altarflame: (Default)
Something that really drives me crazy is the complete and total inability of anyone in my house to do anything more than they absolutely have to.

I can't tell to what degree I have failed as a parent (or even a modeler of behavior) to have such lazy and bare minimum children, and to what degree their attitudes are completely normal. Because I know I expect more from them than a lot of kids are expected to do, but - ARGH.

Scenario #1: Not doing all the jobs.

I'll tell everyone they have x, y and z to do while I'm at class, or cooking a meal, or whatever - and they do x, or maybe x and y, and act sheepish about how they "forgot" the other job(s). So then I have to make them do the extra job(s) when the jobs are all supposed to be done, which pushes back whatever else could be getting accomplished.

Scenario #2: Not doing normal stuff unless told.

My kids all have daily chores that have been the same for months and/or years and must be done, you know, DAILY. I get irritated about having to remind them (or in Aaron's case, INCESSANTLY NAG THEM alternating with timeouts in the corner and loss of privileges EVERY SINGLE DAY) when they - especially the older kids - are supposed to do them without being told. That's irritating, yet understandable to some point; they're kids. But I get SO MAD when they actually act surprised when I do the reminding. Like "What?!?! Pick up the things off the floor in the library and tv room?!" though you haven't been assigned to that daily task DAILY for the last year and a half. I'm the one that should be flabbergasted that you still need to be reminded. Aaron will get these huge eyes and groan and throw himself on the nearest piece of furniture as though I've ruined his life when I tell him the compost still needs to go out, as though I just gave him some news that changed what he should have already been up to. A. This shit seriously makes me nuts. B. I am absolutely never backing down because I genuinely need the help around the house, and also because I cannot allow their slothlike ways to dominate as they grow up. But I can't tell you how many days we're late to PATH or TLC, or don't get to schoolwork until way later than we should, because I'm still battling it out with one or more of them about "morning chores" come afternoon (the rule is that the only things you're allowed to do before morning chores is go to the bathroom and eat breakfast).

Scenario #3: Not doing the whole job

This is what sparked my entry. Do you know how sick of it I am? There are so many of these situations! Ananda is supposed to clear and wipe down/out the kids' bathroom counter and sinks every day. She'll say "I did it" but that means, like, just the counter and the sinks are still full of food coloring or shaving cream or whatever the hell else someone else did a science project with. And she hangs her head backwards and slow-shuffles in there to do it, when I send her back in again. Aaron uncovers his bird's cage in the morning and then seriously just drops the blanket on the dining room floor (Oliver is in the corner of our dining room now). EVERY SINGLE DAY I have to call him back inside as he's tearing off on his bike because he needs to pick up the blanket, or he took out the trash but there's no new bag, or he fed the cats but left the open container of cat food in the middle of the kitchen and didn't give them water. And it's not just, like, that settles it. He comes in and closes the cat food but leaves it there and then tries to go again with them still unwatered. Or he wanders around looking at the blanket and then goes back out. "Aaron, when you moved the laundry through and started more you didn't start the dryer. Or clean out the lint trap. OR use detergent." I expected their "help" to produce MORE work for me...when they were toddlers O_o

Sometimes it's just needing help with methodology, because they're kids, and I can deal with that. Like, the boys need someone to give them jobs - a blanket order to clean a really messy bedroom still doesn't work that well. "First clean up all the books you have in your room. Ok, now take a shopping bag in and collect any trash." Etc. I gave Annie a job this morning she didn't fully understand so I showed her a simple way to do it correctly; alright, fine.

But, like, the big "You actually have to do ALL the dishes to be done doing dishes" talk I've given Bob weekly since he moved in a year+ ago, combined with the little reminders every 2-3 days? That can bite me. SO OVER IT. He is contributing to my feelings on this hugely, as a 21 year old person who is not actually my kid. Every week we can either choose to completely ignore the fact that his version of "cleaning the deck and sideyard" is not ours at all, or we can drag him back out after he says he's done and say "What about that plate? What about that sock? What about those cups, and these chairs, and that old muffin?" Then he does 75% of the things we pointed out to him, and we again get to choose whether to accept it or drag him out a second time to say "You STILL didn't ____."

Anyway, yeah. I don't mind driving a minivan. It doesn't hurt my self concept any to bake cookies or sew costumes. I will make a total fool of myself singing off key and reading out loud with voices and accents and get all nerdy-excited about cloth diapers and curricula.

But I fucking hate being a nag. I hate nagging. I hate the sound of my own voice pestering and repeating itself. I hate the tedious, circuitous quality it all has and how unimportant each individual thing I have to make a big deal out of really is. It's so overwhelming sometimes, how staunchly consistent and unwavering I have to be to produce the most mediocre results! Many things about our lifestyle (Grant's long hours, our one vehicle, our desire to prioritize whole-family time, the variable evenings I'm in classes, lots of stuff) preclude having a lot of set routines and scheduling, which I imagine would make some of this slightly easier.

The biggest motivator I sometimes have to send them to school is just to be able to shut the hell up and let someone ELSE boss them around and make them to do things for a few hours out of every day. Built in, automatic structure! But isn't part of the positive benefit of homeschooling supposed to be producing kids who can be and do things without outside structure? Some days it seems like they'll just need me nagging them rather than a formal setting.

I feel like I need a giant spatula to go around the house with, sliding it under people and flipping them up off their lazy keesters.

To be clear: My kids get a LOT of unstructured time. My younger three children have blocks of hours to just play in the yard, and Aaron has hours to just ride his bike around our block and hang out with kids outside, every single day. They tend to watch a movie and/or play video games just about every night. I take them to social events for the entire afternoon twice a week. I am really not expecting craziness here at all. That's actually the most frustrating part of all of this; that if they would just DO WHAT THEY'RE SUPPOSED TO DO it would never exceed 30 minutes of household work per day (more like 5-15 minutes for the three younger kids), and then they could go back to saying how bored they are and begging for more screen time than I allow in peace.

altarflame: (chalk)
This was a really calm and peaceful day which is something I needed a lot.

I slept in, spent a long time on the phone with my Dad. He detailed the pirate memorial they staged with my grandfather's ashes, on his boat down near Key West today. It included things like pouring beer and corn flakes into the water, playing a soundtrack including "Free Bird", "Knocking on Heaven's Door", "Ride Captain Ride" and a lot of Bob Marley. He believes my mother did do some real letting go and that it's what Grandpa would have wanted.

I think my Dad's pretty great. He even took a bunch of napkins out there in a ziploc to hand over when my mother started crying. There was also a (lighthearted) wake-style story-telling session that involved much laughter.

I also found out my "three century man" (as named by the Key West newspaper) great (great-great?) uncle is 114 this year O_O He lives in his own house, the one he was BORN IN, IN 1897, and he drives himself to the store once a week. Apparently we don't know him better because he's "a mean old conch". The only other detail I got is that the first three fingers of both of his hands are stained orange from camel no-filters.

I swept, mopped, vaccumed, watered plants, led the kids in all kinds of chores. My house is feeling like a nice good place to be again. I am really appreciating it immensely lately - the individual spaces that are each so good as well as the amount of space over all.

We did a lot of schoolwork. Aaron is starting on fractions and reviewing graphs and he actually did his work with no trouble today. Did you read that? I still almost can't believe it. He's also got a YouTube account through me, that he's eager to work on, and sits with me and reads about the latest in the nuclear crisis in Japan every day. Annie made sense of number lines and adding decimals. She's nearly done with the last Lord of the Rings book and is reading Artemis Fowl as a "breather" because it's less challenging. Isaac worked on filling in ending consonants, and we talked about sperm and eggs and babies. Jake worked on sorting and matching and more clocks/time. He floored me this morning saying things about how four numbers mean thousands and three numbers mean hundreds - I didn't know he knew that. It came about because my scale does "pounds point partial extra ounces" and he saw the ".6" at the end as a fourth digit and went "YOU WEIGH A THOUSAND POUNDS?!" Elise did pre-handwriting (tracing, coloring), and cooking with me in the kitchen.

Our Dover Sampler for this week came with tons of cool astronomy things I saved to print for reading and coloring. Annie is already psyched, she's on a huge astronomy kick lately.

I also realized today I need to make them Easter baskets and got kind of excited about that.

They make me really happy. I found out Fairchild Farm has a summer (day) camp with scholarships available through the Children's Trust and am applying for the three older kids (it's for 6-10 year olds).

I made chicken and yellow rice for dinner, traded texts with David, read a choose-your-own-adventure robot book with Jake and a lot of Shel Silverstein poems to Aaron, and started a new Anne Rice book. Blood Canticle. I am beyond excited because this one is actually BY LESTAT AS HIMSELF IN FIRST PERSON AGAIN and already in the first 5 pages reads faster and better than the whole entirety of Blackwood Farm ever was.

I'm gonna start the Oz books with the little kids tomorrow night.

I'm at a bit of a frustrated stand still with writing as my files and stored links are mostly on laptops that are being repaired (by Grant, who is very busy). I decided I tonight that I just have to quit waiting for that and work around it as best I can for now, which there are some ways to do.

Also a standstill I've made peace with, with college, as my financial aid has still not gone through but neither has anyone elses' and the "pay by" deadline has been extended universally so getting my appeal processed is not as much of an emergent issue.

Weight loss is not going well. I am sticking with my thyroid/metabolism/energy/kill my yeast support regimen (coconut oil, B-12, probiotics and no or low mercury fish daily), keeping what I eat reasonable and better than normal although not at Eat To Live standards, really, and trying to excercise, but, uh. My stupid ass shin splints that I got in NY last summer still act up really badly if I walk quickly or for long, particularly in the shin attached to the ankle I sprained? So what is that about? I mean walking is supposed to be my fail safe excercise as a person who medically can't do ANYTHING to strain my abs even peripherally (straining to open a jar strains them peripherally, it's ridiculous)...the shin pain gradually amplifies to "debilitating". I think I'm going to try stretching a lot before I leave and wearing my expensive NY New Balance sneakers...because, yeah, I'm an idiot and try to just walk in flip flops like I ALWAYS HAVE THE WHOLE REST OF MY LIFE before I was a super fat person with a bad ankle and shin problems due to the aforementioned time in non-supportive shoes... Those $80 sneakers have really just sat in my closet ever since I got back home many months ago... Now that my nose piercing is totally healed and infection-free I'm going to go back to the Y for swimming again, too.

Grant and I are scarily strained at times, though still seeking each other for comfort. I realized today that though we're counting down for Easter, Elise's birthday, and Ananda and Aaron's birthdays, and planning things for them all the time, we both completely forgot our anniversary is coming up (again) - and sooner than any of that other stuff. Not sure what if anything will be planned...finances could really be better at the moment. On the one hand, we could maybe benefit from some shared one on one that was positive. On the other hand, we've been getting an awful lot of shared one on one time that does not end up positive lately :/ I'm trying to focus on things we both know we're really good at together...for instance, we could stay at a hotel overnight somewhere just a couple of hours away and even if all we do is watch movies, swim in the pool and eat something delicious, hey, that could be worse, right?

I'm hoping to post a bunch of pictures tomorrow.

This is my favorite Shel Silverstein poem:


I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can't do a handstand--
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said--
I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.

I saw this awhile back and LOVE. IT. I don't normally like Ted Talks. At all. But this is different, profound and fundamental and I really think it's worth your time to watch.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully I'm gonna go to bed now, and actually be able to sleep. Because today, I really can't tell what is really my thoughts and makes sense, and what is just sleep deprivation because last night, I just hurt too much to sleep.
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
I am SO FRUSTRATED right now!!!

*deep breath*

I have a lot of good stuff, exciting stuff pounding through my brain a mile a minute but there is so much of it that everything is bouncing off of everything else and causing what might soon escalate from a headache to an implosion.

(dash?)Bullet Points:

-I'm trying to register for this summer class I have to take before I can take my full schedule in the fall and the servers are overloaded and won't let me load it and say to try again...just as they have been for the last two hours.

-Someone linked me to a story about a 26 year old blogger who self published her books online and is raking in millions now, via Kindle and Amazon on Demand sales, which led to other articles about all the other authors out there who are doing this, which led me to a big old lot of research on how traditional publishing is a (slowly) dying industry, and I am thinking about this bigtime now. I don't think I could rake in millions; I don't have THAT kind of blog following AND I don't write "young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy" (i.e., Twilight). But I think it might be both profitable and a way for people to read my stuff, and the immediacy of it is really exciting, and SO MANY OTHER POINTS ABOUT WHICH OF MY THINGS WOULD BE IDEAL FOR THIS MARKETING STRATEGIES I COULD TAKE BLAH BLAH BLAH ON FIRE I DIE.

-I set up a tumblr and those stupid servers are ALSO OVERLOADED and so I can't do anything to it until they come back up.

-I almost dug my own eye out with a spoon in frustration trying to make the Table of Contents template in Word work (but, WHOA AWESOME, 35,000 words and 19 stories done in my short story collection!!).

-Trying to make sense of when Elise has to be to and from preschool in conjunction with when the other four would have to be to and from other school and I would have to be to and from my classes is o_O

-Aaron is having an SID fit today arguing with literally every word I say and endlessly getting into lots of things he should not be messing with and generally getting me to where I put him outside and make him stay there.

-I'm also trying to finish this post I started over the weekend, defining and laying out all of my (spiritual) beliefs as they are now, and hitting roadblocks about whether to include political issues that overlap "religion" as well as HOW TO EVER STOP TALKING because I have so much deep confliction in this area right now.

-Trying to stay on this stupid diet.

-My house is disgusting. Someone has cleaned up the dress up chest in the library 3 times in the last two hours but it just keeps exploding again. My floors are deplorable, my bathrooms need work, the laundry is still not where it needs to be re: us having gotten a new washing machine a week ago or more. Argh argh argh.

-People not answering their phones, not having a vehicle here, bank account not where I thought it should be...ET-FUCKING-CETERA.

I am going to do some kind of deep breath, centering prayer, make a list type thing and attempt to get out of this tangled hairball of a bottleneck.
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
So far today I've eaten:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also, if you go to and use the code N401, you can get year subscriptions to really high quality, no-ad kids' magazines for only $24.95. Usually they are $33 each. I've been wanting a couple for a year now and finally went ahead and got Muse for A and A and Ask for Isaac.
altarflame: (Default)
My hair makes sense up in a clip and piled on top of my head, with the curly bangs pushed to the sides, in a way that is kind of relieving. A girl cannot live in a headband indefinitely and I was getting tired of my family members bursting into uncontrollable laughter as I came around corners.

I feel accomplished because tonight is the first night this week that I've managed to get the little kids to sleep without any of them screaming, injuring each other or running out 50 million times. It's really very simple...if I take the time to read to them all in there, they go to sleep like decent children. If I skimp out on them and just yell "Get back in bed!" down the hall when I hear giggling, I'll be yelling for hours. The not-so-simple simple part of this comes into play when Grant is working night shifts and I'm sick with a messed up hand and DON'T WANT TO READ TO ANYONE. It is one of those things that is always great and easy once I get in there. I just don't always want to go in.

I feel like a failure because my bathrooms are disgusting. Deplorable. Awful. Like, wow, I think I'd rather go pee at a gas station. All this from one evening with them running amok. Aaron did stupid things like leave an empty AND A FULL toilet paper roll and MY BOOK on the edge of the tub as he took a bath, getting everything soaked and shreddable, so that Isaac and Jake went in next, and the pulp was EVERYWHERE by the time I came in to check their water level and bring towels. You may or may not know this, but wet paper is my ultimate weakness. I can deal with puke, snot, poop, headlice, giant palmetto bugs, but I seriously gag about wet, mushy paper. *shudders* I made Aaron get everything out of the actual tub, since we couldn't pull the plug otherwise, but the rest is waiting for me.

The other bathroom suffered some kind of Isaac poop fiasco coupled with an Elise pouring cups of water disaster.

Yeah. I'll be in there working on all a minute. *sigh*

Ananda is on her first solo sleepover tonight. Her and Aaron have went together and spent the night with their friends Grace and Kai (sister and brother, 2 of my friend Michelle's 6 kids) a couple of times...but that's different. On the way there she was sitting in the front with me, which is a new thing. She was sitting with her (also-new) thinness folded into casual indian style, perfect posture, and I said, "You look like you feel tall". "I do!" she told me, surprised. With her bag that she packed herself and I didn't even influence beyond "You got clothes for tomorrow and pjs and something to do in case you end up awake later than Christina, right? And a toothbrush?" It's also different because unlike most of the playdates and friends they have, Christina's mom is just someone I kind of know. I mean I've kind of known her for years and trust her, but we only really talk to coordinate their get-togethers or finalize details for PATH activities. She's really nice, we just don't "click". Which means I stand in the doorway for a minute and she's very polite, and then I leave, if Annie is spending the night. Whereas I hang out until 9 when they stay at Michelle's, and we were all just there for dinner the evening before anyway.

When we drive places now, we listen to Y-100 on mute, watching the display to say "Bad Romance" is playing. Which usually takes under 10 minutes. Aaron and I both do the cat-scratch motion 3 times as we sing, "lahv, lahv, lahv". He is really, really interested in Lady GaGa as a person. He wants to know WHY she wears crazy outfits and what these songs are supposed to mean. We've done a lot of side-by-side, somewhat screened viewing of interviews and appearances together. What I find is that her song Speechless is about her Dad refusing to undergo heart surgery that would save his life, and how she wrote it to change his mind (it worked). That she and all the other dancers stand in a circle and pray before each show. That all her proceeds from her upcoming appearance in NYC are going to Haiti, along with her "HaitiLadyGaGa" shirt sales. That she was a total nerd in school and never felt like she could be herself and totally can't do relationships or men and her fans are everything to her to probably an unhealthy degree, but many many "different" people who are her fans are ravenous and passionate about her, the devotion is insane. She's also got a lot of songs nobody in this house is gonna be listening to anytime soon, as I don't need Isaac asking me what she means "take a ride on his disco stick". We're sticking to the radio edits of singles at this point. And my 8 year old son, who has one black temporary tattoo that says "Rock n Roll" surrounding his eye and another strip one across his neck (both done without consulting us, from a pack Annie got for Christmas, I assure you) says he is a Little Monster, too. That's what she calls her fans (after her Fame Monster album and Monster Ball concerts). He says he's been inducted into the Haus of GaGa. We watch as she breaks the glass case surrounding her piano, which is then on fire as she begins to play, and he shakes his head - "She's fearless." Marilyn Manson has a crush on her and says she's brought Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali to the mainstream pop world. I watched her swinging a spikey ball on a chain into a taxi windshield on Oprah earlier.


Speaking of fearless, and Aaron:

Also, here he is working his magic on baby Elizabeth like I mentioned a few posts back:


That's really...really...REALLY FREAKING CUTE. Do you SEE that LITTLE BABY? *explodes* Brian says the marker on his face spells out his name, so consider it a label. I think it would make more sense for him to be named random scribbles, honestly, knowing him as I do.

I've been reading a book of Mother Angelica's writing that Paige/[ profile] likeinabook left here for me. I really, really love it and am getting a LOT out of it. Some of the talk about living with God in the moment and praying in the present seriously got me through my follow up ER-trip, which was in a room almost exactly like the one I was in, in the ICU, down to the freaky dentist style chair and surrounding noises.

I want to read so much fiction right now. The Thirteenth Tale on [ profile] custard_kisses's reccomendations, Jane Austen because, well...I've never read any Jane Austen, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as I never understood what that book was about and now that I do, I'm really intrigued...alas, there is no time for leisurely reading of fiction anywhere I can detect in my life. I suppose I could use the 30 minutes every couple of days that I take to write a journal update but I do not have the kind of discipline to come up for air from a book I like. Books swallow my whole life. The Mother Angelica book is short bits that I read in the bathroom.

Today is my fourth day back on (my adapted) strict Eat To Live. So far I've lost a pound a day, again. It is nuts. Today I had one of my frou frou Liberte yoghourt's, full of grains and pear, for breakfast, and then very soon after half an avocado and a tomato diced up and salted and eaten on sesame terragon Back to Nature crackers. Note that both of those are things I ADORE and would eat all the time anyway. Laaaate lunch was my now-adapted white chicken chili, which no longer contains any oil, butter or other off limits things but is still awesome - I make it with coconut milk and cumin and and it is freaking delicious, loaded with onions, garlic, and 3-4 colors of bell peppers.... Dinner was a whole romaine heart ripped up with a sprinkle of almonds, dried cranberries and bleu cheese tossed throughout, and 4 bay scallops roasted up in the toaster oven alongside. I snacked on baby carrots and blueberries throughout the day. Antibiotics and probiotics. Voila.

I've developed this crazy goal that I don't think could ever be healthy or normal by regular dieting standards but is Eat to Live standards, that I will try to be my pre-pregnancy weight by Annie's 10th birthday. I'm talking my OG pre-pregnancy weight, like when I was not yet a mother and got pregnant for the first time. I haven't been there in a decade. Heck, slightly more.

I'm so gonna do it.

For the record, that would be 168. I started Eat to Live at 233, was on it for 6 weeks and lost 26 pounds. So I was 207. Over the course of 2.5 months of free-for-all'ing I gained back 6 of those pounds. That I only gained back 6 having whole bags of Riesen on the first day of my period and pigging out on holiday food and things kind of blows my mind. Anyway, so I started this time at 213.8. So far my 3 morning weights have been 212.8, 211.8, and 210.8 -
Here I go, baby.

Sunday is my cheating day, which will slow things up a bit, but I can handle it. Ananda's birthday is June 1.

THIS Sunday, I have big plans involving lasagna, and another fire-gathering with s'mores ;) But I am not going to go CRAZY on Sundays, just do what I want in something like moderation. We're burning our Christmas trees for this fire, and I've sent out a facebook invite to a bunch of people. The weekend will be largely devoted to cleaning.

LAST THING! The cold weather that you all love to make fun of me for complaining about. My aunt sent me email pictures that I thought made a statement about WHY I get to bitch when it's record lows here. It was a picture of a green tree covered in ice, and I though - Exactly. THAT is the problem.

We don't have a season of getting cooler and easing into winter. We have 90 degree days aplenty in December.

When we actually HAVE a freeze:
-homeless people get sick and/or die, because they don't have the gear for it, and we don't have the shelters in place
-farmers' lose all of their crops - I live in an agricultural community
-peoples' homes (like my friend Kristin, and my sister!) aren't even equipped with working heat, and everyone's floors are tile, and you seriously shiver yourself silly inside
-you see the damage around for weeks afterwards - all the grass in my backyard is suddenly brown and crispy, and my banana trees look like they might not recover
-the reptiles actually FREEZE, like iguanas and small lizards and snakes and everything FALL, solid, from the trees, and lay there vulnerable until it warms up again

I really think it is different than what people experience when they're used to, acclimatized, and outfitted for "real" winters. My PATH friend Michelle walked out of her house this past weekend, slipped in ice that had literally NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE, and busted out her kneecap...she spent most of the week in hospital after surgery and I'm taking her dinners because she can't even get around the house with crutches. It snowed in places this week that they don't even have snow tires available for sale, let alone do people know how to drive on roads with ice.

Anyway. I'm just saying. People are always like, stfu that's not even REAL cold, but I think if those people experienced a sudden drop down into the low 30s in the middle of summer they'd freak out and take to their blogs. THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE when that happens.
altarflame: (me knitting)
Today I cooked up a storm. For today, I made...

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

For tomorrrow,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Big two sucky things:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

many pictures from that event/day )
altarflame: (Default)
I am having an extremely busy and productive Real Life. I've been spending copious amounts of time (i.e., every waking minute) doing things like;

-entering civilized society by decreeing and enforcing that we all make our beds upon waking...the kids love this to a degree that means they're nerds there is really something to regimentation and structure in kids' lives.
-scouring despite all my eye rolling and general misgivings and using the bits and pieces I can to customize - that's right - a daily and weekly plan for housekeeping that involves things like dividing my house into "zones".
-going through the ongoing, neverending work of this Giant Room Swap we're doing. I managed to clean Ananda and Aaron's room top to bottom, which includes cleaning out their entire his and her organizational (HAHA) closets, and overflowing mess of a shelving unit, and all their clothes storage and all of it, so that we can do things like actually install their baseboards and move on to the office, which needs scouring, painting and baseboards so Aaron can move in. Which will necessitate finishing what I've only started on our huge closet disaster, so that it can be my sewing room, and putting my desk in our bedroom where Elise's bed is. Which will mean freecycling her bed and getting her and Annie bunk beds to go in what will then be their shared room.
-listing, then prioritizing, and then scheduling all our homeschooling areas and plans for 4th grade Annie, 3rd grade Aaron, Kindergarden Isaac and preschool Jake, in and around factors like Grant's work schedule and involvement, their dance classes and AWANA, and keeping the Sabbath Holy. We're starting September 1.

Grant finished reconstructing the chicken coop in a new and less vulnerable way today. I'll be getting bedding for their nest area, a new waterer and a pole for them to roost on, and some hot wire to turn on at night for the outside tomorrow at the feed store and then we're moving them out of the office because really, that is also necessary to the room swap now that they're getting a little bigger.

There's been a lot of writing for Grant's website clients - which is $40 an hour paid work. And a lot of talking my mom through major developments with my Nana (positive stuff! She's eating with a fork by herself and not being transferred to long term care! They're restarting her therapy work because she can move her left arm again!), reading out loud to all of my kids, and sitting outside talking with them while chicks run around.

Also tons of cooking as per usual, but now when I go to bed at night the kitchen is clean. It all started with me using 5 kettles of boiling water to make counters look brand new, and today after picking up a massive producce co-op haul and making a run to BJ's (warehouse store) that kitchen is a sight to behold.

So yeah I have not had a lot of blogging time. Or facebook or email time. But I have visited my mother in law and assured her we'll never put her in a home, and gotten one on one with Ananda, and combed Elise's hair even though she's so averse to anyone messing with, pulling or washing her hair that it leaves me emotionally exhausted by the end.

And, above all, I think I might actually have a sustainable way to make this school year happen and keep this house maintained!

This really seems like some kind of suspicious miracle to me, that I am not quite ready to trust. But mostly I am excited.

EVERYONE I KNOW IS FULL OF CONSPIRACY THEORIES. Everywhere I turn. It's starting to make me think *I* am the crazy one.

-My Dad emails me a couple of times a week lately, and has kept me on the phone for an hour once, and he wants me to know things like how Obama engineered swine flu to kill whitey - really Tina have you noticed a single case of a black person with swine flu? "Think about it." he tells me and I'm like, uh. WOW. I got an email tonight that said, "PROOF POSITIVE".

-My Nana's Pa (as opposed to Ma's Pa...this is the one I just visited in Lakeland), has spent 30 minutes or more during both of our most recent visits filling me in on chemtrails and the New World Order. Google them, he tells me. I'll see. I invite you to google them if you want further information. He is dead serious and I don't always know what to think and what degrees or nuggets of truth could possibly be buried in all this.

-many conservatives I know are talking about converting their dollars to gold bars and/or moving out to the country because of the way Obama is wrecking the country

-almost all of the Catholic or Orthodox I know are convinced we are living in the end of the end times to the degree that they regularly fear things like being martyred in front of their children

-Grant is trying to convince me we need to consider our realistic options because Florida is likely to be completely underwater within our lifetime, like to where we can scuba dive over our old neighborhood and look down at Grant Sr's house and all. (he at least sees reason, we did a lot of research together and believe now that it's more like, the state will lose 100-400 feet off the shorelines over the next 100 years. The more immediate problem is actually the fresh water supplies as salt water encroaches. But I digress.)

-I was kind of venting all of this to a real life friend the other day and when I got to the part about how the New World Order thing involves previous presidents signing treaties with aliens she stopped me to be like, "Now, I do believe THAT to a degree, I mean think about the leaps technology has suddenly made in the last 25 years - think about how big of a deal it was to my parents to get a microwave and now I can stand there talking on the phone in a swamp."

altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday I made steel cut strawberry oatmeal for breakfast, everyone foraged for lunch and we had tacos for dinner. Today they had granola for breakfast, I made whole wheat blueberry pancakes for lunch, and then roast chicken, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. Tomorrow is a wild card.

My house is getting clean. It is bizarre. First I cleaned out our massively, horrifically messy bedroom - hung all the clean clothes sitting around in baskets, got all the dirty laundry out, all the toys back in the kids' rooms and books back in the library, picked all our shoes up out of their piles on our closet floors and put them up on the closet shelves. Got the odd socks and old mail off our dresser and even dusted it. I managed through some feat of who knows what to go back in two days later and do maintenance cleaning to keep it that way, and then I went into the library and tv room and while they weren't NEARLY so backed up (they are much closer to the front door, and part of the main public house and so they never get ignored for so long) it was still overdue to really clean them right, like down to vaccuming.

I realized today that I've put away clean laundry as it comes out of the laundry room three times in a row now before it piles into a 10 load mountain....and that the dishes haven't piled up for days.

I was actually able to devote energy today not only to sweeping before it became a Situation, but also to getting Jake and Isaac's room cleaned, and toilet scrubbing, both of which are always low level priorities around here. All with our bedroom, library and tv room maintained as clean spaces!

There is only one thing I can think of that has facilitated all of this - well, technically it is two very related things. Elise has potty trained, and Jake now wipes himself up after using the toilet.

I thought while I was cutting up potatoes and broccoli and tearing romaine leaves about how that could possibly translate into a sudden ability to keep the entire house so much cleaner at once. It seemed nutty to even consider. Then I started calculating.

Time spent actually changing diapers - let's say a cumulative hour per day, including finding all supplies as a chronically disorganized person and baby wrangling and such
diaper laundry - including putting them away, hanging covers and Fuzzi Bunz shells to dry, handwashing wool covers - an hour or more per week of active duty plus about 4 hours of double cycles in the machines every 3 or 4 days when nothing else can be washed
being prepared while we're out - an extra couple of minutes before we go anywhere
cleaning up naked baby accidents - I'd say 20 minutes per day on average when you include major carpet scrubbing once a week and the occasional Serious Situation every couple of days that involves cleaning off soiled items or...trails.
Jake calling me to come clean him up - 1-3 times per day, just interrupting whatever else I was doing

So, yeah. I am some kind of free wheeling woman now, apparently. All of that was squeezed in and around other things in such a way that it didn't FEEL as though it took up a significant chunk of time, but damn if I don't have a lot more time now! And solid time...because all of those things but the laundry were immediate things I had to tend to just as they suddenly happened regardless of what else was going on. And diapers had to take precedence over all other laundry regardless of what else I had to wash.

This is sort of wild. I had two in diapers for so long that just having "only one" wearing them felt like it was easy, and nothing really. Ha!

It has also contributed hugely to this feeling of overhauling our living that Grant has tackled tons of backed up yardwork and cleaned out and vaccumed the gross van very thoroughly this week. I am loving it.

Today was day 4 of me not eating any refined flour or sugar, or dairy. The first day was easy. Days 2 and 3 featured increased moodiness and major exhaustion (Grant's been off, and I fell asleep on the couch with Elise and stayed there for 2 hours, one day, and took an afternoon nap the other - neither of which are exactly typical). Today was a little easier overall but this evening, man. I don't know if it's just my internal sense of balance kicking in to compensate or if I'm beginning to feel better but WOW I am happy and content! I was reading to the four older kids in the tv room tonight (classic Pooh and The Mysterious Benedict Society), after Grant and Elise had gone to bed, and just feeling so incredibly blessed and fulfilled. Then, as I shoo'd them off to bed, I found myself feeling so EXCITED about these very mundane things that will happen tomorrow - like I just can't wait! Watching Aaron make progress on his unicycle, getting more areas of the house cleaned out and looking good, Annie's book reports and Isaac drinking more water. Doing Elise's hair and the blanket I'm making.

We've been having the best conversations, about immunity and vaccinations and chicken pox parties, and why so many children could be being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, and risks and dangers of counterfeiting money - all kinds of stuff.

Ananda will probably be going to creative arts camp next week at ArtSouth - we found out that her twin friends from the bookstore family (10) and her twin cousins (11) are all going, and it is very reasonably priced and has a fun-looking Facebook photo album of pics full of familiar faces. *I* am kind of freaked about leaving her anywhere from 9am to 4pm (!!) but she is 9 and will have people she knows and be right here in town...or so I tell myself.

My Nana has been transferred back from the rehab center to the hospital for chest pains, but once there they saw that she has fluid built up in her brain. Except then it was maybe just swelling and not fluid, and anyway they couldn't drain the fluid because her blood thinners make the SKULL DRILLING that drains it too risky. And so today they did a spinal tap to measure pressure that didn't seem to indicate excess fluid. Even though her otherwise inexplicable symptoms perfectly match those of hydrocephalus.

It seems like a lot of circular confusion and no continuity of care and I am not always sure how much more MY mother can take, of watching and caring for her mother in this state. The phone calls every day, are a huge part of my day.
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
Let's count.

1. I got next to no sleep last night, which colors everything else.

2. It's the first tidal day of my period, which ALSO colors everything in some low grade depression, tired-er, generally hormonal way

3. It's the first tidal day of my period, so I'm, like, in the bathroom on some massive cleanup mission for 10 minutes out of every hour when I'm not changing my clothes, because that's just how my body rolls >:O

4. I like to spend that time in privacy. Elise likes to spend it screaming outside the bathroom door. Every time.

5. Generally head-bashing frustration in internet communications

6. And my internet connection (for some reason, just today) is running reeeeeeeeeaaaally slow. Like, "eats the massive tirade you just typed and then will not refresh so you can try again for a solid minute so then you restart the computer and can't even get to your homepage for more than 30 seconds of loading" slow.

7. When I call my sister to rant and rave about how everything is crap, the faulty wiring in this old house that is messing up my connection starts randomly dialing numbers and blaring loud static over our conversation. THIS happens often enough that we can actually, almost ignore it.

8. I am FREAKED OUT by how disgusting bathrooms can get with three young sons and a potty training toddler. The day I realize I haven't had any toilet paper stuck to my foot for a month or more, I am going to throw a party.

9. So my husband gets home slightly early and says, "Hey, why don't you take Elise for a bike ride like you've been wanting to do" and I'm so grateful and think, that is just what I need. Fresh air and excercise. So I take off and my wide leg yoga pants tangle in the pedal and we almost die. I catch it pretty quickly, come home, change into capris. We take off again. I quickly realize the whole bulky-cloth-pad + bicycle seat thing is really, really not comfortable. To the point that twice I try to pull off and discreetly adjust things a little in secluded areas and still I end up gritting my teeth the whole way home.

10. Despite the pain, I was going to try to at least take Jake around the block once since he was there waiting for us at the window and it makes him so happy. But like 5 solid minutes of fumbling with straps' adjustments in the heat with a cloud of gnats in my face and mosquitoes biting my calves was enough to nix that plan. Particularly because that was also when the little plastic adjuster piece came clean off the strap I was working on, leaving me wanting to hurl it into the bushes.

Ah, womanhood, how I just freaking ADORE THEE.


I did have a really good phone conversation with my mom.

And Grant took Jake and Elise to the store, and my fool ass biggest kids just sent me an email, lurked around the doorway whispering about how I'd check my email soon "and see" until I went and did, and saw a message from Aaron that said,

So I exclaimed "WHOA!" really loud and now they're, like, DYING OF HYSTERICS.

Maybe I can make them each clean a bathroom...
altarflame: (Elise genius.)
To everyone who replied to the national debt post: Thank you :) I really appreciate your input, and it actually helped a lot.

Grant and I spent his off-days cleaning the heck out of this house, from vaccuming under furniture we don't normally move to getting the chicks out of my office and into the yard in a temporary coop. There was also closet cleanup, and bar clearing (it was piled so high, just ridiculous...) and bathtub scrubbing, and so on.

I also crocheted like a maniac, for this new blanket idea I had, and will hopefully have pics to post of that soon.

My Nana had surgery on an aneurism she's had for a few years now. An abdominal one. It went really well, and they were able to clean a lot of plaque out of the artery as a bonus while they were in there, which is supposed to help her circulation once she's up and around again. She lives in Lakeland. My mother and uncle went to be with her in the hospital. I'm sure a "Nana" seems really, really old to most people for an adult to have, but really, she's only 59. I was very relieved it all went well, as I'm not AT ALL ready to deal with anything happening to her... This by the way is the one we go spend Christmas Eve with every year, and who I was so upset moved away a few years back.

My cousin Christina - this is a cousin on my father's/cuban side - is pregnant, and the first of her siblings to get pregnant, so it's A Big Dealtm. Her baby shower is this weekend and her mother/my aunt is EXTEMELY EXCITED and sent out handmade invitations to everyone. She's also emailed us ultrasound pictures and an entire slideshow of the very detailed nursery stenciling she's done for this granddaughter. Laura and I are going, Grant and Frank were able to orchestrate days off and it'll be a chance to see aunts and cousins I haven't seen in a couple of years. And my Dad, too, albeit separately due to...uh...relational tensions on that side of my family. I haven't went anywhere ALONE with my sister, with no kids, for...however old Brian (her son) is? At least. I guess I've seen her in a hospital room by ourselves, but I hardly think that counts. This is going to be awesome, just she and I in the Prius. We'll actually be in the Prius A LOT - it's in Key West (2.5 hours away) and we are leaving early and getting back late on the same day. It's so bizarre that Christina, Annette and Andrea (the close older cousins we grew up spending time around every year as kids) are all still childless, when they're all at least 5 year older than me, at least 8 years older than Laura. It's funny to go see this woman I grew up seeing as a way older and more mature kid who was ahead of me, having her first baby shower, when I'm leaving my 5 kids at home to go. I'm trying hard to not have too much of an "agenda" in my gift-giving (i.e., not giving her cloth diapers and a guide to why co-sleeping is best but actual things off her registry) :p

I've been having MAJOR allergies for the past couple of weeks...waking up in the middle of the night with watering eyes and sneezing fits, spending the days sniffling with a sinus headache...and nothing helps. We've changed the AC filter out, removed the chicks (even though they were behind a closed door in a pen, with a closed AC vent, and still very small, and not at all effecting the rest of the house), cleaned our bedroom fan, changed our diets. I've gotten desperate in the past few days from ALWAYS feeling run down and miserable, and taken loratadine meltaways, nose sprays, and started up again with a Vicks inhaler. It's just getting worse and worse. I did some research tonight and went to Walgreens after midnight for 24 hour, used-to-be-only-by-prescription-strength Zyrtec that I've been waiting to kick in for about an hour now. It better work, by golly...

My last couple of days have been totally dominated by Elise being sick. She's the only one, just her. She got a sudden high fever yesterday that stuck around all day long, leaving her either sleeping or borderline lethargic, and puking once, until evening, when she perked up a little and then slipped back into misery. Slept through the night. Nursing almmost constantly, though, and hot "in places". Today was more of the same.

Her only real remaining neuro quirk is that when she has a fever, it's a wack fever, where say like today - the whole right side of her body is burning hot. The left side is room temperature. Her feet freezing, like ice cubes, to where I can feel their coldness through my pants O_o Really strange. I spent awhile on the phone with the ped and felt so, so relieved, after I'd spent too long with google and was half-convinced she had FREAKING MENINGITIS and would be losing all of her progress and abilities anytime.

I think it's just really triggering to me to see her so limp and exhausted and constantly sleeping, and be in contact with doctors. She jerks in her sleep and I think of seizures for the first time in months. Ugh. The idea of putting her through more spinal taps, or spending more nights in hospitals. Ugh ugh.

She was better today than yesterday, with SOME walking around and personality amidst the sicky sickness, so I am strongly hoping she is better tomorrow than today. I can't leave her like this on Saturday to go to Key West :/ I mean they think it sounds like she just has some normal infection like kids get, she was in the church nursery on Sunday and Aaron had some mysterious one-night-only puking thing last week. It's just...different...when it's her.

Either way I am totally going to be screwed that after months of nursing 3-5 times in a 24 hour period, she'll have been nursing around the clock for days due to illness...and then I'll go away for 12 or more hours straight and be engorged and soaking my shirt. Blah. I'm glad I have a ped who can appreciate how important breast milk can be for a sick toddler, and even said how these are the one's she never has to worry about getting dehydrated from fevers because they'll always at least take that.

I was going to make this big food logging post because I'm back to meal planning and grocery budgeting again and so it's on my mind and I like getting ideas and sharing recipes. Like yesterday we had apple cinnamon and raisin steel cut oats for breakfast; long, drained ramen noodles mixed with sauteed garlic, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil, for lunch; and southwestern quesadillas with cilantro from the garden for dinner.

But then today we ate all the carrot cupcakes I made late last night for breakfast, lunch and snacks until I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner because all I could do all day with Grant working was pace with or nurse with miserable sick Elise and play phone tag with the doctor. While all the others watched too many movies and played in the yard. You win some, you lose some.


Feb. 27th, 2009 12:52 am
altarflame: (DeathbyChores)
The kids and I spent the entire day out today, going from store to store with stops to have lunch on our front porch, to address and send mail, and to eat dinner, and now we are set to start gardening. We really wanted to get a raised-bed system or parts to make one ourselves, but there is any place we went to. And we were being very inventive, more than ready to use an old-school plastic baby pool even, once we saw that outdoor ponds were too unevenly deep at their centers, (but nobody sells those anymore, now that the giant inflatable pools have taken over...) So Grant is going to bust out the Big Man Tools (TM) and make one, at some point in the next couple of weeks when he's off, and in the meantime we got containers to put seeds and seedlings in for now. They'll probably be reused for flowers or put on freecycle once our permanent setup is in place. There are lots of places online to get raised bed systems or pieces to be assembled, but they're all hundreds of dollars plus shipping, which seems kind of ridiculous to me O_o The sandbox may be delegated as a garden, too, now that the sand is gone (AND GOOD RIDDANCE I WAS SO TIRED OF SAND!).

We're growing red and green bell peppers, and poblano and jalapeno peppers; grape, cherry, roma, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes; and various herbs, namely mint, oregano, basil and cilantro. These are all things we use in great enough abundance, and that are pricey enough in stores, that I think they make sense to devote some effort and maintenance to. They're also crops that do well in our blazing, incessant sun and heat. Oh, I forgot broccoli! Ananda and Aaron got some strawberries and lavender as their own side project, and are going to research ways to use the lavender (like making satchels or soap or something). She already wants her own etsy store, ever since Gloria taught her how to finger knit she's been a scarf-making fool.

When I consider that we'll be able to go into our backyard for not just vegetables and herbs, as we have at various points in the past, but also EGGS...I eat it up, no pun intended :p How awesome is this? We will have a suburban farm, bwahahaha.

I can imagine myself getting a sheep sometime in the future. To sheer and make yarn from. I mean "10 years from now" future, though...a golden retriever in a couple of years will probably be the only animal addition over the next decade, because while I love having pets around, I really dislike a lot of constant maintenance and the way they complicate road trips...Everything we have now is perfectly fine if we set them up with self-feeders and dissapear for the weekend, and none of them intimidate potential animal-sitters for longer time periods.

Yesterday was also a good day, I got a lot of writing I'm very happy about done while Grant took the kids to the park, and before that they and I just had another good day...and tomorrow we're all set to spend the whole day transplanting seedlings and planting seeds, and researching their "historical characters" - Ananda and Aaron are participating in an event called "Historically Speaking" wherein they learn all about, and then dress up as and get up and talk as though they ARE, some historical character of their choosing. Annie picked Amelia Earhart, and Aaron Harry Houdini.

We also got a mini, cushy toilet seat to fit on a big toilet, for Elise, and a step stool, and she is excitedly making every member of the house go in with her to look at it, in turn, so she can point excitedly and yell, "PEE!" and then point towards where her pee comes out. She has not actually peed on a toilet, ever, but asks me to sit her on one and tries to fairly regularly, so this seemed better than me holding her there while she looks nervous about falling in.

So this is all great, right? Except...

My house is a giant disaster. Every single room is completely trashed. The library table is PILED with books that are slipping off onto the floor as new ones are added, the tv room has megablocks and the contents of a sock basket strewn all over it, the kitchen sink and counters have been swallowed by dishes, the laundry room is an absolute avalanche...etc. Every single room.

And honestly? I don't care that much. We're all happy, it's not a gross mess, we do have clean clothes to wear and the table clean for each meal and furniture available to sit on, and it's not as though ANYONE other than me seems to notice the grit on the tile or smudges on the walls...

But. My Aunt Deana is supposed to be dropping by tomorrow. I see her in the "every couple of years" range, and she's never been to our new house before. *sigh*

I imagine that if I get Isaac to clean out the big closet, Aaron the kids' bathroom, Annie the tv room and library clutter, and Jake and Elise random things I hand them to take to their right places, I could manage to sweep, swiffer, vaccum, do a million dishes, scrub counters, organize shelves and tackle our bedroom in...a couple of hours? :x

I know it has to be done. And I even have some added motivation now because [ profile] babyslime is demanding a video tour. But uuuuuugggh.

I'm ordering multi-disk sets of Reading Rainbow and Postcards From Buster from tonight, to keep in the van, where we have a dvd player that I've decided is conveniently ok for educational purposes. Both of those shows are beyond words, by the way, and just priceless.

I'm still reading, and reading about, Edna St Vincent Millay in my spare time, i.e., while on the toilet and/or when nursing Elise to sleep in the afternoon. I have enough to read about and by her that I imagine I'll be doing it for awhile. Elise loves it when I get to verse in one of the books, and read it out loud. All of my kids have had such a love for listening to poetry, and yet it still always surprises me when I see it.

It's Lent, and I am aware of that, and I have a devotional book to read one day at a time - Show Me the Way by Orthodox writer Henri J. M. Nouwen - but I am not really giving anything up, this year. And was taken woefully by surprise, by Ash Wednesday. If nothing else comes of this season, this year, at least I am thinking about my faith that much more often, from the awareness that it's happening...

I found an old friend on Facebook and it made me really happy.

I bought this dress while we were at Target on garden detail, and am wearing it now:

I'm using the hangy things in front to tie around my neck, and it works out.

Food. Hmm.

I have serious emotional eating problems that go way, way back into childhood. Weight Watchers has been surpringly doable for me, because of the way you can work the points system, but. Well. Honesty.

I've been between 223-229 lbs ever since I got out of the hospital last. 2007 totally ballooned my weight, the multiple 6 week recovery periods from surgeries just turned me into some sort of blob...and left me with a lot more emotion to eat over.

When I started WW, I listed my activity level as "mostly standing" and my breastfeeding status as "exclusively nursing", because Grant really didn't think "nursing with supplementation" covered what my 3 year old and 21 month old were sucking down on-demand, daily. That gave me 40 points per day, that I was allowed to consume (a big banana, or slice of turkey bacon, or girl scout cookie, would be 2 points, for reference).

I realized very quickly when I started calculating, that I have been in the habit of consuming over a HUNDRED points per day. And I am admitting on the internet to Anonymous and everyone that my binge eating plays into my intermittent blockage in a big, scary way and my ER trip for the pain was a humiliating turning point.

So. My first month on WW I was allowed 40 points per day, plus 35 weekly flex points to be used at any time throughout the week (but not rolled over). And I cheated a little somewhat frequently. I stayed between 222 and 224 the whole time, which I guess is technically a noticeable improvement. 222-224 for a month after a year of 223-229. Still REEEALLY frustrating when you've more than halved the amount you eat each day, and keep waiting a whole week to weigh in again, just to see the same damned thing. I've been way more active than usual lately, too, to the point that some suggested I could be accumulating muscle (from canoeing for hours, bike riding semi-regularly, more walks, snorkeling for almost an hour, etc)

All of this is totally disgusting to me. Before Elise, I had never even reached 220 when PREGNANT. I was actually 217 the day each of my first 4 children were born, oddly enough. And my jutting, herniated diastasis totally ruins my proportions.

Anyway...I made a decision based on their ages, my energy and time constraints, when my next surgery will be, etc, to scale way back on nursing. Jake is having milk about every other morning at this point, only. Elise is basically nursing when she first wakes up, before her afternoon nap, and before bed, only. Nursing sessions are not exceeding 10 minutes. He is none the worse for wear; she is a little clingier. I changed my ww status to "nursing with supplementation". I also "got real" about how much time I spend driving the van, folding laundry on the tv room floor, sitting on the computer, reading someone a book on the couch, etc, and changed my activity level from "mostly standing" to "mostly sitting". Especially seeings how you can count everything from cleaning to shopping towards more activity points, this is really fair.

My points allowance went from 40, to 33 per day, based on those two changes. I still get the 35 weekly flex points (everyone does) and still earn activity points for activity. I don't think I could have handled it when I first started WW and 40 was so constricting...but after over a month in, it's doable. I just have to think about things. A handful of raw mushrooms or some baby carrots are totally free. Or like if I make roasted cauliflower, steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes with dinner, those are all free (although the olive oil and smart balance involved add a menial couple of points). And I love all that sort of stuff. I mean, a tall frappuccino with whipped cream and everything is only 7, which I can totally plan ahead for and work in without even dipping into flex points.

So this is my first week "doing it right", I guess, with the lowered point number and really staying within my point allowance. This is only day 4 of the first week of that. But I got on the scale this morning. I'm not "supposed" to get on the scale unless it's my scheduled weigh-in day (monday) but I did, because I am a masochist? Because I like feeling hopelessly frustrated and like even if my life is on the line I will still just eat myself literally to death?

It said 219. TWO NINETEEN.

I never thought I'd be psyched about 219. But wtf, I haven't been under 220 in a year and a half or more.

It just gives me a lot of new motivation and ease for sticking with it. Like, geez, if that is what 4 days on the plan can do, let's bring on some whole months and see what happens.

Everyone around here is growing so quickly. Isaac is FIVE. I found a picture of all of them together by the tree at Opa's house, the other day, and while Isaac and Jake look almost the same, Elise is a COMPLETELY different little girl, now, and Aaron is very noticeably different, too.

Our chicks already have real feathers on their wings! Instead of just fluff. And Isaac's seeds have turned into real seedlings of several inches, in under a week. A and A and I were just talking in their room about how Hoppy and Shadow (rabbits) were fluffly little round babies and how weird that seems now.

Time, I tell you what.
altarflame: (Default)
G, the babysitter/nanny, is working out pretty great. Our tentative plan is for her to come on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays, from 9-1. So every other week when G is off on Wednesdays, that will give us time to go off on our own and do something together. We also have some Sunday afternoons now that his mom is willing to take them then and they all seem willing to be left there without much drama. Thursdays and Fridays, I'm trying to prioritize...I want to do a lot of schoolwork with A and A during those times, while G's here with the littles, and I'd also like to go swim for an hour at the Y once a week and possibly schedule some of my counseling appointments during her time. Grant really wants me to find a way to write while she's here. I'm having a hard time with the was such a colossal letdown to NOT get the year or two of full time writing that I've had to shove all that back and just not think about it, again, and so I'm sort of numb to the concept right now and it almost just confuses me when he brings it up. I feel like putting holes in the floodgates for anything less than regular opportunities is just going to have me going nuts with frustration all over again. I'm clinging to the assumption that soon all the kids will be older and I'll be able to write while they sleep, the way I wrote all of Cracked while A and A were in bed at night.

G, though, wow. She talks to them just like I do - no baby talk, and really hearing what they say. She makes eye contact, she squats down, she sits on the floor. She asks leading questions to make them think about things. She also has my exact amount of caution - she's fine with Jake and Isaac jumping on a bed, for instance, but moves in fast if Elise joins them. Things like this were really important to me but I didn't know how to "screen" for them. She handles Isaac so similarly to us, even - last night as she was walking out the door (she'd come later in the day so we could go see "Dark Knight"), Isaac really wanted to open the door for her to go out. But we were doing that hover near the door for half an hour talking thing I always end up doing with guests, before they actually leave, and anytime you open the door Elise makes a beeline for escaping and while you're trying to corral her, Jake shoots out past you. So I told him, G can open the door for herself when she's ready. You can close it behind her. And he was all moody overreacting nonsense, whining and moaning and crying and panicking about it. She said, "You have two choices. You can either close the door behind me like a big boy, or you can do nothing and Jake or I will shut it". He kept repeating that he wanted to open it with a lot of hysterics and she just repeated his options. After the third time, he sucked it up and opted for shutting it. I was impressed.

She also listens to ME, and I really appreciate that...last night she had all five alone for the first time, and I knew Elise would be upset about it at first, and I told her the fail safes for making Elise happy were outside time and the bath. When I got back, I found out she'd cried for the first 20 minutes, off and on, but then G had had her in the (giant) tub with Isaac and Jake or outside with everyone for the rest of the time, and she was fine. Things like this seem obvious but I've had plenty of experience with people acting helpless with one of my stressed kids as if I hadn't given them any options.

My moody and territorial Jake lets her carry him around. She didn't need me to explain about fuzzi bunz or longies because she has plenty of experience with them. She's as comfortable with me sitting there nursing two toddlers as you'd expect a doula who's with naked birthing women every week to be.

It's just really great. We just got two bunnies, and she has one, so it's a bonding point for her and the bigger kids.

She's a lesbian, which is interesting on a few levels. She's in an established, long term live-in relationship and they're planning on her getting pregnant in a year or two via artificial insemination. She'd like to continue working with us long term and possibly bring her own baby along at some point. This is awesome for my weird, insecure self because I don't have to feel any jealousy or insecurity about her around Grant, and yes I am that wack even though I have a completely trustworthy man. It's hilarious because it seems like any time I make a good female friend, all the way back to middle school, they're bi or gay - I even consider "lesbian" to be my musical genre of choice. It's awkward only because we are very obviously practicing, devout Christians. I don't know what G believes, although she's very respectful of our beliefs, but I can't help but hear Ananda's endlessly playing VBS cd through her ears, or wonder what she thinks of some of our art, and wonder if she wonders if I think she's a hellbound freak. It's not something she talks about with the kids, not really because she's actively avoiding the topic but just because it would be weird to bring up your personal relationship with the kids you're watching. I'm sure they'll eventually figure she has a friend and roommate who's a girl, that she mentions here and there to us?

The only thing about her that I don't like isn't her fault at all: it's just strange to have "hired help" with my children. Like, ok, nannies and babysitters do things parents would never deal with, like push a kid on a swing long after the novelty has worn off, or let a preschooler cover them with stickers head to toe and laugh every. single. time. a new one is applied - it's their job, and they go home at the end of it. I used to do these things, when I was a nanny in high school. Play cars on the floor for two solid hours, even though it's just a 30 second loop of play repeating itself 240 times - and never waning in enthusiasm! In a way, this is what I am paying her for and it's how it should another way, I don't know how much I like them being drunk on that kind of power with an adult. Isaac especially cannot get enough of G, this is like his ultimate dream come true.

And, of course, there could easily come a time when Grant and I can't afford her anymore, or just don't need the help anymore, or she could move away or have scheduling conflicts or just get a better gig - basically this is a relationship they're going to get emotionally involved in just like any other, except this is - when you get down to bare bones - a job. She is most likely not going to maintain contact when it's over, you know? It's just kind of strange to me to see my kids all piled on and around someone reading them a story...for hourly pay. It's just weird, like, is she hugging them when she leaves because it's part of the job, or because she wants to hug them? Are there any she's just pretending to like?

Like I said, this is not in any way a reflection on HER, it's just stuff to ponder in any sort of paid childcare arrangement.

I'm still mulling over the idea of cleaning help. I spend A LOT of time cleaning. About an hour out of every day is devoted to floors alone - sweeping, vaccuming, and swiffering. There is at least another hour of "other cleaning" - dishes, laundry, picking up clutter, wiping down counters and tables, all that rot...Once or twice a week I spend 45 minutes just scrubbing the couches and chairs down. The Force Field stain-proofing stuff REALLY works, I've gotten pen marks, lipstick, ground-in cheese that had been stuck on someone's clothing after a meal so it slid past me, all sorts of things out of it - and all with just water and a dish towel! But until I get to it, it really shows every little thing...feet make visible marks on it, sweat discolors it slightly, it's totally gross if Aaron is wiping his nose on things :x I mean, it's beige microfiber, so of course, and yeah it's great to have it looking brand new everytime I clean it, but still it gets old spending 45 minutes going over all the pieces with a fine tooth comb to clean it all off (old stains void the warranty, should you call them about a new stain you can't get out, so I can't let it go or we're out a free couch should we need one...) Sometimes I think I've got it backwards, having hired a person to be my proxy to my kids and then ALSO spending all this time cleaning while they do their own thing later on...shouldn't I be paying someone to clean, so *I* can be mom more often? It's not that simple, though, because I can't afford to have someone coming in and cleaning every day, and they are often doing chores and helping out alongside me, and EVERY cleaning applicant I've had on sittercity is an older lady who can't speak english much, if at all - how in the world can I justify having some 50 year old woman on her hands and knees scrubbing up our messes? And how can I try to convince someone who's been using bleach and who knows what else for 30 years that I don't like chemicals, with a language barrier? I realize they probably really need the work, I don't know, I'm still thinking about it. All of this is just weird, though, having "help" at all is so surreal for me. I really have no idea if I've picked a good schedule out for G or not, as it is - we're both leaving it open for now, to see how we like it...

Counseling is irritating me and making me moody, by dredging up things I don't want dredged up. I think it's for the long term best, but it still mucks up the short term. I's kind of misleading to even blame "the counseling" when really counseling is gradually fixing things...bah.

I still have a LOT of nightmares. I'm still scared to go to sleep, waking frequently, all that...I'm having the kind of chronic sleep deprivation I've only ever had while Isaac was an infant, or while watching Elise for seizures. And that colors everything, to some degree.

I'm still having trouble not eating my way through every day.

My physical symptoms (discomfort and pain where I had my spinals, tension, sweat and heart palpitations when birth comes up, headaches when I talk about some things, this and that...) are not as severe as they were, but are still there.

The worst ptsd thing, because it's the only thing I can't internalize and deal with by myself, is these crazy ass mood swings that ruin several hours at a time for me/us. It comes out of nowhere, I just suddenly feel so hopeless and bitter and can't even think of anything that would help or make me happy. It annoys me for Grant to try to help, breaks my heart if he doesn't try to help, I want to be left alone and not touched by the kids, I can't stand to stay in but don't want to go out...usually this culminates in some sort of nap (because for whatever reason sleeping during the day is no problem at all), even though I hate that because then I feel like I wasted part of the day sleeping. It's awful. It's never all day long, and it's not every day, but it's a couple of times a week at least and I'm tired of it. Although it seems random, it can also be triggered, and more and more it's triggered by something to do with my diastasis. I increasingly just HATE the thing I have to wear constantly, and yet when I'm not wearing it, I'm so SO aware of this bulbous protruding muscular stuff, and it's all more surgery hanging over my head in the future. It's all the way past surgeries have changed me. It's all scars and violation. I don't yell at people or throw things or go crazy in those sorts of ways...I retreat into mindless cleaning, thinking all the while how I hate it, or find something solitary to do and try to ask all the kids to give me space. I cry at the drop of hat, mostly in a bathroom alone but sometimes in the front seat with Grant. It's ridiculous. don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel

Other than napping, sometimes I can pray my way out of it, and sometimes Elise pulls me out. It's easy to love HER, even when I am in a bad way. I can just lay there passively with my shirt up and her nursing, and she's thrilled. I can just hold and cuddle her, and she's happy and gets me to smile in spite of myself. It doesn't require any explanations, if I'm obviously miserable, and so I often end up not miserable. I love that I am enough for her, as a baby, by simply existing. Also I feel like we have some level of solidarity, having come out of the fire of last year together., after all...*sigh*

Therapy is basically chronologically moving through my traumas with talking and emdr. We're about to age 11. Divorce, molestation, kidnapping and hurricane, check check check check. I've actually gained a lot of insight and felt lightened and good about a lot of things, regarding the stuff we've already passed. The problem is that now we're dealing with the whole issue of Jud, my x-stepdad, and I know we're moving towards my mother leaving me, and it just all starts to feel like I'm going to drown in it. Like it's a mountain I can't climb. And of course we divert for things as they happen, currently, and things that are bothering me too much to wait about. I'm glad I'm doing it, in the same way I'd be glad I'm getting a splinter out. I have a half-hearted hope that when I'm done, I'll be able to will myself towards getting my abs fixed. But just typing that puts a lump in my throat, so we'll see. This has been...uh...two months? Or three? I'll go with two and a half months of therapy, and we're at age 11. I'm only 26. I imagine the past few years will take a long time, though. Bah. Other than all the chronological trauma crap, we're looking to "change my belief systems" about certain things, like food and whether or not I can sleep through the night without nightmares. I have a homework assignment of sorts that I need to get to at some point. I keep meaning to stay up to date in a paper therapy journal but it hasn't been working out. There's just too much happening.

Everything with Grant is awesome, except for what I put him through when I'm in a funk. Lots of talking and laughing, lots of helping each other, lots of great sex, lots of mutual attraction and mutual appreciation. He makes me laugh, and makes me believe, and it's so great to have these kids together.

I have some pictures I've been dying to post and I will try to get to that soon...I'm on this new laptop, our old computers are still at Grant Sr's house, and this one has neither an FTP prograp or Paint Shop Pro, and those things are usually my picture posting tools.

I've been thinking some about "my passion for nurturing life". It's so deeply satisfying to me to dig and weed and plant and water, and have filthy hands and sweat all over me afterwards. I love cooking and baking for my family, love nursing and reading to. I love setting up a big pen for the bunnies. It's a good thing. Life, I mean :p It's good to shop for fruit trees in nurseries and to put herbs in my window garden and to see that, somehow, Isaac is writing letters and Aaron is reading books. It's even nice to watch Jake's hair grow back ;)

I think it's really vital to be near kids, once you are no longer a kid. I think it's natural to always have kids around at least in a peripheral way, to remind you of innocence and sincerity and newness. Like Christ said we had to be like little children to see God. I think it's making people cold and depressed, the way it's become normal to spend 10 or 20 years of your adult life around grownups before you decide (maybe) to have a baby. Yeah, I know that's controversial, ask me if I care. People like G our nanny and julierocket make a lot of sense to me, being 20 something childless folks who choose to put themselves around kids as a vocation.

I'd say I'm sorry this is so long, but, well...I'm not.
altarflame: (DeathbyChores)
I was a whirlwind of productivity today. It was a nice change from being a heap of frustrated confusion (i.e., sitting at the computer for HOURS and HOURS combing real estate and conversion van options and making budgets in Excel).

-De-cluttered the entire main part of the house
-Swept all the tile
-Mopped all the tile but the dining room
-Vaccumed all of the living room and hallway
-emptied and refilled the dishwasher
-cleared off and scrubbed the dining table
-scrubbed the counters

That was with a lot of help and cooperation from older children. Also...

-made out checks and put them in the mail, for my last surgeon, Homestead Hospital's pathology lab, Newton-Wellesley Hospital's pathology lab, and PATH's upcoming campout
-sent emails I've been avoiding, including RSVP'ing to said campout and assuring certain people I am still alive
-ordered the Nicoletta Ceccoli print. Yeah, that's right, I spent $300 on a 14x14 lithograph. This astounds even me. But we budgeted in advance for it, and I think it's worth it. Combined with the bills I paid (which totalled almost thirteen thousand dollars) and the PATH fee (a "mere" $50), I was feeling faint by the time I had a kid come to the door selling magazines for a cause. But I got 2 years of Ranger Rick on the grounds that it's for homeschooling and we used to love getting Your Big Backyard.

We had GREAT homeschool time...we worked in their science journals, doing things like counting breaths and heartbeats at rest and after 3 minutes of jumping jacks, and making finger (ink) and lip (makeup) prints of three of us, to compare, on paper. I love that guided science journal book SO MUCH.

I made risotto with mushrooms for lunch, and the kids who don't like mushrooms had peanuts with it.

Then we walked to Spellbound Books for game night, since we didn't have the van. This, people, is over 3 miles away and something I've never considered before. It worked out GREAT though. When we first started out, I knew the first 3/4 mile or so would be through a pretty nice, well established residential neighborhood, and I told the kids, "Maybe we'll buy a house on the way." "Really?" Annie asked, to which I replied, "Well, I've got the checkbook with me." and then we all laughed a lot.

But I did see a house that could be "The one". It's a place I've walked past and thought was nice years ago, and according to the realtor has a lot of the things we're looking for: enough square footage, 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms plus more than one central living area, a dining room separate from the kitchen, nice kitchen in general (big enough, updated), big old bathtub in the master, a ton of windows and french doors letting in LOTS of light, no carpet, and a good enough yard. Also...unbelievable price. It's a foreclosure. Totally within our budget: I was psyched. This could be a way to stay in Homestead!

BUT. The realtor was confused by the square footage of the lot seeming smaller in listed number than what she saw when she looked at the place. We got home and went to a .gov site we use that lists lot sizes, has aerial views of everywhere with property lines, tells appraised values, etc, and...first of all it's listed as a 3/2, not a 4/2. Second, the property line, from the street to the back of the property? It's like 10 feet over from where it should be, and runs RIGHT THROUGH the driveway, house, shed and fence. As if the people next door actually own that sliver of everything. What the hell? It explains why the number of square feet in the yard doesn't match up with how the yard looks, at least. So anyway we want to see it to see if it's 3 or 4 bedrooms, and also talk about this with the bank that owns it. I guess we might end up needing a real estate attorney and a surveyor, if we go through with this particular place...Other than this confusion, the only cons with the place are that one bedroom has unfinished (well, terazzo) floors because they had to tear up the carpet, and it doesn't have a garage, which Grant was hoping for. But, it has a shed, which might be able to serve the same purpose (wood working material storage). And the appraised value and neighbors' homes' values are definitely significantly above asking price.

Spellbound Books, though, yeah - when we first got there, a family I know from years ago at my old church, who lives just a couple of blocks away but I somehow never see, was coming out. It was nice catching up. Then while I was in there, a friend of mine called on the phone, and it was a Very Good Thing. This friend is 1. An x-girlfriend of Grant's, 2. An x-enemy of my sister's, 3. Someone who I feel I know inside and out and who understands me better than the vast majority of people, 4. Someone I almost never talk to, even though we both live here in town, and 5. Probably doing and being exactly what and who I would be, if I didn't have kids.

She's also the x-roomate of one of my best friends from middle school and the fiance of my sister's math tutor. Ah, small town living.

It's nice to get an invite from somebody who is cool with me stopping in for tea at midnight or one in the morning, since that's something I can actually do. By myself.

I am really, really sick of pee and poop. Today I changed a poopy diaper of Elise's, got pee from a wet one on my shirt somehow, cleaned Jake's poop off of the carpet and him, cleaned Isaac's poop off the bathroom floor, him, and the side of the tub, dealt with Jake peeing in his jeans and then stripping naked save for a tshirt in Spellbound, dealt with Aaron peeing in his jeans and then being humiliated and hiding in his room under the covers because he never does that, and found shorts of one of the little boys' in the bathroom with mystery poop in them as I couldn't recall who'd been wearing them. I don't get it; Isaac has been potty trained for, oh, almost two years now, and Jake has been using the potty at least most of the time since October. Aaron of course is like 4 years out of diapers now. What the hell. This is why I absolutely refuse to even entertain the NOTION of a dog for at least another year or so. You know how much totally "Extra" laundry that is, just for today? Above and beyond all regular wear of clothes, towels, diapers or bedding? Argh.

If I can make the next few days as productive as today was, I'll have a lot less stress in my life...some of my goals involve sending out another batch of mail, but personal this time, paying off some more debts, continuing in the science journal vein, researching and seeing this house, making sure to read to all of my younger kids as much as I used to read to the older ones at their ages, and sleeping more.

I guess I should get on that.
altarflame: (Default)
I've had no time for AIM, or updates or anything. I saw your ims, Sara, but way late. I feel guilty sitting down to type this. So far today, I've:

-Put away 2 loads of laundry
-Done 2 OTHER loads of laundry, and diapers
-Cooked a fried egg on toast, scrambled eggs, fried eggs on their own, baked sweet potato, steamed green beens, sauteed yellow squash, and homemade oatmeal raisin cookies, in addition to just "fixing" myriad things like a banana with peanut butter, toasted whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, pbjs, etc...
-DONE DISHES and layed down several ant massacres
-turned 3/4 of a waistband into half-the-rise-done on a pair of longies (and [ profile] boxcarbecca, your yarn is SO PRETTY in the sun from the window that I just love watching the stitches come together...)
-Ran to the post office to pick up a package from [ profile] mizzy - and Teresa I LOVE it :) What kind of yarn is it? I want to call it pumpkin pie and keep it for MY boys....Apparently the mailman claims to have tried to deliver it and left a card, blah blah blah so that's why it was late....
-Wrote up about a paragraph of copy text for another ad, for my mother in law
-Helped Annie find clothes, both kids find towels after backyard hose play, and tv channels, and snacks, and explained things to them, and set them up with Highlights hidden pictures to work on, and involved them in my cleaning, all day
-Gave Isaac a bath, and a nap, and what he is now requesting as "boobie" rather than milk ;) - and changed him a bunch of times, and sat with him so he could feed us both a bowl of sweet potatoes, which he thinks is the height of hilarity...

And wow, all I have left to do is clean the kitchen again, put away more laundry, clean the bathroom floor so I can lay down the clean rugs in there again, do the kids' bedtime routines with Grant (which includes very lengthy reading aloud from What Your First Grader Needs to Know and the book of Luke...) and get all the bowls and spoons Isaac has thrown around the dining room floor picked up...and then I'm free to go back to working on projects until bedtime ;)

I'm telling you, [ profile] housepoet, all you need to do to never be bored again is have more kids.

Things seem more hectic this week because I'm so eager to get money for completed/new orders so I can buy last minute stuff, get personal projects done, get cleaning under control, etc etc before the new baby comes, and Grant is literally working from the time he wakes up until we go to bed at night.

Random points:
1. I spent a small portion of the past two afternoons out with my sister alone, while Isaac napped and Grant worked from here. It was nice. I like her.
2. We're under a stupid hurricane watch.
altarflame: (Default)
I feel really overwhelmed today. In the past week we've baked an insulated vinyl and plastic pizza delivery bag in the oven by accident, rendering it unusable for 3 days of subsequent cleaning, had the drain pipe under the sink burst, thusly spilling all the contents of garbage disposal in the cabinet underneath, and managed to break off the handle of the microwave. It's basically all fixed now but even after THREE full dishwasher loads late last night, it's very "disaster area" in the kitchen...

The bank account has been negative the entire time, so as our groceries dwindle I try to figure out things that we can piece together and cook (with no oven! Or running water nearby!) and we scrape spare change together for gas.

I'm excited about starting a webstore, I've been up late studying knitting techniques and trying to figure out the right yarn to invest in and this and that, after the kids are in bed, but that means I don't sleep. I think I could really make some money, but will that be feasible to commit to, when the new baby is born?

Somehow the entire morning was eaten up by emailing this one yarnstore owner back and forth again and again, waiting on my refund, and figuring out what to do with it. Now we've missed school time, I have packages I promised I would mail today, and Grant is going to end up doing it, even though he's overstressed about work he needs to get done and his customers are supposed to be paying...and it's time to go to dance class. We have to leave in 20 minutes. Aaron is still shirtless, and shoeless, Annie is just shoeless, and Isaac needs to be changed and have the diaper bag packed. All this after I make an address label.

Somehow it seemed more important to take a minute out to vent, then to get on it right away.
altarflame: (Default)
Today I've been Busy Incorporated, but still dissapointed by how few things I've seemed to accomplish.

The kids and I worked on their room for at least an hour and a hald solid. I came away with two trash bags full of stuff we're getting rid of, we really got in the nitty gritty of under their beds, and the dresser, and what all is in their dress up drawers anymore, and stuff like that. But then I went to vaccum like I planned to (it desperately needs it, it hasn't been vaccum accesible in there for far too long due to toys and books and hoohaw on the floor) and the vaccum isn't here. Like, Grant Sr must have loaned it out again - that's right, this has actually happened before. I asked Grant to go by Chuck's (his stepfather) shop where I've had my old vaccum stored since I moved in here, so we can just keep it here, but it's GONE. They have an attic type second floor over there where I've assumed a couple of my things still exist...oops.
I've put away the diapers and run two loads of laundry through washer and dryer, but now I have a two load pile in there waiting for me on top of the half load pile that was left. I cleaned the dining room, but after school and dinner it's dirty again. Cleaned the kitchen but after dinner it's dirty again. Oh, and I made dinner, which means I better get on putting up the leftovers. That sort of thing.
Isaac was adorable, warm and cuddly, and super low maintenance all day...until evening, when he started in with the uber fussy demanding whatnot as I tried to cook. And when he dove into the dishwasher as I sort of kicked up the door to close it as I turned around - and it banged into his face and sent him sprawling back onto the floor :( He has a bruised cheek, there's a whole swollen ball shape on one side when he smiles. :::big sigh::: I swear I did not see that coming, I felt so horrible that as I carried him off from the kitchen cooing and tearing up I *banged his head into the wall as a follow up*. He didn't even seem to remember after 5 minutes, but I see it everytime I look at him. And I'm so frustrated because he's happier and more manageable and more energetic and independant and all of it, since he's been sleeping alone, and I'm not losing my mind anymore, either, but he's crying again when we put him in there in his bed, and it just tears my freaking heart out. At naptime today he was giving me hugs, I was telling him the story of him in the NICU as I swayed with him, and he seemed so little. And he started leaning out of my arms saying "bed", so I put him in there, he's happy, I cover him up, he's happy, I go to leave...and he's screaming. And he'll be out within 1 or 2 minutes, if I just go. 1 or 2 minutes of screaming. But if I stay, he's up for the day, no nap, period. Once he falls asleep, he sleeps for an hour or two and wakes up sweet and rested. Why the screaming?! It's the same at night. He's happy to go in there, but up as long as we're there. We leave, he screams, but only for a minute or two, and then he's down for the night. Whereas in our bed he tosses and turns and climbs and kicks and wakes up grumpy as hell, with zombie parents.

The only things I really feel good about are the big kids' school stuff (a) and the longies I'm making (b).

a.) Aaron did 2 pages in a "Hidden Pictures and Following Directions" workbook, today. It's simple, but challenging and he's learning patience from it. Our workbook rule is we only start if you want to, and we only move on to the next page if you want to do more, but you aren't allowed to give up in the middle of a page. And he's so proud of himself, when he doesn't give up even though he wants to, and then he gets it. After those two pages, which took him awhile of struggle and some hints, he did 2 pages in a math workbook we have, and totally astounded me. He can count quantities of objects better than Annie! Unless they're in straight rows she always has to do it again and again, or put a little mark on each one to be sure she's getting them all once. I think he's better at it than me. And he has no problem at all recognizing the right "numeral" (that word will never feel natural to me o_O) to circle, which suprised me too (the no hesitations or questions part, at least). And then he did all this number tracing on the next page, where you have to follow the little arrows and do it just so. His continual eagerness is such a great surprise. He also spent a long time going through a website with me that details fetal development in pictures and paragraphs I summarized. He's SO into fetal development and natural birth.
Ananda wrote another sentence of her penpal letter (before writing became torture and she cried off) - "I am sending you a picture of myself". And did two pages of her handwriting without tears stuff (crayon style, so it seemed like a break from REAL writing). And the three of us together looked up lots of pics of black widow spiders, and talked about them. Aaron is obsessed with large spiders, now that the terror of yore has faded back a bit...particularly "Red dot spiders", because they're so deadly, and banana spiders, because they're readily available for viewing all over our neighborhood.
I'm really loving this "What Your First Grader Needs to Know" business for bedtime reading. So far we've done tongue twisters, riddles, and famous children's poems including Wynken, Blynken and Nod, Over the River and Through the Woods (which I taught them to sing), and a big George Washington thing that led into a big history talk. Next up are Aesop's Fables, but we review before we go on each night. So like tonight we reviewed the tongue twisters and riddles briefly, and then went in depth on the poems. Tomorrow I'll probably read them the poems once and touch on things we talked about, and then move on to talk and read the fables as our time consuming thing. The book's actually a part of some kind of "core curriculum" they market to schools, apparently, and there is one for each grade level starting with kindergarden. This one goes into math problems, paintings and art, maps, all kinds of stuff as the book progresses. Lots of "cultural literacy" type stuff. We're just in lit right now. They're sequential so I sort of wish we had started with Kindgergarden, but 1st grade was the original level 1 and K was just added as an afterthought when the series got big, and is the only one with mediocre Amazon reviews, so hey.

B.)I finished my longies waist band today, knit style. Made the waist about 13 1/4 inches unstretched, which was a decision I arrived at after perusing Mosaic Moon's measurements for sizes, and it's in light brown wool I dyed with tea back before Christmas. I started the main body in crochet, off of the bottom of the waist, in natural. I'm going to do the ankle cuffs in tea-dyed stuff, though, knit, to match the waist, and make the drawstring a swirly half-tea half-natural braid. I figure if I can get past the dreaded crotch section (which REALLY remains to be seen...) all will be well.

An Example of How I'm Raising My Kids to be Better Than I Am )

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