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!

XO,

j

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Pray for Texas

I wish I had some great words or truth to speak right now, but I do not.

I am helpless.  I am exhausted.  I am scared.  I do not know what is happening to our great state and to my hometown, Houston.  I do not know why it is happening.  What I do know is we go like to go big in Texas.  And my God, my God,  I pray that none of you or your loved ones ever beat the records that Harvey has created.  I pray that this IS truly an 800 year flood as they are calling it.  My husband is out right now doing boat rescues and the text reports I am getting from him are nothing short of devastating.  This natural disaster is catastrophic friends, it has reached a level that no one could have predicted and it is not over yet.  I do know that there is hope.  I know it is hard to see, and for many a thought that they truly cannot even process right now.  So, with my very last drop of energy I am going to have hope.

I have been {glued} to social media and the news these past few days.  It has probably not been the best for my mentality, but those are my people out there suffering.  They are my family, my co-workers, my neighbors, my best friends.  Most importantly they are my brothers and sisters in Christ.  They are fellow humans and to someone they are a brother, sister, mom/dad, neighbor, best friend, etc.  I have witnessed civilians leaving their families in order to go rescue others.  I have seen shelters created and stocked with items in a matter of hours.  The news has shown me devastation, but sprinkled in with that is hope.  It is showing me hope, not only that flood waters will recede {because they will}, it is showing me hope in all of human kind.  As my sons little show talked about tonight “If God puts someone in your path that needs help, help them.”  Houston is helping each other out.  Neighbors are opening their doors and their hearts.  The souls of Houstonians and surrounding areas are awakened and shining with the light of our Lord and Savior.  We have combined as one and we WILL survive Hurricane Harvey.  Not only will we survive it, we will be S T R O N G E R because of it.  In the truest sense of southern hospitality, you were never welcome Harvey and you showed up anyways.  We tried to play nice and accept your rainfall.  But 11 trillion gallons of rainwater and hundreds of tornado warnings later we showed up too and ultimately we will win, so you can go on and move on now Harvey, the hospitality crew is giving you the boot.  Bye, bye.

“In his kindness God called you to share in his eternal glory by means Christ Jesus.  So after you have suffered a little while, he will restore, support, and strengthen you, and he will place you on a firm foundation.” -1 Peter 5:10
“When I see the rainbow in the clouds, I will remember the eternal covenant between God and every living creature on earth.” -Genesis 9:16
I have been waiting for the rainbow pictures to start appearing in my news feed and tonight I saw 2.  We are next my friends.  Hang tight, hold onto hope – Our rainbow is coming!
XO,
J

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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