Our Valentine’s Day Adventure

We had such a great Valentine’s Day! It was gorgeous & sunny outside, so Ryan & I decided to soak that up and spend sometime outdoors as a family. I packed up a picnic filled with pepperoni and mozzarella roll ups, sesame crackers, hummus, dried fruit, pita chips, girl scout cookies and nuts (YUM) and we headed to the Mineola Nature Trail to explore, hike and enjoy the sunshine! If you live in East Texas and haven’t been there, you should go! It’s fabulous out there. Beautiful and very peaceful. We love taking our girls on adventures that we like to call “memory makers.” Can’t think of a better way to spend a day celebrating LOVE with the people I love the most! That night, Ryan & I put the girls to bed and had a date night at home. He grilled steaks, we opened some wine from our favorite winery and chilled outside on the patio laughing and enjoying the Spring like Winter night! My favorite kind of date night. I am one blessed wife & momma. Here are some pics from our day.











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!


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!

World Series Game 4.

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

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

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

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

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

We found our seats and instantly started snapping pics.

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

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

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

World Series, here we come!

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

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

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

Ryan’s Bday Weekend Celebrations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy birthday, Ryan Marc Dixon!

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!

Easter Weekend

This past weekend was jam-packed full of stuff and busy, but it was very, very good! Seems like the older I get, life just keeps getting busier and time goes quicker and quicker.

Friday, Ryan had the day off for Good Friday. So, we took advantage of that and got a lot of stuff moved into the new house. We are about 98.5% moved in now. The only things left are mattresses, a tv, and some random junk drawer items. We can’t wait to be in the new casa and get settled in! I don’t like being disorganized, makes me feel nervous. This coming week will be a lot of unpacking, sorting through, and settling in.

Friday night, we headed to Arlington for the annual Clark Family Rangers Game! This is our third year to do this and we LOVE it. My little brother Jeff is the hugest Ranger’s fan ever. He wrote this post last year about how much baseball means to him. If you haven’t read this, you should – it’s an awesome and very special post. Going to the Rangers games was a big deal and a very common occurrence for Jeff and my Dad…memory makers. Back in 2009, they decided it would be fun to invite the whole fam to a game. Dad was so excited to take the girls and they absolutely loved it. Addi didn’t stop talking about the Ozarka dots and cotton candy for weeks. After that game, it was decided we should make it an annual tradition, and I’m so glad we did. Friday was a beautiful night, great temps and a nice breeze. Our seats were high up, felt like we were sitting in the sky. Rangers won with five home runs and I consumed my weight in shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds, and cotton candy. Good times. We all missed Dad a great deal, but felt like he was looking down from heaven smiling. Here are pics from the past three years:

April 2009
April 2010
April 2011

Saturday, we slept in (praise God!). After getting home around 1:30 a.m. from the game & having moved all day prior, we were beat. We continued to move stuff all day on Saturday and even cooked our first dinner in our new house that night! For those of you interested in and looking for a new recipe: here is what I made. It was yummy!

Sunday…EASTER! I love Easter. What more could we have to celebrate than the resurrection of our Lord?! This truly means everything to us and because of it, we have HOPE. I love the words to this song below. It captures the message of Easter perfectly and has been stuck in my head for a week now…

Living, He loved me
Dying, He saved me
Buried, He carried my sins far away
Rising, He justified freely forever
One day He’s coming
Oh glorious day, oh glorious day

Awesome. My mom and two grandmothers drove up from Quitman to go to church with us, along with Jeff. Then, we all headed over to our new house for lunch and to give them a tour! Ryan smoked pork, which was amazing as usual. We had pulled pork sandwiches on biscuits, homemade bbq sauce, beans, roasted potatoes, brownies, and sweet tea…pure Texan food right there! It was delicious and we enjoyed visiting w/the fam. My heart was bursting with thankfulness on this day. For my church, freedom to worship, my family, our home, good food, our friends, but most of all – Jesus! And look at these two sweet lil punkins in their new Easter dresses that Grandma bought them…

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.

Here an azalea, there an azalea.

Azaleas are literally everywhere! Another reason why I love Springtime here in beautiful Tyler. Such vibrant array of colors going on right now – reds, yellows, whites, pinks, and of course greens. The beauty of creation is a reminder of how awesome our Creator is – the ultimate artist.

This past weekend began the official Azalea Trail. There are certain roads that make up this Trail that highlight gorgeous azaleas throughout historical homes that make up what is called the Azalea District. It’s pretty neat & attracts a lot of visitors to Tyler! We enjoy taking long walks this time of year through our ‘hood to see all of the azaleas.

This past Saturday, we ran in the annual Azalea 10k which was an absolute blast. I love this race! It’s a hilly course, but so beautiful. Ryan actually set a personal record – 7:14 pace! He placed 40th out of 657 runners. Speedy G! My time wasn’t too shabby for me at 9:26 pace. Considering I haven’t been pushing myself on speed these last couple of months, my goal was just to break 10, so I was pleased. We had some friends run with us too and they all did great! Everyone did better than what they hoped for. Proud of my running buddies!

Also this weekend, Brown’s Landing sponsored a Lemonade Stand on the Azalea Trail, so I helped with that. For every cup we gave away for free, Brown’s Landing donated a quarter to the American Cancer Society. It was a fun day in the sun!

A weekend in Spring.

This weather has been amazing! Spring is like a breath of fresh air. It just feels good. Things start to come alive again. Flowers are blooming, grass and trees are turning green, more people are out and about in our neighborhood…it’s refreshing and good for the soul!

After being cooped up all winter, the girls are loving all of the outdoor time we’ve been having. And so are we. This past weekend was great. The weather was perfect. We ran, we spent an evening lakeside at Brown’s Landing with friends, we swung on the swings that Poppy built, we grilled, we sat by the fire pit under the huge moon, the girls rode their bikes a ton (they are getting so good at it!), we played with frizbees and some other random made-up games. It was so nice!

I’m thankful to our Creator for creating Spring and all of it’s beauty. Just more evidence of how He loves us!

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!

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!

DIY: Fire pit.

Ryan and I have been wanting to get a fire pit for our backyard for a while. Well, really ever since we went to visit my brother in Austin a few months back and sat out by their’s one night. So relaxing and provides such great ambiance! Plus, we love camping so much – we thought this would bring a part of that experience right into our backyard. We shopped around some and even looked into chimineas.

My very creative and super manly husband (wink) decided he was going to build one of his own. It seriously took him maybe thirty minutes and it looks awesome! I know I was impressed with his skillz. We used it last night and loved it. We sat out by the fire and enjoyed some chocolate chip cookies while cuddling with the girls – memory maker.

So, for anyone out there who’s interested in building your very own fire pit, here’s how we did it!

1. Find a spot in your yard for your fire pit location. Obviously a safe distance from your home and other burnable stuff. We used 16 – 1 ft x 1 ft path stones for our base.

2. Dig up the grass where the stones will be placed so the base will be level with the rest of the yard. Place stones about a 1/4 inch apart, pressing each down into fresh dirt. Then cover with one bag of paver sand and press into cracks.

3. Assemble flagstone landscape blocks of your choice into a circle. We bought 20 blocks total, 10 for each layer. Leave a small space between each to allow for better air flow.

4. We found some river rocks in the base of a potted plant, so we used those inside the circle of blocks along with the excess sand to create a safe burning spot.

5. On the second layer of landscape blocks, lay them offset from the first layer for strength and aesthetics. Then, sweep up remaining sand and put in center of pit.

That’s it! Our very own custom built fire pit. Super easy and cheaper than buying a store bought one. Plus, it was fun to do! It will last for a long time and provide many opportunities for relaxing Fall evenings of great discussions with friends around a fire and smore making with our babies.

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…

This weekend…

Busy weekend coming up! Tonight is our Date Night Co-op. On Ryan & I’s agenda for a date tonight? Run 5 miles at the trails, cook chicken lettuce wraps, then end the night at Andy’s for a pumpkin pie concrete…delish! Sounds like a perfect night to me.

Tomorrow is the Grand Opening event at Brown’s Landing, so I’ll be working there. Excited about this new venture! It’s been a great first week, by the way. Loving my new job and the girls are loving their new school! Back to Saturday…Ryan has a studio mix session that afternoon with a band he recorded live recently. Tomorrow night, we are looking forward to hanging out with the Blalock’s! Alison is coming all the way from Lubbock to run in the FULL marathon this weekend. We are going to Joe’s to get carb-loaded before the race with them.

Sunday is race day! This will be the first of three half marathons Ryan & I are registered this Fall. We went this afternoon to pick up our race packets. So exciting. Have I told you how much I love running?!

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!