We arrived in Chicago Monday evening after a delay (aren't there ALWAYS delays when flying these days?) and spent the evening visiting with our friends with whom we are staying. It was so good to see them again, and it always feels like coming home...
Yesterday we spent at the Museum of Science and Industry, 5 hours of walking, exploring and playing! All the kids loved the place, it was so interactive and engaging. They have a killer exhibit of mining, taking you down an elevator to a mine shaft where they have real equipment running to explain the process of mining to you. Airplanes, trains, weather...you name it, it was displayed there. Funny though that the exhibit every one of the kids enjoyed most was the younger kids exploration place that had balls floating on air and in water, and lots of "touchy feely" stuff. It is always fun watching our kids who came to us at older ages as they explore things in ways they never had the chance to when they were younger. Both Angela and Olesya were like little kids, giggling and grinning as they did a lot of real work too that was disguised as play. I can only imagine all the opportunities they never had to touch, to feel, to discover. I admit it though, we did not admit to their ages as the limit was 10 years old, so we just went with our own version of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Hahaha!
We spent the early evening in Dominick's old neighborhood, Taylor and Loomis Street where is parents owned a small corner market. That is long gone, replaced by a trendy restaurant as the entire neighborhood has been revitalized and has few reminders of days gone by. We ate at a little hole in the wall he remembered from childhood, and were surprised when we learned a couple of the people behind the counter remembered his family and had even talked to extended family recently. I loved that Angela had a real appreciation for this for Dominick, commenting to me a couple of times about how happy it made Papa to come back and see his old life. We had the BEST Italian beef sandwiches ever at "The Patio" and all of us left wishing we had a place like that back home.
This morning Kenny was eager to get to Shriner's here in Chicago. He has long wanted everyone to see "his" hospital, and was proud to show it off. We had to check in at 10:00 AM, and then he gave everyone the grand tour, and they all played outside for a bit before having lunch together. After a family hug, we were all on our own as Dominick took the kids to the Aquarium for the afternoon and Kenny and I settled in here where I will be sleeping in his room with him on a pull out chair/bed. Currently as I type this he is watching a Spy Kids movie as we await dinner time, and I was reading a book after having soundly beat him at air hockey and checkers.
For all his bravado and saying "I am not scared at all this time!" it was easy to see the fear has not totally dissipated, as anyone would have guessed. A nurse came in this afternoon to talk about his shower tonight and how she had to come in this evening and wipe his hips with antibiotic to prepare for the bone graft tomorrow, and Kenny's head whipped around with an urgent look of fear on his head to look at me and see if this was something that was going to hurt. I reassured him it would not, and reminded him that every single thing that was going to happen was something he had already experienced so there would be no surprises. In general he is in great spirits, but he is still very worried about tomorrow and I am seeing it more now this afternoon. Tonight we will play games or something to distract him, and hopefully get a decent night's sleep as we have to get up around 5:00 AM tomorrow to get ready for surgery at 6:30 AM.
Overall he is doing much better than he was last time, and I hope it continues through tomorrow. I brought along 5 books to read and have a paper to write for class, so I have plenty to occupy myself along with keeping his mind occupied on something other than surgery. Then there are the conversations...man, this kid is so deep sometimes! This morning he was watching a recorded special on CNN that was about Christianity that was recorded a few years back by our friend. He was so interested in it, and we discussed it then as well as later this afternoon. It was titled "Christian Warriors" and was quite an in depth look at Christianity and its political and social influence. I'll tell you this, Kenny gets it. Totally. He has a surprisingly theologically oriented mind, and has the ability to analyze things on a level most kids his age don't. This often gets hidden behind immaturity and academic weaknesses, but academics are not necessarily an indicator of intelligence.
I recall a conversation the morning we left California when we somehow got on the topic of economics. Of course, he does not have the vocabulary to tell you that was what we were discussing, but he was asking questions that caused me to explain the terms "trade deficit" and "embargo" and he fully understood the logical next question to ask as the rest of the kids sat at the table saying "huh?". I love it when Kenny shines like that and it is what helps his siblings to remember he is one sharp cookie, despite being behind in school. All of them would be the first to tell you that Kenny is super smart, even if he struggles in certain areas. And I think it might be time to start thinking about a lower level course in comparative religion and economics 101 for him!!
So, it will be a quiet evening for us, hopefully one in which we both can sleep well and without cause for much worry. Tomorrow is a big day, and I'll update the blog as soon as I can to keep everyone posted. I don't have a camera with me this time around, so will have to paint any pictures with words. Thanks so very much for your prayers and concern, and sorry I haven't gotten to any of your individual emails.