Sunday, November 30, 2008

Waiting For The Countdown...

Week thirty-four, according to our BabyCentre emails. We're crossing into December, where we've been warned by Dr. T that "anything can happen".

Of course, nothing's ready. Not through any fault of our own--it's just that I didn't think that with a due date of January 2009 we were expected to order everything we needed in July. I know the economy's hit the skids, but how do retailers expect to keep their vacant aisles from the creditors when they don't keep anything in stock?

The cribs are on the way from Ikea's main depot in Montreal. Yes, that's Montreal--neither of Toronto's massive locations have cribs in stock. And no one on staff seems to know how many more they're expecting to get in, or when. So Lidia ordered them by phone, just like people did in the glory days of the Timothy Eaton Company. The shipment's not scheduled to arrive at our door until the first week of December--I seriously doubt that it took this long to ship anything between Toronto and Montreal 100 years ago, but what can you do? Nada--and they don't care. From the treatment we've been receiving lately, business must be good...

Our eight-year old over-the-range microwave made an untimely demise a little while back, and of course, a trip to Home Depot to purchase a replacement found us once again on the "special order" list. Man, if it's one household appliance we need more than any other right now, it's this one: who'll have time to fire up a convection oven with a toddler under each arm? We're assured it'll be delivered to us "next week", an expected response that by now, sounds an awful lot like James Hong's "Five, ten minutes" line from the "chinese restaurant" episode of "Seinfeld".

So much more to be done: gotta get a pair of nine volts for the baby monitors.

There's Maurice Sendak "Where The Wild Things Are" art that needs to be plaque-mounted.

And I can't find Super Friends "Be Brave Buddies" anywhere!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Checkin' items off that to-do list...

It's November 24. Right now there are three very nice Portuguese ladies scrubbing my home from top to bottom, making it gleam like it did when it was first built. I don't think it was this nice when we moved in here -- the previous owner left the place somewhat short of a disaster.

Having the house cleaned was just one of dozens of items I listed on a to-do list when I was ordered off work just after Halloween. We've had someone in to check the furnace and fireplace, we've picked up just about all the baby items needed (except for cribs from Ikea, which I assume are on their way -- unfortunately the central number isn't being cooperative today so I can't check).

Doing all this stuff got me into a little bit of trouble with Dr. Thomas, though, who told me last week that she was on the verge of admitting me to hospital given my high blood pressure and pretty much ordered me to be totally lazy at least for a couple of weeks. She had me visit Mount Sinai's Obstetrical Day Unit last Friday for a bit of monitoring and it looks like so far the enforced lounging has worked: while the BP is still high Dr. T thinks we can still manage resting at home. She'll be happy, she said, if our boys could stay inside for another two or three weeks.

Hold it... two or three weeks????? Two weeks would be my dad's birthday, December 5! Holy moley this is getting close!!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Room For Let

It's taken seemingly forever, but tonight, I finally vacated what-was-once-my-office for good. My PCs and ancillary items (several pounds of power supplies, mostly) have been moved to the basement-slash-entertainment emporium (my desk is now located directly beneath a framed one-sheet for the film "Face/Off", signed by director John Woo), leaving the spare bedroom free to become our boys' ultra-cool lair.

Maggie is particularly impressed. She's been taking advantage of the expanded floor space to engage in some extra late-night nuttiness.And cripes, is it a mess. Which is why we're soliciting cleaning services. "Maids Matter" will be by tomorrow to give our humble domain a solid scrubbing from top to bottom. I feel a bit embarrassed, really, to have to call in the services of a janitorial company, considering our place is comparatively small and really not all that difficult to maintain--it's just that with months of moving stuff around, a steady supply of dusty boxes, and the expected build-up of cat hair it's really worth shelling out some serious coin to have someone else make it all sparkle.

The move of my "office" downstairs, and the all-important relocation of the internet router went off without incident--the signal is strong and there's no reason to call those thieves at "Geek Squad". I'm downloading a demo of "Lego Batman" onto my PS3 as I write this--c'mon people: if I'm never going to sleep again, I might as well have something to do at 4 o'clock in the morning!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The "R" Word

Well, at least everyone's admitting there's a "recession" going on. As I recall, just a few weeks ago, our Federal Finance Minister and the PM ("Trust me, I'm an economist!") got up at the podium to assure Canadians that our financial infrastructure was resistent to the U.S.A.'s apocalyptic financial downturn which doomsayers have already compared to the crash of 1929.
On the work front, we've just been told that our glorious television network--which just recently ponied up several gazillion dollars for the rights to the Hockey Night In Canada theme, has been bragging about the profits from their reliable cash cow Canadian Idol, is prepping marathon, overwrought 2010 Winter Olympics coverage, and has outbid the competition for pricey, popular U.S. programming--is now broke and that a spending and hiring freeze are effective immediately. And the expected layoffs are forthcoming, too--just in time for Christmas! So I guess that means no complimentary ten-pound turkey in every pot this year...

I'm not terribly worried about my own situation, given that I'm one of the channel's more (if not most) resourceful, experienced, and reliable employees who has taken a grand total of five sick days in nine years. On the other hand, I am considered a "high salary" for my department, so who knows what the bean counters will decide? Too bad, though, that they didn't pay a little bit more attention to 'the beans' earlier--like, this past summer, when we were covering subprime mortgage stories on a daily basis...

At least those soon to be begging-for-change in the GTA will leave a smaller carbon footprint thanks to city hall's plan for a more environmentally-friendly coffee lid...

Friday, November 21, 2008

Meet Our "Doula"

Who needs a "doula" when Lidia's got therapy 24/7? In the nine years she's been with us, Minnie has known just when to unleash her intensive, four-paw massage sessions to melt our troubles away...

With the boys at week 34 and apparently hearing sounds, Minnie's soothing purr must be as familiar to them as our voices and the theme music from "Seinfeld" (and the way Minnie's been staying extra close to Lidia 'round the clock, it's obvious she knows something's going on in there...).

Unfortunately, Toronto's arcane and intolerant animal laws prevent us from sneaking Minnie into Mt. Sinai Hospital when the big moment arrives, so she'll have to remain at home with Maggie to map out their territories (which, up until now, has been anywhere they damn please) before 'the competition' arrives and changes their, and our, lives forever. They've had a grand time with all the packing and general mayhem but have absolutely no idea what's ahead. Hmmm...we're not so unalike after all...

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Getting there...

Car Seats: check. Glider chair: check. Co-sleeper: check. Changing table: check. Heck, we even tracked down a second-hand "Double Snap And Go" without having to order it from the U.S. That leaves the all-important cribs, which are still unavailable at Ikea at the time of this writing. We'll give the Swedes another week to cough up some actual product before we consider other sources.

What is it with buying retail these days? You can't give your money away. Useless staff, nothing in stock, no rain checks, no help, no nothin'. There's a recession on, geniuses. If you want to stay in business, you might want to offer schlubbs like me a reason to walk in the door, and walk out with something other than a set of tea lights...

The Cold Meatball Platter people did have plenty of cheapie coffee tables in stock. Our old one was, well, old, and just too damned big for our increasingly cramped basement. So for a measly $30 and a few twists of an Allen key, Lidia has a new spot to put her feet up and I've got a bit less real estate for my ever-growing pile of remotes (tenants frequenting our condo's trash room have hit paydirt this week thanks to our generosity--two nice bookshelves, a computer desk, and now, a coffee table).

Thursday, November 13, 2008

It's November. Where did the time go?

Well, I'm now at 32 weeks. If I just had one baby baking in the oven, I'd still have up to two months to get things straightened out and ready. But since there's two, it's five weeks tops -- and according to the docs, it may even be sooner.

When the heck did this happen? One day I was at work, letting Baby A and Baby B squirm away while I went about my business. Now due to elevated blood pressure I'm on short term disability, told to "take it easy", getting my vitals checked every week and hoping the boys can stay cozy in their little aquaworld for just a bit longer.

Yes, it's been an eventful month. It started with me feeling fine, so much so that I volunteered to stay at work beyond my original October 31 leaving date due to some turmoil in my department. Halloween was fantastic -- we spent a fun, warm night with all the neighbours and the neighbourhood ghouls and goblins who stopped by to take in our annual front lawn set-up, and upstairs neighbour Monique brought her little guy Gabriel (10 months old) out as Winnie the Pooh and her husband Vince as Barack Obama. Everyone in our little "quad" made it, including Judy upstairs who missed the last few due to work and next door neighbour Michael, who did a great job putting together the glow sticks that were handed out to the kiddies. Take that, pirate ship Captain from down the street!

Sunday, November 2 saw my best friends Jackie, Robin and Rowena hosting a baby shower for me, an event totally unexpected and absolutely appreciated. It was a small but lovely gathering, with friends from all sides there to celebrate the imminent arrival of the boys. And everyone's generosity was quite overwhelming; I still get choked up thinking about it. I can't wait to get the little guys in the super-sharp little outfits they've been given, they'll be drawing that "awwws" from everyone they pass, I'm sure.

But then came Wednesday. We went to our scheduled appointment with Dr. Thomas, where the nurse gave a listen to the babies' heartbeats (strong and steady still) and then took my blood pressure... hmmm, kind of high. We'll wait for Dr. Thomas, she said, she'll want to take it again. Then Dr. T came in, strapped my arm, and lo and behold, it was even higher: right in the danger zone, 140/90. OK, so now there's bloodwork to be done to check for pre-eclampsia (a serious condition for both mum and babies, of course with risk doubled because I'm carrying twins) and I have to stop working (well, that's not so bad) and take it easy. Woo hoo, official permission to be lazy. Except that I have to keep going to the doctor every week for monitoring.

So this week? This week, Nov. 12, I saw Dr. Grossman as Dr. T was off. My blood pressure was still up but the bloodwork was OK. So far no pre-eclampsia, but just the hypertension on its own is no good. So back to the lab, bloodwork all over again, another appointment, and the knowledge that now we're "week by week" -- YIKES!

Well, all we can do is prioritize what we need to get ready: ie, the cosleeper, the car seats, the hospital kits for me and them, a paediatrician -- and get it ready as soon as we can. And I have to take it easy. Right.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Let's All Go To The Baby Show

Controversy follows me wherever I go...
This weekend, Lidia and I thought we'd check out the big "Baby Show" presented by Today's Parent Magazine at The Metro Convention Centre and hopefully score some deals.

I thought the show was largely underwhelming--offering nothing unique for twins/multiples, and pretty much a showroom for the usual vendors--Babys R Us, Wal-Mart, desperate banks shilling for RESP clients, and rack after rack of Robeez infant shoes.

Craving oxygen, we took a welcome break at the food court (read: a single Pizza Pizza counter), I was accosted by a diminutive security guard (to whom my first thought was: "Ruth Buzzi called and wants her hair back"), who stared into my belt buckle and demanded to know why I was photographing "her show". "Your show?", I responded, incredulously. She then informed me that many of the show's vendors filed complaints about my incessent shutter-bugging, oblivious, obviously, to the other 5000 couples snapping away with their Wal-Mart specials and cellphone cameras. She also informed me that "several large signs" were posted throughout the convention centre informing patrons that photography was prohibited. I told her "thanks" and joined Lidia at a table, where we were then pitched an insurance policy by one of the conventioneers on break.

(btw, for my own amusement, on our second go-around and on our way out of the convention centre, I looked long and hard for any posted warning about photography/videography. Couldn't find one...)

We came up completely empty on the items we sought: the Double Snap and Go stroller, the Maximom multiples carrier--items that seem to be readily available from multiple sources in the U.S. but north of the border are obvious subject to yet more arcane Canadian trade laws...

Alas, we didn't leave totally empty-handed: we signed up for a subscription to Today's Parent, and picked up a couple of hand car seat shoulder straps. And the CPR demonstration was informative, and yes, a little bit scary.

(Personally, I think it was the Doula who ratted me out...I snuck a pic of her booth and she shot me a nasty glare...)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Sort Of/Not Really/Half Famous Daddy...

Every time I think all this film stuff has run its course and my brief, unremarkable career is over (about every other weekend), something happens to convince me to stick it out a little while longer. On November 7, the exhibit "Diseccionando Fantasías: Los Secretos de Guillermo Del Toro (Dissecting Fantasies: The Secrets of Guillermo Del Toro)" opened in Alicante, Spain. I wish I could be there--not only am I a major fan of the filmmaker (whom most of you will know from "Hellboy" and "Pan's Labyrinth", and eventually his in-production adaptation of "The Hobbit"), not only are curators Carlos and Daniel lovely people whom I wish lived close by so I could hang out with them--I've got art featured in the show!

In 1997, I was hired by C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures--a local FX company--to create storyboards for the horror film "Mimic", a Miramax/Dimension production that was not only Del Toro's second feature (I was a fan of his debut, "Cronos", and had spoken with him briefly after its Uptown Cinema debut way back when), but his Hollywood debut as well. I had to crank out dozens of drawings in less than 24 hours, and had long hated the art. But Carlos gave me a bit of time to clean it up for presentation purposes and now, it's been unveiled for the public to see!

This is not the first time my work has been featured in such an exhibit. In 1997, I was featured in the Design Exchange's "Designing For The Screen", sponsored by The Toronto International Film Festival Group. Hopefully, this second showcase won't be the last...but I'll gladly give it a break for a while if my soon-to-change circumstances demand it. Whatever happens, I've had a blast.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


Last night, history on a variety of levels was made when Illinois senator Barack Obama was voted in as the 44th President of the United States, dethroning a moron who for two long terms has made mess of just about everything. I'm usually not the maudlin type, but today I'm joining in the revery that the boys could be born into a better world...or at least the chance of one. Sure, it'll be all up to Lidia and I regardless of who lives at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue ("the address that changes all the rules!"), or what's-his-name at 24 Sussex Drive for that matter, but today, "yes I can" makes me feel a little more confident about serving out my term for the next...oh...40 years?

Class Dismissed...(or, NOW what do we do?!)

Seven weeks sure did fly by--our Multiples/Prenatal class at Mt. Sinai concluded tonight, leaving us approximately seven weeks to memorize our cheat notes until the possible due date!

Fortunately, tonight's final session afforded us the opportunity to unload our anxieties on real, live visiting parents, and their adorable twins. As identically-dressed Ethan and Evan wriggled and giggled at the tableau of inquisitive, awestruck parents-to-be scribbling away like the egghead nephew in that Foghorn Leghorn cartoon (well, okay, maybe I was the only one who was a little too thorough...), the couple were relaxed and accomodating and looked pretty chipper for folks who've endured four months of late-nights, early-mornings, and marathon feedings.

My first question: "What's the first thing you did when you got the boys home"? (answer: "I'm not sure...I think I gave them a tour of the house."). My second question: "How did you make sure you could tell them apart?" Answer: "Coloured nail polish.").

We also found out that they've got cats, too, and everyone adapted to living together quickly and without incident, so that's reassuring (although I don't think it'll be too much of a chore in our household either, once Minnie and Maggie's inevitable snoopy phase passes). Plus, they introduced us to a handy device called the "Baby Trend Double Snap And Go" stroller, to which car seats attach for quick lock n' load trips when carting along a proper stroller is either impractical or too time consuming. Gotta get one!

Here's a pic of Lidia and our instructor, the impossibly terrific Nadia Prendergast, of whom we've hopefully not seen the last...