Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Happy 19th Anniversary!!

Holy crap, how can it be 19 years already?

19 years ago I clearly remember waking up to wind and rain and thinking... sh-t, we don't have a back up plan. But then, Tom talked me off the ledge and we decided to put our faith in action and declare that it wasn't going to rain on our wedding day.  (In fact, one of Jim F's favorite memories of the day is me looking him in the eye and saying 'it is NOT going to rain at our wedding").

After a quick trip to town to pick up the porto potties and get some jojo's to snack on, it was back to camp and getting everyone rallied.  Once the sun came out, we were going to get married!

And, it DID come out!  Right at 3:00, the clouds parted, the sun shown and we quickly assembled everyone for pictures and the ceremony.  People sat on blankets, chairs and little kids ran around, it was wonderful.  Then, as we were literally shaking the last hand in the reception line, the skies opened up and it was a torrential downpour. I've never had more fun dancing in the rain than I did that night (despite Jim F and my dad being worried we were going to get electrocuted).

Who would know, that day, what was in store for us the next 19 years?!

~ 3 kids !!! (yeah for Jimmy Kay and Billy!)
~ 1 exchange student (so glad to have Ian for the last year)
~ 2 dogs (RIP Mavis and big hugs to our hairy, zen Nikki)
~ 2 countries (India and Canada were transformational for us as a family)
~ COUNTLESS vacations (especially love the RV trips with the kids)
~ Births, marriages, divorces and deaths (both happy and sad at new beginnings and lives well lived)
~ Sickness (pneumonia and dengue fever being prominent experiences)
~ Braces, glasses, lost teeth, sports, competitions, band, orchestra, lessons, etc .....
~ FRIENDS (too many to count and all of which we count on daily)
~ FAMILY (the chance to connect, vacation, share achievements and disappointments)

We love our life. Its rich, busy, frustrating, fun and full of love.  Despite the ups and downs, we wouldn't have it any other way.

ALL our love and thanks to ALL of you that help us be who we are, together and as individuals.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Happy Mothers Day

I am a bit late getting this post out there so sorry. Just a quick note to say Happy Mother's Day to all the incredible moms that have graced our lives and especially to Tracy, Kay and Bunny.

Grandma Kay who is always showing us how to look on the bright side and to keep our dreams in focus. She teaches what never giving up means and to always have a smile on your face.

Grandma Bunny shows us how much fun it is to experience new things and to always try something new "you never know you may like it:.

Tracy teaches us everyday the meaning of family, friends and love. She goes out of her way to ask us about our day, who we have helped, what we have learned, and to keep our own self in focus. She is fun, witty, graceful and most of all she is present in all our loves, everyday. So I guess maybe she doesn't go out of her way that's just her showing  s and the world,who she is!

We Love You!!

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Branson Here We Come!

For the past 19 years the Hopkins Band has travelled to Branson Mo, to take the stage and play for the masses and this year was no different.

Jimmy and 45 other band members loaded the bus on Wednesday evening and along with Mr. Wolf and 4 parent chapereons began the 10 hour trek. The bus was one of those big touring buses however packed to the gills with teenagers and snacks there was not a lot of extra space. The bus had two main rules 1. once you are given a number you are that number for the entire trip no matter where you are sitting, this makes roll call much easier 2. No using the bathroom for #2, not at anytime ...period.

The trip down was much what you you;d expect, the bus has to stop every 2 and a half hours on overnight travel so the drivers can change spots. The 2;30 am stop was interesting as the kids were all told if you go into the store we are just using the bathroom no buying anything, yea right, then all came out with 24 oz Monster energy drinks, at 2:30 in the morning!!! We arrived in Branson at 7:00 on Thursday morning wide awake and ready to go! It was freezing cold, no one slept and everyone had a great time (the kids, that is).

First thing was breakfast at the local McDonald's cleaning up and then we were off to the Imax Theatre to watch a 90 minute feature film on the National Parks. The show was really interesting however only half of the crew was awake for it :)
Then we were off to lunch at Mel's Hard Luck Diner, which is a Branson landmark. The food is really good and all the wait staff are washed up has been country singers who sing current top ten hits and try to get you to buy their old albums, hence the hard luck diner.
After lunch we headed over to the Table Rock Lake Dam and Trout hatchery. We watch a very graphic movie on trout reproduction and were also sent out with buckets of fish food and we fed the thousand of trout they are raising, it was pretty cool. Finally we were off to check into the hotel, rest up a bit and the band changed into their band outfits and we were off to dinner. The restaurant was an Italian place and it was the worst restaurant of the trip, there were several kids who found long strands of black hair in their meals, yuk.
The first performance was at the Clay Cooper Theatre and the band opened for there Haygoods Show. The band played really we'll and Mr. Wolf was super jazzed at how well they did. The Haygoods show was a 4 bothers and one sister family group that were unbelievably good, they all played several instruments, had a great sound and light show and we all really enjoyed the show. The Haygoods came out to the lobby after the show and signed auto graphs and talks with the kids about the rigors of performing and show biz in general.
Finally at 10:30 it was lights out.. Every night we, as chapereons, would knock on our respective doors take a visual head count remind the kids of the next days events and the shut the door and place a piece of tape over the door so we would know if anyone open the door during the night. It is a brilliant way to keep the kids in the room and it worked every night!

Wake up call was at 7:30 and breakfast was mandatory and the kids did a good job of following the protocol. They were able to go back to their rooms or do whatever they wanted and we loaded the bus at 10:45 and headed off to the Branson Music Mall for an early lunch then we were off to the Omaha Middle School, which is in Arkansas, to perform for the school. This is a small school who will be starting a band program next year so most of these kids have never played an instrument before and they all were very interested in what the band was all about. The kids were able to talk with each other and share stories, it was pretty impressive to see all these kids talking and getting along.
Then we loaded up the bus and headed off to Branson Landing, which is a tourist trap kind of place full of shops and trinkets.
From there we headed off to the Golden Corral for all you can eat fried food!!! The evening ended with us going to a go-cart track and the kids had a ball. It was a super nice night the weather was great. Mr. Wolf had food catered into he hotel because you can never feed these kids enough, holy crap do they eat, boys and girls both! Lights out was at 11;00 and the same drill with he tape.

7:00 wake up call and we were out the door at 8:30 for a fun day at Silver Dollar City, a theme park based off the largest Mine in North America. Seems that people would come to work the mine and then restaurants and shops started to open up and the hotels would give people change in the form of a silver dollar and when people would ask "hey where did you get that" they would say at Silver Dollar City and bingo, a theme park was born.
Saturday nights performance was just the Jazz band. Jimmy plays sax in the band and is the ring leader and drummer for the Jazz Band. The Jazz Combo as they like to be referred as, sounded awesome and they all got to hear a professional recording of their set. The show they opened for was the Hughes family  "it" show. Suffice it to say the show was really good the family is very talented and there a 5 brothers whom are all married and between then they have 43 kids. The message of the show was very different for some of the audience and the kids were a bit in shock. The "it" referred to the families views on family, love, life and their Savior Jesus Christ. Mr. Wolf did a very good job getting the kids to understand what the message really meant and that it was a reflection of the Hughes Family and by no means did that mean the kids individual beliefs were not equally important.

Side note:
Each of the performances that the band opened for gave the kids a trophy and thanked them for coming and doing a great job. Mr. Wolf would go on stage to accept the trophy and of course thank the people for having us and how important it is for kids to see this level of a performance.
Except on the night of the Hughes performance Mr. Wolf was dealing with an issues so the Hughes family called on Jimmy to come up onto the stage. It was not pretty. Never give Jimmy a live mic on an open stage. He was trying to be funny and was fake crying about how much the trophy meant to him.  But he did thank them for having us so I guess all is well that ends well!
We headed off to and end of the trip pizza party and lights out at 12;30-Yikes

Wake up call at 7:30 and then we loaded the bus and headed back north. We got to the school at 8:15 unloaded the bus, everyone gave hugs and high 5's and headed home for some much needed sleep!

It was an amazing trip of life long friendship and memories. The only issue, getting through the rest of the week with almost no sleep....

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Dance Season!

Yes, there is such a thing.

Jimmy had his 1st "real" dance on Friday night - Semi (semiformal) and, per the social constructs, you need to invite via sign (i.e.: create a sign asking the other person to go to the dance with you). Jimmy and Mary had been talking about going to the dance together for ages, but it wasnt official until the sign was made, seen and acknowledged? Plus, they need to a surprise and pithy.  Yikes! Jimmy snuck into school, made a sign with 2 packets of Extra gum that said "I'd be extra extra happy if you'd go to Semi with me" and put it in the her locker with the help of her friends (how in the world do they know each others locker combos?!).  Of course she said "yes", considering this was 3 days before said dance, she had already bought her dress and informed him on what color tie to wear. The sign was the final formality.

So, who goes with who?  Apparently you DO go with a girl you 'like' but not a girl you "like like".  Let me explain... Jimmy likes Olivia (Noah's old girlfriend) but Kyle asked Olivia.  Not sure who Noah and Shane like but it wasnt the girls they took. Miles did take Lauren (Jimmy's old girlfriend) and - as it happens Jimmy took Mary (Miles old girlfriend) but in the end. ...they all go as a big group anyway. I'm sure its not at all uncomfortable.

As luck would have it, Ian had prom the next day.  We had an incredibly hard time culturally explaining prom and couldn't convince he to buy new shoes, shirt, tie or jacket.  In fact, he wanted to "borrow a tux from a friend" - I'm not sure he every really understood that most high school students dont have tuxes lying around waiting to be lent out in size extra small (or in any size for the matter!)
Tracy did manage to talk him into a new pair of black pants and black tie. And, when he decided, the day before prom, that he needed a jacket and "we can just run to the thrift store", it was all she could do to not pull all her hair out.  Off to the thrift store they went and ... go figure, there was nothing there he liked (thank god or I think Tracy would have hurled).  He settled on a vest and in a major coup, she DID talk him into buying his date a corsage and himself a bouttiener. Miracles exist!  (Have we mentioned he doesnt like to spend money, hence all of the above)

After all the prep, they had a great time, dance, came home late and hung out with friends.  All is well that ends well...

Except when Ian asked to see Tracy's prom pictures.....

Ok, here are highlight photos of the weekend... Cute kids:)

Watch out girls

Ready to go

The gang, Kyle, Jimmy, Alex, Noah

Izzie, Ian's date

the flowers Ian bought to match her dress

Looking good, trying to smile

His more "natural" look (he hates to smile for me)

Ian and Ozzie, yes he's on his tippy toes

Kids can't seem to sit still




Ians crew

At the dance (Lafette Club)

With friends

With Chai

With Mai

Jimmy, Mary (on right) and unknown girl on left

With Mary's sister

The handsome couple

Kissy face


When you least expect it

Tracy and Laura - circa 1986~ 


Ruffles, Big hair and big hoop skirts

My date Pete

Had to throw in one of Tammy and Julie's homecoming ~ 1988 or 89?  They've got the big hair and gloves going, oh how styles change....