I had good intentions to blog daily during our trip back to the States, but quickly realized that between jet lag and emotional overload, weeding out the stories that were mine to tell would take me more time and effort than I was willing to invest. Now I "owe" NaBloPoMo a few entries -- I can't remember if I stated it on here or if it was one of those passing FaceBook comments, but when I decided to throw my fingers in the "post every day for a month" ring, I also threw in a reality clause: missing one day here and there could be overlooked; missing two or more posts in a row would need to be made up for. I'm kinda excited to pay that debt. The beauty of paying it online is that you don't have to be as excited as I am and I'll never know!
"Two more sleeps!"
posted by susan at Saturday, November 22, 2014
I remember once reading something along the lines of "finding strength in vulnerability". Until today I struggled to make sense of that idea. I realize now that I was looking at it all wrong.
posted by susan at Thursday, November 20, 2014
Turns out that the UK birthday was not to be the better of the two.
posted by susan at Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Today was the official day. Well, we decided at bedtime, the official day in the US. Aaron doesn't technically turn 9 until just after 3:30 am UK time tonight (tomorrow?), so tomorrow he'll get to wake up to celebrate his UK birthday. Which is good, since today didn't go quite the way he hoped. In his mind, his birthday meant that he would get to rewrite (er, eradicate) the rules, so he was less than pleased to discover that school exams go on, birthday or not. I feel a bit guilty that his planned birthday weekend has had to be put on hold for our upcoming trip, but also think it can't be all bad to get to gently introduce the idea that sometimes life gets in the way of our plans and we just have to roll with it. So we used the ride home to talk about what he expected and how it had "gone wrong" and came to the conclusion that since he's not really 9 until tomorrow anyways, it was a positive thing to have been able to work out all the kinks today. Tomorrow morning I will wake him by singing happy birthday again and hopefully he will enjoy his UK birthday now that he knows what's coming.
posted by susan at Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Today we celebrated 9.
posted by susan at Sunday, November 16, 2014
Yesterday's post was supposed to carry on in the same vein as Thursday's -- I had parent-teacher conference with Aaron's teacher Thursday after school. We had a fantastic 10 minute conversation about his academics-- he is still reading beyond grade level and his comprehension, grammar, and spelling are ahead of the curve as well (100% on his spelling tests year to date!). Math and science continue to be his strengths, and she was delighted with his ability to retain knowledge and make unexpected connections, especially in history/geography. He continues to struggle with handwriting and has a tendency to respond to questions with one word answers both written and verbal. Unless, of course, the subject is something he has a personal connection to in which case the struggle is to get him to just. stop. talking!!! She provided me with a copy of the handwriting scheme the school uses and a copy book, so we will add a bit of handwriting practice to his nightly reading and piano homework. All in all, a very positive experience.
posted by susan at Saturday, November 15, 2014
Since Aaron tends to be my subject of choice to write about on here, I thought I should try to balance the picture out a little bit. You see, my boy is a handful. In fact he is at times more than my two hands and his fathers hands put together can contain and those are the times when you realize how wonderfully painful parenting can be. But it's not all about the meltdowns and the idiosyncrasies and the butting of heads together because we are both too stubborn for our own good. Without any further ado, here is my top ten list of reasons I am damned lucky to have that boy around:
posted by susan at Thursday, November 13, 2014
Today was not a great day for Aaron. Nothing major, but enough little things that his teacher wanted to speak to me after school and has suggested a school-to-home behaviour log (which, hooray! I fought to get one of those in place last year, so am actually delighted that someone else sees the value and is initiating it!). We spent the ride home discussing "why the whole world wants [him] to just always be miserable and never have enough playtime before school and then miss out on all [his] electronics time for the rest of [his] liiiiiiiiiiffffffffffeeeeeee!" Once we got the sobs back down to less than 5 per second, we started talking about things HE can do to make his life run a tad smoother. Here's what we came up with (my comments that "lead" to his action plan in parentheses):
posted by susan at Thursday, November 13, 2014
Aaron had a field trip to the Egyptian Centre in Swansea today. He was super excited on the way to school today; I had told him last night at bedtime that his challenge would be to learn enough that he can be our tour guide when we visit the real thing over the Christmas break. I didn't tell him that I was counting on some good story to fill in as today's blog post. But I sorta was. I didn't worry too much about crafting something witty as I folded laundry and vacuumed. It didn't even occur to me that I might want to stub my toe or something, just in case. Nope, I placed my faith entirely in his enthusiasm and figured that literary license would help me fill in the gaps.
posted by susan at Tuesday, November 11, 2014
Just a super quick post before I head to bed (missing one day is excusable, two days in a row becomes a habit): Daddy's news has hit FaceBook from a source other than my blog, so I think that means the social media ban has been lifted. Which is good for me because it's all I can freaking think about and I don't do well when I don't have an outlet for the thoughts in my head. They tend to spiral into each other and get bigger and bigger until they are totally out of proportion. What's that word again? Anyways, the latest news is that I've never in my life been happier to hear that someone has "ugly ulcers", but if they can be treated with medication, diet, and TLC, then I will happily embrace those ulcers, ugly or no. My biggest fear while waiting to hear the results of the endoscopy today was that there would be no obvious culprit and that we'd all have to that little niggle of what-if to deal with every time Daddy so much as wrinkled his nose. It sounds like the plan is to keep him in the hospital for one more night, then home he goes. Whew. Fingers crossed this roller coaster ride is truly slowing down so we can get off and let the next group of thrill seekers on. I hate those rides that toy with you, stopping and then starting up again. Is there anyone who really finds that fun?
posted by susan at Monday, November 10, 2014
The Big Event went off without any (noticible) hitches. It will be neat in the future to be able to say that I was once "this close" to actual royalty, but the truly remarkable part of the day was watching the care and genuine interest with which Will and Kate met the crowds that had turned out to meet them. It wasn't just about shaking hands and kissing babies for the cameras; the Duke and Duchess seem to be that rarest of breed of people who are truly interested in the thoughts, passions, and views of everyone around them. It was quite moving to see the response of the people to their Royals -- there is a fierce pride and fondness that I can only equate to that bond that siblings so often have, that feeling of "we may get irritated with this and that and, at times, wonder at the existence of each other, but if anyone else should dare to say boo, well, they will find the,sleeves having to deal with the whole lot of us." My rebellious brain struggles to wrap itself around this concept of birthright, but it was heartwarming to see so much joy brought to so many people with no hint of intolerance.
posted by susan at Saturday, November 08, 2014
I've just received the following email:
He’s been fighting a bad cold and ear infection for a couple weeks. They put him on antibiotics (of course) which messes/messed with his stomach so he’s been losing fluids faster than he can take them in. Last evening he passed out and they called the ambulance to take him to the ER. They ran all sorts of tests and finally determined that he’s just horribly dehydrated, gave him fluids and sent him home.
Today, he felt no better and just couldn’t get out of bed. I went to see him at lunch and he finally said he really wanted to brush his teeth, so after I left, Mom said she got him up and let him sit in a rolling chair to brush his teeth but he passed out again. Soooo she called the ambulance again and they’re on their way back to the ER as I type...
It's hard for me to think of my father on the receiving end of medical treatment. He was a voluntary EMT for many years in the small town I spent most of my childhood in, so when I think of him and doctors, I always picture them on the same side of the table. The fixers, not the fixees. Thís sudden juxtaposition is messing with my head. If you've got kind thoughts or prayers or vibes or wishes to spare for his quick recovery, it would bring peace to my heart to know that he's got your backing.
Wrapping up the rest of the week:
-The car is now proudly sporting two new tires, clean oil, and has been washed and vacuumed twice this week by the dealership. All the fillable fluids have been topped off, the wearable parts inspected for safe levels of wear, and the fuses all pushed firmly into proper position. I think we can confidently tick the "fully winterized" box.
-Aaron returned to school today in high spirits and came home with a good report of his day. His teacher reassured me this morning that he wasn't sent home as a punitive measure and that she was very happy to see him back at school. He reassured me this afternoon that he was very good all day and that he should probably receive extra DS time as a reward for all that good behaviour.
-The latest script for tomorrow's Event has me (and the other spousal units) moved to stand with the representatives of the various local charities that the refinery sponsors throughout the year. The Royal Visit will conclude in the refinery firehall where these charities will be showcased, so there is now a heightened chance that I will actually be in spitting distance of Will and Kate. And, yes, before you ask, I know better than to spit in their presence. More on that story tomorrow...
posted by susan at Friday, November 07, 2014
posted by susan at Thursday, November 06, 2014
Today was not my friend. Woke up late, scrambled to get out of the house on time. I was supposed to go to the gym this morning, but had such a raging headache by the time I dropped Aaron off at school that I decided to come home instead. A nap followed by a large coffee swept some of the cobwebs away so I thought I'd make a a valiant effort to reclaim the day, but my enthusiasm waned by the bottom of the stairs. Made a list. Rewrote the list in order of priority, then reorganized it again by amount of time I expected each task to take in hopes that I could tick off some of the small jobs and build on from there. Made some calls to get the new tires sorted out. Wandered from one project to the next in between calls, but didn't get anything done enough to cross it off the list, so rewrote the list again, this time breaking it down into steps. Little bitty baby steps because I was bound and determined to have more crossed off the list than left on! Of course, by the time I was finished making the list, it was time to go pick up the boy so all that effort got shoved back in the pile I had planned to clean off my desk (item number 1 by priority, number 4 by time needed, numbers 15- 23 in mini steps). Got home, supervised homework and piano practice, made dinner, did dishes, hung laundry to dry, packed lunch and realized that I hadn't given any thought as to what to post today (priority 3, time 7, mini-steps 45-48). Thinking it might be a good time to call it a day and pick up the pieces tomorrow.
posted by susan at Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Three things :
posted by susan at Tuesday, November 04, 2014
The school run takes a minimum of two hours each day. One hour each way. Sometimes I stay in the nearby town, sometimes I come back home. It sounds a lot worse than it actually is.
For starters, it's pretty much continual driving. Get on the road, lock in the cruise control and go. Except for the occasional need to move the sun visor or change lanes, there's not much going on that requires more than ankle or wrist movements. We take breakfast with us and have a book series downloaded from iTunes that we listen to. In many ways it's proving to be a great way to wake up and transition into the school day. As soon as we get out of the house we have an hour of low demand, high reward time occasionally interspersed with actual conversation. We've had nice (relatively) dry weather since school started and only the occasional slowdown due to road construction. So, all in all, not anything to complain about. It does mean that I'm putting on the mileage a lot faster than we anticipated, but so far that just equates to more frequent fill ups.
A week and a half ago the service light came on to get the oil changed. Aaron had a minor freak out, insisting that we turn around and go immediately to the nearest garage to get the oil changed so we didn't destroy the engine and wind up having to walk home or blow up. Sometimes he catastrophises.
We calmed him down and I suggested that we take the car in to the dealership together the following week since he would be off school for the half-term break. Before I had finished, he had begun planning his list of questions for the mechanic.
Time slipped away from us during his week off, though, so by the time I made the call, the first available appointment was for tomorrow morning. Aaron went back to school today. Aaron was really unhappy with me. All that time spent on coming up with questions! And what if I forgot to tell the mechanic something important and it didn't get fixed and then we had to make another appointment! All that time wasted! All the potential damage to the car! Did I mention the catastrophising?
Last Thursday the blower for the fan (heater, front defrost, AC) stopped blowing. No biggie. It hasn't been that cold yet (and it never gets that hot!), so I called the dealership and the receptionist logged it to be looked at when the oil was changed. Only a problem if the weather were to suddenly change. So it shouldn't surprise anyone to discover that this weekend the rains came and the temperature dropped. This morning was a one hour drive in fifteen minute segments - 10 minutes clear vision with the windows up, followed by three minutes of increasing haze and then two minutes of 70 mph down the road with the windows down in 40*F weather with bursts of rain. Fun! Invigorating! As if Monday mornings don't already suck. The good news was that the rear defroster was working fine, so I could get away with just the front windows down in short bursts. The better news? It warmed up a few degrees throughout the day, so the ride home was (slightly) less exciting.
At dinner time I mentioned that I thought the issue might be with the fuse to the blower. If you've ever met me, even once, then you already know that I am the least mechanical minded person you will ever meet. Despite this, somehow the two very mechanically minded males who live with me decided that I might be right and scurried out to check the fuses.
At 7:15 pm, I went to the door to call Aaron in to begin getting ready for bed. At 7:17 pm Aaron informed me that he was very sorry, but he didn't think it was the blower fuse but he wasn't sure what fuse it was and anyway it didn't matter now because he had pulled that fuse out and it didn't look blown but then he had dropped it inside the fuse box and couldn't find it and now it would have to be replaced anyways.
I might have freaked out a bit. I might have even had a vision or seven of dying in a variety of increasingly more dramatic car crashes because of the significance of that lost 30amp fuse. Sometimes I catastrophise.
7:45 pm is bedtime for Aaron. At 7:53 pm, I put on my boots and coat, grabbed my keys and headed out to view the carnage for myself. I looked at the fuse diagram (pictures instead of words, not that I'd actually understand it if I could read it!). I tried the lights, checked the reverse sensors, the hazards, and the turn signals. All good. For kicks I tried the fan. Still nothing. But, seemingly, still as drivable as it was this morning.
And then I tried the rear defroster.
It didn't seem to be working.
I waited. I touched the glass to see if I could feel any warmth. Nada.
At 8:45pm, Josh took his car to the nearest shop that might possibly carry 30 amp car fuses and still be open past 9pm. He returned with a chamois covered demister sponge instead.
I am less than thrilled.
posted by susan at Monday, November 03, 2014
Spoiler alert: This is gonna be one of those "let's talk about the weather and what I had for lunch" posts. I had forgotten how different it is to view your life through the lens of potential blog fodder. It might take a while for things to get interesting around here again!
The morning started out with a rare glimpse of the sun. I don't think I've ever been as clued into the comings and going of the sun as I have become since moving here. We used to talk about the "shortening days of winter" but it took actually experiencing days that never quite passed the faded light of daybreak before the twilight was taking over to truly appreciate that big ball of fire and gas in the sky. Anyways. Sunrise was scheduled for 7:13 this morning; by 7:52 enough of those rising rays managed to penetrate the grey skies and my bedroom curtains and I knew it was time to get up. Well, that and the fact that Aaron was screeching in disbelief that his father expected him to take a shower. (On a Sunday! Has any child in the history of humanity ever been so mistreated by his cold-hearted parents? What calamity might befall him next? Will he also be tortured into wearing socks? Tune in next week as the drama continues to unfold...)
Josh made breakfast (another rare treat!) so I made coffee (necessity, but always a treat. Possibly an addiction as well.).
The diva Aaron showered and made himself a smoothie. We ate banana and Nutella crepes in the living room. Josh watched (American) football. Aaron played on his DS. I poked around Pinterest and sipped my (homemade) pumpkin-spice latte. Josh took Aaron to his golf lesson; I did housewifely things like laundry and dishes.
We had tomato-rice soup for lunch. Football, DS, Facebook.
Josh started rice pudding to follow the lentil dish he had planned for dinner. Aaron took his helicopter remote apart and gave us a detailed lecture of how the thrust of his helicopter could be measured using Scotch-tape, 15 AAA batteries and the kitchen scale. I hung up towels to dry and ironed school uniforms.
Josh went to the grocery store. I remembered that I hadn't remembered to ask him to get a cucumber as he walked back in the door. I went to the grocery store. I remembered that I hadn't remembered to get eggs as I put the cucumber into the fridge. It was discussed and decided that Aaron is still too young to go to the grocery store on his own and that the eggs could wait. The grocery store closes at 4pm on Sundays and anyways, he had a helicopter remote to put back together.
By 4:30 the light was fading. Garbage out, school bags packed, dinner ready. Sunset was officially 4:51 pm. We ate lentils and chicken and steamed carrots and rice pudding in the living room. Josh watched (American) football. Aaron played on his DS. I got a papercut trying to make paper pinecones like the ones I had found on Pinterest.
We'll call it a good day.
posted by susan at Sunday, November 02, 2014
I knew it had been awhile, but was startled to realize that it's been over two years since I last posted. A very busy two years, sure, but two years! If I am remembering my Astonishing (astonishing!) Biology (biology!) Facts (facts!) correctly, in that same amount of time I've changed all of my red blood cells eight times, my entire epidermis at least two dozen times, and my current fingernails (if you'd call them that) are fourth generation. So really it's like I'm a completely different person. Allow me to introduce myself.
posted by susan at Saturday, November 01, 2014