Thursday, December 20, 2012

More Christmas decor

 I started this post last year at Christmas time and never finished it. Now I can't remember what I was going to add or change about it but I figured I'd post what is here. I didn't set everything up the same this year but it gives an idea anyway.

 Here are some shots of decorations for the holidays.  This one was Thanksgiving.  The blocks on top say "Count Your Blessings"

And here is that space for Christmas. Same blocks on top only this side says "'Tis the Season".  The wood candles next to it were made by my son way back when he was in cub scouts.  Cute. The countdown til Christmas next to the candles is a new addition this year.

  Bay leaf wreath. 
Candy cane wreath.

As an aside let me add that the candy cane wreath does not keep well. Besides breaking easily, the candy canes get sticky over time, so plan on this one being just for one year.

 I find cross stitch very relaxing so I used to choose one big project to work on through the year.  This is our cross stitch nativity.

This was supposed to be a tree skirt but I love the Swedish skirt that I have had for years so I use this as a table cloth instead. Wish I could say I made the Santa that sits on it but that was made by my talented sister in law.  The tree is one of my advent calendars.
One year I did stockings for everyone.  My daughter has informed me that when someone gets married I'd better be prepared to make one for the spouse.  I can't hang stockings on the hearth because we have a wood stove and use it all winter long.  I can't have them dangling down by the stove top.  So they hang from this shelf with a display of Santas. 

Cross stitch pillows.

 Snowmen on the piano.

How is this for cuteness?  This picture was taken the day after my husband and I got engaged and I had it made into a Christmas plate.  My intention was to do an updated picture each year but sadly this is the only one that got made.

Noel pillows. 

This advent calendar was another one of those things that I saw in a catalog.  It was way too expensive to suit me so I asked my Dad to make it for me. He cut the wood and assembled it and I painted it.  I think that I'd paint it differently if I were to do it now but there it is anyway. The biggest difference between this one and the catalog is that theirs was a music box and we didn't bother to do that.

Each door hides an ornament

Thomas Family Christmas Letter 2012

I haven't posted for quite a while, first because I didn't feel I had anything to write about and then I got too busy. But thanks to my husband, I can now post a copy of our Christmas Letter. 

Merry Christmas to all.               

Change and Continuity, 2012:

Much as we might want to think otherwise, there is hardly any chance that the world will really end this December, so as we gear up for the future, here’s a review of the recent past. This year our family experienced a few changes and more continuity. As a fictional sheriff once said, “That could be good, or bad.”

The biggest change was the passing of Maria’s mother, Inga Morgan, in June. After a long wrestle with Alzheimer’s disease, her body finally succumbed. It was a struggle to the end, and we learned that dying can be hard and perplexing, even though death can be a sweet release. After years at her side at the Homestead, including almost every hour in the last weeks, her husband Keith quickly left Rexburg weather behind, returning to Oregon to live with Maria’s brother’s family and to resume his service in the temple.  There was a peaceful, hope-filled funeral, as family and friends reflected on a noble life and a great plan of happiness.

A different kind of change occurred in December, when Brooke completed her undergraduate education at Brigham Young University. She has been an excellent student, and if you want to bug her, just ask, “Now what?” She’d really like to excel in family life more than professional achievement, but at present she lacks a suitor and an employer. But she does have faith, some skills (anyone need forensic linguistics?), and a creative mind. Plus she asserts more control over the ’93 minivan than her little sister.

We passed a couple of milestones without noticeable change. In April, Maria and John marked 25 years of marriage with a luxurious trip to Paris, Idaho in their Buick (also featuring stops in Soda Springs and Logan). Whew! Then in September, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of Maria’s birth. We compiled some “golden plates” with the memories and observations of her friends and relatives—all about her, of course—and we had a party. I don’t even think she had to bake the cake, but I can’t remember for sure—it was all just “one mad whirl,” like every night at our house.

Hannah flirted with a bigger life-change this summer, when she accepted a marriage proposal from a fellow Cougareat employee. But the engagement was “suspended” in September—I say suspended in contrast to “broken” or “cancelled” or “shattered,” and we’ll let the two of them figure out what the future brings. Her short-term plans include a study abroad experience in Britain, though she wants to squeeze in a side-trip to Florence, Italy. Her arms and fingers bear the scars of Subway work (sandwiches, not tunnels), but she was promoted and wears a hat of a different color when the hungry crowds descend each day.

Jordan also strove for marital bliss, driving back and forth across the northern border to woo a maiden. Sadly, his efforts ultimately went unrewarded, and now he is a bitter old economist, or at least a heartsick student. Luckily he’ll be retaking a few classes next year so he can get more practice with his major. Meanwhile he continues to work at Porter’s Craft and Frame, which would seem like a good place to meet potential domestic goddesses. Time should heal his wounds, if a steady diet of Taco Bell, chicken nuggets, and Mountain Dew doesn’t kill him first. The cats appreciate the time he spends in bed.

It was a light year for travel, arts, and the other diversions we usually note. John had a sabbatical semester for research and made a research trip to Virginia (including some days in lovely ancestral Thomas lands with his parents), as well as several road trips to Utah libraries and archives. Maria stayed home for pretty much everything, but got to see some home improvements: new paint for the exterior and a remodeled laundry and bathroom (ready for guests). She continues to be a crafty queen and community contributor.

That’s a wrap on 2012. Some things change a lot, others just a little, and some things stay very much the same—most notably the reason for the season, He who is the source of everlasting hope.

Merry Christmas from the Thomas family!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Last Good-bye

The last post I did about my mom turned out to be the last post I did while she was living. She died later that day.  I barely got back to her room and she was gone within a couple of minutes.  I haven't cried.  Not about her dying anyway.  I haven't felt like crying. I haven't even felt sad. This sounds callous I'm sure but I felt more joy in her being able to go than sorrow for myself.

My husband thought my response was odd when people wanted to console me by saying, "It is hard to lose a parent no matter how old we are, because we can no longer call them up and talk to them".  I hadn't been able to have a real conversation with my mom for years before she died. I could no longer go to her for advice or help and in her last few months I felt like there were things I wanted advice about and couldn't ask for it.  After she died, I felt like I suddenly had the freedom to be able to speak with her.  I felt like she could hear my pondering directed toward her.  My husband asked me if Mom answered back when I talked to her. I had to smile at that. Did he think I was losing my mind?  Yes, she answers but not in words I hear with my ears.  It is more like a feeling or a thought that comes into my head.  I'm pretty sure she puts them there.  So I have felt closer to my mom since she died than I did for the years before she died. And she has been helping me through a situation that is difficult for me. I know she faced similar situations in her life and she came out of them very positively. I needed her experience to help me get through mine.

So as I said before I haven't cried in grief over my mom's passing but I did have one cry that was related to my mom.  I'll share what I wrote about what I experienced during a dance concert on campus.

"...the evening became quite profound to me during one song toward the end entitled Slumber.  I can't find the lyrics for this song to read them but I think it was simply a lullaby. The choreographer interpreted it to be about a girl dying.  Her family was grieving on this side of the veil and angels come and help the girl thru to the other side of the veil.  I think this was the first I've cried since Mom died.  John could feel it too.  I sat watching with tears streaming down my face.  I realized I wasn't crying because of sadness or feeling the loss of Mom. The dancers were depicting the people on the other side of the veil comforting the loved ones left behind, holding them up and giving strength and guidance.  I wondered how many times Mom already has and will still be sitting by our sides to give comfort or holding us up when we can't do it ourselves. It was very powerful...".

My life has changed a bit since Mom passed.  Obviously, I no longer go hang out at The Homestead four times a week though I have been there a couple of times since. I used to plan all my errands around my Homestead visits. Now my errands don't get run with any regularity because I no longer have scheduled visits.  And my dad moved back to Oregon. It has taken some adjustment to get used to him being gone.  At first I found myself thinking in terms of "oh Dad will enjoy this" or something like that, and then came the realization that he wasn't here to enjoy it.  I don't do it now as often as I did at first but it took some getting used to. Dad was never noisy, but the house seems quieter anyway.

I find little things remind me of my mom.  Often it is a visual like today when I saw a bottle of the hair goop I had bought for her, or an item I inherited from her. Today I read that my brother is putting in Lily of the Valley plants at his new house.  My mind went immediately to my mother even before he added that it would remind him of her.

Yesterday, I was running my hand through my hair when suddenly it felt like Mom's hair. My last experience with Mom was her hair.  I went with my sister, sister-in-law and aunt to dress Mom for burial.  This was not a task I enjoyed at all.  I didn't like touching her because she didn't feel like my mom.  Her skin was cold and didn't feel right and her face didn't look right to me.  As a matter of fact from the angle I first saw her, her mouth seemed to be in the scowl she would use when she was unhappy with the staff or with me after she came to The Homestead. It didn't look that way from other angles but that was my first impression when I saw her.  But the last thing I did, was to curl her hair.  I'd been doing Mom's hair for the past 4 3/4 years. It had been a comforting thing for me to do, a connection, a touch. When I curled Mom's hair in the funeral home, it felt like Mom's hair.  It felt normal, not odd or different. I was grateful to be able to do her hair as my last good bye to her.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Birthday Jordan!

Happy Birthday to my Jordan.

Jordan is our only boy. He was born on Father's day 22 years ago. Since that day, this is only the third time that Jord's birthday has fallen on Father's day again. I remember the nurses teasing me that I'd set a pretty high standard for Father's Day gifts and asked how I planned to top it the next year. Pretty sure I never have topped that one.

Jordan is sandwiched between two sisters, poor thing.  As I was looking through pictures I noticed that I have no pictures from his third birthday.  His sister had been born two days earlier.  I'm pretty sure there was a little party for him but there is no photo evidence of it. I guess we just did video that time. I suppose the lack of pictures is the first evidence of the inconvenience of having a sister's birthday two days before your own.

Jord was a happy baby for the most part and had a winning smile that people loved. 

Jordan always loved animals of all kinds but especially dogs.  He always wanted to have one for a pet but couldn't in our student housing situation. So instead he loved everyone else's dog.  On a visit to Grandma and Grandpa's house I discovered him loving their dog Chub and snapped this picture. Jordan was very tenderhearted about all creatures.  At a very young age, he came to me in tears.  When I asked what was wrong he said he had accidentally killed a Roly Poly bug.  He felt terrible. 

I always loved this picture of Jordan with his oldest cousin Keith.  Too cute.

Talk about adorableness! Just look at this picture.  Jord's bright eyes, cute smile and chubby cheeks are only matched by his hair. He sported this bowl cut do for some time until one day when he was about four he came to me and said, "Mommy, why can't I have hair like Daddy's?"  Bye-bye bowl cut.
Notice how blonde his hair is in this picture.  His hair was quite dark at birth and is now as well but during the bowl cut years his hair would bleach out these beautiful blonde streaks. It would go dark again in the winter but summer brought back those blonde tresses.  

Here is Jord getting acquainted with little sis. Yes the one that prevented him getting pictures of his third birthday.  There is that cute smile again too.  

Another cutie patootie smile pic.

Jordan has always made friends easily everywhere we have lived.  It seemed like there was always a gang of boys asking if Jordan could play.  And the playing was even better if Jordan's dad played too.  That was great until Jord and his friends got big enough to actually cause physical damage like cracked ribs...

Jord with his posse of friends in their elementary through high school years used to roam the neighborhood going from one of their houses to another.  Sometimes I wondered if I should be worried about what kind of mischief they might be getting into. One day I pulled out of the driveway headed off somewhere. These teenage boys were all lined up along our neighbor's sidewalk.  My first thought was to wonder what in the world they were doing there in a line like that.  As I drove by the boys raised their arms in "the wave" and as another car went by they did the wave again.  I cracked up! Who knows how long they had been doing the wave at passing cars... Maybe I didn't need to worry too much after all.

Jordan has a fun sense of humor and entertains us all with his wit.   But on this particular day he apparently wasn't feeling very humored.  Seriously I have no idea what the problem was when this picture was taken but isn't it an adorable mopey faced pic?

Love you Jordan...

Friday, June 15, 2012

Happy Birthday Hannah

 Happy 19th birthday to my Hannah!
Nineteen years ago I gave birth to my third child - a girl.  I had believed this one was a boy. I was so sure of it. But I also felt that something was very wrong with this pregnancy. The doctor assured me that the baby was fine but I was convinced that this baby was handicapped in some way.  It was not until I gave birth that I figured out what was "wrong".  The doctor announced "It's a girl!".  Wait.  This was supposed to be a boy.  I was so shocked! It took me about three days to get used to the idea that she really was a girl. 

And a lovely girl she was indeed.  Hannah was a delightful baby.  She was very easy going and didn't cry very much.  I can remember people being so surprised when I'd take her to visit with friends or something.  She would sit on the floor entertaining herself. When she got hungry she would start a little fuss. I'd pick her up and feed her and then she'd entertain herself on the floor again.  She was just very happy. I do have pictures and some video of her crying so there is proof that it really happened but I don't really remember much of it.

When I looked at this picture this morning I started to laugh.  It seems that Hannah has had a love/hate relationship with food from the beginning.  Actually, Hannah started out as my least picky child but as she got older she became more and more picky.  Finally figured out in a science class at school that she has odd taste buds. Her dislikes are probably not willfulness but rather that food tastes different to her than it does to me.  

This is a picture of Hannah playing dress up. It seems she put on everything she could find in the dress up box but the real reason I like the picture is because I love her eyes.  And she'd never had so much hair.  ha ha. 

One of the things I noticed as I looked at the pictures in Hannah's album (besides my poor photography skills) is this adorable grin.  I could show you pictures all through the book of this same happy, cheesy grin. It makes me smile.

 I was trying to think what word I would use if I had to describe Hannah in one word.  At this age I would have said "bouncy".  Or perhaps "exuberant". Hannah was so full of energy and I remember she seemed to be bouncing all the time. 

Here is one more cheesy 4 year old grin.

And one last picture just because I like it.  Hannah is wearing her Mimi's hat and I always thought it was adorable with that springy dress.

 I can't quite decide what one word I would use to describe Hannah now.  She has many talents and abilities. She likes to learn for the sake of learning. She will read classics just to be able to discuss them with someone.  She is a hard worker especially when she enjoys the particular task. She likes to laugh and make others laugh. When she dislikes she is not afraid to dislike and when she loves she is not afraid to love.  And she has a little stubborn mixed in there too.

 I was with Hannah just a few days ago but went home early because I got sick.  Wish I could have stayed long enough to bake a cake for this day.

So happy birthday to my dear Hannah.  Love you.