Virginia With The Fam

Every year Jim goes to Las Vegas for CES, leaving us for a whole week. This year we were able to fly to Virginia, thanks to my dad’s frequent flyer miles, to see my family. It was just me and the kids. I was looking forward to the adventure of flying with my kids and thought it would be easy peasy.

The day we left it was an early morning so the kids only had some milk to drink and some dry cereal. Holly gets motion sick and proved it when we pulled into parking garage at the airport when she barfed. We changed her shirt and we were good to go. It was especially nice to have Jim come to the gate to see us off. The kids pulled their own suitcases, which they loved doing, but in the end was kind of a hassle. No one in the airport cares about cute little three year olds pulling cute Spiderman and princess suitcases. The flight was uneventful until it was time to land. JD was gripping my right arm while Holly was puking into the barf bag. Luckily it was a clean experience and she was happy and ready for the next short flight. Needless to say it was a wonderful sight to see my family waiting for us at the end of the hallway in Richmond!

 

The kids were most excited about seeing Grandma and OGO and opening their Christmas presents. Holly especially loved her new princess dress and danced the night away. She had the dress on first thing the next morning.

Sunday was Holly and JD’s first day in sunbeams and they were a little apprehensive and excited to be with their cousin Taylor. Unfortunately they had two different classes and Taylor’s class was already full so they went in a class where they didn’t know anyone. I sat behind them during sharing time and then walked them to their class. I had little tears in my eyes as they sang “I am a Child of God” and stood to participate in the other songs. The kids were so excited when during sharing time they showed the Mormon Message video of “I am a Child of God.” It’s their favorite!!


It was fun being with my family and watching the kids play and sometimes fight with each other. We learned to not intervene all the time and they were okay. The weather was not too cold at all so they were able to play outside too. Uncle Matt helped JD do his hair on Sunday morning with his gel and so one day while Matt was at school JD wanted to do his own hair. I had to laugh and the amount of gel he used. As he was rubbing his head he said, “this is amazing!” Funny boy!

Most everyday we watched my sister’s 9 month old Chloe. I don’t think I heard her cry more than a few times. She smiled and played and I even taught her ‘So Big.’ She wasn’t really catching on until the last day when my sister said it and she raised both arms in the air. I was a proud aunt! It was just fun having everyone around.

Grandma took me and the three amigos to the Richmond Children’s Museum. It was so awesome and the kids could’ve stayed their all day long. There was so much for them to do. I especially loved how open and clean it was. The museum even had a carousel in the middle of it and of course we rode it! Holly is still talking about it.

My crazy teenage brother taught the littles the Haka dance a couple times. My kids were doing their own Haka when we got home from Virginia. Made Uncle Matt proud.

I love my family so much and wish I lived closer. Maybe one day.

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Christmas and Traditions

It’s February and I’m still blogging about Christmas but I want to get it done and move on. Like many other friends I have we did our little elf on the shelf tradition for the second year. The kids were a little more excited this year. I was to after seeing lots of ideas for it. There were only two or three nights when Franklin our elf forgot to move and boy were the kids annoyed by that. Luckily Daddy saved the day and helped move him while we were out of the house. This will be a tradition we keep around for a while.


To focus on the true meaning of Christmas I made an advent tree with little boxes for each day with a scripture and an activity. It went really well for about eight days. Then one day while giving a piano lesson Holly and JD took it and emptied all of the boxes. Paper and little boxes everywhere. And thus ended the advent tree. I was too annoyed to put it back together. I’ll try again next year!

The kids wrote Santa a letter Christmas Eve with milk and cookies. And Santa replied, drank the milk and ate some cookies. Luckily Santa wrapped and had everything ready so we didn’t have to stay up too late. Holly and JD’s dreams came true with their gifts from Santa, mommy and daddy and they even bought each other something. It was a fun morning.






After opening presents at Grandma and Poppy’s we headed back home to shower and enjoy some of our toys. We went back to Grandma and Poppy’s to enjoy a lovely Christmas dinner, watch movies and play with toys!


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Time To Catch Up

I realized the reason I don’t like blogging right now is because I’m so far behind that it leaves me overwhelmed. So without any more excuses here’s a big catch up.

Like the rest of the world we celebrated Christmas too! This year was by far the best year yet with the kids. With all the excitement surrounding Christmas we tried to talk about and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. Maybe next year they will understand a little more. Holly had another dance recital, this time it was a Nutcracker in a day with her little dance friends. JD wasn’t feeling good otherwise he would’ve joined her. He was very happy to watch from the audience. I smiled the whole time as did Holly. She giggled and did the choreography so well. They were treated with a dance by the sugar plum fairy whom Holly could not stop talking about for days after. Cutest thing ever.

We enjoyed our ward Christmas party but no pictures with Santa because Holly and JD refused to sit on his lap. But they did perform on stage, in front of the whole ward, with some of their dancing friends. We were all smiles again. Jim and I even bribed them with a big prize of their choice, which turns out wasn’t really necessary. We followed through with our end of the deal though with a trip to the Disney store!

The kids and I bonded in the kitchen. We made a couple batches of almond roca to pass out to our friends. And I made a Garfield cake for a friend in the ward. It turned out way better than I even planned leaving my friend in happy tears.





Grandma took the kids and I to see a ballet at the Dean Lesher Center. The kids did pretty good but started getting antsy near the end. Maybe next year we will be seeing the Nutcracker.

We had joy school at a place called pump it up. It was a fun change of scenery and the kids had a blast running, sliding and bouncing for a few hours. I even had fun going down the slides with them!



And just to add to the craziness I decided to have my very first piano recital before the Christmas break. I debated but the kids wanted to play their Christmas songs and I’m so glad we did. The kids did great and continue to get better and better. I’ve really enjoyed teaching and Holly and JD have enjoyed spending time with grandma during my lessons. Love my little students.

One of the kids most favorite things to do while we were out driving was to see the Christmas lights. Mr. Christmas was of course on our list and we visited a few other houses as well. We drove up to a pretty impressive house and Holly insisted she take a picture. She and JD kept saying, “this is amazing.” They could sit in front of a lit up house for hours. JD still wishes we left our Christmas lights up especially when he sees other houses with them on and wonders why we don’t.

And because the holiday season isn’t crazy enough JD’s little body decided it was a good time to get croup. The scariest thing ever! He woke up coughing a couple times in the night so Jim and I kept him in our bed. About an hour later JD woke up coughing again but this time gasping for air and coughing like a barking seal. We gave him an albuterol treatment and he wouldn’t take the mask off when it was over. We couldn’t get a hold of Jim’s family and I wasn’t comfortable driving to the ER by myself so I insisted we call 911. Jim gave him a blessing and the ambulance arrived. JD freaked out a little as we put him on the gurney so I leaned close so he could hold my hair, he grabbed it and put it on his cheek. Glad I know what comforts him! Sweet boy. After a few epinephrine treatments, steroids and four hours later we were on our way home. I hope to never experience that again.



This year we had a few friends over to Grandma and Poppy’s house to decorate gingerbread houses. I think this tradition will keep getting more fun with Holly and JD!

We had our annual Hopkins family Christmas Eve fondue night followed by the Christmas story and songs. This year we skyped with Doug, Cate and Wesley in Texas while they had their own fondue night. We opened Our Christmas pjs and Poppy read while we sang.





Whew, that was long. Next up Christmas Day!

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Run Run Rudolph

Holly and JD have been in a little fun dance class since the beginning of September. It’s been fun to spend one morning a week with little friends. For our ward Christmas show their class and a few other dancers from the ward were asked to do a little number for the variety show that evening. They prepared for a couple weeks before the big day and in prepping the kids, Jim and I bribed wanted to reward them with a cool prize. They each picked something they would want if they went on stage and danced. I thought this was a big deal, and I guess shame on me for not having much confidence they would do it. Boy were we wrong and we have video evidence to prove it. Now we have to follow through with our end of the deal.

Holly and JD’s reindeer dance from Liz Hopkins on Vimeo.

Near the end, when Jim covers the microphone, Holly says to the kids on the stairs, “guys, stop.” She also giggled through much of the performance, she must take after her mom. And JD gets the choreography down pretty good! I grin ear to ear every time I watch it.

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Just When I Think They Aren’t Listening

As a mom, I feel like I repeat myself over and over and over again. I guess that’s how all parents feel sometimes. Pick up your toys. Put your shoes away. Eat your vegetables. Stop hitting your sister/brother.

When I thought the kids weren’t listening, they proved me wrong and put a smile on my face. Last weekend we went to watch Jim play softball. Holly had to use the bathroom so I took the kids to the public restroom. Not my favorite place to take them and with two little ones we have visited many a park bathroom. I hate them. But when you gotta go, you gotta go. As we walked into the stall, JD shouts, “Do. Not. Touch. Anything! Don’t touch a thing.” Such a good listener!!

I recently started teaching piano lessons 4 afternoons a week. Some days I have only one and other days I have four. On occasion the kids are around when I’m teaching, they otherwise go with Grandma or Johnny. The few times they have stayed home they manage to create huge messes, usually during the last 10 minutes of a half hour lesson. But during their little moments of wreaking havoc, somehow Holly is hearing what I’m teaching. In the very beginning, Holly wanted me to give her a lesson so I would mess around and just do a few things. I’ve caught them a couple of times sitting at the piano, one being the teacher and one as the student. And they even pretend they have names of my actual students. I recorded this little video today of Holly giving JD a piano lesson. (turn your volume up high so you can hear for things like anchor note, bass clef and cuteness.)

holly teaching jd piano from Liz Hopkins on Vimeo.

Glad you watched that, huh?

Yesterday we went to the park and the little airport here with some friends. In between trips we came home to get our bikes and something to eat. As I was pulling out of the driveway,

JD says, “Mom I told you to stop.”                                                                               Mom: “No you didn’t but I will.”                                                                                        JD: “We need to say a prayer.” so he says a prayer                                                      Mom: “Thank you JD!”                                                                                                    JD: “Mom in my prayer I blessed Parker and Emily and Rebecca and that Daddy would be home soon in the name of Jesus Christ Amen.” (I guess he thought I wasn’t listening.)      Mom: “I know JD. You did a great job.”                                                                         Holly: “JD you didn’t need to bless that Daddy will be home soon because he’s already home.”                                                                                                                              JD: “I know. I was doing it for fun!”

It was such a sweet conversation that made me smile.

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Summer Is Over

We had so much fun this summer! Everyday we had something fun to do and someone to share it with. And when our friends were away we had fun creating memories just me and the kids. Daddy even took some time off work to do some fun things with us too.

And in no particular order, mostly because I don’t remember when things happened, this was our summer…

Grandma took the kids and I to the Dean Lesher center in downtown Walnut Creek for a Chevron Family fun day. The theme was princesses and pirates, which was perfect for Holly and JD. We made sock puppets, got free stuff, and saw a puppet show. The highlight for Holly was trying on the Tinkerbell costume, where she decided this is what she wants to be for Halloween, and JD couldn’t leave without a real eye patch. They still talk about it and how they want to go back. Til next summer.

We visited the park a lot this summer. They became expert climbers, swingers and sliders. One day we walked to the park from our house and all they wanted to do was lay on the bench and eat grapes. Funny kids.

Holly and JD love going on adventures with Grandma and this time was no exception. This time we went up to the Berkeley hills to do lots of fun things at Tilden park. We rode the little steam train, which is always a favorite, and then headed further in the park to feed the animals on the farm. We brought celery to feed the goats who were practically reaching for a bite through the fence. It was a beautiful day to be outside, enjoying nature and being with Grandma and Uncle Johnny. Our next stop was the carousel where we enjoyed some cotton candy and Fenton’s ice cream. We played at the park for a little bit before we left. All the fun tuckered the kids out and they took nice long naps! Thanks for the fun Grandma!

 

1. We spent a lot of time swimming at the March’s pool, taking walks, and having play dates. The summer would not have been the same without our best buddies Parker and Emily.

2. The new splash pad in Concord was perfect for hot days and plus it was FREE! Holly and her friend Kennedy enjoyed hanging out under the water drop bucket. They have matching swimsuits too! We went almost once a week to cool off and run around!

3. Our first trip to Contra Loma was so much fun with our friends and Uncle Johnny. We celebrated Grandma Hopkins birthday with some yummy cheesecake. Holly and JD were right there to help blow out the candles. And the perfect end to a summer day, popcorn!

4. Our last trip to Contra Loma with our best buds. Rebecca and I are always too busy playing and refereeing the kids that we never get a picture together. This time we did. Life wouldn’t be the same without her. Glad we are friends!

5. When Holly and JD aren’t fighting they really do love each other. And here is some proof! Holly sporting her new haircut and her princess dress. The first thing Holly and JD do when we get to church is run up to Grandma’s lap. Grandma took JD on a Costco run one day and he came home with this 31″ Batman. He was on guard while the kids bathed. And mostly we wanted to scare daddy when he got home from work. I think it worked.

6. One night this summer Daddy came with us to swim and the kids had so much fun. They learned all of Daddy’s swimming skills and thought he was the coolest when he dove and back flipped into the pool. Holly showed off her jumping and JD had fun hanging out. Holly thought it was especially fun when Daddy threw her in the air.

In July, Jim’s aunts and uncles had a high school reunion in Half Moon Bay and we were lucky enough to spend some time with them and catch up. It was so fun to be together and listen to them reminisce and share stories. Holly and JD have only seen some a few times when they were real little and had never met Aunt Laurie and Uncle Jim. It took a little while to warm up, Holly fell asleep so she wouldn’t have to talk to them the first night and then wouldn’t open her eye for a while, silly girl. We spent a couple days in Half Moon Bay and didn’t leave without walking along the beach.

That next week in July after family went home, Jim took a week long work trip to New York and Boston. I really wanted to go with him, and I probably should have. But because I didn’t the kids and I took a little trip of our own to visit our best friends in Monterey. We don’t get to see Sadie enough and so we made a two day trip out of it. The kids were so excited to see Boone and Stella and didn’t want to leave when it was time. The kids had talked about going to the aquarium for weeks so we did that first thing. It is so amazing every time we go. Heavenly Father really made some amazing creatures! Catching up with Sadie was just what I needed. The kids really loved having a sleep over too. The second day Sadie took us to Dennis the Menace park where Holly had a little accident so had to spend most of the time in a diaper and JD’s swim trunks. The slides were the most fun! Before we headed home we went to the beach and played in the sand. This was definitely a highlight of our summer!

When the summer nights were beautiful we rode bikes. Mostly in the church parking lot right next to us, but when it is busy, which is not very often, we go to our church. They have really gotten so good at riding that I busted out the bike I have to ride with them.

We enjoyed $1 Jamba smoothies with our friends one morning. Each of us got our own and there was not a drop left!

One of my favorite things to do is make cupcakes so when Jim asked if I’d make some for a work BBQ I was more than excited to do it. They were trumped by some homemade pies but were still a hit!

Jim took the day off one Friday and took us to Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The last time we went was when the kids were two months old! We of course had to ride the carousel a couple times. JD even tried throwing the rings into the clown’s mouth. Holly had more fun riding on the rides that went up and down than JD did. I made the mistake of telling him, as he was sitting in a helicopter ride, that it went up and down. I’ve never seen that boy move so fast. He wasn’t having it. We calmed him down and then got him back in the helicopter only for Daddy to say the same thing as me and he booked it. Holly rode with a little girl and had a ball. JD enjoyed watching her and laughed and smiled the whole time. The highlight of the day for me was the log ride. Oh it was so fun. The kids didn’t seem to think so and when JD talks about Santa Cruz all he says is he doesn’t want to go on the log ride. Before we left we played on the beach and then got our giant waffle cone sundaes to go. Yum! It was the perfect family day.

Our friends Travis and Jen had their third baby, a little boy – Robert Jay, and I was the lucky one to take pictures of him. I was able to be their right after he was born to capture those first moments too. Seriously, it’s the most beautiful thing to see those first moments! Little RJ was so calm and the best little model. This past Sunday we went to his blessing and we showed up 10 minutes early for church. When we walked into the chapel, Travis asked if I could play the organ. I thought he was joking but he wasn’t so I played. I just might not show up early for church anymore!

Growing up we would go to my grandparents cabin in Wisconsin. It was on a lake where we’d paddle boat and swim. When I heard about the Lafayette Reservoir and how you can rent paddle boats I thought it would be fun to do. It was a beautiful Saturday and spur of the moment we decided to go. It was so fun and brought back some fun childhood memories. Holly and JD had fun and even had their turn and pedaling. The guys decided to use the row boat instead. Not sure they enjoyed either boat.

My van gets really dirty and usually we go through the car wash. One afternoon it was hot so I decided it would be fun to wash the van with the kids. They loved spraying the van with the hose and using their soapy rags to wash. When we were done I took the hose and made a rainbow so they could run under the water. They’d run around the yard and I tried to reach them with the water. I turn around at one point to turn off the water and when I turned back around I see JD making a rainbow of his own. “Holly, run under my rainbow” he said. I was laughing so hard. That boy has quite the arch and distance! Seriously I can’t stop laughing when I look at this picture.

One last summer adventure for me was running in the Color Me Rad fun in San Jose. I ran it with my friends Teri and Norma. A bunch of my other friends ran a similar race in San Francisco earlier this summer and I so wished I would’ve. When I saw this run I didn’t want to pass it up. Thankfully I had some friends to run it with. There really is no point except to get all color-fied and have a blast of a time. Plus you get a cool t-shirt out of it.

We had such a great summer but I am so excited for routine and structure again. The kids are taking a dance class with their little friends, our little preschool starts again this week and I am teaching piano lessons almost every afternoon. It’s gonna be a good year!

Way to go you made it to the end of my post! Leave a comment and I might just make you a cupcake.

 

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