altarflame: (deluge)
It's an ongoing source of angst that I am not "devoted" enough to any of my kids' various extracurricular activities, and thus get all kinds of complaints and tension. For instance, just today Aaron's solo rehearsal, which was scheduled from 3-4pm, ran AN HOUR over. I don't get an explanation or an apology - I get a side eye for questioning why I've been chilling in the parking lot for so long, since none of the other parents were questioning why all the solos were running late today (apparently they all had to be judged and rated, but it was completely impromptu - like how they schedule things THE NIGHT BEFORE via 11 pm email, and I'm supposed to just "make that work" the following afternoon regularly...but worse!). The full time "dance moms" who hang out in the lobby for hours on end do a kind of, "Oh, how typical, hahaha" chuckle and that's the end of it.

Similarly, Friday evening he had to go to his solo rehearsal with no knee pads, because he lost the ones I bought him. I explained that to his choreographer, along with reassuring her that he should have them by next time since I'm making him tear the house apart until he finds them. She seriously acted like I am negligent and she was speechless, or something. Like I should just get him new knee pads every day - not like, you know, he needs to keep track of his own things and learn responsibility (this is not a safety issue like it would be in derby, they are soft comfort knee pads for sliding on, and he's already wearing sweat pants...some of the dancers choose not to use knee pads ever, but she had said he should get them).

I understand and appreciate that every single one of these programs is only possible because one or more adults is really putting in some serious hours - I even make a point of telling them how much I appreciate it - but it's not possible for me to do that with all of them...or any, really. I can get people where they need to be, and pony up whatever money and supplies they need (neither of which are insignificant obligations...), but that is really about it. I read the emails and texts that flood in, too - but I don't want to be a part of any phone chains that are being set up, and I cannot volunteer. Whatever I can possibly do drops offs and pick ups for, without hanging around DURING things as they go on, I do. We're talking about:

Annie's roller derby team
Her orchestra ensemble
Her cello mentor and fellow mentee
Her Girl Scout troop
Aaron's dance studio (which includes tons of teachers, many hours per week, and carpooling)
Isaac's (school) teachers
and cheerleading squad (which was just in the Veteran's Day parade this morning)
and clarinet teacher
Jake's violin teacher
Elise's violin teacher
And her Girl Scout troop

This does not count A&A's social gatherings, which are usually every weekend, or Isaac and Jake's playdates, like they just had Sunday. Obviously it also doesn't include appointments, like how we've been to the dentist/ortho 10 times in the last 3 months.

My phone's calendar is absolutely ridiculous. I feel like I am bending over backwards to make these things possible. I can't stand it when people act like I'm half-assing because I don't sit and preside over the bake sale table, or reply to something quickly enough. It flat out drives me crazy when people try to enforce "mandatory parent meetings" - FOR WHAT? So we can spend an hour and a half repeating ourselves about something that is also on the flyers that get handed out at the very beginning of the meeting? I just won't do it, anymore. Like if it's really mandatory that I sit through hour and a half long meetings more than annually, we just can't do whatever that activity is. I'm committed to things like cooking us real food, and spending quiet unhurried time with them one at a time in the evenings, and I'm not letting those things go in the name of whether or not some jackets should have peoples' names embroidered on them or not.

Meanwhile, plenty of parents are walking around in $150 tracksuits with the dance studio name, the cheerleading squad logo, etc on them. And I am the asshole trying not to laugh at them.

I have to pick Isaac up 15-20 minutes late from cheerleading twice a week. There is no other way he can participate, because of other things I'm running around for. He knows and is ok with this. The school is still filled with adults at that time, with other activities full of people, the office staffed, and aftercare kids playing on the playground. I have explained this to his coach, so it can be expected. Still, this woman (coach) marches him out to me, and gives me a fucking lecture about how she doesn't have time to babysit him - and every time I tell her the same thing. FOR GOD'S SAKE DON'T BABYSIT HIM, GO HOME! I say it politely. I re-explain that it will always be this time. I reiterate how a-ok I am with him being "on his own" behind the locked gate with everyone else, and that if it isn't ok he can't be a cheerleader. She makes vague ultimatum-ish statements, then gets really sweet and says she'll talk to some other people about it to work something out... and then it repeats again a few days later.

Stupid. Like how the other parents actually ASKED ME who I was on the phone with, when I stood downstairs talking on the phone instead of sitting in on Jake's and Elise's violin class a couple of weeks ago. I told them, "My Dad - he called because it's my birthday," and rather than, you know, "Oh cool" or "Happy Birthday!" I got shit like, "Oh. We were wondering where you were." and (I AM SERIOUS), "My aunt called last week but I returned the call after we left since my phone was off for class." <--My phone rang in our car on the way there, fyi, mine is always off IN THE CLASS, too. Good fucking grief people are ridiculous. It's not OUR CLASS. I don't miss MY OWN CLASSES for phone calls. Just. )(#*$ODFJIOSD*()#&$)(*




The "arthritis smoothie" I make myself every single day:

-frozen pineapple chunks
-half a banana
-tablespoon-ish of virgin coconut oil
-couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal
-couple of tablespoons of (really good) "smoothie" style fish oil (Barlean's)
-tsp of probiotic powder
-tbsp+ of coconut water kefir
-B vitamin mix powder
-water necessary to turn it into a drink (not much)

I do this in the magic bullet, so it takes all of 30 seconds for it to be transformed into a fairly tasty, relatively homogeneous something once I get it all in the cup.

In other inflammation related news, I called my rheumatologist today to see if she had the results from my blood draw Friday morning, and got a recording of a voice I've never heard saying, "Unfortunately, Dr ______ ______'s office has closed. Fax ___-____ for your medical records." There was no option to leave a message or be transferred to the answering service, as would normally have been provided on a day they were regular-closed.

Uh. Right. I mean...what? Did she die suddenly and tragically over the weekend? My last appt was last Wednesday and this was not brought up O_o This could complicate my documentation for school, and I cannot imagine how completely unbelievable it'll sound to my professors if my specialist just suddenly closed. I mean, maybe, possibly this can be a mix-up since today is a holiday, and I've just misinterpreted?

Because time is of the essence on several levels, I've already sent the fax for my records, in case it is what is seems. With one of those fax-with-email programs, because who the hell has a fax machine.




12 Things I'm thankful for, for the first 12 days of November:

11/1. the lovely cooler weather
11/2. talking to Dama on fb today
11/3. texting with Kristin, all the time
11/4. Grant's magical hands
11/5. this job that he has, that has been such a boon in so many ways - #5 being money
11/6. and health insurance that allows me free unlimited therapy
11/7. and dental that means we can all get everything we need done reasonably
11/8. and frequent flier miles/hotel points that make trips possible
11/9. AND their no doubt epic Christmas party coming up again - this time, there will be belly dancers and it's at a greek place. Aaaaand I will NOT be near-carried out in a drunken stupor this year :x
11/9. being back in regular touch with Jean-Paul
11/10. Nexxus split end binding conditioner
11/11. all the way healthier stuff BJ's has started stocking
11/12. how funny a couple of the people in my group (for our theater class) can be
altarflame: (deluge)
Aaron is often the bane of my life, lately. This is historically true, too, but it's intensifying so much :/ I'm taking him back for assessment and possible OT because I can't tell anymore what is puberty, what is "him," and what is "he needs help."

His dance studio does a Halloween solo contest every year. It's today. He knows that. I reminded him a week ago, since they're supposed to go in costume and have music on a CD or MP3 player prepared, along with choreography in place. THEY also reminded him pretty thoroughly, when he was there dancing Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.

It's light hearted and you can go for funny or inspiring or talented or whatever you want. The winner doesn't have to pass their tool sheet (prove they can do a million different individual skills) to be in the holiday solo show. Tool sheets are a huge pain in the ass, so that's a good incentive.

So yes, a week ago, I reminded him. He really impressed me by already having his music picked out and his choreography mostly done. He knew what he was going to wear. I was like, wow. This is awesome. Good job, Aaron.

Really I almost had a fucking heart attack, because Aaron is the reason he and everyone else (including the other dancer we carpool with) are late constantly, he still does things like tell me when we're already on the highway that he didn't bring shoes, things that even Elise has been past for several years and I don't always think to anticipate. He'll realize when we're almost to the studio, in late afternoon, that he hasn't eaten anything all day and didn't bring snacks, even though I set snacks out on the bar and directed his attention to them 5 times before we left. Or, he'll truly believe he hasn't eaten all day, and I'll remind him that he had two plates of breakfast and a handful of pistachios and a fruit leather, and he'll go, "Oh yeah...well, I'm still hungry." O_O

He has to move the laundry through and start more, daily, as one of his chores, and approximately every other day he's SO UPSET because he didn't put the dryer on high heat or start it and so the stuff in the dryer is still wet.

Anyway, so far so good with the solo show, as of last week, right? I talked to him Thursday and he said he knew how he was going to store and transport the song, and he had the choreography all done. I mentioned it to him again Friday...and Saturday...and yesterday/Sunday, with an emphasis on having all his stuff ready to go before he went to bed so it wouldn't even be a thing. Today it was the first thing I said when I saw him, after our "Good morning hug" - he and I have this good morning hug thing we've been doing since he was a baby, and even if it's dinner time when one of us realizes we didn't do it, we still do it then. We hugged, I mentioned it, he acted totally prepared and uber casual.

I'm sure you see where this is going. Isaac was at cheerleading, I had went and dropped Ananda off somewhere and taken Jake and Elise to Laura's house. Back at the ranch, it was just he and I, with keys jangling in my hand, and it was Time To Go to Dance.

First, he was shocked that there was no time for a shower. I told him that I'd been giving him a countdown to leaving all day and of course there wasn't time. He got grumpy, but moved on.

Except then he had no belt, and no idea where a belt was, and had to take pants to wear that fall down without one. No, he had no idea where the belt we gave him for those particular pants was. We got that crisis navigated (Jake's old karate belt worked in a way that didn't show), and were about 5 minutes past the latest point we really should have left. I was headed out the door, when he let the bomb drop.

He had no idea where his MP3 player was, only that it was dead and would need to charge before he loaded the song on it.

This kind of shit flabbergasts me. I have to stop and take a deep breath. Aaron is the only one of my kids that I ever really yell at, or truly lay into. And I didn't today...I mean in general.

He is also the absolute worst at looking right past shit he's trying to find. The scale of "how good are you at finding things?" at my house runs Isaac (amazing) to Aaron (are you even serious?!).

He did a decent job of improvising, after (miraculously) finding it under his bed - he ended up with his entire laptop in the van with us, since it has the song, with the MP3 player on the car charger, and we left the house 15 minutes before the contest started (it's a 35 minute drive). Because of how they structure it, I suppose all will be well in the end. Which sort of infuriates me, since I want him to learn some sort of lesson so that this behavior isn't reinforced as being alright (he has not went to dance at all because he's not ready on time more than once, in the last month).

Thus, most of the drive was spent talking about how much stress he experienced this afternoon, and how much anxiety he caused me, and how that is the thing to remember the next time he feels he has enough time to put off preparing. How it can be a mistake to learn from so that he gets to have everything turn out fine without the bs scrambling, in the future.

Except what adult has even fully learned that lesson? As far as I can tell University students operate almost completely on last minute cramming of all sorts, and it's the way Grant's entire company functions. Putting out fires. I want to give my kids the ability to be better at this kind of stuff than us - I know I am better than I used to be at planning and time management (I have to be...too many balls in the air, they'd all fall otherwise), and it's a huge source of satisfaction.

Which is why, rather than using this hour at Panera to write a paper due Wednesday, I've spent it ranting about bs O_o

The thing is, this solo contest deal is one example among millions. It's a never ending struggle with him, all day every day. Yet.

He creates and renders animations Grant assigns, in Blender.
He writes amazing piano music that leaves people speechless.
He writes and mixes music in FL Studios.
He seeks out documentaries and comes to me to talk about the content.
He did in fact choreograph a dance that he's doing in front of people and is probably knocking their collective socks off as I type.

It's such a mixed bag to make any sense of. He's got this can all cut up, wrapped around the antennae for our wireless router, and he's convinced it boosts the signal because of some YouTube tutorial that Ananda keeps adamantly declaring "WAS DEBUNKED BY CRASH COURSE!"

Last night Annie was scolding and yelling at someone, in the bathroom behind a closed door while she brushed her teeth, and when I was like, "What the heck is happening in there?!" she said "Aaron is on the roof, playing drums on that metal thing that spins above the bathroom, and it's REALLY annoying. I can hear him laughing at me through the vent!"

Which is...hilarious. We burst out laughing together before I took a deep breath and walked out to call him down.

I really appreciate who he is, even as I hope nobody calls the cops and struggle not to throttle him.

I'm also out of time.
altarflame: (deluge)
Last Wednesday night, Aaron didn't get home from dance until 9, when Jamaii's mom dropped him off here. He had to be back at 8, the next morning. At around 10pm, tired and irritable from our AC being broken for part of the day, I was sweating and reading The Prisoner of Azkaban to Isaac when Aaron came into Isaac's room in a panic. "Mom, I NEED a Disney costume by tomorrow!" he interrupted. "She assigned me to Peter Pan since I didn't come with one ready today!"

The day before had been the first time I'd ever heard this costume thing mentioned. I had told him then to dig through the dress up chest and put something together, and instead he ran around confused and then seemed to forget all about it. Now it was an emergency.

"No way, Aaron."
"Moooom I'm out of the opening on Friday if I don't have a costume!"
"How does she expect you to get a costume? You left the studio at 8:30 tonight and have to be back at 8 in the morning. When are you supposed to get a costume?"
"She doesn't care!"
"She can bite me, it isn't going to happen."

And then do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? The one freakin' thing in the whole world that could move me at that uncomfortably warm, sleepy, late point, knowing I had to be up before 7 Thursday.

He said, "Tomorrow is my birthday!"

Dammit.

So off I went, to Walmart that I try to boycott altogether, searching every section for all these components (big men's dark green polo, bright green tights, felt and yarn...) Just after midnight, I was crocheting a belt and sewing a hat.

When I did get up, far too early, he was thrilled and told me I was awesome. I'd made him a (bleary eyed) birthday breakfast and gotten him spicy sweet chili doritos to take in his lunch (all time favorite).

Off we went, to pick up Jamaii and go to dance. Then, Ananda, Elise and I had an hour to kill before Girl Scout camp started, and I'd promised Ananda's guitar teacher - who I very nearly sued for harrassment, and I'm only half kidding - that Annie would complete her last assignment last week and be done with the course. Of course Annie's crushing social/phone anxiety kicked in and I had to pep talk and then ultimatum her before she consented to use the guitar we'd brought in the trunk, and the laptop I had in the backseat. Finally she sat, logged in to wifi, while Elise and I watched her from inside Panera so nobody else could HEAR HER (God Forbid). Then she came in and I congratulated her with a chai tea latte and a fruit tart, while she was in the bizarrely hyper, almost manic high that always follows overcoming anxiety, for her.

I skipped my classes that day in favor of shopping for Aaron's birthday dinner, baking his cake and making his frosting, being home (along with Grant, who wasn't leaving) when he arrived rather than hours later, and taking a damned nap. He ended up having tomato tart and sushi. I thought it could be related to how long it had been since I'd had gluten, but others agreed that the carrot cake was the best cake I've made in years. It was...insanely awesome. Just perfect. And enormous. I mean, 9 eggs and a dozen carrots sort of enormous. I went up to 1.5 times the recipe I generally use to bake us 4 dozen cupcakes, for a single round layer cake in my widest spring form pans.

His presents (all requested):
-quad skates, to skate with Annie and possibly ref derby
-a hot pink morph suit
-a 14" beach ball, for a paper mache project
-more stupid overpriced Iniji or whatever toe socks to go under his Vibrams
-light up disco glasses

Anyway. Aaron is 12 :p I am very proud of him, and think he had a good day.

This week, nobody has anything to go to, and I am glad. I had classes and counseling today, and we're hosting a 4th of July party on Thursday evening, but that's it. It's glorious.




In counseling, this evening, I was doing emdr about my mother. EMDR is chronological and believe you me I was irritated as all hell to have this man, after our initial interviews and my first homework assignment, say that we had to start with my mom. I've been talking about my mom in counseling since I was 16. Gah. It is not what I was going to him for. And he's right, blah blah blah.

So I'm there holding these alternately buzzy things in my hands with my eyes shut, thinking about my mom, and then he'd turn them off and I'd talk about what I'd thought and then we'd start over, again and again. That's basically the gist of how EMDR sessions go, although they require some set up info for prompts and minor guidance here and there, and you do some assessments before and after each session.

Twice, today, while I was holding these things, I got SO DIZZY. Room spinning vertigo like I was drunk or...I don't even know. I could even make it reverse direction to make it feel like my brain fluid was all spinning the other way. No nausea or anything, but very distracting and intense like my skull was just slipping by continuously. I would open my eyes to anchor myself here and there, but then it would start again as soon as I shut my eyes. It felt like some kind of crap related to the alternately buzzing hand things, and/or the alternately stimulated halves of my brain.

The session was ok overall, he told me something challenging I probably really needed to hear. As I was paying my deductible, I mentioned the dizziness off handedly and told him that had happened twice before during EMDR in 2008.

He immediately said people have phantom symptoms all the time based on unconscious triggering of memories that involved feeling those symptoms. Stomach aches during a tv show, whatever.

Well. I definitely spent months using every afternoon as "spinning time," following my parents' divorce. I ended up at an ENT at one point who told my mother it seemed I'd destroyed my equilibrium by fucking up my vestibular system permanently. <---Note, that ENT was a quack who later tried to cauterize the insides of my nostrils for bleeding from the sinus cavity. Just sayin'.

But I spun and spun and spun, that year. Retrospectively, as a parent, I do not understand why my mother or one of my grandparents didn't come out of the house and say, "Tina, you've been spinning for THREE HOURS, what is going on? Let's talk." This is very similar to how it baffles me, now, that nobody ever KNOCKED ON MY BEDROOM DOOR and pulled me out, in later years. Just.

The point is, yeah, I spun, and yeah, we were talking about that same time period today, although I never consciously thought of the spinning. I'm also about 98% sure that when that dizziness happened in 2008 EMDR, it was when we were talking about my parents splitting up.

I have two thought processes about this that kinda run in tandem:

1.) I do wish my body didn't feel the need to hold onto every fucking thing, along with my brain. I wonder if I can let it all go, or only the mental part, or what.

2.) I am more skeptical than I have ever been in my life, but also more eager to be shown real magic than I have probably ever been. It felt like my therapist had tricks up his sleeve, today. Illusions to pull out and impress me.

Another one: Francine Shapiro, the (somewhat controversial) inventor of EMDR, had a book come out in the last year, that he has in his office partially because she thanks him in her Acknowledgements, since he allowed her to use a bunch of his work in the early chapters. Including some of his success cases involving victims of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.

It made him seem like a very accomplished magician, and reminded me of the Wizard of Oz.




I have a lot of pictures to upload, and I may even do it soon, but I'd like to note that this website makes uploading pictures a phenomenal pain in the ass - they have to be resized in PSP or something and then uploaded to a separate host site of your own, and then linked - and so I end up doing it on tumblr, where I can just use my phone to basically copy and paste from my gallery, way more often. My tumblr does have a "personal posts only" link that is easily clicked if you ever want to see original content of mine without the reblogged tumblr stuff all mixed in - it's here: http://altarflame.tumblr.com/tagged/personal I don't usually do a lot of long text posts there like I do here (and I am somewhat more likely to be uncensored/controversial, there, although it's not more or less honest...) It's not taking the place of my lj. It is just easier sometimes to do short things on the fly, on tumblr.

Since I've done a lot more "personal" tumblr-ing recently than I generally do, I thought I would link some of it individually for the interested. There is:

-This one about my obsession with, and endless parade of, white flowers at all stages of life.

-A little story about ordering chickens, and me talking about how I loved our buff orpington, Belina.

-A video about an overgrown section of our yard that we have sacrificed to dozens of butterflies as well as a a picture of how it looks from in our tv room window, where we watch the caterpillars building and hatching from chrysalises.

-Something short about our ridiculous Florida weather.

-Gardening with Elise (our lettuce has gone mad, and the chickens keep eating our chard)

-Some pictures of Annie's new hair, as modeled over the weekend from another city, where she skated in her first derby bouts.

-A couple of different posts about the joy of having new books to read for the first time.

-And one ridiculous shot of Aaron in one of his many get-ups.




I've been really enjoying the downtime of laying low and staying home much more than I have in awhile. Washing massive piles of dishes and putting away mountains of laundry like it isn't torture, even. It's one of those very homey times when our bathrooms are stocked with folded stacks of rags by the sinks, and everyone has their own socks sorted into their bedrooms, rather than just having "the sock basket" available to dig through (our usual system). I hot glued a fairy's wing back on, sewed a stuffed animal that was losing it's spikes and scotch taped several books, over the weekend. They had all waited for me to repair them for a long time. I've hosted Laura and her kids for dinner, greeted everyone with oatmeal and coffee as they woke up, and read to people in the afternoons AND at night. One day, I had an entire to-do list of plant related tasks (prunings, repottings, watering, etc) and relished it every minute.

There has been more Summer Oldies Pandora station and less Dresden Dolls, playing.

I remember when this feeling was just how I felt about life staying home as a mother and sometimes I even toy with the idea that it can last forever without any sort of supervision or maintenance, now. But I know the truth is that this is not then, and I need to leave and come back to enjoy it, these days. I need to do pre-emptive things like go to counseling, classes and my writing time BEFORE I find myself struggling to not just go in my room and lock the door. I am one of the people I have to take care of.

It is what it is, and I'm grateful for a whole lot.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm in a bit of a whirlwind.

Last week, Grant was in Maryland. We had Izzy here Tues-Thurs, sleeping over, for babysitting when I went to my classes. Gloria came over from Thur-Sat, initially for crisis management (too many colliding demands!!!) and then because our house is pretty much awesome and she wanted to live here for awhile. Annie's (and my) friend Mia had already been scheduled to be here from Fri-Sun. Shaun was here Saturday night, for dinner. Between Izzy, Gloria and Mia doing big loads of my dishes, and Grant cleaning a bathroom and making Saturday's dinner - and another Dance Empire mom carpooling with us, for her son and Aaron - I am really feeling the help and love of "the Village."

Yesterday I left Isaac and Jake at Laura's while I ran to get Ananda and Elise from Girl Scout camp, and then the five of us stayed over there with Laura and her kids, while she cooked dinner (Aaron was at the dance studio, aka his actual home O_o). Tomorrow, we're picking Mia up to go with Annie to derby practice.

Anyway! It's good to laugh with people, eat with people, watch ridiculous movies like Party Monster with people. It is not as hectic as it sounds - actually the opposite. Having multiple adults in the house means Grant and I could get up on Saturday, for instance, and take Ananda to derby and just go have a lunch date alone, while all the other kids slept in.

The big highlight of our week, I think, was when I took Ananda and Mia to see Neil Gaiman and we had a great day (and amazing, affordable thai food for lunch), and then Neil Gaiman reblogged and discussed my tumblr post about how happy Ananda was with the whole thing. She was THRILLED, freaking, there are no words. We spent half an hour last night reading all the awesome notes on the post (it has over 2k likes and reblogs, now, so there are a couple dozen reaction comments mixed in...) It's here: http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/53784867902/altarflame-today-i-took-my-13-year-old




Today was emotionally intense, for me. Mostly positive, but a lot. I did things like:

-Take a longish, somewhat meditative bath with my typical breakfast smoothie (frozen fruit chunks, keffir, probiotic powder, emergen-C, coconut oil, egg, flax seed meal, fish oil...) before getting all my kids' things together, lunches packed, breakfasts eaten, driving done... today was a day that G worked from home, with Isaac and Jake

-(In Intro to Social Psych...) watch REAL FOOTAGE of the Migram Obedience Experiments and the The Stanford Prison Experiment (features nudity...). Harrowing.

-Eat more amazing cheap thai food (STIR MOON CORAL GABLES WHAT UP, I DONE YELPED YOU SO HARD), with bubble tea, while writing more of Elizabeth's book. I'm really excited about this.

-See my Summer A grades: A, B, B- ...I'm not UPSET about it, but I wanted to do better. I'm also just elated that 9 of my 60 credits are already done, and I'm working on the next 6 now/Summer B, and will do 15 more in the Fall. Then I'll already be HALF DONE with the bachelors part of this journey O_o Next legs will be challenging - I need Stats II and III, followed by Research Methods. I'm planning to spend next summer in a clinical research position (FIU has tons of available options...), probably for pay as a co-curricular.

-Try to deal with the fact that my Summer B classes are offered in an auditorium style classroom with movie theater seats that each have a folding desklet option attached - that really does not fit/work with my hernia belly. So sucky.

-Yet, I was wearing some of my (amazing) new ASOS clothes today, and rocking some badass makeup. Life is a mixed bag.

-In counseling, we did emdr about my mother. Because this guy is adamant about chronology mattering, and thinks it's important. And I grudgingly admit he's right, even though I really, really didn't want to go there.

-Talking my husband down from terrible depressive feelings and letting him rant and rave about them, on the phone. I think it helped significantly, or at least he seemed to be feeling a lot better by the time he went to bed.

-Reschedule a phone meeting with my editor. Dammit, I have to write her an email when I'm done with this...

-Open my packages, when I walked in the door! Beautiful books, how I love them. One of them is The Sound of Building Coffins, by the friend of a friend (he's the friend of my friend the painter, who I linked last week...her daughter, Izzy, recognized the book in my amazon history as "So and So's Dad's book").

-Spend an hour and a half catching up with my children, one at a time. Sitting with Elise in my lap as she tells me all about her day, and we find her missing swim cap to tuck in her backpack for tomorrow; hugging Jake quietly for a long time, and then looking at all his latest Minecraft creations; snuggling Isaac, and reading to him; listening to Aaron complain and worry and hope and dream and whine and laugh about dance,* and then put lotion on his sunburn; harassing Annie about her schoolwork, complimenting her makeup, going over her weekend trip information (derby tournament).

-Throughout the entire day, I am on tumblr and facebook. In bathrooms and classrooms and at red lights. I put my phone away for writing, therapy or direct interaction with Grant/kids...otherwise it is probably A Problem. How else can I listen to Pandora and use Google Maps to get where I'm going, though? Today, it's exciting to do, to see the notes on that tumblr post unfold and to get the crazy "new follower" emails. There's also been a friend with a kid in surgery, a friend with a legal victory, and now, many friends waiting with baited breath re: the Texas filibuster.

-I also read the first chapter of (my signed copy of...) The Ocean at the End of the Lane, tonight, and - perhaps moreso because I am also writing and this is a semi-autobiographical book - it made me so sad, for poor little 7 year old Neil Gaiman. I suppose I should not say more than that. I sent him tumblr asks (which do not have to be questions, and weren't in this case) about it.




Last, I got the questionable news via text that I was confused about times, and our day tomorrow starts an hour earlier than we had planned. NOT EXCITED. Although, tomorrow is fairly low-key after the first morning bit - just Isaac, Jake and me in a quiet house for many hours, until dinner time and mass homecomings :)


*Aaron is doing this summer intensive program, and he's running laps, stretching, doing barre work, taking classes with choreographers in all genres, just - it's all day every day. Monday was 9-8:30. Today was 9-4. Tomorrow is 8-8:30. He loves it, and is focused and determined and obsessed, and already showing marked improvements (these people are crazy, they are even going to the beach every Friday because there are supposedly things you can only learn IN THE WATER? THE MOVING WATER? Hence the sunburn...).
altarflame: (deluge)
Over the weekend, Grant and I marathon'd Game of Thrones to catch up with the cah-razy events being alluded to all over facebook. We also took the snack up to Annie's derby practice even though she was too sick to skate, and harvested our first lettuce from the garden. I weeded outside, watered houseplants and did online school work while he mowed grass and edged outside. He went out with Shaun and made some Cajun food, I sent out 700 million messages to hopefully get carpooling, babysitting, rides and more worked out for the coming weeks. I made a lot of fancy salads for a lot of hungry people. And, I gloried in Asos Curve.

There was also the sweetest, haziest, never-ending lovin' in the pitch black darkness *happy sigh*

This day has contained:

-cleaning out the van and vacuming it, with Aaron, at 8 am <---you see what's wrong with that picture, right? Hint: It's the time.

-driving him and Jamaii to dance, like I'm gonna be doing every morning - Jamaii's mom is driving them home in the afternoons. They're both doing the "summer intensives." Jamaii is a pretty cool kid and his mom is kind of a relief, rolling her eyes at the studio's demands and being consistently chill about most everything. They're both insanely beautiful, like I have to make an effort to not be a weirdo and just stare at them.

-6 different phone calls to my freakin' bank... apparently they put our account on lockdown because I was buying clothes from ASOS, which is based out of London and registered as the card being used in Europe. This has not been a good day or situation to have a small town bank with a card that has a local number on the back. I cannot shake the feeling that patrons of larger institutions would not be dealing with this (they need me to call in advance and tell them whenever I'm going to shop there in the future, and tell them the amount ahead of time).

-post office. I sent out a signed book to a contest winner, which is a cool thing to be able to do, and a bunch of forms/checks for Girl Scout camp and GMYS camp.

-urgent care, for my poor swollen gross infected ear, which is currently throbbing and itching deep inside as I type. It was moving into my tonsils, which is a problem I haven't had in a really long time but recognized immediately. Damn gelato. The urgent care place appears sketchy from the outside, but everyone was really nice and it didn't take very long. And now, I have hydrocodone.

-little crap - getting Pollo Tropical for everybody to eat, needing gas, talking to my sister, lying around in bed with Ananda laughing, cuddling people. Jake and Isaac have been very sweet and helpful.

-my first appt with this new therapist, which I almost cancelled because of the temporary ear pain/hearing issues. I'm glad I went though...first visits are mostly about filling out forms, laying down some back story, and assessing whether it's a good fit, so that's not too terrible to do through some distraction. I think this is (a good fit). I actually think he's exactly what I need. Which is terrifying, in a positive way.

(I am shamelessly stealing SOMEONE's formatting technique, for either this entry only or forever after, based on whether I forget :D)

Links:
NPR explores recipient hesitations about accepting organs from murderers. From the article: "Could there be something to the idea that a transplant leads the recipient to acquire characteristics of the donor? In one famous example, transplant-recipient Claire Sylvia developed a taste for beer and Kentucky Fried Chicken after her transplant – both characteristics of the organ donor, not her former self. And a 2004 study of male heart recipients found that a full 34% (12 of 35) entertained the idea that they'd acquired characteristics of the organ donor after the transplant." I think some of it is obviously in peoples' heads, and yes I would accept a life saving organ regardless of donor traits...AND YET. I'm willing to bet that somwhere in between epigenetics and muscle memory, there is SOMETHING to this.
http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2013/06/10/190354853/would-you-accept-dna-from-a-murderer
[livejournal.com profile] mommydama pointed out on facebook that this is reminiscent of a sci-fi-ish speculative fiction novel she recently read, Unwind.

The hacker from Anonymous who aided in the conviction of the Steubenville rape victims is now facing significantly more jail time than the rapists are, for his role in the case. FBI agents stormed his house with M16s, and took his computers and XBox, for breaking into a school spirit site and forwarding on tweets and videos that showed perpetrators gloating and celebrating their torture of the victim. I donated to his defense fund, linked at the bottom of the article.
http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/06/kyanonymous-fbi-steubenville-raid-anonymous?fb_action_ids=10151493786138262&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=aggregation&fb_aggregation_id=288381481237582

This is my friend Angela's painting blog, where she posts and sells her work. Angela is a bit of a starving artist, living in a super cool, dilapidated little house on the edge of the Gables that was inherited from some relative - she and her App-designing husband live with her unschooled teenagers, one of whom is Izzy, Annie's friend and our babysitter.
http://angelaooghepainting.blogspot.com/
altarflame: (Elisepeeking)
Well today is an improvement over yesterday, THANK GOD O_O I feel like our house still has some general negative vibes about it surrounding pet grief/recent grave/abundance of flies swarming the deck :/ But overall this has been an interesting day.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pics again: 8 Random Shots Celebrating my Beast, who turned 6 on May 1 - and was only a couple of months, in my icon... )
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Fucking GAH.

Ok! In the past 24 hours:

-a woman was thrown in a van and kidnapped in the parking lot of Grant's job; he and some other people in the office heard her screaming from upstairs. Cops were called. There is video footage, but it's not clear or close enough for identifying the victim or perpetrator :/ For what it's worth, he works adjacent to a nice hotel in a 7 story office building on a main road and this was broad daylight. I'm doing that thing people do, where you hope there's a lot more to this story and it wasn't totally random because then it could be anyone...like, alright, it's possible this is some kinky consensual shit arranged via Craigslist...right?!?!

-we found our missing cat, Elvis. Dead, under our deck :/ I have no idea what happened to him, and it was not something we could discern looking at him. He hadn't acted strangely, he just went missing and aside from looking for him a lot we didn't know what to do...then it started stinking out there. Elvis was born on my bed three years ago, and used to ride around in my cleavage. He slept with Annie most nights, but Isaac sometimes. Ugh. Grant buried him and it was horrific, just, it is really hot and really rainy and nobody was allowed outside until he was done. G's felt sick all day since. Sophie, Ananda's cat, was at the doors yowling and acting disturbed the whole time he was working and has been lying in Elvis's "spots" around the house all day, since.

-someone whose life I have been following online for about 7 years, and vice versa, announced on facebook that her husband had a stroke driving their son home after work/school yesterday. They're 33. The guy managed to pull over and call for help and seems as ok as he can be, even joking a little in the ICU, but... O_O It's so terrifying and seemingly random :/ This family lives in the greater Boston area and are just getting over the whole city wide terror shit from the Marathon bombers.

I have already been in a state of thinking of my stroke-addled Nana and aging Pa daily, since Aaron and I went up there for the dance convention last month, and have spent the past couple of weeks forcing away shitty thoughts about the abducted women found in Ohio as I allow my kids to branch out and do things. Now my terrible, raised-on-horror writer's mind is seeing all our cats as potentially rotting carcasses and not wanting to handle raw meat. It's pretty terrible.

In an effort to distract myself, while cuddling with Grant, I somehow got sucked into a ridiculous New Times article about a cult based out of central Florida and the crimes, abuse, rape, and so forth they're being accused of now that their guru has died and people are bringing all the stories to light.

How is any of this shit real life? How is ALL OF IT real life? I mean when I was a teenager/young adult I knew of a local cult with a weird prophet-guru, one of our best friends was in a serious relationship with a member and they collectively owned a business we went to a lot. But they were totally peaceful cultists.

Then I start thinking of how people are so desperate for meaning and long for systems of continuity that distract us from the impermanence of everything and how every single thing we do is a way to fill the time we have and make the best of it, O_O You know, as I cuddle and console Elise while she sobs about Elvis being dead.




After writing that first bit - I actually forgot all this crap for half an hour and laughed hysterically just by forcing myself through several pages of okcupidgoldmine.tumblr.com - you see what a paragon of depth and meaning I am, over here?

*sigh*

...ah-ight, more pictures from the vault...


these are all from the weekend of the dance convention, away and home... )

Itinerary

Apr. 23rd, 2013 10:03 am
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
This summer's shaping up to have a lot of cool opportunities and interesting stuff for everybody. I've been in a frenzy of emails, calls, forms and combing the calendar for the last two days, as always happens this time of year. And then again before fall.

So far this is what we've got on the table as probable, counting summer as basically anything that happens after today since a lot of it begins in May:

Tina/Mom/me:

-5 classes at FIU, broken into 3 for Summer A term and 2 for Summer B. I actually have my schedule and financial aid in place since getting accepted, and am now setting up incidentals like going to get my student ID, having my parking pass mailed to me and acquiring my book advance/books.
-gardening - currently I have 3 flowering plants on the front porch, succulents and basil on the deck, about 40 houseplants, and a whole mess of seedlings in the house that will be transitioned to a raised bed in the coming weeks: white and flamingo chard, spinach, red and romaine lettuce, and lavender (for Isaac's anxiety, we're talking about it all along the way...we also have a "life cycle of a seed" poster hanging in our dining room these days).
-counseling. I finally made contact with somebody yesterday, like nails on a chalkboard though it was, and she's supposed to be calling me back about our insurance today. This is actually Grant and I both, separately and then together
-Writing dammit. It might be more like 2 hours per weekend rather than the hour per day I've been trying to strive for, but I can live with that if all this other stuff is happening.
-also with Grant, and "hopefully" - acquiring a second car, again (we sold the Civic awhile back, too many problems)

Ananda:

-regularly scheduled cello rehearsals on Sundays, and derby practice Sundays and Wednesdays, for awhile more at least
-6 hour training to be a program aide for girl scout camps, in May
-part of the color guard made up of junior derby players for the adult bout on the same day in May O_o
-GMYS finale concert THE NEXT DAMN DAY good grief
-going paintballing with her derby team later on in the month
-3 weeks of Girl Scout camp in June and July, 2 as a Program Aide (volunteer/helper basically, then next year she'll get to be a Counselor In Training) and one as a regular ol' Girl Scout
-Somewhere in the midst of that, attending the Southern Regional Junior Derby...whatever it's called, rally or some shit up in central Florida - this will involve her team being in their first two bouts!*
-auditioning into whatever ensemble for GMYS for the fall, before the summer is over - I'd also like to try to get her some kind of supplemental cello learnin' but it basically has to be free so either a public school program, a magnet she only goes to the music portion of, or this Frost mentor program...we'll see
-she also wants to look into starting to volunteer at the library, we'll see, and has a goal of "being at sleepovers as often as possible this summer"
-which could be related to the whole "SHE'S TURNING 13 ON JUNE 1!!!!" thing

Aaron:

-hip hop on Saturdays and jazz dance on Thursdays**, til the eventual Dance Empire end of year recital
-I'm basically trying to decide whether to try to get him into a camp at Dance Empire or just sign him up for their intensive weeks, and/or their summer classes
-either way he wants to do ballet technique classes again, which is interesting to me and they're offered on Saturdays in one big block so yeah sure he doesn't have to pay ~shrug~ They're offering 7-15 yo barre and stretch, 7-15 yo turn and jump, 7-15 yo open ballet and pre-point for 10-16 year olds as a 4 hour long extravanganza, and he's aghast at how inflexible he's supposedly become ever since someone complimented him on his extensions (?) last week. Dancers!
-I'm sure there will be some epic TLC party before a couple of families leave town for the summer as they generally do, and he will be in like flynn
-whatever we decide to do for his birthday on June 27th (he'll be 12)

Isaac:

-the rest of the school year obviously, which features the talent show he's doing a jump rope act in this Friday
-GMYS camp for a month***, now on clarinet
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves

Jake:

-GMYS camp for a month, hopefully playing drums (HE HATES THE VIOLIN SO MUCH)
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves

Elise:

-turning SIX on May 1 - we're going to the Seaquarium**** because she had no idea such wonders existed, but we have been on a big Squid YouTube kick that's somehow led into whales, and she is PSYCHED. Also, she keeps asking for a science lab so we're going to do our best to set that up as her birthday present with like, basic common kitchen ingredients common to many experiments and a space allocated in the house with a table Grant's made, and some little accessories - she will love it
-those 3 weeks of Girl Scout camps that Annie will be at, albeit in separate age groups of course
-GMYS camp for a month, back on violin

All Kids:

-(well, minus Isaac in this instance) homeschool yearly evaluations
-(and plus me in this one) dental checkups/cleanings



*It will probably be Grant taking her to paintballing and the rally, for a variety of reasons - also, Grant is not travelling anymore in the forseeable immediate future, under his new supervisor that's looking like a more quarterly sort of thing...and he works from home on the days I'll be in school.

**I actually found another Dance Empire parent IN HOMESTEAD who is WILLING AND ABLE TO CARPOOL, this is life changing people, seriously, wow. I am excited.

***the little kids' camp is actually IN HOMESTEAD, good grief A&A's was insanely far last summer, that was a circus

****If you are a AAA member, in the month of May you can go to the AAA office and get a (discounted!) Seaquarium ticket, and then take it to the Seaquarium, and they will give you another one free. Since the Seaquarium is absurdly, disgustingly, prohibitively overpriced, this is a big deal that can potentially make it possible to go. It ends up being $36 plus tax for two adults, rather than $80.
altarflame: (deluge)
Today, meaning Saturday even though it's now after midnight, was pretty good stuff. There was some fallout - Grant and I continued ongoing difficult conversations, mostly just about his own struggles to balance a life of his own, time for us, and work. Mostly, work takes all these days, and he gives us the dribs and drabs that are left over, with nothing at all for himself. There isn't really a resolution in sight here - basically, that's gonna get worse before it gets better, based on various projects and developments at his company :/ And, also to some smaller degree, Grant's own tendency to fixate on work makes it harder.

But, we talked about all that while sampling Christmas Blend coffee at Fresh Market, walking around The Falls, and having brunch at P.F. Changs. He's gonna go play tennis with Shaun tomorrow, and take Isaac (just the two of them) to Santa's. So, things could be worse.

We were out together while Aaron danced. Normally, Aaron has hip hop for an hour and a half on Saturdays, but now he's also doing 2 hour solo rehearsals - Dance Empire offers students who have made company AND passed all their "tools" (16 individual accomplishments, such as splits in both directions) the "opportunity" to pay $500 to have a solo. For that price, your dancer has one on one lessons with a teacher who helps them prepare a solo that is then in Dance Empire shows, but is also available for use elsewhere - such as auditions into other programs and Magnet schools and such. Costume is extra. Anyway, Aaron is dancing 10 hours per week on full scholarship and no way can I pay $500 for a solo - I don't even want to do extra driving to and from the studio at this point! Buuut. They called me and want to scholarship a solo for him O_O And they made it right after hip hop, such that it's a longer time there on a day he is already going anyway.

They've been outdoing themselves with the celebrity alumni guests, lately. His hip hop class today was surprised when Valerie Moise showed up to teach it:


Not long ago he was going in for special classes taught by Mia Michaels:



He started the solo rehearsing today, and he was nervous, but he liked it a lot, which made me happy for him because he is NOT having a good week. A combination of pre-adolescent attitude, special SPD challenges, and who the hell knows what have made us butt heads non.stop. As of right now, his laptop has been in my closet for over a week, not to be given back until his room is clean. He's grounded from going outside, because I couldn't find him for 20 minutes out past his curfew. He must have had 5 time outs and a lecture yesterday, before finally losing his chance at a sleepover this weekend, because he won't do his chores. It's absolute hell to deal with this crap with him because he does NOT get obnoxious or loud or rude in any way - he apologizes sincerely, acts surprised and then heartbroken by consequences, and is wandering around oblivious soon after, again, regardless.

Ananda went to the book fair with friends, today, and I told him I couldn't let him go if it was gonna be a group of teenagers with no adults breaking off and meeting back up :/ I just don't think he's ready for those levels of crowds in that kind of packed event setting without an adult who'll basically keep a hand on him at all times.

He also broke his plasma ball this evening. So soon after finding the missing power cord. But he found his missing Vibram under laundry while cleaning, too, so he doesn't have to keep doing socks and laces anytime he wants to step out the front door. Aaron's life; a mixed bag :p We bought him a Brony wallet for Christmas while we were out.

Anyway, Isaac (aside from being SO EXCITED about going to Santa's alone with Daddy tomorrow...) got a haircut today. It's his first professional haircut and he's pretty happy about it.







I took a nice walk with Elise - which means I walk, and she runs to each corner and waits for me to catch up, so we can cross together, and repeat. When I still had a bike this worked better because I could just stay next to her and she wouldn't have to stop!

She's becoming downright wiry. My lovely little beasty.


Today is day #2 successful on WW. I'm definitely finding myself more irritable around bedtime - as though I should just go to sleep because this isn't even WORTH being awake! - but it's not unbearable or anything thus far.

And, some things are worth staying up for.



Grant checked in on facebook, at "Walker Backyard Theater."

I'm going to have to start researching therapists and OA groups in Maryland at some point in the near future, I suppose (my previous entry, from earlier before the movie, is about our Maryland-ing for the day...) - and a pediatrician, and a pediatric gastroenterologist, for Isaac, and a gynecologist, and an MD, and perhaps I should dig through the copious homeschool groups to filter for the good ones. Not to mention, uh, the legal requirements in a new state, which I have really only skimmed so far. I need to have a folder dedicated to this full of links, info and so on. Obviously we can move without all of it in place, but it seems natural if we know we're going months in advance to start amassing information.

Speaking of homeschool groups, PATH got free tickets to A Christmas Carol at the Actor's Playhouse :) We're going to see it the week after Thanksgiving.

And...I think that's it. I'm out of words and I think my body is through with consciousness.
altarflame: (Default)
Sometimes, when everyone is trying to talk to me at once or I'm on the phone or I'm just frazzled trying to cook dinner...oh hell all the time, but especially in the van when he's two rows behind me and hard to hear or I'm yelling "What?!" through the locked door while Grant and I have "adult time"...it makes me NUTS how Isaac overtalks. He runs everything he has to say through a filter that multiplies it by 5. For instance, when someone else might say, "Can I have a popsicle?" Isaac will say, "Hey Mom, I was wondering, and I know I already had a treat this morning, but I just LOVE the flavor you have when I saw it in the freezer and I PROMISE I will eat my dinner so do you think that just MAYBE please please please I could have a popsicle, and I promise I'll throw away the wrapper and not leave the stick on the table?"

I am not exaggerating. I'm not even doing what is phonetically exaggerating but spelled correctly, however that works. Most of what Isaac says to me tends to be asking for something. It's especially exasperating because, 1. he tends to just not hear my "yes" and ask again in a minute, in ways that make NO SENSE, 2. I am not some hardass he has to manipulate by any stretch of the imagination. He really could just ask and get the same damn results. And 3., I have talked to him about it several times.

Typical conversation starts with me doing homework or editing at the main computer:

Isaac: "Mom?"
Me: "Mmhmm?"
Isaac: "I wanted to ask you a question, and I know you're doing something, and I know it isn't dark yet and we can't usually use computers before it gets dark, but -"
Jake, who is eavesdropping and sees where this is going and wants to get the drop on Isaac: "MOM CAN I USE THE LAPTOP?!"
Isaac: "Mom no don't listen to Jake, that isn't fair at all, I was just getting ready to ask you a question and Jakey heard me and so he's trying to cheat, but I was already going to tell you that I was wondering - "
Elise, who heard Jake: "NO MOM LET ME USE THE LAPTOP!!"
Isaac (getting frantic, near tears): "Elise is doing the same thing Jake is doing, they're mean and we're a family and they're supposed to be nice, I just wanted to ask you a question and they're ruining everything, can you please send them out of the room so I can ask you without anyone else interrupting?"
Me: "Isaac, I know you want to use the laptop. You can. Next time just ask without the big leadup."
Jake: "Can I be after him?"
Me: "Sure."
Jake: "Yay! I get to use the laptop!"
Isaac: "Wait, what? He can use the laptop? I wanted to use the laptop! I know it isn't dark yet and we usually have to wait until it's dark but - "
Elise: "Me being after Jake?"
Isaac: "NO! No, it's not jake, it's me, Mom tell them to leave I can't even ask you anything -"
Me: "Isaac I said YOU CAN USE THE LAPTOP. YOU CAN USE THE LAPTOP. The answer is YES! Ok?"
Isaac: "...oh. Alright! Thank you mommy, I'll set a timer so Jake knows when it's his turn and then Elise can set a timer for Jake, I'm just gonna get on pbskids.org or starfall and I'll see you in a little while!"

)*(%#)$(*#(@_#)!_@)+)#$_(&$*&#^$%^@#&%^!!!

Isaac has so much anxiety, and I feel bad because it's gotten to where, at times, it is hilarious...like the other day when he was sobbing and going crazy because someone else got to the rocket Grant helped the kids' launch before him to bring it back, and Jake casually said "Somebody's making a fussy wussy again". *sigh* I don't know how to not laugh about that. It doesn't help him any that everybody else in the house is unusually chill, I guess.

Isaac is really the only one who seems to feel as though he's in competition with the other kids or like he is threatened by being one of several. I really don't think we favor anyone in daily life but...I don't know, I guess when I think of it Isaac has such a low threshold for EVERYTHING and really, sibling issues are just one tiny part of the complex web that is "life's frustrations".

On to pics and daily life:
This little dog followed us to and from the trolley both trips one day last week. Elise also played with him in our front yard for about half an hour, before his owner came home and called him (with plenty of scolding for escaping again).


Necessary supplies for trolley riding.


She and I waited for TWO AND A HALF HOURS outside of advisement at the college. I downloaded three different pbskids games for her to play during much of the time. I am really feeling like "How did I live before an iPhone?" increasingly often.


What I see when I try to take an afternoon nap.


Grant had the day off Thursday and was able to come with us to the kids' symphony camp's end-of-camp show. Jake ended up grouped in with some older kids and actually playing songs on his tiny violin, and Aaron had a flute solo. Annie and Isaac did great, too, they knew their parts very well and you can really see everyone learned a lot...Grant took more videos and things that will be forthcoming.


Not long after bringing them home, I drove Grant to the airport - he's been in California for work and is getting back late tomorrow. He's been taking and uploading pics here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/itswalkertime

In the meantime, I have other lovers.



:p

This was Elise and my lunch Friday while the kids were at their last day of camp - eaten salted, on crackers.


We have thunderstorms rolling in every afternoon now.

I let my kids jump on the trampoline in thunderstorms, which is something I remember doing with much fondness. It's kind of hilarious because I've taught them to count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder to know how close it is, and to come in if the lightning gets too close. So I'll walk out there under the deck roof to peak at them and see everyone stop jumping and laughing when there's a flash, and counting on their fingers until the thunder, and then basically being like "GAME ON!"

The parking lot of the library where we go for TLC is SO BEAUTIFUL.



I mean, as parking lots go, you know?

Ananda. *sigh*


Little kids waving to Daddy. There's been a lot of texting going on.




Laura brought Brian and Elizabeth and they all hung out with Karen and I, and Georgia (Karen's little daughter/Elise's best friend). The big kids always vanish to the connected community center to socialize as though their parents aren't in the next building over the whole time.








Outside of Whole Foods eating Rice Dream pies.


Gorgeous tomatoes.


Mmm...




I spent a long time on phone calls yesterday morning - to get everything in order for my older four kids' homeschool evaluations (and letters of intent, for the little boys), and Elise's doctor paperwork and VPK hoohaw, for preschool in the mornings. We're just about ready to go and everyone will be (re/)starting next Monday, the 22nd.

I'm taking everyone up to St Louis for church in the morning. Church is actually way easier WITHOUT Grant, because he is just way more stressed by having them all in Mass, and more distracted by trying to parent in church, than I am. I've suggested he sit on the other side of the sanctuary from us several times :p

This is a little 20 second clip of the latest thing Aaron's come up with lately, on the piano:


I'm trying to figure out what to do with Ananda re: music and art...her GMYS (Greater Miami Youth Symphony) teacher from camp is suggesting we take her up to the Miami Dade Kendall campus on Sunday afternoons, where they have a specific cello and bass teacher, for cello, rather than bringing her to the local Friday afternoon lessons her brothers will be continuing at - since they don't really have a teacher that is a cellist, so they can only get her so far. As it is, I will be at the Kendall campus on Saturday mornings for class (it's about half an hour away); I don't know how much of our weekends I want to commit, here...weekends are seeming more precious lately what with Grant's work weeks leaving him little time at home. But I think that would be really good for Annie, and it's FREE (aside from gas, I guess).

Her art therapist just moved to a neighborhood that's half an hour away, rather than >15, like it has been (we go to her). So that will be more of a drive, though it is flexible scheduling. I could presumably set it up so that her cello and art therapy are both on Sundays to save on gas and hassle but then that is gonna eat up all of Sunday afternoon every week.

I was also perusing the Dance Empire fall schedule, since I still get the registration emails, and it kind of sucks that we really can't put them in anything even if we can afford it...they aren't offering anything for the ages/levels that A and A are on, on days we could actually do it. Year before last, they rearranged their whole schedule for Aaron's availability...but I'm not really willing to have dance take over our entire lives again (they did that because they knew he'd give them an edge competing; it's not worth it to them if we aren't going to do a lot of travelling with them and have them there for a lot of special rehearsals). I alternately think it is just fine that we aren't doing that anymore...and literally gut-wrenching :/ Parenting is hard, man! I feel such guilt when I think of how Tawanna especially taught Aaron for free, paid his way to competitions, etc as an investment, and how she was SO HAPPY and hugging and thanking me at the end of the Broadway show...but it's like...the little kids and I were spending OUR LIVES in the car and twiddling our thumbs at the park between driving, and it got so unmanageable so fast (we paid $600 just for recital costumes that year, and hundreds more for tickets and dvds of shows, and let's just not discuss New York). Both of them miss it a lot. But they also have instruments and scouting and social lives they didn't then, now. Ananda gets zero excercise, though. But she really doesn't have a dance body type. Argh.

Soooo yeah, over and out.
altarflame: (Default)
This is the rest of my pictures from Aaron and my trip to NYC last summer. I had/have a lot to say that is not said in this entry because I just haven't had the time, and don't see myself getting it...but I'm posting them here partially because I promised some people on tumblr and in my email that I would post this and the Grant and I story before I posted anything else since they're backlogged and keep getting put off.

37 pictures, be warned. )
altarflame: (Default)
I thought we started this day with an ambitious but totally doable agenda: get up at 7:30. Go get Aaron's colored hair spray at the nearest pharmacy. Go to the Empire State Building. Check out Central Park on the way to the Sheraton so Aaron could be there in time for Shake (one of his two dances) to try to prequalify (since it hadn't already won a high gold medal in another city, they would have to get approval to do it at the finale competition).

SOUNDS EASY, RIGHT? Wrong. So very very wrong. Like that Indigo Girls song that goes, I missed ten thousand miles of road I should have seen...

text and pics...30 pics, actually )
altarflame: (AaronMohawk)
If you are in the NYC area feel free to go and buy tickets to the JUMP finale dance show at the Hammerstein Ballroom on Broadway, featuring winners of So You Think You Can Dance, former Michael Jackson dancers, Mandy Moore, Alvin Ailey theater stars, the newly cast lead in the upcoming remake of Footloose - AND MY SON!!! ♥

It's tomorrow night, btw - 8:00 pm. Available through Ticketmaster and possibly other places. http://webtunes.com/venue/hammerstein.jpg

We didn't know until tonight which kids would get to be in tomorrow's show, because it's just the "Best of Jump" high gold winners from today's competition that get a spot :)
altarflame: (Default)
It's wild how much longer a week is when you're away from home doing something novel and new. At home, weeks fly by, they blur together, they're nothing. "One week til we go to New York" meant we were basically already leaving. Three more days here is endless possibility and a feeling of being settled in.

Summer camp is like this, too - you meet people, you make friends, they become BEST FRIENDS, and then you're crying and exchanging contact info with people you just met 5-7 days prior. I still have several of those sort of peeps added on facebook all these years later, and they're some of my favorites.

Our rhythm seems to be, have breakfast in the apartment, plan out Aaron's dance clothes and shoes for JUMP, plan out what I need in what bag(s), verify all transit directions for the days' activities, out. Walking, subway, walking, JUMP - where he dances for hours on end in intensive classes with over a hundred other kids and somewhat famous teachers, and I drink coffee and beat my head against the laptop trying to focus my creative energy when normally I wouldn't even be awake for several hours. This has resulted in trips down to Time Square, mailing some postcards and conversations with strangers and other Dance Empire parents. Today for the first time I actually also got some writing work accomplished before lunch.

Then it's lunch time and we either go have a heart attack when we realize the diner is charging us $50 for a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches and one soda, or we eat the stuff we've subsequently packed since that is insanity I cannot deal with.

He has more JUMP, I'm more able to think, and then we're off.

He loved the Central Park Zoo.
I loved the Metropolitan Museum of Art's "American Woman" exhibit.
We both love the street performers (particularly break dancers, WOW) in Union Square, the fabulous food that is everywhere you turn, and the live musicians of every imaginable persuasion that you come across on subway platforms, corners, store exits, and wherever else has room to set out a bag for money.

We both get slow and sore by evening from walking and stairs so many hours in a row, and are trudging from the last subway station and sighing up the 3 flights of stairs to the apartment. Where we shower and zone out and read to ourselves and each other and snack on miscellany, and stay up a little too late. There are generally a lot of pictures to upload and a lot of talking to Grant and Co.

I hate how hard it is to have a decent phone conversation. It is not hard for me to engage any of my kids in real, candid discussion IRL but the phone conversations tend to go like this:

Isaac: Um, hi Mom.
Jake from the background: This is Jake Mom! It's not Isaac!!
Isaac: It is Isaac.
Me: I know it's you, Isaac. What's up?
Jake from the background: I said it's Isaac but really that was a mistake, it's Jake, I swear!
Isaac: Mom, Jake is trying to tell you it's him and not Isaac, but it's not him, it's me! He's Jake, and I'm Isaac, and it's Isaac talking to you now!
Me: I know, sweetheart, just ignore him -
Isaac: What do you know?

*general cacophany as I hold the phone a few inches from my head wincing*

Elise, lips pressed to the mouthpiece: HI MOM!
Me: Hi, honey.
Elise: HUH?
Me: I said hi. How are you?
Elise: LOVE, MY MOM!! MISS, MY MOM. HOME, MY MOM!! MOM?
Me: Yeah?
Elise: MOM?!
Me: Yeah?
Elise MOM?! LOVE MY MOM! LOVE MY AARON!
Me: We love you, too. Aaron misses you and wants to give you a -
Elise: MOM?!?!
Me: What, Elise?
Elise: MOM?! MY MAMA HOME SEE ME. DADDY HOME SEE ME NOW. DADDY LOVE ME.
Me: We both love you a whole -
Elise: MOM?!

*Elise screeching as Grant tries to reason with her*

Grant: I think I have to go.

o_O

Ananda and I have had GREAT phone conversations, which is really unexpected as she normally refuses to ever talk on the phone at all. It's been great, though.

They seem happy overall. Grant took them swimming and got them Subway for lunch, today. Yesterday they went to Shaun's and made/had tacos for dinner. They're all sleeping together on several mattresses in our tv room and G's uploaded some stellar pics for me.

I have a million pictures, but I'm not editing/posting them until I'm back home.

Tomorrow, I'm having lunch with [livejournal.com profile] eruv and then later in the evening my RL, normally local friend Kristin arrives to share the apartment for a couple of days :)

Some thoughts:
I was in a 4 story Forever 21 store a couple of days ago. The ceilings are mall-ceiling height, and you enter at street level but then just keep going down escalators. Don't get me wrong, I am thoroughly appreciative of escalators this week, but I felt like I was on a journey to the center of the earth. Where I'm from I can't grow a carrot without hitting solid rock. We need construction machines just to get fence posts in a yard.

Re: Aaron dancing:
He got singled out along with two others as the best three dancers in hip hop class today. There were about 200 kids in there (the class is in a ballroom) and the two teachers were the guy who just got cast as the lead in the remake of Footloose, and one of Michael Jackson's more recent dancers. They told him to come up and demonstrate and show everyone how it's done :D

The big JUMP finale competition performances are going to be on Monday, from 1-9 and there is a live webcast. I'm going to post the links and more exact times for his specific group for anyone who might be interested.

And...to bed. I hate bed even when I get to sleep naked (which I don't do when sharing with Aaron), in a bed that doesn't feel like a rock. *sigh*
altarflame: (Default)
The daily roundup of pros and cons I almost posted two nights ago )

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

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

I have to go cook a big lunch in time for it to be ready before Grant leaves so I can go take the kids and get a flat repaired in time to hopefully still make it to the bee farm before Aaron's hip hop class at 3, as they know we're coming and ordered the tire...then we'll take Ananda to Borders to use her birthday giftcard since we're already up the road. SO MAYBE tonight I can write about all kinds of crap I've been thinking, after I do more Usborne sales stuff (I have a table at a book fair reserved and some home shows in the works) and NYC cooresponding for accomadations stuff (got it almost narrowed down to a Craistlist thing or a genuinely nice looking hostel) and send something out to a different agent (probably the childrens' story), and get them all working on school O_O These days, Grant is ALWAYS at work and we are still sitting up late into the night working on budgets...well, and watching Weeds.
altarflame: (Default)
And there just has not been much room for anything else.

schoolwork at the park, in the humidity, with water poured on our heads under the pavilion to keep from dying of heatstroke (that was the day a rain shower cooled it down from 104 to 95)

Ananda coming out all ready for dance in bright orange boy short bathingsuit bottoms, a jeweltone blue lycra halter, thigh high rainbow striped socks and her new purple and blue velour Pumas - with my giant purple and silver sunglasses, and her pink hair...

taking her shopping everywhere with her birthday money - Michael's for pastels and a sketchbook, Rack Room Shoes for those Pumas and some thong sandals with a big wraparound ankle piece of beading, Hot Topic for a water bottle covered in cartoon monsters and turquoise manic panic and Rock Band themed Silly Bandz

taking her and Aaron shopping at Dance Plus for the recital - black ballet shoes for both, pink for her, black jazz shoes for her, and clip on "diamond" earrings and a dark brown bun net and fishnets and $98 later...

finding Elise a great tank top, a tank dress and bathingsuit for $6 total at the consignment store next door

Jake and Isaac's AWANA awards ceremony

spending a solid hour labeling over 100 individual items and bags to get them ready for the recital with each dance's pieces all assembled in an individual bag that would go in a larger bag...and packing their lunches and rehearsal schedules and lists of phone numbers

getting up early to take them up there for final stage rehearsal, and spend the morning driving all over Miami finding a replacement Bring Em Out jean jacket for Aaron (in JUNE - finally Goodwill worked) because he left his in the Colony Theater last weekend

sitting up in the room with the little kids, reading and reading to them

snuggling in bed with Isaac

laughing my head off because Jake managed to scrunch up his forehead and say "I haven't eaten ANYTHING today" before his eyes were open yesterday morning

cutting three boys' hair with electric clippers

nursing Elise in the chair, on the couch, in the bed, and always both - "TWO milks, mama"

long convoluted talks with Ananda about why she is acting bitter and jaded and lashing out at me so much, because I don't understand, and want to understand, and I love her

laying with her in her bed, snuggled under the covers, reading to her

crawling around in the sand searching for her tooth that just fell out (AND FINDING IT!!)

kayaking around the lake at my sister's with kids

sitting in cramped chairs in a tight crowded row with Grant for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS of recital today, to see his four and her five acts

congratulating them, taking them out to pizza and ice cream afterwards just them

sitting Ananda down on my bed and showing her all the makeup I bought for her for the show and telling her she can keep it all, and borrow my portable purse makeup bag and explaining how to use everything

hugging Aaron on the beach and trying to comisserate about the circle of life because he just watched a malformed duckling die on the shoreline

planning his birthday cake

arguing arguing fighting arguing Elise to GO. TO. SLEEP!!!!! for two to three hours every night

cajoling and bargaining with her to brush her teeth

prodding and nagging 3 bigger kids to do their chores

trying to reason with Isaac about why he can't eat treats all day long

forcing him to take a bath

going with Isaac and Jake (and Brian) to see THE HUMONGOUS ENORMOUS DEAD FISH, THAT WAS DEAD!!!

running out the backdoor behind all five of them because OUR BANANA TREE IS GROWING BANANAS!!

subtraction tedium with Kumon

timers set for everything

laughing and laughing with Grant about their funny things, so many funny things every day

sitting down to breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, sitting down all the time at the dining table with them all and praying and talking, for tea, for snacks, for Jake's cutting book with his little red scissors

Rubbing Aaron's head, Annie's back, pinching Elise's butt, hugging Jakey, kissing Isaac, trying through squinting whoa to figure out why someone is crying so loudly because they somehow got hurt again for the two minutes until they don't even remember they got hurt, and I give up



There haven't really been enough hours. It's mostly good. I'm glad the show is over. Glad they're in bed for now. Glad we have a USB full of Weeds and can sleep in tomorrow.
altarflame: (AnniePurple)
So Many Picture From Today )
altarflame: (Default)
The self sufficiency of my kids when I am out of commission never fails to amaze me. Today for instance, I am just starting to get over a hellacious ear infection (yesterday Grant had to take the day off while I got an emergency ENT appointment - the whole side of my face was swollen, I couldn't chew, and there was puss coming out of my ear). I've been kind of lazy and out of it since I got up, lazing about reading in my room. I walked out to get food to take with my antibiotics, and I found:

-Jake and Elise painting on the deck, surrounded by cups of water, paper towels, and other supplies
-Ananda at the computer desk playing Taylor Swift videos as she works on her new story
-Aaron in his room showing Isaac his caterpillar habitats and explaining what kind of butterflies they're going to be and what sort of food they need

Rock on.




Yesterday I became educated on the bizarre ICP subculture of juggalos. If you have no idea what they are, this is the four page article I read. The comments, the lyrics scattered throughout - the Graigslist ads linked on other sites. I really do not know where to begin. It seems to be a massive growing "family" throughout the midwest, centered around Detroit. Relatives are united by wearing clown paint on their faces (toddlers included), drinking some store brand soda called Faygo - which they're credited with keeping in business (as well as spraying innocent bystanders with supersoakers full of it), and yelling "WOOP WOOP!!" a lot. When they're not speaking in gangsta rap lyrics. Their gathering has events like oil wrestling, a BEACH BOYS BARBECUE, and helicopter rides. Oh, and 15,000 attendees, many of which are actively bartering things for titties (really). Then I saw the newest Insane Clown Posse video, for the song "Miracles" which is...uh...A BIT OF A DEPARTURE from their previous work, to say the least. An entertaining mix of extreme profanity, ignorant slang and spritual wonder, all from a couple of guys in clown makeup who are known for singing about stabbing someone to death while looking at some titties...they fly through space and oceans in this one, and ride on a tower, and feature their kids, all the while urging us to look around and see the magic. "Fucking rainbows, wow!"

Ever since seeing this, I am conflicted. The SNL parody is funny, but not as funny as the actual video. The number of sites and response videos attempting to explain that none of the things ICP are claiming are "miracles" (rainbows, magnets, giraffes) actually are is kinda intense. They're all like, uh, you idiots, every single things you are listing is perfectly scientifically explainable, none of it is a "miracle". And ICP kind of do themselves in saying something along the lines of "Fuck scientists, they just piss me off" in the song. BUT!!

Now I am in this uncomfortable and embarrassing position of feeling like, ok, ICP is generally really gross, and these hoardes of white trash that gather to beat each others' asses, get high and litter for 5 day long underage orgies are pretty HORRIFYING...so maybe it's good if there is a bit of depth and awe and general gratitude introduced into that crowd by their idols. Like, ok, I don't think they ever got mocked or linked to the degree they are now when it was all about murder and objectification. If they can reach the "juggalo" crowd (shudder) by speaking their language with an actual song about being positive and stopping to think, well damn. I'm just not irony-laden or hipster enough to talk any real shit about that.

ALSO. All these obviously-far-more-educated-people who are like, "Rainbows are not miracles, they're simple refractions of light and moisture, it's called a spectrum" and "your kids looking like you is not a miracle, it's basic genetics, haven't you heard of heredity".

DO I REALLY HAVE TO SIDE WITH THE FREAKING INSANE CLOWN POSSE ON AN ISSUE?!?!

It is my overwhelming frustration belief that science and miracles can be THE SAME THINGS...His sperm meets her egg equals...another person? There is more than just cell division in between sex and birth. Something bigger than what we understand or can see under a microscope is going down to result in a new, independent consciousness. You might not believe in souls, but I don't see how you can't believe there is a lot more than we understand and some of it really does seem miraculous, if in a more "common vernacular" than "websters" sort of way.

This is actually something I think about a lot - how my faith has never been challenged by science and I don't understand why science is "enough" for anyone. The big bang theory, ok, that's how it happened - why did that get set in motion? What was there before it? Mostly, why does science explain things thoroughly enough to placate so many intelligent people? To me it has always just opened up more questions, and/or pointed to a vast unknown. That my kids, who all look like me, are sitting on the deck looking at a full-arch, brightly vivid rainbow is a lot of genetics and refraction but it's also awe-inspiring and miraculous in a whole other way that is not just misplaced semantics. I would rather experience or be around childlike wonder than jaded cynism any day of the week.

Anyway. Whenever I see really insular, WACK, loyalty-driven replacement families (gangs, cults, the juggalos) it makes me feel sad that so many people are raised without actual loving families to fill that natural void we all have for a place to belong. And it makes me wonder about the degree to which we are biologically programmed to be a part of something - a religion, a culture, a handed-down trade; something larger than we are that we are born into, raised within, identify with and are validated by. Modern American youth, by and large, don't have much religion, or culture, or tradition, and are drifting and alone.

I don't teach my kids in absolutes, really - I say, "Christians believe" and "I believe" and I teach a lot of opposing views and give them a generally wide girth of space to make their own decisions within the framework of knowing their parents think x, y and z are the truth and are encouraging them to participate.

But I SEE them searching for absolutes, sometimes. For black and white. They are frustrated by gray areas, less secure in universal tolerance when what they are looking to me for is guidelines for living and it confuses me at times. Is that just human nature, to try to seek out a side to be on and be right on that side? And if so, is that something we'll never conquer, or something we are gonna be over in a few generations?




Sometimes I think it's weird that I actually read news articles of some sort most every day, I'm usually in the middle of a book, I THINK about psychology and neurology...all the time...and I talk to Grant, Shaun, Laura and Dama about things I'm thinking about constantly. But I rarely write here about things I'm thinking about. I write about what's happening in our lives, but not what's going on in my head. I love other peoples' blogs about philosophical ideas, moral quandries and hypothetical situations, but I think I just get that out in conversation. And emails, where my links usually end up. Part of this is because I don't have the time or energy to expend on debates and following up on the links others will inevitably send me to, and part of it is because my lj time is really limited and so in general I'd rather archive than bs if I have to choose. Then I get a day like today where the combination of deep inner ear swelling, throbbing head, fever, very strong antibiotics (750 mg Levaquin, WHAT, this is what I was taking when I was sent home after sepsis...), and heavy alternating-every-2-hour doses of Tylenol and Motrin has got me feeling fuzzy-brained and incapacitated and so what else do I have to do but lounge around blogging about hoohaw.

Speaking of hoohaw, another thing I've been pondering is the sort of paradox some atheists must find themselves in at times. What I mean is that on the one side, if religion really does improve some peoples' lives and make society better overall, then it should, logically, be encouraged - atheists should even see the perks of signing on! Social network, safety net, comforting ideas about the afterlife, explanations for the previously unexplained, someone in charge and keeping track, being loved and heard even when alone...but on the other side, one cannot really make an intellectual decision to believe based on pros and cons. Belief is primarily a feeling, and most hardcore atheists I know are also very steadfast about siding with TRUTH above all else, so to consciously steep yourself in some sort of blind sheep denial as a way to enhance your happiness or success would seem totally unacceptable. Like a real betrayal to yourself and reality. I know two atheists who say that they think all religion is crap, a balm for society's ills, opium for the masses, etc, but - necessary. Basically, better Christians and Muslims and Jews and so on than Juggalos. "People need their crutches." I can't help but feel this is an almost unedurably superior attitude, it reminds me of my pothead, unemployed stepfather spouting off between episodes of Star Trek about how everyone else was headed for the meat grinder...but whatever ;) The rest of the atheists I know seem to exude more of a baffled irritation at the faithful around them for buying such a load of horseshit, and think that in the interest of the previously mentioned importance of Truth above all else that everybody needs to WAKE UP. Hopefully within our childrens' lifetime.

I feel a lot more empathy for the second group of people because I also have a great love for and loyalty to Truth for the sake of itself. I think it's wrong to lie to children to spare their feelings or to spouses to avoid a fight or even ON THE INTERNET because it's anonymous. As with anything "natural" (which I know not everyone finds valuable or preferable, but I do), I also feel there is an inherent value to truth and honesty (which I think can mean slightly different things here - one an intangible part of reality and the other a way to express ourselves).

BUT! I have experienced enough deeply moving and overwhelming situations, "signs", feelings and so forth, all reinforced by history, observing the world around me and other peoples' experiences, that I have become convinced my faith is part of Truth. And so my committment to truth for the sake of itself drives me to confess this online, even when I know lots of skeptical and frustrated atheists (or Pagans, or agnostics, or "cultural Jews" - or devoutly Jewish people...) who I respect as awesome people are watching, and it kinda embarrasses me.

Such a circuitous maze :p




-I'm going to get back to my book (The Weight of Heaven, some fiction about a liberal, agnostic Ann Arbor couple who's only child dies and they take a job transfer to India to get away from every memory of him, but are still struggling to save their marriage...just amongst a totally different culture and with a lot more guilt for being privileged white people than they used to have)
-I'm trying to take it really easy today and get better...tonight and tomorrow night I have to put a lot of energy and time into finishing the last of Annie's presents. Tomorrow-daytime I have to get A and A new dance shoes and take them to a mandatory rehearsal. Sunday is Ananda's tea party (limitless cooking and cleaning all morning to prepare for the afternoon) and Aaron's show (packing him lunch and dinner and 2 changes of costume and getting him to Lincoln Rd and back).
-maybe I'll take a walk with whoever wants to come in a little while
-definitely think it's time for more motrin, this neverending pain is wearing. me. down.
-this shit is in "my good ear". ARGH. I am going to be deaf by the time I'm like 35 at this rate!
altarflame: (AaronMohawk)
In a way, we are almost there - Shaun and some Dance Empire parents joined forces to buy the plane tickets, and Bobby is sending me a $300 check that will also help.

In another way, we have a LONG WAY TO GO, because 7 days of eating and lodging in NYC is (while not some exact number at this point) a heck of a lot more than $300. So, a lot of it is falling to my Usborne book sales.

The good news is, I've sold $300 in person so far - which amounts to a $75 commission and $80 in free books, which I can sell for increased profits or keep for the family. I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot more RL sales as I am just getting started networking within our various groups. I am also going to start going to schools and churches to try to get some big accounts.

The bad news is, I was really hoping to get most of my sales online, and thus far there has not been one. single. one.

I was trying to figure out how in the world this could be, with the level of traffic this lj gets, and I am pretty sure it's because my default Usborne site is ABYSMAL. The books are wonderful, when I carry the samples and nice glossy catalogues around people genuinely want them and this is easy. But you click the url and your eyes kind of cross and then you just navigate away as quickly as possible, I think. The horrible lack of web quality probably even makes people nervous about the quality of the books, which is a shame, because I've been buying Usborne at Spellbound Books and Barnes and Noble for years and they are some of my kids' favorites.

Having a (VERY BUSY) web designer for a husband, I am hoping to make the site more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing soon...in the meantime, I am here to MAKE THIS EASIER FOR PEOPLE who might want to help, with this post ;) Because I genuinely believe there are people out there who would want something(s) for children they know if it were not such a headache to try to find on that site.

For instance, you can:

Click here for all the pirate-related kids' books!

Or here, for fairies!

Three pages of science books They range from elementary to advanced, everything from Growing Up books to Forensics, with DNA, electricity, magnets, experiment ideas and a lot of other stuff in between.

Hitler, Anne Frank, Baba Yaga and the Witch, Around the World in Eighty Days, Black Beauty; all kinds of great stuff in this long section

The Gas We Pass, subtitled The Story of Farts - only 7.99

This is funny stuff, I have seen it at Barnes and Nobles.

For a great pair, also try:
Everyone Poops
Both of those links (and many others on the site) have "Peek Inside This Book" features available, similar to Amazon's.

For all the lactivists out there, the same series includes the book Breasts which is very breastfeeding-normative as well as just funny - you can see the positive reviews for it at amazon, but DON'T BUY IT THERE!! :p

new Chapter books and adapted classics for older readers

Picture books for young kids as well as several pages of "kid kits" that include extras; guides to card games that come with a deck, magic tricks with accessories, craft guides with yarn or paint included, and so on. Great gifts, in other words ;)

Spanish language!

Many of the books on the site are award winners, and I really think they are reasonably priced. These are the internet-only specials, many of which are under $5. Because I am in my first 90 days as a rep and doing this as an "eshow" and several other factors, I'm getting 25% commission and double free books - which is incredible.

So, if you are in the market for childrens' books - be they toddler board books or The Illustrated Dictionary of Math for school kids (we have that and Annie reads it for fun...) I would really appreciate it if you would consider helping us fundraise :)




Unrelated, picture video and blurb from our week )

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