Sunday, April 29, 2007

In Country

For any of you out there that are currently in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, there's a blog you need to read. I had the opportunity to "meet" Erin, from Holding Still, right about the time we traveled to bring Grace home last year. At the time, she and Alex/Beckmann were just starting to consider Ethiopian adoption. Well, a lot has changed since then. Not only did they decide to adopt, but they decided to adopt a sibling set of two little boys (not babies). They are in Addis right now to bring the boys home, and Erin is posting updates along the way. G0....Enjoy!!! 8^)

Friday, April 27, 2007

Our Ethiopian Princess

Science Fair

A few weeks ago we found out that the 5th Grade students at Daniel's (10) school would be required to do a project for the upcoming Science Fair. After much consideration, he decided to do an experiment that his big sister did four years ago. I'm sure the fact that she had success with it made it all the more appealing. Unfortunately for Daniel, we did not have her project any more, so he had to start from scratch. Of course, if we did, I would have made him choose something else. 8^)

For the last few weeks Daniel has been working diligently on his Science Project. It was called "I See Vitamin C!". He made a Vitamin C indicator solution, and used it to determine which kind of juice had the most Vitamin C. His samples included orange, grapefruit, apple and white grape juices. He guessed that grapefruit juice would be the winner. Surely a juice with such a sour/bitter taste had to have a high Vitamin C content. After completing his experiment, he discovered he was wrong. Not only was grapefruit juice not the winner, but orange juice was even worse! So much for drinking OJ for extra Vitamin C when we feel a cold coming on. In the end, it was white grape, closely followed by apple juice, that had the most Vitamin C. Who knew?!

Daniel turned his project into school on Wednesday, and received rave reviews from his classmates. Of course, they weren't the ones that would be doing the judging. The teachers were very concerned about this being an impartial, non-biased contest. The students were not allowed to put their names or any photos that showed more than their hands on their projects. As a final step, the teachers arranged for the students from the high school Science Club to do the judging. After meeting a few of them, we were all convinced that they were more than qualified to judge the Science Fair.

So, last night was the big event. There were almost 100 projects turned in by the 5th graders, so there was lots of competition. There were quite a few projects that were very interesting and well executed. After all the students and their families wandered around looking at them, it was time to hear the results. Daniel was hopeful, but far from certain that he would win. We heard the Honorable Mention awards, and the award for Best Presentation and Best Use of the Scientific Method. Finally, they announced the top 3. Daniel was thrilled to learn that his project took 3rd place!!!

After a few photo ops, we decided that a celebration was definitely in order. So, off to Coldstone we went.


Great Job Daniel!!!!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

As Requested....Updates

My Mom is doing amazingly well! She got to go home on Saturday. The doctors told her she was more likely to get an infection in the hospital, than if they sent her home. Since her pain was well controlled, she was happy to let them spring her from the round the clock poking and prodding of the lovely nurses. Everyone knows a person sleeps better in their own bed anyway, right? She is taking things slow and easy, and can often be found with a pillow on her chest to protect herself from the, sometimes overzealous, puppy love that can be found in abundance at her house. We haven't heard back from pathology yet, but anticipate the report before the end of the week. That will help determine the required chemo regimen. If it comes back as expected, my Mom will have her first round of chemo by the end of next week. While none of us are looking forward to that part, least of all her, we will all be glad to be looking at it from the other side in just a couple months. Please continue to lift my Mom up in prayer as she faces this next challenge. If all goes well, she could have her reconstruction surgery as soon as September. Modern medical science amazes me!

I have hesitated to post an update on Bob, as the progress has been slow, and his condition was less than hopeful. He could not swallow. He could only speak a few words, and they were very hard to understand. He had little to no movement on the right side of his body. He has experienced intense pain, requiring SERIOUS pain killing drugs, since his first seizure. However, a lot of that changed this week. Here is the message Lisa posted on our family webpage yesterday (edited slightly to protect privacy):

Thanks to all for your faith in fasting and praying for Bob. Sunday, things started to improve tremendously. Monday, he ate roast beef, potatoes, soup, pudding - the works. Wow!! Today, he wrote his name and stood with help. First time out of bed in almost 5 weeks. Tomorrow, he will be transferred to "Outstanding Local Neuro" Rehab facility.

The men in our church have been taking turns staying with Bob at night so that he is safe. and so that I can go home and sleep. What a blessing that has been. Heavenly Father is blessing Bob and it is so wonderful to see. I am doing well - I definitely have times when I'm overwhelmed, but the Lord has strengthened me and sent friends and family to support me.

Keep praying those prayers. My prayer now is that he'll be able to tolerate the intensive therapy. I think he will.

A Taste of Things to Come...

Friday, April 20, 2007

Couldn't Be Much Better

So, I got to talk to my Mom on the phone last night, and again this morning. She sounds fantastic!!! The pain blocking injections really did their job, and she has experienced VERY LITTLE pain. Since the cancer didn't spread to the lymph system, she will not need radiation. Even better than that, pending final confirmation from pathology, the oncologist does not think she will need near as much chemo as expected pre-surgery. Maybe as little as a round every two weeks for two months. Not that chemo is ever fun, but the doctors were originally talking about a combination of radiation and chemo for one to five years. This is SOOOO much better!!!!!

What a difference a day makes!! 8^)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Today is the Day - w/ Update

Through a series of events that I don't have time to explain right this minute, my Mom's bi-lateral mastectomy was rescheduled for today. The doctors have already gotten started on some of the pre-surgical procedures. They expect to operate early this afternoon. She will not be having the reconstruction done today as originally planned. That is part of the chaos that I will catch you all up on later. Anyway, that means that her surgery today will only take about three hours instead of TWELVE. The recovery should be easier too. If all goes well, she is expecting to be able to go home from the hospital Saturday. We expect to hear back from pathology in about a week, and she will start chemo in two. The doctors told her to plan for some pretty rocky times ahead. She has an agressive cancer, and they have to treat it as such.

For those that are inclined, I would greatly appreciate it if you would keep my Mom in prayer today. I will update the blog as I hear any news, and promise to get back to my regular bloggy self ASAP. Believe it or not, I actually have some great pictures and fun times to share, in spite of the fact that this has become a medical and prayer blog lately. Thanks for hanging in there with me during these tough times. 8^)

Update (2:45pm):

I just got word that my Mom is out of surgery. The surgeon removed four lymph nodes, and since they were all clear, was able to leave the rest of the lymph system alone. My Mom has been given a series of pain block injections that should keep her pretty numb for the next 10-12 hours. She is expected to be in recovery for the next hour and a half, and I should get another update when she makes it to her room.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

Bright and early this morning, the kids were all up and ready for the egg hunt.

Once she found an egg in her toy shopping cart, Grace preferred to use her "basket on wheels" for the rest of the hunt.

Justin found one of the last eggs with a little help from Dad.

The Easter Bunny was VERY generous this year!!

Even though we all had fun, we didn't forget to keep our loved ones close to our hearts...

May you all be blessed as we experience this holy season of grace.

What a Difference a Year Makes

Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Final Answer

I'm sorry for the long delay in updating you all on Bob's condition. This has been a painfully long week. First there was the waiting, and then the news that we all feared would come. Finally, there has been sharing the news. Oh, how I wish it was different. In the interest of keeping things short and to the point, I'll use Lisa's words to bring you all up to speed...

I am sad to report that the pathology is very discouraging. Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), also known as grade 4 astrocytoma, is the most aggressive type of primary brain tumor. It looks like we may only have a mid-range of about 9 months left together. The nurse tells me this morning that he is moving his right arm. Yippee! He needs some prayers to beat the pneumonia. Our Love to all of you. I know you are praying for us.

Lisa Ü

My heart is broken. The ache I feel inside for this family is truly beyond words. I am trying so hard to rest in my faith. I know God is very much aware and in control of things, but it is so hard to stay away from feelings of injustice and confusion. I have leaned on a specific verse many times over the last few years, and I suspect I will be doing so again. Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, April 01, 2007

How She's Grown

Grace is 19 months old now, and by this time next week, she will have been home with us for a year. I can hardly believe how the time has flown by. When she came home, she was wearing 0-3 month size clothes. Now she wears 18-24 month size clothes. At 7 months old, she could not sit upright unassisted. Today she can run, climb, dance, and is trying really hard to learn to jump. Grace was always quick to smile, but she never laughed. Now she laughs, yells and sings with joy everyday. She says lots of words, and even when we can't understand her, she makes wonderful conversation.

In the last year, Grace has grown 5 inches taller, gained 10 pounds, and her head is 2 inches bigger around. What started out as just a tuft of hair on the top of her head, has turned into the cutest little afro. It took me a little time to catch on, but I am having fun learning to style and care for her beautiful curls. Her lack of teeth had us worried for a while, but she has two lovely little pearls on the bottom now, and there are signs of another debut soon to happen on the top. Grace is off all formula now, and since healing from the affects of malnutrition and salmonella, she has been able to tolerate dairy products again. She doesn't usually eat a lot at any one sitting, but she loves to try new foods. She does not shy away from much of anything.

Having Grace as a part of our family has turned out to be a bigger, and more wonderful, blessing than I could have even imagined. Her siblings love her dearly, and she returns the feeling with great enthusiasm. She is a cuddly, happy and loving little person, and I thank God everyday for bringing us together.

The Latest

The last few days have been slow and uncertain. The doctors chose to keep Bob intubated following the surgery on Wednesday. He was experiencing some seizures, and was not moving the right side of his body. They worked on getting his anti-seizure medications leveled out again, and kept him sedated throughout the night. The following day, the doctor confirmed that the lack of motion on his right side was caused by a stroke. Over the next couple days, the respiratory therapists were able to turn down the settings on the respirator as Bob started doing more of the work of breathing on his own. Early this afternoon, they were finally able to extubate him. Now that there is not a breathing tube in the way to keep him from talking, the doctor hopes to be able to determine the extent of the affects of the stroke on Bob's functions. We have not heard back from pathology yet, but hope to in the next couple days.

Thank you to all of you that have been keeping this family in your thoughts and prayers. Please continue to do so.