Feb 28, 2008

Feb 28--Almost There...

An extra day in Denver does wonders for the psyche. We spent 2 nights with the Zs, spending most of yesterday doing fun and non-traveling things. The guys all did guy things--got the moving truck weighed and the Cat Daddy's car washed, played Risk (where the Cat Daddy fed his obsession for world domination), etc. Mrs. Z and I paid a visit to the mothership (Eddie Bauer Outlet) and did some walking around the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Red Rocks was so cool--found out it seats 9,450 people (over 11,000 if they squeeze). Mrs. Z updated me on their own quest for world domination, as well, and we did a lot of eating out. And of course I drank plenty of the home-delivered best chocolate milk in the world. Yummmmm.

So today we drove over the Rockies, ending up in St. George, Utah. St. George is a great town--built up enough that there are lots of choices as far as lodging, food, etc.

I just realized that I'm about 2 seconds away from falling asleep, right here and now, so I'd better close. Tomorrow's the final leg--if all goes well we will end up in CA, and in our new house, even. Then my mom brings His Highness up on Saturday. THEN the real transition begins...

Feb 26, 2008

NE--Remember Where You Are...

Sometimes it's the simplest truths that are the hardest to remember...

Case in point: today's post title, spoken to me by the Cat Daddy at lunch. We were eating at a typical truckstop restaurant somewhere in the middle of Nebraska. He ordered the chicken strip basket; I the fish & fries, complete with one visit to the salad bar.

I wasn't all that surprised by the sorry state of the salad bar...to an extent it's to be expected in the middle of nowhere, NE. A modest pile of sleepy iceberg and a bit of ranch dressing was sufficient, with some canned peaches and some mandarin orange, whipped fluffy goo on the side. I do love canned peaches, and who doesn't like the entire family of whipped mandarin orange concoctions?

As for the fish, I'm not sure what I was expecting. I guess something on the order of the Gorton's fillets we buy from the freezer section at the grocery store. Which are pretty good as far as frozen fish goes. Unfortunately, what arrived on my plate made the frozen Gorton's fillets look like the finest seafood from a coastal town.

To begin with, they were square. Which isn't a problem in itself, but is definitely an indicator of the true problem--that various fish parts had been smushed together into a square shape. Smushed fish parts don't taste like proper fish. They had the consistency of the Chicken McNuggets of the 80's. Which is to say that they were spongy. As spongy as any sort of meat can be.

So, spongy fish squares, fair enough. The clincher, however, was the cheese. Within the top of one of the fillets there was a square slightly more yellow than its surrounding fried crust. My first thought was, "That can't possibly be what it looks like. They wouldn't actually integrate cheese into a frozen, spongy fish fillet, would they?" I finally convinced myself that it was an irregularity in the breading, and started on my other fillet instead. Which looked normal from the top, but as soon as I cut into it, it began oozing from the bottom. Cheese sauce, that is. Yes, within each of the fish fillets there was embedded a cheese sauce square that, once heated, had the consistency of nothing very appetizing.

The Cat Daddy watched my discovery process with equal parts disgust and amusement. He then uttered the very helpful phrase above. In retrospect it seems so simple. In the Midwest they have lots of chickens, and eggs, and beef & pork, so when in the Midwest any of those would be a good thing to order. Hence the Cat Daddy's reasonable-looking chicken strips. In Nebraska specifically, however, I don't believe there are any waterways in which to find fish. If only I'd remembered that before I ordered the cheesy square fish sponges.

Mmmmmm....I lasted about 3/4 of the way thru the first fillet; that's all I could possibly manage. I was able to make up the balance with the "& fries"--you'd have to make a spectacular effort to mess up Ore-Ida's. And the mandarin orange goo--that helped too. And come to think of it, what's more midwestern than whipped mandarin orange salad?

Anyway, lesson learned. Remember where you are (and choose accordingly).

Write that down, kids...

Feb 25, 2008

Day 3--Lincoln NE...

...via Illinois and Iowa.

I'm a truckdriver now. I drove the truck. All 26' of it (plus the car-on-the-trailer). Over 200 miles. Thru a snowstorm. With howling winds. I'm awesome.

Sight of the day: World's Largest Truck Stop...

I had a moment of reality where I realized that this isn't just a vacation. Not that I was somehow mistaken about the nature of the trip; it's just that I was thinking of it from the perspective of being "from" New England. Then I reminded myself that I'm actually relocating. Across the country. Not going back to New England. That stung ever so slightly. It's a very exciting idea to travel coast to coast with most of our possessions and the goal of ending up in California in February. Once we arrive though, reality will set in--we'll set about unpacking, finding places like Target and the post office, and building mental structures of our new world.

The functional, practical, everyday things like that are fun. The other part of that, though, is setting about building our social structure. Friends, acquaintances, babysitters (yuck, this almost feels like dating), churches, etc. I've decided that while I probably don't need to do "formal" therapy, I should probably find some sort of group where I can focus on practicing sanity and all that. These parts are necessary, but not fun. To me, anyway. Just the thought of it makes me tired...or it could be the fact that it's 11pm. Or both.

Tomorrow it's off to Denver for a couple days with the Z's!

Day 2--Romeo & Joliet, IL...

Well kids, the state count for yesterday is 5—started in Syracuse NY, went thru part of PA, ALL of Ohio and Indiana, and landed in greater Chicagoland; specifically, Joliet. Driving-wise, the day was pretty uneventful—beautiful sunshine, freezing cold temps, blah blah blah.

The sights were…something. The culture became visibly more “Midwest” as we moved midwest-ward. New York was pretty simple: pretty countryside, smart-a$$ tollbooth attendants (in a good way), etc. Going into PA there were brilliant marquees advertising (I kid you not) “…fireworks, knives, swords, pepperspray, stunguns…” Too bad I didn’t need any of those. Cleveland was cold, and big, and they had straightforward dens of debauchery called Adultmart. No question there, I guess. Indiana was pretty much the same as Ohio, except no Adultmarts visible from the Interstate.

On the nature side, I didn’t realize that Lake Erie can freeze over completely. But there it was—frozen and snowy, with birds congregating in large groups. Probably complaining about all the snow, like the rest of us. I have mixed feelings about that one—we got about 6” in the 24 hours before we left MA, which was a pain in the rear logistically, but was a bit of a scenic gift, as the trees were well-flocked and really, really pretty view as I was driving thru town on that last day. And it didn't prevent us from getting out of town, so I think in the end I was grateful for that last little bit of New England winter beauty.

Well, the Cat Daddy's all rarin' to go, so I best be off. Bit of a short day today due to the weather--our target for tonite is Lincoln NE. Yum, corn...

Feb 23, 2008

Day 1--Off & Running In Syracuse...

We did it.

We had what might've been the best moving party ever today. All told, there were 15 people lifting, loading, and cleaning various things throughout the house. The result was a little boy on the way to AZ to spend a week with his crazy grandmas, a 26' truck packed tight with our belongings, and a spotless house relinquished to our landlords. Lots of memories throughout the day. Lots of heady, pensive moments, which I have yet to fully process and get out in writing...another day. We were up by 7am; folks started showing around 8, we were done by 3, checked out by 4, put the car on the trailer and ate some dinner, and found our way to Syracuse NY by 11pm.

But now, being midnight, and being that I'm freshly showered with clean teeth, it's time for me to stretch my tired legs and head to bed. Bossing people around is hard work...

Feb 20, 2008

Samsonite!! I Was Way Off...

Two days and counting, kids...posts may be sporadic for the next couple weeks. I'll try to post from the road, but I can't be sure. One thing is certain--within 2 weeks I'll be posting from sunshiney CA. Yummy! Until then, hopefully this will suffice...

Remember on Dumb & Dumber where Lloyd spikes Harry's drink with Turbo-Lax, and then Harry goes to pick up Mary, and then the stuff kicks in and he has one of the most spectacular movie-poops ever? I really think it's some of Jeff Daniels's finest work. I still laugh every time I see it--but then I'm a sucker for the potty humor.

But did the side view of Harry's waist-to-knee region ever strike you as strange? I never thought about it until today. I attended a conference at a small church in New Hampshire about church, and Jesus, and reaching people, and all that. Mr. & Mrs. T were there, along with a couple other folks from our church, and we all sat together and made snide remarks...it was nice.

Being a small church, it had small bathrooms--the one-person types. The women's had some lovely butterfly stenciling on the walls, along with some sponging work, which was OK but not as pretty as the stencils. The lotion was covered by a velvet drawstring bag (how discreet). And to aid in the post-potty grooming and primping, a full-length mirror hung on the door.

The only drawback to the whole setup was the orientation of the toilet, which was sideways to the door, and consequently the mirror. The full-length mirror. The unfortunate result of this was that one got a full-length sideview of oneself in the sitting posture. Leg and buttock, uninterrupted. One could try to avoid looking at the mirror, but peripheral vision made the effort fairly difficult.

I've decided that it is an awkward thing to observe oneself in the sitting posture. Doubly-so, actually, because not only does one feel like (s)he is being watched while taking care of the necessary business (which, contrary to the ancient Romans, who conducted all sorts of business while on the communal cans, feels very strange to most of us), one also feels rather voyeuristic because (s)he is watching while the necessary business is being taken care of. And that is a very unpleasant feeling, indeed...

Feb 16, 2008

Quite Possibly the Dumbest Quiz Ever...

You Are 20% Girly

Um... you're a guy, right? If not, you're the most boyish girl in the world.

And for you, that's probably the ultimate compliment.

Oh puh-leez. Yeah, go tell anyone who doesn't fit the stereotypical, western-world, materialistic view of "girly-girl" that she's the most boyish girl in the world. Sorry tribal African women--you're all the most boyish girl in the world. Whatever.

Feb 13, 2008

Don't You Forget About Me...

From USA Today--

PALM BAY — An accidental push of a button Friday had students at Palm Bay High questioning what they'd done wrong and parents plotting punishments.

Parents of all 2,550 students in the school received an automated call Friday reminding them that their student had to report for Saturday morning detention. Problem was, the message only should have gone to 16 homes.

"One of my friends texted me to ask if I had Saturday detention," said Robert Lenoci, 15, of Valkaria. The sophomore is going to the state science fair finals and hasn't been in trouble before.

"I looked and I had a message from mom. She was asking, 'What did you do?' It was pretty bad," he said.

Robert's mother calmed down after talking with other parents and learning something was amiss.

Amy Stewart said after the call that she confronted her son, Jimmy, and he pleaded innocent.

"He said he didn't do anything, but I took him Saturday morning anyway," she said. About 40 students showed up.

That's when Stewart and dozens of other parents learned of the glitch.

"I had yelled at him. I felt so bad, I took him out for breakfast," Stewart said.

Steve Muzzy, assistant superintendent for information technology, said the parent notification system purchased about six years ago from Synrevoice Technology of Canada averages 20,000 calls a week.

He said half are for student absences and the rest for things such as overdue library materials, school calendar events or for emergency communications.

"Very, very rarely do we run across any problems. This was an unfortunate human mistake," he said. School officials said an employee apparently selected the wrong field, sending the message to all students.

Principal John Thomas said by the time the error was discovered, it was 9:30 p.m. and too late to call everyone. But he did send an apology via the system during the weekend.

The 7 to 9 a.m. detention on Saturdays has been in place for some time, for such infractions as repeatedly being late for class.

But the automated system has been used for notification for only about two months.

Stewart just wants to make sure there is no suspension on her son's school record.

"I would hope there wouldn't be," she said.

Aw, man. No dancing in the library, crawling thru air ducts, or poignant essays for these kids.

John Hughes must be sad. Maybe he shed a single tear as he hung his head in grief and walked slowly toward the horizon, looking for a better life, knowing he was leaving his first and only true love from the wrong side of the tracks forever, knowing he was leaving her with...Duckie.

Feb 12, 2008

Tis the Season...

For all my friends, real or imaginary, who likely live in AZ and sometimes lament the lack of seasons...

The high (HIGH) temperature yesterday was 24 degrees. Fahrenheit.

The high temperature today was again in the 20s, I believe. The windchill was in the teens, at best.

We're in the middle of a snowstorm. We are scheduled to accumulate 2-4 inches of snow overnight, turning into rain for most of tomorrow, and a high of nearly 40. Just cold enough to make the rain really miserable, and just warm enough to make everything melty & slushy before refreezing overnight--yuck!

February is the worst part about having seasons...

Feb 11, 2008

Real Science...

OK, I just have to share this...

We were watching "Troy" just now, and a commercial came on for a male-enhancement drug. How very manly. They were touting the amazing features & benefits, and the obligatory flirty-chick made a big spiel about how this wasn't some kind of quackery, that this drug offered real results based on real scientific studies.

And how did they show that this was real science? With men in white lab coats, of course. Men in white lab coats, standing around a laboratory setup in a high-tech room, complete with beakers filled with glowing, green liquids. Holy smokes, lab coats and glowing green liquids...it's gotta be real science, right??

Five Sticks and a Pack of Cookies...

Well kids, we're down to less than two weeks until the big cross-country move. The better part of our house is in boxes, and for the life of me I can't remember where I packed His Highness's new shoes. Didn't think I'd need them. Technically we don't need them, but they would come in handy. Ah well, such is life...

...Ended up mopping the kitchen floor this morning. You may or may not be aware that my dog has a propensity for eating cat poop. Long story short, I found cat poop residue on the floor, which I decided was entirely unacceptable, hence the mopping. Guess what else we found out? With his chubby little feet, His Highness has zero ability to remain upright on a wet floor. Poor guy...after his refusing to leave the kitchen, and falling three times, and screaming three times, I plopped him on a chair, still screaming, and finished the floor before I carried him over the evil slippery floor to surfaces with greater traction...

...This afternoon His Highness had quite the ordeal--we took care of his 12-month vaccinations...which, due to our Christmas vacation and various minor sicknesses, ended up being the nearly-14-month vaccinations, but whatever. The 12-month set is no fun. Even the pediatrician said to just plan for a miserable time and get it over with. So I waited until the end of the day, so we could just go home afterward. First stop was the immunization room, where he got 4 shots. I have issues with needles, so the biggest challenge was not projecting my own fears onto him. I was very brave, let me tell ya. I think His Highness was more upset about being held down than the shots themselves, but to his credit, the vaccination tech worked quickly. Two in each leg--boom-boom, boom-boom, done. We grabbed a Cars sticker on the way out. To make sure there were no immediate reactions, we had to stay in the clinic waiting area for 20 minutes, so we passed the time by getting his blood drawn. Hey, why not, right? No, not really...I mean, we had the blood drawn, but it's part of the 12-month workup. I have no idea what they're looking for, but I certainly hope they find it. Or don't find it. Whichever is better.

My issue with needles...10 times worse with intravenous ones. But again, the lab techs were fantastic. They sat us in a big chair, His Highness on my lap. They folded down a flat arm-like platform in front of us, took his left arm, and held it out face-up just like any other guy giving blood. It was cute, in a very strange sort of way. My job was to bear-hug him and keep his right arm out of the way. I wanted to watch, but in the end I had to look away. And it was over in no time. And then I decided a reward was in order, so we set off in search of cookies to munch on for the remaining 10 minutes of "wait time" before we headed home.

Vaccines are pretty controversial in some circles, but thus far we've followed the recommended schedule. I'm a believer in most of them, and neither of our families have any history of complications, and my hour or so of online research actually made me lean toward them more, so other than watching for the rare freak-occurances of severe side effects, we're fairly confident there won't be any problems. We debated about the chickenpox one...it's strange to now be vaccinating our kids against a sickness that was in some ways a rite of passage for us. But then again I'm sure that's how some of our parents felt about vaccinating us against measles, mumps, etc...something we don't think twice about now (well, I don't anyway). To be perfectly honest though, I wasn't bothered enough to consider foregoing the chickenpox one, so we did it. No biggie...

Feb 8, 2008

Take This Job and...

In her latest post, Quinn over at the QC Report explained why she made the choice, mid-year, to start homeschooling her daughter. She didn't do it because of any dissatisfaction with her daughter's school. In fact, she said, she would recommend the school to others. I find this remarkable because the reasons I hear for people choosing to homeschool often include dissatisfaction in some form, whether with a specific school, or school district, or the entirety of American public schools.

Since I was a teacher in a previous life, I have a bit of a soft spot for the public schools. But that's neither here nor there, because it turns out that Quinn's decision had very little to do with school at all. In a nutshell, due to his crazy work hours, Quinn's daughter wasn't seeing her dad much at all, and Quinn wanted her to be able to connect with him more. So when it boils down to it, she wasn't anti-anything; she was simply pro-family.

I've already talked about my belief that everyone makes different decisions for their families because different families need different things. I've never envisioned homeschooling His Highness or any subsequent kiddos, but I'm supportive of most anyone's decision to homeschool, even when I don't agree with their reasons.

There's a military wife I know who was once a fast-paced up-and-comer alongside her husband. He was in the military, she was a nurse, and they were pursuing their masters degrees at the same time. Lo & behold, their first son was born. They were able to make it work, and were keeping up with their pursuits when she stepped back and thought long & hard, and decided that for her son's sake she needed to stop & be home with him during this time that she would never have with him again. It's not that she didn't want to work or get her degree, she did. But she knew that with her husband in the military, she would have to be the one to cut back on outside responsibilities, and she felt it was the best decision for their family.

I am increasingly understanding the pull women feel in more than one direction, and understanding even more why they choose the way they do. I've always known the value of parents being with their kids, but now I better appreciate the sacrifice that it is for some. I'm not anti-career or anything. Some women work full-time, some women work part-time, and some women do the stay-at-home thing. Or some combination thereof. When His Highness was born I wasn't sure how much I wanted to keep working, if at all, but I knew that I did not want to work full-time. I just don't have the emotional capacity to juggle full-time work and family demands. Well, I could if I had to, I'm sure...I just prefer not to. So I decided to try working part-time. I reasoned that I could quit altogether if I hated it, or re-evaluate at moving time, which I knew would not be too far off.

I've found working part-time to be a pretty good balance. I do enjoy the work I do, and we've had a spectacular experience with the daycare. His Highness loves going to play with his teachers and pals...some days it's like pulling teeth to get him to leave with me. Still, I too feel the pull in two directions. Like I said, I enjoy my work; I just don't like the juggling that goes with it. I don't like having to be out of the house at a certain time, or ironing, or packing a lunch. I'm fine with work once I get there; I just don't like getting there.

Unfortunately though, I have an almost crippling degree of ambivalence. Some days I'm ready to chuck it all & stay home full-time...and yet I can't quite bring myself to cut the strings. Other days I'm completely content with our arrangement and am grateful that I've waited out the tough days...making me all the more reluctant to chuck it the next time I think about it, etc etc etc. I think myself in circles.

I can see why some moms struggle with these work and family decisions because now I count myself among those for whom it's not an impossible decision, but not quite a no-brainer either. And I understand all the more that there isn't a 'right' answer...it really does depend on each family and their situation.

With the Cat Daddy, I can see the future...the military has its own set of demands, many of which increase as one progresses through the ranks. I see his responsibilities and commitments only increasing and I see myself, if I want to preserve my sanity and the overall sanity of our family unit, making more and more hard decisions. And when push comes to shove I hope that, like Quinn, I keep my priorities in order and decide in favor of my family...

Feb 7, 2008

Magical Powers...

I’ve been finding a lot of power lately in the phrase “I made the decision to…” It might be magic...

After a certain point, debating parenting decisions drives me nuts. Of course I think my decisions are the right ones; I wouldn’t make them otherwise. However, I’m aware that other families make very different decisions for the same reasons. And they’re usually just as right as I am, because different kids need different things. But in some circles--you know, the ones where some folks are more debate-y than others--I find it difficult to explain my viewpoint while affirming others’ different choices. “I made the decision to…” works wonders--

“Even though I wanted to breastfeed exclusively, we made the decision to follow the doctor’s advice to supplement with formula.”

“I made the decision not to do any sleep training until I felt ready to put the work into being consistent about it.”

“I made the decision to put gel in His Highness’s hair and take a picture.”

Pretty soon, though, I found it spilling over into other areas. It also assuages guilt and neutralizes situations--

“I made the decision to stay up late blogging/reading/knitting.”

“I made the decision to eat ice cream for dinner.”

That’s power, I tell ya. Magic.

Feb 4, 2008

Pothole Surfers...

Today, on the radio:

"From the pothole capital of the world..."

What I heard:

"From the butthole capital of the world..."

And then I thought "True, there are some jerks in this city, but I don't know that it's the capital...I can't believe they're saying 'butthole' on the radio--oh wait, they're not..."

Soak Time...

So the question is how much writing can I get done in 25 minutes? I'm not optimistic--most of my posts generally require at minimum one hour (what with all the editing, re-editing, etc), but let's see what I can do...

A current paranoia--after my younger years of parroting the stereotypical Evangelical viewpoint, I get particularly sensitive about figuring out what I really believe about any given topic. Sometimes I have a fairly balanced approach. Other times I either make up the most different-sounding thing I can think of just to be different or actually fall back into believing I believe what everyone else believes. A variation on this is doing essentially the same thing with my creative outlets. I worry that when I talk, or write, or whatever, I'm not saying anything original. Not that I have to have all new ideas; that would be an impossible feat to keep up with, always thinking up completely original thoughts. What I mean is saying something I haven't fully explored; piggybacking off of someone else's ideas & opinions. I'm not quick with my ideas--hence the long lead-time on blog posts. Usually my off-the-cuff responses are (at best) only vaguely related to what I really think once I process things through. I have to have soak-time (a phrase I learned in a previous job--see?).

I am good at snarky responses though. My humors are much quicker than my serious and thoughtful thoughts. But even then I have chameleon-like tendencies--depending on whom I'm around I unconsciously tweak myself ever-so-slightly. I haven't drummed up a Boston accent, but on a couple words I've developed subtle similarities to the enigmatic Bostonian speech. Like "yesterday"--currently with me it comes out more like "yestiday." Not blatant like with native New Englanders, just a little bit. Is that allowed? Am I some kind of cultural poser? Or is it more like "all things to all people," ala Paul. The one who wrote most of the New Testament. Or part of it. Something.

Now if this is the case, this could be a problem when we move to the frozen nothern-Midwest. Depending on the location, we might end up near the Canadian border, and then I'd be guarding against sounding like I stepped out of "Strange Brew." Eh.

Time's up...I guess that wasn't so bad. I wish I could come up with something profoundly hilarious, but that would take some soak-time.

Feb 1, 2008

Mystery Solved...

It was the firewall--disable the firewall, nerd work resumes...