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!!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Jeremy is SEVEN!

Saturday morning began just like any other weekend morning: Jeremy sneaking into my room, pulling back the covers, and curling up into bed with me.  He does this simply to butter me up so I will let him play with the iPad before Vi wakes up, but I still love it.

On this particular Saturday, I began my annual tradition of telling him all about the first day I met him, but he surprised me and said he wanted to tell the story.  He said it was the day "I made you a mommy."  His version of things is a bit watered down, but surprisingly accurate considering this is not something we talk about daily.  His account: "We lived in a residence hall with the college girls [love that he knows this little fact about his life] and you and daddy and Aunt Cheri went to the hospital in Fort Sanders [the boy does love details].  I got stuck and my breathing tube messed up so it was scary and they had to cut open your tummy and I popped out and cried a lot."

He cuddled me for 2 more seconds and then begged for the iPad.

If anyone would have told me 7 years ago after that awful mess of a "miracle of childbirth" with a cord prolapse, sprinting doctors, and emergency surgery would ever be something I looked back on with fondness I would have laughed in your face.

But here I am, happily remembering the day my little boy made me a mommy.  I cannot believe that little chubby-cheeked 9 pounder is 7 years old!!  Time sure does fly!

For his birthday party this year, Jeremy requested a Minecraft theme.  Someone please tell me what the heck Minecraft is.  Seriously.  I just threw a party centered around it and I still don't know.  Wikipedia is my friend.  Also, all the moms of the world who took photos at their kid's Minecraft parties and made them available via a Google search.  I thank you.

Anyway, so our party took place in one of the residence halls due to some extenuating circumstances (but we totally cleaned everything up, the students were gone, and no staff members were inconvenienced - for the record).  We did a scavenger hunt (a mission to find the party!) and bounced around the floors playing games (completing levels!) until we unlocked the party location and found the food and presents.  It was actually a ton of fun.  Here is how it went:

First the kids met up in the lobby and had to find a hidden clue in the room that contained a riddle that would lead them to their first level.  All the riddle answers were a number, and that number was the floor we had to go to for the next level.  Which means that I totally turned this birthday party into learning time with math word problems and thinking games.  Score one for me!  As they completed each lever, they earned a sticker on their wristbands and got to hear the next clue.
so funny how a piece of paper took our mission to a whole new level of seriousness for the kids

The first level was to build a tower of marshmallows and toothpicks.  I think they build towers in this Minecraft game.  Right?

The second level was to blow up the animals with TNT sticks.  I realize this sounds very violent, but they really do blow up animals on the game and TNT is a prominent feature.  They LOVED this.  I made a pig, cow, and reused my shark from last year.

The third level was to pop all of the balloons (we filled a study room with tons of balloons).  It was massively loud, but very fun.  Part of the successfully completed mission was also to clean up the mess at the end.

Vi tried so hard to keep up with the big kids, but popping those balloons was not her favorite, instead she tried to save them

The final level was to find all the hidden "Steve" characters.  Mom and I hid 20 Steves (the guy from the game) and they had to find all 20 to succeed.
all 20 Steves!

Once they had all 4 stickers on their wristbands, they got the final riddle to unlock the party location! It was amazing to me how much fun they had with this silliness.  They were screaming out the answers and literally sprinting to the elevators and jumping with excitement to see what was next.

The "party" room was all set up with cupcakes, goody bags, "zoombie boogers" (green grapes), and TNT sticks (twizzlers).  They were also served "creeper juice" (sprite with green sherbet) and they loved it all.
goody bags = sticker paper I made using the design I used from his invitation, cupcake topper = creeper printed on cardstock taped to a toothpick, and limited non-messy food since we were not at home

cut up twizzlers wrapped with printed TNT sign

green grapes bagged with sticker label of a Minecraft zombie - I try to channel my inner 7 year old boy - gross!

Jeremy got lots of fun presents!!

In their goody bags, they all got a little parachute man, so I let them drop them off the balcony in the lobby as the final fun moment.  You have no idea how exciting that was for them.  Kids are so weird.

Jeremy loved his party, and as his gift, Brian and I gave him an iTunes gift card to actually purchase Minecraft.  He was super pumped.  I never let them have apps unless they are free, so a $7 Minecraft purchase was a huge splurge for him.

As always, I have to give MASSIVE THANKS to my amazing parents for making the trip from Memphis to celebrate with our boy.  I really could never pull off the homemade parties the kids love without the tireless help of my amazing mom.  So much love for this boy on his big day!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Prepping for Poppy!

MY SISTER IS HAVING A BABY!  I guess I covered this already, but it is so much more real these days!  We had Cheri's baby shower over Thanksgiving when everyone was home in Memphis at the same time.  I am so sad when I think about the fact that my niece will be raised in Brooklyn while I am in TN, so I just don't think about it.

Cheri and Alex chose the lovely name Penelope Ruth Pilkington.  How cute is that?!  Penelope Pilkington is totally the star of her own YA series.  "Ruth" is after our grandmother, Nona, and she was so excited.  Rather than using Penny as a nickname, they prefer Poppy, which is just the cutest thing ever.

The shower was hosted officially by Mom and Mrs. Pilkington (who is super sweet and a great cook), but I kind of organized it and Dani and Megan did a lot of work as well.  Cheri was pretty specific in what she wanted, so we had some good guidelines (woodland creature theme, loves foxes, fruit pies, fresh vegetables, pickle tray, no games that everyone plays at once, stax music, etc).

Megan handmade the invitations!  She is an amazing artist and has her own company called Pepper Lou where she sells awesome cards and such.

I worked on decorations and games, and I hate that these photos don't get the full effect.  Huge thanks to Amy and Candace for all of their invaluable help as I did most of this in Knoxville and then brought it to Memphis.
these beautiful leaf streamers were all over the place and the big fox was so cute!

why, who on earth could those adorable babies be??

i made little woodland creatures to decorate the food

cheri's favorite candy as a kid was Reese's Pieces so we did a 'guess the number of candy' game with those

silly game matching the animal with the proper days of gestation (it just isn't a baby shower without at least one ridiculously dumb game, right?)

everyone got to write words of advice for cheri and alex or wishes for penelope

finished product!

she got to wear her fancy dress to the party

owl favors for everyone!

Mom and Mrs. Pilkington did the food, and it was amazing.  Seriously. So good.
nom, nom, nom

Mom and I made these acorn treats - so yummy!

Megan took official photos of all the fun with her fancy camera, but these little shots will make due for now.

Cheri, Alex, and Penelope got a ton of great gifts, and they simply have to figure out how to put it all in that tiny apartment of theirs in Brooklyn.  :)  They are both going to be such amazing parents, and I am so glad we got the opportunity to celebrate with them!
What is this preciousness?!

Well, I have my flight booked to NY for early February, so Penelope, please be on time (or a little early) because I want as much time with your squishy little face as I can get!!  Looking forward to two weeks with my favorite niece soon!!