altarflame: (deluge)
I was really going to do the New Years pics, but then I was thinking I never posted Christmas pics, and I've just made so many yummy things this week that it started me looking back at other yummy things...I'm sure you get the idea :)

Best of eatin' in late November, December and early January )
altarflame: (deluge)
This evening, while Grant got the grill going, I ran up to the store for a couple of dinner ingredients we were missing. Got home, and Elise had on dark sunglasses and a jacket tied around her waist. Arms crossed over her chest, she started doing squats and chanting in a deep voice, "Emo, emo, emo!" Meanwhile, Jake ran past me with a hamster puppet on a wooden sword, yelling, "We're having roast hamster tonight!!!!" Then Aaron appeared, asking if I wanted to see how deep he'd cut his finger while he and Adrian were whittling with Adrian's homemade knives as though I was going to be REALLY impressed.

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
One of my favorite things is to be cooking something delicious in my kitchen, with a glass of wine and music playing. Tonight it's a couple of whole chickens being roasted different ways - one dry roasted with onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots and salt, and the other cooked with lots of butter under the skin and along with broccoli and mushrooms. And Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and Regina Spektor.

Today was pretty good. Grant went and got our three littles from his father's, where they spent the night, at 10. They were thrilled with their time and told us so many stories that you'd think they'd been there for a week.

I went and got Ananda and Aaron from Cybele's, where they spent the night, in the afternoon. On the way back the three of us stopped at Whole Foods for kefir and at Tim's (oriental grocery) for rice paper wrappers and more boba. Back home I made everyone bubble tea and did a ton of work for my Sensation and Perception class - we have three of these massive 50 point assignments that use three different websites and software, and involve printing and filling in 9 pages each. One down, two to go O_o I also have an exam (and he's warned us they're vicious) on Thursday, in that class, and a research project to get out of the way soon now that we're somehow already in week 3 of 6...the summer semester is kinda intense with everything crammed in.

Grant and I went up to Publix in the rain when I was finished, since they had a great deal on this tea I love that adds up if you buy it at Starbucks or on campus. It's nice to just sit in the dry, quiet car with him and talk about sensation and perception and research and cooking and whether we should move somewhere more urban or not.


This three day weekend has involved:

-swimming at the Y, twice - and all of a sudden (just when I was finally about to resort to lessons) Isaac, Jake and Elise are all swimming! And floating! And super excited about it!

-observing both the southbound (Friday) and northbound (this afternoon) highway traffic coming and going from the Keys for the holiday - it was thickly boat laden, with a lot of jet skis, bicycles and tow behinds, and at least one car pulled over with people sitting on the ground playing guitar in the median - and overall this always tends to remind me of this.

-sitting in my car* reading about Alfred Adler and taking notes on my phone while Annie had roller derby practice

-two solid hours talking with her and hugging her and trying to encourage her as she talked about how much she hates being upset for no reason and how freaked out she feels by things that aren't freaky and otherwise cried and raved about the general bullshit that is her age...it is really, REALLY AWESOME to me that she can talk about any of this with me, now...I eat it up, actually. I'm so glad we got a lot of her communication troubles out of the way before adolescence kicked in and over complicated things more.

-dropping/picking up Aaron at dance for the millionth time this month (recital and company show coming up...)

-seeing Brian Viglione post that the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (which I have always had on my bucket list) is in danger in the post-Hurricane-Sandy reality up there, and that he would be playing with Amanda Palmer the following night in a "Save the Mermaids" benefit. I wanted to go to this SO BADLY, like Grant has so many frequent flyer miles and hotel points saved up from business trips that we actually researched flight schedules and ticket prices and hotel locations and I was flipping my shit with longing. I was manic about it. It was a really sucky letdown when it all proved impossible, and then I spent awhile the following morning being very emo about it. Tears. I think it represented something larger to me, about personal freedom and living in the moment - I haven't really went nuts trying to make something impossible like that happen in several years. Sometimes it works, is the thing :p This just would have been TOO inconsiderate, though, unfortunately :/

-so much sex. Really, this was so overdue, and it's been awesome and I am not slowing down anytime soon. HEDONISTIC FRENZY FTW

-also, last night Grant and I had a date out alone, for probably the third time in the past couple of months...it was good, we ate at Outback and saw Hangover 3 - I was very very aware that the movie could go either way (too dumb to even deal with, or hilarious), but aside from some problematic shit I could do without** - it was pretty funny for what it was.

-a bubble bath and textathon Saturday night, while G was out with Shaun

-about 4 hours spent naked that ended with eating gelato straight from the container, with a spare plate, so that I could pull it out, pick through it for chunks and put it back. Because that's how I roll.

-a nap-too-long at an odd time that I woke from confused about day, place, and general life.

-tacos and cider for lunch in our dining room


I've done so many step-by-step pictures as my days progress, either for Jake to see one day while I was in school (he demanded to know what the heck I mean by, "going to college" and why he can't come - Grant works from home on days I go to school but he's fairly distracted with the "working" part), or for Grant when he's at the office and wants to see what we're up to at home. I keep thinking I should just put a DITL together and then realizing that what I get with them in mind is not what I'd put on the internet at all. For instance, Jake's report featured lots of stuff like escalators and elevators and riding in a golf cart, and banks of vending machines, and some guy on a skateboard, and all the sort of things a 7 year old would think was cool.

This weekend was great for the most part, but I get really lonely, sometimes. I have one budding friendship in one of my classes and my sister and I keep having these times when she's like, standing around my front yard with her kids in the car and we talk because she's passing through my side of town for something (they've been mildly sick for weeks with something she's afraid to pass on because it's so hard to kick). But way too many of the people I care about are really far away and only available through my phone.


*We got a second car about 10 days ago! It's such a relief. It's a 2011 Ford Fiesta, which is not really something we're "excited" about in and of itself, but we picked it because it has excellent safety ratings and amazing gas mileage (better than the Prius did - 29/38 city/highway). Already it seems like we'll be saving the payment each month in gas savings and breaking even, it's crazy what a different it is to have a "commuter" for work/school...

**Really, it's 2013 and we're laughing at a "Chinaman" with an exaggerated accent who speaks bad english? *wince* Also, what IS this weird Hollywood insistence that fat people can't have chemistry/fall in love/get it on? The whole idea that it's supposed to be inherently hilarious for fat people to act like human beings is fucking ridiciulous, and obviously has nothing to do with reality.
altarflame: (Elisepeeking)
Well today is an improvement over yesterday, THANK GOD O_O I feel like our house still has some general negative vibes about it surrounding pet grief/recent grave/abundance of flies swarming the deck :/ But overall this has been an interesting day.

Ananda's roller derby team did this "Kid's Fit Day" event that entailed doing demos for the crowd, passing out flyers, and getting to go around to other concessions' free samples and info. High point: she got to get a free fencing lesson. This is strangely serendipitous as she has just been bugging us to go get fencing lessons (and I've been telling her HECK NO YOU ARE IN TOO MANY THINGS ALREADY SAVE YOUR MONEY AND DO IT WHEN YOU MOVE OUT). This was full on, with all the safety gear and apparently someone asked her if she'd done it before and she proudly said, "No, but I've seen the Princess Bride a dozen times so I'm basically an expert." There is no living with this child. Low/whoa point: a teammate dislocated her knee and popped a ligament...in the bounce house. That's right, totally unrelated to derby she had to be rushed away in an ambulance and came back on crutches - from playing in an inflatable.

Aaron had THE THIRD FULL REHEARSAL in 3 days, at Dance Empire. There was the tech rehearsal, and the dress rehearsal, I don't even know what this one was actually but they run 4-5 hours long each time since they involve lots of stopping to redo things in different and/or better ways.

While they did their things, I sat in Panera drinking lemon water and using wifi for my online course (psychotherapy). After making everyone a big breakfast and hustling people out the door with supplies, I grabbed my laptop...but not my textbook. Luckily, between Amazon's preview feature and Google Book's sampling abilities (they leave out slightly different pages) I was able to read about 28 of the 30 pages I was supposed to. I also watched a 20 minute video, did two discussion based (message board) assignments, and took a couple of quizzes - all in all it was about 2.5 hours of solid working for the week, even including a download and installation, which feels like NOTHING compared to my classes on campus. They're 3 hours and 20 minutes long, one after the other, twice a week (in the same room - so twice a week I spend 7 hours in this one classroom).

Psychotherapy is also a cakewalk compared to my other classes, material-wise; Childhood Psychopathology involves some graphs and vocabulary that can get extensive, though it's still easy (partially because I'm already at least peripherally familiar with everything thus far). Sensation and Perception, though, involves so much complex neurobiology, electricity, math, and other interdisciplinary hoohaw that I come out feeling like I have smoke coming out of my ears. It's really interesting, though, and taught by someone very passionate about the subject who makes sure it never gets dry. I come away from my days at school with a cramping hand and dozens of new pages of notes, eager to sit down with Grant and talk about all kinds of stuff but simultaneously totally mentally exhausted. Both of those teachers are fast talking and really keep things moving the entire time.

Psychotherapy, easy though it may be, did give me a lot to think about today - there are a lot of practical aspects of my eventual, hypothetical licensure that I hadn't really considered. Like being sued by clients, the legal gray areas of confidentiality when called into a court room, and the ethical gray areas that abound when you (for instance) need professional services from, or intersect socially with, someone you've been seeing as a client. It's also interesting to look at lists of positive and ideal characteristics of therapists, and consider which ones I'm lacking in/need to work on.

Anyway. I think Grant's making something cajun for dinner but I'm going to eat another luscious, amazing salad like I made last night - one with browned up chicken and mushrooms, bacon, bleu cheese. Served in a punch bowl with wine on the side, you know - salad :D

Pics again: 8 Random Shots Celebrating my Beast, who turned 6 on May 1 - and was only a couple of months, in my icon... )
altarflame: (deluge)
For the past 48 hours or so, I've been totally out of butter and milk but had tons and tons of greek yogurt (like way too much). So, I've been doing research and experimentation. So far, I've made:

-scrambled eggs with tablespoons of greek yogurt stirred in after the first minute of cooking - they came out great (I put in some herby Mrs Dash and salt, too, when I beat the eggs)

-an Alton Brown carrot cake that calls for yogurt and oil (and I actually made cream cheese frosting without butter, too - just whipped the room temperature cream cheese with some vanilla extract and lots of powdered sugar, and threw in some shredded coconut I had in the fridge at the last moment). It isn't the best carrot cake we've ever had, but everyone likes it and it's definitely getting eaten

-cheese biscuits. There are easily google-able 3 ingredient yogurt biscuit recipes all over (though they're more like 6 ingredients for me because I had to mix up my own "self rising flour"). I just shredded some good cheddar into the dough, which is how I magically turn any biscuit recipe into a cheese biscuit recipe ;) Incidentally, those were to go along with this DRY ROASTED <--O_O chicken recipe that gets stellar reviews all over: http://1tsplove.blogspot.com/2011/07/thomas-kellers-roast-chicken.html I normally use almost a whole stick of butter to roast a chicken, between what I put under the skin and in the cavity and what I leave on top

Next: Nigella's lemon yoghurt cake, which I've made before and know we like :) I have it in her Domestic Goddess book but I'm sure it's all over the web. I think that will be for tea tomorrow.

For lunch, tomorrow, I'm making a variation on an old curried chickpea thing I've done a lot of times that adds in condensed cream soup and tomatoes. It's a little scary, but well reviewed, and I have gross canned leftovers from the holidays ;)


Before I started to see the weird surplus of things in our fridge and cabinets that we were allowing to equal "there's nothing to eat!" - when I was well stocked with that surface layer of food that gets eaten first after a trip to the store - I made Julia Child's french omelettes for the first time and THEY WERE EPIC. Omelette is, clearly, a french word, but basically a "french omelette" is just an omelette cooked briefly at high temperatures in a lot of butter, rather than for awhile at medium temperatures on, you know, PAM or something. I upped the ante by seasoning them with herbs and filling them with brie and mushrooms I'd pre-browned. Ananda, Jake and I each tore one up, and I used the same basic formula to make "french scrambled eggs" for Aaron and Isaac (Elise claims to hate eggs for the last few months).
altarflame: (Default)
Today turned out not to be a total bust, despite my being a bleary eyed mess and then taking a necessary nap.

The little kids got to camp, breakfast eaten, lunches packed, wearing clean clothes, and with instruments and folders in tow.

I mailed belated birthday cards to my Nana and brother, and a postcard to my friend who is still waiting on the Epic-est Letter of all Time. This was all bleary eyed. Then nap.

Then Aaron and I had about an hour and a half of really good, continuing talk about ideas that just keep stringing together...the other night this began with a discussion on the Anais Nin quote, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are", along with the concept of curiosity before judgement. Today this somehow led into the placebo effect, and self fulfilling prophecies, and finally the evolution in how our culture handles dead bodies and the myriad options open to people for what they wish to be done with their own bodies (which Ananda joined us for).

This was also the 6th time in the last few months that I've made contact with Dr Geraldi re: Aaron's persistently swollen glands and constant low level sickness. We just talked today; there have been 3 office visits and other phone conversations. He's referring us out to infectious disease at Miami Children's Hospital - doc is thinking mono, which makes an awful lot of sense and could conceivably have been picked up during some kind of gross sharing of wind instruments (Aaron plays flute with GMYS).

Several emails later, the chair of math is going to be working out my Statistics grade at the beginning of the fall semester, so I signed up to take the class again just in case. He sounds like he'll have the situation worked out to where my grade is raised and I can drop the repeat class in the first week without penalty, but it will be there in case. My understanding is that my teacher is impossible to reach on vacation or something.

I need a different book for that repeat course, so I went and sold my old one back.

I also talked to someone at Florida Virtual Schools about the forms I have to turn in for Ananda and Aaron as homeschoolers, and to someone at the charter school about the uniforms Isaac and Elise need.

And I had a really fabulous lunch, involving french bread I browned in a pan of melted butter, bacon, avocado and tomato. Please feel free to peruse Ananda's and my fabulous dinner from last night, here (pictures are clickable, albeit camera phone quality), and the ridiculously fulfilling splendour that is my bathroom, here. It's the little things ;)

Grant is out of state for work and, as usual, I find my web activity expands without another adult about the place in the evenings.

Last night I did have a half hour talk in our front yard with our (very, very nice) plumber neighbor, about the small leak that persists despite all he's done...somewhere (based on the meter continuing to spin). He'll be back some evening this week to investigate further, which has given me the opportunity to clear a path through our laundry room to the water heater.

And, Ananda and I watched Julie and Julia last night, after everyone else was in bed, which was inspired in part by these drool-worthy and luscious tumblr posts:
Boef Bourgignon
Chocolate Mousse
French Onion Soup

Hence, our dinner.

I've already decided Julia's old PBS shows (along with Carl Sagan's Cosmos) are gonna be part of our homeschool year - AND DID YOU KNOW that Cosmos is coming back on the air, but will now be hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson??

This is getting disjointed, but it's cool to me to think of these Food Network kids seeing how it all started.

I will leave you now with two great videos from these wonderful little boys, who are growing and changing so much and are really not so "little" at all anymore.

Jake "cooking" last week - could use some editing, but I was impressed. It was one shot, no input from me, his idea. He's kind of a natural:


Isaac playing the recorder very well, albeit for just a short while, this afternoon:

He's getting ready for the performance at the end of their camp in a couple of days :)
altarflame: (Default)
I am working on a creamy mushroom soup that is ultra-healthy, vegan, etc. So far what I've put in the stock pot is:

-2 yellow onions
-red and orange bell peppers
-many cloves of garlic
-3 cans of chickpeas
-a can of black beans (both drained)

All pureed in the magic bullet with small amounts of water added to each run-through. I'm filling the pot up the rest of the way with chicken broth after all that boils for a few minutes and then simmers for a bit. Then I'm adding tons and tons of mushrooms and cooking it just a bit. Then I'm eating it.

I'll report back.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
-walking a little girl to and from preschool
-riding my bike to the bank and to go pay a bill
-frying (a dozen) eggs and (a pound of) mushrooms to go on (a loaf of) toast
-bossing some people around (chores, schoolwork)
-hopefully, getting some sewing done
-thinking I left my phone in the van and Grant has it at work now O_o
-making two dozen christmas cupcakes for a preschool christmas show I'm eagerly anticipating, this evening (her preschool director asked for 2 dozen like it was a burden...I was like, lady, I make four dozen for MY HOUSE)
-making gingerbread and shortbread dough for fridge/freezer, with children
-making a roast chicken, baby carrots and twice baked potatoes for dinner
-sex date (because it's come to that :p)

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

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

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




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

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


P.S. It is so great to have Annie back home ♥
altarflame: (NewFive)
I keep being blown away by how manageable things are around here, lately.

I don't get everything done that I want to get done (LET'S NOT GET CRAZY) and there are always snafus along the way (see: last night's entry), but...this is still worlds apart from having a bunch of diapered wild things that need every bit of their day attended to. Worlds apart from being so crazily overwhelmed by new responsibilities. Worlds apart from being in the darkest stretch of ignored, worsening PTSD.

I didn't get much sleep last night; I just couldn't seem to get down. I was pretty damn tired driving Grant to work this morning. I came home to a quiet house, my brother left for JobCorps, and I was like dude whatever and went back to sleep. This was at like 8:30.

I woke up at 11:30, feeling way better. House is still noticeably cleaner than usual from the massive cleanup we did yesterday.

All five kids had gotten bowl of cheerios and almond milk and eaten bananas and granola bars on their own and there was only one bowl and one wrapper left out.

Ananda had done all her chores and was most of the way done with her math work for the day.

Isaac, Jake and Elise were gathered around the Sesame Street YouTube channel (Aaron had helped them) watching videos.

Aaron was constructing something out of golden orb spider web from the sideyard.

I took about one relaxed hour that involved lots of talking with all of them about the movies they went to see with Dad last night and all our plans for tomorrow and the next day, during which I handled lots of food stuff:

-2 pitchers of sweet iced tea brewed, mixed and chilling, to go with dinner tonight
-whole chicken from the freezer thawing in a big bowl of water, for roasting this evening
-pasta boiled up, sauce heated, and mushrooms butter sauteed, for lunch
-2 jumbo cans of pineapple chunks chilling in the freezer for "dessert", after lunch
-double-sized crate of strawberries chopped and coated in sugar, marinating in the fridge for tomorrow morning's oatmeal

We boiled extra pasta for ducklings I'll take them to see after they endure coming along with me to get my financial aid debacle straightened out; Aaron is writing a paragraph about this latest nonfiction book he read for me.

It's just kind of wild how EASY so many things are.




FedEx just came by. When I was in Boston, pregnant with Elise, a lawyer-activist friend of Nancy's asked me if I would pose for some pictures with different facial expressions. She was having several women do this, pregnant or with newborns, for a series of shots to be used as promotional materials for her new site (consciouswoman.org) when it launched. I'm still in contact with her (she's most likely, hopefully contributing to my surgery book) and she was telling me about how she had the images painted by an artist and was sending all the "models" lithographs of the painting of their own image.

So that's what FedEx was delivering to me; a matted lithograph print of an oil painting of me on all fours in a floor length dress, a million months pregnant with Elise, trying to look like I'm "awakening" or "realizing" or something like that (I can't remember).

I'm really not sure what I think of it O_o Ananda and Aaron give neutral reviews.
altarflame: (Default)
Friday afternoon, Laura and I attended Bob's high school graduation ceremony with our five youngest kids in tow. Grant and Frank were working, A and A were at a friend's house (and the guests per graduate were limited). This was a big deal. Both of us cried at some point. I thought it was hilarious and sort of awesome that while many of the people walking up had a small crowd of adults, Bob got (in addition to Laura and I) five very small people standing on chairs all in a row, screaming and jumping for him.

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

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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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




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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Grant and I are still doing very very well and part of not having time for crochet or the internet has to do with free time of any sort being allocated for long baths, trips out or extended time in a locked bedroom with him <3
altarflame: (Default)
This big dork personifies pubescent awkwardness, and I love her for it ♥ That's the caution tape we had blocking the redone driveway (some guys came knocking that they'd done other peoples' and had leftover materials so they'd do ours ultracheap) and a shirt she bought with her own money.

When she spotted that one in the pile at Hot Topic she was like, "Is that Lucius Malfoy?!" at first glance. Grant said, "That's Lucius Malfoy 1.0" and I laughed, remembering this:


The King (Elvis) has been making Isaac really happy keeping him company at night. The sling makes it harder for him to get to sleep so he ends up feeling alone after the other kids are down.

He's also had a lot of hunting to do...last week he brought me two dead palmetto bugs, and then woke us in the night...he'd knocked over a chair and was apparently playing with a SCREAMING mouse...I shook Grant awake telling him it sounded like someone had broken in and was robbing us with a rubber duckie, and he ran out to see what was going on.

Beautiful girl.


Our new ultrablack driveway is really awesome for my super fancy mail ordered ultra vibrant chalk. That is oily and messier than normal chalk. We came out and found them this way today.
















She was making iced tea to go with dinner, from some loose leaf blood orange tea, and kept finding bits of real peel that seemed to impress her.


I was making the rest of dinner. And having cinnamon cardamon tea with almond milk and lychee honey in it. It was SO YUMMY.


And Grant made this little table for Elise's Princess Palace. I had my doubts about where in the hell he was going to fit a TABLE, but he obviously had the concept well developed. She's getting a little chair to slide in under it tomorrow. The (sewn by Kristin) cat family is living under it for now.



I leave you with two AMAZING Florence and the Machine songs that Grant and I had left undiscovered on the CD for months because we didn't understand they have to be played LOUD. Seriously, if you are in a position to play something LOUD, try these :D

(Grant and I BOTH got speeding tickets in the van, separately, the other day, while blaring this damned song...so maybe listening to it up loud while driving it TOO good...)


And then this one was part of our "magical night" and just...I love this woman :D


I really cannot emphasize the LOUD part enough, though. There are Florence songs that sound great low but these aren't them.
altarflame: (Default)
The daily roundup of pros and cons I almost posted two nights ago )

many dance pictures of Ananda and Aaron taken by others, and then posted to and tagged on facebook, which I was going to post last night )

Typed Last Night:
We tend to do more intense amounts of daily sit down schoolwork during the summers because, A. IT'S TOO DAMN HOT TO GO OUTSIDE, B. we don't have nearly so many activities competing for our time, and C. I realize I have to get through the most recent grades' curricula in time for Fall when we start another relatively laid back year :p This works out pretty well for us. We are not unschoolers, but I really love the idea of unschooling and think they use their unstructured time very well. It definitely pays to let them have it as much as I can, and year-round school helps with that a lot... Today it's been a lot of synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, addition with carrying, counting by fives, words with strange rules for pluralizing (knife to knives), 3 digit subtraction with borrowing...Isaac is in the transition between "doing some paper style schoolwork sometimes" to "doing a couple of paper type things everyday". All of my (and their, really) favorite kinds of learning happens outside, around the computer, in our or the public library, on field trips, and in bedrooms late at night (where we have major discussions). I am really impressed with Isaac's speed and enthusiasm for sit down work, though - and really LOSING. MY DAMNED. MIND. about motivating Aaron to do things like math problems.
/old crap.

I have to go cook a big lunch in time for it to be ready before Grant leaves so I can go take the kids and get a flat repaired in time to hopefully still make it to the bee farm before Aaron's hip hop class at 3, as they know we're coming and ordered the tire...then we'll take Ananda to Borders to use her birthday giftcard since we're already up the road. SO MAYBE tonight I can write about all kinds of crap I've been thinking, after I do more Usborne sales stuff (I have a table at a book fair reserved and some home shows in the works) and NYC cooresponding for accomadations stuff (got it almost narrowed down to a Craistlist thing or a genuinely nice looking hostel) and send something out to a different agent (probably the childrens' story), and get them all working on school O_O These days, Grant is ALWAYS at work and we are still sitting up late into the night working on budgets...well, and watching Weeds.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
I was in this ridiculous funk during his last group of work days (he does either 3 or 4 12 hour shift days - plus commute - in a row each week, then is off for 3 or 4 days until the next week's shifts start up). He and I had stuff to work through...not horrible stuff, but stuff causing tension, and it's really hard to do that through email and the occasional interrupted phone call. I'm really sensitive to any slight problem we're having and it just eats away at me all day long to know there's something being left there to fester.

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

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

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



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

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

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

SO.

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

(camera phone)

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

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

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

I'm normal again.

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




.
altarflame: (All Four)
I've spent the whole afternoon in the kitchen cooking with the kids, and really dug it. We had butternut squash, steamed and mashed with butter, brown sugar, salt and pepper, for lunch, and brownies for tea and right now there is a roast chicken, green bean casserole, steamed brussel sprouts and garlic parmesean mashed potatoes nearing doneness. FREAKING YUM. Also this all started with a grocery trip with just Ananda, Aaron and I, where we bought supplies for this stuff and also breakfast tomorrow - french toast with oatmeal bread and maple syrup, and mushroom and cheddar omelettes. FREAKING YUM!! We were looking for little baking pumpkins for pies and bread, but alas there were only big carvers so far for jack o lanterns. I LOVE this time of year that's starting...

This is as good a time as any to tell you all that I love to cook...a lot of the time people seem to say things to me like "What are you putting yourself through?" or "I just can't imagine spending all that time in the kitchen..." as if I'm showing off or in a competition - I did it when I was in high school and had no kids, though. For my friends, and my school lunches, and my dinners when I lived with my grandparents who didn't even eat dinner. My house was the afterschool spot for stir fries and "pan concoctions" (just the phrase could make my best friends drool). I'm really not some sort of nutrition martyr so much as I just like spending my time preparing food. I escape TO the kitchen, as Nigella Lawson says. And so often it's such an easy way to go on autopilot and be engaging the kids, interacting with them, teaching them - without planning anything or going out or whatever.




I've been thinking some lately about how I feel I do a good job providing one on one attention to each of my kids, despite having several of them, and I maintain most of my standards as new babies get thrown in (playing outside, bedtime routines, yada yada). I even keep things cleaner now than I did with two. But my safety standards have really slipped as the clan has grown. I'm not sure if it's dangerous at this point, as I was paranoid as hell before...but it's definitely different. Feel free to click, read and give your opinion...just be up front, no locked entries in your journals about how CPS needs to come pick my kids up! )
altarflame: (belly pic)
Due to lack of time, or disctraction, mostly. I've been doing well, though. Kind of got my head straight about continuing to be pregnant, and Isaac has been more calm, too. My due date is in 4 or 5 days, btw - does anyone know what happens to my ticker once it's passed, assuming I haven't had the baby yet?

I had/have a huge update I would like to type up, about how I love all of my children, Grant and I can easily imagine wanting/having more in the future, and I'm damn tired of total strangers in the grocery store asking if I'm getting my tubes tied and neighbors yelling "No more! No more!" across the street at me (that really happens!). I feel like only children are missing out bigtime and like closely spaced siblings have much cooler relationships...but I'm sure as heck not lambasting random women at the park for not feeling the same way within their own choices! It just boggles my mind that people see kids - new life, the ultimate blessing, etc - as this huge burdensome chore and interpret many of them as some sort of insane excess. I still do look forward to one day going back to school, being a chaplain, writing things that get published...but on another level, it really seems like anything else I do will be so empty, compared to raising children right. I'm so *fulfilled* by holidays and traditions within a big family...and absurdly satisfied by the look of the kids' room, with Aaron's play rug and the fabric'd out bunk beds all done and the drum set and doll house. It makes me so happy to do science experiments and go to Girl Scouting events and pray with them before they go to sleep at night - I think the best is how we figure out new things and get better at it every time. Like, I didn't know about slings or cloth diapers before I had Isaac. I never took control of my health and prenatal care before this pregnancy. We've consistently been more stable, more educated and more financially capable with each baby...in that respect, it just doesn't make any SENSE to make some sort of definitive decision that we are "done" forever now - NOW that we have everything we need for a baby in the house already and don't even have to buy anything new, now that we already have a vehicle with extra seating, etc. I DO want a break - I wouldn't want to get pregnant in the next 2-3 years, because I want to be out on our own or have this place to ourselves with Grant Sr moved out, due to space constraints, I want to continue to be able to provide one on one time to each of them daily, and my body could use a break. But it's easy for me to imagine wanting another "pair" (like A and A are and Isaac and Jake will be) after that. It's easy for me to imagine Grant and I being 35 and most of them being basically grown and deciding to start all over, because we just can't stand not having a baby or toddler around anymore. /end tons of kids stuff

We spent the whole day out yesterday; Grant had to fix some internet issues for a customer up in Miami, and I had to get more yellowdock from Wild Oats, where we ended up having late lunch, and then he also ended up stopping to look at someone's computer in Pinecrest, on the way home. We brought homeschool supplies so that A and A could do workbook pages or get read to in the van, while Isaac nursed/got changed/ran amock as we waited for G. It ended up feeling really productive to me - he made $150, I was out of the house for hours, we ate well and Ananda learned new phonics rules. When I got home, my mother, mother in law, father and sister had all called while I was out...and I have to admit I was glad to dodge the labor questions for at least one day. From the top of a parking garage Aaron thinks that north Miami looks like "a city with lots of brocoli growing all over it".

The birth center show started yesterday :) I have a sweet lady tivo'ing and recording it for me, but it's still driving me batty that she's SEEN it already, and I have to wait!

Today's agenda includes lots and lots of fall-type cooking. I have peaches that will be muffins, pumpkins that will be pies, and apples that will be sauce. I think we'll do chicken and yellow rice for dinner, it's been a long time. I'm finding I actually feel a lot BETTER, when I'm on my feet most of the day moving, then I do when I try to relax. That just makes me get all stiff and sore and then it feels too hard when I DO move. When I am sitting I'll be working on orders - I did a bit of that yesterday, too, and the day before, and am starting to see some new stuff near completion for mailing out.
altarflame: (chalk)
Today I let Grant sleep in, and got up with the kids. They were all in our room - Isaac in the co-sleeper, A and A on the floor on top of sleeping bags and under blankets, G and I in bed - because we're in the process of getting their bunk beds ready. As of last night, they were *mostly* assembled in their rooms, but still needing extra support panels and mattresses and fabric.

It felt SO GOOD, btw, to have everyone sleeping in the same room. The little voice in the back of my head that is always nagging that someone could come in my kids' bedroom window or a fire could start and block my way to them or who knows what, was just silent. I love it. Grant felt the same. But...there REALLY isn't room :/ We joked about putting wall to wall mattresses on the floor and making that room ONLY to sleep, and making their room a play room.

Anyway, they are in LOVE with these bunk beds. I'm kind of depressed about how humongous they are - like, are my kids really that big? And man did their bedroom shrink or what? It seems like there should be a middle step between toddler beds and full blown single sized beds. We did some really cool stuff with the fabric dealy - for anyone who missed this detail, their beds each have light foam padding covered in fabric at the headboard and footboard, and we ripped off the nasty Barbie fabric they came with. Aaron found a pseudo-Spiderman flannel he loves, it's red background with yellow webs and blue spiders all over, but it was harder to find something for Annie. She doesn't have some character she's obsessed with or some print that just says "her". So Grant came up with the idea to just cut up a big white backdrop he uses to take pictures, and let her paint it. So she and I spent a looooooooooong time today painting mermaids and butterflies and swirls all over this fabric. I love the way it looks, I think I might take some pictures. She's such a little psycho - you should hear her saying "This one is going to be a cyclops giraffe alien mermaid" and proceeding to paint a very long necked, one-eyed thing with legs and fins, that has an extra hand sprouting from the end of one finger. And laughing her head off. Not to mention crawling all over the floor helping me straighten the marked sheet for cutting, and pausing here and there to say menacingly "You're in trouble now, I'm the ant-eater!" and popping an ant in her mouth. She's in luck, we have some sort of summer infestation and the kitchen is impossible to keep clear of them. She's always finding a stray one on the counter, it seems o_O

Ananda, Isaac and I made a big breakfast of whole wheat oatmeal banana pancakes, veggie laden garlicky scrambled eggs, and diced pineapple, and then went and woke up Grant and Aaron to come and eat with us, first thing. We ate all of that and then I cleaned the kitchen, and then we had a recorder lesson, before the bed bonanza started. Grant was sweaty as heck and covered in saw dust half the day, from cutting 2x4s and particle board down to size. His thumbs are also hurting from tacking fabric, and I think he's been to Home Depot like 5 times in the past few days. It is an adventure to attempt major art projects and carpentry with a toddler running around. I think he only managed to break one lampshade (lamp was on the floor due to furniture being moved around) and make more clutter-style mess than normal. Well...he also made me raise my voice more often than normal, but HE still had a great day. And redeemed himself admirably when my mother called this evening and he eagerly talked with her, said "Grandma!" over and over to her, and hugged me while nursing through my whole conversation.

I was so tired by this evening that I just wanted to curl up and surrendur consciousness way before bedtime routines. Like, Robby said "Isaac is taking the lamp with the bare hot lightbulb and putting it on the fabric on Aaron's bed and just leaving it there!" and my response was to say "Annie and Aaron, get out a truck that makes noises and distract the baby". o_O

But we got them all down and only a little later than normal, and I managed to get out the dang old email I wanted to stab and write the story for the paper for my mother in law. It turned out to be super easy, took me like 10 minutes, and she's thrilled with it and insisting on paying me tomorrow for it. So hey :) Hopefully I can replace the lampshade with the money, as I HATE the overhead lighting in the kids' room. BTW, I can tell I'm on a slippery slope to being an internet loser because I was constantly wanting to insert smileys into the ad text for clarity and tone, as I wrote.

The last thing I did was groan and slouch my way through cooking late night stuff for G and I while he tried to catch up on all the work he hasn't touched this weekend, in the office. Then we sat on the couch and watched tv, revelling in wonderful seasoned, sauteed chicken, and awesome eggplant parmesean with homemade tomato sauce. Nothing says loving like being willing to go and pick basil out of the backyard at 11 pm, for your woman. Or maybe it says hunger? In any case the Andy Milinakis show is really...something. I have no idea what, but I do know it's ironic as all get out that they show public service announcements of Maya Angelou urging you to select your cable television programs carefully while it's on.
altarflame: (pregnant)
We stayed up too late last night, like everynight, but it was productive, as it has been lately. I made the top half of a fairy doll and her first wing, in the office talking with Grant, while he designed most of the website for the Homestead Art Club. It's just so easy to get things accomplished, when all the kids are asleep.

So we woke up far too soon today with plans, and fulfilled them. Stopped by the post office where I ran in and dropped of my first custom order to be shipped (sushi, of all things). Then we took the big kids to Teresa's (mother in law) and went over to the farmers market with Isaac. Shaun ended up meeting us there, Grant wore the baby. It was MISERABLY hot for me, but we got:
-a bunch of bananas
-3 apples
-a crate of 5 or 6 good sized red potatoes
-8 plums
-a large zuccinni
-2 heads of brocoli
-8 BEAUTIFUL roma tomatoes

All for $7 and change. Like...seriously. It was amazing! It's not organic, but it is locally grown and extremely fresh, which I like supporting on a lot of levels.

Then we went and picked the kids up (the farmers' market is really crowded and cramped) - they had had a great time. Ananda was coloring and Aaron was talking with Oma (Teresa). We went over to the mall, still with Shaun in tow, because Grant had to meet with this guy who owns a tshirt store there, who's site is almost done. There was a heinously loud kids' thing set up - some fool dressed up as a dancing dolphin with Miami Seaquarium logos stuck all over him, trying to get preschoolers who were all hysterically afraid to line dance in the middle of the mall...Aaron always curls in on himself with his hands over his ears in any situation with large speakers. And since when do dolphins dance to gangsta rap? Bah. But we weren't there long, basically a trip to the family bathroom and long enough to read "Miss Spider's Tea Party" in the bookstore, and Grant was finished.

Across the street from the mall is a JoAnn Fabrics, and Shaun graciously agreed to let us use his bank card to buy a bunch of supplies while we were up there. I have money transferring to our bank account from paypal, but nothing for that right now, and we would've had to make a second trip up to Cutler Ridge in like 2 days (with gas ringing in at $2.59 a gallon, no less...) So we'll just pay him back on Monday when we're getting money. I got a BUNCH of stuff, they happened to be having a sale, and I'm excited :) It's great to have a real, responsible reason and a funded way to go nuts buying yarn and notions.

Back home, I have scrumptious dinner plans. Grant Sr went and got mushrooms, baby spinach and chicken broth to help me carry them out. My friend Memo called and we talked for a bit. And I got great mail! Bamboo knitting needles from ebay, a newsletter from my old church, that looks like it might be getting itself together, and a postcard from Sara :)

So despite the insanely disgusting poopy diaper that leaked everywhere, the dishes I washed, the lawn Grant mowed in the intense humidity...I'm content. It's nice to hear Steely Dan on the radio while I'm out driving, nice to have wonderful kids. There are about a BILLION entries I've read and want to comment on, on my friends' page, but it's just so tempting to spend all my time staring lovingly at the beautiful banner on the top of my silly community :p

I suppose I should go clear carpet clutter and sweep tile now, before it's time to start cooking.

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