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.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Country living

Tomorrow Vern and Owen are planning to do some burning and work on re-clearing the line, Lord willing. A bulldozer comes in handy for that kind of work. Especially when you can borrow it from a neighbor. In order to save time, Owen and I walked over to the neighbor's to pick up the bulldozer this afternoon. The walk over was reasonable. The walk and ride back took more than twice as long.

When we picked up the 'dozer, we also picked up Owen's tricycle--Carrie has been asking for it. The tricycle rode back in the bulldozer bucket.

On the way home, our neighbor, Quincy, stopped us and said, "That's a mighty expensive piece of equipment to use to carry a tricycle."

Lookout Hoppy!

The children are big fans of Hopalong Cassidy. James loves to imitate him and the rest of the children (especially Owen, Becca and Carrie) love to play along. Mrs. Julie brought these toy guns--she works at Salvation Army and when toy guns are donated, they can't sell them. (No, I don't know if that is just their store or if it is a nationwide policy).
At any rate, the photos below are of Hoppy-inspired activities around here recently.

Life around here-a visual

Back in July, our neighbor loaned us her spare camera. The children went crazy taking pictures of life and things around our little homestead.

Yesterday, I was finally able to upload some test photos to Picasa--our online photo sharing server. So I uploaded the photos the children took into an album for your viewing pleasure.

You can see them here if you like.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Home, glorious home

Okay, so that's not how it's supposed to go. But we have been home ALL week this week and it has been wonderful! No doctor's appointments, no trips to town, no grocery stores, no Wal-mart runs. No extra gas. No unnecessary shopping.

And I'm starting to catch back up with myself. Did I mentioned how excited I am to be home all week?


Here are some for fun photos from the past month or two, since I haven't put any up. Hope to do more.

In our room, we have a mirror that is about my hip level. In Minnesota, we hung it in the mud room, but I don't have a place there. I remembered seeing at Mommylife that Barbara Curtis (mom to 12, including 4 with Down syndrome) hung pictures and mirrors down low for her littles. So we thought we would try this for James. He loves it!

Grandparents now hang just above the mirror and I am keeping my eyes out for other things that would be suitable to 'hang low'.
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Sunday, August 24, 2008

Where we worship

Tonight I was looking at a few friends blogs and I found this post by Daniel with photos of our church home. If you're interested in knowing where we worship, take a peek!

Friday, August 22, 2008

We made it! Praise the Lord!

Well, James made it! We are rejoicing here by enjoying our regular Friday Night Pizza and movie.

James got his last dose of steroids yesterday morning, but he is still steroid-hungry. That is certainly a silver lining to the steroid thing!

Today he has eaten:

1-1/2 home-canned peaches
1/2 c. scrambled eggs
8 oz. orange juice (EIGHT OUNCES--this is a Hallelujah Record!)

TWO bananas
1 piece of celery (a first!)

1/2 homemade pieroshky with gravy
1-3/4 c. homemade yogurt (plain, with honey)
4 oz. orange juice

one of those yucky frozen-pops-in-a-bag-thing-ies :*)
a piece of bacon

5 more oz. orange juice
1/2 peach (picked off a piece of peach pizza)
a whole piece of homemade double crust pizza, stuffed with onions, tomatoes, a little bacon with cheese on top minus the crust

about 3/4 cup of Breyer's chocolate chip ice cream

I think this is a whole record day for James eating...

Truly the most amazing part of this steroid/g-tube time is that his site was a little tender this last Thursday when we got vincristine and started steroids. Yesterday, his site looked better than it has looked in about a month and James was no longer wincing every time we touched it!

To God be the glory! Thanks for praying!

Monday, August 18, 2008

James on steroids

James' little face is starting to puff and his appetite is increasing. He ate like a little piggie today and we are so thrilled. The more he eats and drinks, the less we need to use his g-tube for feeding and fluids, the less we use his g-tube, the less of an issue the pressure on the g-tube site to cause erosion! So far, his g-tube looks pretty good from the outside.

Today James ate:
a little bit of apple juice
1/8 cup ice cream to help the morning meds go down

1 quesadilla
4 peach halves
3/4 cup chocolate ice cream

2 T. pulled pork with barbecue sauce
3/8 cup corn with butter, salt
2 oz. herb iced tea
1-1/4 cup yogurt/jello parfait
generous 1/2 cup chocolate ice cream

He would have eaten more ice cream but we need to save some for the rest of the week!

Thanks for praying with us. Please don't stop. And let's give the glory to the Lord.

Call upon me in the day of trouble. I will deliver you and you shall glorify me.

Psalm 50:15

Friday, August 15, 2008

A couple of prayer requests

Yesterday, James got his 'hard chemo'. It isn't hard to get (although he does have to get stuck for it), but it is hard on his little body. So are the steroids he takes for the week following.

If there will be any difficulties with this round of chemo, we wont' see them until next week sometime (Mon-Wed, more than likely). Please pray that God's will would be done... and if it is at all possible within that, that we could stay home again and James would have no difficulties. Wisdom to help in that would be good too!

We also have a cancer friend (actually I know his mom from the hospital), David North. He has suffered much since his second Bone Marrow Transplant in April 2007 and learned this week that his leukemia is back again. With a vengeance. Seventy-five percent of his bone marrow cells are leukemia and they have no more drugs to fight with. His doctor believes he has only a few weeks left.

I saw his mom yesterday in Atlanta and she said the only way she is making it is to keep her eyes on Jesus. She is a dear, gentle woman and and she loves David with all her heart. Please pray for David, Pam and the North family.

God provides

Except for our first baby, we have always used port-a-cribs. They are the perfect size--cozy for the baby and not taking up too much floor space.

Well, James is getting a little too long for his crib now. And I'm not ready to put him in a bed without rails. Last summer we were blessed with a $20, very-lightly-used crib. We have a mattress that we had used for a toddler bed. But there wasn't enough room in the bedroom.

In order to make room, we have been praying for bunk beds and one mattress (we already have one extra mattress on hand). We had hoped to purchase a second set of bunks when we moved in, but that hasn't come to pass.

This week, we got a call from a sweet friend from church. She wondered if we could use some bunk beds, with one mattress.

Now they are all set up in the girls' room and the queen sized mattress set that the little girls have been using are leaning against the wall, waiting to go to their new home tomorrow.

Then we will pull down the crib and mattress and James will have a bed he fits in.

God is so good!

Friday, August 8, 2008


Last week, James dropped my cell phone into a cup of water. It didn't make it. He bought me a new one, but I have lost all my phone numbers.

One of my new projects is to work on recreating a paper copy of my phone list. I have been surprised how lost I have felt without my phone and programmed phone numbers.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Groanings too deep for words

In the evening, we generally have a time of family fellowship and worship. We sing--usually hymns--we share stories, read a chapter of the Bible and answer questions (right now we are working through _Balancing the Sword_), share more thoughts and stories and then we pray together. Most of the time, Vern prays. Some of the time we 'pray around' and everyone has a turn.

Tonight, we prayed around and James decided he wanted a turn. He was sitting on the couch beside me and he folded himself over, as only James can, into a sort of seated prostrate position. And he prayed. "Mmmmm." "Mm mmm." "Mmm mmm." We all smiled at each other and yet we were respectful of James praying, so it was a quick smile and we kept our heads bowed. When James sat up and looked at Katie, we thought he was done. So, Katie started to pray. Then James signed to stop and he folded himself over again, and prayed.

"Mmmmm." "Mm mmm mmmm." " Mmmmm mm mmmm mmmmm." "Mmmm." [Giggle, giggle] "Mmmm mmm mmmm." [Chortle, snort, giggle] "Mm mmm mmmm mm." [Giggle, chuckle, chortle, snort] "Mmm mmmm mmmm." "Mmm mm mmmm." [Chortle, snort, chortle, giggle, giggle... stern looks from Daddy... deep breaths] "Mmm mmm mmm."

Then James sat up again. He looked at Katie, who was waiting patiently. We each took turns coaching James to sign to Katie that it was her turn. When Katie signed and said, "Your turn", James apparently misunderstood it was what he was supposed to say to her and he folded himself over again and "Mmmm....."

[Bbbwwwaaaah ha ha ha haaaaa.]

The trouble with the church

This evening while we were getting ready for supper and welcoming Vern home, we looked outside to see a couple of the hens poised, like they were either ready for a fight or finishing one up. One of the hens was a White Rock, the other was a golden-colored Buff Orpington. It was a tense moment and they were maintaining the pecking order.

Then one of the children said, "Momma, the chickens are fighting...or they were... they're done now... they were different denominations."


It seems already that July is a distant memory. Vern is back to work teaching high school math and Georgia summer heat is in full force.

When we headed to Minnesota back in 2000, the last thing we did before leaving Georgia was to celebrate the Fourth of July with the community here (where we are currently living). It was a good old-time celebration. Whenever we would read aloud the account of a Fourth of July celebration (say in the Little House books, for example), we would remember our Georgia Fourth of July.

In a very very small way, we tried to recreate the memory.... we didn't really come close... we couldn't... but it was our inspiration and at the end of the day after our little private fireworks display we would say, "Next year in Toomsboro!"

So we were sure to be in Toomsboro for the Fourth of July, and we were not disappointed! It was a beautiful day. There was lots of visiting, some softball and whiffle ball--James got to hit a ball and 'run' to first base. The food was excellent--low country boil, and ice cream for dessert. The grand finale was the fireworks. Every year, the hosts get permission from the sheriff to have a private fireworks display and this one was the best yet. The young men work together with one of the Dad's to run the show and Owen is very much looking forward to being 13 next summer so he can help!

The early parts of July were dedicated to getting ready for our trip--sewing, planning and finishing up little projects around our homestead.

Last November, Vern's mom celebrated her 90th birthday. We had hoped to be there with her, but James ended up with a line infection and we had to cancel our plans at the last minute. We rescheduled, finally, for summer and hoped that gas prices wouldn't get too high. We left July 11th an drove for three days to Minneapolis. On the way, we passed the Gateway Arch in St Louis. The children were impressed and I described to them my spotty memories of riding up into the arch years ago when my family was travelling across country (returning home to California from a visit to see my grandmother in Ithaca, NY). As we drove north, we marvelled at the marks on buildings and trees indicating how high the flood waters had come earlier in the spring. It took us a full three days to get to Grandma's and we enjoyed nearly four days of just be with her and visiting.

We had to make a detour to Fairview to say 'hi' to the folks that had taken good care of us last year in March and April. Without them, we would not have made our way safely to Georgia as soon as we did. We had not, however, planned a visit. So one was 'planned' for us! At the time, it was more disconcerting than humorous, but in the end all was well and we shook our heads at the comedy of errors.

The week of our visit, a local grocery store had a special on grapes and each day, Vern's sister stopped to pick up free grapes and brought them over to Grandma's. The children enjoyed them and on Wednesday I cut some up for James. He enjoyed them before lunch. For dessert at lunchtime James enjoyed red jello (I bet you can see where this is going). After lunch, unbeknownst to me, Vern, Becca and Carrie (at least) also gave James grapes. These grapes were not least not most of them. About suppertime, James was acting like he had really bad tummy cramps. This is not normal, he usually has a very high pain tolerance and most of his fussing occurs when he isn't getting his way. But this was different, we could tell he was in pain. He passed some grape skins and then it seemed the pain got worse and then he passed what looked like bloody mucous into his ostomy bag. We tried tylenol, but that didn't give him any relief, so we called his oncologist. The on-call doctor suggested giving him hydrocodone. If that worked through the night, we would call and re-evaluate in the morning. If he had breakthrough pain, we would go to the ER. So, we went to the ER.

Everyone there was pretty concerned too. The ER doc decided she wanted to admit James and then did a stool culture. We were grateful and relieved that whatever it was, it wasn't blood. Then we started to feel a little funny when we decided with the RN that it looked remarkably like melted jello. Of course, this still didn't explain James' discomfort or his vomiting, so we were getting ready for a room. James got an IV and fluid in the ER and more fluid when we got up to the floor. We were grateful to have familiar nurses and I was impressed that they still had James' primary care nurse list for continuity. After our early morning nap, James passed a large clump of skins and undigested grapes. We could see the relief on his face and his appetite went through the roof. He ate and drank and ate and drank all day long.

The really neat thing about all this was that the doctors and nurses, who had only seen James at his worst, got to see the incredible improvement and they were so excited. He wasn't eating at all when we were there last year nor was he walking and they got to see him now... with hair and not on steroids!

Since were so close to norther Minnesota we headed up to spend some time with friends and see what we left behind nearly a year and a half ago. We did visit the Farmers' Market, which moved from the old Wal-mart parking lot to downtown. We were able to see James' pediatrician, who was thrilled with how well he is doing. It was good to see her too, with her two children. We spent a good deal of time with Grandpa John and Grandma Nan and had some time with them on the lake. I got up on water skis for the first time in some 23 years or so and it was much harder work than I remember it being back then! We could not have made the trip up to Grand Rapids with the generosity of Grandpa John and Grandma Nan who opened their cabin on the lake to us for free lodging! Thanks John and Nan!

While we were glad to see a couple of families and some other friends, our time seemed so short as there were many folks we had hoped to see and didn't. All the more reason to look forward to heaven, in case we don't get to make another trip back.

We left MN in the wee hours of a Monday morning and headed for the Cincinnati, Ohio area. We have followed the construction and preparation of the new Creation Museum in Petersburg, KY from the beginning and we have been itching to get inside and see it since it opened last Memorial Day weekend. We were able to spend part of two days there enjoying the museum, the gardens outside and the wonderful bookstore. No matter where you stand on the issue, we recommend a visit. It can be mind-stretching :*).

From the museum, we drove to my mom's (who was visiting friends in California) and we stayed at her place (thanks Mom!! and Aunt Frannie!!) so we could easily make the drive in to Atlanta for James' visit with Dr. Keller, who was also very pleased with how well James is doing. He said something about James being 'memorable' ;*)... we are glad to be less memorable these days, as long as we don't eat too many grapes.

Love, Stephanie

P.S. I have no photos of our trip, but we have lots of great memories.