Saturday, January 30, 2010

A glimpse at the past

We got a surprise on our doorstep this week. The package was simply addressed to "The Family" at our address. I was scared to open it at first, because obviously it was from a stranger that didn't know our names. Inside, was an amazing glimpse at our house's past. As I've shared before, our house is over 80 years old but the people we rent from are only the fourth owners. The first owners lived in the house from the time it was built in 1929 until 1995. The photographs are from the third owner who seemed to have the house restored to immaculate conditions on the exterior. It sure gives Dash and I something to strive for as the spring and warmer weather approaches. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see our huge magnolia tree in the top photo. After seeing this, we're guessing the tree is about 100 years old. Here is the same tree now. I love seeing the military uniform the first owner is wearing. And to think they raised their daughter in the same room that Mason plays in every day. What a great combination of spooky and special!

The note enclosed with the package read, "My father purchased your historic home in 2002. He loved the history, beauty and uniqueness of this historic home. The Lord took my father home on May 15, 2003. I ran across these pictures and wanted you to have this, as I know the home was near and dear to my father's heart. May you continue to enjoy this home, and may the Lord bless your family in 2010."

Recipe Swap

I had the pleasure of going to my first recipe exchange party this past week. There were 14 ladies so I left with many new recipes that I'm dying to try soon! If your recipe box is in need of a revamp, check out all of the recipes over at our amazing hostess' blog, The Dixon Blog. How cute is it that she took photos of all of us to post along with our recipe? Though, if I had known that, I might have showered. Or matched my clothes. Traci is the momma to two beautiful girls, works full-time and throws great shindigs with her coffeehouse lattes. Oh how I admire her!

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Falling more in love

The book we are reading in our community group is amazing. Like Kanye West's 'Amazing'. I mentioned it before, but it's called Crazy Love by Francis Chan. It is changing me. God is changing me. Read it and you will never be the same.

I love my husband so much. I still get 'tingles' when I'm around him and are jealous of others when he's spending time elsewhere. I love my son so much. When he is not around, I miss him immensely. I can't wait to kiss his precious cheeks when he wakes up in the mornings or when I pick him up from nursery.

Like Francis Chan puts it, I'm just an earthly, sinful mother and wife but I love my family so much it hurts. It's so hard to imagine my heavenly, perfect Father's love for me that is infinitely more than my love for Dash and Mason. I feel so undeserving.

I'm on a course of falling more and more in love with God. He is revealing Himself in my life. I hope that my deeper love for God is reflected in my love for others.

I met one of my neighbors last week. She is about our age and has a daughter turning two soon. I have no clue where she stands in her faith or if she has one. I felt God pushing me out of my comfort zone to go meet her last week and desiring for me to reach out to her again. I'm planning on baking her family something. I'm praying that I have a chance to show her God's love. And if she is already a Christian, what a blessing to have a Christian neighbor just shouting distance from my front door. Pray for my courage and my baking skills. :)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Step on up

For Christmas, Dash and I gave each other practical gifts that we knew we needed. I gave Dash some earphones that stay put and don't fall off when he's riding his bike and listening to The Avett Brothers or M.I.A. He gave me this lovely stool. The way our bathroom is set up, when we bathe Mason, we have to stand or squat. This stool is our solution to our achy backs. We went shopping at The Wood Shed, an unfinished furniture store here in Tyler and picked this one out thinking it will support us now and then Mason can use it to reach the sink later on. I'm thrilled with the finished stool, and so are our backs.

Step 1: Spray painted the stool and my thumbs.

Step 2: Printed out the design and then traced over it with a pen to leave a 'carbon copy.'


Step 3: Outlined design with a paint pen.

Step 4: Painted design and outlined again with paint pen (apparently at 27, I still can't stay in the lines).

Step 5: Sprayed with clear spray paint to seal it.

Step 6: Gave Mason a 15 minute bath sitting down. :)

Besides the cost of the stool, this project only cost about $8 for the paint. Plus, I have lots of paint leftover for future crafts. You can recycle any old stool for this project, making it a very cheap way to create a family treasure. Since I hope to make one for any future baby Connells, I wanted a stool that I could find matching ones for later on. If you like the idea, let me know and I can design your stool (name and graphics) and e-mail you a .jpg so you can make one yourself.

Stealing Recipes

I was sold at the Olive Garden breadsticks and alfredo sauce. Yummm.

Get your free e-cookbook too and let me know if you make anything worth trying! What a great way to satisfy your fancy tastebuds on a not-so-fancy budget.

31 Top Secret Restaurant Recipes for Free! (tip - just click close on the popup to download yours without registering)

Happy recipe stealing!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

First Steps

Mason took his first steps yesterday and thinks it's hilarious. I'll get him all set to go, he giggles and then takes off. But he also thinks it's hilarious to just crash into my arms. So, watch him in action doing both, plus a little booty dancing in between.

I can't wait until he becomes more sturdy and we can chase him around the house, or vice versa.

Happy 11th month birthday sweet one!

Friday, January 15, 2010


So, I'm trying something new with our blog. I love stalking others' blogs and get such great ideas from them. I was thinking some of you might be interested in what I'm up to, besides what our family is doing. So if I come across something I like, I just might post about it. Don't worry, I'll censor the uncool things. Here's my first food post. Like it or hate it?

I love the concept of meatloaf because you can usually pull everything out of your fridge and pantry and throw it together for an impromptu meal. But after cooking it every few weeks, it gets rather routine. I came across this idea for mini meatloaves in muffin tins at $5 Dinners and it was just what this classic called for. After a few failed meatloaves falling apart on me, I was thrilled I could pack these into the muffin tins and they came out perfect. Mouthwatering?

One way that I try to save money is by baking muffins every week for Dash and I to eat for breakfast. While Dash would tell you all he needs is blueberry muffins, my tastebuds get bored. I bought a box of Betty Crocker chocolate chip muffins (with a coupon) recently. Struggling with how to make it more breakfast-like, I mashed a banana into the batter. I can't express how delicious these are, but I can tell you I've eaten 10 in 3 days.

And Mason didn't mind his first taste of chocolate either.

Birthday Party on a Budget

It's very hard to believe that I'm planning a first birthday party for our little boy, who one year ago was growing quite large in my massive belly and I was growing very anxious. Everyone tells me that first birthday parties are really just for the mama and not to make a big fuss over it. We're just inviting family to his party but since our closest relatives live two hours away, I feel a little pressure to put on a good party because the attendees will be driving hours to come. And then there's the fact that I'm trying to plan this on next to nothing. So here's the rundown:
  • Location - a local park with lots of picnic tables. If the weather is too cold, we'll move it to our house. We figured everyone will be at our house already, so it will be nice to go somewhere else.
  • Invitations - designed by yours truly and printed at Walgreens with a coupon
  • Birthday outfit - found a long sleeve t-shirt on sale at Wal-mart and fabric on sale at Hobby Lobby so he will have a custom-made birthday t-shirt for around $4. I also got a birthday bib with a gift card leftover from Christmas.
  • Decorations - this is where the fun starts for me! I have some cute things planned that will only cost me a few sheets of scrapbook paper and my printer ink; we have plates and plastic silverware but I'll have to buy napkins and cups so I'm hoping to find these on sale at Wal-Mart or Hobby Lobby.
  • Food - the plan is to make everything at home, including Mason's cake, so that will save us a lot, but this will probably be the most expensive part. I have a month to scour for sales since I already have the menu picked out.
Stay tuned... 

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Hobby Lobby is a dangerous place

It's true. Mason and I ventured there yesterday to pick up some supplies for his upcoming birthday party. And he was great. Too great. Hobby Lobby in Tyler (well, probably everywhere) is full of older or elderly ladies fulfilling their girlie desires. But to Mason, apparently, it's prime flirting grounds. Everywhere we went in the store, he would smile and 'talk' to every lady we passed. They in turn would look at me with a face that said "I am so special to your child. He thinks I'm awesome." And then not twenty steps later, he had already forgotten her and had another target in his sights. I'll admit he does have an infectious smile, but when a trip to Hobby Lobby takes twice as long as it should because your son never meets a stranger, it is exhausting for his mama that has spent most of her life being shy! I ran out of things to say back to them when they commented that "the girls will be chasing after you" or "I can't believe those eyelashes were wasted on a boy" and found myself looking around for his previous victims to protect their feelings after he had already moved on.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Surviving and Flourishing

I know most of you tune into my blog for the precious photos of our boy, but you're in for some honesty now too...

We've been in Tyler for 5 months. It's as hard as we thought it would be. But I didn't expect to experience God's provision, joy and love in so many ways just 5 months after moving. In Houston, while we were plugged into a great church and serving the Lord and our church in ministries, my faith had reach a stall. I was confident in my faith, but nothing was challenging it, encouraging it or stretching it. Life was great but predictable and rarely out of the norm.

Tyler has taken our life's predictability and turned it on its head. Our dependence on God is being tested and tried. Every day, I again turn our greatest trial, being our finances, over to God. The blessing of God being in control is producing a closer family for the three of us and from someone who used to loudly declare "I hate money" actually has found peace in our situation. Even more than peace, I have found joy and gratitude in our financial situation - thankful that our lives have been purged of many distractions and rejoice that we are filthy rich!

Just 5 months after moving here, God's work in our lives is obvious. He has made it apparent that our move was obeying His will for our family. We know that only He could have opened the door for us to move to Tyler and given us the comfort to leave our families behind. Dash is amazing at his job, and even more importantly, he loves it. I am so proud of him. He gets compliments from coaching veterans on the job he is doing as a newbie. He works so hard to provide for Mason and I, and I am so thankful that he shows his love for us in this way.

My faith that was stalled in Houston has been given a kick in the rear. I have to admit that I'm scared about what this means for me. I've always been fearful and shy when it comes to talking about my faith but as God  overwhelms me with His relentless love and desire for me, I am gaining confidence. I want my love for and seeking after our Lord to be very apparent to Mason as he grows.

Tyler has blessed me with a worshipful (making up words?) attitude. In part, this is due to the worship team at our new church where they do a great job of tackling the not so easy task of leading worship instead of performing. One song that they have sung many times has become my song for this season of our life in Tyler. I listen to it several times a day while I'm doing housework or playing with Mason. Listen to the lyrics...

Just 5 months after moving to Tyler, I'm anxiously waiting to see what God is doing in our lives and how our family has been transformed 5 months and 5 years from today. I'm praying that my time of offering my leftovers and weak efforts to God is behind me. From the book our small group is studying, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, "True faith means holding nothing back; it bets everything on eternity." 

And now this blog will resume its normal programming, but I can't promise it won't happen again.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Mason's first Christmas

We spent a week at my parents' house in Austin for Mason's first Christmas. We had a great time and shared lots of giggles, piggie back rides, biscuits covered with chocolate gravy and wassail. Mason had so much fun in the new surroundings and soaked up all the attention from his Papa, Nanny and two of his aunts. Here's some snapshots of our fun in Austin...

Riding high on his bearded daddy

Crawling around with his Papa

Practicing his walking skills with Aunt Jessy

Hanging with Nanny

Jumping with Papa

My two men with their serious smirks...

... and their big grins

Christmas morning

Loving his present from his great Grandma, Mimi

I think this smile tells all about how much Mason enjoyed his first Christmas!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Welcome 2010!

We hope everyone is having a great start to 2010! I can't wait to see what this year has in store for our family and I feel so blessed already with what God has provided for us and is doing in our lives. This year, we'll celebrate a first birthday, my 10 year high school reunion, our first lazy summer (another advantage of working at a college!), Mason's first steps and developing deeper relationships with some of our new East Texas friends! This spring, Dash will be traveling almost every weekend for matches, so Mason and I might be taking some road trips to see some of you! I hope to take a class at TJC (photography or graphic design) and join a tennis league too.

Feel free to come visit us this year! Maybe you'll even get a kiss from our little boy. So far, his kisses have been reserved for his gorilla friend. After his first word being 'dada' and kissing a stuffed animal first, I'm trying not to let this get to me. ;)

Happy New Year, friends!