Family

A Theater Treat

A little while before my birthday, Grandma mentioned that Bob Jones University would be putting on Little Women in a couple of months. She then asked if I would like to go (and maybe the family, too) for my birthday present. I heartily agreed but soon forgot about the entire proposition.

Tuesday, November 15 was a usual day at school except for the fact that I wouldn’t be home until dark due to a field trip. Those plans, however, changed during fourth when Mom texted me through a friend (since I don’t have a phone). Apparently, Grandma had bought Little Women tickets for that night but Mom had misheard the date. One very stressful conversation later, I decided that family is more important than an extra credit opportunity.

Little Women the Broadway Musical was amazing! Ansa and I had recently watched the movie so it was really cool to see the story unfold under a different light. I am so glad we got to see it. Thank you, Grandma!

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Family

Sky Top 2016

On November 12 my family and I made our annual trip up to the Sky Top Orchard. Although this trip was shorter than our past visits, we did not fail to complete our Sky Top traditions: getting donuts, taking pictures throughout the play area, feeding the animals, running through the bamboo forest, buying apple cider, taking pictures in front of the wooden “how tall this fall” measuring tree, and so on.

How tall are we this fall? I measured up to about five and a half feet. Haydn hit somewhere in between five and a quarter and five and a half while Ansa came in at about four and three quarters. So I am still the tallest, however, I suspect these measurements will be drastically different by this time next year (@HaydnThomas) 😂.

Me

Privileges of being 15

When your dad prefers that your beginner’s permit not be visible in any photo. 🙄 😂 😂

On Wednesday, November 2 Dad and I pulled up to the DMV. We waited, registered, and paid for me to take the test again. Since Friday (the day on which I made my first attempt) I had read and highlighted the purple and gray sections in my Driver’s Manual, so I felt prepared but I was scared about the possibility of failing. Dad was really excited and I didn’t want to let him down, again. “You’re at test station two.” The lady at the counter said before using words and arm motions to direct me.

The glass-walled room was empty. I placed my hands on the bar. “Lord, give me wisdom,” I whispered before pushing the door open.

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I silently let out a deep breath. The room was full now. I had just correctly answered another question making the number I had gotten right go up to 23, while leaving the amount I had answered incorrectly remain at four, and the number I skipped at two. I quickly answered the next question (because I was familiar with it) and then:

Congratulations, Tristen! You passed your exam!

I clicked “okay” and then, for a moment, stared incredulously at the screen which now read: “Touch here to start”. That was it? Did I really just pass?

I stepped out of the room and located Dad. He looked up from his phone and motioned me to give him a thumbs up or down but I just awkwardly grinned and walked toward him, unsure of how I felt. I told him I passed and he gave me a hug. Minutes later I was holding my beginner’s permit in my hand.

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As we walked toward the van, Dad held out the keys to me. “I am not driving home,” I stated and he laughed. Thanks for the offer but I did not trust myself with the task of getting the van home in one piece, let alone ourselves. Besides, I was still not very familiar with our new van.

So Dad drove. He stopped less than five minutes from home, in the Pelham Medical Center’s parking lot, and let me drive from there. He was FaceTiming Mom while I did so. I’m not sure which of the three of us was the most nervous 😂. I put off using the gas pedal until Dad said so and apparently there were two cars behind me, but we made it home in one piece so I would say I did alright.

Haydn opened the garage door grinning from ear to ear, the first signs of a jealousy I was soon to become more familiar with. “Did you drive home?” He asked.

“No way,” I replied. Haydn stepped back through the door and returned with Ansa, one of his hands over her eyes. When she saw me in the driver’s seat she attempted to run back inside but Haydn held her where she was.

Once in the house, I hadn’t even set down the items in my hands while Haydn had already located my Driver’s Manual, flipped through, and marked the sections he needs to study for his beginner’s permit test 😂. His turn will come….in two years or so.

Me

Tristen’s 15th Birthday

It has almost been a year since our last get together so, I was overjoyed that each member of RAATH (Abi Rawlings, Abbie Arnold, Julia Alix, Tristen Thomas, and Heidi Haase) was able to make it to my 15th birthday party. We began the evening by making Emoji pillows while listening to our favorite tunes and catching up on each other’s lives. For dinner, we had lasagna and Angel Food Cake with ice cream for dessert. Senior High (a once a month get together with my fellow high schoolers from church) happened to be on the same night as my party so since I did not want to miss it, I took my party guests to D-Group (Discipleship Group). Although we had a blast there, it was when we returned home that the real fun began.

After giving each other a makeover, my girls and I danced along to “Single Ladies” before sitting down to watch old videos of us. Next, Julia and I acted out “Defying Gravity” with her as Elphaba and myself as Galinda before all four of us danced along to “22”, the main highlight of the evening. Of course, we did much more than all that before falling asleep in the middle of my documentary on Alaska at 5:00 am. I had so much fun with my girls. Fingers crossed in hopes that we will be able to get together before my next birthday party!

My Brother

Haydn’s 13th Birthday

Haydn turned 13 this year. I can not believe that he is officially a teenager. Some of our many Birthday Food Adventure stops included Krispy Kreme, Johnny Rockets, Red Robin, Whole Foods, Zoe’s Kitchen, Great American Cookies, Auntie Anne’s, The Beacon Drive-In, and Dairy Queen. I could not ask for a better little brother. Happy birthday, Haydn!

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Family · GMCCHS

An Unexpected Turn of Events

Monday, September 19, 2016

Haydn’s co-op ends at 2:55 PM. Dad picks him up and then they sit in the Greenville Tech parking lot until 3:40 when my college class ends. Knowing this, you can understand my confusion when I exited the building to find the van nowhere in sight. I did not worry, at first. I was released a little early and they probably got stuck in traffic or something.

I walked up the sidewalk along the parking lot and stopped under the shade of some trees. I scanned and re-scanned the parking lot, just in case Dad parked somewhere else and I missed him. Nothing. I watched the Cross-Country team run from GMC to the field in front of the college where they usually practice. I noted that they are usually on the field when I leave so I must have been released earlier than I thought. However, as each minute passed, I became more and more tempted to worry rather than trust God.

It only takes 10 minutes to get from UHC to GMC and Dad is NEVER late so, even if there was traffic, this did not explain his absence. Determined to trust God and not worry, I looked away from the road and acknowledge the clouds floating above my high school. They were HUGE. As I stood in awe of God’s beauty I couldn’t help but imagine what a great picture it would make. Sadly, I did not have my camera (aka, Mom’s phone).

By now several minutes had passed and I attempted to calmly run through the day’s schedule for my family: after school, we were going to stop by Krispy Kreme for Pirate Day however, I drew a blank when I could not recall the final decision about who, how, and when. Dad and Mom planned on attending the 9th and 10th Grade Parent Information Meeting that evening at 6:00 and I made another mental note to remind them that we did not need to go. There was something going on in the afternoon, but I couldn’t remember exactly what. Again, I began to worry so I quietly sang the first worship song that popped into my head (I do not recall what it was). Finally, I sat down on a nearby bench and gazed at the clouds.

By the time I spotted Kaylee and Olivia (friends from my high school) exiting the college, I had already begun considering that something must have happened. What type of something? I only had one idea: a wreck. My eyes began to water. What if Dad is hurt? What if he died? I stopped. No. I thought. I’m not going to go there. I glanced at the road again and noticed Kaylee and Olivia walking on the far sidewalk. I hopped up, pulled on my backpack, and began walking towards them as they noticed me and waved.

I had planned on asking Kaylee if I could text my mom, but I never did. Before the whistle that morning (which is blown by our principal five minutes before the first bell) Kaylee had asked Becca if she could walk home with her. Becca said Kaylee could if Becca didn’t have to work. “Did you not walk home with Becca?” I asked Kaylee. No, because in the middle of first period Becca’s boss texted her asking if she could work. Of course, Becca said yes despite really wanting to go home in order to complete her homework and study for a college test on Wednesday. “I’d say we could take you home but I don’t know where my dad is,” I explained. We had a very short conversation about Pirate Day, they continued walking toward the high school, Olivia asked about the Geometry homework, they continued walking, and then I asked about the time: 3:45, much earlier than I had expected. Reluctantly I returned to the bench half expecting Dad to pull up right then and give a perfectly reasonable explanation for why he was late. But he didn’t.

I pulled out “The Kite Runner”, a book I was reading for Literature & Film, and began to read where I had left off in class that morning. My reading was quite bumpy as I kept glancing at the road to examine each passing vehicle. As each minute dragged on the feeling that my family had been in a car wreck became more and more prominent in my mind. I focused on the words I was looking at: “‘I’ll come back with your morphine and glass of water, Kaka Jan,’ Soraya said. ‘Not tonight,’ he said. “There is no pain tonight.’ ‘Okay,’ she said. She pulled up his blanket. We closed the door. Baba never woke up” (Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner). And then the sirens sounded.

Firetrucks and police cars, but (I prayed) no ambulances. Their noise was so loud I knew they were driving along the roads that box in GVLTC and GMC. I beat the feeling but, in the end, I could not ignore it: my family had been in a wreck. There was no other explanation.

My eyes began to water but I fought back the tears and prayed. Oh, what a desperate prayer I prayed. “Lord, please let them be all right. Please let them be all right.” And then I reminded myself that God has everything under control. Everything will be alright, no matter what happens. Everything will be alright… “God is good,” I whispered to myself, remembering a quote from God’s not Dead. “All the time. And all the time, God is good.” I blinked away the last of my tears, took a deep breath, and turned back to my book.

Moments later a red car came to a halt several feet away. I did not pay much attention to it until it honked and my mom got out of the passenger’s seat. She motioned me to come so I dropped my book into my backpack, zipped it up, and obeyed. Once by her side she gave me a hug and said, “We were in a wreck. Everyone is okay but Ansa is a little shaken up.” She then explained that “this nice lady”, the driver, had checked to see if they were alright and offered to come pick me up. Once introduced I was directed to the back seat and we made our way to the point of impact.

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Mom and Ansa had picked Haydn up from UHC and then gone to Krispy Kreme for Pirate Day. From there they went home to pick up Dad (who was doing a podcast) and drop off their four dozen donuts (three for dressing up and one for sharing a picture on SnapChat). Then all for of them came to get me.

Despite being in a conversation about college, Dad missed the main entrance for Greenville Tech. Instead of taking the back way, he decided to turn around by taking a left into someone’s driveway. Mid-turn my family was T-Boned by a white truck Dad had not noticed.

Dad banged his head against his window, Mom was slung so hard that her sunglasses flew off her head and landed in the back, Haydn was thrown towards his window but caught himself before contact was made, and Ansa was tossed. By the time I arrived at the site, Dad had a headache, Mom felt as if she had been punched in the jaw, Haydn was fine, and Ansa was suffering through the first of many headaches due to a likely concussion.

The van was totaled. We will never drive it again.

After hearing of the minor injuries and examining the burst tire, missing window, jammed doors, and various other damages, I could no longer hold back my tears. God was with my family that day. He could have easily taken them all home but, instead, He answered my prayer.

I will never be able to fully express or justly describe my gratitude. “Thank You, Lord. Thank You.” The only words I was able to speak in between my silent sobs. Ansa, who was as pink as the shirt she was wearing, crawled into the back with me and we held each other as the tears continued to flow. God IS good. I thought. All the time. And all the time, God IS good.

To see more photos from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Family

How to Get Free Queso

img_0214September 15 is Free Queso Day at Moe’s, the one day a year on which Moe’s employees give away bowls full of queso (a cheese like dipping sauce). All you have to do is stop by your local Moe’s, tell them you want queso, and they will give you one bowl per person along with several bags of chips. That’s it. No fine print or other purchases necessary. So mark your calendars, this is a deal you do not want to miss! Unless of course, you do not like queso.

To view more photos from this event, click here. Thanks!

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My Mom

Mom’s Birthday 2016

img_0080Happy birthday, Mom! I hope you had a wonderful time on your day. For all the times I’ve forgotten to say “thank you” and for all the special things you’ve done, I just wanted to wish you the happiest of the happiest birthdays. I am beyond blessed to have you as my mother. Happy birthday! I hope you have many more.

To view more pictures from this event, click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right to view the next picture. Thanks!

Family · Friends · Me · My Sister

Canning Peaches and Burning Flesh

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Monday, August 8, 2016

A few of our friends in the Patteson family came over to our house to help my mom, Ansa, and I can peaches. Box after box of peaches we peeled, cut, canned, de-air-bubbled, sealed, and sealed again. Mrs. Patteson, Emma, and Patricia left around 8:00 PM but the Thomas girls continued working until midnight.

As we came to a stopping point, I was walking across the kitchen when Ansa, who was passing in the opposite direction, bumped me. The force with which she pushed me with was ever so slight but enough to cause me to step to my left. This little movement caused me to press the left side of my left thigh against a lid Mom had just removed from a pot of boiling water and set to cool on a stack of crates beside the pantry door. “Ouch!” I exclaimed, quickly stepping to my right. “That’s hot!”

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I examined the contact point and discovered that some of my skin was peeling away. I sat down and picked off the damaged skin which revealed a burn about an inch wide and two inches long. Mom had me hold an ice cube on it and then she pulled out the mustard (which we’ve heard helps with burns). It had never occurred to me that, when mustard is applied to a burn, it stings. I was doing fine until we applied it and, oh my, how it stung! I was unable to hold back my tears and so let them flow freely. I protested against more mustard, despite my burn not being completely covered, but Mom succeeded in squeezing out another dollop before I drew back and waved her away. Once the tears stopped, I slowly spread the mustard evenly over my burn, flinching as it came in contact with my flesh. Several minutes later the mustard had dried and fallen off in flakes while my burn, despite being swollen, was feeling much better.

As time passed, my burn slowly began to disappear. It is truly amazing how our bodies can heal themselves. Today I received this burn very close to exactly four months ago and yet you can still clearly see it. There is a good chance this accident has scarred me, but at least we have learned to no longer leave hot pots or pans in reach of bare skin. 😂

My Dad

Dad’s Birthday 2016

IMG_5199Another birthday called for the traditional Birthday Food Adventure. As some of you might know a “Birthday Food Adventure” is when we go around town collecting usually free food due to the birthday coupons sent in by restaurants to those who signed up. This tradition was originally started because Mom was looking for a way to celebrate her and Dad’s birthdays since they could not eat cake or ice cream due to the diet they were on. On Dad’s birthday this year we stopped at Fire House Subs, Dunkin’ Donuts, and many other places the week before, the day of, and the week after. Of course, BFAs are not why we celebrate birthdays. Birthdays are days when we show appreciation for the birthday boy or girl. Happy birthday, Dad!

To view more pictures from this event click here. Once in Flickr, click the arrow on your right view the next picture. Thanks!