Monday, December 19, 2011

December 2011
Best wishes to all of you for a happy Christmas Season as we remember the reason for our celebrations. We have been blessed greatly again this year and are so grateful for knowing and having you as an important part of our lives. We have received many wonderful visitors this year including some of Frank's St. Johns high school classmates. It has truly blessed and lifted his spirits.

Our children are doing well, all are very busy and trying to do what's right. Wendy, Dave and their 4 children still at home moved about 5-6 miles away to Pinetop and are getting settled in a new Ward. Their oldest son, Skyler, just this week was operated on (14 hours in two surgeries) in Flagstaff for severe scoliosis of the spine and now has a permanent rod there. The S curves are gone and he will be 2" taller--7 feet tall! Hopefully his recovery will be speedy and he'll be back to normal soon. Right now the pain is pretty severe but he's a trooper. An ongoing problem is finding shoes, pants, etc. big enough to fit his tall frame. Their oldest daughter, Summer, was married in Las Vegas to Tarik Kojah in June and they are very happy and doing well. Autumn stays at home babysitting occasionally and helping her mom. Skyler is a junior in HS and will be home-schooled during his recuperation. Hunter is a freshman, plays basketball on the team and loves life. Clay does well in 6th grade and keeps them on their toes.

Lance, Shannon and their five children manage to keep afloat in their busy lives. Lance was just released as Bishop of their ward and is now on the High Council. He opened his fourth hearing clinic this year, this one in Hurricane and has started a new enterprise, Intra-operative monitoring, for which he hired a new audiologist who is expert in this field and will operate this procedure at the St. George Regional Hospital. Skyler had this done during his surgery to monitor if the knife was getting too close to nerves in his back. It can also work for brain surgeries. Shannon is the new Stake YW President and Vice President Elect of the school board and keeps their kids on track at school and elsewhere. Their three oldest, Kayla-8th grade, Hailey-5th, and Carson, 3rd, excel on swim teams and at school and Brinley does well in Kindergarten. Their baby Porter, 1 year, is such a cute happy little boy and keeps them all laughing.

Kristal's husband, Jason graduated from the U of U in SLC in architecture and obtained a good job with a firm there. They moved out of student housing into a duplex in south Salt Lake (Midvale) just before their 3rd little girl, Allie, was born the end of November. Regan-5 and in Kindergarten and Sophie-4, love being the big sisters to such a sweet little baby and sing primary songs to her often. They are also getting settled in their home and adjusting to their new ward.

Kandra, Jared and boys are keeping busy in Las Vegas. Jared is now working for a law firm after two years as a law clerk for a judge. He loves his new job and is doing well at that as well as Executive Secretary for their ward. Their two little boys are live-wires, so funny and active and just what Kandra needs to keep her on her toes. Three year old Gavin is already in soccer and loves it; one year old Brett just started walking and is into e-v-e--r-y-thing. Those funny boys always lift Frank's spirits on their frequent visits to Heber.

An update on Frank for those who haven't heard lately: He transferred his care to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale this summer as it seemed his oncologist in Show Low had hit a brick wall and didn't know how to proceed, as his previous treatment had proven too toxic and lowered his blood count dangerously low. The doctor at Mayo said he had ”many weapons in his arsenal" and said it's possible for Frank to live a number of years. Currently he is taking Thalidomide every other night and a steroid once a week; these have knocked his malignant cell count down by 2/3 and allowed his good blood cells--red, white and platelets--to rise to an acceptable level and protect his immune system. He was hospitalized twice the first half of this year with lung infections but managed to fight them off each time. (He's learning where the best and worst hospitals are located!) Though he doesn't often have an appetite and has lost 100# in the last 3 years, he has started to gain a little back. He has also lost 6-8 inches in height because of compression fractures in his spine due to the cancer but the pain is managed pretty well with pain meds. A nice aspect to the new treatment is that it is in pill form instead of IV's which had to be administered in the doctor's office. A lot less travel! Hooray! We are really impressed with this new myeloma specialist, a doctor who is not only very knowledgeable but really seems to listen and is willing to adjust his treatment to Frank's wants and needs.

In June we were invited to go to Puerto Vallarta to stay at a time-share at the beautiful and relaxing Rancho Banderas Resort with Bill Beecroft and family and other friends. So nice!!

In July we travelled back to Upstate New York for the third time to be Hosts at the Peter Whitmer Farm in Fayette during the Hill Cumorah Pageant. Another great experience meeting thousands of visitors to the site!

In August we went to St. George to a resort with all our children and their families and it was great seeing them having fun together. Lots of good memories were made as we swam, ate and played at the Worldmark Resort.

We have enjoyed visits from our children and especially Kandra and her two little boys who came from Las Vegas in November to stay with her dad as he wasn't feeling well enough to go to Salt Lake City with me to help Kristal at the time of the birth of our 15th grandchild, a precious beautiful little girl. All are doing well.

Frank and I are going to become "Snowbirds" for the first time ever and spend a couple of months in Mesa where its nice and warm and get out of the frigid snowy winter weather that began earlier than I can remember. We'll leave after the first of the year.

There have been many good friends, neighbors and family who have provided so much service to us this year and it is truly appreciated and means everything to us. We love you all and hope the true spirit of Christ abides in your heart this holiday season and through the new year. We are so grateful to our Heavenly Father for his many tender mercies throughout the year.

*Photo: Frank and I in Hawaii in the fall of 2010 having a wonderful time exploring the island of Kauai.