altarflame: (deluge)
Saturday Grant and I drove down to Key West. We stopped for mushroom brie soup, ham and cheese croissant and iced coffee on the way, and we saw many mostly naked people while there - mostly in costumes and body paint, and drank free rum after getting to a rooftop bar via my Aunt's free wristbands. I had a bunch of party goers yell after she had the announcer say, "Happy Birthday to Tina Marie!" (which she will apparently always call me) and I walked around on an old bridge in the moonlight alone with Grant, looking at stars and our changing shadows.

Sunday I slept in, I had sex, I took my big kids out for a LUSH shopping/macaron getting/tea shop date, I was sung to by my sweet family.

I'm 34!

Today O_O

Today I took Ananda to the orthondontist (one of her impacted teeth is finally showing!!!) and myself to both an ultrasound, where I learned my IUD may have embedded itself in my c/s scar and need to be surgically removed (but I have to wait to know), and to my primary care doc with Grant where we were finally able to get training and prescriptions for him to give me the B-12 shots I have to have. Jake and Elise had to come to all of these appointments and brought books and were generally pretty tolerant. Somewhere in between there, I made a big pot of pumpkin oatmeal for Jake, Elise, G and I; helped Jake finalize the Halloween costume he wants; and I took an hour and a half long beast of a french test.

Then I fielded a call from Aaron's spanish teacher as I dropped off prescriptions, picked up my school kids, had a big sit down about a class Annie's slacking in, talked to my gynecologist about my pending test results, left FIU's psych advising a message about a registration problem, and started on my research methods work. 45 minute test and hour+ on an assignment later, I ran to eat the delicious dinner Grant cooked and talk with Isaac for a bit.

Good. Grief.

Since Saturday, I've been having an awful lot of long, hard, heavy, emotional, irritating, comforting, potentially helpful fb messages back and forth with my sister. About misunderstandings we've had, habits and patterns we've outgrown, ways to meet each other where we're at now, and more. Just novellas upon novellas worth of word counts, often with tears. BAH-LAAAAH....

There does seem to be some progress, though, and at least we both care enough to make the effort.

I just took a break from writing this to read Elise 3 chapters of Junie B. Jones (and the Stupid Smelly School Bus), cuddle her a bit, and explain what we have coming up this week. She's so great. Reading to my kids can be EXACTLY the recharge *I* need, sometimes.

Still pretty damn tired :p
altarflame: (Default)
So far it's went:

-Sleep in while Grant takes Elise to preschool and goes out to the store
-wake up to breakfast pizzas & oj, flowers, hugs from Ananda and Aaron, a homemade necklace from Jake, and dozens of well wishes on facebook
-take a nap with Grant, til he goes to get Elise and then comes back and crawls in bed with me, and Isaac, and Elise
-bedroom door closes for highly satisfactory Mommy and Daddy time
-talk of him grilling me a marinated steak and shrooms later
-trip out to Mama Mia's for bruschetta and cappuccino, in the beautiful weather
-sister shows up to deliver lovely edible arrangement ordered by my mother, which I happily share with children and niece and nephew

(this is where I'm at now)

I mean honestly if this is my thirties I'll take it.

Tangent: this past weekend G and I went up to Winn DIxie in the BEAUTIFUL gorgeous weather on a bike and a skateboard, racing down the same streets we have since we were 13 years old, and it struck me that we were racing down the same streets together that we have since we were 13 years old.

PostScript: Guys, seriously, why can't we talk about whether or not you like it when people talk about sex on the internet, or my weird mood swings, or the pictures I post, or my crazy friends, or college - ? These exploding political threads busting my inbox at the seams, honestly people, sigh. I mean I think about current events at some point every day but I wish I could get a quarter the input and involvement on everyday posts. Ultimately, heated debate of any kind just makes me tired of the subject of debate. <--This is me flippantly whining with a chuckle, ok? So don't come in here like OH MY GOSH YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SUFFERING or I'm just gonna link you to a Rick Astley video.
altarflame: (DeathbyChores)
This part was all written late last night )

Aaron's birthday was Sunday. He wanted a monarch butterfly and caterpillar cake. It was rather last minute, hence the swanky serving trays.

I think they came out pretty ok for being freehand and just using rectangular cakes (and cupcakes, obviously)

He wanted to light his own candles.

And after we ate, there came an untimely cake demise.

Finally, by popular demand, helping links:

With Andrea, I am not sure what the best way to go about this is. I am not in a positin to organize and order and ship packages right now, I have a dozen balls in the air. I am willing to help publicize it and willing to contribute a small amount of money along with ideas. I was going to link you all to the paypal through which some ladies from one of Andrea's communities had been gathering funds for a big package, but they had a lot of trouble with international paypal and some disagreements I know nothing about, and everyone is being refunded :/ So, if you are willing to spearhead the effort, let me know and I am more than willing to post about it. For now, unfortunately, the link I had is no longer a good one :/

If you would like to help Aaron get to NYC and compete at JUMP you can go here to do so -

To the person who dug through my entries to find my email address after it was referenced in comments and did it the hard way, thanks ...and I'm sorry I hadn't posted something more clearly. This will be on my userinfo for the next couple of weeks.

To the people who've messaged (and commented) encouraging this and saying you want to help, you guys are so awesome <3

To the trolls asking Grant if he's ashamed of me for "begging" on formspring, really? Come on. It's not designer shoes, and I'm not up in your face. It's fundraising for my son's dance trip, and you don't have to read or donate! Honestly, now that I think about it, I can't imagine minding if someone put up a donate button for some designer shoes they wanted (so long as they were honest).

As it stands the B&B guy I referenced called me back today - the apartment we wanted IS taken, but he has another one available. It's not as nice and is in a slightly shakier (but not bad, really) neighborhood. So I think that is going to be what we go with. The transit to the convention is quick and simple. It's still just about a grand ($980 instead of $1012 for the half a hotel room). This is good as it means the immediate crisis of losing roommate is past!

I keep finding out about (small, but accumulating) additional costs that are really irritating me. For instance, heightened airport security means that I can't take shampoo, conditioner, Noxzema, moisturizer, body spray, toothpaste, etc from home like I did as a teen flying. I have to go buy a bunch of stupid little travel sizes or get stuff up there and then leave it, which is REALLY annoying for someone who usually only buys massive economy sizes from a warehouse store. Moreso, though, we're also going to have pay some bs fee of $25 per checked bag - meaning, $100 total roundtrip for Aaron and I to both bring a suitcase? I mean, WHAT? Grant was saying it's probably cheaper to freaking ship things to ourselves :p I am hoping our yard sale and the three usborne shows I have scheduled before we leave rake in more than I'm really expecting. And, with an apartment I think we can save some on cooking and eating in rather than always going out... If you think of something I am not thinking of, price-wise, feel free to let me know. I'm researching subway and taxi (for late nights) costs to try to get an estimate, tonight, because that's not really a number we've tried to get a figure for thus far.

If by some miracle I get to the point through our own local work (Grant is even secret shopping on the weekends) and donations that I have more than we NEED, I will take him out and do some awesome stuff in NCY and post lots of pics (Statue of Liberty, museum, whatevs). If I reach that point before we leave, I'll take the button down (AND CELEBRATE WILDLY WITH MUCH JOY!!!). If you don't send any money - that's what I was expecting towards this from the internet, I still love you! Well, not YOU...

Ok fine you too.

I gotta go cook.
altarflame: (Default)
I mean none. And this has been a busy day.

Conversation with Laura, early today, on the phone:
L: Come to my house. I'll make you a snack plate.
M: Snack plate! Yeah! I'm on it.
L: I'm making you some blueberry muffins and I have pink lady apples here.
M: Apples? ...I don't want any muffins.
L: Because you're stupid.
M: NO, because I've been on some kind of manic carb fest, I need fruits and vegetables and -
L: APPLES! and blueberries
M: You said SNACK PLATE. You know what snack plate means, we're talking about pickles and olives and lunch meat and tomato slices on crackers and -
L: I don't have any of that.
L: Because you can't eat my goat cheese since you went too crazy with cow dairy because you're a slave to the cow -
M: Slave to the cow?
L: I can make you a SALAD. A big spinach salad with macadamia nuts and -
M: I wipe my ass with your salad!
L: ...Wow.
M: Hey, that was the perfect response!
L: I could tell you were going for an impressed reaction.
M: Good job.
L: Uh-huh. Now can you be rational?

Conversation with Ananda, late tonight, in my bed:
M: What did you guys talks about?
A: I don't remember.
M: Well, you talked about Girl Scout Camp because Christina was begging Veronica to go too.
A: Yeah.
M: Did you eat anything?
A: Uh-huh.
M: Well, what did they feed you?
A: Watermelon.
M: Is that all?
A: An omelette.
M: She made you an omelette?
A: Yeah.
M: What was in it?
A: Broccoli, and cheese.
M: Was it good?
A: Yes.
M: Did you love it?
A: Yes.
M: Did you say thank you?
A: Yes.
M: Did you say "THIS IS AWESOME!"?
A: Mom.
M: Did you say OM NOM NOM?!?!
A: Please stop that.

Lazy evening in the tv room.

Elise was napping.

Today was a really good day because Grant was here with us for it. Sometimes it seems like he doesn't live here anymore, he works so much. It's not taken for granted to have some help with dinner or some company on the road or even to know he's in the other room taking a nap. I ♥ weekends.

We took Jake and Elise swimming in his dad's pool while Aaron and Isaac were at a birthday party and Ananda was at her friend's house. His Dad's pool is a massive dissapointment if you're expecting to go to a pool. But if you imagine it as a baby pool, it's fucking enormous and amazing awesome. On the one hand, JAKE AND ELISE CAN WALK IN IT WITH THEIR HEADS OUT. On the other hand, you get in via ladder. *bewilderment*

There was also an epic store trip. And a late walk. And too much muccus. I am so over sneezing and coughing and having a sinus headache. It's come and gone though; the gone times are new and I am digging them.

Tomorrow, Aaron is 9. We're taking him ice skating, and I'm making him a butterfly cake and a cupcake caterpillar. Nine years of Aaron.
altarflame: (AnniePurple)
So Many Picture From Today )
altarflame: (Default)
The self sufficiency of my kids when I am out of commission never fails to amaze me. Today for instance, I am just starting to get over a hellacious ear infection (yesterday Grant had to take the day off while I got an emergency ENT appointment - the whole side of my face was swollen, I couldn't chew, and there was puss coming out of my ear). I've been kind of lazy and out of it since I got up, lazing about reading in my room. I walked out to get food to take with my antibiotics, and I found:

-Jake and Elise painting on the deck, surrounded by cups of water, paper towels, and other supplies
-Ananda at the computer desk playing Taylor Swift videos as she works on her new story
-Aaron in his room showing Isaac his caterpillar habitats and explaining what kind of butterflies they're going to be and what sort of food they need

Rock on.

Yesterday I became educated on the bizarre ICP subculture of juggalos. If you have no idea what they are, this is the four page article I read. The comments, the lyrics scattered throughout - the Graigslist ads linked on other sites. I really do not know where to begin. It seems to be a massive growing "family" throughout the midwest, centered around Detroit. Relatives are united by wearing clown paint on their faces (toddlers included), drinking some store brand soda called Faygo - which they're credited with keeping in business (as well as spraying innocent bystanders with supersoakers full of it), and yelling "WOOP WOOP!!" a lot. When they're not speaking in gangsta rap lyrics. Their gathering has events like oil wrestling, a BEACH BOYS BARBECUE, and helicopter rides. Oh, and 15,000 attendees, many of which are actively bartering things for titties (really). Then I saw the newest Insane Clown Posse video, for the song "Miracles" which is...uh...A BIT OF A DEPARTURE from their previous work, to say the least. An entertaining mix of extreme profanity, ignorant slang and spritual wonder, all from a couple of guys in clown makeup who are known for singing about stabbing someone to death while looking at some titties...they fly through space and oceans in this one, and ride on a tower, and feature their kids, all the while urging us to look around and see the magic. "Fucking rainbows, wow!"

Ever since seeing this, I am conflicted. The SNL parody is funny, but not as funny as the actual video. The number of sites and response videos attempting to explain that none of the things ICP are claiming are "miracles" (rainbows, magnets, giraffes) actually are is kinda intense. They're all like, uh, you idiots, every single things you are listing is perfectly scientifically explainable, none of it is a "miracle". And ICP kind of do themselves in saying something along the lines of "Fuck scientists, they just piss me off" in the song. BUT!!

Now I am in this uncomfortable and embarrassing position of feeling like, ok, ICP is generally really gross, and these hoardes of white trash that gather to beat each others' asses, get high and litter for 5 day long underage orgies are pretty maybe it's good if there is a bit of depth and awe and general gratitude introduced into that crowd by their idols. Like, ok, I don't think they ever got mocked or linked to the degree they are now when it was all about murder and objectification. If they can reach the "juggalo" crowd (shudder) by speaking their language with an actual song about being positive and stopping to think, well damn. I'm just not irony-laden or hipster enough to talk any real shit about that.

ALSO. All these obviously-far-more-educated-people who are like, "Rainbows are not miracles, they're simple refractions of light and moisture, it's called a spectrum" and "your kids looking like you is not a miracle, it's basic genetics, haven't you heard of heredity".


It is my overwhelming frustration belief that science and miracles can be THE SAME THINGS...His sperm meets her egg equals...another person? There is more than just cell division in between sex and birth. Something bigger than what we understand or can see under a microscope is going down to result in a new, independent consciousness. You might not believe in souls, but I don't see how you can't believe there is a lot more than we understand and some of it really does seem miraculous, if in a more "common vernacular" than "websters" sort of way.

This is actually something I think about a lot - how my faith has never been challenged by science and I don't understand why science is "enough" for anyone. The big bang theory, ok, that's how it happened - why did that get set in motion? What was there before it? Mostly, why does science explain things thoroughly enough to placate so many intelligent people? To me it has always just opened up more questions, and/or pointed to a vast unknown. That my kids, who all look like me, are sitting on the deck looking at a full-arch, brightly vivid rainbow is a lot of genetics and refraction but it's also awe-inspiring and miraculous in a whole other way that is not just misplaced semantics. I would rather experience or be around childlike wonder than jaded cynism any day of the week.

Anyway. Whenever I see really insular, WACK, loyalty-driven replacement families (gangs, cults, the juggalos) it makes me feel sad that so many people are raised without actual loving families to fill that natural void we all have for a place to belong. And it makes me wonder about the degree to which we are biologically programmed to be a part of something - a religion, a culture, a handed-down trade; something larger than we are that we are born into, raised within, identify with and are validated by. Modern American youth, by and large, don't have much religion, or culture, or tradition, and are drifting and alone.

I don't teach my kids in absolutes, really - I say, "Christians believe" and "I believe" and I teach a lot of opposing views and give them a generally wide girth of space to make their own decisions within the framework of knowing their parents think x, y and z are the truth and are encouraging them to participate.

But I SEE them searching for absolutes, sometimes. For black and white. They are frustrated by gray areas, less secure in universal tolerance when what they are looking to me for is guidelines for living and it confuses me at times. Is that just human nature, to try to seek out a side to be on and be right on that side? And if so, is that something we'll never conquer, or something we are gonna be over in a few generations?

Sometimes I think it's weird that I actually read news articles of some sort most every day, I'm usually in the middle of a book, I THINK about psychology and neurology...all the time...and I talk to Grant, Shaun, Laura and Dama about things I'm thinking about constantly. But I rarely write here about things I'm thinking about. I write about what's happening in our lives, but not what's going on in my head. I love other peoples' blogs about philosophical ideas, moral quandries and hypothetical situations, but I think I just get that out in conversation. And emails, where my links usually end up. Part of this is because I don't have the time or energy to expend on debates and following up on the links others will inevitably send me to, and part of it is because my lj time is really limited and so in general I'd rather archive than bs if I have to choose. Then I get a day like today where the combination of deep inner ear swelling, throbbing head, fever, very strong antibiotics (750 mg Levaquin, WHAT, this is what I was taking when I was sent home after sepsis...), and heavy alternating-every-2-hour doses of Tylenol and Motrin has got me feeling fuzzy-brained and incapacitated and so what else do I have to do but lounge around blogging about hoohaw.

Speaking of hoohaw, another thing I've been pondering is the sort of paradox some atheists must find themselves in at times. What I mean is that on the one side, if religion really does improve some peoples' lives and make society better overall, then it should, logically, be encouraged - atheists should even see the perks of signing on! Social network, safety net, comforting ideas about the afterlife, explanations for the previously unexplained, someone in charge and keeping track, being loved and heard even when alone...but on the other side, one cannot really make an intellectual decision to believe based on pros and cons. Belief is primarily a feeling, and most hardcore atheists I know are also very steadfast about siding with TRUTH above all else, so to consciously steep yourself in some sort of blind sheep denial as a way to enhance your happiness or success would seem totally unacceptable. Like a real betrayal to yourself and reality. I know two atheists who say that they think all religion is crap, a balm for society's ills, opium for the masses, etc, but - necessary. Basically, better Christians and Muslims and Jews and so on than Juggalos. "People need their crutches." I can't help but feel this is an almost unedurably superior attitude, it reminds me of my pothead, unemployed stepfather spouting off between episodes of Star Trek about how everyone else was headed for the meat grinder...but whatever ;) The rest of the atheists I know seem to exude more of a baffled irritation at the faithful around them for buying such a load of horseshit, and think that in the interest of the previously mentioned importance of Truth above all else that everybody needs to WAKE UP. Hopefully within our childrens' lifetime.

I feel a lot more empathy for the second group of people because I also have a great love for and loyalty to Truth for the sake of itself. I think it's wrong to lie to children to spare their feelings or to spouses to avoid a fight or even ON THE INTERNET because it's anonymous. As with anything "natural" (which I know not everyone finds valuable or preferable, but I do), I also feel there is an inherent value to truth and honesty (which I think can mean slightly different things here - one an intangible part of reality and the other a way to express ourselves).

BUT! I have experienced enough deeply moving and overwhelming situations, "signs", feelings and so forth, all reinforced by history, observing the world around me and other peoples' experiences, that I have become convinced my faith is part of Truth. And so my committment to truth for the sake of itself drives me to confess this online, even when I know lots of skeptical and frustrated atheists (or Pagans, or agnostics, or "cultural Jews" - or devoutly Jewish people...) who I respect as awesome people are watching, and it kinda embarrasses me.

Such a circuitous maze :p

-I'm going to get back to my book (The Weight of Heaven, some fiction about a liberal, agnostic Ann Arbor couple who's only child dies and they take a job transfer to India to get away from every memory of him, but are still struggling to save their marriage...just amongst a totally different culture and with a lot more guilt for being privileged white people than they used to have)
-I'm trying to take it really easy today and get better...tonight and tomorrow night I have to put a lot of energy and time into finishing the last of Annie's presents. Tomorrow-daytime I have to get A and A new dance shoes and take them to a mandatory rehearsal. Sunday is Ananda's tea party (limitless cooking and cleaning all morning to prepare for the afternoon) and Aaron's show (packing him lunch and dinner and 2 changes of costume and getting him to Lincoln Rd and back).
-maybe I'll take a walk with whoever wants to come in a little while
-definitely think it's time for more motrin, this neverending pain is wearing. me. down.
-this shit is in "my good ear". ARGH. I am going to be deaf by the time I'm like 35 at this rate!
altarflame: (mamaandjakey)
I didn't take any pictures today but I've really dug this Mother's Day. Mental snapshots:

-Waking up and immediately being surrounded by little people bearing homemade cards, yard-picked flowers and handmade necklaces. I've been wearing the one from Isaac all day.
-My mother in law nervously giving me a card about how daughter in law loses the "in law" part at some point and us hugging after she anxiously watched me read it
-Jake and Elise, FILTHY, standing there naked in a bubble bath eating watermelong with huge toy dinosaurs floating at their feet
-Grant and I sitting outside of Starbucks on the sidewalk talking and laughing
-Eating this incredible dinner Grant made with panko breadcrumb'ed fried chicken, roasted cauliflower and potatoes and sauteed shrooms
-Sitting around the table with a couple of kids, and Bob, who I was managing to talk and laugh with so easily and happily without any weird baggage like I haven't in...years, maybe
-Getting down a ton of big blown up framed photography of Grant's, from where it's been stacked up collecting dust, and realizing we can hang all this immediately

As always, my favorite thing about Mother's Day is this video:

I'm putting some stuff strongly inspired by this image on a purple tshirt for Ananda as one of her birthday presents:

I'm really happy about how it's coming out so far; who knew fabric scraps could do such interesting things? I want it to be a surprise so I'm having to be sly. I'm also making her some other things, like a tote bag I think she'll love, and something I haven't decided on that will include this embroidery:

We're jointly planning to make an owl pinata (paper mache) and stuff it with brownies and oatmeal raisin cookies, all saran wrapped individually. She's been telling friends she'd like to have her party at Jacob's Aquatic Center. I got her a very hippy-fied sort of stationary set a couple of weeks ago at Ross, that has been hiding out in the top of my closet.

The only thing I have for Aaron so far (he's a month after) is a St Francis picture I actually got for him for Christmas and forgot about because it was tucked away. He loves St Francis because he could call the animals to him, charm the birds down from the trees and all that. When we last asked the question, "What super hero power would you like to have?" that was his answer.

My formspring video is made, it's just FORTY FOUR minutes of me answering FIFTY questions O_O So, Grant took a couple of goes at compressing the file today before he got the aspect ratio right and tonight it will be uploading to Vimeo as we sleep. I watched it once to make sure there was nothing especially horrible about it, and I can already hear the responses rolling in :p Aside from how the lighting makes it look as though my lips don't exist (really, it's weird), I at one point go from "number 1" to "and, b". Because that's the way I roll. It's only too bad I never got a drink during it, because I spill drinks all over myself about 75% of the time I take a sip of something ;) It was fun.

A few nights ago G and I watched the movie Whip It, starring that chick who played Juno. In Whip It she is a secretly rebellious teenager who keeps sneaking away from her sleepy little town to take the old folks' Bingo bus to a bigger city where she is lying about her age to be a part of the Roller Derby team. Her mother is a real 50s-era, southern, beauty-pageants-for-my-daughters type. Anyway it turned out a lot better than I expected, highly entertaining. It has surprise big names playing minor roles, like the leads are all unknows but Juliette Lewis, Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon are small side parts.

I think we're watching Sherlock Holmes tonight.
altarflame: (chalk)
Tomorrow is this little girl's birthday. THREE.

I have been in a bit of a doll making frenzy, for her main from-us gift, and am only somewhat ok with the results so far.

This is obviously just the head. Body and clothes sewing has been today/tonight. I am seriously considering ripping out the eyes and doing them over at about half that size. Opinions?

Is it only unendurably creepy because of the bodiless...ness? Or is it because I find dolls creepy in general? Or is it because it's creepy as shit? TELL ME, I CAN TAKE IT!

I feel like if worse comes to worse, SHE loves it...and the other kids seem impressed...and I never claimed to be much for sewing, damnitt. I've never embroidered ANYTHING before. Blah. I keep thinking it looks like That doll of Lilo's in Lilo and Stitch".

I will soon be making this for a tiny niece of mine. CROCHETING I can do >:O

And possibly an entire line of animal bibs. It will be fierce.

The other day I woke up to house-shaking thunder and window-lashing downpour.

Our banana tree was doing that thing that is the international, multi-lingual symbol for "HURRICANE!!" When we went out that afternoon, our gate was open because the wood that latches it had SNAPPED. WTF? I went on facebook and local neighbors were saying things like, "I can't find our patio umbrella! It's not even rainy season yet!" I called my sister to tell her all about it...and she told me the roof to Brian's (Playskool, standard plastic) playhouse was in a tree near their property, and her neighbor's plywood (which had been set out by the trash to be hauled off) had floated away in the flooding on her street. Again...WTF?!

The rest of this entry is in two parts.
1. Science Fair )

2. Cool New Place We Found! )
altarflame: (burning bush)
I would like to thank everyone who was posting on livejournal and facebook throughout Lent, and especially on Good Friday, and Easter/Pacha, with Christian meditations, scriptures, links, thoughts, and so on. I've been wayward and out of it and really would have missed the whole journey this year if it weren't for those of you who were sharing on the internet. I like it that this wheel keeps on turning even when I'm too self-absorbed or "in between" to bother to take notice. And I like it when I do notice.

Aaron has laryngitis. I'm not surprised, as it's been going around like crazy. He keeps rasping out things like "The germ-uhs, the germs ah messin around with mah voy-ace!" in a crazy accent.

My brother starts at JobCorps tomorrow. I feel just a little bit guilty about how insanely excited I am at the prospect of him NOT BEING IN THE HOUSE for many hours out of every week day. Mostly though I'm just insanely excited, guilt be damned. Seriously, OH HAPPY DAY!!! Aside from my own selfish glee, this is a huge positive step for him and I'm proud of him as I've watched him do all of his laundry and take a shower and get his things in order tonight. He's been out there 3 times in the last 2 weeks at meetings and appointments, and doing bizarre things before each one like shaving, and asking my brother in law to cut his hair and such. He's taken pains to brush his teeth tonight; I nearly knocked on his head to ask who was in there hijacking his brain.

She came out this way, thinking she was ready to go to the store with Daddy.

Om nom nom. Sugar snap peas sauteed in a little oil with brown sugar and soy sauce are SO GOOD.

This is our new weekday schedule.

Ananda is going to be cutting her hair into a chin-length bob again soon, and so we've let her run amock with the hair that's going to be cut off. This pic is when we first did the bleaching. It was like this for about two days.

The stuff we used was a bleaching and dying kit, and after I put the bleaching part all over her hair I tied it up in a plastic shopping bag because it has to sit for a long time and she didn't want to be paranoid about the furniture. That's what I did the last time we did this with her hair, because it was reccomended by the company on the packaging. This was a different brand, though, and after a few minutes she came to me - "Mom, it's burning my back through my shirt!" "What?" Sure enough, the bag was HOT hot to the touch, and when I took it off, her hair was SMOKING. All I could think was...people put this on their scalps?! Or hair they intend to keep?!

She liked the ponytail being a different color than the head hair.

But she LOVES this...+the rest of the entry and more pics )

For me, personally:

-I realized I lost a lot of weight and had a lot of success with Eat to Live's 6 week plan, seeing it as a 6 week plan, but trying to go back to doing the "maintenance" diet after the holidays was just impossible to me; it's too strict for me to have that kind of permanence in mind with it and persevere. I NEED AN END IN SIGHT. But, I lost 27 pounds that first 6 weeks and have only gained back 16 of them in the 5 months since, during which I have been glutting myself on Starbucks, cheesecakes, restaurant meals, and late night cooking. So Grant and I have concocted a 6 week on, 12 weeks off plan for me that will be indefinite for as long as it works and I continue to need it. Tomorrow is day 1 of the first 6 week period, and I feel really good about it. The first couple of months OFF ETL were even healthy ones where I didn't gain back at all; eating so healthfully and in moderation put me in the mindset of not WANTING to eat way too much of all the wrong stuff. But I've gradually beaten that mindset back and resumed pigging out, since. So I think if I keep it to 12 weeks off, this could really be a healthy way to live.

-Grant and I are at a bit of a faith impasse that is really frustrating. We've both sort of "slipped" - he interprets that as needing to go back to the beginning, i.e. "remedial christianity". Like very salvation based protestant services loaded with praise and worship music. I understand where he is coming from completely, and respect it. But I also feel like, for me, I need to get back to the deep theology and catholic ritual I let fall by the wayside, because it holds me up so that I DON'T slip. Neither of us are going to push the other one to do something they're not comfortable with, or pull the family in a direction without the other. And I am so FREAKING. TIRED. of this conundrum.

-we're planning a potluck for this weekend. It's a facebook event at this point. I'm psyched.

-and really needing more time to write. And really tired of talking about that, saying it, my gosh haven't we heard this before?! I just hit this wall, this stir crazy wall of pent up mental energy where I always realize, that would help.

-I am BLOWN. AWAY. by my girls' birthdays coming up. My little girl is going to be THREE. And my big girl is going to be TEN. I don't know which of those shocks me more. On so many different levels. Five children, and the youngest one three? Our baby is three (how in the hell have I not gotten pregnant for this long, how nuts)? It feels like we just had her huge celebratory 2nd birthday - JUST. And then Annie in double digits? It feels like we just had her big tea party birthday...just, just. I got my period at ten. Went through Hurricane Andrew. Moved to Jacksonville. Had a journal with long entries. May 1 and then June 1. My daughters, three and ten. *sigh* Then Aaron is June 27, he'll by 9. For months he's been saying he wants a violin and cologne (wth?). Tawanna, his hip hop teacher, thinks that's the sweetest thing she's ever heard and has volunteered to get him the cologne if we take care of the rest.

Today has been a good day. Patrice spent the day since it was a teacher's work day. No dance classes for the same reason. Lots of watching things online with sick Aaron, and laying and reading with Ananda, and cuddling with Elise and Jake, and talking to Isaac (who is way less of a cuddler). It was a sweet, slow day. Tomorrow is the beginning; back to activities, on our new schedule, day 1 of Eat to Live, day 1 of JobCorps for Bob (which will change the whole house for all of us).

This is definitely the song for the week:

I downloaded the whole album. Massachusetts bluegrass quartet. Aaron's watching it too much, with that look on his face. Next thing I know he'll be asking for a cello.
altarflame: (babylegsIsaac)
Monday - Don't remember.

Tuesday - got up early-early, drove to Delray Beach, hung out with Nancy. We walked on boardwalks in wetland preserves, had lunch at a little natural market, and visited this new women's center called The Red Tent (!) that was awesome. It was a really great time, we caught up on everything in each others' lives and cried almost anytime we weren't laughing. She has such an uplifting spirit, and loves in this way you can just feel rolling off of her <3 On the way home it was me, a grande caramel macchiato, some really good music and then...I was almost out of gas. And stopped for gas. And my card wouldn't work. I'd checked the bank that morning - what I think must have happened is a security check since I was out of town and had already used it a couple of times? Anyway the (very cool) cashier chick had somehow let me pump the gas without paying yet and so I was standing there, like, uh....I can't pay you? She ended up paying for it herself and I wrote her a check. This is many in a long recent line of incidents that add up to what I believe to be lesbians hitting on me increasingly often. Trust me, you had to be there. Back at the ranch, I was so happy to take Elise and then Jake on bike rides, read to kids, generally get back into them and find them so happy to see me.

Wednesday - Normal Wed. chaotic lot of schoolwork and activities EXCEPT that Aaron told me his dance teacher wanted to talk to me, after I picked them up. So I went in by myself and we sat on the floor, and geeeeeeez people...she was tearing up twice talking about my son. Tawanna has choreographed awards shows, she's been on Arsenio Hall and danced with P. Diddy at the VMAs; she taught Usher how to dance. And she really, REALLY believes in my son, to the tune of "we'll pay for this convention it's a part of for him, but he has to compete with us in Orlando next month". O_O

Thursday - PATH was really great. Kristin and my sister were both there. PATH involves a 10 minute each way walk to and from my friend Michelle's car, these days, as she leans on me with her messed up knee. We laugh the whole way about the curbs being mountains and how I need to quit trying to make her sprint (like when I take a normal sized step). I did about 5 solid hours of house cleaning that night, with all the troops mobilized and helping.

Friday - Kristin's kids, Darrien and Naja, were dropped off at 9 am (second night this week that I was in bed for 4 hours). Elise idolizes Naja and A and A have a lot of fun with D, who also adores Grant and Bob. It was easy and I did A LOT of cooking in the AM - a VAT of strawberry oatmeal for everyone, big pots each of white bean chicken chili and kale and bean soup, a huge spinach and chicken salad for Grant and I. Kristin ended up staying after she came to get them - after a massive round of crude jokes and uproarous gossip (her own) - partially because they did not want to leave and partially because we had a date with "The Big Lebowski". Shaun came over to, we all had cheesecake, and then halfway through the movie people were falling asleep and it broke up.

Saturday - ISAAC'S BIRTHDAY! I have some pics and video I will post when I can. It was really good. I cannot believe one of my LITTLE kids is SIX! Aaron had a rehearsal for the competition and I drove him to that. While he rehearsed, I went to Lush again with money my Mama sent in my Valentine's Day card and got more awesome goodies, including Curly Wurly shampoo. We stopped to pick up party supplies on the way home. Isaac really wanted a store cake he had spotted, this year. Grant cleaned a ton while Aaron and I were gone, it looked great when we got back. And Isaac looooooved his party. Opa came with Patrice with presents, Oma came with Chuck and Robby and presents, my sister brought her kids, Kristin came back with Darrien and Naja, Shaun was over again, and he was basically in sugar and gift heaven all day long. We made his requested birthday dinner of shrimp, macaraoni and cheese and sparkling grape juice for a table of 11, as Patrice and Robby ended up spending the night. It is so fun to watch him receive things, he is so genuinely thrilled with each thing. For those who know what it means, his love language is TOTALLY gifts, and it really shows.

They are all out there now, it sounds like they've transitioned from making birthday cakes and cookies out of playdoh on the deck to indoor hide and seek. Robby is playing computer RPGs with my brother. He's wearing gray SPANDEX JEANS, with a black tshirt with neon pink and green designs on it, and a black suit jacket. And Ugg-ish black boots. All his hair is chemically straightened but thick and shaggy. And he's like 9 feet tall. Really though, he's towering over Grant and Bob at this (very narrow) point. It's crazy. He really dug looking through all my Lush goodies with me, as I suspected he would.

Grant is currently retrieving my sister's car key from her house so he can go to the fire station where Frank has parked their vehicle, with all the slings and the Kozy carrier in it, leaving my sister stranded.

I am hoping this day includes a long bike ride, and a good bath. Our tax return is in so we have some budgeting to do. And, it's Sunday, so I can eat chocolate, which I gave up for Lent. So far I had a breakfast of a soft cheese, pesto and prosciutto sandwich, leftover roasted broccoli and two cadburry cream eggs. Yeah, definitely a long bike ride ;)

I am going to leave you with this crazy video that Shaun showed me last night. Having watched it all the way through, I thought it was worth it.
altarflame: (Default)
First of all, comments - to everyone who talked about priestly celibacy, thanks for your links/input. My Dad wasn't researched at all, he was theorizing, and as he is somewhat infamous for wild conspiracy theories of all sorts I assumed this was more of the same.

And everyone, thank you so much for the birthday wishes ♥

My head is all over the place lately.

There is a constant, low-grade strain added to everything that is just me not eating as a coping mechanism, or for emotional reasons at all, anymore. It's offset by happiness as I weigh myself every morning (22 pounds lost so far...) but added to by the anxiety that is beginning to creep in, about my surgery to come. Every day I'm kind of astounded by how much of my mental and emotional energy goes into willpower, constant reliance on and communication with God, figuring out/preparing what I am going to eat (because it's rarely what everyone else is eating), pushing terrible thoughts about dying on the operating table away so I can sleep at night...all that. I can waste hours and hours bs'ing and still feel as though I am worn out at the end of it. Which is ridiculous.

Physically, I have a lot more energy. A lot less hernia pain. A bit more confidence. New sorts of back pain pretty much every day, too, as my abdomen continues to morph into something new on the daily.

I've been feeling pulled thinner and thinner this past week, by my regular responsibilities, because in addition to Grant being pretty much never here, the kids have been sick. Isaac's croup became Elise's flu-like-whatever it is which has now debilitated Jake. Just as Elise got sick, she got stung on the bottom of her foot by a bee or wasp, right in the arch. It's been swollen and painful and she's been refusing to walk except *sometimes* on her toes, ever since. Other times she just sits calling to be picked up or, most pitifully, walks on her knees :/ I think a stinger may have been left behind, but if so it's down very deep, and from what I've read it will work itself out or be absorbed soon if that is the case. The hysteria when G or I even try to look at it is intense so I am sure as hell not trying to dig or squeeze anything out anytime soon. It was a humidifier refilling, Vicks rubbing, tea distributing, scarcely sleeping sort of week...

I woke up on my birthday at 7:20 to Elise frantic in bed that she had to poop. I rushed her to the toilet. I am not supposed to lift her, but, wtf am I supposed to do when she is not just ill but has a foot out of commission, too? It was great to see the surprise decorations everywhere, and the cards, and the flowers. It buoyed me up in a big way while she was screaming, crying, or fussing, alternately, in my arms and in my lap, for about 2 solid hours as I tried to nurse her, get her drinks, bounce, sing to, etc her. I kept picturing Grant hurrying to blow up balloons and cut stems of roses and tape streamers, as we all slept. Eventually Elise settled in next to Ananda in a zombie-trance to watch tv. The boys were all still sleeping and I set the cordless phone by Annie, grabbed my cell, set the house alarm, and bolted to the grocery store 5 blocks away for supplies for the day. Got back, somewhat frantically, to just what I had left, and saw all the facebook and lj birthday wishes. Grant had also emailed me from work. I smiled. Isaac woke up then, hysterical from the just-waking-up intensity of fading croup, and by the time I had him calmed down Elise was a wreck again. I basically spent the entire day either carrying her or trapped under her as she nursed or slept, aside from a soup-making stint I handed her off to Annie for. There were probably 2 total hours of her, greasy and reeking of Vicks, sweating against me, too snotty-nosed to nurse properly and just licking the nipple for comfort. Throughout the day and night I read The Lovely Bones in it's bizarre entirety, and developed a major neck/shoulder/backache.

My Dad called, and sounded like he isn't going to make it for Thanksgiving with us, which shouldn't surprise me anymore but what can I say, I really wish he would come. My mom is having a really hard time with my Nana. Between talking to them both Laura told me she didn't think she would be able to babysit the following day when Grant was home if kids were sick, which makes perfect sense but was still devastating in the moment to hear. I was REALLY looking forward to that. Dinner was this insane battle of wills wherein I had made a big pot of kale and bean soup and Ananda, Aaron, Jake and Elise were tearing up seconds but Isaac refused to even try it. I really just wanted him to TRY it, and was trying to tell him Elise was sick, it was my birthday and I was not cooking a second dinner without him even tasting option #1. I also reminded him that they are all always allowed to grab an apple, a banana, or a yogurt if they are hungry, without even asking. Well. He cried and whimpered and whined about how starving he was, while ignoring all that, until I told him to go to his bedroom unless he could quit it, and then he howled and yelled as loudly as he could from his bedroom, until he thought enough time had passed to come out and start over with the whimpering. This happened, what, 3 or 4 times? An hour of crying at least about trying some soup, all while I try to tend to Elise and wonder where the hell my husband is and wish his office building would dissapear into a sinkhole sometime while nobody is there, leaving us to collect some sort of worker's compensation while they struggle to rebuild. 9 pm came and went without Grant home. Then I started my period and a little bit of my bitter hopelessness started to fall into place as hormonal...I get wicked PMS for the last few years. That was yesterday.

Today started out sucky because: Elise was too sick/handicapped to go to Mass, and everyone else was too slow and disorganized and (*$&%)(*#)@* for me to just take some people and make it on time; Grant woke with a headache and a desire for a nap, on the ONE day off he gets this week; I discovered the cats are making a habit of peeing in the clean laundry, which is completely NOT acceptable; I just generally felt very overwhelmed and shitty about the horrifically messy house, my cramping uterus, my birthday plans gone awry, and it all led me into pointless and ungrateful "Where is the meaning in my life?" territory.

Then Grant told my sister how badly I need a break, and she said she would come and he and I could go, and Elise started acting normal. I bribed Annie so she would be responsible for her to the best of her ability while we were gone (Elise adores her; my sister is heavily pregnant, has a cold and brought her own nearly 3 year old son over). We all worked together to get the house so much cleaner it's incredible, in record time, and with a pact that the laundry room door stays closed so the cats can't get in. By the time Laura got here with Brian the floors were cleared and swept/vaccumed, all laundry was put away, the surfaces all made sense, there were scented candles burning and I felt like I was walking on air in a flattering outfit with my hair doing something cool.

I almost feel guilty about how good it felt to drive AWAY from the house today without any kids in the vehicle. Almost. First stop - buying some Aleve.

And then we went to Samurai, which is basically just Benihana, and then Barnes and Noble where I got the 2010 Writer's Market, and we browsed through Michael's where we found Ananda this awesome little $4 owl she has hanging in the middle of her room now. It didn't matter what we did, really, it was just Grant's so incredibly warm hand in mine, or on my back, or stroking my arm, and soft little kisses and talking and laughing and sharing and being together, I mean geez. I felt so light and airy just getting out of the Prius with him at a gas station without anyone in the car to worry about leaving unattended.

It's occuring to me that his drastically increased work schedule has been something of an adjustment. <- sarcasm

So yeah. That was all awesome. Then we got back and Jake was sick - crazily upset about being sick, my sister had a hard time with him for the whole last hour and Jake is normally the easiest one by far. Apparently they spent about 3 hours drawing pictures and playing outside, and then for the last hour he just suddenly got sick and wasn't having anything after that. We walked in to find him inconsolable, which made me feel so weirdly helpless because, for one, Jake is just barely newly weaned as of his birthday, and normally that is how I care for sick little ones, and 2, I sure as HELL can't pick HIM up at all without major pain and risk...he's like 45 pounds now. Grant put him on in the kozy carrier and paced with him and got him drinks and sat with him and got him to sleep until he woke up crying again, etc. While I nursed Elise over and over and got her to sleep until she woke up again crying. Blah. Right now he's asleep in the tv room with them both, under blankets, with Loony Tunes streaming endlessly on the tv. I made the bigger 3 brush their teeth and turn off their lights and turn on their fans and put away their rabbits, but am not even attempting to keep them from giggling or making lite brite pictures.

I actually think the kind of sneaky late night fun that happens when kids are supposed to be getting to sleep is really valuable bonding. *shrug*

So. I am trying to get some perspective back. About how my husband is so awesome that he works hard to support us so I can stay home and homeschool and we can have this great house. And how he's so awesome that he sneakily buys me decorations and flowers and records his own voice on a card and sets everything up as I sleep, before dawn. And how my prayers have been answered and I've found an eating plan that actually works for me and the ability to stick with it. I've got a real structured writing schedule, great leads and connections, material I believe in, and now I have the Writer's Market as a kickass resource, too. I mean what the hell, I weigh 22 pounds less than I did a month ago, how can I bitch about anything?

One thing that has been bothering me is, BECAUSE Grant and I click so well and understand each other so deeply, and have historically been together so much, I haven't really invested much in other relationships. I feel REALLY lonely and isolated sometimes, now that he's never available. I have...uh...probably 3 real FRIEND friends who I've had deep conversations and laughter with and have been to their house more than once, as well as at least 5 other more general "friends" who I see semi-regularly at meetings and events and can have a decent conversation with. But I don't have any friends who I feel like I can call on the phone out of nowhere and dump on. I have Grant for that, and Laura. But with them increasingly off limits (Laura has transportation issues and a life that revolves around her own husband's crazy work schedule) I'm really feeling how nice it would be to get to a point of just-showing-up-without-calling-first with some other people. Or at least a spontaneously-calling-to-make-plans-for-today point. My closest, best friends are long distance - either high school friends who don't live in Homestead anymore who I only see once a year or internet people who've deepened into mattering beyond the internet. I write a lot of postcards and things lately.

Speaking of internet people who've come to matter beyond the internet, DAMA will be here next seems surreal that it's so close, whenever I think that they are already in Florida (at Disney) I almost can't believe it. My kids get bug-eyed and grinning whenever we tell them how soon it is now :D

My To-Do List for Tomorrow

-up at a decent time, use the Wii fit
-get everyone dressed, do hair
-prayer/devotional time
-enforce chores
-make a list for Halloween costume supplies
-call exterminator

-set a date for potluck we're hosting; email Michelle
-persue Kristin
-do Right Start Math with A and A
-abeka with Isaac
-read to everyone in the afternoon if possible
-work on expectations/guidelines for Bob; email whatever I have to Grant to see what he thinks
-get A and A to dance classes on time (4:45)
-shop for halloween stuff with little 3
-Whole Foods while we're out
-get Tide before we come home
-and hay
-try to have dinner at a decent time, once we're back
-everyone work together to clean up - including starting more laundry
-bed for them by 9:30ish
-hang up clean stuff in my room
-try to write from 10-2am.
altarflame: (Default)
In honor of how I'm turning 28 this month, which seems kind of weirdly surreal to be honest now that it is nearly upon me, I'm going to record two recent traumas.

1. I realized I have this deep crease under each eye. It's way up under there, like under my lower lashes,'s deep. And there. I think, well, I mean, uh - I think it could know...a wrinkle.

2. Forgive me for the tmi, my more modest readers, but I made this guideline for myself a few years ago that I would trim my hair here and there but not CUT IT cut it until it grew at least past my boobs, right? It was at just the right length to curl over them at the time when I was naked. Sounded good to keep my scissor happiness at bay. Well. A few days ago I got out of the shower and I was like, huh, it's been a long time since I've cut my hair, and it's still only like two inches as judged by it's relative place with my boobs - WAIT A MINUTE!!! OH MAN THIS CANNOT BE! I THINK...I THINK...I THINK MY HAIR HAS CONTINUED TO GROW!!!!

*shaking my head*

Ah well.

For what it's worth this is really funny stuff to me.

There was a lot I did not get done, today, but the things I did manage I'm very satisfied with.

-I am now TOTALLY done with Isaac's blanket - it's in there covering his whole bed and he's sleeping with it for the first night <3
-I sewed Aaron's ballet shoes...they come with stretchy straps that have to be custom sewn to fit the particular feet, usually there is a seamstress at dance stores for that but there wasn't this time. It's a really easy thing, but, whatevs, he is happy with them and I feel accomplished
-got replacement parts that had gone missing from Elise's seat for my bike. On our last road trip, which we took the bike rack on, some strap attachments seemed to have been gradually beaten off by the highway wind or something. She asks about it ALL THE TIME since it's been out of commission, and FINALLY it's back together...and free! The bike shop had a duplicate seat that was somehow defective and they were credited for and they just gave me the pieces off of it :)
-I had a long phone conversation with my brother that has led Grant and I to some deep talk and possible changes...more on that later.

I am so tired, and it is feeling so late to me, that I'm gonna just be lazy as I've never been and let people know there are some pictures from Jake's birthday on my flickr. I was really happy with how his robot cake came out.

Tomorrow is gonna be like,

-breakfast/prayers/chores for everyone
-go pick up our produce, and deposit checks
-put away a massive ton of laundry
-Right Start Math w/ A and A
-money lesson with Isaac
-read to little kids
-bake pie pumpkins, clean dining room and kicthen maniacally while they bake
-make phone calls to my mother and brother
-come up with some kind of dinner plan
-take Aaron to his Elite dance class
-dinner, bedtime routines, finally alone time with Grant
-which will feature The Office on hulu. We have a sweet backed up few episodes from him not watching anything throughout September.
altarflame: (chalk)
First of all - I just got on Facebook and saw this article -

CDC Advises Breastfeeding during H1N1 Pandemic
Formula is Added Risk in Swine Flu Epidemic

And I wanted to say, that Grant's job had a verified outbreak of Swine Flu a couple of months back, immediately following which we all got sick with what I am 90% sure was H1N1. The hardest hit were Jake and Elise, as the youngest kids - but they are also the two nurslings. And they did their standard "I'm sick and want to nurse around the clock" thing. And after a couple of days of high fever, and a relapse, and calls to the pediatrician, what kept the ped and us from feeling like we had to run to the hospital, was the nursing. The continuous flow of fluids to prevent dehydration when most kids won't drink anything, as well as the constant flow of antibodies pumped into them.

I'm not usually preachy about this, but, damn. If you or someone you know NEEDS one more reason to breastfeed, here it is.

Hierarchy of Household Chores According to altarflame

Things I Hate the Idea of Doing But Then Enjoy In Practice
-watering the plants
-putting all library books back where they belong
-my bedroom
-clearing massively piled surfaces

Things That I Don't Enjoy But Are Really Worth It For the Results
-cleaning the toilets
-helping and enforcing cleaning of the kids room
-cleaning the deck up
-math lessons with A and A
-workbook work of any type with Isaac

Things I Just For Whatever Reason Really Love the Process Of
-using boiling water on the counters
-making beds
-folding towels
-cleaning out the fridge
-studying books with them, reading to them, conversations where we topic-jump as they ask more and more leading questions

Things That Aren't That Bad
-loading the dishwasher
-clearing clutter off the floor
-overseeing Abeka assignments and handwriting things

Chores That Can Die in A Fire
-general non-towel laundry
-keeping up with filth on walls (WHAT IS UP WITH KIDS AND WALLS?)
-taking out trash
-anything involving toilet paper
-and/or toothpaste
-getting Aaron to do anything that is multi-step

So. Today I have slept in too late while my kids ate a bag of frozen berries for breakfast and amused themselves with board games...note I did not say "played" board games. Then I read a lot more of The Silent Mountain; prayed often; thought about how reading about being holy can in fact be being lazy; wrote a blog entry for the winery for Grant; nursed people; weighed myself and got really happy; heated up two different homemade soups for the kids' and I's lunch; dressed smallest nakedest kids; distributed popsicles, ginger snaps, and orange slices; enforced some chores; did some reading aloud; installed some pigtails; gathered up some laundry from some rooms; successfully got facebook to work after a million failed attempts; and here I am.

I suppose I also had the forethought to get my laptop, cell phone and iPod charging, because very soon I will be getting everyone ready so I can take Ananda and Aaron to their big 3 hour block of dance classes. First I have to study AWANA verses with the little boys. Then when we are up by Dance Empire, Grant is going to meet me from work, we'll trade vehicles, and I'll take the Prius and go write things for Midwifery Today at a Starbucks while he plays taxi driver and makes dinner happen.

I must have spent half an hour studying MT's style sheet, yesterday afternoon. It goes on FOR-EV-ER. And about 30 seconds recording some ideas. I also got most of my office kilz'd, though, so there is that, even if I do have some splatter on my wrists.

I've been tediously planning out a budget for us over the past week, that includes $100 apiece for Grant and I's birthdays next month. For mine I am thinking tickets to see the Trans Siberian Orchestra in December, and the 2010 Writers Market. Which is FIFTY BUCKS by itself. I may just look at how much the online membership is and what the differences are. And there are (crappy) tickets as low as $25 each, so...I'm still thinking about it.

Every now and then - like when I'm carving up a freshly roasted chicken with crispy skin and running juices that smells like heaven - this eating plan I'm on is really hard. I mean, like, I can get shaky or almost cry about how hard it is at certain moments. Having the van reek of Pollo Tropical and going to wash my hands to get the plantains off of them rather than licking them clean, that kind of crap. Sometimes it just weighs really heavy on me throughout a period of a few hours. But...

I feel like I can do it. I really, really do. I feel like I connected when I prayed, about dying and upcoming surgery and my ridiculous food issues and also like I was led to this particular program. Through people and other factors. I even feel sometimes like I'm reaping spiritual benefits through the self sacrifice, in addition to probably reversing the diabetes I was almost surely starting to develop and putting less pressure by the day on my entrapped intestines and blah blah blah. It's really peaceful, but in a heavy way, if that makes any sense at all.

I've been doing a lot of thinking about what changes I would make for the maintenance/life plan, and how to gradually adapt the family's eating to be a little more lined up with it, and what would qualify as enough of an occasion to "break rules" and all of that.

Updated notepad file I go to every morning:
So far on Eat to Live (having last weighed 233 lbs several days before, and noting that mad5 is the 1st day of my period, when I would normally be temporarily up a few pounds)

Morning after day 1 - 229.6
MAD2 - 228.6
MAD3 - 227.4
Mad4 - 227
mad5 - 226.2
mad6 - 225.8
mad7 - 224.2
mad8 - 224.8
mad9 - 224.2
mad9 - 222.6
altarflame: (wild things)
A-MAY-ZING Jambalaya I just made the other day...

-dice a red, a green and a yellow bell pepper, two celery stalks and two small yellow onions
-sautee all that in olive oil with generous amounts of minced garlic, one minced jalapeno fresh from your garden, and quite a bit of creole seasoning
-add it all to 10 cups of chicken broth, along with 5 diced tomatoes, and bring to a boil
-throw in 4 cups of raw brown rice, lower heat, cover, set a timer for about 35 minutes (to check on could take up to 45)
-when that rice is almost done, throw 2 pounds of peeled and de-veined medium shrimp in a pan with half a stick of melted smart balance, some olive oil, juice of one lemon, more minced garlic, and more creole seasoning, and cook on medium for about 3-4 minutes, stirring here and there - then turn off the heat and just leave them on it to finish up
-AND cut up a bunch of all beef, minimally processed sausage and fry it til it's food
-then stir all that meat into the very hot rice, along with another 2 raw diced tomatoes, let it sit for a few minutes, and die happy

Granted now. This makes enough to feed Grant and I twice; Grant, Shaun and I once; and me two other times; with still leftovers for Aaron, Jake and the fridge. So. Use your judgement.

Aaron loved his birthday. He has been concentrating hard on this unicycle stuff ever since, taking breaks only to leap around on his moon shoes or build with the bionicles Opa gave him. I mean he seriously spends hours every day with the unicycle. The first day he could only get on with one of us on each side of him, and it was something that took minutes. The next day getting on was simple while holding the library table, but then he could only go about 2 inches before he fell (...a million times). Day 3, he is going from the library table to the edge of the library rug (this thing has yet to be outside so the tire's still clean new rubber), which is about 4 feet. He has barely hit the tile a couple of times now before falling. His focus blows my mind. I will not be at all surprised if he is riding all over the house on it like second nature before two weeks are out.

He also had his first hip hop dance classes yesterday. The beginner one, he was one of 7 kids, and the only boy. He did GREAT, I think he really stood out as having rhythm and it all being second nature. The second class is an intermediate/advanced class he is only taking for a few weeks to make up the cost of the beginner classes he missed at the beginning of the summer - anyway, it has more like 18 kids, and he is one of 3 boys in it. He had a harder time keeping up in there, with more complicated combinations and a faster pace, but everyone else also seemed to and the teacher was complimentary, so. He got sweaty and said he likes it.

To everyone who had questions about whether I've considered this or that possible diagnosis for Isaac: I have considered ALL KINDS OF STUFF. And, during the 6 months I was seeing a counselor 2 and 3 times a week, Isaac frequently came up (and she does also work with children - including Ananda - and had some ideas). I've talked to his pediatrician a couple of times and to a hospital doctor once briefly and thought about his genetics, as well. Basically, I am pretty sure he has a childhood anxiety disorder, which from what I understand can sometimes be outgrown. I would hope so. I am AFRAID he is bipolar, as that runs on Grant's side of the family (his sister and one of her kids are intensely bipolar), and he fits MANY of the criteria. And I say afraid because, well, you cannot outgrow that and struggle with it forever. If he is bipolar, I think it is a more mild case than I see in Mindy or Nadia - by the time they were Isaac's age there were more immediate and severe problems than we have with him. There is no real "treatment" for childhood anxiety except for medication in really extreme instances, and professionals don't want to even try to diagnose a child as bipolar until they're at least 7. Isaac does better all the time...when I think back to how he was at 3 or 4, I realize how far he's come...but. Yeah, I don't know.

He is a very social and outgoing kid who gets along great with strangers and thrives in AWANA and church nursery type settings, though, which is just one of the reasons why I don't think he's on the autism spectrum. He's also been verbally advanced from an early age, never toe-walked, and just isn't irregular at all about how he responds to or deals with sensory things. He has a hair trigger for getting all upset about little nonsense, yes, but it's in a very anxious, fussy way that rarely has to do with the sorts of things - like noise, smells, itchiness, etc - that bother Aaron. Routine does nothing for him, anymore, though it helped when he was a toddler. I think that is just how toddlers are.

PSA: Barnes and Noble has a no-purchase-necessary summer reading program wherein if your child logs 8 books they read and what they liked best about the book, they can pick a free book from a list applicable to their age group. Ananda is such a crazy bookworm lately she already has 7 logged (the first 3 Spiderwick Chronicles, the first 2 of her American Girl Kaya books, and the last 2 Emily Windsnap books). Turning in your log for your free book also enters you in a contest for a signed book by some author I can't recall.
altarflame: (Aaron'sface)
Aaron, 8 years old!

We'll be celebrating tomorrow, because Grant works today, but we're still making sure to do our normal "meeting Daddy for lunch" Saturday thing at a place that will sing to him and bring him cake (usually we go to this little privately owned subshop that will make all the kids grilled cheese on whole wheat for like $2 each, every week). He does not know this, but I am also planning to give him one gift at lunch - MOON SHOES we found clearanced at TJ Maxx! So perfect for Aaron, neither of us even knew they still MADE those. And, he's picked homemade tomato sauce, seasoned up chicken and mozzarella on linguini, but with shrimp on the side special, and sparkling red grape juice. And homemade brownies with vanilla ice cream on top for dessert. He also chose that we'd all come home during Annie's dance classes and watch Bolt, which is how I came to be sitting at the computer.

His celebrating tomorrow mainly constitutes cake and presents, probably with an aunt and some grandparents, and going to Speed Demons (go carts and arcade). He elected not to have a party, which I am kind of relieved by because we're still riding the wave from Elise and Annie having these kind of big, hoopla parties that lasted hours and had the house full of people. That is not really Aaron's kind of thing anyway, I guess.

Most exciting - we bought him the unicycle he's been begging for for the last 3 months. It's locked in the shed right now :D

Aside from the birthday, Aaron has decided he wants to dance. I feel somewhat dubious about this, just like I felt downright ambivalent when Ananda decided she had to do it back when she was, like, BORN. We'd been planning to get him back into karate, half because it seems ideal for helping him get some focus and self control and half because it's free since Grant traded them a website. Dance, as we have seen in previous posts, is NOT FREE.

Basically he's been trying to breakdance and doing cartwheels and attempting flips and things a lot for awhile. Then at their end of the week VBS show, their age group had a dance and he went wild, like, really getting into it and having all this rhythm and enthusiasm Grant and I were WAY taken aback by, it was kind of awesome. It's like he naturally has the one thing Annie just can't seem to be taught, which is...I don't know...feeling the music and throwing yourself into it, I guess. She does that with her own dancing here at home that is just wild and interpretive, but when she has steps to follow you can always see her concentrating on the memorization part.

He wants to take hip hop dancing and acrobatics at Dance Empire and they have those things for him during her time slots so it isn't any extra driving, and are willing to wave his registration fees and give us a steep discount since it's the second kid in the family (and the first kid is taking FIVE classes right now). Plus he doesn't need any special clothes or shoes for his classes. So, he's dancing now. We'll see what comes of it...

I have my suspicions that he will rapidly become wildly popular and the star of their shows, because boys tend to get starring roles easily since there is so much less competition...I saw 200 girls and 5 boys at the recital this year. You see those 5 boys over and over, in couples dancing, in the center of big choreographed things, etc...even the ones who aren't good at all. And come to think of it he was sitting with us at that recital and I wonder how much that plays in. As adorably handsome and genuinely talented at anything involving movement and balance as he is, I have a feeling he's not going to want to let go of this anytime soon...I'm actually wondering how long it will be until he comes home and tells me he has 7 girlfriends, like Hugh Hefner, and I have to have a long talk about feelings and consideration with him :p
altarflame: (beautiful Annie)
Nine! How can this be?

Last night the two of us were sitting together at the bar, at Chili's, because the wait for tables was insane and we were trying to catch a movie with little time to spare. So there we sit, with a woman nearby exclaiming how she can't possibly be my daughter, how old is she and how old am I (flashbacks to my own childhood)? And the bartender asking what I'll be eating and then asking her what she'll be eating - and she ordered her own meal with sides? What? So he brings our virgin pina coladas, encrusted with sugar at the top, and I'm watching Ananda in her Dance Empire hoodie licking the sugar off the top and she asks me about Robbie's boyfriend. Because Robbie (my nephew on Grant's side, their cousin) has totally come out. And before I know it I'm telling her how refined my gaydar is, and how Grant and I were not the slightest bit surprised because we've always known, with him.

We went and saw Up, in 3D, after they came and sang to her and delivered molten chocolate cake...and it was great and we both loved it (and I cried at least 3 times - I really had no idea, that movie was fantastic). On the way home it's, "Hey turn on Pink, Mom". She's saving for an iPod? What?

Yeah, I'm confused.

Anyway, she wanted to have a tea party for this birthday. And obviously I have just the Alice in Wonderland supplies to comply.

Annie's 9th Birthday Party )
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
I'm waiting, waiting all the time for a call to come that means Pa is dead. And wondering if my Dad will be able to call right away, or if he'll want to calm down first, or...

And thinking how glad I am that we got pictures and a card sent before it was too late, and that I got to visit him at the hospital before it was over, but mostly thinking about the huge chasm between the close interaction and looming significance of him, when we were kids...and this little bit of something, re-established at the very end. In between...well, I went to Key West three times in a month this year and I never stopped to see him :/ I mean it was special circumstances...the death of my other grandfather with my grief stricken mother in tow, a first weekend away for Grant and I wherein I saw no relatives and was on vacation, and a day trip for a baby shower that meant we only had a few hours on the island. Still and all. Bah. It starts to seem so hard - without Ma there to make it "Ma and Pa" there was no constant flow of relatives in and out, no endless interrupting-each-other conversation, no loud arguments to roll your eyes at, or huge meals always ready to be served up on plates...just him, chain smoking, hard of hearing and not one to intiate conversation much, in his tiny efficiency apartment with the tv always on. And that should be enough...I would want it to be enough, if it were me. If it is me.

He was the Easter Bunny, sneaking out to hide treasure and then telling us it was out there. He had a riding lawn mower I drove. He used to wake us at dawn so we could sneak to the windows and see deer in the yard, when they lived in central Florida. He made us "snack plates" that Laura and I both think of as perfectly current and appealing food. He LOVED Elise, the single time he met her, which was just last week. And told my Dad over the phone all about her, right down to how soft her hair is.

I felt really heavy and awful all evening. Grant was home late, again, he stops at his mom's on the way and checks on her. He doesn't really understand her condition because she wants to downplay it or talk about other things and Mindy exaggerates and dramatizes to the point of being fantasy... Somewhere in the middle it seems like she absolutely must quit smoking, needs to get away from her job and from stress asap, is having more doctor's appointments than usual and is taking new medications. She went back to work yesterday. I seriously cannot stand it for her to be in danger, too. From my perspective or Grant's.

My Nana got denied entry to the rehab place they were all so excited about, because based on doctors' reports they don't think she can handle the intensive therapy they offer :/ It leaves her with really unappealing options like going home unable to move one side of her body aside from a hand and wrist, yet, still with vision impaired and some major confusion, or checking into a nursing home, which is not really an option for them...they're trying to appeal. I selfishly think of how Christmas is never going to be the same as though it is a blow to my stomach. Perhaps I'm wrong about that.

Grant led me to bed after dinner and we layed together and I cried and he talked and I talked and we kissed and so on and so forth and by the time I came out shaky legged and warm to get kids into bed (he has to be up ultra early...) I felt like I lost 50 pounds of foreboding. I love that man.

This is the second night in a row that, with everyone else long sleeping, I have stayed up until past one am with Ananda and Aaron, reading 3 chapters at a time of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in my office. It takes longer than normal Harry Potter because we have to stop almost every page while Aaron works out a plot point that's giving him trouble, Annie excitedly expounds on some theory or other she thinks she has that explains every mystery, or we deal with something incredibly scary/sad/angering. We read The Tales of Beedle the Bard between Half Blood Prince and DH and they liked that and I was trying to stall, but really, it was so, SO fast. And between the harrowing ending and the trailers they're addicted to, for #6, I couldn't torture them anymore. I love it that they know those Tales, now, though, because it makes book 7 all fall into place so much better to be familiar with them first...Their room is plastered in HP posters from a book they bought with their own money, and Ananda is already asking me if I can make her bigger robes so she can be Ginny or Tonks for Halloween (they've long outgrown the ones I did for a costume 3 years ago...though the scarves still work, and that was the time consuming part).

We have to get the invitations and solid date and time and all ready, tomorrow, for her birthday party...she's having a formal tea for her birthday, of all things. Like, gloves and hats and I imagine I can find a lace tablecloth at a thrift store somewhere...I can't believe she's going to be NINE. 9. I have very clear memories of my own time being nine. I read Beaches, Stephen King's Misery and a Jim Morrison biography and went from a New Kids on the Block obsession to a burdgeoning interest in Motley Crue, that year. I wore pink flamingo earrings made of foam, that actually laid on my shoulders, and ripped up jeans, and those slap bracelets...I had a crush on a girl named Lula and nightmares about my mother dying. I stayed late after school to play chess with my teacher and won an award for a poem I wrote. I called everyone "Babe" and wrote "Tonight Hernandez" on my school work, insisting that was my name.

Obviously she is not me O_o (THANK GOD)

So far, for her presents, I've gotten her a vibrating, snarling Monster Book of Monsters that opens or belts closed from Amazon, a blue tshirt that says "I", then a picture of an owl, and then "U", and a silver fairy ring. It's all en route to our house.
altarflame: (Default)
Two major good things: Elise's birthday party and my Mother's Day yesterday.

Photo Tour of the Birthday Party, and then some other pics )

Mother's Day was PERFECT. Really, really great...I told Grant the day before that I'd like to go down to Anne's Beach and eat out for dinner.
I woke up at 1 in the afternoon, and he had french toast ready and all the kids wearing goggles ready to greet me :D

The drive down was great, the water was warm as a bath and just as clear, ISAAC GOT OUT OF HIS LITTLE INFLATABLE BOAT AND GOT IN WITH US, Jake and Elise were brave enough to walk and wade and "swim" alone the whole way out on the sandbars for the first time...and yesterday, the sandbars went clear out to the boating channels, I swear you could go half a mile from shore and still be in knee deep water.

Outback in Islamorada was heaven afterwards. No, really...HEAVEN. And the ride back was warm wind through the open roof in the van and good music and talking with G.

Sweet Mother's Night, too. You know, "Every Mother's Day has to have a Mother's Night", right?
Like this:

Anyway, yeah, good Mother's Night :p
altarflame: (this is serious)
This is 5 million pictures. Of something Jake and Annie have in common, of Isaac's birthday, of Elise looking too damn cute, and three from Mindy's wedding last Saturday.

It's actually only 22 pictures, but you know... )

I am going to post more including OUR NEW CHICKS, the Mardi Gras parade, and some crazy nonsense from inside (of all things) our local Bass Pro Shops.

May 2017

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