Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely holiday...in 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:


Aaron:


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


I dressed up.


Half-time.


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

Sisters...


Some Thanksgiving pictures...it 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: (deluge)
I do not even know where to begin. I've let this thing go for too long.

It's wild, just nuts, how different I feel when I'm really engaged with people and the world (as opposed to spending all my time alone with my kids in our house, with very minimal adult interaction). It is truly the difference between feeling mentally ill, as opposed to being like, "Wait what? I have PTSD? I guess technically I do." Sometimes I feel sad about this, because I used to be so (relatively) content to be home alone with my children. Other times - like now - I feel really happy that such a simple thing can make such a huge difference. Things get complicated because I can be very picky about who I really want to spend time with...

Many things have changed over the years on my Myers Briggs test results, but the most significant and startling was definitely watching my stubborn, moderate "i" turn to a just-over-the-line "e," last year.


I'm sitting here tonight, agitated and stressed with everyone else asleep, wondering what the hell my problem is - and it occurs to me that this is the first day in weeks that I haven't seen anyone that doesn't live in my house. There were other reasons to be stressed: a bank error I had to spend awhile on the phone about, some tedious crafting time with Elise that really took a tremendous amount of patience, realizing at the last minute during cooking that I was missing a crucial dinner ingredient... But all that is just life, it's the kind of shit that happens every day and hasn't been tying my shoulders in knots until today. Maybe it's isolation. Maybe it's not. There was a lot of arguing with Aaron about cleaning his room, and a lot of moodiness out of Jake, and a lot of Annie eye rolling and Isaac homework procrastination.

Still and all, I could list three times as many positive things about each of them. So. *shrug*




Previous non-isolation:
G and I had an awesome trip to Maryland ♥ Grant had enough flyer miles and hotel points stored up from business trips that we could fly and stay for free, and his mom was here in town with a friend for a couple of weeks, and spent those days with our kids. So, all we had to pay for was food! Totally awesome, and he has a ridiculous amount of paid time off accrued since he rarely uses it. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday exploring Maryland together, which was just fucking great. It was all awesome sex and sweet cuddling and a picnic in the park and a picnic on our hotel room floor. We walked all over and found great farmer's markets and a cool Thai restaurant and an interesting Ethopian place. The weather was lovely, we laughed a ton - it was really cool to be on foot and transit for a few days with no car whatsoever attached to me. Talk about a paradigm shift.

Then he left, Sunday night, to come home, and I stayed at my friend Kristin's house Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday. She works in the evenings, so I was free for those hours. One evening I took Jenne/[livejournal.com profile] the_waker to that Thai place I mentioned, which was awesome. I hadn't seen her since she came by Dama/[livejournal.com profile] mommydama's place while we were there with newborn Elise in 2007. I think we could be really close friends if we just lived closer together. Totally easy and natural to hang out with her and talk about ANYTHING.

Another evening I met Amy/tumblr user Bohemianelitist, with her kids and Kristin's kids (who I love, and have known for a decade...they're like family and only moved up there 6 months ago). We had great food and then moved over to a playground. The time went too fast.

I was going to meet Ruth/former lj'er "meileki," but she got too booked up at the last minute by a high needs kid and study demands, which was disappointing but I totally understand (obviously).

Staying up til 4am laughing with Kristin after she got off was great, as it always is. And her brunch spreads were fantastic. And her kids are pretty much what I would call friends, 8 and 11 though they may be :)

The week+ since we've been back from Maryland has also been a connected, networking sort of week. I didn't really experience the coming down of a vacation being over, because:

-My mother in law was still down and visiting and wonderful until a couple of days ago. She is really great. I got so lucky in the mother in law department.
-I spent a half hour at our evaluator's house talking when I picked up all our forms. We have enough in common that this can be an actual good time.
-Cybele and I caught up for at least that long, when I dropped Aaron off to hang out with Adrian. They've been gone all summer.
-The most recent weekend at home Grant and I had was riding high on the utopic chemistry of the previous weekend away (we barely see each other during the work week, it's mostly texting honestly).
-Laura brought the kids over one afternoon and we all sat around the bar eating and the library floor talking.
-Shaun came to dinner last night, with his new girlfriend. We pulled out all the stops (my husband actually made two different meals) and it was a pretty cool time.
-Aaaaaand a bunch of little things - needing to run errands and interact in small ways, meeting Isaac's new teacher, bringing the snack for Annie's derby team this last practice, all that sort of stuff that I don't even think I care about, but, what do I know. It probably makes a difference.

Tomorrow, my Fall semester begins. We had a big family meeting tonight before bed about the kids' meals and activities (Grant is working from home when I'm in school, so though here we need to have enough stuff set up in advance that they aren't constantly interrupting him).

I'm sure I was going to say more. Sure I gotta go to bed.

I'll leave this with a bunch of pics that will be outdated, if I don't hurry...

I had to take a picture one day when I realized that I was treading water in the deep end, with all five of my kids nearby - not a flotation device in sight - and we were all just hanging out, casually having a conversation.

It really hit me like, "Whoa." I kept counting them, unable to process that they were all there and everything was so simple and easy.



Diner (breakfast for) dinner.



Yes, that diner is actually in a pharmacy O_o

This is Elise before GMYS camp one morning, Isaac the day they were going to perform, and the three of them after the performance...


My "little kids," at 7, 9 and 6...

This is Elise after she went around and found all the pieces of that table, reassembled it, and started doing her art outside, and Jake doing a trick he learned at camp with water and vinegar (making tones sound by running his finger along the tope of the glass...pitch changes based on water level).


Ananda and Aaron, after breakfast one morning and waiting for me in the FIU library while I took a makeup exam.


Ananda came home from Mia's house with this lovely hair...we were at a coffee shop in the Gables that afternoon :)


We kinda look alike.


More than 5 years, we've had Aaron's cat, Peter...and finally he's starting to almost, sort of trust me.

I honestly think it's because I quit acting like it's preposterous and just accepted that he understands English, and speaking to him like I do people. Now, I can put him at ease. He is the weirdest and most complicated animal I've ever known, and the 11 year old cat I had who died, before we moved into this house - was a pretty developed personality.

Three thirsty chickens.


There are a lot of pictures of everything from Elise's doodles and her and Jake's cross stitching, to Maryland trip pics galore, on my tumblr in the personal tag. On the second page there's also a montage of my trip to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, with the big kids and our friends Gloria and LJ, a screencap of my grades and some degree planning, and many other random things :)
altarflame: (deluge)
I've been doing a tumblr contest for the past couple of months, where if people reblog a post about my book, they can win a signed copy of the book. It's gotten about 30 entries and it resets every month, so there have been a couple of winners, which is fun. I know a lot of people don't have a tumblr, though, and I get a lot more hits here - so I've been thinking of doing something similar on lj. Sharing a description and image of the book that I make easy to copy (with contest explanation, you don't have to pretend to parrot my information for fun :p) would count as an entry. It could be on your facebook, twitter, your own lj/other external blog, tumblr would still count - as long as it's some established place that you have that is not just made up and blank for the purpose of the contest. You'd have to let me know you shared it, either in the comments or in my email, to enter.

[Poll #1919205]

#ETA: You can leave your answer in the comments if you don't have an LJ. I wasn't thinking of how non-LJ'ers can't participate in polls.




I've had the shittiest most terrible double ear infection. The most painful, throbbing, fuzzy headed, muffled hearing lot of swelling. The whole right side of my tongue (closest to the worst ear) has been shredded from my TEETH being shoved over. I've been sleeping with the help of hydrocodone and exhaustion - and hydrocodone takes like three Arrested Developments one and a half Game of Thrones an hour and a half to kick in.

Anyway, it's finally going away, and while I'm grateful this hasn't happened in a few years, the steady ringing sound constantly reminds me of my deepening hearing loss and really...it's not cool. I don't know how I got so comfortable with so much soft dairy again (the runnier and more frequent, the worst, seems to be the case with me, in terms of consequences...) but it's basically come down to "do I want a frappuccino or do I want to be able to hear people talking to me, listen to music, and otherwise experience reality through one of my only five mechanisms to do so?"

*sigh* These are the thoughts of someone sitting still with their head turned sideways and drops in their swollen ears, as small people run past on mute.




I've bought a lot of books, in the past couple of days. For school, I got my Summer B textbooks - "Theories of Personality" and "Intro to Social Psych". I won't bore you with the gouging agony of what they cost. I will say that I was so pissed that the DSM-5 was $200 at my FIU's Barnes & Noble that I opted out and instead went with, "The Book of Woe - The DSM and the Unmaking of Pyschiatry." Which I've already read 2 chapters of as my cold, cold ear drops gradually sink down into the center of my tortured noggin'. When I relayed that information at home, however, Grant said the government is giving me a lot of money for my education, which more or less requires that book, and Amazon said they would send it to me for "only" $118. So I got it from them, along with (for continued balance in perspective), "Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life."

Because Amazon offers that tantalizing, "buy new and used from ____" option, and I DO have government education money, I also got "Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the 'New Psychiatry'" and, in neuroplasticity, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One." Along with replacing my old copies (loned out and lost forever) of "Neuroplasticity: The Brain's Ability to Change Itself," and "Prozac Diary" (literary nonfiction by one of my favorites, Lauren Slater).

All of them together add up to about what I would have paid for just the DSM at school, which ties into this whole issue I have as a bibliophile and author about people (like me) buying these bargain basement priced used books - I don't think it's as "bad" as just torrenting and illegally downloading ebooks (which I never do), but it's clearly doing nothing for writers and little for the industry. Sort of. I mean I guess it gets writers read, and keeps used book merchants in business, both of which I see value in. I DIGRESS (<---What a surprise).




42 pictures )

Links of the Day!

Link 1.) NPR discusses the nearly complete absence of women from movies. "I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn't a documentary or a cartoon — you can't. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

...Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other."

I wrote about this here two years ago, in this post, saying all this )

Link 2.) http://www.michelecarragherembroidery.com/ The woman who hand embroiders the costumes for Game of Thrones. This is mind blowing stuff! I love fabric ♥

Link 3.) Florida: Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot - White Man Kills and Goes Free The title kinda says it all, unfortunately.

Link 4.) Florida: 17 year old girl who has been in a consensual relationship for a year or more with another, 15 year old girl who was on the varsity basketball team with her, gets into serious legal trouble the minute she turns 18 and the younger girl's parents have legal recourse. Younger girl's parents are deeply homophobic and claim the older girl is turning their daughter gay. Now this honor student, who is active in her community, is facing lifelong sexual predator status, multiple felonies...it's crazy. That link is to the change.org petition that over 300,000 people have already signed, asking that the case against her be dropped and the laws re-examined.
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.

TOO TIRED TO CONTINUE ENTRY.
altarflame: (Default)
-A bedroom with turquoise walls that call up the ocean that might not be permanent, after all, for me. Full of plants and antique telephones and prints of things like Cuban women dancing and my gorgeous Spanish grandmother in her pin-up lovely days. With a four poster bed hung with red and purple blankets to make a cave where Aaron and Elise are asleep, surrounded by books. Could I be richer?

-my bathroom, full of mermaids and the soft, sleepy peeping of silkie bantam chicks under their heat lamp, where I can soak in the hottest largest bath full of the best smelling, most enormous mounds of bubbles as I read poetry in soft lights

-a broad expanse of clean carpet I can do fiften minutes of stretching on in silence, once everyone is asleep

-MIA's "Paper Planes" and dancing away the evening in a kitchen big enough to dance in with five children who all want to dance with me

-my henna-painting, root beer making friend Kristin, with her foul mouth and her groovy music and her irresponsible, irresistable urges to come to NY with Aaron and I just to share a SoHo studio

-my little sister who sends me home with risotto, mushroom-shrimp-red pepper yum, and red chilean wine even when I just stop by for a minute

-prayer

-my old high school AP English teacher, a literary snob who leaves scathing critiques and rare praise on the poems I post to facebook and has offered to peruse my short stories




Jacob is not easily explained, but I always wish I could conjure him up well for people reading. He is fiercely, shockingly independent. He is only what most people think of as "a good kid" because most of his own spontaneous urges are good ones; definitely not because he listens to or obeys adults. He also has a strong policy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

The other day he said, "Dad, what would you do if you were a fire-breathing dragon?"
Grant: I'd try really hard to be careful with you guys.
Jake: No, I mean a MEAN, HUNGRY fire breathing dragon!
Grant: I guess I'd eat you all.
Jake: Oh no you wouldn't, because I would kill you, and then I'd be famous for killing the fire breathing dragon and everyone would like me.
Grant: But wouldn't you be sad because you didn't have a dad anymore?
Jake: No. I'd just go knock on some house's door and ask the people there to be my new Dad.

Tonight, I was sitting at the dining table doing school work with Isaac and Elise when there was a loud, sudden beating on the front door. I got up to go look and the door slammed open - Jake stepped into the house wearing sunglasses and shoes (he doesn't typically put on shoes to play in the yard), his arms up and spread out wide holding my cat, Chrysanthemum. Her fluffly belly was covering his face almost completely. "I got her, Mom!"
Me: What were you doing out there? You know you're not allowed out front without a grown up.
Jake: I was in the side yard and I saw Creesanamum get out, and RUN OUT FRONT, so I followed her, but she went in Rita and Ken's yard! So I got my shoes and my glasses on and I knocked on Rita and Ken's door and they came, and I asked them if I could go in their backyard because my cat was in there, and they said yes. But I needed help with the gate."
For reference, I have only knocked on Rita and Ken's door three times in the two years we've lived here - I've never been inside, and went in the backyard only once, with Rita. Jake has met them once previously.

One day recently I took the kids to my sister's and they were eating her out of house and home. She had already given them ham rolls, apples and cheddar cheese, along with some crackers and who knows what. I was like, listen, enough! I fed you before we left our house; I'll feed you again when we get home! After about 15 minutes passed, Aaron came to Laura and I where we were sitting and asked if he could have an apple sauce, which he was holding. I said no, and to please not get food out of her fridge at all - he could ask without going and getting the thing. Just as I was saying this, Jake walked past us all nonchalantly, eating an opened and half-finished apple sauce with one of Laura's spoons. She and I looked at each other and burst out laughing (before I went and talked with him about this). This is what I'm talking about.




Teaching all five kids on a regular basis is still new and I'm in a transitional phase with it, for sure. Ananda is largely self-motivated and needs minimal intervention for her grammar/spelling, math review and handwriting type stuff. Aaron and I are constantly struggling to get him doing as much as he should be, and finding creative ways to get everything in...later this week he's going to be assigned doubling a baking recipe to serve us all and making it the whole way through, and figuring out measurements to then build something, because I'm tired of trying to force him through boring math drills at the moment. He is THRILLED about this. The two of them still love Right Start Math lessons, I just don't get to them daily. They, and Isaac, love and adore History of the World history when we do it all together, but that is about once a week. Isaac, Jake and Elise are doing workbook-work at good levels I'm happy with, but it's the kind of hovering constant interaction stuff that is tedious, especially when all three of them are working simultaneously and I keep having to tell someone not to interrupt someone else and it all seems to be echoing off the tiles.

Mostly this week I enjoyed explaining the Fourth of July to them, and the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, and then playing it as we decorated our annual flag cake with berries. It was also good exploring Sunset Place (as many stairs as Jared's palace at the end of Labrynth, but vine-covered rather than MC Escher'd) with Elise, and I'm liking reading Schooled to Ananda.

Money stress has been fierce.
Usborne work has been constant.
Grant is getting us reimbursements for everything from an eye exam Aaron needs to vet exams for the cats by being an increasingly dedicated mystery shopper. It's also provided free gas, pizza and snacks - you know, in addition to the actual payment. We sat the kids down in a circle on the deck with some brownies last weekend and explained to them Daddy's new role...as a spy.




I am really torn between being scared, and dismissive, about threats that various scientists are talking about the oil spill - and the vast amounts of methane gas trapped underneath it - posing to Florida. Everything from Super Hurricanes to clouds of poisoned gas to a fucking tsunami (that was even in the Time NewsFeed after being reported independently by two non-affiliated science-guy sources, at the Huffington Post and some other place I can't recall). On the one hand, I really don't think we have enough information to take any sort of drastic fear-based action. On the other hand, I really don't believe we would ever get that much information if the threats were real, as our nation doesn't really have the resources to simultaneously evacuate the entire state and quell the resulting hysteria.

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

Photographic Tour of my productive land )

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

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

I was amazed. Mohawk guy with guitar on stand:


Keyboard player:


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

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

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

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

A )

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

Along with the letter writing and voting and so on...
altarflame: (Default)
I think older siblings have been filling Elise in on the more extreme dangers of life. As I strapped her into a carseat last night, she happily said, "Seat, safe. No me die!" Then a little while ago she had a (non-vehicular) accident and when I went to change her shorts she said, "Yeah, shorts. No me butt OUT! Me Jail!" I was like, did you just say you'll go to jail? And she said, "Yeah! No me jail, me dressed! My butt outside, jail."

Mmm, right.




Yesterday we got two bantam silkie chicks. One was to replace Elise's lost chicken, and the other was to keep the first one company, because tiny chicks really shouldn't be alone in the beginning when they're under heat lamps and all. As we are all outfitted for chicks, and they all eat scraps and things (these are getting minute amounts of a mix of my rolled oats, whole wheat bread crumbs, flax seed meal, wheat germ and peas right now, with some sand mixed in for grit) they only cost the $3 chick price. We got one white and one blue, so when grown they'll look like this:



CLEARLY THEY ARE WINNERS.

Also, silkies are known as the affectionate, cuddly chickens (!), and did I mention they max out at like 6-8 inches tall and 1-2 pounds?! TINY CHICKENS. Elise keeps saying "My chichen mall, ME MALL, MALL CHICHEN!!!" We're calling them Big Bird and Cookie Monster. She does love Sesame Street. She and I are sharing them both.


They are smaller than normal chicks, even, though it's hard to tell with this sort of size reference!




Today is a surreal day. I got like, 4 hours of sleep. I got up early and cleaned like a madwoman because I knew we had people coming over. Right now Ananda's friend Sophia is over, and Aaron's guinea pigs and $100 have arrived (he is pet sitting for a family traveling all summer), and he is playing THE MOST AMAZING stuff on the piano...I really love the phase he is in. Annie and Sophia are crafting in the library while it echoes through the house. Grant went to the Kiwanis Fishing Tournament with his mother. This is not something I feel sad to be left out of ;)

Yesterday I actually got somewhere with the NYC trip, it is exciting. Ok, first, I walked into Dance Empire and Kelly immediately flagged me over and told me she somehow was talking to some agent about the kids in Bring Em Out? Like a talent agent, who was not interested at first but Kelly mentioned Tawanna (their super-credified teacher) and it caught the agent's attention. So next Friday when they rehearse, they're supposed to "dress cool" because this person will be there. Right now Aaron's idea of dressing cool is having his shirts on intentionally inside out, and he's rediscovered his love of glasses with the lenses poked out, so we will see. Kelly is also having Grant do some headswaps on some JUMP pictures to maximize group awesomeness. She is hoping they'll get included in casting calls for commercials or something. I am one part apathy, thinking most likely nothing will come of it (this is Miami, not LA), one part hesitation, like worrying about whether or not I want to enter that wirlwind, and one part excitement at possibilities. Aaron really wants to act and I just haven't had the time and money to make that happen in addition to dance. He and Annie did a short student film with our friend Shaun 3 years ago and he's playing the villain in another PATH kid's play, which will be performed at a church this fall, and that is about it. We'll see I guess.

BUT THEN!! Then I heard another mama talking about how she's still looking for a place up there she can afford and I immediately was like DO YOU WANT TO SHARE A HOTEL ROOM WITH ME?!?! And she was like OH MAN YES HOW PERFECT and now all is right as rainbows.

Well, not quite. That just means we're splitting the two grand for the weeks' accomadation o_O Really what it means is that for what I was gonna be shelling out for a hostel or Craigslist, I can now use towards actually being at the hotel where JUMP is being held, so we won't have to have subway riding or getting back to our place at the end of the day :D And when the other kids are all going swimming in the hotel pool or whatever he can come, and this is good stuff. I reserved the rooms last night with a giant gulp (though there is no cancellation penalty) because really, $1012 plus food for a week in NYC is still daunting the hell out of me, but this - this is progress. I was more than ready for some freakin' progress. And at least now I don't have to comb the haystack that is New York for the needle that is a really great cheap place in a good area, anymore.

I have had several private messages, anonymous comments and (awhile back) formspring questions of people asking if/how they can help Aaron get to NY to dance. Particularly after the most detailed Usborne Books post it seems like some people REALLY want to help but just can't handle that website or find anything they want. Someone on facebook also recently suggested it become a facebook "cause" for people who don't want books. I am not really comfortable with the cause thing, and keep thinking this is not an emergency or a crisis...BUT, on the other hand, I'll bet there are some people out there that genuinely want to help, and relatives who would send help for him. And it is really still teetering at the 75% we can definitely go mark, with some irresponsible spending and debt thrown in. So, to whoever has asked/genuinely wants to help: you can send paypal for Aaron's NYC trip to my normal email address (altarflame at yahoo) and rest assured that account is not in use for anything else and is easily earmarked in this direction. Also, thank you so much to the two people who already took it upon themselves to do that <3 Grant may or may not take to updating this page (as it stands it is somewhat inaccurate).

While he was in hip hop yesterday, I took the other kids over to Borders so Annie could use her birthday gift card. She got this massive Dragonology book full of models of dragons, which she built and displayed last night:


Twelve total, not all shown.




I cut my hair last night, about 4 inches off. It's still a bit past my shoulders, I just took all the straggly deadened hag hair off. It was starting to look like I was wearing a dead animal on my head. The problem is that when you cut four inches off my hair and then it curls you rapidly have a situation where my hair, which before on a good day was sexy or beautiful, is merely cute. Also I'm pretty sure I look fatter this way, without those extended vertical lines going down the front of me and stretching the visual lengthwise. BUT - it is way healthier looking and "nice" in general now, and as my bangs have grown out to about mid-cheek length when curling (or to the ears pushes to the sides) with the shorter style I'm starting to approach something that actually looks as though it's an intentional style.




One last thing....Andrea, or custard_kisses, formerly known as taniwha_grrl, is someone I've read on here for many years. She's definitely one of my favorites, with her amazing baking recipes, AMAZING knitting projects, AMAZING New Zealand mountain-and-streams backyard, and her super mothering (SHE HAS TWELVE KIDS...who I know by face and name and have watched change for like 5 years now). She is beautiful, and smart, and hilarious, and links me to most of the best hilarity I find on the internet. She is also now in the ICU in a medically induced coma, on a breathing machine, due to pneumonia....I keep finding myself tearing up and feeling heavy as one of her teenaged daughters updates on her behalf. They don't have need of financial help, but I definitely think we should organize something where we gift her upon homecoming with LUSH products, chocolates, whatever the best latest Twilight parodies are, and tea cups. If anyone would like to participate in putting together a package, please let me know. Also, if you pray, please pray for her swift recovery and rapid return to twittering about how horrible hospital food is.
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: (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: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
Ok, yi'zall, I am like, 500 pounds lighter and so freaking relieved, because I have had An Epiphany.

As previously stated, yes, my brother can be a pain in the ass. BUT. (Also previously stated) I've been feeling SO put upon, SO insanely irritated, SO emotional about all of this, way beyond the point he's actually a pain to. I've also been unable to open myself up and do much of anything for him, which sort of defeats the purpose of bringing him down at all.

It's my Mom. Totally and all my mom. I've been suffocating, drowning in the pressure of feeling like she's looking down on me and being so pissed and unforgiving if I enforce any consequences. I don't want to feel obligated and responsible for Bob because otherwise I'll be disowned and lose a parent.

When he actually told her we were going to kick him out, and she actually cried and yelled and then didn't contact me and ignored my sister's email, I got to a worst case scenario situation that somehow...gave me objectivity. Like, ok, THAT? That is not Bob's fault.

She's never thanked me. Not for tucking him in and stroking his hair as a baby, for watching him during all her shifts while he was a toddler. Never thanked me for taking him outside with me everytime I left to play, for meeting with his teacher and helping him with his homework in 6th grade, for playing checkers with him at Starbucks. I never got any gratitude for having him living with us for months at a time as a younger teen, for buying him new glasses, for helping him study for the GED.

What I have gotten, VERY CONSISTENTLY, is "Why did he break that while I was working? Weren't you even watching him?" and "Why did Grant get irritated with him for breaking his Dad's stuff and scaring your kids with his anger?" And a lot of "You don't understand him like I do, Tina" and "He needs me".

Well. Maybe he does. Maybe he did. She hasn't usually been available. He gets a substitute, halfway mom who is either, you know, 11, or has her own kids to deal with. And that has to be good enough, not because I suck that badly but because I am what he's got.

He told me, CRYING, yesterday, that he feels like she's done the same thing his Dad did - dissapear out of his life without looking back. I understand she's extremely preoccupied with MAJOR stuff... but she calls me all the time. She was emailing me for awhile there, saying "Bob's trying to call me again, can you just call and see what he needs?"

So yeah. I'm cutting that loose. I love my Mom, no matter what, but I'm gonna try HARD to not give two shits what she thinks of how I'm doing with Bob because, really? IT DOESN'T MATTER. He's a grown ass man which means she no longer has power which means, NOW IT'S MY TURN. As my sister has pointed out, anyone else who was in her position would walk on eggshells talking to me about him because there's just so much stuff I could say back to her about it. But I never do.

And I'm not going to start. I don't think she's aware I'm making new journal entries. I'm just going to quit giving a damn about her where Bob is concerned. Completely.

With that in mind, and knowing that we are unofficially "not talking" and with nothing else to lose in that arena...I broke down and really got a lot out of viggorlijah and gardenmama's comments and talked with Grant a lot and actually looked at this situation.

I've been very fixated on jobs for a lot of reasons. But, I've completely overlooked other areas of progress, as a result. LIKE, he's went from the first day Frank took him out where he would only ask if people were hiring, to the second day when he actually applied at places, albeit badly, to the third, when he shook managers hands and introduced himself politely and things. The truth is that I know on some level that it's setting him up for failure to demand things he's not capable of. And when you're talking about someone who types "bus" into the search engine and then combs through every result, confused, for half an hour afterward and who doesn't know the months or what "prefix" means on an app...the expectation should be that he continuously improve and keep trying with help, not that he go out on his own and land himself a job right away.

It wasn't quite like that (us expecting him to just land himself a job) - he has had the days with Frank, we did take him out shopping for appropriate clothes, I have helped him with apps here at the house. But I think the expectation for him to go out and do this independently, and immediately, was premature with him. Unrealistc. Totally logical for a normal 19 year old, but if he was a normal 19 year old he wouldn't BE living with me.

But what I really mean about progress is, non-job progress. He does a ton of chores around the house everyday - many WITHOUT BEING ASKED, which is brand spanking new for him. He's GREAT with the kids, all the time. And though he gets mad still sometimes, it's not nearly as often as it was 2 years ago, and I honestly can barely even imagine him moving onto destroying property or hitting oranges with bats to vent it, now, which he used to do routinely. DAILY. Now he just glowers and scowls for 20 minutes, when he's pissed.

Yesterday morning I thought about all this a lot and talked to Grant a lot and then we decided we'd go talk to him about it. We knocked on his door...and he wasn't there. Awhile later I found out it's because he actually put on his interview clothes, left the house, walked and went and applied to all the places he thought were too crappy before, in the plaza 5 blocks away. I told him I was proud of him and he was like...glowing and blushing, it's funny.

So we sat down on the deck swing and made him sit between us, which made him laugh uncomfortably because that basically means hip to hip to hip, and told him listen, we love you and we're just not going to let you fail. You're past your deadline and that means you're doing this OUR WAY now, like, you're sitting down to dinner with us and eating healthy food, you're going places with the family if you're gonna be a part of it, and you're gonna get a job, and you're gonna volunteer and we love you. And then we hugged him. And he got all teary eyed.

AND THEN.

He said we should pray about him getting a job and maybe if it works he'll come to church.

This is fucking momentous coming out of his mouth people, you cannot imagine.

So then he and A and A triple teamed the little kids while we went "last minute couple of things" Christmas shopping, including fleece for me to sew him a stocking to match the other huge, home-sewn fleece stockings. His is black with skulls. It's kind of awesome. I also got him bright, his-sized Spiderman underwear, also awesome. And some dark brown cords I hope can begin to branch him out from all black all the time. On sale at Target.

He came out to my friend Kristin's house, where I had a marshmallow-making date, and he played ping pong with her neighbor's kids and helped get an attachment off her pasta maker that was stuck on and carried everything out to the car for me.

I went in his room to get my sewing machine at 11 last night. HE WAS IN BED ASLEEP. It was the weirdest moment of my life.

I'm sure things will be hard and crappy sometimes. I don't think my epiphany = magic. I still have a lot to do and deal with every day. But I'm finding that shrugging it off and saying, "we have six kids" is not so bad. It's a hell of a lot better than an hour long WHAT ARE WE GONNA DO ABOUT BOB hash out everyday.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, it is Christmas Eve and I am obligated to contact my grandparents, and probably even my MOM. We'll see. Other than this I am not at all stressed about Christmas, like, the craft-presents that aren't done will get done someday, the mess isn't bothering anyone, we're having a good time chilling with the windows and doors open and good weather and Christ is born, Emmanual, God With Us.

Anyway yeah, viggorlijah and gardenmama, I really liked everything you had to say x a million.

Dude, I just realized there are chickens in my dining room. WTF. All cluckity clucking like they aren't INSIDE. I guess they're taking care of the breakfast crumbs, except, no really, gtfo.
altarflame: (Elisehappy)
We recently retrieved a last box of things from Grant Sr's house, including an old, faded flowers-and-butterfly pillowcase. I had seen pillowcase dresses all over the internet before, and immediately thought of making one out of this. It only took about 45 minutes, including the cutting and chain-crocheting the straps, and I am absolutely in love with it on Elise...


She absolutely loves it, and also loves to model, as you can see.

+6 more, and she is so beautiful )

Also, we realized our chickens have almost reached laying age (!!) and so Grant went out and detached the back wall of the coop, and installed hinges on it and a latch, so that we can open it to get eggs out.


I am such an awesome photographer, I know I know.

My cat got out last night. She is a strictly indoor cat. We delayed getting her spayed because the breeder kept telling me how we shouldn't do it until she's at least 9 months, yada yada, "it's a major surgery for a girl" - anyway she went into heat, and then she escaped. And she hasn't come back yet :/ We walked about a block around calling her last night, and I drove all over canvassing the neighborhood this morning, but...nothing. Aaron goes out on the deck shaking their food thing around about hourly (usually a sure-fire way to get them to come running)...nothing. I feel like the mother of a troubled teen - "Just come home, Chrysanthemum - it's ok if you're in trouble. We'll find a way to make it work. We weren't ready to have kittens, but I love you". *sigh* If she doesn't appear in the night, tonight, I think I'm going to knock on some doors and maybe print a couple of posters...she's really pretty and "fancy" and it's easy for me to imagine her in some old lady's house 3 doors down.

I'm going to be doing a ton more sewing and general crafting....much of it Christmas presents. I'm kind of excited.

I'm kind of depressed, ALL THE TIME, by my brother. I'm just not used to be around someone who is constantly miserable, low energy and sarcastic anymore, and then I worry about what that means for my kids, and...blah. He just saps the energy right out of me. Grant took him around applying for work today, in his work clothes. G and I keep hashing, rehashing and neverending-frustrating-circles trying to come up with some kind of "Game Plan" for Bob...rules or deadlines or nurturing whatever that would somehow work the miracle of making him happy, healthy and productive. We'll see I guess.

I am going to go sort and inventory the Christmas presents we have for everyone in our closets, with Grant, to cheer myself up.
altarflame: (me knitting)
Today I cooked up a storm. For today, I made...

-french toast and "ethical bacon" for breakfast
-deliciously amazing Italian pot roast with tons of onions, garlic, whole mushrooms, basil from my garden, broth and so on, along with olive oil and salt roasted potatoes, and rolls, for dinner

For tomorrrow,

-strawberry and (grain sweetened!)chocolate chip (spelt!)muffins
-(fresh)spinach and (fresh!) artichoke dip, WITHOUT mayo...it's a yogurt base, with some cream cheese, powdery parmesan, shredded mozarrella, a tad of chicken broth, some flour, salt and pepper, onions and garlic sauteed in butter, etc added in

Also I repotted my kitchen window plants, finally, and led my kids to shovel up some of the dirt and rocks we're clearing from an area of the side yard and then helped them use it (1.5 overflowing wheelbarrows full) to fill in the dips under the privacy fence in the backyard, where the chickens will roam free during the days.



This is Belina, Jake's chicken, who I think is my favorite.

Ananda, Aaron and I went to the feed store today where I learned that a massive bale of hay is only $6.95. We got that for the coop, along with a hanging waterer and later at Lowe's with the whole family, a dowel for them to roost on. And seeds for gorgeous neon rainbow chard for our garden. We got rainbow chard in our produce share - before that I had never had it. I was immediately like, we have to grow this ourselves.



I feel so crazily incredibly productive lately. I went around the corner to Winn Dixie with just Isaac for something. I read to everyone before bed. We all made our beds when we got up. I've loaded the dishwasher three times today, and after all that cooking my kitchen is relatively clean. And WOW my window with new plants and repotting, I guess it sounds silly but really, we love it. Aaron was like, "Mom, that is so beautiful!" Just these big light green plants that fill it up, with all this light behind them. I got aaaaaaaaaaall the piled up books and things off the library table and reshelved. And maintained the tv room and library from yesterday. And just all this crap that's starting to seem...easy. I mean I also sat around on the deck in a rocking chair, crocheting Isaac's ripple blanket and watching the chicks as I talked to my mom on the phone. I'm not running like some sort of madwoman all day long.

I burned myself with splattering oil earlier, though. Olive oil gone awry. I have a big purple welt to show for it that hurt increasingly bad for about half an hour after it happened. The other arm just has little individual dots from rogue droplets that sprayed it's way.




Big two sucky things:

1. A dear friend's niece just got diagnosed with leukemia. She's only 5. It's a distraction today - I know how it would feel to me if my sister's child was going through something like that...

2. Elise is going through a major cry-about-everything phase. And it is a fairly normal time for that...she is having a lot of developmental leaps. A lot of independence. I know this is how kids act when they're toddlers and when they're teenagers - everything is intense as they move forward and pull back over and over. But it's her. So, say, last night while she bawled her head off about having to go to bed I was simultaneously imagining two different horrible scenarios. The one where she is starting to cry increasingly more and more because she's about to display that she's actually autistic or is otherwise reverting to acting like a child with massive brain damage. And also the one where all this crying is causing major cortisol that is actually increasing damage to her little brain.

She is not doing anything unusual. She plays with her brothers, mostly sleeps through the night, eats meals and looks at books and asks to nurse and goes to the fridge, gets out baby carrots and takes them to the rabbits. She tells me things with words and also with gestures and pointing and sounds. She ran to get me because she let my cat out by accident, earlier. She's alert and aware and it's ridiculous for me to freak about nonsense. Except that every now and then I think how ridiculous it is for us to just assume it's all smooth sailing from here, when you consider her history.

And I don't get any kind of reassurance out of doctors, either. They say she is just miraculous. That every good thing is gravy and she seems perfectly fine. That there might be learning disabilities down the line but for now she's advanced in some areas. It's just uncharted territory.

Which should be - and mostly is! - good enough for me.




Tomorrow I'm dropping Jake and Elise off with my sister and taking the older 3 on a PATH bowling trip. They're psyched.

Last Saturday, Laura and I took the 6 of them (counting her Brian) to the Frost Museum at FIU. It was SO COOL! Totally free event, free parking and all - they had clay, painting, face painting, mask making, jewelry and bead stuff, cupcakes and frozen yogurt, a live singing performance by a theater group for the kids - and the regular interactive cool kids' things that are always there, and FREE TOURS and then I got two books that are normally ridiculously expensive college textbooks for $5! One on gothic art and one on Native American women.

many pictures from that event/day )
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Today is my Nana's 61st birthday. She's moving her left arm well and consistently, and learning to sit balanced on the edge of her bed. So far she can do about 20 seconds before she starts to tip one way or the other. The kids and I sent her a birthday card that says something about her deserving a wonderful birthday on the front, and when you open it, it plays that oldie that goes, Do you believe in magic? This made me cry, because that was the theme song of the oldies station that was always playing in her house and car as I grew up - Magic 102.7 - but also because we are all hoping for miracles with her.

I am not even thinking it's weird anymore to do things like email petitions to the International Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago so they can dedicate Masses to her and light candles in her name.

My mother almost died laughing on the phone with me today, because this whole left arm usage is brand new still and things are still connecting. So my Nana had a twizzler in her right hand, eating it, and reached up and pulled it out of that hand with the left hand, and then looked around confused because her twizzler was gone and said, "What in the hell just happened?" The amazing part of this is, my Nana can laugh about it with her and knows it's ridiculous. She was yelling through the phone from the other side of the room, chuckling herself - "This damn thing has a mind of it's own!"




We have been sick. Off and on, one at a time and sometimes in pairs, sick. I was lucky in that when I got it, Grant was off and so I was able to sleep in, take naps and have tea delivered to me. Somehow, through who knows what kind of rare serendipity, everyone seemed all better yesterday afternoon and so Grant and I were able to drop all the kids off with the sitter and go see Tori Amos live last night without incident. Then we got home, put everyone to bed, and a few hours later...Elise had it. And so that has been the main theme of my day today - holding, carrying, laying under, nursing, giving juice to and sometime passing off to Annie, Elise. She seems to be doing better now - sleeping soundly for a couple of hours and her fever has finally broken. <3

The Tori Amos concert - I don't know. Pros:

-We were really close, and it's just awesome to be standing like 40 feet from Tori Amos while she plays and sings
-when we walked in, she was starting "Cornflake Girl".
-she kicked it old school a lot, including Spacedog and Winter, which made me cry. Winter ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY, but this time I got to cry right along with a flamboyantly gay and exceedingly drunk guy next to me who then applauded so enthusiastically through his sobbing that he spilled beer all over my foot/shoe. This could also be a con :p
-I got to hear Carbon live. Then she ended on Bouncing Off Clouds, which was great, we were standing right up front at that point because it was an encore and security had only eyed us suspiciously when we approached. I walked out feeling high energy.

Cons:

-Grant wasn't like "Woo HOO let's go see Tori Amos!!" he was like, "Yeah sure I'll go see her with you. I guess." So it was really different than being there with, say, Jess and squealing and jumping around and being all enthusiastic together.
-she didn't talk. This is the 3rd time I've seen her live and she just, like, does not talk anymore. WTH.
-we were in a pretty ridiculous section of people, just in that they were getting up and down and going and coming and posing for group photos and dancing/clapping as though they were listening to a completely different song than what the rest of us were. I can mostly ignore this, I think it effected G more than me.
-it's irritating how you can be that close and still not get anything like a decent picture. Grant took this and posted it during - http://twitpic.com/c2wvi

*shrug*




These produce boxes we're picking up, from our organic co-op, are awesome.

1. We save a lot of money buying it this way.
2. We save even more money because we aren't making the extra trips to the grocery store that would lead to buying unnecessary other stuff while we were there, and
3. We're getting all kinds of stuff that we would never have tried otherwise.
FOR INSTANCE -
-fingerling potatoes are, apparently, awesome and don't even require milk for creamy goodness when mashed
-champagne grapes are both tinier than blueberries by about half, and literally sweet as candy. Unbelievably good. I had never heard of such a thing.
-fresh peas both lead to an afternoon shelling peas with the kids, and are SOOOO incredibly much better when cooked up!
-my kids all adore pluots. Who knew?
-kale and chard can lead to some delicious and hearty soups that the entire family actually eats

Also we've been having salad 1-3 times per week because we tend to get at least one big head of romaine every time, and other than Isaac all the kids will tear up salad. Elise will eat 3 bowls of salad and fill up on just that. As someone who is not so into salad myself, I never would have started trying this without the boxes (we don't get to choose what is in them, we just pay our money and then get a guarantee of a ton of fresh organic variety that has to be worth x amount retail).

So - the kale soup was just a kale and bean soup I found online, you can google and there are tons of recipes. This involved an olive oil and chicken broth base with some italian seasonings, and pureeing some of the beans towards the end to thicken it with.

But this crazy scandalous one I came up with today!

1. Cook a package of turkey bacon on the George Foreman. Crumble it all up on a plate, big pieces are fine.
2. Pour the grease catcher in a stockpot with 2 sticks of butter and heat on medium (I did say scandalous. I was not kidding around.)
3. Add a couple of diced celery stalks, a bunch of chopped spring onions and some diced yellow onion. Cook it while you mince like 6 cloves of garlic, then throw that in, too.
4. THINLY slice about 5-6 yellow potatoes, yukon gold ideally, Throw in, salt and pepper it like crazy, stir often.
5. Next is all the chard - we had a huge bundle of it and I just ripped it all off the stalks and into the biggest pieces I can deal with. Throw it in and stir til it's good and wilted.
6. about a dozen fresh basil leaves and a big handful of chopped italian parsley, both fresh in this case from our garden and the produce box, and all the crumbled turkey bacon.
7. 8 cups of water and cook it til the starch has done something obvious. OM NOM NOM.

Ananda and Jake couldn't get enough of this, and I ate 3 bowls over the course of the night.




14 pictures, unicycle stunts, chickens, there's a tiger and some stained glass and some pigtails... )




I am eating, breathing, and dreaming Catholicism lately.

Since finishing that Anne Rice book Called Out of Darkness, I've burned through Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, which is a lot less of a personal account and a lot more of an in-depth theological defense of every Catholic thing that seems "weird" to Protestants - statues, Confession, saints, Mary, the Pope, approcryphal books in the Bible, and so on. It is unreal the number of things that are falling into place in my mind and making me run and explain things to Grant, that I have ignorantly spouted off against in the past. AT LENGTH. Without knowing anything about them except hearsay. Hearsay, heresy, hahaha.

Except it is not funny. My head is spinning with this stuff. I got "caught" on my way out of Mass this past Sunday (I take the 3 oldest to Mass before we all go to City Church) by the Priest for the first time. He is incredibly approachably nice and sincere-seeming. But it still made me all nervous and weirded out in some way I don't know how to explain, but I think is good? I also have my old Catholic friend Matt who some of you will remember as the one willing to stand up and righteously denounce abortion at length while remaining anti-war and pro-justice, etc, in comment threads here - he's messaging me on facebook about Catholicism and I am just. Waiting til I have the time and energy, I guess.

Meanwhile I have all these friends online who are Orthodox. I spent hours today, with Elise hot on my lap and semi-conscious, reading about the great Schism that split the ancient church and the different sides of every issue. It seems almost impossible to discern this much later in history who was "right" and what is facts. I think it made a lot of sense when JP II talked about the East and the West being like the two breathing lungs of the Body of Christ. I see a ton of Truth on both sides and don't feel at all qualified to deem one of them TruER than the other one! I read some things about moves towards reconciliation in recent years that made me think, hey. Maybe commonreader is right. Maybe that will happen in our lifetimes.

For now, I have to go to bed.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET THIS LATE? I've been writing this update for like 2.5 hours, counting the photo editing and uploading. Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, no wonder my eyes are blurring.
altarflame: (Default)
Elise is especially affectionate today, we've spent probably a cumulative hour hugging, kissing, embracing on the futon. She squeezes me so tightly, and she does things like put her hands on my cheeks and pull my face towards hers with her lips puckered. I'm sure she's spent as much time in Annie's arms and lap.

Annie got another biking injury, re-opening the same arm wound for the 3rd time now. I always know she is bleeding because she comes in yelling in this bizarre, strangled tone as she struggles to remain conscious knowing she is bleeding. Then she acts totally disrespectful, even going so far as to yell at me, while I clean her up, with her whole body tense. She would never normally act like that. She's the wrong color. It's kind of ridiculous. My prescription is always the same; rinsing, ointment, bandage, and then time alone in a dim room reading or watching a movie until she can swallow normally again and is no longer sweating.

The chicks are SO, so cute, I can hear them everytime I pass my bathroom door - incidentally, wouldn't that be a great book title for life in a big, homeschooling family? "Chickens in the Bathroom". They're in a bird cage on the ledge of my garden tub, with the window open, A/C vent closed, and a heat lamp pointed at them. Ananda, Aaron and I are rotating duties changing their newspaper, food and water 3 times per day. Anytime any of us are in there with them, we can turn around and see cat legs, the WHOLE LEGS up to the shoulder, under the door and madly swiping as they struggle to get at whatever is making that delectable noise. Chrysanthemum especially is like a cartoon and in the time it takes me to turn around and open and shut the door, she is behind me perched near their cage.

Aaron was getting over some mysterious 24 hour illness nobody else had, this morning. Now he is back to his usual tricks, which this week involve standing on the cross bar of his bike as he coasts down the street, and unicycling off the porch (about an 8 inch drop) and onto the front lawn and just keeping going. This is why I wanted the "skatepark helmet" that covers the skull all the way down to the neck.

Jake is feeding Elise and himself peanut butter with a butter knife right now. Awhile back he rushed cauliflower greens to the rabbits, who will eat it right out of his hand.

Isaac is in heaven because I'm letting him play basically unlimited computer games today.

And I think my cat is in heat. The breeder wanted me to wait until she was at least 6 months to spay her, if not 9. Now she is yowling all over the place, rubbing on everyone and everything, and whenever anyone pays her a bit of attention she puts her head on the ground and her butt in the air and yowls more. I suppose I will have to take her in to the vet next week. Peter, neutered as he is, is incredibly irritated by her antics and keeps pouncing on her and biting her like, please for the love of everyhthing stop with the racket.


I have spent most of today reaading French Women Don't Get Fat, emailing back and forth with Grant, and cooking. It was a peanut butter toast and plum breakfast, almonds and bananas for snacks, strawberry oatmeal flavored with yogurt for lunch kind of day. We're all drinking tons of lemon water. Now I have an acorn squash split in half and two red peppers all in the oven stuffed with ground turkey, brown rice, canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, salt, pepper, italian seasonings and shredded cheese.

As for the book, it is very haughty, but I find that amusing, so it's all good. Some of the things she thinks are crucial to a more French (i.e., thin) way of life are just not considerations for me - like a glass of ($40 per bottle) champagne with every lunch and dinner. But overall I think it's the direction I'm moving in anyway; eating smaller portions more frequently, of fresh, whole, in-season foods that you savor such that it is quality over quantity. Along with walking and biking places rather than driving, and drastically increasing your water intake. There's some good talk about balance. Overall I find it validating and, mostly, I just love reading about food - this is full of childhood anecdotes of things her mother made, interesting stories of going mushroom picking and climbing trees for cherries, and RECIPES :) Including one I'm making tonight, for a creamy, sweet risotto that is served hot with a piece of dark chocolate melting in the center.

I think my organic produce co-op boxes and backyard herb garden are the closest I can get to the kind of open air markets she describes, but I am happy with that.


We've been focusing almost exclusively on Christianity and Spanish, as school subjects, largely done through me and the five of them sitting down together for an hour or two of reading aloud and conversation. I'm actually looking forward to this as an after-dinner activity tonight, because it was great last night.

I feel really really happy and satisfied with my life. Even though we're on a strict budget for awhile; even though the van still needs fixed, there's cleaning to be done and I have weight to lose; despite (or perhaps partially due to) the long decision making process and journey I'm on, with reference to faith and conversion...

It's just all good. I can't believe how blessed I am, it is freaking nuts!
altarflame: (Minivan)
-Friday we got the oil changed in the van. Which for whatever reason took approximately FOUR HOURS. I think maybe they had to pull the engine out and tip it upside down to pour out the old oil? Yeah. So the kids and I walked to my old chiropractor, to give him BirthGirlz propaganda to distribute and solicit him for sponsorship. I got them treats from a Cuban bakery right there and was rewarded for my own resistance to sugar temptations by their A-MAY-ZING chicken fricasse, I mean damn. We discovered a Hurricane Andrew Memorial I'd never known existed and then hung out at the bookstore until it was done, at which time Laura and Frank met us at my house so we could watch Brian while they went to see HP and the Half Blood Prince. Which they loved, and Brian was pretty darn good aside from a single injury-related meltdown (over the course of 4 hours I thought that signified progress).

-We had Paige/[livejournal.com profile] likeinabook here with her three youngest kids for 3 days :) I think she really needed it, and it was nice to stay up super late talking theology, and go out just the two of us to the bookstore. That was actually hilarious; she hadn't previously been exposed to all the lustrous offerings of local, self-published Homestead authors with pixelated cover art (and I found French Women Don't Get Fat in the used section for $1). I think she also had the general reaction I do to City Church - moved by the message, impressed by the sincerity, enjoying the music a lot and then left feeling as though you still sort of need to go to church afterwards. Sidenote - I approached the cellist about the string quartet playing an upcoming BirthGirlz event and he is not only totally on board, he is apparently a "big supporter of natural birth and midwives" and thinks they may be able to do it for FREE! WHAT?!

I always love it when there are extra people here and we can bring extra chairs to the table and all sit down to dinner.

I do not love it when Elise is totally unhinged by insecurity in the prescence of a younger child and turns bully. She was seriously off her gourd that Paige's youngest was here to replace her, I was going to nurse her, Annie was going to be her sister - she actually expressed these concerns to me on a regular basis, and pushed 15 month old Clara down any chance she got. And then pulled her hair. And smacked her while she cried. She was trying to sneak off to climb in the playpen with her to abuse her, as though she were a threat from another room. I swear, she is the rottenest miracle I know, and neither lavish reassurance nor multiple timeouts were going to dissuade her.

-My Natural Parenting Group had another potluck and I. LOVED. IT. I love cooking a lot of food and taking it to appreciative people; I love having tons of yummy things OTHER people cooked with no refined sugar or white flour available, like amazing chocolate chip cookies, and seeing my kids tear into fresh homemade ice cream; I love catching up with Michelle and Kristin and feeling as though Dana and Jackie are becoming friends; I love all the kid friends my kids have; I love the FEELING of being in that house with all those like minded families laughing and talking with good music on and everybody relaxed. It's just great for me when there are strangers all around but everyone is smiling, friendly and easy to talk to. Michelle and Hubert, the hosts, are so freaking awesome and we think we're actually going to do a "whole family sleepover" soon wherein all 7 of us go to their house to spend the night, rather than just Ananda and Aaron (they have 6 kids ranging from 4 to 17).

-We got our new chicks in the mail! The mail lady was so exasperated with the chirping for the previous two hours in her truck, but seemed to think it was more worthwhile when we got the scissors and showed her the tiny fluffballs. She has apparently been driving lots of chicks around for years now, but nobody else has ever asked if she wanted to see them, which I think is crazy. Anyway I thought one of our 5 had a potentially serious problem, but with some e-search discovered she just still had her UMBILICAL CORD attached. From her yolk, in her egg, the day before! Who knew such a thing was possible? So far we've had them for 3 days and they're doing well. We've taken them outside for holding and are beginning to see personalities. I will probably post pics soon. It is way cooler, with this batch of chicks, to be able to just glance at them and tell exactly what kind they are and know what they grow up to be. Isaac has named his plymouth white rock "Rockstar"; Aaron is calling his "Harry, which is short for Harrietta and long for H"; Ananda's is Lily, I think because of Harry Potter; Elise's is "Blue" and she's being surprisingly gentle; and Jake is saying his "orpington is named Belina". Like the talking chicken in Return to Oz.

-A and A had their homeschool evaluation on Monday. It went well, they are "officially" in 3rd and 4th grades now. This particular evaluator is Catholic and sent me home with reading material (after I expressed my own interest, she wasn't being pushy). And Paige brought a small stack of books down to leave here, after reading some of my previous entries. So there is a lot of reading about all of this going down. This evaluation was An Event because Ananda, Aaron and I rode our bikes to it and it's the first time Ananda has really left our block on her bike (it's about a mile away). She feels like this whole world has opened up to her, because normally I go off on bikes with Aaron for 45 minutes at a time and she is just stuck here. Since then 1-3 long rides a day can barely satisfy her, and my legs hurt, in a good way (I pretty much always also have Jake or Elise on the back of my bike). She rides around our street half the day while I'm too busy to go. I think between being able to read really well and ride a bike the world is her oyster. ....So to speak? O_o What the hell does that even MEAN? The point is, she is experiencing what seem to her to be huge levels of independence because she can do these things.

-Grant has been what I can only describe as a surly motherfucker lately. Ok, that is actually said partially in humor and it's an exaggeration. He still does things like fix the a/c and garbage disposal promptly while we have company and babysit all 8 small children with grace so we can go out, he is awesome. But he is spending an uncharacteristic lot of time off on his own knowing he is impatient and irritable from caffeine and sugar withdrawal and not wanting to deal with things. I come find him playing video games or some other mindless distraction and say hey baby. And he acts grumpy. And I say, in a googoo gaga baby talk voice as I scratch his chin, "Ooooh, are you a surly motherfucker?" and he starts to reply back in kind and then we just laugh hysterically.

Life really is challenging for him right now, though, and I'm proud of how well he's doing. And happy to see him getting SOOOOOO many less headaches, the migraines were coming like 3-4 bad ones per week before he changed his eating, and lowgrade headaches were just constant. He took the day off yesterday and it was the first day that it was back to being just us in the house, and it was just great. We walked the four blocks over to Grant Sr's like some kind of traveling performance group...Ananda on her bike riding circles around everyone, Aaron on his unicycle, Jake riding Elise's tricycle with her standing on the deck and holding onto his shoulders, and Isaac on his scooter. I got to catch up with my old across-the-street neighbor Aracelia, who rushed out when she saw us all in what was our front yard with $25 for us to buy the kids treats with and a pen and paper for my new number and ridiculous stories of how she planted yuca in the backyard and the neighbors thought it was pot and called the police. So this 79 year old Cuban lady with her freaking garden and trees has a bunch of cop cars out front ringing her bell at 6 am. I don't even know. Two of the cops were cuban so they recognized yuca right away. So silly.

-I have craft opportunities galore. Melissa brought my sewing machine back (she had borrowed it, and then it was in her trunk when they were rear-ended by a large truck so I was afraid it would be beyond repair, but it seems fine), and my next batch of yarn for Isaac's ripple blanket came in the mail last week. I was on fire about that blanket before I ran out of supplies. But I feel as though I should resist both. *sigh* ....aside from my kids needing to be educated and sleep I should be getting at night, I am just haunted 24/7 by the obligation to write. Because I get so much urging to from birth-type people who think it's important; because it's been my life-long dream; because with the settlement long gone and Grant's job making a lot of changes and his side-jobs scaling back, we could use some extra income. Also because in the scant two hour time slot I'm allowed to write uninterrupted each week - while I sit in Starbucks with my laptop near Dance Empire as Ananda and Aaron take two classes in a row each - what gets done is really good. It's flowing. I can make this happen.

I always know I can make journal entries or fiction happen. I even feel confident about nonfiction with a poetic license and dry humor and a generally informal tone. But I was getting intimidated about the c/s book, because it has to be different. I know I can do it now, though, it's slower going but it is going.

-Perhaps the biggest thing to happen this week...my Nana has moved the fingers of her left hand, and then moved her whole left hand, and then been able to pick her left arm up and move the left toes...she's actually done the knee, and scratched her nose, and done a boxing motion of throwing punches on both sides.

THIS IS HUGE.

It gives me goosebumps. She is not all better or anything like that...they are still feeding her, she is still not seeing everything and still confused about reality. But her disposition has improved mightily and SHE'S USING HER LEFT SIDE.

I am totally giving thanks to St. Jude and Jesus Christ about this.

.......and feeling almost scarily boxed into a corner about converting to Catholicism, with regards to what is right, what is real... G and I have been talking about it a lot.

I feel scared in general that anytime I have ever been on a spiritual high, it's generally preceeded Terrible Things. I found God, and like 2 months later my mother moved away and I was left at my Nana's house. Or I just get back into studying scripture regularly, and suddenly I'm having nightmares again. I really believe in a spiritual war, and there is a certain (cowardly) comfort in "laying low", for me. This time at least I feel scared in an at peace with it, this is how it's supposed to be sort of way.



That's doins, folks.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
In (mostly) such good ways :D

Since the last time we talked...

+ Ananda had two dance shows
+ I've rejoined and started Weight Watchers, partially because of being inspired by the dance show to get back into this flesh and live healthy and be fit and strong...
- all of our chickens were killed in the night when a neighbor's dog dug under our fence, pulled back the chickenwire, and went to town. It was horrendous to discover, though luckily THANK GOD it was me and not the kids who found them, but then it was horrible to tell them, especially Aaron
+ We decided to get new chickens, as we know how to keep this from happening again (reinforcements, fill and possibly some hot wire, as well as talking with our neighbor) and we have this big old run and coop Grant bought materials for and built, and we're so invested in the whole idea now
+ it helped make the kids happy to help pick them out. There is still lingering sadness but it's tinged with anticipation about the chicks we'll be getting late next month. You can see the ones we picked, as adults and the way they'll be when we first receive them, here, at my flickr
+ I've become a part of the BirthGirlz "Street Team", which so far means I attended a great meeting; I'm getting Nancy on board to be a guest speaker at our Childbirth Film Festival; I'm donating to help fund an attorney who is against a new law that discourages vbac in Florida birth centers (when we have between a 70 and an 80% c-section rate throughout this state, vbac is a pretty serious concern); I'm signing a petition to help get Jackson South to become a Mother-Friendly hospital (WHICH WOULD BE HUGE DOWN HERE); I'm supplying them with different relevant links to articles and studies weekly, from my stockpile; and I've networked to get Schnebly Winery sponsoring the Great Green Family Festival (half of which proceeds go to BirthGirlz, which is incidently non-profit, as one of the two founders in charge - my friend Kristin - is running the whole thing). I feel like an actual birth activist with a network which has pulled this huge weight of guilt and fear and repression off of me - usually when I hear ANYTHING birth related (which is REALLY often), I bury all this swelling emotion away before it consumes me...this time I just started balling and went with it. Which means my book will actually get written instead of me just hiding from the material. I have accountability now :)
+ writing time
+ Annie's started her new summer dance classes and loves them
+ and she claims to actually be ready for learning to ride a bike!
+ taken Elise for bike riding
- lots more hard talks with my mom and my dad about my Nana who had a stroke and is in a rehab place not improving, my Cuban Pa who is still dying slowly, and Grandpa who did die but who's ashes are still waiting to be picked up in Key West
+ started Letter of the Week with Isaac, Jake and Elise
+ tons of schoolwork with A and A
+I sent out cards and postcards today; Heather, Sara, rl friend Kathy, rl brother Bob

Our next month is like:

-me and Annie going alone to dance classes on Tuesday evenings, I write while she dances, we talk to and fro
-me and all kids taking Annie to dance classes on Saturdays, hitting the park, then picking her up and meeting Grant for lunch
-playdate with swimming all afternoon at Kristin's tomorrow
-A and A sleepover at Michelle's Sunday night
-picking up co-op produce at Kristin's two Thursdays
-taking Ananda, Aaron and Isaac to VBS at 8:30 and picking them up at 12, all next week (THEY'RE SO EXCITED)
-free summer movies at the theater
-3 big kids and me at Stuart Little live at the Miracle Theater on June 30 (PATH fieldtrip)
-planting sunflowers and then recording bee observations for half an hour twice a week, a la "The Great Sunflower Project" - which is very cool and we've talked so much about the strange dissapearance of huge numbers of bees that my kids are really into it

And Annie? My Annie? Sheesh, I don't know where to begin. She is seriously changing right before my eyes, and as per usual, it is surprises and wonder every step of the way. She's thinning out as she shoots up. She's FOUR AND A HALF INCHES TALLER than Aaron right now, which hasn't been true since he was born. She has been demanding total privacy to change her clothes for awhile and so I should not have been so (inwardly) surprised as I was to learn it's because she's got...new...changes. *sigh* It is not some big deal at all and I didn't act like I even noticed anything, but I've been going around to Grant and to Laura when out of earshot, ever since, like, "PUBIC HAIR WHAT HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE?!" Meanwhile I hope she doesn't see through my casual ruse. My poor awkward daughter, who is actually gaining dance poise and some will remember how she's been setting off my gaydar for years now and I've wondered if she'll have internal conflict with her faith and how I'll deal with her theological questions about sexuality when and if that time comes. Well, we were talking the other day about names and baby names and middle names and I said, "Isn't it so weird to think of how if you get married you could have a DIFFERENT last name?" and she, without missing a beat, asked me, "What do lesbians do about their last names when they get married?" I just told her they can keep their own name or hyphenate or switch it like anyone else. But inside I was like "SEE?! YOU SEE?!" I dunno.

We're doing good, though...I feel closer to her, communication-wise, than I think I maybe ever have, which is good. I keep getting scared that we're careening (sp) towards this volatile transitional period of her life without enough ease and trust filling up our days. Today at least I feel like we're doing well. She's sick to death of math for dyslexic reasons with place value and carrying mistakes that I think will come together with practice just like her reading skills did. She burns through ABEKA language work like it's just fun. We laughed a ton in the grocery store alone together, today.




Some of you will remember BALD Jake. Right? A few months ago? Bald Jake and Afro Isaac? Well. They've switched. You can see pics of this and so much more by clicking the cut below, BUT! You should push play after you do and listen to the song while you look at the pictures. Because I was listening to that song as I edited and uploaded them and it was perfect.

Golden Children )
altarflame: (burning bush)
There's been a lot of construction in my backyard the past few days. We almost have a chicken coop and run :)




The coop part is the upper floors there on the end...it's enclosed now and will have a hole to get in with a ramp for the chickens to walk up. Then they can walk around under it or in any of the other free space, and we'll put a couple of perches up high as well, once all the chicken wire is secured on it. It has a hinged door at this point for us to walk in and out of.

(definitely gonna be moving the firepit...)

Mr Shaun Wright, who's been staying late to help.


We've had two false alarms this week.

1. Elise had been playing in the sideyard (connected to backyard) with the other kids, then came to us with a blue streaked mouth. Grant had torn out some weeds sprouting suspicious purple-y berries and we were both instantly terrified she had eaten some wild poison. Robbie, our 14 year old nephew, was in the ER for hours last year after eating some crappy berries on a dare from one of his friends. Luckily, no, there were no more berries Grant had missed along the fence - we are lame enough to have a rainbow striped hackey sack laying around and it was wet with drool, and the ink from the blue part had run as she chewed on it.

2. The chickens have been in a temporary coop on the deck, that has a towel layed down in it (we're rotating all our old and raggedy, horrible towels that have been used for rabbits for months now for this purpose...)It's better for them to walk and nestle down to sleep on than the deck slats and keeps some of the poop off the deck (though we can hose the rest). Anyway, one of the chickens had some fraying string wrapped around it's ankle tight enough that it's foot was swelling and it was laying there looking alarmed and making a big racket. It limped and hopped it's way through the rest of the day, when not laying around looking shocked, after we freed it and threw that towel out...I had to give A and A a "this chicken might die or be crippled forever" talk but when we woke up to go *gulp* check, the chicken was fine. We can't even tell which of them it was now.

We have got tomatoes like crazy. Peppers too. And mangos like mad ripening on our tree.

Elise right after the rain.


Elise right after a hair brushing.


Being read to by Jakey.


Oh, my sweet sweet Jakey.






I just want to say, WHAT is going on with our weather? It was 94 degrees on Monday afternoon. Then Tuesday night, down in the 40s?! That's a cold front for us in January.

My sister's birthday was the 7th. She said she can't remember it ever being cold on her birthday in her life (70s...in the shade of my deck we were sitting in rocking chairs bundled in blankets from the wind). Her husband decided to be all dashing and drive the fire engine to her house during his shift to deliver her roses and then drive off in uniform leaving her all a-flutter. Then I came and got her and we went and picked up her ultimate dream cake from the Publix bakery, an Outback giftcard and made some promises of babysitting that were fulfilled today.

24







I feel better. I'm definitely NOT following Weight Watchers. But I don't care that much at the moment, either? I think that makes it not that bad?

Spending a lot of time crocheting this blanket I'm making, that's basically a series of 3-repeating-color columns...it's like I made a red-pink-fuschia-red-pink-fuschia-red-pink-fuschia scarf, and then a beige-brown-purple-beige-brown-purple-beige-brown-purple scarf, and now I'm doing a black-burgundy-brown-black-burgundy-brown-black-burgundy-brown one. At the end I sew all the scarves together and it's a big blanket made of all these stripes of squares centered around browns and reds. I'm using a wool blend that can go in the washer. When I'm not doing that I'm making kitchen mats out of a variegated green cotton.

Or editing and writing short stories.

Or talking with or reading to kids.

Or loading the dishwasher or washing machine.

Or fiddling with, taping up, sneezing out(!THISREALLYHAPPENED!), or cleaning my nosering (I know, Melissa, I know...) I left the paper tape I'd been keeping it from sinking into the hole with off for 24 hours last week and my skin grew completely over the stupid thing, it was totally gone in my nose and I had to like re-pop it out? So I've been all uber vigilant about it again. And I think it's healed enough at the right size that it doesn't need the paper tape anymore? But who knows. (for those who don't know, I found some reputable piercing info that said if you have a stud sinking into a hole you can use micropore paper tape, like my surgical wounds have been dressed in, cut a tiny slit in it, and basically make a sort of buttonhole where the tape is between the hole and the piercing so it can't slip down anymore. You just change it when you clean the new piercing, twice a day. It seems to work pretty well, i think I just got a really tiny stud for the needle size the guy used, or else I'm weird, or whatever)

I really, really love our house and yards and kids and pets and how well it all works together. I love the giant kitchen and big dining room, connected and right in the middle of the house - that now have a wall under the bar where kids are allowed to write, color and paint whatever they like. I love my big old turquoise master bedroom with flowy white curtains, his and her closets, king sized dark wood four poster bed, and massive two room bathroom with a garden tub and a couple of sinks and a linen closet all it's own, and mermaids all over it all. I love that we have A LIBRARY, and so much comfortable furniture in there and the tv room with this insane flat screen set up and this kickass antique light on the PIANO.

It's just pretty much badass and I sort of can't believe it every damned day.

I made turkey burgers for dinner and lemon bars for dessert, tonight.




I had a really nice, GOOD cry about feeling the Holy Spirit and presence of God for the first time in awhile, set to Third Day's "Show Me Your Glory", that I needed pretty badly. We are still going to City Church and liking it, but "charismatic" Protestant worship is so kind of...spectator-y? That I can block it out very easily or keep my distance with minimal effort. I CAN also choose to pay attention and be prayerful and get something out of it. But if I'm feeling like I like my distance and want to be a sinner without remorse, I can do that too. It's hard to not be mentally involved in Catholic church when you're getting down on your knees, reciting things along with everyone else, crossing yourself at the right times, getting up and down, etc. There was a Sunday at City Church with (walking up for) communion and actual congregational singing (rather than just the admittedly very cool concert deal) and it just undid me at the seams.

I have got a huge stash of Easter surprises for my kids. They're going to have amazing grass and candy free baskets filled with awesome sauce. And there will be candy on the hunt and undoubtedly candy from the in-laws, so don't get your panties in a bunch. We're going to be talking about Maundy Thursday and Good Friday over the next couple of days...I need to have Easter in some kind of context here...and then I'm psyched about Sunday. It's all under a sheet in my office.

I'm so tired, I haven't done a 3 am update in awhile.
altarflame: (gangster)
Remember when I told you what you should do if you ever find yourself in possession of a roast? Here are the illustrations...




And here is Aaron as Harry Houdini.




And Ananda as Amelia Earhart.



PATH did this event at a local library auditorium called "Historically Speaking" where each kid dresses up as a historical character and then gets up and talks about "themselves". It was pretty cool. We read biographies that actually taught them A LOT - for instance while learning about Houdini Aaron ended up learning all about immigrants seeing Ellis Island from their ships as they arrived here, Vaudeville, and what it meant to be famous before tv or the internet. Ananda and I ended up talking all about feminism, World War 1 and Spanish Flu. And she pieced her costume together completely from stuff we had here! Aaron's handcuffs are trick handcuffs, he asked for a volunteer at the end of his spiel and then escaped from them to much applause. We'll definitely be doing that next year. Of the other 14 kids participating, there were peeps represented like George Washington, Helen Keller, and...Batman. I love homeschooling.

I really want to show you some other things...like how much our chicks have grown.

They're only like 5.5 weeks old! Sheesh.

And that I got my nose pierced when I was back in Key West with Laura, this past weekend.



The baby shower was so much fun, I LOVE MY AUNTS AND COUSINS, GEEZ! My kids need more contact with them. So much food, oh my gosh, you have not eaten until you've been to a baby shower that a bunch of Cuban ladies are hosting. It was painful towards the end. But so fun. So much laughing. And, my Dad took L and I out on his boat for sunset, it was awesome.

The guy who pierced my nose looked and acted A LOT like Bobby (J). Except 6 inches taller, MORE pierced, plugged and tattood, MORE orange beardy and straggly haired, and styled as "I work at a tattoo shop in Key West" (boots with heels, etc). UnCatholic Bobby with more vertical genes, in 10 years. He was enjoying my nervousness too much and really liked not warning me about anything. After it was over Laura was like, "I didn't want to tell you while you were still at that guy's mercy, but he reminded me so much of Bobby" and I was like, oh really? OF COURSE HE DID.

But I imagine that's enough without a cut so if you want to see the rest you have to click this thing )
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
I was in this ridiculous funk during his last group of work days (he does either 3 or 4 12 hour shift days - plus commute - in a row each week, then is off for 3 or 4 days until the next week's shifts start up). He and I had stuff to work through...not horrible stuff, but stuff causing tension, and it's really hard to do that through email and the occasional interrupted phone call. I'm really sensitive to any slight problem we're having and it just eats away at me all day long to know there's something being left there to fester.

I also have a hard time reverting back from active days - last week for instance I biked with Aaron for 40 minutes Sunday, walked for an hour with the double stroller Monday, and swam with Ananda for an hour on Tuesday. Then Grant went to work and W-S I had no way to break from having all five kids and so it gets really complicated trying to do any kind of continuous excercise. I have a really, really hard time with recorded workouts and floor excercises, or any kind of gym type repetetive indoor junk. The best I manage with the kids is slower walks, often shorter; whole afternoons cleaning; and sometimes danceathons with them. The point is, I can start to feel really sedentary and cooped up. I spend tons more time stuck in the van on his work days, too, as that's when pretty much all of their activities happen to fall.

AND, it was a nice sleep-free 4 days between late night allergy attacks waking me and Elise's increasing failure to co-sleep like a rational human being (she's being transferred to the toddler bed now).

All of this culminated in me irreparably burning soup I was making for a potluck we were already running late for while I typed another emotional email back to Grant at some frantic pace - I smelled it and ran for the kitchen...just as Jake peed in the clean clothes I had set out for the little kids to wear when we left and I dunno. A friend posted this, and I really needed it -



I pretty much could have written those lyrics, and the energy, it was perfect. The video is a huge part of my perception of the song. I called to cancel our potluck attendance, and cried, and had a danceathon with Jake and Elise, and then Grant came home. Since then, the songs for living by are;

-That one, Feist's "I Feel it All"
-Feist's "1234"
-MGMT's "Kids"
-MGMT's "Time to Pretend"

The last two are not songs I'd have written the lyrics to ;) The videos are also ridiculous. Great for turning dishes into a danceathon, though. G and I are pretty much keeping that playlist on repeat in every room of the house and both vehicles.

SO.

We all went to church Sunday, and it was good, and then we dropped Ananda, Aaron and Elise off with my sister, and Jake and Isaac off with my mother in law, and hit it up to the metrorail station just the two of us, where we caught a train to Viscaya...

(camera phone)

I'd never been before. It was pretty awesome. I was excited to see, as we turned one corner of the place, that we were on the ocean...I'd had no idea and oh my how I love being near/in the ocean. The place is just incredible. We spent about 6 hours out alone together with what I would call the ideal balance between Serious Talk and Laughing Our Heads Off, with some nice food and kissing breaks. Also both of us had sore legs from all the stairs everywhere - wth, when did we get so out of shape?

We watched Appaloosa one of these nights, and started The Fall tonight. Pretty great stuff.

Some "out by ourself" or "with just one kid" times for each of us. Some really great extended and miraculously uninterrupted lovemaking.

I'm normal again.

I want to talk about a billion other things, but I'm going to be scattering about 20 pictures through it all, so you'll have to Join Me Behind This Cut )




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