Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Calling for Your Prayers

You all know Kelly. She has been my best friend for as long as I can remember and is as much my family as any other. Her mom Jana is like a mother to me and I am blessed to call her my friend. We have shared many things over the years and she has always been there for me.

This past Friday Jana was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer. She has already begun chemotherapy (on Saturday) and will continue treatments over the course of the next 18 weeks. She is doing well and the doctor seems quite positive about her prognosis. She is a very strong woman and isn't the type to allow something to keep her down. I know she will do everything in her power to get better and conquer this cancer.

I am asking all of you for your prayers. She means so much to me and there is nothing more powerful that I can do for her other than ask that you all include her in your prayers and pass on the request. Thank you.

Now, in light of this trial a wonderful thing happened. Here is my story.

Jana has been in and out of the hospital since February. She has had multiple visits with doctors and ended up back in the hospital about two weeks ago. When I found out she was in the hospital I sent a plant to let her know I was thinking of her.

She was diagnosed with cancer on Friday. On Saturday she was moved to the cancer ward. That night I was talking to Kelly and feeling a bit worthless; I mentioned that I should send flowers this time since I'd sent the plant last time. We snickered and went on.

The next morning Kelly told me she'd learned that fresh flowers weren't allowed for chemo patients as the standing water posed a risk to patients with low immune systems, which is caused from the treatments.

Well, (as I mentioned in my most recent post) I have been perusing many blogs lately and one really special one I'd stumbled across was titled Love-Stems The story is fairly simple. This mom and her family make flowers from toilet paper rolls and deliver them to those they believe could use a bright spot in their day.

Since Jana couldn't have fresh flowers this seemed the most perfect solution. Well the idea grew and we decided Jana would love receiving the flowers but she might also love giving some away. The girls and I had a lot of discussion about the gift of giving and why it might be just as wonderful to receive the ones she could pass on as the ones we made especially for her. So, the last few days we have been busy. And the finished result is wonderful.

I can not possibly tell you how fulfilling a project it's been but I encourage you to try it just once. Even if you don't have it in you to pass them out. Make some and take them to your local hospital. Tell them this story and I am sure they will pass them on. Once you make them you will find that you may want to do it again. We are already saving more toilet paper rolls.

This is fairly early in the process. Cassi and I had painted most of our rolls with the outside color and were starting to paint the insides.

We gave most of our flowers many patterns and LOTS of color.

We were spread out about the table for the past several days.

Cassi was probably the most committed to the project. She is also quite the artist.

I loved doing this with her, with all of them, but I think it is a bond we will remember for a while.

As you can see, when the weather got better, we moved our assembly line outside. It was joyous.

Even Cali got in on the painting action. Mostly she painted red and yellow, her two favorite (obsession is more like it) colors. Here we managed to get her to think pink, just for a minute.

Some of our final products.

And some close-ups.

They really are wonderful, don't you think?

Here is what you need to do to make yours.
  • Collect toilet paper rolls. I would suggest starting small as you need to see how much time it will take.
  • Paint on your outside color. I used acryllic paints since it's what I had. I think tempera paint would work too. We wanted a lot of color choices too. I would also suggest painting the insides at the same time. I would paint the insides before cutting them. I didn't do this but I will next time. I suggest foam brushes although we used fat craft brushes. I think the foam ones would cut your time down.
  • Paint your barbecue skewers (stems). I think they are also called bamboo skewers.
  • Cut strips on your roll. Some of ours are two sided and some are one. I did notice it is easiest to have the same style in the cup rather than one of each.
  • We used colored paper cups from the party store. Anything inexpensive would work but we wanted these first ones to be really nice and the girls really wanted the purple and green cups.
  • Mix plaster-of-paris and pour into cups. I think I filled about a third of the cup.
  • Once it has set a bit, push in your flowers. Making sure your flowers are assembled makes it easier to see which way they will sit in the cup. I fiddled with this a lot. I suppose I was being a bit of a perfectionist. Making as many as Love-Stems does one might get a little more carefree.
  • Lastly, get some easter grass or make your own shredded paper from something you can recycle and put it around the cup. I had blue that I found at a garage sale so I used that. It was colorful and cute. I did notice on their website there is a photo of flowers in a flower pot with real grass. If I had access to real grass I'd probably use it as the photo looks darling.
Hope you guys enjoy the pics and seeing what we are up to these days. It was a fun past couple days and knowing we are doing something to make a better day for someone else was really cool.
Love you all.


K said...

I just found your blog through Unplug Your Kids, and was looking through some of your past posts and saw this one. I love these "love stems." They are so pretty, and a great way to recycle t.p. rolls. Also, a great way to brighten someone's day!

Love Stems said...

Thank you so much for linking to us and sharing your story! We are so excited that our Love Stems idea is growing! :-) This made me smile so so much!!

Janna said...

Hi there -- I wanted to email you about your Love Stems and a potential project with Parents magazine, but I can't find contact info on your blog. Can you email me at jannaoberdorf [at] gmail [dot] com? Thanks!