altarflame: (deluge)
Written early yesterday evening:

Adapting to life without school in it is weird.

I didn't have to do it in January or February because I had 40 hours of crisis counselor training (plus commute times...) and grad school app shenanigans to take up the hours I might have spent on academics, over the last couple of years.

Also, re: applying to a, single, grad school... I had to get stamped and addressed envelopes, with forms I'd printed, to 3 different people who had agreed to recommend me via emails. I had to apply electronically to the university and via paper to the particular grad school. And, I had to submit an 8 page (minimum) Personal Narrative Statement, addressing various questions. I'm not complaining, I'm just kind of astounded by how people recommend you apply to as many grad schools as possible. You're supposed to have fail safe schools and high hope schools, with mid-range options in between. Aside from how this guideline does not really apply to me as someone who doesn't want to just move my whole family anywhere in the country, on a whim once we hear back - wow, that sounds like a full time job! To fulfill the application process for a bunch of different schools. Not to mention non-refundable application fees (mine was $30, and I've seen several listed at $50, so they would add up quickly). It just really rams home the idea of "privilege," I guess, which is something I think about a lot, lately.

Aaaaanyway. Life without school in it. I'm supposed to be using it to write, and that's not really happening thus far, which is absurd because I NEED to write and that manifests in stupid ways. For instance, picking fights with Grant.

Today I made a bunch of vegetables held together by eggs and asiago, for Ananda, Jake, Elise, and myself. We ate out on the deck, as is the habit lately. The deck picnic table is literally rotting in several places and will need to be thrown out soon, but for now we're enjoying watching the fungus change (really). Grant made fantastic coffee like he does every day since we got each other/ourselves an espresso machine for Christmas and he set out to master it. He works from home 3 days per week now, which is kinda huge since his commute is so intense.

Jake, Elise, and I skipped watering our various plants and flowers, which is normally A Thing each morning, since it unexpectedly rained so much yesterday.

I took Ananda to the Orthodontist at 11, which is the reason why she was home. The wait was kinda ridic, and I spent too much of it pointlessly arguing on facebook about a meme I disagree with. On the way back we drove through Starbucks for green tea, which was an excuse to put Bernie Sanders stickers on their drive-thru stickering spots. I do try to pick places that accumulate stickers and are (hopefully) not obviously the bane of employees forced to scrub them off.

I weeded our hibiscus while talking with Annie about getting our soil tested because I'd like to know it's safe to make tea out of that hibiscus and this is an old house that's liable to have lead in the soil. Especially there, where there are pipes present.

Grant and I worked on a budget for the next couple of pay periods, including the STEM and yoga classes Jake and Elise are in, and these other class I'd really like to put them in. Among many many other things. We've had a never ending stream of home repairs - the AC, the dryer, the kitchen sink, the house's water pressure, more Septic Tank Saga. The front door and deck are next up but it's kinda intimidating/never ending.

I picked up Aaron and Isaac from school, and took them with Ananda to Michael's, to get her the pens and ink she needed for art class.

I talked to Aaron about the new rouge plant (Rivina Humilis L.) that's sprung up at the corner of our house, as it fits in with our mutual goal of providing habitat for birds and butterflies. He's got milkweed seeds that will be planted soon. We've also been rolling pinecones in bird seed and hanging them around. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just baiting them to be killed by our cats, though the cats seem to rarely if ever go after them.

Jake and I talked more about limericks. He wrote a couple, and did some multiplication assignments, which I checked. Elise and I reviewed all the words and sentences in her handwriting book, once she was done working on today's pages. I read him more of The Magician's Nephew, in the hammock, and her more of The Prisoner of Azkaban. She's the last one still listening to Harry Potter.

I made a big caprese salad for me, Grant, and Ananda. I cut up a loaf of sourdough and set it out with the most delicious honey. Everyone is in love with that honey, Aaron raves about it like someone describing wine for a magazine.

I thinned out and repotted all my tiny chard seedlings, and brainstormed with Grant about how to build more draining tables or raised beds.

Written Tonight:

While I was typing that yesterday, my sister was calling and texting my cell phone over and over. It was forgotten in my locked car in the front yard, and she needed me to give her a ride to the hospital ASAP. WTH, you know? My phone is almost always in arm's reach - as I type now, I realized it's actually under my wrist on the desk.

So I spent 7 hours at the hospital ER with Laura, and then awhile at the pharmacy, and we managed to laugh a lot and she's ok. She's in a lot of pain but it's nothing dangerous, just something to get through. I'll be taking her school kids to and from school along with mine, tomorrow.

TODAY, after I took my school kids in and made sure breakfast and activities were available, I slept for a couple of hours. When I got up Jake and Elise showed me all their new lego creations and drawings, and told me about the dreams they had last night. We ate together and took care of our plants and watched videos about parasitic fungus taking over carpenter ants in a rain forest, pausing to talk often. We also talked about the democratic primary states that were up today, and native plants we could put in our yard that would take minimal upkeep, and ideas for inventions... our good friends who are in Hawaii sent us tons of pictures of black beaches, sea turtles, and more, that got us talking about and e-searching all sorts of other things... basically until it was time to pick kids up from school.

On the way I played a song I'd never heard before, and lo and behold, it made me cry continuously. And laugh out loud several times. I had to pull over to keep paying attention and crying as it's 10.5 minutes long:

I sat there in a parking spot and shared it on facebook, tagging the first half dozen or so moms I could think of, before continuing with my day.

I'd promised all my kids Chipotle after school, so off we went, and while we ate there was somber talk of our (beloved) pediatrician, who recently died. We're attending the memorial service in a few days.

Then we made a list of ingredients for a bunch of soups I'll be cooking in the coming days:
-french onion
-butternut squash
-kale and bean
-italian (italian sausage, vegetables, tomato-olive oi-broth base, beans)
-cream of mushroom
-zuppa toscana

Two grocery stores and lots of good talk with Annie in the car later, after I'd put everything away and made sure Isaac took his meds and checked in with Laura about tomorrow and argued for continued political hope, on facebook...

Here I am.

The point of listing what I did, yesterday, was supposed to be to show how it really is a lot, added up, and yet it's not nearly enough to fill the time. The crisis counselor gig is 4 hours once a week. My kids are great company, though the amount of food they eat drives me to distraction lately. I have a lot of long distance communication with some great people I really care about. I'm fairly happy. It's kinda drifty, though. Kinda unfocused and diffuse. Which is...ok? It's temporary, on several levels, and... I'm not even sure what my point is. Except that sometimes I'm so aware of myself twiddling my thumbs between tasks.

I took Jake and Elise to a 3 day, 2 night herbal conference a couple of weeks ago and (partially because I was so ready for it, and it fit with the place where I was anyway), it really changed my life. It's not something I've talked about online anywhere, but I guess I probably will at some point. I'm not sure where to begin. I took a ton of notes, during classes. We camped. They had a great kids' program and a good meal plan. I made friends and got their contact information. I joined groups like United Plant Savers and Florida Native Plant Society. I spent time alone by water and under stars. When I got home, I changed the way I eat completely and totally, and without any of the angst or struggle that usually accompanies that. That transition has already altered the way I feel, physically, SO MUCH. Emotionally, I feel quieter and slower in a peaceful way, most of the time.

I'm very aware on many levels of meaningful change and growth being slow processes. Somehow that seems ok, now, though, when it really never has before.

I think about age all the time - how I feel so young, but I had to get older TO feel young?

While I was away, my bachelors degree arrived in the mail. I was extremely on edge about it coming whenever I thought about it, as though I hadn't really finished it until the paper showed up at my door and I wasn't ready to face finishing it at all. I have a fear of success that is hard to explain. Not the possibility of failing... success, itself.

When I had The Paper here, though, it was just nice. Kinda like the difference between the frenetic energy and near terror as my wedding approached, compared to the peace and contentment of realizing I was married. Or the anxiety and pseudo-despair of going through the editing and type setting and cover choosing aspects with my book publisher, vs the happy pride when I received a box of copies. I think that once something is finalized I relax into knowing that it can't be taken away. Even if things change in the future, _____ was real and happened.

Grant insisted we buy a frame straightaway, but honestly, where do you hang your own college degree in your own home? It makes perfect sense to me to display in an office setting but seems silly to put up in our hallway or something. He thinks differently; that I'm the first in my family to do this and that it's a good thing for our kids to see. I'm sort of mortified by the idea, though. I think if the home office we originally planned for my writing existed, it would make a little bit of sense there.

I have to go to bed now, so that will have to do.

I have continued to update my tumblr with personal stuff pretty regularly.
altarflame: (deluge)
Saturday Grant and I drove down to Key West. We stopped for mushroom brie soup, ham and cheese croissant and iced coffee on the way, and we saw many mostly naked people while there - mostly in costumes and body paint, and drank free rum after getting to a rooftop bar via my Aunt's free wristbands. I had a bunch of party goers yell after she had the announcer say, "Happy Birthday to Tina Marie!" (which she will apparently always call me) and I walked around on an old bridge in the moonlight alone with Grant, looking at stars and our changing shadows.

Sunday I slept in, I had sex, I took my big kids out for a LUSH shopping/macaron getting/tea shop date, I was sung to by my sweet family.

I'm 34!

Today O_O

Today I took Ananda to the orthondontist (one of her impacted teeth is finally showing!!!) and myself to both an ultrasound, where I learned my IUD may have embedded itself in my c/s scar and need to be surgically removed (but I have to wait to know), and to my primary care doc with Grant where we were finally able to get training and prescriptions for him to give me the B-12 shots I have to have. Jake and Elise had to come to all of these appointments and brought books and were generally pretty tolerant. Somewhere in between there, I made a big pot of pumpkin oatmeal for Jake, Elise, G and I; helped Jake finalize the Halloween costume he wants; and I took an hour and a half long beast of a french test.

Then I fielded a call from Aaron's spanish teacher as I dropped off prescriptions, picked up my school kids, had a big sit down about a class Annie's slacking in, talked to my gynecologist about my pending test results, left FIU's psych advising a message about a registration problem, and started on my research methods work. 45 minute test and hour+ on an assignment later, I ran to eat the delicious dinner Grant cooked and talk with Isaac for a bit.

Good. Grief.

Since Saturday, I've been having an awful lot of long, hard, heavy, emotional, irritating, comforting, potentially helpful fb messages back and forth with my sister. About misunderstandings we've had, habits and patterns we've outgrown, ways to meet each other where we're at now, and more. Just novellas upon novellas worth of word counts, often with tears. BAH-LAAAAH....

There does seem to be some progress, though, and at least we both care enough to make the effort.

I just took a break from writing this to read Elise 3 chapters of Junie B. Jones (and the Stupid Smelly School Bus), cuddle her a bit, and explain what we have coming up this week. She's so great. Reading to my kids can be EXACTLY the recharge *I* need, sometimes.

Still pretty damn tired :p
altarflame: (deluge)
Ananda and Aaron arrived home last Friday night from their high school's annual fine arts camp - 4 days, 3 nights. They told us stories for hours.

I felt so proud of Aaron (who had never been there before, and was texting me the first night that he couldn't sleep and didn't like it). He ended up having a great time and being really glad he went. He spent some time playing a tall console piano that he's still missing, in a room with 3 other students, and said all of them cried. Which is basically exactly how his piano playing effects me. Ananda then had to hear about it all week from them :p She only gets excited if he's playing something recognizable that she's into, like the theme from Howl's Moving Castle or Carol of the Bells, around Christmas.

The photography teacher apparently saw him for the first time and immediately asked if she could take pictures of him, and now wants to try to get him modeling contracts.

Aaron2 Aaron1

^Those are pics I took of him after he got his ears pierced.^

The biggest thing, though, is that Annie's gay friend E asked Aaron out, the night of the bonfire (Aaron is straight). He turned E down by saying, "I wish I could be into you because you're a great guy. I'm sorry it's not that easy - I'm really proud of you for going out on a limb, that had to be really hard." E went back to Annie and said, "your brother just didn't date me in the most epic way imagineable."

He is still him, and so he had a story about a panic stricken old guy screaming "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT OF THAT TREE, NOW! FEET FIRST!" I nearly killed him myself after he described going back alone to examine a yellow jacket hive after the swarm fell upon a girl who had to be taken to the hospital. I mean... he has seen My Girl. Get it together, Aaron.

He also came home WITHOUT his @&#)($ dance bag (that had jazz pants and shoes, ballet shoes, dance belt, dance tights, tank tops and more in it...)

Anyway. Ananda mostly laughed hysterically describing cabin antics, prank wars, and inside jokes. She also came home sore from moving constantly the entire evening of their dance, and knowing some new dances. She liked it better than last year, which was her first year, and that is saying something.

All in all it seems to have been money well spent.

Saturday was a complete fiasco that involved things like Aaron coming in my room with skates and pads in hand at 3:56 saying, "Mom, I'm supposed to be at Super Wheels at 4:00!" and Annie realizing, while we were out, that her iPhone had vanished. Teenagers, man.

Sunday was sleeping in and french toast brunch.


Then Grant and I went, alone, and got iced coffee from the farmer's market, and walked around Pinecrest Gardens for a good long time.

Aaaaand Sunday night, the seven of us met Shaun and my friend Kristin's mom, Melanie, on the beach - where HUNDREDS of others were as well, including fire twirlers and drummers - and watched the moonrise/eclipse. It was great. We had an awesome view, bags of food, spent hours in the water. I drank too much wine - or perhaps just the right amount.

The weird thing is that when I got home, my bathingsuit bottoms were FULL OF SAND - like, between the layers of fabric there is a TON of sand. You can gather it up into a big ball. I mean wth. I guess I'm going to have to cut the lining open to get it out? Sheesh.

Yesterday/Monday was good. Highlight of homeschooling was probably when Elise wanted all the details of how doctors get to people's brains, to operate, and Jake had to leave the room for that explanation... she is very consistently fascinated by death, medical procedures, anatomy, etc, and almost never upset by any of it. He is extremely sensitive to those kinds of things, and really irritated by her fascination. The last time I had a blood draw, he stayed in the waiting room and she was so inquisitive that the phlebotomist enlisted her help with things like swabbing the area and feeling the vein as it puffed up o_O

Annie had an orthodontist appointment in the afternoon - her impacted canines are STILL not out, though they're much lower down now than before. I also officially made our last payment on her braces, yesterday. Gooooood lord. Between pulling the baby canines (dentist), the braces themselves (ortho) and her oral surgery (specialist), we and our insurance have paid something like $13,000 toward her mouth in the past couple of years! So glad Aaron and Isaac don't need orthodontics.

Annie's mouth, day 1.

Annie's mouth, yesterday.

Her bottom teeth are so much straighter now! It's weird how clearly you can see the tiny chains from the impacted teeth (which get shortened gradually at every visit now).

I had to invest a chunk of the evening to my own school work - I had a French test, a Research Methods quiz, and a Research Methods lab assignment due last night. As soon as I finished Annie and I hit it out the door to go to a free outdoor Jose Gonzalez show featuring our favorite food trucks.

Cristy, me, Jose Gonzalez, and Annie, after the show was long over.

Cristy's Shaun's girlfriend and has only known us for a year or two. Elise hogs her bigtime when she's around, but she adores Isaac. Ananda and I realized as we talked after the show that she had no idea Isaac was ever in any way difficult or complicated. He's come so far and is doing so well that just seeing him now, she was thrown to learn he was a high needs baby, tyrannical toddler/preschooler, etc. I love it. Just telling her a couple of stories, I could see Shaun get the war-torn look of someone who has had to be in a restaurant when someone starts screaming, and has had the movie paused for half an hour every 10 minutes further in so we could try to wrangle Isaac...for years. It really impacted our ability to do anything, we always had to plan for Isaac - from bringing an inflatable dingy for Isaac to be pulled in because he wouldn't wade through the sandbars with us because he hated water, to... everything. It's impossible to overstate. It's so great that he's where he's at. I love that he can be happier now, and that we don't have to struggle all the freakin' time. The transformation over the past couple of years has been so radical.

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
altarflame: (deluge)
I feel so challenged AND so capable, both in the best ways!

My days are very, very full right now, and I'm actually sleeping at night, but much less is mindless activity and much more is deeply engaging, which I love.

A typical day, lately, involves getting everyone up and fed breakfast, rounding up food for the school kids to take, and driving them to school with some talk about what's going on at school that day. Then, I come home with Jake and Elise, and we work on months of the year and multiplication tables (combination of looking at things we have hung up, reciting, and sometimes grabbing manipulatives). We look at things they've been interested in or curious about online (like looking up "what is the most dangerous animal on land" and "can you pee in a spacesuit") and then they do their chores while I grab some coffee and check some stuff online.

Over the next few hours, there are times when I work on a laptop while they do their workbook or other sit-down work; times when they have free play or work on projects while I either take high-pressure tests/quizzes or do french work that requires me to record myself or log on and speak with a teacher; and times when I take them out places like the library, or to the ocean, or on an exploratory walk, or the Frost museum. We'll probably be getting a zoo membership and hitting Pinecrest Gardens, soon. They both have lists of things on hold, at the library, too. I recently posted some videos and pictures from one of these "field trips" on my tumblr, under the "personal" tag.

The three of us always sit down and eat lunch together. Sometimes Elise makes the 3 of us sandwiches, or Jake uses the toaster oven and leftovers to make us all nachos, but usually I cook. One day last week, I guided them through the process of making several loaves of banana bread - the only things I actually did was chop nuts and move the loaf pans to the oven. So, they got to brag to their older siblings (who devoured most of it) that THEY made that.

In the evenings here and there I give them supplemental things, but mostly they log into their Reading Rainbow and Animal Jam accounts online or color. There's a strict "no screens" rule in effect during the actual school day. I'm glad Elise is excited about Girl Scouts and Jake has some friends in the neighborhood, because the only thing I ever really worry about with them is that they're more isolated than any of my other homeschooled kids have ever been. They just don't have an extracurricular passion or motivation for a particular sport or whatever. They enjoy groups that are just for hanging out or arts and crafts, and they like classes when PATH offers them.

They're getting along so well. I really cherish their innocence and unselfconsciousness.

I also eat up the way the big kids are changing. Aaron's jawline could cut glass. Annie makes me laugh constantly. Isaac LOVES his new school.

I love hearing about their days. I try to rotate taking them out solo as much as possible on the evenings and weekends. We have a lot of sleepy cuddle piles in the evenings.

Our calendar is ABSURD, between Grant's business trips, things I have to go to campus for, the kids' various open house and art dept nights and field trips, everyone's various appts for health, dental, and psych - absurd. We have 3 birthdays and Halloween, in October. I have a friend getting married out of town this fall, and we're starting to plan for that whole-family travel. There's also going to be an Ani Difranco concert for a few of us, and G was selected to be a part of a live NPR event he's pretty excited about.

Grant and I keep finding ourselves standing in front of our big wall calendar suggesting different things that don't work over and over.

I've already had a prolonged cold. I do wish I had more regular, built-in time to socialize with people outside this immediate little group I'm cocooned with, IRL. I am heavily utilizing text and fb messenger lately, and my friend Kathy comes with her kids once evening a week and they have dinner with us, but I still start crawling out of my skin for real life grownup interactions.

My classes are so fucking intense! First of all my stats teacher recommended I take Research Methods co-currently, rather than after Stats is over, since he's designed his course for that to work and I just got a 64% in his class during Summer B. After a silly amount of messaging, email, calls, trips to campus, forms, and financial aid snags, I am back in a position of being able to graduate in December - assuming they offer the very last, 2 credit thing I need in the mini-term during December. They usually do, but it's not guaranteed yet. So that is great, complicated though it's been to work out!

For having ONLINE classes, these feel much less strictly online than I'm used to. My BioPsych class has mandatory groups you have to meet with in the community, throughout the semester. French requires logging in for skype-like sessions with the teacher once a week, for 45 minutes, as well as recording myself talking quite a bit. All 5 of my Statistics exams are on campus, proctored.

Aside from that, though, the workloads are just rigorous. My BioPsych discussion board posts - normally the most banal of tasks in any online class - require a thesis statement, a word count, and APA citations. My french discussion board posts (you guessed it) have to be in french. This french class has DOZENS of assignments per unit, and about 10 days per unit! Research Methods has several big papers throughout the semester. And, of course - Stats. Though so far at least, I'm feeling way better about that. At least the first third of the course seems to be something I have down at this point (not a moment to freakin' soon, eh?).

I'm currently working my way through all the modules and quizzes necessary to get a certification that will allow me to do Human Behavioral Research - both through my Research Methods class this semester, in the future in the FIU labs, and also at other institutions. It's very interesting and almost embarrassingly exciting - sharing my account is illegal! The modules are called things like, "Assessing Risk," "Informed Consent," "Federal Regulations," and "Working With Prisoners!"

Get a load of these BioPsych calendar segments:

08/31 Anatomy of the Nervous System 3.0-3.4
09/07 Anatomy of the Brain 3.5 & 3.6
09/14 Neural Conduction & Synaptic Transmission I 4.0-4.4
09/21 Neural Conduction & Synaptic Transmission II 4.5-4.7
09/28 Development of The Nervous System Chapter 9
10/05 Review & Midterm Exam
10/12 Hunger & Eating 12.0-12.4
10/19 Hunger & Eating 12.5-12.7; Hunger Project due
10/26 Hormones & Sex 13.3-13.7
11/02 Sleep I 14.0-14.3; Sex Project due
11/09 Sleep II 14.4-14.8
11/16 Addiction 15.0-15.3; Sleep Project due

To say I am eating it up is putting it lightly.

I'm also juggling an agenda with 6 colors of highlighters, and making massive lists before I go to bed each night, for the following day. Two weeks in, though, I feel really good about everything. I get completely fried periodically, and can find myself REALLY enjoying my time out with Jake and Elise during the school day as a break for me as much as something good for them. And, Grant helps a lot, when he's in the state and not involved with all day training for his own certifications. We were out on a date this morning for a couple of hours. He's currently coloring at the dining table behind me.

And I guess I'm gonna go to sleep now and not make any promises about when I'll get back to this next.
altarflame: (deluge)
Today I took Elise to Girl Scout camp, and had a totally unsatisfying date with Ananda that involved everything being closed and sweating too much in the early morning humidity.
I made plans with Shaun, to see his and Cristy's new apartment tomorrow night, and ordered flowers to be delivered to my Nana for her birthday.
I washed dishes, made a big brunch, and sat with 4 of my kids to eat it.
I snuggled with Grant, and with Jake. Grant's off today and tomorrow, because he just got back into town from working for 7 days straight in another state. This left him free to do things like bring me more pina colada popsicles, and acquire pizzas for the kids to eat for dinner.
I huffed around about being tired, took a short nap, and then buckled down and did 12 quizzes, 2 message board posts, and 4 responses - because my non-stats class has no deadlines but the end of the semester, and that is nearly upon me. With all the requisite reading, it was about 6 hours straight at the desk.
So then I obviously had to stretch extensively.
I drank tea with Aaron.
I ate brie on riceworks chips, with Ananda.
I talked with Isaac.
I held Elise in my lap at one point, attended her dance party at another, and read her a chapter of her Clementine book, before bed.
I kicked Grant in the stomach perhaps too hard, when he had the audacity to tickle me in retaliation for me tickling him.
I found a great new song, sent Jess a facebook message, broke open the Soul Cards Nancy gave me 2 years ago, and then sent her an email about them.

I think a lot about how I don't really crave external novelty, or at least not the same kinds other people seem to. Partially because Grant really, constantly does LONG for novelty, and so I'll get this sort of "sameness guilt" because he's restless about stuff I have a hard time empathizing with or even prolong for him - and other times because I realize I am irritated by how much everyone else seems to want "change" and "variety" and I wonder if I'm really that weird in this.

It makes me happy to find a song that I like and play it 15 times a day for a few weeks, or just turn it on repeat for a whole evening. I usually have 2-4 songs I'm over saturating everyone with at any given time.
I'm very satisfied when I figure out a meal I can make regularly that's always delicious.
I find the idea of mixing up the Thanksgiving menu to be ridiculous - how can anyone possibly get sick of foods you only eat once per year?
I am ok with having 6 months of visiting coffee shops and botanical gardens on the weekends, and 6 months of staying home doing crafts and taking walks. Then, we can just switch back.
I have, basically, the same hair I've had my entire life, and I still look at it with happiness and pride or total exasperation daily, depending on what sort of mood it's in. I think about it and photograph it pretty often, and touch it constantly, but I almost can't imagine thinking, "Man I need a change."
I've changed, bigtime, I've let go of tons of old baggage and I've got different politics than I used to, and new questions. Ideologically, I've come a long way. Growth and change are really important to me. Somehow, they cause me to experience my old friends in new ways, and my marriage as though it's new, and my city as though I never even saw it before. All of that just leads me to want to experience those old friends, and Grant, and south Florida, more fully and deeply, and to keep feeling and working and aging and see what it does to me. Kinda like how I'm still mothering these same 5 kids, but they're completely different and require totally different things of me vs 5 or more years ago.
Life is so rich and heady, even the simplest things are nuanced.

I'm in a phase this month where I make frittatas with lots of chopped baby greens, fresh basil, irish butter and parmesan cheese. I serve it with salted tomatoes and avocado. I do this 3-4 times per week, and I savor it and just marvel (that's right, dammit, marvel) at how good it is, every time. Since there are so many of us I have to plan for this by buying several dozen eggs and large containers of greens, weekly. For a couple of years, though, I've been doing breakfasts several times per week that are variations on eggs (mushroom and brie omelettes for awhile; fried eggs on toast, or on mushrooms and chard, came next) with cut up, salted tomato and avocados. For a few years before that, we had pots of steel cut oatmeal (usually strawberry or apple cinnamon) and moosewood muffins (peach-blueberry, triple berry, or strawberry-chocolate chip) all the time.

I feel like I cannot bear to move away from south Florida because I can't live without royal poinciana trees, live oaks, bouganvillea, climbing pothos, and banyans. I realize they have other trees and bushes up north, but I haven't looked at these enough. I notice tropical flora everywhere I go every day. I talk about it literally anytime we're in the car. I park just to get out and be near it. I drink it in, and don't know if I'll ever be able to get "enough."

Re: novelty. I just want to do the same things in different ways. I want to experiment with sex like a spiral you can't reach the bottom of, with endless possibilities. I want to experiment with where we sit to talk. I want to explore what's inside of me, and the people I love. I want to watch movies I've loved for years with friends who haven't seen them yet. I want to invite new people over to taste our specialties. I'd like to find board games to exhaust, that we haven't yet. I want to be thorough and take my time. I want, obviously, to process and write down what's already happened and then read back over it. Maybe it's all ultimately about holding on? I don't know.

Macro Examples - I don't give a shit about space, and even less so the concept of possible aliens. I have some weird kind of nerd guilt like I'm supposed to, or something? But I really just don't. Pluto inspires thoughts of "whatever" from me, that I cannot voice aloud in my own house :p Watching the moon and spotting shooting stars are the limit of my emotional investment in space. I have a small amount of mental intrigue about weather on other planets, but it comes and goes. I care passionately about the ocean, here on this planet. I've thought regularly about the fragility of coral reefs since I was 10. I cry and make myself sick reading about pollution, oil spills, and radiation in the water - and dead zones, DEAD ZONES O_O. I would support criminal prosecution of the people who run Sea World, and those who harm whales while fishing irresponsibly. I worry about sharks being misunderstood. We haven't even explored the entire ocean, on this planet, and we want to go to Mars? It really just makes me feel, "Why?" more than anything else. Quarks, though? Pentaquarks? I eat that up. I want to know more, and more, and more about what's all around us right here. The sentience of plants. The communication between animals. Neurology, forever, bring it. The desire to go where there is no oxygen and rely on technology to view cold things millions of miles away through glass? Ew.

Micro Examples - I like travelling, but I'd rather revisit places I've already been than go to new places. I can't get enough out of short or single visits. They feel unfinished. I talk about things like living in France (and learning french) or NYC for a year at a time, when the kids are grown, but a weekend away seems sort of pointless unless it's for some specific event or just to get away from regular responsibilities. Ultimately I would way rather talk, do it, doze, snuggle, and laugh in a nice hotel bed, with Grant, than go travel around with him out in public. I would rather talk to strangers in coffee shops and subways than just galavant around without making connections. If I'm going to be alone I can do that here, with my bathtub, or with candles and a yoga mat, or washing the dishes and listening to NPR.
altarflame: (deluge)
After a long stall in my weight loss, during which my hernia grew and my back pain increased and my eagerness to get in the freaking OR started to actually exist... I somehow felt incapable of (and/or uninterested in) putting any limitations on my eating. Too anxious about school, too sleep deprived to deal with any form of diet, too many roadtrips and whole days out of the house and too many priorities all around to make this tired issue another one.

The point is, I realized it sounded doable out of all the options, so I've went flour-free again. This is day 6, I believe, and the process has followed the same pattern I've experienced before - I get really depressed around day 3, less so on day 4, and then that part is mostly over. I feel way less bloated and experience less of the constant stomach discomfort I generally experience otherwise. I am hungry more often, and eat more overall. And, I lose at least half a pound every day, regardless of how I glut myself on meats, dairy, sugar, etc (in addition to produce, I mean, but nobody would expect produce to inhibit weight loss). I tend to feel way more flexible and comfortable when I haven't had glutinous things in awhile, and then I realize how used to feeling sluggish and hurting in ways that make me more sedentary I often am. It's also not hard at all, to just not eat the stuff. Considering how difficult most dietary restrictions are for me, that's pretty significant. Usually between 10-15 pounds down the effortless weight loss stops and I have to try in other ways, for that, though it is easier than it would be since floury shit is a lot of weight watchers points and I don't mind exercising as much when I'm not bloated all the time.

I was trying to figure out why I went back to eating flour last time, after about 5-6 months off that left me thinner and more energetic, and then I remembered - I was on vacation with Grant, just the two of us. We discovered a fabulous local farmer's market near our hotel, with fresh loaves of french bread, fresh mozzarella from some small farm, fresh organic herbs, heirloom tomatoes, artisinal salami, and great wine. It all seemed so wholesome and natural and irresistable, and it was a special occasion, so we bought it all and had it for lunch in the park, and then as a picnic dinner in the hotel room later.

And then, legit, it was NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL when I was in terrible pain and could barely button my pants, for the next 3 days. Also not romantic spending way too long in the bathroom over and over. But I had already messed up my system, so when we went to my friend Kristin's house up there and she started cooking me homemade pies and putting eggs and avocado on toast I went with it. By the time I got home from that trip, I was already getting used to my old-normal level of gastric discomfort, using the bathroom way less regularly, and regaining weight.

Then, in my quest to figure out pernicious anemia, my gastro tested me for celiac and I didn't have it, and some scientific articles came out that said the gluten free craze was a placebo-esque fad and I basically said, "oh, fuck it. Hand me a brownie."

Well. Whatever. This is very clearly a real and significant improvement, and if it's just a leap in the nutrient density of everything I eat and a reduction in empty carbs, so be it. If gluten really is an inflammatory substance that contributes to the horror show that is my leaky gut, well, I've got my bases covered.

Anyway, food related: I've been making frittatas 3-5 times per week, lately. I wilt a bunch of baby kale and spinach in irish butter, get it out of the pan, spray the pan (I don't have anything nonstick so this is necessary), put in a mix of 10 beaten eggs, almond milk, salt, fresh basil leaves, and tons of good shaved parmesan. Dump/spread all the wilted greens back in. Put more basil and parm on top. Move to the preheated oven til it's cooked through. Cut and serve with a pizza cutter. SO good. Ananda, Aaron, and Jake love it and tear it up every time. Isaac will eat a piece in a pinch. I tend to set it out for everyone with a lot of cut and salted tomatoes and avocados, knowing that is the only part Elise is ever interested in. Along with a huge freezer bag of belgium waffles from the last time we intentionally made way too much so they could be toasted as needed, greek yogurt, leftovers from whatever we most recently had for dinner, and a neverending stream of clementines and blueberries, this is what my kids subsist on until dinner every day.

Dinner tonight was Grant's creamy potato leek soup, which is really fucking good, but as he made some jazzed up cheesy herb bread for everyone else and I'm not eating bread I browned mushrooms and steamed/buttered broccoli, to throw in my bowl(s). Yum. I also ate a bunch of riesen while they had milano cookies. I'm telling you, this is really not hard ;)

My day was great!
-Last night I met Kathy and her kids at Laura's, and we all had dinner/talked/generally hung out until late, when I returned home and watched shows and ate things with Annie until way too late, and it was all without consequence becaaaaause...
-Grant took Elise to Girl Scout Camp this morning so I could sleep in. She loves it there and does great stuff like swim, hike, craft, and sing songs all day, so I don't feel guilty at all watching Stats lecture videos, washing dishes, and watering/pruning plants for most of the afternoon after sleeping the morning away. She is the needy, energetic, more chronically bored child when home, who feels like she's really suffered if 10 minutes have passed entertaining herself, and the three little kids just bicker a lot when they're all here without structure and then tell on each other constantly. Her being at camp has made the days seem SO simple. Jake and Isaac just read their latest library books, play Minecraft, and build with Legos the whole day. They also took a walk and got some starfruit from one of our neighbors that is always giving us excess fruit off of his trees. I think Isaac + Elise is the killer combo, because usually Jake can get along fine with either of them for extended periods. And, picking her up is fun because she's exuberant and bouncy and full of stories about how amazing and wonderful camp was.
-I took the time to notice how pampered and generally blessed I am that I can do things like decide on a whim to go browse around one of my favorite stores for awhile, and swing by somewhere to pick up a few groceries on the way home from grabbing Elise. I also generally enjoy it a lot when Grant's working from home and I can take the car wherever I have to go, because it has air conditioning (moment of respect; this is serious - AIR. CONDITIONING.) and I'm just so over the van.
-SEX. Finally. So much better.
-Reading to the littles was fun at bedtime. I read Elise The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, which I'd actually never read before even though we've had it here for years. She was almost absurdly into it. I should take video of her some time, she is truly hilarious. Jake and I are to the Department of Mysteries in The Order of the Phoenix, which means Shit Is Getting Real but also that's just a fascinating chapter as they move between all the rooms full of bizarre experimental magic. Isaac and I have started The Magician's Nephew, aka Narnia #1, and he is talking me into extra pages every time because (BWAHAHAHA) despite his concerns that they were going to be "kind of boring and dumb" he's been totally sucked in from the first night.
-I sat down with the big wall calendar and wrote all over it, and there is just something cathartic about putting it all down where everyone can see and feeling like I've got something under control.
-Jake finally agreed that I could trim his bangs, so he has eyes again.

My day was kind of awful!
-I'm really worried about Aaron. This is every day, as he's seemed chemically depressed for a long time, and before we figured out it was depression I thought he had some kind of chronic illness and was taking him from doctor to doctor because he gives himself tons of seemingly medical symptoms (periodic low grade fever, frequent swollen glands, stomach aches, headaches) with his misery. But every non-mental possibility has been ruled out. He is totally against therapy or medication and we've been skating a line that makes me feel obligated to force him against his will for a year or more, now. We talk about it increasingly often, even though I am normally dead against forcing anyone into talk therapy because that seems pointlessly ineffective. At 14, I also feel like he has a real say in the meds decision... He does everything you're "supposed" to do - go out in the sunshine, drag himself around to exercise, stick with things like dance and join roller derby even though he's sometimes loathing them because he knows exercise is important. He seeks social interaction and will sometimes just write everything he's thinking and feeling down, so that's good. He still likes talking with Grant and with me (about things other than his misery, which he never wants to talk about) and doing things with us. I struggle to get him to take every supplement ever shown to combat depression (probiotics, fish oil, folic acid). But...he cries randomly all the time, often at the drop of a hat, sometimes for long periods. Like there are never more than a few hours between his crying spells. He can't sleep at night. He feels and looks very, very, very sad almost all the time. The heaviness just radiates off of him in waves. Ananda has found ways to make fun of him for it that make him laugh in spite of himself, and Isaac and Jake tiptoe where they used to irritate him in little brother ways because they're actually worried about him. His girlfriend broke up with him and that set off this latest crescendo, but it's been over a month straight of this now, and he was also like this before that relationship (which really only existed via texting and only for like 2 months, not that 2 months of texting and a few hugs in the hallways don't matter when you're in 8th grade), too. Crying in classes at school. He's never mentioned anything suicidal but I really don't think he would, either. I waver constantly between thinking he'll be ok, he still has interests and hobbies and gets excited about some things, still smiles and laughs every day as well, he's a teenager...and thinking, fuck, should I like him checked in somewhere? I mean that's crazy and way too drastic, right? I've talked to my therapist about Aaron, and to Isaac's. They agree it's subjective and basically tell me stuff I already know (keep the lines of communication open, encourage him to blah blah blah, try framing x and y this way or that way). He's going to start dance intensives soon so he'll at least be having a better sleep schedule and more structure enforced, as I don't think this lounging and wandering sort of summer he's having is really doing him any favors.
-I have a deep crack on the outside of my left heel that's SO PAINFUL every time I step with that foot. I'm favoring it like crazy. I've ped-egg'd and buffed it down twice, and keep slathering it in lotion, but it's terrible. I toe walk on that side and limp around, when home. I grimace and walk normally out places. That foot is just a damn mess, I broke a toe last year and never went in for it and I think it healed badly. Ever since I have all sorts of stupid issues, a strange little new bump here and a really tender spot there. I suppose at some point I'm going to have to buckle down and go to a podiatrist but the thought of seeking out a new specialist and making more appointments for myself (I already get a b-12 shot and go to counseling every week, in addition to all the kid things I cart people to) is so unappealing that I'd honestly rather just limp and hope, for now at least.
-Also sat down with the budget today, after getting a bill from Isaac's psych and just...GAAAAH. So many extra things all piling up at once :/
-I'm basically ignoring texts from some of my favorite people because I just don't want to start a catch up conversation right now.

Ananda came to me out of nowhere and asked if she can be homeschooled again and start dual enrollment at the college this fall. There are so many pros and cons involved. We've had two talks now, and I've hashed it out a bit with Grant. She's not 100% sure that's what she wants, and I'm not 100% sure I'm willing to do it, but it's looking like a possibility. She has places she wants to volunteer, and has spent a lot of time this summer with homeschooled friends who did/are doing dual enrollment. It will be a massive logistical pain in the ass for me if it goes this way, as homeschooled high schoolers who want real diplomas have to have real transcripts detailing every credit they complete, and must earn traditional grades that get averaged - otherwise, you can basically take the GED whenever you want. Between that and my not really knowing all the ins and outs of dual enrollment (credit minimums and maximums, what you have to fill out for the financial vouchers, who at the county approves it all, etc) it's fairly tedious before we get into things like me NOT wanting to have it out with her about completing work for me again, as I've gotten spoiled on that being between her and other teachers - and she "performs" for her teachers and does well as though there's no other option, unlike the endless procrastination and whining it started to be with me towards the end. And, it would mean acquiring outside help teaching her higher maths, when she has a great math teacher at her school, and that we'll be adding extra variables to daily life in the form of places she must physically get to regularly that other people aren't already going to.

I try very hard not to let things like "what is more convenient for me" play in to our choices for them. I'm not sure this is best for her on a purely "about her" level either, though. She LOVES her art teacher at school and the things she learns in his class, for instance, and the week of sleep away camp they do, and has a whole squad there that energizes her. I keep wondering how much of this is about relatively dumb shit, in the grand scheme of things, like not wanting to start getting up really early every day again, or enjoying having her hair dyed crazy colors for a couple of months and not wanting to switch back. Mostly when we talk it seems to be about a desire to have a diploma and AA sooner than she otherwise could, which, you know, why? Slow down. Enjoy your damn youth. Except that, obviously, nobody can learn to do that without hindsight. We have to decide before it's time to buy all the back to school stuff.
altarflame: (deluge)
Someone suggested this is a thing, so I am going to attempt the thing. Probably for about a week, but who knows. Some days may be very short entries - you laugh, but I'm serious.

Man oh man, what a great timeless sort of day! First day of summer vacation, and it's just about perfect. It doesn't seem like much, spending an hour in the morning getting 3 kids to 2 schools, and an hour in the afternoon picking them up...but it really changes the whole day in a significant way. This is also a day without roller derby, a day without college classes or tests online, a day without STEM club or dance shows or counseling or orthondontists or scheduled guests or an award ceremony. Poor Grant, stuck at work.

It's raining outside, and half gray.

Ananda's on the front porch drawing, and the smell of the bergamot oil she's constantly diffusing in her room is filling the whole hallway. Her room is full of paintings and dioramas she's made, many of them gory in some way, but none disturbing because of her cartoon-glam style. She turned 15 on Monday. She was not interested in wrappable gifts. She spent Friday evening out with homeschooled friends she misses, at a mall, and then Saturday at a beach with them. Sunday she wanted just Grant and I with no siblings, to go see a drag show, get second holes pierced in her ears, and have delicious food and good coffee out. On the actual day, after school, I made her cream of mushroom soup from scratch and presented her with the french bistro cake she'd picked out. I think she's mostly satisfied with being 15, and I think she got scared about that as it approached. On Tuesday, in honor of the end of the school year, she asked me to shave a patch into the side of her head ("the latest punk rock trend," she called it, and wouldn't hear me out about how there are no trends in punk rock). Then she bleached the rest. It came out pretty good. She's DYING for me to go with her to see Mad Max (which she already saw). Possibly tonight when everyone else is in bed.

Aaron has spent the whole day either in a giant fort he made that involves half of the overturned papasan chair (Aaron still likes forts? What?), or playing video games, both in the tv room. His fingers are all swollen at the ends, and two have hairline type bloody scratches, from violent piano playing - and broken keys/sharp old glue. Electrical tape to the very temporary rescue... He'll be 14 later this month, and I have not given up on somehow making a new piano materialize for him. He's very sad that his girlfriend missed the last 3 days of school, and paralyzed about setting up any kind of meetings with her during the summer since nothing seems "good enough" or "quite right." He was very very happy to earn the "Young Masters" Award in dance, meaning he is the best dancer in all of middle school. He also brought home a permission form last month for me to sign, because his teacher wants to move him next year - freshman year - from Level 1 to Level 4, with the Seniors. He wants to, so I'm letting him.

The library is filled half with another fort, that Jake made, which has a fan going inside of it, and half with legos that Isaac, Jake, and Elise have been building with all day today and most of yesterday. They're making whole scenes and acting things out with different parts. I like how they utilize their figurines - "look mom, this really muscle-y guy has no shirt and long hair, and rocket boots!" "Look mom, we gave Ariel short black hair, I think she looks awesome!" Now, they're actually watching endless episodes of Bob's Burgers in the dining room, after a few YouTube videos of metamorphoses in tadpoles. They want to catch some tadpoles soon.

Jake and Elise are a little irritated with me that starting Monday, they've still got to do schoolwork M-F. Homeschoolers have never had summer breaks around here, because they only do a little each day and that just wouldn't work. A&A didn't even have weekends off when they were their ages - it made it really easy to be very chill about it all the time.

Isaac is VERY irritated with me that I'm still only letting them all camp out in the tv room with movies, for bed, on Fridays and Saturdays, rather than all summer long.

I'm still in my bra and underwear, at 2:30pm. I recently walked through the house with a ginger and white tea candle we have that melts into massage oil, stopping in various places like the bathrooms and kitchen to rub what had melted into my arms and legs and back while the luscious smell spread. Eventually I left it on a library shelf and moved through the house with a stick of nag champa. I think I'll make a giant vat of ramen with broccoli, brussels sprouts, mushrooms, and more for everyone after I finish here, and then maybe a big pot of chai... I keep saying I'm going to make muffins and then we eat all the blueberries first.

I have a chunk of tedious and challenging studying to get through at some point, but I'll savor this slowness for a while more first.

altarflame: (deluge)
I don't even know where to begin.

I spent the school day continuing to work on our library (literal thousands of books on the floor, as we make donation boxes, dust long neglected shelving units, tape up kids' books that needed repair, and revamp our organizational system so we can actually find things again), washing dishes, and doing schoolwork with Jake and Elise. I really feel like I worked on the library for less than an hour (we started on it over the weekend), washed dishes for maybe 15 minutes, and did schoolwork with them for maybe 30 minutes. But the entire school day was somehow gone at the end of those three things.

Once I got Ananda and Aaron, everything promptly went fucking crazy. On our way home, I finally got through to our pediatrician and made Isaac an appt for tomorrow morning - I started leaving messages last week but he's been out of the office (anxiety, probably meds, Isaac's really been having a hard time). My sister called, saying some cryptic crap about me NOT LEAVING MY HOUSE and then hanging up, almost immediately after which my brother randomly showed up from out of town, with his girlfriend and a giant python, like "Surprise!" I barely got to say hi to them, because when Ananda changed out of her school uniform she was freezing up and panicking that she thinks a derby wound from her last practice is infected, and Aaron was shaking and almost in tears because while he was at school, a little hurt spot we'd seen on (his cat) Peter's forehead had turned into a giant swollen freaky spot emerging up out of his fur. Nancy started texting me loooooong messages continuously, about when we can get together during her visit down.

I started calling emergency vets, ignoring the texts coming in all the while, and had Annie heat water to stir up a salt water solution for me to irrigate her knee with. The first vet was too backed up. Laura arrived, with her kids. She took a picture of the knee wound, and texted it to her (paramedic) husband, who said he was working on an emergency. Bob tried to explain all about the snake, and agreed to pick Isaac up from STEM club, as I found a walk-in clinic to take Peter to. Grant agreed to take Isaac to his first counseling session with a new counselor, after STEM, since I would probably still not be back - even though Grant's supposed to be working from home. Annie cried about the saline on her leg, and fought with me about it, and finally agreed to at least sit with a rag soaked in it on the spot, even if I couldn't actually do any irrigation (which is basically just squirting over and over). Wincing, freaking out, etc. Brother in law texted Laura back to say they'd lost the patient.

The ride to the vet with Aaron and Peter was insane. It's barely over a mile from our house, but Peter somehow managed to get the door OFF the cat carrier we'd put him in, in the back seat. Not open, but off. So then he's running and yowling all over the damn car as I drive - he managed to step on the button to roll the back window down, Aaron was flipping out and yelling, Peter's abscess burst at some point and there was yellow puss dripping everywhere, I mean - this is all almost funny in retrospect, in a "laugh or cry" sort of way. Aaron managed to pin him in his lap and I got the window up and the window lock on.

The vet visit was great. They saw us right away, and since Peter's abscess had already mostly drained they just gave him an antibiotic shot, and us a bottle of antibiotics to keep giving him at home. The guy was nice. We were in and out in under 30 minutes. Aaron felt way better.

Back at the ranch, Bob had just gotten back with Isaac, and Ananda's leg looked a little better (and it looked better today than it did yesterday, when I DID do salt water irrigation that took it from dark pink and a little swollen, to light pink and just sore, around the broken skin - but after the vet it looked better than before the vet, with almost all of the pink gone...she just freaks about injury). While applying Neosporin and some gauze, I apologized to my unexpected guests that I basically had to turn around and walk right back out the door with Isaac, to go to counseling. Younger cousins continued to all play together with frisbies and ponies like they don't care what adults come and go, anyway.

Forms, insurance, and then an hour of "intake," as the counselor took a detailed history. She seems ok, and just needs to fully understand how smart Isaac is. He's very capable of real talk therapy and learning some new coping skills, but it seems like he's going to have to prove that to her before she moves past a "play and art therapy for kids who aren't ready for CBT" model... I hope it works out. It's another place within walking distance of our house, if it does. And he needs it. Play and art are both great and Isaac will like them, I'd just like to have some evidence based best practices going down, too. She kept stopping him to ask if he knew what words that she was using meant, like "stress" and "cognitive." He definitely does.

When we got home, Laura and Bob were gone, to their house and their city, respectively. My phone was still blowing up. Grant and I worked together to get more dishes washed, dinner cooked, figure out what Isaac needs for the rest of his science project, write down when his "family science night" at school is, swing by the store for a can of tuna to hide prescription cat antibiotics in, and make sense of Nancy's texts with our calendar. Planned a visit with her. The kids are very excited to see her - everyone wanted her down for this last Thanksgiving, since she'd been with us for the one before.

We finally sat down with Annie - she's been waiting 2 days since she brought it home, to show us all the art in her school portfolio. It has to go back, tomorrow. That was like half an hour, mostly comprised of her leading up to each piece with lots of disclaimers and then fretting over whether or not to show us the next one. Jake sat nearby with HP#5 in his lap the whole time, waiting pseudo-patiently for me to read to him.

When I was reading to Isaac, in his bed, Grant came in to tell me his mother's coming down in 3 days, with her husband and the twins, to stay here for 5 days. This IS good news... and she's coming to the derby bout Saturday (that Annie is hoping she can actually skate in...) which is great, just, uh - GAH. *sigh* My library is still half shambles, my kitchen is still not really clean, I'm overbooked morning, noon and night til they arrive - AND I HAVE A LOT OF SCHOOLWORK OF MY OWN DUE BY AND THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND, MAN.

Right now I'm trying to think of how I can even begin to lie down in my bed and just sleep... I have to put away leftovers and then dig through the safe, for Isaac's post-assessment Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, from a couple of years ago, to take to the doctor tomorrow morning. It's very 50/50 that it will be there, and if it's not I move on to my desk via flashlight, since Grant's asleep in there. I'm supposed to get my shot in the morning - if I can squeeze that in, between the cat antibiotics/taking A&A to school, and getting Isaac up to his appt, with Jake and Elise. The office where I go says I can only show up for shots between 8:30 and 9 now, for some new reason I didn't question. After that appt, I have to get things printed at Office Max because we're out of stupid toner. There are things written on just about every day of our calendar for the next month - aside from things I've mentioned here, and our "regular" stuff, there's a filling, an oral surgeon consult, an out of town fieldtrip, a family roadtrip, a birthday...

I feel like a big scribble on a page. I've got gregorian chants on as I type, and am thinking of doing a stretching and deep breathing session somewhere nearby, before I brush my teeth.
altarflame: (deluge)
Friday (a teacher's work day for the school kids), I spent the first half of the day feeling like I was about to have an accident, or sitting on the toilet irritated that I could only force myself to pee approximately 3 drops. This was a rapidly escalating situation that had started to be annoying on Wednesday but hadn't previously taken over my life. Friday, it was neverending anxiety and discomfort that was distracting enough that I felt incapable of studying, or cleaning, or basically anything but orbiting the bathroom and scouring WebMD.

At one point Elise and I walked up to the bank to get a money order, which is about a 1/2 mile walk - I (barely, sort of) peed before we left, did kegels the entire way there, peed(ish) in their bathroom, did kegels the entire way home, ran back to our bathroom, aaaaand saw blood. I was like, ok, MAYBE this is not urethra oriented? Maybe it's not about peeing? Maybe? But then the next time I had to go (you know...7 minutes later when I couldn't stand it anymore), I was careful in my inspection and, yeah, it was "from there." Tiny amounts, but peeing blood is not something I have any experience with or feel even a little bit ok about.

My doctor's office isn't open after noon on Friday, and the local Urgent Care places are out of network for Cigna. So I went to the stupid ER, and spent hours waiting around for the lab to get results on my urine. They were all really nice, honestly, and I got in quickly, and Grant was able to come home from work early. I had an outlet for my phone, so hey. When I peed in the cup, there was way more blood and I tried to just take a deep breath like, "I am currently in the hospital. This will be ok. This is why I'm here." Anyway, it was/is my first UTI. The nurses acted amazed that I made it to 33 years old without a UTI. So here I am on antibiotics again for the second time in just a few months. What can you do, I guess... Also taking a ton of probiotics so I don't have to tell you all about another yeast infection, and chugging tons of water constantly, sometimes with cranberry pills, to possibly be rid of this bs faster...

I think I haven't been drinking nearly enough water, lately, especially considering how much coffee I drink when I first wake up and that I have a glass of wine almost every night in the evening. I know from a friend and female relatives who get UTIs all the time that they pee after sex, which is not something I've ever even thought about? Hopefully I can just go back to drinking enough water, and easing up on the caffeine/alcohol, and all will be well.

Saturday I was scheduled to be on the Rink Rash Radio show I linked here previously - and YouTube put that back up for some reason I don't understand. So you can watch that if you feel like it. I considered not going, because I woke up tired and really not wanting to squirm around in my seat dying of discomfort in the studio for an hour, but Annie was counting on me for a ride and the team had it planned that I would be a guest and Grant would call in, and I felt a little better - I had this pyridium stuff that makes your bladder stop spasming and numbs your urethra, until your antibiotics work, with bonus bright red/orange pee, and it's pretty effective. Plus, it functions as an anti-anxiety med, since with the red/orange effect you can't see if you're still peeing blood (yay?). So we went. It didn't end up being too bad, and the show itself was a lot of fun. I was glad I went. They were thrilled with everything I had to say, which is cool. Annie and I went to lunch afterward.

That night, Grant and I drove up to an improv comedy show, with no idea what to expect. He's been talking about trying stand up for awhile and we used to be big "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" fans. It ended up being pretty good - a few points that drug, but also lots of laughing out loud, and it was fun overall. Tons of audience participation. The place was full of good energy, if that makes any sense. And, for liking their page on fb during an intermission, I was randomly picked to come up and get free tickets to a future show :)

Then we went on a dumb mission that involved paying for parking twice, walking right out of a place that was WAY too loud, and finally settling at a place that was outside and had an interesting menu, but was way too expensive. I was freezing (since it was an arctic 70 and I AM A TROPICAL CREATURE), and tired, but Grant was sweet and talking was good. Food was ok - we get in a situation A LOT where we go out somewhere to eat, and it's not as good as the things we cook at home. To some degree the experience and not having to do anything are worth it, but other times it's just disappointing. Still came home happy overall. After I scrubbed them, Grant gave me a foot massage that was just...ecstasy.

Sunday, we had to take Isaac up to (clarinet) mentoring at UM. He likes his mentor and is into it. We were distributing derby propaganda everywhere we went, too. We took him to the farmer's market afterward, which is heaven - and made the restaurant the night before seem even more overpriced and lackluster. We ran into Mia and her parents, and our old neighbors, in addition to all the vendors we know and love :)

If you ever go to Pinecrest Gardens Farmer's Market, the Imperial Roasts booth there has THE BEST iced coffee - it is hands down the best coffee I've ever had in my life. It is so good that I was drinking it with my damned UTI, I just chugged a whole glass of water before and after and made sure it was my only coffee of the weekend. The woman that runs that booth is SO sweet, and warm, and just fucking perfect. She sells bagged coffee too and we've asked what she uses in the iced coffee, but she won't tell us. "It's a special blend." Clearly, it's witchcraft. Voodoo. And, probably, cream.

Also at the farmer's market, I was flagged down by the sausage lady, because they'd used my pun in their latest silly booth poster, which means I won a free breakfast sandwich. They're breakfast sandwiches are TO DIE FOR. Thick cut, fresh bacon on brioche with perfectly fried eggs and lotsa cheddah. Normally $7, so hey. The pun was "Don't go bacon my heart," which is now displayed with a picture of Elton John.

Later in the afternoon, Grant took the 4 kids who are now in derby up to derby practice. I took Jake for a walk. It ended up being almost ridiculously epic. We saw puppies (behind a chain link fence with their mama dog), kittens (running around - they're fed ferals...) and chicks galore (in an avocado grove where they also keep chickens). The sunset was not fucking around, either, and somehow we ended up having this whole existential talk - Jake can just drop bombs on you. On this walk he said, "I just don't understand what the point of living is. You go to school, you go to college, you work, and you die. You die at the end no matter what and then you're dead, so what's the point?"

It was a long talk. About making art and having babies, about friends and travelling, and beauty around us, and the value of experiences even when they end - as well as all the different religious and scientific theories about what death even is. The legacies we leave behind. This talk featured me attempting to express to him what a big silhouetted tree against the colorful darkening sky does for me, and actually weeping like a ninny. He chuckled at me and put his arm around my waist. He is great.

He also said, at one point, "When you die, I'm going to have a heart attack. Then we'll be together?" I could tell this was actually heavy for him, though he was trying to act light hearted. I talked about life expectancies, and some of my very old Cuban relatives, and what actually sort of helped him was the idea (that had never occurred to him) of how old HE would be, by the time I was really old.

I was exhausted by Sunday night, but this woman down the street, who is pretty cool, had been texting me since Thursday to try to take Isaac to her house, and drop her daughter off with us - there are a lot of friendships between our groups of kids and we have pretty compatible parenting styles. They all love each other. I have a hard time with her kids and feel very shitty for it because she's so hospitable and generous with mine. She's had Isaac, Jake and Elise at her house for more than 24 hours more than once, and she's had Isaac for days on end when it's summer vacation. She feeds them pretty well, takes them out to fun places, and always tells me how impressed with them she is. *sigh* I just don't enjoy being with most other peoples' kids. It's something I struggle with. Her house/their house/whatever is this very free and easy, "more the merrier" kind of place, and I always WANT to be that way... But I only really manage it with teenagers and adults :/

When her youngest comes over (this daughter that spent the night Sunday), she talks SO. LOUDLY. I can hear her talking in our tv room when I'm in our bedroom - that's like, 4 rooms and a hallway away, around 2 corners, and the tv room is carpeted and has pocket doors. My kids can't hear me when they're in there and I call for them, from my room. Being in the same room with her is earsplitting. As in, it actually echoes off the tile. And she's one of those kids who just interrupts and talks over everyone constantly with a lack of self awareness, as a way of existing from moment to moment, which is something I tediously correct ANY TIME my kids do it, because that makes me nuts. But, she's also a kid who will freeze and then burst into sobbing over the littlest things. So like, when Grant very gently asked if she could please lower her voice a little? Or when he asked again, an hour later? Or when he tried to have a talk with her about inside voices and how it was getting late, an hour after that? I finally was like, "please just stop, she's going to leave traumatized or something. For whatever reason she just can't follow those directions or cope with you giving them." I think talking really loud and interrupting a lot are things you can't just ask someone to stop doing when it's deeply ingrained stuff they've always done. This is a fourth grader though, so she's probably just destined to be a much more loud and extroverted adult than I am.

On a previous sleepover, Grant was playing music they were dancing to, and when he picked "Gangnam Style" she ran to the other end of the house and slammed/locked herself behind a door, sobbing and (really) screaming. When I finally coaxed her out and asked what was wrong, she said the song reminded her of a friend that "ended badly."

She's not a bad kid, at all. Just kind of thoughtlessly rude by "quiet people" standards, and extremely sensitive. It all makes me tired. She gets along great with Jake and Elise, who take turns with her and seem to naturally take little breaks to chill on their own. I kind of get the picture that she does better with younger kids. She's almost the same age as Isaac, who views her as a "little kid."

The best part of Sunday night was splitting some Ben & Jerry's with Grant and Ananda while I got the last of my schoolwork turned in online and they sat nearby, laughing and distracting me. It was relatively autopilot kind of stuff. In general, I am a little worried about how to make my schoolwork fit into everything else.

Monday was Day 4 of the weekend, Martin Luther King Day. I spent obscene and luscious amounts of it just texting with Kristin, facebook messaging with friends, and cuddling with Elise. Our guest situation also worked out, when I suggested she, Jake and Elise could have a picnic and tea party out in the yard. They stayed out there for hours, happy as clams, so it was perfect. I cleaned the kitchen and listened to NPR for most of the afternoon.

Isaac did something that's been happening when he comes home from there, and that I don't really understand aside from his maybe getting overwhelmed - he has a great time, is in good spirits when we grab him, tells us all about it on the way home, and then gets very grumpy and hostile within about 15 minutes of walking in the door. This culminates in him crying and locking himself in his room, and needing to either take a nap or just let enough time pass awake that he's over it. They have a lot of kids too, but a much louder household, and from what I gather he's not sleeping much (they stay up goofing around like typical kids at a sleepover, but then those kids still get up early when they go to bed late, which is something I've never understood - my kids sleep late when they go to bed late...) Isaac also has to put more effort than a lot of kids into NOT being anxious around others. Sometimes I think he's just "on" for too long at a time, and then needs to be as grumpy and pissy as he needs to be for a little while when he gets back home. He generally puts on an uber responsible and polite face at school or around other parents. People tend to be totally shocked if I need to talk to them about his issues for some reason...

Monday evening Shaun came over, and I made lasagnas for the first time in forever. Also, Isaac and I started Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I really can't over emphasize how much fun reading this series to him is, and re-experiencing everything from his perspective. He is so into it, and he's smart enough to really get it all as I go and be emotionally invested every step of the way. Reading these books together has totally brought us closer than we ever were before, partially because they provide such a calming distraction for him before bed, or when he's otherwise freaking out. It's one of the only times in his life I've really felt like I know exactly what to do and how to help him, and it basically always works. I've been TRYING desperately his whole life, but he's rebuffed so many of my efforts, and it's generally been Grant who comes up with the perfect bedtime routine or just the right thing to say as he's melting down, or what have you...

Also, Chapter 2 of that book is BRILLIANT and one of my favorite chapters in the whole series. small cut for spoiler-y talk )

Today, Tuesday, the first day back to school and work (from home, for G) was nonstop in a nice way. I have a lot of great things I'm very grateful for, that keep me busy.

I made Elisey and I salads, and heated up lasagna for Jake. After we ate, I took them for a walk, to get my shot. Elise LOVES to watch me get shots. She's totally fascinated. Jake will not look. On the way, we pet a cat, inspected lots of dropped fruit from a mahogany tree, and took pictures of a simple swing set we might want to build one like. We noted the mango trees about to make fruit again, everywhere. Introduced new concepts like duplexes, and Episcopalianism, and what information goes on a dog collar. We're definitely going to make long slow walks with lots of talking part of our's something Ananda and Aaron got a ton out of, years ago. Those walks and our open ended late night conversations are some of the most valuable times I think I've given them.

When we got home, because of conversations we'd had while we were out, we watched videos of clams burrowing under sand, of scallops running along the ground underwater, and of how oysters make pearls (and how we then harvest those pearls, and how to tell real pearls from fake). I think they're going to be seeing shells at the beach a lot differently, now. Jake wants a real pearl for his birthday.

I set him up with a cursive assignment and put her on Reading Eggs. Washed dishes.

Read him the rest of Goblet of Fire. Read her a pile of books she picked out. Listened and coaxed as she painstakingly made her way through reading one to me.

Eventually it was time to pick kids up. Aaron had an awful day all around, and forgot his lunch, and was tired and very down. I made him fried eggs on buttered toast with sausages, and a big cup of chai, and he looked from it to me, when I called him out of his room, and then gave me a giant hug. I love him so much. He took it all outside to eat, which I think is one of the best ways to clear your head. For me, anyway... I measured that kid the other day again, on a lark, and it was ANOTHER INCH. He's so damned big! 5'7" the last time I actually got out a measuring tape rather than just making another mark on the wall. Which was awhile ago.

Isaac had a headache. He feels like he's getting sick...I gave him tylenol, and Grant went and got him ramen from Tim's (oriental grocery). Read him another chapter and a half. Grant took the other boys to Game Stop to search for some used thing they want to get with their own pooled money. G also did all the prep work for some lentil soup I then finished.

I hang out with Annie in the kitchen a lot. She sits on the counter if I'm cleaning, or sous chefs if I'm cooking. Last night she was searching for a dessert recipe for the leftover ricotta, with a laptop. Today she was showing me art (hers, and other peoples'). And talking about horrific pregnancy things she heard about that resolidify her decision to NEVER HAVE CHILDREN, EVER. Many times she walks in while I have NPR on and we pause it, and then end up talking about whatever story I was listening to. Jake Jr (the cat) is generally laid out across the middle of the floor, I don't know, apparently hoping to be stepped on? He's like an irresistible bear trap, with all his belly fluff up in the air, and his claws and teeth ready if you dare to touch it. We say, "What a bad cat" about a hundred times a day.

We had some stupid Wii remote battery dispute situation and had to tell people to go to bed too many times, but overall I think I'll keep them.

The problem is that I want to chronicle all this. And I want to write creatively. And I have to do my schoolwork.

Tonight, right now, I have to eat something so I can take my antibiotics with a big glass of water. And tomorrow I have to make a big BJ's run AND take everyone up to derby...between that and the school drop offs/pick ups, and getting Jake and Elise taught things in between, I'm already feeling like I can't possibly sleep enough tonight. WHAT THE FUCK WILL BE FOR DINNER WITH THE DERBY TIMELINES? I don't read to anyone before bed after that because it's just too late.

But when I get this feeling, I also can't just go to's hard to explain, I guess. I have to have space to decompress and time to zone out, or else I'll start to hate everything and be unproductive as all hell. On the weekend days, I can just go to bed at a normal hour when I get tired, and that's fine, because enough of the day was very chill or about things I wanted that it feels easy to do that. But on weekdays where I never stop attending to other people for a minute, and Grant and I "partner" but barely connect at all? I dunno mang. I can't go to bed and wake up and do it again, over and over, without some winding down in between. I've never been able to.

There are so many appointments coming up. A filling for Elise, and her pediatrician follow-up, Isaac starting new counseling, Aaron starting allergy shots, my weekly counseling, my shots, Annie's oral surgeon consult. We're bailing on the radio show this coming Saturday (or Annie is, she's the only recurring guest) because my little niece Elizabeth is going to be in a parade and we obviously have to be there, for that. In a good way, I mean.

Next month ISAAC - just Isaac - has got an out of town overnight field trip, an audition (for next year) at A&A's school, his birthday, and the Valentine's dance (that he's been counting down to forever, since there's a girl he has in mind).

Here's to coming up with some kind of workable game plan that involves more hours than actually exist. Somehow things always work out and years continue to pass, so that's generally what I keep in mind. Also - Isaac will be 11, on his birthday next month. It seems monumental to me somehow. The really big ones in my mind this year are him turning 11, and Annie turning 15.
altarflame: (deluge)
Last night, Ananda put away all the clean towels. So, when I went to bed, there were stacks of clean towels on the recessed shelves in the kids' bathroom, which is where the only shower is. This morning I went to take a shower, and there's a puddle on the floor, and every towel all around the floor, bunched up. Many of them soaked. Like as though maybe the toilet overflowed? Or something? It's just me and 4 kids here since yesterday because Grant and Jake went on a joint birthday trip right after Jake finished up his school week.

Somehow neither Ananda, Aaron, Isaac or Elise seem to have ANY IDEA how this came to be. I was just wondering if water was welling up on the floor from the base of the toilet, because that's happened before, and it can indicate septic tank trouble. Also, everyone knows they're not in trouble if they have some accidental mess like a toilet overflowing or a spill - but that they do have to clean it up.

I made Aaron clean this up, because it was obviously him, because he was doing what he always does when he's lying. I think of it as "over bafflement."

Me, casually: Aaron, do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the bathroom?
Aaron: What???
Me: You heard me.
Aaron: *one eyebrow raised sky high like I'm speaking another language and have changed colors*
Me: *sigh* Do you know why all those towels are on the floor in the kids' bathroom?
Aaron: *totally dumbfounded expression* HUH?!

It's fucking ridiculous, and pretty funny in retrospect. The poor kid cannot lie to save his damn life. He mumbled something eventually about taking a very late shower and not realizing the curtain was open on one side.

Also ridiculous and hilarious even in the moment: last night, Ananda was telling Aaron all his clean clothes were out there ready to be put away, and he needed to go get them. Aaron was playing minecraft and didn't want to budge. I was in another room around a corner but on the same end of the house as them.

I suppose I should explain that I have a kind of laissez-faire "don't ask don't tell" policy about cursing; they know they're Not Allowed to cuss even though I do all the time and I don't really think it's bad, because you get in the habit, and because if they cuss around other adults, those other adults are liable to think they're bad kids, which I don't like. Now that they're in school, the school seems to feel about the same way I do - basically people in the halls or teachers go "language" in a stern tone when they hear someone cursing and it makes everyone giggle nervously and that's the end of it. None of my kids curses out loud around me on purpose, but I've eavesdropped and heard them curse in hushed tones and rolled my eyes and moved on. I've seen cursing galore on both sides of their facebook conversations and texting (they know the policy is they get to do those things but I get to snoop, it's not sneaking snooping) that seems like pretty normal dumb teenage stuff and they know I see it but nobody brings it up. Me or them, I mean. I can tell it's still way more personally taboo for my younger three children, probably because of friend groups and the younger kids' school being a lot more strict about it.

So anyway, last night Aaron didn't want to go get his laundry and put it away and she wanted to be done with her laundry chores (sorting a massive pile and sending it in appropriate directions, along with putting away her own and linens) so she was getting mad at him. She basically SCREAMED "Asshole!" at him, and I yelled, "absolutely not!" because *even I* (haha) don't curse AT people like that, and I've typically been way more serious about "mean" talking as the actual bad words, but they clearly didn't even hear me - Aaron was YELLING, "I don't want to go out there, Mom will see that I'm still in my uniform!" They're supposed to put them on the washer as soon as they get home and change into normal clothes.

I went in there, and I see them basically wrestling on the floor next to his tipped over computer chair that she clearly tried to drag him out of, both half laughing, and she's like, "quit being an asshole, just go!" and he's like, "Annie I can't, she'll see," and I said loudly from the doorway, "Do you guys not understand I'm home? Do you think my ears aren't working?" They both froze with this very brief "uh oh" look and then we all started laughing hysterically.

They're so ridiculous.

Aaaaaaaaaanyway. Sleeping in was great today, STILL feeling lingeringly ill several weeks into this is unacceptable, and I'm going to go confer with these fools about what sort of Saturday hijinks we ought to get up to.
altarflame: (deluge)
For posterity, because I enjoy having minutiae recorded to look back on...

-to show me things online
-private time alone to just talk without anyone interrupting us
-a new sketchbook and some kind of soft drawing pencils, for her art class
-forms and money for a school trip
-ok'ing of arrangements she can approve with friends, for later this week
-reiteration that, no, I am still not ok with older driving homeschooled friends driving her places, and am not gonna be anytime in the immediate future
-for me to email her algebra teacher about some of the material she missed while sick, as he apparently wants to talk to me about it

-girl advice and confiding...he is so confused, it's adorably heart breaking
-crickets for his spider to eat
-confirmation of my email address because I'm not getting this thing from his dance teacher (he was misspelling, my own son pulling the ol' alErflame)

-a piece of rescue remedy gum - he believes it makes his anxiety calm down, so it does
-an extended recap of WHY he has to do those particular chores
-for me to know the new "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book will actually BE AVAILABLE at the December book fair (serious business)
-help finding "Order of the Phoenix"
-for me to know he's gonna need the next size up in pink fleece monkey pajama pants, soon. He's on the third pair he's owned, since he begged his Oma for the first set at 3 or 4.

-a clean beach towel for tomorrow, when his class will be reading outside in the grass
-for me to look at some bar graphs he made
-and a dragon head he was going to color
-trimming of his bangs, which happens about once a week when a stubborn curl insists on dangling in front of an eye
-help finding his Nook and charging cord at bedtime
-a water bottle he could keep in his bed

-to be ordered out of her peed in shorts (WTH that hasn't happened in YEARS, she just didn't make it to the bathroom but she was just walking around without changing?)
-in depth help with her homework
-"love in the bed" (cuddling under a blanket), which featured a rundown of her day
-a form signed to be turned back in and an email TO her teacher, about a conference
-$5 for multicultural day

All 5 of them needed rides home from school, tacos for dinner, cajoling to do their chores and shooing off to brush their teeth on time. Everyone but Isaac needed hugs - he is kind of affection-averse, though not so much as he used to be, so I walk a line between hugging him enough that he still gets some hugs, and being selfish and making him crazy with hugging (he squirms away and gets upset).

YESTERDAY Isaac's puberty questions were reaching a crescendo - he's having a growth spurt and at 10.5 I realized it was time to give him the battered copy of (boy version) "What's Happening to Me?" that Aaron read obsessively from 10-12.

They are really great. I can't really even think of them as a group, these days, as they're each so different that it doesn't even make sense as a concept. They really seem like a LOT of people sometimes, in the evenings. Tonight, when Annie got irritated by the neverending stream of interruptions before I laid down a "give us awhile" rule, she was like, "TOO MANY! You have a PLETHORA of children!"

Intolerable, that one. We laugh together so much.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'd like to say, first, that I don't think there's anything wrong with loving yourself just as you are, thin, fat or otherwise. I OFTEN see weight loss before and afters where I feel the before pics are more attractive, to my own subjective tastes. We're all much more than our looks, and don't owe looking a certain way to anyone, regardless. And I know health can be - and is often - very unrelated to size. So this entry is in no way meant as a scolding or a prod at anyone. Nobody is under any obligation to be trying to lose weight, and I think it's important to say that sometimes because there's this subtle but constant pressure on women to feel like they are.

I always feel uncomfortable about adding to the omnipresent cloud of "diet talk" that permeates every corner of modern society, because, eww.

That said, if you are someone who is trying to change your body, for whatever personal reasons, or you are just curious about what I'm doing with mine and how it's working out - here we go...

I've been using Weight Watchers for 5 1/2 months now. As longtime readers know, I've tried a lot of strict and rigid restriction-style diet plans over the years (being vegan, or on the Eat To Live program that is basically fat free vegan, going gluten free, saying no sugar or white flour ever, etc). They all work well but none of them have been sustainable for me. I am too much of a foodie to cope with knowing any sort of lovely indulgent thing is off limits permanently. Or even semi-permanently. In some health and ethics related ways, this is definitely a flaw - BUT. It is what it is, for now at least.

I feel like I could do this - Weight Watchers - basically forever.

I have a long history of compulsive and emotional eating and really lost any ability to regulate food intake by hunger cues as a child. As a result, this points-system guidance is extremely helpful. It actually feels like magic that I can use this tool to change my body. All I have to do is stay the course and be patient.

I have tried just counting calories before, and had the (free) MyFitnessPal app at the suggestion of my therapist for that last year, but I hated it for a few reasons:

-*way* more math and research time on my part, vs the simple and built in points system for everything from restaurant menus to my own recipes that I put in.

-no differentiation between healthy and non-healthy calories; WW has made daily points limits lower than they used to be because unlimited fruits and vegetables are now zero points, which automatically encourages you to eat healthier. They are also calculating points values for other things on an algorithm that involves fat, carbs, fiber and protein, rather than just calories.

-I didn't like it just being on me to feel like I failed when I occasionally decided to splurge. WW has 49 "weekly points" built into the program that are above and beyond your daily point limits - you can eat them all at once as one crazy buffet dinner, or spread them out as glasses of wine and scoops of ice cream throughout the week. I suppose I could have worked out some sort of similar system for myself, but instead I usually just figured a day or week was shot and gave up on it, when I went over my max calories. With WW I really feel like there's nothing I can't have. This is hokey, but I often think "I can eat anything I want, I just can't eat everything I want."

-This may be bs, but a lot of research suggests that people actually lose weight much more often when they use a program that costs money, because the investment gives the whole effort more accountability. It would be nice to just psych myself out that I'm smarter than that and can milk a free program, but I think it's true. Subscribing to this plan that charges our bank account makes me feel like it's real and not just in my head (or my phone, or whatever).

I also enjoy all sorts of things Weight Watchers offers, like the weigh in days, chart that shows my weight loss over time, the recipes searchable by point values, and the forums. Those things are sort of incidental, though. I do not go to meetings or buy any WW brand products (which honestly seem pretty gimmicky and silly to me, and often not very healthy at all). I am also aware that Weight Watchers may well be the least punk thing I've ever done in my life.

I've lost 29 pounds so far, since late February. I feel better, which I've written about before, but there are other tangible differences too that have been noticeable, lately:

-My ASOS plus leggings are now baggy around the knees and over, for me (which is actually a tragedy, I don't have many clothes, love them, and can't really afford more at the moment).
-Bras I was using band extenders for, for years, can now be worn on their own again.
-My hip measurement, which includes my hernia bump, has gone down 7.5 inches.
-I can actually see it when I compare old pictures to new, now, which is wild for me since I really haven't felt I can SEE much difference in the day to day.

Currently, my daily points target is 35. Under the cut is me describing everything I ate today, and some other eating things from this week, in case you want to see just how this actually works in the day to day in my case. )

There are still times when I get anxious or moody because I can't just binge eat - I do think going through counseling as I do this is part of my success thus far. Intensive counseling before I even started has been pivotal, because I really understand that I was self sabotaging like a motherfucker since I know that losing weight is a path that ends in the OR, for me.

I've learned, partially through the points system, that I don't actually enjoy food at all when I eat compulsively or binge. I enjoy the lead up sometimes? But it's this mindless hand-to-mouth thing that's very disconnected from enjoying anything, I almost feel dissociative when it's happening. I suspect this is similar for addicts of all types. For me, though, I FEEL like I'm really enjoying food much more because I'm enjoying all the food I have, rather than just some of it, or enjoying it in my mouth but not my stuffed stomatch, or liking it but feeling emotionally bad about it, etc etc.

Also, it's important to point out that I got my B-12 levels back up before I started... deficiencies like that, as well as all kinds of hormonal and thyroid troubles, and med side effects, can make weight loss REALLY FUCKING HARD/semi-impossible, even when you are "doing everything right."

I saw someone on facebook the other day who has lost over a hundred pounds and kept it off for several years talking about how he hates when people make excuses - you just have to want to do it. He talked about how walking is free, and jump ropes are cheap, and it was just too angering (and complicated) for me to even go into there. Obviously chronic health conditions and mental health conditions can be huge obstacles that require MEGA RESOURCES to tackle, that not everybody has got. Ultimately that's about him anyway, and not anyone else.

I read a lot for my Health Psych class about how the most successful treatments for people with obesity involve cognitive behavioral therapy that starts with writing down every single thing that you eat. I reminded myself of that often in the early weeks of Weight Watchers, when logging points ANYTIME I ate ANYTHING still seemed like a hassle. I do think it's part of what's helpful and what works, about the program (built in food journaling). These days it's very automatic and not a big deal at all.

altarflame: (deluge)
Well, I've got several half done LJ entries that have been sitting around open for various periods of time, a lot of it the kind of thing I often just delete rather than finish. I'm going to cut some of it below.

Life is pretty good :) I'm listening to a ton of Vampire Weekend pretty reglularly - this week's favorites are Horchata and Step, last week it was Walcott all the time, the week before that I was focused on White Sky and Oxford Comma. My Vampire Weekend Pandora station is a thing of beauty and joy, and has temporarily displaced NPR in our kitchen.

It's probably strange how relevant various iPhone apps are to my daily life. There is Pandora and NPR, and I use the Weight Watchers app anytime I eat or exercise, the C25K app 3 times a week at the Y, my camera very often. Texting throughout the day with Laura and Kristin, and Grant when he's at work, is pretty ongoing. I watch Khan Academy math videos and do Duolingo french lessons basically anytime I'm somewhere waiting. This of course does not count the goofing off that is Tumblr and Facebook.

I realized this weekend that I'm probably going to hit 500 tumblr followers anyday now. I suppose a lot of people like plants, and food, and my random pictures/bizarre sense of humor.

I'm also going to be down in the 230s this week. I started this ~*~weight loss journey~*~ in the 260s.

Elise had a neurological evaluation up at Miami Children's Hospital yesterday. The PA that worked with us was very nice, she interviewed me for a long time and then examined Elise. Next she had Elise write her name, draw a person, identify various letters and their sounds, and then try repeatedly and without success to sound out a simple word (sit) whose letters and sounds she obviously is very familiar with. She's 7 and going into 2nd grade, and this is her first formal evaluation since mid-year during preschool, fyi. She actually had three evals during preschool, that went "barely behind in a couple of areas, ahead in others" then "pretty behind in speech and writing and patterns, but ok otherwise," and then "average to above average across the board." Then in Kindergarten it was clear she couldn't move at a standard academic pace, and I took her out mid-year. Throughout the last year+, for first grade, it's been very obvious that she has some short term memory issues, but they manifest in this maddeningly inconsistent way that's very hard to pin down.

I know from working with Ananda and Isaac that Elise definitely has some kind of reading disability - it is just a whole different world than teaching neurotypical kids. Aaron and Jake practically seemed to teach THEMSELVES compared to Annie and Isaac, and Elise is very much like they were - doesn't recognize a word we just did repeated exercises with a minute before, can't even string the sounds together mentally when I say them out loud one after the other, and even start to blend them out loud - and makes wild guesses that come out of absolutely NOWHERE ("igloo" for sit, since there's an i in the middle). There is this frustrating disparity that happens in these learning disability situations, where you have a kid who seems brilliant in conversation and who you watch figure out all sorts of complex concepts, who then cannot do this seemingly simple task.

Anyway, the PA also had her walk a straight line, hop a lot of each foot, follow her finger with eye but not head movement, and some other things. She seems confident that Elise no longer has any real neurological problems, but does have some kind or kinds of learning disability. Our next steps are an "N-met" test back at this same office, on a computer in a couple of weeks, to test her attention and focus, and then a psycho-ed eval at a university department. Hopefully that will be sooner than the N-Met, but I keep getting a voicemail and leaving messages so we'll see.

We've been waiting since late March for the appt she had yesterday, so I'm glad the other appointments are seeming soon. My goal here is to get her some concrete diagnoses to enter school with on August 18, so that she can get an IEP asap. The school she's going to is the one that did wonders for Isaac - he was in a class with 2 fulltime teachers and an aid for 22 kids, and he was getting before and after school tutoring in addition to having lot of "Reading Plus" work to do online at home, via their subscription.

Really what I've seen with Annie at home and Isaac at school is that, with a smart kid with a reading disorder, you keep trying new things until eventually something just clicks in a way that leaves you wondering whether it was the actual last method, or just them getting old enough. Annie and Isaac both read chapter books for pleasure regularly now, but I still feel nervous about Elise because of her history making it all seem like new territory.

And, it is still on the table whether or not Elise will be staying in school at all. But I want to give it a chance, and she is excited. I think the main variable is honestly whose class she ends up in.

She was excited to do the evaluation yesterday morning, and loved it, so that's helpful. There were stickers and a trip to Starbucks involved, too.

Old partial nonsense rambling entries!

#1, some thoughts on biking )

Much )

thoughts on birth control, and risk )
altarflame: (deluge)
Our lentil soup recipe (this makes about half of a big stock pot):

Sautee in a small amount of water or olive oil, all diced up small,
-half a big yellow onion
-about 6 cloves of garlic
-4 large carrots
-4 celery ribs

Then to that, add,
-either a can of tomato juice or a couple of liquified tomatoes (we use the magic bullet)
-3 or 4 chicken broth cubes and 1 or 2 beef cubes. This is your call. I'm sure vegetable broth would be fine, and obviously actual broth as opposed to cubes would also work.
-24 oz of dried lentils, which I usually get as 2 12 ounce bags
-a lot of water - I fill the stock pot until it's about 2 inches from the top

Cook that on low-medium heat, stirring now and then, until it's reduced a couple of inches and is noticeably thickened.

Really, it's unbelievably delicious, REALLY cheap, and very good for you. We like to serve it with optional parmesan cheese on top, and a big bowl of salted diced tomato and avocado that can be eaten on crackers. I think white wine is a nice touch if you're into that.

Isaac has this horrible joke book Frank got him a couple of birthdays ago, and he reads it out loud to us at the dining table sometimes. Today over tacos, random guesses at answers seemed to provide bizarre and potentially unsettling insights into my children's minds :p

Isaac: What has holes but can hold water?
Elise: Bubbles!
Isaac: What gets bigger as you take from it?
Aaron: Reading?
Isaac: What gets taken before you get it?
Jake: Innocence!

*blink blink*

I took Annie tonight, and we watched The Fault in Our Stars. Before we headed north, we went through Checkers and got cheese fries. I ate WAY too many cheese fries when I was pregnant with her, and she is aware of that and it's totally a vice and a joke of both of ours. She says very right-on things whenever she has any (which is probably twice a year), like "These are way, way too good." Basically, we get extremely excited whenever one of us reminds the other that cheese fries exist and are out there, available. May we never remember more frequently.

It was interesting seeing what was left in the movie and taken out, vs the book. Overall they did a great job, and she and I were actually the only two people in our whole theater, which was really nice on a few occassions. Twice I said something that made us both laugh a lot. One, "You're only 14 and I'm pretty sure we've already surpassed your lifetime quota of 'how many sex scenes you're supposed to watch with your parents'," and two, "oh my gosh I'm just so relieved I don't have to deal with seeing him in that suit." *sigh*

While we were out, Grant posted this on facebook:

Isaac (10): Ahhh!!! A big palmetto bug! Elise, come get it!!
Elise (7): *sigh* Where is it?... There, OK... I got it! You can come out!
Issac: Phew!

Hmm, I'm trying to think of significant things from the past week or so.

I've gotten a lot of (Weight Watchers) Activity Points. I try to accrue but not actually eat the Activity Points. I did about an hour of walking Sunday, swam laps Wednesday morning, and did jogging intervals today.

I also fell for the first time in quite awhile today, outside the grocery store, but it felt like my standard clumsy semi-annual fall, rather than the scary B-12 deficient falls I was experiencing weekly for a few months there. Off the curb and onto the parking lot. I happily realized I hadn't fallen down since January, as I looked at my skinned knee and bruised hand. It was definitely a "lost my footing/can't walk straight" thing, rather than a "my legs stopped working" thing, so...hooray?

I scored some really cheap wardrobe staples from Forever 21 plus, via mail order. Great long-enough, flattering tank tops in good colors for $4.80 apiece, and leggings for $10, with free shipping and a discount code applied on top even. Also a jumper/pantsuit thing that looks HORRIBLE, though. Maybe in another 20 or 30 pounds it will be ok - we'll see.

Also got about $300 in science equipment totally free through another homeschooling family on our email list! SO MUCH STUFF. A dissection kit and manual that Elise is far more excited about than I am, and huge cases of everything from chemicals and reactants (carefully inventoried) to a compass, iron filings, magnets, scales, microscope slides, safety goggles, rubber gloves, sterno, a big 1 1/2 volt battery, alligator clips - just so so much. We're still going through it all and trying to make plans for it.

The same family also gave us a ridiculously gorgeous silver plated candelabra, the greatest hits of Tchaikovsky, and an illustrated children's dictionary, while we were there. Because homeschoolers ;)
altarflame: (deluge)
It's starting to rain again. There are some real issues this brings up for us - the van has a leak, and the deck needs to be resurfaced kinda badly, and those things are easy to ignore during the half of the year when it never rains, but are gonna become mega issues soon if we don't attend to them. And, with rain comes mosquitoes.

Still...I love it, and am eager for storms.

Every single day, I go to the FIU website and search for available Stats II and Botany 1010 courses for the fall that may have opened up, and I go to my FIU email to see if my disability appeals have been approved. This has been going on for approximately 2 weeks now, as part of my morning and evening routines. So far I've received a maddening email about the appeals, stating that they've been received and are being processed, which will take up to 6-8 more weeks - and I've gotten into a Stats II class that is with a teacher that is rated terribly on ...I don't really expect any resolution of these issues anytime soon, I just know from past semesters that Constant Vigilance is the only way to get into certain classes. I will lurk, and lunge when appropriate.

Today marks the end of a couple of ongoing situations I'm glad to be done with. First, I actually have the van back, running. Eleven days in the shop, DOZENS of phone calls and one reasonably entertaining shuttle ride up to the dealer later, it turns out to have been the computer system they just replaced having gone bad again - maybe because it was a bad computer, maybe because we had a wire shorted out in the dash. It was covered by warranty.

Second situation, there is this puppy that showed up on our front porch last Friday. She was clean, clearly used to attention/affection, adorable, had no collar, and refused to leave. We played with her in the yard in full view of the street for hours, until dark, and I expected every car that pulled up to our corner and every person who walked by to stop and say, "there she is, that's my dog!" but...nobody did. I called around and borrowed a crate she could spend the night in, and posted about her on a local rescue's facebook page as a lost dog (nothing). We took her, Saturday morning, to an animal hospital to be scanned for a microchip (nothing) and to look for lost dogs they have notices about (nothing). Around Saturday afternoon, I started to panic a little, because really, we are at capacity around here and I don't have room for puppy training or dog ownership in my life. Or budget. Or yards. But I didn't want to just call animal control, as they were clear that they only give a few days for adoption or claiming before they kill the dogs they take in.

We considered fostering her for the rescue organization, as that's something they encourage and help people with, but she destroyed one of my plants and a toy of Elise's inside an hour that involved all of us home and attempting to watch her... and we're gone so much! Grant and I both also got really sick of cleaning pee/poop up really quickly. More importantly, in addition to the cats being violently opposed, Isaac is TERRIFIED of her (for his own anti-dog reasons; she is not mean, but her normal puppy behavior of jumping and chasing is panic inducing for him). He even came in our bed last night saying he had a nightmare that the dog was attacking him :/ I mean Isaac has a long history of bad dreams about all manner of things, but, I feel really bad for how stressed it's been making him. Relegated to the yard, she's been going from terrorizing the chickens to finding a dead rat under the deck and dragging it up to our doors, when she isn't digging up my new planter full of flowers. It's beyond "not cute" and into DEAR GOD MAN. I am clearly spoiled on the low maintenance of cats.

ANYWAY finally, today, after a LOT of back and forth texting with people I know who are deeply involved with the rescue, they've got an opening at a no-kill shelter for her. It's a long drive but I'm ok with that at this point. Jake's in love with her and would be all about keeping her forever - he's going to be the one person who really misses her like crazy, but at least I can tell him she's going somewhere safe, now.

In addition to getting the van in and the dog out, today, and continuing my vigil at the FIU sites, I walked Isaac to school (which is worth 4 Weight Watchers Activity Points), fried a lot of eggs, made some milkshakes, made tacos, and baked some lemon syrup loaf cakes - that's a Nigella recipe that is a regular, around here. I am trying cold brewing coffee here myself for the first time, and will see how it's turned out tomorrow. I also washed seven hundred million dishes, and continued forcing leading my kids in cleaning their rooms out and organizing them thoroughly, since we have a realtor coming sometime in the next week to tell us what he thinks we could get if we decided to sell the house. I don't know that we are going to sell the house, but he seems like a decent guy who answers our questions quickly and thoroughly so I'm interested in what he has to say. There are a lot of factors that make me think our Zestimate is probably inaccurate. I read another chapter to Jake and Elise. Aaaaand I worked on the budget for a little while.

Overall I'm sort of confused that it all sounds so good "on paper," since I spent the majority of the entire day loafing around (napping, fantasizing, internet), and the majority of the night...loafing around (shows with Grant and later Annie).

I've been doing entirely too much loafing around, in general. Something about my school semester ending and a lot of my kids' activities wrapping up for the school year, along with restricted transportation, has left me feeling like I'm floating along in some vague and timeless way. Everything from the past couple of weeks kind of blurs together, with little standout times - like when Gloria brought James over so they could use our kitchen all day to bake for a fundraiser, and Elise's birthday, and this neato hour long phone call with someone whose voice I hadn't heard in a decade. I mailed a card to my Nana and a letter to my mom, for Mother's Day? I've planted a LOT of seeds and some other stuff. Pruned and watered a ton. Isaac's talent show at school went REALLY well, and we finished reading Goblet of Fire, which he loved, so he got to watch that movie. Overall I just feel really....vague and timeless.

I made a friend (GMYS parent) who is also a nursery inspector, and gifted me some hibiscus. Between him and his family, and this cool chick (and her family) who runs what was Elise's preschool that I have ran into here and there over the years but am now planning to have over for dinner, it seems like I might have real prospects for new local friends. I was starting to think that was impossible, that I had exhausted my town's possibilities or something.

I am really, really excited that new episodes of Louie are happening.

Grant was in Missouri last week, for work. When I picked him up, Friday, I don't know what clicked into place but we had the craziest nonstop ultra hot sex weekend ever. I spent all of Monday somewhat sore and goofy-happy, after a night I think I grinned through in my sleep (Happy Mother's Day to meeeee). We're doing a lot of emotional evening cuddling and ooey gooey afternoon texting, this week.

I've lost 18 pounds, now. It's feeling very doable and real.

I've had some interesting little things happen, with my book - a small bookstore owner took a couple of copies earmarked for particular readers to read, review and bring back, so that she can move on to more and more handpicked regular customers with the same copies...she's just doing it because she believes in local authors, which I thought was pretty great. Then the other day I realized I have list additions, ratings and reviews on Goodreads - I had no idea :)

I've also made a lot of use of tumblr for personal posts lately, particularly picture posts, since it's so easy to make them directly from my phone with one step.
altarflame: (deluge)
I am really at a loss as to how I can slow down, be happier, relax, and still give all of my kids everything that they need. Stretching helps. Meditating helps. Drinking enough water and making sure I step outside often enough is nice. Lots of things help for anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes.

It's WONDERFUL to be able to go and go and go, again, now that my shots have taken effect and I'm no longer sick, exhausted, and in pain. But I don't know how to relax, now. Part of that is that there is so much to do, part is that I was pushing myself through much worse conditions than "plain old" mental exhaustion and tension, and so my cues for when to scale back are totally screwed up now.

There is also a combination of real backed up work (at school, with our house, mostly with each kid) that snowballed while I was napping, weeping, and/or sitting in waiting rooms, and my own terrible self conscious guilt about how much of that all backed up. I think on some emotional level I feel like however much it hurt, however hard it was to cope with, however terrible living at doctor's offices can be, I focused on me a whole lot for a long time. And it worked! I'm better now! But it seems selfish to focus on me anymore, at all, as a result.

And I'm...frenetic. There may be an element of my body and brain readjusting to having ENOUGH B-12 again? Because I feel almost jittery at times, like a constant caffeine buzz. I can't stop moving my feet around when I'm sitting there. I was really in a fog for months, so, it's got it's benefits as I DO ALL THE THINGS, but O_O

I have also turned a significant corner, in therapy, as of about 2 months ago, and I feel radically less triggery and ptsd'd out ever since. It's there, but it's so much less a hindrance than it's been in years past that I Normal? It's big. And, again, that's great. But, again, without having terrible depression or internal freakouts when I don't take care of myself...I just kinda don't take care of myself. I'm realizing things randomly, like, wow, I haven't spoken to a friend, any friend, even online or in text, in a WEEK. Or, I haven't went and exercised in...TWO WEEKS?!

All my resources are just going to this deficit I've built up, since I can attend to that deficit now.

After teaching my kids all Friday morning; taking all 5 of my kids to the dentist Friday afternoon; blitz-cleaning with them for a frantic hour; and then hosting Laura and her kids and Shaun and his girlfriend, plus baking and frosting a big cake that night (Grant cooked dinner) - then I woke up super early Saturday morning and took A&A with all their supplies up to audition at the arts charter. It's far, it took many hours. When we were back home I tried to chill out and just water and prune all my plants, talk to Elise, enjoy Grant making soup, but it's like I can't kick the manic anxiety of having already pushed myself too hard. Because this is just a close-up example of how ALL THE DAYS, strung together, with no rest days, have been for weeks. Last night at the "end" of obligations, he and I got in a stressful conversation about his work stress, his self esteem issues, his generalized fears and things that do and don't effect our relationship. I cleaned our entire (gross) bathroom to take a bath and relax, and then laid awake in bed until 3 am. This morning, I had to be up by 8 making a huge breakfast for everyone before taking Annie up to her end-of-the-year mentoring showcase performance, where the rest of the family eventually met us.

I don't even wanna list it all, everything we've done today. Or Thursday, before I arbitrarily started the last paragraph. Every day lately is too much, never stopping. It makes my head hurt to even start with the listing. Last Wednesday, which was overwhelming, Grant wanted to budget and then plan the logistics of how today would go, and by the time we were almost done I felt like I was going to cry. "Normally," historically, things might SOUND overwhelming on paper but in each moment I was chill and ok and so things really did just SOUND that way. I don't know why that seems so challenging now. It's like the last piece of the puzzle I'm just not getting - how to be present and enjoy stuff as it's happening. How to ride the wave. I've been riding the wave by coping with things that are NOT getting done, for too long :/

I'm not yelling or angry. I do probably seem hyper or irritable at times, though often I keep that together, too, and it's just an internalized pressure buildup as I stretch further and further.

I go in these circles, that are comprised partially of these things:

-what can I let go of?
-part of the problem is definitely all the driving
-we can't afford to live closer to things
-I'm not willing to let things go
-I feel like it's totally unacceptable to punish any one of our kids for how many kids we have. Like that is not even an option. Whatever they need individually is irrelevant to our family size, in my mind.
-is it fair, right, natural or ok, for parents to sacrifice SO MUCH of their entire adult lives for their kids? For how many years? It wasn't expected or common until very recently; kids fit into existing adult lives. Not the other way around. I don't want to be that parent. They need to see a model of a wholly realized person who is happy in their own life...don't they?
-but, yeah, that is on me, that I had 5 of them, of course that will be massive and often take over my life completely for long periods.
-and they each have a LOT of unattended, unstructured time. There are just a lot of them, so it adds up quickly when the attention and structure is so often coming from me. I don't have even one overbooked kid who doesn't get hours to do whatever they want at home, every single day. It is truly just cumulative effort because of the number of kids.
-this is going to get harder before it gets easier, I just know it is.
-can we afford a housekeeper?

I don't know how much it plays in, but Grant thinks it's HUGE and not something I'm giving myself enough credit for, that I've been strictly on weight watchers for over a month. I normally (my entire life...) do a lot more food-for-coping. He's probably right. I chew absurd amounts of gum.

I have a couple of hours here alone right now. Before opening this, I was using them to read health psych (heart disease and diabetes chapter). But I am so keyed up, sore, unrested, I don't know HOW to relax.

I don't know HOW to be happy. Like I know all the reasons why I should be happy and I'm not sad, exactly, just frustrated with... I don't even know what :/ "Just" frustrated. Random frustration.

I mean I'm playing Enya, naked, drinking hibiscus tea. Attempting to very leisurely read my chapter's slide show. And I'm a kinked-muscle mess (eventually giving up and composing this entry).

I suppose that, taken as a whole, the problems I have are about getting better in huge ways and transitioning to improvements. I just have to zoom out and see it that way intentionally, at times.

*deep breaths*

One thing I really, really need is more breaks AWAY from my children. ALL of them. Grant's talking about giving me a couple of hours each Tuesday evening. I sometimes have Sunday afternoons, though they are (supposed to be) for studying and cleaning.

I can't do what I did when they were much younger and just stay up half the night by myself every night, any more, and without that break in between the sort of days we have I start to crack up. Maybe I'll use those Tuesday night hours to host a "book" (wine) club, or something that is easy but would actually gain me some adult interaction. I really, really need adult interaction.
altarflame: (deluge)
Maaaaan I really needed a weekend to hurry up and happen, so, hurray for that.

We still have all kinds of crap to do on weekends, but none of it is the most tedious or draining stuff that I do, and Grant is around double-teaming the cooking and childcare (or the two of us are off on our own).

Biggest tedious/draining weekday things, lately:

-painstakingly sounding words out with Elise, and reminding her a million times of a handful of little phonics rules; her language arts work is mainly in Kumon books of rhyming words and phrases that group things by consonant blend, right now (we sometimes also use Abeka's "handbook for reading" and Starfall's 1st grade curriculum, and supplement with BrainQuest, as well as snail's pacing our way through little leveled readers together...). It takes about an hour to get through three short Kumon pages with just a few 4-6 letter words each, because I make her actually do it - she wants to just trace and copy without knowing what she's writing, or guess that the word is what the picture seems to show and move along with the wrong assumption. Then, when Grant gets home, she spends 10 minutes trying to tell him all the words, with a little bit of coaching. At the end of which he generally stares at me aghast and thanks me for being patient :p Which is actually REALLY VALIDATING and helpful because the other kids certainly do not appreciate me being completely absorbed with her for half the afternoon (when I count in other subjects and conversations with her). I'm not sure at this point whether this is more frustrating when we sit at a table together with nothing else going on, or when it's an ongoing part of my cooking in the kitchen and she has a chair in there. THANK GOD she really loves schoolwork and WANTS to do it, and gets really excited about her own little leaps :) She did have a very noticeable "leap" this week, too, which is nice and gives me some hope. She actually told me the three things she was SO EXCITED about were her Girl Scout zoo sleepover this weekend, her birthday coming up, and learning to read. Be still my heart! Even if I am gouging my own eyes out at the end of each teaching session.

-reminding/keeping on top of Aaron about his schoolwork... Ugh. He's so sensitive, and absent minded, and easily distracted, and smart, and frustrated with himself. He, also, has had a little "leap" - he did a big amount of bedroom cleaning in about 30 minutes mainly just because he wanted to, this afternoon, and has been taking showers without me badgering him the past few weeks. And he IS actually doing a math assignment and reading a chapter/writing about what he's been reading every day, for the past 3 weeks, so. We're getting somewhere. But it's not where we need to be. It often takes all day long and way too much stress. It's reasonable and plausible to expect him to catch up when he doesn't do what he's supposed to do, this year, rather than just losing that slack time and falling behind. But he's still a little behind (in math only) because of how far behind he fell the couple of previous years. I THINK we'll be able to get him to grade level in math by the beginning of the next school year. Grade level actually starts to matter in a big way once a home schooled kid hits high school age because if you want a diploma rather than a GED you have to have transcripts that show all requirements ticked off. Up to that point, it's something most parents value that they can be doing 11th grade science, college level reading and 5th grade math if that's where they're at when they're 10 or whatever. Aaron's in 7th now. And fwiw I totally cannot tell whether the caffeine is having any real affect.

-phone calls. HOLY SHIT THE PHONE CALLS. This week I've had to call their dentist's office, Nissan 3 times about our van and rental, I've spent an hour and a half total on hold with Miami Children's Hospital about Elise's neuro eval, we have this ongoing dispute with the dept of solid waste management about a trash pile left by and collected for the previous owners of our house, Isaac's teacher, the arts charter A&A are auditioning for, the disability office at FIU, it. never. ends. While I was in Jacksonville last weekend I managed to lose my credit card and managed to spend over an hour on the phone with Capital One. I'm just so done with the fucking Responsible Adult phone time.

-Jake and his bedtime woes. I send him back/make him actually get into (rather than playing next to) his bed a million times every freaking night. He still continuously acts surprised that he's expected to ever sleep. He gets RIDICULOUSLY emotional. On Friday and Saturday night we let whoever wants to sleep in the tv room with a movie, so we don't deal with any of that. And that also takes the place of their before-bed reading, which is not really a tedious thing for me but just takes a long time.

Some good "weekend" things, this weekend:

-wine and Netflix marathon, Friday night.
-Starbucks, in a leisurely, just Grant and I way, Saturday afternoon.
-G and I went and saw the Grand Budapest Hotel last night :) With contraband Ben and Jerry's. It drug a little here and there, but I also laughed out loud a bunch of times. I wasn't huge on Moonrise Kingdom, but in general I ♥ Wes Anderson.
-wandering around the farmer's market with Elise this morning, while Annie was at a dress rehearsal. We picked Elise up from a zoo sleepover her Girl Scout troop just did and she was SO HAPPY (relief - I was afraid I'd be headed up there in the middle of the night or something when she freaked. But she had a great time. We even called Oma to tell her all about it). I'm really happy with that market, you can get a bunch of rainbow chard, some leeks and a sack of purple heirloom green beans for $9. Or, a whole fresh pizza you watch the guy make from dough in a portable brick oven, for $9. It's not too bad. There is an actual french baker with amazing stuff, and Grant is becoming addicted to the sausage. He brought me edible flowers to cook one week :) But I think we have yet to even hit $30 total spent in a trip. It's like some kind of revelation, I'd previously only been to markets like this in other states. Still not quiiiiite Silver Spring level, but I'll take it.
-being home with just Aaron (who is really REALLY chill when the house is quiet and calm) and Elise, for most of today, while Grant totes Annie to her things and hangs out with Isaac and Jake. They have a Sunday afternoon Life (board game) ritual. I took a nap. I talked to my sister on the phone for an hour and a half (<---not the terrible kind of phone call). *good sigh*

The coming week is going to be loaded with all manner of horseshit. A&A only have a week to get their audition materials ready (for TWO arts areas each), and we're a week and a half away from PATH's "Mythologically Speaking" event so that's planning, costumes, verbiage, and memorizing. Jake and Elise need a lot of help with their characters, even though we keep their bits simple. Annie also has a lot of practicing to do, if she's going to be ready for the mentoring showcase next Sunday, and that's something I have to push her to do. She's going to need a schedule of extra home practicing, or else it will all seem overwhelming and cause her to just freeze. I'm meeting with Isaac's teacher. Isaac also needs a birthday present for his best friend Andrew's birthday party. They're all going in for dental cleanings and checkups Friday afternoon. Aaron has earned a trip to the Aviary, that I am not excited about but will be pleasant for :p We also REALLY have to unload the rest of these @&#*(^$!* Girl Scout cookies. blah Blah BLAH, basically.

...I just realized I never went and got my shot last week. What the heck. I carry the injectables around in my purse and refer to them as my arc reactor, because I still can't believe I'm really back to normal - HOW could I forget that?
altarflame: (deluge)
I decided while we were working on breakfast that maybe I would do something like a ditl. It didn't end up being complete, but it mostly worked for a few hours and hey, this means I'm actually posting pictures (a couple of hours after...) the day I took them!

many many pics, from today )


Mar. 24th, 2014 12:14 am
altarflame: (deluge)
Last night I rambled in bed, late at night, DRUNK, for almost an hour - about various kinds of good news that I've had, and all kinds of things. I'm ridiculous at least some of the time, and then I get deeply into polyamory. I have to kinda close my eyes and just go for it to post this, because I really don't want to hurt or alienate anyone, or lose anybody special to me - for drunkenness or polyamorous-ness, but, hey, it is what it is. Overall I think it probably ended up answering most of the questions I've been asked, about that. I really want to be authentic, for lack of a better word, in every part of my life. I'm in a transitional growth phase in basically every area of my life and I feel terrified a lot of the time...TERRIFIED. All day anxiety attacks, self-sabotage. About being close to my bachelors, about REALLY losing weight, about polyamory, even about things like my improved credit and my writing and know, limitless potential. Tons of change. So much risk. *shrug*


There are a couple of points when it goes quiet for a few seconds but then I start talking again, that could be confusing. It seems like the end, but really, I'm dozing off.

Me, tipsy on some bleachers under bright lights, at the rink, earlier in the evening:

altarflame: (deluge)
This has been a great, easy going weekend! I have a big photo post about our New Years Eve/Day that I will post soon, along with a comment reply that's gotten loooooooong enough to be it's own thing, but this is quick :)

Yesterday and today, I:

-looked at all kinds of crap, mostly cool and sometimes hilarious, all over tumblr and imgur, with Grant.

-also this article <--Go on and read it, you'll gasp and laugh and then feel kinda like crying.

-did another 8ish lessons in Duolingo, mostly comprised of the "food" section. Several of which I needed to do 2-4 times to pass. I'm learning French because I am probably going to France for two weeks this summer, for a school thing (that financial aid pays for! How exciting is this?!) Also to be able to help Ananda, because she wants to learn it and live there for a couple of years when she's in college. I was afraid the similarity to Spanish would be confusing, but it's really not, it's very helpful and I am actually getting better at Spanish because of this - which is great. Highly recommended app!

-realized I can now google foods in french, look at the image search results, and use THAT for cooking inspiration - you may not realize what a difference there is in what google gives you if you type in "croissant egg" vs "croissant oeuf" but it is HUGE!

-power walked 25 minutes on the YMCA treadmills, with Annie, and rode bikes around the neighborhood for 20 minutes, with Aaron...I'm feeling so much better these past couple of weeks :) I don't know if that's an arthritic flare ending or if the B12 shots have really made this much of a difference, since my deficiency was diagnosed, but wow. My only problem now is how weak I feel from a couple of very sedentary months while I was hurting and exhausted, but I'm trying to exercise in short bursts at least a few times a week until I get back to the point where I can really challenge myself again. I was disappointed and a little embarrassed when I went rink-skating with Annie's derby team and a friend, last week, and could only do a couple of 5 minute bursts of fallingskating before my legs were SCREAMING at me...



-ordered my new parking pass for the coming semester, and figured out on the map where my new classes are going to be. Entered everything and links into my phone calendar. I feel lately like I couldn't live without my freakin' phone calendar.

-made lots of sauteed vegetables, fried eggs, a pot of soup, two batches of coffee, cups of tea, cut fruit, and so on for various people.

-re-watched the first 10 episodes of Arrested Development, in about hour long bursts, with Ananda (who hasn't seen them) and sometimes Grant (who has).

-helped Grant research recipes and shop for food and a kitchen scale.

-bought leeks and radishes for the first time, and looked through the tumblr tag and our Relic, "The Art of Mastering French Cooking" by Julia Child for ideas on what to do with them (feel free to weigh in!)

-listened endlessly as Elise played this learn-to-read app I got her on my phone, and looked at all of her prolific and steadily improving drawing and coloring projects, and answered many questions from her about everything from what is underneath our house to where tea comes from.

-had a terrible/hilarious misunderstanding with Isaac - I was playing Lorde and dancing in the kitchen this morning and he came in and asked if I could make him something. I told him I was cooking up some sweet dance moves and he could eat those, in a very playful/silly way, and he burst into hysterical tears and ran to his room, slamming the door behind him o_O I followed, apologized, asked what he'd been up to and how he was feeling, blah blah blah but yeah, sometimes you just don't know how someone is going to react *sigh* He actually screamed at me about my "ridiculous nonsense" before he calmed down and decided to take a nap. There are many moods that Isaac gets in and outbursts that come from him that I just cannot imagine from any of my other kids, but I try to remember that he's gotten light years better about that kind of thing and it's a surprise, now, rather than a constant, like it used to be...I think this was the 3rd (and most minor) bizarre freakout in the past 3 months, from him, which is hard to deal with in the moment since he had months with no freakouts, previously - but it's awesome when I remember it used to be bizarre freakouts all day every day, years ago. Now he's mostly burning through books and building with legos quietly, or having truly amazing conversations with me (Isaac is so, so smart, and usually very mature for his age, too, possibly because he's had to overcome his own anxieties and deal with medical issues and all). There is also a lot of bickering/telling between him and the other younger kids, but I feel like that's normal-annoying stuff. Also - he's read THREE Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and at least a dozen picture books, since Christmas!

-read Little Bear, and Olivia books to Elise. And more Harry Potter #3, to her and Jake. And more Harry Potter #4, to Isaac. And poetry, to Ananda.

-knitted about 8 more rows of this sweater back that will be done, oh, probably in 2020 at this rate.

I have really got to stop making this "quick little recap mini entry" before it ends up eating up all the time I planned to spend cooking and posting pictures.

May 2017

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