Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone!!!

It was another beautiful and blessed day for us. I hope that each one of you also enjoyed this Christmas day; that you were able to spend time with loved ones, exchange gifts, laugh, cry, rejoice and thank Heavenly Father for all we are given; all we have. We were fortunate to have my mom and Scott spend the night last night and be here for the big event this morning.

Today, I personally felt very close to our Savior. Most of the day I just felt so happy and joyful, watching my boys doing the funnest, bestest thing in the world --(getting all the gifts they wanted) while I held Rosie who wasn't feeling too well and didn't much want to open up presents. Two totally different aspects of my children were brought together as I watched them and could almost hear the thoughts they were thinking as either they or their sibling received each gift.

We got Rosie some baby dolls this year, she also got a little high chair and stroller for one of the babies. She is in LOVE! She hasn't shown any interest in babies up till now, she is only interested in animals, but this baby says a few phrases, "I love you mommy", "I'm thirsty" etc and Rosie is just feeding her, burping her and cuddling her. It couldn't be cuter.

The boys all got stuff they wanted and I think they were pretty happy. I love that I know each one of them so well. The big present this year went to Daniel who got a pair of turtles. I am a big turtle fan -- they are such great pets and so, so cute and I really think he has worked hard this year to show us he can handle the responsibility and I think he really needs someone who loves him unconditionally (according to him) and his turtles will do all this. I'm excited to watch their relationship grow. He has already cleaned out the acquarium and is upstairs setting it all up with Robert. Neat.

They also got a ping pong table. We had one in Vienna which the boys loved, now that we have some space in the basement we can put another table in there. I'm pretty excited about that too since it will give them all a chance to play at something they enjoy.

Alexander and Max got mostly electronic type stuff and Daniel got quite a bit of creative stuff/build it type of stuff. They all got good gifts from aunts,grandparents and greatgrandparents and it was therefore, once again, a pretty grande experience. In fact, Rosie still hasn't opened up all her presents, which is fine too. Tomorrow we'll be able to do it again!! It wasn't that she got so so many, but that she just wasn't feeling good - hope she's not getting really sick. We've all had a bit of a cold the last few weeks and it is certainly getting tiring.

I got to end up Christmas day by going to the hospital to get some antibiotic infusions. It wasn't the most pleasant way to end the day, but it could have been far worse. Robert ran me into the E.R. on Tuesday night after a week or so of me really feeling bad ended with a fever. Fever is the big no-n0 when you are on chemo so I had to be seen right away. I was admitted and had to stay over on Tueasday night, they wanted to keep me through Friday night when they had all the test results back from the cultures but I begged them to let me go on Weds. so I could be home for Christmas eve dinner and Christmas morning. They acquiessed provided I come in everyday for antibiotic infusions, so, you see, it could have been much, much worse.

That brings me round to my chemo/cancer stuff. I haven't posted about it in a while, but I feel I need to. I don't really know what to say. It has been very difficult for us (me and the medical team that works to keep my body going) to keep my blood counts up. That is to say that I have chemo followed by some shots that elevate my white and/or red blood cell counts enough so that the chemo doesn't kill me. That is okay for a few days and then my counts start to drop again. I feel bad. I feel worse. My blood counts get really low again and I need to get them propped up again either through blood transfusions or shots or whatever they can come up with. Obviously, I can't keep doing this for long. The hope is that my body is going to recover from this in a more normal way and I can start the chemo in a more normal way again. Sigh. It is scarey stuff. If I can't do the chemo, then what?

I have another problem too. I have recently been researching about canal roots and breast cancer and (if you believe some or all of what you read on the internet) it seems there is a connection and that a bio dentist should remove all root canal teeth immediately if you want to combat cancer. That would leave me with two gaping holes in my mouth/smile.

Didn't mean to get on a downer here - YIKES. I am actually quite joyous today, I have so loved just being with my children today, having my mom around and watching Robert play with all the kids (including Scott). I love my family and I love Christmas. Merry Christmas to all - I love you!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Pieces of Christmas News

We've finally finished our newsletter for 2008. We hope to be mailing it out very soon - ha! Only 7 more days till Christmas. Due to my usual wordiness, I was forced to cut the newsletter in half and leave my children out! Can you imagine? Anyway, here is what would have been in our newsletter had the page been much longer!

What we really wanted to convey to everyone was that it has been a wonderful year for us and for our children. Even though there have been trials, joy seems to keep tipping the scale and we end up with smiles wiping away our tears. We are so grateful to be able to say that. It has been a tough year for all of us. In many ways, Robert and I have clung to each other as if on a life-boat in the rough waters, but each morning we awaken to our children's faces and our dogs excitedly greeting us ...and the waters dry and we are left to feel the Son --drying and energizing us once again.

We pray and pray that Holly will be given more time. Time to raise our children, to fill her husband's life with all the things she promised to do so many years ago, to watch all her children grow and serve missions to spread the Lord's Word,get married, have children themselves. To grow old (okay, older) with her husband and spend some years serving after having been served so many years.

However, after each of those prayers which we echo each night, we must always end with "thy will be done". Those must be the hardest words to say, but we mean them and we know that if the Lord's Will is done, then everything will be alright and that is the most important thing.

We have come to know and love so many during this last year. So many good, kind people - people who hardly knew us, or knew us not at all but were willing to help. We have been warmed by their love and generosity and we have been humbled by their sacrifices.

Once again, we have reflected on how blessed we are to have been of goodly parents - our parents have supported us in so many ways. We are so grateful for our family, friends, all of you.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to All!!

Here is part TWO of our newsletter:

Children’s Christmas Letter 2008

Alexander has shown a motivation previously unknown to his family. He gets up each morning at 5:30am to go to Seminary and returns home around 7am to start school. He works hard all day at school and then works hard in the afternoon to get chores done and to take care of mom (especially at making those Reliv shakes she needs so much) and to watch Rosie whenever Mom needs a break. He set his mind to getting healthy and he has lost 30 lbs and is just looking and feeling wonderful. Both Alexander and Daniel took a very interesting class this year; a six week look into two of Shakespeare’s works; Hamlet and Othello. Alexander has begun writing music/lyrics/poetry and other than that, Alexander’s true love, Pokemon, still resides with him. He tries to go to his Saturday league whenever possible and to take part in any competitions that are within driving distance. However, mom’s illness, the family’s busy schedule, and the high gas prices put a big dent in his plans and he certainly didn’t get to go as often as he wanted. We hope in 2009 we’ll be able to cater a little more to his love of Pokemon. He is maintaining a GPA of 3.74


It has been a very difficult year for Max. Since June he has been living in a Residential Treatment Facility (RTF). It was a hard decision to say the least but we finally had to accept that we couldn’t help him any more – we just don’t have the special skills necessary to deal with a child who is in as much pain as he is. Recently we have started family therapy, including Horse Therapy (which we all love) and we think we can see him advancing. He wants to come home, but just can’t stay on track long enough to make the next step sometimes. Anyway, despite some setbacks, we think he may be ready to come home in February. That is our hope. Of course, there will still be lots of counseling and we will still need lots of help (and prayers), but at least he will be here with us, his family. He has gotten huge this year, growing about 4 inches and gaining about 30 lbs! Both he and Alexander are now wearing glasses and they both look even more mature with glasses. Max got a PSP (an electronic gaming device) for his birthday and it is really helping him to fill the empty hours he has at the RTF, he has also started doing puzzles and turning to art to help him through the hard times. We are really pleased that he is finding some constructive uses for his time as that was always a problem with him – he just didn’t like doing anything and was always bored.

This year Daniel has been busier than ever and he has become so much more mature and helpful than we could have imagined. He is just a whirlwind of activity, getting up early every morning to work at school for about 5-8 hours per day and then working like a crazy man to clean house, and see if I need anything or if he can help with anything else. He is the one person who manages to keep a smile on his face most of the day, no matter the stress level going on around him. We have managed (he, Alexander and Holly) to do scripture study most mornings together and it is in part due to Daniel’s reminders that we keep getting the important things in. He still loves Scouts and has become something of a master camper taking a camping trip around once a month and always getting rave reviews from his Scout leaders who seem to truly enjoy his company and his way of always helping out. In Scout Camp this summer he managed to get 5 badges in one week! In school he is carrying about a 3.7 GPA –not bad!

There is so much to say about this sweet little girl, but we do get lots of info about her on our blog so we hope everyone will read it from time to time. Holly hasn’t been too great about keeping it updated, but whenever she feels well, she jumps onto the internet to post a few photos or type in a paragraph or two. Rosie has a love of life that keeps us all going, we have found laughter and joy everyday through her and this has even been on the days when we couldn’t have imagined laughing. Again, we have to thank the Lord for bringing her into our lives.

Here is the rest of our newsletter:
Christmas 2008

Merry Christmas Everyone. We are all doing well. As with each of you, sometimes we take things day to day and sometimes we struggle but all in all we are doing well; living well, finding joy in life and in each other and looking forward to pulling all the loose ends together in 2009.

Holly’s mom moved out in November and though it is still weird having her gone, we are glad that she is living only 30 minutes away. She is still close enough to help us out with our unending needs but still have her own space. We must admit that our home is very tiny and her section of it was just a little bedroom. She got an apartment much closer to work and we hope she is enjoying her privacy and freedom! We think she has cut about 11/2 hours off her commute! Other than that she is expanding her skills and interests in weaving and has created some beautiful works of art this year through knitting, weaving and she is even making and dying her own yarn. Kudos for keeping Education at the forefront of her life!

Robert continues working long hard days. His office has been very accommodating in letting him take time off when needed to help Holly with her many trips to the doctor. He keeps very busy between work and his church obligations. He is still a Counselor to the High Priest Group leader and has been pretty active with meetings and duties there. He also keeps busy trying to keep our little house from falling apart and throws in the odd nail or screw or mows the lawn or rakes the leaves or redoes all the things he has just completed from his last “Honey-Do” list. In the leftover time, he likes to enjoy life with his wife or one or more of his many, many children. Though only 4 live with him now, the other 4 are never far from his thoughts or actions as he tries to track them down by phone or email to see how they are doing.

Holly’s work has become as varied as her health. She is either running around going to doctor appointments and doing errands or she is laid flat out in bed doing absolutely nothing! It is up and down and we still don’t know what to expect or when, but some days are really good and some are really, really bad. The good news for 2008 though has been the supplement that Holly has begun taking. “Reliv” has certainly helped her by pumping up her immune system and keeping her feeling better than she otherwise would have. Since starting on the Reliv regime she has not been in the hospital once and that is probably the biggest blessing. She still awakes every morning and feels a great sense of gratitude for all that she has. In every trial there is joy and she is so glad to have the Lord with her in this journey.

Your thoughts and prayers have meant everything to us this year. There have been times in the past where we’ve pled for your love and support, but in 2008, we were begging for your prayers and we felt them and were uplifted by them. Through all the trials we found joy, behind black clouds we found silver linings and in facing our fears we found the Lord, always waiting for us to come back and be strengthened by our faith. When we were weak, we found our friends and family; ready to pray, hold our hands, feed us dinner, or drive our children to and fro. Each one of you has created an opportunity in our lives – in spaces where we just couldn’t do it ourselves. Thank you, thank you so much for loving this family by visiting us, emailing or calling us, for giving Alexander and Daniel rides so we could visit with Max. Can you ever realize how important each of those gifts was to us? This is the gift of Christmas. May you too be comforted and uplifted by this gift. Merry Christmas to each of you who read these words and were touched by the acts of service you did for us or for others. All of the best for 2009!

Please take a moment to log onto our blog and read about our incredible children and how they make the gift of Christmas come alive for us. Unfortunately, space limitations forced us to either edit or leave their accomplishments out of this newsletter. Our hope is that you will be so intrigued that you will want the full story, only to be found on our blog:

With great love for you all,
Robert, Holly, Alexander, Max, Daniel, Rosie, Shasta (the Golden Retriever) and Roxy (our new rescue dog, terrier-mix)