Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Health Update

The first few weeks of December were full of doctor's appointments for me.  For those of you interested in the saga, you may read on.  For the rest of you, Gentle Readers, suffice it to say I am grateful for God's preserving of us through another year in this broken world!  He is faithful to be with us in our struggles, and He has given us a year of stability and health, for which we are grateful. Thank you for your prayers and friendship to us!

Here are the details for those desiring them:

  • Last July I had reached the two-year mark of stability in my eyes on a high dose of a daily immune-suppresant and infusions every 8 weeks.  We decided at that point to cut my daily dose in half and recheck in December.  I have enjoyed the lowered side effects and increased energy tremendously!
  • My eye tests were all redone at the beginning of December (ERG, EOG, vision field test, PIP color vision, FA) The basic finding is that my left eye remains totally stable and unchanged, but the right eye (always my worst eye) is questionable.  So we have decided to stay the current course for another 6 months, and repeat all the tests in July.  This is the longest we have gone between tests, and I get to stay on the reduced amount of medicine.  All prayers for a stable right eye come June would be appreciated! 
  • I also have been eating gluten-free, and have noticed an improvement in my inflammation markers (sed rate and c-reactive protein). So my intention is to go hard-core in January and February and try following an auto-immune protocol diet.  Dieting is NOT an area of strength for me, so I would appreciate your prayers for this endeavor.  It is basically an "I hate my life" diet for 1-2 months, and then a way of reintroducing foods to try to catch things that trigger problems.
  • I also have almost reached my fifth year after my last breast cancer removal.  I am all clear on that front, and reducing my oncology visits to once a year.  Hurray!  Thank you, Lord!

  • Dave is almost to 25 years after his stage 4 melanoma diagnosis.  How good is God to give him such length of days and keep him around for the rest of us!  Dave struggles with some long-term side-effects (head-aches and balance issues), but does so without complaining.  And we keep praying and looking for solutions.  He is literally alone as a 25-year stage 4 melanoma survivor, so there is much to be grateful for!
  • We so appreciate your on-going prayers for us both, Gentle Readers.  May the New Year find us all continuing to praise God for His grace in our lives.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

It is December 1, Gentle Reader.  I guess that means it is time for my yearly update for friends and family far and wide.  2016 has been a year of many blessings for us and our family.  Let me share some of the highlights.

Tim's family is in Tucson, where Tim continues to enjoy his job as an engineer with Raytheon and his work as a deacon and in the music ministry at Rincon Mountain PCA.  Nikki does a great job as a full-time mom and part-time teacher as she homeschools Emma three days a week.  Emma heads to a classical Christian school for first grade 2 days a week.  How did she get to be 6?  And Ezra is a rambunctious 2.75.  They are delightful, and we have enjoyed many visits this year-- here, there, and everywhere!

This year Ben changed campuses with the Basis charter school system in North Phoenix, where he continues to teach Latin and ancient history.  Now commutes to the Goodyear campus.  That will likely necessitate a move in the spring both to be closer to campus, and to allow for another bedroom.  Elsa is busy growing Baby #3 due in the spring-- our most exciting news of the year!  She is also a full-time mom extraordinaire to Ada (almost 5) and Carys (2.5).  The girls are simply a joy, and we have met up several times with them as well.

We are looking forward to having both families home this Christmas time, and remain humbled and grateful to watch these families raising up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  Grandparenting really is the best ever!

All 5 of Dave's siblings, with a smattering of spouses, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, gathered here to celebrate Marilyn's 90th birthday in September.  What a joy it is to watch Marilyn and my parents get to know and love their great-grandchildren-- another tremendous blessing!  And God has watched over Marilyn and Jack and Shirley this year, and preserved their health so we can continue to enjoy them.

Dave and I have had a year of relative stability with our health, and many wonderful opportunities. We both continue to have day-to-day struggles-- some simply from growing older, and some from either side-effects of former treatment (Dave) or dealing with disease (Chris' autoimmune disease)-- but we have been able to work, serve others, love each other and our children, and have some terrific trips.  (If you want nitty-gritty health details, see the posts here labeled "Health Updates".) Dave continues as a staff scientist at LANL, keeping the world safe for democracy, and retirement is somewhere in his fore-see-able future.  I finished my wonderful classes at the Harvey Center online in the spring, and am a lady of leisure this year, enjoying the chance to travel and sew.

The most amazing travel was our trip to France and Morocco in the fall. (For day-by-day details and photos, see previous posts here with the label "France&Fez2016").  For me, who has dreamed of Paris since I was little, it was a dream come true. And it was the trip of a lifetime for both of us.

So, Gentle Reader, another year has sped by us, and left us with many reasons to be grateful.  I hope you, too, will count your blessings in this season.  I will leave you with a few more photos of the family, and some of the wonderful friends who visited this year.  They are each a sweet blessing to us.  And so are you, Gentle reader, out there in cyberspace, or across the world, or down the street.  Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Monday, November 07, 2016

France&Fez, Day 16: Home again, home again, jiggity jig!

On Tuesday, Oct. 11, we rose around 4:30 AM Paris time (9:30 PM on Monday night, NM time), and hoofed the 3/4 of a mile to the Luxembourg RER station through a dark and sleeping Paris.  We were on the RER by 6 AM.

In the airport, we treated ourselves to some final pain au chocolat before boarding our plane, and then waiting for an hour while they changed some sort of breaker.  But finally, it was up, up and away from France.

When we were finally descending towards Newark, NJ, many hours later, the plane mysteriously rose again, and gave us a lovely view of New York harbor, the Manhattan skyline, and the Statue of Liberty.  The captain informed us that they had gotten a warning light about a flap, and were circling as they completed some safety checks, and then we would land.  We made a huge circle, and did, indeed, land the second time around. We did notice, however, that there were many emergency vehicles lining our runway!  

After we disembarked, we went through customs for the last time, rechecked our bags, found our gate, and walked right on to our plane to Denver. In Denver, we found a restaurant to get some dinner, and then headed to ABQ.  My sweet parents picked us up at the airport at 8:30 PM NM time.  Our day had already been about 23 hours awake and standing.  Longest day ever!

The following day we drove back to LA, and started acclimating to our own time zone and altitude.  It was a glorious and enjoyable adventure, and I am very grateful for all of it.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

France&Fez Day 15: Paris Pt 3

Our last full day in Paris, we headed straight to the Louvre (after a brief stop at the RER train station at Luxembourg Gardens to make sure of our connections for our way to the airport the next day.)  The palace is huge and beautiful, the building itself still containing amazing architectural features, decorated ceilings, and huge spaces.  It became readily apparent that we could easily spend years exploring this amazing place!

The Louvre also had LOTS of people, though I am sure this was not a particularly crowded day.  This was really my first annoying experience with phenomenon of the selfie.  It is now not enough to take pictures of the Mona Lisa.  Everyone must take a picture of THEMSELVES with the Mona Lisa.  There is a whole different blog meditation needed on that one... Suffice it to say, the practice is extremely irritating in a  crowd!

But what amazing art and history!  In addition to the Louvre's perhaps most famous inhabitants (Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, and the Nike of Samothrace) we saw Botticelli frescoes, and more famous paintings than I can name, more of Egypt than I am likely to see again, and many cool and beautiful artifacts, like Persian walls.

After a full morning of wandering and only seeing a small portion of this amazing museum, we crossed the courtyard to the Tuileries Gardens, where we had a delightful picnic and stroll.  

From the main path in the Tuileries, you can look down to the place de la Concord with its Obelisk, and beyond down the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.  (The white tents on Place de la Concorde were for a running event taking place the day before.)  But before we headed onto the Place de Concorde, we turned aside to the Orangerie, the lovely post-impressionistic museum. It was originally built to shelter orange trees, but Monet redesigned two of the rooms to make oval galleries for his eight huge "nympheades" or "water lily" paintings.

The other Cezannes and Van Goghs were lovely.  But the water lilies were sublime.

Then we crossed the Place de la Concorde, where Madame Guillotine did her most famous work during the Revolution, and caught a bus up the Champs Elysees to the Arc de Triomphe.

The traffic circle around the Arc is the largest in the world.  And a tunnel leads under it to the Arc.  Then, up almost 400 spiral stairs, and you reach the viewing area up on top.  The clouds that were gathering and darkening as we rode towards the Arc decided to begin drizzling while we climbed the stairs, and we came out on a gray and wet Paris-- apparently a very typical view!  It was a lovely way to end our Paris visit!

We caught the bus back to apartment, and stopped at the frozen food store for shepherd's pie for dinner.  France has "frozen food stores", where everything that can possibly be frozen can be found!  Lots of high quality foods, like entrees and appetizers, and fresh frozen herbs and spices, can be found there along with the frozen fruits and veggies one would expect.  We spent the evening repacking, and got to bed early since our trip home was going to start early the next morning, and would be a very long day.