Friday, May 29, 2015

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or why D. has purple hair

Tonight is the opening for Thin Ice Theater's production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. D. is playing Willy Wonka and he is very, very excited about it. (Even better, his grandparents have flown in to see him.) He even got to color his hair purple for the part, though I don't think he ever takes off his hat so that the audience can admire it. Here are some pictures from the dress rehearsal. You can also see some of the red doors that M. created... before the little bout of appendicitis. That was one of the frustrations about the whole thing, was that she was supposed to finish making and painting the set. C'est la vie.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Just a quick update

I didn't want to leave anyone hanging. I was able to bring M. home this morning... almost 24 hours later than anyone had hoped. They just couldn't get her pain and nausea under control. It was particularly disappointing last night when she was in a wheelchair, ready to leave, when the nausea  and pain kicked in again and everyone decided that going home wasn't a good idea. But now she's here and doing much better. We'll baby her for a bit before she moves into her apartment.

I don't really mind that part at all.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Emergency surgery

Just in case anyone was feeling as though life here in the Big Ugly House may have been getting a little too dull and predictable, well, we have just the fix for that. Emergency surgery!

Yesterday, when M. woke up to get ready for work, she came and told me that her stomach had been hurting badly enough to wake her up in the middle of the night. She was pretty sure it wasn't due to any dairy ingestion because it was hurting down low, across the base of her torso. As any card-carrying worrying mother will tell you, appendix is what first leapt to mind. Since she has been hired by her former university for the summer, I told her that if the pain got worse to go find her father and ask him to drive her to the doctor. I've said words of this sort for so many years to so many children over so many imaginary appendixes, that I didn't really think anything would come of it.

Then, as I wrote yesterday, when I arrived home from my little jaunt downtown, J. calls me on the phone and says, "Guess what I'm doing right now?" The answer to that question would be driving M. to the ER for further testing. The pain did not go away and did increase and M. did ask her father to drive her to the doctor. The doctor examined her and sent them off to the ER. After many tests in the ER, it was determined that she did have appendicitis and that she would need surgery. That would be surgery right away.

It was pretty quick, no more than a half hour all together, and no huge incision, just three holes. The surgery went well and she did fine. No more pesky appendix to worry about, though "get appendix removed" appeared on no one's to-do list yesterday. In theory, the recovery should be easier than from her two previous knee surgeries.

That would be in theory. I spoke with her this morning and she is in quite a bit of pain that they are just barely managing to control. If all you wouldn't mind praying for pain relief and healing, we would appreciate it.

Total family surgeries to date? We're now up to 11, with two of those being of the unplanned, happen-in-less-than-24-hours type.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

How to Certify and Authenticate Documents

I spent the morning downtown getting some of our dossier documents all officially sealed so that we can finally submit our dossier to China. Since some of you will never have the pleasure of getting to do this, I thought I would share the process so that you can feel as though, you, too, have been there and done that.

Step 1: Gather your documents together and make sure they are all in order and notarized. Make copies of everything.

Step 2: Recheck your documents so that you are sure you still have everything because something might have disappeared in the previous five minutes.

Step 3: Convince a good friend that she wants to go downtown with you because you want the company and moral support.

Step 4: Recheck your documents again and borrow your daughter's Ventra card because you don't take public transportation enough to have one yourself.

Step 5: Get up so you can get an early start and not get caught in the Chinese Consulate lunch hour break.

Step 6: Remember at the last minute that you need to print out the application form that needs to be turned in with your documents as well as a photo copy of your passport.

Step 7: Leave to go get on the train, stopping by the coffee shop so your friend can get some tea.

Step 8: Recheck your documents while you wait for the train to show up.

Step 9: Board the Evanston Express train which should whisk you downtown in in about 40 minutes.

Step 10: Spend an hour and forty minutes on the express which is not.

Step 11: Find the building which houses the Secretary of State Index Office and head up to the 10th floor.

Step 12: Complete the application, check the documents one last time, write the check, and turn everything in at the window.

Step 13: Sit down for two minutes, then go back up to the window when your name is called.

Step 14: Despite the fact that you've attended this rodeo many times, hear the reason why the Secretary of State is rejecting three of your nine documents. Resign yourself to making this same trip two more times and rewrite the check.

Step 15: Wait for ten minutes and then pick-up your state certified documents.

Step 16: Recheck documents again, this time being absolutely sure nothing happens to the precious staples holding the certifications to the documents.

Step 17: Take a 20 minute walk north from State Street, across the Chicago River, and up to near the Magnificent Mile. Enjoy the scenery and the fact it is not yet pouring as predicted.

Step 18: Find the building where the Chinese Consulate is located, sign in at the desk in the lobby, and take the elevator to the fifth floor.

Step 19: Enter the Consulate, push the button on the number dispenser which says, "Authentication/visas". Receive your number and realize that there are at least 30 people ahead of you.

Step 20: Use the rather bizarre copy machine in the waiting room (15 cents/per copy) to copy the certifications you just picked up at the Secretary of State's office. In the course of doing this, help several people understand the copy machine and help them with change.

Step 21: Find a flat surface to organize your stack of original documents, copies, application, and passport copy. Realize that the bizarre copy machine didn't scan your last document and instead gave you a copy of the previous one.

Go back and repeat Step 20.

Repeat Step 21.

Finally break out of this endless loop and move to...

Step 22: Wait for your number to be called. Now, you don't want to take this step lightly. There are three windows which call numbers. There are a lot of people waiting. The PA system is not very loud or terribly clear. If you happen to not notice your number is called, the person at the window will wait approximately two seconds before she calls the next number. Vigilance is necessary.

Step 23: Step up to the window when your name is called and hand in your stack of papers. Breath a small sigh of relief that you have learned not to add paper clips to anything, so you avoid the slightly annoyed and shaming sigh of the person on the other side of the window. Receive your receipt which says you can pick-up your documents on Monday.

Step 24: Very, very, very carefully place the receipt in a very safe place. Without this little piece of paper, you will never receive your documents. Just like the woman at the pick-up window didn't receive her passport while you were waiting for your number. NEVER LOSE THE RECEIPT!

Step 25: Recheck where you put the receipt.

Step 26: Go out to lunch with your good friend, catch the train and head home. The non-express train will zip you home in about 40 minutes.

Step 27: Enjoy watching everyone eat all the treats that B. brought back for them from Taiwan. Many of my children love seaweed.

Step 28: Receive phone call from J. that he is heading to the ER with M., who may have appendicitis. I'll keep everyone updated.

Step 29: Realize that you get to do this all over again, at least once more, but probably all by yourself and hopefully without Step 28.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Mom's day out

Last Saturday was the big semi-annual bulk order pick-up day. That means that I and a few friends load ourselves into the largest vehicle we own (we actually all own huge vehicles, so it's whoever can drive) and head southwest of the city for two hours. Then we load between 500 to 1000 pounds of food into the large vehicle, have lunch, and drive back home, stopping at each person's house to schlep their food inside. (Yes, I'm not too humble to say I can carry 50 pound bags of wheat around.) Do we know who to have fun, or what?

Actually, it is quite fun. The small town and the highway to get to the small town are hardly designated scenic routes, but we have come to count on our twice a year trips where we have six uninterrupted house to visit with each other. How often do mothers (regardless of the number of children they have) get to have actual conversations with each other without being needed every five to ten minutes? If your life is like mine, not very often. I really do look forward to it. Plus, this time I had hit that sweet spot where we had run out just a few days before of many items I was picking up. More often than not I either run out too soon and actually have to purchase these items in a store to get us by or I am just about to run out, but have the difficulty of not having enough storage space for it all until I do.

I am blessed with exceedingly good friends. We share a lot in common... we have a strong faith, we have many children, both adult and younger ones, we live in the same area, and we've known each other for a long time. We are also different... we don't all attend the same church, we don't all homeschool, our children are interested in different things and involved in different activities. We talk about a lot of things and discuss problems and difficulties. Spending time together is a wonderful by-product of what amounts to a very long grocery store run.

So, we are all stocked-up again, both in terms of food and time spent with friends. Because I know someone will ask, I'll also share what I came home with time. Here's a (probably incomplete) list:

Wheat berries (for grinding for flour)
Whole oats
Cane sugar
Baking powder (and then I discovered another can hiding behind a grain bin when I was putting everything away... we now have A LOT of baking powder)
Various spices
Sunflower oil
Yeast (and other bread baking supplies)

Inevitably, we each discover as we watch each other's order being loaded in the van that we forgot to order something. This time for me it was raw wheat germ. I hope I still have some lurking in the freezer downstairs.

I hope everyone enjoys their Memorial Day. We did most of our Memorial Day appreciation over the weekend. A. did traffic control for a Memorial Day parade with her Police Explorer post and J. took most of the children to a local cemetery to join TM and D.'s Boy Scout troop in placing flags on each veteran's grave. He figures they did about three miles of walking in the process. We have so much to be thankful and grateful for.

Friday, May 22, 2015

My day

What I did today...

Got fingerprinted for the 8th time.

Stood around the building supply store while M. bought the supplies she needed for her scenic design job.

Made people lunch.

Cleaned a very messy kitchen.

Hung around while the phone guy came to fix our horrible phone/internet service. Again. For the ~8th time in a year.

Made the menu for the week and made a grocery list.

Took H. to a birthday party.

Read many stories to little girls.

What I didn't do today...

Actually make it to the grocery store (I'll be leaving in a few minutes.)


Make any plans for dinner tonight.

Work on a massive writing project that is due at the end of the month.

Write a thoughtful and well-crafted blog post.

If you were looking for thoughtful, then I can send you to two articles that were recently published. (Go ahead and click and share... it's one of those writing gigs where the money I get paid increases with the amount of page hits.)

Book Review: Attaching Through Love, Hugs, and Play

5 Ways to Increase Attachment with Your Child after Adoption

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Science experiments

A while back, a friend shared a website that was giving away a free middle school physics kit to teachers and they allowed homeschoolers to participate. It sounded interesting so I signed up... and promptly forgot about it. A couple of months later, a box arrived on the doorstep. It was most mysterious as I hadn't ordered anything and neither had any of my older children. It wasn't until I opened the box and took a good look inside that I felt the vague stirrings of a memory of signing up for something scamper around the edges of my brain.

That's what it was. Three complete kits of a set of optics experiments, including laser pointer, flashlight, Fresnel lens, and other interesting things. The workbook is also part comic book with a story line that ties the optics experiments together. This week seemed a good time to spend some time with them, so that's what we have been doing.

I'm not sure how much actual science learning is going on, but the laser pointers and Fresnel lens have been popular, as have these water cubes.

They started out as teeny tiny little cubes and overnight they grew into these huge shapes. (We made three kinds... water, saturated with sugar, and saturated with sucralose.) They were part of an experiment to show the difference in refraction that occurs with different substances. I thought it was interesting, but I think everyone else was just a wee bit fascinated by the cubes. This morning we played with difference sized water balls and discussed convex and concave lenses as well as magnification.

The producer of these kits is Physics Central and it seems they make a new kit every year. (I don't know if they give them away free each year, but I'll keep an eye on it.) All of the kits for this year have been given away, but you can still download previous year's manuals, complete with the comic book story. You would need to gather the necessary supplies yourself, but the information is there.

If you have junior high aged students, it looks like a site that may be of interest.
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