore the day he left this world. We headed out the door into the brisk – crisp New England air and to the starting point. Kelly and Traci’s cousin Mary and her Dad had trained to run in this one too. 5 runners in all. Mary, Traci, Kelly and I had all predetermined that we were going to run this one together as a team. After the National anthem was sung and as the starting commands were given, we were off.

Despite the cold I kept to my sleeveless shirt and shorts. Beanie and gloves a must when it’s that cold. As long as my head and hands are warm I’m ready to go. My left ankle seemed to be super weak and sore from about mile 3 on. Not sure why. Never-the-less, I endured. I usually keep my iPod in reserve for races as I like to hear the sounds of people around me, especially in a new place. I did try to push play on it once to which I discovered my battery was dead. Good thing I don’t rely on that. Fortunately Traci sung key phrases and chorus’s of her music to me every once in a while. Made me smile. She’s cute.

What a beautiful route! Old cotton mill buildings lined the water fronts. Adorable hundred plus year old houses. Hills, more hills and then a few more. Kip hated hills. As usual there was diversity from point A to B. Wide, tree filled and stone walled yards to tiny, worn yards with chain link. The community support was nice and scattered throughout the 13.1 mile course.

Mile 13 down and with the finish area in site, we lined up side by side as we approached the end. As I approached the finish line I got a bit choked up thinking of the man we all wished was running in line with us. It’s practically impossible to breathe and run when your throat is in your nose. As we took our last step across the finish, each eye of our team was a bit more moist than the thousand steps prior. We did it. We did it for Kip.

Herded thru the metal barrier path out of the chute everyone was being handed the customary finishing metal strung with gold colored ribbon. As I reached out for this Chinese, assembly-line-produced trinket, I couldn’t help but feel a bit lame. Everyone gets this. The guy who finished an hour before I did and the one who will finish an hour later. Maybe the lady passing these out at the end of the day ends up with an extra box of a hundred and takes them home for her kids to play with and destroy. Sure I know it’s part of race schwag, but this time it felt emptier than before. Empty because it’s never been about trinkets and empty tokens. From the moment we said we were going to do this for Kip, nothing else mattered. He was often quick to remind us that stuff was just stuff. It’s all about the memories and the story. The following verses reinforced these thoughts.

1st Corinthians 9: 24-26a

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

So I run with purpose in every step.

While the run was enjoyable and all of the touristy stuff was fun, the most value was found in the time we spent reminiscing, laughing, and crying. Accomplishing the purpose. Kip signed up for the Manchester 1/2 marathon race but couldn’t make the trip this year in person. Our purpose was to finished it for him. Curiously, I am honored to have finished it with him. High 5 to the sky!

Now, our story continues. Running with purpose in every step. Lord, hold me to it!

Headed East. Boston & Manchester, NH.

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

Tomorrow we fly to Boston.

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

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

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

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

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

Buffalo River National Park.

Ross and I are already planning another camping trip. The one we have our eye on now is Buffalo River National Park in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. This one will be less luxirious than our recent jaunt to Beaver’s Bend in Broken Bow Oklahoma. It will be more of a take only what you need adventure. Backpack thru the mountains, along the river, stab a squirrel for dinner, sleep in a backpacking tent, wake up, boil some river water for coffee, continue on the trail for 3-4 days kind of trip. I am excited about this thought and it’s been a consuming thoughts for about a week now.

We are shooting for around May/June 2011. Anyone been there? Any suggestions? Must have gear recommendations?

Beavers Bend 2010

We had a great camping trip! Ryan, Ross and I headed to Beavers Bend, Oklahoma yesterday morning. We enjoyed canoeing down the river, cooking on the campfire, hiking some trails and I’m fairly certain we ate our weight in tortillas. Tort Fest 2010 baby! Very fun and very relaxing. We love going out into nature, away from everything else, and just taking a deep breath…it’s good for your soul.

Pardon my laziness, but I think I’ll just let the pictures do the talking for me on this post…

Friday the 15th

The last few day have been a lot of fun. Staring with Ryan’s birthday on Wednesday. I don’t know how most people do birthdays, but we celebrate birthday weeks! The full week is about celebrating that person. Much fun, especially when it’s your turn!

Wednesday afternoon, we headed to Dallas with three main things to accomplish. 1. Go to Apple Store and get Ryan’s iPhone fixed. It was recently cursed with the white screen of death. 2. Enjoy birthday dinner at Chuys…thanks to my Mom for the “gift card.” 3. Pick up Ross, Ryan’s little brother, from the airport! Mission accomplished.

Got home very late that evening and then stayed up talking to Ross until almost 2! He lives in Minnesota and we get to see him about once a year. The last time we saw him was in San Fran last July for the half marathon/Napa Valley trip. We are thrilled he is here!

Ryan took off work the rest of the week while Ross is here. Yay! So, Thursday, the girls went to school and we all headed out to the lake, so I could show off my new place of employment. I had some work to get done…have I told you lately how much I love my new job? Still praising God for it! Then we had lunch at BWW, a little shopping, and the night ended with Ryan & Ross making homemade pizza. Great day…almost. It was great until about 9 p.m. My stomach started killing me. I thought I was just overly full…ya know, with all of the creamy jalapeno dip, Caribbean jerk wings, and stuffed crust pizza I had inhaled the last couple of days. I was feeling miserable and thinking it was definitely time to go on a diet. I was hurting. Went to bed early trying to shake it…but apparently I had a little bug or something. Ugh. Feeling better today though, thankfully.

Tonight, we took Ross to another one of our fave places to eat here in Tyler, Villa Montez. Then, to have a cappuccino at Cafe Tazza – which, by the way, is amazing. Best cappuccino ever. Funny how much of our lives revolve around FOOD! Of course, that is one of the main reasons we run.

Tomorrow, we are heading to Beaver’s Bend for a camping trip! Ryan & I went last year and had a blast. We determined we wanted to make it an annual birthday tradition. Excited to spend some time in the peace & quiet of the woods down by the river.

Here are some pics from the last couple of days…

Monday. And it’s a GREAT day.

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

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

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

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