Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely the beginning it was honestly sort of hell. I was just totally overwhelmed with trying to get the entire house clean and cooking so much, with company coming and time limits. I was doing school presentations and things the day before my Dad arrived, and I'm so freaking exhausted. I was taking 20 minutes once an hour to lie down, for an entire evening. Once things were underway, though, and it was too late to do any more than was done, I started coasting, and that has been wonderful most of the time since...

And Grant has had 9 days off in a row, Isaac 4, we've had so much cool intermittent company, put up Christmas trees, and blargh. This week is gonna be wall to wall, as all weeks tend to be lately. It's the end of the semester, and today I did two quizzes, some discussion board stuff and submitted a 5 page paper, online. The beginning of the end of the all too brief peace and lazing about. After we grocery/Christmas shopped, this afternoon, Grant took Ananda and Aaron to see Gravity, and I put a movie on for the littles and took the quiet hours for schoolwork...

Tomorrow I have to get Isaac to school; go by my doctor's office; go spend two hours getting fillings; then go to the school to make-up a theater exam, give the disability services people more documentation, and sell my textbooks back; make a power point presentation; write another paper; drive Aaron to dance; make dinner; read to everyone before bed... Tuesday I have classes, then a B-12 injection, driving people, feeding them, readings. Wednesday is counseling, gastroenterologist, blah blah blah. The three littles have a holiday concert instead of their normal music classes, after my classes, on Thursday. I'm trying to figure out with Nancy when we can see each other again before she leaves town in a couple of weeks, and with my sister when I can babysit so SHE can go to the doctor. Both of which are important to me, and more "good" than "work".

I make a point of scheduling leisure and downtime, lately. Tuesday evening, Grant will be here since he works from home Tues/Thurs, and we're going to watch a movie. Wednesday there are a lot of activities, but they're spaced out and local to where I can get a lot of quiet time at home with just Isaac and Jake, which is an unusual combination of kids to have home alone. Friday-day we will do nothing but guided schoolwork that they can't auto-pilot or do on the computer or whatever, since the rest of this week is low on that.

I'm just SO. fucking. TIRED. All the time. Friday, Saturday and today/Sunday, I've been going to bed around 1-2am, and sleeping until 1-3pm. Then I drink a lot of caffeine, and...take a nap. Still, I end up dozing off around 10 or 11. Second wind til bedtime.

I spent awhile up troubleshooting Ananda's chocolate chip cookies, with her, tonight, while everyone else was in bed. They came out hard as rocks and completely stuck on the pan, and she's very spoiled on early successes since she's made some challenging stuff like cheesecake and had it come out perfect. We talked a lot about the French law against face coverings for Muslim women, too, since I had to write about that earlier for school and she was interested - so many layers of racism and freedom and religious expression, etc...

I wrote another poem the other day. I've written a lot of poetry these past few months, for the first time in awhile. It's under here. )

Continuing with getting all of my November pictures posted!

Ananda's derby team had their first home bout this month, which was the first time I got to see her actually playing (not just practicing) in person - Grant and Gloria had previously taken her to away bouts. We got a lot of people to come out, including old high school friends of mine who are not pictured, and some of Annie's friends. Pre-bout tailgating included a big taco spread we brought along. Derby makeup, and nerves:

Gloria and LJ, excited:

Shaun and Cristy:


Possibly tipsy Grant, and Elise in mini-derby makeup Annie put on her:

I dressed up.


With Miguel and Izzy, all trying to look tough and then bursting out laughing as soon as the picture had clicked.

#1 fan.

It was fun. One of her coaches, who is on the adult team that had a bout after theirs, told her how well she'd done. She TOTALLY hero-worships this woman, and it made her flip. She was silly-stupid-happy for two days after :)

Back at the ranch - the chickens have finally started laying, as Jake and Elise wasted no time in RUSHING in SCREAMING to tell me ;)

Yes, it is a blue egg. And they roam free a lot, so it's like an Easter hunt every day :p

I randomly went outside for something else and found them wearing cut up cups as crowns.

Elise watching TV with Tom:

Isaac, sleeping with a special shell his penpal sent him :D

The cats use his bed, when he's at school.

One night, we had Miguel and Izzy and Izzy's brother Francois over, for dinner and a projector movie/sleepover. After the movie, Grant sat at the laptop projecting things on to peoples' faces. Like sunglasses, and clown noses, and celebrities.

Much laughter all around.

Next day:

New closed coils post-extractions, and new colors:

Our little Beasty's Girl Scout troop was in a parade up at the Falls - her shirt says "Keep Calm and Camp On," from this summer at GS camp.

Her brother's saved her a bubble necklace they'd gotten while watching the parade. You can see highlights from the rest of the parade (I didn't get any good shots of her group, unfortunately, and it seemed more important to scream and wave anyway) are here. <--They all get bigger. It's wild how the quality and variety of what is in a parade goes up, driving 30 minutes north :p


Some Thanksgiving seems somehow ironic that these cuddly chickens were safely hanging out in the kitchen for part of the afternoon. They all just walk up to people and fall asleep in your arms, making little happy noises. It's ridiculous.

We were all SO. STUFFED. Nancy and Steve and their little dog Sundae, and my father, and Laura and Frank and their kids, and Gloria, and Shaun, and Grant and I and our kids. Delicious. And stuffed. And haha, you can see the picking my kids had done off of the edge of my clementine cakes.

Hours later:

That's Elise, (niece) Elizabeth, me, and Isaac.

You can see Gloria, Ananda, and Frank...we were still outside at 1am.

The only black Friday shopping we did was at Guitar Center...

Aaron, in Grant's hoodie and his new hip hop sneakers, drooling over expensive headphones.

Saturday was the Greater Miami Youth Symphony's 55th Anniversary Concert. Grant took Annie, and sent me these, while Aaron hung out with his friend Adrian and I took the littles to my sister's, since our mother was in town. I pretty much spent the whole visit catching my mother up on my latest lab results and apologizing to everyone for my brain fog and sleepiness. Sometimes, right in the middle of visits like that, I do stupid shit like tell everyone I'll run to Publix for a few things and then burst into tears and rant to my husband on my cell phone in the parking lot for 15 minutes until I feel like I can stay awake long enough to continue, uh, living.

Well hello, 3:30 O_o
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Fucking GAH.

Ok! In the past 24 hours:

-a woman was thrown in a van and kidnapped in the parking lot of Grant's job; he and some other people in the office heard her screaming from upstairs. Cops were called. There is video footage, but it's not clear or close enough for identifying the victim or perpetrator :/ For what it's worth, he works adjacent to a nice hotel in a 7 story office building on a main road and this was broad daylight. I'm doing that thing people do, where you hope there's a lot more to this story and it wasn't totally random because then it could be, alright, it's possible this is some kinky consensual shit arranged via Craigslist...right?!?!

-we found our missing cat, Elvis. Dead, under our deck :/ I have no idea what happened to him, and it was not something we could discern looking at him. He hadn't acted strangely, he just went missing and aside from looking for him a lot we didn't know what to do...then it started stinking out there. Elvis was born on my bed three years ago, and used to ride around in my cleavage. He slept with Annie most nights, but Isaac sometimes. Ugh. Grant buried him and it was horrific, just, it is really hot and really rainy and nobody was allowed outside until he was done. G's felt sick all day since. Sophie, Ananda's cat, was at the doors yowling and acting disturbed the whole time he was working and has been lying in Elvis's "spots" around the house all day, since.

-someone whose life I have been following online for about 7 years, and vice versa, announced on facebook that her husband had a stroke driving their son home after work/school yesterday. They're 33. The guy managed to pull over and call for help and seems as ok as he can be, even joking a little in the ICU, but... O_O It's so terrifying and seemingly random :/ This family lives in the greater Boston area and are just getting over the whole city wide terror shit from the Marathon bombers.

I have already been in a state of thinking of my stroke-addled Nana and aging Pa daily, since Aaron and I went up there for the dance convention last month, and have spent the past couple of weeks forcing away shitty thoughts about the abducted women found in Ohio as I allow my kids to branch out and do things. Now my terrible, raised-on-horror writer's mind is seeing all our cats as potentially rotting carcasses and not wanting to handle raw meat. It's pretty terrible.

In an effort to distract myself, while cuddling with Grant, I somehow got sucked into a ridiculous New Times article about a cult based out of central Florida and the crimes, abuse, rape, and so forth they're being accused of now that their guru has died and people are bringing all the stories to light.

How is any of this shit real life? How is ALL OF IT real life? I mean when I was a teenager/young adult I knew of a local cult with a weird prophet-guru, one of our best friends was in a serious relationship with a member and they collectively owned a business we went to a lot. But they were totally peaceful cultists.

Then I start thinking of how people are so desperate for meaning and long for systems of continuity that distract us from the impermanence of everything and how every single thing we do is a way to fill the time we have and make the best of it, O_O You know, as I cuddle and console Elise while she sobs about Elvis being dead.

After writing that first bit - I actually forgot all this crap for half an hour and laughed hysterically just by forcing myself through several pages of - you see what a paragon of depth and meaning I am, over here?


...ah-ight, more pictures from the vault...

these are all from the weekend of the dance convention, away and home... )
altarflame: (deluge)

We are having wonderful conversations lately. Things my lovely little Beastie said to me, yesterday, include...

"I wish I could read minds! Then I would know what Tom was dreaming about."
Tom is a cat.

"Wouldn't it be awesome if I could just say a word, like (points at my cup) 'GOLD!' and it would turn the thing gold? Or I could say any word, and whatever I was pointing at would turn into the word I said..."

"I'll bet if I was a mama chicken, and I had to sit on eggs, and it wasn't time for them to hatch yet, that would be super boring."

And things that I explained to her, yesterday, include...

-vacuum sealed packaging
-why cameras have flashes
-what happens to bathwater after it drains
-the difference between a pegasus and a unicorn
-what cheerleaders do

Peter, Aaron's cat, brought a rat in and dropped it the other evening when we had the doors open. It led to about an hour of total anarchy, small people standing on furniture shrieking, small people trying to chase and herd it outside, and me trying to shout over everyone to calm them down and formulate some sort of plan. The rat was adorable and terrified of us and, at one point, Aaron managed to catch it in a beanie hat, yet it still got away. We eventually ended up resigning ourselves to the fact that it was going to spend the night in our piano. We set up a humane trap, and now we keep moving that humane trap around the house based on where someone thinks they may have heard or seen the thing. It's in the walls, though, and I don't want to poison it and then have it die in the walls and smell terrible.

Elise and I were talking about this, and all of a sudden she had the biggest eyes and the brightest idea, that the fairies could let it out through the fairy doors we have in the kitchen or the big closet. Ever since then, we talk a lot about the fairies riding the rat around in the walls, and whether they've put a saddle on it.
altarflame: (deluge)

Tiny art brought to me by Elise after she spent awhile watching the butterflies in our yard, as they landed on the milkweed, laying eggs - there's a butterfly, that lays eggs, and then you have a caterpillar, which goes on to be in a cocoon, and BAM, second butterfly :)

This is the kind of shit hanging in the restaurants of "old Homestead." I took this picture as I drank (excellent) tea out of a mason jar with a cat in my lap and a filthy aquarium nearby.

Bathroom reading.

Movie dates on the deck.

Coffee, for Jacob, Elise and I.

New sign on our front door.

Stems on grocery store strawberries.

Jack and Berry watching Netflix, with Jake.

Squirrely riding along in the (custom ordered) suit I made him.

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

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

They're lining Krome Ave and Biscayne in places.

Bougainvillea of all sorts, everywhere, all the time.

(this one under a bottle brush tree)

I don't know what any of these are.

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

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

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

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

Flowers in my house.

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

This way for 12 other pics of us )
altarflame: (Default)
Elise chases Sophie (cat) until she can pin her with half her body weight. Then she stands and grabs her around her middle, hauls her up meowing in protest to her chest, uses a knee and a jump to make her butt come up to where she can get the WHOLE cat in her arms, by which point the cat is nearly screaming, twists her around, hoists one more time, and is then holding her like a baby. Sophie meows one more time, in a quiet, defeated and grumpy way, and Elise looks into her eyes and says softly, "I know, you're in love with me".

Ananda, Aaron and I were browsing through the Harry Potter tag on Tumblr. I was watching an interview with Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) on the Today Show at the Wizarding World of HP up in Orlando (where we really want to go).
Aaron: This is boring. Find another one with the twins.
Me: I want to see this.
Annie, in a perfect British accent: Mum fancies him.

Elise, holding her ferret up towards me - What this made of? Yarn?
Me, blinking: Uh. It's alive, honey. He's made of skin and fur and blood and organs, like you. He came out of a mama ferret.
Elise: thought...nevermind.

Elise: You have pee on your butt!
Me: You have boogers in your eyelashes!
Elise: You have poop on your head!
Me: You have slime in your belly button!
Aaron, not even looking up from the Mario Wii he's playing: Bloody pus bucket maggot factory!
Ananda: OWNED!

The other day I really needed a nap. I gave my kids some food and then a list of suggested activities and set my alarm for an hour and a half later. When I got up, they were SO EXCITED because Aaron had taken the training wheels off of Isaac's bike and taught him to ride it while I was sleeping. This was a serious parenting impasse for me because,

1. They are NOT allowed outside while I'm sleeping.
2. The 3 younger kids are NOT allowed out FRONT (where there's a street, no fence, etc) without an adult, period.
3. Aaron accomplished this partially through riding Grant's bike alongside him, IN A CAST. Because his foot is already broken, FROM BIKE STUNTS.
4. You kind of just want to be consulted about your clumsiest and most accident prone kid getting put on the asphalt with no helmet or pads, when to take off the training wheels, ET-FREAKING-CETERA!


1. Aaron and Isaac are my two kids who never get along, ever. Since Isaac was a baby they have had the least love and the most genuine irritation and fighting. They just make each other miserable. So this was a HUGE show of solidarity and Aaron was blowing my mind with how GOOD he was to him. I mean it is a shocking thing going on here.
2. He apparently did a great job because Isaac is riding all over like an old pro now, I mean he rides like he's always ridden or something, and is SO HAPPY about it, when Grant and I really wouldn't have even considered it was time for him to learn. He didn't get hurt in any way, or even fall at all from what I understand.
3. They were both so shiningly excited to unveil this fabulous surprise to me.

I settled on watching the demonstration and clapping wildly, then sitting them down for a serious talk on how NOT OK some of this is for ever doing again and how they will get punished if there is a "next time", followed by reiterating the part I am proud of and taking pics and video, and then pulling Aaron aside for additional anecdotes about things that could have gone horribly wrong.
altarflame: (Default)
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. 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 :)
altarflame: (Bjorkscream)
I'm trying to just be present in the moment.
When it works, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm a really good mother and we have great school and other time.
When it doesn't, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm extremely lonely.

Evenings are a heavy and somber mix of hard talks and hopeful times, with Grant.

Nights involve a lot of up by myself, unable to sleep.

Let me break down things I'm excited about, here:

1. Writing, in three parts -
a. Memo has sent me 8 sketches now for illustrations for my childrens' book, which is finished, and the two of us plan to self-publish together through amazon on demand.
b. My surgery book is half-finished, Nancy is thinking about what she's doing for the forward now as I email another (famous, not my friend) artists back and forth about the logistics of using her art in it, and receive peoples' stories of traumatic surgery (thank you, everyone who has submitted...I am definitely going to get back to everybody and am still open to more). I've got a lot of research to go right now, with citing studies properly and having my information straight.
c. My collection of fictional short stories is almost done - 19 out of 20 are finished and I think it's really good.

2. College, in two parts -
a. Everyone got a "pay by" extension for the summer semester since Miami Dade is slacking on getting the awards handed out, so I have a little more breathing room to have my appeal filed in time, and also got some good advice from the last person I spoke with there.
b. I am thinking more and more that my major is going to be switching to either social work or counseling. This is mildly dissapointing in an unimportant way (I love psych and don't like the image that comes into my mind when I think "social worker") but much more profitable and still in line with the kind of work I actually want to be doing on the day to day.

My house has been much cleaner than usual in a way I'm really enjoying.

I'm seriously wondering if I have a thyroid disorder (hypo), because of how my weight just keeps creeping up and up and up and it's so hard to lose any even when I'm really doing things right. I have almost every symptom and have for some time. I actually perfectly fit the bill for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome but I don't want to be a crazy self-diagnosing hippy...oh wait it's too late to avoid that, isn't it? Anyway I'm looking at natural ways to improve thyroid function because we don't have insurance right now and I don't even want to deal with extra doctors in general. B vitamins and coconut oil are where I'm starting, along with more excercise. It's not like any of that is gonna hurt anything if I'm wrong, and it could really help even if I'm just in the low-normal thyroid range.

I laughed so hard at this website: Calories Burned During Sex".

Also, Tumblr tag searches are highly entertaining. It's like the dumping ground of the entire internet, the ultimate stockpile of every gif and macro and comixed hoozawatsit ever made.

Grant wants me to drop out of RCIA. I don't think that's a good idea. His reason(ing)s are that I'm questioning my faith and not sure how I feel about Catholicism and so I shouldn't be there. My reasoning is that it's something I've wanted for years, and I've come this far, and I don't want to just drop out now because I'm unsure about everything - I still have until May 12 to decide how I feel one way or the other. In the meantime, Mass and RCIA every week is really the only thread my faith life is hanging from, here. I also really like a few of my classmates and my sponsor, and love the community of St Louis. I frequently dread going, but I'm always glad I went afterwards, and it's something I have for myself.

Part of his thought process here is that he'd like to go back to Protestant church of some kind, which I understand (RCIA kind of monopolizes Sunday mornings, especially now that we're down to one vehicle...Mass I could go to Saturday or Sunday nights but not the class itself). But I told him, honestly, that I don't want to ever go back to Protestant church. I mean I wouldn't mind visiting and I don't have anything against Protestants, but I don't want to join or belong to one. I feel like Christianity very obviously leads anyone who digs deeper and keeps learning and yearning for more back to the higher churches, where you see that they've existed since Christ started them 2000 years ago, whereas all these little offshoot branches that broke away a couple hundred years ago have diluted it down to something lacking much of what was originally there.

Aaaaaaaanyway, this has been sitting open forever, so I guess Imma post it now.

P.S. We saw Sucker Punch last night, and it was definitely a super gritty concentration of special effects and false eyelashes. But, it was also a uniquely done comic book style look into mental escapism, mental institutions, abuse and being held against your will. Dissociation in as Big Hollywood a way as possible, I guess, with amazing music. All in all I was entertained throughout.

P.P.S. I've decided I'm naming "my" cat (one of the two kittens we kept) Elvis. This way, I get to say things like "Why is The King in my bathroom sink?", "Elvis has left the building!" and "Aww, aren't you just such a cute furry hunka hunka burning love???" Should he misbehave I get to yell ELVIS PRESLEY!!! Also this way when he eventually dies, we can just pretend he's actually still out there somewhere and it's a conspiracy.
altarflame: (WTF is the internet)
I've been really REALLY busy the past two days. But!

I'm actually enrolled in classes for the summer :D I am really psyched about this. Really, really, really psyched. It's been so long since I was in school, and SO LONG since I was in school anything like full time. Two things that are getting me hyped up about it are that, one, I actually managed to get financial aid and everything is paid for plus some(without loans), I mean wow - and two, I'm really confident about the kind of schedule I set up here for myself even with the kids home and Grant working full time.

I'm doing one Tuesday and Thursday evening class the first 6 week session of summer, and another Tues/Thurs evening class the second 6 week session. Then I have one class on Saturday mornings, for the full 12 weeks, and one class through the virtual school (also full 12 weeks). So, 4 classes/12 credits - SO FREAKING MANAGEABLE. It gives me hope that even if the kids don't get into this school or I decide I'm just not sending them, I can still do this. With a quickness.

I'm taking two cats to the Meow Mobile tomorrow morning to get spayed and neutered, respectively. I went and borrowed a couple of cat carriers from a friend today to take them in with, as I found out at the last minute that they don't allow big dog carriers or doubling up, which had been my plan based on what we've got here. They are the two kittens of Chrysanthemum's that we're keeping. One is Ananda's cat Sylvia, the other is mine, and I call him something different everytime I reference him thus far. Two main contenders for permanent names are Archibald and Uncle Cousin.

My life is a lot of really exciting amazing stuff, and a lot of really horrible crap, right now, but at least I have balance?

The good is so good:
-Memo is totally in love with my kids' book now that he's read it and working on sketches and making me wait to see his cover idea because he wants it perfect first...this will definitely be a self published, Amazon on demand thing as it's an irregular length that is no longer marketed (even though I have tons of books with similar formats my kids love from 10+ years ago...)
-I'm emailing an artist back and forth who's work has REALLY moved and hit me, for use in my surgery book, and that is super exciting, too, especially with Nancy already on board to write my forward...that book itself is about half done. This is a book I think I'd like to try to traditionally publish, though I go back and forth.
-my 20-story short story collection is at 19 stories, and formatted, and seeming like, well...a BOOK!
-I'm registered for college full time starting in only about a month! *this is me doing mental backflips, the only sort I could ever manage*
-Grant and I have had a great week minus just a couple of small troubles when the last couple of months hit us again, and are connecting in some really great ways, and...I just appreciate him an awful lot. I find myself getting all excited when he'll be home from work soon, and giddy when I see him standing there so beautiful. I don't think we're just magically past every rough spot but I do think it was super helpful to talk out things that were unsaid and that he is also really making some big efforts at positive changes...this is huge, especially when we're having the most lovey-awesome-boundary-pushing-brand-new sex. I don't know how we're still managing to think of/try new things, but I LOVE IT.
-My plants are still alive! And they make me happy literally every time they're in my field of vision!
-Isaac is reading, Annie has mastered division, Jake's handwriting is off the chain - I'm just feeling really good about their homeschooling lately and sent off the registrations and checks for those enrichment classes yesterday. I just printed out a bunch of book report templates, actually. Aaron is asking questions that blow my mind, science and current event questions, and his reading is so above grade level - we're going back to him doing half an hour of silent reading every day...
-I have so many great people I care about, even outside of this house - my sister is so wonderful and such a part of everyday life, and my friends - from Kristin understanding everything to Jess to laugh with to David who I'm so glad I have again to Memo who I'm collaborating makes me happy. Really happy.

The bad:
-I was just in the ER again last week. I'm triggered as all get out, I'm in pain pretty often. Just remembering that surgery is coming and that it is such a hurdle to get financially is enough to freeze me in my tracks and ruin my entire day.*
-We still have these moments, G and I, when it is really heavy, and really hard, and just unhinges everything and makes me feel bitter. It's still scary and not assumed, sometimes.
-There's never enough sleep or enough hours in the day
-I really am having a hell of a time faith-wise and I think about it A LOT, every day. FEEL it a lot, everyday. I'm still going to Mass and RCIA every week and I still have a mostly Christian worldview but prayer feels impossible and my doubts are just growing exponentially in a way that is sort of heartbreaking, and sort of awful in that it's not heartbreaking, if that makes any sense at all.

Anyway. In frippery news, I got this ring at Target and it is HUGE and I LOVE.IT.

Aaaand, Annie lost a tooth tonight. There is something inherently...jarring... about having a daughter with armpit hair and breasts that is still losing her baby teeth.

*Our plan is to try to have this done, really get it done, at the end of the between summer and fall terms, which is when he'll be able to take time off work...until then it's a mission to lose weight and figure out the money part. Which may involve getting GPs and surgeons to write to an insurance company saying I need the full muscle reconstruction and skin tightening of a tummy tuck to fix my real medical problems, and must get them (this is after I have coverage again...), so they have to cover it. Or finding a co-signer to finance. Or...something I have yet to determine. I'm switching from one month on, one month off Eat to Live, which I had kind of fallen off of anyway, to on during the week and off on the weekends. Having a date in mind makes it way easier to see as emergent and temporary, both of which help me stick to it.

Nevermind how I go into a black depression and tense into a tightly coiled ball of anxiety everytime I think of this surgery. I'm going to focus on the amazingness that will be NOT HAVING IT HANGING OVER MY HEAD ANYMORE.

The End.
altarflame: (GothMaryPoppins)
Yesterday was terrible, and lasted 24 (conscious) hours. Highlights:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

altarflame: (Default)
This is about kittens and Jesus. How much more controversial can you get? (my sarcasm hand is raised, but it shouldn't be)

1. My cat had kittens! It would have been better if we had avoided it and I will have her spayed (and already have good homes lined up for two of her litter), but it is impossible to not be caught up in the adorable awesomeness that is a litter of brand new kittens. Also just silly to not recognize the great enrichment it is for the kids, watching her birth and fielding the endless conversation it's inspired. Yes, I know the cat population is overloaded and that a bunch of you who blew up my formspring in reference to this will probably be seeing red*. This is why I didn't want to deal with updating about her pregnancy as we waited for the day. But I have to share the pictures.

19 pictures )

*for those of you who missed it, Peter was an adopted rescue cat that came to us neutered, but Chrysanthemum was bought from a breeder who begged us to hold off on spaying her until she was a year old (or AT LEAST AT LEAST 9 months) because "it's a major operation for a girl". I agreed, not realizing that she would be in heat several times over by the time that time came, and once she was finally old enough our financial situation had changed. Anyway, I figured we'd do it when we could as she was an exclusively indoor cat, but cats (apparently) get REALLY determined to get out when they're in heat, and she managed a couple of times.

2. Anne Rice, who many of you may know I have been a big fan of for most of my life, had a public...reconversion? back to her childhood Catholicism a few years back. She detailed her journey to this decision in the book Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession (which I loved) and she also changed her prolific fiction writing over completely from occult storylines (that were some of favorite books ever as a teenager) to "writing for the Lord". So far that's entailed historical fiction about the life of Christ (which I haven't read but is widely endorsed by many priests) and some deeply theological angel business I don't know much about. She also has a gay son who is a huge gay rights activist and who has her full love and support. Honestly she's been obviously and deeply conflicted as a New York Times reading, sex positive, secular humanist viewpoint sort of woman who wants to go to Mass and have communion each morning and is deeply researched on theology for her work - and as such I've been greatly interested in everything she has to say.

Anyway, she has a facebook, which she updates frequently and personally responds to a lot of comments on, and I have her added there. A few days ago she publically walked away from and renounced Christianity, and said she is no longer a Christian, "in the name of Christ". Basically she said she is over all this hate and the horrible things done in God's name and can no longer in good conscious as a follower of Jesus count herself part of it.

It's garnered A LOT of attention, I've already seen links for the NPR "All Things Considered" interview and the Huffington Post and LA Time write-ups as well as what seems to be an endless amount of opinion on facebook and in the blogosphere. I feel a weird combination of dissapointment, fascination and curiosity about the whole thing, personally.

This morning she posted a link to an article discussing her decision in The Catholic Register which she is calling "substantive criticism" that she may not agree with, but at least understands and respects. She asked "our" (facebook) opinions and I ended up writing up a big old comment. The truth is I think about this stuff EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.

This is the article:

And my response to her posting it...stuff I've been thinking about constantly.
True to Form, this is long -for a facebook comment )

The thing is, I can understand how if you believe in the Bible, you can think the act of homosexual sex is a sin or disordered nature or whatever. You might disagree on a personal level, even, and feel like YOU think gay sex is just sex between consenting adults, but still have to admit that God doesn't seem to jive with it from the biblical perspective. This I can wrap my head around.

I DO NOT understand how if you believe in the Bible, you think it's ok to hate or mistreat anyone, to judge them, to think their sin is somehow greater than your own sin when EVERYONE can disorder nature and commit grave sexual sin, according to Catholic beliefs, within a heterosexual marriage, or all by yourself. So why in the WORLD are we villifying and witch-hunting GAY PEOPLE, as a group, to such a wild extent? Politically especially but also in everyday life. It's easier for me to understand the secular obsession with pedophile priests.

The overwhelming message of the Bible, of Christ, is to love one another, he hung out with sinners, blah blah blah Micah 6:8 is even the old Testament and it's "What does the Lord require of us? But to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God". It's never our job to persecute or punish sin in other adult persons. PERIOD. It's reiterated SO MANY TIMES that we are supposed to look inward for sin, and look outward only for love. Search yourself for flaws, don't point them out in other people.

So anyway, yeah, with all this in mind. With the knowledge that many Christians think it's vitally important to uphold family values as they believe God intended them and all of that. How have we gotten to this point in our culture wars?

Because where our society is, right a Christian person with Catholic-leaning beliefs...when I see this picture* my aunt's friend took in Key West?

It's clear to me that God does not hate anyone. That God made all of us, in His image, EVEN DRAG QUEENS. EVEN TRANS PEOPLE. EVEN freaking everyone. And so you see something like this and even though you're wondering to yourself if it's necessarily good to be like super duper shout it from the rooftops "EVERYONE SHOULD BE GAY, GAY PEOPLE ARE SUPERIOR, LET'S HAVE SO MANY GAY FESTIVALS AND PARADES THIS IS AWESOME" if there is sin involved in any way at all...well, how can you do anything but stand up and cheer for the "Fuck this Guy" dude?! Because one of those people is MISREPRESENTING GOD and making people feel attacked and ashamed. Those sentiments are NOT designed to inspire repentance or soul searching in ANYONE. The other guy is softening the blow and providing comfort through humor, i.e., mercy.

*Photo depicts the corner of Duval and Eaton, and the guy on the right is Jackson Holbrook

Likewise I recently read about some guy who took his church group to a Pride Parade and they held signs that said things like, "I'm so sorry people have x, y and z in the name of Jesus". I don't remember exactly; horrible shit though like "wished AIDS on you" and "beaten you up and denied you jobs". And this is where I'm at. Maybe if we lived in a Christian utopia where everyone strives to be Christlike it might be kind of weird for me to feel compelled by the Spirit to go to Pride parades and laugh and celebrate with guys in their underwear, making out in the street - but because of where we actually are... In a society where people stand on corners with signs that say things like the signs up there... I think it's the right thing to do. I think it's incredibly Christlike and awesome when I see that some guy in their underwear ran up to this apologetic guy with his church group and hugged him, crying. I think...that is what this is all about. None of us are ever gonna be magical non-sinning people (For none is righteous, no not one, it's in Romans somewhere) but we can get a little closer to people feeling safe and knowing this faith is not about lynching or exclusion or voting to separate loving parents from their children or any other crazily departed from Jesus crap.

I'm rambling. It's late and I'm really tired, like almost delerious. What I'm saying it I understand where Anne Rice is coming from, and I still don't really understand where I belong. Most of the real gay-bashing is done by Protestants, who I can't really take seriously in general anymore as an option. But Catholicism does everything from horrify everyone I come in contact with to make me question my own core beliefs...

Tangent - I don't think a gay person is more likely to go to Hell than anybody else. If anything they're bound to do tons more soul searching than someone secure in their church-going, accepted, heterosexual bigotry.

And I'm not saying all Christians are bigots. I don't think they are. I actually think a lot of great Christian people get a bad reputation because our liberal media picks up any time crumb of "horrible Christians" story and runs wild with it; I've been on the receiving end of so much love, patience and charity within various churches that it is just incredible.

But I think genuine concern over what is or is not sin can become a catch-all shield we hide behind when we would do better to examine ourselves... I don't think the vast majority of Christians who are against gay marriage are against it out of real concern over anyone's soul, for instance.

But I don't know where I personally can go to find the ones who are sincere in their faith, are really loving and non-judgemental, and are ok with curse words and Kevin Smith movies. It would also be a perk if makeup and dressing up were not required, and/or people would not try to hand my kids sodas and oreo cookies before parking them in front of a tv as soon as we walk in the door. The bottom line is that no matter how helpful and profound it is in my life, even when they want it, I can't bring myself to feel totally right and responsible as a parent to put my kids in RCIA classes, or just about any other deeply Christian environment where I'm not there to oversee and nitpick. AWANA is easy because it's so light; it's memorizing verses and earning badges and playing games outside. They still get the soda and oreos and tv sometimes but nobody is interpreting scripture for them in a way that makes me cringe (such as the United Church of Christ pastor who told my children, "We all know that everything in the bible isn't really true, right?" in the middle of children's church O_O)

I guess the point is everybody's gonna have to keep wading through entries of mine like this for awhile longer :p

I have let this sit open so long out of delerious, barely-awake concern that I'm saying something REALLY BADLY that I almost just closed it up and let it go into the abyss. Here goes nothing.
altarflame: (Default)
"Busy" does not even begin to cover it lately. But it's not (usually) the stressed out, harried sort of thing you think of as busy. It's more like, productive and engaged every single minute of the day. Sitting around the table all digging into a meal or nursing Elise while I read to A and A "count" in the realm of business I'm talking about. Falling into bed exhausted and accomplished. Repeat. I feel like I'm being purified sometimes, although I doubt that will make any sense really out of context. It puts me in a much better frame of mind to be useful and have a sense of purpose throughout the day.

Our schedule at a glance:

Sunday - Grant newly home with us, Mass and City Church in the morning, who knows what for the rest of the day, bible reading before bed instead of the usual chapter books or whatever. I usually take a long bike ride with A and A since G is back to stay with the others - and we often discover things, like a pond last week. For some reason I've also decided I roast a chicken every Sunday for dinner and that seems to be catching on well. There are often visits to his mother's house, but there's also more lazing about than any other day of the week.

Monday - He's home, but often has meetings out at the winery in the AM, then we have the oportunity to do things like go down to Anne's Beach or up to the zoo or whatever we feel like doing as a family on an "off"/weekday, so it's not too crowded. I find myself cleaning A LOT, and often asking them to clean A LOT, because we slacked off Sunday. Ananda and Aaron have dance classes between 4:45-6:45.

Tuesday - G is still around, school is back on. We have to pick up our produce in the AM. Tuesdays Ananda and Aaron and I do a ton of Right Start Math, usually a couple of hours worth, along with some spanish vocabulary stuff, and this is our music day. So far just music theory. The little kids and I start a new Letter of The Week, which involves coloring pages, word cards, poetry, and some other things on Tuesday. Aaron has one dance class from 5:30-6:30, which last week we used to all go walk around the Falls and check out a couple of stores I hadn't seen before - Teavana and Fransesca's Collections, which is significantly cooler than that site makes it seem like. Grant often ends up going somewhere alone with just Isaac, who seems to need that desperately.

Wednesday - Ananda and Aaron and I do all of our Abeka language arts (grammar, cursive, reading comprehension, spelling and poetry, all kinds of hoohaw), and some workbook math. Little kids and I do Letter of the Week Wednesday stuff, and Isaac does some sit down work. I read them spanish books and poetry. Ananda and Aaron are in dance from 4:45-7:45, and Isaac and Jake are in AWANA from 7-8:15, so this takes some collaborating to make rides and dinner happen. Every other Wednesday Grant is back at work and can pick up A and A on his way back from Doral; the rest of the time I'm hoping to take them, write while they're in, and then bring them back. While the little boys are in AWANA, Elise and I are on our own, usually grocery shopping or at my sister's house.

Thursday - G working, A and A and I do Abeka Language Arts and workbook math again, littles with the LOTW stuff again. Isaac is often using something like Starfall online. PATH in the afternoon at the park - and PATH is just getting better, they really have a lot of ongoing friends at this point.

Friday - G working, Continued LOTW, last day of Abeka, and this time (with Isaac participating) history, for which we are using Story of the World book and activities and they LOVE. IT. Last week they made personal histories and timelines that are hanging on the wall. Sometimes we go to Spellbound Books in the evening for game night, or Friday Night at the Winery.

Saturday - Arts and crafts, science, spanish workbooks, and often a lot of outdoorsy work in flowerbeds/garden

This doesn't mention;

-my rote prayers and wii fit morning routine
-morning chores that we all do every morning
-or bedtime routines, which with teeth and nursing and reading to them all take awhile
-taking care of rabbits, cats and chickens each day
-all the cooking I do lately - really great cooking, I made strawberry and chocolate chip muffins tonight :)
-working on Isaac's 3/4 done ripple blanket every spare minute - I take it with me everywhere since I rarely get to work on it at home
-Grant teaching the kids chess for an hour every evening lately
-Dance Empire's surprise MANDATORY parents' meeting for company dancers tonight
-original play put on by our friends this Saturday
-potluck at another friends' on Sunday
-huge PATH party at John Pennekamp on the 30th

And so on.

The kids all seem so much HAPPIER with me forcing them out of beds, forcing them to make their beds, and then structuring some of their time during the day. It is crazy how quickly they've gone from intimidated by being back "in" school, to saying things like, "Spelling and poetry is my favorite. Or wait, I don't know, I really love the Language..."

I have all these anecdotes of things they've said and done lately and I can't remember any of them.

So here are some pictures )

As for me, personally...

I think about politics a lot. How completely reasonable conservatives and liberals both sound to me, and how tired of everyone's surety that they are right and others are wrong I get.

I think about Catholicism a lot. We all 7 went to Mass for the first time last Sunday and I loved it.

In lieu of novels, I recently read about 350 long winded blog entries by an lj'er who is...all kinds of stuff. Traditional and sexist, a complete and total hypocrite to an absurd extent, very intelligent, SO completely right on about so many things, and generally just entertaining but on a completely different wave length than I've ever encountered before.

I'm in a transitional state, and it's good. Reading some of the things I wrote at the height of my ptsd insanity (I mean short stories and things, nothing here), it is CAH-RAZY to me how nuts I got and how much better I am, now.

I'm examing a lot of things about myself, as honestly as I can, and finding new ways to be and do.

Like I realized for the first time in my life how staying up late at night by myself is bad for my state of mind and leaves me in a bad headspace and spiritually vulnerable. This is huge for me as someone who has spent all of my remembered life staying up late at night by myself and claiming it's a necessary thing for me. This is about as late as I've been up in awhile, which is pretty damned different from my historical norms.

I'm so happy with Grant; so happy. He is totally over the grumpy and short tempered withdrawals of being sugar free, and is into his second week without any secular media at all. These are things he does himself, for his own reasons, that I understand completely and really admire him for. I watch him, the amount of things he does for our kids in a day, the little things for me, the things he just DOES (he made us a tea tray to use in the afternoons! and it's awesome!)...the wildly awesome way he completely understands me through and through and how apt he is at pushing all of my right buttons in the most delicious ways...*shivers of giddiness* Really though.

I think we're both having major personal growth right now. Each our own; but simultaneously.

I am frustrated about weight loss and sick of having nothing to wear, but that is not bothering me as much as it could or has at other times.

Geeeeeeeeeeeeez I've gotta go to bed, I am tiired.

Last: I am mostly through with my dual obsession with Vivaldi and Queen for awhile, and this is my new favorite song, I think:

Prayer Of St. Francis - Sarah McLachlan
altarflame: (After the kiss)
I responded to a voicemail this afternoon, to call back someone who wanted a reference for our nanny. We've slashed her hours pretty intensely (she comes on Sundays for a 5 hour block so G and I can go out together, and is open to other things that come up rarely on an as needed basis) so she needed some supplemental stuff.

I ended up talking on the phone with the referral woman for over an hour, about personal stuff, once we got the referral part out of the way. She is in counseling, too, for ptsd - she and her children watched her husband be brutally murdered several months back. She wants to homeschool but doesn't know how, but her 7 year old is one of those rare autistic kids with a genius IQ that is floundering in public school, and by the end of the conversation - she's calling me back for homeschool resources, we're getting Aaron and her son together, we've compared notes on trying to find an attorney and on helping kids who are having a hard time with therapy...she referenced things like Dateline NBC doing a special on their family and after we hung up I found the whole story with some quick googling. She'd never heard of emdr for reprocessing but was very interested. She lost an infant way back in the day, too.

She was completely weirded out three quarters of the way through our conversation, by how much she was telling me. I tried to reassure her I'm used to it and people always just sort of walk up to me and start telling me things.

Grant wants to travel, by himself. He's always had a passion to see things he's never seen before, to be in's how he relates to God best and, well, it's been the biggest thing between us for a few days in a row.

Because I don't want him to go off on his own for days and nights at a time. We've always done things together, I can't even imagine suggesting going off on my own without him. I can't even sleep at night without him in the bed...especially now. We have five young kids that we attachment parent and homeschool, and to me it seems sort of ludicrous to even think that could be an option. I've always valued, SO MUCH, that he is not a man that is going to accept a position with business trips or deployments because family comes first.

He's brought up how as much as we go on trips as a family, it's very limiting to have all the kids with us, and it costs so much more to do it as a group of 7 that it's just not possible to do very often. To that I was thinking, yeah, and feeding us all is a pain in the ass, too - dinner would be so much easier if I just went out and got myself something and then came back when it was bedtime. I mean, really.

And yet...

Grant hasn't gone to counseling, or been swimming at the Y, over the past year. He doesn't have nearly as many real life friends as me, or the online support network that I do. He doesn't write or draw to get things out. He did get a shed and a lot of equipment to do woodworking, with the settlement, and that is good for him, but like my outlets, it's very hit or miss with when we actually have the opportunities to get our creative energy out...

He had to take care of the kids as I recovered and has had to be there for me as I fall apart.

So I'm starting to try to consider this as, maybe this is what HE needs.

Because, honestly, up until now I've just been very hurt, thinking how I can't imagine wanting to go hundreds of miles away from him for days at a time. When I fantasize about getting published, I imagine all of us getting on a plane, or signing things by fax. Yeah, I'm clingy - whatever. He knew I couldn't trust anything or take anything for granted when we fell in love ;) He claims to love me as damaged goods, so it's not like it's any surprise now.

Anyway...I'm working my mental way around to being able to accept him traveling and tell him I'm cool with it. But I have to keep working, or else I'll tell him that and then resent the hell out of him excitedly counting down the days, feel jealous of whatever locale he picks, and then listen bitterly as he tells me what a great time he had, feeling all defensive and overly vulnerable about how much I missed him.

Great mother, sure, Christian keeping the faith through good times and bad, I can do that - but Grant gets one seriously high maintenance mess for a wife. I like to think the lavish meals and fabulous sex offset the long hours he listens and rubs my back as I cry and rant about the jumbled crap in my head.

Honestly I think he has it pretty good and we're both really happy...I'm just emotionally exhausted from going round and round about this - both mentally and out loud with him. We don't fight or yell, we sit and talk calmly and cry and make jokes and break the tension and lay there holding each other talking about why it's hard and have sex and then think of something new to start the cycle over.

For reference: he wants to go set up a tent at the base of some mountains and hike through them and push his body, and rock climb and explore wilderness and take pictures with the fancy camera he's never really gotten to use. He's not at all interested in, like, dining or man made attractions or whatever. Basically, he wants to do things I'm not really physically capable of at the moment, anyway. Which is mostly cool in that it reassures my EXTREMELY jealous and possessive nature that he's aching for solitude, but also sort of awful in that I hate feeling left out or left behind because I "can't" do anything... Like when we went to Bush Gardens and even though I would've been all about the roller coasters a few years ago, now I'm just getting used to life without constant adrenaline from worry and panic again and like things calm. Like how we always wanted to sky dive, and now he's getting impatient to do it right as I'm feeling like I'm not ready yet. He tells me, "it's not like I can only do it once, we can still do it together someday, too", and then I'm torn in half between something like that is NOT the same the SECOND time around, I hate this crap and my desire to not hold him back and have him resenting me.

...This is a long while later. But I'm sitting here now, thinking, and. Come on. The man didn't want cats, or bunnies, but now he's stopping by a pet store after a long work day to pick up a nesting box for baby rabbits. He's building me a chicken coop in our suburban backyard. He's designated Mondays as mine and from now on I get a six hour block during each one to go out by myself...this past one was devoted to swimming, 2 hours of counseling and writing at Atlanta Bread.

The more I think about everything over the years, the more I genuinely want to make a sacrifice for his happiness. Like just thinking of making him happy, makes me happy.

I swear one day he'll have taught me how to love.

Ananda, Aaron and I have devoted a lot of time today to learning all about rabbit pregnancies, baby bunny care, etc. Some of it is really interesting - for instance, countless humans have "rescued" totally healthy newborn rabbits from their "neglectful" mothers out of sheer ignorance. Because it is apparently normal for the mom to only nurse them once or twice a day, when people aren't watching (i.e., late at night and at the crack of dawn). And, they don't hang out in the nest with them - they sit on top of the nesting box or outside of it all day, because in the wild they've got to guard the babies from predators, not entertain them. Likewise unknowing people often sell babies at 4-5 weeks old because they're at peak cuteness then, being ultra tiny yet fully fluffy. BUT, that is the age they're starting solids and are very prone to intestinal disease if not getting the protective elements in mother's milk, too. It's common for commercial breeders to lose half of every litter to this sort of flim flam, whereas if they just left the babies with mom for a full 8 weeks while they made a slow transition to all solid food, it could be almost totally avoided.

We've also had to have a lot of "bucking up" to deal with how one or more is often born dead in a litter, or dies in the first few days of life. I need them to be prepared for that; especially Aaron. And a lot of instruction about scent and keeping our hands off her kits so she keeps caring for them. We put a bunch of nesting materials (strips of old towels, cotton balls, extra hay, etc) in her pen today, for her to drag to the nesting box at her leisure and whim. And moved Shadow to the kids' room with a small litter box and nighttime pen, where he can move freely throughout the day.

I was really surprised to learn, many months back, that rabbits can be litter trained. But it's really effective. Our bunnies are in one of those tall fence style portable playpens with no bottom, on an area rug. We fill a box with hay, then two days later the hay is gone and it's full of poop, and we dump it and add hay again. The rug's been in there for 6 months or more and still vaccums clean and has only a smell of hay about it, that febreezes out pretty well.

Our nanny has a "house rabbit", meaning it roams the house freely like a dog with a litter box, food and water set out. Shadow will be a "room bunny", but shut up at night when A and A's door is open, because I don't think a house bunny would be safe for long with Jake and Elise.

Watching them interact with the cats is awesome: Peter, Aaron's terrified and mostly grown cat, is of course terrified of the rabbits. Chrysanthemum gets along great with Shadow, but chases and pounces on and hunts Hoppy because Hoppy is afraid of her and will run. The best is when Shadow and Chrysanthemum are both curious about the same thing - it's a tiger striped, fluffy kitten with her paws up on something and her head cocked to one side, and a sleak black bunny the same size as her standing on back feet with front paws in the air, sniffing the air and craning forward to see.

I have so much cleaning to do in the morning. Then my friend Kristin is coming over in the afternoon, to measure my kitchen and talk about this mosaic tile I've commissioned her for. It keeps getting so late. I don't want to get up before noon lately if I can help it, but that is rarely an option.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
+9 pics of Christmas baking and decorating )

My sister and I coincidentally met up in the closest Publix shopping center tonight, I'd been ransacking Marshall's for drastically discounted tablecloths and tree skirts and chocolate spoons and things, while she bought gift bags at Party City. So we loaded the four youngest of our kids in two truck carts and went grocery shopping together and then both came back to my house for tacos, kid nonsense and general fun times. I loaned her tons and tons of specialty sprinkles and cookie cutters, my rolling pin, bundt cake pan and some other things after she wrapped some presents for me (I AM SO BAD AT WRAPPING, and SO SLOW). She learned from my nana, who has it down to some kind of science. Grant had a co-worker Christmas party tonight that ended up being a lot of fun and so he stayed out for a long time and actually pulled in just as she was pulling out, after midnight.

I sometimes think Brian sees my house as Disney World, with 5 young kids, bunnies, cats, toys, trampoline, riding toys, art supplies, etc etc. He especially likes having a big milk party, nursing alongside Jake and Elise while Laura and I roll our eyes at all of them to quit popping off and leaving us exposed :p
altarflame: (deep thoughts/trapped in my skin)
I am ready to bust right out of my skin! Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez I do not want to try to channel this energy into fucking cleaning. Argh argh argh.

The good news is, I've abandoned all pretenses at specific strict diets and have returnedto the only thing that ever REALLY really worked for me - relying on God rather than food in times of emotional upset, boredom, exhaustion, etc. It's a lot of prayer and a lot of bible study but it's very rewarding and works very effectively. I don't think I would ever have thought to come back around to this method, sinner that I am, if it hadn't been for larger spiritual struggles going down. But here I am, and it benefits in countless ways...

Aaron's cat has finally stopped acting like a vet from 'Nam and is starting to come out from under the couches and allow himself to be touched sometimes. Aaron is beside himself with joy about it. I am relieved, I was starting to think we were stuck with a mouth to feed and litter box for cleaning attached to nothing more than a blur streaking by a couple of times a day. I feel like a cat classist, it is so glaringly obvious looking at these two cats that the terrified, jumpy, anxious cat is the rescued shelter cat, and the playful, sleeping with us, sweet cat is the socialized-daily-from-birth and generally pampered cat from a breeder. Mine has a double identity: My sweet adorable kitten is Chrysanthemum. The nutcase who scales bookshelves, pounces on the bigger cat and attacks our sleeping feet, is her alterego Roxanne. The old lady who handled Peter's adoption through PetNetwork and brought him to our house, and the guy who breeds Maine Coons that I got Mum through, are both clamoring for updates and pictures constantly. I come home every day to emails and voicemails, and while I understand the concern, I think it might be time for them both to move on.

We got a Christmas tree. It's nice and fat. I'm thinking of taking a minimalist approach due to toddlers and kittens, like maybe lights; some strung beads, cranberries and/or popcorn; a topper; and our usual Christmas cookie ornaments. I'll probably make up a big old bunch of gingerbread dough soon so we can make them in batches over the coming weeks (as they have a tendency to quietly dissapear).

The Christmas season in general is like prozac for me - just driving around with lights on houses and the city having decorated, with carols on the XM Radio, makes everything seem better.

Tediously mundane BS: our dishwasher isn't working. Our brand new stainless steel KitchenAid dishwasher, that I have raved about since it was purchased. You can't imagine the backup in my kitchen, where normally I do 2-3 jumbo loads a day.

Sidenote: You can't imagine how much I can cram into a dishwasher without compromising cleanness. All those years of Tetris were good for something after all.


Nov. 26th, 2008 08:31 pm
altarflame: (boomdeyada)

With an S O_O

Grant said that he thought that the amount he did not want cats was not equal to the amount I, and Aaron, would benefit from having a cat each. This was after we found a poor, pretty, soft, 5 month old rescued cat that had been found in a dumpster sitting in Pet Supermarket when we went to buy hay for the bunnies, only to go back home again to sensitive, heartbreaking Aaron who needs more affection than is possible to give lately. I'll write about what he's going through another day...maybe. But suffice to say he's going through some really difficult emotional stuff. And he is basically the Cat Whisperer, and still talks longingly about Sebastion on a regular basis, a year later. It was one of the biggest excitements of my life to eagerly anticipate presenting him with his OWN cat.

He is not just thrilled but moved, holding the cat and tearing up with happiness or burying his grinning face in it out of embarassment (that is just how Aaron is, this giddy embarassed grin when he is just so full of joy is one of my favorite things about him).

The cats name is Peter, like from Narnia, and since my Nana's cat in Lakeland is Susan, now they think I have to name MY cat Lucy. Ha! I say.

So. Having gotten the rescued shelter cat and given it a home, I feel less guilty for doing what I want to do, which is get another Maine Coon cat like I had before. I got HIM as a rescued kitten, free from a box at a vet's office, but it was a big stroke of luck and the vet was mad that the nurse had offered him with the rest when he saw which one I was taking home. I used to get random strangers in his office offering me $300 for my cat when I'd be there for an office visit O_o I found out through research that it was not only Sebastion but all Maine Coons that are bigger, gorgeous-er, smarter and more full of personality than other cats, and I've been talking with a local breeder about it. Let me present to you, My New Cat. That I will be picking up Friday at nearly 8 weeks old.

I mean. Damn. THAT IS FUCKING CUTE! Those are the pictures I fell in love with from the breeder's website.

2. This is socialism I can get behind.

3. Our Thanksgiving Menu

Out All Day on Platters

-homemade cinnamon chips with apple dip
-grape and cheddar skewers
-mixed nuts of various types
-rice crackers with cream cheese
-multigrain crackers with tomato slices

The Feast
-20 lb turkey brined overnight and stuffed with apples, onions and sage a la Alton Brown
-garlic mashed potatoes
-sweet potato casserole
-green bean casserole
-sauteed squash with onions
-homemade cranberry sauce
-wheat rolls
-sparkling juices

-apple pie with vanilla ice crea
-pumpkin pie with cool whip
-banana cream pie with nilla wafers
altarflame: (More than Exist)
I'm doing a lot better for the past week or so.

I credit a combination of realizing WHY I was acting and feeling the way I was before; writing, talking and crying that out to such a degree; and stopping eating sugar and white flour which just helps tremendously with consistent energy levels and mood swings.

I am also aware it could just be temporary, and almost sure I have at least a couple of downswings still coming even if it's not. But, progress.

My main shift has been in trying, very consciously, to live each day to the fullest and keep my heart open. Even if I'm going to die tomorrow, even if everything I do can be undone, etc. I've been crying a lot more easily and often, but also in this very brief and transient and not necessarily sad way, if that makes any sense. I have NOT been having the horrible empty what is the point crying JAGS. I've just been tearing up a lot, half from happiness or empathy or whatever. It's an improvement for sure.

We've had the Book Fair, and the Green Festival, and soccer games, and Knaus Berry Farm, and just lots of good things and good days since I was MISERABLE last. CLean house, meal planning for the first time in forever, generally feeling on track. I made everyone hot chocolate and ginger snaps on their saucers tonight.

I am going to be pitching our tiddlywinks small town newspaper an idea for an ongoing column, in addition to some sample articles in advance. They are often desperate for material, I've written for them without credit before when someone I know was behind on a deadline and it passed through just fine, and I'm not expecting to be paid, so I imagine I am a shoe-in, what with my mother in law working there and all :p She's just in ads and I don't know if she really has any clout, the point is just that I figure it's a good way to pay my dues in the form of getting some publishing credentials in my hand. Then I can start pitching my anecdotal little parenting editorials to relatively low grade publications like Miami Family as "a columnist at the South Dade Newsleader" and THEN I can be a columnist for The South Dade Newsleader and contributor to Miami Family, when I go to pitch my editorial and column ideas to, say, Parents magazine. So after Nancy has my c-section book in her hand in 10 or 11 months, I should be a shoe in for an agent for all this other stuff I have laying around, right? It's good to have a plan, anyway. I am completely prepared to get rejection letters, and to have to edit and re-edit and scrap some ideas - I even have a back-up idea for a different column if the paper doesn't want my initial one - but as long as I eventually get somebody saying yes, I think I can handle it. I understand that even legendary authors had a lot of rejection to wade through before anyone heard them out.

I've been thinking about this writing stuff a lot lately. I won a lot of silly awards in elementary school for writing. I longhand wrote about half of a fictional novel that was mostly descriptive detail about a super fancy house, that my grandfather was typing for me at work, but I got so upset about him editing it without my permission that I quit. Then I got a poem vanity published in an anthology only available to me by purchasing it for $65 (I was 10 and hadn't really understood what I was entering well enough). Once I was about 11, I started writing poetry all the time. I got in the local paper - the tiddylwinks one - in middle school for a play I wrote, and got a ribbon at the Youth Fair for a monologue, and then after a lot of As on essays and great marks on my Florida Writes test and STACKS UPON STACKS of poems, only a few really good but most "alright"...I got swept away in the whirlwind that has been my life ever since. I wrote some term papers for people and did the uncredited writing I mentioned as a favor. I got paid for a press release I wrote for someone once. I wrote a shamefully honest, autobiographical, hysterical fit of a novel when Ananda and Aaron were toddlers. I let a few people read it and they all said they loved it, but they were all my friends.

It's sobering and sort of scary, how close it all seems again now.

cats )

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