Thursday, March 29, 2007

A VERY Long Day

It is 2 AM on Thursday, and I am finally home from the hospital. The surgeons indicated that they succeeded in removing the mass from Bob's brain. He is in the process of recovering in the ICU, and we are expecting the pathology report in the next few days. Your continued prayers are both coveted and appreciated.

I would especially ask that you lift Lisa up in prayer. She is physically exhausted, and somewhat overwhelmed by the gravity of this situation. She has a great faith though, and trusts that the Lord will be gracious.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Fasting and Praying - An Update

The doctors have finally scheduled surgery. Bob will go into the OR tomorrow morning (Wed, 3/28). We do not have an exact time. Today, preparations for surgery are underway. The medical team shaved a small amount (10 spots the size of a nickel) of Bob's head. This is in preparation for an MRI designed to provide reference points during the operation, which will help to preserve as much healthy tissue as possible. This particular technology is not available at any other hospital in Southern California. Now we know why Bob needed to be at UCI, in spite of our initial misgivings.

When Bob enters the OR tomorrow, approximately two hours of preparatory procedures (additional MRI, etc.) will be performed before he is actually opened up for the removal of the mass. At that point, the mass will be removed and a biopsy will be performed and sent to Pathology. Rough results are expected (to determine the type of mass, i.e. benign or malignant) during surgery, followed by an another MRI to be certain that all necessary tissue has been removed. Only then, will the doctors close. The entire procedure is expected to take 6-8 hours. The complete pathology report is expected in 7 days.

In the mean time, Bob is still in a great deal of pain due to the injuries to his shoulders. He requires morphine every 2 hours. He describes his pain as an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10. As a family, we would like to invite any of you that wish to, to join us in fasting and praying for Bob and his family tomorrow. Your love, support and prayers are greatly appreciated.

I just returned from a visit with Bob, Lisa and their daughters at the hospital. All things considered, Bob looks quite good. He is definitely in a lot of pain, but his spirits are pretty high. We enjoyed a lot of nice conversation, and shed a few tears as the time came for us to leave. Originally the girls were not going to go to the hospital tomorrow, but the older daughter has changed her mind. I will take her back over there late in the morning. If my younger niece wants to go, I'll take her as well. Lisa is tired, but holding up. I made sure to give her lots of hugs, and even shooed her out of the room for a bit so she could get some dinner. The hospital staff is outstanding, and Bob is receiving excellent care.

Please keep your prayers coming. They are definitely felt by the entire family.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Unbelievable - w/ Update

We are rarely without good reason to pray, and now is no exception.

On Friday afternoon, just before time to go home, a co-worker heard my brother-in-law (Bob - mid 40's) yell out in his office. He went in to see what was happening, and discovered Bob having a severe seizure on the floor. When Bob stopped seizing, the co-worker called 9-1-1. When my sister-in-law (my late husband's sister), Lisa arrived at the hospital, the medical team had done a CT scan on Bob's head, and the neurologist indicated that he had a large (softball sized) mass in the right temporal lobe of his brain. He was speaking and acting normally, and the doctors prepared to take additional CT and MRI scans of his body and head to rule out other masses and gain further clarity about the mass in his head. Unfortunately, Bob started to seize again before the scans could be performed. The doctors told Lisa he had the "worst" kind of seizure, and Bob was unable to speak when he stopped seizing. The doctors attempted to get the necessary scans for the next four hours, but were unable due to Bob's level of pain and agitation. He was given "tons" of steroids through the night to reduce the pressure and inflammation in his brain, in hopes of eliminating future seizures.

By 6 AM Saturday morning, Bob was able to speak again. Throughout the day, Bob complained of severe pain in his left shoulder. The initial x-rays did not indicate a problem, but after Lisa's insistence that Bob be seen by an orthopedic specialist, a dislocated shoulder was confirmed. No wonder Bob couldn't sit still for CT scans the previous evening. By late Saturday evening, the doctors were finally able to get the required CT and MRI scans done. The CT scans did not show any other masses in his body, so the doctors feel confident that the mass in his brain is isolated and operable.

At 8 o'clock this morning, Bob was put under general anesthesia, and the injury to his shoulder was corrected. The doctors also discovered a fracture while they were relocating the joint. Bob will need to wear a sling for two weeks, and the need for future surgery will be determined at that point. He was finally able to get some sleep following the procedure. The neurology team is reviewing the MRI and CT scans of Bob's brain, and will decide how to proceed ASAP.So far, Lisa has been told that "best case scenario", Bob will need to be out of work for the next three months. No one is particularly interested in talking about the other scenarios, but it doesn't get better from there. Lisa has expressed that she has faith that "everything will be fine", but she just "doesn't know what that will look like for her family."

Please keep this family in your prayers. Every moment is uncertain, and the upcoming procedures are serious and scary. To add to the anxiety, due to Bob being at work when the seizure happened, he was taken to UCI Medical Center. That happens to be the hospital where Jeff (my late husband, and Lisa'a brother) died. While that does not say anything about the care Bob is receiving, it adds an emotional element for the rest of us.

I just spoke with Lisa. (1 PM, Monday 3/26)

The MRI on Bob's brain showed that the mass is about the size of a golf ball, right ablove his right ear. That is a BIG improvement over the initial estimate of softball size. Now, the doctors are waiting for the OR to be avilable so they can schedule the surgery to remove the mass.

The orthopedic doctors discovered an additional fracture in Bob's left shoulder, and suspect that the right shoulder dislocated during the seizure as well. Fortunately, it relocated itself. There may be some rotator cuff damage, and it is very sore, but Bob is able to use his right arm.

On a positive note, Bob is sleeping and eating well. In fact, UCI has 24 hour room service. They require only a 30 minute notice for anything the patient wants. The food also seems to be be much better quality than the average hospital food. That should make the stay a bit more pleasant. 8^)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Happy Anniversary.... Me!!!!

I year ago today, I wrote my very 1st blog post. I had considered that I might post an update now and then, but I figured the blog would pretty much just serve as a travel journal for our trip to Ethiopia, and a way to keep family updated occasionally on the happenings in our lives. I never imagined that it would become what it has.

The Site Meter at the bottom of this page shows over 10,500 visitors, and I didn't start the count until September 1st! I am a bit slow on the technology side of blogging. 8^) There are readers from all over the USA, as well as England, Sweden, Denmark, Spain, Australia, etc. Wow! That is truly humbling. I have met so many wonderful people in the blog-o-sphere, and am happy to be able to call some of them my friends. My original goals of documenting our journey to bring Grace home, and keeping the family current, have definitely been met. That part is great, but so many other aspects of this experience bring me joy too. Thank you to everyone out there that has contributed over the year.

I appreciate and

love you all!!

PS Just to fulfill my own curiosity, if you've been reading here, drop me a comment and let me know where you're from. You can even include what brought you here if you feel so inclined. I would love to have the opportunity to get to know some of my readers better. Thanks!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Sometimes our great, big world gets very small. Like when we move at least an hour's drive away from every one of our family members and friends. Like when we are working to set up a new home, get our family settled in a new community and are smack in the middle of the International Adoption process. Like when we try out three different churches and still don't feel like we've found the one that feels like home. Like when something as simple as going on a date requires two or three months advanced planning, and sometimes even an airline ticket for Grandma. Like when we find out that someone we love dearly really is mortal, and we feel like there we have no friends around with which to share the journey.

Then, there are the times that our small, isolated world grows exponentially over night. Like when we discover blogging; first to learn more about adoption, but stick around because the community and support is amazing. Like when long, lost friends find us, even in a new house 50+ miles away. Like when we have a chance encounter with cousins we haven't seen in years, and they decide to keep visiting from time to time. Like when a complete stranger, with nothing in common but the fact that we both adopted from Ethiopia, sends an email to say they live nearby and would love to meet; and by the way, there is another family just like us in THE TOWN WE LIVE IN. Like when that family reaches out, is not turned away by our procrastination, and even invites us to come to a Bible Study.

Not every season is sunshine and flowers. As our world keeps turning around; the scorching Summer that feels like we are in the refiners fire, the dry, windy Autumn that reminds us of the impending strife ahead, the frigid, bitter Winter that feels never ending, and finally, the Spring that breaks Winter's back, and with it's showers restores the earth to glory and beauty; are all inevitable. Sometimes we wish that we could pick and choose the seasons of our lives. At the very least, we would like the seasons themselves to be as predictable as those on the calendar. But alas, that's just not how life works.

As we skip and laugh through our lovely Springs, life feels very free and easy. In fact, it's not hard for us to forget that it can be any other way. Not until the burning heat of Summer comes, or the cold death of Winter arrives, do we remember how small, insignificant and without control we really are. How will we survive these tests? How will we get to the other side of the chasm of fear or loss that now live in our hearts? We know we can't do it alone, and some fears and thoughts just feel too deep to bare.

Well, this is the best part. We don't have to be by ourselves. We don't have to rely on another person that is just as fallible as us, who may or may not understand our burden. We have a Father in Heaven that desperately wants to be the one to hold us when we need to cry, or listen when we need to call out and question the "hows" and "whys". He loves every one of us insignificant, fallible, imperfect people, and even went so far as to send His one and only Son to die for our every sin. If we are in a season of strife, fear, loss or refining, we only need to invite Him in. Just like the bulbs that are planted in the Fall, held tight by Winter's frozen grip, but faithfully come peaking up through the ground in the Spring, know that the Lord is faithful in providing everything we need to survive and overcome.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Story Time

Guest Blogger
My Cousin Nick, Working at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota

I park on the side of a very busy street, competition is fierce and the stakes are high. This is the healthcare industry, nobody likes to walk any longer than it takes to chug a mountain dew and smoke a cigarette.

Last week I returned to my car after a particularly stressful day to find my poor Suburban missing a sideview mirror, and wearing a new crack in her once pristine windshield. I was unhappy, like Rosie O'Donnell looking for a Krispy Creme UNHAPPY. What could I do!? Sure, profanity was an option, but I had no target.

You'd be suprised how jaded one week of having to swivel ones head around before switching lanes can make a person. I had just about given up the dream of having a decent parking spot and a car that didn't look like something I'd imported from Lebanon. I started to hold the general driving public in the same regard that General Custer held the Indian nations - A bunch of Savages.

All obscure and overly dramatic references aside, this is the good part. I was walking to my car yesterday when I noticed a white envelope inside of a plastic bag placed under my windshield wiper. After I microwaved it to kill the anthrax, I opened it. Inside was a simple message. I've included a picture, because all good stories have pictures.....

Dress Up

Do you think a day will come when Grace will be upset with her big sister for making her look this silly?

Wanted: Bad Mom Stories

For those of you that have been reading for a while, you might remember this little guy and his Mama. If not, go ahead and get caught up. I'll be here when you get back.

Well, he has grown a lot since then, and is getting to be quite a mobile little tyke. As all of you experienced parents out there know, these are fun and exciting times in the life of a baby, but can be somewhat stressful and guilt filled for parents. Mobility has its' perks to be sure, but it also allows that cute little lump of a baby to get to places and into things that were never a worry before. Even if we do everything right, there will inevitably be the occasional tumble and head bonk, which is heart breaking enough. Unfortunately, due to our human-ness, we eventually forget something in the babyproofing process. After all, it's been a long time since we parents were little cruisers.

This leads me to the email I received from my cousin yesterday. The subject line was....Wanted: Bad Mom Stories. At first I thought she was just forwarding on some cute email designed to bring a chuckle to us Moms that make a mistake or two now and then. But alas, no. She was sharing her real life experience with Kenny yesterday, and pleading with any other Moms out there to share one of their own "Bad Mom" stories to soothe her guilty heart. Here it is; presented in hope you will find some empathy for my sweet cousin in your Mommy hearts....


I had my first "bad mom" experience yesterday. After giving Kenny his first bottle of the day, I put him down and let him go. I took care of a few chores in the kitchen and then my bladder told me to find the nearest bathroom. As has become custom in my home, I went to the hallway bathroom and left the door open. Usually, Kenny follows me and by the time he pops his head in the doorway, I have just about finished. Yesterday was different. He did not follow me. I heard him crying. It was a pain-filled cry. I finished my business and quickly made my way down the hallway to the kitchen to find my son. He was not in the kitchen. It took me a moment to figure out that the crying was coming from the other side of me--from the stairway. I looked down to find Kenny hanging from the balusters. Apparently, I forgot to put the gate up. How horrible is that? My thanks to God for looking after my child even when I failed to do so. Kenny is fine, actually he stopped crying when he saw and heard me crying. Thanks to my friend, Sue, who calmed me down so that I could resume mothering.

Then it occurred to me that I could not possibly be the only one to make a stupid mistake. Will you share yours with me--it would make me feel better and maybe even give me a chuckle. I have attached a picture of Pooh bear assuming the position in which I found Kenny. Maybe you'll find it as funny as my husband did.


So dear blog readers, for my cousin (and a future "Bad Mom" day for me), bring on the "Bad Mom" stories!! 8^)

By the way, just in case you were worried, here are a couple pictures of Kenny happy and healthy. Thanks for being such a good sport Julie!!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Showing Our Support

So, no sooner had we explained my Mom's current circumstances to the kids, they were already trying to think of ways to show their support and increase awareness. I LOVE these kids!! You see, when we were waiting for our referral for Grace from Ethiopia, I learned about "The One Campaign". We immediately ordered, and proudly wore, our white "One" bracelets. We even passed them out to our friends and family. It seemed the least we could do as we waited for our baby girl to come home because of the intense poverty that is found in Ethiopia and so many other places in the world. This past Summer, my Sister-in-law stayed with us for a few months. While she was here, she took an African History class through BYU Idaho. During her course of study, she learned a lot about what is going on in Darfur, Sudan. We learned right along with her. Before long, we were all sporting the green "Save Darfur" bracelets. Lest you think this is just a trendy thing at our house, these bracelets have been worn until they broke, or until there was someone else found with a passion for the cause so they could be passed on. So, back to the situation at hand. I have been assigned the task of finding pink bracelets for the family, as we all await the outcome of Grandma Carroll's surgery and follow-up treatment. By the way, my oldest son was actually the first one to request the pink bracelets, so this is not about me torturing my boys by making them wear pink. 8^)

This morning I sat down to search out the best place to make our purchase. I was concerned with two things. I didn't want to spend a fortune on some simple rubber bracelets, but I also wanted to know that a portion of my purchase would go toward the fight against breast cancer. Imagine my surprise when I got all of these results on the very first page of my search....

Breast Cancer Awareness Pink Ribbon Shop

Healing Ribbons - For the Mind, the Heart and the Spirit

Beads for a Cure

Breast Cancer Bracelets - Fine Jewelry, Gifts, and Collectibles

Custom Designer Jewelry and Cancer Awareness Jewelry by Elisa Ilana

Breast Cancer Merchandise Susan G. Komen for the Cure Breast Cancer Awareness

Breast Cancer Bracelets - Dangle, toggle and bangle bracelets...

Shop to Benefit The Breast Cancer Site

Cancer Awareness: Red Rock Designs

Not every one of these sites fit my first condition of not spending a fortune, but they all fit my second condition of benefiting the fight against breast cancer. Each one also carries some beautiful things. Go check them out, and support the cause. We will too.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Call

So, I got the call. The call from my Mom, that is. I thought about calling her Thursday evening, but couldn't quite bring myself to do it. I guess I figured if there was anything too serious, she would call me. Instead, I took a nap...from 5 to 8:30 pm. Yikes! So not like me!! On Friday morning, I got a call from my Dad, inquiring as to what was going on with my Mom. I hadn't heard yet, so after a few minutes of chit-chat, hung up and took a shower before Grace woke up. As soon as I was dressed, I heard Grace calling from her crib, and very shortly after that the phone was ringing again. This time, it was my Step-Mom (Diane), also inquiring about my Mom. Since I still didn't know anything, and I had to pick up my Middle School kids in 10 minutes because of their minimum day, I wrapped up the conversation quickly. Keep in mind, even in my hurry, it was not lost on me who was making these concerned calls. I don't want to misrepresent anything here, but 10 years ago, my Dad and Step-Mom might not have cared a whole lot about what was going on with my Mom. The relationships had been strained (to say the least) for a VERY long time. I am so blessed to be part of a family that has cared enough to work through the trials and tribulations, and responded when God called us to heal the broken spots.

So, back to the subject at hand. My Mom called just after I got home from picking up the oldest kids from school. Fortunately, they had just left on a walk with the little ones, and I had a few minutes to myself. It wasn't easy to hear my Mom's news, but I did feel a sort of supernatural lifting of my spirit that was completely beyond me at the moment. She explained the medical science and terminlogy for everything. I listened, trying to be brave, but felt a couple of warm tears trickle down my cheeks. Finally, I heard her say "bi-lateral mastectomy" and "chemo". She said that the doctor had been very clear that "this is VERY treatable", and "science has come SOOO far in the last few years", but I still felt afraid. I had to laugh when she explained that the "bi-lateral" part was not because she needed it, but because she wanted her "tits" to match. Only my mother!!! Not that I can blame her. In the interest of fending off future breast cancer, and looking pretty (ok, so I'm a little vain too), I would probably do the same thing. 8^)

She will meet with the plastic surgeon next week, and likely have her surgery (mastectomy and reconstruction all in one) after March 24th (her and my Step-Dad's Anniversary). Yeah, they're still romantics after all this time!! Thanks to all of you that have offered up your good thoughts, well wishes, prayers, and even wearing your breast cancer bracelets. Every one of you mean the world to me, my Mom and our family. Please keep it up!

By the way, we have chosen to be very open with our kids about this matter. It has not always been easy to have the conversations with them, but so far, they seem to have taken the news very well. I feel so fortunate to have the relationships that we do with our kids. We have always tried to foster open, honest communication with them, and they have not disappointed (ok, maybe shocked) us with their questions and observations so far. Please be sure to keep them in prayer as well, as you consider our family over the coming weeks. Thanks!


Just in Time (For Us Anyway)

I got a couple days behind on my email, but when I popped back into cyberspace today, I was greeted by some very happy news. According to
this article on, Disney is set to release the animated movie, "The Frog Princess", in 2009. It is set in the French Quarter in New Orleans, and will feature the very first Black Disney Princess ever, Maddy!!
Obviously, this move by Disney is a long time in coming, but for Grace, the timing couldn't be more perfect. I am sad for all the little girls that have grown up without a princess to look up to, but am thrilled that Grace will have this lovely character to relate to as she goes through those fun, imaginative preschool years. Yeah Disney!!!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

You're the Best!!

As mentioned by my Mom in this comment......

Grandma Carroll said...
or first known as Blaine's mom. I cannot begin to tell you how much all you prayers mean to me. I have truly been blessed by a very special husband, wonderful family, an extended family, church family, and friends (known and unknown). The Lord is definitely the director of this play no matter what the ending is. He has blessed me with so much and has used my life to glorify Him many times, and I have perfect faith that this situation is just another piece of history in my life. I have at least 7 grandchildren to be with as they grow up, one son left to get married, and a bunch more grandkids to spoil from my other two children. I have always planned on being around long enough to have my children support me in the style I want to be accustomed to, and those plans have not changed. Much Love to All. all are the best!!! Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Health and Progress

So, today was the day for Grace's 18 month Well Baby Check-up. She was ready for the occasion. She was healthy, and free of bumps, bruises and scratches. She was right on track (if not a little bit advanced) on the developmental scale. She was right at the 50th percentile for height and head circumference, and just under that for weight. She truly has caught up to her American peers! She even has 2 teeth, with signs of another coming through soon.

She is running instead of walking. She climbs everything. She has for more than the 6-10 words required by the developmental standards. Heck, just the names of her family members (and dog) take up 7 spots. The only place she falls behind a little is in the digestive area. She is willing to try all table foods. In fact, she is quite enthusiastic about most of them. The only problem is, if she eats too much of anything, she pitches it all back up. Not my favorite thing to mention, but real nonetheless. The doctor did not seem concerned. As long as the growth and development are on target, he feels the digestive issues are the lone hold out from Grace's days in Ethiopia, and will soon catch up. Since she is a healthy, happy girl overall, We have decided to put our worry aside along with the doctor.

Some final good news. We have finished our 9 months of meds for Latent TB. No more INH!!! We have a healthy, happy 18 month old little girl. According to the doctor, the only follow-up required will be a chest x-ray every 3-4 years, just like other people would have a PPD skin test. Yippee!!!

To keep track of some of Grace's Ethiopian peers, please go
here, here and here. All seems to be well. 8^)

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Back to Pink

Unbeknownst to me, before my Mom came out to visit in February, she had an abnormal mammogram. That was followed up by a biopsy this week that confirmed her worst fears. The doctors are using the "C" word. She received a referral for an MRI and a visit to a surgeon in the next week. So far, the talk seems to be centering on a lumpectomy and some radiation. We'll see what the verdict is after the latest round of tests. Please pray. This is my Mom. I'm sure you all understand.