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2016 Christmas Letter PDF Print E-mail
Written by Missy Schones   
Saturday, 17 December 2016 23:04

Dear friends and family,

As another year draws to a close, I sit typing in front of our Christmas tree.  As I contemplate the past 12 months of my life, I realize that it's been another crazy year.  Not all of it has been good, but I know we are very blessed.  My Bible study this year has encouraged me to not only talk to God, but to also  listen attentively for His voice in my life.  We all have a tendency to focus on our problems, so I’m trying to learn to focus on what's good, and see the many ways God touches our lives.

Allen is still working at Tinker Air Force Base.  He's now dividing his time between two different jobs, so he has a morning desk and an afternoon desk, in two different buildings.  Both jobs could use 8 hours of attention every day, so he's very, very busy.  But he loves the work, and he has the opportunity to put in a lot of overtime.  One of the jobs has him traveling more often.  He's been to California, Washington, Florida and Maryland this year.  They'd like for him to relocate to Florida.  He's said no to that, but the travel will be ongoing.  He's no longer involved with the Boy Scouts.  Troop 777 disbanded this year.  It was sad for us to lose our Scout "family", but we made the decision not to reaffiliate with another troop.  So Allen and I are no longer mentoring Eagles.  We are proud to have mentored so many Eagles while we were actively involved.  We still hope there will be a Troop 777 reunion picnic in the future, as we miss the good friends we have made.  Allen still enjoys playing golf and attending O.U. football. (Wasn't the Big 12 Championship game awesome?) We also attend O.U. women's basketball games.

I've had an interesting year.  Now that we have a pool, I spend a lot of time swimming laps.  It's good exercise and helps me control stress.  I sure miss it in the winter when it's too cold.  In the summer, I accidently kicked the wall of the pool as I turned and somehow sort of poked a hole in the top of my foot.  It got infected and was very slow to heal.  Come to find out in October, I am now a type 2 diabetic, which probably explains the slow healing.  My foot is better now and my blood sugar is regulated.  I'm not insulin dependent.  I'm controlling it with diet and medication.  My doctor says exercise and weight loss might get me off my meds, so I've lost another 25 pounds since October.  I also snapped a bone spur off my heel on the way to a football game.  I was in a boot for a couple of weeks, and it was pretty painful, but it's much better.  In the process of walking in the boot, I managed to cause a pinched nerve in my back.  When it rains it pours, right?  On Thanksgiving night, I came down with food poisoning or the stomach flu as Amy and I were preparing to go black Friday shopping.  I was violently ill and ended up dehydrated.  On one trip to the bathroom, I passed out and hit the back of my head on the bathroom cabinets.  I came to moments later and had a dent in my head.  By the time I got to the ER, I had an apple-sized lump.  They did a CT scan and said my head was really hard  Allen said he could have told them that.  The swelling seemed to be mostly on the outside, even though I had a concussion.  It's now been three weeks and I still have an egg-sized lump.  I feel very lucky that I wasn't seriously hurt.  Good news was that in the fall, I somehow fixed the pinched nerve, and my back quit hurting so bad.  There has to be an easier way to fix your back.  I'm still involved in a women's Bible study and the ladies at my table are very special.  I love them, and we all pray for each other.  I'm so glad they've welcomed me into their group.  I've done a lot of scrapbooking this year.  I've been working on Christmas albums and I've almost completed 14 years (from David's birth year through 2000).  So maybe this next year I can catch up to the present and then I'll just have to go back and do B.C. (before children).  I'm anxious to get to the last couple of years with Hannah.  My Christmas shopping is complete, and I just have some sewing and wrapping to do before the holidays begin.

Amy still  struggles with her autoimmune, PANS. Her specialist in Texas is still searching to find all the missing pieces of her complicated case.  We've made some progress, but it's been a year of more testing.  He still suspects she could have Lyme, so he ran another IGENEX Western blot and co-infection test.  The Western blot test came back with bands, but not enough for a confirmed Lyme diagnosis.  However, the co-infection test showed that she has HME or  Ehrlichia.  We may be headed to a Lyme literate doctor in the coming year.  I didn't know it, but the Lyme tests out there only test for one or two types of Lyme.  There are many more.  So she could have a strain of Lyme that isn't picked up by the test we've been using.  Fatigue has been a real issue.  She has trouble with exhaustion and yet can't sleep at night, so we had a neurotransmitter test.  All of Amy's neurotransmitters are very, very low.  Either they are in the red flag area or on the lowest end of the normal scale.  So she's on supplements to try to correct that.  She also takes Methyl B-12 shots three times a week.  After a visit to the ER in the spring for chest pain, she wore a heart monitor for a week, had a echo, EKG and a stress test.  She passed them all with flying colors, but we now know she has a harmless condition called PVC that makes her heart go out of rhythm.  We also visited a hemotologist to make sure her raised white blood count wasn't leukemia or some other type of cancer.  She confirmed that Amy has an abnormally high white blood count due to her autoimmune and inflammation.  So that was good news.  At least we know we are on the right track.  This month we visited an ENT.  He swabbed her throat to look for any signs of strep and found Prevotella instead.  She's now on another antibiotic for that.  And he sent her for a CT scan of her sinuses.  We don't yet know what that showed.  This month, she started having hip pain.  An MRI showed it was a torn labrum, and she meets with an orthopedic surgeon on Tuesday.  It probably means surgery, so prayers are welcome.  She had a tear in her shoulder labrum two years ago.  Just this week, she started complaining that both shoulders were also starting to hurt.  Makes us wonder if her autoimmune is attacking soft tissue and causing these tears.  A friend mentioned that could be consistent with Lyme.  So we're back to where we started.  Luckily, each diagnosis brings us closer and closer to answers.  We are so thankful for our wonderful doctors and our support network.  I don't know what I'd do without you guys.  She is having more good days than she did last year, just not enough that she has the stamina to return to work or school.  We pray that she'll be there soon.  She has started spending more time doing glass etching, singing and drawing.  She's a member of the SCA and attends when she's able.  She won a regional Bardic championship for her singing recently at an SCA event.  We encourage her to get out and do things with friends as she is able, but she has to be careful around people who might be sick.  My good friend, Jacque, is Amy’s “other mother”.  This past spring, Jacque found out she had breast cancer.  While she was undergoing chemo, Amy cut off her hair to donate it to Pantene Beautiful Lengths in support of Jacque.  So she’s now sporting a cute, short haircut.

The fluffy members of our family are doing well.  We lost our dog Holly this past year.  She was 18 and had a long, full, happy life, but it's still hard to say goodbye.  Our pug, Lucy, really misses her.  Lucy keeps us all laughing with her silly antics.  Pugs really are clowns.  Captain Jack (Cappy, the Jack Russell) , is beginning to look old and gray.  He isn't fond of the winter weather.  I think it maybe makes his old bones hurt.  Our cats Figaro and Bagheera still think they rule the roost.  I think they believe they let us live in this house.  Amy's birds are getting more tame.  Tinkerbell the cockatiel  likes sitting on your finger while you chat with her.  We need to get her wings clipped so she can come out to visit.  The parakeets (Mary and Burt) are not quite finger tamed, but will sit on a dowel for Amy, so that's progress.

David finished his coursework and tests for his PhD at SMU.  He's now working on his dissertation proposal.  This past semester he helped teach a course at SMU.  In the past year, he also presented a paper at a national conference and is working on  a chapter that he's been asked to write for a book.

Courtney is still working for Oak Hill Advisors in Ft. Worth.    She earned a promotion and we couldn't be more proud.  Since David is finished with his classes at the SMU campus, they are renting   a house in Ft. Worth.  This puts Courtney much closer to work, and Hannah much closer to her Montessori school.  They love Ft. Worth and had kept their church home there while they lived in Arlington.  So the move has been a good one.  Courtney is  a great wife and mother.  We feel blessed to have her in our family.

Hannah is now 2 1/2.  She is showing signs that she is gifted.  She is very verbal and has a charming, imaginative personality.  She reminds us so much of her daddy when he was that age. She loves reading, hockey (especially the Dallas Stars), water, dress up clothes, Montessori school, dancing and princesses  This year her mama and daddy took her to the beach and Disney World. Her proud Nana, Paw-paw, and Dodah (Hannah’s name for Amy) are over the moon to have her in our lives.

This year, our family had two weddings and a funeral.  That sounds like a title for a movie.  In January, our nephew Michael married Kaitlin in Tulsa.  Then, in October,our other nephew Robert married Hope in Illinois.  Both weddings were lovely and we welcome Kaitlin and Hope into our family.  We love them both.   Then, in November, we lost Allen's Aunt Nelda.  She was Allen's mom's sister, and we all miss her so much.  The holidays will seem strange without her there, but we remember that it'll be her first Christmas in heaven and that's something to celebrate for her.  I know it's a hard time for Uncle Jerry, their daughter Cindy and granddaughter Kelli.  It's also hard for Allen's mom.  She now has only one living sibling.  But she's doing reasonably well and so is my mom.  I don't have much to report about them.  My mom has had pneumonia twice in the past year.  That concerns me, but other than that her health has been pretty good.

We finally closed on the house on Stonehurst this year.  The storm damage from the year before really slowed down our sale.  The new paint on the exterior was ruined, so we repainted again.  We also had to put a new roof, new chimney cap, and a new fence.  It was a relief to have that property off our plate.

In the world of living in an older house, we've had some new issues in the last year.  We had a leak in the roof over Amy's bedroom which caused a moldy spot in the ceiling.  Around the same time we discovered a leak behind my toilet.  We had a mold expert come out and check air quality.  The air is fine, so we just need to replace the spot in the ceiling, fix the leaky toilet (which is currently shut off), and repair the wall behind the toilet.  None of that has been done yet, but it's on our 2017 to-do list.  We  had to purchase a new pump for the pool and Allen suspects we might have a slow pool leak.  That's something we are putting off until spring.  We still need to do some remodeling.  Carpet needs to be replaced and we need to paint some of the rooms, but we got a couple of rooms painted, so we're starting to make a little progress.  Our guest room is almost finished and so is my new craft room.

Hope all of you have had a wonderful year. With thankful hearts, we are praying for a healthier year in 2017.  Please let us hear from all of you.  We'd love to know what your family is up to these days.

Much love,

Missy, Allen and Amy Schones