Sunday, October 30, 2016

Island House Revealed

At the end of the summer we decided to make our first major change to the new house.  It was a bit risky because this is our first experience living inside an HOA with strict HOA rules.  I checked the language multiple times about landscape changes and then I consulted several neighbors.  I'm still nervous even now that one of these days we'll get a letter in the mail.  But so far all is good.     

Here's what our house looked like when we bought in June.  There are 3 river birch trees on the property - all in the front yard.  They're lovely, but they're also massive.  So the one in the middle had to go.  



I am so absolutely thrilled about the change - I almost stayed outside for hours just staring at my house.  So much more inviting and open!  

We replaced the river birch with a "pinkie" magnolia tree.  We have christened it the "Grandmother Hoopes" magnolia tree, in honor of the beautiful magnolia tree that was in her back yard.  It's small right now - but the nursery where we bought it assured me of a perfect, permanent 10 foot height in another 3-5 years.  I'm excited to see the initial blossoms next spring.  

Crossing my fingers she makes it through the winter.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Sneak Peak 2016

I think this is the first year where I was NOT thrilled with the family pictures.  In an attempt to save money, I hired two cute high school girls who are stretching their entrepreneurial skills in photography.  
I got what I paid for.  

The photos are missing a sense of crispness.  And joy.  It's just...dull.  Like it's missing light.  Plus details - these girls were not good on catching those slight creases that need a last minute fix before a camera shot.

Anyway - maybe this will be our year of realism.   

Monday, October 24, 2016

More Thoughts on 40...

September 9

It’s turneresque in twilight. The word comes at me
with its headlights on, so it’s revelation and not death.
I figure I’m halfway home though I’ve only started.
Nothing is moving but me: I’m a blackbird. The neigh-
bor’s in labor, but so am I, pushing against the road.
Physics tells us nothing is lost, but I’ve been copping
time from death and can’t relent for every job the stars
drop on my back.

-Elizabeth Willis-

Monday, October 17, 2016

September to October

#1 - Swimming  

Lots and lots of swimming.  James swims 4x/week.  His room smells like chlorine.  And I cannot get enough food into his little body.  

He had 2 swim meets in October - back to back meets in 2 weekends.  His coach keeps putting him in butterfly relays and races, even though he's not exceptionally fast yet.  But the coach is impressed with his form and thinks it will come in time.  In the meantime, my son gets very very exhausted.  But loving it!  

He tells us his plans for high school have changed.  He wants to do swim team in the fall and mountain bike team in the spring.  

#2 - Family Pictures Preview

They're coming...

#3 - Pretty Girl

This fall I committed a major parenting faux pas and signed up Pretty Girl for too many activities.  Volleyball, sewing, and Activity Days.  It all looked fine on the surface, but I forgot to take into account volleyball practice and traffic congestion in Eagle, Idaho at 5:00.  Subsequently, Wednesday and Thursday evenings in our household for the past 6 weeks have been insane!!!  We have lived on crock-pot meals and several late late nights finishing up homework.  

Discovering this sewing class has been one of my favorite gems in our move.  I'm wild about it - and so is Pretty Girl.  I'm determined to unleash this hidden talent in my daughter's blood, even though it completely skipped me.     

Volleyball ends this week and we're all going to breathe deeply of the additional free time.  Even Pretty Girl is looking forward to taking a break and hanging out with her friend Anastasia who lives 3 doors down.   

#4 - Scout Awards

His goal is to get his Eagle before he turns 15.  I say "heavens, yes!"  Done and done.    

#5 - Mom Turned 40

The worst part about turning 40 is I can't forget my age anymore like I've been doing the past 4+ years.  This number is a little more permanent on the brain.  

I don't know if a mid-life crisis moment is around the corner.  So just to be safe, I bought myself another bike.  Better to be safe, I say.  

I also bought a bike attachment (Novara Afterburner) for Bubbs.  We've been biking almost every morning after the kids leave for school.  It's much much harder than it looks.  Wow!  A workout in balance momentum alone.

Seriously though - a brief thought on hitting my 40th year - I've never felt more...mortal - for lack of a better word.  The realization that this one life is it has hit me hard lately.  This is IT.  And so I have felt hesitations that perhaps I have not done enough for my Father in Heaven.  There will never be time to do everything, but certainly I can be doing more.  I want to spend whatever time I have left serving Him - wherever I can - in the most minor, non-noticeable ways.  And I want my children to grow up doing the same - until it's a natural inclination for them.

So if I'm blessed to stick around for another 40 years, that's where my focus is going to be.  

"Did I point to You enough?"

#6 - General Conference Weekend

All of us were very homesick General Conference weekend.  We miss our typical home with family, cousins and crepes.  So we did our best to imitate and carry on the traditions we could do ourselves.  

I love how my home fills with the spirit on General Conference weekend.  Sometimes I imagine it's akin to being in the presence of the Savior.  You feel home.  You feel peace.  You feel light - constantly.  And you never want it to end. 

**We also tried our first attempt at making Brigham Young's Buttermilk Doughnuts.  I don't think the Great Lion would have approved the final result, but he would have been happy with the little faces who enjoyed them.  

#7 - Manla Family

Our efforts continue to assist and befriend the Manla family.  We've been seeing them about 1x/week this past month.  We've taken them to the Salvation Army where they have vouchers for clothing.  We took them to McDonalds for their first time - huge hit!  And we had them over for dinner along with a mutual acquaintance who blessedly speaks fluent Arabic.  We made a lot of progress that night with communication.

Pretty Girl did a report in school on helping with the refugee crisis.  She hopes it inspires other kids to reach out.  Hajar (the little girl who is Pretty Girl's age) and her twin brother Muhammad are picking up English very quickly - faster than the parents.  I'm almost able to have minor conversations with them and help them translate with their parents.  They are exceptionally bright.  

The last time I visited with Asmaa in their apartment, I realized what keeps happening when we're with them.  My Grandma Hoopes is sitting beside me.  Every. Time.  She's right there.  And she's loving this.  She's loving these people - this family.  This type of interaction - this behavior - is 100% Grandma Hoopes.  A woman who loved the Muslim people, the culture, the history.  I think part of my inclination towards their cause was born in my childhood because of her.  

There are so many more families to help and my Arabic is pathetic.  If only I had more time.   

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Goldilocks 2016

I think this race is cursed.  

The one weekend in September it rained, snowed and hit temps in the 40s.  That was the weekend of Goldilocks.  Bleh.  

So I stayed true to my promises with high powers from last year and I turned right around when my feet started to get wet - which was at mile 10.  In total, I biked 20 miles.  Again.  Bleh.  

Regardless, the weekend was still fabulous!  It was so fun to see so many of my biking buddies again. The miles spin away when I'm riding next to them.  I could listen to them and catch up with their stories for hours.  They made the race beautiful!  

I'm grateful Andrew came with me.  He was my steady companion who kept me awake on the Friday evening drive down.  He stayed with friends while I was in my race.  We saw family, cousins, and went to one of mom's favorite restaurants - Market Street Grill - for dinner.  

We got a little homesick for Utah.  Change is hard.

PS - my theme song for this race was One Republic Kids.  Wonderful biking song!  Excellent cadence.