Saturday, June 30, 2007

Secret Departure Parking

I learned something new when my parents flew into town last night: There is free curbside parking at the Ottawa Airport in the evenings if you know where to look.

By 10pm, there aren't anymore flights departing from Ottawa, so there's no one upstairs in the departures/check-in area. As a result, there are no cars driving up on the ramp that passes by, so you can leave your car there without any troubles. If you try to do the same thing on the ground level (the arrivals floor), the security staff will sniff you out and wave you through. They are quite tenacious. Until last night, I thought you only had two options:
1) Circle the terminal until your party arrives, or
2) Just pay the fee to park in the parkade.

Neither of these is as convenient as upstairs curbside parking. I was able to stop the car right outside the entrance, next to the elevator that leads down to international arrivals. I left it parked there for an hour while I waited inside without any problems.

This information will prove useful when we have some more visitors next week. We've had a sudden spate of visitors, but we don't have so many people coming that we require use of the truck to ferry them around. This is fortunate, because the insurance still has not been completely resolved. After visiting multiple offices yesterday, I managed to find a broker who has promised to track down insurance. His name was Bill, and he seemed to be a class act.

Perhaps I'll let Bill in on my airport secrets if he comes through for me.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Insurance Limbo

I'm sure no one out there wants to read an endless supply of blog posts about a moving truck, so I'll start out with some cute pictures of Scott, and then I'll slip in the moving truck updates. Today we pulled out this pair of denim overalls for the first time and the results were so adorable, we were obliged to take pictures.

Part of the day was spent ogling our cute baby, but a larger portion was dedicated to automobile insurance woes. The day I picked up the truck in Toronto, I called my insurance company (CAA) and asked them to add it to our policy. They took down the information, but they couldn't find a match for the truck in their system. They said they'd have manually calculate the rate and they'd call me back, but I'd be covered in the meantime. With that, I drove back to Ottawa.

Today I got a call from them saying that this truck is considered a commercial vehicle, so they are unable to insure it. They referred me to the CAA insurance brokers to find a company who could insure the truck. The brokers told me that I could not get insurance on a commercial vehicle unless I had my own company and I was insuring the vehicle for company use. Basically, they told me that I'm stuck. This totally doesn't make any sense. Sure it's a big truck (a Ford F-450), but it's not THAT big.

I tried calling all around to get second opinions from other insurance companies, but it was too late in the day and nobody with any authority to say anything was still around to answer my questions. At first I was freaked out that I might have an uninsurable vehicle on my hands, but I think instead I just have an incompetent insurance company on my hands. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

In the meantime, we still have cute baby pictures to look at.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

NAFTA Promotes Slobbery Bibs

Now we know why all the outfits people gave us come with matching bibs: It's to catch the drool. Until now, I thought bibs were to keep food off of the child's shirt, but this week's development article sets the record straight. Bibs are for intensifying drool.

We haven't been using any bibs so far, but we certainly have enough to be ready when the slobber comes. In fact, we have only bought three clothing items so far: some preemie pajamas (for the first week), a camouflage boonie hat, and a bib. I ordered this cool bib online from, which is kind of like the ebay of handicrafts. The seller was a lady in Ohio who visited my blog a time or two from my famous cousin's blog. She's got lots of cool stuff, and she only charged $2 to send the bib up to Canada. In that respect, etsy wins over ebay, because ebay sellers either charge you a mint for any "international" shipments or they just plain don't ship abroad. The BabyAdorned seller is true to the spirit of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Well done.

Aside from slobbery bibs, we can expect Scott to start rocking a bit, in preparation for that big day when he rolls right over. At that point, he will enter that stage where he will frequently get himself into positions that he can't get back out of, requiring us to come to his rescue. I imagine he'll also have a tendency to try to fling himself off of every high place, so we'll have to watch closely.

Right now, his lifestyle is still quite sedentary, and not so slobbery.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The Trucker's Life

Today I got to park my truck with all the rigs at the truck stop to get gas on the way back to Ottawa from Scarborough. It was pretty cool to see the gas station attendant climbing all over the front of those rigs to check the oil and wash the windows. Apparently, full service is still pretty common for truck stop diesel fill-ups. It makes sense, since it was $116 for me to fill my truck up, and it's pretty small compared to the semis.

I showed the new truck to R tonight, and I think she was almost as excited as me. We ran the electric lift gate up and down and she climbed up in the cab for a minute. It didn't take her long to notice all the grime left behind from several years fleet use -- there's a lot of spilled coffee on that floor. Scott still hasn't seen the truck. He was pretty grumpy.

After the immunizations, Scott was pretty wiped out, and R said that he kicked his legs a lot less and moved more gingerly for the rest of the day. Today he still slept a lot, but he woke up in a surly mood this evening and didn't want to go back to bed. I can only imagine what driving 3500 km could be like if he was in surly mood. Ooohhhhhh....

Monday, June 25, 2007

Toronto, Trucks, and Minty Lemonade

After crunching the numbers a few weeks ago, we figured out that it would cost at least $4000 to rent a U-Haul truck to move to Calgary. Since then, I got an excellent suggestion from my friend Eric:

Buy a truck.

After a looking at online advertisements in Ontario and Alberta, it seemed quite likely that we could not only resell a truck in Alberta for what we would pay for it in Ontario, we might even make a few bucks. We altered our plans so that I would drive the truck across the country, and R would fly with Scott.

However, R wasn't too keen on the idea of me driving 3500 km by myself, and I think she was even less excited about the prospect of flying alone with the baby. So, she decided she wanted to ride with me all the way (glutton for punishment, I guess). Unfortunately, most cube vans (ie: E-350 or E-450 moving trucks) have only two bucket seats up front, and nowhere for a baby seat.

Ford makes a few moving trucks that have a bench seat (and therefore a middle seat belt), and as long as you can disable the airbags, you can have the baby seat up there. I know that these trucks (F-350 or F-450) are floating around, but they aren't very plentiful. I found 3 listings this weekend, but none in Ottawa -- they were all in Toronto.

Coincidentally, Eric was traveling to Toronto on business this week, so I jumped in with him just before he left yesterday, a printout of likely trucks in hand. After a hot, sticky afternoon of visiting the used car lots on our list, Eric recommended that we just cruise down Kingston Road in East Toronto (ie: Scarborough) where there are plenty of dealerships. One of the first places that we saw had one cube van hiding in the back corner. We pulled in and found out it had just arrived on the lot 15 minutes before we did, coming off of a lease. It's in great shape, it has a bench seat, and it even has a cool electric gate on the back that you can stand on and go up and down. Great fun.

We still have to take it to the mechanic tomorrow for an evaluation, but everything's looking good. With that out of the way, we were free to go see Spider-Man 3, eat astoundingly spicy Chinese/Malaysian chicken and wash it down with Lemonade flavoured with lime and mint from Shoppers Drug Mart.

Thanks Eric. You're the man.

These two nights in Toronto were the very first I've spent away since Scott was born in April, and they were R's first flying solo as parent. It was quite sad to leave, especially since Scotty was scheduled for his first immunizations at Dr. Richler's office today. I've heard from R several times, and it sounds like she's holding up alright. Who knows how well I would have held up had I been around to see the needles [shivers].

Scott was 23.5 inches long and weighed 12lbs-10oz, which keeps him just a hair above the trend line for babies his age. I think I need to get back soon, or I might find him grown up already.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Spirit Of The Dragon

Back in 2002, when we still lived in our apartment overlooking Mooney's Bay, we were surprised one day when we looked out the window and saw a large number of long canoes streaking about the water, while the shore teemed with crowds of people. We soon found out that this was the annual Dragon Boat races, an enormous event where more than 200 teams of 20 paddle their "dragon boats" in series of races -- mainly just for the fun of it.

We'd never actually gone down to watch the races, taking in the events through a telephoto lens from a safe distance; however, this year we actually knew somebody in the races, so we decided to make a day of it. With the help of the trusty Zooper stroller and the Kangaroo sling, we were able to take Scotty out for a grand day on the beach. As usual, I received countless curious looks from people who were trying to figure out what I was wearing. I gave I well as I got, however, when I stumbled upon a couple of guys dressed as colonial-era soldiers. These guys had no paddles, so I assume they were lost.

There were huge swarms of people everywhere, especially next to the "Poutine Machine" chip wagon. I think I waited in line for 30 minutes for what was really sub-par poutine. It appears that this is an important part of the experience, because there were probably as many people in line for poutine as there were watching any given race. There were no lines for Chocolate Fruit Fondue, so I went for that, as well. It was $5 well spent.

In case you were concerned about little Scotty's sensitive skin with all that sun, you can rest assured that he was well protected in his long-sleeved shirt and his ever-present boonie hat. I think this is my single favourite clothing item in our growing baby-wardrobe. I just love it. Unfortunately, Scott's parents weren't quite as careful with their own skin. Mom was burnt to a crisp and Dad's application of +15 SPF still got him a few red spots. I think we need camouflage boonie hats for the whole family.

We were very proud to see our financial services boat of choice paddle to victory in some sort of consolation round in the afternoon. This group truly had the spirit of the dragon. Well done CIBC.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Linty Palms

Scott clenches his fists a lot. Today R discovered that lint was starting to accumulate in the wrinkles of his palms. She had to pry his fist open to wipe it away.

A Fuzzy future, perhaps?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

All Roads Lead To Raymond

My mom was going through some files at my Grandpa's house and she came across this picture, which was taken during Christmastime in approximately 1943 in the town of Raymond, Alberta -- arguably the center of the universe.

I don't know who the guy in the uniform is, but the cute girl in the middle is my grandma, back when she was only 22 years old. The dashing fellow next to her is R's grandpa, who lived in the same town (and carried the nickname of "Pete", even though his name is Gerald). Fifty-seven years after these two strolled through the snowy streets of Raymond, their paths crossed again as their grandchildren (us) got married.

Sadly, my Grandma passed away in February 2004, so she didn't get to see our little boy. Perhaps we'll take him down to Raymond some Christmas and let him track through the snow.

What a great picture.

My mom showed this picture to my Grandpa BJA and he added some more details:

Grandpa said that the man in uniform was Don Wells. He was a good friend of Grandma and Grandpa's. Grandpa was Don's best man at his wedding in Montreal.

There is a similar connection between Charise and James: James's grandma (Jane Walker) was Grandpa's first girlfriend when he was 13 years old. He had just moved to Raymond from Barnwell and thought that Raymond was really a big town. ("We had neighbors across the street instead of a mile away.") He said that Jane was always lots of fun. "We broke up because our parents objected--said that we were too young to go steady. I did not know how to break up with her, so I wrote a note and had one of her friends deliver it to her. That did the job. We were no longer going steady. We stayed friends, but never went steady with each other again." (Grandpa is sitting behind me telling me all about this time in his life.)

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Two Months Of Smiles

The big news this week is that we're no longer just counting in weeks. The article for today is actually called "Month 2, Week 1". My how the time flies.

By now, a baby is expected to smile and differentiate voices and noises. We've certainly noticed that. I've figured out recently that Scott will smile if you rub his cheeks lightly with your fingers. This works as long as he's not hungry -- otherwise, it makes him cry. So far he hasn't started laughing, but he has started cooing a lot more. It's impossibly cute.

At times, when there is crying instead of smiles, it can be kind of tough. Scott has had fussy days yesterday and today, and it can make it next to impossible to get anything done.

Hitting the 8-week (aka 2-month) mark means I'm coming to the end of my parental leave from work. I had originally planned on taking 8 weeks, but the early delivery meant that I took a few extra days. It's funny, before the birth, I thought that parental leave was going to be like summer vacation, with all kinds of time for fun projects. Now I know better. I have learned something in these 8 weeks as well.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bath Time

The first week after we brought Scott home from the hospital, we tried to get some video footage of him enjoying bath time. He had quite enjoyed it in the hospital, and we thought he would like it just as much at home. Instead, he screamed and flailed the whole time.

It seems that night was a fluke, because he has loved every bath from then until now. In fact, he likes it so much, we've started giving him one nearly every night before bed -- just a quick romp in the tub. As soon as he hears the rumble of the faucet, he stops to listen, and he stays contented the whole time.

On our second video attempt, he was much better behaved.

Monday, June 18, 2007

First Father's Day

Well, my first Father's Day has come and gone, and already the tradition has been established -- as a gift I received several pairs of socks. I imagine R had some influence on the gift, because I don't think little Scott has learned to be so clever quite yet. We had a good laugh over it, but I honestly do appreciate the socks. I go through them like crazy. It must be all the basketball that does it -- that and walking around outside without any shoes on.

I was also given a Toblerone chocolate bar, but it had unfortunately been left in the car too long while R was running errands. In case you have always wondered what might happen after a Toblerone melts and cools again, I can tell you that the cardboard package keeps it in a nice triangle shape, but the chocolate remains very gooey -- almost like a Lindt Lindor chocolate ball. It was still very tasty.

I look forward to many more years of socks and chocolate. Thank you, Scott (and Scott's mom).

Friday, June 15, 2007

You Talkin' To Me?

I've never seen Taxi Driver, but I know the line. Everybody knows the line, and they quote it, even if they don't know where it's from. You would think that was our favourite film, given that we quote the line several times each day.

For example, I was sitting at the table and R was standing by the bassinet when she asked, "Do you want to take a nap?" I looked up, but I couldn't tell if she was asking me or asking Scott.

I said, "Are you talking to me?"

In the past, when one of us asked a question, there was nobody else around, so there was very little confusion. These days, not only is there one more person around, that third person rarely answers the questions put to him, so you really can't tell from the context whether you are part of the conversation.

It's all very confusing.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

John Gyles Education Award

This doesn't necessarily fit with the rest of the posts on this blog, but the information here is unique and took me a while to assemble, so I figured I would post it as a public service.

In our recent search for various scholarships and awards, we came across the "John Gyles Education Awards, presented by the "John Gyles Education Center". The award, which can be as much as $3,000, seemed quite attractive, given its simple requirements:
- Full-time university or college student
- Citizenship of United States or Canada
- Minimum GPA of 2.7 (equivalent of B-)

There are 10.6 million full-time college & university students in the United States and another 750,000 in Canada, so you can imagine how many people are eligible for the award. There are no essays to write, but you do have to provide some information about yourself, including the following:
- Summary of academic status (GPA, extracurricular, etc)
- Copy of academic record
- 3 references
- Description of career plans & personal ambitions
- Outline of financial circumstances
- Application form (1 page)
- Submit by June 1
- OPTIONAL: Include $8 to receive notice of success or failure

Given the wide appeal of this award program, I expected to be able to find additional information about it on the internet. To my surprise, there was nothing available on any sites except for a cut-and-paste of the short description from the official website. Every university and financial aid office had copied the information, but there was hardly a mention of someone actually RECEIVING the awards. It seemed to me that this could be a low-level scam, offering a potential reward in exchange for a nominal fee.

On a Yahoo answer page, I found a discussion of the award, where someone asked the same question that was in my mind: has anyone received this award? One person came back and said that a friend of theirs had received it, but that was it. I could not find any more information about how many awards had been given in the past, or who had received them.

So I contacted the award administrator in New Brunswick, Mr. R James Cougle (who is listed in the Yellow Pages for Fredericton, NB, as a "fundraising consultant"). He said that the recipient list is not published on the internet, but he promised to mail me a copy. In the last six years, 114 awards were given out (19 per year). The list he gave me contained the name and school for each recipient, but not the amount of the award. I found a blog belonging to one guy on the list, where he explained how he applied for 50+ scholarships four years ago as a high school senior and was awarded over $24,000. Looks like he's still going strong, adding the John Gyles scholarship to his list of successes.

There you have it. There really ARE people out there who have received this award.
[Author's Note (April 7, 2008): The individual referred to in the previous paragraph is named Raphael Kang, and he has left a comment here stating that he was NOT a recipient of the award, contrary to the information provided to me by Mr. Cougle.]

In my internet searches for the term "John Gyles", I kept coming across references to a resident of New England who had been captured by the Maliseet Indians in the late 1600s. I disregarded these results, because I didn't think it likely that this man would have established a university award program upon his release from captivity in 1698. I asked Mr. Cougle about the name of the program. He said that it was in fact named after this 17th-Century John Gyles (1678?-1755), and he directed me to a book about Gyles' life, entitled The Ordeal of John Gyles: Being an Account of his Odd Adventures, Strange Deliverances, etc. as a Slave of the Maliseets -- by Stuart Trueman.

What a fantastic book. I finished reading it this morning.

Trueman's work is a slightly dramatized expansion of Gyles' own personal account of how he (at the age of nine) was carried off as a prisoner during an Indian attack on his family, and lived with them until he was sold to a French magistrate at the age of 15, freed finally when he was 18 years old. He endured frequent beatings by raging squaws, extreme conditions of weather, and general disregard during his time, but emerged with a good attitude and many useful skills (including the unique ability to speak English, French, Maliseet and Micmac). Most of this took place in the area that is now New Brunswick.

Despite the great quality of the book, I still wondered why this award (which was founded in 1990) was named after a man who lived 300 years ago. I learned from Mr. Cougle that the original benefactor was one Allie Forbes, who is reputedly related to John Gyles. I still have no idea who Allie Forbes was (or is), but I think I have provided considerably more information here than was previously available on the internet. You can judge for yourselves if you think it is a scam, but I certainly didn't enclose the $8 when I applied.

More posts about cute babies tomorrow...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Math Genius

According to this week's article, Scott should have short intervals where he's quiet, alert and ready to learn. If we talk to him, sing him songs, and present him with simple arithmetic, he will start to catch on quickly. Also, he is supposed to start making "pre-speech" cooing noises.

We have noticed that he's more alert and aware of his surroundings. He seems to recognize us more now and reacts with the occasional smile. Today I called his name and he immediately turned his head to look my way and let out a little coo. We just live for these moments.

Today Scott put his safari gear to the test when we took a trip out to the mailbox. His camouflage boonie hat served him well in the the afternoon sun. It's been incredibly hot here the last few days, so Scott mostly hides indoors and does Sudoku puzzles.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Thirty Seconds Worth

To get the complete experience, you may want to turn up the volume.

It's funny, I actually think it's cute when he cries. The absence of any teeth makes it look neat, plus I like the way his tongue lifts up a little bit. You can also see that he's staring at the light on the kitchen ceiling. This is his medium cry. When he's serious about screaming, it isn't quite as cute.

Crying is cute some of the time, but sleeping is cute all of the time:

Monday, June 11, 2007

Strawberry Separation Anxiety

Some days, nothing happens which is overly earth-shattering. Today is one of those days. R left the house on some errands, and tore herself away from her first-born for only the third time in his short existence. (It reminds me of the first years of our marriage, when we could count on one hand the number of nights we'd spent apart -- for the first year I think it was zero.)

We picked the first strawberry of the year from our back yard. Then we ate it. It almost doesn't seem possible that something so tasty could pop out of the ground just outside my door. That was our day. Oh, I also worked on plans to build a mock-up of the Centre Block of Parliament out of leftover ceiling panels for an upcoming dance with a Canada Day theme. That's everything. A ho-hum day.

R seemed to handle the separation quite well. She said that she felt a bit more like her old self today -- physically and mentally. Being off on her own, wearing her old clothes again, for a moment it all faded into the background. But when she came home, there was somebody hollering and shouting about a meal, and reality came rushing back, I'm sure.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Wild Tiggers Of The Rideau

A few months before we moved to Ottawa in 2002, we flew out here to find an apartment. In the Chicago aiport we met a lady from Toronto who was also flying to Ottawa. When we told her that we were moving to Ottawa she said, "Why would you want to move there?" Apparently, she didn't think Ottawa was a very lively town.

On our trip we found a great little apartment. We also found one really good reason to live in Ottawa -- it was right outside our apartment window: The Rideau Canal.

The Rideau Canal is part of the Rideau Waterway, which connects the Ottawa River to Kingston, Ontario. The system was constructed in the early 1800s as an alternative to the St. Lawrence Seaway, should war break out with the United States. The war never came, but the Canal was finished in 1832, and it is now the "oldest continuously operating canal system in North America." In the winter, an 8-km section of the canal freezes into the longest skating rink in the world.

Friday we went down by our old apartment for a walk along the canal pathway. Starting at the Hog's Back Locks, we made our way down past the gold-domed Ukrainian Catholic Church before turning around to come back. Had we gone a little further, we would have arrived at Dow's Lake, which is where we took the tulip pictures a few weeks ago.

The entire time we were out, we were followed by a sinister-looking animal -- a lot like a tiger, but much smaller. I've heard of such animals on TV and in books that I've read. I believe what we saw was a Tigger. Although it appeared very sleepy at times, it pounced on me once we got home. Then it smacked its lips and made several cute cooing noises.

Friday, June 08, 2007

This Sentence Is Worth Fifteen Bucks

Having a baby, leaving your job, and moving across the country to go to university all at the same time can be a little tough on the pocketbook. For this reason, we looked around the internet for possible scholarships or awards to help us along. Unfortunately, we started looking a little late in the year, and several of the deadlines had already passed.

One competition which still had not expired was the Dalton Camp Award, sponsored by the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting. Entrants write an essay about "the link between democratic values and the quality of the media in Canada." The two winners receive a $5,000 prize and a bronze medal featuring the likeness of Dalton Camp -- a prolific newspaper writer and political commentator.

I knew nothing about Dalton Camp, his bronze medal, or the Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, but I thought I'd try my hand at an essay. Heck, with a limit of 2,000 words, that meant at least $2.50 per word. If I was getting that kind of money for writing this blog, I'd have enough to buy Central Park.

With the kind redacting assistance of my sister and Mr. Edward Rooney, I put together an essay in record time to meet the March 31st deadine. (These two were also very helpful in editing my MBA application essays -- which were legion.) For the next two months I anxiously awaited notification from my friends at Friends of Canadian Broadcasting, knowing that the winners are announced at the end of May each year.

I didn't win.

I have published my 1,807-word entry (which I think is clever, if not academic), at the following link for your reading pleasure. If you choose to read it, you will owe me five grand.

Well, there's always next year. Until then, I've still got this blog. Every time somebody clicks on an ad I make about a quarter. Since this post is nearly 350 words, a quarter works out to just over 0.07 cents per word. Now if I could just figure out a way to get one of those bronze medallions...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

My Baby Loves Ringtones

We try to make sure that there are at least 2.5 hours between baby Scott's feedings. Preferably, we'd like him to go 3 hours. We had seen very few 3 hour stints throughout the day, so tonight we were trying to get him to hold out a little longer. Unfortunately, he lost his patience and started a pretty steady stream of screaming. I tried some of the regular methods of settling him, but nothing was working.

In the midst of his tantrum, we suddenly heard a man's voice from the kitchen. It was the answering machine message. Apparently, both phones were hidden upstairs (from naptime) so we couldn't hear the ringing over the screaming. On my way back from retrieving one of the phones, I decided to try soothing Scott with the ringtones. There are 10 ring patterns you can choose, and every time you switch, the phone plays that ring. I scrolled through them all, and by the time I got to #8, Scott was already starting to calm down. For the next 10 minutes I let him hear #8 and #9 over and over again, because he and I seemed to prefer them over the rest.

It's not Mozart, but these ringtones have a pretty steady rhythm.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Crisis in the Night

It's Week 6, so crank up the music! According to this week's BabyCenter article, playing music is a great way to support sensory development in infants. Apparently, the type of music isn't important -- BabyCenter recommends everything from Mozart to Black Eyed Peas to a ticking clock. I suppose a techno remix of Eine Kleine Nachtmuzik would be ideal, as long as it had some strong bass. We currently serenade Scott each evening with some quality static on his favourite spot on the dial: 530 AM.

Not only is it the 6-week anniversary of Scott's birth, it is also 63 years since the D-Day invasion of the Normandy coast by the Allied forces. That means it's been 3 years since we were in France for R to sing with an international choir on Omaha Beach. Their concert started at dusk, its culmination symbolizing the nighttime parachute drops behind enemy lines. If you've ever watched The Longest Day, you'll have a good sense what an intense night that was back in 1944.

There were no parachutes, exploding trains, or gummi puppen last night at our house, but it was still plenty intense.

Scott woke us up in the night because his airway was full of spit-up and he was struggling to breathe. His face was all white and he was making a sound that we still can't quite describe. We got on the phone with a TeleHealth nurse to get some advice, but it was still quite unsettling. After about 15-20 minutes of attention, he seemed to clear most of it out of his system. We put him back to bed and he slept fairly well afterwards, so everything seems to be OK. As for us, we were pretty jumpy the rest of the night -- checking on him much more than usual.

Perhaps it's just rookie nerves, but this seemed like a big deal to us. I think I'm going to need my own music to settle down tonight -- something more soothing than 530 AM.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Many Faces of Scott

I mentioned that Scott slept for 6 hours a few nights ago. Most nights (excluding tonight) he sleeps for about 5 hours or so the first stretch, and then 3 hours at a time until morning. So, Brooke asked how we were pulling this off. Well, here's the answer:

We really don't know.

For the last few months we've had several books around the house with all kinds of information and ideas about how to calm babies and get them into routines. We've tried to adopt as much of the advice as we could without getting ridiculous. One of the more significant points we learned was that it is better in the long term to put the child down awake, so that he learns to put himself to sleep. If anyone wants to read the books, here they are, ranked by perceived usefulness:
1. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer (Hogg)
2. Baby Wise (Ezzo & Bucknam)
3. Sleeping Through the Night (Mindell)
11. Baby Talk / Parent Talk (Sanger)

You might wonder what happened to #4-10. Let's just say that there are probably other books out there that are more immediately useful for sound sleeping than #11. The author examines the many expressions and gestures a baby makes, which can be interpreted once you learn what to look for. According to R, it was kind of like the Dunstan Baby Language -- very interesting, but difficult to put into practice.

I have only glanced through #11, but I have learned a few lessons of my own in my 6 short weeks of parenthood. Here are some of Scott's expressions and gestures with my interpretations:




Sunday, June 03, 2007

Diaper Poem

There's poo and pee
On you and me.

It soaked through my shirt.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Screaming Deals

Yesterday Scott's cries made a noticeable change. Instead of just crying a bit when he's hungry or tired, he escalated into full-force wailing. He was difficult to console, and I even saw tears for the first time. This is where the communication barrier becomes very frustrating. You wish he could just tell you what the problem is.

Because he has also stepped up his trademark grunting, we think that he's having a bout of "intestinal distress" of some kind. This discomfort has interrupted his sleep, adding fatigue into the mix.

We can tell he's quite tired, but he's still had some trouble sleeping. All through yesterday, every time we got him to relax and drop off for a nap, he would wake up 15 minutes later crying. The tears showed up later on, and made for quite a heart-wrenching scene.

He eventually got to sleep in the evening (albeit an hour after his usual bedtime), and slept for a solid 6 hours before waking up for a brief feeding and going right back to bed. This was very helpful, because we needed to get up early for the annual neighbourhood yard sale.

In preparation for our move, we pulled all the mediocre, non-essential furniture and assorted junk out of our house and put it up for sale. I priced things low to make sure we didn't have to bring anything back in the house. After 2 hours, I had sold everything but a few video tapes and an old desk that the previous owner of our home had left behind. I just put a "Free" sticker on it and left it out there.

I couldn't believe how hard it was to get rid of VHS tapes. When I priced them at 50 cents, I sold one. When it went down to 25 cents, I sold 4 more. Even after I put up a "Free Videos" sign, it probably took half an hour to clear out our remaining 20 tapes.

I was striking deals with anyone who would stop to look at anything. If they were at all interested, I was willing to find them a price. My neighbours couldn't believe how fast I was running through merchandise. I firmly believe that yard sales are for clearing out junk, not for making wads of cash, so I had a different pricing strategy than most.

For example, I saw someone trying to sell an old inkjet printer (with no ink) for $20. I think I bought the same printer same printer -- back in 1997. I donated it to Value Village two months ago, but if I'd still had around today I think I would have priced it at a dollar or less. Who's willing to buy a used, 10-year-old, bone-dry printer for $20? Man, just give the thing away! Most of my prices were under 5 dollars. I think the only item I had priced higher than 10 bucks was a TV, and I sold the thing 3 times.

One guy came by at the crack of dawn, when I was still bringing stuff out, and said he'd buy the TV and a storage shelf. Then he said, "I'll be back later and we'll see." I never saw him again. A cyborg taxi driver talked me down 10 bucks on the TV and then pulled out of the deal at the last minute -- after he'd forked over the cash (cold feet, I guess). Finally, a lady bought it. I was so happy, I ran through traffic with it to help load it into her car.

In August we're going to have to sell the rest of the "essential" items that we're not taking with us (couches, piano, patio set). So come on down and make me an offer -- these deals won't last forever. Just be sure to speak up, because I can hardly hear anything over the screaming.

Friday, June 01, 2007

The Six-Dollar Toaster Box

We're getting ready to move for the 4th time in our married life. We are still nowhere near the impressive stats posted by my brother and his wife. Since they got married in 1996 they've lived in Alberta, Idaho, California, Colorado, Kansas, Colorado again, and now Idaho again. In all, I think they've moved 17 times or something crazy like that. In the same period, I have myself only moved 10 or 11 times, and that includes my two years in Russia as a missionary, where changing addresses only involved a pair of suitcases.

I remember that you had to be pretty careful about accumulating cargo when you were limited to two pieces of baggage, and weight was also an important consideration. After my first winter, I left my big Sorel boots and my overcoat behind in my apartment because they weren't worth the cargo space they occupied (plus, those boots drew a lot of curious looks).

I quickly found other items to fill that space -- things like ties. I remember buying a tie (quite an ugly one, as I recall) in a second-hand shop. This place had an interesting pricing scheme: they charged by weight. When I brought this fantastically ugly tie up to the counter, the lady put it on a vegetable scale and told me the price. I don't remember what it cost, but a 50-gram tie probably didn't set me back very much. A different store used the bag system. They charged 5 rubles for whatever you could cram into one of their plastic bags. You can fit a lot of ties into a plastic bag.

We used a variation on the bag system when we moved to Ontario from Utah in 2002. The trucking company, ABF U-Pack, showed up with a 28-foot semi trailer (9ft high x 8 ft wide) and they charged us by the foot for the space we used. We did a practice run of stacking our boxes and furniture in the living room to make sure we stacked it high and used every square inch. In the end we got all of our belongings into 7 feet of space (504 cubic feet) for only $1500. That's about $3 per cubic foot.

Unfortunately, Canadian shipping laws do not permit ABF to ship our stuff from Ottawa to Calgary, so we have to find other means. The most obvious choice is to rent a U-Haul truck and drive it ourselves. At $3600 for a 17-foot truck, that sounds pretty good, until you realize that you still need to add on the cost of a car trailer, the taxes, $1000 worth of gas, and 4 days of accommodation and meals to get you through the 3500-km journey (2100 miles). All told, you're looking at $6000. And that's if you drive the truck yourself -- stopping every 3 hours to feed the baby. I think we'd rather cash in our airmiles for a flight, ship the stuff separately, and sell our car.

There are some services other than U-Pack who can save you the trouble of driving. For example, there's a group called PODS who bring a 16-foot storage unit to your house and give you several days to load it. They pick it up and ship it to your new house, giving you up to 30 days of storage in the price. Unfortunately, the price is $6000 when you are talking about houses in Ottawa and Calgary. Not much of a savings there.

Unless I can sort out how to ship our stuff like freight on wooden pallets, probably the best fit for us is U-CAN, which is like PODS, but smaller. They bring a trailer by that has a container on it that is 8x9x8 and you load it up. That one only costs $3500 (comes to $6/ft^3). We can probably fit our stuff in there if we get rid of some of our larger items, like our couch & loveseat. We estimate the couches (which are 20+ years old) are probably worth $100, but we can save $2500 by getting rid of them. The way I see it, if something isn't worth $6 per cubic foot, we need to decide whether it's worth keeping.

How big is a cubic foot, anyways?

I couldn't find a box in our basement that was exactly one foot, but this toaster box was pretty close -- just a bit too short. If we find ourselves filling boxes this size with junk that isn't worth 6 bucks, we'll need to pare down.

You could certainly fit a lot of ties into a toaster box like that.