Sunday, October 20, 2019

Dear Kids,
         I’m sure everybody has heard that Paul and Stefanie are having a GIRL!!  I’m completely surprised.  I thought for sure it would be a boy, but maybe that’s because I’ve forgotten what baby girls look like.   There have been ten boys since Anna was born, and two just before her, Luke and Isaac.  So we’re in for a welcome change.  Stefanie’s due date is March 6th or 7th; Paul wasn’t sure.  Paul also told me a little bit about Oliver, Stefanie’s nephew, the son of Brian and Kelly.  He was born at 26 weeks and has been in the NICU at McKay Dee hospital ever since.  He was doing OK until he got too jumpy and accidentally pulled out his breathing tube, which, of course, he didn’t know he was doing.  They were worried that he’d gone too long without oxygen, but he pulled through.  I’m sure he could use your prayers.  I pray for him every day, along with Paul and Stefanie’s baby.  I know the Lord listens to us, even though He doesn’t always give us the answer we would choose.  But I’m sure He will bless both of these babies.
         On Tuesday afternoon I’ll be having the biopsy of my lung, and it’s a very high-tech process.  They don’t just stick a needle in where they think the tumor is.  (Although Dr. Lewis showed us how he could find it when he tapped on my back, sort of like knocking on a wall to find a stud.)  For the lung biopsy, they actually do a CT scan, so they can guide the needle into the right place.  That means I have to come an hour early and drink dye again (my third time within a month) and then I have to get into the machine.  I’m not excited.  They have to find out exactly what kind of cancer it is (lung? colon?) so they can prepare the right immuno drug.  Meanwhile, my real pain is coming from my hip, and I’m still waiting to find out what my orthopedic doctor plans to do.  Since I’ve been walking with a cane for three months now, I shouldn’t mind waiting a little longer, but it’s hard to be patient.  I also still have shingles pain in my left leg.  Whatever Heavenly Father wants me to learn from all this, I wish I could learn it and get on with my life.
         Scout just walked under my chin and dragged his magnificent tail under my nose.  The cats can’t stand to see me sitting at my computer, concentrating on anything besides themselves.  It’s snowing outside, so they’re all very friendly.  Even Tina.  Winter is definitely here early, and it’s our second snowstorm this week. There hasn’t been enough for a snowman yet (sorry, Matthew) but if we continue on at this rate, we’ll be building snowmen by Halloween.
         Love to all, Mom
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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Sonia is attacking my fingers while I’m trying to write this.  Also, she added in some of her own words, which I deleted.  I’m sure they were part of the authentic cat language, but they didn’t mean anything to me. 
         I was really glad to get my PET scan over with last Monday, and then to talk to my oncologist on Thursday.  He showed me on the scan where the “spot” in my lung lit up like a light bulb.  It’s about the size of a large grape now.   Since it’s growing so slowly, they can do immunotherapy instead of chemo.  But first they have to biopsy it to see exactly what kind of cancer it is.  Since it’s in my lung, it ought to be lung cancer, right?  Not necessarily.  It’s probably colon cancer that metastasized, which requires a different immuno drug. The biopsy will show for sure.  I could also see from the scan pictures that my hip didn’t light up at all–good news!  So why is it hurting?  My oncologist said the radiation I had last year probably thinned it out so it can’t support my weight any more.  It’s probably one of those weird side effects, like me losing half of my hair and the eyelashes on my right side, and having my fingernails hashed.  Anyway, my hip has two stress fractures, so no wonder it hurts!  I have to go back to my orthopedic doctor to deal with that, and he’ll probably give me steroid injections to lessen the pain, along with bone-strengthening meds.  If that doesn’t work, he can put in a rod.  Of course all that will take time, but I’m really glad to know what’s going on.  Thanks for all your prayers, and the prayers of your children.  I know they’re helping me. 
         We’ve had authentic winter temperatures the last few days.  Thursday night it got down to 12.  Naturally everybody’s flowers are dead!  And people around here who hadn’t blown out their sprinklers were in trouble.  The people who live in the no-account house across the street obviously didn’t blow theirs out, because Friday morning when it warmed up, they had water spraying from one of their outside pipes.  Of course they weren’t home!  Dad called the fire department and they came and shut off their water at the street.  (Francis city does NOT want people wasting water!)  The people still haven’t come home.  Maybe they’ve absconded for good.  They’re at least the third family to live there.  Some houses are just plain unlucky that way.
         I hope you’re all doin’ great and lovin’ it!  Mom

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Dear Kids,
         We really enjoyed our bread and soup dinner last night, and we missed those of you who couldn’t come.  Tom’s family was finishing Bentley’s eagle project, which is a top priority, since Bentley turns 18 on Wednesday.  Humm, our family seems to have a tradition of finishing eagle projects at the last minute.  Anyway, the supper we had was great, and afterwards, we “girls” went to the women’s session of conference at our stake center.  Then we had ice cream and brownies afterwards.  We’ll do it again in the spring, of course, when the men have their priesthood session.  I think it’s a wonderful tradition.
         And we really enjoyed the conference sessions yesterday, and we’re looking forward to the talks today.  It seems like they always tell us exactly what we need to know.  And they’re very fast about getting the talks online–it takes them less than a week now.
         Tomorrow is my PET scan, and my prep today is that I can’t eat carbs.  The scheduling lady told me only to have meats and leafy vegetables.  When I told her I couldn’t eat either of those, we settled on hard cheese.  I guess it’s low in carbs.  Thank goodness there’s Tillamook extra sharp aged white cheese, which I love.  I bought a big brick of it at Winco.  I talked to Jana McGettigan about the PET scan, since she’s had two of them.  On the first one, the cancer around her throat lit up like a Christmas tree, but on the second, nothing showed at all.  Naturally I’m hoping for nothing, but there’s the pain in my left hip that’s making me walk with my cane, still.  I’m hoping to get that cured.  And there’s the “spot” in my lung that’s growing.  (1.5 cm now.)  I’ll find out everything Thursday afternoon, when I talk to my oncologist.  Naturally I appreciate all your prayers!  I can feel the strength of them.
         Paul and Stefanie are having their ultrasound on October 16.  I’m thinking they’re going to have another boy, but maybe that’s because we’ve only had boys for the last nine years.  A girl would be wonderful!  Either way, we’re praying for a healthy baby.  It will be grandchild number 36 for us.  None of my brothers and sisters can compete with us any more.  (But I think only Monica Allen was counting.)  And the best is, Dad and I don’t have to do anything at all–just sit back and enjoy these wonderful grandchildren!  Thanks to all of you for bringing children into the world, and for raising such wonderful families.
         Love to all, Mom

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Dear Kids,
         My sister Katie is here from Boise, so we had to have a sisters’ retreat.  Friday night we watched a movie at Bonnie’s house, “Tall Girl,” (which I highly recommend), and Saturday morning we drove to downtown Salt Lake to the City Creek area. We wandered around Deseret Book, Al Rounds’s studio (closed, sadly) and the Church History museum.  Mostly we talked, and mostly about our families.  There’s no juicy gossip, but a lot of interesting stuff about all your cousins.  I can’t write it all, but if you ask me about anybody, I can give you a report.
         Last Monday I had my MRI and CT scans, and two days later my oncologist called me. He said I should have a PET scan next (positron emission tomography) which looks for concentrations of sugar in your body.   Evidently, cancer likes sugar  and pulls it in.  I’ll be having that a week from tomorrow.  He also said he’ll probably do a biopsy of the “spot” in my lung, because it’s still growing.  And he psyched me up for radiation on my hip, which, he said, will help with the pain.  He’s so nice, I’ll agree with any treatment he suggests. Mainly, I’ll be glad to know everything that’s wrong with me, however bad it is.  It’s better than not knowing.
         Conference is next weekend!  Saturday night we’ll have the bread and soup dinner here at our house, at 5 pm.  I’ll be calling everybody about food assignments.  At 6, all of us ladies and girls will go the women’s broadcast at our stake center, and when we get home, we’ll have ice cream with brownies and toppings.  About a Sunday dinner:  I haven’t made a plan.  When our family was smaller and we could have it at the cabin, it worked fine.  Now, there are too many people to watch conference in one place.  But I’m happy that there are so many of us now!   The Lord has blessed us gloriously.
         I’ve just been finishing up my sprinkler project outside, tottering around with my cane, using the wheelbarrow for a walker and the rake and shovel for extra support.  It’s still great fun, though.  Friday morning I had my sprinkler parts spread out on the lawn, T’s, unions, elbows, the lot.  All arranged nicely so I could grab what I needed.  Scout brought a dead mouse from the field and dropped it in the middle of my stuff, and smiled at me.  I petted him on the head and told him he was a good cat. 
         Thanks to all you kids for being such good cats.  I love you all. Mom

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Two weeks until conference!  We’ll have our usual Saturday night bread and soup dinner here at 5 pm.  Then the ladies and girls will go to the women’s session of conference while the guys and little kids hang out.  We’ll have ice cream with brownies afterwards.  I can’t eat any of that stuff, but I don’t mind fixing it because it’s so much fun to have people come here.  I don’t know if any of you want to have a dinner between the sessions on Sunday, so I’ll call around and find out.  I fondly remember the times we watched conference at the cabin, and had CafĂ© Rio there, but the cabin isn’t up for it yet.  But at least it’s being worked on!  The outside is nearly finished, with all the siding on, and the contractor was building the deck the last time Dad went to inspect.  The inside hasn’t been started yet.  There has to be new sheetrock, and then painting, and then carpeting. I hope our contractor will keep working on it, and not go off on other jobs. 
         I’ve been using every spare minute I can get outside to work on my sprinkler project.  I’m hoping to finish it before it gets too cold, but old man winter seems to be coming fast. It freezes almost every night, and the storm we had Thursday night left snow in the Uintahs and on Timpanogos.  So I’m digging trenches and gluing pipe and putting on sprinkler heads as fast as I can.  Kitties help, of course.  They inspect my trenches by running through them.  Mouse killing doesn’t excite Scout so much now, since the cold weather has driven the mice underground.  Sonia can’t jump for grasshoppers, because they’ve all died.
         Tomorrow I’m having my CT scan and MRI.  I have to drink dye before each test, and I’m hoping it doesn’t make me sick. Otherwise, I’m not scared of the tests–just a little fearful about the results.  I’ll know about my hip when I see my orthopedic doctor on October 1st, and I’ll know about my lung when I see my oncologist on the 10th.  Hopefully there won’t be cancer in either place, but I’d like to know why my hip hurts so much when I walk.  If I’m lucky it will be something simple and easy to cure.
         I’m getting together with my sisters next weekend, but I probably won’t have any gossip to pass on, because all our children are settled in their lives now.  There just isn’t much drama any more!  Maybe Bonnie will bring bags of her cast-off clothes and then you girls can have fun going through them.
         Lots of love, Mom 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Dear Kids,
         John has two new kittens to make up for Poseidon’s untimely death.  There’s Zelda, a female, who’s mostly white with pale hints of calico, and Spartacus, a male, who’s totally white.  John said the big cats hate them (predictable) but the kittens have lots of fun playing together.  They’ve already unrolled two rolls of toilet paper.  Let’s see, if John gets two new kittens for every cat that dies, won’t he soon have dozens of cats?
         Our kitties, meanwhile, are still obsessed with hunting.  The other day Scout brought  a mouse from the field to our back yard, and he let Tina and Sonia join in for the kill.  They took turns whacking it.  Three noses were pointed at it, and six ears. The mouse didn’t last very long.  They just left it on the grass when it quit moving. Nobody wanted to eat it.
         Our kitties are also helping me dig sprinkler trenches in the yard.  They run through them to make sure they’re deep enough.  All three of them chase each other, leaping out at the end of the line.  My project is moving along really well.  You’d think I’d have trouble digging, since I can barely walk, but if I’m digging I can stand in one place, which hardly hurts at all.  Besides, I’m so excited to be outside, I don’t think much about my pain. 
         I had an appointment with an orthopedic doctor on Tuesday, and he took a good look at the x-rays that were taken a couple of weeks ago.  He said we need to rule out the bad stuff first, and then consider other possibilities.  With my history, he wondered about cancer first. He showed me a couple of dark places on the x-ray that could be suspicious.  He also said I might have a stress fracture.  I’m having a MRI on the 23rd so he can take a better look.  Since I’m seeing my oncologist again in three weeks, I’m having a CT scan at the same time, so he can look at my lung and see if the “spot” has grown at all.  Fun and games.  Digging trenches in the yard and gluing sprinkler pipe is much more to my liking.
         Love to all of you!  I think of you all, and pray for all of you every day.
         Mom

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Dear Kids,
         Last weekend was jam-packed, and now things are dull here again.  But it was fun while it lasted.  It was great to see so many of you at Tyler’s baby blessing, and Tom and Kim were great hosts for the lunch at their house.  I didn’t get to talk to everybody, because the time went by so fast.  It was amazing to hear that Karl Bentley has gone hunting with Ty Detmer on his ranch three times!  He said Ty is a lot of fun.
         As we were coming home from Heber, the McGettigans were right behind us.  They come here about once a year, usually on Labor Day weekend, for the rodeo.  That wasn’t until Monday afternoon, so we had lots of time to hang out.  Jana was looking for old cars with broken glass and rust, so she could photograph them and use an enhancement program that makes them look really cool.  I was sure we could find some, and we did.  The rodeo  was pretty cool, but I decided I don’t enjoy the bull riding that much.  Everybody falls off in the first second or two.  But the music is great, and it’s fun to watch the locals.  (Dad and I aren’t locals yet.  Dad’s belt buckles aren’t big enough.)
         Some of you might have heard that Aaron’s wonderful cat Poseidon was run over  on 1200 South, behind their house.  Poseidon was coming back from hunting, and he even had a mouse! (Heather found it near the body.)(Dad hoped they buried the mouse with him.) Poseidon lived to hunt, so it wasn’t if, but when he would get hit.  I always put our kitties out the back door, so they’ll run to the pasture to hunt, and not cross the street.  Scout, that mouse-killing machine, brings live mice to the back lawn so he can show off while he tortures them. Sonia brings grasshoppers.  They’re little bitty things–just a mouthful. 
         Julie has been taking a piano tuning course, and she came to our house to work on ours Thursday night, just ahead of the piano tuner who was coming the next morning.  She was really tired, though, after teaching 11 piano students in a row, so she only did a little bit and went home again.  She came back the next morning to watch our tuner, Ron Jensen.  They chatted about the ins and outs of piano tuning while Ron worked.  Julie was told she has to tune 100 pianos before she can start charging, and I’m sure she’d like to work on any of yours! Just call or text her. 
         Conference is coming up in four weeks!  That’s the only event on our calendar, except for my doctor visits.
         Lots of love, Mom