altarflame: (deluge)
This month has been extremely productive and overall wonderful.

My semester end was hectic, with finals and papers (I turned in a 35 page paper full of statistical analyses, with various graphs and SPSS readouts in the appendix, for my Research Methods class...) coming fast and furious as soon as we got back into town. I felt a bit rushed about the Christmas season - we never got decorations up on the outside of the house at all, and it's the first year my kids haven't had little mini trees in their bedrooms. We baked a scant, single batch of gingerbread cookies before Christmas Eve!

And, I had some intense sadness about Christmas Eve, and my incapacitated Nana, and lost traditions and family gatherings gone by.

But, in the end it all turned out pretty great, and we've been coasting on the Twelve Days of Christmas ever since.

Grant and the kids all have two full weeks off, and I'm now "only" in this one mini-session course (online). It requires working every day, but is very manageable. Overall this is an unstructured and luxuriant time full of visits from out of town friends and relatives galore, with dates and cuddle sessions and repotting plants and so on. G is doing half of the cooking, cleaning, and parenting. Everybody's got a ton of new stuff, so there's a lot of taking Elise out on her new bike, and taking various people one at a time to spend their various gift cards, and viewing and videotaping the K'Nex roller coaster Jake worked on for hours. Life is pretty sweet.

Grant and I gifted each other an espresso machine, and the coffee around here has improved dramatically as a result. He also got me some essential oils, dark chocolate, and a new teacup and saucer. I got him Dune magnets and buttons and a new water bottle (that he'd been asking for), and some caramels and cookies.

I actually got the old granny square pattern book back out and looked up the one I was using for a blanket I had half finished, earlier in the year. My (very dusty) sewing machine was brought out for the first time in some 8 months.

Kid Updates!

Elise (8.5) just got a (requested) haircut that I think makes her look like an elegant mushroom. It's a short bob, longer in the front.






She is very high energy and usually really happy. She had a major breakthrough a few months back that shoved her forward in many areas - she could suddenly listen to more complex chapter books with thorough understanding, play Minecraft by herself, speak with less hesitations and searching for words. I think another of those is happening, now. She's also growing RAPIDLY - on December 11 I stood her against our height wall and she'd grown at entire INCH since December 2! At which point, she was a centimeter taller than a week before that! She's still obsessed with My Little Ponies, and plays with hers on the library carpet every single day. I don't know how much longer we can stretch this sweet innocent period of bath toys and "underwear girl" running around the house in the evenings, but I'll savor it while I can.

Jake (10) is hitting the slightly chubby phase that happens before the big puberty growth spurt. He reads a lot and usually has a pile of books next to him when he falls asleep. He's still affectionate and sweet with me, still moody and stoic in general. He's not as quick to anger as he used to be. I think he's going through a fearful period - scared of death, of fair rides, of social awkwardness. He's got some friends in the neighborhood but still seems restless and lonely at times. I think he's in a transitional phase. He still spends a lot of time building/innovating/drawing/etc. He is so in love with his cat, Jake Jr, the fluffy demon who rules us all, and says nonsense like, "how does it feel to be a grandmother?" He'll carry her up to Elise and tell him, "that's your Aunt, Jr." He's also a total sucker for any kind of cute animal video, and has this involuntary giggle that reminds me of a hamster.

Isaac (almost 12) looks an awful lot like a teenager all of a sudden. He's also really quick to assure us that he understands complex things and knows about everything. He's got a kind of image conscious defensiveness that wasn't there before, and is almost strangely matter of fact about the girl he has a crush on. He and Jake sometimes have a great time together, but Isaac is more and more likely to want to go somewhere with friends or just Dad and/or me, or close his bedroom door to be alone (a brand new thing). His anxiety seems to be mostly under control, but there was a relapse recently and I'm eager for him to get into a couple of programs that currently have him wait listed. He continues to be more "together" (organized, prepared, able to easily find misplaced items, etc) than the rest of us. His vibrancy - bright blue eyes, freckles, white eyebrows, etc - is stunning these days.

Aaron (14) is over the moon that he got a Wii U for Christmas. At school, the various art areas recently did performances during the school day for other students in other art areas, and it was the first time he danced for peers who are not dancers (including his siblings, and girls he likes, and friends/acquaintances/etc, and there were also core subject teachers in the audience...) This seems to have really changed his life. People who had never seen him dance were in awe of him and he said getting up there was the scariest stage fright he'd ever experienced. Typically recitals have been just for parents of dancers and dance teachers, and competitions or like the Hammerstein Ballroom thing in NY were for strangers - this was some whole other deal and he says he almost didn't do it. Just wearing tights on stage at 14 in front of your whole school of band kids and theater kids and writer kids, etc, is a lot! His tarantula, Tulip, is about half grown now. He's not depressed lately and I'm eating it up. He's still awkward and sensitive. He makes me laugh whether I like it or not pretty often. He's fucking obsessed with Chipotle and drives us all nuts wanting to go there constantly.

Ananda (15) is the bee's knees. She's so comfortable in her own skin and brilliant. I feel really proud of her almost all the time, lately. She has this horrible ironic fashion - like she just got SHINY GOLD HEELIES for Christmas like she wanted, and she's pairing them with these light wash, high waist mom jeans she had to have - it's painful! But she kinda pulls anything off. We talk a lot and I drive her friends places with her and we show each other things we find online. I betray her any time I get a note from a teacher that she should come to math tutoring or retake a spanish test, by immediately telling them she can do tutoring every day and this is my number, etc. She groans and says "THE WORST!" but with a smile, and then worries about how she's gonna do stuff like that in college without me forcing her to. Her teachers adore her. She has chai with the one she has an aid period with. We have a lot of fun eating gourmet food and exclaiming about science. She adopted some elderly rats a friend of hers needed to rehome and she's completely smitten with them, constantly feeding them vegetables and carrying them around.

So, that is them, and they are epic :) I'm gonna edit this entry to throw some pics in, since that's so much easier to do on a phone now.

These are their Christmas Even pajamas - Jake got a Gryffindor robe instead of regular PJs and immediately ran to grab the cinnamon broom, to go with it. He's trying to somehow be "in character" in the first shots :p



altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
Sitting on a big L-shaped sectional couch tonight with Laura at one end nursing Isabelle, while Frank sat on the floor with his head in her lap - DRUNK to the point of being ridiculous - and Jake stood nearby making Isabelle smile with toys - next to Isaac, who was next to Brian cuddled up to Annie, who was hogging my lap, as I had my other arm around Elizabeth, who was holding hands with Elise (who is trying to campaign to make Elizabeth her sister)...I was thinking life is pretty good. Grant stayed home with Aaron, who was sick, and my mom was in another room on a phone, and we were saying geez - geez, Annie was the nursing baby. We were the middle schoolers. Look at all these fucking people we've made, and one of them isn't even here! Gray hairs and 30s and time. Christmas trees again. Let's just sit in a heap for awhile and have a truce and not worry that hours and hours are passing, and laugh.

I'll write more soon.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
We have Christmas pandora playing, and just finished putting lights, a star and a few things on our Christmas tree - which we purchased earlier today from some Methodist kids who are doing great things for foster children in central Florida's DCF system. Their explanations of their work made me cry, after I had written the check, such that I ended up rushing back to the van, Grant and my purse to find stray dollars for their tip jar.

Our Christmas tree is always a little barren at first, since we have to string up and bake most of our ornaments (popcorn, cranberries, gingerbread and stained glass cookies...and candy canes we just haven't bought yet since we have to find corn free ones).

Izzy is over and helping Annie string ribbon on baskets, and using it to attach pine cones to wreaths. Jake and Elise are mostly using the ribbon to get cats to chase after them.

Our Thanksgiving was pretty great :) It was smaller than some years - we "only" had Shaun, Robbie and Correy, and Gloria and LJ here. My Dad is really sick and couldn't come, and Laura got too excited about finally having a big kitchen and space for real meals, and did her own thing. She and Brian and Isabel are also all sick, now - we took her some drinks and popsicles and things earlier because Frank's back on shifts...

Last night, though - I get pretty overwhelmed with how wonderful it is to be able to host a big feast, and with our resources for making it special. Grant always does a ton of yard work, deck cleaning and furniture moving beforehand.

I snagged this "almost ready" picture from inside the dining room:


And then Grant took this after people had started to arrive:


Neither shows the food tables set up with plants, candles and a ton of stuff. I was all silly-satisfied with it :)

Interestingly, I didn't feel the horror of moving that I expected to - I felt like this is great, and having an adventure and finding other great things is cool, too.

It was really cold (for us: 57 - keep in mind everyone is barefoot in totally inappropriate clothing) outside, and as the evening wore on we decided on a projector movie in the yard, so in addition to being the AV guy G set up electric blankets on the trampoline, hammock and bench swing, and passed out little "hot hands" packs. He even put a bunch things in the dryer for people. I made a big pot of hot chocolate and ladeled it for a line.

Great stuff :)




I keep having these horrible, epic-length (feeling) dreams about people close to me dying. It happened again today, during a nap. They twist and turn through so much plot. I had one where Grant died, and I had time within this freakin' dream to cry until I threw up, and have to talk to our kids, and be so so freaked by having to call his mother, and discover some tampering with our back windows (we lived in some other house) that made me think he'd been murdered and get scared that there might be a killer out there - just FUCKING UGH. Today's was about being told by one of my mom's exes that my brother was dead up in Lakeland and some other ex of hers was responsible. Again I had the burden of sharing news with people who could not cope with it, in addition to dealing with my own grief, and again the fear of somebody dangerous still possibly being out there. There was another one in between them that sucked, but the details faded with time. I wake up from these with a stomachache, feeling tired inside.

I swear.




Grant and I are at such a weird point, as a couple, and sometimes I really want to write about it. But I don't know how to convey it properly, and always come back around to it not being anybody's business, anyway. We love each other, and say that a lot - we talk honestly and enjoy each other's company. We're both also in separate individual counseling, and unsure about whether or not the two of us make a lot of sense together outside of the context of the family. There's a lot of affection, but no sex, and (surprise!) this time it's me that just isn't into it. I think each of us is growing, as a person, and we're both thankful for the other...neither of us has given up on the marriage, either... but we're both really thoughtful, and open to a lot of options we haven't been in the past, and - taking it one day at a time? I guess? With the understanding that we both need a lot of patience and that the one day at a time is gonna go on for months. Neither of us can tell if all the traveling he has to do in the coming weeks, for work (and has been doing) is a good, serendipitous thing because we each need some space...or kinda horrible because we never have any time for "us," and are having to learn to live without each other whether we like it or not.

There is no doubt whatsoever that we make a great team.

I am really, really enjoying "the holidays" already, and it's a good thing to share.
altarflame: (Default)
So. Making Christmas awesome and meaningful for five very different kids of varying ages is some damned hard work, particularly on a budget. But I think we did a pretty great job :)

It involved a lot of shennanigans and acrobatics on our parts, like driving 5 hours north to Lakeland, staying for 8 hours, driving 3 more hours north to Lake City, sleeping overnight and staying part of the day, and then driving the 8+ hours home. That's right - we left early Friday morning, got back late Saturday night, and traversed the entire freaking state in the meantime. This enabled us to spend Christmas Eve-Eve with my Nana and Pa, mother, Laura and Frank, Bob + his girlfriend, etc, and then Christmas Eve with my mother in law, Robby, Patrice and Nadia - including going to mil's Christmas Eve family renunion. We had a packed cooler and ate at peoples' houses; no hotels, no restaurants, only gas money. The kids watched Redbox dvds in the van, and played an "interactive Harry Potter dvd game" that we got for 4.99 in a clearance bin FOR HOURS. Elise also dressed a chicken via a free iphone app FOR HOURS. I didn't realize until I got my phone back that she was taking screen captures. I have many shots of a chicken in various states of dress. I used to really be against electronics for roadtrips and I still usually think it's a lame idea but, well, we needed them to sit in the van for 16 out of 36 hours, and it's getting pretty cramped in that 3rd row as they get bigger. Extenuating circumstances if there ever were.

We also did things like breathe a sigh of relief that my (textbooks, college money) book advance was several hundred dollars more than my textbooks cost, since the college book store sells things like Skull Candy headphones, Kindles, children's books, mp3 players, batteries, PAJAMAS - basically they know a lot of people are coming through with extra grant money that can only be spent there and take full advantage with a huge inventory of non-college-related products. Board games, greeting cards, earrings, hoodies, cool bags and journals of all shapes and sizes, candy of every sort - it's ridiculous. And awesome. And really helped us round out our gifts for them. I have a daughter who asks for things like rainbow packs of sharpies and G2 Pilot pens, after all. Eventually if you don't spend all of your book advance, you get back the extra in a refund check, but until then it's only available electronically for purchases there, and this time it came through just in time for us to buy things we couldn't have afforded otherwise.

You can generally spot the people going to school at Miami Dade on grant money because they're the only ones walking around in head to toe overpriced MDC gear, since they bought it with "fake money". I have no interest in college sweats, shoelaces or headbands, but I'd like to think this is pretty close to the intended purpose of the grant as it really is helping me go to school rather than having to work instead. Which we were getting really close to the point of, when I went back (that was before Grant's new job, which pays more than the previous one).

So, yeah.

Our time with Nana and Pa was great. It was hard, at times, because it's really different with her disabled, but I was so glad to be able to rub her back and make her happy and talk to her, and make Pa obviously happy, and just BE there. She burst into tears when she saw Ananda because, well, Annie is basically a woman at this point and it means time just keeps passing. I had a good time sitting around like a lazy bum while Laura cooked and prepped for the party, talking and laughing with her. Grant took all the kids and Brian to the park while I entertained Elizabeth and Frank got hilariously buzzed. I really think I like him better drinking, it's pretty funny. Bob hung all over Gloraly, his girlfriend, while they muttered to each other, and my mom seemed thrilled to have us there in an exhausted sort of way. The food was good; the presents were wonderful; the kids said we need to go back soon and I agree. I took a ton of pics I'll post sometime soon.

Teresa (mil) was SO sweet and so happy to have us, and Robbie came home from some friends' houses to be there with us, and IS TALLER AGAIN - he's seriously like 6'4" at this point, it's getting crazy - and made me laugh, and Nadia is out of her shell and Patrice is great. I wished we could have stayed for days and days. It was so easy and natural, sitting on their porch with Grant watching cousins kick a ball around in their currently-dry retention pond, or watching Elise and Oma (Teresa) play on her bed while Grant fixed her computer. The reunion thing we went to was crazy; Grant is descended from hillbillies, this is the second reunion I've went to that was in a (different!) barn. The variety of American flag tshirts was astounding - one actually featured an eagle riding a harley davidson. Crazy. It was very sad leaving. I somehow took zero pictures that day, though Grant got a couple I'll try to pilfer.

The ride back was...uh...trying, let's say. And we got back at about 3 am with a couple of people getting sick and Jake having an accident.

But, Christmas day here at home was awesome. Ananda got boots and headphones and pajamas she loved (all picked out by Daddy, which I find super impressive), and restocked underwear and bras, and a Kindle that made her lose her mind with glee, and an epic stocking full of all kinds of goodies. Aaron got the remote control helicopter he wanted, and a new cheapy phone since his old one stopped working and sneakers that actually fit and new super soft pillows from BJ's because I knew he'd not stop rubbing himself on them and acting like he was stoned for days. Elise got Ananda's ENTIRE old Groovy Girl doll collection, including accessories, among other things, and Jake and Isaac got walkie talkies and art supplies to share as well as a bunch of individual things (games, puzzles, legos, books) that made them happy.

They came home from the roadtrip with crazy relative presents - knee high converse Ananda had been dying for, new Calvin and Hobbes collections for Aaron, a Super Mario Kart K'nex racing set for the little boys that really works, an 18" doll for Elise, a bike for Jake, just all kinds of stuff.

THEN back home Opa gave them a new trampoline, as a group (the old one got taken apart when it started popping springs, months ago), and $50 each.

They're completely drowning in loot.


Our Christmas dinner was a roast with lots of onions, garlic, and mushrooms; roasted potatoes, and green beans, with rolls. We had Izze and wine with it, and Shaun was over. Everyone was stuffed by the end.

Then we all got sick for real, and have spent the past two days alternately feeling better and relapsing by turn.

Today Grant went back to work and I started cleaning in ernest; Christmas presents, road tripping and family-wide illness have NOT been kind to my house and HOURS of solid work in, I still have at least another full day to log before it looks passable. But I took a lot of reading and kid-conversation breaks, and we're still in this insular, surreal holiday mode without preschool or activities, as everyone explores their new stuff, and I'm cherishing that.

Our house feels like home to me in the best way, after travelling. Messy or otherwise. And I'm so glad we didn't get sick until it was all over.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I am eating it up! Sometimes literally. Right now I'm having a gingerbread man :D

Last Thursday evening was Elise's preschool Christmas show. It was hilarous and awesome. We brought cupcakes.

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Because we left in a flurry of "can't be late" with baking stuff everywhere, and forgot to lock up Oliver (Aaron's cockatoo), we arrived home to find him on the kitchen counter and a GIANT mess all over the counter and floor...the contents of 4 different jars of sprinkles, the empty jars themselves, the mixer bowl with frosting coming out of it, spatula and spoon and cups including the water they'd had in them, stuff from the junk drawer that had been left ajar, the shredded remains of a printed recipe...having a parrot is like having a toddler that never grows up. FOR SEVENTY YEARS.

Ananda managed to rook Grant out of FIVE DOLLARS for the cleanup (I usually offer one or at most two for a single cleaning job...but she's shifty and saving for a guitar :p). She did a great job, too, that whole room was sparkling the next day.

Friday, my Beast had "Pajama Day" at school. She was thrilled to go in wearing a nightgown and slippers to watch movies and eat popcorn. Ms Denise was all teary eyed saying she's one of her favorites ♥ I love that woman.

I feel really good about her and preschool. Sometimes I wonder how Isaac and Jake would have done, but then I remember how impossibly difficult Isaac was at her age, and how different Jake's temperament could be...I think AWANA and VBS were good to them, let's just say ;)

While she was there the rest of us went to Miami Children's Hospital and got Aaron's cast off (FINALLY, geez). The smell...I mean...there is no way to describe how terrible it smelled in that room when his five-weeks-insulated foot was unleashed on the air. I seriously almost ran from the room. I was still feeling ill an hour later. I mean...*shudder* The doc knew - he looked up at me and said "Get ready" right before it came off, and had alcohol there ready that he immediately handed him, saying "Clean your foot!"


I ALSO crammed a trip to BJ's during their music classes and going to pick up Grant into that day, before dinner...this is why we sometimes end up having dinner at 10 pm. After which, on Friday nght, we watched Home Alone with all the kids - a first for the three littles and the first time in years for the older ones. I really forgot how impossibly, ridiculously cute Macaulay Culkin used to be. Jake was cracking us up laughing hysterically at the burglars walking into traps...Kids beating grownups; the ultimate crowd pleaser.

Saturday night was Grant's company Christmas party (way the hell in BOCA). I was not sure what to expect, kind of anticipating a lot of "small talk" and some awkwardness. It was a lot of fun, though! We were at a table with great people - a guy from the Ukraine who kept asking me language questions and telling me cool cultural things; the most BEAUTFUL Haitian woman, like, I almost felt I was being rude staring at her; a couple of hilarious aging platinum blondes who had too much to drink and were not afraid to mock yawn and roll their eyes during speeches; and Grant and his boss. The food was out of control - I skipped the salads and bread but this fish covered in capers and tomatoes and spinach, mmmmmmmmm, and chicken marsala with lots of mushrooms, and shrimp linguini, and so much apple crisp and tiramisu, and tiny cake truffles, just OM. The combination of ornate, gothic detailing in the swanky room and the four very large glasses of merlot I had (they kept coming around pouring!) make it all very surreal and enjoyable in my memory.

We spent an hour talking and walking and snacking around the city part of Miami Beach - taking Shaun extra cake truffles from the party since his place is right there, sitting at a picnic table...I was getting all existential and Grant kept asking questions since he could tell I was gonna be raw and poetic with answers, until I started laughing about how I am not Ernest Hemingway and really can't be getting drunk and spouting life philosophy until I have some cred. Then we went to the beach-Beach and slept on the sand until it was too chilly, and then went home :)

Yesterday was a day of baking cookies for our tree and doing last minute shopping for presents.



Rolling pins for all sizes!

My brother's girlfriend was over for part of it (they mostly "played video games" and "watched movies" in his room...eww). Grant did some yardwork with a few different littles, and took Annie out once. Totally relaxed Sunday.

Then today - TODAY!!! I slept in...on a weekday. This has not happened in months and months and I am so psyched to continue it :) No homework due for me, no schoolwork for the kids, no preschool to get Elise to...we're still going to TLC tomorrow but whatevs.

Also, I logged into the college site, and got nothing but good news.
1. Two As and a B for this past semester.
2. Overall GPA now such that I can apply for the MDC scholarship that will mean more money in our pockets.
3. EVERYTHING all set and ready to go re: my Spring schedule, financial aid and book advance O_O NO calling in...NO seeing an advisor...NO standing in lines...NO logistical hoops to jump through?!? Being off of academic probation rocks.


SIDENOTE: The FREE music classes my children receive, along with many others in multiple locations around the county, with FREE loaned instruments and FREE songbooks, and truly dedicated, caring teachers, are all through the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and funded through the Children's Trust. GMYS is having an instrument drive you can donate any amount of money to, no matter how small, and there is an organization matching donatons so you get double impact when you donate following this link: http://power2give.org/miami/Project/Detail?projectId=485 Tax deductible and a GREAT way to pay it forward and promote the arts :)
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
-walking a little girl to and from preschool
-riding my bike to the bank and to go pay a bill
-frying (a dozen) eggs and (a pound of) mushrooms to go on (a loaf of) toast
-bossing some people around (chores, schoolwork)
-hopefully, getting some sewing done
-thinking I left my phone in the van and Grant has it at work now O_o
-making two dozen christmas cupcakes for a preschool christmas show I'm eagerly anticipating, this evening (her preschool director asked for 2 dozen like it was a burden...I was like, lady, I make four dozen for MY HOUSE)
-making gingerbread and shortbread dough for fridge/freezer, with children
-making a roast chicken, baby carrots and twice baked potatoes for dinner
-sex date (because it's come to that :p)

One thing I really like about being back in school, is how when I have a semester end now, it's like this wild freedom to just relax and be at home. "All this time" I didn't appreciate when I didn't have to.

I am really sad and stressed about how impossible it seems to get to Nana and Pa's house for Christmas Eve, now that they've approved it as back on and my sister may be going and Grant got the time off approved. Money is just SO non-existent right now...it's very difficult to let go of, though. We keep exploring hair brained options like driving to and from Lakeland in one day and just spending the hours with them, so that we don't have to pay for accomadations or extra meals (sandwiches in the van, kids sleep at night on the way back....) Even that is $130 in gas and tolls, as I struggle to figure out how to finish Christmas shopping, let alone handle bill problems... *sigh* We really thought Christmas Eve with them (something I did every year of my life until I was 27) was over forever, since Nana had strokes that left her disabled, and now Pa is having health problems that scare me re: how much longer he's gonna be with us, and WITHOUT Christmas as the fallback guaranteed visit it's way too easy to let YEARS just pass without visits...

And I'm having some Advent angst, because I love Advent (the Christian season leading up to Christmas....4 weeks anticipating Christ's birth). I keep saying I'm going to start lighting candles at home with the kids or going to Sunday Mass until Christmas and not quite doing it. Advent seems really beautiful and comforting to me. I suppose I need to be proactive and plan it out today so it really happens.




Isaac's counseling went REALLY well yesterday. It was just an intake/interview "Getting to know you" with he and I, but it couldn't have been better. My biggest fears were that, with limited financial options, we would get stuck with someone we had a communication barrier with, or who didn't approve of how we live. By that I mean, someone who doesn't speak english well or understandably (this is very common here, even in professional and business circles, and something I had to work around when looking for my own counseling), and/or someone who would see a lot of non-mainstream things about our family (homeschool, selective/delayed vaccines, Annie is a vegetarian, Elise still nurses, whatever) as red flags. Neither of those things were even remotely true though - we were paired with a really intelligent, easy to talk to, great guy who I think Isaac already really likes and who acted extremely impressed with certain aspects of our life (that we sit down and eat dinner together, that I read to them, that Isaac is learning violin, that I have a real RELATIONSHIP with our pediatrician that has been ongoing for many years...) We met in a room filled with toys and after Isaac signed some consent forms himself alongside me and answered some questions he was allowed to play while I talked to the counselor. Our initial approval is for a three month program of weekly sessions - 3 just with Isaac and one with Isaac and various family members is the initial monthly setup. At the end of the time period, it isn't over, just evaluated to see if it should be over, transferred or continued. We're going to talk on the phone later this week so I can tell him things without being overheard (by Isaac) and the appointments begin after the new year. I feel very positive about the whole thing.

Alright, time to make all this domesticity happen...I think I'm gonna torture my big kids and thrill the littles with ♪ Christmas pandora ♪


P.S. It is so great to have Annie back home ♥
altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday I was driving down a 2-lanes-each-way road with a median, when a dog ran right out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, and heard screams, and then a bunch of other brakes as a woman rat out in the road in front of my lanes and then across the median into the others - after a second dog, that I saw was twitching and lying on it's side, with some blood :/ She was hysterical, and kept screaming, picking up this very large dog in both arms frantically as a little girl I sort of assumed was her daughter ran around in front of me and the lane next to me, crying, trying to catch the second dog as cars backed up...it was really intense. And I can't help but note that though I sometimes find my faith in question, I involuntarily, automatically start sincerely praying for people in moments like that.

THEN, on the 4-lanes-each-way highway about 30 minutes later, the car right next to me suddenly slammed on the brakes for no apparent reason. In retrospect, I wonder if the driver had a heart attack or seizure. In any case it was 70 to nothing in a couple of seconds, and he was in the on-ramp, merging in lane, and I was aghast watching my rearview mirror as an instant pileup went down. Loudly. Again with the snap-reaction shock prayers, and wondering if I was in "skirting disaster" mode and this hoohaw would continue throughout the night.

Definitely the most intense drive to Miami Beach I've had thus far.




We spent this evening with Pandora carols, getting our Christmas stuff down from the attic. Grant got colored lights up on the house with big kids, on the roof, while I assembled this small fake tree we have with white lights, bird ornaments and little kids. We've become "those people" - each of my kids' bedrooms has a small fake tree in it, which meant we had to get Elise a $5 one today since she's commandeered the big closet as her room. And we have this bird tree. And then we get a real tree that is the Actual Christmas Tree (though I can't ever bring myself to go buy one until the prices come down a week into December). All the giant fleece stockings I've sewn over the years are hanging around the library and we have some big gingerbread and shortbread dough plans for next week.

I'm really psyched about Ananda's Christmas presents this year - we got her the big old headphones she's been begging for, with SKULLS even, and some boots I think she'll love, and ridiculous emo feather hair extensions for her stocking, and pajama pants she needs, and THIS SEWING MACHINE - that was $50 purchased at midnight Black Friday sale style, and very highly reviewed, and a Brother. It looks perfect for beginning.

I'm making her and Elise quilts based off of fabric I already have here, and doing some other crafty things for both of them as well. I linked my mother to the Harry Potter jewelry tag on Etsy for Annie, and told her Aaron wants more Calvin and Hobbes collections (she's REPEATEDLY begged for lists and ideas). Elise's 18" dolls will most likely get replaced between us and relatives - she left them at the park after PATH a month or more ago and we didn't realize until bedtime :/ She used to carry them everywhere. It looks like fil is gifting all the kids another trampoline, which is awesome (our old one started popping springs a couple of months ago and we took it down). I have Christmas pjs for all the boys. ♥

I really love this time of year. I love baking and decorating and horrible Christmas music and travelling to see family, which we are for the first time since my Nana had her stroke. I feel ridiculously blessed, even though we are really struggling with a lot of bills, because we're also doing most everything we want to and my kids have lives that make me "Squee!" all the time.

Speaking of which: Thanksgiving pictures. I really didn't get any of the ones I'd want to have, looking back, but I was busy, man!

The day before, Isaac got a haircut.


That night my Dad got here, and regaled us with wild stories like he always does, until almost 4 am.

He is a really good storyteller. The next day Aaron said, "I can't tell when Grandpa Arthur is telling just the truth...but I really like listening to him." Wise boy, that Aaron. I can listen to my Dad for days even though I've heard most of his stories a dozen times now.

Waiting for the feast: my three youngest, and my sister's two born children (she's due in February).

Left to right, Jake, Brian, Elise, Isaac, Elizabeth. I was teasing Laura the other day that I'm waiting to see what Jane Austen shit she whips out next; Brian Alexander and Elizabeth Marie? What? :p

Grant did a great job out here. He's still setting up the buffet tables (Bob's desk and the boys' play table, both made by him) with table cloths (our tv room curtains) on the right. That's most of Ananda's desk lamp hanging above the table, and lanterns we got as party favors after a friend's wedding last year scattered around with my bath candles in them :)




Laura, Grant Sr and his girlfriend dishing up plates.


My Dad and Aaron.


I don't think I got any pictures of Shaun, or of everyone together, or all sorts of other things. When I think back what I want to remember is cooking with Laura, and laying around in the hammock in the chill with kids after we were all stuffed. I'd like to forget having to force my exhausted self to PUT AWAY ALL THOSE LEFTOVERS WUT O_O

We got plastic cups at BJ's (meaning, a CRAZY FUCKTON OF PLASTIC CUPS) and every day now I see something like this at some point.



I have a couple of major things due tomorrow, and lots of other major things due soon, as 2 of my 3 classes are the "nothing is due until the end of the semester, when you must turn in MANY HUGE THINGS ALL AT ONCE" sort. And I am the procrastinating sort. I have to fit all my homework doing in around walking Elise to and from preschool at 9 and noon, riding my bike to the insurance place, feeding everyone and making them do their chores and schoolwork, and having a dinner plan. PIECE OF CAKE, RIGHT? Honestly the immediate stuff is doable (and not at night...I have to make phone contacts). I'm mostly still up to do necessary laundry for Grant's work clothes and Elise's preschool tshirt, and towels for morning showers...At least there's caffeine about the place.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I was so sick yesterday. Like, couldn't hold my head up or my eyes open but couldn't sleep because I was too nauseus, sick. When I wasn't actually puking. Little things like being able to HAVE A CONVERSATION feel novel again, today.

We had an a-ma-zing get together the night before, and I'm really hoping nobody went home with germs and is suffering now. Grant dug a firepit with Bob and the kids and gathered materials and hosed down the grass around it, and it was really just meant to be a s'more party, but we ended up having the Wii set up on a projector in the side yard and sitting around in various rooms talking and also just hanging out around the fire warming our feet - as it was actually a chilly night. It was Laura and Frank for awhile, with Brian for longer (he stayed while they went to a wedding), Kristin and her kids Naja and Darrien, Shaun, my nephew Robby (14), and all of us. It was just one of those times that clicks and everyone enjoys every minute like it's magic. I had made a big pot of chicken and yellow rice earlier in the evening and had a lot of leftover strawberry and chocolate chip muffins, and pitchers of cold iced tea. Laura and Frank were gone by 11:30-ish, Kristin and her kids and Shaun left at like 3 in the morning and Robby spent the night. I think by the time he, Annie and Aaron went to bed their Rock Band band had achieved "Legend" status in San Fransisco.


Christmas Eve kind of sucked a lot, until the end. I had a lot of way-too-emotional talking with Grant and my sister about my mom, and my brother, and my journal entries, and history, and blah blah blah. I was mostly locked in my bedroom all day, wrapping presents and crying on the phone. BUT THEN we went over to Laura's, once Grant and Frank were off, and that ended up being kind of awesome. L and F had bought aaaaaalll this food - honeybaked ham and turkey from the honeybaked ham place, meat and cheese platters, pickle and olive platters, cheeseball with crackers, chips with cheese dip, huge fruit salad, just a ton of stuff. We played Pandora carols and Frank's sister, Linda, came with her kids, too, and it was fun. After Linda and the kids left I gave Laura, Frank and Brian their presents from us and felt really happy that they were all perfect, and then my 5 + Brian opened everything we'd gotten in the mail from Nana and Pa, and my Mom.

AND WHOA. My Nana and Pa sent each kid a gift bag full of small things, with an envelope with $50 in it stapled to the side. My Mom sent each kid a wallet full of gift cards. So they have major shopping adventures ahead. Ananda is talking about saving for either an iPod or spending money for Harry Potter World, and I'm looking forward to getting Elise some new clothes because she's starting to run low, but otherwise I think it's a free for all for the boys. I think Jake got gift cards to Coldstone Creamery, Toys R Us and Target, for instance. Annie got them to Starbucks, Target and Barnes and Noble. She actually told me, "I think since I got a Barnes and Noble gift card and have a library card now, I might actually be able to save my money".

We got out of there too late to make it to Midnight Mass at St Louis, so we rushed to Sacred Heart...where the Midnight Mass was in creole. Their english one was at 10. So, we ended up coming home and reading the Christmas story from the bible and saying the Lord's Prayer. And then they all opened their Christmas pajamas to sleep in.

Still half in their fancy getups:






Rest of the post, pictures throughout )

So happy.

Dec. 25th, 2009 01:52 pm
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
All 5 kids running around in flannel Christmas pajamas into the afternoon.

Husband off (paid) for the next 11 days.

Everybody so damned excited about everything they're getting.

The St Nicholas picture had Isaac jumping up and down screaming.

SO MUCH CHOCOLATE FOR ALL OF US.

Bob even laughing at his Spiderman underwear and open to his BROWN cords and obviously touched by the football he'd wanted.

Whole family digging through the stockings I sewed myself and stuffed last night.

We ran a dozen strawberry chocolate chip muffins over to Grant Srs for him and Patrice, Nadia and Robby. Barefoot 4 blocks and not knocking.

Grant is making bacon and eggs in the kitchen for us all to have "breakfast".

And we've got good places to go and people to see and the BIKES surprise later, and geeeeez is there going to be a whole lot of cash and gift card shopping for these children in the days to come.

Grant made the most amazing big wooden swords for Ananda and Aaron, each with their names wood burned into the handle. Also the coolest boxes for Isaac and Elise, his with a money slot and a lock and hers covered in cool pictures and laminated over with wide clear tape.

We had a great little prayer-and-scripture thing in our giant bed last night, all 7 of us.

Alright I gotta serve some plates.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!
altarflame: (Default)
I'm kind of amazed with how productive today was.

I took decent care of Grant and good care of Aaron, both of whom were sick with whatever Annie and Isaac had last week. Annie and Isaac did schoolwork today, significant amounts of it. I made oatmeal for breakfast and scallops and brussels sprouts and things for dinner. I read to everyone a lot, the chickens got plenty of free roaming time, all animals were fed and tended to. Elise's hair was done and her outfit matched and I actually got her to take a nap. Baths happened and we watched educational videos on YouTube and planned a Christmas Eve Itinerary and confirmed our plans for Kristin's house tomorrow, and they even went to bed at a decent time. I also did a much better job with healthy eating than I have been previously.

AND YET.

It's all overlayed with this very crappy situation with my brother. I've had, like, NOT A JOKE, over a dozen "we don't want to kick you out, why in the hell aren't you out applying to jobs right now? Bob you're past your deadline by a day and I've even contacted Shawn about you moving there but, dude, you could be hired already and appealing this decision if you wanted to. You could be up at the plaza going place by place filling in apps, it is 5 blocks away, what is the problem" conversations. He makes half-hearted excuses and light jokes. Today he mowed the front, side and back yards and he played phone tag and sat on hold and re-called and waded through automated options, to get the CELL PHONE my mother sent him activated (on her account)...he instigated and played Scrabble with the kids. He cooked himself frozen pizzas. He did not do ANYTHING related to finding a job. Despite my reminders, my prodding, my half-begging him to DO SOMETHING RELATED TO FINDING A JOB.

I feel very hopeless and frustrated about this situation. Two impossible things happened today:

1. I was in his room, where my craft supplies still are, looking for fabric and notions, and I saw his computer was open to a google search. He actually had typed in the word "bus" in google and had been trying to sift through all the myriad results that come from that. This is like finding out he doesn't know the months of the year; I get simultaneously heartbroken about the massive gaps in his knowledge base that make things impossible for him, and TOTALLY OVERWHELMED by the idea of being responsible for fixing all that. Also, his pride does not help - I have offered before to help him figure out the bus schedules or even ride it with him the first time, to no avail.

2. Apparently he called my mother and told her we're kicking him out during the conversation. And apparently she cried hysterically and freaked out. The one part I had retold to me involved him telling her that we aren't mean and evil, we just can't afford it and I have to think about my family, to which she yelled, "YOU ARE HER FAMILY!" So yeah, this is awkward. Coupled with how I no longer have unlimited long distance (we downgraded to lower the bill, along with reducing our internet speed) to call her, and we're about to have Christmas Eve apart for the first time ever in my life, I predict a rapid deterioration of our relationship.

Also: I realized that the way I post-dated that "I need an agent" post and it is sticking at the top of my lj will most likely keep her from ever seeing another one of my entries in the forseeable future...she just goes and sees if there is something new at the top. I really don't know what to say about any of this. I might email her.

It's hard to not imagining her insane stress levels, up there never sleeping, working and caring for Nana around the clock, fuming and heartbroken about this Bob crap, and totally unable to vent because Laura and I are really about the only people she talks to.

So done with all of this. Done with thinking how Christmas is 2 days away and I can't kick someone out for CHristmas, done with realizing I don't have a stocking or any presents, still, for him, done with feeling guilty for everything all day long except for when I realize there's no reason to feel guilty, and then just feeling like I"m gonna scream. Seriously, this is insane.

What is with how he is mowing our grass and playing with our kids and getting his phone activated and making his lunch? What is with his light hearted jokes? Is he hoping he'll just blend in and we'll drop this whole job malarky? Is he in total denial? He doesn't even act upset about leaving, like, he told me today that Shawn replied to him about how he has to talk to his landlord and then he'll contact him again. What?

*shaking it all off*

I'm not completely rid of this stomach virus gradually making it's way around the house. Stomach trouble + feeling cold really makes me anxious and irritable re: my whole messed up abdomen could be back in the hospital bs. Involuntary nerves...

Sidenote:
My husband is SO. AMAZING. He cradled me, and stroked my face, and fanned his fingers across my back, and held me petting my hair, and so on, until I was not just dozing in and out but DEEPLY sleeping, last night. This after layering blankets on me and getting the heating pad for our bed. LIke I swam up to consciousness 3 times, barely, to feel all "MMMM" because it was still happening and drift off again. He is so much better than insomnia, and I cannot wait until he's off work and heading home (30 more minutes).
altarflame: (Oldschool)
This financial crisis we're having is highlighting key differences in the way Grant and I were raised. It's bothering me, too, really it is, but it is making him completely insane with anxiety and stress. I know that part of this is that he is the breadwinner but I really don't think that's all of it by a long shot.

I try to look at bad situations and say, ok, what is the absolute worse thing that could happen? For instance, say we ended up in foreclosure (remember, we took out a home equity loan a year ago to finish renovations...we only owe less than half of what the house is worth since it was bought outright, but it means we can foreclose). Anyway, I don't want to lose our house, obviously. I really hope it doesn't come to anything like that. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to even imagine. But when I look at it realistically and know that we only owe less than half of what the house is worth - even on this market - well, we could sell the place for a point in between and move with many tens of thousands of dollars in our pocket. We would not be homeless, or even back at Grant Sr's. Likewise, we have two paid off cars that are still almost new. So, obviously I'd be taking a big hit to my lifestyle to sell one of them and be homebound when G is not here, or go back to revisiting driving him to work/busses with major commutes - it would be a major pita. BUT WE COULD DO IT, and get around $10,000, if we had to.

It's just nice to know those sorts of cushions are there, for me, because neither of my parents - now, in their mid and late 40s - have anything like that, they live paycheck to paycheck driving battered old things that break down all the time and...that's all I ever knew, for a long time. I don't know. I feel very blessed. We're kind of screwed on some fronts, we budget horribly and make bad decisions and so we were not at all prepared for Grant's job to change him to salary or to lose his main consulting gig but at the end of the day I am comforted and praying about how he's switched to the night shift and persuing other day work (he's already had a meeting about a contract that will be an immediate check), I'm submitting writing like there's no tomorrow, and I'm PSYCHED that due to pre-crisis shopping and our wonderful extended families, the kids will have an awesome Christmas regardless of how we're doing.

Elise is doing great! I'm alive! Grant and I have an amazingly strong marriage and are nuts about each other! My stupid cat even came back.

It does help that I was raised to believe bills sort of work themselves out and it's not worthing bothering over too much :p *sigh* I'm also not above seeking temporary or one time help from whatever agencies offer it, if we need it. I'm also going to start soliciting for watching someone's kid sometimes - if we could get the times right I know that can be really good money and some people out there would be pretty thrilled with our house as an environment...

Anyway.

So tomorrow my friend Kristin is dropping her son, A and A's friend Darien, and her daughter, Elise's hero Naja, off here at 7:30 AM. AM, people! What my sister and I bitterly refer to as the asscrack of dawn. But Kristin got an incredible photography gig she needed a sitter for. And she's coming back with food for lunch afterward. She's doing candids at a super upscale Montessori School. Grant is probably also going to try to get our family Christmas picture in, in the afternoon before he goes to work (4-1).

I have a ton of blitz cleaning to do for an event here this weekend. And Annie is going to go hang out with her friend Christina on Sunday after we get out of church.

Today she came to me for a hug in the kitchen. She rests the top of her head on MY CHEEK when we hug. She was wearing one of my shirts today. She has shot up again and it thinned her out. She's reading a book called "The Day I Dissapeared", about a girl who has flashbacks increasingly often until she's living completely in the past - in her mind - and then wakes up surrounded by people who think she's gone crazy. It's leveled reading for 4th and 5th graders, which she is. It's just crazy. She's calm and beautiful. She's TALKING TO ME. She's walking around with other tall, only-sort-of-children at PATH, not seeming so awkward, and running around at local events independently with friends, while I sit with little kids on our chairs, and she's writing to her penpal without my help and reading novels all the time.

Grant turned from the dishes to say, "I know I've been working a lot, but when did Annie become a young woman?"

I am on a major Fiona Apple kick. It never occured to me until I told Elise her name and she repeated, "Apple?" that her last name...is apple. I've known of her since way before I remember being like, "Huh!" because Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby Apple. *shrug* Anyway yeah. Tymps, Please Please Please, Sullen Girl, Paper Bag, O Sailor, Window - these are my favorites at the moment. I remember a time when I couldn't get enough of Never is a Promise, Criminal and Extraordinary Machine, but I think they're permanently played out for me at this point. I've also got Tori's new "Midwinter Graces" cd in heavy rotation, along with Pandora stations based on Regina Spektor, and Christmas carols. Suffice to say my brother is ready to gouge his ear drums with a knife. But...in a joking way. Because he's in a better mood over all. Frank even said he was really impressed with his attitude when he took him out job hunting yesterday. And I'm glad.

I ended up making pecan shortbread cookies for the exchange at PATH, from some recipe I found in Southern Living, which I unabashedly adore cover to cover each month when it arrives, loaded with butter, twang and diabetes advertisements. Those cookies were boss. (<--- I said boss.) Really though, I was robbed having to exchange them, they were the best ones there and totally worth arriving covered in flour. I even rolled the logs through my best Christmasy sugar before I sliced them out...

I'm basically rambling here until my FREAKING KIDS GO TO SLEEP - the little ones - so I can go take a long luxurious bath in my seldom-used garden tub. I'm starting to think I'll have to give it up, as they've been arguing and getting into things in their darkened rooms at top volume for TWO HOURS NOW. Improved Schedule: Night One is always so much fun. I'll send Darien and Naja in there to wake them up bright and early. I have too much before-bed cleaning to do to fit it and the bath in before I go down :/
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
Jake called out earlier, from the kitchen, "I'm making a Cheerios sandwich!" I was like, uh, and went to see, and sure enough he was pressing individual cheerios, one by one, into pieces of bread and when they were each coated he stuck them together and ate the entire thing. Then he made another one. "Is this good for my body?" he asked me, halfway through #2, and I replied that it was pretty good for energy and but he needed some fruits and vegetables for vitamins and meat or nuts or eggs for protein. "Ok, I'll have a banana and some cashews next", he said, and did. Note that he can take down a bowl's worth of cereal, 4 slices of whole grain bread, a banana and a handful of cashews, as a snack between meals o_O

Last week he followed me into the bathroom, shut the door, locked it, and then told me, "I did that because I know you need privacy!" as he sat down on the edge of the tub with a smile.

I just realized I forgot to say here that MY CAT CAME BACK. Almost a week ago now. I wrote about it on facebook and then made a phone call about it. She is no longer in heat, is puking more than usual (like every other day instead of once a week) and is being super affectionate, all of which leads me to believe we will have kittens. I'm experimenting with a raw food diet for the cats...tons of research into cat pregnancy and kittens led me to it and it really makes sense on a lot of levels. They love it, too.

I went to Starbucks with Ananda today, and asked her to ask me whatever she wanted as we sat together sipping. We do this sometimes - well, her and Aaron and I - the "ask me anything" talk. I feel like I'm very open with them and available, yet there is ALWAYS something they think to ask then as though they've been sitting on it. She asked "what is the story with Nadia". Nadia, her 11 year old cousin, who is a crack baby and is severely bipolar and schizophrenic and in and out of the psych hospitals and rehab places. So I told her those things, with lots and lots of explanations (she already knows what crack is and that Aunt Mindy has had a big problem with it) and we went through some examples of things Nadia has done that flesh these definitions out. Like how when Oma's foot was broken for months, awhile back, it was because Nadia broke it during a manic rage. And how they only put her in the hospital for her own safety, because she'll, say, JUMP OUT OF A MOVING CAR on a main road when she can't control herself. And how none of it is her fault and sometimes medicine can help with these extreme mental illnesses but it's very hard to find the right one for someone's individual body. Ananda was surprised by some of it, but very interested in everything I said and seemed satisfied with the answers. She seemed to feel bad for her, but more for Patrice, her twin, who has to deal with her either being a bit crazy or dissapearing for periods of time. Then she also wanted to know what "Noel" means :p

I had the most amazing conversation on the phone, with my father in law. I was wondering if any of our old Christmas stuff was still over there, and inviting him to dinner next Sunday, and he asked about Christmas presents for the kids. "Is Annie still riding that same little old beat up bike?" "Yeah", I answered, and he said, "Well, that's easy then, I'll get her a bike." WHAT?! And yeah, while he's at it, he'll just go ahead and get one for Aaron who's outgrown his rusting mongoose and Isaac who's never had a bike, too. Uh. THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME. I mean damn.

It really made me happy.

He's also on board to pitch in for the collaborative Christmas present I'm organizing for Grant, which I am really excited about on his behalf.

Grant is starting the night shift tomorrow at his job - 4pm-1am - which means a few things.

Bad:
-He loses a lot of the probability of promotion and advancement that he has there now
-He loses most of his social interaction, some of which he REALLY digs - there is a lot of joking around and prank wars and whatnot, at his work, and he can't get enough of that
-it will not exactly help us to ever get on a more "normal" schedule, though I've about given up on that with every kids' activity and church service ever being in the evening...

Good:
-no more commuting traffic, which helps with his stress as well as shaving over an hour off his total time devoted to that job per day
-WAY LESS overall stress, like hugely so, because he'll be there working on projects and things when almost nobody else is there, rather than rushing around with everyone else as support calls and emails pour in during the day with the boss standing over them freaking out. He has a noticeably calmer temperament when he does evenings there, you can SEE the tension draining away
-he will have to stay late way less often, thus reducing his total hours worked on salary quite significantly
-HE WILL HAVE TIME DURING THE DAYS FOR SIDE WORK!! So, hopefully, assuming several other factors fall into place, we can gradually start pulling ourselves out of this crazy deep hole we're digging right now

Which would be freaking awesome.




I cut pieces for and then sewed almost half of a quilt top I planned out yesterday, while this sat open, just now...Grant was on the computer coding while I sat nearby on the floor puzzling over symmetry and then had the occasional sewing machine snafu - it was a lot of silence with mutters of "Well damnitt what now" or "Why is that..." followed by smatterings of keys or thrum of motor and needle.

I don't have "an ending" so...the end :)
altarflame: (Default)
We are deeply immersed in the Christmas season.

A few days ago, it was St Nicholas day, and Isaac and I read books about St Nicholas that led to aaaaaaaaaaaaaaall kinds of conversation, and set up our whole nativity set, just the two of us.

Last night, the kids and I went to a big Tree Lighting the city put on - it was outside in a park with a bandshell and involved choir and dance company performances from local schools as well as Santa Claus and all the free candy canes people could eat, followed by a hugely projected movie we all sat around on blankets and in camping chairs to watch (classic Rudolph). It was pretty fun - we saw some adult people we knew and a few of my older kids' friends were there for them to run around with, and Grant was able to join us for the movie part.

Tonight, we went to St Louis for their Family Adoration Ministry, which aside from adoring the blessed sacrament involved prayers, singing and everyone bringing the Baby Jesus part of their nativity sets to be blessed, which my kids thought was awesome. Ananda and Aaron were pestering me about when we were going to get to go do this 5 times a day since we heard about it during Mass on Sunday morning. They were actually all eager for turns holding it on the way up and back, Elise was clutching this porcelain infant to her chest and kissing it's head the whole way up in the van. This was another "Grant met us there right after work" event.

A and A pooled their money to get a 3.5 foot (live) table top tree the other day when we were grocery shopping. Last year I scored this box of about 30 bird ornaments, all clear, white or frosted glass, in many different shapes and types - for $10 with shipping, from eBay. So this tree is on our bar is the bird themed tree, with white lights. We just decorated it tonight. This is as opposed to the large main Christmas tree we have in the library, which my mother was kind enough to buy for us, and is 6', covered in colored lights and hodge-podged crafted ornaments (mostly tri-bead-on-pipe-cleaner candy canes, and actual candy canes googly eyed and pipe cleaner'd into looking like reindeers).

I am loving Advent this year. And I'm glad we're getting a lot out of it as a season, because Christmas itself is going to be so different. Grant has to work Christmas Eve, we're not going to Nana and Pa's, and we can't afford "big" Christmas presents by any stretch of the imagination...we kind of can't afford any, but I had already done a lot of shopping before our biggest financial woes hit (sounds ironic, doesn't it?).

It's like;

Annie has a cuorduroy owl tote bag; black tights with peace signs on them; a boxed E.B. White book trilogy, as well as 2 single books (Henry and Beezus and a very well done Rapunzel, after her middle name); a (costume, cool) owl necklace; a nightgown that matches a smaller one we got Elise; a robe like she's been asking for; and these felt letters that spell out her name that I've finally finished, to hang by her bed.

This is about the level everyone is at; Aaron's getting a couple of Choose Your Own Adventure books; this small plaster molding kit; a set of wooden brain teasers; a couple of clothing items; and a love letter pillow like he's always wanted, made by me - his will be a star shape, in shades of green and black. Isaac has a big floor puzzle of a castle; some flashcard type game I know he'll like; 3 different books including a ladybug one, a bunch more Pooh stories by an alternate author, and Walter the Farting Dog, which he will DIE over; and the flowered vine he wants for over his bed, crocheted by me.

I wasn't going to list everyone's but since I'm down to it, we have a Scholastic video set for Jake (he LOVES those Reading Rainbow style "about a book" dvds), a little boxed set of mini-Eric Carle books (he also loves tiny books), along with a vintage copy I got used of The Gingerbread Man; a bowling set; and a blanket made by me. For Elise - an outfit; sunglasses; tiny adorable purse; Tale of Jemima Puddleduck by Beatrix Potter; tiny boardbook about birds; nightgown that matches Annie's; waldorf doll made by me. Everyone gets flannel pajamas on Christmas Eve to wear to bed, and a wooden robot made by Daddy in their stocking.

So I know that is awesome, and Grandparents will be gifting too, but I am a little dissapointed because I really, REALLY wanted to get the three oldest kids bikes and there's just no way, now. A and A have really outgrown theirs and Isaac has never had one (non-trike) - we do a LOT of bike riding. There aren't really going to be "big" gifts.

There are a lot of good new things to replace good old things, like Nana and Pa's and Big Gifts, though...extra church services and Midnight Mass, extra driving to see lights, extra trees in our house (we scored a mini fake tree for ONE DOLLAR at Goodwill awhile back for the little kids' room, so now both kids' rooms have 2' trees in them covered in crafted candy canes). Grant is also using some stored up paid vacation time immediately following Christmas, to give each kid a day alone with Dad, and that is something that seriously makes them FLIP.




Alright. I just spent like 2 hours out on the couch in the tv room with Aaron, who sometimes ends up awake in the middle of the night while everyone else sleeps, and then we get this amazing time just the two of us. We read the first 3 chapters of Hatchett, stopping often to talk about everything it made him think, while wrapped up in his blanket together on the couch with his cat on top of us. I'll let him sleep in tomorrow...

Random stuff from my sleep-fogged brain:

-We cut Jake's giant awesome fro off today. It was just too much, hanging in his eyes and getting big flat patches. We found some matted clay in it last night? I mean, really... Mostly, he was asking us to cut it everyday. I was really sad initially but he LOVES his "regular" haircut, now. I ended up trimming Isaac's while I was at it, and I'm glad to say I've gotten way better with the clippers and tapered lengths and haircuts that make sense...

My Brother...this got long and ended the whole bullet point format completely )
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: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I have been hoarse and sleepy for over a week now.

Within the last 2 days we've made Pandora stations and CDs for the van, of Christmas music, and gotten a tree, and put it up and strung lights on it, and gotten things from the attic, and hung the stockings, and went driving around to look at lights, and been to Mass. All of a sudden it feels like we are in the middle of Advent. I really love it. I also drove by my Nana and Pa's old house on the way back from lights and burst into tears.

...

It's getting "cold" again.

Last night I made a ton of my chocolate banana cake. My recipe. A loaf for Robby, a loaf for Shaun, a loaf for us that dissapeared within MINUTES of being out of the oven, and a big bundt cake that is still in my kitchen waiting for a tea time.

I was laying in bed with Isaac last night, forehead to forehead, for a long time. We talked about so many things. I realized the perfect Christmas present for him would be a St Nicholas picture to hang on the wall by his bed - his medal gets lost all the time and he's always frantic to find it at bedtime.

He came out of the room the other morning, crying, telling me he had this horrible nightmare. He said he dreamed that all the other kids were having treats, and he wanted a treat, too, but he only had pie, and it was good pie but not as good as the treats. O_O That is Isaac for you.

I found out from someone who commented here that there have to be recessive genes for red hair on both sides, for a redheaded child to be born. I was like, "What?" about this at first, because I have no memories at all of any redheaded relatives ever and was just thinking it was from Grant's side. Then I remembered that everyone called my Nana's father "Pappy Red". He was old and gray when I knew him...but not always. We started spiking Isaac's hair up some, and it makes him look EXACTLY like Grant as a kid, coloring aside...it's nuts.

The night before last I was up with Ananda, in her bed. I read her almost all of Sarah, Plain and Tall - she wants the sequels now. But the big thing was...she talked to me. Like, really talked. My close-mouthed, dyslexic, cannot express herself daughter who I've fought and fought and finally given up on ever REALLY talking to me.

She told me about the kinds of things her friends Joanne and Karen were saying at Game Night, and what they're reading now, and what her friend Christina from PATH wanted to do on Thursday, and why it's hard to make friends at Dance Empire because there just isn't unstructured time. She told me what her brothers do that drives her crazy and how she really needs us to go back to being more scheduled like before Thanksgiving and when I got sick because she "just feels a lot happier" when we are. How mad she is at her bunnies for eating part of her wooden owl and then brainstorming how we could fix it. She told me she didn't want me to spend the night because she likes having the bed to herself, and how her strapless bras are the best ones but they're a pain because after one wear they've gotta go through the wash again to fit right.

She never talks to me. She tells on people, answers my questions, asks for stuff, says the prayer at dinner if it's her turn. Sometimes she'll interrupt Aaron to quote a movie or recount something from earlier in the day RIGHT (because he's doing it wrong). That's like...it.

There've been some little things since then. Like she admitted to me this afternoon that she doesn't want to ride bikes together anymore because her seat is hurting her. That's really simple stuff, but not something she would normally tell me. She just quit riding a couple of weeks ago and has refused and gotten silent and tried to leave whenever I bring it up, even though it used to be a favorite activity. I ask why and she makes depressed sounds that add up to "I don't know" or "I just don't".

I really want this to be the dam breaking SO. BAD.


...I heard this accoustic rendition on that XM Radio station "The Coffee House" the other day. Natalie Merchant's "Wonder". I used to hear that all the time when I was a teenager, but not really since. It's Elise all over, I've been singing it with her.

Doctors have come
from distant cities
just to see me
stand over my bed
disbelieving what they're seeing

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

newspapers ask
intimate questions
want confessions
they reach into my head
to steal the glory
of my story

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith
she'll make her way"

people see me
I'm a challenge
to your balance
I'm over your heads
how I confound you
and astound you
to know I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as you see you can offer me
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as she came to my mother
"know this child will not suffer"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith
she'll make her way"



I suppose I should be helping my children turn candy canes into reindeer ornaments now.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I've had a weird, mixed up, interesting sort of Christmas.

Physically, this has been a crappy week, as I've had a bad head cold with tons of muccous all along, and gotten very little sleep several nights in a row, and also been either far too full, and/or crammed into my girdle thing every minute. Plus I just started my period today so I keep having sudden bouts of bloating and inexplicable bad moods.

Spiritually, I feel good that I'm sort of keeping on task - by reading the kids the birth story from Luke before we opened presents and eating Jesus' birthday cake with them at Aunt Laura's and continuing to do devotions and bible reading myself every morning. It's like I'm putting out all I should, but not taking in...I really, really miss being able to go to church on Christmas Eve and with this whole "My grandparents live in Lakeland now" thing it's totally logistically impossible if the family is going to get together. I am uneasy about how many things get prioritized before church on Christmas, everything from packing to wrapping to cleaning. And yet it's a hypocritical uneasiness.

Moving right along, "emotionally" has been quite the headache. This past Monday, my counseling session ended right in the midst of me uncovering some horrible repressed memories and opening a giant can of worms. It hasn't RUINED Christmas for me, but it's made for a draining lot of talk with Laura and Grant and more nightmares than I would like to have had this week. Plus some confusion about how to proceed with various things.

"Emotionally" has also included seeing my mother for the first time in a couple of months and having her be shockingly thin, and this after her barely making it to join us at the last minute, and trying to deal with the "my brother is 18 and completely unprepared for life and totally handicapped by family shit" situation, all with some "Pa has prostate cancer" thrown in and a sprinkling of "sister in law's fiancee might be cleaning out our house while we're safely out of town" (he wasn't, but some weird circumstances led us to worry about it when I'd like to have not).

And then with Grant, we've done a lot of driving up and down the state in separate vehicles, sleeping in separate hotel beds with toddlers, going to sleep at different times because he has work the next day, existing on opposite ends of the room with 15 other people between us. There've been a few nice connecting moments in between but also a "long uncomfortable talk" (we're doing great overall, it was just an isolated thing).

There have been Some Great Things. That were really and truly great. Which is what has made me dub this Christmas "mixed up and interesting" rather than "horrible" or something to that effect.

-I'm really satisfied with all of the gift giving we did, it was great to have the means to really give people relevant and awesome stuff tailored to them and I think we did a great job with it. For instance, Mindy's girls? Nadia is in a place right now, like a behavioral problem, mental health stabilizing place for kids, for 6 months or more. So I got her a couple of really cool paperbacks, a sketchbook and colored pencils, and a bracelet. Patrice, on the other hand, is left at Oma's house without her twin sister or anyone having time to do things with her much - so I got her an American Girl doll with the promise that we're taking her, along with Annie, to the American Girl meetings at Barnes and Noble for the next few months. She was thrilled, by the way :D And when we last visited my Nana and Pa, Pa had a "CD burning for Dummies" book, a bunch of cds and a headache, and couldn't get his music imported or burned or any-damn-thing. I got him an iPod. He was all about it. My brother's been wearing the wrong prescription glasses with a burn on one lens and no nose guard and I got him a Lens Crafters gift certificate. And so on.
-I had a lot of opportunity for talking with my sister. We talk A LOT all the time, but in this scatter brained Mommy-brain way that is constant interruptions and putting each other on hold and never remembering what we were just saying. It's really different to spend 5 hours in a vehicle with two sleeping kids in the back and go deep. I think it was really helpful.
-We pulled off a lot of great stuff with the kids. They all wore their fancy Christmas clothes to Bob Evans and then my Nana's house, wowing everybody, and then changed into Christmas pajamas for the ride home and opening presents the next day, which was so adorable. They played with my Uncle Steve a ton, gave Nana and Pa plenty of hugs. They loved the stuff they got up there, some things to the point of real joy and fascination, said Thank you a lot, we had a good easy breakfast of leftovers yesterday morning, back here at home, and then present opening - we got a tiny recliner of ours out as the "gift chair" for whoever was sitting in it, and for the first three little kids' turns in it, Grant took pictures, I passed things out, Aaron collected wrapping paper and Annie had scissors and was helping people open things.

It can get overwhelming, how much WORK everything is as an adult running the show... I mean really, between cookie crumbles, popcorn bits, pine needles and torn paper I've been vaccuming twice a day just to continuously find more ants and neverendingly still have a filthy carpet. Mess per se doesn't bother me too much, especially during the holidays, it's the Herculean effort to clean constantly just to avoid descending into full blown squalor, that wears me down - we loaded the dishwasher three times before we left for Lakeland the other day and still came home to a messy kitchen, for instance. It just doesn't end. And then because I spent an hour and a half putting together a drum set and my sister was wrapping our presents for us for hours and my husband was trying to keep everyone amused and book the hotel and get the oil changed, I don't know. I think I'd feel less neutral and more genuinely happy "if" all sorts of variables were shifted a bit. Perhaps if I were healthy, if my mother were doing better, if the counseling thing hadn't played out the way it had, if my hormones weren't conspiring against me.

*sigh*

The counseling thing is the big thing for sure.




I am completely certain my kids had a wonderful Christmas Eve, Christmas day, Christmas week in general. And watching them has been the major highlight. I have a lot of pictures and will be posting some soon.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
+9 pics of Christmas baking and decorating )

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

I sometimes think Brian sees my house as Disney World, with 5 young kids, bunnies, cats, toys, trampoline, riding toys, art supplies, etc etc. He especially likes having a big milk party, nursing alongside Jake and Elise while Laura and I roll our eyes at all of them to quit popping off and leaving us exposed :p
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
This is really a great weekend.

Ananda and Aaron had their last soccer games of the season on Friday night. Annie had blue hair for team spirit (they're "Blue Thunder"). Grant got off early so he could go, as he's never been able to before due to work hours. Annie's team tied and Aaron's won, they both got AYSO participation trophies, and THEN - this really awesome old British ref who is Isaac's good friend and recently had a heart attack on the field, showed up and is doing really well. That heart attack deal was a scary night, but there happened to be an EMT on the sidelines and he got to the ER very quickly (and Frank, my brother in law was on shift there that night by odd coincidence), but he's recovered well and Isaac's been asking EVERY time we go out there where Roy is and when he's coming back. I teared up a bit when he told Isaac he's been sick, to see Isaac (and a few other kids) staring up at him grinning - volunteering in kids' sports is this guy's life.

How we met Roy:
We were at the Nike store for AYSO signups, and Isaac went into the spiel he makes ALL adults in his vicinity listen to - he shouts this at passing strangers in the grocery store, neighbors trying to get into their cars, there is no stopping him. It goes:
"Hey, I'm Isaac! I'm 4 years old! My birthday is February 20! I got my appendix out!"
That's the baseline spiel, Roy the ref encouraged him and so they chatted the whole time I filled out paperwork. Weeks passed before soccer started, during which time Isaac told that or much more to about a million other random victims, and then we were at soccer practice for the first time. The third adult he began to accost was Roy, who interrupted him as he opened his mouth to fill in (with a British accent) - "Your name's Isaac! You're 4 years old and you got your appendix out." Isaac's eyes got really big and he took a couple of steps backward looking really freaked out, and I about died laughing. He was bound to hit someone up twice sometime.

So anyway, yeah, soccer was good. Our...uh...friend family? Family of friends? Grant is friends with the husband, I'm friends with the wife, Aaron is friends and teammate with one son and Elise loves their twin infants, so whatever. They were there is the point ;)
Annie before the game:


And Aaron:


Then the next day it was Saturday and I got to sleeeeeep iiiin with all of them and not wake anybody up who didn't want to be and all that jazz, it was sweet, that's not just daily life for us anymore. I paid for Annie's recital costumes at Dance Empire, they're awesome - the lyrical costume is just beautiful, it's this flowy, fairy looking thing in blues and purples, and then the musical theater is hilarious. It's a sparkly gold leotard with a fringe skirt, with a sparkly gold top hat and gloves (this to sing and dance songs from Mama Mia in).
Annie before dance Saturday morning, after much hairspray had rubbed off on her pillow:

I feel like I'm getting flashes of what it will be like when she's 14 O_o

The other kids and I picked up Grant for his lunchbreak at the subshop, and then we picked her back up and came home and did some rapid cooking and blitz cleaning. We got the dishwasher un- and re-loaded, the laundry moved through, Elise changed, floor swept, me changed, pasta puttanesca with fresh parmesean ready in a pot and a big plate of chocolate chip scones baked, in, like, an hour and a half.

We took all the food up to a Christmas party at my friend Michelle's house. She is a pagan, birth activist, doula, yoga teacher mother of 6, and her and her husband co-own and run a dance supply store. Not that you need to know that, just saying - she hosts most of the get togethers for the natural parenting group I'm a part of and this was great...we were only there for 2 hours, but it was time enough for Annie to make a new friend and do crafts, Isaac to find an adult to hold hostage and make teach him things, Elise and Jake to get comfortable enough to run around on their own - oooh and there was a play kitchen, which Jake loved, and it made me happy because my Nana and Pa got him a play kitchen for Christmas and he's going to be extra excited about that, now, after having fun with one all last night - I got to talk to a lot of people I hadn't seen in awhile, and my friend Kristin showed up at the end - WITH HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS, can you imagine? Om nom nom. Aaron ate a lot and sat out on the front porch with all the cats that refuse to leave Michelle's yard, I think he was in heaven.

Then when I got back,nanny was here. I changed again, into a red and black pencil skirt, long sleeved clingy black shirt, Steve Madden heels (!! who am I fooling? I shaved my legs for the first time in 3 months, as well), and put on makeup, and then Grant got home and we went out to Christmas at the Winery. Which was nice, but not all we'd hoped it would be. The best part was fresh, Homestead-local LYCHEE SORBET. *shivers of ecstasy* There were chunks, people, chunks! I also found Florida Keys mango honey in their showroom store, oh my.

We ended up spending most of our date time crooning and moaning over turtle cheesecake, cheese soup, and pasta dishes at Atlanta Bread before seeing There's Nothing Like the Holidays at Flagship.

Which made me laugh out loud over and over, and just ACHE for Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family :/ Ever since Ma died there is no Matriarch bringing everyone together every year, so it's only happened a handful of times.

When G and I got back home, nanny had all the kids in the front yard wrapped in blankets skywatching. Jake and A and A were asleep within 15 minutes of me nursing him and reading to them, and then Isaac and Elise fell asleep while I nursed her. Which means G and I actually got to go to bed by ourselves, something that happens approximately bi-annually. Curled up together under the blankets, he mustered the strength to mutter, "I wish I wasn't so tired so I could take advantage of this situation", and I grunted my agreement before blacking out peacefully in his arms.


Today I got up early and did a bunch of floor excercise before taking a long fast walk with Ananda for nearly an hour, before breakfast, to make up for all that yum last night...I've lost 6 pounds in the last couple of weeks and am really psyched about how much easier it's getting to NOT stuff my face constantly. I will always love food (A LOT), but I don't have to have thirds and can stay out of the fridge between meals provided I'm doing a lot of prayer and study (to keep from feeling like I need "something more" to fill me up, that is...)

Called up my talented friend Kristin, with 2 propositions. 1. Did she want 900 AOL cds Grant has finally decided he can part with? (NO). 2. Would she like to be commissioned to do our kitchen's mosaic backsplash with recycled materials of her choosing, and help from Annie? (YES) She's coming later this week with her sketchbook to check out our measurements and talk colors and ideas, and meanwhile she's eagerly looking around for things to smash with a hammer and stick to our sheetrock.

Then I spent two solid hours turning 8 Mr Clean Magic Erasers into tattered bits, one by one, to get all the pencil, crayon, fingerprints, footprints, food splatters and who knows what off the walls all over the house. I am sure my arms will be sore tomorrow, all the better to match my bruised up legs that were injured slipping and falling outside Publix (FLIP FLOPS FTW!)

We all sat out on the deck and watched the rain, after I was finished and we had admired our cleared expanses of paint.

Speaking of food ;) I am making BRIE MACARONI AND CHEESE tonight. And gingerbread for cookies to hang on the tree.

Grant is out right now with his sister and her fiancee (yes, she is still married...it's "a long story") at Santa's, taking long exposure pictures and possibly getting on The Slingshot. He'll get back for about an hour before I hit it to my sister's for late night "Girl Night", which we are both raising an eyebrow at as it's a brand new concept...but very eagerly so. We've got The Phantom of the Opera, tea and chocolate on the agenda (Frank is on shift at the fire department and Brian sleeps now).


I have some extra random pictures, like CATS, and Christmas hoohaw - +9 )
altarflame: (deep thoughts/trapped in my skin)
I am ready to bust right out of my skin! Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez I do not want to try to channel this energy into fucking cleaning. Argh argh argh.

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

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

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

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

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

Sidenote: You can't imagine how much I can cram into a dishwasher without compromising cleanness. All those years of Tetris were good for something after all.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
We made it to church Sunday - Ananda, Aaron and I, at least - with flowers in hand. It was a good Mass. Then when we got home, an (unknown) kid came over and knocked on our door. He said he lives two blocks away, and put a kitten in my hands, when I answered, saying that his grandma said he couldn't keep it and nobody else was home so I had to take it O_o We ended up taking it on the road with us to Lakeland to offer to my Nana and Pa, who used to have two cats but are down to one now. It was one little thing in the midst of a busy day, that entertained my kids for hours.

Christmas 2007 )

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