Awareness

 - by Hooper Family

Today is World Autism Awareness Day (http://www.worldautismawarenessday.org).  While it is Autism Awareness Day every day at our house it is nice that the worldwide community has a day set aside to increase understanding across the world about autism.

Autism has many faces… This is what it looks like in our house….

Our AMAZING Lego building, ninja loving son, Craig.  Our family would not be complete without him.  We love him and want him to have the best most successful life of his choosing.

Please take a minute and educate yourself on Autism to improve understanding and tolerance worldwide.

Links we like:

http://www.autismspeaks.org/index.php

http://www.autism-society.org/

http://www.usautism.org/

http://www.autism.com/

Autism does not define our family but there have been challenges we have to meet while we grow up and love together on the autism spectrum.

He conquers who endures.  ~Persius

For Jules and Gail and Dede

 - by Hooper Family

I have been trying to get into better shape over the past year.  I have been going to Karate two to three days a week but felt like I needed something more in my routine.  So I decided to do a  Couch to 5K program.  That means I needed to signup up for a 5K.  I wanted my first 5K (Walk/Jog— so not up to running yet) to mean something to me.  And I wanted people with me at the race so that I stayed motivated/focused on actually getting there and doing it.  So I talked my wonderful husband and most of my sisters (and their spouses) into creating a team for the Susan G Koman Race for the Cure in Salt Lake City May 2011.

I personally chose to participate in this particular 5K because of the many women and men that are affected by breast cancer every year but especially because of three amazing women that I know personally that have had to fight their own battles with breast cancer.

One of my dear friends Dede (she is the receptionist at my office -we have worked together for 10+ years now) battled breast cancer and won several years ago.  Watching her courage and strength as she went through this battle was a sight to behold.  I am very glad to call her my friend and she is an amazing woman of strengh.

Then there is my AWESOME Mother-in-Law, Rob’s wonderful mother, Gail.  She is the BEST Mother-in-Law a person could have.  She fought against breast cancer and won in 2007.   We are so glad that our children got to keep their grandmother and have many more years to come to learn from her.  Gail is an amazing mother and grandmother and has been so supportive to us over the years.  So we are racing for her.  To honor her.

And then there is Julie.  My wonderful red-headed giver of candy and love.  Jules did not have an easy life before the cancer came and we lost her to it in April 2010.  It is still weird not having her around at all the family parties playing with the kids- sneaking them candy, spreading her love to all around her.  There will always be a hole in our family where she used to be in body and not just in spirit.  We are going to run for her too.  To honor the person that she was, the grace she fought with, and the memory she left behind.

Please consider donating to the Susan G Koman fight for a cure.  You can support our team by joining with us to Walk/Jog/Run the 5K with our team or with your monitary donation if you feel moved to do so by going to the following link http://slc.info-komen.org/goto/julierobertson.  We appriciate any and all support for this amazing cause.

Respectfully,

Jessica, Robert, Craig, and Callie

Beginnings

 - by Hooper Family

We have had some changes in our family that have helped me to reflect on beginnings over the last couple of months.

The last week of December my baby sister got married to a wonderful guy who if perfect for her.  My kids were happy to welcome Uncle Chris into the family.  Callie is a lot like Aunt Jasmine in looks and personality and she took to Chris pretty easily which goes to show that Aunt Jaz chose well for herself in the husband department.  Callie gives him two thumbs up and loves hanging with both of them.  She can’t wait to invite herself over for a sleepover at their new apartment.

It has been great to see the woman my crazy, emotional, loving baby sister is becoming now that she has started her own new little family with Chris.  We love you Jaz and Chris!  The wedding was beautiful.

It was a little intense going from being so happy with the beginnings that a wedding brings into our family- when a few short weeks later there was a mixture of sorrow and some joy for the journey my grandfather took.  I am happy that he is free from a body that was weak and failing but can not image a life without him in this world.

On January 19, 2011 my grandfather, Joe Spencer Keys, passed away and began his own new journey in the next life with our Father in Heaven.  It has been weird knowing that he is no longer here to be a cheerleader and friend as I move through this life.

My Grandpa Joe was an amazing man.  He has been the best example to me of unconditional love that I have ever know.  He has supposed all his grandchildren no matter what they have chosen to do with their lives or what path they have stumbled down.  I always knew that my Grandpa loved me and was proud of me regardless of the mistakes I made.  He has always wanted us to be happy but also understood that we had to make our own ways in the world and do what felt right to us.  That’s what I want to do for my own kids and my future grandkids.  To be a haven in the world for them where they are always loved and encouraged but free to just be themselves without conditions or judgements about whatever that is.  If I can be even half the person my grandpa has been then I am on the right track.

Change always happen and life is a series of beginnings but that does not mean we have to like them all….

Thankful

 - by Hooper Family

Callie is thankful for family, friends, sleeping with her stuffies, lots of food, mashed pototoes, pumpkin cheesecake, drawing, playing with toys, and her home.

Craig is thankful for family, friends, everything on this planet, pumpkin pie, Legos, video games, Mommy, school, Daddy, games, and computers.

Rob and I are thankful we get to be their parents.  Cuz our kids rock as evidenced by the cool Thanksgiving Turkey Hand shirts they made themselves.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

A little (okay a lot) behind

 - by Hooper Family

So I never blogged about my favorite seven year old’s fabulousness.  SHAME ON ME!!  So better a lot late then never.  Here are some great pics of our favorite Lego addicted, smart, loving, compassionate, karate kickin, awesome first born Craig.  Our family would just never be complete without his presence and goodness in it.

And THANK YOU Aunt Jacki for all you did to create an awesome family party in August for Craig and Owen and everyone else.

Attack of the Barbies

 - by Hooper Family

Miss Callie Jo our beautiful baby girl turned four years old today.  We had a fun little party for her and for Aunt Jasmine and Uncle Patrick’s birthdays at Grandma’s house on Sunday.  Of course the party had to have a pinata (ask Callie how we got the candy into the burro pinata…. she would love to tell you…).

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She came home with nine new Barbie dolls.  We have definitely entered the Barbie phase of existence at our house.  This is her haul from the party alone.  This pile does not include all the Princess Barbies and other Barbies she has already collected for Christmas and rewards.

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Callie dressed up in her I am 4 dress today and took treats to her friends at daycare.  Then after Rob and I got done at work Callie picked McDonald’s as the birthday dinner place to be.  Yum, Yum…..

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She is not exclusive in her toy choices so I made she a dress based on her other love Strawberry Shortcake complete with Strawberry’s green and white leggings.  (All the dresses in this post were ones I made for her… you can get the pattern over at Lil Blue Boo for two of the three dresses.  The third (purple polka dot)  is just a variation of a pillowcase dress).

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All in all Callie says she had a good birthday and wants to say “Thank you, thank you and I love you” to everyone that sent her birthday wishes and presents.

And all things considered we think we are pretty lucky to be blessed with Miss Callie Jo as part of our family.  We love her and most of the time want to keep her (the other times we just ship her to grandma’s house…..).

We love you Callie Jo.  Happy Birthday.

Three Days and Counting

 - by Hooper Family

Craig only has three more school days left until he is done with first grade.  Everyone at our house knows the countdown since he reminds us every morning.  The kids are excited for their summer adventures.  But first some cuteness from Craig’s First Grade Program at school yesterday.  All the kids were so cute and did a great job. Callie and I really enjoyed watching them.

Have a great Memorial Weekend everyone.

Redheaded Goodness

 - by Hooper Family

Thanksgiving 2009 005

It is never easy to watch a loved one battle cancer or mental illness.  I know from our family’s experiences the tole it takes on the people that are caring for/loving/sharing their lives with some one who is battling either of these things.  I can only imagine what it would be like to be the person living with these things.

My whole life has been filled to some degree with this bright shining ray of redheaded goodness know as Aunt Julie.  She has not had an easy life by any one’s standards as she has lived with mental illness since childhood that left her dependent on family members who loved her but did know always understand the demons that haunted her experiences.  She always tried, though, to live her life full of love and kindness towards those around her despite her own struggles in this life.  I know that her siblings, siblings-in laws, and her nieces and nephews all have great memories of our times with her.  This past year as we have watched her endure an added struggle with terminal breast cancer has not been an easy thing for Julie to experience nor had it been easy for any of the family members, neighbors, and friends that have been blessed with the opportunity to know and learn from Julie.  But is it one that I guarantee everyone that has know and loved Julie felt privileged to be allowed a part in.  I know I would be a far different person if I had not had the blessing of growing up with Julie as a part of all the important events in my immediate and extended familys’ lives.

A lot of my earliest memories include her and some of my favorite childhood memories are filled of times that Aunt Julie was sneaking candy to me and my siblings, or tickling us until we felt like we were going to pee our pants, or taking us on grand bus adventures around the city to various exciting destinations while she was staying with us or we were visiting her.

My family was privileged to have her living at my parents house for the last several years until the cancer got to bad and she had to move into a care center.  For me this meant that my own children got to have a lot of shared memories with Aunt Julie as well since they/we  spend a lot of time at grandma and grandpa’s house.  My kids will feel the loss of this great lady just like I will.  I am glad that they got to know her and love her in such a way that now they will miss her and notice her absence.  I think that you can know that a person lived an extraordinary life when the people that loved them can feel their absence in that kind of way.  Those are the people who helped to shape who we become and truly impact our lives.  For me and my family Julie was one such person.  Not all the memories are of easy times.  It would not be accurate to say that having Julie in our lives always made things easier but I can say that having Julie in our lives definitely enhanced and blessed us in such a way that made all those tougher times well worth the struggle.

I will miss you Jules and will carry your memory with me always.  I hope that you have more peace in your new existence that you had in this one.

Julene Robertson 29 March 1957- 20 April 2010

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Phil, Phil, Phil

 - by Hooper Family

Dear Mr Punxsutawney Phil,

My name is Craig Hooper.  I having been waiting on your prediction today hoping that you would get the right answer.  I am sick of winter.  I hate it.  There wasn’t even any good snow storms at my house to build snowmen with this year.  That is the ONLY good thing about winter and since that isn’t happening I want it to be OVER.  Please go back in your hole and come out again with the right answer.

Sincerly,

Craig Hooper

Age 6, Utah