December 21, 2009

Merry Christmas Letter to all!

Merry Christmas blog-followers! I thought in addition to sorting through our many email lists and trying to email a Christmas letter to all our friends and family, we'd post it on here too (if I can get it to work). Printing and mailing has just gotten to be too much - although we do enjoy receiving "real" Christmas cards and letters in the mail.

We hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas season, celebrating with those you love. We are truly blessed with how much God has given us this year. Our daughter, Heidi, has been a true joy and so much fun! We don't really need anything else.

And the gift of God's son in Jesus is a greater gift than we could ever think to ask for. Praise Him, and Merry Christmas!

December 13, 2009

Hi Heidi... Hi Heidi

I was gone most of Saturday and Sunday to watch dear friends run the Dallas White Rock Half Marathon. When I returned home Heidi was, needless to say, excited to see me, but she had also found a newfound best friend in her daddy and was quite snuggly with him.

Here's what we caught her doing after I got home on Sunday. She was really entertaining herself... maybe I should go away more often! And thank you to my sweet hubby for letting me spend the weekend away while he played Mr. Mom. I love you!

December 9, 2009

Gettin' Caught Up...

So, I meant to post some pictures from Thanksgiving, which I may still do, but I thought I stick a few of these up while I have them handy. Basically, whenever Heidi has a really cute outfit on, and especially if it goes with a seasonal theme, it spurs on a photo shoot in our front yard. We do them for the following reasons:

1. She looks cute. (always)
2. She loves being outside.

3. It's fun to watch her play in the dirt.
4. It kills about 20 minutes.

5. It gives us material to put up on the blog.

So there you have it. Enjoy! We are looking forward to this Christmas - maybe Heidi will remember this one, or at least figure out how to tear into some wrapping paper. Last year she didn't do much. :-)

November 16, 2009

The Mighty Hunter Returns

So, I'm officially a hunter. I had the chance to travel to Redfield, SD with my father-in-law and brother-in-law to hunt pheasant at Darcie's uncle's place. It was a great time and I couldn't imagine a better way to be baptized into the hunting culture than in this way with these men. As promised, here are pictures of my adventure:

November 4, 2009

Doin the Walk

It's official!! No more holding on - this girl is a walking machine.

We thought it would be a fun chance to learn how to use iMovie too. :)

October 23, 2009

Fall 2009... we love it!

Well, if you couldn't tell already, it's been a busy season for us. Matt started his 5th year with new Forge students at the beginning of September. Hard to believe this is the fifth class to come through! They are a great group, and we're looking forward to the year. Matt was also able to hire an Associate Director, which is great because we have 24 students this year... more than we've ever had, and twice as many as we had the first year!Outside of work, we've been busy working on home projects (lawn, organizing, etc.) and keeping up with Heidi. She probably has about 20 words down now - duck, walk, book, hot, water, milk, shoe and many others - and she is getting brave enough to let go of furniture (or us) to take a few steps on her own. She does not like falling down, however. We'll have to train some tom-boyishness into her yet!Here are some pictures from our trip to Pappy's Pumpkin Patch in Tyler. We went with 2 other moms and their kiddos - you may remember the "giraffe" from last year's photos. They're getting all grown up! This time we had a bumblebee, a doctor-in-training, and a 50's poodle skirt girl. They had a great time, and the moms had... a great time... chasing them around and keeping them happy for pictures. If you have a chance to go, it was a really neat place. Totally free (taking pictures, hay rides, rides in the kiddie train, playing in the water, running around, even parking, all free!) I think they're open Friday and Saturday all through October, so, one more weekend!

Enjoy the pics. We'll try to be more consistent on blog updates. Hi Nana & Pops, DeeDee & Grandpa, Aunt Jodie, Dodge Aunts and Uncles, and Great Gramps!

September 12, 2009

That's One Small Step for Heidi . . .

It was a big day this afternoon when we decided to play with Heidi on the floor. On just a whim, Matt decided to see if Heidi would walk - sure enough, she did! At first she only took a few steps without help, but after just a few more minutes - as you can see - she started to get the hang of it! She's only good for about 5-6 steps right now, but it sure is cute and she is so proud of herself when she gets to one of us. Hard to believe our little baby is growing up so fast!

August 8, 2009

More Heidi Birthday Pics

We had one of our former Forge students come and visit us during Heidi's birthday party last weekend and she took some wonderful pictures! Julie & Her husband Evan keep a blog here where you can see some really adorable pictures of Heidi like this one! Not a bad blog to follow either, I might add! :)

July 30, 2009

Heidi is 1!

What can you say when a year flies by, and your first-born has their first birthday? It has gone so fast, and been such a blast! I don't think Matt or I knew how much we would enjoy parenthood. We knew we'd like it, but man! Now, I know you experienced parents out there will say, "Wait for this year... now the discipline starts!"

Yeah, I guess so. But my sister-in-law was right when she said, "I always thought the stage they were in was my favorite. Then the next stage would come and I'd think, 'No, THIS is my favorite!'". She was definitely right. Heidi is more and more fun each day. We are so blessed and thankful that God has given her to us for this year, and we look forward to many more years of watching her grow.

What a sweetie! And I personally think she is a real smarty, because obviously (by the video below) she knows it's her birthday.

July 24, 2009

A Blog About Nothing

Okay, guys, it's been a while since I've contributed to this thing and it's about time we had a non-Heidi-related post. Her birthday is coming up next weekend, so I'm sure there will be one soon...not to worry.

For those of you who don't know, Darcie and I are huge Seinfeld fans. Maybe too huge. We were given a Seinfeld Scene It game for Christmas and we haven't lost a game yet. Ironically, neither of us really watched it when we were growing up, but we both got hooked on the show after we got married. I love watching it because it is arguably the best television comedy of all time mostly because it makes fun of what it means to be a self-absorbed, egotistical, and insensitive human being (something we can all identify with, right?). Plus, the episodes are only 22 minutes long . . . perfect for watching while you eat dinner!

Anyway, we just got done watching all 9 seasons a few weeks ago and as we were watching, we kept a little note of which episodes were our favorite and we are happy to announce our very own top ten list of Seinfeld episodes! Why you would read this far already, I have no idea - but since you have, I guess we should post our list. Here goes!

[All episode recaps are from]

10. The Junior Mint (season 4, episode 20): Jerry has a date with a woman whose name he has forgotten. Elaine visits an old boyfriend who's in the hospital for an operation; he was once fat, thin she's interested again. Kramer gets an opportunity to witness the operation and he drags Jerry along, while watching they have an accident with a "Junior Mint."
9. The Face Painter (season 6, episode 23): George and his girlfriend discuss toilet paper and he is in love. Elaine's boyfriend paints his face and his behavior at a hockey game disturbs Jerry, Elaine and a passing priest. A monkey throws a banana peel at Kramer, when he throws it back, the monkey becomes depressed and the zoo demands an apology.
8. The Little Kicks (season 8, episode 4): "Sweet fancy Moses" exclaims George when he sees Elaine dance at a party she's holding for her employees. Jerry gets 2 tickets to a premiere of a film. Jerry and Kramer attend the film with Brody, who begins to make a bootleg tape. Elaine finds out the truth about her dancing after she tapes herself. Elaine's dance becomes a big hit on the streets of New York.
7. The Serenity Now (season 9, episode 3): George gets roped into selling computers with his father, who is using a strange relaxation method to control his blood pressure. Kramer has some trouble with the "neighborhood children" when he remodels the front of his apartment. Jerry's latest girlfriend helps him get in touch with his emotions. Meanwhile, Elaine's invitation to a bar mitzvah ends up being more than she bargained for.
6. The Pick (season 4, episode 13): Elaine is humiliated when she accidentally shows a bit too much on her Christmas card photo. Jerry has a date with the model from the plane, she later dumps Jerry because of "The Pick." Kramer goes to Calvin Klein to complain about "The Ocean," a fragrance they stole from him.
5. The Burning (season 9, episode 16): George devises a new plan to end every conversation on a "high note" and "leave them wanting more". Kramer and Mickey take jobs acting out diseases for medical students. Elaine discovers that Puddy is religious, and becomes angry when she learns he doesn't care about her soul. Meanwhile, Jerry is intrigued when he learns that his current girlfriend has a secret "tractor story" she hasn't told him.
4. The Heart Attack (season 2, episode 8): George thinks he's had a heart attack. The doctor tells him otherwise, but he might want to get his tonsils and adenoids removed. Elaine is interested in the doctor and he is interested in her tongue. George not wanting to deal with the cost and the procedure decides to take Kramer's advice of going to see a naturalist, which only makes the situation worse.
3. The Marine Biologist (season 5, episode 14): Jerry meets an old college classmate who asked about George, whom Jerry says is now a "marine biologist." An infuriated Russian writer tosses an electronic organizer belonging to Elaine out of a limousine that hits a passerby on the head. Kramer struggles with his golf swing and sand.
2. The Strike [The Festivus] (season 9, episode 10): Kramer announces that after 12 years, he's going back to work. Jerry meets an attractive woman at a party, but when he later tries to date her, she doesn't look nearly as good. Elaine's use of a fake phone number backfires. George tries to get away with giving away fake donation cards as Christmas gifts at work, and much to his chagrin, his father decides to revive Festivus, a unique holiday he'd invented years earlier.
1. The Opposite (season 5, episode 22): George comes to the realization that he should try to do the opposite of everything, so he does. Things begin to be unlucky for Elaine after she buys a box of "Jujyfruits." Kramer appears on Regis & Kathie Lee to promote his coffee table book. Rachel wants to break up with Jerry and he readily agrees, because his luck has been "even Steven."

So there you go! Not a bad way to waste your time, was it? For a show that was about 'nothing' and had a motto of "no hugging, no learning," it turned out to be pretty good. If you think you can beat us at Seinfeld Scene It - let us know. We need to know that someone else out there has a more unhealthy knowledge of this show than we do!

July 12, 2009

A Family Fourth

Happy post-4th of July! We had a great time at the Dodge Family Reunion over the 4th, with all 4 Dodge kids, plus their 5 kids, making a grand total of lots of fun.

Ages 6 weeks, 6 months, 11 months, 3 years, almost 4... and the rest of us were older than that. :-)
We took the older girls to the Omni to see "Dolphins," complete with stuffed-animal dolphins provided by DeeDee (Darcie's mom), worked on sheetrock in the playhouse in the backyard, put in a French drain in the front yard, played sibling trivia (and had a walk down memory lane), watched movies, played games, and had a blast!We were even able to nail everyone down for a huge family photo. Darcie's sister-in-law took care of ordering matching t-shirts for everyone, so we were very coordinated. Matt's parents were able to come out on the 4th as well and join us for burgers, hot dogs, and maybe a little visit with Heidi too. (Thanks Lantzes, for taking the family photo with your nice camera!) Rick, Dottie and Doug Jones came for the weekend too and brought lots of yummy snacks. :-)
I'll admit that in our family, we're not all alike (some are Dr. Pepper lovers, some Diet Coke... you know), but when we get together, we sure have a great time. What a blessing to be in a family that enjoys being with one another, and a double blessing that we were all able to be there.

Thanks DeeDee and Grandpa for all your work getting it ready for us to come. We love you!

June 22, 2009

Vacation Catch-Up

Here it is! The long overdue vacation update. We had a whirlwind May: Forge graduation, Darcie's best friend got married, then we headed off for vacation and Heidi's first airplane ride.

The highlights: Danielle's wedding was beautiful. It was an outdoor wedding at a vineyard, and we all got to go, including all of Heidi's grandparents.

We celebrated Mother's Day the next day at the Dodge's, then on Monday morning we headed to Utah for 4-5 days at a lakehouse there in Park City. (Thanks, Jenny and fam!) It was a beautiful cabin, with an even more beautiful view, and the weather was nice. We had a rough night the first night, as Heidi stayed up all night crying... but after a phone call to Aunt (Nurse) Jodie, a visit to a local clinic, and a little baby Benadryl for a sore throat, the vacation greatly improved. :-)

On Wednesday, we spent the day with Doug, Deborah, Molly & Meredith at the outlet mall and at the cabin. On our way out of town, we stopped by to see their house (much remodeled). They have a great place with a fantastic backyard!

We then headed to Sedona, AZ to visit Heidi's great-grandfather. We spent the weekend visiting with him, and Heidi's great aunt and uncle.

Great Gramps loved showing her off at church and in the community where he lives. It was a real treat to have almost all of the Gardner family together!

We got to take a day off (leaving Heidi with grandparents) and sneak away to visit the Grand Canyon, as Darcie had never seen it before. What a place. How can you describe it?

We were so glad we could make the trip to Arizona to see Gramps and have four generations there together: Father, Daughter, Father, Daughter. What a precious time!

Heidi was a real trooper, and she continues to be a really great traveler. She slept and played on all 3 plane flights, and put up with all the car rides to and from airports, relatives houses and dinner outings. We really are blessed with a very sweet little girl. We can't believe that in about a month, she'll be one year old!

June 3, 2009

Projects and projects

We still owe an update on the front yard that our Forge students helped lay sod for - they'd be happy to see the result. We'll get pictures up of that soon, along with our long-awaited vacation pics from Utah and Arizona. (there might be a few of Heidi in there for her fans)

Meanwhile, here's what I've been doing in my "spare time" (Darcie) - during naps, with Heidi sitting by watching in the stroller, etc. The laundry room of our rent house needed some love. It's out on the carport so it already felt like it wasn't a real part of the house, but in addition to that, the previous owners had never even finished it out with painted trim or flooring.

I have to admit, I think it looks pretty nice. I love projects like this. And Matt loves it even more when I start and finish something in a one-week period. :-)

More updates coming soon!

May 14, 2009

Heidi likes it!

Heidi likes being on vacation. :)

May 4, 2009

The Mother of All Updates

It's been almost a month since we've posted, so we're due for some news and a whole lotta pics. So, hang on to your hats, folks.

Heidi is at a really fun stage where she likes to play, talk (babble) and grab for anything in reach, so there have been lots of fun times with Daddy lately. Matt likes to read her stories - he had a dream that her first word was "theology", so we're starting young and reading some really tough texts like Hop on Pop and a cloth book with zippers and snaps in it. "Theology" is right around the corner, we just know it.

Last week, we took our last trip with the Forge students before their graduation. We went down to Crier Creek near Houston. Matt enjoyed a last hoorah with his students, while Darcie entertained Heidi on the campgrounds and introduced her to her first outdoor water extravaganza at the splash pad. She's perfectly content with a bucket of water in her lap... until she splashes all the water out and wants some more. Careful Heidi, I think your midriff is showing!

Saturday also marked the graduation of our 4th group of Forge students. It was a busy, but fun weekend, honoring the students and sending them off to the next chapter in their lives. Matt also had a great reunion of former Forgies at the graduation. It's really neat how much the Lord impacts students' lives through the Forge, so much so that they want to return each year for graduation to welcome the most recent students into the world of Forge alumni.

And, for those of you who are not satisfied with a blog entry without a video, this one's for you...

April 12, 2009

Happy Easters

Darcie has way too much time on her hands, doesn't she? But, let's be honest, we're glad she does - and also glad she's a whiz at Photoshop! Aren't these fun?! Hope your Easter holiday was as fun and relaxing as our was!

April 1, 2009

The Face

My younger brother and I have a term of endearment for one another that we use often and in every circumstance, so seeing that it is his birthday today, and that Heidi just turned 8 months old, I thought it would be appropriate to send some him some birthday wishes from his *favorite* niece.

Happy Birthday, Face!
~from Heidi's Face to Yours

March 25, 2009

Farewell Israel! We're coming home!

Greetings from Tel Aviv airport! We've just checked our bags and we're only an hour or so from being ready to board our plane to come home! Only one pic today and a short update just to let you know that we're ready to go! We get in to Newark at 5am EST, and I'll update then for those of you who might actually be awake then. :) Meanwhile enjoy our last group picture!

See you soon!!!

March 24, 2009

Chilly Day in Jerusalem!

Good Evening Everyone!
We had quite the day today! We made our way into Bethlehem to see the Herodian (one of Herod the Great's 6 palaces) and the Church of the Nativity (where we got the amazing opportunity to see an Armenean church service held on the location where Jesus was born). After that, we headed to the Mount of Olives, Gethsemane, Pool of Bethesda, Via Dolorosa, and the Church of the Holy Seplchure (where Jesus was crucified and buried). It was a BIG day!

What made our day even bigger was the weather. Israel is in the middle of a 3 year drought, so they will take any rain they can get. So, we praise God for the LARGE amount of rain He brought upon the Land today. Unfortunately, we were out in it all day - along with the 40 degree temperature and ~30mph wind. Needless to say, it was a little uncomfortable at points, but, believe it or not, we actually learned a ton! We're much warmer now and all dry - so not to worry. :)

Tomorrow will take us around the Old City of Jerusalem - hopefully to the Western Wall, the Temple Mount - just to name a few. We'll finish up our day early, pack our bags and then begin our 2nd day without going to sleep as our flight leaves Tel Aviv around 10:50pm. I hope to be able to share one more post with you before we leave, but in case we don't, we're excited to see you all and share all the Lord has done!

More pictures for you to enjoy!

March 23, 2009

Slight interruption for a special news bulletin...

No, these are not pictures of Israel but I had to post a few so Heidi's daddy could see what we've been doing while he's gone. So, for those of you following the Israel travelers - enjoy some pics of us back home and we'll return to the regularly scheduled broadcast in just a bit. :-)

We love you and we miss you daddy! Can't wait to see you on Thursday. We had a great time playing at DeeDee and Grandpa's house. We planted a vegetable garden with Grandpa and painted the dining room with DeeDee (see photo 2 in the background - textured!)

Photo 1: Heidi is learning to wave "bye-bye", which looks a little more like she's waving to herself.

Photo 2: Heidi and Izzy with the grandparents - who just can't get enough of them!

Photo 3: We tried a photo opp with the two girls. Neither one of them were very interested in having their photo made, except that Izzy kept saying, "Apple cheese, apple cheese," which is what she says now when you tell her to smile and say "cheese."

The Costal Plains

Good evening all!
Hope this finds you all well! We just arrived in Jerusalem after another BIG day in Israel! Today we started out by going to Tel Meggido - the second oldest city in the world (and, of course, the site for some future activities....). After that, we up to Mount Carmel where we studied the story of Elijah while sitting on the side of Mount Carmel. Our very own Danny Loeffelholz even got to teach about his favorite Bible character, Elijah. After that, we headed to the coast to tour around Caesarea - the famous port city of Herod. We finished up our day by heading up to "The House" as Marty likes to call it. Tomorrow and Wednesday we will be touring Jerusalem before we head home on Wednesday night!

The Lord was gracious to us yet again today as we had no injuries, no one sick and beautiful weather. The Lord is also working on our hearts in a big way - no doubt an answer to prayer as well. Tomorrow, we hear, is supposed to be rainy, so any extra prayers for good weather are appreciated!

Enjoy some shots from our day and I'll post an update tomorrow!