weekend tradition

Family traditions.  There is something so special and magical about traditions.  The smells, the sounds, the tastes – they hold powerful memories that can always carry back in time to when you knew them the most; where they belong.  Traditions help create strong memories and bonds for all who are involved.  One tradition my parents have created for our family every year is to go on a weekend getaway to the JW Marriot Hill Country every year.  I love it.  I love that I know at least one weekend of the Summer is devoted to bringing my family together.  I love watching cousins play, I love watching my parents spend time with all of their grand-kids in one spot, I love making memories with my kids, I love everything about it.  This year was no exception.  One of my highlights of every trip is Saturday after dinner gathering on the lawn and trying to get family pictures of everybody.  It is fun and hilarious and always makes us laugh.  Thank you mom and dad for making this tradition happen.

XO,

j

{one} Month

Packing has become a task that I have a love/hate relationship with.  I love the walks down memory lane I am having as I come across items that have been stowed away for safe keeping that hold such a good memories with them.  I love that I am able to really sort through things and decide if it brings me joy enough or if we NEED it and if it makes the keep or toss cut. I love the excitement of purging and fresh new starts of new adventures.  I hate seeing how much mindless stuff we have accumulated.  I hate that it seems to multiply right before my eyes.  I feel like packing is the never ending daunting task of my life currently.  I have been staying up late and going through rolls upon rolls of paper and bubble wrap but I still feel like I have barely made an indention.

{enter} 1.5 months later…….. and I was obviously all consumed with packing and ‘surviving’ that I never finished my post about packing let alone given any update on life at all!

Y’all.  It is our one month anniversary (technically one month + one day) but ONE MONTH!  WE MADE IT a month.  Yea, I know what’s one month when we are planning to have this lifestyle for YEARS?  Well, it has been a month, guys.  Actually two.  The hardest months we have had in a really, really, really long time.  I feel as if we have been under spiritual attack to some level.  We have barely been able to come up for air.  We listened to our hearts, we followed our dreams.  Yet, it has just been hard.  We are pushing through, we are stronger than ever, and we are ready to tackle life head on {break or no break}.  We have been hit with string after string of illness.  It has been relentless (downright brutal honestly) and expensive.  It started literally days after we accepted the offer and had a contract placed on our house.  Both of the boys came down with a horrible strand of strep…like 103/104 fevers for a week horrible.  We recovered from that (barely) and then the tummy bug swept thru the house.  We jumped right from the tummy bug into flu A.  Tamiflu rescued us momentarily and then we they boys got croup followed by Flu B.  Andrew and I developed severe head colds (requiring 2 rounds of antibiotics).  I have been battling laryngitis (twice now on the past month) and just finished a 5 day course of steroids for that.  AND just when I thought surely God we are done.  NO.  Andrew ended up in the emergency room early Sunday morning with kidney stones.  He is doing much better (praise God).  AND now I’m really thinking WE MUST BE DONE.  Please pray that we are.  We.  Are.  Tired.

“Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.” -Ephesians 6:11

Amidst all the illness and struggles, we managed to pack up our 3000 sq. foot house and move into our 300 sq foot RV.  We had struggles along the way, but we survived.  We did it and boy does it feel good to be done!  We are still organizing and figuring storage (in and out) of the RV out.  We currently have 2 storage units, but we will be condensing that to one very shortly once we get some of the stuff out of our big storage unit that people are purchasing from us.  Our RV storage and organization has come a LONG way since day 1!  I highlight some of that in our RV home tour video below.  I will be doing posts breaking down room by room storage solutions and what we are doing to make it work!  My favorite MUST HAVE and most unexpected used item so far?!  command hooks.  yep.  If you have stock in the command company, you are welcome.  I think I may have doubled your holdings this week alone.  A big thank you for my sister and brother in law for gifting us a giant box of command products when we moved into the RV – you started the trend and it stuck 😉  I’ll highlight how we are using all of our command hooks/strips when I do room tours!

We have already had the opportunity to meet some great full-time families.  One family, The Fulkersons, we started following a year ago when we first thought of drastically changing our lifestyle and moving into our RV.  We found out about their adventures when my sister-in-law bought something from them as they were selling off many of their belongings in order to go full-time.  They happened to be back in our part of town getting some RV repairs done right as we were closing on our house and hitting the RV.  We had the pleasure of enjoying their company quit a few times before they hit the road again.  It was such a blessing to share a common bond with another family doing this, and they had TONS of great advice for us!  We also got SO lucky in our current RV park.  We have the nicest family next to us and they have 2 sweet kiddos.  Their son and Corbin are already buddies!  Jennifer has also been a wealth of knowledge for me as well.  They have been living the RV life for 9+ years!

SOLD
let the adventure begin
the Fulkerson family (minus all the kiddos)

We would love to hear from you!  Let us know what questions you have, what you want us to feature, etc.  Hopefully now that we are getting settled into life and building a routine again I will be able to get back at blogging.  I have missed it!

XO,

j

 

 

And so the Adventure Begins…….

I can hardly believe I am sitting here writing this, but God is good ya’ll.  The past 2 weeks have been a total a complete whirlwind.  From passing strep and the tummy bug to every person in the house to getting a FULL PRICE OFFER on our home.  A full price offer on our home {insert happy dance}.  What makes this SO amazing and really shows us how much God is orchestrating this dream for our family is that our home WAS NOT on the market.  We took it off in November and had NO plans to re-list until mid/end of April.  Needless to say, moving was totally off of our radar.  You bet your bottom dollar we are excited as heck though.  A full price offer on a home off the market.  Well, ok then God.  We will take it and run blindly into whatever journey you are planning for our family.  We are a whole lot excited and little nervous, but here we come.  Yes, 300 square foot camper – get ready.  The Hoopers are hitting the road!  SO, what now?  We have discussed SO many options about which direction this all going to take and we really do not know yet.  Andrews job has taken a lot of unexpected (potentially exciting) turns that he wants to ride out at the moment and I hit my 10 year anniversary with my job in mid June.  So, as of now life will go on as normal.  In a camper.  That is normal, right?  We plan to hop around locally so that we can both stay at our jobs {yay} and the boys stay at their little church school {yay}.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

I am clinging to this truth as we start this journey.  God has it all laid out for us.  I honestly believe this time in our lives will change each of us in way we never imagined – for the better.  I can’t wait to see where we are led and who we meet along the way.  RCR will always be our first home and our forever home in our hearts. We made friends that are family to us on this precious street and we will carry that with us forever.  #faloopers.  A very bittersweet time for sure.  Our 10 day option period has already passed and the inspection went amazing.  We are set to close on March 10th.  Until then, friends, you can find me hiding in between boxes, bubble wrap and a glass of wine 🙂 And so it starts……

xo,

j

A Christmas Roadtrip -Nashville, TN

Stop number two on our Christmas roadtrip trip was Nashville. Nashville was the bee’s knees for me. The city just made my heart flutter. I LOVE me some history and Nashville is a beautiful mess of history and music heaven. LOVE. AND it is beautiful and had some awesome hiking. Double LOVE. AND the food is in-describable good {especially El Rey – ;)}. Triple LOVE. But is all seriousness if you do nothing else while you are in Nashville go to Hattie B’s Hot Chicken. Wait in line, no matter how long, and then send me a thank you note. Hattie B’s we will be back, until then I’ll see you in my dreams!

Nashville did induce a bit of anxiety on my soul. There was just SO much to see and do in so little time (and we didn’t make it through half of my list!). Our first full day there started out as a bust as I tried to navigate us to some of the “hot spots” and must eat at places for lunch. After 3 failed attempts {thank you Hattie B’s, Pharmacia, and Mas tacos} due to lines wrapped around the block, we ended up driving in circles, parking in downtown and walking into the first restaurant we crossed – insert El Rey, a little Mexican restaurant painted bright yellow and blue on the out skirts of downtown. The food was a 2/5 but the memories and laughs we eventually had were a 5/5. El Rey was the turning point for us in Nashville.

After El Rey we walked Downtown and showed Andrew’s parents some of our favorite bars from the night before (more on that to come) and then walked to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Awesome. I didn’t really know what to expect but it was on Andrew’s bucket list for Nashville and I am SO happy we went. It was one of my favorite spots. SO MUCH HISTORY. Nerd alert. I LOVE it all. It was a completely amazing place and I am so happy I got to experience it {even if I was wearing a 30+ pound kid the whole time}. A few of my favorite exhibits were Alabama, Elvis, and the Hall of Fame Rotunda. The museum was also decorated so beautiful for Christmas and the staff was so friendly! I hope to back here either kid free or once they are old enough to appreciate it at all of its worth.

We topped off this day with the Grand Ole Opry performance at the Ryman Auditorium.  It is was so much fun guys – such a neat experience. Considering our show was starting about 30 minutes after bedtime the kids did amazing!  I was wearing Wyatt and I did stand in the back the majority of the time so i could bounce him to keep him asleep.  Corbin took advantage of my empty seat and stretched out and slept through the show.  We could not have asked for better out of them.  We really pushed their limits this trip and all I can say is we have some pretty awesome and flexible kids.  Charles Esteen was one of the headliners performing the night we went.  Who is Charles Esten you ask?  Good question – I wondered the same thing until I did a little google search and discovered this.  I have always been horrible with names (so embarrassing) but I can remember a face anywhere and HELLO, Charles Esten, AKA DEACON FROM NASHVILLE.  Nashville is only one of favorite shows.  (it was secretly one of the reasons I wanted to visit Nashville so badly!)  So at this point, I am giddy with excitement AND then I find out he’s doing a meet and greet before our show (insert giddy school girl scream here).  I was excited.  I got to meet Charles Esten.  As crazy as the day was leading up to it – it was fantastic.  Andrew took the kids back to the camper to run off some energy before the show and my MIL and I stood in line and got to meet Mr. Esten.  He’s a classy guy and taller than I imagined.  This must mean that Rayna (Connie Britton) is much taller in real life too!

Let’s back track to our arrival day in Nashville. The drive from Branson to Nashville was a beautiful one. We stayed at the Grand Ole’ RV Park and had a grand ole’ time. The folks running this place were wonderful and again so friendly and helpful! The resort is large and right off the highway so it has easy access in to Nashville. With that said, however, our GPS guided us through the teeniest small winding back roads to our arrival at the RV Park. I LOVED the back road tour and enjoyed all the houses and different architecture. Andrew did not. Hauling an 18 wheeler through a 2 lane winding road with low hanging trees and steep climbs had him sweating bullets. We just had to laugh when we pulled up in one piece and saw the park was right off the highway. We settled in and did a quick wardrobe change and hit the town KID FREE {thanks nana and pa}. We made Tootsies our first stop and it was crowded. Like shoulder to shoulder packed. It brought me right back to my college days of navigating though overly packed bars. We did our duty went to the rooftop snapped some pictures and headed on to the next stop. We popped across the street and put our name on the wait list to eat the Mercantile (a must) and then headed into a few more bars until we got the text that our table was ready. The Mercantile was such a fun and YUMMY experience. We ate at the top-level which is more of the chef’s choice style menu. I look forward to going back and eating from the southern comfort lower level menu. From there we walked to Painter’s Ally, which has tons of history in itself that you can read about here and ventured into Skulls. Skulls was recommended to us by another couple who are full-time RVers that recently left Nashville. I reached out to them after their trip to see some of their favorite spots. Skulls topped one of our favorite spots as well. It was a fun back alley bar with great drinks, great food, and great music. We had fun learning about the history of skulls when we were there and had the pleasure of watching an artist who was an original performer when the bar and restaurant first opened.

Our final day was one of my favorites!  It was the day we got it together.  We went back to our roots, our comfort zone.  We went to Radnor Lake State Park and did some hiking.  Hiking is your comfort zone you ask?  Yes, yes it is.  Nothing beats walking through the woods with my family and watching my boys run through nature and explore.  This state park was small and oh so perfect.  It was just the refresher our souls needed.

After Radnor Lake State Park is when Hattie B’s happened (yummy).  Andrew’s parents met us there to gorge our souls on food and then we headed to the Opryland Hotel.  I cannot even put into words how grand this hotel was or how beautifully it was decorated.  No picture does it justice.  One of my favorite areas was the giant Nativity outside.  It was so beautiful and I just love any display that highlights the true reason for the season.

We loaded up the next day and headed to Hot Spring, Arkansas.  This was our midway point to break up the trek home.  We stayed at Catherine’s Landing RV park and man we were sad we were only there for one night.  It was such a great park and we are already talking about going back!  We did a quick visit to the Garvan Gardens for the Christmas light display and it was gorgeous!  So happy we ventured out and did that even though we were so tired!

This was such a great trip.  It was kinda our “test run” to see how the kids would handle driving and what not and it went so great.  Hopefully it is the first of many out-of-state adventures for the Hoopers!  Nashville is defiantly on my return to list.  There is just SO much we didn’t get to do {bluebird cafe :(}, but I am so excited to return!

 

xo,

j

A Christmas Roadtrip – Branson, MO

We just returned from our first ever Hooper family road trip and ya’ll – it was good {FREEZING COLD} FUN!  When we first started planning our little winter excursion Nashville was the only stop on the list. Branson somehow made the cut and was our first {kinda first stop} on the way to Nashville. On our truck up to Branson we decided to boondock in the Winstar Casino parking lot and try our luck at the slots (well, Andrew’s parents and I did while he stayed with the kiddos). Well, we weren’t lucky but I did get a chocolate caramel candy bar and free coke out of the deal. It was a fun way to break up the drive. The next day we hit the road and drove uphill (or so it felt) to Branson. Driving {if we want to get technical riding ;)} was one of my favorite parts of the whole trip. I LOVED seeing the country. It is just so beautiful. It never ceases to amaze me how you can be driving through flat farmland one minute and be between mountains the next. I am just in total awe of God’s beautiful country and I have only seen 0.03895473% of it. Once we pulled into Branson city limits we found our quaint little RV Park, Shenanigans, and we were immediately greeted with open arms and welcoming smiles. The owners helped direct us into our spots, got us checked in, and helped us plan out some of our days! Side note: it was like 15 degrees outside when all of this was going on and they were still outside waiting for us to arrive. I cannot speak enough of how friendly and helpful the staff was at Shenanigans. We got settled and cranked up the heat BECAUSE IT WAS SO COLD. Like freezing. BELOW freezing. Abnormally cold for this time of the year was the quote of the trip. OF COURSE it was! We just had to laugh. The Texans venture out and the record cold temps hit. We froze. I didn’t think Corbin even knew what freezing meant but he used the word very appropriately in about every other sentence he spoke the entire trip. I reassured him that we were ALL freezing and it wasn’t just him 😉 Despite the cold we still ventured out and explored. The boys learned how to layer and what gloves and mittens are. The cold didn’t stop them – they were still outside playing in the leaves running around. We went to the Wax Museum and Ripley’s Believe it or Not. They were both fun indoor, kid friendly attractions. The boys especially loved Ripley’s. We had the pleasure of seeing Dolly Parton’s Dinner Show, Dixie Stampede. It was a great experience and we are so happy we chose to go to that show. The Christmas theme was fun and festive and the live nativity was beautiful (my favorite part of the show). We attempted Silver Dollar City, but one hour in and a train ride later we had to call it quits. When Wyatt’s hands started turning purple UNDER his gloves we knew it just wasn’t worth it. As BUMMED as we were to miss the Christmas light parade we can’t wait to bring the kids back there. It seems like the most fun, genuine, clean little theme park that there ever was. It felt like a tiny Disney from the 1800’s( we got to watch a blacksmith at work and watch glass blown be made) with some good ‘ole fashion Jesus loving’ thrown in. Overall, Branson was great. The people of Branson are incredibly friendly and SO welcoming. The town is very faith-based (which totally caught us off guard in the best way possible). It was a bit touristy for my liking BUT I want to go back. Now that we have been I have an agenda. I have “seen it and done it” as far as “Branson” goes and what people envision when they hear Branson. I want to experience the NATURE Branson has to offer. I want to hike and see things. AND go to Silver Dollar City again of course {because let’s face it I am a kid when it comes to rides}. So will we be back Branson? Bet your bottom dollar on it! We will totally stay at Shenanigans again and hit up Table Rock Lake and explore that Beautiful country side that Branson has to offer. See ya soon Missouri – maybe in July this time 🙂

my winnings for the night.
great little park we found to stretch our legs and eat lunch at in Oklahoma
Shenanigans at Shenanigans RV Park
corbin in his cave and goofing off in camper

 

wax museum fun

Ripleys Belive it or Not and IMAX adventure on State Parks. Very inspirational for the travel bug in us 🙂
FREEZING at Silver Dollar City
Dixie Stampede Show
camper life
Billy Bob’s Dairy Land after we left SDC early. These burgers and brownie fudge sundaes made everything better.
Branson won the award for the most adorable fur trees lining the highways. I just wanted to hop out and cut down my own Christmas tree. I worked on addressing our Christmas cards while on the road

up next…..Nashville.

xo,

j

A Christmas to Remember

Y’all.  I LOVE Christmas.  SO SO SO much – LOVE IT.  I LOVE birthdays too – maybe that is why Christmas is my favorite.  It is like the ultimate birthday party for our Lord and King.  I finally got the last of our decorations packed up and put away and I am feeling the post-Christmas blues. I am missing all the family time – guys we HAD an untold of amount of time off of work to just be together.  It was the best gift of the season.  My living room is looking pretty barren, I miss the soft glow of the tree lights, and I miss my boys turning them on and off 10934375 times a day and being equally amazed each time they would light up.  I miss it.  This Christmas also brought so much bittersweet emotion with it as well.  It was our last Christmas in our first home and it was also my parent’s last christmas in my childhood home.  So many lasts and so much excitement for the all the firsts to come next year.  We really had fun digging into the family traditions with the kids this year.  I know it is only going to get more special each year.  We started with our annual polar express ride that you can read about here.  My mom hosts cookie decorating for Santa every year on the 23rd.  Once my kids reach the glorious age of FOUR I can drop them off and enjoy some momma time while they decorate but until they become of age to attend Nannie camp alone I get to go swimming in sprinkles and frosting and it. is. messy magical.  Corbin actually totally surprised me this year and was totally into it.  He took his time dumping the entire jar of sprinkles onto his cookies.  I expected him to either not care, just eat the cookies or throw sprinkles everywhere and then lick them up.  So, I was pleasantly surprised.  Bubba on the other hand.  He lived up to every expectation I had and then SO much more.  He was in his happy spot.  He claimed the jar of rainbow sprinkles immediately by licking the entire thing and then proceeded to eat cookie after cookie with and spoonfuls of frosting here and there and then would tip the sprinkle jar back like it was an ice-cold beverage and wash it down with rainbow sprinkles.  I lost track of how many cookies he ate, but I am pretty sure he is still feeling the effects of the sugar high.  We left with some pretty special cookies for santa.

this cookie front and center is a Christmas staple at moms. A york mint in the middle of chocolate heaven with frosting on top. Fights ensue over these cookies ya’ll. My mom’s tree is one of my absolute favorites. Every ornament has meaning and a story and I can’t wait until one day my tree is filled with treasures that tiny hands made….like this glitter star I made in kindergarten.
my most prized Christmas treasures. I would totally run into a burning house to save these…

Christmas Eve we attended church, and by we I mean Andrew.  The kids must have been experiencing some post sugar withdraws or something terrible because they were acting CRAY.  straight crazy.  It immediately resulted in us worshiping in the car while Daddy enjoyed church.  After church we changed into our tacky Christmas sweaters for the annual Hoopers go tacky Christmas tradition we started a few  years back and then headed to my parents for Christmas Eve.  Christmas Eve is just so special to me.  I LOVE being with my family and I know the kids will cherish these memories of running around with their cousins and getting their magical PJs from the PJ Elves before we leave Nannie and grandpa’s house.  It is a night filled with red beans and rice, birthday cake and songs for baby Jesus, gifts, lots of laughs and lots of little kid squeals.  It is perfect.

Hoopers go tacky 2016
PJ elves left urgent packages at the door and then the blurry excitement that ensued to put the PJs on ASAP
a handful of sweet memories from the night

Christmas day we will always spend at home.  I want the kiddos to have that memory of going to sleep at home and waking up to Santa at their house.  It was such a fun morning this year because Corbin was SO excited.  I know next year will be even more magical.  Santa was good to us and we are so blessed.  Andrew spoiled me rotten and sent me on a scavenger hunt through the house to find my gifts (that we weren’t supposed to give).  He is so creative and it really made me feel so loved and so special.  I even got a Christmas poem with my final gift – an apple watch – eeeeeep!  SO exciting.  I am actually meeting Andrew for lunch tomorrow and we are going to pick it out!

One of my favorite memories this year. Bubba could care less about the presents but he was in HEAVEN when he saw some leftover cookies and milk. Cookies for breakfast. smart kid.

Mama getting spoiled. Not pictured was my fancy new die cutter(and lots of fun stocking goodies) – can’t wait to get crafty
Christmas Poem

December 2016

Tis The Season Of Giving

No Matter Which Form It Takes,

It Could Be A Simple Hug

Or Delicious Cupcakes

It Could Be A Trip

To A Place Near Or Far,

It Could Be A Nice Conversation

Over A Drink At The Bar

It Could Be Toys Galore

Or A Handwritten Letter,

But I Bet A Poem From Your Hubby

Makes This Season Much Better

I Know That We Said

No Gift Exchange This Year,

But Again I’ve Broken The Rules

Please Don’t Shed A Tear

You Make Me So Happy

And I’d Give You The World If I Could,

You Know That I’m Serious

And You Know That I Would

But As This Isn’t Practical

You’ll Have To Settle For This,

All I Ask In Return

Is One Helluva Kiss

The Present I Got You

Oh What Shall It Be,

I Hope You Like It

It’s To You From Me

Merry Christmas To You

My Sweet Loving Wife,

I Can’t Wait To Pass The Time

With You In My Life

Love Hubby

We headed to Andrew’s parents Christmas night and did Christmas with his family on the 26th.  We all piled into his Grandma’s house and ate chili and stew and shared lots of laughs and lots of memories.  The cousins LOVE exploring through all of grandma’s treasures and it so much fun to see them all together.  We do a white elephant gift exchange and it is always so much fun.  This year we did the oven mitt gift game.  We had to open a gift with an oven mitt on while the person next to you tried to roll doubles with the dice.  Once doubles were rolled you passed the oven mittens and gift onto the next person.  Whoever opened the gift got to keep it.  It was a riot and had us all laughing.  Andrew’s grandma is an AMAZING baker and y’all she made PIES.  Her pies are like heaven.  No lie.  They are just SO good.  She gets her merengue like a foot tall and its heavenly.  They are beautiful and they taste even better.  We have the recipe for her chocolate pie and it lives in our safe – because it is just that good.

daddy and his mini-me

nothing more beautiful than the sunrise and sunset in the country

We spent the rest of the week at Andrew’s parents out in the country and it was nice.  Andrew worked himself silly putting up fence and doing jobs around the farm with is dad.  The kids ran themselves silly running around and breathing in all the fresh country air and chasing cows.  It was a good week and a perfect way to wrap up the year.

LONG days and HARD work gets you a new fence
country fun. fires, wood collecting, leaf playing, tractor rides, cow calling…..
he’s an ole’ fishing pro now 🙂
I know a good mechanic if you need one

 

hardest workers

I brought my fancy camera and had so much fun playing on it 🙂  I am a work in progress learning all the settings on it, but I am having fun.

determined
in his happy spot
honk honk
just hanging around
checking out the tractor tires
little worker
playing

I hope each of you had a wonderful Christmas.  Enjoy this year, next year will be here before you know it.

xo,

j

Stirring in the Soul

We are officially 9 days into the new year and I have never felt such a stir of emotion in my soul and energy as I have this year.  My clean eating and exercise program is going pretty darn well.  I have not missed one day of my daily devotional {that really is a big deal for me}.  We had a crazy productive first weekend of the year that we will fondly remember as demo weekend.  We are starting preparations on our house in order for it to be at its best market ready self when we re-list our home in April.  We took the train down that ran across Corbin’s ceiling in his room (as much as we thought it was super awesome and fun, some people can’t look past that stuff when buying a house).  We took down extra curtain rods and curtains that made rooms appear smaller.  We smoothed down and spread a huge pile of dirt in the backyard.  Let me clarify – when I see WE I really mean Andrew.  He rocked it this weekend.  I was the moral support and cooker.  I also got all of our christmas taken down and put back into the attic.  My project 333 wardrobe is THIS CLOSE to being complete.  We have a garage sale pile the size of Mt. Rainer {and it feels oh SO good}.  I have a feeling this is just the first layer for me as well.  I am learning a lot about myself. I am very emotional and am having a harder time parting with THINGS than I thought.  EEEEP.  How embarrassing.  Does this make me a stage 1 hoarder?!  Maybe.  Whatever it is I am ok with it.  I am making progress and it is helping me to try to really step back and find the THINGS in my life that bring me joy.  We are collectively trying to make 2017 more about friends and family than THINGS.  Regardless,  I am human and I like things.  I am forever a work in progress.  Amongst all these preparations on the home I feel like Andrew and I have had some MAJOR stirrings in our hearts and souls about where exactly is life leading us?  What does God want us to do with out lives?  80% of your life is spent working and that work needs to glorify HIM.  If you aren’t happy with that work than are you really living life to the fullest potential? Are you really glorifying God every day?  Some serious stirring of the souls going on over here.  What I can say is I have a feeling this “journey” that we started envisioning in our heads 8 short months is going to be drastically and radically different from what we had originally planned out.  Kinda scary – heck yea.  Kinda exciting – oh yea.  Keep coming strong 2017 – we are taking you and all your challenges on.  I’ll leave ya’ll with an awesome poem Andrew wrote in about 10 minutes yesterday.  He has such a talent for this and it amazes me with each poem he writes.  Enjoy.

The Grind

I’m not happy with what I’ve become
Connected all the time
Putting in all the effort
For just the daily grind

Working for someone else
Is not at all fulfilling
And the thought of this long term
Is nothing short of chilling

Voicemails, Texts, and Emails
Never putting down the phone
Sometimes I want to shut it off
And leave myself alone

It’s ingrained in us at an early age
What success can truly be
But today I find myself
Wanting more than the corporate family tree

I’m tired of climbing the ladder
I’m needing some simplicity
It may be unconventional
But I think it’s what’s best for me

It’s great to have the raises
And a promotion here and there
But honestly in the grand scheme of things
I’m not sure I really care

I was able to buy the “things”
That sit in the closet collecting dust
It’s what you’re supposed to do with money
It’s like an unwritten law that you must

Am I being selfish?
Thinking only of myself
Or am I turning the page
On my “book” up on the shelf

Change is a scary thing
And taking risk is just the same
But what I’m doing as of now
Will soon drive me insane

I’m not expecting it to be easy
There will be bumps in the road ahead
But I want to say I’ve lived
Long before I’m dead

The American dream is true
But make it all your own
For you it might be the white picket fence
For others that seed is not yet sown

I’m not sure what mine is yet
That path I’ve yet to pave
But after I become successful
I’m sure it will be all the rave

Success is of course objective
It means different things to all
But you must take that chance in life
Even if you trip and fall

I’m not sure what’s next for me
And I’ll need to take my time
To make a fulfilling career
Outside of the corporate daily grind.

-Andrew L. Hooper

What has you stirring in 2017?  What is driving your happiness?  What change do you want to make in your life?  YOUR destiny is in YOUR hands. God has given you tools and talents in life to be successful.  If we each examine our hearts and souls to find these tools I think every one of us can be living the uncommon life.  The riveted life.  The one life you are given.  I challenge you; listen to your heart.  Chase your dreams.  You are never to old.  I am reading (really re-reading) The Cure for the Uncommon Life by Max Lucado.  It is a Christian based book to help you discover your sweet spot in life.  I am a couple of chapters in and enjoying it so far.  Make it a good week friends and listen to the stirrings in your soul.

xo,

j

Hello, 2017

Happy New Years my faithful readers!  I am wrapping up the final 30 minutes of the first day of the New Year reflecting over the last year {where did the time go?!} and setting out some goals for the new year.  2016 was a good year but 2017 is going to be a riveting year.  I have big goals for 2017 and I can’t wait to start achieving them.  I am still in the process of writing out these goals, as I am trying to be very intentional and prayerful about each one of them and what result I am striving for.  Tomorrow, however is the official start date of one of our goals.  We are partaking in a couples weight loss/healthy lifestyle challenge with our best friends and neighbors.  We are the Ridge Runners and plan on ending the competition finishing a race and going on a double date where the losing couple pays for dinner.  I am super excited about this and so hopeful that it really does become a true lifestyle change for me.  I am ready to have the energy of my marathon running days back {and maybe run another marathon or two}.  Of course, another goal that is already firm on our list is to sell our house.  We plan on re-listing early Spring and are setting out an action plan to make that as quick and successful as possible.  Achieving that goal will rapidly lead to the achieving of our other goals, one being moving into our RV full-time.  Some people still think we are crazy, some think we are awesome.  I’m with the awesome crowd.  I have devoted my entire day {on no sleep} to cleaning and organizing the house {starting to} so we can start clearing all the clutter and noise out of our lives.  Andrew and I are both going to do the 333 project with our wardrobes.  I was hoping to go through my side of the closet today, but we will do it together when he gets home from the country with the boys.  I think this challenge will help me with more than simplifying my wardrobe.  I am hoping it trickles down through every other area of my life and I can then go through the rest of the house with a more eager spirit to let go.  I had a harder time than I thought I would as  I went through to boys closets and toys today.  I was able to downsize some, but I plan on re-evaluating again in a few weeks as I know I have more work to do.  It is definitely a learning curve, but I am excited to start. Andrew and I always talk about the simple life.  I’m ready to stop talking and start achieving.  We watched the documentary called Minimalism on Netflix the week before Christmas and were both inspired by it.  I look forward to the LESS is MORE life.  I look forward to living our life by doing things, not having things.  Bring it on 2017 – the Hoopers’ are ready for you!  What are some of your goals this year?!

xo,

j

A Break

And here we are.  2 days away from December.  33 days away from a new year.  2016 has been a wild, crazy and fun ride.  I have a feeling 2017 is going to be even better, more exciting,  and filled with more and more change.  Until then, we are on a break.  We took our house off the market 2 days ago and let me tell you – toys are EVERYWHERE.  It feels nice.  So relieving to just be care free again and let the kids be kids without hooting and hollering about messes constantly in fear we might get a showing.  Is this what we had envisioned in our grand plan?  Heck no.  But that’s ok!  This is where we are at and we can either run with it or sit here and pout.  We are running.  We pulled out the decorations and have been filling this house with Hooper Christmas Spirit for one final time – what a special gift; a gift we didn’t even think about but man I am so happy we have it.  I love Christmas and to able to celebrate a final Christmas in our first house we had together; the house we started our family in is the best gift this season.  So now what?  We enjoy our break.  Our plan is to possibly re-list during the ‘prime’ season come spring time.  Hopefully it will be quick and painless sell and we can finally start our grand RV adventure.  I pray the offer will be the right offer and the right family.  We have said from the beginning that if it is meant to be it will be.  Now is not the time.  God has made that abundantly clear to us.  We aren’t going to push it.  We look forward to having time to continue to sort through our items of keep/sell/donate and to spend time with our AWESOME neighbors.  They are great neighbors guys.  SO SO SO great.

Andrew took the kiddos this past weekend while I worked.  It was SUCH a blessing.  I enjoyed the quiet, got to nap, and relax.  I also binge watched the return of Gilmore Girls.  AND all I  have to say about that is there better be another season because I am just not ok with that ending.  The kids had an absolute blast in the country as always and seeing those pictures of them running free is such a drive for me to pursue this dream of ours even more.  I cannot wait for that piece of land, that barndominium.  Cannot even wait.

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Our very first Christmas in this house consisted of Andrew, I and our sweet brand spanking new puppy Shelby.   I remember pulling out the artificial tree setting it up in the living room next to the fireplace and just looking at each other and busting out laughing.  Our new living room ATE this tree up.  It was tiny!!!!!  It looked so perfect in our 600 square foot apartment downtown, but here it looked teeeeeny.  SO we moved it into our entry and became 2 tree people.  I never thought I would be more than a one tree person, but alas, life again fooled me.  We trucked off to Home Depot in search of the perfect REAL tree.  The perfect 12 foot tree.  WHAT were we thinking?  Good question.  We were obviously very new to this whole space concept.  We figured 12 foot ceilings and pretty much no furniture we could fit a 12 foot tree.  Well, after chopping off a couple of feet from the bottom and trimming the whole back side off we did fit our 12 foot tree in to the living room.  It was HUGE and it was BEAUTIFUL.  I think this may have been the starting point of this crazy dream of ours – not that either of us realized it then.  We decorated this tree with THOUSANDS {no lie} of lights and about the 10 ornaments we owned.   Because lets be real…..after buying a 12 footer we couldn’t afford to decorate it :).  SO it was a pile of sparkling pine perfection.  As we sat on the couch admiring our tree, we talked about one day having a house with a sun-room in the front that during the winter would become a tree room.  It would be big enough to put the largest tree we could imagine in there.  This was the beginning of the dream.  A tree room.  We loved that tree, {and all the critters that snuck in on it} and shoving the largest tree we could manage into our living room quickly became a new family tradition – until a toddler entered our lives – END of everything right there.  Our first toddler Christmas consisted of a Charlie Brown 2 footer {which barely survived the season}.  The next year we graduated back to a real tree but a MUCH smaller real tree – like 4-5 feet in fear our little monkey child would think it was for climbing.  This year, our final year I begged Andrew to have one FINAL 12 footer.  Just one more big tree I thought would make it the perfect final Christmas.  The more I thought about it, the more I turned from that idea.  That tree is being saved for our FIRST Christmas in the tree room, not the FINAL Christmas in our first house.  NO, the tree that deserves to be the FINAL tree in the FIRST house is the FIRST tree that has been here through it all. We spent all day yesterday digging our first tree out of the attic building and decorating it with shatter proof ornaments.  It is perfect.  AND best part – it doesn’t even look that small.  That first year our house swallowed it up – but this year – nope.  It was as if this tree was made for this house; made for us.  The stockings and the chaos we have added to the house over the past 5 years have made it the perfect space for this little tree of ours.  No tree would have been the best option considering the status of our children right who think that anything round is a baseball {hence that shatter proof ornaments} but that wasn’t an option.  So much of the magic of Christmas to me is in the tree.  Every tree holds a special story and brings back such a unique set of feelings from my childhood, my Christmas’ growing up.  I want my boys to always have special tree memories as well; and so far I think we have nailed that part.  It also seems that one day many Christmas’ from now I became a tree per room person.   Insert shocked face here.  As I wrote this post I envisioned bringing our first tree with us and putting it in our master bedroom.  After all, it will always be our tree.

 

 

first tree, downtown apartment
first tree, downtown apartment
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first HUGE tree in the house
huge, fat tree year
huge, fat tree year
my favorite tree
my favorite tree
Charlie Brown tree year, teh 2 footer
Charlie Brown tree year, the 2 footer
Wyatt's first real tree, normal size
Wyatt’s first real tree, normal size
the FIRST and FINAL tree
the FIRST and FINAL tree

I hope this Christmas Season brings you all wonderful memories and special moments.  Capture them up, you will never have Christmas 2016 to do again.  Make it a good one.

 

xo,

j

 

It’s Monday

 

It has been TOO long since my last post.  I know.  Lately I’m drowning in this whole life gig.  Life has been busy and I have been SO tired.  Last night I called it quits and went to bed at 715.  10 hours and 47 glorious minutes later (according to my fitbit) I feel somewhat refreshed and ready to tackle on the coming weeks.  I had the privilege and honor of being the Maid of Honor in my baby sisters wedding this weekend.  She was the most beautiful, most happy and most humble bride I have ever seen.  It was so surreal to watch her walk down the aisle and is now one of my favorite memories.  I celebrated and celebrated and celebrated – until about 5 am in the morning.  It was the most fun time visiting with our family from out-of-town and I will cherish that night forever.  I get a few awesome pictures at the after party that I am holding onto to for a later date, but did capture a few pictures of this special day 🙂picmonkey-collage

I loved getting to see my family all dressed up and looking so handsome.  Corbin rocked his ring bearer duties in rehearsal but wanted nothing to do with it wedding day.  He ended up walking down the aisle holding my hand – it was just as adorable.  A BIG thank you to my in-laws for picking the kiddos at the reception so Andrew and I could kick back and enjoy ourselves!

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We got to rehearsal super early (gold star for mom – and 5 gold stars for Andrew for rocking the day weekend and helping me be where I needed to be, the kids where they needed to be and keeping the house clean for showings/open house/etc – he rocked it ya’ll).  I loved my time with just Corbs and he loved the fact I pulled out the snapchat filters.  #snapchatforthewin Andrew and Wyatt had a fun daddy/son night and both the boys got to go to the car show with Saturday morning before the wedding.

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picmonkey-collageThursday night kicked off the whole wedding weekend with a night of bachelorette shenanigans.  We had a pallet sign making party and it was a hit!  Pizza, pie, pallets, paint, and booze.  winning.  I made a few gems but this is by far my favorite.  When our house sells and we go full-time I plan on hanging it from our 5th wheel hitch.

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Sunday was filled with family, Mexican food, naps (for me – thanks Daddy) and some outside play time.  It was the perfect end to a truly perfect weekend.  I love you Shannyn and Jared and wish ya’ll nothing but happiness.  #newbrinkersontheblock

picmonkey-collage

xo,

j