To Love a Rose: An Ethiopian Adoption Journal

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 3

Mom visiting with Denise Balchunas and Bonnie Kennelly.
Mom and my cousin (her niece), Tiffany Cass.  I didn't get a picture with her husband Kelly in it, but he was here too. :-)
Denise, mom, and Bonnie.
Mom, her cousin Pam B, and her aunt Marty Goodwin.
Me, mom, and dad, walking the stem cell unit - she did TWO laps!  Woo hoo!
"Angry birds" from Taylor and Isaac Johnson (Brianne and Travis Johnson's boys).
W with mom next to the stem cell unit Christmas tree.
Dad, W, me, and mom next to the Christmas tree in the lobby at the CTCA.
Dad wheeling mom over to see the exotic fish tank.
Dad, mom, Mr. C, and W walking and wheeling the halls.
Today's a good day...many more are on the horizon! :-)

Love and Blessings,

Friday, November 25, 2011

Drumroll Please...Baby C's Birth Country

That's right...South Korea!!!!!
We decided we wanted to go ahead and reveal Baby C's home country, because we've had to tell several people due to mom's illness.  So, we thought, why not?  That means more people will know and more people will be able to pray for Baby C with us!

Judy, our social worker, thinks that we will get our referral by May/June.  Mr. C and I are SO EXCITED!  We're also excited that Holt has been in Korea since 1954; it's amazing, and we feel so good about that.

Map of South Korea.  We will fly into Seoul when we go to pick up Baby C.
Traditional hanboks for boys and girls...I'm GOING to get Baby C one of these as soon as I know what gender s/he is!
So, there you have it, friends!  Within a year, God willing (and He IS willing, AMEN!), we will be in Korea to bring Baby C home.  God is so good!  We are so blessed!

All the Love in the World,

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part 2

Mom and one of her fabulous nurses checking her IV drips.
Cafeteria.  The food here is really pretty amazing - NOT your average hospital food.
It was Whitney's 24th birthday on Monday.  Some of the stem cell unit nurses came in and sang "Happy Birthday" to her and gave her a HUGE, delicious slice of cake covered in whipped topping, raspberries, and blueberries - so nice!
Mom's ward on the 4th floor.  Everyone has to foam in, and then foam out.  No germs allowed!
Christmas tree in the lobby.
Light trees in the atrium.
Trees stuffed in every corner, everywhere.
My favorite, little buddy in the fish tank downstairs.  He literally follows you when you walk from side to side - neatest fish ever!
Beautiful "flowers" from Patti Balderson. <3
Tiffany and Kelly Cass' oldest, Kohen, colored this for mom.  He's so cute, and he did a really good job!
Letters and cards from friends and family - mom has REALLY enjoyed hearing from people.
Christmas tree right outside of mom's door in the stem cell unit.
Christmas tree in the cafeteria - so pretty!
Mom's room has the best view!  The ducks, geese, and seagulls are always out and very busy - fun to watch!
Mom got platelets, potassium, and IV fluids today.
Yes, we do!
Brianne and Travis Johnson's boys, Tyler and Isaac, sent mom some "angry birds" with some cards - mom LOVED these!  The Johnson's go to Faith Christian Outreach Church in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa with mom, dad, and W.
Mom sleeping with her CTCA bear.  They gave her a "goodie" bag full of nice things: a bear; a fluffy, white robe; bath necessities, etc.
Mom has really enjoyed reading mail from people.  If you'd like to send her a letter or card, even if you don't know her, she'd really LOVE it!  You can mail her here:

Kerry Hickenbottom
c/o Cancer Treatment Center of America
Midwest Regional Medical Center
Stem Cell Unit, Room #5
2520 Elisha Ave.
Zion, IL 60099

Thank you for the prayers and standing with us firmly on God's promises.  God is working miracles in mom's body, and we are watching it happen every day - every day BETTER and BETTER.  Please continue to stand with us and mom in prayer and thanks.  We love and appreciate you all!

All the Love in the World,

Sunday, November 20, 2011

A Bit of the Baby C's Yellow/Black/White Nursery

Chevron and elephant curtains I made for the closet door.
Elephant curtain I made in coordinating fabric on window, and black and white polka dot lamp from Ikea.  It won't stay there, but I liked seeing all the black and white stuff against the yellow walls.
I bought these three black and white paper packs on sale for $2/piece at Michael's, I cut them into paper flags that will hang from a network of black twine from the ceiling.
These are some of the cut flags; they will be affixed to one another front and back and secured to the twine across the ceiling (ah, the blessings of loft living, we have nearly infinite space upwards!) to create black and white patterned banners.
To be continued...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pictures from the Cancer Battlefield, Part I

Mom and her pic line...used for blood samples and chemotherapy.
NO REAL FLOWERS allowed; but her Bible study pals got her this pretty silk, fall arrangement and mylar balloon (NO LATEX allowed).
One view of her newer, bigger room - stem cell unit, room #5.
Long view of the room - TWO recliners and a BIG TV - waahoo!
Mom enjoying a lunch - the food at CTCA is fabulous!
Silk topiary arrangement with hummingbirds and 4 mylars from M, W, and myself.
Anyone who's ever been to a Cancer Treatment Center of America knows what this is...
Pastor Monte Knudson from Faith Christian Outreach Center in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa (my parents' church), mom, and dad.
Monte, mom, and dad.
 All the Love in the World,

Monday, November 14, 2011

My Mom

I have been hesitant to write much lately, because I've been dreading writing anything about what's going on with my mother right now; but after today, it's unavoidable...

Today, my mother is at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America in Zion, IL for the second time in 3 years for treatment.  That's right...not a check-up, TREATMENT.

As of today, my mother has been diagnosed with stage 4 non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Philadelphia positive adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).  

I have run the gamut of emotions these past few weeks - from sadness to fear to anger to hope and back around again.  BUT, today, I actually am feeling quite good.

I know, easy for ME to say, right?!

I get it, I'm not the one going through it; no, I'm not.  But, mom's in the BEST possible place ever for cancer treatment.  When she was going through treatments before, the CTCA was just beyond wonderful to her and all of us.  It really makes a difference to be in such a great place full of such wonderful doctors and treatment options - THANK GOD for insurance!

Also, mom's biological brother, R, just got done fighting a very similar cancer back in September; and he is now cancer-free, Praise Jesus!  So, we are all grateful for that knowledge - it has put us all at ease quite a bit.

Her hematologist and oncologist at CTCA said they have "very high hopes" for mom, and that they "expect recovery to the point of remission".  This is great news.  GREAT news, and we do not take it lightly.  We have all been thanking God all day for his greatness!  I know to some people they would think, "Well, if God's so great, she wouldn't be sick to begin with."

I used to think that way too.  But the more my family has endured, the more I have realized that sometimes the miracle is that you are given a second chance - a fiftieth chance.  Or that you meet just the right person who sets you on the right path, and it changes your whole life.  Or maybe something seemingly bad happens to you, but it ends up saving your life - literally.

Mom had a gall bladder attack in July, and it got quite bad...she was finally able to have it out in October.  One mere half-hour before her surgery, the doctor got a "wild hare" (as my dad would say) to do a liver was this liver biopsy that showed the lymphoma...and probably saved my mother's life.

I don't know why God doesn't always miraculously heal us instantaneously when we want him to; but sometimes I think we have walk through fire to become who he wants us to be on the other side.  And to me, sometimes the miracle is that it's 2011, and we are privileged to have such amazing technology at our disposal that can literally save our lives.  I'm so grateful for medical advancements - SO GRATEFUL!

Today, my strong-willed, sassy, Irish mother told my father and youngest sister that she was "really scared".  I've NEVER heard her say anything like that in my entire life.  I know she must be so scared right now.  I cannot imagine what it's like to battle cancer...TWICE.  BUT, I do KNOW that God has a plan for her.  I just know he does!  He wouldn't bring her this far to just drop her and say "sorry".  That goes against every promise in the Bible.

So today was staging and PET scans and her second blood transfusion in a week and a half.  Tomorrow, is a bone marrow biopsy and the beginning of chemotherapy.  I'm not glad she has to have treatment, but I'm glad they're jumping on so quickly and getting things started...her body is tired and needs to start healing, even though I know it will be worse before it gets better.

M and I will be leaving Thursday morning to head up to Zion to relieve our other sister and our dad; although, I doubt he'll go home with his wife in the hospital, but at least we can take some stress off - even if just a little...  I'm going to try to get in to see my doctor tomorrow.  I found two sores in the back of my mouth, and my lymph nodes have been a little swollen.  I've also had a veeeeeery slightly elevated temperature (like, in the 98's when I normally run in the 97's, but I'm hoping this is only my BCP's affecting my temp), runny nose and touch of a sore throat.  The CTCA won't let me in to see my mom if I'm sick; so, I'm hoping to get a clean bill of health tomorrow, or at least get on some antibiotics. :-S

My mom and I on my wedding day.
Any good thoughts and prayers for total healing sent my mom's way are GREATLY APPRECIATED!  I am so glad for the gift of prayer; it is so powerful!

I have just been thanking God all day long for the healing of my mother!  I want her to see her grandchild(ren)...I want to make new memories with her.  I want to take her to Ireland to see where she was from.  I want to have many more happy holidays with her.  I want her to see me succeed - my book published and our band signed.  I want her to do what she always wanted to do - take time for herself and pursue her dream of being a full-time many dreams...I want them all to come true.

I hope you and yours are well, wherever you are in the world...

Love and Blessings,

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Baby C's Adoption Scrapbook

To celebrate National Adoption Month, I thought it would be fun to make Baby C an adoption scrapbook...

A book JUST for him/her to look through whenever s/he wants that details how we became a family.  Not a fancy baby book, just a bright, colorful book designed for a child's eyes that might help answer the question, "Mommy, where did I come from?"

I LOVE to scrapbook!  I usually give hand-made scrapbooks to all of my friends expecting babies, but for those I have the luxury of traveling to Iowa and taking full advantage of my crafty mother's art room.  She has everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) a crafter would ever want!  The warm yellow walls are accented by black and white storage cases holding matching red, white, and black boxes, bags, and drawers of stickers, stamps, paints, papers, ribbon, fabric, Cricut cutters (yes, that's a plural there) and cartridges, etc. etc.  It's fabulous - a real haven when you're creating.

This time I knew I wouldn't be able to use my mom's supplies.  My sister, M, had graciously allowed me to borrow her Cricut and all the cartridges she had; but I was going to be on my own for everything else.  Luckily, I had been collecting paper, stickers, and adhesives whenever I could get my hands on a 40 or 50% coupon for Michael's or Hobby Lobby; and then there was the fantastic 700+ piece scrap-booking kit my sister-in-law C had given me for Christmas two years back - I was hoping all of this would come in handy.

I ran to Michael's, 50% off coupon in hand to buy the brightest, cutest, child's eye catching-est scrapbook I could find.  When I got there, nearly everything in the scrapbook section was already 40% off, including the scrapbooks themselves.  My eyes were instantly drawn to this one; so, I had to get it:

Cute right?  It's by Amanda Blu.
I chose this book mostly because it was bright and fairly gender-neutral since we won't know if we've been matched with a boy, girl, or twins for about 6 or 7 more months; so, this seemed like a fairly basic (yet fun!) place to start.

Next, I got out my limited scrap-booking supplies; and tried to come up with a plan of attack.

In a day and a half, I was able to finish the book.  It's not the uber-fancy scrapbooks I usually do - in fact, it's VERY simple; but I think that's a good thing since this is for a child, after all.  I wanted to highlight all of the major moments in our family-making process; while still keeping it simple and straight-forward enough that a child could understand it.  Here's a peak at what I did:

"Becoming a Family"
"Referral Day"/"The Journey Begins"
"Meeting You"/"Love & Joy!"
"Together"/"Happiness Is" (I can easily add another baby here if needed)
"Going Home"/"Dog Brother" (can't leave Eagan out! :-)
"Family"/"Home Sweet Home"
"We Are Family"/"Happy"
And finally..."Forever Family"
Again, NOT fancy - I'll do more elaborate baby book once the wee one(s) is home - there's not lots of cut-outs or stickers or time-consuming stamp techniques; but I think it does a good job of using color and pattern to explain how adoption will bring us together as a forever family. 

I had so much fun, it made me want to do more (with better equipment, obviously)!  I wonder if anyone would want to buy such a thing for their own child to explain their adoption?  Ah well, if not, I'll just have to keep making books for friends!

All the Love in the World,