Friday, November 30, 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Well, maybe it's less thinking and more self-examination. There were a few things I wanted to change about myself, not big things, I suppose, but things nonetheless.

In case you're wondering here's what I came up with. Spend less time piddling around on the internet, more quality time with my kids and husband. Because we're around each other all the time I tend to just assume we're spending the right amount of time together, but maybe we're not always.

Read less fiction and more non-fiction. By non-fiction I mostly mean books relating to, and helping to grow my faith more. And just picking up the Bible more.

Spend less time worrying, and more time praying. This his been a biggie for me. And it's taking me a few weeks to automatically go to prayer when something pops up in my life, but the difference has been tangible.

It just goes to show you, no matter how long you have been a Christian (for me the amount of time is indeterminable) you're never going to figure it all out. God always has more He wants to teach you.

This was the first verse I memorized when I was a kid in Awana: Hebrews 12:1-2 "Let us run with endurance the race that has been set before us. Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith."

So often the Christian life is referred to as a "walk" but it's much less of a walk and more like the longest marathon of your life. I ran a 5K once, it sucked, it was hard. Everyone knows for a race  you have to train, and this race that Hebrews talks about is no different. I guess that was my problem, I forgot I was racing. I forgot to run. I was just trudging along, dragging my feet, not fixing my eyes on Jesus at all. Somehow I got all caught up in a life that had less to do with Him and more to do with me.

The good news is that I've realized that, and like I said earlier, I'm working on fixing these things. The past few weeks have been hard on me, but I have had moments of compete joy and peace that I know can only come from Him, and that makes it all worth it. I by know means mean to get all preachy on here, but this is just what is on my mind today.

So for now I feel like I'm running, maybe tomorrow I will fall, but I'll get back up again. Because like all races, there is someone cheering me on at the finish line...

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Why being poor during the Christmas season rocks, part one...

*A series of mildly sarcastic, but genuinely heartfelt observations on why I don't mind my financial status during this time of year*

Part one: "The Best Things In Life Are Free"

No, seriously, they are!

Tuesdays are our get out of the house day around here. We have our weekly Mom's Group/Bible Study meetings at church on Tuesday mornings. Due to our one vehicle situation, this is always a little more challenging than it should be. First of all, it involves getting everyone dressed and out the door by nine. I know, I know, shouldn't be hard, but you forget, we don't do that on a daily basis like most families! Anyway, we make the 15-20 minute drive into New Haven and drop Matthew off at the main Yale campus downtown for his Latin and Arabic courses. The kids and I then hustle a few blocks over to our church, St. John's because I have to be there by 9:30 to unlock the doors for everyone. (See, I'm the official keeper of the keys). It was already a bit rainy and yucky around this time, but nothing too bad.

After Bible study we rush home for lunch, nap (for Sophia) and school (for Elijah). We don't have to pick Matthew up at the divinity school (he takes a bus there to work and for his final class of the day) until 5:30. The downside of his late dismissal from class is that the traffic on the highway we have to take to get there is INSANE! And the drivers in Connecticut are some of the most aggressive I've ever seen. I literally break out in hives and start praying when I get on the highway in bad traffic here! So we always leave more than a little early on Tuesdays.

To compound the situation, it's already dark by the time we have to leave, and yesterday it was snowing! Already I'm not wanting to even step foot outside the house, let alone brave the highway.

Okay, so I have a point here, just hang on.

So I bundled up the kids and got in the car. Popped in my favorite Bing Crosby Christmas CD, turned on "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" at Elijah's request and off we went. Instead of taking the scary highway, we took the long route through downtown New Haven. It almost took us twice the usual amount of time (well, I don't really know how long it might have taken had we gotten stuck on the highway in bumper to bumper traffic) but it was so worth it. Between the snow falling and the music playing on the radio it was all pretty...magical? Well, maybe just a little.

So there, free. Except the few gallons of gas we used, that is.

Stay tuned for more...I think?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thankful, day sixteen...

So, admittedly, I haven't been very good at posting one of these every single day. But that's okay. I think it served it's purpose in re-focusing my thoughts this year. This will probably be my last "thankful" post, not because I'm running out of things to be thankful for, but because starting this afternoon, our family is on vacation, and I plan on spending every minute enjoying it!

Today I'm thankful for the most important person in my life, my best friend in the entire world, and my husband for these past seven years...
Taken on our second date, holy cow we were so young!
If you've heard the story, then you know Matthew and I met at church one night on my nineteenth birthday. It took him about three months for him to convince me to go out with him, even though we already spending tons of time together as "just friends". It took a single date to convince me I wanted to marry him. Seriously, that very same night I realized I was probably going to marry him, or at least that I should if I had any brains in my head! We got engaged some six months after our first date, and then we were married seven months after that. If you do the math, we got married just one year, four months and six days after we met. Some people might say we rushed into out, but we've never cared.
Our big day. I know, I look so serious (I was so nervous!) and he looks so happy!
Fast forward seven years and here were are. Our life together hasn't been easy, but faced each challenge together, and that's what matters most. So yeah, I'm thankful that I have such a wonderful husband. Also, he's a pretty awesome daddy, too!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Thankful, day fifteen...

Today I'm thankful for this beautiful little girl...

Baby Sophia 222
Nine pounds of newborn goodness right there, mostly cheeks!
 We waited a long time for this girl. Compared to Elijah, who we had about ten months after our wedding date, our second born was a long time in coming. She was born exactly four years and eleven days after her big brother. And we couldn't have been more happy to have such a sweet addition to our family. She is 100% Mama's girl, and a girly girl. Though don't get me wrong, she has Daddy and big brother wrapped around her little finger!
It's so hard for me to remember her ever being this tiny!
At two and half now, she is hilarious. I mean, genuinely funny. She makes all of us laugh out loud all day long. 

This was from November last year, she's grown so much since then.
I don't really know what else to say about Sophia, but she's awesome. She's totally everything I ever wanted in a little girl. Okay, well we could probably take her "I'm the Princess" attitude down a notch or two...or three. But other than that, she's great!
November 001
And yes, she's growing up entirely too fast.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thankful, day fourteen...

Today I'm thankful for advances in modern medicine  especially those related to cancer treatments.

 Earlier this year my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Everyone knows that's not one of the "bad" ones, but still, it was cancer. They were told there were only two forms of treatment, surgery or chemo. Chemo was a no-go for my dad since he's so young and it will likely just come back someday. And for him, surgery wasn't a good option. So after much thought and prayer, God led my parents to the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. For eight weeks my dad received proton treatment with almost no side effects. I mean, he was running 5Ks on the weekend during cancer treatment! Already his PSA levels are way down, indicating the cancer is well on its way out.

If you want to learn more about this amazing new treatment, that literally changed our lives you can check out their website here.

And yeah, when I started this whole "Thankful" thing like many others Facebook, I thought it was a little lame and cheesy. However, I can definitely say it has helped me get my heart and mind in the right place for the holidays this year.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Thankful, day thirteen...

Today I'm thankful for my wonderful sister-in-law, Maartje. We have known each other for about eight years, or as long as I have been a part of the Hopper family. It wasn't until we moved up to Connecticut three years ago that we really began to connect. Since then we have started having weekly phone chats to catch up on our crazy lives. We have so much in common, we're almost exactly the same age (she is one month older than me, exactly!), we both got married young and a baby right away, we have crazy kiddos (her three boys!), and we're married to brothers! We have plenty of differences too, but that's what makes good friendships, I think. She is a little quieter than me, and certainly sweeter and kinder than me! (Everyone knows I'm a little loud and obnoxious at times.) We both love being mommies more than anything else and understand how hard it is to be a good mommy sometimes. Anyway, I'm super happy and lucky to call her my best friend AND sister!
I wish I had a more recent pic of the two of us (with our babies, Sophia and Luke) but we haven't seen each other since summer '11! Boo!

Also, one thing Maartje and I always agree on (as an aside for today's thankfulness) is how forutuate we were to meet our husbands, so we're both thankful for the way our in-laws, Jan and Colin Hopper, raised their boys! 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful, day twelve...

Today I'm thankful for my super-crazy, wildly overactive imagination! I won't flatter myself enough to say I am an amazing writer. Maybe someday. But for now I will acknowledge the fact that I have an awesome imagination. I'm not sure how most people operate, but at one time I will probably have about half a dozen (or more!) story lines running around in my head. I first officially put pen to paper to write a story about fifteen years ago because I was so bored that I had nothing to read. I quickly discovered that writing was far more satisfying to me than reading. It's a control thing, I guess! Since then I have filled more notebooks than I can count. Today I just archived a full rubbermaid bin full of notebooks, since I don't believe in throwing that stuff out. Lately, I spend most of my time writing on my computer, because I just don't have the time to write long-hand, which is sad,  because I much prefer it.

Anyway, it's nice to know I'm never going to run out of ideas, because my imagination is never going to shut down on my. And maybe London Escape wasn't the ticket for me, but maybe something else in the future will be.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Thankful, day eleven...

A continuation of yesterday's post. I'm thankful Elijah is such a good student. It makes homeschooling so much easier on me since he actually likes to learn (most of the time!)

As an aside...I'm also thankful for Sesame Street, which keeps my two and a half-year-old occupied for an entire hour while I teach some of the harder subjects I don't want her under foot for!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thankful, day ten...

Today I'm thankful for this little guy...


Elijah Daniel...You know, the one who made me a mommy six and a half years ago.


The kid with the huge smile and personality to match...

Pensacola, July 2008 001

The kid who is way too smart for his own good! (I'm his mommy and teacher, so I'm allowed to say that!)


There are about a million more glowing thing I could say about my big boy, but I don't want to go crazy. Suffice to say, I'm thankful for him, he's the best kid a mommy could ask for!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thankful, days eight and nine...

Falling behind again. Though it's hard for me to find time on the weekends to blog, I have spent time each day pondering what I am thankful for, so it's certainly working, whether I find time to write it out or not.

Day eight... On Saturday I found myself feeling super thankful for lazy weekends spent with my family. Though we all know moms don't get days off, it's nice to have a shortened workday! Instead of teaching school and doing chores, I went grocery shopping with Sophia, took a long walk by the beach with Elijah, took a two hour nap (!!!) and watch lots and lots of college football with Matthew. All in all, it's a win-win situation.

Day nine...On Sunday I was more than thankful for the reminders of God's love and presense in my life. So often it's easy to be fearful and worried about what might come, but then He reminds that He holds my life in His hands and I shouldn't be afraid. So I'm thankful for that, and verses like Psalms 56: "When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you."

I'll be back later for today's! It's a big one!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful, day whatever...

Yeah I lost count. Is it six? I dunno.

Today I'm thankful for my health. Why? Well, because Sophia has a cold, which means my current state of healthiness is going to last possibly 12-24 hours give or take.

I hate to complain on my "thankful" post, but seriously? It was less than a month ago that we all had that awful stomach bug. For the past week and half I've been dealing with a lot of back, neck and hip pain (yay, I'm old!). And I just now started feeling better. Now this. So hooray. Also, we were sick right up until Thanksgiving last year and it all but ruined it for everyone.

Fingers crossed this one works its way quickly or not at all.

On an aside...I had the weirdest dream last night that I was "real" writer living in NYC. Yeah, it was kind of nice...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thankful, day six...

Today I am super duper thankful for my coffee. Yeah, you read that right! In about ten minutes these kids are going to start demanding to go play out in the snow, again. Yeesh. But I'm having coffee now (Melitta classic blend with Bailey's hazlenut creamer) and I'll probably have another cup when I finally convince them to come in and do school. (No snow days for homeschooled kids!)

In other news, I finished my third proofread/edit of Finding Sanctuary, so that's still in the works. Hoping to have it out soon, but it's sort of out of my hands right now. I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful, days four and five...

Yes, I know, I know, I keep falling behind!

Day four...yesterday I was extraordinarily thankful, as I am every Tuesday, for my mom's group friends at church. We've been meeting nearly every Tuesday for the past two and half years at the church I attend and it's always a good time. Our group changes with each passing year as people move out of the area and into the area. But the level of closeness we've managed to attain remains. I'm lucky to have such wonderful Christian friends and mamas in my life to keep me accountable and sane!! As a super plus, we have great nursery volunteers every Tuesday, and it's always a blessing to live your kids for an hour and a half with people they love to spend time with.

Day I am thankful for the beautiful snow outside. Now, admittedly, I'm posting this somewhat begrudgingly, because I'm so sick of freezing cold New England winters. This is my fourth, and my wimpy Southern blood just can't handle the temps! But I do have two little kiddies who were absolutely overjoyed at the sight of it falling rapidly out our windows earlier today. They were so excited we had to call off school just a little early so we could go out and play in it. And both Matthew and I spent a lot of our childhood in places where it doesn't snow much (minus the few years I lived in Missouri and Germany) so it's nice that they get to play in snow.
November 008
I mean, look at the happiness on their rosy-cheeked faces?!

And well, you know there's a chance this will be our last New England winter (finger's crossed). So I can't NOT be grateful for that!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Thankful, days three and four...

Not falling behind...yet!

Day three, yesterday...I am thankful for the wonderful nursery workers and children's chapel teachers that took both my kids during the church service yesterday, leaving me to enjoy the morning sitting alone with Matthew in church!

Day four, today...I am thankful for the freedom to homeschool my children! And no, that's not a given in some countries. In Germany, it is completely illegal to teach your children at home, you can even go to jail for refusing to send your kids to public school. Crazy. So I certainly don't take our right to homeschool for granted.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thankful, Day Two...

Today I'm thankful for lazy Saturday morning spent snuggle on the couch with my baby girl.

She's growing up so fast lately it's a little hard to watch. But without fail every morning after I've taken her potty she stretches our her arms and says, "Hold me, Mommy?" Usually I just give her a quick snuggle and go on getting ready to start our day. But on Saturdays we can just sit on the couch together watch cartoons.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful, Day One...

Well, you know everyone else is doing this on Facebook right now. And out of all the Facebook trends that tend to pop up, I really like this one. Although I missed yesterday, I figured it wouldn't hurt to start a day late.

So here it goes: The challenge is to say what you're thankful for every day of the month of November, shouldn't be too hard, right? Also, I've mentioned before I've really been working on keeping a grateful attitude. I wish I could say I'm doing great at this, but lately I've been slipping into old habits and not being grateful.

Let's start this off with a bang, shall we?

Today I'm thankful for...MY PARENTS!

This was an easy pick, next to my kids and my husband, no one else is closer to my heart than my parents. And like most kids, I'm sure I don't take quite enough time out my day to thank them for everything they've done for me. You know, all the extra stuff besides bringing me into the world and giving me stellar DNA. My mom stayed at home AND homeschooled me and a my two brothers. Not only did she teach me EVERYTHING I know, she also nurtured my love of reading and writing. My dad was in the Air Force for the first seventeen years of my life. Because of this, my parents were able to show us the world from a very young age. I can think of no better gift to give your children than the gift of adventure and appreciation for everything that is out there in the world.

Together they taught me to love God, to be a good person, how to be a good parent and spouse. And I know they are both there for me whenever I need them. They both love my kids so much is unreal. I'm also lucky and fortunate to call them my friends as well as parents.

Also, they are pretty cool and do lots of crazy things like ziplining, even though they're grandparents! (And yes, my mom will probably want to kill me for posting this!)

 So there you go! :)