altarflame: (Default)
There are flowers EVERYWHERE, and I love it so so much. We always have a lot of flowers down here, but springtime is ridiculous. I took pictures of SOME of the flowers in the 6 blocks between our house and Elise's preschool, on our walk there the other day:

These guys are so benign and unnoticeable most of the year, and then they all do this at once:

They're lining Krome Ave and Biscayne in places.

Bougainvillea of all sorts, everywhere, all the time.

(this one under a bottle brush tree)

I don't know what any of these are.

We call these tiny things fairy flowers, they carpet the grass in places and always appear to be sparkling.

But these are a type of orchid, over some jews ("purple heart wandering jews" is what google tells me they're really called).

And these jasmin may not look like much, but the smell blows all over the neighborhood on the wind at night.

Nature is trying to overcome all these broke-busted pickup trucks.

Flowers in my house.

Those lillies were HUGE, smelled so strongly that it filled the room, and lasted over 2 weeks :)

This way for 12 other pics of us )
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
I am really, really busy. I have too much time to think because I'm often busy in idle ways - driving people to far flung locations, sweeping the floor, sitting in a boring class, etc. But as far as sitting down to make a big entry? Not so simple lately...

I got an actual ring for my nose piercing.

I really like writing papers and analyzing literature again, for english.

Grant went to his interview for the other job and got an official offer, that he's trying to leverage to get a fat raise at his current one...but he doesn't really think that'll happen.

I made my YouTube obsessed son this cake for his 10th birthday:

Tonight, when I went and picked the two of them up from the third extended, four hour long Lord of the Rings movie (they've been showing them in theaters...) I had to listen to the most absurd conversations ever the whole way home.

Me: Logan likes Lord of the Rings?
Ananda: NO! But I'm going to make him listen anyway! I made Aaron listen for half an hour!
Aaron: It's really weird how for this, she's the hyper crazy one and I'm the calm one.
Ananda: He's the only one who'll listen!
Aaron: Sometimes I just have to play along.
Ananda: You remember the Nazgul?
Aaron: The what?
Ananda: The nazgul, come on Aaron!
Aaron: The Nashew?
Ananda: *rolling her eyes* I forget you don't speak elvish.
Aaron: Not everyone SPEAKS ELVISH ANNIE.
Ananda: Ok, well, the NAZ-GUL -
Aaron: Nah-hooey?
Ananda: NAZ-GUL!!
Aaron: Naz*raspberry fart noise*fahoohoo?
Me: Bursting into hysterical laughter as I drive
Ananda: MOM you're encouraging him!
Me: nearly wrecking as tears start to fall
Aaron: I know what you're talking about. The leader of the ring wraiths.
Ananda: You KNEW?!?!

She's absconded the ring from our Lord of the Rings monopoly and is wearing it around her neck all the time on a chain, which causes Aaron to constantly talk in a horribly accurate Gollem voice about The Precious and randomly tackle her for it.

Jake has been walking around with a giant straw, sucking up air and then burping loudly.

My kids, I tell you.

I think everyone is mostly doing well, although I am periodically at a serious loss about my lack of downtime. Today I spent a lot of time on hold on the phone, I taught everyone and had them do tons of schoolwork, I read to A and A, I cooked lunch, I did my homework, I went to class, I picked them up from their movie. I'm starting an EARLY MORNING EXCERCISE ROUTINE that sounds like serving myself up a big plate of death for breakfast each day because I've gained weight and am at an all time high and really not happy about it.

I'm loving Florence and the Machine's live performances on KEXP (easily found on YouTube), and this enormous insane ring I got the other day, I mean, it's just ridiculous. I'm a giant piece of red glass that I texted a pic of to [ profile] rainingkisses and she was just like, that is gaudy. I'm getting another God forsaken piece of shit ear infection (I'm not happy about this, can you tell?) and even though I've been CHUGGING emergen-C, raw garlic, probiotics and anti-inflammatories, and using the alcohol and vinegar spray my ENT had me whip up to keep in a spray bottle, I can tell I'm gonna have to go to in. I don't have TIME for the ENT. My next few days are like, sell my summer a course textbook back for gas money, get my new financial aid appeal filed, take the kids to this beach day we have scheduled with some other families, TLC at the Pinecrest Library, potluck at Kristin's house, homework, 3 online quizzes for social science, another english class, water all my plants, clean this pig sty again, teach everyone read to everyone love everyone cook a lot - this is all before the weekend. I do not have time for doctor's appointments.

But I can tell the pain is gonna go through the roof sometime in the next 3 days :/

I also need to go back to my gynecologist all post-period and have her check that my IUD is still positioned correctly and give me a green light to not think about it again until my next pap smear.

Tangent: I went to the orientation for Elise's preschool and really loved it. I'm super excited for her. Ananda, Aaron, Isaac and Jake are all gonna be in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony beginner's camp from 9am-3pm for 3 weeks this summer, which is a TON of time for just Elise and I. Then when the school year starts, she'll be in pre-k from 9am-noon and I imagine it'll give me a good opportunity to take advantage of doing school with the older four without her constant show stealing interruptions. I'm considering how many mornings per week I want this to be for; I'd just assumed it would be all five but as I was selecting options on paper the other day I realized it might be better in several ways to just make it M-T-W.

Ananda had her Girl Scout award ceremony for the end of the year. She's a cadette now. I sewed everything on her new vest for the event and she made brownies and lemonade herself to take. I also surprised her with an audaciously enormous owl ring from the same place I bought this absurd ring I'm wearing.

Grant and I keep doing this touch base on the phone or in the car or over email or as we drowsily lay in the bed thing that involves a lot of furrowed brow-ing and "we're making it all work, we can do this"ing. Sometimes we get kind of scared that we need more time together or are drifting apart, especially as we only just did some major relationship repair work - he is really freaked about taking this new job and committing to so much time apart and it having devastating irreparable effects :/ I feel like we're trying to accomplish massive, enormous amounts of things (me getting a degree and publishing books; us educating and raising our kids well, and paying all the bills we have; him climbing a corporate ladder) all at once and that we just have to sort of buckle down and deal for a year or two and then things will ease up a little on several levels. Hopefully o_O
altarflame: (Default)
Friday afternoon, Laura and I attended Bob's high school graduation ceremony with our five youngest kids in tow. Grant and Frank were working, A and A were at a friend's house (and the guests per graduate were limited). This was a big deal. Both of us cried at some point. I thought it was hilarious and sort of awesome that while many of the people walking up had a small crowd of adults, Bob got (in addition to Laura and I) five very small people standing on chairs all in a row, screaming and jumping for him.

He wore a cap and gown. He smiled more and more as time went on. I took a lot of video I'm excited about and keep wanting to view, though we keep not having time, and now the video camera battery has to charge again before we can copy the files.

I got him there, dressed and walking, by bribing him with his own batch of peanut butter fudge nobody else was allowed to touch. I made another batch earlier tonight for him to take to his teachers tomorrow (he's still in JobCorp's computer repair trade school and job placement program for 6 months or so...) since he told them about my bribe and they said it must be pretty damn good. This brings my total amount of peanut butter fudge made in the past week to 6 pounds.

Bob and I have had a lot of Seriously Deep Conversations lately. I feel pretty good about all of it.

Ananda and Aaron had such a great weekend that I almost feel jealous of them. No but really, I have been giddily happy for them. They stayed with Cybele (so, with Sophia and Adrian and many other kids passing through the house) from Thursday afternoon until late Saturday night. Friday at Cybele's was the TLC end of the year blowout pool party (TLC being "The Learning Club", the mostly kid organized and totally social homeschool group the 10-17 year old homeschoolers have kept going...) and at least 25 kids showed up.

Anyway Miguel, Cybele's oldest, had downloaded like 13 hours of music. Ananda and Sophia googled a recipe and made a chocolate cake from scratch, that they wrote "TLC" on with M&Ms. Adrian and Aaron went with Cybele to local dollar stores buying out all the glow sticks until they had hundreds. Many laughs about a robber on the roof that was really "that demon tree", a broken hammock that had had 6 teenagers in it, a lot of foosball and dorky references to Harry Potter, LOTR and science things later, the party peaked with all of them covered in glow sticks (chains around waists, glasses, crowns, bracelets and anklets and horns and so on) in the pool in the dark until around midnight. Cybele's pool is right on a canal where all the houses have docks, it's just awesome. She described it to me as "indescribable teenage magic".

The next morning nobody there could eat their breakfast through all the inside jokes referencing things from the night before.

This crush thing I mentioned previously, it's making her all glowy and extra excited but is still so innocent (she wants to shower before things involving him, which is weird and new, but still puts on a baggy tshirt after the shower). I remember GREAT magical times with friends during this transitional period she's at where things are changing...but they haven't really changed too much, yet.

The two of us got out my pregnancy book tonight, from when I was pregnant with her. I haven't looked in it in years. I told her I was one year older than Miguel, just Francois's age, when I was writing it and pregnant with her, which made her eyes bug out.

We have so much easy affection between us right now, it's awesome.

Grant and I took Isaac, Jake and Elise to Naja's birthday Tea on Saturday, and stayed there most of the day. Grant is building Kristin (Naja's mom, our good friend) a chicken coop for pay.

Then Bob stayed with them (he is increasingly capable of things like making everyone beans and rice and then turning on a movie, it's advantageous) and we went with Shaun to the Wynwood Art Walk, and then the Art Center of South Florida and Ghirardeli (sp) before picking up A and A late as heck (pre-approved...they'd only finished dinner on the patio like an hour before).

Today was a lot of cleaning the house in preparation of going out of town. Tomorrow is gonna be whirlwind-busy. I hope this Boca Raton trip is good :)

I got an email from lion brand yarn like I frequently do, and this one had this picture among others:

That struck me as VERY EASY to wing crocheting with no patter and things I have here, so now I'm almost halfway through one for Elise with one for Annie up next. Elise's is a variegated pink to fuschia cotton-kelp yarn (so soft), and I've made the chest start a little higher up and be a bit narrower/shorter in relation to the rest of it. Annie's will be off white and like the picture.

I only get to crochet if we're driving or I'm sitting around in Kristin's kitchen or something. Just like I only get to update this thing if I'm up in the middle of the night AGAIN with an allergy attack.

I have some stress about:
-a good friend in a really bad life situation
-another good friend in a really bad head/emotional space following a life situation change
(with both of those, it's partially that I have real worry for them and partially that conversation with them would normally be a big supplementary part of my social life :/)
-some personal issues re: food, weight, blah blah blah
-my mother
-money, especially as it pertains to a lot of bottle necking expenses with Aaron's birthday and paying on the kids' Youth Symphony camp and this and that

But it's mostly compartmentalized and mixed in with good things. There are a lot of things, every day. Good, bad and in between. I like my life being so full.

Grant and I are still doing very very well and part of not having time for crochet or the internet has to do with free time of any sort being allocated for long baths, trips out or extended time in a locked bedroom with him <3
altarflame: (Default)
Man. I am really glad for a lot of things but sometimes I feel like I'm smothering/drowning/suffocating/desperate under the triple whammy that is marital strife, doubting my faith and having this major surgery/medical issues hanging over my head. Any one of those things is really an awful lot to deal with and sometimes I feel the ball of tense hard coiled muscle where my shoulders meet my neck, or I am sitting up in bed unable to sleep again, or I am dragging and without energy during the day, and it's like...I don't know if I can do this. UGH!

If you want to read this part feel free:
I don't talk about it a lot here, my medical stuff (severe intestinal hernia, major abdominal diastastis) )

I've started this whole metabolic/thyroid/anti-yeast support regimen to try to jump start my energy levels and weight involves B vitamins, probiotics and coconut oil every day, way more low/no mercury seafood, eating more early in the day, and excercising a ton. I'm always doing these things that I feel I can do to control some part of my life and in a way they help - in another they just seem pathetic. Like I'm using whitestrips on my teeth because all that Starbucks was starting to stain them yellowy. Great, you know, I can't actually afford a dentist right now and think I need a couple of fillings and I have this massive squared lumpy jutting belly but hey, my smile will be white! I've got some great LUSH conditioner (R&B) that I think is really helping my hair too. And it smells great.

I only think like that in my more cynical moments. That I have every day ;)

Kids are doing great, and making me happy. A couple of days ago I had an unnanounced emotional meltdown/nap. When I came out of my bedroom and hour and a half later, Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were playing monopoly in the library and Jake and Elise were playing Candy Land in the tv room. Jake and Elise voluntarily cleaned up their game and then it started raining. They asked to play in the rain and when I said, "Yeah, sure" they ran for the BACK OF THE HOUSE FOR TOWELS AND A CHANGE OF CLOTHES before they went outside. I am amazed by them everyday.

There have been many epic Jenga throwdowns. It gets pretty hilarious.

Lesson on primary colors today. She really REALLY likes making orange, purple and green.

Aaron's new tomato hornworm caterpillar. This thing is a beast, and apparently it's also eating potato and pooping all over my dining table. He has to have a few inches of dirt ready for it in it's (huge) jar because they burrow down and bury the crysalis they make. But first they turn a yellowy peach tinted color.

She's gonna be spending the weekend at the Seaquarium with her Girl Scout troop. She's got her whole packing list packed and ready. They made tshirts for the event at the meeting on Monday evening.

You can't really see the pencil drawing he's interspersing paint with, but the two little boys learned about "mixed media".

I feel like I live in a montessori school :p I can see astronomy cards, sequencing cards, a pencil, a workbook on a piano and wooden blocks in this shot...I didn't realize the dragon could hold math gnomes.

I keep thinking about new things from Sucker Punch night before last. My mind is blown that that was Violet Baudelaire a la Series of Unfortunate Events playing the lead role, and also that she was actually the one singing on many of the crazy awesome remade tracks (like the Eurythmic's "Sweet Dreams" and the Pixies' "Where is my Mind?") The whole soundtrack to that movie is BAD.ASS. and all I've been listening to today (via YouTube). After a brief re-cap of the plotline and some comparative photo viewing (since they've seen Violet in SOUE many a time) A and A are DYING to see the damn movie, and I am like. No. No way. I do let them hear the mind-blowing songs though, like this cah-razy Armageddon and Queen "I Want it All/We Will Rock You" mashup:

They recognize most of those songs from original versions, like all the ones mentioned here, and the Bjork one. They didn't know "White Rabbit" but do know Emiliana Torrini (who covers it), and the fact that it references Alice in Wonderland is good enough for them.

I totally think Sucker Punch has got cult classic all over it, though. It's got so much room for analysis and so many critics arguing over whether it's garbage or great. And would probably be great fun for my oldest two to see when they're like...12 and 13 or something. I think it was actually only rated PG-13?

Random: I'm really glad that Ananda seems to be past the worst of her place value troubles, FINALLY. Geeeeeeez that was one of the last big dyslexia struggles we were dealing with but it has been a math issue in all kinds of ways for years. Now she really seems cool with it, up into the millions, and it is awesome to see her doing assignments that involve rounding and estimates to the ten thousands or whatever with no trouble at all. We just started doing a math review period as a break from division - which she is super good at, no troubles at all - and I was pleasantly surprised to find this just...isn't hard anymore. Like when I suddenly noticed last year that she never wrote numerals backwards anymore.
altarflame: (GothMaryPoppins)
Yesterday was terrible, and lasted 24 (conscious) hours. Highlights:

-I went to the college FOUR TIMES, speaking to multiple people each time, and STILL don't have everything I need to sorted out. I went to advisement twice, testing once, financial aid three times and registration twice. I took them our tax returns from 2010 and 2009, Grant's W2 and 1099 from this year, and so many forms printed off their website. I was told that I did, didn't, did and didn't have to take the CPT, that the emails I'd received actually said the wrong things, I mean - WTF?!

-As I was running back and forth in and out of my house, my sister was good enough to be here hanging around with my kids. I really appreciate this, as I live only about a mile from the college and so it was quick to keep coming back to print/dig through the fire safe/etc but would have been ridiculous to tote all the kids in and out of the van for each time. BUT, she noticed right away that my hernia was sticking out way more than usual, and was way more noticeable in general, and kept saying I need to get it checked out, need to go to the doctor, etc. I of course realize this is nothing wrong on her part. It's just hard for me to hear, and I knew she was right.

-One of our chickens randomly died of unknown causes. It was Belina, the buff orpington and my favorite. Ananda found her and was grossed out but ok, Aaron and Isaac were fine with it, but Jake (the owner) was very sad for a few minutes and Elise was HYSTERICAL when Grant was removing the body because, we found, she just had no idea what death really meant :/ Her brothers and sisters "die" in video games. So we had to have this horrible talk about the permanency of death, and how it happens to everyone, that made her cry hard. And made me cry. FYI, I have been reading that apparently buff orpingtons sometimes have trouble with heat? It's not summer here yet and she made it through last year but Belina was always noticeably warmer to the touch than all the other chickens, so, who knows...makes me think we shouldn't get more orps like I was kind of planning to, to replace her with.

-I went to the hospital with Grant. We spent about 10 hours there, re-hashing our thoroughly hashed marital strife when we weren't playing hangman, trying not to fall asleep in front of the tv, or worried sick. I had a CT scan and they do think I need to get this business fixed asap, and it is worse, but that it is not an emergency thus far and there is no current blockage or tissue necrosis. Great, but terrible, basically. Also, I got a lovely lecture from the doctor about how I could lose weight by eating smaller portion sizes, or eating more often so I don't feel hungry. Wow, thank you doctor. O_O

Basically it was not fun, or even ok. We got home at like 6 am and I had to take a shower to get all the hospital tape glue and potential MRSA off of me, whilst trying to forget the lovely way my mouth fills with a metallic taste everytime I have an IV flushed (3 times, last night) and the way it makes my previous epidural site go crazy and trigger me into a tightly tense, cold, withdrawn mess.

Today, I woke up at 2 in the afternoon, feeling way more relaxed than I consciously had in what felt like forever.

The weather was perfect. My children were happy to see me. I took just Ananda and Aaron and we returned Annie's library books, ordered a new one she wants from Spellbound Books, and went out to Knaus Berry where Aaron bought cinnamon rolls for the family. Then we went in the back to investigate their U-Pic, since it's something we've never done. I think I'll be taking the little kids, soon. Lots of good conversation while driving :)

Back at the ranch, I escorted the little kids around the block on their various wheels (trike, bike, scooter) and cuddled Elise and explained why she can't nurse today ("Mommy's blood is fully of radioactive contrast fluid today, sweetie"...that's not really what I said). Talked phonics with Isaac.

Grant was miserably depressed and had a headache. I felt guilty for feeling happy. He encouraged me not to, blah blah blah...

Later in the evening, after some grocery shopping just-us-and-Elise, the two of us went and saw "Limitless" and it was pretty good. ALSO, we went on the way and got chinese takeout and drinks and snacks from a CVS, and my (homemade, sugar skull, bottomless pit of a) purse is so big that we put ALL of that in there, and consumed it during the movie.

I am kind of freaking about how my emotional eating might actually kill me sometime soon and how I don't know how to stop it and how it's a downward spiral that makes me want to eat a lot. Grant and my problems also make me want to eat.

On the plus side, Memo...I am tired of taking the time to call him "my old artist friend, the one who does tattoos now"...Memo has sketches done already, for illustrations for my childrens' book, and is telling me I have to wait to see the cover for last, and in general his interest and enthusiasm are contagious and make me feel really excited about the whole thing :)

I'm also hopeful about school, and income a few years down the line, and supplemental income we'll have in the meantime just from financial aid while I'm attending...but I am also seriously bitterly suspicious that just when I get my stuff all worked out and settled in so I can start in good standing...I will be re-hospitalized for who knows how long and screw up my whole record and attendance again and go from "getting off academic probation from the last time the shit hit the fan" to "seriously even more complicated to ever try to go back".

I'm very up in the air about school for the kids, too. I know Elise is going to be going to preschool in the mornings in the fall, because she's insanely excited and got in and can go free and it's super close and well recommended and I think it will be good for her speech. It's just 9-12 am and is mostly playing with other kids, i.e. her favorite activity on earth. Ananda and Aaron will be taking a writing and a science class, respectively, offered via PATH enrichment over a 6 week period, starting in May. Other than that? BAH.

Let me tell you a couple of things that have happened:
A and A conquered their biggest worry-me hurdles on their own. She writes willingly now, and he socializes constantly. They really reassured me that homeschoolers allowed to do their own thing generally progress just fine, and that if you don't turn everything into a battle or force it, kids will move forward because they want to, which is so much better. I am scared to lose that with school. I was thinking of how if Annie had been in school all day, busy with school things, and being forced to write a lot of stuff she didn't want to, she (likely) never would have come up with a whole big long story in her head, or had the (time/energy)resources or desire to painstakingly record it all...likewise if Aaron had been surrounded by other kids, possibly getting picked on, at his most awkward, I am not sure he would have found his way so happily into a crowd by now.

Also, Ananda is pouring over astronomy books and websites constantly lately, anytime she isn't reading pretty advanced fiction (like the Lord of the Rings trilogy). She tells me things I didn't know constantly. She searches out constellations and is asking for a telescope. She's saying she wants to be a chef and/or an astronomer. I just love it. This is another one of those things, those "child-led learning" things that come from kids not having their natural love of learning destroyed by a lot of worksheets, waiting and moving onto the next subject when they're really into something they aren't anywhere near done with yet.

The various crises in Japan have really sparked Aaron's interest. We spent almost 2 hours straight the other night watching videos, drawing diagrams and pouring over articles together, until my brain was nearly dripping out of my ears - but he kept pace with me every step of the way, and now both of us understand atomic structure, molecular structure, fusion, fission, how a nuclear bomb detonates and what happens afterward, how nuclear power is generated, half lives, radioactive decay, radiation sickness, and so much more. This has continued to be built on every day, and has led into study of things like Chernobyl, Turkey Point (our local nuclear power plant), coal burning plants, alternative energy - it just never ends. I love learning like this.

I really believe that in one evening he learned more than most kids do in all of elementary school science, and that it will stick better because he was really into it, having a one on one conversation and struggling to understand with his whole focus the entire time.

I don't want to lose, or limit this. Grant and I are talking a lot about him supporting and helping with me going to school while keeping them home (something he is fully on board for - Grant REALLY wants them homeschooled, I am the one who wanted to send them because I wanted to have that huge chunk of independence in my own life...which I still kind of do. Grappling, like I said). I'm still waiting to see whether they got into the charter school, but more and more I am just grossed out by the whole issue and kind of amazed by how well they do just as they are. even when we "aren't doing much" they are CONSTANTLY learning.

I am also tossing around "just giving it a semester", "just giving it a year", and sending the little kids but keeping the big ones home. I still think the cultural experience of attending school is valuable. Just not sure if it's any more so than the greatness that is never having been to school. Still think structure and schedules can be important. *shrug* I found out if they got in at the end of next month, it could all be a moot point I suppose.

Slightly off-topic: Ananda and Aaron had another epic sleepover up at Cybele's, and LOVED IT and came home ultra-excited and can't wait to go back next weekend. Cybele has a house on a big canal (full of manatees) up in the Gables, with a pool and canoes docked there, and a dog and cat, and a vegetarian daughter for Annie and a juggling son for Aaron. They went and met like 10 other PATH kids to see Rango the first day, and did some charitable ice cream event on Sunday, and generally just have a blast.

We decided, at the end of a neverendingly long decision process, to re-home Chrysanthemum and keep 2 kittens in her stead. We just don't have the resources to own so many cats, at least not with any level of responsibility, and 1. we are much more emotionally attached to the kittens, as well as 2. a pure bread, $500 maine coon is much easier to find a home for than a mixed breed, "run of the mill" cat. I submitted her case to a maine coon rescue organization and sure enough, she was wanted by someone within 2 days.

I felt way more sad than I expected to when I dropped her off. And now I am unduly irritated by how the new owner (in emails I keep getting copied on) has already re-named her "Isabella" and is calling her Bella. Grumblegrumble...

We are tentatively planning for me to get my stomach fixed in 5-ish months. That's when Grant's new job will be offering him health insurance. There's no guarantee we can get all or even some of my junk covered, but we can't try until we have coverage in place. I'm also going to be looking at the college schedule and all that. We can get a loan or something if we have to...but I think having a date in mind for when go-time is will help me to lose weight. As it's been not knowing has made it seem so open ended and like I can get around to buckling down in a vague and hazy future that'll eventually arrive.

...or having a date will cause me to raid the fridge late at night out of terror of going back into major surgery. We'll see, won't we?

I have counseling again on Friday. I think Grant is going back Thursday.

Aaron: Mom, if we knew the things to make little firecrackers, would you make them with me?
Me: Sure.
Aaron: First I thought about tiny nuclear bombs but then I realized, no way, that's just too powerful.

Also: Ananda recently made these Nutella Cheesecake Gooey Cakebars. They are something to behold.

And, I never got around to posting this here, but man I love it. We all piled in this little photobooth at the bowling alley :D

In total contrast, look at these two beautiful children totally peaceful:

And in total contrast to how identical they look, look at this old shot...6 years ago, I suppose:

Crazy stuff. I will never quite grasp how that happened :p

Anyway, back to recent shots - when we were in Lakeland Elise picked out a "princess kit" she wanted, and she REALLY, REALLY LOVED IT.

Somebody traded some arcade tickets for this. It's like this concept was designed with Jake in mind, I think...

He was in his carseat and Grant was pretending to not know who he was or where Jake actually went, and Jake said, "Dad, it's just me in a disguise!" It was really funny.

altarflame: (MollyWeasley)
I had the most heartbreaking conversation with Aaron last night, about Ananda. We've known that Aaron has some inexplicable depression off and on for the last several months, and that he can be distant. We thought it was related to his injuries when he got back from NY, or from not dancing this year; we thought maybe having friends around the neighborhood was helping.

But he came out about the real cause last night, and cried and sat between Grant and I on a park bench for a long time.

It's just Annie.

She's way bigger than him for the first time since they were babies.
She doesn't play, ever, anymore.
She usually doesn't even want to talk.
She spends long periods of unexplained time locked in the bathroom and gets really mad at him when he asks why.
She gets really mad at him a lot in general and he never knows why.
She reads so much and doesn't like to be interrupted.
She gives her best energy and happiness to outside of the house stuff, like Girl Scout meetings. It's like seeing a different person to watch her with friends.
(in short, she's in puberty now)

This is a Big Deal for him, she has been there literally since he was born and it is massive seismic shift in his earth for her to pull back and withdraw from their twosome.

I told him they might not ever be the way they were before again, but that they will be close in a new way one day. That every girl goes through a stage like this. Some of the things going through Ananda's head and how weird it is to feel the way she does. That me and Aunt Laura are 3.5 years apart and fought a LOT as kids and I was so mean to her but now we're freakin' joined at the hip or something.

But he said he feels alone in the family, because me and Dad have each other, and the little kids hang out together, and it was him and Annie, but she doesn't want him anymore.

He breaks my heart, glassy eyed and shaking his head, looking at the sidewalk.

I wish that she were the sort of girl who would give him a hug and reassure him if I asked her to, but she is not. It just leads to an epic battle of wills that will go on forever if I try to get something like that out of her. She's PAINFULLY undemonstrative and sarcastic with him, and he kind of understands. He'll say things like, "Annie is too afraid to being vulnerable", that are pretty amazing. But then again he does not understand, at all, and will go off on a tirade when we're alone together like, "It just doesn't make sense to treat the people you love the most the worst!"

I think it made him feel a little better, to talk it out with us. I ended up taking him with me to the Y for my swimming and we kept talking in the pool - about Bobby, and all kinds of stuff. He seemed way happier last night. I guess I need to get him alone more often.

I managed to drag myself up by my own bootstraps today and Make Some Things Happen when I had really, really not wanted to, and had been on the phone with my sister bitching about how much I didn't want to do anything and how hard it is to always have so many things to do.

Mainly lately I just feel like I'm failing at educating the kids. I think I'm a really good mom overall and their quality of life is high, but like I've been slack at homeschooling for a long time and now that we've kind of got our sights set on school this fall I've just let it go to a degree that is really not ok, but...*whine*

Anyway I ended up doing lots of math and tracing with Elise and many pages each of phonics with Jake and Isaac and division with Annie and feeling like I don't suck and that wasn't so bad and maybe I can get through til fall comes without their brains falling out OR having to gouge my own eyes out with a spoon.

This is the general pattern of my days lately: waste time, bitch about not wanting to do things I have to do, waste more time, lament the wasted day...and then RECLAIM THE DAY!! Seeings how my kids aren't generally privy to the bitching and enjoy the waste time I figure it's mostly all good.

So, I have a tumblr now. It's a different sort of site and I'm planning on making it a different sort of blog experience. So if you are not wanting to ever have something controversial on screen without warning due to bosses or children, or if you just really only want to view very conservative material yourself, don't go. I'm not going to link regularly and I'd like to have people like my grandfather and Shaun and my mother and my nephew know up front that it's not really intended for them and they'll be viewing at their own risk.

It's not a porn blog or anything (don't get all excited), it's just less filtered than I've honed this thing to be over the last 8 years. I'm also not ever gonna be putting my epic sagas on there; everything I'd normally put on livejournal will still be here (and my "personal blog", I guess). I'm just going to add images I love and quotes I like and little things that tantalize me and thoughts that intrigue me. It's

A couple of cool things is you (meaning, anyone) can submit things to be posted on my tumblr (at my discretion) and also ask questions a la formspring, though I'm more prepared to delete all the stupid shit than I was when I had a formspring. I like those interactive parts a lot :) And if you have a tumblr you think I might like, let me know <3
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(This was meant to be posted last night but I had uploading problems so it's about 12 hours late)

I'm sitting here at the computer quantifying all the awesomeness that was today and feeling all psyched about everything in the world. A few examples:

-I have a washing machine again, a real one that works right here in my house!
-I made a great dinner that was ready at an early hour
-Went swimming, woohoo!
-found some more really promising agent leads who are seeking just the kind of thing I have ready to go
-Filled out my fafsa form online for school this fall and saw that we readily qualify for enough aid that I'd have money leftover if I go - MAYBE I could even take 2-3 of my classes online and get workstudy when the kids are in school, and do my schoolwork at the job like workstudy jobs let you do, and like make money WHILE getting an education.

BUT LET ME TELL YOU. All those bullet points occured prior to an hour ago and I was still not only not happy, but miserable, then. This was just another day in the doldrums of darkness through which I could not see any positive thing as I struggled to be productive in all those ways listed above.

Then I had sex.

And now the sun is shining again. And the birds are singing. And all the furry little woodland creatures are cavorting with glee.

Not a joke.

These are not the best pictures. But some long time readers will remember similar "sharing a chair" pictures of these two from 5-6 years ago and the contrast gets me. They are big! (hotel room in Lakeland a couple of weeks back)

It's not even like "big" anymore, they're so OLD.

And what the hell is wrong with these three?

I mean seriously, that picture.

A & A had their own li'l table nearby. Being old.

Jakey, wet from a splash pad on some playground equipment.

Isaac, my SEVEN year old, on his SEVENTH birthday <3 We were out to dinner just the three of us...

Shaun, Grant and I went to Beer and Burger Joint in Miami Beach. B&BJ is a chain and if you have one near should DEFINITELY go.

Grant's had prosciutto on it.

Mine had goat cheese under the thickest bacon known to man.

Sweet potato fries I was dipping in bourbon bbq sauce...OM.

"Portabello fries" salted up...I could have made a meal just of these. And I think Annie will be some time soon.

The Illustrious Shaun Wright, + jalapeno cucumber...stuff.

Then we hit this place and I got a chocolate dipped cone full of butter pecan...yes, yes it is an "off" Eat to Live month :p

What kind of horrible mother would purposely pose her kids facing into the worst and most directly timed sunlight and make them look up at a camera just to laugh and laugh at their protests and tell them, no, they really do have to stare into the glare because SHE IS THE MOM, as they get all aghast?

What bitch of a mom would cackle and say "Oh yes I can!!!" when the oldest starts talking about justice and how she can't do this to them? Just to get funny pics of them squinting?

(can you believe how attractive Aaron is? Wth man)

Eventually this game got boring and I let them get up. Plus the trolley was finally coming.


We took the trolley to the farmer's market. Clearly this picture is from a farmer's market. More shocking is that it's of a nearly FOUR YEAR OLD ELISE. All of my kids are so big, so old, blah blah blah but really...can you believe it? I'm not always sure I can believe it. Lately, it seems like maybe childrearing is just a phase of my life that will be past one day O_O

Giant tooth gap. Also, whenever I see Isaac in very bright sunlight I sort of expect him to spontaneously burst into flames.

Stuntman Aaron.

Silly Annie.

My myspace angle.

My new homemade purse.

My clone.

Wildflowers from Bea Heaven farm (that the bees make wildflower honey from). Some are on my bar.
altarflame: (chalk)
The other day, when we were all sick with sore throats, I kept going back out to the deck and picking lemon balm to make us tea. And I was struck by how my basil is sprouting up, and my tree is covered in mangoes, and I have bananas coming in two different yards, and eggs in the coop every day. Walking around with the camera today, I found a pumpkin vine in and amongst the weeds sprouting on some bricks in the backyard! I weeded everything else out, pruned it a little, watered it and am happy as heck. The kids are also excited. I am thinking white pumpkins based on a similar vine my friend Kristin had magically appear in her yard a couple of years ago.

Photographic Tour of my productive land )

I woke up from a nap the other day, and Ananda and Aaron had made a band:

There's a girl with a ponytail and one of them has a mike on a stand in front of them.

I was amazed. Mohawk guy with guitar on stand:

Keyboard player:

I have done so much Usborne work this week, it is where every spare moment has gone. Productivity is lucrative. Some points:
-We're having a show at our local bookstore, and my mil (who works at the paper) is getting a write-up done about Aaron for publicity - "Local boy dancing in NYC competition" or something like that to drum people up.
-I met with two people from the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation yesterday afternoon and have a meeting with the head of their library next Monday afternoon.
-I've got home shows coming up out in the Redlands, down in the Keys and up in Miami, as well as three others "in the works" (they want to do it in the Fall, or haven't said for sure yet)

I'm also advertising a yard sale in the paper and planning it for next Saturday morning. Gathering stuff...I've mostly got a few outgrown bikes and a ton of disguarded purses, along with some outgrown kids' clothes and a tiny but of miscellany. I'm also going to be selling baked goods and possibly Usborne books, though.

Basically I am in super crazy hyper must-make-money mode. I was praying the other morning, up before everyone else to drive around having meetings - I was down to the wire with getting Ananda's registration in for girl scout day camp by the deadline. Two weeks of camp, already picked from all the themes - $130 each. AND THEN I REMEMBERED! I payed for this big old chiropractic package and then went to just one visit and found out that due to my "structural deformities" (diastasis, hernia) he can't help me. This was a long time ago actually. I drove over there and got my refund check - and it was $260! I was like, alright. Thank you very much. And sent off my forms.

I am about to shift from Usborne All The Time to Agents All The Time for a few days. I look at it as short term and long term financial planning.

A )

I cooked up a storm last night so we could eat all day without my cooking anything. We had chocolate cupcakes for breakfast, curried chickpeas on jasmine rice for lunch, and lentil soup for dinner.

Tomorrow Ananda's going to Christina's house and Aaron and Isaac are going to a birthday party, for most of the day. Grant and I will probably take Jake and Elise swimming somewhere, like over at Laura's or in Grant Sr's new above-ground. Every now and then I entertain the idea of getting one of those cheapy "everything in a box" above ground pools for like, 5 seconds, and then come back around to the image of Elise floating face down in water and figure we can wait a few years. This is why one of our criteria for home buying was "does not have a pool".

Other than all that:
-Elise is currently right on the line between "low end of normal speech development" and "speech delayed". I am trying to take it upon myself to have more conversations with her, as well as prompting her to use more "connecting" words - because she has a massive and ever-growing vocabulary. But she doesn't really form sentences. She'll come to me and say, "Mama bathroom, chichens, me see!" Not, "I'm going to see the chickens in your bathroom!" Everything is like that. She'll come to me saying "Dada phone, me hi" (I want to call Dad on the phone and say hi) and when she gets it, she'll tell him "Me sick. Miss, my Dad. Love, my Dad. But - mama home, me! Mama lap now. Dada home, hug! Bye." She has way above average comprehension, whether for pointing things out in books or performing complex tasks. She will sit and listen as I read chapter books to Ananda and Aaron and suddenly interject and shock me - "Boy sad, no more eat?" That's right, he's sad because he's hungry and all the food is gone. She also counts and knows all of her colors well (and has done both for quite awhile) as well as singing along with most of the alphabet. We'll see I guess.

-I am tired AS HELL of this sinus headache, sore throat sickness. OVER it. It's turning my already abysmal attempts at sleeping into miserable failures.

-Season 3 of Weeds has not been as good as Season 2.

-I am experiencing a great deal of anxiety when I think about this oil spill, and an uncommonly high level of (obviously related) guilt and confusion about my own priorities re: oil consumption. I am really caught in the middle, not nearly apathetic enough to just be blissfully driving everywhere all the time - but also too selfish to stop driving all the time. I want things for my children, and myself, and our family - like going to top dance schools and NYC competitions but also having chickens and a garden - that are not part of a sustainable model. I want my husband to work where he can make enough money for a certain lifestyle that involves internet, cell phones, movies and dinners out at times, and me staying home - but I don't want to live anywhere NEAR where those jobs are... I live in the absolute worst part of the country for car-reliance and suburban sprawl, and so it is heartbreaking, gut-wrenching justice of sorts for us to see all the beaches and reefs and animals and jobs destroyed :/ *big fucking sigh* I keep wishing desperately for things that seem like partial or complete solutions - a way more reliable, quicker, safer public transit system that runs 24 hours, for instance. Hybrid and electric minivans. We looked for them when we had the settlement, they were (are) only available in Japan. To some degree it seems like the only answer is to move away, but that is not even an option I can consider - this is and has always been home, it is where my and Grant's entire families are.
But something has to happen. I have to start writing letters, and voting for the right things, and taking the bus sometimes, and SHIT I really don't think people understand how big this is. How huge. How many people are unemployed. How they're BURNING ENDANGERED SEA TURTLES ALIVE. How the loop current is going to catch hold of all this and take it all the way to the Carolinas. How they don't know what happens when a hurricane hits a billion gallons of oil. How we can't replace the reefs, or the Everglades. Ever. Just gone forever if they're gone once...

I wonder how much more painful and personal this all seems to me because I've been looking at this water and going on glass bottom boats and wading out on sandbars my whole life. We hang out in the everglades as a thing to do. But...your seafood's going to cost more. Your taxes are going to go up. Your vacation plans are going to change. Your air is going to be dirtier. Your kids will never get to see things my kids have taken for granted. The Bahamas, Cuba, so much gorgeous blue-green-gray-and previously CLEAR is seeming so temporary right now. So surreal.

So I'm sitting here with Google Maps open looking at how Dance Empire goes from 29 minutes by car to an hour and 2 minutes by bus, how it goes from Elise taking a nap to us all walking several blocks on roads without sidewalks in the sweltering heat. On the other hand, I could use more excercise and we could sure save on gas and it might be kind of awesome to actually be able to like, hang out with and engage my kids while traveling. I think we have to at least try it.

Along with the letter writing and voting and so on...
altarflame: (AnniePurple)
So Many Picture From Today )
altarflame: (chalk)
It is really, really weird to me that Johnny Depp just got announced as Sexiest Man Alive (for the second time!). Don't get me wrong, ok, Johnny Depp is really fascinating to look at, he really captivates in every role he plays, and his transformative abilities are mindblowing - my kids' minds were blown awhile back when they found out Willy Wonka and Captain Jack Sparrow were the same guy. So then I showed them pictures of Edward Scissorhands and the Mad Hatter to really explode their heads.

But...sexiest man in the whole world? Really? Johnny Depp has to have a significant amount of facial hair to even appear masculine, and he needs giant dreads and baggy clothes to camouflage his tiny scrawniness into something substantial. Also, and mainly, I've just never seen him act or seem to feel sexy. He's shy and awkward in real life and generally deeply into a character who seems asexual as all get out (Edward S, Willy Wonka, Sweeny Todd, even Captain Jack is too ridiculous and self absorbed and oblivious to really seem very interested in sex, or passionate...)

Also can I just say, Captain Jack only SEEMS attractive because we can't smell him through the screen. I've known a sea-faring, rum drinking, scurvy infested pirate type and let me tell you, it does not smell pretty.

When I think of the other sort of man who generally gets this title from People Magazine - Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Colin Farell - it really gets confusing. The other guys are generally square jawed, 5 o'clock shadow types who are old Hollywood male at a glance. Again, do not get me wrong, I cannot take my eyes off of J.D. on the screen either. But I also cannot imagine actual chemistry with him, all.

Ugh, now this is caught in my head again. It's like a 6 month run every time I think of it, before I can shake it off again!

When I first started thinking of submitting my writing formally, I had this very healthy and realistic perspective about how the publishing industry is loaded with rejection and everyone gets plenty of it. I mean...everyone-everyone, Harry Potter was rejected over and over before anyone took it, and countless "classics" were written by people nobody would give the time of day to until they had died. I was thinking my goals would not be about how many acceptances I got, but rather how many queries and submissions I sent out, as I know that persistence is a huge part of success in writing.

Then I sent out my first short article and it immediately got accepted.
I sent the same trade journal's layout department artwork and a separate person accepted that, too, another couple of days later.
And so I sent out my first novel query to an agency, all high and flying and, honestly, starting to harbor this ridiculous unspoken hope that maybe this was going to be like a hole in one for me, maybe I would beat all the odds and bypass the normal system completely.
And they said no, very politely and with a compliment.
And so I got all sensitive and irritable and proceeded to spend a whole week wasting all my writing career time on re-reading the stupid Twilight novels and making fun of them with Grant. Until today, when I realized I was getting my panties in a bunch and NOT being AT ALL perseverant.

So. Back to submitting I shall go, with Plan A back in mind re:rejection.

Poor Isaac put his hand down on a hot stove burner tonight, right after I moved a boiling pot off of it to drain some pasta. His fingertips blistered. He was screaming HYSTERICALLY, often while panicking and hopping around, for like...half an hour. He completely refused butter, running water and frozen peas and barely allowed me to get some neosporin on the burns after a LOT OF COAXING. Then he gradually got to the "let's take deep breaths together" part of the experience, and finally turned zombie in front of Aladdin while I paced, bug-eyed, trying to shake off the anxiety. I haven't ever seen him so freaked except when he had appendicitis. And it was very random, too, I don't know what was going through his head because all of my kids help in the kitchen - where I cook constantly - basically from day 1. They know stoves are hot and you don't touch them, even if you think they're off, but sure as hell not when they're blazing red... He was sitting on counters and standing on chairs to "help" from toddlerhood just like the rest. I wonder if it was one of those compulsive things, where a kid knows something is a very bad idea but just has to set it in motion anyway, or something.

After my month of procrastinating and plateau'ing, I've been strictly back on Eat to Live for a few short days in row. They've went 210, 209, 208, 207, each morning. So now I've lost 26 pounds from my original 233 a couple of months back. It's very heartening to have seen myself just plateau, and not re-gain anything, during my off-time.

I'm having some body issues in general, though...the last time I weighed 207, size 18 jeans fit fine. Now, with my bulging, messed up belly, I can't even wear 20s comfortably. I'm stuck in maternity jeans. I keep thinking, "SOON my old pants are gonna fit again...right?" and I think I'm not gonna be able to wear normal pants at all...until I get more surgery.

It's pretty bizarre, I appear to be a somewhat hot hourglass shape from the exact front, and from the exact back. Then I turn to the side, at all, and look obviously pregnant. I was thinking of taking some pictures to illustrate how drastically different I look head-on vs in profile, because it's kind of ridiculous.

I still FEEL really energetic and good about the weight loss, though, and I can see changes in my face and upper body as well as in how shirts fit and things. My Dad will be here day after tomorrow for Thanksgiving and he hasn't seen me since two months ago, I'm sure he will notice. My sister's husband flipped last time I went over there, because I haven't seen him so it was drastic rather than gradual for him. Which is cool. He's a brutally honest sort we say is not named "Frank" for nothing, so his compliments count more.

Ananda especially, but also Aaron, are having a TON of success with Kumon workbooks for math. Like...Aaron has went from chronically distracted and/or begging to not have to do schoolwork to just getting it done with no arguments. Ananda has went from doing it with some complaints, when I make her, to asking to do math all day long on her own when it's not schooltime. <---- Seriously. I really love how independent it is for them, too, because as much as I believe in Right Start Math I just can't do an intensely interactive 30 minute math lesson with them - that requires 30 minutes of gathering materials, scanning and printing and planning ahead beforehand on my part - everyday. I don't HAVE a solid, undistracted hour to give to their math all the time. Isaac is also loving Kumon math, though. It is a winner around here for sure, and I've reccomended it to my mother in law for my nieces (who she raises).

Isaac is also loving the Abeka Handbook for Reading that I used with A and A. He can't get enough of it, and I find it easy to work with together out on the deck swing as we watch Elise and Jake play, or on the counter by the stove as I cook dinner. Burning aside. *sigh*

A and A have their first company production, in dance, coming up. It's not the end of the year recital that all of Dance Empire does. From what I understand Ananda will be dancing in a group, and Aaron will be doing a bunch of round offs across the stage at some point, followed by a girl who does back flips.

Grant took them to dance this evening, then they went and had pizza and drove up to Santa's by themselves. They seemed ridiculously happy when I was reading to them and praying with them before bed.

My brother has been here for a week now. In some ways he's already very helpful - just taking out trash, moving laundry through, putting away clean dishes, making it possible for me to take a bike ride with a small child while Grant's at work or for Grant and I to go see a movie while they're all in bed. And I'm dealing ok with the hard parts I knew would come - giving up the office, extra groceries. BUT, what I did not think about enough and should have was just...having him around me all day every day. Like, I don't get any time alone at night anymore, because he will outlast me everytime. When I find time in the afternoon while my kids are all occupied, to read, he comes and sits down and starts talking like I'm not holding a book. We have an argument about whether or not we're going to listen to the death metal on his iPod everytime we get in the van to go anywhere. And then I have to hear my music through his poor tortured ears and it kind of ruins it for me. He's completely obsessed with music and really emotional about it, so it is A Big Deal and sure to visibly anger him when I tell him, no, I don't like this song actually, or that one either.

In general though I've been relieved that he's not NEARLY so angry as he used to be. Way more under control and way less volatile. I think the last year taught him something about rolling with the punches.

I'm very inordinately irritated with all the little irritating things he does, though. Like put his constantly-frozen water bottle on parts of unsuspecting peoples' bodies to startle them, and fart and then giggle...both all day long. Purposely burping as loud as possible and with an air of knowing he's pretty impressive. Teaching my kids to say "Duh". It probably doesn't help that he arrived with my period and as I went back to the strict eating regimen, but oh my gosh, sometimes it's like...gtfo.

I'm just kind of introverted and haven't dealt with living with other peoples for awhile. I really kind of don't like it. I can't help but feel awkward when he just comes and hovers in the doorway as I read to the kids before bed, and I HATE HATE HATE having to deal with him asking if it's ok to do things we already agreed he wouldn't do before he came - like playing video games in the main part of the house, or on the main computer (he has his own setups for that in his room). I just really loathe having authority over other grown people, it makes me tired and I don't see why we have to talk about this when it was already settled via email 2 weeks ago. This is why we stopped having a part time nanny, I totally cannot stand telling other adults what to do in my house, setting boundaries and all that crap.

His weird standards for everything are also really exasperating. Like, to him, REALLY baggy and somewhat faded black jeans ARE "nice pants" for a job interview...compared to his Hot Topic jeans which have buckles, chains and red lacing all over, or his "old jeans" that are ripped from thigh to calf. He expects some kind of validation and affirmation because he got up at noon rather than 2 or 3, like that is early. And he genuinely believes I should be proud because he puts half a banana into a smoothie that otherwise consists of corn syrup-y sherbert and caramel sauce.

We've had at least one late night, hours-long conversation that I feel really good about, though. And I feel good when I see him taking walks, or outside on the trampoline with A and A. Elise seriously ADORES him and he carries her around a lot, which I think is good for both of them (I can't carry her at all, due to herniation).

Probably he wanted to open up his skull and bleach his brain the other day when G and I got in the shower together and then locked the bedroom door for an hour after we got out. I pretty much refuse to just never do that again since he's here indefinitely, though. I mean, this is what keeps me waiting all week for Grant's days off.

He also shuddered, blinked 3 times and then burst into hysterical laughter the first time he walked in on my belly cast, and covers his eyes asking "Are you decent?" when he suspects Elise could be nursing.

Tomorrow is the first day of all sorts of "conditions" kicking in...we agreed to a week of him hanging out and chilling, but then him spending at least 3 days per week out actively looking for a job and making follow-up calls and all that, with the deal being that he will have a job within a month. Maybe a crappy job while he continues looking for something better, but a job. My mother sent money for him to get better clothes with, which I'm sure will be...interesting, to negotiate with him. I think it will be ok. He seems to respond well to being initially horrified, like for instance when I suggested bow ties and suspenders in plaids it made him much more open to black polos. There have to be some sort of beige penny loafers out there that can terrify open him up to plain old dark dress shoes.

He says things sometimes that strongly imply him being here forever. I've had to gently remind him several times that he shouldn't look at this as his home for the rest of his life - even if he needs to make a 5 year plan or a 3 year plan or something, this is not the place to plan on being when he's 30. He kind of laughed nervously when I told him he has to move out before my kids do.

It's too damned late, and I have to do a marathon run of blitz-cleaning tomorrow for when my father arrives the next day, and then the house just kind of fills up for Thanksgiving...I think I'm going to put Isaac in A and A's room, bring Jake and Elise in our room, stick Bob in the emptied out little kids' room, and let my Dad have Bob's room, for the one night he's here. My sister and I are coordinating the menu and double-teaming the cooking. Oh, damnitt...I have to pick up my produce share all early in the morning because the turkey I pre-ordered is going to be in it, and the lady I pick up from doesn't have room in her fridge for everyone's turkeys...blargh.

That's it, I'm out.
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This is an intense and focused time for us, in a positive way.

Grant is abstaining from all secular media all this month. So that is almost over, I suppose. But it has been really big for him. He was getting to be a complete video game addict, and having trouble managing time around shows, funny sites, movies, etc, on Saturdays at work, which were basically 12 hour shifts involving only 5 hours of actual work (mainly just "manning the phones" in case someone called in with a problem), that would get left until he had only 3 hours remaining. Also, we just have too much going on to spend time at home watching movies, and he's also going through some serious discernment about whether or not he wants to be Catholic, and there is a TON of relevant reading, there...and there were personal reasons he thought were most important. There've been a lot of perks and good things about it. Like playing chess together and building awesome robot toys out of wood and nails out in the shed, and so much accomplished around the house.

I had a major fit of despair the other night about my insane out of control food addiction/compulsive overeating. It is really dangerous with an entrapped intestinal hernia, to gorge myself on food...I've landed myself in the ER once already (months ago), and I am supposed to be losing a lot of weight so I can safely get my whole abdomen fixed. This is insanely emotional for me. And I've ignored it for too long already. But I kind of broke down the other night, in the middle of the night, about how I am going to DIE from my own gluttony and junky crap and looked at the situation dead on and prayed with great sincerity and focus for God to help me with this. I felt very "heard" and fell asleep trying not to doubt. And woke up praying, basically, and looking for an optimal solution for someone in my situation - that is, serious medical need to lose a lot of weight asap, safely. I'm at the end of my 3rd day on a barely modified version of Dr Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live diet. I've lost a pound each day so far. It is weird to be eating different things than everyone else in the family at every meal but Grant is TOTALLY on board and 100% supportive, Elise and Jake are eating uber-healthy things off my plate, and Ananda and Aaron completely understand why I'm doing it. Isaac is indifferent, I think. For those unfamiliar with it, this Eat to Live deal has done everything from reverse diabetes to helping OVER 600 PATIENTS who've come to this guy desperate because they're about to undergo a scheduled angioplasty or bypass and decide to try his drastic healthy lifestyle as a last resort instead - of those patients, one went on to have the surgery and nobody had a heart attack. I am stepping one minute at a time here and praying often because this is a RADICAL departure from the amounts and types of food I was eating before. But so far, so good, and I am carefully considering making it a lifelong committment, which is what he is really advocating anyway. Basically the guidelines for the aggessive weight loss portion is eating ONLY raw and cooked veggies (goal - one pound of each per day), healthy whole grains (one cup per day of things like steel cut oats or barley), beans (one cup per day), fruit (goal being four per day) and seeds and nuts (one ounce per day). Then you move on to a maintenance plan and eventually a life plan that are less stringent but very much based on the same principles (so you get small amounts of meat and oil for instance, but WAY less than normal Americans would consume). As a nursing mother I'm allowing myself the small amounts of meat every couple of days now. Go read the Amazon reviews or visit his site. Even on totally unafilliated messageboards you don't see anyone refuting his claims - only saying "it's hard". I am ready for hard, I think. It is a really strange thing to be physically full with no emotional satisfaction, if that makes any sense. But I need that, because my emotional satisfaction is NOT supposed to be coming from food...

We've gotten a tremendous amount of things accomplished around the house in the past few weeks. I've hung wallpaper trim in the kids' bathroom, printed tons of pictures and meticulously filled regular and big collage frames, and reorganized our library and done a LOT of deep cleaning. Including rearranging Jake and Isaac's room and going through it to the tune of tossing/donating 2.5 big garbage bags of stuff we just don't need. Grant finally finished the flooring in Ananda and Aaron's closets, which had been waiting for months, as well as re-hanging their closet doors and hanging all the pictures and an alphabet we got, up high in the dining room (where we do school) and just all kinds of crap...He's replaced lightbulbs and fixed minor things and I am actually excited again about our house, like it's really coming along, for the first time in awhile after a long stall that followed our initial 3 month renovating blitz.

I'm buckling down as a, writing more than once a week, and aggresively persuing publishing opportunities small and large.

Ananda and Aaron are in dance 3 nights a week right now. They live dance. Aaron is doing these insane things, like standing on his hands, touching his toes to his face, and then standing back upright normally again, all with grace, and managing challenging ballet turns after 2 classes. Everytime we go in, we hear his hip hop teacher making everyone stop, telling them, "No no no, you all watch Aaron - Aaron do it" or I get called into the little office to hear someone tell me he has a FUTURE, a BIG FUTURE in dance. I'm not sure what to say to them. I see the positive effect on him, and I agree he has talent. But the financial part of it is daunting AT BEST. He's getting some free classes right now, but everything from aaaaaaall the recital costumes they're going to want us to order to the expensive intensives and far-off competitions they want him at seem impossible. Even with some scholarship assistance. Just the shoes he needs this week seem impossible right now. Grant is being switched to salary, which is going to interfere with his ability to make extra money through consulting, which is part of why I'm aggresively persuing publishing opportunities...Signing up for another year of PATH and paying for their kick-off party (admittedly awesome at John Pennekamp this time around), getting Jake and Isaac's books and vests for a new year of AWANA, and paying Dance Empire's registration and first month fee for two kids have not been kind to us, all at the same time. Related - I have never seen Ananda focus this way on dance before, in a GOOD way...I think it's been helpful for her to see how Aaron is totally unafraid to make a fool of himself and gives his all every minute, even when it means he falls or can't do something, and it pays off and nobody is laughing at him.

And one of the biggest things happening for/to us right now is that we have found a church home and made the decision to become a Catholic family. I feel a strange combination of excitement and total peace about this. We're joining St Louis Catholic Church in Pinecrest asap and have already spoken with a priest about a custom plan for our family, that can cover education and sacraments for each of us in an involved and familial way, which I think is AMAZING. There is a lot...baptism classes for Ananda and Aaron and possibly Isaac, baptism itself for all five, convalidation of marriage, general faith education and confirmation/first communion for Grant and I - the basic goal as it stands is to plan for most all of this to be actually happening by Easter Vigil.

Ananda is PASSIONATELY eager for this and has been literally begging me to let her be Catholic for almost a year now. I think it's driven her nuts that I wasn't sure about it. She was actually asking me if she could get baptised, like, 4 years ago, but we really didn't have roots anywhere at any church. Aaron likes Mass and thinks it's all good, but not with the fervor that Annie has. Isaac says he thinks Mass is really boring, but he wants to go a lot, because he is trying to learn about God, which blows my mind. He kneels there in the pews with his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth moving rapidly, it is the cutest and also most heart-rending thing - I really believe he has the most intimately close personal relationship with God of all my kids because he is the one who seems to need the most help with everyday life. Like, he invents things like "hugging God" in his bed because he has nightmares on a somewhat regular basis. Jake and Elise love going to Catholic church because we basically dress them up, faun over them, and then snuggle and cuddle with them for an hour and then leave and go do something fun. There is something really beautiful and perfect about all the children in Mass with their families that I didn't realize I was missing in Protestant churches where all the kids are in fun nursery programs somewhere else while grown-ups worship.

My Nana - my Nana who had the two strokes due to malpractice at just 61 years old, back in April, and has been in the hospital or the home ever since - is going home. She is not "well"; it's more a decision by my Pa and my mother to care for her at her own house rather than spending days with her at a facility that is depressing and awful for all three of them. I still see it as a really happy thing, though. And my mother is thrilled. Nana HAS had a lot of progress - she can move and use her left hand and arm now, when they were totally frozen for a couple of months. She can feed herself most things fairly well, and sit up on the edge of the bed with just a hand to hold (this is compared to when she needed all kinds of special security to not slide helplessly out of a wheelchair). She is not having the violent mood swings anymore and is mostly rational, with some harmless nonsense still thrown in. The fact that a doctor tried to tell my Mom and Pa they should starve her to death is disgusting and just...WRONG. On so many levels. I'm just saying, she is not going home because she's all better...she's going home with a hospital bed, a lift to help get her into a wheelchair, diapers, a home care nurse, and so on...but I think it will still be a hugely positive change for her, and my mom and Pa. And I am really, really happy to think of my sister being able to go and do some Christmas decorating for her and us go be with her for Christmas Eve. I am still trying to convince Pa that no, REALLY, we do NOT NEED PRESENTS, because he is not at all interested in trying to do this Nana thing without Nana...and I think he is scared, of being devastated by such a "her" thing with her so totally changed for it...but I really believe that if we can pull it off, with the same food and music and her laughing at stuff and kids hugging him, it can be a good thing.

And I think that is it. I can't usually update the way I used to, anymore, because I'm really making sleep a priority. It's crazy to me how I've clung to this idea that I have to have this extended time to myself at night to be sane and healthy, when really it does about exactly the opposite - staying up way too late screws up my metabolism AND makes me way more likely to eat a lot of extra crap in the middle of the night, as well as making me a tired mess the next day. And I get loopy late at night and freak myself out with thoughts of future surgery, and any and every other thing you can imagine. I still get what is so hard about just letting go and surrenduring to the end of the evening...but it's really kind of freeing to be ABLE to do that.
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
Let's count.

1. I got next to no sleep last night, which colors everything else.

2. It's the first tidal day of my period, which ALSO colors everything in some low grade depression, tired-er, generally hormonal way

3. It's the first tidal day of my period, so I'm, like, in the bathroom on some massive cleanup mission for 10 minutes out of every hour when I'm not changing my clothes, because that's just how my body rolls >:O

4. I like to spend that time in privacy. Elise likes to spend it screaming outside the bathroom door. Every time.

5. Generally head-bashing frustration in internet communications

6. And my internet connection (for some reason, just today) is running reeeeeeeeeaaaally slow. Like, "eats the massive tirade you just typed and then will not refresh so you can try again for a solid minute so then you restart the computer and can't even get to your homepage for more than 30 seconds of loading" slow.

7. When I call my sister to rant and rave about how everything is crap, the faulty wiring in this old house that is messing up my connection starts randomly dialing numbers and blaring loud static over our conversation. THIS happens often enough that we can actually, almost ignore it.

8. I am FREAKED OUT by how disgusting bathrooms can get with three young sons and a potty training toddler. The day I realize I haven't had any toilet paper stuck to my foot for a month or more, I am going to throw a party.

9. So my husband gets home slightly early and says, "Hey, why don't you take Elise for a bike ride like you've been wanting to do" and I'm so grateful and think, that is just what I need. Fresh air and excercise. So I take off and my wide leg yoga pants tangle in the pedal and we almost die. I catch it pretty quickly, come home, change into capris. We take off again. I quickly realize the whole bulky-cloth-pad + bicycle seat thing is really, really not comfortable. To the point that twice I try to pull off and discreetly adjust things a little in secluded areas and still I end up gritting my teeth the whole way home.

10. Despite the pain, I was going to try to at least take Jake around the block once since he was there waiting for us at the window and it makes him so happy. But like 5 solid minutes of fumbling with straps' adjustments in the heat with a cloud of gnats in my face and mosquitoes biting my calves was enough to nix that plan. Particularly because that was also when the little plastic adjuster piece came clean off the strap I was working on, leaving me wanting to hurl it into the bushes.

Ah, womanhood, how I just freaking ADORE THEE.


I did have a really good phone conversation with my mom.

And Grant took Jake and Elise to the store, and my fool ass biggest kids just sent me an email, lurked around the doorway whispering about how I'd check my email soon "and see" until I went and did, and saw a message from Aaron that said,

So I exclaimed "WHOA!" really loud and now they're, like, DYING OF HYSTERICS.

Maybe I can make them each clean a bathroom...
altarflame: (chalk)
Ananda and Aaron used to LOVE going on and to play games and do challenges...when they were preschoolers. Isaac and Jake do it now, but I don't have anything new for A and A and they've long outgrown it.

My criteria is that a site be at least semi-educational, without a lot of obnoxious (pop-up, videos to watch before you see what you're there for, etc) ads (a sidebar banner or something is probably ok, assuming it's appropriate). They're both really good readers at this point, with math skills about on point for grade level (2nd and 3rd) and a TON of science knowledge. Even just a collection of amazing science videos or something would probably be great for them, without games...we don't have cable here so they're not watching Animal Planet anymore. They like to do things like watch Foo Fighters videos on YouTube and browse things to save their money for on but that's kind of not the same.

So what have you got?
altarflame: (Default)
I've been having a lot of fun this week.

You see that suspicious kitten? She's saying, "Look lady, I know you want more babies and you're out of luck - don't even TRY slipping me that titty."

I've had great phone conversations with Laura,

We talked again. We're not "not talking" but we're also not talking very much, if that makes any sense... She told me I should look up Kelly Clarkson's video "Because of You" on YouTube because it makes her think of me singing to her. I was like...I don't know. Sort of rolling my eyes? My mom has horrible suspect taste in music, for the past couple of years. She cried, though, telling me.

And then I cried a lot watching it.

Mom, when did you get all intuitive and full of hindsight?

I've also had great emails from Nancy, who's coming down, and met with a plastic surgeon, which was nerve wracking and shaky legged but reassuring in the end...

I found a new livejournaler I'm obsessed with and I'm reading her lj backwards as though it were a novel. I'm 500 entries in. Grant has to hear about her all day and into the night.

I have a lot of new music, through either rediscovering things in our old files from former computers, downloads off iTunes of stuff I forgot about, and reccomendations from that aforementioned ljer.

February is a cram-packed month for us this year. Ultra condensed short month.

You see that calendar above their heads?
There is...
-Hoppy (the other bunny) having her turn at spaying, tomorrow. The other bunny was also spayed, btw. Because it was a girl after all. So there will be no baby bunnies, and I have to say I am relieved. Apparently female bunnies have visible, external vulvas, and I mistook them for something more after watching them acting...suspiciously.
-Grant is out back digging a fire pit right now...we need a fire pit. Edit: It's mostly done. The grass inside the safety ring is all wet now.

-Ananda and Aaron going together to their first sleepover, at my friend Michelle's house, with their friends (2 of her 6 kids) Grace and Kai - this is Saturday night
-them going to a free ballet with Laura next Saturday day
-the 7 of us camping at Peace River, up in Arcadia, Sunday-Tuesday. Three days two nights. We're getting a small propane tent heater because it's supposed to be in the 50s at night. It's exciting, though, the river is really low this time of year and you can find all kind of ox fossils and shark teeth and things on the canoe rides, if you get out where it's very shallow
-Grant and I are going away together overnight for the first time ever, for Valentine's Day. Laura will be here with the kids. We're going to Dry Tortugas National Park. I've been really fascinated with the Dry Tortugas for months now, I got a book about the's been a prison, and a pirate stop. There are shipwrecks and coral reefs to see with snorkels, and baby turtles hatching, and a big old fort to climb up in.
-I'm (presumably, with everything fine at my exam for the go-ahead) getting an IUD
-ISAAC IS TURNING FIVE. Isaac - 5. O_O He says "Hi!"

Jake wanted to say hi too..

-between the 22nd-24th our chickens will be arriving! Well, chicks. One day old female chicks :)

Grant's shed:

The weird seasonal thing our mango tree is doing (along with all the other ones in the neighborhood):

I've been drawing sometimes. I'm not an artist, it's childish colored pencil stuff, but it's therapeutic. And a little nuts.
Don't say I didn't warn you )

I've been thinking a lot about all the different versions of my self that are out there. Because on Facebook, I have high school friends, PATH moms, (rl) naturalfamily group people, x-boyfriend, church camp peeps,'s weird sometimes to see what I say to one and then imagine them all seeing it. Something really good for me has been the church we're going to. They tell it like it is, with lots of scriptural reference and theologically helpful points...and lots of Tolkien and C.S Lewis references...and lots of science and philosophy...and lots of not normally Christian music...all reinforcing the truth of God, the presence of the Spirit, the life of Christ. I can't really get into it here and now, at the end of an already-gargantuan entry, but there doesn't seem to be anyone there who has a "church self" and a "the rest of the time self". It's very raw. They're really trying to go back to the beginning and do it the way it was done in the Gospels, with our particular community in mind.
altarflame: (growing up together)
These are the things Ananda and Aaron have done today, totally on their own:

-we got up extra early to drop Shadow (Annie's rabbit) off at the vet to be broken fixed. She cleaned out his box and filled it with fresh hay and his bottle with water, and got him a clean towel in the carrier, before we left. They sang along with P!nk and the Indigo Girls the whole way there and back, stopping me often to explain what each song is about. I refuse at this point to spend more than 2 minutes talking about a song's meaning because otherwise I never get to actually hear the music.
-chores - he takes out the trash and recycling and clears and scrubs the dining table, she put away the clean dishes, moved the laundry through and picked stuff up off a bathroom floor
-he played piano for almost an hour solid, some of it so beautiful I couldn't do anything but sit with my mouth open
-she read a couple of chapters of her current book
-he did "an experiment" and then rushed out to show me when it was all done - scribbling all over a black and a white sheet of construction paper with the same few colored pencils, to see the difference. This led to him talking about museums, and how we should lease one of the available spots in a local shopping plaza for our own museum, at which point I explained that that would be about $10,000 per month which is why the Bayleaf Peddler went out of business, but we could set up a cooperative, or "co-op" museum of kids' art with our natural family group and homeschool group, and now they're all excited about doing that.
-Annie came asking me how to spell "sailboat" and "seagulls" but didn't want to tell me why because it's a surprise. I could see at a glance that she's writing some multi-page story in her composition book
-she also apparently drew Aaron in full detail, naked, which I thought was somewhat impressive but upset him too much, so we had a talk about artistic freedom vs making people uncomfortable, and privacy, and talent, and all that jazz
-I saw some art she did that looked just like ven diagrams, in that composition book, so I explained ven diagrams and we did some examples - foods that she likes, he likes, and they both like; farm animals, house pets, and animals that are commonly both. Aaron then suggested color ven diagrams, like with red on one side, blue on the other, and purple in the middle, and I told him he's a genius.
-they looked at most of the pictures Grant took way up in the northwest corner of the Everglades today, out on his own
-once we had Shadow back (Grant brought him home), we went over the vet's instructions together - low activity, regular food, liquid pain medicine once a day by dropper, coming back in 14 days to take out the stitches. Later they saw the shaved belly and were shocked and we talked about how doctors have to see what they're doing and the area has to be totally cleaned; how I got shaved for c-sections.
-this led into a detailed description of both what is currently wrong with my belly and what has to be done to fix it, that they were chomping at the bit for and ate up like it was just fascinating. Whatevs, I guess. They were laughing hysterically about how someone's going to have to make me a new belly button. They cannot BELIEVE some people electively have cosmetic surgeries for pure "looks" reasons.
-we (me and children) walked up to the grocery store and back, shopped. Annie picked out Elise's clothes and dressed her and put her shoes on before we left, purely because she wanted to. Ever since I asked her to that one time because I was headed to the ER with pain, she's realized she can, and now she seems to love it. And Elise is all about it.
-I went in their room and they had this whole big setup, that they eagerly explained to me, where flat crystal things were houses, bottle caps were farms, big random objects represented the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building, Aaron's bike lock key was "the Florida Keys" (get it?! Hahaha, they said). And then Annie's marbles were storms. A small clear one was a rain shower, a small clear one with stuff in it a small thunderstorm, a small shooter a tropical storm, a big shooter a hurricane. The black shooter shot through with orange was a Category 5 hurricane, and it had just blown one of the farm's barns all the way onto a mountain (which was the drum set's stool)
-teeth brushing, reading aloud and bedtime prayers

This is just what I can remember right now, just from today. It blows my mind, what kids learn left to their own devices or just "facilitated" (like me getting them the piano, the books, answering their questions...)

Jake asks questions and demands I read him books ALL DAY LONG, too, and Isaac must have spent two hours today on watching short video clips and playing challenging games. Those two spent most of the afternoon outside playing in the yard.

I love it.
altarflame: (After the kiss)
I've been having a great deal of fun oohing, aahing and squeeing over a close friend's blog reports of her suddenly-more-explosive sex life. We've exchanged dozens of detailed comments that make me giggle, question myself, explain myself, and then hash it all out with Grant later.

It's serendipidously coincided with me also having a suddenly-more-explosive sex life, which makes the hashing out with Grant and the explaining myself all the more interesting. I didn't realize how much I missed having someone in real life to gush to about...positive experiences (JESS! Jess, I miss you!).

I've had people on lj talk in depth about sex before, but they've been either way more or way less experienced than me, or had a different mindset, or orientation, or whatever. So I can kind of relate or I can scroll on by but it hasn't clicked the way this has - because she is also in a long term monogamous hetero marriage with a ton of trust and communication, and also hasn't "played the field" or had some wild college days or whatever else that so many other people have. And we both have trust and boundary issues because of how we grew up, and a lot of thoughts about spirituality and vulnerability and how they relate to sex.

Writing about sex in detail here, in my journal, MYSELF, has never really seemed like an option. Filtered or otherwise, it's just...unappealing. The only time I really consider sex talk at all (usually) is when I want to take some sort of poll, or get input, on something that is peripheral to the actual sex part(some of that sort of thing will be forthcoming).

I had an insanely productive day, today. I:

-cleaned the HELL out of the tv room...the kids had taken half an hour I was busy with phone calls to dump out an entire box of cereal and bag of almonds, grind bananas into the carpet, and this was all on top of the general smattering of lincoln logs and megablocks and when I discovered it all, Jake was standing on the footstool shredding paper on top of everything...ARGH
-spent an insane amount of time exerting consistent discipline, settling disputes, enforcing chores, changing diapers, re-dressing Jake, cleaning mysterious puddles, getting people drinks, getting Elise down for a nap, encouraging Aaron at the piano, giving Isaac affection, nursing Elise, etc.
-ordered the box spring we need (there was a lot of cost comparison and delivery time hoohaw to muddle through here)
-went to the bank and disputed (MORE!!!) fraudulent charges - Laura came over to make that a bit easier so I could go alone
-spent about an hour combing through our old magazines with Ananda for things we can use in collage ideas we have
-found the ideal fabric for our bed canopy, and ordered it (this took a ridiculously long time...the finding part)
-took all the kids to the grocery store (lack of food options was getting a bit awful)
-made a good dinner at a decent time
-washed dishes and cleaned counters
-made the appts for my exam and consult re: the IUD. I still feel uneasy about that. But also hopeful. I had to get a referral because my primary doesn't insert IUDs.
-got a SHOWER. A SHOWER!! I hate what a commodity showers can start to seem like for me.

And I'm starting to ponder often about my adult self and how much my kids should know about her. I know that there are people on my friends' page who would think it was VERY healthy and beneficial for kids to grow up knowing their parents have a good sex life. And others who would have a hard time even admitting to the kids that sex is something they've ever done with Daddy, at least directly and in so many words. Now that Ananda and Aaron understand so much, it gets weird - when I tell Laura to come look at my new lamp, and we laugh about how much easier it is to pick things out now that Grant has shown me that my taste in decor is all just "Sex den", and then we see Annie behind her listening in with a look that implies she's a part of the conversation... It's relatively harmless. But it's new. And it's weird. And. I dunno. I got this mouse pad out with Grant at a novelty store where we also got Shaun an extendable fork to steal food off of peoples' plates, and Annie a tea set - the mouse pad has a pin-up style vintage looking cartoon girl on it and it says, "For a good time, click here!" I thought it was cute, he bought it for me, we put it at my desk in the office with my big old antique telephone...and it's weird, now, for Annie to be sitting in my office chair and examining it when I walk in there. *sigh*

I'm CONSTANTLY realizing they're listening to G and I, or having to send them away so we can talk, whether it be about personal problems a relative is having or us being all blushy while he nibbles on my neck and prods me to say...who knows what O_o

I don't think we should forgo all affection in central areas of the house (especially co-sleeping with one to three small kids every night, good grief...) but it also gets frustrating for me trying to juggle Aaron's analyzing expression over the bar with the erotically charged atmosphere in the kitchen.

I'm just a really sexual person in general. It's hard for me to be around Grant with anyone else and "turn that off". We don't take things past neck nibbling or "go out of here so me and mommy can talk" stuff, in front of them. And it's great that now that Elise will play well with Isaac and Jake, and Annie and Aaron can warn us if the house is burning down, we can go hide in the bedroom in the evening with the door locked for 20 or 30 minutes, albeit with one ear turned towards the house and knowing we could have to run out at a moment's notice.

But I have Annie giving me this SQUINTY EYED LOOK when I come out of the room! It makes me I shouldn't be looking all stoned-happy with messed up hair O_o

I have a feeling I'm going to be in for it when they're teenagers. I can already hear the snide remarks and sarcastic grossed out commentary outside our door. It makes me want to move somewhere with a split floor plan :p

Feel free to give me your opinions or experiences on this kind of thing. I remember walking in on my parents as a kid, and overhearing some sex talk between them another time, and it not freaking me out or being bad at all - a little embarassing in the moment but quickly forgotten and later looked back on as very normal. My sister even recalls walking in on our dad watching porn in his room and him shooing her out, but then coming out right behind her and giving her a really direct explanation ("That's something some grown-ups like to watch other grown-ups do, but it's not for kids" or something like that) before asking what she needed and proceeding as normal, and it was totally cool with her. She was like, oh ok, and never thought about it again until she was an adult thinking how well he handled it. I know my best high school friend Kathy used to be almost condescending about how her parents "were so having sex every Sunday afternoon" and were "so cute" and she hoped she still "had it that good at 50".

Then I remember an x's crazy mom making all kinds of racket in the middle of the night to where he'd be yelling across the hall for her to shut up, and throwing sneakers through their doorway at them, as a high schooler :x I so don't want to be that mom.

But I so have a problem...with...noise...

On a surprisingly unrelated note, I am really, REALLY unhappy about how I cannot accept my body as it is OR stop eating constantly OR start excercising frequently. Everything is too hard, damnitt!

I am not just an emotional eater, I'm a compulsive eater, and every passion I have - writing, reading, knitting and crochet, sewing, homeschooling my kids - is largely sedentary. I like to cook? I think the extra calories in that hobby cancel out the small amount of moving my body around ;) I really don't USE my body, except through nursing know :p

I am kicking around the idea of joining Weight Watchers. Grant says he would do it with me. I'm torn right now about whether I need a catalyst like that, or whether the problems I have (sedentary lifestyle, can't stop eating even when I know I've had enough) won't be helped by a point system or a meeting. I am on the verge of other positive changes in this area...I've been studying yoga to try to get a home practice going, I talked with my sister about watching my kids a time or two per week so I can go swim at the Y, and I've begun going for long power walks some of the mornings Grant is off, before breakfast. I've drastically increased my water intake. So...should I continue as I am and get back on the God-not-food train that was helping me before, or do I really need the accountability of a system like WW?

I've thought some tonight about whether or not it would be really helpful to me to do it all on this journal. Public. Like, pictures, weight, measurements, food logs. Would that be accountability? Or would I just want to die, screw up my lj completely and then not make any real changes? Sure is free-er than WW. And...drastically more embarassing.

My therapist suggested Overeaters Anonymous, which makes me want to die. I realize just how vain and awful I am, thinking, I do not want to go hang out with a bunch of people who go to an OVEREATERS ANONYMOUS meeting. I don't want to BE one of those people. I looked on the website tonight and was relieved that there's no meeting anywhere in my county anyway - makes it easier to say I "can't" do that.

The thing is, I've had some major uncontrollable things in my life alter my metabolism and size...surgeries and recovery periods last year, along with weeks of NOT eating from worry over Elise, have left me WAY heavier than I've ever been in my adult life even when about to give birth :x And so I HAVE to lose weight. I have a hereditary predisposition to diabetes, I have a surgery I've gotta get for my stomach somewhere down the line that is far safer at a healthy weight, I have a WHOLE CLOSET full of clothes I can't wear :/ I know I don't have any choice but to lose some weight.

And every night I sit around binging and thinking about what I'll do about that, tomorrow. *sigh*

I've started drawing some things. With colored pencils. On the one hand, they are childish and poorly executed, definitely not works of art. On the other, they help me, and I think they're somewhat interesting if for no other reason than the wack subject matter I'm dealing with.

And that's another thing - I left a drawing on my desk and there isn't anything "wrong" with it, really, but Annie went in and she was talking to Aaron about it, and, I hadn't really intended it for them and...blah. It's just me, from the side, from the neck down, naked...with a baby and my intestines and a rose coming out of a flap at the bottom of my scarred up stomach. ...They see my belly cast? They know I'm in counseling, and why! This is what I mean. To what degree do most people think you need to censor yourself to not screw up your kids? Your kids who say things like, "I'm gonna go make sure those bunnies aren't having sex while we aren't looking." Isaac is still happily oblivious to anything that doesn't directly concern him and Jake and Elise only see me and Daddy getting close together as a reason to be jealous and try to cram between us.


Oct. 16th, 2008 01:30 am
altarflame: (burning bush)
I'm talking about a dragon cake, an extremely high tide, shoelace just have to see it all to believe it all.

We'll start with Elise. My beasty.

+11 )

Things seem at least temporarily stable to me.

We have our house to ourselves again. My mom, she made things crazy. She was crazy. I mean, I don't know how to explain it. Not just "crazy" but real crazy, like, um, wow. And my brother, I love him, but he shifts everything in the "video games and a bad attitude" direction, even when he's mowing the grass or taking out the garbage. And even though we had to spend a ton of money to get them back to least now we know the total and it's not just some indefinitely growing amount of money we're spending on all that. She's on her own. I hope she does ok.

My mom hates reading stuff like this in my journal. But, really, that is such the tip of the iceberg, and I have written almost nothing for the past month and a half about the neverending drama. At one point my father told me I should Baker Act her with complete sincerity and real concern.

She would say that is blown out of proportion and that I always make things out to be more than they are. To that I say, right. Whatever.

I get the results of my pelvic ultrasound back tomorrow, and I suppose that could derail this whole stability thing. But I am not nearly as worried as I would expect. I feel pretty good about it. We'll see. The top three causes of heavy and irregular uterine bleeding, in order, are benign ovarian cysts, benign uterine fibroids, and benign cervical polyps. Those three things are really common and I fit the profile for any/all very well. I am still nervous, but it's in the way I think most people are nervous waiting for medical test results, rather than in that special ptsd way that involves hyper-awareness of mortality and a constant feeling of fight or flight panic.

Other than being in love with Grant, I think the two biggest things going on in my personal (read: Non-mommy) life right now are as follow:
1. Weight struggles - trying to keep to my eating plan, trying to deal with thinking I'm beautiful then thinking I'm gross then thinking I'm embarassed to leave the house, and then feeling sexy, all in 2 hours.
2. Walking with God, as is the title of my devotional page for today.

Come to think of it, I invited God back into my life and heart at around the same time I started to think maybe I could deal, and I'm blaming a lot of this simple calm on my mother leaving but I'll bet it's bigger than that. I mean, my mom DID do a lot of dishes, after all, so come on.
altarflame: (Default)
Man I should be sleeping right now. But I actually have things I feel like writing about!

Our babysitting ship has come in, and I shall call her G. I put an ad up on this site called awhile back and I've gotten a lot of very mainstream applicants, people who aren't bad but also just aren't what I'm looking for. People who seem surprised and confused that I want to meet with them prior to them doing any babysitting, which kind of blows my mind.

So G. G!! Wait, this will get confusing, because I sometimes call Grant G. Alright, for this entry G is the babysitter.

She's a DOULA, and a lactation consultant, with years of experience as a camp counselor with older kids. This all in and of itself is kind of amazing. Unlike most other applicants she also understands basic laws of punctuation and capitalization, and speaks fluent english. I know, I know, I sound horrible, but in practice those things are important to me - I want someone who can really communicate well with my kids.

So. I talked to her. AND - get ready for this, my gosh - SHE IS FRIENDS WITH NANCY! She lived in Boston for 2 years and worked with her!!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck is this, I get a therapist that read her book and fought for a vbac and then I find this babysitter, I am telling you God put that woman in my life. Nancy I mean, not G, although I'm starting to consider that too.

We spent 45 minutes on the phone on Friday. She and I both love the Ya-Ya books and have solidarity with our siblings after strange childhoods. She is my craft inverse, being better at sewing and just starting out with knit and crochet. She CRIED on the PHONE about my BIRTH STORIES. She's looking to forge a long term relationship with a family, she's read all the detailed info about each of my kids on my profile and...well...

Let's just say I'm excited.

My poor sister has to get her baby root canals at a hospital under general anesthesia, to the tune of $5,000 (with insurance!). It's horrible. But she's really figuring him out, with sensory issues, and all his crazy hoohaw is falling into place nicely. Our ped is impressed with her prowess, I think.

I am kind of freaked out about how much our lives are changing right now...we have some neighbors coming over on Sunday - tomorrow - to help G figure out putting in the wood floors. Really nice guy who is a plumber that's been doing work for us...they have a five year old daughter that's apparently dying to meet our kids. And our other neighbors, their kids went to the same VBS mine did and Aaron's been playing basketball with him outside a lot. So we've got new neighbors in place of the old, we have this babysitter coming for a first face to face on Monday, we're in this house. And -

We bought rabbits today! Two female dwarfs that we're keeping in an outdoor pen on the grass during the day and in a cage on the deck at night. A and A had saved up over $150 combined in Christmas, birthday, tooth and other misc money over the past 8+ months, for this, and so they are "their" rabbits, though of course I have to oversee a lot of care...and will probably be footing the bill for some bug netting and spaying in the next few months, as well. We got them from a local bunny farm, they are only 45 days old and from the same litter. I anticipate them being spoiled rotten on organic spinach and apple slices and too much cuddling.

I have a ton more to say but Elise came and sleep walked onto my lap, and now I'm trying to type one handed on an unfamiliar laptop with a warm baby limp on me and making me sleepy with voodoo...So.
altarflame: (this is serious)
Having spent the last two nights in a row here at Our House, I think I can say we are now Living Here. On air mattresses in the tv room and Jake and Isaac's room, know, it's working :p

There is such an incredible, surprising, AMAZING difference in convenience, being in a place that FITS US. The kitchen alone is so time saving - I can make 7 pieces of turkey bacon at a time on the bigger George Foreman. I can toast 4 slices of bread at once with this toaster oven. The stove is so fast that it took me awhile to adjust, but now that I have - WOW. Water is boiling within 2 and a half minutes of being on. Everything just cooks so much faster. The oven preheats so much faster. Meals in general are seriously taking me between half and 3/4 the time they were at the old place.

The dishwasher holds a ton more at once, as well as some items that just plain wouldn't have fit in the old one I was using at all (stock pot? serving plates? no problem). I have less loads in a day. And everything is clean at the end of each one, with nothing needing to go back through.

Same with our "Canyon Capacity" washer and dryer.

The bathrooms stay so clean just because there are two and they're both spacious. Before anything set on our nonexistant counter was knocked off constantly, drips from handwashing ended up in the constantly overflowing garbage that was crammed between the tiny vanity and the toilet, the only way to get behind the toilet to clean was with a rag on hands and knees, etc etc...this is SO MUCH BETTER.

I'm still cleaning and cooking A LOT, but it's so much more efficient and rewarding, now.

Our dining table has more clearance with a leaf in all the time here than it did with no leaves over at the old house. And they will both go in, inside (remember my pics of Thanksgiving Dinner on the back patio, last year?)

I am shamelessly swept away with the Jolie-Pitts' new babies. Rich, beautiful A-List celebrities proudly flaunting a blended family of 6 small kids, telling People magazine all about tandem nursing, and the only childcare help from his parents who are staying with them. No live-in Nanny, just a super involved Dad. I totally bought that magazine, and feel good about how they are giving every penny of the $14million they got for the pics to charity.

I told Ananda and Aaron a sort of bullet-point rundown of their family history and it turned into this huge homeschool discussion wherein they learned about:

-that big budget movies travel not just an hour like they did with Shaun, for filming, but across oceans to other continents
-Cambodian landmines
-Tibetan monks
-starvation in Ethiopia
-malaria in impoverished nations
-where Vietnam is
-what the United Nations is
-the efforts to rebuild New Orleans post-Katrina (which they knew all about, as Katrina hit us first and we watched the news as it intensified and struck again...)
-that "chateau" is the french word for "castle"
-How crappy our society is with our celebrity worship (they had no idea previously, we never buy those magazines or talk about movie stars under non Jolie-Pitt baby circumstances), and how people who wield power (lots and lots of money, people caring about what they have to say and interviewing them on tv) can use that for good things that have nothing to do with Hollywood, if they want to
-etc, etc, etc

Heck yes Maddox is sporting a blue mohawk. I'd like to see someone give them some flack for that, can you imagine - "that poor child would be so much better off back in the orphanage with a decent haircut, what if he needs to get an office job one day..." :p

A weird issue I'm dealing with:

Ananda and Aaron were born 13 months apart and have been joined at the hip ever since. They're going to be sharing a room here, for a couple of more years before that is too weird, and they've historically taken baths together from infancy...until about a year ago. It started seeming like an issue to me, then, as she started acting hormonal and he started yanking up the covers when I'd come in the room to tuck him in at night. Now she's in a training bra and he's had a big old crush on a girl. But they're only 7 and 8. I had just said they were too physically big to bathe together anymore in that little tub at Grant Sr's, to avoid creating awkwardness between them, and they talked about how it wasn't as fun sometimes, bathing with smaller kids who splashed and aren't capable of the same level of building with foam blocks or drawing with bath crayons or whatever, but they accepted it. They take solo showers about 70% of the time these days, anyway.

Now, though, we have this giant roman tub in the master bath that they've ALL been dying to use, and A and A keep begging me to get in it together, with a "finally! THIS one will work!" air, and there is no "you won't fit" argument. I've laughed it off a couple of times with a "You two are too old to bathe with other people" thing, but they don't get it and reply with things like, "We swim in pools together, what's the difference?" Luckily, so far, they've been asking at inopportune times like when dinner will be ready in 15 minutes or we have to go somewhere soon.

I just hate to crush their innocence...or something...and say "you two are a boy and a girl and your private parts shouldn't be near the other ones' private parts without clothes in between". Obviously I wouldn't phrase it that way, but it is sort of the gist of whatever I do say. I mean they see my bathroom as the prefects' bathroom at Hogwarts - a huge tub and mermaid pictures on the wall - and that is a lot more fun with another kid. Grant put like a tablespoon of shampoo in it last night and turned on the jacuzzi jets, and next thing we knew there were literally TWO FEET of foam and bubbles up on top of the surface of the water in places. Bah.

It's interesting to me that since, in my area, there is very little environmentalism but a whole bunch of poor people, people assume that our earth-conscious choices are "can't afford anything else" choices. For instance someone once tried to give us some money at the grocery store, assuming that a big family walking to the grocery store must be really low on options and without transportation. I've also been offered rides and given a lot of "looks", when we walk. We recently got out the manual reel mower G ordered from Amazon, and two different neighbors came over to offer to let us use their gas powered ones. It's nice of them and I like that we seem to have nice neighbors here, too, but geez.

Incidentally, that reel mower is SO MUCH EASIER TO USE than we feared it might be, and highly effective. G says it's slightly harder to turn, but that is made up for by never having to struggle to start it or have to go get gas for it.

Ananda, Aaron and Isaac have been LOVING VBS all week, and are sad that tomorrow is the last day. It's been a great thing for Jake, Elise and I, too - Monday and Tuesday Grant was off so we took the two of them places, just the four of us, and then yesterday and today I just nursed them and read to them and let them run around while I got things done in the house. G was able to get someone to cover the very end of his shift tomorrow so he can come to their big VBS "show" in the evening. This church is so incredible, the way they go out on a limb for kids and volunteer and plan and just put so much into so many programs. I appreciate it so much, I wish there was a way to express it to them. Aside from writing them big checks with all the hours and supplies in mind :p Really though...I want them to know how much it means to them and how they loved it so much last year and this year and how great AWANA has been for them, and all of it.

I think about my Nana all the time lately. As I vaccum dust off of books and wipe down baseboards, because I've never seen anyone else do those things. As I get the stepladder down to water philodendrons. It is seeming increasingly unacceptable that they moved away and don't seem able to get away much. I mean...they'd be like 2 blocks from us. They could walk over in the evening. We could borrow his hedgeclippers. I swear.

In any case there must be some way to let them know they instilled something in me, all those times I was rolling my eyes at the way they spent their Saturdays.
altarflame: (Elisepeeking)
And it had a lot of super cute clothes in it - I mean tons of really, really cute stuff.

But there was this one skirt and shirt that took the cake, for me. Laura and I were squealing and squeeing about it. I mean...geez. My baby + this outfit = !!!!!

She is all banged up :/ She's too fearless for a 10 month old...she's gotten so good at walking, and now she can walk FAST and climb far too well (from the block table to the bench and right up over the back of the couch in under 30 seconds, for instance - things like up onto Isaac's toddler bed stopped being hard long ago).

YESTERDAY it was so bad I didn't even want to take her out - I thought somebody would call the cops on us or something! We went to the zoo as it was Grant's day off and the whole time I was aware of it. She had, in addition to that forehead knot and the hairline bang, a vertical line bruise on one cheek and a red side of her nose. She thinks it's a good idea to play rough with her big brothers, among other things, but they are pretty gentle with's usually her own fault when she goes diving or careening.

Still adorable.

Click for more fearlessness, and other unrelated goodness )

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