Tyson Hugh Hooper

Tyson Hugh Hooper
Our son, Tyson Hugh Hooper, was born with coarctation of the aorta, hypoplastic arch, and a transitional avsd. His first open heart surgery reconstructed his aorta and was on day 9 of life. His second open heart repair was not anticipated to be needed until two or three years of age. Ty had other plans. We spent the vast majority of his first 3 months of life at Vanderbilt as he went into heart failure and was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. As a result, the medical team concluded that he needed the repair much sooner than usually recommended, and at just shy of 3 months old Ty underwent his second life saving open heart surgery. God has already worked so many miracles in Ty's life and the life of our family and we know he is using our story. Because of this, we are grateful for Ty's special heart and feel beyond blessed that God chose us to travel this road. We ask for prayers as Ty continues to heal. We are praying for a full recovery and life without restrictions for Ty. We are praying for God to use our family and Ty for His glory.

Thank you to each and every person who supports us through prayer, giving, or just by loving on our family! We are humbled and blessed by all of the ways the Lord is providing for us and know that he is using Ty and his story to do great things!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I've been tagged...

...for the very first time! lol

My dearest Moo (Megan Hutchings) has tagged me, so here we go! :-)

What was I doing ten years ago (1998)?
I was a sophomore/Junior at Ooltewah High School! I was driving around in my new Ford Mustang (that's right, the one I STILL drive - hey, it's paid for!!) thinking I was too hot to trot! Taking the "American Studies" class and the big trip to NYC! I was loving friends and living large!!! Life was grand and care free, and fabulous!

5 things on my to do list today (it's an easy day, I did all my running around yesterday!!!):
1. Finish grading rough drafts from the project I assigned
2. Another IEP meeting (will they ever end!?!?!)
3. Mow the lawn (probably not actually going to happen since I am not out there, but in here blogging instead, lol)
4. Catch up on email and blogging
5. Go to the grocery store

What I would do if I was a billionaire (in no particular order):
Pay off major debts of close family and friends
Pay off my own home and buy a new car (I actually NEED one)
Give money to my church and some charities I support
Put a lot of money away in savings.
Take a BIG trip with my nearest and dearest
Splurge Purchases: Titan's season tickets, a boat for the lake, and... well, the question said BILLIONAIRE, so maybe a beach house! lol

Bad habits:
1) Putting off scrubbing the tub until it is almost embarrassing
2) Failing to floss on a regular basis (Me and Moo totally have this in common)
3) Not pulling weeds or working in the yard until it is borderline out of control!

Places I have lived:
Ooltewah, TN (same house my whole life until I moved to Middle TN)
Murfreesboro, TN (off Rutherford in an apartment with La, and now my house on the other side of town)

Jobs I have had:
Nanny (I nannied 2 sweet girls two summers in a row, 5 days a week from about 6:30 AM - 5:00 PM)
Fabric Store clerk
Sears Sales Associate
Answering Service
Runner and "Legal Assistant" (lol) at a local Law Firm (My favorite!!!!!!)
Teacher (My current job and other favorite!!!)

I tag:
Tuffy (Mom)
Lauren (Okay, Moo already tagged you, but I tag you too!)

Sunday, April 27, 2008

What a weekend...

I had a most fabulous weekend!!! My weekend started off with a bang! It was the last Friday of the month and you know what that means.... Bunko!!!! Ali hosted this month. Her home was beautiful and she fixed a delicious dinner of Chicken Alfredo and Mandarin-Walnut salad! She also served WONDERFUL fruit and chocolate dip AND chocolate brownies that were still warm! YUMO! Here I am with all the Bunko gals (a few of our "regulars" had to miss this time, so the groups a little small)! We always have such a fun time!!!!

Saturday morning I got up nice and early (although not early enough to make my niece's soccer game) and headed to Chatt-town!! I ran home and pick mom up and we went straight to Couch's barbecue of course for one of these...

...that would be the best barbecue sandwich you have EVER had... TRUST ME! La was also in Chatt-town this weekend and although we didn't cross paths, she sent me a text that said, "I just had a couch's sandwich and hot slaw! I don't feel like I'm home unless I have some." That's right folks, if you ever head down toward Chattanooga, TN, you've gotta check out Couch's!!!!! Random fact: To my memory, until moving to Middle Tennessee, I had never gone more than one week without a Couch's meal!!!

After a yummy yummy lunch. Mom and I hit the shops. When we get together (especially when Jenni is with us) we usually have what we call "shopping magic!" However, lately we have been in a "dry spell" and have not had good shopping luck at all! Well, the dry spell's over and the magic's back! We didn't go to our "usual" places (Ann Taylor for me and Cold Water Creek for mom, to name a few) but opted for some bargain hunting! We hit Kohl's, Steinmart, Marshall's and Ross' and both got some great stuff!!!!

After shopping we headed home from some relaxation. This is the view I grew up with... the one from my mom and dad's front porch.

Can you say, "peaceful?" It was wonderful just sitting on the porch enjoying mom's company and the view. After we "had a sit" we decided it was time for dinner. On the menu... lemon-herb crusted chicken (with herbs fresh from mom's garden), pancietta wrapped asparagus bundles, and three bean salad.

This was a Rachel Ray meal that mom saw Saturday morning and decided we would make. It was absolutely delicious and very easy and quick to prepare! I highly recommend it! We rounded off the night with some TV and relaxation!
Sunday I slept in - it was wonderful! After a relaxing morning me, mom, and dad headed to "the deli" (our favorite Sunday lunch spot) to meet my brother Ken, my sister-in-law Sarah, and my niece Bentlee for lunch! Here are Sarah and Bentlee - she is "reading" to us after the meal.
Here are mom and dad - had to snag a picture of them for the good 'ole blog! Notice mom's new hair cut! Short for the summer - it looks great!

And, finally, Ken and Bentlee as we left the Deli and said our goodbyes!

Bentlee is sporting her good cheezin' smile for the camera! lol.
That is my weekend in a nutshell. It was wonderful and relaxing and all things that weekends should be! Hope yours was just as great!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

My girlz...

There is cause for celebration... My two bests and I have enjoyed two exciting events this week!

First, was Moo's birthday! Well, her actual birthday was Sunday, but we celebrated girly-girl style on Monday!! We went to one of my favorite restaurants in town, Fuji, a Japanese Steakhouse. It was WONDERFUL and, as always, TONS of food!!! There is no way to "make a happy plate" at Fuji unless you are a professional eater... I know I like to eat, but I haven't reached professional status yet! :-) Anyway, here we are at Fuji having a big time...

Next we went to TJ Maxx at Moo's request. This is not a store I frequent, because I am not fond of digging for deals... I have a hard time with cluttered or unorganized places, I like one rack of all the same item. However, TJ Maxx took on a whole new look with my best girlz at my side! We talked, we laughed, we tried on - then we REALLY laughed... and in the end we all ended up with new cute stuff and big smiles!! Here we are trying on hats - we have vowed to one day go to the Kentucky Derby together, in hats!

Finally, we headed to Target to get some essentials (baby food, soap, etc.) but of course took a detour through clothing and handbags! I picked up this little number - a chocolate brown linen dress - super casual and fun for the summer! I predict this will be a summer of dresses for me, they are light, comfee, easy, and fun!
And after all the eating, and all the shopping, we did gifts in the Target parking lot like any ghetto-fabulous girlz would! It was a wonderful birthday celebration and I enjoyed every second spent with two of my most favorite women!!!
Now, the second cause for celebration... Drum roll please.... we are officially booked for our Girlz Trip 2008!!! As many of you know our First Annual Girlz Trip in 2007 was to Savannah and Tybee Island Georgia! This year's trip?... a sweet spa located in the Smoky Mountains near Bryson City, North Carolina! Here is a picture of the spa where we will spend one picturesque weekend... just looking at it makes me relax a little bit!

I am already down for a European Facial and an "All In One" massage that is a combination of a relaxation massage and a hot stone massage!!! Can you say, "pamper me?!?!" We also get all the yoga we want and breakfast and lunch at the spa! We plan on driving to Ashville for a little shopping and dining as well! I can't wait!!!!
Have you ever been on a special trip of just you and special friends? I would love to hear some good friend-trip destinations... there are lots of future girlz trips to plan after all!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Prayers needed...

Your prayers are needed and will be very appreciated by two very special men!

Above I am pictured with Chris and Rob Hooper... two of my nearest and dearest friends... these two are in my close circle of friends that I refer too so often... they are more like a family to me! Their father, Harris, was admitted to the hospital last night and through testing today a tumor on his brain was discovered. The doctors say that this is indicative of cancer somewhere else in his body as well! Mr. Hooper is scheduled for surgery in two weeks to remove the tumor and hopefully any other cancerous spots that can be identified. I haven't had the pleasure of personally knowing Mr. Hooper yet, but I have heard countless stories of childhood and adult memories alike. I have seen pictures. And, more importantly, I know his two sons very well and have met his two daughters! This is a very strong, healthy, family man and man of faith and he and his family need prayer throughout this ordeal. Please pray for healing for Harris and for him and his entire family to have peace, patience, strength, and comfort as they travel this new and unexpected road together.

I thank you for joining me in prayer for my dear friends and for their father and entire family. I know your prayers will be felt and will be appreciated!

"His strength is perfect when our strength is gone,
He'll carry us when we cant carry on."
-Steven Crutis Chapman

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Food for thought...

I just wanted to share a couple of the yummy meals I have treated myself to this week. First, one of my favorites, was breakfast for dinner! I too often forget how easy it is to make breakfast - quick, always have the ingredients on hand, and sooooo good! So earlier this week when I was too pooped to go to the store and my tummy was grumbling for some good grub, I decided on breakfast for dinner! I didn't have the makings for pancakes, so I settled on french toast - YUMO! I had a very satisfying "dinner" of french toast, eggs, and bacon! It doesn't get much better than that!
Then tonight... Again, hungry and not really feeling a trip to Kroger, I headed to the cabinet for some inspiration! At first I thought about a BLT (one of my all time favorite sandwiches) but my bread was less than fresh. So with the makings of a BLT (bacon and fresh beautiful tomato), I figured I would get a little creative and shoot for "BLT" pasta! I had spinach Fettuccine in the pantry which I cooked up quick, threw on a couple spoon fulls of a jar of Alfredo sauce I had in the pantry as well and topped it off with some crumbled bacon, fresh diced tomato and Parmesan cheese! It was just the dinner for today and one I will make again, I am sure!
So I ask tonight for you to share... what are some of your old stand bys and some of your new creations when the grocery store seems less than inviting and the tummy is growling?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

My Daddy...

...the best man I know.

Spending a little time on a post about my Mom and her garden made me run across a picture of her greenhouse. This is no ordinary greenhouse, but one very special greenhouse, designed and built by my incredibly talented dad out of antique windows!

I mean really... I know it's a greenhouse, but it is beautiful! My Daddy built their home (the one I grew up in - which was amazing) and my brother's home (which is also beautiful) and has had countless other building projects through the years. The funny thing is, that isn't what my dad does for living, that is just what he does for fun and for the people he loves!

There aren't many words that do my father justice, but a couple come to mind. My Daddy is patient and kind. He is also incredibly smart! He can fix anything! Basically... he's the stuff that hero's are made of!

He loves my Mama in a way that taught me what love is... not always smooth around the edges, but worth it. She has said many times that he is her hero and I know that he feels just as passionately about her!

He has a deep commitment to family and a love for his children (all three of us) that is visible and tangible and wonderful.

(My brother, Ken, and Daddy)

My Dad is an example and a hero and the best man I know.

Green Thumbs (Part 2)

Simply put, my mama has one!

If you read my previous post, you heard a little about my mom's passion and ability to garden! It is amazing! My mom, in general, is amazing! But today my focus is her gardening-amazingness!

Here is a picture of my mom so you'll know who I am talking about... actually it's a picture of my sister, Sarah, my mom, and myself at my Aunt's house:

And while I am at it, here is a picture of my Aunt (whose house we were at in the picture above):

Her name is Jenni... she and her husband Greg live near Jackson, Mississippi. She is fabulous and fun and who I credit for introducing me to my love of wine and many other things along the way!

So back to gardening... my mom is the best! She has everything from roses to raspberries and everything seems to flourish with her touch! In the summer (or any pretty day for that matter) you can find her somewhere gardening, whether it's her potted plants by the pool, the landscaping around the house, her actual garden, or fun random places around the barn and yard where she creates beautiful arrangements of plants and flowers!

Here is one of her many many many different varieties of roses! They are SO beautiful, some small and some huge - all wonderful!

Here is the entrance to her garden. I have countless memories of walking down to and through the garden throughout my childhood. It is where she could always be found when you couldn't find her anywhere else. Sometimes I sought her out to find out what was for dinner, sometimes to settle an argument between me and one of my siblings, but a lot of times, especially as I got older, just to walk through the garden and see what she had going on down there. Plucking raspberries or muscadines and watching little bunnies and birds make themselves at home in a little piece of paradise!

So Mama, thank you for your gardening. And although I might not have inherited your green thumb... I might just develop it one of these days. I cherish all my memories of you and your garden and plants. I appreciate your encouragement and many times help in my gardening attempts. And I credit you with my love for plants, gardening, and all things beautiful outside!

Green Thumbs...

Simply put, I don't have one! My grandmother and mother are both incredible gardeners. I didn't inherit that gene. My mama actually likes weeding her garden - that's right, you read correctly, my mom LIKES pulling weeds! It's all I can do to spray them - and that's on a good day!

However, despite my gardening experience that should tell me I am not a successful gardener for the fact that halfway through the summer it gets too hot to comfortably water plants and I don't like to sweat or pull weeds and doing those things together are pure torture (almost as bad as say a traffic jam or a faculty meeting), I sill get inspired every spring to plant! I have successfully gardened on occasion and for short periods of time... And every year I plant tomatoes, squash and zucchini, herbs, and a few flowers and hope for the best. In the past couple years I have not successfully made it all the way through the entire summer with my patio looking lovely (although I have produced some seriously good vegetables - even when the plants looked a little "wild"). My poor plants usually bite the dust or go "wild" because I stop diligently caring for them in the middle of the summer, but this year I have a goal! That's right people, watch out, I have spring-gardening fever (again)! So mark it down, this is my goal. The following are some pictures of my back patio area about 3 springs ago and what I am shooting for this year:

It can't be that hard, right? I am going to shoot for some herbs and a couple vegetables - going to make myself start small and manageable. My friend Gina and I are going to plant more vegetables at her house and take care of them together. Hopefully that way we can both enjoy the benefit of a "real" vegetable garden and only have to do half of the work each! I would say doing it yourself is too much work for one person, but my mama does it every year and makes it look easy!

So, wish me luck and next time you are at my house or in my back yard (for those of you who visit) encourage me and pitch in... if you see a weed, for goodness sake, pull it! :-)

The Little Princess (Bentlee part 2)

Okay, so I promised to dig through some more photos and share about Miss Bentlee Marie growing to her current age - 4! So here are just a few more of my favorite photos. I am somewhat limited, because I can only choose from the photos I have electronically stored on my computer, but here are some of my digital favorites!

First visit to Aunt Meagan's house outside of Mommy's tummy!

Okay, so this one is more "funny" than "cute" but seriously, the girl's even cute when she picks her nose... there is something to be said for that! I don't think many can pull off this look!

Many of you know, my parents own a resteraunt in Chattanooga called "Couch's Barbeque" that has been in business since 1946!! This is Bentlee in her very first Couch's shirt.

Bentlee has super straight hair just like her Mommy! This was her hairstyle of choice for quite some time... she called them "twisties!"

Thanksgiving year before last, mom got this great shot!

A princess?
(who prefers to use her "wand" as a "sword")

Or a peasant?
(Cute as a country button!)

Slip and Slide fun! She is a water bug!!!!
Bentlee loves the pool and the beach and all things water related!

Reading with Papaw (my daddy)! Bentlee LOVES to read! She will read book after book, has memorized some, will "read" to you and make up a story as she goes with the pictures - it's wonderful! Funny thing is, she doesn't like tv hardly at all! She would much rather play and read than sit in front of the tv! Bragging moment - she is SO smart! She will write anything that you spell for her, although she sometimes asks "is it as long as my name?" and she writes her name all by herself without you spelling it for her! She counts to 30, she LOVES activity books where you trace letter and number, count and write the number, match things, etc... I could go on and on!! She is one smart cookie - I am telling you!
And here is something else she does - the computer - all by herself! She is amazing! She can tell you what website to go to (like nickjr) and she takes it from there!

So there you have it. More than you ever wanted to know, or see, about my neice! She's a cutie pie and sure to be frequently features on my blog now that you have a brief account of her birthday and years from 0-4!

A Baby Story...

Who doesn't love pictures and stories of new life? I know I do! Today, for whatever reason, I started looking through some older photographs. Many of you know that I LOVE pictures... I like taking pictures, I like looking at pictures, and I don't mind being in pictures either. So I was digging through some old pictures and came across all the pictures of my niece's birthday... and I do mean birth-day! So I thought I would share some with you because I think they are simply beautiful. The pictures speak for themselves, but I will add my two cents in along the way... I'll try to keep it brief (although I am not very good at that).

My brother and sister-in-law got pregnant with their first and only (at this point) child and it was a healthy and happy pregnancy. The doctor informed them it was a boy - this was a doctor well known for interpreting the sex of babies correctly and even told my brother and sister-in-law that if it was a girl he would "buy it back!" Little did we all know. EVERYTHING and I mean EVERYTHING was blue and boy and sports. His name was to be "Kenneth Allen Stiner, III" and he would be called "Trey!" They had a pottery-barn sports themed nursery, monogrammed everything, all kinds of boy things... but when delivery day came, Bentlee Marie revealed to us that she was no boy - she was ALL girly girl! Obviously we made a mad rush for all things pink, and wouldn't you know that to this very day pink is her most-very-favorite color! Here is my precious niece's first day with us...

(All photographs featured here were taken by my wonderful mother)
Bentlee's first moment with her mommy.

Ken and Sarah study their new precious baby GIRL!!!
They memorize every curve of their sweet baby's beautiful face!

Bentlee and her Daddy - Love at first sight!

After the shock wore off Ken said, "I guess God just wanted me to have a little girl!"

The day after Bentlee was born was spent trying to come up with the perfect name for their new baby girl! The final choice "Bentlee Marie"

She had a head full of dark hair and looked just like her Daddy!

The day after she was born I rocked Bentlee and she stole a little piece of my heart!

I will post more recent pictures of Bentlee in the coming days - now I am all about digging through these wonderful pictures of the only real princess I know!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Bloggin' blabber...

Well, I haven't posted since Monday, so I figured I better get back on here or everyone's going to assume I gave up blogging! NO WAY! I have just been super-duper busy! Most of you already know that I coach the dance team at my school (although hopefully I will be able to give that duty up next year) and assistant coach the cheerleaders (hopefully I will take that on full time soon)... and although dance is over for the year - cheer is wrapping up and getting started all at the same time I guess you could say! Wednesday after work I had the "end of the cheer year" bash but today and tomorrow are cheer tryouts for next year! And today I also hosted an in-service after school. So, basically every day this week I have been busy doing something after work and pooped when I get home!

Inspired by my own "3 about me" post and a blog I love to read... Kelly's Korner... I will continue sharing some brief things about myself for your reading pleasure. :-)

My favorite holiday: Christmas (but I love ALL holidays - a little crazy - and I am all about celebrating some birthdays, seriously!)

Pets - none and no plan for any either. I like dogs, but the older I get I think I am just not a pet person. By the way, I don't like cats at all!

Favorite colors - pink and green (and favorite color to wear - black and pink)

That's it for today folks... more to come I am sure, but for now I am going to go take it easy for a few and unwind after a busy busy day at work!

Monday, April 7, 2008

3 About Me!

I thought I would write a post about myself today… So here are three VERY random things about me!

1. Although I am an extremely social person with a busy calendar and always open to guests in my home and to going out… I also enjoy spending time with myself. I go out to eat by myself on occasion. I like spending time at home alone. I absolutely LOVE going to movies by myself – a lot of times even prefer it. There is something special and comforting about snuggling down in a dark theater with a big sprite and a buttery oh-so-bad-for-me popcorn! I value so much that I know myself and know myself well. There is something to be said for not only being in touch with who you are, but embracing yourself! I think many people go through life too fast or settle into an existence too quickly and fail to reach the point where they truly develop themselves and a relationship with themselves independent of any other factor, save God.

2. This one is less profound than the first one, but something most of you probably don’t know. I love looking in catalogues at all kinds of things, but it is extremely rare that I actually purchase anything from a catalogue. I have a hard time buying something that I can’t see in person. You would think that would diminish the fun of looking through catalogues… but strangely it doesn’t. Some of my favorites: Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn, Hammacher Schlemmer, and Uncommon Goods.

3. I love recipes. I love to look at cookbooks and magazines and watch food network and collect recipes. I love, love, love to cook! I like creating my own recipes and even when I use a recipe that I have picked up somewhere from a book or a show, I rarely follow it exactly. (This is why I am not such a great baker!) Some of my favorite recipe sources: Church Cookbooks (they always seem to be the best), allrecipes.com (if you have never been there and like to cook, you should go!), Food Network (of course), and my personal favorite… friends and family! A fun source you might also look into is “Food and Family” magazine by Kraft. You can get it free (sign up on the website I think), they send one out each season, and it is filled with fun, easy, and usually seasonal recipes.

Well, there you have it. Three very random facts about me! I would love to learn three random and insightful things about you too! So if you are having a slow blog day, or want to email or comment, share some things about yourself!

P.S. My Mama’s Doggie (Tuffy) and My sister (Sarah) have both started blogs… you can link to them from this page! Check them out!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Pass the connoli...

To quote my best friend Lauren, "Buca di Best-O!" My famous crew and I loaded up this past Saturday night and headed to Franklin, TN... destination: Buca di Beppo! This most fabulous Italian restaurant serves up big food and big fun and a fabulous atmosphere! It was a treasured moment being able to see my nearest and dearest in one location. I will let the pictures (and captions) speak for themselves:

Sir plans-a-lot (pictured on the right) and her team!
My two best girls (Lauren and Megan) and myself outside of Buca!
I don't know what I would do without these amazing women in my life! They inspire me every single day.

"The Couple"
Chris (right) and Web (left) with Vance outside Buca!
These two would be the perfect couple if it weren't
for the fact that they are both straight! :-)
They are pictured with Vance who was all about pointing to the statue outside and her various facial features and other body parts!

Lauren and David and their sweet baby Dawson having a big time inside Buca! Dawson is an eater and I just KNOW that he was dying to get his little mouth around some connoli!

Megan, Web, and Vance. What a beautiful family!
If I turn out to be half as great as these people are,
I'll consider my self lucky and blessed!

"Little Man"
What a little stud! He is SO adorable, SO smart,
and SUCH a good little boy!!!

And last, but not least, "Mini-Word"
What a little angel - all smiles these days and holding that head up proud!
This is one proud Aunt! I can't wait to hear him let go
and belly laugh - he is so close!!! What a joy!
Not pictured: Julie and Rob. Don't know how they escaped the camera, but they managed to do it. Donnie was, unfortunately, unable to attend.

See if you have a Buca in your area - well worth the visit! And if you do, I hope you are as blessed as I am in having so many wonderful people to share the experience with!