Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Adventures in Paradise / Back to Reality

We were so happy to start a new year after the challenges of the last several months.  With the holidays and the four rounds of chemotherapy finished, we were able to focus on other things.  Dave was feeling good and his scans from late December were remarkably good.  The physician was very optimistic that Dave might have a number of really good months.

As soon as our granddaughter Lexi got back to college in Virginia, her boyfriend proposed marriage.  We were not surprised as she had spent many hours with him on Skype or the phone while she was visiting us.  We are very excited for her.  She decided that she wanted to wear my wedding dress if possible.  her mother had worn my mother's wedding dress so it is a bit of a tradition.  I dug out my dress which brought back very fond memories to us.  We have mailed it off to Nauvoo for her mother to evaluate.   Julie will take it to Lexi in late March, when they go to meet the fiancĂ©e, to see if it fits.  It does fit her sister Tashi, and they usually can wear the same clothes, so it is hopeful.

Here is a photo of Suz in her wedding dress which Lexi might wear when she marries in June.

Since the doctor felt that Dave would still be doing well by May, we decided to take a trip to Spain with our son and his family.  Paul got busy and got us a wonderful itinerary and purchased our plane tickets.  We spent fun times studying different cities and deciding on the ones we most wanted to visit.  I started reading Iberia by James E. Michener and found that Spain is really a remarkable country with amazing history dating back far before the Romans.  So much of what we have experienced in Guatemala and Chile has its roots in Spanish traditions that the country fascinates us.

We had a great January.  Dave's Mom came for an 8 day visit and we so enjoyed her.  She brought her cute dog, Tucker, whom our cat came to tolerate quite well.  We watched the series of The Winds of War while she was here and were reminded of the craziness of the world leading up to the US involvement in WWII following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  We swapped photos and family history information, especially information on Dave's father, Paul Limburg.  We also took one day and took her to the Fremont Indian State Park which is 30 min. from our home.

The day we took Mom home, we stopped at the BYU Museum of Art to enjoy the Carl Bloch exhibit on the life of the Savior.  We met our daughter Jill there with four of her children and had such a good time.  Then Mom took us to lunch in the museum cafe.  It is hard not to feel the spirit of this great man's art.  Our hearts were touched and softened by scenes of the Savior with a child, healing the sick, being strengthened by an angel in the Garden of Gethsemane, etc.

The last week of January we had two wonderful experiences.  Our friends, Steve and Pat Boyden stopped to visit on their way to California.  Steve had been our son Paul's Mission President and when we got to Chile, he was the Executive Secretary to the Area Presidency.  These two did so much for us from the time before we reached Chile until they left in July.  For several hours we visited and enjoyed Chinese food.  Three days later, we attended the Manti Temple with our good friend Linda Rowley.  Her son had passed away and she had prepared her son's name to receive his endowment.  She invited Dave to be proxy for Preston and what a treat that was for all of us.  Dave felt so honored to stand in for a young man who had been a part of our lives and our kids' lives for many years.

We had experienced a fall and winter in Utah before leaving for Chile.  Since Chile is in the Southern Hemisphere, we went into fall and winter there.  We came home into the Northern Hemisphere where it was fall and then winter.  We were anxious to get a little sunshine and also visit Micaela and her family in Hawaii.  I had been in Hawaii for the birth of Andrew and had seen their home and community but Dave had not been able to go.  We left on Feb. 5th and spent 12 wonderful days in Hawaii.  First we spent several days with Micaela and her family and had so much fun.  Then we took four days to visit two of the other islands.

Grandpa gets a big hug from Eliza and Hannah

First we visited the Big Island and experienced a live volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  This volcano has been erupting since 1983, I think,  but it wasn't particularly active when we were there.  A few weeks later it had a major eruption, but what we saw was plenty spectacular for us.  We stayed in Hilo and rented a car and had a great time.  There is a Tsunami Museum in Hilo which we toured and learned a great deal about Tsunamis--we definitely have greater appreciation for their destructive power.

This smouldering crater is huge.  It was once a bubbling lake of lava until it erupted about 100 years ago.  At night, one can see the pink glow of the crater in the night sky and we were also able to see lava flowing down the side of a mountain.  Recent lava flows have covered much of the road.  We were at an area where the lava was only three weeks old.  Since then there has been a much bigger ereuption.

This is a coconut palm growing out of lava tube.  This is in a state park along the coast.  This park harbors many of the few remaining ironwood trees in Hawaii.  It was fascinating.  The waves were crashing about 40 feet high on the cliffs at the park.

This waterfall was at the end of a beautiful walk
through tropical rain forest that was just stunning.
I took about 50 photos along the way of flowers
and plants.

From there we flew to Maui, took The Road to Hana and spent a day in the Haleakala National Park.  We accidently got in on some whale watching and saw part of a gorgeous state park in a downpour.  Probably the best part was arising at 4 am and driving to the top of the inactive volcano cone and watching the sunrise.  The scenery was stunning and we came back with lots of appreciation of volcanoes and other things about Hawaii other than just its beaches.

Two scenes from the sunrise

These two photos are from the Road to Hana

Then we finished up the trip with several more days with family.  We took a two-hour hike to a lighthouse and Dave did well as long as we went slowly.  We also toured Plantation Village, a wonderful botanical garden, and also the Princess Beatrice Bishop Museum in Honolulu.  We finished up with a trip to the North Shore to see the Pipeline and then had the wonderful experience of attending the Laie Temple with Micaela and Travis.  Three members of her ward volunteered to tend the children while we were gone.  Baby-sitting is not so common there so we were so happy to get away with them for this special experience.  Wow, what a wonderful trip it all had been!

The Bishop Museum is a real treasure on Hawaiian history.  One could spend am entire day there and not finish.

Walk to the lighthouse
 Eliza at Plantation Village
    Dave checks out the old infirmary at Plantation Village

Hannah and Eliza with a Filipino Eucalytpus Tree which has pink, blue and green bark

A few days after returning home, I attended a recital for the piano students of our grandson, Jordan Mulder.  Dave was ill with a cold and also he had a lot of aches and pains.  I was so impressed with these students of Jordan's.  Three of them were his siblings who have just blossomed in their ability since he became their teacher.

   Jordan conducting his first recital and  Kate and her Mom Jill after her voice and piano recital.

Our dear friend of many years, Charla Hays, came out to visit the next week.  Her family had been skiing in Colorado and when they returned to Virginia, she drove out to Utah to visit us.  She stayed with us for two days and nights and we just had a wonderful visit.  She had been a nurse at our little hospital years before and we became good friends with her and her family.  We have stayed in touch these many years.  We met them in Colorado twice to attend the Telluride Bluegrass Festival together, and we have visited with them at their permanent home in Texas.

From the time we returned to Utah, Dave had been having pain down his arms and also sciatica pain like he had experienced 10 years before.  He couldn't sleep in a bed and used the recliner instead.  He had a scan scheduled for 8 days after our return from Hawaii, and we were not surprised when the doctor told us that the cancer had grown rapidly since the scans in December.  We were so happy that we had made the trip to Hawaii when we did.  If we had waited even a week later, it couldn't have happened.  Dave decided to try a three day course of palliative chemo for symptom management and possible to slow down the tumor growth.  He received it Wed., Thurs. and Friday of that same week.

Dave and his chemo nurses

  Now, we are entering a new phase of our lives--a direction we would not choose to go but we accept that this is the will of the Lord.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Christmas and A New Year

Our Christmas holiday was so incredible.  We started the season by attending 'White Christmas with Dave's mother and all of his siblings and their spouses followed by a great dinner where we ended up sitting next to Kyle Whittingham, coach of U of U football. Dave got an autograph for his nephew and had a nice visit with Kyle while wearing his red knit U of U cap which he went to wearing after all his hair fell out due to the chemo.  

Dave with coach Kyle Whittingham

Dave and Suz with all Dave's siblings and their spouses and his Mom

 Next we attended our first performance of The Forgotten Carols which was touring in Richfield, Utah, only an hour from our home!  Now we were in the spirit.  The following week we took our older grandkids to the Hale Theater for a live version of  'A Christmas Carol' followed with pizza.

Our next treat was picking up our oldest granddaughter, Alexa, on Dec. 16th from the Salt Lake Airport.  She stayed with us almost the full time until she returned to college in Virginia on Jan 4th. What fun that was!   Dave's mother arranged to get us tickets to the Tabernacle Choir Christmas program and we were able to attend with Alexa and this was a great experience.  It was fun to hear David Archeleta and the entire program was just excellent.  We had a huge snowfall while she was here and she made her first snowman and helped me clear the walks with our new snowblower.

On the 20th we were thrilled with the birth of Zachary Limburg, the third grandson born this year.  We were so worried that he would be born late and miss out on the family photo but he came on time.  Here is Zach with his brothers and sister.  They are children of our second son, Paul.

 The 24th was our first Christmas party-- with all of my side of the family-- in Murray-- followed by picking up our daughter Micaela and her family who arrived from Hawaii.   This was Dave's first time to see their new little boy Andrew.  They also stayed with us for most of the holidays.  We arrived home late on Christmas Eve with all of our guests and also Challis' family who stayed with us for Christmas Day.

The family from Suz's Mom and Dad now number over 200.  We meet in the Cultural Hall of a church.  The nativity and pinata are traditional activities every year.

This is our little Hawaiian family (obviously taken in Hawaii)

What fun we had on Christmas morning with two families of little ones and Lexi!  Then about 10 AM our oldest daughter and her family arrived from Illinois.  This was a surprise as they had planned to spend Christmas day with Brock's parents and then drive to Utah.  However, a winter storm in Missouri interfered with their plans so they came straight to Utah.  What a great surprise!  Not much later, our daughter Jill called to see if she and her family could come down also and stay through Tuesday.  Of course they just added to the fun.  Christmas and Sunday were unstructured and just fun days of visiting.  Challis and his wife left Christmas night but their girls stayed to play with cousins.

I love this photo of many of the younger granddaughters standing in a line doing each other's hair.  I just happened to see them and thought it was so cute.

 Dave shares a quiet moment with Jordan

Relaxing Christmas afternoon

           Noah colors in the BIG coloring book

Monday the other two boys and their families came.  Six people went to the condo, east of Beaver, for skiing and the rest stayed and went tubing in Fillmore where we still had most of the 20 inches of snow that fell shorty before Christmas. It was a great day.

Tuesday Challis and Nancy returned and we had activities and visiting much of the day.  Then we had a great talent show followed by our traditional Christmas buffet foods and a FHE.  Most of the families then headed north for the night.

Here some of the grandkids are helping to decorate the gingerbread house which is a tradition for us.

Julie and her niece Kate show off their decorated cookie

We had so much fun with the talent show.  All families participated and cousins teamed up with their violins.

Cuddling cousins

                                         Aleah shows off her artwork

Wed. we left early in a big snow storm to gather up small grandkids and take them to Jungle Jim's Playground in Midvale.  We had 14 grandkids and 5 adults and we all had a blast.  Our three year-old Eliza wanted me on every ride with her and that made for more fun.  Leaving from there we went to Dave's Mom's Christmas party in Farmington.  There families acted out scenes from Grandma's life, mostly comical, and we had a great time.  The weather coming home was terrible--a white out--so I stopped at my Mom's in Murray with Challis's two girls and stayed the night.  Dave and Challis were in the 4 wheel drive truck and they made it home but it took 5 hours rather than 2.

Dave's family put together a memory book for Dave with everyone writing up a special memory that they have of him.  This was a very special gift for him that he treasures.

Dave's Mom, Geneal, with four of Jill's boys the night of the party.

Friday was our last big day of playing.  We drove back north in snow again for family pictures in the Rotunda  of the Utah State Capitol Bldg. which is a beautiful marble area and just perfect for the kids to roam when they weren't in a photo shoot.  Then we drove out to my Mom's and about 50 of us had lunch and blessed our two newest arrivals--Andrew Hess, our Hawaiian baby, and Zachary Limburg who was born on Dec. 20th.  Zachary cooperated by being born before Christmas rather than in the middle of our Christmas activities, and we appreciated that immensely.  Then our immediate family all left and drove about 45 miles in another whiteout to Grantsville where we had our traditional New Years fondue feast and boy did we feast.  It was now time to say goodbye to most of the family.  

Suz's Mom, Verna, with baby Andrew and little Gracie at the baby blessing.

            Cousins get acquainted 

Gals and babies

   The guys play Who Wants to Be a

When we returned home that night we only had Lexi with us--pretty quiet--but two families visited the next day on their way home.  Julie and Brock drove back to Illinois by the southern route of I-70 because of the weather, so we got to see them one more time. Mic and family flew back to Hawaii on the 3rd.

We took Lexi up to Salt Lake on the 3rd after Dave's appointment with his oncologist.  She stayed the night with an aunt and they put her on the plane back to Virginia the next day.  While she was with us there were nightly visits on Skype with a special boy from North Carolina that she seemed pretty excited about.  We thought something was coming of it and sure enough, the Sunday after she got back, she called to announce that she was engaged.  They have set a June 4th date.  He is also a student at Southern Virginia University and is on a baseball scholarship. She is thinking of wearing my wedding dress so we have shipped it off for her to make a decision.

Our visit with the oncologist was very positive.  He said that the tumors are small and he felt that having the surgery in Santiago had been a positive thing.  He feels that Dave will have several good months--maybe more--of good health.  We couldn't be happier.  Dave's hair is growing back in and he's pretty much over all the effects of the chemo and is feeling good.  We get out most days to walk and we continue to spend much time with our mothers, children and grandchildren.  We have been asked to co-teach the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School Class at church, we are Home Teachers and Visiting Teachers, and we try to visit the elderly in our ward as often as possible.  I've started working on Family History and pruning fruit trees when weather allows.   Dave is back at work putting our 3,000 + slides onto the computer and labeling them.  We are now planning trips to Hawaii this month, to Spain with our son Paul and his family in May and Nauvoo in June for the wedding.  It seems that we keep pretty busy and our life is great!  We feel so blessed and sustained.