Tuesday, January 27, 2015


Yeah, so I have some kids, but I also have me, and I have been up to some fun things.  I never wanted to turn into one of those moms who lives through her children (and I think based on my social media presence, I have been failing.  In real life, I think I am doing ok, I am just not recording it properly).  I love my job and my husband and my interests and my career.  So, here are some of the things I have been up to recently:

I traveled to Virginia Tech and took part in a Residential Curriculum Institute.  Teddi and I met other Residence Life professionals from all over the country (and some super sweet gals from Canada) and learned a lot about some new up-and-coming trends in our field.  We got to tour their residence halls and meet their students, which was a lot of fun.
With the Hokey bird!  

We were wined and dined multiple times.  This was in the sky boxes of their football stadium.

My roomie.

Teddi and I also presented at a state-wide conference in Chattanooga, but I don't have any pictures.  We shared all the new technology we are using in training our professional, graduate assistant, and student staffs.  We are now using online modules in the summer, interactive presentations via iPads, on-site assessment tools, and lots of cool stuff that no one reading this cares about.  Teddi and I have been working on it a lot over the past few years, and we have really made some great progress in advancing our training processes.

I wrote a chapter for a book!  A former colleague of mine who is now a professor at West Georgia and I wrote a chapter called "The Residential Experience" for a large book called Today's College Students.  I have several articles published, but this is my first book chapter!  Fun!  You can even buy it on Amazon!

That's my name!

My staff is amazing and for National Boss's Day they got me treats and goats!  The mascot I force upon my staff is the Tennessee Fainting Goat, so we love all things goat - and now I have handmade goat earrings!  What?!  Goats and candy.  Love my staff.
That's right, a Jane Austen air freshener!  I think they may know me a little bit...

Goat earrings!  I wear them all the time!

I have a new office!  Our area got moved into the new residence hall on campus, so I have a bigger and fancier office now.  I splurged a tiny bit (aka coupons at Michael's and the Dollar Store) to get some new stuff to put up that would be worthy of the new digs.  I miss our old little hallway, but I am getting more and more comfortable in our new space.
I  try to be professional, I really do.  It just does not come naturally to me.  I put goats and student-made trinkets on my door.  And I always will.

Sitting area and look I have a masters degree!  And a Chancellor's citation!  Who knew?

Work table / showcase for I Dream of Jeannie cookie jar

New clock and professional looking frames for my certificates/awards. It is possible I counteracted the professionalism with the pics of the kids drooling and on slip 'n slides.  Whatever.  I tried.

Notice the kid's artwork still displayed, but I tried to make it a bit more nice looking than in the past.
I made an unexpected trip home to Memphis with Violet at New Year's to help my mom and was able to see my family during the holiday season for the first time in 7 years!!  It was crazy to see my parent's house decorated for Christmas - they totally put the tree in a different room now.  What?!  It was also shocking to think it has been that long since I celebrated the holidays with them.  I was even able to ring in the New Year with my mom, my lil sis, my brother, and my awesome sister in law.  Unexpected family time can be nice.  :)
Told her to smile so we could send a picture to Daddy while we stopped for food on our drive.  This kid.  Loving the oranges in the happy meals, btw.

Got to bunk with this mess while in Memphis.  Sharing a twin bed with your struggling-to-potty-train daughter equals true love.

I hang out a lot with my kids between the hours of 6pm and bedtime.  That is mommy time.  And the weekends are super special.  I get cuddles and squeals and nighttime promises that Mommy will not go to work and will be here to play when the sun comes up.

And, last but most important, I have this guy who keeps us all running.  The best dad in the world and the best partner in this crazy life!

And that is ME!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fall Memories

I kinda forgot to blog the entire fall season.  Oops!  But, we did several really fun things, and I do want to document them for my little online memory book here.

First up was the Farragut Primary School Fall Festival.  This the school's main fundraiser and event each year, and the kids love it.  I am still overwhelmed by how huge this school is, but they do put on  a nice festival.
Click on this and look at Jeremy's face.  He is a nut.

Hahaha, Violet is so weird.

pet rocks

Phineas and Ferb tattoos (my favorite of the cartoon obsessions)

I work the UT home football games at the student gates, but I never actually use my free ticket and watch said games after my shift because I am missing my kids and want to beat the traffic back home.  However, we got a good Boy Scout discount, combined with my freebie, and were able to afford tickets at the Kentucky game.  Naturally, it was the one game this year that had below freezing weather.  The kids still had a blast, though, and Vi even worked the gate with me until the big rush showed up (then her screams could be heard echoing through the stadium as Brian had to rip her from her precious mommy).  Drama queen.
bathroom break in the UC

my girl

my little man

I wanted a picture of their orange since coats covered it up, and this was how successful my photo taking was

I went to a Residential Curriculum Institute at Virginia Tech:

And while I was gone, Jeremy cut his own hair (which happened three days before I got home but Brian did not notice until I told him):

The kids visited my office several times if school was out or Daddy had an appointment/needed them out of his hair for 5 minutes:

We hit up several birthday parties:

And Violet became even more girly (if  that is possible) and we found the perfect Elsa nail polish and tried out rollers for curly hair (epic failure) so therefore turned to the Elsa braid (also failure after two minutes of actual movement).  Any tips for really fine thin hair??

We also entered the world of Cub Scouts, but I am saving that for its own post.

Yay Fall!  Sorry i forgot to document you when it was actually fall!  I'll do better, I promise!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What's the Dill, Yo?

I am massively behind in my blogging, but I have no time, so I am starting with a quick and dumb post that is really for my own archiving purposes.

Each year, I do homemade gifts for my siblings and parents.  I don't have a lot of money, and I really do think that personalized gifts are nice.  It is hard to come up with something good sometimes, but I try.  A few years ago, I made personalized coasters for everyone and I have done a lot of photo books, bookmarks, etc over the years.  Oh, and a Joss Whedon-themed Guess Who game for Dani.  That one was fun.

This past July, I saw that one of the guys I work with canned his own homemade pickles.  Yum!  I immediately asked him for the recipe he uses and filed it away for personal use at a later date.  I love pickles, my parents love pickles, and my entire family loves pickles.  One of my favorite memories as a kid was visiting my great Aunt Leela in Texas and trying her homemade pickles.  They changed my life as a 7 year old - SO much better than store bought!  I guess most 7 year olds would remember the ATV driving and other such fun adventures of that trip - I recall the pickles.

Anyway, I decided to can my own pickles for the family.  So, I used Greg's recipe and went to work.  I was nervous they would be mushy or gross or not flavorful, but they turned out to be amazing.  So happy!

I also made little tags for each jar highlighting the couple I gave them to - my lil sis is not in a couple at the moment, so I went with her imaginary boyfriend, Captain America.  Obviously.

So, I made pickles and they were super yummy.  I recently made 8 more jars just for my own stash at home.  I think I spent a total of $5 on 8 jars since I now already have the spices in my pantry.  Love it!!  If you are interested, here is the recipe I used (but I switched out the red pepper flakes for mustard seed, in the same quantities).

Monday, December 29, 2014

Rudolph the Reindeer Nose

Merry Christmas!  We had a lovely holiday with a plethora of new memories and fun times to share!

This one became obsessed with Rudolph and every day repeatedly asked to watch "Rudolph the Reindeer Nose".  She even sang the song that way.  So strange, that kid.
Vi, Rudolph, Hermy

We started our holiday fun with a quick trip to Nashville for what we lovingly refer to as "Cousin Christmas".  There are 7 of them, and they are nuts.
So hard

best we could get

the little ones (minus Levi who is still too small)

the big boys

We had fun with the family, and Violet got to wear her party dress while Jeremy moaned about wearing dress-up shoes.

LOVE for Granddaddy and Nana!

It is interesting to note that this is also the moment when we found out Jeremy had the flu.  Yes, out of town and after spending many hours with a house full of babies.  Oops!  Luckily (I guess?), he had apparently had the flu for over 4 days at this point (and his awesome parents did not even notice), so really he was fine.  Soo, parenting lesson learned and flu... not so scary.  For the record, Jeremy did have the flu mist, so this was a mutated strain that did not hit him too hard.

On Christmas Eve, we met up with our friends Teddi and Jared and celebrated the holiday with their kiddos.
the girls - all dressed alike!

the boys

I always make a huge Christmas feast (Boldreghini gravy, cherry almond creme pies, broccoli casserole, deviled eggs) and my family is not big enough to eat it all.  So, I brought it all over to the Walker House!  I brought food, and Teddi provided a billion games.
decorating ornaments

playing dreidel, which Jeremy loved

homemade Christmas crackers full of little toys!

Jeremy found the pickle hidden in the tree and won a prize!

I have no idea

decorating cookies for Santa

performing Let It Go (of course)

Dance!  Dance!  Jeremy shows some mad skills at dubstep

That night we opened the pajamas (except Violet, who found hers earlier in the month and therefore got a robe) and set out our cookies for Santa.  Daddy read The Night Before Christmas and giggling kids made the their way to bed for the longest night of the year (or so it always seemed to me as a kid waiting for Christmas morning).
Titans pants!  Elsa gown!  Red robe added at last minute due to snooping kid!

cookies and hams

Daddy is the best reader

But morning did indeed come and that jolly ole Santa left some awesome treats!

Jeremy got a new (used) XBOX 360 with a bunch of games.  He was SO pumped.  He kept saying that he had HIS OWN game system.  I love that he is still at an age where we can buy a used system and games off Craig's List and he is totally fine not having the newest model.  Love that kid and his excitement.

Jeremy had to pull this one out of a deep sleep when I wouldn't let him inspect the presents without her, so it took her a minute to fully wake up.  The first thing she really noticed was Olaf.  And boy did he ever get some warm hugs!  Then she zeroed in on the HUGE box of princesses and made me immediately open it so that she could hold all of them.  By the way, thanks to Dani and my mom for finding a deal on this and helping to pay for it.  She LOVES these dolls.

We opened our 8 million presents from family and spent the rest of our holiday playing video games (let's be honest, the XBOX is as much for Brian as Jeremy) and playing princess.
Elsa and Anna weren't in the big box (gasp!) so we had to wrap those separately

Love a UT staff discount

New princess dress from Nona - and matching new Cinderella doll from the big box

Lego robot (made entirely by J with no help) from Dani

I hope each of you had an equally wonderful and fun-filled Christmas!!  Lots of love from the Hoppers!!