Sunday, June 28, 2009

In the kitchen: Healthy(-ish) chocolate chip cookies

I did a little baking and just love this new (to me) chocolate chip cookie recipe! Even better... they're hiding some veggies and other nutrients. I'd feel guilty, but this is the only way we've been able to get vegetables past his lips.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

In the kitchen: Celebrating

It was a good day, and so we had a special dinner, prepared on the grill. I'm headed out to put the cover back on, but be sure to head over there to see why we were celebrating.

An end in sight (maybe)

May was a difficult month for us. Trillian spent the entire month hoping to hear something, anything from her old employer or her hopeful future employer. Nothing. My substitute teaching brought in enough for utilities and food, but I was only able to work about half the time I'd hoped for. And then nothing more since the school year was over.

June has been a little better. Her old company has brought her back on for some hourly work. Not a lot--the big guy who saw fit to lay her off in the first place has been adamant about limiting her hours--but probably enough to pay the mortgage and almost our other basics. So at least we'll be pulling less out of our savings than last month.

July could see us back to something resembling normal. Her hopeful employer--after the end of their hiring freeze, advertising the position internally for a month, and now clearing her through all the layers of HR--is almost ready to bring her in on a temp-to-perm position. Apparently they've had a problem with turnover/incompetence in this area recently, so she'll have a 90-day probation and work through a staffing firm. But it's a full-time job, more in line with what she expected to be doing when she took this previous position and has room for advancement.

Of course, we're still waiting to see something in writing, so it's all about fingers crossed and frequent checking of email here.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Home again

We just spent a fun, but very hectic, week visiting family. I intended to post several times, but tended to find myself chatting with my sister in the evenings, sometimes reminiscing, sometimes passing on advice (requested only, particularly about raising children without religion since her daughter's starting to get old enough to notice these things).

My niece is absolutely adorable, even when throwing a fit. She speaks in complete sentences and points her finger or stomps her feet for emphasis. Her parents are especially doomed since she is entirely cherubic in appearance, including soft blond curls.

It was the first time she was really able to play with Scooter in a manner he found (mostly) appropriate. There were incidents involving disappointment in the other's sharing ability (with my niece mumbling, "He just has to share," and shaking her head as she walked around the house one time--of course, her definition of sharing right now always involves somebody handing over what she wants and not usually vice versa). Scooter was also dismissive at times over the amount of "girl" stuff, particularly with anything involving princesses. This even extended to him turning down the female super heroes his uncle offered. (All the males made it home, however.)

I managed to get some work done too. A good thing since the initial impetus of planning this June trip was so I could get some time in a better-appointed library than the one in Big City. There's another university just a little bit closer that would have pretty much everything I would be able to get at UofT, but I wouldn't be able to visit with family or crash someplace for free while I worked there. This was a pretty good compromise.

The worst part, of course, was the drive. We spread it out over two days both ways, making each day manageable, but extending the experience. Lavish promises of swimming at the hotels and a trip to a Lego Store gave Scooter something to look forward to, but didn't stop my knee from aching or my back from going stiff.

At least this time, we had all the supplies we needed for the inevitable vomit incident. But only one and not nearly the mess it could have been. Anybody know where one can purchase those air-sickness bags?

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Just don't call me a soccer mom

Currently in our garage is a 2004 Toyota Corolla. It's a workhorse of a car and has served us well. And it has helped us survive the bite of higher has prices, continuing to average upwards of 35 miles per gallon. Plus, there's the advantage of very few repairs outside of regular maintenance.

But a few road trips and adding a (large) dog to the family have illustrated its limitations. The trunk is surprisingly roomy for a compact family car, but when we're driving to visit the family we have in a reasonable radius (1 very long day or 2 easier days), the backseat becomes overloaded with a cooler and Scooter's diversions. Even for our shorter trips down to Capital City, the backseat's full once the dog's back there. He easily fills one-third of the backseat, a full two-thirds when he takes a nap.

Figure in the second child we'd like to have (or twins, as I tease Trillian) and...

We've decided that once Trillian is back to full-time work (which is now on the horizon) and we've had a few months to put some of our savings back in the bank, we'll be purchasing a mini-van, probably a Toyota Sienna.

I'm hoping my cousin forgets that time I swore up and down that I would never own a mini-van, despite her protestations of how convenient it was.

Trillian came around to this idea a lot faster than I did. And I quickly admitted that for all the situations we would need to cover on a regular basis, we probably need a vehicle with 3 rows (which the dog has made even more of a reality). For a while, I was pushing for a Highlander Hybrid. An SUV, yes, but a hybrid. Once I did a little research, however, I discovered two facts that made it hard to justify over a minivan. (1) The Highlander's highway mileage is no better than the Sienna's, and our city mileage, where there is a noticeable difference, would be minimal; (2) There's a $15,000 price difference.

So sometime in the next year or two, I will be behind the wheel of a minivan. Sometimes. The Corolla will still be the car of choice for solo trips or with a single kid. If I get the job at the Small Liberal Arts College in Capital City, it will be my commuting car until we've paid off the minivan--at which point I'll be looking at the small- to medium-sized hybrids so I can offset the minivan even more.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

(Not at all) Wordless Wednesday: Hope

I was surprised to find only the one set of moving stickers on the pieces of the crib. This had been its third move with us, though I suppose Scooter had used it as a toddler bed for a couple of those moves. But the crib has accompanied us so many times not because it was our only option for Scooter, but because the plan all along had been for babay #2 to use it--and it's a nice crib, a gift from Trillian's parents on the Christmas Eve before Scooter was born. It's been in pieces, leaned up against the wall in our bedroom*, collecting dust bunnies. That's why Trillian wanted it assembled, so that we could get at the dust a little more easily.

I got to it just a couple weeks ago, on the eve of another visit to the fertility doctor. Not because I expect we will have immediate need of it, but because it serves as a tangible reminder of our goal. Next to it is Scooter's old changing table.

Right now, both the crib and the changing table are serving primarily as a laundry sorting facility, as evidenced in the picture. And Trillian feels pretty strongly about replacing the mattress for a new baby. But the simply seeing the crib standing there on a daily basis is a positive reminder of what we hope is to come.

On the other hand, there is a dresser we still need to move from Scooter's closet, filled with a selection of baby clothes. It will stay there until I'm relying on more than hope that a baby will be joining us. Then you can bet I'll be combing through the many containers of clothing we have in the third bedroom, picking out the tiniest of outfits and organizing them just so.

* For Bea and the other paint chip enthusiasts: our walls are Victorian Gold. It's actually a warm, medium brown. It's the first color we ever picked out for a place where we would live (though we did pick a cheery yellow for our first house shortly before we moved out), and we both love it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The radical act of being ourselves

In the last couple weeks of school, Scooter's class reviewed the months and made a calendar. Each month was associated with a specific event or holiday. And so every time a month is mentioned, he pipes up with that month's special day.

We were driving along the other day, talking about how close June--and his summer vacation--was.

"Father's Day is in June," he remarked. Then some amusement crept into his voice, "And I don't even have a dad!"

We brought up the fact that we can celebrate Father's Day with his grandfather. This appeased him and the conversation moved back to summer vacation and his intention to emulate Phineas and Ferb.

We've long been prepared for questions, difficult questions, from Scooter about our family and how he came to be. Yet he's only once or twice asked why he doesn't have a father. He was younger then and easily satisfied with the explanation that families can look different and his family has two moms.

We haven't gone far into the "where do babies come from" discussion either. He still subscribes to the belief that babies come from "the baby store" (not sure where that came from, though I think it's his self-manufactured explanation). I've brought up at least some correction each time this arises, though the furthest any conversation has gone ended with him exclaiming, "You ate me?!" That was on the way to school and his voice carries, so I decided to table further discussion until later. I recently tried to explain the idea of a uterus/womb to him. He wasn't interested in continuing the conversation, so that's where we've left it.

This attitude, this non-need to question the way his life is, continues, I suspect, as a result of his likely-Asperger's. It's hard for him to take a worldview other than his own, so he doesn't even think to wonder about its differences from others around him.

His classmates, on the other hand, have been quite interested in the idea that Scooter has two mommies. It's one of those things that came up on occasion throughout the year. As Trillian took more turns dropping Scooter off at school and picking him up, even going in for one of my volunteer hours when I was substitute teaching, the questions increased.

"He really has two moms and no dad?"

"How can he have two moms?"

"Wait, so you're his mom and you're his mom too?" (said on those occasions when we'd both go up)

"Why does he call you that?" (referring to the non-standard name he calls me)

My answers are simple, variations on "that's just what our family looks like" and "all families look different." (And, on that last one, "It's just what he decided to call me. There are a lot of different words that can mean 'mother' and this is his word for me.")

So many of the students in Scooter's class live with their biological mothers and fathers; only a couple have divorced parents. All of them have at least one other sibling (seriously, Scooter was the only only-child in his class). And so our family interests them, challenges their definition of family, usually the first any of them have dealt with outside of their expectations.

We'll have some new classmates to introduce to this concept next year. Though I'll be interested to see how many of this past year's classmates try to explain it to them and just what exactly they say.