altarflame: (deluge)
I spent way too much of today trying to sort out a logistical hassle with the school board re: somebody's missing evaluation from 2010-2011 (their error, which has somehow suddenly become a time sensitive emergency). Sooooo many emails (with our internet connection randomly crashing every 5 minutes) and phone calls. Ugh.

I woke up Jake and Elise with surprise Starbucks breakfasts: chocolate croissants and chai tea lattes. Very out of the ordinary and well received, on this cold cold (for us) day. We sat and talked for awhile, and then looked at some old pictures together, and then they were largely left to their own devices while I dealt with the school board crap for hours.

First, they bundled up and let the chickens out in the side yard to run around under their supervision. Elise has been inexplicably terrified of our chickens for the last year or two, and normally doesn't even want to be outside if they're out, but Jake somehow reassured and coaxed her into first being near, and then touching, and then HOLDING them (they're super sweet and docile). She was very proud of herself. They came and told me someone was near our yard, and when I saw it was a neighbor and talked to her about her missing dog, they were allowed to go follow her down the road and help get the dog back while I continued pacing the deck on the phone.

Then, they played a game that involved taking turns tying and gagging each other with copious amounts of scotch tape, and a ton of hopping around the library laughing uncontrollably. I mostly grimaced and turned a blind eye to this, continuing to write emails with the occasional raised eyebrow.

After that they decided they wanted to scrub a bathroom with before and after pictures. They actually worked hard for like an hour and made a real difference on the tub, mirrors and walls. I...honestly thought it was weirder than the kidnapping game.

When they got very very quiet, I went and found them playing Minecraft in the tv room - Jake was teaching her to build different things and when/how to dodge various creatures. I love their camaraderie. I have a feeling it will not become so painfully awkward and sad as A&A's did, in the coming years, since Jake is older - Ananda hitting puberty so much sooner, as a girl, really threw a huge wedge between her and Aaron for awhile.

I love the ways that they use their time. It's days like these that make me think that, while I'm not really comfortable with it, unschooling is really a great way to grow up.

Eventually they accompanied me to pick up Isaac, drive through the bank, pick up A&A, and go to the grocery store. Dishes, dinner, bedtime reading, aaaaaand...here I am.

Tonight's dinner - which was all demolished right away - included:
-8 cloves of garlic
-basically every leaf off of an entire basil plant
-8 big tomatoes, a couple of romas, and a handful of cherry ones
-two containers of baby bella mushrooms
-about 4 heaping handfuls of kale
-two whole boxes of Orzo pasta
-a whole wedge of parmesan cheese
-"extra" stuff; several tablespoons each of olive oil and butter, half a lemon, a couple of splashes of white wine, a chicken broth cube, and salt

I used to do this regularly, but it had been awhile.

I am trying not to completely panic about how tomorrow is Isaac's birthday and thus includes things like getting up early to cook a special breakfast, making trips to pick up various things throughout the day, and spending the evening out with him and Grant... aaaaand I have a TON of homework and a test due by midnight tomorrow night :/ These things aside from Jake and Elise being home, and cleaning being way backed up, and the cold I have.

I think the key is to NOT become paralyzed by all of it and just keep moving through tasks one minute at a time. Which would be simpler if the test and homework were not math.


This is a good thing for me right now:



I have an almost finished, MEGA picture post I've been gradually editing and uploading for days, chronicling an amazing trip we took last Friday-Monday. It was really great, and I think there are going to be about 80 pictures in the damn thing when I'm done.

For now...stretching and sleep.
altarflame: (deluge)
Last night, Ananda put away all the clean towels. So, when I went to bed, there were stacks of clean towels on the recessed shelves in the kids' bathroom, which is where the only shower is. This morning I went to take a shower, and there's a puddle on the floor, and every towel all around the floor, bunched up. Many of them soaked. Like as though maybe the toilet overflowed? Or something? It's just me and 4 kids here since yesterday because Grant and Jake went on a joint birthday trip right after Jake finished up his school week.

Somehow neither Ananda, Aaron, Isaac or Elise seem to have ANY IDEA how this came to be. I was just wondering if water was welling up on the floor from the base of the toilet, because that's happened before, and it can indicate septic tank trouble. Also, everyone knows they're not in trouble if they have some accidental mess like a toilet overflowing or a spill - but that they do have to clean it up.

I made Aaron clean this up, because it was obviously him, because he was doing what he always does when he's lying. I think of it as "over bafflement."

Me, casually: Aaron, do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the bathroom?
Aaron: What???
Me: You heard me.
Aaron: *one eyebrow raised sky high like I'm speaking another language and have changed colors*
Me: *sigh* Do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the kids' bathroom?
Aaron: *totally dumbfounded expression* HUH?!

It's fucking ridiculous, and pretty funny in retrospect. The poor kid cannot lie to save his damn life. He mumbled something eventually about taking a very late shower and not realizing the curtain was open on one side.

Also ridiculous and hilarious even in the moment: last night, Ananda was telling Aaron all his clean clothes were out there ready to be put away, and he needed to go get them. Aaron was playing minecraft and didn't want to budge. I was in another room around a corner but on the same end of the house as them.

I suppose I should explain that I have a kind of laissez-faire "don't ask don't tell" policy about cursing; they know they're Not Allowed to cuss even though I do all the time and I don't really think it's bad, because you get in the habit, and because if they cuss around other adults, those other adults are liable to think they're bad kids, which I don't like. Now that they're in school, the school seems to feel about the same way I do - basically people in the halls or teachers go "language" in a stern tone when they hear someone cursing and it makes everyone giggle nervously and that's the end of it. None of my kids curses out loud around me on purpose, but I've eavesdropped and heard them curse in hushed tones and rolled my eyes and moved on. I've seen cursing galore on both sides of their facebook conversations and texting (they know the policy is they get to do those things but I get to snoop, it's not sneaking snooping) that seems like pretty normal dumb teenage stuff and they know I see it but nobody brings it up. Me or them, I mean. I can tell it's still way more personally taboo for my younger three children, probably because of friend groups and the younger kids' school being a lot more strict about it.

So anyway, last night Aaron didn't want to go get his laundry and put it away and she wanted to be done with her laundry chores (sorting a massive pile and sending it in appropriate directions, along with putting away her own and linens) so she was getting mad at him. She basically SCREAMED "Asshole!" at him, and I yelled, "absolutely not!" because *even I* (haha) don't curse AT people like that, and I've typically been way more serious about "mean" talking as the actual bad words, but they clearly didn't even hear me - Aaron was YELLING, "I don't want to go out there, Mom will see that I'm still in my uniform!" They're supposed to put them on the washer as soon as they get home and change into normal clothes.

I went in there, and I see them basically wrestling on the floor next to his tipped over computer chair that she clearly tried to drag him out of, both half laughing, and she's like, "quit being an asshole, just go!" and he's like, "Annie I can't, she'll see," and I said loudly from the doorway, "Do you guys not understand I'm home? Do you think my ears aren't working?" They both froze with this very brief "uh oh" look and then we all started laughing hysterically.

They're so ridiculous.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway. Sleeping in was great today, STILL feeling lingeringly ill several weeks into this is unacceptable, and I'm going to go confer with these fools about what sort of Saturday hijinks we ought to get up to.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up too late, baking Easter cupcakes. Note that carrot cake batter becomes far more delicious when you use coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable or what have you. I can't vouch for the cupcakes themselves at this point, but the batter is on point.

I've had a never ending series of miscommunications, lately, IRL and online. I feel like I've probably hurt or offended way too many people, and in every situation I wish I could just go back to the beginning and not say anything. I kind of want to curl up under a blanket and just stay there, dozing, for a couple of weeks. I have a semi-constant urge to telepathically communicate to those around me that I love them and would just like to cuddle wordlessly, please. Unfortunately, when not speaking, I am just seeming grumpy and irritable in a way that can be taken personally.

Because it's something to do, and it makes me somewhat happy to think about: lists...

Easter stuff for everyone: carrot cupcakes, dozens of white eggs, dyeing kits and subsequent hunting, a biggish chocolate bunny apiece, Cadbury creme eggs for everyone but Isaac - who has a different sort of treat I'd never seen before (without corn), and Lindt springtime chocolate...things. Also rainbow goldfish boxes for the little kids, and chocolate graham goldfish for the big ones. Then they have some little separate nonsense - Lisa Frank stickers for Elise, tiny stuffed animals Jake's been begging for every time we're at BJ's, book of word searches for Isaac, new tiny desk bamboo for Aaron, and more (skate reinforcement) duct tape, for Annie.

They're excited. One of the most exciting parts, for me, is that ALL of Ananda's normal Sunday activities are cancelled. That, I can celebrate.

My facebook wall is RIDICULOUS, and has been all week. For the most part, I have four groups of people:

-Catholic and Orthodox folks who are constantly posting meditations on scripture, pictures of Masses and Liturgies, quotes in Greek and Latin, really elaborate stuff like specially embroidered clothes and symbolic baking for children at midnight services where everyone holds candles...
-Laughing atheists who are constantly posting things about "Zombie Jesus," jokes about Easter being on 4/20 this year (mostly referencing "the most high,") and other stuff that I know would not strike anyone in the first group as funny.
-Pissed off Pagans with infographics and memes re: Christians co-opting all of their holidays, ancient Egyptian roots of parallel stories, etc etc
-Jews debating the necessity and/or elaborateness of their secular observance of a "traditional American holiday."

It's a lot of scrollin' on by, for me, and I feel about as averse to Facebook as I did during the last election.

Additional list: Elise's birthday. It's only 10 days away! My youngest, my fifth child, is turning 7 years old.

Plans:
-high tea at the Biltmore (she's been flipping about this, and changing her mind daily about which dress to wear, since January...)
-some kind of birthday cake that involves these little chocolate stars I bought from Marshall's in December, on top

Presents:
-sheet set for her bed - she will be very pleased about this, she's been using a top sheet as a fitted and complaining constantly
-funky journal I found for her months ago
-The Blue Fairy Book
-one of those big balls with a handle, that you sit on and bounce
-giant felt board with a beach and under water scene on it, and a bajillion little felt pieces to stick on the scene. She used to have a small one with just a few pieces when she was younger that was one of her favorite toys.
-Rainbow Dash tshirt
-couple of pairs of shorts
-a used bike from the flea market, that we're going to take her with us to pick out.

She was so happy at the end of her GS Science Camp day, Friday. I asked her if she had fun, after I signed her out, and she said, "No....I had SUPER FUN!!!" and then prattled on about it the whole way home.


I found out last week that her and Jake got into Isaac's charter school. That means that, at least initially for a trial period, ALL FIVE of my kids are going to school. I'm still trying to digest this idea. Mostly, what to do with ALL THAT CHILDLESS TIME? On the one hand I feel like I have to take 6 classes and get a part time job - on the other, I think that it won't really be all that much time, between drop offs and pick ups if I just keeping going to school twice a week like I do now. I could use the other 3 days for things like grocery shopping, my counseling and shot appts, exercising (then NONE of that would take away from "family time"), chaperoning/volunteering for classrooms and trips, and actually keeping the house clean. (<--super weird idea) I mean, all of that could eat up the 18 "free" hours per week pretty easily.

What I most want to do with the time (around college) is write, and that was Grant's first suggestion, too. I probably will. It's strange how scary and selfish it feels to really take chunks of time for that. Also exciting and wonderful, though.

While it's certainly possible that any of my kids could have issues in school, I think Ananda and Jake will do really really well from the get go. Isaac has adapted and we already know the good way outweighs any bad, for him. Aaron I think could go either way, and it's based on how he reacts to the situation - will the structure and consistency make up for the extra demands and stimulation? We'll see. For Elise, I think it's all about what teacher(s) she gets. My current plan is that barring some sort of truly horrific and unlikely shit, everybody has to really try it out and give it a chance until Christmas break - then, we can talk about options if someone(s) is unhappy in a lasting way.

As it stands, everybody is pretty pumped. Ananda and Aaron auditioned for the arts charter of their own free will and I sat down with Jake and Elise to talk about whether to put them on the list for Isaac's school, and both of them really wanted me to. They were thrilled when I told them they got in. We'll see what happens once they're dealing with tests and grades and getting up earlier day after day. I would really like it to work for them.


Well, the cupcakes are done, and I've ranted on tumblr about how NO DAMMIT MONEY REALLY DOES NOT BUY HAPPINESS IT IS NOT JUST "PRIVILEGE" TALKING TO SAY THAT (probably invoking more misunderstandings and eventually wishing I'd just never said anything...) Off to bed, with me...
altarflame: (deluge)

The birthday boy himself, first thing in the morning as a newly 8 year old person.


And, the next afternoon, ready to host a pajama party :) Few people really honored it being a pajama party, but he didn't care at all.


This is actually from BEFORE the party started, or guests began to arrive...just my sister Laura, surrounded by our collective 8 kids, in our library with a balloon animal kit. It's Laura, Elizabeth (3), Isabelle (almost 2), Jake (8), Aaron (12), Elise (6), Isaac (9), Brian (7 next month), and Ananda (13).


Jakey and (cousin) Elizabeth ♥

We had a lot of people show up, aided in part because two other women brought THEIR collective eight kids. Along with Shaun, and Izzy being over.






It was good stuff, even if my formatting is wonky as ever ;)


This is a random pic I just loved, the other day during violin class.

Aaron is in a period of RAPID change. It's what happened to Ananda a couple of years ago, when she jumped 7 inches in height and 3.5 shoe sizes during a single year. He's suddenly only about an inch shorter than me - he looked different when I got back from Boston, vs when I'd left 4 days earlier O_o I am just waiting to wake up one morning and find he's taller than me.




The rest of these are from today. Here are my girls, waiting for Annie to get called back to get braces put on.





She got RAINBOW braces. That weird bar is to hold open a big enough space for the adult teeth to erupt through. The (3) teeth without brackets are baby teeth that will be pulled next month. She kinda loves the way they look, though she is (of course) hating the constant discomfort. Laura showed up today with flowers and gelato for her, having had braces herself. It was really sweet.

I've been getting all pictures of her approved for about a year now, and she was adamant that the braces were ok cropped but terrible with her whole face in the shot. Similarly, Aaron came out to the deck for pictures shirtless but then demanded I crop out everything from the nipples down :p I would have anyway, most likely, even if he does have a bizarre lot of defined abs from dancing/studio exercise.


Laura took Jake and Elise with her when she left, and this is Ananda, Aaron and I rolling around laughing about nonsense for an hour afterward.


Isaac tried out for the cheerleading squad last month. He loves it. He's the only boy on the team, but mostly hangs out with girls at school anyway. I think it's fitting that the uniform is the colors we've been dressing him in since birth.



And one more Jakey and Elizabeth shot, from this afternoon:

They have something special. We're always lamenting that they're related and can't grow up and get married.
altarflame: (MeandJakesleeping)
Today is Jake's birthday - my fourth child, my afro boy, my Jakey Bakey Pudding and Pie, is EIGHT years old. Eight!

We took him out shopping for his party (tomorrow), and I took him out for a treat, just the two of us. We gave him his small presents (a new sketchpad, and an over-the-bedroom-door basketball hoop with small ball). We cleaned and did yard work. Grant took him, Isaac, and Elise to go see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, this evening. I stuffed goody bags, while they were gone.

I'm having some pretty major pain issues. And what seems from googling to be a baker's cyst, on the back of my right knee. You know, to go with the ganglioic cyst on my left wrist. It's weird to be so physically out of it and so happy, at the same time. Also weird to feel it's obvious I need to go to the doctor, and also obvious that the doctor can't really do anything. I'm going anyway, but...bleh.




The friend time, in Boston, was fucking amazing. I loved it so much.

Nancy picked us up at the airport, she took us out to dinner, she loaned us her boyfriend's car (we did make sure he was ok with it, but it totally went down just like that) and subway pass (he had nowhere to go that weekend, and she has a vehicle he can drive). She made us breakfast, gave us a bedroom and bathroom for the time we were there.

More than any of that, though - a lot more - she is just so easy to be with, listens so well, says things I truly care about, i.e., anything she does...she also showed me emails from people she's given my book to, discussing the book. Because she has a stack of them in her house, on top of a shelf of books just like how they are at my house, and she gives them out constantly.



She showed me an email from an 80 year old friend of her mother's who was horrified, said I must be "sick...sick...SICK" and that she couldn't even get through it - and then the follow-up, apologizing, saying she read it and was so glad she did, and that I was saying things all women think and feel and are afraid to share, and all kinds of really dumbfounding things I didn't even know how to reply to.

Another person had just finished the first 3 stories, and said they were "completely bizarre, but in a very good way" which is, I hope, the truth. It's so insanely emotional to me, to hear peoples' opinions. I brought my own stack with me and gave out 7 while I was in town, and it's this urgent combination of excitement and anxiety as I imagine them being read (or forgotten all about) and loved, hated, cast off as boring...whatever.

Nancy and I talk about everything. Sex, sickness, therapy, exercise, recipes. She's 65 and she is not very internet savvy, but she wants to know who the Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer are, when she knows I'm interested, and she loves the videos I show her. She wants to know where to get the glitter cream eye shadow I'm wearing. She walks so fast I can't keep up. She's doing important work every day, in both the lives of individuals and for people in general. She is such an inspiration overall, still learning and researching and GOING and DOING, every day, much more than most people half her age. She has amazing stuff all over her house that is from Etsy or friends of hers, and there were house guests leaving the day before us, and other guests coming in the day after we left. She sent me home with bags of jewelry she doesn't want anymore, for Ananda and Elise, that both of them were SO EXCITED to get, because they're FROM NANCY :D

Perhaps best of all, she's coming to our house for Thanksgiving ♥ I am SO EXCITED, too, about that :D So is Gloria, since Gloria's here with us for Thanksgiving every year and is a total fangirl for Nancy, as a doula and aspiring midwife. It's funny; I tend to leave the room when Nancy gets a birth call because I don't want to end up triggered all to hell and back. We don't talk about that very much, aside from indirect things like birth laws and interesting clients - we tend to fixate more on her relationship ups and downs, though, and her kids and granddaughter, and paint choices for her new walls, and how she's training her little dog.

Grant and I agree she is an uncanny combination of me, and his mother (who I adore).

This is beautiful, though: http://www.bostonbirthphotographer.com/a-home-water-birth-with-5-siblings-and-a-lot-of-love/

Another book Nancy has in her house:

I did a double take, because Kristin - who is a bona fide chicken nerd - also has it, and has made me read and look at most of it several times over. IS THIS THE SORT OF COMMON DENOMINATOR THAT WILL DEFINE MANY OF MY BEST FRIENDS?! :p

I texted Kristin that pic and she was like, "No, I have a different edition." O_o Like that negates the silliness.


Nancy's deaf cat, who I kept psst-pssting before checking myself. And her dog, who Grant played with almost nonstop the entire visit. His name is Sir Chocolate Sundae With Sprinkles, though the sprinkles were cut off by a groomer soon before this was taken.

Grant made her one of the little pumpkins he does with the kids every year.


And she left these Happy Birthday notes for him, and scattered kisses, in "our" bathroom, for us to come back and find very late, after our concert was over (the 7th was his birthday, and this was a joint birthday trip for the two of us).



There was also our Sunday afternoon visit with Julie/[livejournal.com profile] emeraldrabbit. I've "known" Julie online for a lot of years, and met up with her briefly in Boston before Elise was born, but this was so much better. We traipsed there via train, bus and short walk, on a cool and rainy afternoon. It was slightly awkward for about as long as it took to climb their stairs and say hi. After that, I basically felt like I could talk and stuff my face with them forever :) It's awfully easy to imagine living closer and seeing her and Mark all the time, and how Elise would drag their twins around in ways they would hate, and how Annie would join in the adult conversations and Isaac would make Julie laugh. Grant and Mark could become real friends really quick. It almost happened in the time it took them to go get some donuts for all of us. I felt sad that I hadn't started visiting sooner, so that I could have done it twice. *distancesigh*

Monday afternoon I had a shorter visit at a bookstore with [livejournal.com profile] idiolecto. We've read each other for lots of years, too, though I'd never met her before. She is ravishingly beautiful and super easy to talk to - if we hadn't been on our way to something else I could have easily kept that conversation going for several more hours. She had an Iowa friend with her and had given her some kind of altarflame debriefing similar to the idiolecto synopsis I lectured Grant with, as we all headed in the direction of our meet up spot. It's so funny, talking livejournal nonsense with other LJ'ers IRL.

She also brought Grant a delicious looking pastry as a birthday gift, which you can see him enjoying here:


There are a lot of reasons for me to go back to Boston again!


We spent the middle night of our 3 nights in a hotel, to try to have some "Grant and I" time. With the last of his work travel points, we were able to spend only $50 to stay in the W, where this is the lobby:

That pink is illuminating moving water, and the curtains are chain mail. It's just ridiculous, I mean -


This is part of the room service menu.


And this is the floor to ceiling, repeating wallpaper in the halls? I just do not even know.

So anyway, because he does travel so much, Grant is considered a "Gold Member," one perk of which is that he gets any available room upgrades they can give him. Which, this particular night, was a freakin' "WOW Suite" that normally rents for over $1,000 per night. It was insane, and we had to sign a liability waiver before we were allowed into it. This is the living room, curtains closed:


And open:





Before we even had time to look at everything properly, someone was knocking on the door to deliver these :) Sometimes really good things come from talking to strangers!















That is a stainless steel kaleidescope, next to a glass prism puzzle O_o The room was filled with little things like that, such as a (not pictured) wooden block puzzle, and a stack of art magazines...



We went out for thai food, and he had to sleep off a persistent headache for a bit. A lot of my accumulated tensions from the frenetic week before caught up with me, along with some (non kid related) drama I'd had with Gloria (who was with our kids - and we worked it out)... and I had to cry my eyes out to let it all go, which thankfully he totally understands and can even guide me to before I get it.

This tumblr post from a pretty cool guy I like a lot was very timely - the quote is, "Most people think happiness is about gaining something, but it’s not. It’s all about getting rid of the darkness you accumulate." Basically, this amazing hotel suite was real neat but I still felt awful in it until I cried, and he still felt awful in it until he napped - then we were both happy, and then we would have been happy no matter where we were.

Not that it wasn't still badass. That bed was really something.

So we watched more episodes of Louie (the show we're currently working our way through), and got it on, and generally didn't sleep much but were better off for it.

It was kinda showing the next morning over breakfast.


Good stuff all around. Like this, that we got via facebook :D



I was so happy that his birthday was acknowledged over and over in so many cool ways. Otherwise I don't think I could have dealt with not being in a position to bake him a cake :)
altarflame: (deluge)
I have 4 different drafts of entries in progress, one of which is 3 weeks old. And probably 40 pictures to post, some of which are a month old. There is just so much, though, so good much, so hard much, so much.

Today, I already snuck money and fairy dust under two pillows, picked Annie up from a sleepover and took her to her new cello mentoring program, studied for one of my online classes, and set up a ride for her to this mentoring program another week when I can't do it. I have a date with Jake to help plan his birthday party invites. Right now Grant is taking Annie to GMYS and derby, picking Aaron up from a (different) sleepover and taking him to the movies (while they wait for her). I have TONS of online schoolwork to do. I'm also hoping to at least finish editing pictures and post them, along with one half-done entry, after dinner... And, I'm emailing the Psychology Honor Society (which I've been invited to join) and scheduling a practice GRE for a couple of weeks from now.

Tomorrow:

-everybody's chores
-A&A revising papers from last week
-moving on to new math with them
-Annie practicing cello from her mentor sheet
-Jake and Elise continuing sentences, as well as multiplication for him, clocks for her
-reading those two the classic Hansel and Gretel

-printing out Halloween dover pages for them to color
-getting Isaac to and from school (in pajamas, with $1 for "pajama day") with cheerleading uniform in tow, and picking him up late from cheerleading practice
-get Isaac a new reed (clarinet)
-pay the electric bill
-loan payment if G doesn't do that
-get a notarized letter I need for Gloria, who's staying with everyone during an upcoming trip, for medical care
-get invitations for Jake's party done/sent

-taking Aaron to and from 3 hours of dance, during which I'll
-go to counseling
-help Isaac with his homework
-take an online test (then, after dance block)
-make dinner
-read to everyone
-start on a paper that's due Tuesday by midnight

-reserve my tickets online for this play I have to see for my theater class

Tuesday:

-chores
-get Isaac and I ready for school, with lists and activities for other kids in place (G working from home)
-go to my 3 classes; buy Jake's "big" birthday present from B&N at FIU while I'm there (Nook)
-meet with theater group about project
-post contest winner

-come home, immediately turn around and carpool Aaron and another kid to dance
-come home again, love on everyone, check on their work progress, talk to them in general
- tea time
-make Annie, Isaac, Jake and Elise practice their instruments
-dinner
-read to everyone

-finish paper due by midnight
-make meal lists and print out chores, for Gloria to have while we're gone

Wednesday:

-chores
-Isaac to and from school + his homework; cheerleading day again

-schoolwork for other kids, including science experiments for Jake and Elise and SciShow for A&A
-Annie cello practice during the day
-talking about our PATH presentation choices for upcoming events; write progress goal dates on calendar together
-start on my online school work for the week; try to knock out one class
-post office

-to-do list for horror story reading on YouTube; check in with Memo about pdf dl cover art
-Annie's derby and Aaron's dance carpool in the evening (I just drive them there)
-make Isaac, Jake and Elise practice instruments
-dinner
-online class work for the week

-write out alarm system instructions for Gloria
-and emergency contacts
-get bags of bathingsuits and towels ready, with floats, for Gloria
-serious bathroom scrubbing


Thursday:

-chores
-Isaac and I to school
-their lists need to include new papers for A&A
-Annie practicing

-me in 3 classes
-stats tutoring in the lab
-Isaac, Jake and Elise at GMYS (I have to move between their classes taking notes so that I can facilitate their practice through the week)
-make sure the cooler is clean for Gloria
-BJ's run, including her requested secret chocolate stash
-list of activity times and places for her
-go see play


Friday:

-chores
-Isaac's school/homework - $1/crazy hat/hair day
-everybody else's school, including research for PATH presentations

-more cross stitching with Jake and Elise
-Make sure I have Gloria's payment money and "play" money, and LJ's gas/snack money for driving Annie, all ready and set aside
-insurance cards/AAA card/gas card with money
-tooth fairy small bills/dust just in case

-van full of gas
-kitchen and bathrooms clean

-all online schoolwork done
-paper about the play written
-tea outside with all 5

-at least an hour totally focused on them, no distractions, hanging out
-big together breakfast planned for Saturday
-uh, PACK


And then Saturday, after breakfast - Gloria and LJ take my kids to a farm with a Groupon reservation that involves fruit baskets and tours, and generally take over/move in while Grant and I FLY TO BOSTON FOR FOUR DAYS AND 3 NIGHTS FOR OUR JOINT BIRTHDAY PRESENT!!! In case you haven't been paying attention, we both turn 32 in October. 32!

We'll be eating and staying with Nancy that first night, which none of us can wait for - seriously I feel like I should be writing her name like !!!♥~*~♥Nancy♥~*~♥!!! So much love. *sigh* Since she's coming to Florida in November instead of February, we'll be seeing her AGAIN so soon, too - it will almost be like we don't live 1500 miles apart this fall :)

We will probably be meeting up with the artist formerly known as Julierocket the next day, and possibly calling on a certain [livejournal.com profile] idiolecto as well, before Monday night, when we crash this fucking fabulous looking combination ART PARTY AND DRESDEN DOLLS REUNION, featuring Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman as MCs...Read All About It Here, if you feel like it. Ananda is sending along a shirt she wants autographed by everyone there :D Excited, psyched, words do not convey.

Tuesday we will sleep in, eat something somewhere, and then fly home. We'll get in kind of late. Grant has that whole week off, and Jake's birthday is Friday, and his party Sunday. Jakey will be 8 - 8, I tell you! My fourth child will be 8 years old. He's having a pajama party and a bed cake (all his idea).

And our very first day back will hit the ground running...Wednesday will arrive with me slightly behind on schoolwork, with an appt for Annie to go get spacers put between her teeth (she gets braces on the 14th...which reminds me she needs a new special mouth guard for derby before that...), and a dance carpool thing...

So I am REALLY swamped. The terrible triggered PTSD feeling I referenced on 9/11 has been over for awhile...that was a shit week, but research and counseling are helping. Not long after that eased up, my pain suddenly came back big time...I'm still feeling the end of some serious week+ long pain that has me making a new doctor's appt for me (I haven't been back since I cut gluten and felt mostly better, back in...late February). I feel good, though. Achey and somewhat low energy at times, but also... Really good. Trepidacious that I don't want the pain to ramp back up and it could at any time, almost euphoric that it's gone - and kind of heavy when I think about where I'm at in counseling (surgery and medical traumas...it's the first time I've actually been directly tackling it in counseling as the main topic we're working through. I always wuss out and quit before it can get this far). I left after my hour of sobbing and talking last week feeling exhilarated and lighter, though. And I'm SO excited, about October in general! Our trip, Jake's birthday/party, All Hallow's Read, everybody's Halloween plans, the weather getting cooler...I love October.


The days before our Maryland trip were a total avalanche of responsibilities, similar to this one... it was between semesters, but I was putting the kids' homeschooling portfolios together and getting their evaluations done, and Isaac was going back to charter school so all of his uniforms, supplies, lunches, snacks and fees had to be ready to go, in addition to cleaning/stocking the house, prepping my mother in law with lists and info, trying to charge everyone up with lots of extra love and affection...I got there riding on almost zero sleep, and had to cry my eyes out in the hotel room before I could take a deep breath and relax. The trip, though, was amazing and worth it, blah blah blah :)



So yeah if I can get my homework done in time and dinner knocked out in an efficient manner, I'll be back with pictures, and more...
altarflame: (deluge)
Last Wednesday night, Aaron didn't get home from dance until 9, when Jamaii's mom dropped him off here. He had to be back at 8, the next morning. At around 10pm, tired and irritable from our AC being broken for part of the day, I was sweating and reading The Prisoner of Azkaban to Isaac when Aaron came into Isaac's room in a panic. "Mom, I NEED a Disney costume by tomorrow!" he interrupted. "She assigned me to Peter Pan since I didn't come with one ready today!"

The day before had been the first time I'd ever heard this costume thing mentioned. I had told him then to dig through the dress up chest and put something together, and instead he ran around confused and then seemed to forget all about it. Now it was an emergency.

"No way, Aaron."
"Moooom I'm out of the opening on Friday if I don't have a costume!"
"How does she expect you to get a costume? You left the studio at 8:30 tonight and have to be back at 8 in the morning. When are you supposed to get a costume?"
"She doesn't care!"
"She can bite me, it isn't going to happen."

And then do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? The one freakin' thing in the whole world that could move me at that uncomfortably warm, sleepy, late point, knowing I had to be up before 7 Thursday.

He said, "Tomorrow is my birthday!"

Dammit.

So off I went, to Walmart that I try to boycott altogether, searching every section for all these components (big men's dark green polo, bright green tights, felt and yarn...) Just after midnight, I was crocheting a belt and sewing a hat.

When I did get up, far too early, he was thrilled and told me I was awesome. I'd made him a (bleary eyed) birthday breakfast and gotten him spicy sweet chili doritos to take in his lunch (all time favorite).

Off we went, to pick up Jamaii and go to dance. Then, Ananda, Elise and I had an hour to kill before Girl Scout camp started, and I'd promised Ananda's guitar teacher - who I very nearly sued for harrassment, and I'm only half kidding - that Annie would complete her last assignment last week and be done with the course. Of course Annie's crushing social/phone anxiety kicked in and I had to pep talk and then ultimatum her before she consented to use the guitar we'd brought in the trunk, and the laptop I had in the backseat. Finally she sat, logged in to wifi, while Elise and I watched her from inside Panera so nobody else could HEAR HER (God Forbid). Then she came in and I congratulated her with a chai tea latte and a fruit tart, while she was in the bizarrely hyper, almost manic high that always follows overcoming anxiety, for her.

I skipped my classes that day in favor of shopping for Aaron's birthday dinner, baking his cake and making his frosting, being home (along with Grant, who wasn't leaving) when he arrived rather than hours later, and taking a damned nap. He ended up having tomato tart and sushi. I thought it could be related to how long it had been since I'd had gluten, but others agreed that the carrot cake was the best cake I've made in years. It was...insanely awesome. Just perfect. And enormous. I mean, 9 eggs and a dozen carrots sort of enormous. I went up to 1.5 times the recipe I generally use to bake us 4 dozen cupcakes, for a single round layer cake in my widest spring form pans.

His presents (all requested):
-quad skates, to skate with Annie and possibly ref derby
-a hot pink morph suit
-a 14" beach ball, for a paper mache project
-more stupid overpriced Iniji or whatever toe socks to go under his Vibrams
-light up disco glasses

Anyway. Aaron is 12 :p I am very proud of him, and think he had a good day.

This week, nobody has anything to go to, and I am glad. I had classes and counseling today, and we're hosting a 4th of July party on Thursday evening, but that's it. It's glorious.




In counseling, this evening, I was doing emdr about my mother. EMDR is chronological and believe you me I was irritated as all hell to have this man, after our initial interviews and my first homework assignment, say that we had to start with my mom. I've been talking about my mom in counseling since I was 16. Gah. It is not what I was going to him for. And he's right, blah blah blah.

So I'm there holding these alternately buzzy things in my hands with my eyes shut, thinking about my mom, and then he'd turn them off and I'd talk about what I'd thought and then we'd start over, again and again. That's basically the gist of how EMDR sessions go, although they require some set up info for prompts and minor guidance here and there, and you do some assessments before and after each session.

Twice, today, while I was holding these things, I got SO DIZZY. Room spinning vertigo like I was drunk or...I don't even know. I could even make it reverse direction to make it feel like my brain fluid was all spinning the other way. No nausea or anything, but very distracting and intense like my skull was just slipping by continuously. I would open my eyes to anchor myself here and there, but then it would start again as soon as I shut my eyes. It felt like some kind of crap related to the alternately buzzing hand things, and/or the alternately stimulated halves of my brain.

The session was ok overall, he told me something challenging I probably really needed to hear. As I was paying my deductible, I mentioned the dizziness off handedly and told him that had happened twice before during EMDR in 2008.

He immediately said people have phantom symptoms all the time based on unconscious triggering of memories that involved feeling those symptoms. Stomach aches during a tv show, whatever.

Well. I definitely spent months using every afternoon as "spinning time," following my parents' divorce. I ended up at an ENT at one point who told my mother it seemed I'd destroyed my equilibrium by fucking up my vestibular system permanently. <---Note, that ENT was a quack who later tried to cauterize the insides of my nostrils for bleeding from the sinus cavity. Just sayin'.

But I spun and spun and spun, that year. Retrospectively, as a parent, I do not understand why my mother or one of my grandparents didn't come out of the house and say, "Tina, you've been spinning for THREE HOURS, what is going on? Let's talk." This is very similar to how it baffles me, now, that nobody ever KNOCKED ON MY BEDROOM DOOR and pulled me out, in later years. Just.

The point is, yeah, I spun, and yeah, we were talking about that same time period today, although I never consciously thought of the spinning. I'm also about 98% sure that when that dizziness happened in 2008 EMDR, it was when we were talking about my parents splitting up.

I have two thought processes about this that kinda run in tandem:

1.) I do wish my body didn't feel the need to hold onto every fucking thing, along with my brain. I wonder if I can let it all go, or only the mental part, or what.

2.) I am more skeptical than I have ever been in my life, but also more eager to be shown real magic than I have probably ever been. It felt like my therapist had tricks up his sleeve, today. Illusions to pull out and impress me.

Another one: Francine Shapiro, the (somewhat controversial) inventor of EMDR, had a book come out in the last year, that he has in his office partially because she thanks him in her Acknowledgements, since he allowed her to use a bunch of his work in the early chapters. Including some of his success cases involving victims of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.

It made him seem like a very accomplished magician, and reminded me of the Wizard of Oz.




I have a lot of pictures to upload, and I may even do it soon, but I'd like to note that this website makes uploading pictures a phenomenal pain in the ass - they have to be resized in PSP or something and then uploaded to a separate host site of your own, and then linked - and so I end up doing it on tumblr, where I can just use my phone to basically copy and paste from my gallery, way more often. My tumblr does have a "personal posts only" link that is easily clicked if you ever want to see original content of mine without the reblogged tumblr stuff all mixed in - it's here: http://altarflame.tumblr.com/tagged/personal I don't usually do a lot of long text posts there like I do here (and I am somewhat more likely to be uncensored/controversial, there, although it's not more or less honest...) It's not taking the place of my lj. It is just easier sometimes to do short things on the fly, on tumblr.

Since I've done a lot more "personal" tumblr-ing recently than I generally do, I thought I would link some of it individually for the interested. There is:

-This one about my obsession with, and endless parade of, white flowers at all stages of life.

-A little story about ordering chickens, and me talking about how I loved our buff orpington, Belina.

-A video about an overgrown section of our yard that we have sacrificed to dozens of butterflies as well as a a picture of how it looks from in our tv room window, where we watch the caterpillars building and hatching from chrysalises.

-Something short about our ridiculous Florida weather.

-Gardening with Elise (our lettuce has gone mad, and the chickens keep eating our chard)

-Some pictures of Annie's new hair, as modeled over the weekend from another city, where she skated in her first derby bouts.

-A couple of different posts about the joy of having new books to read for the first time.

-And one ridiculous shot of Aaron in one of his many get-ups.




I've been really enjoying the downtime of laying low and staying home much more than I have in awhile. Washing massive piles of dishes and putting away mountains of laundry like it isn't torture, even. It's one of those very homey times when our bathrooms are stocked with folded stacks of rags by the sinks, and everyone has their own socks sorted into their bedrooms, rather than just having "the sock basket" available to dig through (our usual system). I hot glued a fairy's wing back on, sewed a stuffed animal that was losing it's spikes and scotch taped several books, over the weekend. They had all waited for me to repair them for a long time. I've hosted Laura and her kids for dinner, greeted everyone with oatmeal and coffee as they woke up, and read to people in the afternoons AND at night. One day, I had an entire to-do list of plant related tasks (prunings, repottings, watering, etc) and relished it every minute.

There has been more Summer Oldies Pandora station and less Dresden Dolls, playing.

I remember when this feeling was just how I felt about life staying home as a mother and sometimes I even toy with the idea that it can last forever without any sort of supervision or maintenance, now. But I know the truth is that this is not then, and I need to leave and come back to enjoy it, these days. I need to do pre-emptive things like go to counseling, classes and my writing time BEFORE I find myself struggling to not just go in my room and lock the door. I am one of the people I have to take care of.

It is what it is, and I'm grateful for a whole lot.

Itinerary

Apr. 23rd, 2013 10:03 am
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
This summer's shaping up to have a lot of cool opportunities and interesting stuff for everybody. I've been in a frenzy of emails, calls, forms and combing the calendar for the last two days, as always happens this time of year. And then again before fall.

So far this is what we've got on the table as probable, counting summer as basically anything that happens after today since a lot of it begins in May:

Tina/Mom/me:

-5 classes at FIU, broken into 3 for Summer A term and 2 for Summer B. I actually have my schedule and financial aid in place since getting accepted, and am now setting up incidentals like going to get my student ID, having my parking pass mailed to me and acquiring my book advance/books.
-gardening - currently I have 3 flowering plants on the front porch, succulents and basil on the deck, about 40 houseplants, and a whole mess of seedlings in the house that will be transitioned to a raised bed in the coming weeks: white and flamingo chard, spinach, red and romaine lettuce, and lavender (for Isaac's anxiety, we're talking about it all along the way...we also have a "life cycle of a seed" poster hanging in our dining room these days).
-counseling. I finally made contact with somebody yesterday, like nails on a chalkboard though it was, and she's supposed to be calling me back about our insurance today. This is actually Grant and I both, separately and then together
-Writing dammit. It might be more like 2 hours per weekend rather than the hour per day I've been trying to strive for, but I can live with that if all this other stuff is happening.
-also with Grant, and "hopefully" - acquiring a second car, again (we sold the Civic awhile back, too many problems)

Ananda:

-regularly scheduled cello rehearsals on Sundays, and derby practice Sundays and Wednesdays, for awhile more at least
-6 hour training to be a program aide for girl scout camps, in May
-part of the color guard made up of junior derby players for the adult bout on the same day in May O_o
-GMYS finale concert THE NEXT DAMN DAY good grief
-going paintballing with her derby team later on in the month
-3 weeks of Girl Scout camp in June and July, 2 as a Program Aide (volunteer/helper basically, then next year she'll get to be a Counselor In Training) and one as a regular ol' Girl Scout
-Somewhere in the midst of that, attending the Southern Regional Junior Derby...whatever it's called, rally or some shit up in central Florida - this will involve her team being in their first two bouts!*
-auditioning into whatever ensemble for GMYS for the fall, before the summer is over - I'd also like to try to get her some kind of supplemental cello learnin' but it basically has to be free so either a public school program, a magnet she only goes to the music portion of, or this Frost mentor program...we'll see
-she also wants to look into starting to volunteer at the library, we'll see, and has a goal of "being at sleepovers as often as possible this summer"
-which could be related to the whole "SHE'S TURNING 13 ON JUNE 1!!!!" thing

Aaron:

-hip hop on Saturdays and jazz dance on Thursdays**, til the eventual Dance Empire end of year recital
-I'm basically trying to decide whether to try to get him into a camp at Dance Empire or just sign him up for their intensive weeks, and/or their summer classes
-either way he wants to do ballet technique classes again, which is interesting to me and they're offered on Saturdays in one big block so yeah sure he doesn't have to pay ~shrug~ They're offering 7-15 yo barre and stretch, 7-15 yo turn and jump, 7-15 yo open ballet and pre-point for 10-16 year olds as a 4 hour long extravanganza, and he's aghast at how inflexible he's supposedly become ever since someone complimented him on his extensions (?) last week. Dancers!
-I'm sure there will be some epic TLC party before a couple of families leave town for the summer as they generally do, and he will be in like flynn
-whatever we decide to do for his birthday on June 27th (he'll be 12)

Isaac:

-the rest of the school year obviously, which features the talent show he's doing a jump rope act in this Friday
-GMYS camp for a month***, now on clarinet
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves

Jake:

-GMYS camp for a month, hopefully playing drums (HE HATES THE VIOLIN SO MUCH)
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves

Elise:

-turning SIX on May 1 - we're going to the Seaquarium**** because she had no idea such wonders existed, but we have been on a big Squid YouTube kick that's somehow led into whales, and she is PSYCHED. Also, she keeps asking for a science lab so we're going to do our best to set that up as her birthday present with like, basic common kitchen ingredients common to many experiments and a space allocated in the house with a table Grant's made, and some little accessories - she will love it
-those 3 weeks of Girl Scout camps that Annie will be at, albeit in separate age groups of course
-GMYS camp for a month, back on violin

All Kids:

-(well, minus Isaac in this instance) homeschool yearly evaluations
-(and plus me in this one) dental checkups/cleanings



*It will probably be Grant taking her to paintballing and the rally, for a variety of reasons - also, Grant is not travelling anymore in the forseeable immediate future, under his new supervisor that's looking like a more quarterly sort of thing...and he works from home on the days I'll be in school.

**I actually found another Dance Empire parent IN HOMESTEAD who is WILLING AND ABLE TO CARPOOL, this is life changing people, seriously, wow. I am excited.

***the little kids' camp is actually IN HOMESTEAD, good grief A&A's was insanely far last summer, that was a circus

****If you are a AAA member, in the month of May you can go to the AAA office and get a (discounted!) Seaquarium ticket, and then take it to the Seaquarium, and they will give you another one free. Since the Seaquarium is absurdly, disgustingly, prohibitively overpriced, this is a big deal that can potentially make it possible to go. It ends up being $36 plus tax for two adults, rather than $80.
altarflame: (Default)
I don't understand households where the beds are made first thing in the morning, and then everybody stays away from them all day.

When I was a kid/teenager, my bedroom was my entire universe, and so my bed was, like, my only chair, my couch, etc, as well as the place that I slept. That was where I read, and pet my cat, and sat talking with friends who came over.

Having a boyfriend meant spending an awful lot of time lying around kissing and wanting or, later, doin' it. But I mean when Grant and I were really young we sat on his bed playing video games and watching movies and talking and having tickle fights, and sometimes just looking up at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling with the blinds shut.

Once I had kids, which if you recall overlaps with when I was a teenager (see boyfriend portion of this entry), I co-slept. And when you have a newborn, they take a lot of naps. I didn't have or know about slings with Ananda or Aaron, and I only ever really mastered side-lying nursing with them, so yeah. We spent a lot of time in bed. They both learned how to sit up and how to roll over on my bed, with me there with a camera. I would lounge near them propped up on pillows, reading books, as they napped.

With my later kids, I did have slings, and a busier house, but there was still always a time or two (or three) spent lying in bed attempting to nurse someone down for a nap during the day.

Now, my kids are older, obviously, and we have way more communal living space. But Jake comes to me begging to have "love in the bed" every day at some point, which means, "curl up under a blanket and snuggle with me and talk, for awhile!" If my kids bring me books, they always want to go dive under a blanket to listen as I read it. Grant and I take afternoon naps together every weekend. And we lay in our bed and watch shows on a laptop a couple of evenings a week.

Something I really love is when people just totally get this. When I go to Kristin's, I end up on her bed with her looking through sewing projects. When Kathy or Gloria comes over here, they don't even hesitate to hug my pillows as they cozy in while we're talking. Years ago, when I would be lying in my bed nursing Elise down to sleep, and Laura would be sitting in my computer chair at the desk in my bedroom nursing Brian, I was like, "this is perfect." Going to Laura's now always means I sit on the edge of her bed while she nurses Isabelle down for a nap and we talk.

All that said, here's 38 pictures...warning for a skinned up knee, I guess, if you need a warning for that )
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
This moment twelve years ago, I was lying in a bed in a recovery room, waiting for a room upstairs to open up so I could be moved to it and somebody would bring me my firstborn child. I was extremely doped up on two spine-loads of duomorph, since the first hadn't fully taken, and saying a lot of crazy nonsense like, "I'm sorry Grant's parents are sausages," and "Don't worry, Mr Nerenberg will be right back, he lets me come in his office all the time." But I fought through the crazy narcotic haze, by golly, and stayed awake until someone brought Her.

And then I pulled her in close, and felt complete and at ease, and she immediately started nursing, and we both fell asleep for a long time, and I was...a mother.

Today, I am excited as hell that I actually found a bakery that was willing to make Ananda a My Little Pony (friendship is magic; the new series that is not really like the old one) cake - she just changed her facebook page to all Flutterby stuff, so this is gonna be awesome, and all her brony friends will think the pictures are so cool ;) The baker did not really understand the Hipster nonsense in the image I sent him, but he also didn't care either way.

We had breakfast out together. She's pretty great.




Just as I sat pondering how my youngest has turned 5 and graduated from preschool to being a Kindergartner, and that Annie will really be a teenager just next summer, and how different life is now vs when we had babies and toddlers and messes and disasters and fits and diapers all the time, Elise decided to help me along with some nostalgia.

Act I: She dug nasty things out of the trash, and put them in her mouth.
Act II: She broke one of her glass things everywhere and then freaked out about it.
Act III: She had explosive liquid-diarrhea poop all over the kids' bathroom floor.

Every one of those things is damned unusual, so I'm assuming this drama was just to aid me in my reminiscing. Mission accomplished, Elise - I am ready to roll with only big kids all over again ;)
altarflame: (Default)
I think I'm done shopping for Ananda's 12th birthday, which is next Friday. She's in real need of clothes again, and has asked for lots of them as well as a million (VERY EXPENSIVE) other things (cello, guitar, iPod, iPhone, Amazon and Apple gift cards, etc).

She ended up with:

-3 pairs of shorts
-2 pairs of tights/leggings
-1 skirt
-pack of two sports bras
-2 shirts
-bathing suit (this was dire, she's been using some old leotard that was too tight)
-Kindle cover and light
-iPod nano (and since when did the nano have a touch screen? My old nano did not have a touch screen)
-ring she had been all nutty over - http://www.ebay.com/itm/130691632801?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649#ht_2508wt_1185

Everything but the ring was bought at BJ's, where it makes me happy that you can get really high quality stuff that won't wear out or get holes in the laundry for Target prices. And a touch screen nano is only $110.

We're gonna try to use the warranty on her phone to just switch it out for another (she has a slide out keyboard for texting and can get on facebook but it's not a smart phone - her main problem with it is just that it does random weird things for the last couple of months from getting beaten up for almost a year). She uses Grant's guitar and Greater Miami Youth Symphony said they can all hang onto their instruments now that class is over since they're registered for camp, so they can keep practicing throughout the summer. I'm sure she'll get some money from various relatives that she can use in place of gift cards not received.

I also just spent $50 ordering her new pads, and got her another pack of body wash when I went shopping today, since she now whiningly demands that...Sheesh man!

I am so the mom giving the mortifying "no body wash on the vulva, you have a pH balance to maintain" lecture.

She absolutely does not want a party and is acting like she has no idea when I ask what she WOULD like to do. Probably we'll take her to P.F. Changs or something. She loves how many veggie options they have. I think I'm gonna make her a My Little Ponies cake since their whole social group now identifies as Bronies. <---Can you hear my eyes rolling? Affectionately, though. They're pretty awesome.

Aaron is begging for My Little Ponies bedding for his birthday next month. He's getting a Minecraft cake. And is set on a party.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
Robby (my 16 year old nephew, not my 21 year old brother Bob that lives with us) came down for a week ♥ It was really good to see him. He just gets more vertical every time O_o

(walking to the trolley stop to go to GMYS)


Most beautiful roses ever, at BJ's. Sometimes I see flowers and they really take my breath away. Unfortunately flowers like this would be dead approximately 3 hours after purchase, so now they're my iPhone background.

iPhone! People! Last week I managed to completely submerge my phone in a cup of water while turned on and plugged in for like 10 minutes before I even realized. Obviously it was messed up. I went to the AT&T store and they were all "we don't sell the 3G anymore, you have to do a ($400) early upgrade". Anyway, I ended up at the Apple store, where they heard me out and gave me a brand new pre-charged phone that managed to be perfectly sync'd to my old messed up one. I just had to finger-sign on an iPad for it that I understood that my 1 year warantee was now void. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?




We spent most of Friday and Saturday scrubbing the hell out of the entire house, doing yardwork, and cooking and shopping, for Jake's party yesterday afternoon. Which I think was a raging success.

Pinata stuffing at the checkout:


Georgia double fisting cupcakes:


We ended up having 10 kids (not counting ours) and 7 adults (beyond the 3 that always live here). It was a huge success all around, everybody had a great time even though it POURED the entire day so everyone had to stay completely inside. I emphasized to everyone that they didn't have to worry about gifts, but still Jake got such wonderful stuff - K'Nex, a racetrack, art kits, Bakugans, new books. Shaun got him Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii and that was definitely a big hit right away.


3 kids showed up in costume, understandably misunderstanding "Halloween themed", so Grant ended up putting on his as well.


Hence, pinata wielding Jesus.




Big kids are like, pinatas, please. We're intellectuals.




Elizabeth is adorable.


And all the baby lusting mamas that are done can't get enough.


Hipsters talking about bikes for hours. Sheesh.


Although the middle one did make and bring this bread for the party, with some homemade red pepper dipping sauce:

And she tagged it on fb, "Happy Challa-ween!" :p SO YUMMY, it was still warm when she got here.

Naja and Georgia dressed Elise up, haha.


I really, really, REALLY WISH I had gotten pics and video of the awesome parade we did. For months, when we've asked Jake what he wants for his birthday, he tells us "a parade". At first I thought it was just about fanfare, but as time has passed it's come clear that a big part of it is about people "throwing candy at him", which is part of why the pinata only had non-edibles in it. Anyway, the weather was obviously a huge downer, but we made it work like whoa. I set Jake up in a chair in the dining room, with a bag, and we organized in the library and filed past him. It was almost 30 people, single file, each with an instrument of some kind, singing happy birthday and throwing candy at him as they walked by. After I got our guitars, recorders, violins, drums and the flute passed out we resorted to things like "this trail mix is your maraca". Let's just say the hallway was very very crowded afterward :D One grownup refused to participate: Jake didn't notice as he sat there saying "I LOVE THIS! I LOVE THIS!"

Epic.




Last night Adrian spent the night with A and A. All my younger kids were in a state of friend, new toys and sugar high ecstasy. Grant and I went with Shaun to LUSH and then out to dinner. I was laughing to the point that I was crying for like half of the outing. At least twice a waittress tried to talk to us and had to leave and come back a few minutes later because none of us could even speak. This is what happens when they plan videos together. He's spent the day up there with Shaun, today, filming, and I'm eager to see the results. Although I'm thinking he should have taken a ferret like we talked about...
altarflame: (Me and Annie)
I have far too much to be doing today to take a nap, which is extremely irritating.

But the weather is perfect. Do you know what "low 80s with wind" feels like after four solid months of "mid to upper nineties with humidity"?? Heaven, is the answer. Suddenly we're having tea outside again, the bike ride to Elise's preschool is not torture, getting in the van is not a cruelty I spare the children until I've had the AC on for 10 minutes. I've been doing things like sitting out on the deck and watching the leaves move in the breeze. Everyone I know has been, at the least, in a better mood than they would otherwise be in, because of the weather shift.

Today is Grant's birthday. He's 30 years old, which is proving to be harder for him than for me (my birthday is in a couple of weeks). I feel like, oh come on, we've lived through and done SO MUCH, now the number will match up with who we actually are a little bit better. It's not like I see 30 as old anymore (anymore, in this case, meaning "since I was 8"). I keep pointing out his 50(ish) year old Dad who's happy with a new girlfriend and his wave runner and in better shape than either of us, traveling all the time. Pretty much all of our friends and acquaintances aside from my sister and Shaun are older than we are and none of them seem old (including Nancy...who is 67).

But I did say, in the kitchen yesterday, that it's kind of amazing to me that we managed to spend our teenage years and our twenties together and now we're embarking on the 30s. I mean, that hit me in a different kind of way, and made me panic just a little, like, wait - our teens and twenties...are...gone, and now we just have 30s, 40s, 50s etc left in this life?

...whoa ;)

Not that I haven't been receiving clues that some kind of major time is passing without me even realizing.

First of all, this is how the tray looks now when Laura and her kids are over and we have tea. I got done with this and was like, uh, that's actually FAR TOO HEAVY.

When she has this next baby I think we're gonna need to get a rolling cart or something, I don't know :p

Anyway...HOW IN THE HELL CAN ELISE BE THIS MUCH TALLER THAN ANY STANDING PERSON?!?!

I feel like I'm looking at a scene from "Honey I Blew up the Kids" or something O_o

She wanted me to take a picture of her "fancy french ponytail" (after 2 hours of playing at the park).


I think Isaac was taller yesterday than he'd been the day before.





Aaron had an audition last week for a local kids' acting group - and he made it! We got the callback yesterday :) The first part of the audition was filling out a questionnaire that asked everything from "What did you do yesterday?" to "How do you define the word 'audience'?" It was interesting to me to see how he defines himself in 3 words and why he wants to be an actor and all that...


But this.


This girl, woman, child, chick.


Be still my pounding heart.


She takes my breath away.

I am so proud of her.

She talked the whole way to PATH yesterday about how glad she is that she's not traumatized anymore, and how good it is to be able to talk about things *tears* <---of mine

She was just glowing, running around with her friends, talking animatedly to a whole group of people at once and making them laugh, just giddy and glowing around the boy I know she has a huge crush on, in the new cooler weather.

For the last couple of months, she's been set on an eventual triple degree - cooking, astronomy and cello ;) She plans to get part of her AA done through dual enrollment and then work at Starbucks while she finishes it. She's writing a story that I'm not allowed to see yet but is many front-and-back pages long. When it's done I'm supposed to edit it for her before she uses her friends as a test audience and then sumbits it to places like Stone Soup (the Cricket magazine literary mag full of kids' writing). I try hard to stay out of her sketch book because I can tell she considers it private.

She clears, scrubs and dries the dining table and kids' bathroom counter every day, and puts away all the clean dishes. She takes complete care of her own cat, litter box and food/water and even scrubbing it's gross bathtub toilet habits away.

She's up in Miami since yesterday, she went with Cybele after PATH for a (science competition, in theater) robotics movie and pizza party/sleepover. I texted her, reminding her to text Dad Happy Birthday, awhile ago. After crying my eyes out for awhile, looking at those pics above, about MY BABY. My very first baby.

The one born years before I ever had a digital camera.


(that's me, 18 years old and living in overalls)




The first time she sat.

*sigh*

We're probably going to end up getting advanced degrees at around the same time. As it is, she comes to the college with me sometimes when I'm there for bureaucratic tedium, looking around at it as a place she wants to be in 4-5 years (and MDC is a "cool" community college, huge with lots of green space and buildings loaded with glass and color and experimental architecture). Years which are, apparently, nothing. She can drive in 4 years.

I asked her if she did her chores recently and got a sheepish look and replied "Youse a might too previous for that", after which I told her she needs to stop sitting around on her royal diasticuctis, at which point Laura was like, "She's already reading Their Eyes are Watching God?" I'm actually reading it to her. And picking out (appropriate, my God) Harry Potter fanfiction for her to read herself.

Ok I have to go do a speech outline, email it to the learning support lab at that college, bake Grant's birthday (pineapple upside down) cakes, and walk these kids up to the trolley to go to music classes this afternoon O_O I had to take a blogging break and jump on my bike when I realized I was 10 minutes late to pick up Elise from preschool. THIS DAY, geez, if I was gonna blog away the morning I COULD have taken a nap :p
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.

Ananda: IT WAS SO EPIC, IT WAS THE MOST EPIC THING I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE, THERE WAS NO END TO THE EPICNESS, TOMORROW LOGAN IS GOING TO HEAR A WHOLE LECTURE ON ALL THE EPIC -
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 [livejournal.com 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)
Part 1, or, I AM SO DAMNED BUSY LATELY:

You may have noticed my near absence online. Well, in the last week, sheesh, I've studied for an algebra test, taken it up in Kendall early Saturday morning, done a bunch of algebra homework. Spent a whole day here with Kristin and her kids - I stayed with all the children while she went to class, then she stayed with them all while I went and got Grant, then Grant stayed with all of them while she came to class with me to see the hilarity and bs that is my Student Life Skills course (mandatory since I got put on academic probation last time I was in school). I spent a whole afternoon with a couple of great homeschooling moms while all my kids but Isaac (who sat by me and whined THE ENTIRE TIME) ran around having fun with their friends, and had a whole lot of AMAZING intense tmi time with my husband...like stuff that leaves me staring and thoughtful and blown away the next day. The seven of us went up to the beach yesterday. Ananda's birthday was Wednesday, I've been plotting and scheming about Aaron's ever since, since his is next. My brother actually made it following COPIOUS lectures, arguments and talking with Laura, Grant and I and is graduating (high school diploma; still needs his A+ certification from their technical school a few months down the line...) as planned this month.

This is a brief summary of what I've done today:

-got up at 7:30 am to take Grant to work, hashing out budget business on the way
-nursed Elise and fell back asleep - had the worst and most disturbing nightmares I've had in a LONG TIME...woke up very relieved
-made all the kids do all their chores
-scoured Craigslist for writing jobs and started conceptualizing my resume (I've done a lot of web writing for Grant, and things for the local paper, and had a press release gig briefly a couple of years ago...)
-took my (virtual course) Social Studies test and contributed to the (mandatory, graded) "discussion" on the messageboards
-helped Isaac and Jake with about 10 pages of phonics apiece (they were on a role), Elise with handwriting, assigned Annie her daily math (she's doing geometry and subtracting decimals now, in Kumon), and gave Aaron his 30 minutes of silent reading (on tide pools, today, he was thrilled, it's downright silly) that he has to write a paragraph about
-several tedious phone calls and emails about various tedium
-picked Grant up at work at 4:25
-made 2 giant pans of tricked out nachos (cans of pinto and black beans, diced tomato, and black olives...I shredded like 3/4 of a pound of cheese)
-drove Ananda to Girl Scouts, after talking to her troop leader on the phone

I'm SUPPOSED to be putting away like 6 loads of laundry and checking her math work right now, while G is outside cutting down hedges and hauling bulk items from the "alley" for a bulk pickup (an old mattress, a big old cat scratching post, etc) with the four younger kids helping him.


PART 2: WRITTEN THE DAY AFTER ANNIE'S BIRTHDAY BUT NEVER POSTED:

You know, it crossed my mind as I carried a flaming cake out to the darkened dining room for everyone to sing to Ananda yesterday that I've done that an awful lot. So I added it up just now, and sure enough I've celebrated one of my children's birthdays 36 times. This seems really wild to me!




Eleven is so, so awkward. I was looking at my beautiful, brilliant daughter yesterday, watching her, thinking "Yep - that's 11" about so many things.

She stands there, wearing pigtails and having boobs, with her legs newly super hairy but not yet shaved, telling me about the cool fort she just made. I go to see it with her and learn SHE is not gonna use it (of course not!) - she just made it for the little kids. But ISN'T IT AWESOME?

Yeah...that's 11 for you. Kristin told her about a story she think symbolizes her whole year when she was 11 - she said she spotted a cardboard carton from some product her mother had gotten and realized how perfectly shaped and sized it was to make a mailbox for her bedroom, that she could hang by or on the door for people to leave her notes in. And she could have a signal for outgoing mail. And she had everything in mind for how to decorate it and all, and was just SO SAD that she was too old to actually do it because it was a little kid thing to do.

My silly silly daughters.


Four and eleven, wut?


(and behind us, in the yard...)


We weren't able to get a LOTR cake, but we got this thing and she loved it and whatever...I did end up getting her three pairs of shorts, from Target, and a $15 iTunes giftcard to go in a fairy card I'd been saving, and a giant pack of colored pencils since Lee has her using them in art therapy and she really wants some now...




We did end up having Laura (who had brought her a HUGE thing of homemade chocolate mousse, parfait style) and her kids, and Grant Sr (who gave her $50) and Mindy, here for the cake. I think she just loved cooking alongside me most of the day though (veggie lasagna while I did the meat, we cooperated on her chosen lunch of fresh mozarella, sliced tomato and fresh basil on crusty toasted bread, and she spooned all the topping onto the breakfast muffins before they went in the oven). I think helping in the kitchen is still about her favorite thing to be doing, which is funny when I picture her diapered and sitting on the counter butchering mushrooms with a butter knife...


And PART 3: THIS IS WHY FACEBOOK IS SO AWESOME:


http://www.liqwid.org/pictures/ARAkasha.png


I think the next time I write will be about internal thought processes rather than exterior happenings. There are a lot of both!
altarflame: (Me and Annie)
Tomorrow, Ananda will be 11 years old. ELEVEN!

Eleven is an age when *I*...

-kept a diary with pages-long entries that I still have
-had my whole (personal, private, not shared or anything yet) sexual awakening
-cut my thigh length hair up to the shoulders for the first time in my life (myself)
-got a 14 year old boyfriend
-had my first kiss(es); NOT GOOD, fyi :p
-wrote fan letters that I mailed, to rock stars and authors
-sent my poetry to scam publishers (those anthology people who publish everything they receive but charge all contributors $65 apiece for a copy of the book...I got in, did not get a copy)
-skipped school with Laura whenever we missed the bus (we did really crazy things like stick our feet in a fountain, buy chocolates for our mother and go to the library)
-started collecting ceramic masks
-got my amazing badass 5 disc changing huge 3 foot speaker stereo system (this was 1992, ok?) from my Dad, that was the bees knees until my junior year of high school, and my very first cds (Ozzy's No More Tears and Guns N Roses Use Your Illusions 1 and 2)
-experienced being weird for things I'm normal for in South Florida for the first time; I stood out bigtime in Jacksonville as hispanic and seemed exotic because I'd just went through Hurricane Andrew. My teacher made me stand up and tell the class all about it, then assigned me a special paper writing about the experience that I shared with the faculty o_O
-got as tall as I was every going to get

Mostly it's the year before I turned 12, and 12 was a lot of big stuff for me.

So, yeah, Ananda, geez. She's in the other room blaring Taylor Swift right now O_O She has a couple of structured activities (at least Girl Scouts and her writing class) and a couple of social things (playdate and a sleepover, or PATH and meeting friends at the library or whatever) per week. I feel like I really dropped the ball because she told me she wanted a Lord of the Rings cake like a month ago and the only local place that does edible images on demand has a broken printer, and when I wanted to order online we had no money in the bank, and so now here I am with like one more idea on how to make that happen that will probably not work (begging the people at Publix's bakery who do technically have one of those printers that they use to please please print some things for me on it even though that's not a service they offer). If not, I have to do something alternate.

She doesn't want a party. I think she's partied out because she spent a whole day at a HUGE over the top crowded party for someone in her girl scout troop (temporary tent pavillion, big inflatables, in-ground pool, catering company grilling, multiple cakes) and we had a party here for Elise that crowded the house up pretty thoroughly. For her "activity" she wants to go and see the extended versions of the Lord of the Rings movies as they come out in theaters over the next month and half for one night each. We said, sure ok. I'm making (triple berry) muffins for breakfast, and some kind of amazing afternoon tea, and (vegetarian) lasagna for her dinner like she wants.

Presents stashed in my closet for her:

-Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, books 1 and 2
-How to Train Your Dragon paperback
-a pack of hippy style pins
-cork boards for above her desk
-steel sheet for by her bed or on her door (her choice) and a pack of magnetic words/letters/phrases
-big pack of every color Sharpies
-black and green case for her netbook
-makeup (she locks herself in the bathroom and comes out silently daring anyone to comment on her ridiculous makeovers pretty regularly) and nail polish (she needs to quit borrowing mine :p)
-(replacement) iPod shuffle

I had some hair accessories and rings for her but they ended up under her pillow when she lost a tooth on a night I didn't have any cash, haha.

I am thinking of going to Target or Kohl's for wrapping paper and some shorts for her (she has one pair of shorts that fits, and it is HOT) after G gets off work but we are...so freaking broke. It's terrible. She may just get what we have here now, in Christmas paper.

We've had some interesting conversations lately that have gone really well and make me think, hey, perhaps we're bridging this gap between us, and also wow, she's getting older. I told her all about my IUD insertion (she was lol'ing or grossed out at points but very interested) and showed her this the other day (we were both dying):


Also she had her first art therapy session and seemed to really like it. Lee (who is WAY older than I thought, she has a 24 year old daughter...) had her draw herself as she thinks of herself now, and then as she would like to, and they talked a lot. Lee has a skeleton in the corner of her living room, wearing a bikini, and her whole apartment has this quiet clean Zen thing going on that I think Ananda is soaking up... and Annie loves her. She's eager to go back. I think this is gonna be a Friday thing from now on.




I was so trepidacious about this IUD shit, the insertion as well as the long haul, and I have to say it's pretty great so far.

For my insertion I took 900 milligrams of ibuprofen (and we only had the last of some childrens' pills and liquid, so that was 5 chewables and 4 teaspoons) and a leftover-from-long-ago oxycodone. The ibuprofen is routinely recommended, the oxycodone is because my gynecologist warned me that my cervix is so far back, tilted and literally backwards (this is why I could never find it when you were all telling me to while I was pregnant, people) that it was going to be a very long, difficult process. Also I haven't actually given birth or even fully dilated - she told me she was going to "do her best to wrestle it in" but there might come a point where she gave up.

SO yeah that's really heartening and great to hear, right? I was fine with it right up until the night before when I had some kind of anxiety attack like OH RIGHT I'M JUST GONNA WALTZ INTO AN OB'S OFFICE AND HAVE THEM DO PROCEDURES AND STICK THINGS IN ME NOTHING TRIGGERING THERE...luckily my husband is starting to recognize these states of my mind can be easily cured through proper sexxing and so I ended up getting a good night sleep.

I woke up and did this stupid zombie google horrific stories and take meds thing until it was time to go, when I inexplicably got a very positive feeling about it and was at peace with it.

That lasted, even when the oxycodone hit me and I got super nauseus (I really can't handle that shit when it's not counteracting some sort of discomfort). Even when I had to sign all the woe and tragedy consent forms about how I was basically consenting to die, now or in the future, by signing.

Then I was laying down (not nauseus, room not spinning! I should have layed down in the waiting room!) and she was doing her thing (my gyn) and...it was really easy and ok. The way she was talking and the assistant was cringing and freaking out and looking away tell me it perhaps would not have been quite as ok without drugs (she did have to stop the bleeding of my cervix from the tenaculum after all...) but as it was it was quicker than I expected and I only had to kind of squint up my eyes and clench a fist once.

After that I felt way less medicated and like I was cramping some, which tells me the narcotics had something to work on other than my general state of well being. Grant drove me home and started a movie for the kids so I could fall immediately asleep like I wanted to, and I slept til he got home from work o_O Everything had worn off and I was aching pretty intensely so I just took more Ibuprofen (600 this time, of the easy adult variety). We all went out.

And that's kind of the end of the story. I never needed more meds of any kind after that, I mean I had some minor cramping or lower back pain a few times but it's been gone for the last few days. My period also ended the way it usually would have, which is apparently an above average experience. No spotting since.

I did have some emotional fallout I didn't initially recognize...something about the new reality of being a person who cannot/will not get pregnant. As well as the end of being a person who doesn't want birth control. I've long accepted that, for the most part at least, but I guess it does something different to you to "make it real". And it does something to me, to have anything done in stirrups. *shrug* I had a good cry about it once ("even if my SISTER gets pregnant, she won't even put the baby in Elise's old clothes!!!!" <---rolling my eyes at hysteria) but feel pretty over it, now.

It's just...in there...I guess. I wish she had shown it to me and then said "I'm putting it in now" so it felt more real to me. It's really weird just trusting that it's in there, having never seen it or sensed it going in or whatever. And somehow almost surprising, that it's not something I or Grant feel at all, like I almost think I had some subconscious expectation of very present strings like with a tampon or something when it's really not like that at all. She trims the strings to 2 cm and told me they don't recommend people go looking for them - I'll have a checkup where placement is verified after my next period is over and then again at annual paps and that's enough, which I'm glad for, because yeah backwards inaccessible cervix is backwards and inaccessible.

It's occured to me more than once that it really is (literally, but also figuratively) a body modification. Maybe I just like seeing it as empowering. I feel like it's really something I HAVE, though, like I have some super cool tea sets and a lot of great yarn and five beautiful kids and some great earrings and a copper IUD. Not necessarily in that order ;)


Sidenote: This ob/gyn I go and see does vbacs, and has switched her hospital affiliation to exclusively Jackson South, which is awesome because Jackson South has a 7% (primary) c/s rate right now! SEVEN PERCENT PEOPLE, in my county where the closest hospital to me has a 60+% c/s rate. Jackson South's maternity ward was almost closed last year, too - my friend Kristin campaigned HARD to keep it open, organizing protests and even appearing in front of the whoever official it was that was broadcast on public access tv that day she spoke in front of a podium. This is little, but it's enormous...it makes me really happy. Note on sidenote: Jackson South is NOT the same hospital as Jackson, where I got PTSD and would not go to again if I were dying.
altarflame: (Default)
I have suspected something for awhile, but been reluctant to say it until I have more evidence. Evidence is accumulating, though...

I think I'm starting to know how to get places on time.

There is really no way to overstate the impact this could have on my life or how radical a departure from the norm it is. I stopped believing it might one day be possible for me to be punctual LONG ago.

And yet:
-I was on time to my last two counseling appointments
-I dropped the kittens off for their spay and neuter appts on time
-I got all five kids to 4 church services during Holy Week at varying appropriate levels of earliness (ranging from half an hour to an hour and a half early depending on which service, so that we could get seats) - following arriving way early for RCIA the Saturday before Palm Sunday
-Annie has been on time to the last couple of Girl Scout meetings

I was sort of suspecting I was improving as I made the strides over the last year or two such that it stopped being normal for me to be 15-30 minutes+ late for everything, and got more consistently to where I was 5-10 minutes late and anything more was really unusual. I've adjusted my perspective several times over the years; I had to adapt gradually to each new additional child as they were added, and I started budgeting extra time for unknowns awhile back and being more aware of variables like whether we needed gas on the way or whatever. I think one of the clinchers here, silly as it sounds, is that I was still always trying to get everywhere by the time whatever it was started (like aim to get to the church when mass starts or pull up at Dance Empire when class begins) - it honestly never occured to me that you should be aiming for earliness so that you can park, walk through a building, etc...Yes, I realize this is ridiculous. But drilling it into my head has helped enormously.

I felt like some kind of champion last summer in NYC that Aaron and I were waking up ultra early, catching unfamiliar subways, finding stores that had things we needed, and making it to his rehearsals (and a lunch date of mine, and performances) on time. But I thought it might be a fluke related to ONLY having to get him alone out the door, in a small place without much in it (seriously, lost shoes can bite my ass!).

I still have a terrible time organizing and managing my time overall (during the day when punctuality is not an issue, I mean) and I still FORGET things (Annie has been on time to a couple of GS meetings, for example, but she also misses about one a month altogether because I just forget it's that day :/). I'm trying to focus on actually USING - and regularly looking at - the huge tearaway paper calendar we have in the dining room because we really have tons and tons of crap going on in the next couple of weeks...I don't think anyone could balance it all in their mind consistently but that's why people resort to organizational tools, after all. Sheesh.

This all seems like profoundly simplistic and dumb crap for a 29 year old mother of many to be struggling to overcome...yet also like really significant and awesome progress with lifelong challenges.




(Many pictures I've been meaning to post)

Grant and the kids tie dyed their white shirts (everyone got one in their Easter basket).






Afterward, he used bits of the leftover dye, along with water and oil, to get cool effects.




Several nights ago, Isaac pestered and shoved at Aaron until Aaron eventually shoved him back. He landed on his butt, laughing...and then rolled to the side and there was a crack :/ Aaron ran for me in a panic, and when I got there I was ALARMED to see Isaac lying on his side with the shoulder he should have been on top of BEHIND HIM...geez it was horrible. We spent most of the night Wednesday night up at Miami Children's Hospital getting x-rays and exams. It is a break, horizontally and up near the shoulder on the humerus such that the upper arm has to stay right against his body.

(reveling in his stickers and skittles)
Poor Aaron was crying on the front porch with his head in his hands, when we left for the hospital...he totally blames himself, even though Isaac told the ER people himself "I was messing with my bwothew, and pushed him down, and finally he got mad..." *sigh* Luckily he is not in any pain with the sling in place. I have to adjust it A LOT throughout each day though (and he's in it for a month) and he hates the adjustments.

Elise turned FOUR - 4 years old!! - and had a pretty great party. Here she is coveting the vats of icing I made and colored the night before.


This is NOT the cake I wanted/planned to make - many pieces turned out unusable and I was extremely frustrated with what was left. BUT, when she walked out to the kitchen she GASPED and clasped her hands over her heart, with her eyes full of wonder.


So obviously it served it's purpose. And was tasty.


Grant Sr/Opa.








Darrien and Naja. Aaron said, "I don't really think of them as friends, because they're more like family".


And Kristin (my friend, their mom) made Elise this cat family. The mama has a tail in the back :)


Birthday Girl.


Birthday Girl's other best friend (besides Naj), Georgia.






My (one of the twins) niece Patrice is so old, so mature, so different looking.






Isaac with one arm sling'd up in his shirt


I let him decorate his own gluten free cake with dairy free frosting and other ickiness.






Yesterday Jake did something she didn't like to her and she started flinging her hands around in wild gestures exclaiming, "How dare you!! Me no beLIEVE that!" It was pretty awesome. She is definitely a force to be reckoned with.

Last night at one point as Bob and I joked, Ananda rolled her eyes and asked, "Why are grownups so LAME?" <--And so it begins.




I start classes next week. I wrote most of the last short story in my collection tonight. I'm reading Flowers in the Attic (for the first time).

My life is overwhelmingly dominated by marital strife. I love Grant, and he loves me, and we're still talking everyday and doing things together, and trying to do things with the kids/as a family...but everything is...hard. I don't really want to talk about it beyond that, at least not right now. It seems like the only way to do so are either to villify and crap-talk about him, or leave myself open to basically being hated (which is bound to happen regardless, honestly). Neither appeals, so...vague nonsense it is!
altarflame: (Elisepeeking)
This completely rotten miracle baby of a tyrannical youngest child girly girl (did you get that?) of ours is going to have the Most. Epic. Birthday. EVER.

We've been doing our normal "shop gradually over months prior" sort of gift buying but somehow stuff has just accumulated to this disgusting, INSANE extent that makes me actually sort of embarassed in a "wow...I sure am privileged and first world and not in the throes of natural disasters or war..." sort of way.

Stashed in my closet and Grant's shed we have:

-a new ($20, Target) 18" doll for her...JUST THIS would make her whole birthday, it's a friend for her other 18" doll "Allison" and she has been drooling over the American Girl (similar but way more expensive dolls) catalogue for weeks now, hoarding it under her little bed to browse through at night when she goes to sleep
-2 more outfits for 18" dolls
-a double set of pajamas, one in her size and one in 18" doll size

INTERMISSION: I never had dolls as a kid. I actually found dolls creepy and scary due to movies like Child's Play and my paternal grandmother's truly creepy, scary decorative antique ones...Annie never had baby- or other kinds of dolls because I just never thought of it, and she didn't ask. I think my mom got her one that fell by the wayside forgotten? Annie has since gotten a single American Girl doll and some Groovy Girls, like in the last couple of years, but they mostly sit unplayed with because Annie is kind of past "playing". She sort of likes "collecting" now, that's about the extent of it. The 18" doll Elise has now is one Grant Sr got Annie and Annie passed on to her. But Elise has been FREAKING NUTS about baby dolls and any other type from day one, CANNOT have enough, etc. This is why I spent like 40 hours making her a waldorf doll for her last birthday. And she does love that doll (though I kind of hate a lot of aspects of how it came out). But she pines and longs after other dolls and plays with all the ones she has every single day. BACK TO THE LIST!

-a little $3 small (like my hand sized) baby doll that I'm hoping I can give her in exchange for one of the more disgusting, filthy baby dolls she clings to and tries to get my niece Elizabeth to handle (and eat) when Laura comes over
-a 3-pack of Tinkerbell "pillowbooks"...they're big plush throw pillow looking things that are actually fat overstuffed cloth books. She's crazy for Tinkerbell for who knows what reason.
-a giant Tinkerbell storybook THAT COMES WITH A LIFE-SIZE TINKERBELL CARDBOARD CUTOUT. Both of these are *freaking ridiculous* and only in my closet because they were available at BJ's for $10 apiece when I was there without her grocery shopping. I am a sucker when I imagine her thrilled reactions.
-previously owned 6" GORGEOUS curly haired porcelain doll in elaborate gown, still in the box, that I found at Goodwill FOR $4 before any of these other doll-related purchases and then forgot all about until I was digging through my closet tonight.
-little mermaid bathingsuit
-and, oh yeah, did I mention, the brand new bike?

That is really the thing that puts it over the edge, isn't it? Her 2 year old trike is rusted to the point of not being usable anymore, and she generally rides Isaac or Jake's bike whenever we go around the neighborhood or over to the Villages/park with bikes...so she really IS due for a new one and started asking when she could get a new bike of her own she could ride like 8 months ago...but on top of everything else that is INSANE. OH YEAH! Also:

-small doll seat for the back of her bike, like how she has a child seat on the back of my bike. This is going to make her SO DAMNED HAPPY that *I* get inordinately giddy about it everytime I think of it.

I'm trying to consider what I could separate and stash away for Christmas.

Anyway Her Majesty wants a castle cake and a party that involves her friends Naja and Georgia, and her cousins Brian and Elizabeth - DRIVEN BY LAURA "cuz Brian no drive car, he too small" - here at our house. I'm happy to oblige.

She's running around the house in pajamas, all clean and shiny from the bath with her wet hair in a poneytail right now :D




This has been a great kid day.

Jenga with Annie.
Starbucks with Jake.
Bike ride with Elise and Aaron.
Grant and I taking Annie with us to get that aforementioned bike.
Chinese Checkers with Isaac and Jake.
Cuddling with Elise.
And so on.
altarflame: (ChristmasFive)
Ananda LOVES - L-O-V-E-S Loves her new girl scout troop. They are doing a "Sweden" booth at a fair at the Y this weekend (she's dressing up as well as painting a flag) as well as meeting on Monday to do initiation for new members (including her). The troop is also most likely going to the Rennaissance Festival soon, and down to the Dolphin Research Center, both of which are RIGHT up her alley. One of the girls in the troop (who she used to be in AWANA with) goes to the charter school where she will most likely be this fall. It is just great. I am really happy for her, for having it. She wears the tshirt with pride and I have a feeling she will be way more gung ho about GS camps by this coming summer (than she was last Summer).

She's also halfway through the 2nd Lord of the Rings book - she re-watched the first movie (with Aaron) after finishing book 1. Because they are challenging, she takes "breaks" to read more typical kids' chapter books. She spends A LOT of time writing a long, many-paged story lately, that she says will eventually be a trilogy of books, as well as working on "Doodle 4 Google" entries.


Aaron has got a group of boys (and one girl) that he is hanging out, riding bikes, eating fruit and snacks and playing basketball with for hours out of everyday, and LOVING it. It's really the first time in his life he's had neighbors he got along with (usually we drive a ways to get to playdates or sleepovers - he's just going down the street in a new direction now instead of across our corner to where the bullies hang out). I'm constantly sort of ill at ease about exactly how much freedom he should have, and re-evaluating that issue, but am also really excited for him. These all seem like genuinely nice kids with involved parents, and it's improved his overall mood in a big way. One of them also goes to the charter school in question, which is cool.

Aaron sold one of his two bikes for $20 to one of them...this is one of those things where I feel like, what - wait?! over how much freedom he should have. Yes, they are his bikes and he did not need two...so that is ok...isn't it?! I mean. I just don't know about him. He used eight of his dollars to buy a big chunk of honeycomb from the farmer's market yesterday that he keeps admiring as bee construction, and licking o_O

He also announced tonight that he wants an earring in his left ear, and is like, REALLY PUT OUT that we said if he still wants it in a few weeks he can probably do it. HOW IS THAT NOT AN AMAZINGLY COOL ANSWER FROM US?! WHAT DOES THIS KID WANT?


I'm reading the two of them Anne of Green Gables, which is going over well. They are both somewhat resigned and sighing and begrudging of my various personal crises lately, and I keep trying to talk to them about it and apologize to them for not "giving them" as much as usual. Mostly they are handling increased amounts of time with my brother as the "adult" in the house and such pretty well, and still sharing at least a couple of good talks and snuggly times with me per week (individually).


Isaac turned 7 on Sunday. He was thrilled to get a big lock box with a combination and key to hoarde his things in, and even happier that it was filled with all kinds of "treasure" (chocolate gold coins, Mario puzzle, his own rosary, small lego kit, dollar bills, etc). He got his main wishes, which were to eat donuts and candy and cake and other such crud all day long, and for his friend Adam to be at his party. We also took him to a "just Mom, Dad and Isaac" dinner in the evening, but he kept crying about very small things and generally didn't seem very excited about that.

He is still hard to please overall. And still adorable. He's missing one of his front teeth right now and the hole is GAPING since he has big gaps between all his teeth. His favorite things to do at the moment are count his money obsessively, play Monopoly with his siblings, and play Mario on the Wii (that game's new from Shaun). He's been having a renewed bout of nightmares :/

I really kind of worry about him a lot lately. Then other times I think I have nothing to be worried about.


Jake is so easy going and independent, for someone who is just five years old...he dissapears for many hours at a time, playing in the yard with whoever else is out there or looking at books quietly on his own in the library. He loves to do many pages at a time in BrainQuest workbooks and to "have love in the bed" (snuggle under covers together). He gets himself food when he's hungry (including bowls of cereal and making sandwiches), and goes and knocks on Rita and Ken's door next door when he thinks our cat is in their backyard, and stands by the edge of the road waiting to be handed the mail by the mailman every afternoon. Jake is a kid who asks forgiveness, not permission. He also loves to come to me and say things like, "I broke a glass, but I swept it all up" and "I got the cats food and water because they needed it" - but he HATES being told to do anything. He's basically been shocking me since the day he was born a nearly 10 pound content man-baby.

He still moves to our bed every night, in the middle of the night, and wakes with us in the morning. He does not like being woken up. And he gets really grumpy about certain predictable things - like being hungry or told what to do. He runs and jumps to be helpful in ways that are his own idea, though, and the more surprising the better (like when he comes and says, "Hey Mom I clicked 'I'm Still Listening' for you on Pandora" O_O).


Elise follows and climbs on and sits with me all day everyday, unless she's doing it to Grant or I physically leave the house without her. She wants to be getting tickled or kissed or hugged or chased or snuggled every minute. Sometimes this is wonderful, like when she is up on the step stool and I realize as she chatters that she has really picked up some cooking knowledge. Sometimes it's a little irritating, like when she's got the smaller broom and is redistributing my dirt pile in her effort to "help" as I sweep. Sometimes it is weird, like when she can point at and name my facebook friends (who she's never met) by their tiny icon pictures. She also understands about levels in Tetris and makes intuitive comments about phone conversations when she's eavesdropping. I have to peel her off of me, push her gently out of my bedroom door and then lock it, to get a moment alone to talk to Grant or what have you. Mostly her smothering affections make me happy, though.

I really, REALLY miss her hair since I cut it :/ And it seems all for nought since her scalp problems and thus brushing problems cleared up RIGHT AFTER the cutting anyway! It's been straight and kind of stringy and sort of boyish in a uniform length, shoulder length way ever since I chopped the curls, and she does not care at all, but combined with how she is prone to dressing in ill-matched brother clothes I am just not feeling it :p

She also comes in our bed each night, and sometimes starts the night with Grant in bed while I waste time out here. She's been on a big drawing kick lately and has really blown my mind by independently drawing DISCERNIBLE THINGS! She'll bring me a sun or an owl and as she announces to me what the drawing is I see it :D She also talks about how she can't wait to start preschool daily, and goes on and on about how much she loves school even though she hasn't went yet. "Me go school and love it, then me know me love it".


The three younger kids have been looking very raggedy since our washer broke, as we are still just doing a load every other day on average at Grant Sr's, with a necessary emphasis on towels and Grant's work clothes :/ It's leading to the littles (who have less each, since they are still growing faster so they don't accumulate as much) wearing a lot of bottom of the barrel things that are ill-fitting or worn out or both. Hopefully we will have something new in by this weekend. In the meantime I am seriously considering taking our INSANE MOUNTAIN OF LAUNDRY to a wash-dry-fold place and paying someone a flat fee to give it all back to us ready for putting away. I'm honestly not sure it's worth trying to bag up and haul all of it, I think it might really be less of a hassle to just keep it moving through for 48 hours solid when the new washer is in place. I mean it must be more than a dozen (high capacity) loads at this point O_O

I DID find a couple of agitator models that fill with water, btw! We're most likely ordering one of them tomorrow for next day delivery.


I took all five kids and walked to the trolley stop and took the free trolley with them over to the farmer's market, yesterday. They cannot get enough of that trolley, because it has NO SEATBELTS OR CARSEATS and they can ALL RIDE WITH A WINDOW SEAT AND OPEN THEIR OWN WINDOWS. Annie adores it in a purposely aloof, sophisticated, picturing herself there in her seat with her earbuds in as she gazes at the scenery way and Isaac loves it in a bouncing in his seat, wide-eyed with excitement way, but they are all still so obviously digging it. I can tell we are really annoying to the one or two other passengers who tend to be people who actually have to take public transit to somewhere they actually need to be, but hey, it is what it is.

I have no idea why our broke city got a grant for a FREE TROLLEY SYSTEM to run all day every day on multiple routes, but hey, again...it is what it is?


I have been really impressed with how much housework they are all capable of accomplishing regularly (DOMESTIC LABOR SQUAD FTW!!).


Personal and picture updates to come...

May 2017

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