I really am very thankful....but oh so tired...

>> November 27, 2008

Today is our first Thanksgiving with Asher.  Well, the second really.  How is that possible, you say?  He's only 8 months old.  Well, we have two Thanksgivings in this family.  We celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving as Jeff and I are Canadian, and as we are in Rome, we must do as they do.  That, and Asher technically is American (we don't have his Canadian citizenship yet).  So today, I am a very sleepy, thankful Mommy.  I couldn't imagine giving up any of the sleepless nights of the last few months, getting done any or all of the projects I've fallen behind in, being actually on time for so many of the things I've been late for, or missing out on a single precious moment with my son.  Thank You, dear God, for the most wonderful gift ever.


My life costs how much?

>> November 24, 2008

We had 3 surveyors come through the house today to guesstimate how much stuff we had to move so they could tell us how much it will cost.  I have to say I'm looking forward to the next move because it will be a faculty position and our moving expenses will be paid so I won't have to sort through my life and decide what I can afford to keep.  This has had my stomach in knots for days.  I'm waiting for the 'official' estimates, but everyone seems to think we have about 2500 lbs of stuff.  And that's mostly boxes, almost no furniture is going with us, how sad is that.  The approximation tends to run about $10/cft. and the consensus seems to be that we would have about 400 cft of stuff.  So that's about $4,000 just to move stuff, besides the port fees and taxes, and handling fees, and service fees, and packing fees, and losing our stuff fees, and insurance fees, and taking longer than promised fees, and unloading fees, and whatever else they charge for events like this.  I'll wait to see what they come back with.  (Read: I am taking any excuse to not start the sorting process just yet.)


The Science of Sleep

>> November 21, 2008

What have I done that has allowed such trauma into my 7 and a half month old's life that he has resorted to such awful screaming fits when he's confronted with the need to sleep but not met with the ability to fall asleep within the first five minutes?  Asher, my lovely son, the one everyone tells me is such a happy boy, that even when he's fussing, wizened mothers will note that he really does want to be cheerful he's just tired, is these days having such fits that he sounds like he's dying and he's pretty sure it's me who's killed him.

We have always struggled to a certain extent with his sleep.  I discovered very early on that a tired Asher was not an Asher you wanted to spend time with.  People at church thought he was such a happy baby because it wasn't really until after lunch that the shortness of his morning nap (he would get a catnap during music practice) caught up with us all.  But we made it through, we found a schedule and once I started guarding it a little more carefully our night time sleep started to make progress as well.  With the exception of the fact that he seems to think 5:30 am is a perfectly acceptable time to get up for the day, I would say we were doing pretty well.  That was my problem, I got complacent.  

Lately, there have been times, such as  2:20 (a mere 20 minutes into an afternoon nap) or 5 am (definitely not an acceptable wake up time in this house) or tonight at 6:45 (bedtime is 6:30) where this wonderful little boy that I'm growing so fond of has made me want to pack my bags and move out.  Part way through tonight's escapade I realized I didn't have his lovey in the crib and left to go get it.  It was only 6:50!  A whole hour of screaming had somehow crammed itself into 5 minutes.  How is that possible?!  My husband is a physicist, I'll have to ask him when he gets home.  Yesterday, with the nap, I ended up storming out at one point and slamming my door and screaming into my pillow.  Then feeling 100 times the horrible mother I went back and picked him up and rocked him until he calmed down.  He never did go back to sleep that day, we just rocked away the rest of nap time and finally gave up and went and watched an episode of Charlie and Lola (more for my sake than his I think).  

This morning's 5 am routine I gave up.  (Thinking back at the clock display I have a sneaking suspicion it had only been 7 minutes, but I astutely ignored that)  I felt horrible because Jeff is fighting a cold, but I just could not stand over his crib rubbing his tummy in what should have been comfort but was swiftly turning into fury and I certainly could not pick him up.  For much the same reason.  I desperately wanted my son to be comforted, but I was too angry to do it.  So Jeff took over and picked him and soothed him back to sleep.  It took half an hour and he stayed asleep for maybe 15 minutes once he was put back in his crib.  Meanwhile I was up anyway, looking up temper tantrums and sleep in 8 month olds.  Turns out they don't really have true tantrums at 8 months, they just have one way to express frustration but at this age, they're suddenly realizing they have a whole lot more to be frustrated about.  Great. 

Tonight though, something interesting happened.  He was throwing his fit, I was standing there, tummy-rubbing.  No one home to tag off to, and I was bound and determined not to give into my own little hissy-fit again so all I could do was stay there and try to breath and marvel at the fact that only 5 minutes had gone by.  When suddenly, he stopped.  He went from full-throated, my-mother-is-a-horrible-person-who-is-trying-to-kill-me screaming to...nothing.  Not even the hiccoughs that stayed for so long when I rocked him the other day.  If he hadn't been turning his lovey over and over, I would have thought something was wrong.  He looked at me, calmly accepted his soother (pacifier for all you Yanks out there) and closed his eyes.  I watched for a little while, not even remembering to rub his tummy I was so astounded, and then finally snuck out.  I could hear him moving his lovey around a bit longer on the monitor, but it's now an hour later and there's been no relapse.  

Maybe God just knew I needed to not come away from another sleep struggle feeling like a horrible mother.  We'll see how long that lasts.


Do you remember when weekends were for relaxing?

>> November 17, 2008

Me neither. I have some vague, foggy idea that at one time, weekends were declared a time to relax, but I cannot bring one to mind that actually was filled with...nothing. And I imagine if I had ever wanted to actually capture such a phenomenon, it might have been a better idea to try before we had a baby.

Gone are the days of sleeping in for one thing. I don't know when, but somewhere along the line, 7am became a wonderful lie-in. Makes me a little ill, to be honest. And now that Asher is much more aware of the fact that Mommy isn't always paying attention and if he grunts enough times in a particularly grating way she will inevitably stop what she is doing and see to him, the only time I have to get anything done is when Jeff is home on the weekends. Then the problem becomes that everyone knows we are leaving soon so they all want to be able to have us over or take us out to lunch. Don't get me wrong, I'm loving all the free food, and to be sure there are some that I would just live with them for the next month to soak up all the time I could get, but it does present an issue when I look at my 'to do' list and I see the days flying by on the calendar and nary a crossed-off item to be seen.

And here is where I would have gone into a list of all the things I meant to do this weekend and how they got curtailed by time spent with friends and me once again thinking I could handle a foster dog for a few days despite all my craziness but alas, Asher has woken up.


Officially Official

>> November 14, 2008

I discovered this charming little show on one of the kid channels called Charlie and Lola.  It's a british children's series that is absolutely adorable.  Largely because all the characters have the cutest english accents, but also because it's just a really nice series about a brother and sister that doesn't include jealousy or petty-ness or name-calling (well they did have one episode about squabbling where they called each other 'mean' but in the most adorable way possible), in fact they get along and the big brother is always looking out for his little sister and finding ways to help her.  I love it.  Anyway, Lola is always overdoing her adjectives and adverbs and I think it's rubbing off on me.  For instance there was one episode called, "I am Far Too Extremely Busy" or "It is Absolutely Completely Not Messy".  I'm way more addicted than Asher.

And so, in honor of Lola:

It is most definitely completely officially official.  We are moving.  It is quite a heady thing, buying a one-way ticket for your entire family to another continent.  I have to say, it made me a little woozy.  I am completely shocked at how this move is affecting me.  

When we were first married, and Jeff was looking for his first post-doc, we were considering Japan and Australia among other places.  I was all for Japan, Jeff wasn't sure if he could even move as far away as Chicago.  And now, here I am, desperately wanting to be jumping-out-of-my-skin ecstatic and instead I'm mostly nauseous. It's not that I'm not excited.  It's not that I'm not thrilled.  I have always wanted to live in as many foreign countries as possible and I still do.  But something else has come into play.  I think it is that this feels like the first real home that I have helped create for my family.  Now I find that I'm not so quick to run out the door and I'm a little sad at the prospect of having to start over.  

And then of course there are the people, our friends who have become more like family.  They have seen us through so much, watched us become parents (very literally, a few were in the room and even more were on the phone as Asher came into the world).  They have only ever known us as married, missed all the foibles of our youth (haven't missed many of our adult foibles though;) and yet they know us, who we are, what we struggle with, our hearts desires.  They have truly become Family, God-parents and Guardians, Sisters and Brothers, the truest of Friends.  I can't go any further down that road, not yet.  I'm not ready.

After all that, I must say, I really am very excited.  I have always wanted to go to England but have only ever made it to the airport between flights to and from Greece.  I remember thinking as I looked out the window at the countryside below that it wasn't right that I was going somewhere else.  It was almost a physical pull to want to stay there instead of going on to Greece to meet Jeff.  I feel so blessed that Asher gets the opportunity to travel as well and grow up in different places.  He may not remember much yet, but he will grow up with family and friends on three different continents (we have friends that have just moved back to South Africa) that, Lord willing, will remain good friends and be visited frequently.  I have always wanted to expose my children to travel and different cultures and what better way than to actually live there.  And if we're really lucky, each of our children can be born on a different continent.  (For those of you trying to figure out how many more times we're planning on moving, we'll likely only have one more child biologically and then we plan to adopt internationally)  I get all hyper just thinking about it.  

So not all my stress that's keeping me from sleeping is bad stress, it's just excitement...a lot of energy that doesn't have anywhere to go just yet.  I may have to start packing really early just so I have something to do.  Although if I think about it, I don't actually have a ton of time.  We're going to be in Canada visiting family from Dec. 5th to 23rd, and we have to be out of the apartment at the end of December (even though we're not actually leaving until later in January).  Okay, maybe not the best thing to think too hard about just now.  Feeling a little woozy again.  


Where to begin

>> November 11, 2008

Jeff says we must keep track of this saga.  I'm not really sure why, my ability to block large segments of my life from memory has served me well in the past.  But I suppose he's right, we'll want to share all the excitement of Asher's early life with him when he's older.  And who knows, we may even laugh about it all.  And if not, I can simply delete all record of it and go back to forgetting.

The first couple days we were just a couple of frantic headless chickens not having any idea of where to begin.  The result of course being that absolutely nothing got done.  The adrenaline finally wore off I think and we were able to settle down and actually look at what had to be done.  The first being our paperwork.  Oh, the paperwork.

Jeff's grandfather was born in England making him eligible for an ancestry visa.  This gives us a lot more flexibility once we're over there as far as working, living, and qualifying for certain benefits.  In order to get that visa, we need to have passports which are valid for the entire term of his contract (which will be 2 years, possibly 3). Ours expire next year.  Okay, so off to renew our passports.  As we are gathering our necessary documentation we discover that a couple things are missing.  Jeff's birth certificate and our marriage certificate (I have two copies but no original).  We can order those, no problem, it's just money right?  Then we're looking at the passport renewal forms and realizing that we have include our current passport.  That means we can't travel until we get them back.  We're supposed to be going to Canada to see family in the beginning of December.  Not only that but we also need to send our passports in with our visa applications as well.  Don't these people know that we need our passports to go places?  

After talking with the Canadian Consulate we've decided to have our replacement documents mailed to my mom's address, we'll renew our passports at their office in Edmonton while we're there and just pray that they complete them before Jeff has to fly to Florida for his conference.  Oh ya, did I mention Jeff also has a conference that he's presenting at in the middle of all this.  And then when I get back from Canada on the 23rd, we'll send away for our visas.  'Our' visas by the way, apparently Asher needs one as well (at £200 each we're exceedingly happy that Oxford will reimburse us for those).  I suppose that's good though because then when he gets picked up by a casting agent, there will be no problem with him working while we're over there ;) 

We've just found out that Jeff will be taking shifts at Fermilab for Oxford for the first couple weeks of January so that means we have a bit more time to get through the processing for our visas.  Thank God!  Now all we have to do is survive the trip back to Canada and find favour with all the processing peoples there.  

Our other big dilemma is whether to ship all our stuff over there, sell it all and buy new once we arrive, or ship a few things, sell a few things, and store the rest here until we have a permanent posting.  I don't see any end in sight for that, I'm so torn about what is best.  You can find horror stories on all sides online.  I'm really hoping to be able to talk to someone in person about their experiences moving overseas.  We have some friends that have done it, but it's always been on the company's dime so that's kind of an easy decision.  I'm calling a few companies today to get people out to give us estimates and we'll go from there. 

A couple nice developments even from when I started writing this are that we're getting closer to settling on an actual date.  Likely the 14 or 15 of January.  And it seems that there is quite decent, short-term, furnished faculty houses for rent near the University that we will be able to get into.  They are near doctors, pubic transit, and there are several young families in the area that have started play groups.  Here I thought I would be stuck in limbo and confusion for at least a couple more weeks and now I'm feeling a bit more settled.  It looks like we may even have all our tickets bought by tomorrow or the next day.  So I guess I don't need to resort to blocking everything from memory just yet.  But stay tuned......


Strangers in a Proper Land

>> November 8, 2008

So I think that is going to have to be my new name for this blog.  We are headed to England, baby!  Oxford to be exact.  We're not sure how we feel about moving to such a small city, only about 151,000 people.  Jeff chooses to look at it as a suburb of London.  Whatever helps him sleep at night.  We've known for a few days now and I have really been wanting to sit down and blog about it, but there's just so much running around in my head I'm having trouble actually pinning words down.  Maybe now that it's out there as an announcement, I'll be able to focus more on all the details and stuff.  

Ya, so later then.


Our 4th Anniversary

>> November 6, 2008

Yay us!!  And specifically yay me.  I finally got the drop on Jeff without him letting me.  I have to admit, Jeff is way more the romantic in this relationship than I am.  I'm the one that makes a big deal over him for his birthday and Christmas and what not, but when it comes to remembering 'us' dates, he's got it.  

The first few times, he would pull that, "Do you know what today is?" stuff and I'd be all, "Crap!".  Then I caught on and started marking things on the calendar and chanting to myself in the days approaching a special event, "happy one year anniversary, honey...happy one year anniversary, honey...happy one....". You get the idea.  Then the morning would dawn bright and early, he'd roll over, a big dopey smile on his face, "Happy Anniversary, love."  Crap!  Okay, so the next year, I go to sleep chanting to myself, "happy second anniversary honey, happy..."  The alarm goes off, Jeff rolls over with a big dopey smile on his face.  A pause.  I blink.  He says, "Is there something you wanted to say?"  Crap!

So then last year, I've been chanting for like a month now, the alarm goes off, and I yawn and stretch, then it hits me.  "Happy 3rd Anniversary, Honey!"  I look over, triumphant, to see Jeff with his big dopey smile, chuckling at me, "happy anniversary, love.  Crap, the big jerk let me win.

This year, I've found his kryptonite.  Have so much else of epic scale going on in life that piddley things like mere anniversaries pale in comparison.  This morning...first of all, let me say that Asher gave us the best anniversary present ever!  he slept until 7:30 this morning, with only one feeding last night around 12:30 and only one other minor wakening at 4am.  WooHoo!!!...okay, so this morning we're basking in the fact that we woke up on our own, no alarm, no crying baby, just that trickle of sunshine peeking around the curtains at 7am....okay, second of all, let me say that the fact that 7am is such a glorious lie-in for me is absolutely disgusting...so we're laying there, basking, and it hits me.  "Hey!  Happy Anniversary, honey!"  A stunned moment on the other side of the bed, then, "crap".  HAHA!!  I finally won one!  And legitimately, too, none of this waiting for her to say it so she thinks she's won.  Yay me! (and you, too, honey, I love you)


Where were you?

>> November 5, 2008

Where were you when Barack Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America?  

I was watching it all from the comfort of my living room.  Although I have to say it was a little thrilling that my living room is in Chicago. Whether you agree with the politics or not, you have to concede (no pun intended...well maybe a little intention) that there's an air of excitement to it all.  An historic moment for sure, but it also feels, tonight at least, like this could actually be the beginning of something big.  I'm trying desperately not to use the word 'change' so it looks like I'm expressing my own thoughts and not simply buying into the Obama campaign machine.  

This is one of those events where people will remember where they were when it happened.  For my mom, she remembered where she was when they landed on the moon, when Kennedy was shot.  (And of course for her, the wedding of Diana and Charles, but that was because she was at a party with a couple of expats, having samosas at three in the morning.)  For me, I know where I was when the Gulf War started, when OJ got off (but only because some yahoo came running through the campus poking his head into all the classes to tell everyone), when Princess Diana died (I am my mother's daughter), and of course, when the towers fell.

Well, when Obama won the Presidency, I was in my home in Chicago, watching the crowds on TV celebrate at Grant Park, a mere 3 miles from where I sat.  Our good friend Janet was there to discuss and explain and share in the commotion.  Even Asher got in on it, waking up every hour or so just for fun.  

It's not like it should really matter to me, we're Canadian, temporary to the US, likely to have moved on by the time he actually takes office.  But it does matter, it matters to these friends that we've made here in Chicago that feel like our second family, it matters to a country that I not only have an affinity for, but that really does make a significant impact on a global level.  

I honestly don't know who I would have voted for if I could have.  I would be a Republican if I were American, and I think that it is unfortunate that President Bush has become the favoured whipping boy as of late, but I do recognize that there are some valid reasons for desiring a change.  There, I've said it.  Honestly, I very well may have voted for Obama out of sheer curiosity, to see if he really would make a difference or if it would simply remain the same...stuff, different face.  Mind you, if I had been voting I probably wouldn't have stopped paying attention sometime back in June and I would have a much better idea of what each candidate was bringing to the table.  I very much appreciated McCain's concession speech.  I believe that beyond the politics and the speeches and the spin doctors that McCain is a good man with a good heart.  

But it's late, and my brain grows fuzzy from having to listen to all the silly little reporters blathering on in order to fill so many hours of airtime.  Congratulations to all the winners, 'Good Game' to all those who lost, and may God be with the President Elect and his family, tonight and in the years to come.  


About This Blog

I love this adventure I'm on with my Rocket Scientist. The most recent addition to our expedition has me in awe daily. I can't wait to see My Little Man as a big brother. We started off by moving from Western Canada to Chicago and now we're in the UK. Will this Strange Mamma ever not feel like a stranger in the land?

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