So about two weeks ago I submitted the second draft of my exam petition/proposal to my advisor for approval. Last time I had made the mistake of sending it to the whole committee before getting his approval and with the breach of protocol he chastened me and decided to wait a month before getting it back to me (beginning of September).
I was sitting on it for awhile in order to complete some reading and get a better sense of the aims and interconnections that might bubble up following said reading. A good friend in the program finally pressured me into revising and submitting another draft. So after a night of mixed drinks and much revising I sent in another version.
It appears that the biggest obstacle to approval is actually my advisor who I respect deeply and consider to be brilliant, but can be a little overly pedantic. The suggestions the other committee members made were minimal and rather rational.
As it stands, however, after my proposal is approved by my whole committee I need to wait at least 12 weeks (putting me at february) until I can take them, which is fine with me because I still have a shitload of reading to complete. That said I am feeling less in limbo and more confident about the process overall with some reading done I feel like I have some ground to stand on. Plus even though my advisor can be a little curmudgeonly he likes me and that also works to my advantage. In particular, he likes it when I make fun of him. One of my committee members, however, is pregnant and will be giving birth right before so I suspect that I will either have to find someone else or have her "skype" in.
Whatever the case I am ready for this process to start drawing to a close. I'm starting to feel ready for dissertation stage now.