Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Summing it up....2007 in "Survival Mode"

Every year I write a Newsletter that goes into our Christmas cards that recaps the year for our family. This year it never happened largely due to the fact that I have been spending so many hours blogging! Blogging is my new thing and so much fun. One thing I love about it is that the things you want to keep and share can be kept in one spot and are available from any computer so there is no threat of crashes, fires, etc. So even though no cards went out I thought I'd recap the year for our records anyway.

We lost two very good friends last year right before Christmas due to cancer, and one friend, Ray Wilcox, due to a massive stroke. All three funerals were in December. Both Larry and Sione were young...Sione only in his early 50's. That seemed to start 2007 with a melancholy feeling and some big empty spots in our hearts. In the past few years four of my closest friends, Barbara, Helen, Brenda and Val have all lost their spouses. That has left me with such a feeling of inadequacy in knowing how to help and comfort them. So each day we all just keep moving ahead and praying! January is always kind of a let down month for me. Winter seems to settle in, in earnest, the holidays are over, etc. The most exciting time in January for me is always Laura's birthday. She turned 29 this year and it was wonderful to be living near enough to be with her. They were living in Mountain View, just an hour away, while Robert was earning his Master's Degree at Stanford. As a surprise, Jen flew out and we had a totally fantastic all girls' day! We ate out, shopped, bought her some great clothes, she had a make-up makeover at Macy's, and got a fancy haircut, then we ate out some more and I think we saw a movie as well. It was the best birthday party I have been to in ages. The best part was Jen was here and Laura seemed so happy about it all. It was the first time the girls and I had done anything like that in absolute years. It is great to be with the kids on their birthdays and seems like a rare thing anymore. Missy, Jen and Laura and I attended Women's Conference in May at BYU and I got to see Elder Jeffery Holland speak there and few weeks later on Mother's Day in Chris and Missy's ward. It was awesome, I love that man for his wisdom and eloquence!

In the early spring our good friend, Garth, died. He was old and it was expected but still we miss our Uncle Buffalo so much. He introduced us to the Church many years ago and that changed our family history forever. He was living near Jen and Chris and their families before he passed away and they had an opportunity to serve him at the end of his life. That seems appropriate somehow after all he has done for all of us.

Here are some of the great things that happened to us in random order. We had two beautiful babies born into our family this year..Owen Monroe on June 2 and Hazel Jo on September 24th. We had two baptisms. both Piper and Spencer were baptized in May! It seems we got to spend more time than usual with our kids this year, Laura and Robert got assigned to Italy, not, Hawaii, Mississippi, Southern CA, or Virginia or Iraq all of which were possibilities! Talk about survival mode, they really had their patience tried as they waited and waited and waited for news of their next duty station. Robert graduated from Stanford and that was an honor to attend, and the Wadsworths stayed with us for a month while waiting for passports. Our niece, Alesha got married and she was a beautiful bride. We got to see our extended family a lot this year. Erin started student teaching in southern CA and Scott got accepted to the music school of his choice in NYC and Nick got to live near the Wadsworths in Mountain View and shared some time and dinners with them as he began his career with Sony. The boys are crazy about Nick! Christopher did well at BYU and completed his 1st year along with doing some major work on their new house in Provo. Connor turned 8 and is awaiting his baptism, he and Julia got glasses so they can both see better, Anyslee became the youngest member of our family to attend BYU as a pre-schooler! Zachy started talking up a storm, Piper had a piece of her art hanging in a real art gallery for all to admire, Julia fell in love with Ransom (yup, that's his name...only in Utah!), Chloe became a Binky Bandit and Big Sister. Hazel survived two major surgeries and an infection that put her in the hospital and she is just a little trouper. Owen has blessed Missy and Chris with a sweet mellow personality and is a little doll. Missy has survived a whole year with only one bathroom in the basement and Chris traveling to China even after leaving ATL! She is always is so cheerful and happy about it all! Jim and Chris built a new bathroom upstairs that is already functioning and will be all decorated by the end of the week. They have a new roof, new fences, new windows and beautiful hardwood floors thanks to many hours of hard work. Chris has moved up at BYU and now has a beautiful office with a breathtaking view of Mt. Timp. Laura and Robert negotiated another successful move. They got the housing they really wanted and are enjoying the cultural aspects of a different country and meeting new friends. They were able to just pop over to Rome for the day this week! They are enjoying their branch and are serving as RS President and Counselor to the Branch President. So there's never a dull moment for them. Spencer is enjoying being back in school after a year of home schooling and Ross is in kindergarten this year and has told us he is the smartest and best kid in the class! They are learning to speak and understand Italian. They take the bus to and from school and that is fun for any little boy! They are enjoying their new home and friends and have everything they could possibly want except a dog. Jen and Lowell survived the news that little Hazel has Spina bifada in May when we nearly lost her. But she is a very determined little spirit and her heart was strong and she survived to bring us more love and light than you can imagine. They also survived a flood in their house due to a broken water pipe which required major repairs and they also did a big excavation project in their backyard. Jen survived a freaky helicopter ride to the hospital in SLC to have the baby, a grueling c-section of which she was far too aware, and two weeks of not being able to hold her sweet baby girl. Hazel has been the sweetest blessing and we have learned so much this year. It was a year of survival for the Stewarts, and us all in turn! Grampa and the big girls had a fun two weeks together when Hazel was born and he got really good at being Mr. Mom. By the time it was over he was doing window treatments, pigtails, carpooling, playgroups and calling Kim just to chat!

Work wise it was a great year for Interiors by Design. I got to attend a great class on Advanced Professional Staging that I loved. Laura was my staging partner during the time they were here so I had the pleasure of working with her and the boys often. It truly is a family business with much help from Dad and Robert as well. Laura did such a good job it took two ladies to replace her! I met some wonderful new friends in the staging industry and saw more clients then I dreamed possible in the first 8 month of the year. Laura and Robert completely decked out one of our storage units with many many feet of wonderful shelving. It is now "The Gallery" and the other one is "The Warehouse." It is fabulous to have everything so organized. When Laura & Robert and the boys left for Italy the real estate market seemed to come to a screeching halt. It has been OK for it to slow down from my perspective. I have several ongoing decorating projects for various clients so I don't have to rely solely on real estate. There was plenty to do at home also and I was gone a whole month with Jen and Lowell and the girls when Hazel was born. We had a wonderful experience with the loving people associated with the Ronald MC Donald House when we stayed there while Hazel was in the hospital for 19 days. We got to spend time with Lowell and Robert's parents this year so that was great too.

Jim's' work continues to be fun and important to him although I do see a harder time for him when returning to it after a few days away. He is moving closer to retirement from the county but of course is already looking for something new to fill up his time. The county is going to be hating it when he leaves as he works so many hours they get two employees for the price of one!

Jim and I both turned 60 this year...hmmm...not a whole lot of fun but it beats the alternative they say. Jim is still heavily into biking and rode 60 miles on his birthday. I was so proud of him! I am loving a freer schedule than I have ever had and have been doing lots of reading and writing and got acquainted with "The Gilmore Girls" all seven seasons... just for fun. And I still love decorating for pleasure as well as for work. I especially loved bringing out all things 'Christmas' this year. We are both busy and active in church, Jim in the bishopric and I am teaching Family History (which is how I got started blogging, along with one look at Jen's.) Grandma Gloria has survived a hip replacement this past week and is doing well except for the flu. She looks forward to a future of pain free living when her recovery is complete. She is amazing...she still has her share of gentleman callers at age 81!

So the very last things... Jim has almost overcome his bout with the flu for the last few days and has just walked out the door to go visit his mom. I am staying home and just trying to stay well so we don't bring anything to Utah with us in two days. We are so looking forward to being with the kids again for a week or so. We loved a nice long international conversation with our little "Italians" this morning and this afternoon too! We look forward to a three week visit with them in Italy in March and April. After having them with us here in the Bay Area for a year it has been very hard to have them move so far away. They will be in Italy for three years all together...in a few more days only 2 years and 8 months to go! We talked to Chris' family last night and it brought us great joy to know they were hosting the Stewarts for the evening. I know all the little cousins had a great time together and I am sure they found most everything they wanted under their trees this morning. Jen reports a stellar Christmas at their house with toys galore. That eased the pain a bit of missing the Mattson family Christmas party at cousins Kris and Dale's house, Dad being in bed sick all day and me watching Polar Express alone last night. Oh well, I still love Christmas...no matter what! It can only be up from here!


Miss Jen said...

Wow, it has been quite a year hasn't it?? This is a nice recap, I'll link to it from my blog!