Year in Review

This year brought its share of difficulties but we were gifted many lovely moments along the way.


Here’s to a brand new year!




Welcome Home Soldier

Fred W. Ashley 

January 12, 1923 – May 4, 1945

Fred W. Ashley

What an honor it will be to see Fred W. Ashley finally laid to rest in his hometown of Emmett, Idaho. Mortally wounded on May 4, 1945 during WWII, Ashley was declared killed in action and his remains were not immediately recovered. Four years later, they were misidentified as fallen WWII pilot, Richard Lane and sent to Nebraska. Richard Lane was actually buried in a Belgium military cemetery as “unknown”. Historians later studied records and gathered clues to solve the puzzle. Now, 73 years later, descendants of both men gather to honor them and welcome them home.


Staff Sergeant Tyler James Hopkins (Ashley’s great-great-great nephew and our nephew 🙂 participated in the dignified transfer of Ashley’s remains. He accompanied his ancestor across the country to be laid to rest in his home state of Idaho. What an honor for a young staff sergeant who isn’t much older than his great-great-great uncle was when he died serving our country.  What an incredible story!

Related local news stories:

Dignified Transfer of Fred W. Ashley (photo by Tyler Hopkins)


Great GranJan

G1 and G4

GranJan’s house is exactly as it was when my sisters and I were young. I wanted Alice to sleep in the same flowery room, bathe in the tub under the stain glass window, and romp in that beautiful backyard! In California, you can pick your morning grapefruit right from the tree. Alice couldn’t pick enough kumquats (tiny tart fruits you eat whole) to bring home to her dad.

The sweet smelling flora is delightfully different from what we find in the mountains of Idaho. The weather was perfect and GranJan created an itinerary full of interesting and tasty things to see and do during our visit. She sent us to the California Living Museum (CALM) where we watched a hummingbird take a drink from a stream (not even part of the exhibit!) and snuggled a mountain lion through the glass.

No trip to Bakersfield is complete without a trip to Dewars Ice Cream and Fine Candies. We saw cousins we hadn’t seen in years and watched great grand babies play with the very vintage toys each generation has enjoyed.

GranJan has the sweetest laugh, she never forgets a birthday and she’ll drop everything to play a game. Of course it takes growing up to realize how much more there is to our grandparents’ lives than great grandparenthood. Janet Poteete is an exceptional woman with an amazing and inspirational story. Our family is sooo lucky.

HipstamaticPhoto-548723928.123625Alice will learn her great grandparents’ stories in time. For now, she has the wonderful privilege of knowing many of them in person and that is a precious gift.

Trips like these are too few and far between but this little traveler is always up for adventure. Thank you for a wonderful visit GranJan, we love you dearly.

In Memory of Great Grandpa Max


Road Trip!

It’s been MONTHS since I’ve posted here. The more time that passes, the harder it is for me to return. I assure you, it’s not due to lack of content. Life.


This year, we travelled from McCall —> Boise —> Portland —> Oregon Coast —> and back for Spring Break. We were on our way to visit our favorite family of eight, the Prasil’s! They moved from Clarkston, WA to PDX last year and we just had to see them, their new home and neighborhood (+ I love Portland).

Many, many times, I traveled the Columbia River gorge when I worked for Biomark.  Somehow it is much more enjoyable with my people (+ Pearl), the Four-Wheel, a fresh playlist, and the promise of the ocean. Green grass, moss, ferns, and flowers were all welcome treats for our eyes.


You can’t drive I-84 and not notice Multnomah Falls. I remember stopping at the falls as a child and wanted Alice to see it up close too. From there, we made our way into the greater Portland area and found our way to our friends. It didn’t take long to dive into their neighborhood delights: a cocktail at Grain and Gristle followed by a deliciously spicy dinner next door at Pok Pok.


Alice was beyond excited to reunite with some of her favorite Little 45ers. And thrilled to pop-up the camper right in their driveway. The first words she uttered the following day, “when are the kids going to wake up?”


I think the only thing we really “planned” was a visit to the Portland Art Museum to see Animating Life: The Art, Science, and Wonder of LAIKA exhibit where visitors get a behind the scenes view of the amazing process of stop motion animation. It was fascinating. We loved Kubo and the Two Strings and to see how it was made was incredible, I had no idea what went into these films! We also enjoyed The Boxtrolls and Coraline. When we arrived home, we promptly watched ParaNorman too. The other exhibits were neat too and we tried to see as much as possible before losing Alice. Common Ground, photographs by Fazal Sheikh of displaced refugees was heartbreakingly beautiful.

Next up, the Oregon Zoo because regardless of how one feels about zoos, it’s hard to deny children the wonder of wild animals. We raced to keep up with the kids and caught glimpses of animals enjoying their enrichment treats. After the excitement of a day well spent in Portland, we were hungry! Lucky for us, Dan and Ruthie know exactly where to find good food. It was on to Mississippi Avenue and Miss Delta.

The following morning we rallied the Four-Wheel camper crew for a trip to the ocean! A brand spanking new mountain bike among us, Dan guided us to Stub Stewart. At the top, the views were plenty and not one child was the least bit bored all afternoon. Riding among moss covered trees with trilliums in bloom made for the perfect “first ride” of the season.

The sun was setting when we rolled into Cape Lookout campground so we scrambled to get to the beach to catch a glimpse.



We elected to take a hike before we went to the beach one morning, even though that was the only thing the kids wanted to do. It turns out our visit aligned with the beginning of whale watching season! We packed a few snacks and some water and headed to the trailhead. The hike ended up being way longer than we thought and the trail was muddy and seriously treacherous in places. There were more than a few wide-eyed glances between the adults in the group. It was Eco-Challenge style. But the crew of kids were unfazed and we were truly rewarded with the beautiful sight of gray whales!

I love meeting friend’s parents! Ruthie’s mom and dad are exceptional and it shows, in them, their children, and their grandchildren. They did a good job. It’s cool when families find new places in life and still end up near one another. It makes me smile when people make big life decisions and end up happy and at home in new and exciting situations. It’s not easy to step away from what you think you’re building for your family in a career, a home, a place. It takes guts and you, along with the people that matter the most have to be a team. And it works. And that’s inspiring. Another trip for the memory books, thanks friends, until next time.





Wintry Wishes

xo JA2

She’s Crafty


Alice participated in the Student Craft and Food Fair at her school yesterday, featuring kids selling their kid make creations. This sort of event is right up this girl’s alley. She spent hours preparing for the sale making dog treats, pinecone bird feeders, and signs. All day she asked over and over about when the sale was going to start. Alice sold out of dog treats first followed by the bird feeders before the event was even over. She’s got big plans for her earnings and it should be a very Merry Christmas for Pearl!




The craft fair was a fun success and those kids were stoked! They proudly displayed their wares, making deals, and dropping prices. There were lots of cool kid crafted treasures. Slime was a popular product. We came home with goodies, a stocking for Pearl, earrings, and ornaments. It took some work but those students were full of pride at creating and vending their homemade wares. And of course there were moms, dads, grandparents and the like behind the scenes!


This girl is a true entrepreneur. She begs us on the daily to let her have sales in the driveway and has been bringing ‘Pet Watcher’ posters everywhere we go to spread the word out about her latest business plan. The lady at the movie rental place (yeah, don’t be jealous, McCall has one) even let her tape her poster prominently in the window next to McPaws, oh happy day.


But her enthusiasm is contagious and we’re all too happy to support it (within reason, let’s hope we don’t get a bunch of calls…or any).


Jared put together this video of Alice explaining how to make pinecone bird feeders so everyone can get in on the fun! I apologize in advance for the videographer skills, I’m sure I’ll have opportunities for more practice.

And if you’re interested in making your own dog treats, here’s the recipe we used from our trusty Ultimate Kid Connection book.



Alice and Pearl both approve these tasty treats!

Hobin Remodel – Part 1

Note: This post was a long time coming and seemed so overwhelming that I didn’t start it…until now. And for those of you who don’t already know our “story”, check it out! We moved from what we considered a busy life to deliberately slow things down near the mountains that we love. Although, when we began this project we had no idea that years later, we’d actually live, full-time, in this very home.    

The Exterior:

This time of year, seven years ago, we acquired our own piece of McCall with the purchase of the Hobin (Home + Cabin). At the time, we were working and living in Boise but spent much of our time, especially winters, in and around this area.

The house we ended up buying wasn’t at all the dream cabin we imagined. Our friend and realtor, Shelly DeMoss, showed us the listing multiple times before we actually looked inside. After remodeling our home in Boise, we definitely were not looking for another project. But finally we decided that the price, location, and size might be right for us. And once the process was complete…we were beyond excited to have our own place in McCall!

The Hopkins Family (circa 2010)

The place was ugly. There’s no other way to describe the worn out and faded siding and crumbling brick entry. But the inside was nice and totally livable, especially for a cabin. That winter we spent powder days at Brundage and evenings shoveling snow from the garage to the front door. It didn’t take long to realize this part of the house  needed help.



After an epic first winter, we tackled the exterior the following summer starting with the siding.


We put corrugated metal along the base of the house primarily for protection from snow but also because we liked the look. The wood siding along the top ended up being in decent shape so we reused as much of the original material as possible.

The summer of 2011 wound down and we got the news of our lives. We found out we  would welcome a baby in the spring! We already planned to remodel the roofline by adding gables and extending the roof between the entry and garage, so that phase began that fall.

We contracted our friend Clint (Capital Construction) to help with the project. He and his dog Max stayed with us some of the time during the project. It was a bit concerning, at least for me, when fall set in. Jeff and his crew from Owyhee Roofing, installed the roof in the cold and snow!

And so, by early November the bulk of the remodel was complete. Just a few finishing touches we happily put off until the following summer.


Jared and Clint also took down a lodgepole to make room between the front and side driveway.

Fast forward a few months…and voila! A brand new daughter!

Luckily, we spent most of that summer at the Hobin. So, we finished up the exterior and recruited friends to help plant trees and shrubs in the yard. I must say, it felt pretty good when a few McCall locals stopped to tell us how nice the place looked!

Mathias and Hopkins…getting it done!


And the Hobin as it looks now!

photo bomber!

* stay tuned for Part 2: The Interior

Foster Fam

Ron, Hermione, and little Harry

Alice’s dream came true recently when McPaws contacted us to foster kittens. She’s literally trained for this and takes the role very seriously. We’d been on the list for a while, but pretty much forgot about fostering once school started.

Then the ‘Harry Potter’ kittens entered our home and our hearts. Harry, Hermione, and Ron..two fluffy and one tiny guy with white paws (Alice’s fave). We found out after the first week of watching them we had the names mixed up on the males. It’s hard not to call the little guy Ron still.

Pretty neat to watch these kitties grow and change in just a few short weeks. Even sweeter to watch Alice tend to them. She makes sure they are all safe and accounted for and even fancied up their dwelling with artwork. Pearl (our McPaws rescue dog!) LOVES the kittens. She licks them, acts as a jungle gym, and keeps track of them too. Right now they have each other and they pretty much wrestle and chase, snuggle and snooze, and of course eat voraciously filling the small cat box everyday. That part is getting old.


Foster programs are just one component of animal rescue but essentially the role of a foster family is to protect and encourage normal growth and development of very young  animals. The goal is to place well-adjusted, healthy companion pets with loving homes.

It’s been an experience. And even though they’re naughty and Jared’s allergies are going crazy, we’d probably do it again.

If you’ve been considering a kitty, look no further. These kittens are fearless and unbearably cute. They love dogs and people and will make great cats. Ron (who we called Harry) is ready for adoption now and these two littles will be soon.


You should totally adopt one! (or any other sweet cat or dog from your local shelter 😉




Party of Three

Lordy, Lordy…


This milestone birthday called for a weekend long celebration and a party in the woods. Fishing, four-wheel, and cruising the backcountry on the Trail 90…the perfect way to celebrate our man and welcome fall.


Happy Birthday, we love you.