Tuesday, July 4, 2017

4th of July with the Hoppers!

I have always loved the 4th of July.  It is a holiday I look forward to thanks to a lifetime of happy memories.  My parents always made it fun, and with my mom's ability to pull a game out of any hat and my dad's fierce patriotism, how could it not be a day to remember?  Cookouts, watermelon, volleyball games, croquet, fruit kabobs, tons of family, and heat stroke - what's not to love?

As a parent myself now, I am delighted that Brian and I have been able to replicate that fun for our kids.  The two sides of our family are very different, but both are able to bring the fun in their own way.  This year, we traveled to Nashville to stay with Brian's mom, and the kids were SO thrilled to have a few days with their cousins.  We are now up to 8 total grandkids (6 boys and 2 girls) and there could certainly still be more to come (not from us - haha!).  Jeremy and Violet LOVE spending time with their cousins, and it makes me so happy to see.

Little Magdalena (Maggie) was born on December 22, so this was only our second time meeting her.  As she and Violet are the only girls, they are natural besties.  :)

It rained much of the day, but I managed to get in a few little games with the kids when their parents weren't looking (they were headed to church after so I was not supposed to help them get dirty - oops).  Here they are enjoying a good ole fashioned sponge race.  The littles beat the bigs!  Perfect example of cocky older kids letting down their guard.  

That evening, we headed over to see Rob, Jennie, Jude, and Levi's new house (so beautiful), and the kids were able to play with snappers, sparklers, and some low-key fireworks.

The next day, we went over to visit Graham, Katherine, Philip, Pete, Tommy, and Maggie at their house to take advantage of their swimming pool (and who knew Violet harbored a secret talent for weight lifting?).  I even got in the pool - I am just so happy to be free of that damn feeding tube, I am jumping at any and every opportunity to have formerly forbidden fun.  

It has been a rough year for Nana after Granddaddy passed in December and she broke her ankle and had to have surgery (twice!) to correct it.  But, she is doing so great!  We had a lovely time celebrating family and the freedoms this country has given to us with our favorite Hopper matriarch! Happy Independence Day!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Violet's Magical Birthday x2!

Buckle up for a long, picture-filled post!

My baby girl is 6!!  I cannot believe it.  But, even more so, I cannot believe that just a few days before her party invitations were scheduled to go out, she changed her theme from princesses and Trolls movie to Harry Potter.

HARRY freaking POTTER, people!

I would have happily accomodated that change with hours notice.  I am just so happy.

I have really tried not to push my love of Harry onto the children.  Jeremy read a few of them way back in the day, then moved on to more age appropriate books.  Violet has hitherto shown no interest.

Then, for my birthday, they got me the illustrated version of The Sorcerer's Stone.  We read it every night and the kids were ravenous for the next chapter or adventure.  We had just finished Treasure Island before starting Harry, and they enjoyed the change of pace quite a bit.  By the time of her birthday, we had just completed the first book and watched the first movie (strict rule in our house that you don't see the movie until you read the book) and were about to start on the second one, which I got for Mother's Day. Side note: those illustrated versions are phenomenal.  Completely unabridged, and the pictures really do enhance the story for little ones.

Soo, here we are.  Violet is obsessed with all things Hogwarts, and I had one week to throw a party together.  Interestingly, she also wanted her first sleepover, which is a tough sell for most kindergartners, especially in a year when I was an absentee mom and did not develop relationships with the other parents.

But, we gave it a try and ended up with a pretty fantastic, albeit small, birthday bash.

HUGE thanks to my longtime friend Nicole, who has thrown two Harry-themed sleepovers for her adorable daughter, Lily.  I shamelessly stole many of her ideas directly.  Credit where it is due.  :)

Our Hagrid-inspired birthday cake.  Yum.

Decorations were super easy since we own so much Potter stuff already - the books themselves are great decor!

We made an Owlery with owl balloons.  They each had notes attached to strings that the girls had to open to announce what the next game/activity would be.  They LOVED it.  The balloons ended up being a huge hit.

One activity was to draw a unicorn picture for Care of Magical Creatures Class.

Another was to make a Fizzing Unicorn Potion in Potions Class: baking soda (dragon powder), vinegar unicorn tears), rainbow drops (food coloring), eye of newt (sugar eyeballs).  Super easy and fun.

For Flying Class, we made paper airplanes (thanks to Nona's expertise in folding them properly).

We also did a De-Gnoming for Mrs. Weasley where we had to twirl the gnomes and throw them into the buckets.

Naturally, everyone got wands - instead of goodie bags, I got nice ($6) wands that light up and make swooshing sounds. Really fun!  Of course, you had to be blindfolded since the wand chooses the wizard.

Getting them to settle down was practically impossible, but we had popcorn and chocolate frogs while watching movies after doing makeovers with fun nail polish colors and waay too much makeup on those cute little faces.  

HUGE thanks to my amazing mom for coming and staying the night with us to help.  I love her.

The following week, we had another party - this time for extended family as we celebrated Great Nona's 90th Birthday and Violet's 6th (their birthdays are one day apart).  It was my first time inviting cousins, aunts, and uncles to our home in Oxford.  I was thrilled so many of them could come!

Violet and Uncle Louis.

Great Nona presents to one side, Violet to the other!

Violet made cupcakes herself!

Violet and Great Nona

This is the cutest thing ever.

This is the most horrifying thing ever.
Found it when I was looking at my pictures after the party and almost dropped the phone.  Terrifying.

This girl has come a long way in the past year.  She still loves to dress up in her costumes and believes in magic and beauty with all of her heart.  But she has also grown stronger, smarter, and more kind.  Kindergarten helped her find order in the chaos of her emotions and energy, and our tumultuous year helped her gain self-sufficiency, flexibility, and sympathy.  She feels things passionately, plays with all her might, and has finally learned the immense joy of sitting down to silently read a good book.  I am so proud of this little angel who keeps me on my toes and has given me so much joy this year.  I never would have dreamed she would accomplish this much in one year, and I am so, so incredibly blessed to witness her smiles, laughter, and thoughts every day.  Happy Birthday my little Violet from the rainbow song.  I love you.