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.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Slow and steady wins the race

Owen and I spent a slow day at the house today. We did a little baseboard trim (we did quite a bit yesterday), but we stopped when we realized that the reason we couldn't get our corners quite right was that the blade on the compound miter saw was off and we couldn't correct it.

We decided to go ahead and work on cutting purlins that we needed to set between the studs on the walls we are planning to cover with beadboard panelling. We made some good progress on that effort and we also did a rough sanding on the front door, which is fir.

Vern stopped by on his way home from work and fixed our saw blade, so we are looking forward to finishing up all the baseboard we can tomorrow and having corners that meet just right, Lord willing, of course!!!

Last night, Bruce, who is helping us with the finishing work, asked how the baseboard was coming along. My reply, "Umm, I think we're going to need some extra caulking." Tonight, when he came home, he had stopped to see our house, on the way (we are living with Bruce's family while we build our house, which is just 1.2 miles away). He said the baseboard looked pretty good... that we wouldn't need near as much caulking as I had apparently led him to believe!! PTL!

Thanks to Katie, things keep moving along at home... this whole thing is definitely a family affair, even if we can't all be all together while we are working on it.

Have a blessed day! And please let us hear from you...

Love, Stephanie

The house that God is building

We really didn't think we'd break ground on our new house until September. But God had other plans.

One of the men at our church, who is a local contractor, had a week in July that was open before he had a full schedule. We had a question to ask him about our house and he offered to use his crew, at his cost, to put in the foundation for our house. So during a week I was in the hospital with James, Mr. David and his crew were digging and pouring footers. Mr. David also coordinated and negotiated with the mason to lay the block for our crawlspace and with another contractor to pour the conrete pad for our carport. When all was said and done, the foundation work came in about 20% below our budget!

The foundation sat quietly while we worked behind the scenes with Mr. Joey, another contractor from our church who sold us the land and said he wanted to offer his crew, at his cost, to frame up our new house. He coached us through the planning process and spoke with some contractors on our behalf. The ball was rolling with the power company, the electrian, plumber, septic guy and well driller. Not long after, the HVAC guy, another fellow from our church, was in on the act. Mr. Joey and Mr. David both credit the Lord with giving them success in their businesses that allows them to donate their crews this way. We are grateful beyond words!

After a much-deserved vacation with his family, Mr. Joey returned with his crew and started framing our house. That was during two of the hottest weeks in August. Owen worked with them and LOVED it! He learned a great deal and demonstrated his ability to work hard over and over. I actually ended up back in the hospital with James during that time and the house kept moving along. By now, Vern was also working at his new job. Katie was pulling everything together at home and feeding the framing crew lunch every day as well.

It took two weeks to frame the house. The incredible heat slowed down a normally speedy crew which allowed us to keep up with what was going on and make a few little changes along the way.

Another contractor from our church, Mr. John, ordered our roofing and led a volunteer crew (as a volunteer himself and with his sons) to roof our house one Saturday. Our roof is metal and because it began to rain at the very end of the day, the last few pieces couldn't go up. As the last few pieces went up on the roof the next week, the plumber, electrician and HVAC guys were busying themselves in their respective areas of expertise. Everyone has been a pleasure to work with and have been available right when we needed them, thanks to Mr. Joey's planning and coordination.

After a few more framing issues were completed inside the house, the insulation crew worked their magic (for less than the cost of us just buying the insulation --how do they do that?), then the sheetrock crews (one for sheetrocking, one for mud--three times--and one for sanding) blew through the house in near-record time, resulting in a decrease in that bill too!

God keeps blessing us with gifts (a kitchen sink and faucet, dishwasher, microwave, money for an early inheritance) and discounts (sometimes contractors have given us their cost or other discounts--plumbing and HVAC)and sometimes we've had coupons for a discount or found just what we needed on a clearance rack!

At this point, we are within our budget, but we still have a ways to go and some things remain unknown, like how deep our well will be! But we do have a septic system in and we are working on trim work. Owen is learning all kinds of things and installed all the exterior knobs on the doors (he'll do the deadbolts when we get them and the interior knobs once we get to that point). He enjoys the hard work and the sense of accomplishment that he gets from this project!

We've taken James over to the land a couple of times. He loves it. Unfortunately, when he goes over there, his dressings and ostomy bag come off or come loose in record time. He is busy there, but he is busy here at home too. There is lots of dust at the house, but it can't get under the dressings and such unless they are already loose. We think that the difference is the lack of air conditioning over at the new place and that, with the humidity and heat, he just sweats over there. So, he will have to stay home for a while--until we have some air conditioning available, or until the weather cools enough and dries enough. Honestly, I think the air conditioning will be available first!

It is our earnest desire to build this house debt free. We may do without a few things initially, but we don't mind. Others have lived with so much less than we will have. Certainly we will have a great appreciation for all that is going into this new house! Indeed we already do!

I hope to share more about what we are doing, but share this as a history to get us up to where we are today. Owen and I are heading back to the house now to work some more and keep things moving.

Thanks for checking up on us. As always we love to hear from you! Please leave a note or send us an e-mail and let us know what's up in your neck of the woods!

Love, Stephanie

Monday, September 10, 2007

One sweet boy

Here are some sweet pictures of James for your viewing pleasure :*)...

Uncle Sam with his sister, Lady Liberty getting ready for the annual Skelly Fourth of July parade.

Helping Momma finish her corn on the cob at the community Fourth of July celebration.

Smiling for the camera. Isn't he the sweetest thing?

Playing 'catch' with Mr. Quincy, aka Uncle Bo at the Fourth of July celebration.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love, Stephanie

A happy day

In August, Rebecca, who is seven, agreed with God that she is a sinner in need of a Savior and she accepted that what the Lord Jesus Christ did on the cross paid for her sin. A week and a half later, she made a public profession and followed Jesus in baptism. Her daddy did the honors in the pool at our home.

A number of folks stopped by after church to witness the baptism.

"Buried with Him in baptism..."

"...raised to walk in newness of life."

Hannah made some cakes and decorated them. A few of the neighbors stayed to celebrate. Most folks already had other Sunday plans. We are grateful to all who came to share the sweet time with us.

Love, Stephanie

Safe, sound and busy

It took a little longer than I had hoped to get loaded up and head home. After picking up James' prescriptions, packing the rest of our stuff and loading up the car, we finally pulled out of the parking garage at about 9:45 p.m. We ended up going the back way and the roads were open and lighted well enough. We made good time, arriving home by about 12:15.

While we had intended to go to church Sunday we had a little difficulty pulling it all together, so Vern decided we'd stay home. We had a great time singing hymns--I think everyone picked two, so that's 16 altogether--and Vern read to us from Psalms.

The folks we are living with have gone away to the coast for a family vacation this week. We have plenty to do around here. Last week the plumber and electrician finished their rough-ins. Saturday the insulation guys got started. Today HVAC rough-in and insulation will be finished and the drywall team is planning to set up their stuff. The windows and last door are supposed to get put in this evening and tomorrow we should have drywall.

Then we will need to step up to the plate with painting, trimwork and other finishing. Please pray for us that we would know our limits and do well at what we do. Especially that God would be glorified in what we do.

Thanks for stopping by.

Love, Stephanie

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Going home

As I begin to type this it is 7:18 p.m. on Saturday. At 6:16 p.m. our nurse, Mildred, drew James blood and sent it down to the lab STAT. We are hoping to hear soon whether we get to go home tonight or if we have to stay til tomorrow.

At 7:35, still no results.

Finally at about 7:47p.m., our new-this-shift nurse, Caroline, called the lab and James scored a 0.046... He needed a 0.2 or better... so we are loading up and heading out after Hannah changes his ostomy bag. In the meantime, I may run to CVS and get his prescriptions filled.

Thank you, Lord, for a record SHORT hospital stay. Please pray for our safe trip home!

Love, Stephanie

The waiting game

A hospital visit for methotrexate is really a waiting game. We arrive and we wait for a clinic room. Once we're in the room, we wait for blood test results. Then we wait for orders to be written and IV fluids to be started. Once fluids are running, we put cotton balls in James' diaper and wait for his urine tests to show that he is well-hydrated and his pH is on the alkaline side. Then we hook up the chemo (after the orders come through and the pharmacy gets it mixed and ready to go) and we wait... for 24 hours. The last few hours, the nurses are tweaking the rate he gets the chemo to make it finish write on time. As soon as the chemo is finished (almost exactly 24 hours after it was started), we switch to more fluids to help flush it out. While that is running, we wait for more blood lab results. Then we wait for the fluids to run for another 24 hours. At that point, the nurse will draw blood and we will wait for the lab results to come back again. These lab results are very important. If the levels are just right, we stop waiting and hurry to pack and load up so we can go home!

Today we are waiting for 6:15 p.m.... for the lab draw that will determine if we get to go home tonight or if we have to wait til tomorrow.

We are praying we will get to go home tonight (and that the lab results will come back quickly--say, within an hour, which is normal, but wasn't last night). Will you join us?

Thanks for stopping by!

Love, Stephanie

Friday, September 7, 2007

One day at a time

We arrived at the hospital yesterday. First we had an appointment with the pediatric gastroenterologist that has overseen James' care while he has been in the hospital. She was pleased with James' progress and how well he is doing. She will conitinue to follow his care through chemo and beyond, until we get to the point, Lord willing, that he no longer needs an ileostomy or a g-tube.

After our GI appointment, we came to the AFLAC Cancer clinic and met with James' oncologist, Dr. Keller. He was also very pleased with James' progress. I know he enjoys all of his patients and cares very much about them, but sometimes it seems like James has a special spot in his heart. It is fun to see how much he enjoys James and it is obvious that James likes him too.

Our nurse got James' blood sample (his counts look really good!) and then got him started on IV fluids. We thought we'd have to wait a while for a room, but it didn't take too long. By 6:00p.m. when we checked James' urine, he was hydrated enough to begin his chemo. This is the earliest we've ever gotten started and there is a possibility that we could leave here to head home Saturday night.

In the meantime, there is plenty to do here.

James is doing great. He is full of James and fun to watch. He is signing more and moving more and verbalizing more--he make sounds, but doesn't speak words. He acts like a two year old should... busy and a little ornery... though we are working on that some!

Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful day!

Love, Stepahnie

Thursday, September 6, 2007

A sad day

A couple of weeks ago, Hannah, James and I were heading to Macon for James' blood transfusion. It was handy to be able to be closer to home and Hannah had thoughtfully loaded up all our travelling necessities in the car. When I got into the car, Hannah and James were already buckled in the back seat. I started the car and pulled the gear shift back into Reverse. In an instant, my elbow bumped something and I heard a small splash. Hannah cried, "Oh no!" The rest was a blurr.

The splash, I am very sad to report, was our digital camera landing in a cup of gatorade. I am even sadder to report that the drowning was quick and though all hands leapt to and quickly rescued the camera, it was already too late. And right in the middle of building a house.

The silver lining in all this is that we didn't lose the memory chip in the camera, so we have all those pictures and we have borrowed Lynn's camera a couple of times with our memory card to take a few pictures.

The camera was a gift from Grandpa John and Grandma Nan--special friends in Minnesota. And it was a very nice camera. May it rest in peace.

Love, Stephanie

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

No news is still good news

Please accept my apologies for not letting you know that we actually did leave the hospital and come home. We came home with antibiotics (twice a day) and have had a GREAT two weeks tomorrow. James is doing so wonderfully that part of me is hesitant (though hopeful) about taking him back to Atlanta to begin another phase of chemo. I would say that James is doing the best he has since his diagnosis back in February.

We have been VERY busy with house things. Except for part of the ridge cap (metal roof), the roof of our new house is in place. We are waiting the delivery of the windows and the front door before it will be totally dried in.

The plumber is about half done with the rough in and the HVAC guy is coming tomorrow. The electrician's are also supposed to be there tomorrow. If all goes well, we may have insulation on Saturday and drywall next week, but we'll have to see how well things go this week.

In the meantime, it doesn't seem like anything is slowing down to me. Shopper that I am not, I have been out (mostly with Vern and sometimes with the children) shopping away for all the necessities of a house. Picking light fixtures is worse than picking salad dressing!

Thursday, Hannah and I will take James back to Atlanta for another run of methotrexate. While we anticipate some mucusitis following this chemo, we are hopeful for a better recovery than in the past. Lately, it seems James has been recovering more quickly after each round of chemo. For that, we are incredibly grateful.

At the end of our last hospital stay, I had trouble with the wireless internet connection so I didn't get any photos posted. I'll try to add a picture of the house to this post.
Thanks for stopping by... and for all the notes you left. I hope to reply to some soon and do some more posting (Lord willing and the hospital WiFi is working!)

Love, Stephanie