altarflame: (deluge)
I don't even know where to begin.

I spent the school day continuing to work on our library (literal thousands of books on the floor, as we make donation boxes, dust long neglected shelving units, tape up kids' books that needed repair, and revamp our organizational system so we can actually find things again), washing dishes, and doing schoolwork with Jake and Elise. I really feel like I worked on the library for less than an hour (we started on it over the weekend), washed dishes for maybe 15 minutes, and did schoolwork with them for maybe 30 minutes. But the entire school day was somehow gone at the end of those three things.

Once I got Ananda and Aaron, everything promptly went fucking crazy. On our way home, I finally got through to our pediatrician and made Isaac an appt for tomorrow morning - I started leaving messages last week but he's been out of the office (anxiety, probably meds, Isaac's really been having a hard time). My sister called, saying some cryptic crap about me NOT LEAVING MY HOUSE and then hanging up, almost immediately after which my brother randomly showed up from out of town, with his girlfriend and a giant python, like "Surprise!" I barely got to say hi to them, because when Ananda changed out of her school uniform she was freezing up and panicking that she thinks a derby wound from her last practice is infected, and Aaron was shaking and almost in tears because while he was at school, a little hurt spot we'd seen on (his cat) Peter's forehead had turned into a giant swollen freaky spot emerging up out of his fur. Nancy started texting me loooooong messages continuously, about when we can get together during her visit down.

I started calling emergency vets, ignoring the texts coming in all the while, and had Annie heat water to stir up a salt water solution for me to irrigate her knee with. The first vet was too backed up. Laura arrived, with her kids. She took a picture of the knee wound, and texted it to her (paramedic) husband, who said he was working on an emergency. Bob tried to explain all about the snake, and agreed to pick Isaac up from STEM club, as I found a walk-in clinic to take Peter to. Grant agreed to take Isaac to his first counseling session with a new counselor, after STEM, since I would probably still not be back - even though Grant's supposed to be working from home. Annie cried about the saline on her leg, and fought with me about it, and finally agreed to at least sit with a rag soaked in it on the spot, even if I couldn't actually do any irrigation (which is basically just squirting over and over). Wincing, freaking out, etc. Brother in law texted Laura back to say they'd lost the patient.

The ride to the vet with Aaron and Peter was insane. It's barely over a mile from our house, but Peter somehow managed to get the door OFF the cat carrier we'd put him in, in the back seat. Not open, but off. So then he's running and yowling all over the damn car as I drive - he managed to step on the button to roll the back window down, Aaron was flipping out and yelling, Peter's abscess burst at some point and there was yellow puss dripping everywhere, I mean - this is all almost funny in retrospect, in a "laugh or cry" sort of way. Aaron managed to pin him in his lap and I got the window up and the window lock on.

The vet visit was great. They saw us right away, and since Peter's abscess had already mostly drained they just gave him an antibiotic shot, and us a bottle of antibiotics to keep giving him at home. The guy was nice. We were in and out in under 30 minutes. Aaron felt way better.

Back at the ranch, Bob had just gotten back with Isaac, and Ananda's leg looked a little better (and it looked better today than it did yesterday, when I DID do salt water irrigation that took it from dark pink and a little swollen, to light pink and just sore, around the broken skin - but after the vet it looked better than before the vet, with almost all of the pink gone...she just freaks about injury). While applying Neosporin and some gauze, I apologized to my unexpected guests that I basically had to turn around and walk right back out the door with Isaac, to go to counseling. Younger cousins continued to all play together with frisbies and ponies like they don't care what adults come and go, anyway.

Forms, insurance, and then an hour of "intake," as the counselor took a detailed history. She seems ok, and just needs to fully understand how smart Isaac is. He's very capable of real talk therapy and learning some new coping skills, but it seems like he's going to have to prove that to her before she moves past a "play and art therapy for kids who aren't ready for CBT" model... I hope it works out. It's another place within walking distance of our house, if it does. And he needs it. Play and art are both great and Isaac will like them, I'd just like to have some evidence based best practices going down, too. She kept stopping him to ask if he knew what words that she was using meant, like "stress" and "cognitive." He definitely does.

When we got home, Laura and Bob were gone, to their house and their city, respectively. My phone was still blowing up. Grant and I worked together to get more dishes washed, dinner cooked, figure out what Isaac needs for the rest of his science project, write down when his "family science night" at school is, swing by the store for a can of tuna to hide prescription cat antibiotics in, and make sense of Nancy's texts with our calendar. Planned a visit with her. The kids are very excited to see her - everyone wanted her down for this last Thanksgiving, since she'd been with us for the one before.

We finally sat down with Annie - she's been waiting 2 days since she brought it home, to show us all the art in her school portfolio. It has to go back, tomorrow. That was like half an hour, mostly comprised of her leading up to each piece with lots of disclaimers and then fretting over whether or not to show us the next one. Jake sat nearby with HP#5 in his lap the whole time, waiting pseudo-patiently for me to read to him.

When I was reading to Isaac, in his bed, Grant came in to tell me his mother's coming down in 3 days, with her husband and the twins, to stay here for 5 days. This IS good news... and she's coming to the derby bout Saturday (that Annie is hoping she can actually skate in...) which is great, just, uh - GAH. *sigh* My library is still half shambles, my kitchen is still not really clean, I'm overbooked morning, noon and night til they arrive - AND I HAVE A LOT OF SCHOOLWORK OF MY OWN DUE BY AND THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND, MAN.

Right now I'm trying to think of how I can even begin to lie down in my bed and just sleep... I have to put away leftovers and then dig through the safe, for Isaac's post-assessment Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, from a couple of years ago, to take to the doctor tomorrow morning. It's very 50/50 that it will be there, and if it's not I move on to my desk via flashlight, since Grant's asleep in there. I'm supposed to get my shot in the morning - if I can squeeze that in, between the cat antibiotics/taking A&A to school, and getting Isaac up to his appt, with Jake and Elise. The office where I go says I can only show up for shots between 8:30 and 9 now, for some new reason I didn't question. After that appt, I have to get things printed at Office Max because we're out of stupid toner. There are things written on just about every day of our calendar for the next month - aside from things I've mentioned here, and our "regular" stuff, there's a filling, an oral surgeon consult, an out of town fieldtrip, a family roadtrip, a birthday...

I feel like a big scribble on a page. I've got gregorian chants on as I type, and am thinking of doing a stretching and deep breathing session somewhere nearby, before I brush my teeth.
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Jake, who got a tooth pulled 6 months ago: When can I go get my other teeth pulled?
Me: Uh, hopefully never. I'd like it if your baby teeth fell out on their own, you know?
Jake: But can't they just pull them all out now?
Me: That might be painful...and you wouldn't be able to chew...and you'd be missing your one adult tooth forever, then.
Jake: But I'd be rich!




Annie: Is Adele like Florence, like all giggly shy and quiet when she talks even though she belts out the enormous singing?
Me: Not really, Adele is kind of awesome in interviews because she's really not afraid to tell people the truth.
Annie: Like what?
Me: Well I saw one where someone mentioned pressure on her to lose weight, and she was just like, "I make music for people to listen to, not to look at".
Annie: Ooooh, take that society!!




"(mostly) culinary highlights"

Last-last Friday night, we had a party at Kristin's - I made white chicken chili and peanut butter fudge, and brought (multigrain) chips and (Chachies, mmm/ow) salsa. Shaun brought homemade pesto and maple syrup chocolate chip cookies. Ananda made and brought brownies. What can I say, I feel self conscious showing up at a potluck with 3 adults and 5 mega-eating children. As a result, people usually end up raving about all the stuff we bring for most of the night :)

Grant was in Fargo for work for 5 days, which led me to make things I might not otherwise, since he's more meat-centric than the rest of us. So one night it was just green bean casserole and (fresh) cranberry sauce (children were thrilled); the next it was a ton of broccoli and cashews stir fried up with soy sauce, on basmati brown rice. My new favorite place to eat breakfast out is the Royal Palm Grill, and my new favorite breakfast to have at home is a fried egg, sauteed shrooms and sliced tomato on toast :)

Grant and I spent basically all night out, Saturday night, for the Sleepless Nights thing in Miami Beach. We were in such a sweet happy Wow I really missed you mood that it didn't seem to matter that we kept missing the free shuttles, or that we went up five flights of stairs for nothing once, or that we never did find the burlesque show. Our night ended at the 8oz Burger Bar where, apparently, one can watch William Shatner documentaries, listen to Mumford and Sons and get plates of asparagus until 5am daily. This is useful information! The food was "above average", but the DRINKS! I had a pumpkin bomb that was a. maz.ing. Pumpkin ale, goldschlagger and cinnamon sugar. Mmmm....




Assorted pics from the last two weeks...

Grant, calling in for a conference call while we were out to lunch.


Some ladies I chill with. Laura took me to Cracker Barrel for breakfast for my birthday. Elizabeth told the waitress, "Bacon right away!"


Isaac with Georgia after TLC one Tuesday.


The latest thing Aaron can do that causes staff to approach me saying, "Ma'am, is that your son?"

He can go all over those pipes like an orangutang.


Halloween! Annie as Sally from Nightmare Before Christmas, in a dress made of my scrap fabric and her Sharpie.


Aaron as "a time traveler from the 1970s". He actually got that shirt at an antique store and earned the headphones by doing ALL the laundry in the house.


We did later remove that errant tag.


This is one of the several costumes Elise wore on different days. She was a princess at Kristin's party, and Princess Peach specifically for trick or treating, but went as a ladybug to TLC the following afternoon - all assembled from our dress up chest. I think it's pretty great that what you're seeing here is an old recital leotard of Ananda's, 2 year old homemade wings and last year's Christmas photo tights.




Grant wore the same thing he does every year.


I actually had a plan for myself this year, but since I ALWAYS end up doing Halloween last minute, I was blind-sided by needing to go to ten stores and call for advice to get Jake and Isaac's overalls. Store clerks at Walmart, KMart, Target and Sears were acting like they didn't even know what overalls WERE. I went to THREE Goodwills. *sigh* Kristin finally steered me towards the Osh Kosh Outlet. Anyway, I was bent over the sewing machine finishing Ananda's dress, like, as my three younger kids circled with their bags panicking that it was already getting dark.


And now, the Many Faces of Elise.

Elise in the morning:


Elise at night:


Elise before preschool every day, with Sophie.


Elise hiding in the front seat with my frappuccino, while the other kids run around at PATH none the wiser.


Elise and Oliver.

He looks bigger whenever she's holding him :)


Isaac lost a tooth!




Kids skyping with Daddy while he was in Fargo.


Dinner time, sans one sleeping beast.

(Is it known that we call Elise a beast? Elise-y Beast? A yeasty beasty at points in her infancy?)

Tamer of other sorts of beasts. Nobody else would attempt to co-lap these two O_o





In other news, my brother has gotten himself a girlfriend. I know, right, who would have thought? The thing is, happy as I am for him, this news is mostly manifesting itself in our house as him suddenly mismanaging his time and needing rides because he's missed the last bus 4 times per week, and neglecting all of his chores, and I'm not even ready to talk about the total insanity of him sneaking her in and then SNEAKING OUT WITH HER...while I was trusting him to babysit the three youngest (A and A were up at Cybele's: I do not force Bob to babysit, he has to be free and willing and we always ask if he has plans. All I want him to do is BE HERE if he's agreed to be because holy shit they're 7, 6 and 4!). Also, it doesn't help my opinion that during my one conversation with her she told me outrageous obvious lies nonstop... and now he's constantly asking for things I feel can't possibly be appropriate, like "Can she stay with me for the 3 week Christmas break?" I'm trying to encourage his independence, educated him about hostels and how they could go do something like that together fairly easily if they just save their JobCorps money, I just do not even know. I keep hearing that Bartok voice saying "This can only end in tears". *sigh* Sometimes it is really weighing on me that I do not have the time or resources for an overgrown 6th kid. Like when he calls me up at midnight and says, "Tina, I don't know where I am...can you come and get me?" Uh, dude, you are not microchipped, how the fuck am I supposed to know where you are?!

Also, my shin splints, which have never recovered from NYC, are acting up bigtime and it's causing me to have to stretch a lot and wear (gasp) sneakers.

Mostly things are really good :)
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I am feeling really increasingly stressed about my brother.

For awhile I was really heartened and hopeful about the whole situation; he got his diploma, walked in a graduation ceremony, was doing more around the house and seeming a little more social. I was amazed that he was actually going out to the movies and staying late to play pool and things like that, with actual friends, at JobCorps. He even wore non-black a couple of times.

But he spent his entire summer break (I mean, they only get two weeks, but still) sleeping all day - I mean, like until 7pm all day - and not doing any of his chores and fighting with me about it while I tried to tell him he was gonna be screwed when JobCorps started again.

And, he is. He's already missed three days in a week and a half because he just can't get up (he has always woken up on his own - I have nothing to do with this, and refuse to. I just find out he's still home later in the day and never left). He's totally still slacking BIG TIME on chores. The biggest thing I see is a MAJOR regression in attitude, i.e., his former constant attitude problem.

I've tried talking to him about what, if anything, is going on. He says typical-for-him bs like "I'm a loser" and I go back and forth between wanting to convince him otherwise and refusing to fall prey to his baiting.

Basically I don't have room in my life for being his mom. And I really resent him for it sometimes, which is not fair to anyone. But he has nowhere else to go down here and is in this program that will (hopefully, presumably) land him with an A+ certification and job placement. He was diagnosed as "Severely emotionally disturbed" as a young teen. I would classify him more as "emotionally handicapped" at this point in his life. The point is, he is not a normal adult with a full range of adult abilities, and our mother (the only parental option he has) really doesn't have anything like the resources he needs. She just moved in with a new guy who I doubt would do well living with Bob (since most people don't), she cares for my grandmother every minute she isn't working or asleep, and she just hasn't ever been especially good at nurture or patience anyway. She would/will take him in without question, but it's really frustrating to me that she doesn't really MAKE Bob do anything or expect much out of him, so he will most likely lose most or all of whatever progress he's made, when he goes to her (in another city, where he won't know anyone and can easily fall back into hermit-on-the-computer mode).

Last night, I had a neighbor over here. It was the neighborhood bully's father, and I do not like the bully kid, but he is a kid, like an 11 year old. There is a long history of him picking on Aaron; sometimes the other kids in the neighborhood stand up for Aaron (he is the youngest and smallest) - other times they turn a blind eye to it. Bob gets angry about this and wants to help Aaron out as a big tough uncle, but he wants to do it by like threatening the kids with swords or bb guns. Bob is 6' tall and 21 years old and I was trying, extensively, to make him understand why this is not ok (or legal). It's basically like he can't hear me. So eventually bully kid's dad is over here saying his son came home freaked out because a man on my property was throwing rocks at him. I basically had to tell this guy Bob is not all there (which is an exaggeration) to get him to not beat Bob's ass or call the police.

The whole thing just made me feel the hopelessness of the situation in a very acute way...I took a long shower thinking of how Bob is not going to be placed at a job that will actually pay bills and make him independent...he'll probably manage to get in at Best Buy in the computer section or something, and last a few months before he gets fired or quits. I've known all along that Bob needs many years of help and support to become a functional independent adult. But I've also known I'm not sure I can provide it, and that Grant doesn't want him here for that long, and that my kids need that extra bedroom to spread out in as they get older - he is almost always in at least a gloomy if not a miserable mood, and it drags the household down. I get so frustrated I think my head will burst from having someone I have to look UP at that I have to nag if I want anything like progress. This is aside from the very real financial challenges - that we cannot afford the extra (ENORMOUSE QUANTITIES OF) food or (significant) electricity, let alone extra things he sometimes needs (shoes, clothes, birthday presents, one more Christmas stocking to fill). But then I feel like this terrible person for quantifying it all that way.

And there has been progress...when Bob got here he was impossible for someone else to wake up, and he had never taken a bus on his own, and he hadn't been in school for like 5 years. Now he's spent a year and a half waking up on his own and taking the bus to all sorts of places and he completed the high school part of JobCorp, and did some voluntary social stuff with people he knows out there. He also doesn't fly off the handle about little stupid things anymore, which years ago was frequent if not constant...he's not happy or energetic but he's not pissed like he used to be, either, and I can rely on him to some degree.

It's so hard to walk the line between teaching him a little about gratitude and self reliance, (because he has a CRAZY TERRIBLE entitlement complex and just like assumes it's ok to hog all the bandwidth in the house for his roleplaying games and make 4 sandwiches at a time and tell me to wait til he finishes an online battle before he comes out to take out the overflowing garbage he was supposed to take out an hour ago) while not worsening his horrible lack of self esteem (because he really does feel that he's worthless and get very crushed and insecure at the drop of a hat). It's kind of exhausting.

He does this super annoying thing where he asks for help with anything he's ever supposed to do, even though he does very little, and we all have our own things to do, too. He gets very obviously offended and huffy and tense when he's refused. For instance while he was washing the dishes awhile ago he yelled out to me from the kitchen, Tina, if you feel like it can you go get me more towels to put these on and bring over the stuff from the other counter. And I said, no, Bob, I don't feel like it, that's your chore bud. He said, can you do it anyway. I was like, Bob, no. He got stiff and huffy and mad. After 10 minutes of him being stiff and huffy and mad, I said, "Bob, I was up early getting Elise ready for and to preschool, and teaching all five other kids, and picking her up, and running errands, and cooking, and doing my homework, and grocery shopping, all while you slept until 4:30 today. Then I went to two classes and started making people brush their teeth. This is your only task to accomplish, and my only chance to sit down." Cue increased huffiness, like as though if I loved him I would do it or something? And as I'm typing it he's standing here complaining to me about how the kids need to scrape their plates better when I've told him, oh, a MILLION TIMES that we PREFER to put the food down the disposal and not fill the garbage with old food. Like, he knows this is my opinion, he just disagrees and continues to try to convince me otherwise. When I've tried to explain to him that things like that just aren't up to him because he's living in someone else's house, for free, he starts rolling his eyes saying "yeah, I know, I can't complain, my opinion doesn't matter". HEAD EXPLODES.

We have this deadline we've told him about, and informed my mother of, that he can stay here until next May. Then, he has to go. This has been established for months already. We need the bedroom to rearrange the kids, and that will be plenty of time for him to be done out at JobCorps with the money they grant him for completing the program and some money saved up from a job. But...it's not like he'll be ready to leave then. Or ever.


There's not a lot of point to this, I guess I just needed to vent.
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I'm starting to think that outside of any religious education or spiritual value, church is important for my kids just so that they know how to sit down and take something seriously. There really seems to be a coorespondence with when we last went, and how long they can sit and pay attention to anything I or anyone else has to say to them.

I also really value it when they can attend a concert or be out to dinner or what have you without completing losing it or embarassing me (and those sorts of things are normally assumed, I get compliments often), but today what I'm specifically thinking about is how I'm ready to let Isaac, Jake and Elise HAVE. IT. because throughout our (super interesting, discussion-based, with pictures and BRIEF) lesson on the fourth of July (WHICH INCLUDED DECORATING A CAKE WITH BERRIES, that we then took to share with the kids at the bookstore) they were giggling, purposely distracting and whispering to each other, DOING SOMERSAULTS, leaving the room -

I have a hard time dealing with it when my kids act like they have no standards of behavior or attention span whatsoever. I think that in addition to going back to weekly mass, it's definitely past time to turn the tv off again.




This three day weekend has been all over the place. My favorite parts:

-potluck at Kristin's Friday night - she made these DELICIOUS fat, fresh spring rolls we were dipping in soy sauce, and Laura (MY PREGNANT SISTER DID I MENTION SHE'S PREGNANT AGAIN) brought lots of strawberries and nutella, and Grant made a big pot of jambalaya, and...it was just fun. All my boys stayed there overnight and we just brought the girls home.

-being out with just Grant, Saturday night. The outing involved three kinds of alcohol, loud music, and swimming in the warm ocean naked at 2 am. I haven't been in the ocean naked since I was, oh...three weeks old? Shrieking about seaweed on my legs, hoping nothing would eat me, laughter and floating around. Laying on a blanket wet and sandy looking at stars for a long time afterwards. Shared candlelit bath when we got home. Super awesome.

-sitting around with Grant, Shaun, Bob and the kids in camping chairs, with bottles of water, after the fireworks show tonight - lots of laughter and nonsense, lots of good talking, perfect weather. The hoardes of people all bottlenecking out of there at once were getting uncomfortably close to us until Grant got the Traffic Triangle out and made us a space bubble - then we could chill and do gymnastics and play fighting and so on until everyone else was out of there :p

Least favorite:

-I was sick all day yesterday (Sunday). Nauseus and weak. Layed around and slept until I was sore from laying around sleeping. Thought I was better this morning, and turned into a dizzy coughing sweat pile an hour into being out and about. I think I'm REALLY mostly better now, I just had to kind of take it easy and drink more fluids than normal and hopefully it's run it's course...




I'm looking at Ananda, standing there 5'2" or whatever she is now, with her very-there curves and her converse and attitude style and her bleaching kit to put streaks in her hair, and I'm thinking, what? Is that what I looked like to Jean-Paul, when he asked me out at that age? In one year, is she going to look like I looked to Grant and David and all the Riverwalk boys I hung around all the time, who all had crushes on me? It blows my mind. I just framed a couple of her latest paintings and hung them in the dining room :) She has this whole plan mapped out for the next decade of her life that involves burning through grade levels, doing dual enrollment at MDC, working at Starbucks after she graduates, and then deciding whether to go to culinary school or major in astronomy first. She did a month's worth of math last week because she wants to be totally over decimals, fractions and beginning geometry and move on to the next things, and the next, and the next. Her math and writing were the last things she was behind in a year ago, though she's advanced to grade level and is about to lap it, now, in math, and is approaching grade level in writing. For a super dyslexic chicky who was totally stuck on things like place value and spelling it's awesome to see how hard she's worked. Her reading, science and history are way ahead. And she's really set on cello with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, we'll see how that goes.

Aaron is beside himself with obsession about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes he HAD TO HAVE that Opa (Grant Sr) got him for his birthday (I was not spending $110 on a pair of shoes he'll outgrow within the year...I was gagging about spending $80 at the Crocs store for Isaac, Jake AND Elise a couple of weeks ago and seriously thought Ananda's $45 chucks were pushing it even though her feet are almost done growing). His friends Logan and Adrian (the Ninja Dolphins) have them. We finally exchanged his birthday pair for the right size today and he's like a walking commercial for them, nonstop praise and trivia and perks and - I am so over it. He always fixates like this.

Isaac is...really unhappy :/ We did serious elimination diets for gluten and dairy in the past months with no results. I put him in enrichment classes he really enjoyed. His arm in the sling was hard to deal with, though that's been better for awhile. I just...don't know what to do with him. He finds things to complain about all day long. He still cries about things the younger kids are long past crying over. Several times a day. At the end of a day where he got to play with his best friend at the park for hours, eat his favorite food for breakfast and go to the movies, he'll say it was the worst day ever and list things like how the quarter machines didn't work at the theater and the park was hot and he didn't get as much breakfast as others did. All day every day, that is his attitude, and sometimes we feel like we bend over backwards to make him happy and he's still totally ungrateful. Other times I feel like I'm done with it and he just has to roll with us, but it's not like that helps anything. He's just so anxious about something so often. I'm always outwardly assuming the sale but inwardly cringing, waiting for the next bout of misery. I got him a book called "14,000 things to be happy about" that is just a giant list and am reading it to him gradually, but I know that's silly. We're talking together about actually making a list he writes and I transcribe called "x number of things to grump about", which he thinks is hilarious. His reading confidence is improving and I keep wondering if maybe chapter books could open up a whole new world for him, the way they have Ananda.

Jake is...wonderful. He's gentle and patient with Elizabeth (18 month old niece) and eager to build her towers to knock down or otherwise make her happy. He volunteers to help other kids with their chores or finding clothes when they don't want to deal with those things. He wolfs down all the fruits and veggies we can sling his way and is so chill. He draws great pictures and brings me flowers and asks to do schoolwork all the time. He still has a temper and a huge appetite.

Elise is so out there, so over the top - she's the most uninhibited, confident, happy child I think I've ever beheld. She's also willful and defiant to a degree that is borderline terrifying. I'm really hoping we're going through a phase, here. This is the first kid I've had that's made me think "What am I going to do when she is a teenager?!" It's all wrapped up together in the "who she is" package, which I love dearly and think is positive overall.




Grant has taken the higher paying Ft Lauderdale job and put in his notice at the lower paying local one. So that's scary-exciting-insertothervariableshere. We'll see!
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Friday afternoon, Laura and I attended Bob's high school graduation ceremony with our five youngest kids in tow. Grant and Frank were working, A and A were at a friend's house (and the guests per graduate were limited). This was a big deal. Both of us cried at some point. I thought it was hilarious and sort of awesome that while many of the people walking up had a small crowd of adults, Bob got (in addition to Laura and I) five very small people standing on chairs all in a row, screaming and jumping for him.

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Grant and I are still doing very very well and part of not having time for crochet or the internet has to do with free time of any sort being allocated for long baths, trips out or extended time in a locked bedroom with him <3
altarflame: (Default)
I THREW DOWN on some original from scratch peanut butter frosting today. PER.FEC.TION. Chocolate cupcakes to die for. I'm letting a second batch of 24 more cool on the counters for the leftover frosting now - Grant's gonna take some to work tomorrow and the rest will be ours for tea time. We've decided we're making a tent with rope and bed sheets and having tea in it tomorrow afternoon. We haven't had afternoon tea outside in forever.

Aaron and I decided that, during our two hours alone after everyone else in the house was sleeping. Those are the best Aaron times. I taught him how to braid (hemp strands, that he wants to use for homemade nunchucks he's making), and we looked at funny pictures on tumblr together, and then I read him a bunch of poems and stories by Margaret Wise Brown (Mrs Good Night Moon). I also finished this old beaded hemp necklace I started back at Grant Sr's house, while he was braiding, and gave it to him. He loves it and it suits his brown skinned, tank top'd self perfectly.

Grant and I went shopping and got everything for their Easter baskets earlier in the evening. Let's just say we might have gotten a little carried away. For instance, I decided to get a white tshirt for each of the baskets that we're going to tie dye all together after Easter, and we got three different egg dyeing kits (they're like .97 each!), and there may be modeling clay AND candy AND straw cups AND a whole lot of other crap involved, on the "x 5" grand scale. I found a giant hollow chocolate egg that's actually labeled something really grandiose like "The Magical Egg Scepter of Wisdom" and is full of smaller chocolate eggs, that will be the mysterious prize for whoever wins the egg hunt.

Yes, I am throwing myself into them...I woke up in SO MUCH PAIN, today. Abdominal pain. The really alarming kind that means "either this will pass in a couple of minutes or I'm going to the ER today and may be in surgery by tonight". Like tears from the bending required to stand up and get out of bed. It did pass. And I'm just like, alright cool, everything is totally normal, I'm not bothered by this. NOT AT ALL. REALLY.

Rather than be bothered, I worked on this whole "Community" part of Jake's Pre-k schoolwork. I felt like such a bad ass, such a homeschool ninja, because after he wrote out our house #, we went and looked at it on the front porch and he recognized it and thought it was like magic. Then after we came back in and he wrote the street number, we went out to the corner and looked at the street signs and explained which sign is for which street and how they're at all the corners and how that's the one he just wrote, and all the houses on this street have this same street name but they're told apart by the house number. Then we went in and he wrote the town and state, and then I grabbed some mail and I showed him my name and our address as we'd just defined it and he thought it was the freaking bees' knees to understand all that.

My three little kids are usually standing at the edge of the yard waiting every afternoon when the mailman comes by, and he hands the mail directly to them. So they feel highly involved with the whole process. I repeated the whole excercise with Isaac and Elise.

Also - we just started the first chapter of the first Oz book tonight (me and the three youngest). It's the first time I've really felt Elise was paying attention to a chapter book. We're stopping fairly frequently to explain or wonder about something and there are small pictures on most pages, but it's really awesome having her on board and into it. The three of them are all camped out in the tv room tonight to sleep with pillows and blankets, because for some reason sleeping in the tv room IS AWESOME.

This was the second day in a row Aaron did his schoolwork just fine and with no trouble. Beginning multiplication tables and more fractions/graphs. I'm beginning to have a dangerous amount of hope he might keep at it.




Pictures from "Out of Town Relatives Passing Through Day":

Isaac!


Elizabeth! Oh my little niece...


Look at her! We got that chair for her to sit in when she comes over.


Grandma and Elizabeth. That's my mother.


Mother's boyfriend and sister's husband. I snapped this pick and then when Frank looked up I called out "TWINS!" and he scowled at me. Haha.


Elise and Brian (nephew, brother of Elizabeth, both of them are Laura's kids...)


Grandma and a bedgruding Annie trying to play Bejeweled.


I told Brian and Elise to get on the trampoline so I could take pictures of them. They did this.

Hams is putting it lightly.

Laura and Elizabeth. Two of my favorite classy ladies.


Stevie, my 20 year old cousin, and Bob, my 20 year old brother, and Steve, my uncle and Stevie's Dad. Steve and my mom had different fathers and I think they look seriously nothing alike. Maybe that is just me.

As for those other two, I yelled "TWINS!" again, because I call it like I see it.

And here is my handsome, sweaty Aaron trying to make a case for why it's perfectly reasonable for me to let him go a block over and ride go-carts with his friends.


altarflame: (Oldschool)
Bob: Where can I put this (cannister of pringles), so Grant won't forget it in the morning?
Me: Nowhere. He will forget it.
Bob: lol
Me: I'm being serious. If you want to make sure he takes something, I usually put it under his wallet or tape it to the front door, but neither of those strategies is guaranteed.

The other morning I walked around looking at the lunch he'd left in the fridge, and the iPod he'd loaded with music but then left, and his bathroom disarray. I sent him an amused email saying that while I can walk around and laugh lovingly about my absent minded husband, I think if he were anyone else I'd assume he'd been abducted while in the middle of getting ready for work and call the police.




I got a lot of nothing done today. Meaning I accomplished most everything on my to-do list but none of it amounted to anything.

-I swept as I often do and mopped for the first time in forever, but the floor is already messed up again
-I made phone calls I've been needing to, but just left messages and got lackluster results
-Went to take the CPT with Laura in place to babysit only to find the testing hours I'd double checked were actually only for all the other campuses

I cried a lot. About my faith issues and my marriage issues. And felt better about both, and then worse, and then better again. Grant is more than willing to talk/cry with me. This is best when it merges into ultra-lovey sex.

I have an appt on Friday, with the therapist he started seeing on Saturday.
And a study guide, for the CPT, so maybe I can brush up some math skills (HAHA) before I take it.

I'm eating WAY TOO MUCH as a coping technique and keep thinking I have to stop that immediately. Burying the gonna-puke anxiety feeling is not working; I just add indigestion. Then eat more.

Hopefully I'm gonna go to bed now, and actually be able to sleep. Because today, I really can't tell what is really my thoughts and makes sense, and what is just sleep deprivation because last night, I just hurt too much to sleep.
altarflame: (Default)
Elise may be the only person in this house with a firm grasp on reality :p

Earlier today she was talking to me about families. She said, "Me and you, Daddy, Annie, Aaron, I-yaac, Akey family, right?" "Yep," I replied. "Uncle Bob no family" she added, in a tone that implied this was obvious and silly to even state. "Uncle Bob is our family!" I said, and I tried to explain the difference between an "immediate" or "close" family and an extended family, and relatives, with examples of other aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. She said, as though it was in her favor, "But Uncle Bob no love me." She was not sad about it, it was like if she said, "The van is blue". I told her he does and she acted like I was an idiot and as we talked it out it was obvious that as Bob does not hug, kiss, tickle, or otherwise physically interact with her...OR get excited about her in real or faked ways...OR smile back at her, etc...she feels that he is not (verb) "love"ing her, and is ok with that, and I wondered how much I should really argue about the point. BUT THEN she said, "Cuz we found Uncle Bob, buy him, he here." "Uh, come again? You think we bought Uncle Bob?" "Find him where he was before, and pay money, get him our home".

Basically she sees my brother as our indentured servant. I am probably a bad person for finding this HILARIOUS BEYOND ALL RECKONING and laughing until I cried. To my credit, I did then try to explain to her that Bob grew up with me, and we were both Grandma's kids, and he's just living with us for awhile so he can go to JobCorps, etc. She wasn't having it though (he looks totally different than Laura and I and acts polar opposite from either of us...sigh).


Later tonight she saw my Yahoo! avatar when I was checking my email and asked, "Who that is?" I told her it's supposed to be like a cartoon version of me but that I know it doesn't really look like me at all. She said, "No, cuz you - wait no say that cuz mean!" She stopped herself from finishing because she didn't want to be mean. I told her you shouldn't tell people things just to be mean but that she can be honest with me and I'm ok with it. "Well...you more fat." Ha! I swear.

It blows my mind, the dichotomy between her simplistic speech and her complex ideas.




I have been having a variety of problems adding up to a sort of malaise I'm struggling with. Including but possibly not limited to:

-Questioning my faith and persuing but hesitating over Catholicism
-my unrequited nymphomania
-a resurgence of weird PTSD things that are mostly manifesting as bizarre and innapropriate emotional responses to situations that should not be bugging me
-small but persistent struggles in my marriage
-my "restless energy", which is all tied up with realizing how little I've done in the last couple of years and the changes I'm trying to make in my life, which require seeing how far I have to go...

Really all these things overlap and intertwine and I'm not saying the half of it, but. I have been moody, and as I talk things out with friends and go round and round with Grant and search myself and try to take it one day at a time, I keep finding myself more and more open to all kinds of ideas and concepts I didn't use to be - from drinking and getting tattoos to questioning previously fundamental stuff and putting my kids in school. Quarter life crisis, I don't know...I get really, really deeply and profoundly overwhelmed at times, or feel sure I'm failing in big ways. It can get pretty dark.

I am taking steps to try to "get better", all kinds of steps LIKE

-just got a YMCA membership so I can start swimming/excercising away some of this angst
-trying to find more writing and agent stalking time as that helps tremendously
-dragging myself to church every week and praying at least sometimes whether I want to or not
-doing Eat to Live every other month this year to hopefully improve my weight and health
-just got back in touch with an old counselor looking for free/cheap resources so I can talk to somebody
-trying to do whatever I can "for me" that works within our family - like, my friend Jess came down and stayed at our house for a couple of days during which I was out with her a lot, and we went and got my nose repierced and I LOVE it. Last night I went to a "Healing From Traumatic Birth" workshop Nancy was holding (she's having her yearly month in Fl)

But I still suck to be around sometimes, and when questioned I still have a lot of tired and repetetive answers, and I am not really sure it's getting any better or even not getting worse, as things stand.

The point of this whole section of this entry is that Grant updated his facebook saying for people to pray for his wife as she needs healing. And I love him. And I understand he meant it in the most sincere and honest way. And I am really not even mad at him for it.

BUT, I have already had five different (in some cases very awkward) people im'ing me wondering what is wrong and my mother calling on the phone in a tizzy. I haven't been writing about this on the internet that much - and certainly not on facebook - because I don't want to write about it on the internet, and certainly not on facebook. This is an ongoing source of tension between us, because he wants to be able to be freely honest online just like I am, but his honesty frequently crosses my comfort zones, and then I feel like it's not fair to control him when it's not like I go asking permission to talk about our family here (to a much broader audience). I hated his formspring, and sometimes I hate his lj, which I know is not fair, but I can't exactly help it. People inevitably go to him from here hoping for info I would not release but that he might let slip and it's irritating as shit.

Blah.




My day today went:
-get up at 7, bleary eyed from only 3 hours of sleep, and drive Grant to work (Bob still home at this hour)
-come home, wake up all the kids one by one, feed them breakfast (this is still really hard as we are still midway through pushing our family schedule back about 4+ hours earlier than it used to be)
-assign chores, get them set up with some activities, warn them about what's happening, grab the phone, and lay down for a nap that is basically impossible to even consider without my brain screaming SEX SEX SEX just because I have a quiet moment alone
-wake up SHOCKED AND FREAKED that like 5 hours had passed O_o
-go to the gas station, and the bank drive thru, with all of them, and then swing back by the house for forgotten paperwork I could not find without calling Grant at work (which is not really a big deal, but took many tries as he was not in his office)...call the IRS on the cell en route to deliver paperwork, about our tax return and some snafu. Take everyone to Target and get some much needed new clothes for Jake and Isaac, and let Isaac spend some of his birthday money.
-Everyone picking up Grant from work...when he got in the van (after I got out to hug him), Jake and Elise were asleep with their heads flopped forward in the middle row and Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were passing a cannister of nuts back and forth and reading "Beekeeping for Dummies" together.
-Sit around wasting time while he took Jake for Daddy and Jake time bike riding at the Villages
-Get frustrated with G about how neither of us wanted to do anything for like 45 minutes, then we went together (Bob was back home by this point) and took more laundry to Grant Sr's to do, ordered our new washer at Lowe's, got trash bags from WD, and talked about how miserable I am until he was truly worried
-I made a great dinner and was irritated that he played video games instead of eating it, then got over it and just enjoyed eating with the kids, then snuggled with and nursed Elise until Grant came in and Jake and Annie came in and we had a massive family bed pile that was really nice...
-enforced tooth brushing and bed going and did some reading to them as G drifted off
-putzed around on the internet and phone fielding questions about G's status update and eating strawberries with nutella

We also have to interact with my sil everytime we go do laundry, and she is OUT. OF. IT. to a degree I have never previously seen (which is saying something...) Nobody can tell if it's the methadone she's claiming to be going to get everyday or some other thing she's sneaking with the methadone money or if she had a second stroke or...what...but...whoa. There is a new insane story everytime I go over there, too, that is not really right to share.


Next up: pictures...
altarflame: (Epic Shit)
Last night, Grant and I played 20 Questions as we got into bed. This is because he got the ingenius idea (sarcasm hand is raised) to use "grass clippings" as his answer and so we obviously had to get on that right away. Then he actually had the nerve to tell me anyone with logical thinking skills could guess anything in 20 Questions, so I challenged him AND WON, with the answer "hair chopsticks". At some point in one of the 10 minute lulls between his questions I told him he needed to get on with it because "I'd like to have time to involve myself with your penis". It occured to me soon after (in the continuing dark silence) that probably this isn't the kind of come on most women would use.

What can I say, I'm direct.

We went to Mass all together today and I think it was a great success on every level:
-we got there early and got good seats
-the kids were really good AND INTERESTED the entire time
-they played one of Grant's favorite songs
-it is just so satisfying and right to feel that we're worshipping again
-papers with our names were left in the rotunda by the CCD lady so we can set up an appt


On to a million pictures )
altarflame: (Default)
Last night was good stuff - Gloria and Lj came over for dinner and hanging out.


He's labeled this "Big Pimpin" on facebook :p

After all the kids were in bed we sat up talking for hours. They just lost a friend in the horrible hospital where I got ptsd from general mistreatment and emotional abuse. Yes, I think that place is evil, far beyond my normal dislike of hospitals in general (Jackson Hospital, Miami - and I just saw an article in the Herald today where a grand jury is sighting it as one big mess of failures...and they have ethics lawsuits pending, and Medicaid fraud prosecution by the govt, and it's just a truly dirty hospital where nobody speaks the same language as anybody else and there are cops everywhere INSIDE and they assume everyone walking in is a problem).

(after going to bed at 4:30 am last night) Today I:

-got up at 7:30, woke Ananda up, took my prednisone

-made Annie's breakfast and packed her lunch, MADE her brush her hair and find her socks and on

-thawed out and gave Chrysanthemum chicken

-cleaned out bedding, food and water in bantam chick cage

-got my Miami Children's Hospital Usborne contacts, and a local school's contact info, along with my standard water bottle-iPod-cell phone-shoes stuff together

-talked to Ananda until she was distracted from being moody on the 30 minute drive, dropped her off at GS Camp

-called my school contact and got put off, and MCH and got a meeting set up, on my 30 minute drive back to Dr Fletcher's office

-read my on-loan-from-Carolyn copy of a Roald Dahl short story collection (he writes for adults, too, what?!) in the waiting room

-got the wick taken out of my ear, another (different) antibiotic presciption, a bizarrely creepy puff of antibiotic powder ON MY EARDRUM (shudder), a follow up appt scheduled

-BLARED and yelled along with I'm on a Boat on the way home, because obviously I have that on my iPod

-came in, woke everyone else up...got Elise dressed, got her, Jake and Isaac breakfast, got her fish oil, Jake his (infected cavity) antibiotics, and all 3 little kids their probiotics - took my own probiotics and emergen-c

-joked and laughed with Grant and the kids, then cuddled with Aaron with Grant for awhile as he is still in Cast Depression everyday until his arm gets out on parole

-made Grant a frozen pizza in the oven, myself a giant salad (romaine, peas, tomatoes, seeds, chicken, kalamata olives, croutons), talked about money stress bs from insane medical bills piling up until he had to get in the shower

-called my mother to ask if she could provide emergency financial help since we're supporting Bob; she's in a worse place than us. Borrowed $15 from Bob.

-took a nap while he set the little kids up with a movie and took off for work

-woke up one hour later, made them all get their shoes and shirts and things on, and went to pick up Ananda from GS Camp - Elise came in with me this time to sign her out, and they all took turns playing with the GPS the whole way there and back behind us as Annie (up front) tells me all about her day. She was part of a belly dancing show her unit put on for all the other girls (the week's theme is India) and LOVED the whole made up skit the older unit did as their finale

-picked up my $9.97 antibiotics from the pharmacy drive-thru and then put the other $5 in the gas tank, thinking this $15 thing worked out - as I pumped, got a call on the cell from the bank saying someone's check for a book order was returned. Called that person and left a self-depricating and humorous email about what they'd like to do that hopefully put them slightly at ease about an embarrassing situation

-got home with everyone - approved Ananda's making a bunch of hard boiled eggs while I George Foreman'd turkey bacon and cut up oranges, while talking on the phone to the check person who called me back mortified with credit card info and big future order plans, as well as Dama about basic training stuff and things I don't know

-spent an hour at the computer in what felt like a prednisone haze trying to figure out how to input orders until I realized it's not me, my computer or our connection...their system was just down o_O During this time I made the facebook update that if my OrderPro site had a face, I would shoot it in the face.

-checked on Chrysanthemum, fed her a bunch of cat food, scrubbed a bunch of diarrhea poop off the carpet in there :x Febreeze, which I hate. Set the box fan up outside the accordian doors blowing out from the room to ventilate because it has no vents/windows (it's like a huge carpeted storage closet). Found that she had moved all the kittens to the (enclosed) litter box and after some research decided she was trying to hide them because she felt threatened by Bob. C lets us pet her and hang out with what appears to be no stress, but if Bob goes in there she HISSES AND SPITS - I don't know if it's the giant army boots near her tiny kittens or the fact that he once sprayed her with my alcohol/vinegar solution as a punishment for being in heat and making a racket (believe me, this was discussed). Had a talk with her and set up a new cave like spot in there in a new place and we moved the kittens together (really - she took two, I took five).

-found out my sister needed company and had excess dinner - so I went and got her and Brian and Elizabeth and they fed us and we hung out and showed each other YouTube videos of note and Brian saw kittens and played with guinea pigs. He likes The Circus, which is what they call our house (as Aaron rides by on his unicycle...)

-while they were here, I overheard my brother lay down one of his real, destined to be classic new quotes. I'm not sure what inspired it but he said to my sister, "No, I took an online quiz and it actually said I am a vampire."

I can't remember anything beyond this because it's 5:42am and Grant and I are laughing at Regretsy and contemplating a whole family sleepover with Kristin, Darrian, Naja and others next Friday... I have an Usborne show tomorrow afternoon, and he has to work this weekend, and I have to go back to the ent on Monday morning, and Jake has tooth extractions on Tuesday morning, and both of those days the other kids are also going to VBS and GEEZ LOUISE LET'S JUST GO NUTS.




Let me give you peeps my delirious recap of convo'ing with Grant about blogs and profits and so on:

I have a lot of people saying things to me like "professional design person" and "well educated, LOT OF WORK" and all these things. On the one hand, you're all totally right. On the other hand, I don't want or expect to be some kind of real internet superstar. Like I don't need or dream of ten thousand dollars a month from blogging. I'd be pretty thrilled with a couple hundred bucks, because this is something I do anyway. I've always done it. It just takes up a lot less Rubbermaid under the bed storage containers these past 7 years, now that it's electronic. So if I can make some money somehow in the process, that rocks! But I'm not going to magically start being an award winning photographer with balanced colors in my layout who runs a spellcheck. Basically what I'm saying is, if people like me enough that I can be widely read as I am - as a great big mess of blessings and mistakes and reality without a theme or a solid political affiliation or a business plan - that is awesome! If not, well, I'll still be doing this and loving it that I've really made some of the best friends and had some of the craziest experiences, from livejournal.

Anyway I really do value input and opinions and appreciate everything that's been said. Some of it is hugely helpful and will definitely be put to good use. I just ALSO think there either is a niche out there with a demographic that is interested in me rambling long windedly with made up words and showing everyone my chickens in irregularly sized pics, or there isn't. Does this make sense? Also I was all "See, look at THIS!!!" tonight when I noticed that freaking hyperbole and a half is also blogspot (in addition to cakewrecks and Anna Maria Horner). Lord Whimsy, too. These are all people supporting themselves completely (AND WELL) off of either their blog or what their blog is about, who I respect, and they're pretty damned varied. I am still kind of put out that blogspot doesn't have a real place for icons and won't allow comment threading, and those factors alone are probably enough to drive me to wordpress, but I'm just saying....whatever I'm saying. I've been recognized at home and on vacation, received donations from all over the world such that we could stay in Boston for 2 extra months, I've been taken out to lunch by people who act like they're honored to meet me, and I get 4000 pageloads a week. This may be small potatoes in the blogosphere but to me, it's CRAZY. NUTS. I feel like I must be doing something right in all my ineptitude. Maybe people just like to shake their heads about what should be getting done differently so much that they can't stay away - I actually think there could be something to that.


This has been a long week.

Juggling

Jul. 29th, 2010 02:40 am
altarflame: (Default)
Spent like 6+ hours yesterday at the ER when I was supposed to be getting ready for today's Usborne show. It turns out Aaron's hurt wrist from Saturday's flip gone wrong, which has not stopped being sore (despite full range of motion) is a compression fracture in his distal radius (the fatter of the two long forearm bones). He's in a temporary splint now until we get his hard cast on. Did I mention I just had him at the ER Saturday for a tetanus booster and antibiotic prescription after he managed to get a rusty nail stuck in his foot in our yard, while wearing shoes? (he was helping Grant with building and taking things apart and got oblivious...sigh) Even armed with gum, shoulder rubs, books and goofy jokes in my arsenal Aaron ends up doing some kind of rapid rock in his seat like a seriously autistic kid by the time hours of ER-wait time have passed. In the meantime we have great conversations and I enjoy his company...then he passes his expiration date.

He's LOSING HIS MIND from his decreased physical abilities - like coming to me that he's depressed or actually in tears hourly about how he can't flip, do handstands or jump off of high thing outside. He asked me, "Can I at least flip on the trampoline, once I have the hard cast on?"

Spent like 4+ hours last night and this morning getting ready for that Usborne show when I should have been sleeping. (Grant was up with Jake, who was having brand new tooth pain, and Isaac, who was having nightmares, most of the night - he is such an amazing Daddy)

Spent like 6 hours today driving to and from and doing the show. It was fun, good people. Came away with $65 in profit, a possible new recruit, and a definite next show that looks more profitable.

Cooked dinner for 10 people (my sister and her kids were here watching my kids while I was out, and Bob was around) - curried butter chicken, roasted cauliflower and broccoli, bake beans and orzo with pesto stirred in. Had tedious but hopefully helpful half hour long talk with my brother about why it is sometimes difficult for us to deal with sharing our house but he is worth it anyway, re: no we are not gleefully using him as slave labor. Got Aaron and Jake Motrin. Nursed Elise. Let Ananda read first two chapters of my budding kids' chapter book and then grilled her for opinions/criticism (she LOVES this). Made everyone brush their teeth. Read Lady and the Tramp to the little kids and more chapters of The Eyes of the Dragon to A and A. Made sure various pets were fed and watered.

Tomorrow morning, after I schedule dentist appointments (Elise's teeth are also suspect and it's time for A and A and Isaac to have new checkups), the kids and I are heading up to Miami Children's Hospital to A. get Aaron seen by an ortho ped for a hard cast and B. pitch Usborne's Literacy for Life program to the head of the library at MCH. This sounds...interesting. (my sarcasm hand is raised)

I'm hoping we can get some cleaning and schoolwork done in the evening. Have some super simple dinner.

Friday I have an Usborne table at a homeschool book fair where I may or may not be taking the children with me. But mostly it is a far free-er day. We may be back up at MCH depending on all kinds of factors with how tomorrow goes.

I'm tired. Grant will be home soon and we will be vegging out watching Weeds.
altarflame: (eat lard)
Long post, photos throughout, mildly Elise-centric )

For those of you waiting on an Andrea update, I don't have one. The last thing that was posted on facebook, I posted on the previous comment thread. As soon as I know something, I will relay it.

Burnout.

May. 16th, 2010 10:57 pm
altarflame: (DeathbyChores)
That is me. BURNED. OUT. Literally, this fucking sunburn still hurts three days later.

This is a cyclical thing for me, I know I will come back around. But geeeeeez right now. Ugh.

I've been in overdrive for weeks. Ananda and Aaron have special rehearsals for Dance Empire every weekend because it's almost recital time. I'm selling books now to try to get Aaron to NYC with his hip hop class. Those two are also taking a science class on Tuesdays. We've had a birthday and two more are coming up on us, and we have very little money, so it's a lot of homemaking and brainstorming of presents all around. It seems to be birthday SEASON, as well - Ananda went to a party last night and we have two more invitations in addition to our own double party planning, all for the next month. This is all above and beyond, "additional" kind of stuff. Other PATH year-end events just passed, too, like the beach party and Historically Speaking. The science fair. I'm sunburned and Ananda is sick.

Grant just left town for a week and I'm happy for him - I mean, I really am, I'm not just saying that - but I was ready for some weekend help and some adult company right as it was time for him to go and I've been in the worst freaking mood all day. My house and our van are disgusting shambles I'm going to have to put many hours of work into turning back into something inhabitable.

My sister is wonderful. I took the kids over there earlier in a terrible mood, and arrived hungry having not eaten all day. She cooked me delicious veggie quesadillas and passed out snacks to everyone with her baby on her hip. I moaned and ranted about my perpetual lack of sleep and our budgeting frustrations and she listened to everything and we all walked up to the park by her house. Aaron caught fish with his hands and Isaac and Jake rolled down the hill over and over and I sat on a bench swing by the lake with Ananda and Elise feeling like, ok. Breathe.

She sent us home with a plant she doesn't want and a bunch of extra groceries from her overstock and her garden's abundance. She's growing some herbs that make my mouth water just smelling them in the ground.

It's good stuff.

I'm having a hard time deciding how to deal with brother and his chores. We really need the help around here, and he is living here for free, and I buy all of his groceries, so it would seem he could help out. But, he is doing (far) more than he ever has in his life, like really making GREAT progress,and so I am not sure how much pressure/consequences to lay out...he gets up early every morning on his own and walks to the bus stop, participates and tries all day at Job Corps, and comes home tired in the late afternoon/early evening needing to get to bed within about 4-5 hours. Some of his recent days there have included things like writing an essay about what he wants to do with his life, making an imaginary budget for 10 years from now that has his ideal career factored in as income, volunteering at a nursing home, and cleaning trash off side of the highway. They walk around the campus so much he comes home sunburnt a lot of the time. He gets one on one "life counseling" with someone there just about every day. This paragraph is something that would have seemed like a wild fantasy to me a couple of months ago. I'm really pleased on his behalf.

So, chores...? I mean we only really have maybe an hour and a half's worth of chores for him on a given day, and it only takes that long because he is REALLY, REALLY slow. I could do that same hour and a half's worth of work in 30-40 minutes tops (dishes, "picking up" the deck and side yard, taking out the trash and recycling). All he does with any leisure time is movies and computer games, it's not like I'm cutting into a social life or study time or something. But he's accustomed to spending like 14 hours a day on movies and computer games, so obviously this has been a huge adjustment for him. And obviously everyone needs some downtime to themselves. Lately he's been doing 0-2 of his 3 chores each day and we keep having talks about it every couple of days and he keeps making the same tired, half-hearted excuses. The only time I really feel free to give him a real lecture or get mad/threaten consequences is on the weekends, because then he really has NOTHING else to do all day long for two days. But then, like, this weekend, he has spent most of both days hanging out with Robby over at Grant Sr's (playing video games and watching movies) and I think it's probably good for Bob and Robby both, to have someone to hang out with. He's walking the four blocks back and forth himself. I don't know. Normal standards are hard to apply here; he has been so "remedial" for his age in so many ways for so long that I am really astounded by where he's at right now. And I also really don't have the energy to deal with a 6th kids who towers over me lately, either, as far as really going out of my way to consistently enforce punishments or get in arguments with him.

I think I'm going to make a great big plan, because for some unknown bizarre reason that helps my state of mind tremendously - I'm talking about a meal plan, a money plan, a social plan for who I'm going to invite over here or call up on the phone, a freaking daily plan for activities for the next week because there's so much to divide up and try to accomplish - and then relax into it and try to enjoy the rest of a day that at least did not involve having to be anywhere by any certain time. It's really not gonna do me any favors, sitting in this chair refreshing things and feeling overwhelmed.




I posted about this before, but really would like to reiterate - I'm selling Usborne Books now, to help Aaron get to NYC. I get 25% of the money from sales, which is a pretty phenomenal commission rate, and they really are WONDERFUL books...we've bought many over the years before I knew this independent consultant thing even existed. Innovative and interesting math books, "feature"-laden (lift the flap, touch and feel, activities included, etc) science books, chapter books for older kids, story books with truly top of the line illustrations. Tons of award winners. No characters, no weird agendas, just lots of engaging language to pull in reluctant readers... they are also very reasonably priced. Anyway please if you might be interested, for your own kids or someone elses', click the link and do some browsing!
http://www.ubah.com/HOS173246

ETA, BECAUSE MY FORMSPRING INBOX IS EXPLODING WITH THIS SUBJECT:
Apparently some people are up in arms that Grant is on a week long vacation to the mountains and we have the nerve to pitch fundraisers for Aaron's NYC trip and talk about having money issues. I have written about this before, but obviously it's been missed - WE ARE NOT PAYING FOR GRANT'S TRIP. I organized, as my Christmas present to him (along with my blessing for him to go), for his mom, Dad and Shaun to go in, in thirds, paying for him to go to the mountains like he has wanted to do forever. We correctly anticipated he would want to wait until it was warmer, which is now. So everyone cashed in their promises and off they went (him and Shaun). He even has paid vacation time from work so that he's not missing income. Sheesh.

For the record, I do think it's perfectly reasonable for people to fundraise for their kids' pricier activities regardless of their financial status.
altarflame: (Lost)
The one when I realize I'll be watching Lost later in the evening. It's the little things, you know? And no, I do not by any stretch of the imagination think I'm going to get any ANSWERS out of the few remaining episodes. They're going to keep introducing new characters and throwing in plot twists and alternate dimensions right up until the very last moment of the very last one, at which point the camera will pan way, way back, and the island will go up in a giant mushroom cloud that resembles the head of John Locke. Then, from the burning wreckage, we'll see that huge statue foot thing walking off on the water...and the credits will roll.




My brother is doing SO WELL. I am really, truly proud of him for the first time in a long time. He is on week #3 of getting up early - on his own - every morning, taking the bus out to JobCorps, and participating. It is so much better than we could ever have hoped. He's writing essays about what he wants out of life, and taking placement tests, and having a physical (? whatever) and going on their fun trip to the movies on Friday and genuinely spurred on by the reward system...I am truly thrilled with it.

Three SHOCKING things have happened since he started, each more surreal than the last.

1. He wore colors. I mean, I almost wrecked as I spotted him walking home in khakis and a blue polo shirt. I don't think I've seen him in colors since he went through his camo phase at 10.
2. He stayed late one day to play pool with somebody in the rec hall. Someone who didn't even speak enough english to decide on rules together, but it was still fun. This is both voluntary socializing and racial tolerance.
3. Today. TODAY!! He brought a friend home! I was so shocked at first I was kind of gaping. It was a really nice seeming guy too, who I wasn't even nervous about having in my house. He gave Bob a ride home and they were going to play video games. WONDERS NEVER CEASE.

I am beginning to feel for the first time in these 6 months that maybe there is real good happening because he's come down here, and real hope for him one day approaching a point of independent adulthood. During the window of time he's home and not asleep yet, he does the dishes everyday, sometimes along with other menial one time chores. He also spends more of that window out of his room, even if it is just lounging on the couch to watch whatever movie my kids are watching or something.

Seriously something. I told him I was really proud of him today, and he turned away towards the dishes so I wouldn't see him grinning.




Random pictures. 11, from the other day )




-I am so tired of fighting with Elise for two hours after the bedtime routines are OVER

-I love leave in conditioner - why have I not been doing this all my life?

-after talking with Tawanna for awhile today, and at least one honorable benefactor who wishes to contribute to the cause this evening (Shaun), I feel like I really want to prioritize Aaron going to NYC with his group in July, but probably let go of the scholarship thing later in the year. We need balance between letting each of them realize their potential, but not going insane as a family.

-Shaun also knows someone who needs some voice work done and so I may be doing some reading aloud for pay

-along with sending in a bajillion stories, pitches, manuscript segments and so on to a bajillion agents, publishers, small presses and contests

-I really love the way A and A's dance classes afford us with these opportunities for me to take other kids places regularly and do other things with them...like on Monday, I take the three littles to the (really nice, too far to be justified if we weren't already up there) park for two hours while A and A dance. This past week they got to catch a lizard, watch a butterfly go from flower to flower sucking up nectar, observe an ant colony of the BIGGEST SCARIEST ANTS THIS SIDE OF AFRICA, and still play in the sand for awhile. Then on Tuesdays, I take Ananda and them to the library for the hour - again, it's a nicer branch than we have here in Homestead, and also because of his one solo hour dancing we have a set day/time we go reliably every week. Thus we do not lose track of time and end up with a bunch of fines, like we historically have. FYI, this nonfiction books for Aaron thing is really working out GREAT...he begs to be able to keep reading when we turn the lights off at night. Moving on, Wednesdays I drop A and A both off, then I drop Elise off at Oma's. This has become really, really special and eagerly anticipated for Elise and Oma(mil) both. Robby and Patrice (her older cousins) are usually also there to shower her in solo attention. And then I bring Jake and Isaac back here and it's just the three of us studying their AWANA verses and having a snack together until it's time for me to take them to AWANA.

-I also love the way Isaac, Jake and Elise have become an inseparable trio - it especially makes me happy for Isaac, who has traditionally been kind of left out amongst his siblings. Because he's the oldest, he's the one who makes up most of their games and decides most of their activities, and it evens things out a little with him being as...well, wimpy, as he is. They play games like one person holds the one in front of them, and a third holds the second person, and then the first starts running all over the trampoline like crazy while the other two try to hold on. And more elaborate, characterizes pretend stuff. They pack things up to go on journeys. It's just great.

-Just in the next 3 months we've got:

-cave exploring with PATH
-storytelling under the stars at the library at night
-science fair
-Elise's 3rd birthday (at the beach)
-beginning of science classes (taught by a middle school science teacher turned PATH mom with a great curriculum they're psyched about), which will be early Tuesday afternoons for 6 weeks
-"Historically Speaking", greek myth themed
-PATH field trip to BASS museum's ancient Egypt exhibit
-Annie at Christina's birthday slumber party
-Annie's 10th birthday (at Jacob's Aquatic Center)
-summer placement auditions at Dance Empire
-DE recital
-beginning of rehearsal for PATH-kid-written play Annie will be doing stagecraft and costume design for, and Aaron possibly playing the villain
-Aaron's 9th birthday
-girl scout day camp for one week, maybe two (for Annie)
-Grant going to the smoky mountains for a week with Shaun (his prearranged, from his whole family Christmas present for when it was warmer)
-Aaron's group going to NYC for a week

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

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

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

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


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


This is our new weekday schedule.


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

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


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

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

For me, personally:

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is definitely the song for the week:


I downloaded the whole album. Massachusetts bluegrass quartet. Aaron's watching it too much, with that look on his face. Next thing I know he'll be asking for a cello.
altarflame: (Staring)
Comment on a random YouTube video:
I should have known better than to read the comments for anything on YouTube, you inbred imbeciles. Stop pissing in the wind for a minute and you might not smell like asparagus´╗┐ all the time.




20 Pictures )



Today is Robby's 15th birthday. When I saw him last night he was really, really happy, like happier than I've seen him in a long time. It was kind of hilarious actually. I am baking him muffins and making him cds. Robby, if you're reading this, forget that last part - you know nothing!

My brother managed somehow to cut his finger badly enough that he had to involve Frank, my paramedic brother in law. He is conveniently unable to wash the dishes while he keeps the area dry, now, and I am highly suspicious :p I also strongly suspect the whole injury had something to do with my poor battered palm tree in the front yard. *shaking head*

I had someone else who I really respect read my WRITING writing and be all, raving and gushing about how great it is, and I'm still sort of riding that wave. The other day, digging in my laptop case, which I only use when I go out to write, I found all this crap I'd been looking for...lip balm, necklace, money. I concluded that the answer to every problem in my life is to write more.

Aaaaaaaaaaand...that's a wrap.
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
So far today I've eaten:

-a tiny bit of canteloupe
-a few sugar snap peas
-a bunch of leftover roasted cauliflower from last night
-a donut
-some apple slices with cheddar cheese

It's kind of like that Sesame Street song, One of these things is not like the others...

I am extremely tired. There is not really a way to express this tiredness. I woke up almost panicking about how hard it seemed to get out of bed; "Am I pregnant?! Am I diseased?! Internal bleeding?!" (my guess is no, no and no,btw)

I just...I dunno. Monday was a whirl of blitzcleaning and dropping off our van to be serviced (tires and oil) and getting dropped off back over there to pick it up only to find it needed more work and I was stranded, and more blitzcleaning, and email and phone planning, as I anxiously awaited what Nancy would say about the portion of one of my books that I'd mailed her. Late that night I got replies, she said she was breathless, she'd cried, I gave her goosebumps, it was crazy! Crazily awesome.

Tuesday I got up on almost no sleep and ran out to the store in the prius, and Starbucks for caffeine, and did more last minute cleaning, and got all the kids up and dressed, and Nancy came. And it was a GREAT visit - we went through my partial manuscript and she gave me names and numbers for doctors and nurses she thinks I should quote and even sort of hinted around about writing a foreword for me, it was really exciting, but more than that she is just so WONDERFUL to have around in her own right. We ate and talked and laughed and I got pictures of her reading to all the kids. Grant and I managed to co-cook while she was here and she drove me to get my van out of the shop...where it turns out I had to pay $743. When I had just payed $512 the day before when it hadn't been done. New shocks, new brakes, they fixed the interior lights and on and on. ARGH we were not prepared for almost $1300 in sudden vehicle expenses. And then it was sad to have Nancy leave, but I was still happy. My mother in law called to say that Robby would be getting out of the hospital the next day (Wed) which is WONDERFUL and...I am so proud of him. When I visited him over the weekend we talked so much about how I can't help him if he's in residential treatment,a nd if he keeps taking so many unneeded meds he really will go crazy, and he actually took my advice and broke down and told the people in there that he was exaggerating and trying to get attention and quit acting. I am sure that was extremely difficult to do.

Wednesday is always madness, I have to get A and A to their 3 in a row dance classes up in Tamiami and get Isaac and Jake to AWANA down here in Homestead during the time the classes are going on. Everyone was on time, Ananda with her hair bunned and Aaron with his shoes found...Jake and Isaac with their vests on and books and dues in hand and verses memorized. Elise doesn't want to sit in the van that long - she stayed at my mil's this time, which they all loved. Including Robby, who was home. We worked out that he would come here for the next two days and then spend the weekend with her, when she's off work. So I had to go home and clean clean clean again because Robby's therapist was coming here to meet him, and read to everyone and blah blah blah. And go out and do late night shopping because I was going to have two teenaged boys here for Thursday and Friday, eating. The good news was that my brother's stupid transcripts FINALLY CAME IN THE MAIL FOR JOBCORPS. So he and I made a whole plan for the next day and I tried to get him to go to sleep earlier. He took it upon himself to shave with Grant's trimmers, wonders will never cease. Aaron was finishing all of his schoolwork for several days running, too.

Thursday was like:
-wake up at 7:45 (did I mention I got to sleep around 5 am?), nurse Elise back down to sleep
-take Bob out to JobCorps with bus fare for the return trip and a lot of instructions
-get home in time to meet Robby at the door arriving
-talk with him for half an hour while I made a heaping massive pile of french toast, turkey bacon and sliced oranges - he is very easy to talk with, I really enjoy his company
-get Ananda and Aaron up, the 4 of us had breakfast
-get Jake and Elise up and dressed, and then Isaac up and dressed, and serve the three of them breakfast
-enforce Ananda and Aaron's morning chores
-wake Grant up and get him breakfast and tell him there are frozen pizzas for lunch as I collapse for a nap
-up at 2, take a shower with G, check in with Bob about how it went at JobCorps, then rush everyone out the door along with a bag of packed snacks and some other accessories, to PATH
-Where everyone plays with friends, my kids did more physical fitness testing, I told my friends about Nancy's reaction to my book
-drive to Ron Ehman park, near the location of Aaron's special rehearsal - great driving talk and music with Robby. Tetherball, swinging, it was good, until Elise face planted in the sand off a swing badly - mouth, eyes and nose FULL of sand, one hand swollen and I thought it might be broken until she was nursing and calming down...her and Annie and I walked around the path alone, talking, and then Aaron sat on a bench with Elise and I for awhile talking, and then I snuggled with Jake until it was time to go
-we go drop Aaron off at his special rehearsal (for the dance competition at the end of the month, in Orlando. That his dance teacher is paying for, she wants him competing with her so badly. She begged me with tears in her eyes to let him do it O_O )While he did that, the rest of us made the trek to my mil's and back to get Robby's meds for the night and morning so he could just spend the night instead of coming back all early again. By this point I had a movie on in the van to placate the little ones and Robby was buying their compliance with mini-marshmallows. We talked about the autism spectrum, dairy, Lily Allen lyrics and our mutual... admiration for Taylor Lautner. With him and Taylor it's apparently sort of destiny, since Robby once stumbled upon him signing autographs at a Hot Topic AND he used to watch Sharkboy and Lava Girl when he was a kid. They're basically engaged.
-HOME. Everyone is starving and in and out of the kitchen while I make creamy mushroom chicken, roasted broccoli and some whole grain rice a roni.
-we eat. I give Isaac a bath with the special dyes-the-water-pink things he got for his birthday, and then Jake and Elise a bubble bath, and get them all in footed pajamas. Force Annie to brush her hair. Read to people and they go to sleep. Realize Robby is already out and cover him with a blanket. Argue with my brother about washing dishes.
-read a bunch of fan fiction til Grant gets home from work and we have some unusually strained conversation about his tendency to take after his dad and have expectations of me that lead to scolding when I don't meet standards
-come to some kind of resolution and black out in his arms - this was like, I don't know, 4 am.

Friday, I got woke up by people telling me Darrien and Naja had just arrived at 11:15. They were supposed to arrive at 1 so everyone was asleep and Robby let them in since he was on a couch near the door. They're my friend Kristin's kids and she's going through a divorce and doing CNA school on Fridays - so whenever her mom has something that interferes with her watching them on a Friday, they come here. They are great and no trouble, I just wasn't expecting them yet. Apparently the grandma was confused about a lot of details. This day turned out good though - partially because I went on my second Starbucks run of the week and refueled before I did anything else. We had nowhere to go but a potluck dinner at Kristin's later in the night and it was fun. I had Naja and Elise up on a step stool helping me make scones, Isaac had people to play cards with, Bob even went out and played with Darrien in the yard (Darrien idolizes Bob). I did catch Aaron and Darrien trying to light the grass on fire o_O Mostly it's surprisingly relaxed and not as loud as you would expect - we watched The Office by ourselves before G had to go to work.

When Kristin arrived from school my sister was in normal postpartum sahm crisis on the phone, stranded with no vehicle, and so we rearranged some carseats and rescued her. The potluck ended up awesome...I brought roasted cauliflower, sliced tomatoes and REALLY good lemon butter scallops. Kristin had HOMEMADE BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI with a sage butter full of mushrooms on top, and homemade fettucinni with homemade pesto and OM NOM NOM. My sister brought her donut pans and made donuts while we passed Elizabeth around. Jake ate like...15 garlic rolls for dinner, and was in heaven. Brian, my sister's son, even did really well. I felt very useful corralling him off to be alone when he got overstimulated and taking him to the bathroom to "try" every so often.

It was REALLY BIZARRE when we all arrived in the driveway. Kristin's sister was there and they are the same height, same thin build, each wearing tight jeans and a clingy, long sleeved dark green top, with the same assymetrical, shorter in the back haircut. Keegan's is purple, but whatever. Different colored Converse. Laura and I both had on the same jeans, a black shirt, same proportions, basically same height and skin tone, different colored Kinos (flip flops). We're standing across the driveway in pairs aghast before everyone starts laughing. Carina, who's house Kristin is sharing, thought it was kind of hilarious and said if her sister was there it would have been even worse.

By the time the talking, the cooking, the eating, the dessert, and more talking were done, and we had gotten toys squared away and dishes and sweeping done and all of it, my kids and I got home at like 12:30. Snuggling, teeth, books, bed.

I woke up today and Robby had been picked up, people had eaten breakfast. Grant is off. The two of us walked over to a lot a block down and shot arrows. Now he's listening to some educational podcast with the 3 biggest ones.

THIS IS WHY I HAVE NOT BEEN UPDATING. How am I supposed to update?!

I have pictures I want to post and will try to.


IF YOU HOMESCHOOL: I have been meaning to tell everyone that Kumon workbooks, which are AWESOME, are currently 4 for 3 on Amazon, with free shipping. I ordered 14 of them for the older 4 of my kids, mid-week, and it was only $76 total. Which is a really good deal.

Also, if you go to cricketmags.com and use the code N401, you can get year subscriptions to really high quality, no-ad kids' magazines for only $24.95. Usually they are $33 each. I've been wanting a couple for a year now and finally went ahead and got Muse for A and A and Ask for Isaac.
altarflame: (GaGa)

Shaun shaved, and now I think he really screams "filmmaker"


This is Grant, intensifying his hatred for and resentment of our cats (it's his mom's new puppy).


And this is us, pretty frequently.


Isaac turned 6, as previously documented only through text.


Brian, Darrien, Jake and Naja wanted to help.




And that is my feet by the faucet.


Oh yes. I think I need at least three hours watching the steam rise off the water every week lately.


Aaron being Aaron.



Also Aaron (hip hop class):

My video editing program is crashing, so the first minute and 20 seconds of this video is just them standing there. Sorry about that. Feel free to skip ahead to the good part :) I actually think the previous run through was superior, because he didn't know he had a camera trained on him.

Elise watching him.


And Ananda doing schoolwork during her free hour at Dance Empire.


Goofing around in the van.


Jake is wearing his little Cubbies vest back there. He LOVES AWANA so much.


Flash does funny things to Elise and I both.


All five of my kids at the zoo.


There are a lot of parts of my life right now. I'm stretched thinly over a lot of area, mostly in a good way. Obviously not always. Some of it:

I'm getting really close to Kristin, and love it, like we're real friends - the kind you can ask for favors or call up at 10 pm just to talk.

Nancy and I talk and email everyday. She'll be here to spend the day with us on Tuesday. This is wonderful in and of itself and then, also, I emailed her the first 10,000 words of this book I'm writing (!). So I'm waiting to hear back on tenderhooks (...so to speak? wth? tenderhooks, really?) and hoping she will be brutally honest but also REALLY LOVE IT :p

Robby spent the night again last weekend, and was here two days ago. He hugged me and helped with the dishes. Then yesterday he took like 20 Zolofts and now he's back at Miami Children's. My mother in law called me crying her eyes out tonight because none of us feel capable of helping him...they're talking about residential treatment and it kind of breaks my heart. His sister Nadia (11, bipolar, schizophrenic) has been in and out of residential for years; her twin Patrice has never had any mental health issues. Robby is so smart, and he's so...dangling on some precipice...it really gets me.

And I feel like somebody needs to do something for Patrice because holy shit this is too much for her. She spent the night with Robby last weekend. We were all eating dinner and going around asking "What was the best part of the day for you?" and when we got to her, she said "I don't know how to choose! It's all so wonderful!!" with this giddy excuberance like my messy house is some sort of wonderland, and it breaks me heart man! I do not know what to do. Robby specifically requested I be put on his list and given his password so I imagine I will be at Miami Children's this weekend at least once.

I've been listening to a lot of music, downloading a lot of music. I got a beautiful special edition red iPod nano in the mail and I'm kind of in love with it, and then again sort of considering sending it back because, well, that would be a lot of Lush products I could get and I can always burn cds for the van and plug earbuds into my laptop. Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Frou Frou, Cat Power, Regina Spektor (Consequence of Sounds and That Time, this week), Emiliana Torrini, The Blow's "True Affection", Hurts to Purr, A Particularly Vicious Rumor.

I'm having a very hard time with Aaron - as far as getting him to do schoolwork or chores or act "normal" around people. He is incredible at communicating with me one on one and at participating in group activities and at anything musical or physical, but sometimes lately he really seems like a true autistic savant...I haven't felt so stumped and frustrated by his obvious sensory issues since he was 3.

We had tea today, outside, for the first time in what felt like forever. We went around and the questions were, first, what are you looking forward to, and second, what are you dreading.

Ananda is looking forward to Nancy's visit and dreading her period.
Aaron is looking forward to his dance competition next month and dreading his chores tomorrow.
Isaac is looking forward to Easter (because it's a "finding constest" and he's so exceptional at finding things) and dreading his next belly ache (he gets them a lot...he has a really sensitive gut).
Jake and Elise didn't really understand the questions well enough to say things that made sense.

My kids and I joke around almost constantly. They always try to get me to say "What?" when we pull up at the house, so they can answer, "We're home". I refuse if I'm on to them. But they get me kind of a lot, often in hilarious ways. Once in a blue moon I get one of them, but mostly they ban together and warn each other.

Aaron has gotten so good at making me laugh uncontrollably that I have to threaten him through it, when I can breathe, that I can stand him in the corner while I'm laughing, and just because he's funny doesn't mean he's not in trouble.

I frequently call them horrible names like putzes and oozing warts and threaten them with consequences like ripping their arms off and beating them with it. "If you don't get out of that bath, I will go outside, dig a hole under this house, light a fire in it, and make soup out of you".

Me: Don't make me eat you.
Ananda: *rolling her eyes* You can't eat me.
Me: Watch me.
A: It would be gross, and I'm way too big.
Me: Why do you think we have a blender?
A: I know you hate purees.
Aaron: She does have a point about that.
Me: Well, I could use it to thicken soup.
Aaron: she does do that with bean puree.
Ananda: If you eat me, you're gonna have to explain it to Dad.
Aaron: And the police.
Isaac: I would help her keep it a secret.
Jake: GET THE BLENDER!!!!!

I've been in insane hypersexual mode. Not eating especially well and not especially caring. And never ready to get out of bed when it's time. Always grabbing more music off the computer and a bag of snacks as we head out the door, always reading and reading and reading out loud in the dark to someone(s).

I feel very alive and like I can dig this life.

My brother is pushing it, though.
altarflame: (Default)
My brother is so disordered in his priorities. For instance, he can fill you in very authoritatively on movie trivia, band members, crossover albums, and versions of video games on a level that is borderline disturbing. But he doesn't know very basic things - history things, math things, social studies, grammatical stuff - on an elementary school level. I mean LOTS of things.

Likewise, while I have to gouge my own eyes out to get him to fill out a job application or take a shower, he is really, really concerned and "on the up and up" about bs that does not matter AT ALL. Let me illustrate; one night, we set a timer for an hour and sat down to watch half of a movie with A and A. About 3/4 of the way through he came out, stood in the doorway with his hand raised and after we paused it said, "Just wanted to let you know the timer says 15 more minutes."

O_O

Today he called Grant at work to be like, "Hey man, I know this isn't, like, 'an emergency', but I spotted a Dr Pepper out on the counter unopened. Do you want me to put it in the fridge?"

No joke, I laughed until I cried when I heard about this later.

The thing is he does this kind of stuff a LOT, and he always uses this all business tone and he acts really, really offended - even saying things like "Well fine then" if you act like this stuff is not Serious Business.

And this is why I don't know to what degree he's bullshitting me and to what degree he's sincere, when he tells me he would have went out and looked for a job all afternoon...but he thought we needed him to watch the chickens.


HOWEVER: He has made his first solo bus trip and his first solo substantial walk, and I do count both of these as progress. Also he continues to do anything we ask around the house, including things that are actually very helpful.
altarflame: (Default)
Whoo, life feels like a whirlwind now that the holidays are really over. Yesterday was Grant's first day back at work. It involved:

-being like, oh, I got almost no sleep because Elise the threenager* kept us up from the wee hours but so what - and then nursing her and acting like, what, who's tired? as the day began
-put away a ton of laundry
-micromanaging my brother's schedule for the day and keeping him on the computer and phone being productive
-dragging children over coals to get them to actually do their chores for the first time in over a week
-beating my head against a wall to get them doing schoolwork for the first time in over a week
-running 15 minutes late after a SERIOUS headache because we're out of practice for all getting out the door to take the kids to dance class, particularly bulked out in cold weather clothes, which is unusual here
-taking the three littles to Whole Foods while A and A dance for strictly bulk bin and only-sold-there items, since we're budgeting, which was fine except for the traffic jam on the way there that drove Isaac insane, and Elise being a threenager...and getting some hot soup to share in the cold was nice
-picking A and A up, sharing food in the van, driving to BJs (wholesale club) for a whole list of things with everyone, which was fine except I was getting tired and all that stuff (like cases of canned beans and canned tomatoes, huge case of canned cat food, etc) is heavy..and Elise was being a threenager, and it's COLD outside.
-getting gas at BJ's where it's cheaper...did I mention it was cold?
-coming home and getting all this stuff inside from two stores and everyone bundled into pajamas (it really was actually down to 34 last night, it was a record) and cooking for everyone and sitting around the table talking and praying
-opening up iTunes with Annie and helping her register her new iPod shuffle (she used her $50 from Nana and Pa and her $15 Target giftcard from my mom - it's lime green) and use the iTunes giftcard that came with it to buy a bunch of Taylor Swift music (she is thrilled)
-brushing Jake and Elise's teeth, making everyone else brush their teeth, telling people to go to bed 57,000 times, pairing them up in beds for warmth (we really hate the heater air quality and smell and try to avoid it) and reading a bunch of chapters of "Caleb's Story" to children.

And now it's a new day and I've already made oatmeal for them and gotten socks back on Elise 4 times and went on a massive hunt for where the heck all the spoons have gone and forced Ananda to brush her freaking hair...now people are school-working behind me and I'm getting ready to cook what will be our dinner and bake oatmeal raisin cookies, while they do this, and Bob dodges me, until we have to leave to take Aaron to hiphop.

Bob is actually doing great in some ways. Like he put all the groceries away, AND ORGANIZED THE HELLISH MESSY cabinets for me last night when I got home. He also went out night and put a bunch more hay in the chicken coop so I would have to (it's cold for them, too!). These are things I don't even ask him to do. Like he got up and put away the clean dishes this morning without anyone telling him. It's the things like calling JobCorps to confirm that the tour really is this Thursday at 8 and sitting on hold with the adult center about GED requirements that are like pulling teeth for him. You can see the stress come on. I try to explain to him that while help is appreciated, I didn't bring him down here to make my life easier - he has to refocus some of the energy he puts into building the perfect bonfire that he's not even allowed to light and gluing a cheap shield someone got for Christmas back together. He looked aghast the other day, realizing he's going to be 20 this year.

Anyway. I have about an hour and a half to cook and bake and burn a CD for the road and get these 3 biggest kids done with their assignments and find everyone's shoes and, oh hey, the 3 youngest are all still wearing pjs as they play out in the yard :p

*Threenager: adolescence 1.0, when kids are majorly torn for the first time between their strongly burdgeoning independence and desire to be "big" and their babyish desire to be totally dependent on you. This often means, among other things, demanding to do EVERYTHING - including many many things you both know they CANNOT DO - themselves, to the point of snatching things from your hands or jerking away from you saying "No, me!!" (only to hand it back and ask for help a minute later when they've seen they really can't do it themselves - this goes for opening string cheese, buttoning their jacket, strapping their own carseat, etc One out of ten examples they will gradually learn to do if you keep giving them these maddening tedious chances). Also kids this age seem to suddenly need to be physically dominated to obey, i.e., you can only get them to come by going and GETTING them, or to stop by going and TAKING whatever it is out of their hands, and so on. You have to get up and be bigger and stronger than them to establish your own authority all day long as they test every single request you make to see if it really matters enough for you to bother. They suddenly will not simply hold your hand in the parking lot - now you have to either make some deal about staying close while on a hair trigger, drag them while they lift their feet and wail, or threaten them effectively enough that they grab your hand out of fear. This threenager crap strikes good children who never previously acted like tyrants, and then it also passes, just like later adolescence, only leaving a latent kid rather than a college aged adult.



Also, a lot of my e-time has been taken up by facebook, AIM and that formspring thing, which has been surprisingly active - http://www.formspring.me/altarflame

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