Dear family and friends,
I admit that I don't really know where to start, as I write this edition of our Christmas letter. So much has happened that I don't really know where to begin. I looked at dividing the letter several ways, but I guess the best way is to just jump in and tell the good, the bad and the ugly.
Our old house is still up for sale. We wanted to add new carpet and paint before we listed it. Just after it went on the market a tornado and hail storm hit our old neighborhood, and it did a lot of damage. We needed a new roof, fence, chimney cap, paint (yes, the new paint was damaged, so we had to paint again). Now all that has been repaired, but we're still waiting for the contractors to finish putting in the new fence. If you know anyone who might be looking for a house in Castlerock Addition in Norman, please send them our way. The good news is that just about everything is brand-spanking new.
Having two houses is really a financial burden. It hasn't been fun. There are many things we'd like to repair at the new house, but haven't had the cash flow. The roof is leaking over Amy's bedroom and we have a breach in the pipe under the slab in the den. This makes the kitchen sink back up, so we have to be very careful what we put down the kitchen disposal. I also want to do some painting, replace old carpet (some of the carpet that came with the house is pretty gross), and do some redecorating. Eventually, it'll all happen. But all in all, we love our home. The pool was a lifesaver for me this past summer. I swam laps every single day. I'm really missing it now that it's too cold. Maybe someday we can heat it, so we can use it in the late fall and early spring.
David, Courtney and Hannah are still living in Arlington. David has one more semester of course work on his PhD before he begins writing his dissertation. They are discussing moving back to Fort Worth when David's classes at SMU end. Courtney's job, Hannah's school, their doctors, and their church are all in Fort Worth. Courtney is doing a great job of juggling being a mom and working full-time. David is blessed to have found such a dedicated wife. Courtney's dad passed away this fall. It's hard to lose a parent, especially so young. We were so sad for Courtney's loss. Hannah is 18 months old. She's enjoying a cheer/tumbling class and going to Montessori school. She's really smart and talking a lot. She's now calling me Nana and tries to say Paw-paw. So far that sounds more like Pop-pop, but he doesn't really care! She calls Amy "Dodah" for beloved aunt. We all love her so much and she's a real hoot. She gives us all a lot of comic relief when we're together.
Allen's mom continues to live at Concordia in Oklahoma City, in independent living. His father passed away last spring. In many ways it was a true blessing. We now know he's free from his physical limitations and in heaven. But it's still so hard to lose someone you love. Allen's mother had been so attentive for so many years, that I'm sure she's really feeling the loss.
My mom is still having a lot of back pain, but doing pretty well. She is no longer having to wear the boot she was wearing this time last year, and I'm sure she's thankful for that. My brother, Robert, is the new principal of the primary school at Holland Hall in Tulsa. His wife, Susan, is their registrar. Their middle son, MIchael, is getting married in January. We're excited to welcome his new wife into the family. Robert (their oldest) is also getting married this coming year. So many new blessings.
We added some new members to our family this year. Amy now has three birds. Two are parakeets named Mary and Bert (Mary Poppins) and a cockatiel named Tinkerbell (that may or may not be a female so we're probably giving the poor guy a complex. He'll be in bird therapy soon.) We still have our cats Figaro and Bagheera. They weren't initially too sure about sharing their home with birds, but they're starting accept that they are here to stay. We also have the dogs Holly, Cappy and Lucy. Holly's health is failing. She's having trouble getting around, is blind and deaf. We expect that we won't have her with us much longer. So as always, the Schones furry (and now feathered) family members run the show.
We found out this past summer that Amy has something called PANS. It's an autoimmune disorder that causes inflamation of the brain. Scary stuff, so we welcome prayers. She sees a specialist in Plano since there isn't a PANDAS/PANS doctor in Oklahoma, except ones that do research. They continue to test her for Lyme and it's co-infections, so we have a long way to go. She's on a lot of medications and suppliments. We are working towards a kind of remission, but she's not there yet. I know many of you have not heard of this, so feel free to contact me for more information. Or read at this PANDAS/PANS website. I want to enlighten people, but not bore those who don't want to hear all the sordid details. This is nothing new. It seems she's been sick for at least 14 years and maybe much longer, but was never diagnosed. She has active infections that her body is fighting from back in her childhood and she has chronic fatigue. It's bizarre. She now has to avoid gluten and vinegar in her diet. Trust me, gluten is not easy to avoid in our culture, but vinegar is next to impossible. Just try to find a condiment or salad dressing that doesn't have vinegar. By the way, does anyone have a good BBQ sauce recipe that doesn't contain vinegar? Anyway, she's living at home. She's not working at the moment, except at trying to get better. We are starting to see some improvement in her test results. She's talking about trying to go back to school and possibly making/selling jewelry once she feels up to it.
I spend a lot of my time juggling Amy's health. I help with doctor's appointments, medicines and generally trying to keep us on schedule. For example, today I spent several hours on the phone looking for a specialized compounding pharmacy that could compound a specific type of B 12 injection that she's starting on. I'm still trying to get us settled in the new house, but there are boxes I still need to unpack. My world tilted a little, just after we moved and I feel like I'm never going to get everything done. But I know it will happen. It keeps getting better. Unfortunately, I don't have a lot of time for my guilty pleasures of sewing, needlework and scrapbooking. Allen insists that I continue to try to get out of the house at least once a week to do something just for me. He's good that way. I did attend a Bible study session this fall that was written by Pricilla Shirer. It really spoke to me. She was also in the recent movie The War Room, which I recommend. And she will be speaking in Norman this coming February, at Journey Church. I will be continuing with my Bible study group. They have become my friends and prayer warriers.
In addition to Allen's current job, he's adding some new duties at Tinker. As usual, I don't know much about it (and I probably wouldn't understand if he told me), but he's excited about the changes. It may involve a bit more travel as time goes on. I'm just so glad that he loves what he does and that he does it so well. He's "retiring" from Scouting since our troop is disbanding. We are sorry to be losing the connection to all the 777 folk. We hope that we can continue to have reunions with these people that have been like family, for so many years. Allen is still playing golf, but like me he struggles to find the time lately for his hobbies. We seem to always have things we need to get done. He's busy constantly with little jobs around both houses.
We haven't had a vacation the past couple of years, except visits to David and Courtney in Arlington. Allen's cousin, Cindy, and her husband invited us all to come stay with them at their condo in Branson a few weeks ago. I don't think they had any idea what a blessing that trip was for us. It was so nice to get away from the stress for a few days and just have fun. At the very last minute we sold our Texas tickets this fall (thank goodness because that game was terrible) and I'd held back the money for something special. We used that money to go to several shows, and we also went to Silver Dollar City. Another blessing was that Amy was feeling pretty goood that weekend, so the short vacation was so appreciated. Trip report coming soon.
Allen and I were talking the other day. It's been a rough year. But even with all the rough patches, we have so much to be thankful for. God blesses us over and over. And sometimes I find it's through the tough times that we draw even closer to each other and to Him. So we hope that things are going well for all of you. If they aren't, we hope 2016 is an improvement. And may you be able to see all the blessings in your life this Christmas season.
Christmas blessings to you all!
Love, Missy Allen and Amy