Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Just a quick update because even though we are up to our necks in packed boxes, there is much more to go:

  • The new MOPS year has started! I'm loving being a Discussion Group Leader so far. My table had our first moms' only get together last night for brownies a la mode and we had a great time bonding. Just a couple of weeks ago, I also joined the Steering Committee as the Service Care Coordinator.
  • We're starting to move on Monday. My mom and sister are coming up to help with Mason and we've had many offers of help from friends with trucks, so we're ready and just want to get it over with and enjoy our new home. I would move tomorrow if I could. And no, I don't think I'll miss this old house much. We've created our memories and are moving on to bigger and better for our family.
  • This past Sunday, our pastor announced the Adopt an Apache program from the pulpit. The response was overwhelming and our new program is FULL! We have just over 20 families that are ready to love on our college players. Dash and I both are so emotional. We've shed tears, smiled, laughed, hugged and rejoiced many times. We feel beyond blessed to know that we are being obedient to God and are anxious to see how He transforms lives through Adopt an Apache.

my new power tool

the best housewarming present EVER from my great friend, Paula - huge box full of paper towels, toilet paper, ziplocs, paper plates and bowls, plastic silverware and more...

... and more! If you have a friend moving, I highly recommend this gift. I've been able to pack up almost our entire kitchen instead of having to wait until the last minute. Such a timely, useful and thoughtful present! Did you notice the dishwasher soap? That is my favorite part.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mason Samuel at 18 months


You are so incredible. Every day you awe us with something new you taught yourself or learned from us. We can't help but smile when you show your squinty-eyed grin that takes up your entire face. No thanks to our novice parenting skills, you are growing in so many ways. Physically, you had a small growth spurt over the past few months and are now in the 60th percentile (32.5 in) for height but still hover in the 40th percentile (25 lbs) for weight. You still don't let your short legs keep you from running, jumping or kicking. Your daddy has a secret dream of you playing in the US Open because of your 'soccer' skills, but we all know he'll be happy with you playing any and all sports. Many times when you are walking with a purpose, you tuck your chin into your chest and stick out your belly. It is a sight to see.

You are so full of life and love. There are many things that bring joy to you. Your dogs always bring a smile to your face and you love to give Maddy a kiss and wave goodbye as we walk out the door. You are drawn to books, though you insist on reading them yourself nowadays. Before every naptime and bedtime you take a book to bed with you and 'read' it until you fall asleep. Upon waking, you pick up the book right where you left off and flip through it until I come and get you. You love water, especially baths, and seem your happiest and silliest right after you soak in the tub.

Playing with you is more and more fun with each passing day. You "zoom zoom" your cars around the house. Every day you come up with a new creative game to play and are content playing it for a good hour, from hockey with your toy rake to sliding flashcards down your slide. Yo Gabba Gabba is still your favorite, though mama is trying other shows, and you stomp, dance, clap and spin in circles just like your Gabbaland friends. Every ball you see you have to have. We have quite the ball collection growing at our house.

It is not all fun and games, though, as you are discovering your own opinions and dislikes. You hate grocery shopping (as do I now) and much prefer a booster seat in restaurants over a high chair. You don't like being left in nursery, but you cheer up after only a minute and are all smiles and grins when we pick you up. Your favorite word is "no" and it gets used very frequently.

Your vocab is amazing - over twenty words and counting - and you try to imitate much that we say. You have started saying words in the right context. Just last week, we pulled up to Nanny and Papa's house and you immediately said "Dog. Nana." Though Nanny wasn't there to greet you, the three dogs were happy to see us. My favorite word that you use on your own is "thank you." I've overheard you tell your friends 'thank you" when they hand you a toy and my heart melts. You've even started saying a few two-word combinations.

18 months today. Wow. I see you and your big boy-ness and can't believe it but wouldn't have it any other way. As you get older, our desire for you to grow into a boy and then man of Christ-like character grows stronger too. We pray for your future and for our wisdom as your mama and daddy, but most days we just thank God immensely for the blessing He gave us 18 months ago.

We love you through and through, Mason Samuel.

Monday, August 16, 2010

28 Years

I celebrated 28 years this past week and realized I'm getting stranger and stranger the older I get. Just consider my gifts - a sewing machine carrying case, jewelry and makeup and gift cards to Lowes to buy a power tool and maybe some lumber. Yes, strange combination. I've found that since I have more 'free time' as a stay at home compared to working full-time at my last birthday, my hobbies have diversified but have one common theme - all revolve around my home - my full-time office for the past year. And I love it. I cherish the time I get to spend making our home more 'ours' and coming up with ways to save money by making (or in some cases, building) things.

I celebrated my birthday a few times this year. Dash and Mason even made me a birthday cake. Pretty impressive, huh? And it tasted just as good.

We headed to my parents' home in Austin on my actual birthday so we could get a jumpstart on the drive to Family Camp. We missed them by just a few hours (on their own vacation to Colorado) but found a note taped to the fridge...

Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
If you want your presents,
Here's whatcha gotta do.

There are little treasures hidden around the house,
Use the hints to help you out,
Look up and down and everywhere
Look inside and look outside if you dare.
Some are big, some are small,
All are for you and not for John-Paul*.

My creative sister, Jessica, had put together clues and riddles that led me to six different spots where my presents where hidden - all purple presents - makeup, jewelry, nail polish, purse. Twenty-eight is definitely not too old for a scavenger hunt.

Thank you family and friends for making this year special!

*Dash's first name :)

T Bar M Family Camp 2010

We were blessed again with being able to visit Family Camp at T Bar M again this summer. As the old saying goes "A picture is worth a thousand words," I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Monday, August 9, 2010

In His hands

On the way to church yesterday, Dash and I were stressing and worrying about finding enough families for the Adopt an Apache program and I had a heavy heart. We have 6-7 families committed but with limited time since the fall semester is rapidly approaching, my nerves were getting the best of me.

During the service, God didn't waste any time reminding us both that this program is not about the details but about His larger plan for the families He chooses and the players He chooses.

The first song we sang was a new favorite of mine by Chris Tomlin (a TJC grad). (Listen here)
And if our God is for us
Then who can ever stop us
And if our God is with us
Then who can stand against us

The second song was a remake of an old hymn.
Take my life and let it be
All for You and for Your glory

Thank you, Lord, for reminding us to not let our stress get in the way of Your will and Your work.

We feel so blessed that God is letting us do His work through this program. I know this won't be the last time we battle stress, but I pray that it becomes easier and easier to defeat.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our New Ministry

God has blessed our family with an exciting ministry opportunity. We've had it on our hearts since we moved here to find a way to impact the college students/players that He has put in our lives. And the idea could have only come from Him because it hit Dash and I both at the same time and the details are falling too perfectly into place. Below is an e-mail I sent to families in Tyler today, but as our friends and family, we ask that you pray for this program: for the impact it makes on our community, the families and players; that God chooses exactly the right families to participate; that His will be done and not ours; that we find ways to give Him the glory through this program, even though it's by definition a 'secular' program; and specifically for me over the next month as I organize all the details and recruit families.
With joy,

Some of you have heard a little about the ministry we are starting, but I’ve included more background for those who have not. Please forward this on to anyone you think might be interested. Since this is the program’s first year, we can use as much help as we can get from people spreading the word!

Dash and I knew that God had plans for our family when He opened the door to Dash’s new job as TJC Assistant Tennis Coach last year. While Dash loves building relationships with his players, there is a fine line that is difficult to cross as a coach to really make the most significant spiritual impact on their lives. Just recently, God put it on our hearts to involve the community (our friends, church, tennis supporters, strangers with a desire to serve) in impacting these players for His glory. So, that’s where this plan came from…

This coming school year, starting in September, we are launching the first year of the “Adopt an Apache” program. This program will match up college athletes (just tennis for now but we have a great desire to expand it in coming years) with families in Tyler that ‘adopt’ them for the year. Adoption is this case means treating the player to one meal a month (home-cooked or eating out), attending a couple of their FREE tennis matches to cheer them on and building a relationship. Of course, it’s not limited to these but that’s the minimum we are asking of the adoptive families. Not too much, right?

At least half of the TJC tennis teams are international students that come to Tyler without a friend, car or much money. They often cannot leave for the short college holidays (like Thanksgiving and Easter) and stay in the empty dorms. While it’s easy to see the needs of players from places like Paris, Greece, Brazil, Israel and Russia, the tennis players from Lubbock, Abilene and Franklin are searching for ways to get involved in the community just as much. Having our 18-month old son around the tennis players for the past year has been such a blessing for our family. They all run to play with him and we love that he gets exposed to other cultures within the confines of the Tyler city limits. College is such a critical time for many – when many of us made spiritual decisions that would affect us for eternity – and our prayer is that through the adoptive families, this is an opportunity for our community to impact the nations and these players in His name.

Other details (in a nice, concise list!):
-A mixer and optional FREE tennis clinic for adults and children will take place in early or mid September to introduce the families to their adopted Apache
-Families will receive a bio on their Apache before the mixer
-A monthly reminder e-mail/newsletter will be sent out with suggestions and success stories
-A facebook fanpage will be set up to easily find out about upcoming matches and TJC tennis news (like the fact that both the men and women’s teams won the National Championship this past year!)
-Families can request a male or female player, if they have a preference.

We have over twenty players coming in just a few weeks and our goal is to have families ready to make an impact on their time here in Tyler. Please pray about your commitment and let either of us know if you have any questions or concerns. Or if you are ready to “Adopt and Apache!”

With joy,

Thanks for your support. We look forward to sharing successes and struggles as we get the program off the ground and running.

New Mason videos

He still keeps us laughing, though we are experiencing more frequent times of wanting to pull our hair out now as he is constantly testing his and our boundaries. He understands 'yes' and 'no' well (though not without the occasional fit if the answer does not swing his way) but the sharing lesson is a hard one to teach and learn right now. Thank goodness for friends that understand and are going through the same thing right along with us.

Mason's favorite word is 'no' (fun for us!). He tells his friends 'no' and of course we hear it often. One of the funniest times he uses 'no' is when he is bossing our dog, Maddy, around. She gets lots of 'no's from Mase, as in 'no' don't take my food 'no' don't steal my ball, 'no' you are in my way. I think we have a bossy child on our hands, but at least he knows what he wants and communicates it to us. Sigh.

Here's a video of Mr. Bossy Pants himself, telling a new person 'no.'

I'm trying hard not to get Dash's hopes up that we're going to have an athletic son. We might have conversations in our house about which sport we'd most enjoy Mason going pro in. Doesn't everyone? ;) But I really do think he has great coordination and still prefers his bouncy balls to any other toy of his.

Notice the precision he places the ball down with? There's my boy's"orderlyness" (as one babysitter described it as he picked up all his toys and lined up his shoes).

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have a new addiction to spray paint. Instead of going out and buying new things, I'm trying to repurpose some things we have already to make them our 'new' new.

Here's where 6 bucks got me today. Well, 4 bucks really. I still have half a can I'm hording.

My husband will be so proud that I used an old blanket as my new spray paint drop cloth. No shadows of my projects left in our green grass this time.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Family Tree

Even though we live 4 hours away from our closest immediate family, it is really important to us that Mason knows all of his family. No matter how much time he gets to spend with them. No matter how far away they live. No matter how far away we move. I started this project last year, but finally (thanks to facebook!) I was able to steal enough photos to finish it. Simple. Cheap. Educational. Memories. All my favorite things rolled into an activity for Mason and me to do together every day.

Here's what I used...

I bought both of these things at Office Depot (still get my old company's discount - shhh!) for less than five bucks. Without a discount, it would be around $12.

And here's what I made...

And closer...

And closer still...

Pretty fun, huh? You can see pictures of all Mason's aunts, uncles, most of his cousins, all the grandparents and of course, his mama and daddy. He is really great at copying words and names so I'm hoping to tap into the stage he's at and teach him his family members' names. When I'm cooking or washing dishes, which is often when your home doesn't have a dishwasher, we go through them quickly. He always picks one or two to carry around with him for awhile. And some lucky family members get kisses from him. If my wallet allows, I see another Office Depot trip in our future to expand the game to include great-grandparents (Mason has more than you can count on one hand!) and his furry friends. I'm sure his family tree will keep growing in other ways, too!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving Up

We found our next house and feel beyond blessed by how God has provided it and how He is working out all the perfect details. We're going to be renting from a sweet family at our church that is answering God's calling to become full-time missionaries to those who have never heard His word. The Haglers have lived in our new home for just over a year, but since then, the house has undergone a mini episoide of Extreme Home Makeover. They have put a lot of elbow grease into updating the home. You can see some of the progress here and here. Don't you love the striped walls in the hallway? And of course I have to mention that the home has TWO living areas so Mason will have a playroom. And a garage. And a dishwasher. All things we took for granted with our house in Houston, but have longed for since moving to Tyler. And three bedrooms so we'll be able to host our out-of-town guests within our own home instead of sending them off to the nearest Baymont Inn. Our initial sadness to leave our historic home full of character has quickly been replaced by "Get us out of here!"

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Remember this stool? Mason is finally old enough to use it (and almost tall enough!). He washed his hands for a good 15 minutes the first time he got to use it. And who can resist cute little baby feet?

Check out that smile. My boy appreciates cleanliness. Though, his white tshirt tells a different story.

Friday, July 16, 2010

This old house

This old house has an old screen door that serves no purpose since the screen has been torn since before we moved in. No purpose other than trapping a seventeen month old escape artist and his furry friend. These pictures capture three things Mason is loving this summer: the outdoors, all things big boy (hence the big cup) and his daddy, who had stepped outside to take out the trash when these pictures were snapped. Mason and I could get used to this summer thing - having Dash around a lot more often.

Where did daddy go?

How do I get out of here?

There's my daddy (love in his eyes and dog by his side).

O, hey mama.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

On the Home Front

On the way home from Austin sans Mason a couple weeks ago, I stopped off at a couple of antique warehouses that had been calling my name. I'd resisted the temptation because I always had a toddler in the backseat who surely would not get along with antiques. My heart and car gave in this trip though, and thank goodness, because I'm in love with my first antique finds.

I found this child's rocker (marked 50% off) for less than $20. It'll undergo a makeover when my project list gets shorter, but Mason is loving it. Paint and new fabric will work wonders on the 70s style blue vinyl look.

This nursery rhyme table and chairs set from the 50s or 60s was too precious to pass up. I found the third chair for two bucks and spray painted it to match.

 Maybe it's our historical home or our diverse neighborhood or the personality and character that abounds in Tyler, but I've found my tastes have evolved since our move to Tyler. And blogs like Young House Love and Knock-off Wood don't help my itch to redecorate and restyle my home.

Also, on the home front, God found us the perfect rent home and perfect situation with the owners. He continues to amaze us and bless us with His will for our family in Tyler.

First Haircut

It's was about time. I've been cautiously trimming around his ears and the back of his neck since his birthday for the fear that he would look bald after a haircut. So at 16 months, Mason visited Sports Clips (no kid haircut places in Tyler? what is with that?) and tried his first lollipop.



Handsome haircut. Handsome boy. One thing we didn't expect at our toddler's first haircut was getting asked, "So, what do you put in his hair?" Umm, seriously? Baby shampoo. And then we got the sales pitch on some product for his hair so we can fix it. Umm, no thanks. Though he may have inherited some of my family's OCD tendencies, my child will not be THAT high maintenance.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Back in my arms

I got my boy back all in one piece after five days away from his mama. He didn't miss me at all, I'm pretty sure. I'm happy that he was so entertained and had a blast with his Nanny, Papa (or "ca ca", sorry Dad) and Aunt Jessy (or "ki ki" as he calls her). He was glad to be back in my arms though as I was lovingly greeted by a half sob, half laugh when he saw me.

And now comes the task of unspoiling him. From the photos and videos on my camera, it looks like the fun never stopped.

And then there is this photo with a wagon that also made it home to our house. Funny thing, the wagon reads "This is a toy. Not intended to carry children." right under Mason's rear. Breaking rules and ruling the house came with the fun in Austin apparently. Now that he's back in the world where the word "no" exists, we might have a few tantrums in the near future. O, but it was all well worth it. For Mason. And for me.

Thank you Mom, Dad and Jess for taking such great care of our boy. It sure made it a lot easier on this mama knowing that he was in such good hands!

Sunday, June 6, 2010


This morning's harvest for our pasta dinner tonight:

(just one lone golden tomato so far)

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Matter of the Heart

They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. If we hadn't moved to Tyler and away from my parents, I would never have gotten to see this precious moment. One that I hope to see for many more years. And get to see tomorrow.

Mason LOVES his Nanny and gets so overwhelmed with pure emotions when he sees her pull up to our house that it sends him to the verge of crying.

I have a feeling that my mom will be the one with this reaction when she sees us pull up tomorrow.

I love that at the end he is ready to put his shoes on, like he's going with her.

This weekend is a double whammy too. We get to see Nanny and Papa AND G and Grandpa. Mason is one lucky dude to have such amazing grandparents.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Mason's aftermath brings many smiles to this mama's face. From his little shoes scattered around to the toys he chooses to play with, seeing evidence of a growing boy making his own decisions and discovering his personal tastes brings me incredible joy.

(these shoes tell a story and smell of their own, sometimes followed by a game of "peee-uuuuuu" that results in many giggles and one mama's cleared sinuses)

Monday, May 17, 2010

Moving on...

We just got news that our landlords are putting our house on the market because they are moving to Dallas. We are allowed to stay until our lease ends in August, but we're going to start looking now, with the presumption that they will let us out of our lease early, so we can take our time to find a home that suits us as well as our West Dobbs home does. What an adventure it has been living in our 80-year old home!

And even if our next home is even more perfect, moving stinks!

Tomatoe, Tomato

Here's to over 25 tomatoes on just one plant! And the first two are turning pink. I had to invest in a tomato cage because the plant was becoming a creeper and the fruits were getting covered in dirt. My other kind of tomato plant just now seems to be producing fruit, so we'll see what's in store for it soon.

Herbs. They are doing great too. My lemon thyme seems a little sun burnt or maybe that's how it is supposed to be. Meals for this week that use my herbs include pork chops, tilapia and tomato, basil and mozzarella salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Discovering More Tyler

Tyler, Texas should be ranked high on the list of "Best medium-sized towns for families," if such a list exists. I would nominate our new hometown, for sure.

Nanny came for a short visit last week to keep us company while Dash was off winning a National Championship with his women's team and we had a blast venturing out and discovering new parts of Tyler.

First stop was the awesome spray park at Faulkner Park in south Tyler...

A cute little girl befriended Mason and showed him the ropes and rules of the spray park. She taught him how to cover the sprinkler with his little foot to stop the water and led him by hand to the different parts. There was lots of clapping involved from my boy.

Paula and River served as our escorts to Tyler's zoo, Caldwell Zoo. I was in awe of our zoo. They have everything you would want in a zoo, plus a little more, and its size was perfect. Mason's favorites were the penguins, petting zoo, wild bird walkabout (a screened-in room full of little birds that zoom past your head and land on your finger) and all the "dogs" (elephants, giraffes, rhinos) and "cats" (lions, cheetahs, leopards).

(I think we actually look a LITTLE alike in this photo)

Next on our list to discover is an East Texas state park. We're heading on a camping trip with the Wallace family this next weekend. I hope it will be the first of many camping adventures for our family!

Happy Mama's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all the mamas out there, but especially the amazing ones in our family...

As a wife, it's very hard to say goodbye to your husband on Mother's Day morning, but as a mom, it breaks my heart having to comfort my crying son after he waves goodbye to his daddy and watches him leave again for the week. Our goodbyes were a little blessing in disguise to see how much Mason already loves his daddy. What a great Mother's Day present to me.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bean Bag Pouf

It seems like I have a new project every week. This was last week's and it only took me three nights after Mason went to sleep to finish the sewing and stuffing. I treated myself to a trip alone to the fabric store - so fun! - before Dash left town. After seeing these square bean bag poufs at West Elm, I knew I could hack it and create a version that would suit my house and my son. Theirs is on clearance for $179.99. I made mine for $40. Pretty good deal, right? No offense to kiddie recliners but those just aren't my style, and this new bean bag pouf is just as perfect for Mason to snack, play and watch a movie in. I love the grown-up fabric and the formality of the square shape versus the sloppy vinyl bean bags I grew up with. Plus, the pouf will double as extra seating when we have people over. I have enough fabric to make one more and then I think I might find some coordinating solid fabric to make a third. They say you should arrange home decor in threes, right? That's perfect, because there are three in our clan.

The pouf is sewn from cheap muslin and stuffed with styrofoam peanuts of the shipping and handling fame. The outer fabric is removable with a zipper so it can be washed as needed. And look how cute my cutie looks in it...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Another first

A first mouthful (and face-full) of sand...

He was playing over at some friends' house with the big kids in the sand box (and by playing, I mean he was dumping sand by the handfuls out of the sandbox) when all of a sudden, he was done. Turns out he was done because he needed water to wash all that sand down!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Pure (sweet) Boy

I don't know when my son grew up so much. It's like I blinked and a little boy appeared where my baby was, but this is definitely my favorite age so far. He is growing up so much and learning something new every day. His little vocab is up to about 10 words, including new ones like door, bath, duck and book, though it takes his mama to decipher some of them. "Go get a book," sends him toddling over to pick out his favorites, Hooray for Fish! or Snuggle Puppy and "Ready for a bath?" makes him walk as fast as his little legs will go to the tub, yelling "Ath! Ath! Ath!" and throwing his arms in the air. His favorite words to hear are "Want to go outside?" because he scurries to the front door a lot faster than I can get there. Last night, I told him "It's time for medicine," and he went over and pointed to the cabinet his allergy medicine hides in. Apparently, he absorbs way more than I even know!

And I don't know how it happened, but he is becoming a rough and tough boy who lets out the silliest boy noises that I can't even mimic. He loves to throw things and make a crashing sound when doing so. He also loves to throw himself onto everything... people, pillows, balls and the floor.

And I don't know where he gets his loudness from, but there are a few culprits in both of our families! Take a look...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What's for dinner?

Tilapia with lemon thyme, fresh from my front porch. Dash said the fish was better than what he had at the seafood restaurant the night before. (Pat on the back for me!)

spicy basil and lemon thyme (tomato 'salsa' with basil was a flop!)

stripped leaves off thyme and let soak in olive oil for an hour or so 

 pan fried fillets with thyme, garlic powder, Tony Chachere's and flour coating

 served with mixed spinach salad with strawberries (love they are on sale right now!) and poppy seed dressing, plus some Texas toast

Anyone have any easy recipes using fresh herbs they want to offer up?