Sunday, November 26, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Of course the top thing on all our minds this morning is little Tommy Hawkins, and how he’s doing up there at Primary Children’s Medical Center. When he was born Wednesday afternoon at the Park City Hospital, everything looked fine, but when they went to release him Thursday night his blood oxygen levels weren’t high enough, and the blood pressure in his lungs was high. They put him on oxygen, and gave him a range of tests. Friday morning he and Donna took a helicopter ride to PCMC, where they gave him more tests. There’s a valve in his heart that was supposed to close at birth, and it didn’t, so the blood that was supposed to circulate to his lungs was just getting pumped back into his body, without the oxygen it needed. He’s scheduled for an echocardiagram this afternoon, but as of last night, they’d had him breathing on his own, without the oxygen tubes, for a couple of hours. I don’t know how it’s gone since then. Donna has put up two posts on "Boring Ackerson Updates" (Please, can’t anybody change the name of that site??!!) that are really helpful. There’s also a really cute picture of Tommy with his oxygen tube. He looks a little dubious about the whole thing. I know all our prayers have helped a great deal!
           Thanksgiving was a wonderful day. Thanks so much to Allen and Tom and Kim for doing the essentials: the turkey and gravy and potatoes and rolls. I enjoyed being a guest at dinner, and not being in charge. It’s a big load off my mind, knowing that Thanksgiving can go ahead with somebody else doing the turkey, and getting everything lined up perfectly. Besides the delicious food, it was a wonderful day, with beautiful warm weather. Vanessa’s family had been at the cabin earlier in the week, and I heard that Vanessa walked (or ran) the big loop four times! Most of the rest of our family was there Thursday night for pie, but since Donna’s family couldn’t make it, and Sharon insists that there’s no pumpkin pie like mine, I’m going to make it again for the baby blessing. What a wonderful thing to look forward to!
          And, of course, there’s Christmas coming up. The Messiah is in two weeks, and I’m hoping there will be an afterparty either Saturday or Sunday night. I’ll let you know in my letter next week. Then there’s the family Christmas party on the 16th. It’s always wild and crazy. And Christmas itself is nearly here, too. I hope lots of you will earn your $10.00 bills reciting the Grinch. You "away" families can send me a video, or skype it.
          I’m finding out tomorrow when my next surgery will be, and I’ll let you know, so you can pray for me. I’ve had a tough recovery from the first one.
         Thanks for all your prayers, for all of us! Love, Mom

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Dear Kids,
         This week it was my turn to have a medical "procedure." It started with me getting the idea I wanted to have my eyebrows microbladed, but I’ve gotten really beetle-browed, so I thought maybe I’d see Dr. Engen about having a brow lift first. That didn’t seem like a big deal. When I met with him, I also asked him about some eczema (I thought) on my eyebrow. He took a good look at it, and said it was most likely a carcinoma. (That’s cancer, said nicely.) (But if you’re going to have skin cancer, it’s the best kind to have.) On Tuesday he did the surgery, but even though they have an on-site pathologist who evaluates the tissue as it’s cut out, Dr. Engen didn’t get it all. So I have to go back, probably the first week in December, and let him get the rest of it. I was worried I’m going to end up looking like Frankenstein, but Tom said that Jacob Patterson lost half his nose, and they put it back so well you can hardly tell. Donna said the same thing about one of her friends. So I have hope. The timing of all this isn’t very good, of course. Donna’s baby is due any day. I’ll probably have to drop out of the Messiah. And then there’s Christmas shopping, which I usually start about now . . .
          It’s funny that I was already thinking it was time for me to just start giving Christmas money to each family. Grandma Allen was way younger than I am when she switched over, and I remember that it was fun having the extra money to shop with. So I’m switching over! My normal allotment is $30 per person, young and old, but if there’s something I really want to give somebody, I might still buy a present or two. Up until now I’ve always enjoyed shopping and wrapping presents, but obviously it’s time to move on.
           And then there’s Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday! I’m so grateful that Allen volunteered to host us orphans. I’ll be making pumpkin pie, and probably chocolate pie, too. I’ve heard rumors of two kinds of turkey: smoked and roasted. Hopefully I’ll be able to eat normal food by then, and keep it down. 
          I’ll keep you posted on any changes in our holiday plans!
          Lots of love, Mom

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Our two metal deer, the buck and the doe, have been standing proudly out on our corner for more than three years now, but yesterday I noticed that the buck had been knocked over on its side. That was no easy feat, since it had been anchored by two 14" stakes driven into the ground, attached to the buck’s legs by metal cables you can only cut with a grinder. One stake was pulled up, while on the other side, the metal cable had been broken. We figured right away it wasn’t human vandalism, especially since there were deep hoof marks around the defeated buck. Our neighbor, who’s a wildlife expert, said our buck was probably taken down by a real buck in a fight over the metal doe. I didn’t know real deer were that strong, but our neighbor said they are. He’s spotted some bucks as large as four points just down the hill from us. Dad and I loaded our downed buck into a wheelbarrow and took him to the garage. I wanted to put him back up right away, but out neighbor said we should wait until the end of the mating season.
          Dad has been recovering from his heart procedure really well. Yesterday we were walking up the sidewalk to the Provo Temple and he had to slow down a little bit, but mostly he’s doing his normal activities. He went to "cardio rehab," where they evaluated him on a treadmill and set his exercise limits: 3mph, at 3 degrees, for 30 minutes. So he’s doing that. He’ll have a cardiologist watching him closely from now on.
          I’m really enjoying the Messiah practices this year. Even though we aren’t home Sunday evenings now, we’re there in the afternoon, from 2:30 until 5:30, when we have to leave for Heber. So come by and drink our chocolate milk and eat our gummi bears!
          Wow, Thanksgiving is only a week and a half away! We’ll see some of you "orphans" at the cabin, thanks to Al’s hospitality! I’m sure you’ll contact him about food assignments. And naturally we’ll be waiting eagerly for word of the birth of new baby Hawkins!
          And remember the "Grinch" memorization challenge for Christmas! Parents can do it, too. You can recite in groups of two or three, if you want to. You can pass it off at the family party, or on Christmas, or any time in between. I’ll have a stack of $10.00 bills ready.
          Love to you all, Mom

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Dear Kids,
          Most of you have already heard about Dad’s heart procedure: he had two stents put into his coronary arteries to open up blockages he had. (A stent is a little mesh tunnel that keeps the arteries open.) I wish I had called or texted everybody beforehand, but I didn’t want you all worrying before you needed to. I said plenty of prayers for us all. Dad had the procedure done at the Death Star, on Halloween, but it still went really well. They kept him all night, and he checked out at noon the next day.
            I wasn’t even aware that he had heart trouble, until he said he’d had pains in his chest, when he walked on the treadmill. He made an appointment with a PA, and then she referred him for a stress test, which he had last Monday morning. He flunked it, so they scheduled him for an angiogram (CAT scan with dye, looking at the heart) the next morning. When they saw the two blockages, they put in the stents immediately. They went in through his wrist, feeding them up to his heart. I’m glad they didn’t have to cut him open. His recovery has gone really well, and he hasn’t had any chest pain in the last week. He’s scheduled for cardio-rehab, where they’ll evaluate his heart and see what exercise he can handle. I’m sure he’ll be seeing a cardiologist on a regular basis, too. He’s telling people that without the stents, he would have had a massive heart attack. That’s probably true. So please keep him in your prayers.
          Otherwise, everything’s going fine here. We really enjoyed Abi’s baptism yesterday, and seeing so many of you there! What a fine big wonderful family we have!
          I’m excited about the upcoming events: Thanksgiving, for one. Al is hosting at the cabin for all you orphans: dinner at 1 p.m., and pie later in the afternoon or early evening. The second event (or maybe it will come first) will be the birth of little baby boy Hawkins. We’re really looking forward to that! Donna’s doctor says nothing is happening yet, but we’ve heard that story before!
           The Messiah will be December 9 and 10 at 7 pm at Tom’s church. I’m very excited to be practicing it again! Bentley’s singing with us this time. I hope he’ll come to love it like the rest of us do.
           The family Christmas party is scheduled, tentatively, for Saturday, December 16, at Nora’s house. We’ll have more details as it gets closer.
           What fun! What a family! Love, Mom