Thursday, November 29, 2007

Because usually I'm so calm

I had intended to map out some plans I have for my blog over the next few months, but find myself staring 11 pm in the face and knowing that tomorrow will be hellish.

And then there's the fact that I hop up every 2 minutes whenever I think of something else that needs to be done before we leave.

Now it's true that I will be coming back, that we don't have the movers breathing down our backs. Yet. But the current trip requires a balance between loading up things we want to move ourselves--some papers, pictures, special books--and bringing items that will make a 3-day trip with Scooter bearable.

We're mostly there. It's not like I'm running around with a mile-long list and no hope of going to bed before 2 am. But trip preparations always make me more anxious than usual.

So most of my energy has been going towards that (plus feeding the troll over at my previous post). I'll be in and out over the weekend, no guarantees of when I'll be posting or commenting. Send your positive vibes this way--keep off the bad weather, banish construction and traffic jams, encourage Scooter to nap frequently. We'll need it!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Scattered thoughts with a little Global Warming Wednesday thrown in

Another bulleted post since I'm definitely suffering from a scattered mind today. And my thoughts are definitely all over the map.
  • I discovered that one of Scooter's friends, the one who was moving to Scandinavia, already left. I had meant to get a picture of him and ask his parents for their new address. But at least I got Scooter's address to them, so maybe we'll be able to have the boys exchange pictures and "letters."
  • Another Scooter-related item: Trillian and I met with his OT today for an exit meeting. She gave us a list of things we can do at home to help Scooter with his weakest areas. But at least we now feel like there are a small number of well-defined goals that will make the biggest difference in his physical development.
  • Our mortgage company managed to find one more thing that had to be signed--really a corrected version of a form we signed yesterday. Luckily it didn't require notarization and we were able to scan the signed form and email it back to our closing agent. I'd love to say that we're done, that closing is complete, but both Trillian and I are waiting for some last-minute panic tomorrow.
  • I am so totally engrossed in the current Writer's Guild strike! I check out United Hollywood and Pamie every day for the latest news from the picket lines. Perhaps it is my father's blood and his communist/ Marxist/ peaceful activism tendencies. And then there's the whole artists' solidarity thing. Not that I'm a professional writer or that I would go the screenwriting route, but still...
And here's my favorite:
  • I have a troll! A paid troll even. I thank United Hollywood for writing about this. My troll has been posting comments on an old post of mine: Banning bisphenol A from last month, my post for Blog Action Day. I'm amused. Because here I am, a small-time blogger, and some corporate shill is spending his time and company money arguing with me. It may have something to do with the fact that my blog tends to come up fairly high in searches on bisphenol A. So they need to have that voice in my comments to try to discredit my concern and make anyone who reads that far drop their own doubts. (On the other hand, I think I'll be setting comments to close after a set time so that I don't have to keep dealing with drama on posts that aren't active. As neat as it is to see that this post is frequently read, it's not personally satisfying to run back to old posts when I know that the core of my audience won't see this unless I bring it to their attention.)

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


It is only in the past few days that the reality of our move has begun to settle in. And now it's practically upon us. To be fair, this first trip is to transfer Trillian, Scooter, and our car to the in-laws'. I have to come back to finish my seminar and oversee packing, so my departure isn't permanent--but the idea that my daily existence will be changing is just now starting to register.
  • No, I didn't find the title. I'm pretty sure I put it somewhere "safe" at some point, thinking I'd remember. And once I do find it, I'll realize just how logical it was. Or maybe it will turn up in some place I've already looked multiple times, just tucked behind another document. In the meantime, I'll be sending off for a new one. It means we won't be registering the car next week, but we have a little bit longer and could probably even justify claiming that the clock on that shouldn't start until we no longer have our Canadian address.
  • The house is almost ours. Closing has come damn near to killing us, thanks to a whole litany of little things. Trillian and I spent yesterday chasing down a couple items and today signing documents and then getting them notarized, copied, and overnighted back to Springfield. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, our i's are dotted and t's crossed. But holy hell, we're really going to be living in this house!
  • Scooter has 2 1/2 days left of daycare. Today, while Scooter and his class were playing outside, I dropped off the little packets I put together for his classmates (a postcard and magnet with our new address) and some gifts for the staff. I chatted with one of his teachers outside and she said, "You're going soon, eh? Really exciting for you, but we're sad." And it really hit me that I too am sad that Scooter will be leaving his friends and teachers. They've been so wonderful--always acknowledging just how neat a kid Scooter is, even if he does have extra challenges.
  • I was also knocked out to find a book--Great Trains--in his cubby. I'm pretty sure it's the one I saw him 'reading' (i.e., explaining pictures) to a classmate a couple weeks ago. They gave it to him. He's absolutely over the moon about it, and I'm touched beyond belief by the gesture.
  • On Sunday, the three of us went to a gathering that involved a good number of area bloggers and their kids. This group of women has remained a bright light for me in Toronto, even at my lowest and most homesick. I was so glad to see several of them, but occasionally had to quiet the nagging thought that I didn't get to see everyone I wanted to and was probably looking at another 'last.'
  • Trillian and I went to lunch at our favorite bistro yesterday once we'd tracked down the information for the final mortgage issues. We had a very pleasant meal as always, but we were very aware that this was our last trip there. Probably our last trip out together in Toronto given how hectic the next couple days will be as we get ready to pack up the car and head out.
I have no doubts that this move is the right decision for everyone in my family. I fully expect us to be much happier in Springfield. I hate bad-mouthing Toronto since I know so many great people in the area, but it's been a tough 2 1/2 years for my family and there are several things that will be better simply for not being here. Maybe that's why these recent rushes of emotion have taken me by surprise.

But as we were recently told during a recent consultation about helping Scooter with the transition, it's important to acknowledge the sad bits, not just play up the positives of the future. And so, yes, I'm a little sad.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Keyed up

I should go to bed. I have been so tired lately--there's no excuse for staying up.

But I'm a bit tightly wound right now.

I just spent the last 90 minutes searching for our vehicle title. I can find the lien release, but that won't be enough for registering our car in Springfield. And of course, our old state makes it close to impossible for us to get a replacement title when we don't have an address in that state. So I have sent off an email message and will follow up with a phone call tomorrow.

I might also be a little keyed up because our mortgage people have seemed hell-bent on making us miss closing. We are supposed to close on Friday and, given that we're in another country, we have to build in some time to return documents. Today they told us about another condition imposed by the underwriter. We got it cleared up quickly enough, but isn't this a little late to be suddenly discovering new conditions? And then when they finally got all of the information to our closing agent, it appears that some of it is wrong. So we have to clear that up tomorrow morning, get everything printed, go to a notary, and get them to FedEx.

I've got one more place I'm looking for the title and then I'll go stare at the ceiling for a while.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Winding up

There has been an increase in stress and anxiety in my household over the past couple weeks. That isn't exactly a surprise--we're moving very soon. And the way we're going about it will spread the transition out over a month or so. But the first part occurs next week when I ferry Scooter and Trillian down to her parents before I fly back up to finish up my class and oversee the move-proper.

Part of our intent in this process has been to settle Scooter in at his grandparents for most of December. It's a place where he feels comfortable and has plenty of people who adore him. It can also serve as a base for Trillian from which she can handle some of the things that still need to be done for our new house.

But I shouldn't be surprised that Scooter has caught a whiff of the anxiety and is feeling a bit keyed up over the changes. We have told him that we're moving and have talked about all the great things that we'll have there. But it won't stop him from missing the routines of his life here. And so he's been telling us about everything he likes here, how much he loves his friends, how great our current "house" (apartment, really) is, how much fun he has in Toronto.

It tugs at the heartstrings.

Of course, I need that to deal with the other side of his increased anxiety. He has started making a repetitive noise, a grunt from the back of his throat. It's not entirely voluntary, and so Trillian and I are dealing with it the way we've come to deal with most of his speech and kinetic idiosyncrasies: ignore it. If we don't ignore it, if we repeatedly point it out and try to stifle it, we know that he'll either do it more or come up with a new behavior to replace it.

The problem with all of this for me relates to my own sensory issues. I am very aurally sensitive. I have learned to tune out a number of noises and have done other things to desensitize myself (this could be a series of posts on its own), but a lot of this breaks down when I'm experiencing greater levels of stress and anxiety. As Trillian so often points out: like mother, like son.

I have this feeling that things will start to improve once we get to my in-laws'. I expect some of the anxiety to begin dissipating as soon as we're in the car this weekend; sure, long car trips are stressful in themselves, but it will be a relief to finally be doing something towards the goal we set ourselves so many months ago.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Because I'm easily amused on a Friday night

Officially, I was looking at the PLAYMOBIL website because I've read that they manufacture their toys in Europe. I've been keeping this in the back of my head, thinking that this might be a good way to steer Scooter in the next stage of play. I remember fondly the fire truck and knight sets I had.

But it would be unfair of me to turn this into a serious, "responsible buying" post when what got me thinking about PLAYMOBIL tonight specifically was a bit on Robot Chicken. Because, yes, I am really a 14-year-old boy.

The first product I went to was this one:
I have been sorely tempted to buy him for my library carrel. He seems like a good mascot for me as I read through the poetry of long-dead men.

I first saw my potential mascot and some other new sets at an Indigo (killing time one afternoon). Of course, I really like the Colosseum set-up, but I would spend too much time reenacting the chariot race from Ben Hur and throwing various figures to the lions.

Recognizing that my son may not want the particular mix of Roman and Medieval sets that I would (and, yes, I totally think they can go together; given that the Medieval sets include dragons, I don't think we're too worried about timeline here), I clicked over to some of the other sets, including Construction. Where I found this gem:
I sent the link to Trillian via chat (yes, we chat on our laptops while in the same room).

She asked, "Why would you want a toy port-a-potty?"

"It goes with the construction set," I said. "For a touch of realism."

And then inspiration hit.

"I have an idea for a new set. You could buy a bunch of the port-a-potties and put them in a row next to the Medieval stuff--as a Renaissance Festival. And then you could take some of the accessories and put random pieces on modern people--geeks at a Renaissance Festival!"

So I ask you, just exactly how warped will my son turn out?

Especially if I buy the Zoo set just so I can get this:
I mean, so he can play with it.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ho ho holy sh...

Although retailers have notoriously been stocking the shelves with Christmas items earlier and earlier, US Thanksgiving remains the imaginary line beyond which all retail-hell breaks loose. Since I've been cultivating habits of mindful consumption and have a son who has a very short wish list,* the TV ads for after-Thanksgiving sales took me by surprise.

Every year, one of my cousins spends part of Thanksgiving afternoon pouring over the advertising supplements and planning out her route for the next morning. She gets a charge out of going out to the stores insanely early and completing all of her holiday shopping by 10 am.

I, however, am hugely averse to large crowds of people who are set on specific items and willing to push through anyone in their way. Trillian and I tend to do our shopping online and/or make gifts ourselves. Even if we don't get the monster deals of Black Friday shopping, I am willing to view the extra cost as a convenience surcharge (or maybe the cost of sanity).

In any case, one of the shocks yesterday was seeing the ads for stores that would be open at 4 a.m. 4 a.m. I already think that the "doorbusters" at 5 and 6 in the morning are a little crazy. But seeing this new bit of insanity, I begin to wonder how long it will be before stores open at midnight.

I'm not a Grinch, I'm not a Scrooge. I enjoy figuring out what exactly to get for everyone on my list and have a pretty good track record. But I'm not at all fond of the barrage of commercials during this season or the frenzy at malls and big-box stores.

Which is why I'll be glad once we make it past the holidays. And the after-Christmas sales. Argh, almost forgot about those.

*No, seriously. I've started asking him what he wants for Christmas and Hanukkah and he has a one-item list: a $30 Lego set which he has wanted since this past summer and which I know my mother-in-law has already tucked away in a closet. When I asked what else he wanted, he just said, "A tree and presents." He doesn't care what, just wants the Christmas morning experience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Admission is not defeat

Last night, I finally allowed myself to admit that I was not going to be able to handle the month of December as I had it mapped out. The short version:
  • Very beginning of December, drive down to Capital City with Trillian and Scooter.
  • Fly back a few days later.
  • Mid-December, seminar exam.
  • 3 and 4 days later, exam over 1st half of comps (it's two 1/2 days of writing).
  • Next day, packers box up all of our stuff.
  • Day after that, movers load up all of our stuff.
  • The following day, my seminar paper is due.
  • Finally, I fly out to my family.
For a long time, I convinced myself that I could manage this, that I could balance everything and not flip out worrying about moving just before I had to go into my exams.

But the past couple of days have brought a few new things--niggling little things, a presentation, a proposal for the second half of my comps, a committee meeting--that have stolen study time. Just a few hours here and there, but enough to derail my study plans to the point that completing all of my comps reading becomes a greater source of tension.

So I sent an email to the supervisor of this part of my comps this morning. Admitted that I'd packed my December too full, that I would be dealing with too much at the time of my exam to write with a clear head, that it would be a huge weight off if I could push it back to January or February, that I was hoping to write the exam remotely (this had been mentioned for the second half of my comps). That I would stand by my original date if this was too difficult a request for any reason, that I could still be ready, but that I would really appreciate the chance to do this when I wouldn't be feeling so overwhelmed.

I hate admitting when I've taken on too much--not so much to Trillian or my friends, but definitely to people in positions of power over me. I worry about showing anything that might be considered weakness to those whose judgment of me can affect outcomes. And so I very carefully pick the moments when I do this, when I ask for some concession or accommodation, when I admit that I can't do it all.

Now I just have to make the best use of this reprieve that I possibly can.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Because we all need another time suck

Have you found Test your vocabulary skills and donate rice through the United Nations. The rice is paid for by the sponsors whose ads appear at the bottom of each screen. You can categorize the time you spend on this site as both education and philanthropy.

I mean, seriously, it would be downright selfish of you not to go play, right?

Monday, November 05, 2007

What I'm watching

Although I began the semester with the intention of not watching much television, that plan hasn't come to fruition. In part, it's due to the fact that when I'm particularly productive, something my library carrel has facilitated, I don't have the concentration to power through another few hours of heavy reading. So instead I allow myself to sit on the couch, leisurely work on less rigorous tasks (email to my supervisor, compiling information I have handwritten in various places, looking for call numbers for books I need), and watch TV.

Herewith are the shows playing on our television on different nights of the week. Thanks to time shifting and the occasions when Canadian channels play shows on different nights from US stations, I have no idea if we're watching things at their "regular" time.

  • Simpsons. No need to explain or justify.
  • Other Sunday night cartoons. We usually leave these on, although I don't miss them if we don't.
  • How I Met Your Mother. A funny, funny show; we laugh out loud every time. Barney is reprehensible, but marvelously played by Neil Patrick Harris. We also get a kick out of the Canada jokes.
  • The Big Bang Theory. The only new sitcom we're watching. Hilarious. A lot of quick-fire dialog that uses math, physics, and other nerd humor at its base. Courtesy of this exchange, Trillian and I now say to each other, "Superman could catch her, but he would slice her into three equal parts," whenever one of us goes off on a tangent considering the ramifications of various theoretical circumstances (which happens a lot more than I should even admit). We also debate whether Scooter is more likely to be a Sheldon or a Leonard.
  • Pushing Daisies. This was created by the same guy who created Wonderfalls, which I have mentioned before as one of those shows I loved only to see it yanked off the air before it got a fair chance. Again, the main character (played by the actor who was the brother on Wonderfalls) has an otherworldly ability that he must keep (mostly) secret at the same time that it compels him to do things he wouldn't otherwise. Not your average network offering, and I am so glad that it seems to be picking up a following.
  • Biggest Loser. The only reality show Trillian and I watch. And we usually miss the first half hour or hour, depending on when it starts vis a vis Pushing Daisies. I like the positive aspects of the changes the contestants go through. That said, I most dislike the game-playing side, and that will be the thing that makes it easy to stop watching at some point.
  • Private Practice. Total brain candy. Good cast, generally amusing, even when the "big message" of the episode is too saccharine. We mostly started watching because it's there.
  • Bionic Woman. Ronald Moore, the man who is behind the updated Battlestar Galactica, brings us this much darker Bionic Woman. I like dark. I would also be lying if I said I started watching for any reason than Katee Sackhoff. She plays Sarah Corvus, the original bionic woman, who is supposed to be dead after going a bit haywire. She is a delicious nemesis, and I most love those episodes in which she has a fight scene. But the rest of the show is growing on me too--even though I keep hoping for Isaiah Washington's character to meet a messy death.
  • Ugly Betty. We started watching this part of the way through the first season and are hooked.
  • Grey's Anatomy. Another one that has hooked us. We have kept watching, even when we're screaming at the television over ridiculous storylines (George and Izzy? You've got to be kidding me!). And yet we keep watching.
  • Thursday has been the hardest night for us since we also like the sitcoms that play opposite these shows. So we've decided to catch My Name is Earl, The Office, 30 Rock, and Scrubs in reruns since it's usually easier to catch up on sitcoms. And with the writer's strike, that could be sooner than later.
Friday and Saturday are the empty nights for us, so that's when we make use of the library system's inter-library system and extensive DVD collection. Once we're back in the States, those will be Netflix nights.

So, are you watching the same shows or now wondering what the hell kind of person I am?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Scattered Sunday

I have not been nearly productive enough this weekend; I seem to have stalled out a bit again due to the growing list of things to do and shrinking amount of time. But I'm not going to dwell on all of that tonight. Instead, random moments from the weekend.
  • We took Scooter for a haircut. He got the same stylist as two cuts ago, a very good thing. She is amazingly quick and accurate, giving excellent shape to the cut in a very short amount of time. To Scooter's credit, he didn't cry at all, didn't even protest. Still refused the clippers to clean up the edges, but he just shook his head no instead of crying or yelling.
  • Trillian got a haircut too. Which means I'm the 1/3 of the family that didn't.
  • Scooter and I started a four-week series of workshops at the Ontario Science Centre. The highlight is getting to play for half an hour in KidSpark before it opens to the general public--just him and 4 other kids! Of course, he still managed to have a fit over sharing some space with one of them.
  • Trillian and I whispered to each other in amazement as Scooter worked on letter-matching cards we got him some time ago. He has known his letters for a long time, but has found most activities too frustrating or boring or difficult (particularly in terms of fine motor skills). But today, he pulled them off his shelf, asked what he was supposed to do, and then completed the whole set once I'd shown him the first one (plus I had to help with 'x' since they gave 'fox' as the 'x' word--seriously 'xylophone' or 'x-ray' wouldn't work? ).
  • Vegan cheese does not melt well. Even the brand that proclaims on its label "It melts!" This is the missing piece for making pizza that Scooter and I can eat, and we're not quite there yet.
  • Many conversations with Trillian now include phrases like "once we're settled into our new house" and "we'll need to find one of those in Springfield or Capital City." We're a little excited.
But then my mind turns to things like getting the tires on the car looked at, along with going through more items to toss, recycle, pack, etc. And so I will just stop for the moment.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Mentally moving in

Even from Toronto, we've already experienced some of the small town hospitality that Springfield has to offer.

The current owners of the house we're buying offered to give an informal walk-through so they could explain some of the systems and answer questions. Since we won't be there until after closing (ah, internet and fax machine, how you have simplified the process!), my in-laws went for us. Probably didn't hurt that my mother-in-law has been dying to see the inside.

My in-laws went last night and reported back to us. With so much wonderful information that makes me love our new house, our new neighborhood, our new school system all the more. Among the tidbits:
  • We have fruit trees! The cherry trees and apple tree all produce fruit; the apricot trees are not reliable because it frequently gets just a bit too cold for them. We managed to visit when the trees weren't bearing fruit, so I thought we didn't have any; other houses had peach trees heavy with fruit and/or made specific mention of what trees they did have.
  • The wife usually plants a vegetable garden and has two beds designated for this. She hasn't used one of them for a while, because the dogs kept walking through it, but she says the soil in it is excellent.
  • Both of their kids went to the public preschool and have used the special education services at the school 5 blocks away. They couldn't say enough good about the school system. And the head of that department lives in the next cul-de-sac over.
  • They've already told the neighbors that we're coming, and everybody is looking forward to meeting us. Including the lesbian couple with kids who live right behind us.
  • There are 8 kids on our cul-de-sac alone.
  • One of the older residents on our cul-de-sac makes toy shooters (that shoot mini-marshmallows) for all the kids when it warms up and then all the neighborhood kids chase each other around, making special use of the weeping elm in our front yard as a fort.
  • They are leaving us an enormous binder with all of the instruction manuals and additional information for everything they can think of. They will also be passing along the name of painters so we can get a couple rooms done (we're leaving most of their painting as is, but want color in the master bedroom and don't want a pink office).
I know that handing over the check for the rest of the down payment plus closing costs will be one of those moments that knocks the wind out of me; I try not to think about it too closely, especially since we will still have some savings left over and the whole point of that account was to earn interest until we bought another house. But I don't think I will suffer from actual buyer's remorse. Because every new piece of information just convinces me further that we have made the right decision.

And I can't wait until it's our furniture in there, our art on the walls, our son on the slide. Our house.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Candy for breakfast

Or, what we did for Halloween.

All in all, it was a pretty good Halloween.

Scooter began the day by discovering the Halloween basket that had been sent to him by his grandparents. Not exactly a healthy breakfast, but Halloween's only once a year.

(What he didn't know: Grandma ordered the basket before finding out about our change in his diet. It arrived on Tuesday and so I spent some time picking out the verboten candy--most of it--and replacing it with some items I had already purchased.)

We then headed to school, his astronaut costume carefully tucked into a bag. Scooter checked multiple times to make sure it really was in there! When we got there, the other kids were wearing their costumes, so he eagerly slipped his on. One of the younger kids, visiting with his teacher, wore the same costume. Luckily, Scooter didn't take that as encroachment on his territory and happily pointed out to others that there were now two astronauts.

I picked Scooter, not out of costume, up shortly after lunch for OT. As we traveled to his appointment, I asked if he wanted to wear his costume. He said no each time, but quickly changed his mind when we arrived and another kid had her costume on.

When he finished his appointment, in the spirit of an extra fun day, I offered to take him to the CN Tower. He agreed with that plan until we got home--then he just wanted to shuck the costume and play with his trains. Since the whole point was to have fun, we settled in and covered the living room floor with tracks.

A little after 6 pm, I asked Scooter if he wanted to go over to the coffee shop to trick-or-treat. One last time into the costume. Then he started asking us, first Trillian and then me, what we were going to wear. He seemed so disappointed that Trillian said she didn't have a costume that when my eyes fell on my Eeyore costume (where it had been placed in preparation for storage), I decided to put it on. As we walked over to the coffee shop, he would start each statement to me with, "Eeyore..." And I would respond, "Yes, astronaut?"

We dropped off our canned goods, ordered a couple of drinks and a treat for Scooter (plus a treat bag from the baristas), and enjoyed a little family time in costume.

Home for bedtime with a story about pumpkins, and a very tired astronaut-no-more told me Halloween was fun. I imagine that next year will involve actual trick-or-treating, but last night's low key approach worked for me!