Friday, December 31, 2010

Top 10 positive things about 2010....

Hi All,

It's been a while and I'm trying to make some peace about 2010...argueably the worst year of my life...I'm going to take a positive view on this and find the good in the year...

10. Kelsey had a wonderful 5th year birthday at a horse farm. Many of her good friends attended and had a lot of fun. We enjoyed not running the party at home.

9. Kelsey's dance recital was amazing to see. We had a spectacular time!

8. I am no longer a camping virgin and loved it! and we had a lovely short trip to Dutch Wonderland. Kelsey adored riding on all the rides!

7. Our niece Ellie was born in August....she is adorable!

6. My siblings and I are tight...I got to spend a lot of time with my brother this year. In fact I think we saw Jim more in 2010 than in the past 10 years! And I speak to my sister often...many times daily. We'd see Janet and family more, but three kids' activties plus all the working Moms and Dads, mean it's challenging to get together.

5. I treated myself to an early birthday present - a digital SLR camera. Love it!

4. I did earn money in wasn't fun but for most of the year, I earned a living.

3. Kelsey is enjoying Kindergarten and I am enjoying taking her to the park, enrolling her in Daisy Scouts and taking her for playdates. She so deserves this because her 2009/2010 was as awful as mine!

2. Kurt loves his job, has been incredibly loving and supportive through this very rough year and understands that I'm still going through "stuff" I am blessed with a great husband.

1. Look at who joined our family this year! She was an early Christmas present for Kelsey, but I admit that she's also making me (and Kurt very happy too!) We adore her! Meet Maddie a shih-tzu/poodle mix pup we adopted in early December....she's a sweetie!

So, belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I hope 2011 is good to everyone and better to my everyone in my family than 2010. I wish peace, joy and happiness for all.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Can I Find a Way to Write This?

I'm going to back post this date because I'd like the posting to be historically accurate.
I am sorry to announce that my Mom passed away early this morning...about 2:55am on Sunday 8/29/10.

Kurt, Kelsey and I went camping this weekend with our China Travel Group. We were having a great time in the was incredible, beautiful 100 foot tall pines, cool nights and mornings and hot afternoons...we had only gone for the weekend...

The kids were having a fabulous time, running from tent to tent...the adults had the best time as was fun catching up with everyone.

I was telling some of the people in our group how sick Mom was and on Friday Janet called me to say that the hospital let her know it would be "soon" but not this weekend. She asked specifically because she knew we were camping and Jimmy had planned to visit next weekend...but the hospital was pretty positive that it wouldn't happen this weekend.

Still I had planned to see her on Friday before we left, but we left late and I rationalized that we could stop on Sunday on the way home. In hindsight I alternately beat myself up over not seeing her that last time and then I say "well when i saw her she spoke a few words to me and called me by my name" which she hadn't done in a few months.. I don't know if I could have stood seeing her so close to the end...

Sat night/Sunday morning I slept fitfully (as I usually do when I am not in my own bed) plus we were in a tent and Kicky Mc Kickenstein (aka Kelsey) was tossing and turning in our little tent. I did dream that one of the members of our travel group knocked on our tent and told me Mom had died...and that I had cried because I didn't get to see her...and then I stopped dreaming this.

About 7am, Kurt woke up and said he was going for coffee (we were "tent camping" not wildnerness camping, btw) and when he came back he asked me if I left my phone in the car...whcih I had...he said my phone was beeping and he looked and the call was from Janet...

Of course I knew at minute he asked me about the phone that my Mom must have I called at 7:30 and my sister cried as she told me. For weeks I had tried to think how that moment would feel...grief or relief? what would my first emotion be? I was a little scared to think that it would be relief...even though the last year was so freakin' bad for everyone.

I am grateful that my first emotion was grief...I sobbed quietly (because my daughter was sleeping inches from me) and then I pulled it together and asked her some specifics...and made sure she was okay (I'm the big sister, that's my job) and I apologized for not being there for her because she went to the hospital to see Mom after she passed.

Kelsey woke a few minutes later and I told her Mema went to heaven...this was a pretty abstract concept for her, so she hugged me and then went to play with her friends...I was glad that she was distracted so I could pull myself together...

We were about 2 hours from my sister's so we packed our campsite fairly quickly, told the families what happened and left to go to her house...we had some decisions to make and the dreadful calls to handle...

So Mom died on 8/29, we waked her on 8/31 and interred her next to our Dad on 9/1, which was my 50th birthday...for the first time in my whole life my Mom wasn't there to wish me happy hurt....

Mom, I hope you are happily reunited with Daddy and Nanny (my Grandmother) in Heaven...this brings me a little comfort...but three weeks later (as I am really writing this) I cannot bring myself to go to Church....

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Blog Hopper - could there BE a better title for a Hoppe?

Hi Fellow Blog Lovers!
Welcome to The Secret Recipe for a Hoppe Family! I'm JoAnn, Wife, Mom, Non Profit Manager (no, I won't ask you for a donation - today :) and a lover and reader of blogs.

I saw this post on Pensieve Robin's and thought it looked like fun, so I decided to play along.

A bit about me...while I am a working Mom, I am very home centric and am deeply in love with creating a lovely and welcoming home. I love to spend time with friends (mine or my daughter's) and family and enjoy a good party! I also love gardening, cooking and baking.

I came to be a Mom a bit late in the party of life - through adoption (my daughter is from China and we adopted her at 9 months old). She is 5 now and the light of our lives. My DH (aka The Trophy Husband) and I have been married over 13 years now. Life is definately interesting with the cast of characters I've surrounded myself with and I wouldn't trade it for anything!

I invite you to delve into my archives and learn a bit more about me and my family...I love comments that are thoughtful and respectful and I always try hard to be hospitable! Enjoy your stay @ Casa de Hoppe :)

China Memories...

Recently some memories of our travel in China came flooding back and I thought I'd create a series of posts about our experiences/travels so that Kelsey can enjoy them as she grows up.

While we were in ChangSha, we had two guides, Helen, who traveled with us throughout the country, and Leung, who was strictly in ChangSha. Leung is a young, handsome and very sweet man and Kelsey was immediately taken with fact our baby girl flirted shamelessly with him and he with her!

But my memory today is about his voice...Leung loved to sing while we traveled throughout the city/country. We were in ChangSha about 7 days - which was too long for a city that isn't particularly touristy. And it was end March-early April...still a bit cold in ChangSha. I know I longed to go onto Guangzhou and experience that warm tropical air that awaited us and then finally get home and begin our lives as a family, but it was also really cool to be completely and totally out of touch with everything/everyone familiar. But I was a bit homesick and I think others were as well.

I'll never forget Leung singing John Denver's "Take me Home Country Roads" I cannot sing that song even 4 years later without choking up because I remember how powerful his voice was and the feeling of homesickness that overtook I longed to be home and start our lives in NJ as a family! Singing that song with my daughter nestled either in her carried on her Daddy's chest or in my arms is such a sweet memory.

Kelsey probably didn't get a chance to sleep much in the orphanage. As a result, she slept a great deal (I presume longer than a 9 month old would normally) in her carrier, stroller, in the bus...she always took the opportunity to have a long nap...and was a pretty good sleeper for us overnight as well. I'm thankful that she either trusted us enough to fall asleep with us looking out for her.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Another 3 Months Go By....

We have:

  • A pre-school graduate, a bonified 5 year old and a beautiful dancer who performed in an amazing show in June.

  • celebrated Kelsey's 5th birthday at a children's museum, down the shore riding on all the rides, at a stable with all her special friends and with cake, cupcakes and chinese food.

  • more pink and Barbie "stuff" in our living room than you can imagine!

  • had a load of fun at friends' parties this month with another one next weekend.

  • had a goodbye party/baby shower for BIL and SIL who have moved to Maryland this month

  • suffered through a bout of strep and a relapse (Kelsey)

  • celebrated the graduations of my nieces and nephew - Alyssa who graduated HS and is about to start college, Mikey who has graduated middle school and is about to enter HS and Marina who has graduated elementary school and is about to enter Middle School.

  • made the sad decision to put Mom in a Hospice Situation. Her doctors said there is no longer anything they can do for her and we are making her as comfortable as possible.

  • sold her house (closing next week) and will spend this upcoming weekend packing up her life (and my Dad's as well) so thankful I will have my brother and sister (and their spouses plus Kurt and Kelsey) along for this very sad surreal time.

  • p>I am:

  • Happy to be able to escape to work, where I can make someone's life better by doing my job

  • Sad because Kelsey is not happy that I work every day. She misses me and the time we had together last year and tells me so often.

  • excited to be going on vacation for the first time in 2 years! we are planning to go to Dutch Wonderland for a few days...nothing major but it will be fun

  • thrilled with my pre-birthday present - a Nikon D3000 with a few lenses. I am really enjoying how much better my photography has become!

  • grateful and thankful for the people who have stepped up with offers to help out in our times of need (and we have needed a lot this year)

  • not thrilled to be turning a big bad number shortly...the countdown to 50 has started!

  • amused to be going camping to the first time at the end of summer with our China Travel Group...should make for some "interesting stories"

  • enjoying spending my time with Kelsey...she's amazing and the most important person in our lives

  • having a personal battle with anger and trying to let it go and find far anger is not in the lead..but other days...

  • obsessed with making the basement into a casual toy room...gonna take lots of work!

  • sad about my crispy garden. we have had scorching days and when Kelsey was ill it I couldn't water outside.

  • already missing my Mom...I have had some major sob fests during what should be happy times I get to share with her and over some scary stuff and some sad stuff where I could use her wisdom. Mom doesn't know us anymore and struggles to put more than 2 words together. I have struggled with every emotion imaginable

  • Enjoy the photos of my favorite subject taken with my new toy!

    Monday, April 19, 2010

    3 months later....

    Were you holding your breath waiting for me? Sorry, I took a time out.

    I don't think anyone reads this anymore, and it's really my journal for Kelsey

    Currently rethinking my situation...things have happened recently to open my eyes....
    Trying to figure out this next few years...wish me luck...sorry this is cryptic, but needs to be for now.

    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Twas the Night Before Job Starts and All Through The House

    The creatures were stirring, including my spouse.
    Well, except for a quick shower this evening, I am all set to begin my new job tomorrow.

    I need and want to work, but today was extremely bittersweet - and more bitter than sweet.
    I will miss being the Mommy I've been able to be to my daughter. Being home with her for almost 10 months and being completely available to her has been such a gift. When I lost my job, she was 3.5 and now she's 4.5. She's so much fun and walks a fine line between being a baby girl and being a big girl. She would argue that she's not a baby, but she still likes to be dressed by me and the hugs and snuggles are the best in the world. I don't want this to end...really I don't. That being said, some of the happiest moments of my days have been when I've dropped her off at school and gone to DD for coffee or gone shopping - but the luxury and freedom I've had has been such an incredible gift.

    Also, the opportunity to do things, like organize my home, care for my Mom and just sit and think have been invaluable.

    I'd like to thank my husband for being so supportive of me during my time "off." The layoff couldn't' have come at a worse time financially and he never gave me crap about pursuing the non profit work. I think he also liked the fact that I cooked and cleaned and took most of the childcare duties and when he was able to pitch in, he did it without being guilted and enjoyed himself.

    Tomorrow I march into the ARC with a new planner, a packed lunch, photos of my beautiful girl and a smile. I am excited to begin this new position, knowing that the best part of me appreciates all the gifts I have.

    Oh...Kelsey's first comment to me when I told her I was going back to work was "YAY, DISNEY!" (I told her ASA I go back to work we begin saving for her trip to the Happiest Place on Earth! ;) (yep, she has her priorities straight)

    Sunday, January 10, 2010

    So, I got a job!

    Two months, three interviews and lots of nervous energy later, I was offered the position of Financial Development Manager of the American Red Cross in Princeton.

    I was hoping to have solidified my job before the holidays, but all along I thought this was "the job" and just waited patiently (yeah, right) for them to realize it too.

    I start my new career on Wed. and I am really excited about it.

    Other good news in the family....

    1) Mom is recovering from her latest bout of pneumonia and complications and is getting back to her own self

    2) Kelsey got her first report card last week and was recommended to attend Kindergarten. She will attend Kindergarten at her private school that she currently attends. We are thrilled and proud!

    Perhaps 2010 WILL be a better year for our family :)

    Peace out.

    Saturday, January 02, 2010

    10 things I learned/was reminded of in 2009...

    1. I am stronger than I ever realized.

    2. Even if you put your heart and soul into a project, sometimes you are meant to fail.

    3. I need to flex my creative muscles in order to be able to live a happy life.

    4. I cannot do this alone. I need and want my family's help.

    5. Some people continue to disappoint me; they will be marginalized going forward.

    6. Complete strangers can be very kind.

    7. I am very sad by some of the friendship bridges I singed or burned in the last few years or longer.

    8. I am best served by following my instincts.

    9. Holding a grudge is a waste of energy.

    10. Human beings are beautiful wonderful creatures. I am so blessed to be living with two of the very best of them!

    Goodbye 2009, I won't hold a grudge, but please don't hold one is too beautiful to waste on regretting this year. Here are some family photos I don't think I posted last year.