The Story of Us

The story of us

This is one of my most treasured stories and I love telling it to anybody that will listen.  Rewind to the weekend of January 16, 2009. I was just a young girl at the time with crazy dreams of quitting my job, traveling the world and moving to Colorado with one of my best friends from nursing school {still a pretty awesome dream}.  Literally a few days prior to this weekend my friend and I had actually just purchased tickets to Paris so we could backpack around Europe for six weeks.  It was the trip of a lifetime.  Andrew was in the middle of his senior year at Texas A&M university.  As destiny, or fate, would have it Andrew and I ended up on the same cruise ship that chilly weekend in January.  It was the Carnival Ecstasy cruise liner; straight out of the 70’s with shag carpet and all.  I was there with some girlfriends from nursing school for a bachelorette party and Andrew was there with his family and large group of friends from his small home town.  Before we even had a chance to leave port, Andrew and I crossed paths.  It was a quick interaction of a girl falling in love at first sight.  I spotted him and he spotted me and we made the most intensely awkward eye contact.  A few more episodes of our paths crossing,  it was evident that somebody had to make a move.  Andrew did.  He popped around a corner and made my best friend and I blush (it was so obvious we were staring at them and had no idea he had left and was coming to us).  He introduced himself and gave me the “I hope I see you around later” line 🙂  He did – that night it all went down at the Stripes Disco.  After night of dancing at Stripes Disco and watching a beautiful sunrise from the boat deck made for the most magical and fun weekend.  It was pretty much a done deal.  Two days flew by and I told Andrew on our last day together that he would either the best thing that has ever happened to me or the biggest heartbreak of my life.  I was completely smitten.  We made it back to land and had our first land date which evolved into another whole weekend spent together.  We spent the remainder of Andrew’s semester at school traveling back and fourth at every free moment so that we could be together.  A whirlwind of eight months flew by filled with nothing but love, laughter and adventure.  It all came to the perfect ending with Andrew taking a knee asking me to be his wife.  Saying ‘YES’ was the best decision I have ever made in my life.  Saying Yes has blessed me with the 2 most beautiful boys.  It has been the best adventure of my lifetime so far and I can only imagine where we will end up.  Always and forever team Hooper.

From the moment I met Andrew he is always rhyming, singing, or writing poems.  It was so fitting that our rainy day bike ride 8 years ago today ended with this poem 🙂  Who would have thought a weekend cruise would be a defining moment in time in both of our lives.  9 years ago on January 16th we will have met, 8 years ago today we got engaged, 7 years ago October 2 we got married.  Here is to a lifetime together.

Cruise Girl

It all began on a Carnival Cruise 

For which I had went on to enjoy the booze 

And all of the sudden I saw a girl in the hall 

So beautiful, so stunning, so ridiculously tall 

She caught my eye, and took my breath away 

I thought to myself, could this be the one, could this be the day 

We met on and on, for the first few hours 

Though I never could shake that I was a coward 

So beautiful you stood, you were out of my league 

So I racked my brain, oh how may I intrigue 

With that white long sleeve shirt and that little black vest 

I could feel my heart racing, down deep in my chest 

So I drank up some drinks, to build up my courage 

And wandered around, like I was out on a forage 

I saw you in the middle, with a friend by your side 

Oh great there’s two, this will be an interesting ride 

I downed one more drink, and began walking your way 

I hoped I could do it, I didn’t know what to say 

We had our little convo, it went well so it seemed 

We said see ya around, I thought she is supreme 

 There was something special, something different for sure 

I said time will tell, if only I can endure 

That night at the club, with the dim and black lights 

We had a ball, the place was named stripes 

We partied a lot, and then walked around 

Till the wee hours in the morn, then I laid my head down 

I woke up that morning, thinking will I see her again 

Well duh, were on a ship, in the middle of the ocean 

As the cruise day went on, we talked and shared glances 

We met at stripes that night, and began doing dances 

Then all of the sudden, our lips met together 

Wow this is so awesome, so full of pleasure 

We met every day, and then every night 

Stayed up till the morning, everything felt so right 

Long story short, we then exchanged numbers 

The cruise was now over, and I began to wonder 

Will I met her again, was this just a fling 

I hoped more than ever, I’d hear my phone ring 

Kind of a different way, since on the cruise I didn’t have my phone 

So I sat in my room, waiting patiently alone 

Finally it came; we talked for minutes on end 

When can I see you I asked, well I’m free next weekend 

So I drove down to Houston, what the hell was I thinking 

 I met a girl on the cruise, while I was nonstop drinking 

Was I drunk, Is this real, Am I sure about this, 

I was, I realized, The truth was in the kiss 

The first weekend was great, and it grew more thereafter 

We sat and we smiled, both full of much laughter 

And then hit fast forward, till the time is now and here 

I wouldn’t change one thing, not the laughter or the tears 

JJ, the tall one with those great blue eyes, 

You make me the happiest human alive 

I can’t live without you, o where shall I begin 

 You are my rock, and undoubtedly my best friend 

So now here before you, I drop to one knee 

Janelle Elizabeth Jones, WILL YOU MARRY ME? 

our first “land” date
formal night on the cruise
fresh engagement, a few days after in the country
because it is not official until it is facebook official. I accepted his request 😉
cruise ships




How do you downsize from a house to an RV

How did I prepare for the downsize?

I really did not prepare. HAHA!  I have always been a “oh it will work out” fly by the seat of my pants, last-minute kinda person.  Not that this has not worked out because it has – but let me help you prepare!  When you are deciding what to take and what not to take make piles – bring, store, sell, trash.  Once you have done that cut your bring pile in half.  I would have personally cut my storage pile in half as well.  (hindsight is 20/20 – our storage unit cost is minimal, but it will take a huge purge once we settle down again).  As far as the ‘bring’ pile, you will quickly learn what you need and what you don’t.  It’s amazing how condensing your belongings into a tiny space allows you to see literally almost everything you own at one time.  I have purged since going full-time and I am currently in the process of purging again.  I had boxes labeled for the movers that I wanted placed in the front of the storage unit, so I could easily access and trade out things as needed (sadly not all of them made it to the front of storage, but I tried).  I had decided on a toy rotation system with bins that I would trade out every 2-3 weeks.

None of that has happened.  Why?!

Less IS More.

I condensed the boys toys down from 6 bins to just 2 that I could easily fit both under the bench seat in the back.  I have gone to storage a handful of times – each one leaving with stuff to GIVE AWAY or with stuff from the RV to put into storage #byejunk.

The less is more mindset is really great with kids too. I’ll be the first to tell you that it is still a process for me – we still have too much kid stuff.  I feel like I am emotionally attached to some of it, and other aspects I am still trying to decide if some things get used enough to constitute a permanent spot in the sacred toy room/bedroom/garage.  It is really stinking hard to downsize from a house to an RV.  I am not going to lie.  In the same breath, though, it is so incredibly freeing and worth every last bit of stress we have endured since we started this process in March.  Each day I learn more about myself, what things drive me nuts, what makes me happy. We are going to The Minimalist speak in November and I am so excited to go and soak up their advice and see what I walk away with.

I just don’t get it.  How can you live in an RV?

I know.  It is really strange and different.  I get it.  But for us, it totally works and is a really fun adventure (now we are just praying that God guides in a direction so that we can hit the road and see this beautiful country).  Don’t get me wrong, there are aspects that we I miss about a house, ahem, my bathtub.  Really at this point that is all I really miss.  Oh, and my pantry.  My house pantry was like house of its own.  I really do miss that space, especially as the boys are eating more – I miss that storage to bulk buy.  Other than that, life in an RV works.  It is was you make it and we have made it a home.

Here is a quick tour of our home and how we do it.  When you first walk into our home you walk straight into our kitchen and living room – a two in one multi-functional space.  😉

From the picture above you can see our loft space, the pantry (black stacked cabinets), and entry in garage area aka playroom, bedroom, etc.  The red, white and blue banner I switch out with the seasons.  I love it.  It is such an easy way for me to add a homey and fun touch!

Kitchen space. You can see our entry here and the steps you see lead to our bathroom/master bedroom.  I use the storage above the couch for my crock-pot, baking pans, pyrex, etc. The one of the far right is my kid/craft/art cabinet.  The big box on the counter top?  Ice maker.  Best.  Investment. Ever.  If you love ice, especially the best chewing and eating ice, buy one.

Baby gate is up in this picture.  This was one of my must-haves when we decided to go full-time.  I needed my space when I was cooking.

A fireplace?  Yes.  I love it.  You can turn it on to look pretty or you can actually use it – it puts off some amazing heat.  I took the baby gate off in this picture, but normally we have the area blocked off so the kids can’t get into kitchen area.  That is a must for me – space is tight and I don’t want little hands grabbing the hot stove or opening the fridge 74584720 times a day.  The storage above the TV we use for big pantry items – cereal, baking goods, and alcohol – because yes.

This, this is our deluxe bathroom suite.  An infinity sink with storage underneath, large walk in shower with removable shower head, and plenty of storage.

Shower.   I miss my tub.

Master room.  There is a king bed in here – we are both tall so it was a must for us.  We upgraded the mattress to memory foam.  I highly recommend ditching the mattresses that come with your RV and upgrading.  Our closet is behind the sliding mirror.  We each have a side.  I am still working on perfecting my wardrobe to a few key versatile pieces.

We installed a washer and dryer right before we went full-time.  I knew with 2 small kids it was a must for me and I have no regrets.  So far it has been worth every penny!.  We did get a couple of area rugs for the carpeted area of our rig to help preserve the carpet.  RV grade carpet is very thin and we immediately noticed wear after only a few weeks of going full-time.

Our garage/play room/bedroom.  I love this space.  L O V E it.  It is so versatile and fun!.  We area actually in the process of remodeling as I write this, so I will post updates once we are done!

Bed folds up to couch during the day!  The growth ruler came from our home and I knew it was something that had to come into the camper with us.  The boys love jumping up and seeing if they are growing big and tall.  We had the curtains custom-made (thanks to our super sweet old next door neighbor for the help!  she has mad sewing skills!) for the windows – originally the RV came with the metal blinds in those windows and it was so going over well with boys.  I also wanted something to make area completely dark for nap times, movies, etc.

We installed this amour for the boys clothes and it works great!  They each have their own side.  The storage shelves came with the RV and I use them as bookcases.  We love books in this family, and I loved having a built-in spot for them!

Boys half bath in the back!  We love this feature so we can keep kids in the kid zone and have some of our own space!

This our home, come visit!







life after the storm

Harvey.  Oh, Harvey.  I feel like this storm is now a defining moment in the lives of everybody that endured it.  There will be the life before Harvey and the life after Harvey.  I hope that in the days and weeks to come the people continue to find the good in other people and the situation.  I hope they remember how our communities pulled together and loved so well.  I hope they remember the countless hours upon hours of community service that our neighbors have sacrificed in order to rescue and rebuild.  I hope after the pain and fear from the storm continues to subside they can see the blessings brought forth by the storm.  I hope they will always remember that you can’t do life alone, so love your neighbors – all of them; always.  I hope that as houses get rebuilt people not only regain a sense of home and security, but forever cherish how fragile life is and how each new day is truly a blessing.  I hope that my boys never stop playing water rescue with their cars and airplanes and never stop talking about how daddy is out helping people.  When they play they are acting out what they see – and this storm has let them see their daddy in a whole new light.  I hope that as people drive through neighborhoods and see piles and sometimes mountains in people’s front yards they have compassion.  I hope that they remember that even though it is “stuff”- it is someones life.  I hope they remember that among the carpet padding and wood floors there are precious photos, handmade masterpieces from their children, baby books, a child’s favorite toy, great grandmas heirloom china, and so on and so forth.  I hope that they remember that yes ‘stuff’ is replaceable but some of it was not stuff, some of it made up a small piece of their soul, a memory so special, that it can never physically replaced.  I hope that this storm has changed you as it has changed me.  I hope you are walking on the other side a little more broken, but a little more stronger.  I hope that you continue to be the best ‘yes’ you can be to others in need of help or just a hug.  I hope that you continue (or start) to count your blessings every night – you truly honestly never know when life will shift.  I hope that each and every day you tell your loved ones that you love them.  I hope that you show grace to your neighbors, whether it be in traffic or as they work on home repairs – give them grace – we are all just trying to find our new normal.  I hope that if you didn’t already love Texas, Mattress Mack and JJ Watt that you do now. Lastly, I hope that you have a renewed hope – in yourself, in your future, in the world.  Harvey will not be the last storm in your life.  The next storm you endure may or may not be another hurricane.  Maybe it will be loss of a loved one or a job.  Perhaps a big move in life or an emotional roadblock.  Always remember who you are and where you have come from.  Without some rain, you will never have a rainbow.  Pray, endure, grow, change.

Oh Harvey…

You spun up in the gulf, just as quick as it could be,
With a bullseye on the Texas coast, headed straight for my friends and me

All the models showed you growing, and dumping lots of rain,
you’d thought you’d get the best of us, and drive us all insane

As you slowly came ashore, we all watched your true devastation,
You showed us all your strength, but we’ll overcome it without the slightest trepidation

Not the power outage nor the flood, and your wind surely was no match
As we came together as Texans, and the hospitality bug did we catch

Our friends, our family, and neighbors, we are all one in the same,
you won’t break our spirits in the slightest, this is just a part of life’s game

Deep into the night, the volunteers came in droves,
driving our small john boats through the neighborhoods, and all their intricate coves

With a full boat of people, and the 90 HP Mercury chugging along in the flood, it didn’t matter who we were saving, we all came from the same blood

When the times got the toughest, we just looked up to the sky,
and whether it was raining or it was sunny, we smiled without a sigh

All was going to be ok, with all of us on the same team,
we are stitched together like the Texas flag, and we wouldn’t break a seam

Once the flood waters recede, I’m sure you’ll still hear your name,
but it will be because of the great human nature, and not your selfless sought after fame

We are friends helping friends, not asking for anything in reply,
just knowing that if there’s an issue, we just raise our hands into the sky

You see you don’t mess with Texas, we’ll stand up hand to hand,
Like if you were the devil down in Georgia, in the song by the Charlie Daniels Band.

I will give you only one thing, you were a test for us for sure,
but nothing a helping hand, a human heart, and a Texan cannot cure!

God Bless!!!

-Poem by my talented and loving husband, Andrew

On a lighter night, right before Harvey hit I returned from an Epic 2 week road-trip and I cannot wait to share it with you!