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, September 27, 2011

Fall cook out!

Every year my Mom and I get bit with the Fall bug!  When this happens, Mom always starts planning a "bon fire" for cooler weather!  It's kind of her thing.  Where the 4th of July is my Dad's big "get everyone together" thing, Mom prefers the cool fall weather for a low key night by a fire!  :-)  I love it!  So this past weekend we packed up and headed to Chattanooga for just such a night!

Lily and I helped Grandmommy get everything ready!  She made from scratch caramel sauce for dipping granny smith apples in - SO yummy!  Of course there were s'mores and hot dogs and chips and Mom's from scratch oh-so-good chili and my Aunt brought brownies that were delish!!

Kenlsee had a big time!  Now that she can walk, she is all over the place and into everything!  We spent some time on the back porch while we waited for everyone to arrive.  :-)  This is pretty much the look she wears all the time - she is nothing but smiles and laughs and squeals of delight!

We carried everything out to the pond in the gator... all three girls were all about riding (and driving) the gator every time we had to make a trip to get food or wood or ... well.... anything!  Papaw, of course, was perfectly fine with the extra passengers "helping" him with everything!

 Anytime we have a get together Daddy gets a cooler and fills it with "the good ice" from the restaurant.  You know the kind I'm talking about?  The little pellets of crunchy goodness???  :-)  Yeah, well, we had lots of "good ice" and Kenslee was all about that too!

 We had so much fun and it was the prefect day - as you can see by our attire.  It was warm, but with a cool breeze.  As the sun went down, everyone was comfee by the fire.

I love little feet!  These are Lily's.  She had shorts on earlier in the day, but on a trip to "put our feet in the pool" with Grandmommy... somehow Bentlee and Lily came back soaked to the waste and giggling like little wild girls should! lol.  They had a blast! 

Jay and Anne came down from Murfreesboro to see their daughter Erin who lives and works in Chattanooga, so the three of them drove over and joined us for the bon fire too!  It was fun showing them where I grew up and visiting over hot dogs and s'mores! 

Once we broke out the food and beverages, Kenslee pretty much started her rotation from chair to chair and person to person sampling from each plate and cup.  She pretty much did this until she fell asleep, lol!

The "big girls" might as well have been in in their own world!  They picnicked in the back of the gator, played hide and seek while the sun was up and flash light tag while the sun was down.  They even went in and out of the house playing outside and then going in to play American Girl dolls and then back out again! 

We ended the night with extra servings of dessert.  We circled closer around the fire and broke out sweat shirts and blankets as the temperature dropped and we told stories of when we were little and when the girls were little and we laughed.  It was so much fun.  We can't wait to do it again!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Menu Monday... and a recipe too!

We tried a new recipe this weekend that turned out great! I couldn't get over how EASY it was. We all three liked it, which was also a big plus! It was originally a crock pot recipe, but since we were home, I went ahead and just made it on the stove top. :-)

Southwestern Chicken Chowder
15 oz can Veg All, drained
2 cups cooked cubed chicken
1 medium red pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup thick and chunky salsa
1 Tbs fresh lime juice
1 can mild chili beans
1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro (I used cilantro paste)

Combine all ingredients except cilantro in a 2 - 3 quart crock pot. Cook on low for 1 - 2 hours or until heated through. Add cilantro and serve.

I just warmed it and let it simmer on the stove for a while since we were home. Then I fixed a big cast iron skillet of fresh corn bread to go with the soup. Last week I cooked, deboned, and diced a whole chicken, so I had frozen cooked chicken on hand to use... this means it took very little time and effort to make dinner and it was a very filling meal! If I cook this again, I will either use spicy/hot chili beans or spicy/hot salsa to add a little kick - it was VERY mild - but that was perfect since Lily was eating it too! I also had to add salt and pepper to taste.  I certainly recommend giving this reciep a try!

Now... for the week's menu plan...

Tailgate Food (at my husbands request... it is Monday Night Football night after all!)  I am making a healthy yummy meal of pigs in blankets, cheese sticks, and potato skins! lol

leftover soup from Sunday

Chicken Casserole

Chicken Fried Steak, mashed pototoes, and green beans

Lefotver Chicken Casserole (I'll be out of town)

Popcorn Shrimp and tater tots (I'll be out of town)

I think Chris and Lily are eating at Chris' parents house (I'll be out of town)

More on the "I'll be out of town" notes later... you might be able to figure it out if you know me well.  :-)  I will also be blogging later this week about our fun weekend in Chattanooga!!  :-)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Oh goodness!

(Warning: Very random post... very stream of consciousness)

I woke up pretty early this morning.  I always get up a few minutes before Chris so I can gently wake him.  I like the idea of him not having to get up to a screaming alarm clock while I snooze away!  That man works so hard.  While he showers I putter around the house, helping him gather what he needs to start his day and packing his lunch.  Lily (when with us) is usually sound asleep during this morning ritual... peaceful and snug in her bed until her Daddy is ready and goes to wake her gently and carries her all sleepy eyed and in her PJs with wild bed head to the living room for a quick couch snuggle.  It is early and it is simple, but it is one of my favorite times of day.

After everyone is up and off to school I begin my day.  I shower and all those usual things, but then I try to start my mornings slow.  I usually start a load of laundry or empty the dishwasher and then sit down for a quiet moment.  I have been making an effort to spend time in the mornings in the Word and in prayer and then Chris and I share a prayer via email.  This morning was particularly peaceful.  The sun was streaming in the windows, inviting me outside to see the bright sun rays dancing off glittery dew on the grass!

It was goodness all around me and I wish I could have bottled it up!
The potted basil plant that drove me crazy all summer trying to flower, has been let go.  And today the flowers weren't irritating, they were beautiful in the bright sun and the smell of basil filled the air around the back door.
While outside I picked some tomatoes.  This is a picture of one of Lily's favorite lunches!  :-)  That girl LOVES tomatoes.  Another one of my favorite things to do is to pack Chris' and Lily's lunches.  I get simple pleasure from cutting sandwiches into shapes and writing notes on napkins.  Little things to make lunch time a little more special in the middle of a busy day make all the difference.

  (Remember, I warned you this was random)
This is my favorite drink now, thanks to my Mom discovering it!  Now that I'm pregnant, I am not consuming caffeine.  It doesn't bother me terribly, but I do miss variety and I miss tea.  I am not an instant tea fan, but we found that Crystal Light makes a decaffeinated lemon tea (above) that is wonderfully bright and refreshing.  I love it!

Speaking of pregnant.  Our busy baby girl is out of control, kicking and flipping and rolling around all day long.  I can now watch my belly and see her move, lol.  I have had more requests for belly pictures.  I did another self-timer picture this morning... this is me... tomorrow I'll be 24 weeks, officially 6 months, wow.  It's going by so fast!

I usually try to do some baking each week so we have something a little special on hand.  This is big for me, because I'm not big on baking... much more of a "home cook."  I'm not great about measuring things exactly, so when baking I have to focus more and don't have as much freedom to tweak recipes to our liking.  Today, no tweaking was needed.  What I am about to share with you is pure goodness... as in "oh my goodness" kind of good!

I decided to try a new recipe.  It's a Pioneer Woman recipes for French Breakfast Puffs.  You can click here for the recipe.

I adapted a little by using a mini muffin pan instead of standard.

They look like plain muffins here, but still good enough to eat.  But the magic comes when you toss them in butter and then roll them in...
...cinnamon sugar.

Oh my goodness!
They literally melt in your mouth.  The inside is so light and fluffy and the outside is sugary and delicious.  They taste like french toast and cinnamon sugar doughnuts, but they are perfect little muffin "puffs."

I had to eat a couple for breakfast.  I put some back for this weekend.  And here comes the best part.  According to the recipe, they freeze and reheat wonderfully.  So... away half the batch goes into the freezer for a cold day when we need a "special" breakfast.

I strongly encourage you to treat yourself to these yummy treats!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pregnancy Highlights: Week 23

How Far Along: 23 weeks

Size of Baby: Friday she was 1.4 lbs according to the ultrasound tech and is in the 47th percentile

Total Weight Gain: 11 pounds!  I was surprised, but the doctor says this is really good and I should keep doing what I am doing!  :-)

Maternity Clothes: Pants for sure - tops some yes, some no.  It just depends.  :-)

Gender: Girl!! We double checked at this last ultrasound... definitely a girl!

Movement: ALL. THE. TIME.  This morning I actually watched my belly move, lol.  She is a wild girl!!

Sleep: interrupted.  At least 1 potty break a night and usually I lie awake for a while after that.

Symptoms: I have a baby in my belly, lol, that's my symptom.  LOL... okay, seriously, I feel great!  I get heart burn every now and then, but nothing too frequent.

What I Miss: fewer trips to the bathroom and wine.... okay and beer, I mean, it's football season people!

Cravings: SWEETS!  I try to keep this in check.... I haven't loaded our freezer with ice cream and our pantry with cookies... I figure if they aren't around I can crave them all I want, lol.  I have indulged with a homemade batch of sugar cookies and a batch of PB Oatmeal Cookies! lol

Best Moment This Week: I watched my belly move all by itself, lol. Chris and I also had a great time registering!

What I'm Looking Forward To:  Watching Chris hold our sweet baby girl... and holding her myself!  I can't wait to see her little face!!!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Menu Monday... er.... Tuesday?

You would think that staying home, I'd have lots more blog posts!  I had hoped that would be the case, but I do find that my days fill up rather quickly.  Things I love about staying home... the bottom of the laundry basket, dinner on the table, and very little stress.  OH!  And time to really plan out my grocery shopping and finding the best deals - I love that too!  :-)

 Above is my favorite pot.  Full of my favorite Chili recipe.  It just seemed like a good picture for a Menu Monday Tuesday... especially since the weather has been so wonderfully mild!!

This Week's Menu;

$0.99 Taco Night at our favorite Mexican Restaurant - Camino Real!

South of the Border Crock pot Mac N Cheese (We have a ball game and won't be home 'til late, so this will be in the crock pot waiting!)

Chicken Tenders and Tots for Chris, I'll be eating with the girls!
3 Cheese and Chicken Casserole

Grilled Burgers and Chips

Cookout in Chattanooga!

Sausage Cream Cheese Squares/tailgate food for the noon games and Southwest Chicken Chowder in the crock pot for the evening games.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The Kitchen Tool that Could

I wanted to take a moment to introduce you to a new friend of mine.  She's been around for a while now, but only recently... like in the past month or so have we really gotten to know each other well. 

Meet, Miss Veggie Wedger

I first met Veggie Wedger through Pampered Chef, of course.  I didn't think I would really use her that much, but you know how it is... as a consultant I don't turn down those little perks like free products.  So, there she sat in my cabinet.  I displayed her at a party or two.  And then one day I made a discovery!

I hate cutting oranges.  They are sticky and juicy and messy.  My husband, however, enjoys fresh fruit in his lunch and likes oranges very much!  Enter Miss Veggie wedger.  No mess, No fuss, No juice, No sticky... just a perfectly round orange, cut into perfect wedges, and placed in a plastic baggie.  I though, WOW, you are handy to have around.

Then came the day of the potato soup.  I was going to cut them on the cutting board like always, but Miss Veggie Wedger had proved so useful with oranges, I thought I would really put her to the test with a bunch of dense potatoes!  No way would she glide through them with ease.  BUT she COULD! and she DID!  And it was good.  You can see in the above picture a wedged potato... I didn't believe it until I did with my own to hands, but in one quick (not at all pesky) push, I had perfectly wedged potatoes.

So, tough root veggies didn't stump Miss Veggie Wedger, and neither did my sweet citrus, but I was betting she'd kill a tomato.  I didn't really think she'd wedge it perfectly for a salad without smushing it a little and letting all the juicy out.  But she could... and she did (you can see that in the picture too).

So, this week, I would like to recognize Miss Veggie Wedger as working her way up to my top 5 favorite kitchen gadget list.  Those of you who know my love of kitchen gadgets realize just what an honor this is for her!

Congratulations Miss Veggie Wedger... you are a cut above the rest!

I didn't do this post as an advertisement at all - seriously!  Just wanted to share a kitchen tool that I have come to love.  BUT since I happen to be a Pampered Chef consultant, if you or someone you know could really use this little gem, it would be cruel for me not to tell you how you too can have her in your kitchen!  Click Here for a link to my website where you will find her and other wonderful kitchen-y goodness! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Menu Monday

It's that time again! :-)
My Menu Plan for the week...

(We are at the end of Chris' pay period, so you know we are doing budget friendly, pantry handy meals this week!  This is my #1 go to for just such a week!  Prep takes 5 minutes (literally) and I ALWAYS have the ingredients (all 4 of them) in my pantry.)

Tex Mex Chicken Melts
(I'll use the leftover chicken from Monday to make these yummy treats!  Perfect for Tuesday night since we don't get home until after Chris' game... this is a good light snacky meal)

Chicken Broccoli Casserole - YUM! 
Love a one-dish meal!
Change of plans... not in the mood for rice, lol.
BBQ Chicken w/
green beans and boiled potatoes
and magic muffins!  :-)

Pork Chop Casserole (with potatoes)
Another one-dish meal.

BBQ pork on Buns
Oven Fries

Mexican something...
Either Taco Pie or Family burrito Bake

Football... I'll mix up something snacky... maybe chicken wings!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Every year on this day, my mind drifts back to that day.

I always feel inclined to post something - such a significant day should be noted, remembered, retold.  But I never seem to have the words.

I find it very sad that so many young people haven't been taught, haven't been told, an don't understand what this date "9/11" means to citizens of the United States.  Last year I was shocked at the number of students that didn't know "exactly" what happened.  I got responses like, "a bomb went off in New York" or "didn't someone bomb New York and the Pentagon?"  I realize that my middle school students would have only been babies at that time, but I would think that in 7 years of schooling someone would have shared more about this tragic event that did, even though they were young, happen in their lifetime.

I still don't have many words to share or anything profound or beautiful to say.  Today, I just remember... and I will never forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend to Week...

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend as much as we enjoyed ours!

Here is our weekend recap that rolls right on into our upcoming week...

We went to Chattanooga this weekend to hang out with these little monkeys!
Kenslee (above) and Bentlee (below) - my beautiful nieces!

We actually went to visit with everyone in the family, but these are the only two I actually remembered to snap a picture of and I only remembered to do this on the way out the door (as you can see we are in the garage saying our goodbyes)!

We enjoyed BBQ eating and couch sitting and football watching!  Chris got in some much needed time in "his sanctuary" (also known as the golf course) and I got some in mine (the pedicure chair, lol)!  Mom and I had some quality time getting our toes and eyebrows done and I even got to visit my grandparents and some out of town relatives in from North Carolina!  It was great!

One of the highlights and I suppose the "main" reason we went, was for....
...our first annual Family (and friends) Fantasy Football Draft!  :-)
I am so excited to finally get my family in on the fantasy football fun!  We had a great time at the draft and I am SOOO ready for the season to start Thursday (even though my quarterback is already injured, lol).

The other main event late this weekend and rolling on into our week was ans is lots (and lots) of RAIN!

And, it appears it will keep raining (at least a little) through Thursday of this week!  Whew.  We needed rain, but this is A LOT of rain.  As in, it started raining Sunday evening and hasn't stopped yet... literally.
The really good news is, it brought cooler temperatures with it!  Yesterday it didn't even get out of the 50's.  I LOVE IT!  I am so ready for fall, it's a little sneak peak and a welcome change to the hot and dry days of summer!

Other things going on:  Chris' Aunt has experienced what we all consider to be a miraculous recovery from heart surgery... one that turned from somewhat "routine" to in-depth and life threatening.  She is now out of ICU, walking, eating, and visiting... a real miracle!  We are thanking God for the blessing and praying for a speedy recovery!

And, meal planning.  We are repeating some meals this week that I ended up not making, so much of this is repeat, but here it is anyway:


Chili (I couldn't resist)

Steak and Peppers with Potatoes

Pepperoni Pizza bites

Chicken Salad Croissants

Pork Tenderloin with Smoky BBQ Ranch on buns

Football Food... not sure what yet ;-)

Friday, September 2, 2011

You asked for it...

I haven't posted any belly pictures because I really haven't had enough belly to show! lol!  With only 3 pounds total weight gain, it's really been hard for anyone to tell I was expecting, even at 21 weeks along!  But, alas, you keep asking for belly pics... I guess everyone loves a baby bump, and our wild baby girl aims to please.  This week I have noticed my belly expanding.  So without any further delay... here I am at week 4 (at this point I just felt bloated)...

...and here I am week 21, as the bump slowly emerges...

Sorry for the self-photo quality, lol.  :-)

Our baby girl is a wild one.  She moves all day, every day!  If I sit still for a few moments, she starts having a little private party in my belly!  Maybe she's cramped? lol.

Only one Friday photo this week.  It's been a BUSY week with many trips to Nashville for a sick family member.  There hasn't been a lot of time to blogging.  Here is the only photo I took this week...

My prince charming brought be flowers!  I was having "a day."  The door bell rang at an odd time and when I went to the door (cautiously and curious), there he was!  All dressed up, holding roses, and asking me out on a date.  I love this man!  He turned a kind of unpleasant day into one of the most fun and memorable.  Did I mention how much I love him?  He's truly is a WONDERFUL husband and a romantic at heart!  :-)  I'm so blessed!

Happy weekend y'all!  It's sure to be LONG and FUN!