Friday, December 27, 2013


We had a really lovely Christmas this year!  We went to Nashville for a few hours on the 21st and played with the cousins, then we focused on having some fun at home. We are certainly a very blessed little family!
This was the photo from our Christmas cards.  I made these for work (I really do have a strange job) and the kids loved them.

They were SO excited to get that tree up!

Hide and seek!

Mommy's robe is her favorite thing.

Shark attack!!

Baking a cake for Santa - because he gets too many cookies already.

Our Christmas feast!

Fancy dinner for four.

Fancy lady's table manners. 

In their Christmas jammies ready for the big guy to come!

He came!  And he told me that putting together those tracks was a nightmare.  Poor Santa!

My Little Pony and a castle for the little princess.

Mommy and daddy got some love as well!

SO excited!

He was shaking he was so happy.

This is as far away from her pony she has been since she got it.  LOVE.

The girls.

Loves his planes.

This track is seriously awesome.

So is this castle.

Trying to shove a Barbie Cinderella into the coach designed for a Lego Cinderella.  No luck.

Shark books!

Checking out the new LeapPad for Violet!
I realize in looking at all of this that I missed capturing so many moments!  I didn't get the kids dressed up for church (funny story - Violet lasted 5 minutes in Mass before Brian took her home).  The pics I took of them walking in to see it all for the first time were so blurry they were worthless.  And I didn't take any of them actually opening presents.  Oops.  My only excuse is that we were having so much actual fun that I did not even think about it.  They were so into Christmas  this year, it really felt magical.  Sure, we seriously contemplated putting some coal in Violet's stocking along with her toys as a warning, but overall, they were so happy, excited, and fun.  Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013!

Hmm, remember Thanksgiving?  Yeah, I got busy, but here it is!

We went to Nashville and had a lovely time hanging with the Hoppers and even got to celebrate Brian's birthday while we were there.

Spending time with our Nashville relatives really means one main thing: cousins!  We are up to 7 grand kids on that side of the family, and I am quite sure more are still coming (not from me!).

I love this one.  Kids are so predictable.
We took the kiddos to the park to let them run around and I shockingly discovered that my son does not know how to swing.  I am a failure as a parent.  And, he is also the most uncoordinated person ever.  Lucky he is so cute.

Finally, we celebrated Brian's birthday at his favorite place: Chuck E Cheese!!  Oh, poor Brian.  But, the kids had a blast!  It was Jeremy and Violet's first time there, and they were so great until we had to leave.  Then, they both turned into their natural form: monsters.  It was so bad that I had to grab Violet off the floor as she was kicking and screaming and I tripped over Brian's foot and completely sprawled out on the floor in front of a million kids and parents.  I love my kids, I really do, but sometimes I just don't like them.  But, rest assured, two minutes later, they were sweet again and my murderous rage subsided.

Sorry it took me so long to get this post up, but we did have a wonderful Thanksgiving in Nashville!!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Nerd Alert

I am ready to admit it.

I am 32 years old, a mother of two, and a higher education professional.

But really, I am quite simply just a big ole nerd.  And darn happy to be so.

This past weekend (well, Thursday), my sister Danielle and my mom arrived in Knoxville.  What would bring them across the state, both missing two days of work for the trip, when they are just going to be right back in 2 weeks for Jeremy's birthday?

If you have to ask the question, you simply won't understand the answer.

Um, hello!  Catching Fire came out and we obviously had to attend the midnight showing on Thursday evening so we could be among the first people to see the movie.  Naturally, I bought the tickets ages ago, Dani and I both wore our official Mockingjay pins, and we re-read the books to be at the top of our fangirl game.  And then, we saw it again.  Because, as any true fan knows, you see it once at midnight for the experience, you see it later during the day to absorb it and analyze it to death.


We also had time to catch some Thor 2 action while they were in town, because, well, Chris Hemsworth's abs, Loki and Thor banter, and Chris Hemsworth's arms.  'Nuff said.

While I am admitting these things, I suppose I can go ahead and make a clean sweep of it.  My nerdiness unleashed:

  1. I love The Hunger Games.  It is possible I have thought out whole strategies of how I might survive in various types of arenas.  Just in case.  You never know.
  2. I love Harry Potter even more. I saw every single movie at midnight (once that became a thing) and even dressed up for the first one.  Kids took pictures with us.  We were in college.  I do indeed know the incantations for several spells and curses.  Just in case.  You never know.
  3. Since we are talking about YA books, I also love the Divergent series and have read just about every dumb sci-fi dystopian fiction ever.  Yeah.  That's right.  You're jealous.
  4. Thanks to Netflix, I recently watched every single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel.  That is like 200 hours of vampire television, my friends.  I now feel confident I could save the world (a lot) with my new-found knowledge of ancient curses combined with my lightning fast slayer reflexes.  These are important real life skills.  You never know.
  5. I have an intense love of Star Wars.  I wore the underoos as a kid, memorized the movies, saw and quickly erased from my memory the newer movies (Han shot first), and enjoy teaching my children the alphabet using all Star Wars characters.  It's a thing.  You should try it.
  6. I also love Star Trek.  I have seen all the movies and enjoy the new reboot very much.  I watched The Next Generation as a kid and can fluently add to the Kirk vs Picard debate (Kirk would shoot Picard then sleep with his girlfriend for fun, so why is this even an argument?) and had a crush on Will Wheaton as a tween.  Beleibers have nothing on Trekkies.  
  7. I keep score at every baseball game I attend (I don't think this qualifies, but I am told this is nerdy every time someone sees me do it) and enjoy reading box scores and stats.  I follow several teams and the MLB on twitter just so I can read stats during the season since I don't have cable and can't see many games.  I still have a framed photo of my first husband, Javy Lopez (#8 Atlanta Braves), in my office.  Yes, in my place of work.  And yes, when people ask me about it I do refer to him as my first husband.  What?
  8. I own a Jane Austen action figure (thanks to my mother in law).  Jeremy and Violet have both asked to play with it and I have submitted them to long lectures on the importance of keeping her in the box to maintain her mint condition.  Jeremy asked me her super powers and I told him she possesses the power of words and that the pen is mightier than the sword.  He looked confused and walked away shaking his head.
  9. My love of grammar knows no bounds.  I made my staff take a pop grammar quiz at our staff meeting on National Grammar Day.  I unabashedly shared my love of the semi colon with them.  Strangely, none of them quit.  
  10. One entire shelf in my office is full of my graduate school binders.  American Literature. British Literature.  Shakespeare.  I took all my class notes and typed them into spreadsheets and note pages.  you can sort them by author, genre, or title.  Sometimes, when I am having a bad day, I open one up and read about Edith Wharton.  I still hope to teach literature one day.  Even if it is just to my own kids, they will appreciate iambic pentameter, foreshadowing, and stream-of-consciousness.  
I could keep typing, but I think I made my point.  I go see midnight movies in theatres full of teenagers with my mom and my sister.  Regularly.  I read books about wizards and dream of engaging in witty repartee with a vampire.  I use the Oxford comma and sometimes daydream I live in Victorian England.  I think Luke Skywalker is a wimp and damn it man, I am a doctor, not a physicist.  

And if you actually read this whole thing and got even some of it, you can be my friend.  
Me and Dani in line for Catching Fire Thursday night.  We are too cool for school.  

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Enjoying the Fall

Fall is such a beautiful time in East Tennessee!  We have been enjoying some excellent weather, and with that, some excellent fun.  Both at home with the kids and at work on campus.

For our annual professional staff recruitment guide, we take a staff photo and all wear our alma mater shirts.  We have been doing this for like 20 years at UT and other schools now steal both our photo and our recruitment guide format.  We are just that good.  Anyway, we took the photo at the UT Gardens this year to capitalize on the beautiful weather.  How cute is our staff?
 Jeremy got his first report card!  And it was really good!  They have weird grading in kindergarten, but he has almost all "meets expectations" with only a couple of "approaching expectations" - no really bad marks, the title of which I forget. Mostly he is still working on penmanship, listening, and paying attention.  He excels in reading (obviously) and math (whatthehell?).  He has some listening behavior issues we are working on right now, but overall, he is doing really well.
 I am not sure if I have mentioned it, but bedtime has become so much fun around our house.  Jeremy now reads the bedtimes stories for himself and Violet while Brian and I just watch.  He then says their prayers (except when he sometimes raps them) and Violet chimes in with her "God blesses" (she always says "God bless Pop!" every time).  Then they hug and Violet runs to her room and then begins her nightly tantrum.
 The tent reared its awkward head again, this time atop the bed, and they loved it.  We are asking Santa to bring a princessy one for a certain little gal, so if you see a good one, let me know.
 Jeremy was "Child of the Week" at school, so he had to make a poster about things he loves.  Click on it to get a better view - it is cute.
 Naturally, we went to my office to use the die cut machine and get some help from the RAs (I bought my own supplies, though, ethics police!)  Doesn't my office just scream "serious higher education professional?"
 Violet is hilarious.  She never leaves the house without a princess dress (duh), so here she is Cinderella (wedding version).  She also carries around a princess umbrella these days and constantly keeps it over her head in the most awkward manner ever. Please note there is no rain.
 I was sick and it was my daddy's birthday, so Brian made Papa Carr Soup!  It always makes me think of Granddaddy and it is so so so good.  Yummy.
 I missed a day of work to catch up on rest and get better hydrated (I am really bad at taking care of myself, I know) and so I stayed in bed with Jane Austen and Sleeping Beauty.
 It was RA Appreciation Week last week, so I took the kiddos to the big "spa night" we organized for them.  We had this little photo booth area, DIY trail mix, DIY hand and face scrubs, Rita's Italian Ice, yoga, wii games, and free massages!  The kids helped put up all the decorations and were really well behaved.  I was proud.  Violet, however, looks like a bag lady  since she HAD to wear both her Belle dress and her My Little Pony hoodie.  But she could not zip up the hoodie because it would cover up Belle.  So strange.
 Jeremy hit up the free massages before the 160 RAs showed up and took up all the chairs and magic hands. It was his first massage and he LOVED it.
 My office always does a treat for the RAs, so this year we made dynamite sticks out of Rolos.  It was totally Amy's idea because she is awesome.  Since the RAs had a spy theme all year, it worked perfectly, and they loved it. Doesn't the dynamite really look like it is on fire?
 I have once again been working the student gate at the home football games for some extra money, and I just worked my last game on Saturday.  It was so cold!  You can't even see our dorky matching Student Life polo shirts.
 Brian sends me fun pictures like this one throughout the day.  He somehow manages to get Violet to wear real clothes.  But, for the life of him, he cannot figure out how to do her hair.  I have even made him practice on me.  Now, I do it at night really tight and hope it stays in the following day. Keepin' it classy in the Hopper House.
 This pic is from August, but it is so cute.  Nana was ill, so Violet gave her some love.  I am fairly certain she was an absolute monster the majority of their visit to Nashville,so when I got this photo, I felt a little bit better knowing there was at the very least 3 seconds of sweetness bestowed upon her grandparents.
Fall is here, the leaves are in full golden splendor, the temperatures are dropping, and our little family is slowly but surely starting to get the holiday bug - fun nights filled with hot chocolate, turkey blessings, and cartoon snowmen will be here before we know it!