One Big Adventure
An opportunity to log in some of the thoughts and activities of our homeschooling family of eight. We love books and good food and aspire to a Christ-centered, multi-generational, agrarian life.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

God is good--all the time

We were able to get James in to see his pediatrician this morning. She had some immediate concerns regarding a 'rash' (I will get the medical name again tomorrow--I didn't realize it would be so easy to get onto a computer here and update the blog). James had blood drawn for a number of tests and one came back with blood counts that looked suspiciously like leukemia. The pathologist looked at a blood smear and said it definitely looks like cancer cells.

Northern Minnesota is currently under a blizzard watch and winter storm watch and some are forecasting 9-18 inches of snow. So time was of the essence to get James to Duluth where they have a pediatric oncologist. Before we had even arrived home from James' morning appointment the family was already packing clothes and good food for us to bring with us. Owen came with me for help and company and we arrived in at St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth around 5 p.m.

So far, James has just given some more blood, had a chest x-ray taken and started an IV for fluids. Tomorrow morning he will get platelets and then he will go into surgery. They will take a sample of his blood marrow--probably from his femur--, do a spinal tap to draw spinal fluid and give him his first chemotherapy treatment and install a central line for future chemo treatments. James' oncologist, Dr. Jacqui Wiermaa, looked at his blood smears and preliminarily thinks James has AML (the other kind of infant leukemia is ALL--I can't remember at this point what they each stand for). Most childhood leukemia is ALL, which is relatively straightforward to treat. AML is more difficult to treat in normal children, but children with Down syndrome have an advantage in that the extra chromosome somehow makes them more receptive to the treatment. Of course, this is what also makes children with Down syndrome more susceptible to AML.

I am glad to have Owen with me. We are really grateful for the wonderful homemade potato soup Katie sent with us. I need to get out to the car and bring in the things we need for the night. Right now, we are in an open bay in the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit). Tomorrow after the surgery, we hope to get a private bay. That will be nice so we don't have to worry too much about 'disturbing the neighbors'.

I will try to get some regular updates here and maybe some photos and links with more information for those who are interested. Please feel free to leave comments, but know that I may not be able to respond to them all.

We can feel the Lord and sense His presence. His peace, which truly passes all understanding, is guarding our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

Another big week

For some reason, I have a feeling we've got a few more big weeks ahead of us.

On Wednesday, we celebrated Vern's birthday. It 'just so happened' that his day off fell on his birthday and we enjoyed the afternoon and evening together as a family. We like to enjoy lots of good food around here and that is generally the 'theme' of every birthday celebration. Vern's was no exception. Katie made bagels so we could have bagel-wiches (fried egg with cheese on a toasted bagel) for breakfast. These are a favorite of Vern's. We haven't had them for some time since the hens haven't been laying many eggs and we haven't been buying bagels. Katie's were the best we've had in a long, long time. They were also a reasonable size--smaller than 'boughten' bagels. For Vern's dinner we had Shrimp Etouffe--another big treat. He was thinking about his birthday meal when the grocery store had a coupon deal for shrimp. So he picked some up and decided on Shrimp Etouffe.

I had a bunch of nice things I wanted to say about Vern on the occasion of his birthday, but I wasn't able to get them down before my steel trap opened unexpectedly and let them all loose. I will say, though, that while our life together has certainly taken many unexpected twists and turns, I would do it all over again and still look forward to growing old together. I thank God for you, Mr. Bear!

Wednesday was also the last local Down syndrome support group meeting. It is always so encouraging to see other moms and their children with Down syndrome. The children are so precious and so are the moms. I wish everyone could have a chance to meet these special people.

James has had a rough few days which we initially attributed to teething. Saturday, we noticed some things that prompted us to call the nurse line at the hospital and she recommended we bring James in within four hours. Since Grandma is here and Vern had gone to work, Owen got the van ready and warmed up for us. He cleared all the snow off and disconnected the trailer then helped get James into his seat. Katie and I loaded up James and headed out. It didn't take the ER doc long to diagnose James with Bell's palsy. I'll need to take him in to see his pediatrician on Monday. We are hopeful that it will quickly run it's course and James' nerve will be back to normal. This seems to have caused somewhat of a setback with James' eating since sometimes Bell's Palsy affects the taste buds.

We woke up this morning to about seven inches of fresh snow. That is more than we have had all winter so far and it is the first time folks have been out plowing driveways. We would have been snowed in if it weren't for Grandpa John. He called this morning, knowing that Vern's tractor (that runs the snow blower) was in the shop, and offered to come plow us out. Everyone is glad to have a chance to play in the snow before we leave. Some of us had been saying that we would miss the snow next winter... until someone else pointed out that we weren't getting any snow to speak of anyway--certainly not enough to slide or ski in. So now we remember and we will miss the snow.

The forecast is promising more snow showers this week and there is plenty to do to prepare for the move. We have a heads up that a second party wants to look at our house this week (they understand that we are getting ready to move and don't expect a show place). Vern realize this morning that his last day of work is two weeks from today. We have had some interest in the chickens and pens, Praise the Lord! Off we go!!!


Saturday, February 17, 2007

It's been a big week

On Monday, Rebecca turned seven. It is so hard to believe she was just five months old when we moved from Georgia to Minnesota. Rebecca tries really hard to keep up with her big brother, Owen, who is almost 11. She is packed full of energy, which we are continually working on focusing and directing. For her special day, she picked out a hearty brunch of eggs from our own hens (sunnyside up, please), sausage (next year from our own pig, Lord willing :*)), waffles and applejuice. She enjoyed some helium balloons and before we had 'tea' for supper, we all changed into the clothes we wore to Jarod's and Anna's wedding. It was fun to dress up and we had quite the tea party with chicken salad tea sandwiches, cucumber sandwiches and cheese tea sandwiches. We also enjoyed fruit--cameo apple slices, strawberries, frosted grapes-- and sweets--Victorian Sponge Cake, cherry scones and muffin breads. All was accompanied by Earl Grey tea and Grandpa John and Grandma Nan (local adopted grandparents) came by with special birthday wishes. (Hopefully film, er-r, photos, will follow in the relatively near future.)

Wednesday was Valentines' day. In the morning, Vern made the run to the dairy (we take turns with two other families and this was our week to pick up wonderful, fresh milk). In the afternoon most of the children and I took James to see his audiologist. He was fit for new hearing aid molds and we'll return to get those and do a hearing test on or around March 2nd. While we were gone, the Valentine fairy (aka Grandpa John) stopped by with chocolates for all the children. They all made short work of them--even James, with a little bit of help!

During all this time, we were waiting for some level of confidence about the contract our buyers have on their house. It seems all the other realtors were content to just let things take their course with the other houses, risking delays, or worse, with closings. Since we have so much at risk here (with animals and furniture and other things to get rid of, since we are planning to leave the area), we weren't comfortable with that approach. Thankfully, our realtor, Jeanne wasn't either. She chased down all the paperwork and made sure that, to the degree that one can at this point in the process, things stand a good chance of moving along smoothly. On Thursday, Jeanne and we got enough information to have a comfort level that allows us to proceed with the sale of our house and remove our house from the market.

So, now what? Now we pack and sort and get ready to move to Georgia. Why Georgia? Because there is a group of folks there and a church there that we need to be a part of. Because the area there is wide open to small family farmers, which we aspire to be. Because some of us (no names mentioned here :*), but it's not me!) have bones that are particularly susceptible to cold northern MN winters and are concerned about the limiting effects of such winters as said individual(s) age... ;*). It'll also be kinda handy that Nona and Poppa, my folks, live about four hours north of where we plan to light and they are looking forward to having a turn at having the grandchildren closer.

This is not to say there aren't precious folks in Minnesota that we will miss very much. And we are hopeful that this blog and e-mail will allow us to keep in touch.


Sunday, February 11, 2007


Yesterday, while Vern was getting ready for work (he usually works from 2pm -10pm, so he's getting ready around 1pm after we have eaten our big meal). Carrie, 3, found his baseball glove, which had somehow escaped from it's hiding place under our bed. She was wearing it on her right hand and Vern informed her that she needed to put it on the other hand or she wouldn't be able to throw the ball.

Carrie tested the glove on her left hand and then returned it to her right hand. She practiced throwing her imaginary ball with her gloved right hand, and then told Vern, "Yes, I can. I can throw it and they...they... they can spank the ball."

Go, sort of

Yesterday, we had a party through to look at our house. It was cold and we stayed here during the showing. They seemed very interested in the house--particularly in the heating system. They are transferring into the area with the DNR. That's all we know at this point.

Today, Jeanne met with us to go over the contracts for all the houses leading up to buying ours. The folks that hope to buy our house have only one contingency remaining for financing, which depends on them selling their house. They are using local financing and have been asked all the questions to be sure all the bases are covered and there will be know surprises. The folks that hope to buy their home are in the same basic boat and we are comfortable with them as well. The buyers for this first home are from out of town. They have no house to sell, but they are an unmarried couple (at present) and one of them has a divorce that must be final in order for them to close on their home (the most expensive of the three houses involved here). They are also using financing from out of town, which sometimes causes problems (i.e. with appraisals done by folks who don't know the area here, lack of familiarity with the buyer, etc.).

We would not normally be inclined to pray for someone's divorce to be final. Many times we've prayed for reconciliation and for the process to be interrupted. Yesterday, Jarod blogged about jurisdiction and we are wondering if, perhaps, that issue applies here.

So this is where my swimming race analogy falls apart. Instead of "GO!!", we are sort of waiting a little more. Tomorrow, Jeanne will check with the out-of-town lending agency and with the realtor about the divorce situation. Then we will proceed toward closing on March 23rd, but our house will continue to be on the market and we will have it shown. This could be a little tricky with packing and with selling items we don't plan to move with us. While we aren't exactly diving in the pool and swimming as fast as we can, maybe we get to do some warm up laps for a little while.

It's a little better that standing out on the platform.

Friday, February 9, 2007

Get set

In this post, I compared our current situation to a swimming race. I guess it might also compare to a running race as well, but I have never spent any time running track!

We got word today that our buyers, the Bs, have an offer on their house. They needed to know if we could work with a March 23rd closing date! We said we thought we could, but we needed as much time as possible to wrap up things around here.

In the meantime, we a have a showing tomorrow at noon and an open house on Sunday from 1-3. Jeanne, our wonderful realtor, will come an hour early to go over all the contracts with us so we know what is going on. She will offer her expert opinion on it all--she's been doing real estate with real integrity around here for about 30 years--and if we are comfortable with everything, we will sign the agreement to remove the contingency on our contract and technically our house will be sold or pending.

Jeanne did warn us that about 25% of the time here, something with financing falls through at the last minute. Hopefully, she'll be able to help us avoid that pitfall.

For all the 'thinking' we have done about the possibility of actually selling our house, it feels like a did an involuntary 'brain dump' right after we got the call about the offer. I found some moving checklists online and have printed them out to go over and make one big checklist we can follow--in some form. Would you believe that none of the lists have 'find new home for laying chickens' or 'put up flyers to sell chicken tractors and hoop houses at the farm store'!?! :*)

We are cautiously excited. And, at this point, nothing is in concrete. So please continue to pray for wisdom and clear direction.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Cold and busy

Temperatures got down to -20 in the early morning over the past few days. We don't think we got the wind that was forecast, but windchills were still pretty cold! The chicken chore guys (Vern and Owen) were pining for warmer places--Georgia comes to mind.

All of us have been keeping busy. I was able to cut out a jumper Sunday evening and mark it on Monday morning. Today, I had to run to town for some errands (Vern was home with everyone) so I haven't been able to sew yet and I'm not sure if I will today.

Vern also suggested that sorting and packing the craft closet downstairs would allow me to get started on packing and we wouldn't miss the items for a while, since we have plenty to do. I did get a packing inventory form done and printed out and packed four boxes over the last couple of days. It's a start!

Vern has done our taxes, the children are making progress in school work, Katie and Hannah are helping quite a bit with house work and the little girls love to play. I wish I could post some pictures of James, especially--he's a busy, happy little guy and a real ham for the camera!

Friday, February 2, 2007

Before I forget

Okay, so I got carried away with the current events and story stuff. Now for the news you've been waiting for:

An update on yesterday's house showing.

Straight from our awesome realtor Jeanne Streu (Rothstein Realty--can't give her a higher recommendation):

"Hi, This is the home that has just been listed of the purchasers of your home. It is funny as I sold that house maybe three owners ago. It seems to be a fair price and nice neighborhood. I think it has a good chance of moving right away. I just got a call from Bob Ellies, he just got done showing your house and he couldnt say enough good things about it. He asked me to fax the heat bills to him , he still had more to show but he certainly sounded positive. I will give you more details when l talk to you."

She also sent us a link to the listing for the house that our buyers are selling

On your mark

Once upon a time, a very long time ago, when I was in high school, I did a brief stint on the girls swimming team. Emphasis on brief. I learned how slow I really was and decided to spare myself the humiliation of getting cut from the team (I'm not sure that actually would have happened, but just in case, you know). I did learn a few things, I even helped with stats at some of the meets.

Having our house for sale (2 years on Feb 16th) is kind of like getting ready for a race. We have been practicing (our sign is out and we are trying to keep the house a little cleaner than we otherwise might), and we've done some timed laps (house-showings). We've worked hard at bettering our time (we've lowered our price twice) and we finally got invited to a meet (we got an offer). We milled around at the meet, near the platforms waiting for the race to start. When we signed the contract with a contingency, we heard the judge call, "On your mark"... and now here we are, on the platform, waiting. Once the contingency is exercised (either by accepting another offer or by the current buyers receive an offer on their place), we will be in position. When the contingency is removed, either by the buyers accepting an offer on their house or getting approved or not for alternative financing, we will dive into the water and swim like crazy until closing.

In the meantime, we need to make sure we are preparing for the race--keeping loose and stretching a little by taking care of any appointments we can, preparing ads for items we know we want to sell, making lists of things we need to do.

We also need to stay focused--keeping First things first.

100,000 miles

I suppose you might be wondering why this is pre-empting a status report on yesterday's house showing. Well, simply put, this milestone happened first!

While on errands into town during the house-showing yesterday the Big Van reached 100,000 miles and some of us actually watched the odometer roll over right in front of our county courthouse! Inspired by a friend whose truck recently went over 50,000 miles, we were sure to have our handy-dandy digital camera with us and we took PICTURES! Yay!

Which brings me to another issue. We got a really neat new digital camera as a Christmas gift and I finally got around to learning how to download pictures to our computer. Well, after reading the manual and talking to Vern, I discovered that we have finally technologically outgrown our 1998 TigerDirect PRO 333 Special computer. Boo...hoo, hoo.

So, we are now in the computer market (looking at budget laptops), but we promise pictorial evidence as soon as possible.

Consider this post like the book... with 'the movie' to follow.