2022 Christmas Letter

Hello friends and family. 2022 was a whirlwind! The years seen to fly by faster and faster. We have much to be thankful for this past year, but I look forward to new beginnings in 2023. Let me catch you up on our past year.

David is Director of the Veterans Onward program at Austin College in Sherman, Texas. He is also teaching in their Religious Studies department. 

Courtney is the Vice President of Private Deal Operations at Oak Hill Advisors. She’s back working from the Fort Worth office part of the week and from her office at home the rest of the time. As I write this letter, she’s on a trip to New York, which I believe is actually considered her “home” office. 

Hannah is in third grade and loves science and animals. She says she’s going to be an engineer during the week and a vet on the weekends. This girl has goals. Her school just selected her to be a Mathlete. She’s also active in Girl Scouts and loves swimming.

Joseph made the jump to public pre-k from Montessori this year. It’s been an adjustment, but it’s exciting to be at the same school with big sister. He loves Baby Yoda and playing soccer. He’s also becoming a big football fan. Both kids are starting Ninja Gymnastics which sounds exciting to me. 

The kids visited in the summer and will be here again again during the holidays. I regret so much that we don’t get to see them more often. 

Amy finally saw the new mast cell specialist earlier this year. Her new diet is very limiting, but she’s feeling better. Everything she eats is fresh or occasionally frozen and hardly anything she eats is processed. This means meals, made from scratch, using only low histamine ingredients, and if she can’t eat it immediately it must be frozen. Now her doctors are wondering if she has narcolepsy. She’s on a sleep protocol that is helping with sleep, but she will probably be taking another special sleep test this year. Amy got an implanted loop recorder in February , because her POTS cardiologist thought she might have afib. So far, it has not recorded afib, which is a relief. Lyme and coinfections continue to be a struggle, as does her PANDAS /PANS. We are having to travel to her doctors appointments more than during the pandemic, but so far we still have some doctors doing virtual visits. Amy’s doctors do not want her exposed to Covid or the flu. She has reacted poorly to the covid vaccine (probably due to her mast cell issues) so she has not received recent boosters. Her blood brain barrier is open due to her autoimmune encephalitis, so Amy and I try to stick close to home to avoid germs.

Allen is no longer a total road warrior. Since the summer, he’s only doing frequent trips instead of being mostly on the road. It’s a huge improvement! He completed his online classes through Air War College in September. Less homework and less travel means we are seeing him a little more. He had knee surgery in the late summer. His knee still isn’t back to normal, so he’s missing his golf game. Then he ended up with pneumonia. Our doc recommended the pneumonia vaccine, so hopefully that’ll keep it at bay in the future. 

I have now celebrated 21 years cancer free. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past year watching online scrapbook and art classes. I’m seriously contemplating designing cutfiles that scrapbookers use with cutting machines.. We will see what the year brings. I’ve been put on biologic infusions for my psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. My hands are already feeling a little better. My doctor thinks maybe this will help keep my arthritis from progressing. I’m making a plan to take more self care time in 2023. My doctors say I need to work on bringing down stress levels. Easier said than done. I do a lot of Bible studies at home and watch church services online. Neither are the same as being with my people, but I’m thankful to have these options.

The cats are doing okay. Ro is in renal failure and very thin. We really need to coax him to eat three times a day, but he still hasn’t told us that he’s ready to move across the rainbow bridge. He’s still very happy, but getting OCD, which is interesting in cat form. He has elaborate rituals that MUST be followed. Baghee is still attempting to show that he’s now the dominant cat, so his grumpy old man attitude continues. Thomas seems to have finally found his place in the family. Baghee still intimidates him, but he stands up to him occasionally. It was a big day when he smacked his older brother the first time. Baghee just blinked in disbelief. Amy and I silently cheered Thomas on.

The dogs are doing well. Lucy takes frequent naps with her little pink tongue hanging out. Minnie spends much of her time hunting bunnies, squirrels, and other critters on our property. When she’s not doing that, she’s barking at golfers.

Mary, the parakeet, seems to have adjusted well to being alone, but she still misses her mate. Mostly, she’s content to dance along to her favorite songs on the radio.

My mom has had a rough year, but she’s doing better . This year she started having excessive bruising. We found out through blood work that her platelets were very low. Her hemotologist and her PCP think it’s an autoimmune issue, because the numbers go up and down and it wasn’t a deficiency. So she needs to be extra careful about being around anyone who is sick because it can cause her platelets to drop. In the summer, her car caught on fire and was totaled. Before she could find a new one, she had several strokes that all impacted the vision in one eye. She was in and out of the hospital a couple of times with sky-high blood pressure. Then, as the strokes resolved her blood pressure dropped too low. She’s now on a special diet, blood thinners and no more blood pressure meds. The blood thinners are contraindicated for someone with platelet issues, but necessary because of the strokes. Her vision has improved considerably. At this point she does not have a new car, but she hopes to find one soon. She’s feeling very cut off from the world without her own transportation, and feels like she is bothering people when she asks for a ride. Thankfully, the church offers her rides and so do her  friends. And I’m happy to take her whenever she needs me.

Allen’s mom is doing well at Concordia. She stays busy with church and caring for plants in the building. She also sings with a group in Memory Care every week. She’s always busy quilting while watching Hallmark movies, basketball, or football.

We resurfaced our pool this spring and added new coping. It looks great. Honestly, it seems even more beautiful, because for several months our yard looked like a war zone. We were hoping that this would help with water loss, because the plaster in several places was getting mushy. But no. It’s still losing water. So eventually they are going to need to replace the old pool plumbing. For now, we just keep adding water.

This summer we got squirrels in our attic. This is similar to bats in the belfry. It wasn’t good. We tried to identify where they were going in and out. Allen and I put up one way gates, but it didn’t work. We paid a wildlife relocation team to try to trap them. No dice. Luckily our roofers arrived to put on a new roof. Turns out squirrels don’t like an army of noisy roofers upstairs. They left on their own and we put new squirrel proof vents on the roof to keep them out. Turns out that was their entrance. So if you get squirrels and need a new roof, this method might be the answer. However, it won’t be cost effective if you don’t need a new roof. In that case good luck. They are sneaky!

Most of our damage from the hail in 2021 has been repaired. When we put the new roof on the house, we roofed the deck. It’s much nicer than the fiberglass roof we had on the deck before. We still have a tiny window in the sunroom that is boarded up, because we can’t seem to find anyone to replace the thick, tempered glass. We also still need to replace a couple of minor items and the dents in my car (from the second time hail storm), but I need my car to transport Mom, Amy and myself to doctors appointments, etc. Hard to do if my car is in the shop and Allen is traveling. It took 6 weeks last time, so I’ve been hesitant to commit. 

One of my favorite moments of 2022 was when Allen gave me a horseshoe for our 38th anniversary. As a kid I always wanted to appear on the Foreman Scotty TV show. They would always give away the golden horseshoe to some lucky kid on the show. I wanted it so much that my sweet daddy bought me a horseshoe that is still hanging outside my mother’s door. The one Allen got me has our wedding day stamped into it because he told me, “That was my lucky day!” 

Hope all of you are doing well. I really miss all my friends and family. I must admit that I enjoy social media even more, now that I am cut off from most in-person activities. It’s nice to see your smiling faces and hear what’s going on with all of you. We pray that these variants will die down, so that we can start to get out a little more in 2023. Please take care of yourselves. And I pray for a blessed new year for all of you.