Sunday, December 7, 2008

Sleep-over at G and G's

G and G (grandma and grandpa) had a fun, if not crazy experience this weekend with the grandkids. Due to sickness (Riley), living in Colorado (Kathryn and Reese) and Arizona (Caden and Drake) only five of the little cuties were able to attend. Moms and Dads WERE NOT INVITED. We had to literally kick some of them out when they continued to just hang around. Talk about stifling the fun!

So, for your viewing enjoyment, here is a photo record of the big time.

Receiving instructions from "Boss G"

Dinner. Yummy Cheese and Pepperoni Pizza, breadsticks and 7-Up!!
You might notice in the preceding photo that there is a PARENT still there. She was politely asked to vacate the premises.

YUMMM! Breadsticks!!!
Movie Time!! Arthur's Perfect Christmas and Shrek The Halls

Making and decorating cookies

After movies, cookies, yummy pizza and general over-all FUN, "Helper G" was sent upstairs to help Caleb go to sleep. "BOSS G" and the rest of the kids worked on cool Santa hats in the basement. Then it was off to sleep. "Helper G" and Caleb were already having visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads upstairs. Here is the result of the late night craftiness.
Now it was off down the street to the church and our ward Christmas Brunch. Yes, we walked.
Here's some pictures from the brunch
It was a fun time. We hope the kids had a good time. They were great. We sure did miss the five who couldn't come. After all is said and done, "Boss G" and "Helper G" just have this to say, We love you all, but don't call us, we'll call you, at least for a couple of days. We need to recuperate.

Friday, November 28, 2008

What happens in Vegas....Don't worry, NOTHING HAPPENED!!!

We visited Las Vegas two weeks ago with son Spencer and his wife Amy.  We  had a great time. We ate way too much at some fantastic restaurants (Asian, Italian, French, MGM Grand food court).  We saw three great shows which included:


"Phantom" was great.  The theater at the Venetian was constructed specifically for the production and gave you the feeling that you were "IN" a 19th century Paris opera house.  The special effects and pyrotechnics were fantastic.  The guy who played Phantom was good, but when you have listened to Michael Crawford do it for so many years, it's hard not to make comparisons.  Great production.


The highlight of the trip.  Absolutely amazing!  An hour and a half of noise, energy, excitement, and laugh-out-loud fun.  These guys are something else.  This show is totally entertaining and we would recommend it to anyone.  They do things with Twinkies and Cap'n Crunch that are just WRONG!!  Save up and go see BMG!

Afterwards, on the way out, who was in the the lobby?  One of the blue guys who graciously posed with one of his new fans!!! 


WOW!  Pretty amazing.  It's like a circus at the local pool.  It's really something to see what they can do to put on a "circus" in a pool of water.  Great fun and fantastic performances.

We had a great time.  Thanks to Spencer and Amy.  The food was great (although maybe too much), the hotel was fantastic and the shows were amaaaazing!

Saturday, July 19, 2008


We've been taught throughout our lives that hidden among the many afflictions we are required to endure, come many of the most choice blessings from our Heavenly Father.  As a family, this past year has brought its fair share of trying times as well as many great blessings.

When I started my journey with chemotherapy a year ago, one of the side effects I was told I might expect was mouth sores.  Even though it hasn't been a constant thing, I have had experience with mouth sores.  Usually in the form of canker sores, I even had one bout with a couple of sores in the middle of my tongue that were determined to be a form of herpes. The medicine prescribed,  famcyclovir, is a commonly prescribed treatment for genital herpes!! 

I was confident that when the chemo was completed this past May that even though limited in occurences, I wouldn't be having anymore treatment related mouth sores. WRONG!!  Just a few weeks after treatment was completed, I had a couple of cankers that got pretty bad just inside my lower lip.  In about a week they ran their course and went away.

Then all h--- broke loose.  Just as the previous ones were finishing healing, what  started as a sore when I bit my lip while chewing, developed into something more.

Editor's note:
images may be to intense for
 small children or those with queasy stomachs

This sore started small while I was away on business and got larger as the week went by. When it didn't get any better, Barry (my brother the dentist) suggested that he might have an application that might help it. On Monday the 14th I went and saw him.  He immediately determined that he couldn't do anything to help it, but was concerned about the amount of inflammation in my gums which he said was due to large amounts of bacteria in my mouth.  He did some minor cleaning (too much pain) and gave me some toothpaste and mouthwash that would help keep the bacteria levels down until I could get in and do a full cleaning.

That afternoon at the INSISTENCE of my wife, I called Dr. Shehadeh's office to see what they could do.  They told me that they could call in a prescription (famcyclovir) or I could come right in and they would look at it.  I chose to make a visit to the doctor.

After the usual blood draw for a CBC, I saw Mike Cole, the physician's assistant.  While talking with Mike, Dr. Shehadeh came in to look at it.  Mary brought in the lab results, and as they looked at them together, I heard an simultaneous GASP! from each of them.


The blood tests showed my white blood count to be 0.8 and my neutrophil level at 0.2.  Both of these levels are in the critically low range.  The "low of normal" level for the WBC is 3.6.  My temperature at the time was normal.  With such a low white blood count, they decided to give me an injection of Neulasta which is used to spur the growth of white blood cells in chemotherapy patients.  The catch with this injection is that the cost is approximately &6,000. After getting insurance approval, I got the shot.  All of a sudden the monster mouth sore, even though it hurt like h---, wasn't much of a concern.  I was sent home with a couple of prescriptions and instructions to call immediately if I had a temperature above 100 degrees. By the time I got the prescriptions filled and got home, my temperature was 101.4.  I immediately called the doctor who told me to go to LDS Hospital where I would be admitted that night.
It turns out that my condition had become neutropenic.  

Quoting from, "There are various types of cells in the blood.  The lowering of the white blood cells that fight infections is known as NEUTROPENIA.  It is the most important complication of chemotherapy.  It is almost always due to impairment of bone marrow to produce cells and normally occurs a few days to a few week after chemotherapy.
It is most severe in patients who receive aggressive treatments.

The signs and symptoms of Neutropenia depend on its severity.  However, patients with even mild forms can develop major problems.  Even in the most severe cases, it may have no signs at all, or it may cause fever and infection.  A fever in patients who have received chemotherapy must be taken seriously, requiring a complete evaluation.  Taking Tylenol or aspirin will only mask the infection and should be avoided.

One technical term of which cancer patients should be aware is "Febrile Neutropenia," which refers to having a fever while the white blood cell count is low.  Fever indicates the presence of an infection, which, in most cases originates from germs and bacteria that reside in the intestines or skin.

Febrile Neutropenia is a medical emergency and must be dealt with immediately.  Any temperature over 100.5 should be reported to the medical oncologist immediately.  Hours and minutes are critical."

The web site goes on to say:


I spent the next three days and four nights at LDS hospital, hooked up to an IV, sometimes getting as many as four antibiotics.  One night, my temperature started spiking so the doctor ordered a full blood culture and chest x-rays.  Fortunately, all of the tests done came back negative.  They were very concerned about new infections and particularly the onset of pneumonia.  As the treatments progressed, my WBC went from 0.8 on Monday to 1.9 on Friday, with the neutrophils going from 0.2 on Monday to 1.3 on Friday.  Neither level great yet, but rising and good enough to get me off the IV and home. By the way, my mouth still hurts like h---, but has turned the corner and is getting better.

You wouldn't normally think that intense mouth sores, four night hospital stays, $6,000.00 shots, blood draws, 24 hr/day IV's, high temperatures and the such would be considered a blessing.

I have been blessed. Blessed by the above. Blessed to have a loving wife, mother, children and grandchildren.  Blessed by medical technology that indeed saves lives.  Blessed to have great doctors and medical staff who really care and aren't afraid to show that they care.

Thanks, everyone for blessing mine and Sharon's lives.  We love and appreciate all that you are and do.

In closing and on a less serious note, here is what I look forward to every morning when getting ready for the day.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Music, Back In "The Day"

We recently got a USB Turntable.  What is a USB Turntable? you ask.  Good question.  A USB Turntable allows you to play an album, with a USB connection to a computer and save it to an MP3 file, which can be listened to on the computer, ipod, MP3 or even saved on a CD.

Your next question may very well be "What is an album?"  Back in the day, when we wanted to have the music of our favorite artists and enjoy it at home, we purchased for about $5.00, an album, a 12" diameter piece of vinyl with grooves in it that you play on a phonograph.  They came in 45's (that's what they played on the radio)  which had one song on each side, and 33 rpm formats.  The 33 rpm or LPs had a whole album.                  

            800px-Vynil_record               Record Player

That's the way it was in back in the day.  Albums were eventually replaced by cassette tapes and then by CD's.

With the USB Turntable, it allows us to be able to enjoy once again all of the albums that we collected in the early days .  We have dozens that we have kept over the years and now can finally enjoy them again. (It's a good thing that I didn't store them at Grandma Packer's or they would now be in the landfill with my baseball card collection.)  Just kidding, Mom!!  (And yes, I still have issues regarding my baseball card collection)

Anyway, to get on with the story,  each album came in a cardboard cover, or jacket.  Inside the jacket, holding the album itself is a paper "sleeve" or dust cover that gives the album extra protection. 

While converting "Bridge Over Troubled Water" by Simon and Garfunkel, I came upon the following printed on the dust cover.  I thought you might find it interesting and probably amusing. 

Here's How Records Give You More Of What You Want!

  • The Best For Less.  Records give you top quality for less money than any other recording form.
  • They Allow Selectivity Of Songs And Tracks.  With records it's easy to pick out the songs you want to play, or to play again a particular song or side.  All you have to do is lift the tone arm and place it where you want it.  You can't do this as easily with anything but a phonograph record.
  • They're The Top Quality In Sound.  Long-playing phonograph records look the same now as when they were introduced in 1948, but there's a world of difference.  Countless refinements and developments have been made to perfect the long-playing record's technical excellence and insure the best in sound reproduction and quality available in recorded form.
  • They'll Give You Hours Of Continuous And Uninterrupted Listening Pleasure.  Just stack them up on your automatic changer and relax.
  • They're Attractive, Informative And Easy To Store.  Record albums are never out of place.  Because of the aesthetic appeal of the jacket design, they're beautifully at home in any living room or library.  They've also got important information on the backs--about the artists, about the performances or about the program.  And because they're flat and not bulky, you can store hundreds in a minimum of space and still see every title.
  • It It's In Recorded Form, You Know It'll Be Available On Records.  Everything's on long-playing records these days...your favorite artists, shows, comedy, movie sound tracks, concerts, drama, documented history, educational name it.  This is not so with any other kind of recording.
  • They Make A Great Gift.  Everybody you know loves music.  And practically everyone owns a phonograph.  Records are a gift that says a lot to the person you're giving them to.  And they keep on remembering.

And Remember...It Always Happens First On Records

Ahhhh, the good old days.

Friday, June 27, 2008


Sharon and I met with my oncologist, Dr. Nasfat Shehadeh this morning and received the news that my Lymphoma is in complete remission!!!  The recent bone marrow test came out negative and as Dr. Shehadeh told us, we got "a complete response."  We are thrilled with the news and are anxious to get on with life.

The next step is that I will have blood tests every 6-8 weeks and possibly a CAT scan every 4-6 months.  I also need to continually check for enlargement of the lymph nodes on my neck, abdomen and groin.  Sharon has graciously consented to check for lumps on a regular basis.

I want to express our love and appreciation to everyone who has been so loving and supportive of mom and I this past year.  It's been a real journey.  You kids have been the greatest, always being there to help out with the stuff that I was unable to do.  Our sweet grandchildren have been a great strength and source of joy to both of us.  Everyone has been just fantastic and I want you all to know how much it has meant to us.

I know that it isn't over.  The cancer isn't cured, just in remission.  People who have had the same cancer, with the same treatment that I just completed have been in remission as long as 5-7 years.  I expect that someday it will come back and then I will be looking at a bone marrow transplant, but until that happens, we will move forward.  Maybe in the meantime, there will be a cure or at least an alternative to a transplant.  We can only hope and pray.

I have been truly fortunate to have been treated by the best in the business.  Dr. Shehadeh is amazing.  His PA, Mike Cole has been the greatest. 

             shehadeh (2)             cole (2)

Then there is Charlotte, my chemo nurse, Mary, the phlebotomist, Trevor, Sarah and Ricky the MA's that I have worked with, and the two ladies at the front desk, Beverly and Stephanie (who has used all of my co-pays to fill her closet with new shoes).  All have been great examples of professionalism and compassion.


With that said.......LET'S PARTY!!!!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

SCI-FI MOVIE NIGHT...a family tradition

SCI-FI MOVIE NIGHT is a tradition that my son-in-law Dave established a few years back. It involves seeing a science fiction movie, late at night, preferably at the dollar theater. When I am in Colorado Springs working, Dave and I try to see a sci-fi thriller on occasion, giving us the chance to see a movie that Melissa and Sharon would never go to (we ain't talkin chick flicks here)

Some of the movies we have seen include "The Day After Tomorrow"

Day after tomorrow

"I Am Legend" "Iron Man"

I am legend

Iron Man

and "JUMPER." By the way, Hayden Christensen does his best work when wearing his full Darth Vader suit. At least then his questionable acting ability isn't quite so obvious.


We have also seen some dogs, the titles of which I can't and really don't want to remember.

Dave and Melissa are in town this week, so last night was SCI-FI MOVIE NIGHT!!

We ventured into the night, to the Sugarhouse 10 theaters to see a dollar movie (actually it was $1.50). Starting time was 9:45 pm with the classic SCI-FI thriller ending about 11:30 pm.

I wish that I could forget the name of this movie, as it was truly forgettable!! It was produced by the same guy who did "The Day After Tomorrow." He should have quit while he was ahead.)

What movie was it? I thought you would never ask!!

10,000 BC

And yes, IT IS available on DVD and Blu-Ray disc for your home viewing pleasure. At least watching at home you don't have to worry about laughing out loud and waking up those around you because you'll probably be sitting there watching it alone, unless you can coerce someone into watching it with you.

Flicks like this are what makes SCI-FI MOVIE NIGHT such fun.

TILL NEXT TIME...........

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Monday, April 28, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

The Birthday Cake is a traditional part of birthday parties.  It has been an integral part of the birthday tradition in Western cultures since the middle of the 19th century.  The Greeks were some of the first to celebrate birthdays with cakes, however these were the birthdays for gods and goddesses.  The celebration for the Greek moon god, Artemis included a cake topped with lit candles

The cake or sometimes a pastry or dessert, is served to a person on his or her birthday, and is often decorated with small novelty candles.  The phrase "Happy Birthday started to occur on birthday cakes when the song "Happy Birthday To You" was popularized in the early 1900's.

With that said, here is a sampling of past Packer family birthday cakes, at least those in 2008, many made by Sharon.  She is very talented, if I say so myself.

Apologies to those whose cakes aren't shown

THE PRINCESS CAKE--What can I say?  Princesses get Princess cakes.

img_5802 (2)


img_6266 (2)

RAND'S 5th Birthday--pretty amazing.  It almost fell apart on the trip to Sartoga Springs

                        img_6268 (2)

REBECCA--A Packer family favorite--White cake, cream cheese and raspberries  We had a family  birthday dinner for Rebecca and Spencer.  Rebecca objects to the fact that she has to share her birthday with someone else.  In her mind, March 2nd should be a national holiday.

img_6340 (2)

SPENCER--Grandma Packer used to make cream cheese pies for family get-togethers.  She would always make an additional one for Spencer and give it to him on the sly for him to eat at home.  Bryan isn't very happy that this happened, and doesn't let us forget about it.  He also got a Costco cake.

   img_6341 (2)              img_6346 (2)

CALEB'S 2nd birthday--Really cool Elmo cake.  Those 'sticks' of butter in the background are cake too.  Caleb really loves butter.


THE RESTAURANT BIRTHDAY TREAT--Who doesn't enjoy going to your favorite restaurant on your birthday and being serenaded by 5 or 6 strangers who can't sing?  At least you get a free dessert.  At the Red Robin, you used to get the big dessert free, but now they give you a sundae.  We had to pay for Nate's "Mile High Mud Pie".  Caden and I ate the chocolate sundae.  It was delicious.

IMG_6540[1] (2)

AMBER--April 28th--Birthday cupcakes are always a hit, especially with the kids.









THE MOTHER OF ALL CAKES--When I was growing up, my mother always made us a "Mother's Chocolate Cake" for our birthdays.  The frosting is the key to this cake.  When done right, it is smooth and chocolaty and totally good.  When not done right it has a grainy texture.  Mom always got the frosting right on.  Sharon hit a home run with the frosting.  It was perfect!!



Sunday, April 13, 2008

Boogity, boogity, boogity...let's go racin' boys!!!!


If I had a 'bucket list' which I don't, going to a NASCAR race would probably be one of the things on that list, so I can now cross it off the list that I don't have.

Blair (older brother) was bitten by the NASCAR bug several years ago and has attended races in Las Vegas, Phoenix and at Lowe's Motor Speedway (somewhere in North Carolina I think).  Last summer he extended an invitation to go to the Subway Fresh Fit 500 held this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ.  PIR

The 500 part is a misnomer.  You would think that in the good ole US of A where rednecks rule that it would be a 500 mile race.  NOT!!  It was a 500 kilometer race!! What's with that???  Anyway, the 312 mile race was appreciated because that is a lot shorter than 500 miles, and yes, I figured that out all by myself.

The adventure started on Friday, when I flew to Phoenix and met brothers Barry and Blair, along with nephews Curtis, Chris and his wife Heidi.  We checked in to our hotel in downtown Phoenix near Chase Field and US Airways Center, after which we had lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe.HRC Phoenix

The weekend featured two races, with the Nationwide Race (NASCAR's minor league) on Friday night and the Sprint Cup race on Saturday night.

We headed for the racetrack out in Avondale, about 15 miles west of downtown Phoenix and in the same  area where Nate went to school.  On the way we stopped off at a vacant lot where there were several trailers and tents with white trash selling NASCAR stuff that is cheaper that you can get at the racetrack.  Chris bought a Jimmie Johnson jacket so he will now have matching jackets with his two boys.

We got to the racetrack and walked down a big area with 40' trailers, all selling memorabilia.  Every driver and sponsor either had their own trailer or shared one with another driver.  Some, like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had FOUR trailers.  There was even a trailer for his dad, Dale Earnhardt, who has been dead for six years.  It was amazing.  Lots of places to spend lots of money for stuff you'll probably never wear (unless you're Uncle Blair...see photos below).  Don't worry, nothing I say can offend Blair.

IMG_6463       IMG_6432      IMG_6462         

IMG_6465                        IMG_6460

The Nationwide race was 200 miles and ended up in a duel to the finish between Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards.  Both are Sprint Cup drivers who also drive in the Nationwide races.  Kyle pulled off the win.

Carl Edwards                Kyle Busch

For you unfortunate souls who don't follow NASCAR, Kyle is the one on the right.

After a relaxing morning sitting by the pool at the hotel, we headed once again for the racetrack, with a stop at Borders so Barry could buy a book (he ended up with three) and then lunch at Chick Fil A .

We stopped again at the redneck swap meet/flea market and then on to PIR.  The raceway seats around 125,000 people.  At the Nationwide race on Friday night, there might have been 50,000 people there.  On Saturday, it was PACKED.  It was a total zoo, and a people watcher's bonanza.  It's definitely not the type of crowd that you will see at a baseball game, a Jazz game, or even General Conference!!!   All I can say is you have to see it to believe it.

   IMG_6475     IMG_6473     IMG_6472 


The race got underway a little bit before 6:00 pm after all kinds of introductions, Air Force jet flyovers, skydivers, an opening prayer and the national anthem. 

IMG_6485                 IMG_6479

One guy on the row in front of us and to the left didn't remove his hat and really caught a bunch of crap from another guy sitting behind us. Man, talk about white trash.  Driver loyalty is very intense in NASCAR. (And I thought BYU fans were bad)  Dale Earnhardt, Jr is by far the most popular driver in NASCAR.Jr.  He drove the #9 Budweiser car last year and the majority year  and the   majority of the fans would be wearing  red #8 gear.  He changed teams this year  and is now driving the #88 AMP/Mt Dew/National Guard car.  There is hardly   a red   shirt in sight anymore.  All of those people got rid of the red and bought new stuff.  The guy who wouldn't take off his hat was a Jr. fan and was a total jerk all night.  Whenever Jr. was leading the race, he would stand up and clap every time the #88 passed by us.  Problem is, when he was standing up, he totally blocked our view of turn four, so we couldn't see the cars coming around turn four to the front stretch unless we stood up too.  I don't think his momma taught him no manners.  It got worse toward the end of the race when Jr, who had been leading the race for a long time, lost the lead and then ended up back in fourth place.  He was leading, and then just lost it.  This really frustrated the #88 fans.  By the way, Dale Jr. hasn't won a race in his last 65 tries.


This was our view of turn four for the last 1/4 of the race.  Once Dale Jr. lost the lead, this guy wouldn't sit down at all.  I hope he didn't take it out on his wife when he got home.

It was an exciting race, especially at the end.  Mark Martin in the #6 had the lead at the end, but was afraid that he would run out of gas, so with about 9 laps to go he pitted for fuel and Jimmie Johnson in the #48 took the lead.  He was tossing the dice and taking the chance of not pitting with the possibility of running out of fuel himself.  With the other leaders getting gas, he had a 20 second lead on Clint Bowyer and with his crew chief telling him to slow down to conserve fuel, he won the race by 7 seconds, and then ran out of gas on his victory lap and had to be pushed into victory lane.

                              Jimmie Johnson

This made everyone happy, especially Uncle Blair who some would say likes Jimmy Johnson more than he likes Aunt Lynda!!  (just kidding, Lynda)  But then again, he doesn't wear clothes with Aunt Lynda's picture  or number on them does he???

             img_6505              img_6506 

Anyway, we had a great time.  It's definitely an event to remember.  In closing, all I can say is....boogity, boogity, boogity.

Here's some more pictures.

       IMG_6461        IMG_6477


        IMG_6480      IMG_6486 


        IMG_6439         IMG_6447


          IMG_6451          IMG_6454


                      checkered flag