Saturday, March 29, 2008

So how did you spend your Friday night?

I know, some of you put the kids to bed early and snuggled on the sofa (just the two of you!) watching the latest DVD from Netflix while sipping a nice glass of wine.

Others of you actually sprung for a baby-sitter and went out. To a restaurant. With menus. And waiters. Linen tablecloths. You shared an appetizer, she ordered the fresh Chilean Sea Bass, you ordered the Beef Tenderloin. You even lingered over coffee and dessert before heading home to your home (spotless) and children (clean and sleeping snugly in their beds). Your babysitter raved about how polite your children are and how nicely they play together. She (or he) begged you to call again. Their youth group is going on a Spring Beach Trip and they really need to make some extra money.

Let's just pause there for a moment and enjoy that mental image for a while.

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Now, let me tell you what we did instead of either of those tempting scenarios.

OK, there was one part of Scenario Two that actually happened. There was a baby-sitter involved. However, she (my MIL) was only there to take care of Belle and The Boy. Tink was with me and my wife.

In the Emergency Room.
At Children's Hospital.
In Atlanta.
For EIGHT hours.

In case you were wondering, they don't have linen tablecloths, dessert, wine, or Chilean Sea Bass at Childrens Hospital. However, they do have wonderful nurses and doctors who, once you actually get to a room and can see them, take great care of a very sad, very sick Tink.

Background: almost 3 years ago, Belle (then age 5 1/2) complained of a really bad stomach-ache. I was traveling (surprise!). A late-night trip to the Emergency Room (this time in Birmingham, where we then lived) revealed no major illnesses. Two days later, a trip to our Pediatrician led to an immediate trip to a pediatric surgeon who quickly determined that Belle had had a severe case of appendicitis and that the appendix in question had already ruptured. After one week in the hospital on a very powerful antibiotic cocktail, followed by 6 weeks of continued antibiotics administered at home via a "pic-line", Belle finally had surgury to remove the ruptured appendix. Eight weeks and I can't remember how many thousands of dollars later, Belle was back to normal.

Needless to say, we are now a little sensitive to stomach-aches at our house.

My wife took Tink and The Boy to our pediatrician here in GA on Friday morning. Both had been coughing pretty badly for a week and, with a weekend trip back to Birmingham to visit friends planned, we needed to make sure they weren't contagious with anything. Oh, and that morning, just before the trip, Tink complained of a severe stomach-ache. It hurt to walk, hurt to move. Tears were plentiful. Turns out Tink had bronchitis and an ear infection. The Boy is showing signs of pretty severe athsma and also had an ear infection. Tinks tummy-ache had slightly abated by then, but the Doctor said to watch it and head to the ER if it got worse.

Fast forward to 5:00 pm. I'm waiting for Belle and The Boy (who is feeling fine by now) to finish their first tennis clinic of the season. My cell rings; it's my wife. "Take Belle and TB to my moms and come home. We're taking Tink to Children's." Consider it done. After 15 years of marriage and 8 years of parenthood, I don't question my wife's intuition. It's accuracy is scary.

By 7:00, we're sitting in the waiting room and, well, waiting. Tink is feeling much better now, but we're not sure if that's just the Motrin talking or what. By 8:30 or 9, she's really much better. Should we just bail and go home? Are we just being hyper-cautious because of Belle?

I can't remember what time we got back to an actual examination room. We told the whole story again (are they checking to see if we remember why we're here?) to the nurse. At this point, we're convinced that we were being absurdly cautious and are wasting time and money. After another hour or so, we saw a doctor. He felt otherwise. Option 1: the bronchitis could have turned into pneumonia, which can cause severe abdominal pain (particularly in children). Option 2: she really could have appendicitis. Worse yet, her sudden "recovery" from the pain could have been caused by the appendix rupturing. Apparently, the pain is worst before it ruptures and, once it does, you feel much better. (until, of course, all of the poison starts to make you feel REALLY bad). Let's do some blood work to make sure.

Nurse Wendy comes back (and boy, was she fabulous to us all night). She takes blood for tests and puts Tink on some fluids (she had barely eaten anything all day and hadn't drunk very much either). It should take 45 minutes or an hour to get the results back.

15 minutes later, the doctor returns. Tinks white blood cell count is through the roof. (for you novices out there, that means "Oh crap!") Time for chest x-rays and a CAT scan.

By now it's after midnight. We're watching "Brother Bear 2" for the second time in the room. Tink is behaving like the trooper that she is. No complaints. She just lies there, watching and listening.

We finally get to the X-Ray room and move next door to the CAT Scan machine. Tink thought it was like a ride at Disney (thanks mostly to the brilliance of my wife, who suggested exactly that). She didn't even want to hold hands with anyone while they were sliding her in and out (and in and out).

After all of this, we find out that it is Option 1 (pneumonia), not Option 2 (ruptured appendix). I never thought I would be so excited to learn that my child had pneumonia.

We were finally discharged around 3:00 am and got home a little after 4:00. None of us left the house today. We're exhausted, but so grateful that our little one is OK.

God's blessings come in very strange packages sometimes. Maybe next Friday we'll just snuggle on the sofa and watch a DVD.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Resurrection Eggs source

In my most recent post, I mentioned including Resurrection Eggs as part of our Easter tradition. They can be found here, via the Family Life website (a service of Campus Crusade for Christ).

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

First and foremost. . .

Happy Easter to all. It was a wonderful Resurrection Sunday here on the mountain. A few takeaways include:

Pt 1: Kicking off the morning: We have a family tradition of hiding (OK, strewing) Easter eggs about the living room for the kids to "find" when they are all up on Easter morning. Many are your garden variety plastic eggs filled with candy (primarily the kind the parents like too so that we can poach unashamedly afterwards). Some are hard-boiled and dyed the night before by all of us. This year included 18 such eggs, some of which were blue with smiley faces, some were plaid, one looked just like a dinosaur egg. They were magnificent. We hide the candy eggs on Saturday night after the kids are asleep; the "real" eggs spend the night in the fridge and are added on Sunday morning.

Much like we do at Christmas with Santa Claus, my wife and I work very hard to make sure that our kids know that Easter is not just about treat-filled baskets and candy-filled eggs. Thus, in addition to candy eggs (total: 94) and real eggs (total: 18), we have 12 "resurrection eggs". We bought these before Easter last year and the are a GREAT addition to the tradition. (ooh, a rhyme!) These particular eggs, which look just like the plastic eggs filled with candy, have inside something representative of the Easter story. It was so great to watch the kids open them this morning and shout "praying hands, like Jesus in the garden", or "a cup, like what Jesus used at the last supper". (OK, she actually said "last dinner", but we got the point). Other eggs contain a spear, a crown of thorns, a cross made of nails, a white linen cloth, a whip, a rock (to seal the tomb), and others that I'm not thinking of at 11:30 at night. Most importantly, one egg is completely empty, just like the tomb. Belle found that one and recognized the significance of it immediately. Isn't it great when they know their lines?! I can't remember where we found these; I'll see if I can find the source and post it in a later entry. All I know is that it was a real blessing to watch all three kids remember why the eggs were there and what their contents meant.

Logistical note: Belle woke up with the sun and entertained herself until I got up (bless her!). I dragged myself out of bed about 8:30 to start the coffee pot (VITAL). The Boy got up shortly after I did. He and Belle waited "patiently", as they knew no-one was allowed to start collecting eggs until everyone was up. I took coffee to my wife in an effort to bribe her out of bed. Then, and only then, did I head downstairs to coax Tinkerbell out of bed. She and her mother are of the same cloth; they would both sleep until 10 every day if they could. This all works pretty well during the week when there are no am deadlines (thank GOODNESS we homeschool). On Easter Sunday Morning, when you have to hunt eggs / eat breakfast /parents have to shower-shave-etc / get dressed in all new clothes (where are Belles new shoes - do we have a slip for Tink - uh-oh The Boys pants are a little long) / "WE NEED TO LEAVE FOR CHURCH!!!!!", it can get a little stressful. I'll omit the gory details, but trust me when I say, it could have gone better.

Pt 2: The Hunt: After church and lunch (including interestingly colored egg salad, of course), we headed to our community Easter Egg Hunt. Tim blogged on theirs yesterday; ours is similarly structured. Remember a few things: 1) while we live in a somewhat remote part of the state, it's a gated community popular with retirees. 2) those retirees like to have their grandchildren come visit for holidays. 3) those retirees LOVE to show off their grandchildren (wearing their Easter best) to all of their friends at a community gathering. "Zoo" doesn't begin to describe the event. In addition to the actual hunt (which started at precisely 3:00 and was largely over by 3:03), you can pet the animals in the petting zoo (including a camel, llama, cow, donkey, goat, sheep, duck, chicken, rabbit, and probably others that I couldn't see through the crowd) and get your picture taken with the Easter Bunny. Actually, we had a lot of fun. One of our friends (also a homeschool parent with whom we'd like to spend more time but it just hasn't worked out yet) shared a precious story about Tinkerbell (our 6 year old) that obviously I must share here. Our friends daughter (age 5) was somewhat overwhelmed by the crowds during the Easter Egg Round-up and ended up with a completely empty basket. She doesn't know Tink that well but, being the only girl in a family of 4 boys, she tends to remember every girl she meets. When she saw me and The Boy just after the Hunt, she turned to her mom and said "I want to go find Tinkerbell". So, they did. They sought out and found Tink over near the Easter Bunny. Tink looked into the little girls basked, saw that it was empty, and without saying a word started moving some her eggs from her basket to the friends. Neither I or my wife saw this, so our friend found us to share the story. She was so touched. We were so proud!

Pt 3: Dinner: After the egg round-up, we returned home for some desperately needed rest. Belle was allowed to stay up and visit WebkinzWorld (after she did her phonics first). The younger two were sent to their rooms with strict instructions to "put their heads on their pillows and rest". We parents actually sat down in the living room and visited for a few minutes, then did some chores until it was time to leave for dinner with the grandparents. Background: my wife's parents live in our community as well - maybe 8 minutes away. We had a wonderful Easter Dinner with them. The kids love visiting Mimi and Papa. We had a lovely dinner (that neither of us had to cook!). We even got to bring home some leftovers. All in all, it was a great end to a great day.

I hope that all of you had an equally blessed day.

"Christ the Lord is risen today, alleluia!"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance. . .

I am pleased to announce that, after much hard work and effort, the reading level of this humble blog has progressed from "High School" level to "Post Grad" level. (see the icon, bottom right-hand side of the blog)

I'm now successfully channeling William F Buckley, Jr!!

(I also have serious doubts about the methodology of this tool)

As usual, Dave Barry has the answers. . .

this time, to Florida's Primary voting issues. The man is brilliant.

"If you want to vote for Clinton (or Obama, or none-of-the-above), TEXT your vote to. . . "

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers

I'm not exactly sure what the CoCH is, but I know it's new. Here is a link to its inaugural edition, couresy of Shez.

Does this make the original CoH the Carnival of Hot Homeschoolers? Of Lame Homeschoolers? Of Nerdy Homeschoolers? Regardless, it's a great way to see links to others in our same boat and how they're navigating these waters. (how's that for actually NOT mixing a metaphor?!).

Shez saw my last entry in the Carnival of (sublime) Homeschoolers and linked to it for this new initiative.

Have a look.

Free Rosetta Stone Contest

We have not used Rosetta Stone here on the mountainside, but I've heard really good things about their products. Here is info on a context for a free (FREE) program. Hat tip to Arby for the lead.

Rosetta Stone has been the #1 foreign language curriculum among homeschoolers for a while -- next week they are unleashing a brand new curriculum, and you can WIN the *all new* Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3… FOR FREE!
This is a $219 program (and believe me it's worth every penny!) and the winner gets to pick from any of these 14 languages: Spanish (Spain or Latin America), English (American or British), Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Irish, Hebrew, or Russian.
This will also include a headset with microphone, and students will participate in lifelike conversations and actually produce language to advance through the program. Rosetta Stone still incorporates listening, reading and writing as well, in addition to speaking. Many homeschoolers requested grammar and vocabulary exercises, and with Rosetta Stone Homeschool Version 3, they're included! For parents, the new Parent Administrative Tools are integrated into the program and allow parents to easily enroll students in any of 12 predetermined lesson plans, monitor student progress, and view and print reports.

To win this most excellent program -- in the language of your choice -- copy these (blue) paragraphs and post it in (or as) your next blog post -- then to enter the contest, go to the original contest page
HERE: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/JenIG/501132/ and leave a comment with the link showing where you blogged about it. And please make sure the link works to get back to the original contest page when you post it. And good luck! The winner will be picked randomly on March 26, and will be notified thru the link they left to their blog pg. And if you have more than one blog, you can post them and enter those separately for more chances to win. Yay for free stuff!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

115th Carnival of Homeschooling . . .

is up and running in an homage to Dr. Seuess. "Oh, the things that you'll do!" Janice Campbell did a wonderful job tying together the multitude of submissions into a Seussian adventure. I actually managed to get a submission in this week as well (2nd week in a row!).

Enjoy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Quote of the day. . .

can be found here.

Hat tip to Take Your Vitamin Z via Palmtree Pundit.

It wouldn't be St. Patrick's Day. . .

without the Muppets.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Belle's Dinner

Belle, our 8-year old, is showing a lot of interest in cooking. Tonight, she was in charge of dinner. She picked the menu, pulled the ingredients from the pantry, and (with some help from Mom), cooked. She also got to pick the blessing (a perk!).

The menu:
  • Penne Pasta in a Bechamel Sauce with Shrimp
  • Asparagus
  • Diced Peaches

She had help or supervision with all stove-related tasks (obviously), but she was definitely the chef.

I'm a little biased, but I think that's a pretty awesome meal for an 8-year old. At that age, I would have picked Chef Boyardee Spaghettios.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Making time for culture. . .

I've noted in this space several times the importance that "the arts" has in our lives, and therefore in our approach to homeschooling. Belle started piano this year and also sings in our local childrens chorale. We go out of our way to take all three to concerts, plays, puppet shows, etc. Some of these are intended for young audiences, but often we take them to programs primarily intended for adults (not to be confused with the "adult programming" on your hotel-room TV).

The response we get when we arrive at the "grown-up" programs varies. Walk into Atlanta's Symphony Hall on a Friday evening with three kids under 10 in tow and you too will garner some attention. Some patrons prefer to look the other way and pretend they didn't see you. Other's go out of their way to congratulate you on introducing your offspring to the wonders of the arts at such a young age. That latter comment is much more likely to be heard during intermission if the three young-un's in question remain on their best behavior throughout the first half. Then you just hope they can make it through the second with similar results.

A few observations:
  • symphony orchestra concerts are far more interesting to a 4-year old than a choral concert by his cousin's college choir. Choirs just stand there and sing. No cool instruments; no loud timpani or cymbals. No harps or stringed basses. Fortunately, the concert in question was at a church with a nursery; Tink and The Boy were much happier there for the second half!
  • plays typically work out well. It's dark (always good for hiding wiggles and such) and there is usually LOT'S to watch on stage.
  • ditto for puppet shows.

Tonight we went to a wonderful concert that was local! (new readers should know that we live at least 30 minutes from anywhere anyone has heard of; longer if it's rush-hour). To attend a good concert at a small church in the mountains of North Georgia just 15 minutes from home was too good to pass up.

First half: an extremely talented, 16 year old cellist from Atlanta. He played beautifully, with both accuracy and passion. He will go far. The kids did well. It helps that a cello looks a lot like a stringed bass (the hit of the afore-mentioned ASO trip).

Second half: a wonderful soprano soloist who also has a regular program interviewing artists on the Atlanta public radio station. Her repertoire ranged from Handel and Mozart to Chinese folk-songs to French cabaret tunes to spirituals. Amazing! Unfortunately, it was late and the kids were largely unimpressed. Plus, the sanctuary was small and well-lit. Nowhere to run to; nowhere to hide.

We live, we learn, we go on to mercilessly expose our children to "culture" again another day (perhaps in another way). Meanwhile, the adults in the family will definitely return. Did I mention that it was local? And it was free? Both, in the same night!!!!

Carnival of Homeschooling is up. . .

This weeks CoH is up over At Home with Kris. My entry on the 1900 predictions is included. I haven't had a chance to look at the other entries, but they include some good info, so stop in and browse around when you can.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Predictions from 1900

I was rummaging about on the internet this weekend (admit it, so were you) when I found this interesting article.

Imagine it's 1900 and you're writing an article for the Ladies Home Journal. (interesting tangent: note that the article is written by a man. I wonder how many ladies were writing for LHJ in 1900, and how many men are writing for LHJ today?). Anyway, back to the article. Your subject is "what may happen in the next hundred years?" After surveying prophesies and predictions from a multitude of "experts", you settle on the critical few.

It is fascinating to see how some were so accurate ("wireless telephone and telegraph circuits will span the world. . .We will be able to telephone to China quite as readily as we now talk from New York to Brooklyn") and how some were so far off ("there will be no C, X or Q in our everyday alphabet. . .English will be more extensively spoken then any other; Russian will be second"). Hmm, so one out of three on that last one.

It's interesting that everything is bigger. "Stawberries as large as apples." "Peas as large as beets." "Roses as large as cabbage heads." I guess that, even in 1900, progress was defined as "bigger is better".

Some sections start out with an accurate premise, but miss on how we actually get there. "Ready-cooked meals will be bought from establishments similar of our bakeries of today." As a society, we eat out A LOT. And in some communities, "gourmet to go" is the primary provider of the family dinner. However, check out the predicted execution of such a future state.

Of particular interest is the paragraph titled "How Children will be Taught". It is striking how the focus is on free access to everyone (K thru University) while "medical inspectors" will be visiting the public schools to provide "poor children" with glasses, dental care, and free medical attention of every kind". Free transportation, free lunch, even free vacations for poor children. It's fascinating that, even in 1900, "experts" were predicting the dramatic rise of the role of government in education and in the general welfare of all children. After all, this is being written prior to the rise of communism and socialism in Europe, before either WW1 or WW2, and before the Great Depression. Many of the events that triggered the New Deal, the Great Society, and all of the other well-intentioned government programs that drove the increasing role of government in all aspects of life had yet to occur. Amazing.

And yet, we still have presidential candidates who would see us take it even further today.

Oh, and that last part about etiquette and housekeeping is pretty hysterical. So close, and yet so far - all in the same paragraph.

What's your favorite section?

Hat tip to Jonah Goldberg's "Odd Links Gal" over at The Corner for this.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Surging toward 1,000

This is a rather humble milestone to reach, given that I started counting "hits" in October, but I'm just about to 1,000 on my "hit-o-meter" at the bottom of the page.

Go team!

The intrepid blogger who is the 1,000th visitor will receive 1) my eternal appreciation and esteem, and 2) nothing else. Sorry, we're on a budget here. Still, if you end up being that person, leave a comment and let me know.

Chris

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Spring in the South


I love Springtime in the South. Rather than a gradual increase in daily temperatures over a period of time, we get wild swings in temperatures in just a few days. Last Tuesday it snowed, Monday it was 72 degrees and sunny, this Saturday we're supposed to get snow flurries again with a high of 34. This morning it was sunny and beautiful when my wife too The Boy to Mothers Morning Out. Make that sunny, beautiful and COLD.


Here's a belated shot from our surprise snowfall OK, it was half an inch. Give me a break; we live in Georgia! It was still pretty. The daffodils were quite surprised.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

A fun clip to start your day. . .

OK, YouTube could be addicting. The question is no longer "what can you find on YouTube", it's "what can you NOT find on YouTube".

Here, in my first attempt at linking to a YouTube clip, is a really funny video of a comedian who grew up playing the cello. (Hmm, I wonder how many of those there are out there, really?)

He loved the cello, and he loved the repertroire available to him with one exception.

Pachelbel's Canon in D.

Enjoy.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

My Desk, part 2

To follow up on a few comments from that last post:



1) no, my desk is NOT usually this neat. I did some severe tidying-up before taking pictures.



2) When Arby posted his desk photo's, he had my blog up on his monitor. I left a comment wondering what it would look like if I took a picture of my monitor showing his blog with his monitor showing my blog. Like a reflection of a mirror in a mirror ad infinitum. Well, here it is!





3) I also failed to mention one of my other regular office-mates. Here she is, napping on top of the wireless router. Her name is Sassy Belle, and she belongs to Belle (our eldest). One of her other favorite spots is right next to the phone, especially when I'm on a conference call.




4) Since it was dark outside when I took the previous pictures, you couldn't see the view. Here it is from just outside the office door. In the foreground is our big project from last Spring - the playground.


I still owe Tim a response to his "Sordid" meme. That will be coming soon.

Noisily being quiet,

Chris