Called to Serve

We have loved traveling and being with family for the past two years but we felt the call to serve another mission so here we are in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania for the next year.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas 2008

Christmas Eve for the Hopkins clan was spent at our house. We crammed 34 adults and children into the house and it wasn't bad at all. Everyone had plenty of food, fun and family.

 Stacy and her trusty assistant Trevor did a great job of distributing the gifts to all the children. Notice the "beautiful" tree in the background. I have been so busy this year that I had not even put out one single decoration until the day of the dinner. Wayne and I went to Lowes on Tuesday to look at their artificial trees. We decided that if we were not going to put the tree up until the 24th that we did not want to pay for a real tree only to turn around and throw it away less than a week later. We found a decent looking tree and only paid $29 after 75% off and a $10 coupon. It already has the lights on the tree and when it is filled with decorations and the lights are on it doesn't look too bad.

 The children all lined up ready to rip into all those packages.


Grandpa Al and Grandma Lulu oversee it all!

There was and abundance of packages in all sizes, shapes and colors.

A Quilting We Will Go

I have a lady in Madera that I have gone to when I needed to finish up my quilts. I did Thomas and Lucas's quilts several weeks ago and then I returned with Jeannie when she quilted Anna and Karyn's Christmas presents.


This first picture shows how big the Longarm machine is.



Jeannie did a really good job. She is much more daring than I am and I am jealous of the beautiful results.

These are the quilts I made for my boys. Thomas picked out the material when we visited Amish country in September. The colors in the pictures turned out a bit odd but the actual quilts look pretty good.

Now that Christmas is over and I can breathe a little I will start on Preston and Ashlyn's quilts.

A New Roof

After our trip to China, Wayne started on his first major project after retiring. He hired Jordan Papin to help him rip off our old shake shingles and then during the week of Thanksgiving he and Marco, our nephew, reroofed with new composition shingles.


Josh and Wayne working hard

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As you can see there was a slight mishap during the roofing. Wayne put a foot through the bathroom ceiling. We went for several weeks with it just patched up but he finally got it all repaired and it looks as good as new!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm a Esme! I found out through Which Twilight Female Are You? Take the quiz and find out!
Take the Quiz and Share Your Results!

I am not a real Twilight fan. I have read the first book for our Book Club and I went to see the movie - with the Book Club. But I did not go beyond book 1. I saw this quiz on my nieces blog and thought I would go ahead and do it though. I liked Esme so I guess I'm okay with the results.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More China


Wayne got to join in on a dance in the park outside of the Temple of Heaven. Lots of fun activities were going on here. It was like an outdoor community recreation center.
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Friday, November 7, 2008

China Spree

Well! It appears that we have neglected our Blog but the fact is that we left for China on Oct. 9th and were gone the rest of October. We are now over jet lag and while Wayne is tearing off our roof I am finally taking the time to fill in the gap.

Wayne found a tour company that had a fantastic deal on a trip to China so we booked this thing over a year ago. I was sceptical about whether the trip would turn out to be as good as it was promoted to be. Wayne can say I told you so! We had the most fantastic adventure.

We left Fresno on Thursday afternoon and we arrived in Bejeing on Friday night. We were greeted by a Chinese version of Wayne's uncle Carlisle. He was friendly, energetic and ready to go! Bill was to be our National Guide and would stay with us the entire 3 weeks. In each area we went to we also had a Local Guide. Our group consisted of 18 people and we could not have put together a better group if we had hand picked them ourselves. We were like family by the end of the trip. One couple has daughters in Frederick, MD. One of them even lives in the housing developement that Jonathan and Margo are in. We have already made arrangements to meet in Frederick in May.

We traveled a huge loop from Bejeing to Shanghai. We had plane rides, cruises, and train rides to get from city to city and then in each place we prayed fervently as we put our lives into the hands of a bus driver who had to weave through the horendous crowds of cars, bikes and scooters. Let me just say I would NEVER attempt to drive over there. The traffic is crazy.

Beijing had been cleaned up and spruced up for the Summer Olympics. This was a floral display from the Olympics, at Tienamen Square.

This picture shows the huge crowds we had to deal with at The Forbidden City.

In the course of our travels we saw Tienamen Square, The Forbidden City, the Terra Cotta Warriors, The Great Wall, The Shaolin Temple, Temple of Heaven, The Summer Palace, a tea plantation, a mountain with thousands of carved Buddhas, lakes, streams, farmers homes, etc., etc.

We stayed in 4 and 5 star hotels, ate chinese food twice a day for 20 days, learned to sing the Olympic song in Chinese, went to a silk factory, mongolian carpet factory, jade factory, pearl factory and a few other factories. We experienced the art of haggling over prices in the factories and in the markets. That was fun!

The Wall of glass was the BATHROOM! The beds were just beside this wall.
Several hotels had all glass in the bathroom.

These "yellow" pictures are of our room on the cruise down the Yangtze River. I guess the lighting was not good for picture taking.

We upgraded to a suite and were SOOO glad that we did. It was wonderful!

This was the head board in one of the hotels. I have no idea what it said but I do know that you read it from right to left. No matter what it said it was really pretty!

This was a "family" restaurant in the Hutaung where we at lunch one day. I think it was one of the best meals that we had.

This was our Peking Duck night.

Wayne has four hours worth of picture viewing but has not downloaded the pictures yet. I have posted just a few of the pictures I took before deciding that I did not need to take pictures because he was taking 5 to my 1. I am sure that we will add to this later.

Though 3 weeks was a long time to be away from home, we loved every minute of the trip. It is by far the best vacation that we have ever taken. The people were wonderful, the sites were fantastic and we had such a great time. We would encourage anyone who has an opportunity to travel to China to do it! With the way things are going with the economy, China is the most economical place to travel to.

Monday, October 6, 2008

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Quilters Paradise

The weekend of September 27th our quilting group spent 2 days of solid quilting at the house in MiWuk. The weather was great, the company was fun and we were able to completely finish a quilt top for our out-going counselor in the Bishopric, Joe Rothermel. We also were lucky enough to find a great quilting store in East Sonora. Everyone agrees that we need to do it again real soon.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Am I Blogging Down?

It appears that I have neglected to add anything to our blog for the past month and a half. I will blame that on the fact that during that time I was flitting here and there and never had the time. I will catch you up on the activities of the last little while.

August 6th Wayne and I left for San Francisco. He had a conference to attend and I amused myself by doing a Hop On Hop Off bus tour. I have been to SF so many times but I really enjoyed the ride around town and the narration that went with it. There were so many things that I recognized but I did not really know the facts about places. Not that I really remember what I heard but I did have fun. While we were there we went to an "Off Broadway" play called the Drowsy Chaperone. It was so good and FUNNY. Neither of us had ever heard of it but we were really glad that we had gotten tickets. I recommend it to anyone.

The following week we had our Clarke Campout. Wayne and I, Jason, Tamera, Preston, Ashlynn, Stacy and Ashley all headed for Bass Lake. Major mistake on the location. It was SOOO HOT! The campsites are all pretty small and you feel like you are right on top of the campsite next to you. Add to that their rediculous reservation system and it was pretty well a bad few days. Wayne and I were the first to arrive (by hours!) and so he went to check in and get our campsite assignment. They have some strange color coding system and so the two sites that we reserved were at opposite ends of the campground because they do not have the same colors grouped together. We had decided that we were going to squeeze everyone into one campsite when we discovered that the people next to us were using one of their two campsites (which somehow were across the street from each other) to park their cars. They very graciously allowed us to put up our big tent there and we had Jason's family bunk down there. We were then informed by the camp host that they had a rule that even if you don't use a campsite for sleeping in you had to put up a tent there (why that did not apply to the people next to us I do not know). We had Stacy's car parked at the other campsite but we had to put up a tent - rules are rules - so then we were one tent short. Stacy did not want to cram in with Ashley! She ended up sleeping in the back of Jason's truck under the stars. She was fine with that until the next day when she heard that there were bears in the area. Her remedy was to put one of the tent flys over the truck bed. How that helps protect you from a bear I do not know - for that matter how does a tent protect you?

Jason found an innovative way to keep the bugs out of his face and Preston loved making S'mores.

Despite a few problems here and there we did have some good moments. Stacy had gotten little fishing poles for Preston and Ashlynn and they used the plastic fish that came with it to practice casting for hours and hours. At one point they tied peanuts to the fishing line and they would cast it out then wait for the blue jays. As soon as one got it in his mouth they would reel it in. It was so funny.

Josh brought a huge blow up island raft and the kids had a great time with that. We also had fun going to the Forks for breakfast and having Josh wait on us.

We took a ride on the Sugar Pine Railroad then went up to Nelder Grove for a picnic among the Big Trees. There was an old cabin and remnants of the logging flumes along with a lot of other interesting stuff at the information station.

All in all, family camp is a keeper but we will chose much more wisely next year when it comes to the location.

The day we got home from camping, Jeannie and I packed up and headed for BYU Education Week. We had to wait for her to get off work at 2pm so it was kind of a late start. We got as far as Henderson, Nevada that night and stayed with Pat Clason. Unfortunately, Denise had gone to Fresno since her grandmother was in the hospital. In her absence, Pat was a wonderful host and it was great catching up on everything. We arrived in Provo Sunday night about 6:00pm and got settled into our dorm room. Annaleesa and her friend Kristen ended up in a room 3 doors down from us. We had a great week and I attended some interesting classes. We did a lot of shopping and got in a nice visit with Auntie Caye. We headed back home early Saturday morning and pulled into Clovis at 6:30pm, in time for me to attend Daniel Larsens wedding reception.

On August 29th Stacy and I headed to Maryland to babysit while Jon and Margo vacationed in Paris and Amsterdam. What a week. I am so glad that Stacy was able to be with me most of the week. We had one full day of touring Amish country (which I hope she enjoyed - it was her choice to go)and then the rest of the week was work! Stacy came home on Sept. 6th and I about cried when I dropped her off at the airport. She was such a help and I was leery of being on my own for 3 more days. Not to worry though. The boys were great. It was so nice to have had Lucas bond with me from the very beginning. He would never let Stacy do anything for him, he would always so "No, Grandma". Does a heart good!

Thomas started PreK while Jonathan and Margo were gone.
Stacy and I had the pleasure of walking him to and from the
bus each day.

Lucas loves playing on the swings. He thinks it is a horses saddle some times.

Margo and Jonathan got home late Monday night and I gave them a day to recuperate before going home on Sept. 10th. I am so glad I was able to do this. I was wiped out but loved every minute of it.

That catches me up but now what of Wayne during all this time? As far as I can tell he was just working, visiting his mother and missing me.

He did do a little hike with Jason and Preston.

And everyone went to Jeannie and Kerry's for a Labor Day Bar-B-Que and swim party.

Wayne's big activity now is getting ready for his retirement. He has this week and next and then he is a free man. He has a retirement luncheon scheduled for October 3rd and then 6 days later we go to China.

Today is Wayne's 60th birthday. We had a little family dinner for him yesterday but I wanted to do something that would distinguish today from any other day. I emailed everyone that I had email addresses for and asked them to send an electronic birthday card. Wayne was checking his email this morning and after about the 3rd or 4th greeting he asked what was going on. There were only about 6 emails when he left for work. There are about 20 more now and they gradually keep showing up. I also got a cake and took it to work. Ashley emailed the whole office to tell them to go by and wish him a Happy Birthday and share the cake. He had people wishing him a Happy Birthday all day. I think he had fun with it all.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Full House

We have had a busy weekend. Busy in that we have gotten quite used to it just being the two of us at home and we had a few extra bodies here.

Friday morning Macayela, Ella and Dallin came to play for the day. Their mom and dad went to LA to see Wicked (I am jealous!) I wish I had taken pictures of all their activities for the day. We had a LOT of water time, games, videos and eating. They were all three so cute and so good but I was REALLY tired by the time Karyn came to take them to her house for a sleepover.

Also on Friday morning I had received a phone call from my mother as she was leaving the emergency room of the hospital. It seems that she had spent the night there with my dad and he had just been admitted so she was going to go home and get some sleep. I felt bad that I was unable to go sit with her at the hospital but with a houseful of kids it was not possible.

That night (almost the next day since it was 11:45pm) Brian and Christine and their two children came to visit for three days. We stayed up till about 1:30am talking and then decided we really didn't need to stay up because we had all the next day to talk.

Saturday was such a fun day. We had a lot of water toys out from the previous day but we added a few more and invited Preston and Ashlyn to come join Jackie and Olivia. They had a blast playing together and it was great for the second cousins to get to know each other. Again, I wish that I had thought to take pictures. We had a great time visiting most of the day and then Wayne and I along with Josh and Ashley went to attend the wedding reception of two young adults from our Ward.

Sunday was a good day at church. Jackie came into my Primary class and we had a great time. Everyone went off to visit Granny while I fixed dinner. We had Archie, Linda and Joey come for dinner and it was like a family reunion. We did manage to fit in a game of Apples to Apples which was fun.

Sunday night we stayed up really late again and got lots of suggestions from Brian for decorations at Ashley's reception. It is really too bad they live so far away. He has fantastic ideas and also most of the equipment to do a bang up job. We could really use him.

Well all too soon Monday came and it was time for the Boston Clarkes to leave. We had a wonderful time while they were here and I was really glad for the chance to catch up and do some bonding. We loved having them here and hope to be able to do it again soon.

I did think to get the camera out just before they left and so am including pictures of Olivia (soon to be 3 years old) and Jackie (5 years old, starting school this year).