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.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


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.

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