altarflame: (deluge)
feel free to click here for a weeks old entry I forgot about )

(and/)Or, find out how not long after that entry I felt pretty triggered (haha, how ironic).
That led to some serious two steps forward, one step back personal struggles (challenges? INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIERS I'VE SINCE BEEN CHINKING AWAY AT ONE CRUMB AT A TIME?!) with polyamory, as polyamory in general - even in it's infancy - has a way of highlighting every single thing you didn't know you were avoiding dealing with at once. I'm very fortunate to be so deep in a bond that allows for sharing everything patiently, even when that involves stop and starts, and backtracking... Even if we never acted on any of this we know each other so much better, now, and I feel so much closer to him. Paradoxical, I guess, but getting to the "why" underneath every scared and sad feeling is something that's taking us places we might never have gone otherwise. I feel like I'm going to understand life differently and have a different attitude as I get older, because I'm tackling this deep shit inside of me that I've never looked straight at or felt so directly and consciously, before...
I am also pleased to report I can once again take an IQ test without any sense of personal tragedy.

Here are some pics of me and Elise around our neighborhood one weeknight, and some others from a tour G and I took of R.F. Orchids last weekend.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR - I am on a general broad upswing that involves some hard times and is not a simple curve. I travel this path with a bunch of other people who are also all on varying and irregular (usually) upward slopes. I feel good about life, and also get tired.

I will probably make a way shorter update soon, about apps I'm using and things I've recently cooked. Take heart, if this is just too damned long and convoluted and TMI.
altarflame: (deluge)
This month has been extremely productive and overall wonderful.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kid Updates!

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






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

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

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

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

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

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

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



altarflame: (deluge)
This has been a really, really hard month or so.

1.) I am triggered all to hell and back.

So many doctor's appointments, so many tests, so many tense, anticipatory waiting periods. I can't go to bed, can't sleep when I get there, feel tense and on edge most of the time for what appears to be absolutely no reason. It's isolating and I keep pushing people away even though I feel so lonely. Ignoring texts, postponing vists. Normal efforts feel like huge efforts, though school, kids' schedules, kids' needs, and so forth keep marching on as I metaphorically drown in life. I have horrible intrusive thoughts when dealing with scissors and knives.

I'm still in counseling, it's better than it was, and it's been a year since I really felt triggered, so... I'll be ok. But this is coloring everything else.

2.) Grant's been depressed for a long time. He's gained weight, he's eating like shit, hates his commute, etc (those are his reasons/contributors, not mine). This, in addition to periodically worrying me and generally making things feel a bit glum, results in things like less fun, less interaction, less sex, etc, within our marriage. I've been in a "make my own happiness, be responsible for my own day" paradigm for years now, but it gets a lot harder to maintain when I feel like a shaky crazy person and just really want affection and distraction from my own BS. Also, his subtle and not so subtle rejections really underlie how few real life friends I have locally. I think I'd turn to him a lot less if he wasn't the Fount of All Adult Interaction, these days. But so long as I'm in this transitional period of being completely bogged down with my (mostly online) schoolwork and homeschooling a couple of kids, I don't exactly have a ton of resources for a social life. I fantasize constantly about being in a communal living situation with other adults, such that they would just be readily available for a sit-down breakfast, or a late night talk, or whatever.

Spoiler: "whatever"=sex.

3.) My sister and I keep having these knock-down drag out mega dramatic messaging sessions that just sap me of all strength and happiness. She's working out a lot of old pent up issues, we're both trying to bridge a communication gap we've always had, and it's the most tedious, long winded, emotionally exhausting thing. I don't even know how to explain it. We're so similar that our differences always seem glaring and cause us to clash. New issues tend to feel like historic patterns, which magnifies them...

There was the evening I spent crying on a sidewalk, and in a public bathroom, and on a dock, weeping and sending fucking novellas back and forth by the dozen. The immediate following weekend filled with more of the same. I turned off facebook messenger notifications because of how stressful the sound of receiving a new message became, but just checked it obsessively anyway.

We ended up having a "date" that went really well and seemed to settle a lot in a positive way, but I feel all the old stuff edging back in again and then today feels right back where we started a month ago. I think we mean too much to each other to drive each other this fucking crazy. I also think we both have too much on our plates to devote nearly as much to the other, as we'd each like... GAH.

I don't have any other relationship that's like this (and neither does she). Neither of us are dramatic in our friendships or even put up with this shit with other relatives. It's this migraine of a paradox that "us" can be important enough to us both that we'll wade through the muck and "do the work," buuuut...that still doesn't fix the muck. Both of us feel like we bend over backwards for the other one in a way we never would for anybody else.

With my sister and with Grant, I don't know to what degree my PTSD kicking into high gear is affecting things. I know it makes me more sensitive, at times, and more loathe to deal with conflict at all. What's less clear is how it alters my perception of the relationship issues themselves. Basically, I have trouble trusting my own judgement on subjective interpersonal things at all, when I'm in this state.

Those are the main three things. ISIS is also getting me down, and taking up all my NPR airtime, and Boko Haram and antibiotic resistance just make me want to never look at the news again. I've spent an awful lot of heavy time talking to my children lately, about terrible current event stories they're confused about.

They're great, though. Shining stars every one :) Isaac has had some resurgence of anxiety for the first time since he went on Zoloft and that's been a struggle, for him and for me, but he seems to be back on the upswing and all told it was nothing on how he used to just always be.

I'm reading him Stephen King's Eye of the Dragon (which is not at all like other Stephen King books), and it's SO DIFFERENT than it was to read the same book to A&A, years ago. Isaac is so complicated and brilliant and...worried? He also interrupts constantly, but that is another story.

Elise is SO WONDERFUL. She's had a massive cognitive leap in the past couple of months, I'm so proud of her. All of a sudden she can listen to more complex chapter books (and be really into it), play Minecraft on her own, speak with far less hesitating and searching for words - her drawings have went from stick figures and suns (exclusively, for years) to varied and detailed. And, she also maintains her bubbly, high energy, chipper self a solid 90% of her waking moments. She makes me laugh and we snuggle and take walks and she's constantly got something to show me.

We finally found a couple of good homeschool resources, too, so she and Jake are able to get out around more people and do more things regularly and I'm relieved about that, even though I sometimes feel as though I'm walking uphill with cinderblocks as I initiate these activities and get us out the door for them.

They are the bees knees, those two, and my school days with just the two of them are sweet even when I'm dragging a bit, and preoccupied. They're both really into TERRIBLE MUSIC, I don't know which is worse - Jake wants to listen to things like "It's Raining Tacos" and "Best KittyCat Song" and Minecraft music from YouTube all day, and she wants a steady stream of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. That I still enjoy our time so much speaks volumes ;)

They're still very innocent, our interactions are so simple and focused on them in an easy way, and I'm keenly aware of how fleeting that is. I adore taking Ananda for an afternoon at a tea shop or staying up watching Montage of Heck with her, and I love to slip off with Aaron for Chipotle or lie around talking about his school issues/girlfriend, but...I don't know. Jake and Elise are still with me in the moment, for now, in a really different way. And not just because they don't have smart phones yet.

There's some adolescent complexity that tints everything with self-consciousness, once it comes on, and something about the lack of it in Jake and Elise seems really vibrant, and temporary.


I'm still doing well in my classes, and am so ready for them to be over. I have less energy for obsessing over grad school options and am taking it one day at a time until a few upcoming events that may clarify things for me.

Very pleased with how spring seems to be shaping up for me, re: part time internships and other professional opportunities, as well as my determination to use it to write. Hopefully this triggery bs will be long past by then, but if not writing is about the best purge there is. Just sitting down to write this nonsense has lifted me up significantly since I sat down to start it.
altarflame: (deluge)
Ananda and Aaron arrived home last Friday night from their high school's annual fine arts camp - 4 days, 3 nights. They told us stories for hours.

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

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

Aaron2 Aaron1

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

Sunday was sleeping in and french toast brunch.

frenchtoast

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_5423
Annie's mouth, day 1.

IMG_5422
Annie's mouth, yesterday.

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

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

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

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

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
altarflame: (deluge)
[livejournal.com profile] jerkface mentioned not being able to believe Elise is already 8, and I realized I want to say all kinds of things about her. I talk about my older kids less and less, based on what I see as their increasing desire for/right to privacy*, but she's still younger, and homeschooled, and I know there are people out there who have been rooting for her over the years.

The thing I think most often is that she's just SO HAPPY. That's what I worried about the most, when her prognosis was most bleak. I was afraid she might be isolated in her own mind due to sensory problems (blindness, lack of real sleep/wake differentiation...so many things were on the table). I wanted more than anything for her to know that we loved her. Grant gutted me, crying in a parking lot at one point about how much he wanted her to be ticklish.

This is what I remind myself, when I worry about her seeming working memory hurdles, or how behind she is with reading skills. Those are both SO MILD in context anyway - it might seem, during a deep conversation, that she's a little scatterbrained. She seems to have a memory lapse that really makes someone stop and notice only once every few months. Going into 3rd grade, she's reading at about a "middle of first grade" level. Her speech is on point for her age, with a better vocabulary than average. Her imagination and reasoning are advanced. She can easily sit down and play UNO with her brothers, or color pictures, or participate in all the different things that happen at camp without anyone thinking there's anything differently-abled about her.

She came home from the first day of camp THRILLED, this summer. "I'm so glad there are no tests at Girl Scout camp! Except the swim test, but I did great at the swim test. You jump in the ool, swim across to the other side, and climb out - easy peasy lemon squeezy." She still has nightmares occasionally about tests in school. She has no trouble at all with musical chairs, being on the chore rotation they use for clean-up, telling me all about the silly "scary" stories they share and why she doesn't really believe any of them. She did need someone to tell her what her single line in their skit was, right before she went on, even though she'd been saying it to herself all week. But, there was pressure, and she executed it well once she was up there.

She's ridden a bike with no training wheels for about 6 months now. Since summer started, she's mastered hula hooping and cartwheels. She can easily get herself a bowl of cereal with milk and a spoon, or make herself a pbj, though she asks for help whenever she wants "tomatoes with salt and mrs dash," which is her favorite food (sharp knife). Her second favorite food, incidentally, is a steak salad from Chipotle. Her drawings are still stick figures and her writing is transitioning from almost unintelligible to what I call "phonetic if you squint," unless we're working specifically on handwriting and she's tracing and copying on manuscript paper. Then, she does great.

We recently bought her a subscription to JungleMemory.com and she's mastering those games pretty quickly. The other site we pay for is Reading Rainbow's new "Skybrary," which she loves and will spend as long on as I'll let her. She sometimes wants to play Minecraft, but hasn't managed to actually figure it out well enough to do it without a brother sitting and guiding her step by step. I have an app on my phone, "Endless Reader," that she's starting to grow out of but I really recommend to anyone with kids who are just starting to read.

It's much harder for her to follow along as I read chapter books than it was for any of the other kids at her age, except maaaaybe Aaron. She's still not really there yet, though we've tried a few times. She can pay attention and is very interested, but has to stop me on almost every page for some kind of clarification, and has a really hard time making sense of the plot as nuanced stories progress. I'm currently reading her a Junie B Jones book and that's working out well, as did "The Hundred Dresses" - but Harry Potter or other "real" chapter books are still a couple of years away, I think. She loves being read picture books.

In many ways we've let go of the idea of her being brain injured. I worry when she sometimes gets headaches - even though that may just be hereditary, as Grant and Isaac also get lots of headaches (and Grant's started in childhood). We still don't have scooters or other "one sided" things, since her preschool teacher spotted her favoring one side of her body when she was 4 and an occupational therapist recommended lots of (and only) "bipedal" activites (the bike, her flying turtle, skates, etc). It's in the back of my mind that she could have seizures when she hits puberty, and I still have a knee jerk reaction to her seeming too hot or cold (not regulating her temperature with sudden changes like going in or outside, or getting in water, was one of the most lingering issues she had - probably until almost 3 years old).

But the (non-specified) learning disability she exhibits is similar to what tons of kids without brain injuries deal with. It's not more severe than Ananda's dyslexia, and I don't really see Ananda as anything but brilliant (Annie was speech delayed, and then stuttered, and she didn't read picture books until she was 8.5 - her handwriting and spelling are still ATROCIOUS even though she can type up an A paper, and she's generally needed math tutoring). Elise asks complex questions about everything from whether it's possible for homeless people to be happy to how our bodies manage to turn EVERYTHING we drink into urine, which basically always looks and smells the same. We talk in depth about all kinds of things regularly. She's a sponge, and in addition to being so hungry for online research and explanations of everything, she's the one kid in the house that never shies away from written school work.

I worry that she's too praise-dependent, and that she seems really sensitive to even minor criticism (from siblings, or peers), but those are pretty benign "worries" to have.

It's hard to over-emphasize how happy, enthusiastic, cuddly and all around wonderful she is. My friend Kathy comes over every Monday with her kids, one of whom is a super chill chubby baby - Hector. Elise will hold, carry, and play with Hector the whole 4-6 hour visit, with a nursing break or diaper change as the only interruptions. She wears him in Kathy's tula (sling type carrier). She loves having cleaning jobs, and took a magic eraser to half a dozen walls before our 4th of July party. She'll RUN to the kitchen if I ask if she wants to help me cook, or RACE to put on her skates, if Annie or Aaron is willing to take her around the block. There is no occasion so small as to not merit a homemade card. She asks for a Beasty Sandwich a lot, which means Grant and I squeezing in on either side of her. This can be standing up or lying down, as long as she is the Roast Beast.

There are little things she takes a lot of pride in, like that she now has autonomous showers instead of baths, and flossing, and keeping her closet organized. I'm consistently amazed at how she proactively brushes her own hair and is grateful for trips to the dentist and just, in general - what a great kid, man!

Sometimes I think she makes it glaring, by comparison, that the rest of us are all low-key mentally ill. Grant and Aaron outright struggle with depression, off and on. Annie, Jake, and I are just sort of depressive, understated personalities, and Annie's had struggles with separation and selective mutism, and I've had struggles with PTSD. Isaac has mild to moderate anxiety even with medication (it was moderate to severe, before). We're all pretty functional and I like our life and our family, but sometimes I wait for the day Elise asks me what the hell is wrong with the rest of us, and don't we want to DO more and why is the air so heavy around us? I can tell we already exasperate her at times, though she doesn't have words for it at this point. She's just...chipper and extroverted. She's a perky morning person. She desires organization and schedules, like Isaac does, except without the stress it brings Isaac. She makes me think of Debbie marrying into the Addams Family, except without the murder plans.

She's obsessed with My Little Pony, and plays with her pony toys every single day.
She still sleeps with the doll I made her, every night, and sometimes asks me to recharge her with love (big, long hug).
She's incredibly lean - lanky, even. I think she's going to have a totally different body type than me, or Ananda.

It's really precious that she's still as childish as she is, but she's also changing fast. She's VERY HARD to capture on camera - even less photogenic than me... I can be entranced with the ribbon of freckles on her nose and cheeks, and her kaleidescope hazel eyes, and just baffled by the terrible pictures I get over and over.

She is most definitely a youngest child, eager for attention and quick to stalk and bother her older sibling's friends when they're around. She thinks every teenager should be giving her a piggy back ride and that all adults want to hear her stories. It's normal to her to skate and talk with adult roller derby coaches and players, and other parents, and neighbors. She escalates to violence with her older siblings over the slightest things, partially because they generally ignore her little fists hitting their hips or chests so I don't even hear about it unless I witness it firsthand. Toddler cousins and friends' babies inspire her to act like she's an adult and they need her "help" with all sorts of things they absolutely do not. With kids her own age, she becomes waaaay more self conscious and hesitant, and is a bit of a follower. Peers have always made her unsure. At camp, it seems like she benefits from the Girl Scout buddy system and the groups they're separated into, and like she has talks and laughs with other individual girls spontaneously sometimes, but she never has particular recurring names, or a phone number, or someone that runs up to her when she arrives. I sometimes wonder if she's approaching an age when socializing is going to get a lot more complicated and she'll suddenly be very aware that she's not anyone's friend. It's been the same in her troop throughout the year, and in her class before we pulled her - she likes existing in a group of kids her age very much, but doesn't get close to anyone. There's a girl down the street who's come over and spent the night a few times, but she often ends up spending most of her time here with Jake, and then Elise gets REALLY huffy about that.

She has an imaginary friend named Felicia, which was Grant's old nickname for her. I only know about this because Jake sometimes talks about it with her in front of me, which makes Elise shush him a lot and get really irritated with him.

She's itching to be boy crazy, and gets gushy and embarrassed over random boys so easily that it's silly.

I get scared sometimes that she might be too vulnerable as an adult, too easily taken advantage of, too immature but still able to go off on her own. Other times I think I'm being paranoid, so mostly I just try to take it one day at a time. There's so much to be grateful for.



*this is a weird gray area where I try to err on whichever side is greater. For instance, Ananda constantly tells me she's fine with me sharing any and everything about her. She seems to love it that there are people out there who know about her. She's actually said we should get a reality show, although I think that's easy to think of as fun when it's just a hilarious hypothetical situation. But what if she doesn't always feel that way? What will it be like if/when the trolls and haters she finds so entertaining in theory or when directed at me, come for her? Conversely, I almost never talk about or share pictures of Jake even though the info/images are objectively harmless, because Jake is in a self conscious, preteen phase of never wanting me to. Aaron and Isaac approve images and video case by case and think most talk is ok, but I still feel like I should go easy because they've got so many RL peers online, now.
altarflame: (deluge)
I am SO proud of Elise, and happy for her ♥! She did her first solo sleepover at Girl Scout camp, last night - she spent the night once last year, with Ananda there in the same cabin. Normally she's just there during the day, but during certain weeks there's a sleepover option for one of the days.

Ok I have to interrupt myself to mention that she just walked up behind me and read that first paragraph. I had to explain the code nonsense for the little heart symbol and tell her "certain," but she is really having a reading leap! I sent her away and told her in 10 minutes we'll go get barrettes and clips like she wants.

Anyway... I was worried about her, more than makes any rational sense. I kept wishing they had one of those daycare cam type things I could log into to see how she was doing, even though I don't really think that's necessary at all. She's 8, she's there every day, she's spent the night with her sister before - I actually lived on that campground as a child, for half a year while my mom and stepdad were the site managers. She's just also my baby, and I get really suddenly overcome by feelings of how vulnerable my kids are for the past year or so. I think it's something about having teenagers who will move out? I try really hard not to let it effect my actions or even let them see it. It's just become so normal for Ananda to leave for 3 days to a friend's house, and go to the beach and the movies with them while she's there, or be gone for a whole week with the school - or for Isaac to go on out of town field trips overnight with chaperones, who I know and trust but, what the heck. I'm happy for all of them, I'm just also periodically seized with the fragility of...everything?

The point is I was relieved as well as thrilled for my Beasty, as she told me all the details on the way home. They had a campfire! She roasted her own marshmallows! They actually swam in the ool* AT NIGHT! All the girls in her cabin had a pajama dance party, before bed! She cannot wait until their end-of-week performance tomorrow - it's "medieval week," she's going to be a knight, and that means they're wrapping her in aluminum foil. Last Friday was Heroes and Villains week, and she was Harley Quinn, which basically meant she wore a red skirt and a black shirt, with pigtails, to say her single line while they all giggled their way through some incomprehensible story line in varying degrees of costume.

When I started this entry she was still in the shower, because she decided she wanted a short bob again and so I'd just cut off 8 inches of her hair. It's pretty adorable. I can hear her out there, cutting in on Jake and Isaac's UNO game over and over to make them look at how much it moves when she shakes her head. This is why we have a barrette and clip date. I'm sure it's been 10 minutes already.

*no p in the ool
altarflame: (deluge)
After a long stall in my weight loss, during which my hernia grew and my back pain increased and my eagerness to get in the freaking OR started to actually exist... I somehow felt incapable of (and/or uninterested in) putting any limitations on my eating. Too anxious about school, too sleep deprived to deal with any form of diet, too many roadtrips and whole days out of the house and too many priorities all around to make this tired issue another one.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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




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

I try very hard not to let things like "what is more convenient for me" play in to our choices for them. I'm not sure this is best for her on a purely "about her" level either, though. She LOVES her art teacher at school and the things she learns in his class, for instance, and the week of sleep away camp they do, and has a whole squad there that energizes her. I keep wondering how much of this is about relatively dumb shit, in the grand scheme of things, like not wanting to start getting up really early every day again, or enjoying having her hair dyed crazy colors for a couple of months and not wanting to switch back. Mostly when we talk it seems to be about a desire to have a diploma and AA sooner than she otherwise could, which, you know, why? Slow down. Enjoy your damn youth. Except that, obviously, nobody can learn to do that without hindsight. We have to decide before it's time to buy all the back to school stuff.
altarflame: (deluge)
So, I failed my Stats class. Had a massive anxiety/depression spiral that lasted a week, and on the other side of it now I can see the good parts - in that I really do have an epic support system. The day of my final, after the test, I was sitting in my car in the parking garage at FIU feeling like death and despair, and I had a new, lengthy fb message from my friend Jenny about how wonderful it had been to see me while we were in Tampa, and how great my kids are. On the drive home, I got a random "I love you and am so glad you're my friend" text from someone else. When I unlocked my front door, Jake was standing there asking how I'd done, and when I said, "pretty horrible" he gave me a hug and pat my back.

At the time I appreciated those things in a mental way while my insides continued to churn with I HAVE RUINED MY FUTURE MY FINANCIAL AID WILL BE SCREWED GRANT WILL HAVE TO WORK FOREVER I WON'T GET A DEGREE I'LL JUST BE PAYING STUDENT LOANS OFF LIKE A JACKASS, FOR NOTHING. Now that I'm 3 days into re-taking the course*, and calm, I can reflect that I am truly privileged to be able to say those things out loud, in a muffled monotone, facedown on my sister's bed while she raises an eyebrow from the other side of the room. We laid on the floor together, ordering chinese takeout and contemplating the ways we self sabotage. It could be worse.

The peak evening of my misery, after all, featured a heavy chest and a tight throat but also involved drinking an entire bottle of wine while talking on the phone to my friend Kristin about her epic adventures, and then having lots of great drunken sex with Grant. Text received the next morning said something along the lines of, "you were snoring less than 2 minutes after the last time you came; it was adorable."

Most of it wasn't that fun, though. I had about a half dozen terrible nightmares, frequent headaches, constant stomach cramping. I felt like I was acting - woodenly - anytime I observed my kid's latest cartwheels and LEGO creations and drawings and Minecraft structures.

Hopefully, in 10 years, this will seem like the most melodramatic horseshit imagineable, on my part. I'm sure it didn't help that I also started my period. I am pretty emotional and irritable the day before I start and exhausted the first day of, every month, regardless of circumstance. Though that doesn't generally come with panic or sleep disturbances.

I did very well in my Summer A Neuropsych class, which was EXTREMELY interesting and somewhat challenging, but in a totally doable way. Now in addition to the Advanced Stats I'm taking "The Individual in Society," which is basically a random BS easy class to fill in some needed credits, with a teacher known as being lenient. There is a lot of reading, but I am ok with that, and read fast.

According to my advisor, I MAY still be able to graduate in December as planned. It depends on whether I can take the third course in my "research sequence" in the mini-session at the end of fall semester...she said they only let people do that if it's the last class they need to complete their degree, which it will be in my case.

This teacher I have for Stats now seems like such a dream, after my last one... he explains everything like we're 5, in clear english, with perfect handwriting. Previously I had a professor with a very thick accent and terrible handwriting, both of which really matter when you're learning a subject filled with new words and odd symbols. He was also a PhD level Statistician who spends most of his time doing research for the university and teaching grad level math majors, so he often needlessly overcomplicated things or neglected details he thought should be obvious. The new guy covers all the same material, often in ways I'm sure the old guy would have thought were dumbed down or repetitive, but I understand things on a much deeper level with the hand holding. This guy also cares about the social context and nuance of the problems, which REALLY helps me contextualize everything; the other guy obviously felt the words were superfluous and pulling the numbers out was "all we had to worry about."

To be sure, I had some major personal hurdles to get over regardless of my instructor - it was a blow to my pathetic ego to get to a point of realizing I'd have to work this hard daily at something academic to have a chance at it, even when that means forgoing things I'd rather be doing, or disappointing my family. I am spoiled on thinking college is something that can be squeezed in around the edges of my already-full life. That has generally been the case thus far; especially if I'm willing to settle for Bs here and there.

*That was Summer A, this is Summer B. They're 6 week back to back mini-sessions, so it's a lot of pressure but it's also over faster.




The 100 Days of LJ Challenge seemed like such a great idea in theory. In practice, I just refuse at this point in my life to prioritize blogging if it's stressful to do so. There was a time years ago when it was very important to me to get the pictures up and record the funny anecdotes and make a note of the recipes, and sometimes I miss that a lot - but a lot of the time when my week looks like this, it just feels like another thing that's very hard to make time for.

Monday:
-Sorting out schedule shifts at FIU for Summer B given my failed course - involved waiting for an appt with my advisor and standing in a long line at enrollment, filling out forms, etc.
-Selling/buying books.
-Bill paying errands.
-Getting my debit card sorted out because something was flagged for security - which complicated bill paying errands.
-Ananda at the Orthodontist.
-Spending an hour and a half, with Isaac, searching for our Deathly Hallows DVD, then a downloaded file, then trying to find a file to download, then trying to figure out what's wrong with uTorrent, before finally going through this ridiculous process in the tv room with this new system Grant's installed - at one point I was actually googling how to get the screen to stop displaying upside down, on my phone, while Isaac stood on his head using the keyboard to do as I said. Then we finally bought it through Amazon Instant Video, only to find that even when we turned up the tv, DVD player, computer, and Amazon movie window volume...the audio wasn't working. Checked speaker wire, restarted everything, blah BLAH BLAH. Gave up when it was far too late to start a movie, which we still haven't gotten to (though Grant has fixed all our issues with an annoyingly quick and simple lot of solutions).

Tuesday:
-Isaac at the psychiatrist for his monthly appt - which went very well, I love that guy and think he really likes Isaac.
-Taking Elise to "Get Smart" to spend her leftover birthday money, as promised (involved MUCH browsing and calculation). She ended up with a Hula Hoop, a Playmobil set, and some kind of stackable multi-crayon drawing...thing.
-Of course by then the two of them are starving, and then we need gas, and his prescription needs to be dropped off.
-Surprise very interesting long distance phone call for the drive home (this was a good thing).
-Aaron, for the 10th time, needing to talk extensively about his woe and misery because his girlfriend dumped him. He's entering the anger phase of grief. It's obvious to him, now, that this text-based relationship existed mostly in his own head, which is just making him lonelier. Thank god we have cats to cuddle, because he does not want mom hugs about it. The piano songs are all very very sad. Between the two of us, this past week, I swear.
-Everything from Mon and Tues on the schedule for this Summer B Stats course, which is actually a lot. I spent about 2 hours locked up in my room with math, and felt absurdly proud of myself that I didn't veer off topic towards other parts of the internet a single time.
-CRAMMING in going to see Mad Max with Annie like she's been begging me to for weeks...it was a late night movie run, 11pm-1am. Her 3rd viewing of what she claims is her favorite movie (she'd already seen it with Grant and with friends). FWIW, it really held my attention, and was thrilling in that it was totally fearless and like nothing I'd ever seen before. It was also an awful lot of high strung tension for an entire 2 hours, which I find kind of exhausting, but I still recommend it if you can handle some gore. Be compelled by the fierce female protagonist, the bevy of gradually developed "lovely wife" characters, and the old lady biker gang kicking ass with a suitcase-full of seeds in tow.

Wednesday:
-All my Stats work for this day - about an hour of note reading and video watching, followed by 30 minutes of problems, and 10 of checking my answers, basically...but interspersed with lots and lots of kid-bickering and telling, because apparently today was the day Legos could only bring grief.
-Realizing how out of practice they are with actually accomplishing their daily chores and dealing with the awful transitional stage of beginning to truly enforce that again. Along with guiding A&A through the process of making an apple cinnamon bread pudding for tea, it all had my math time dragging out over about 4 hours.
-Taking Ananda and Aaron to better thrift stores to the north as promised, for their cosplay shopping. Isaac scored a brand new looking HP tshirt in just his size, that has Snape on it and says, "Severus Snape - Friend of Foe?" $1!
-Taking Ananda, Aaron, and Elise to derby practice.
-Tackling my filthy kitchen.

Thursday:
-All 5 kids dental cleanings and checkups. We fill the whole office, they sit in a row in every exam chair they've got, each with their own hygenist and the dentist moving from one to the next.
-Stats, either before the dentist or between these other things?
-meeting Kathy and her kids at Laura's for giant dinner that I provide and cook in Laura's kitchen, for the 13 of us

You know what I'm saying? Our last weekend was like this, it's just always kinda like this lately. Stats teacher only schedules work on weekdays so I'm hoping to get a couple of days worth in over the weekend and have more downtime next week. And I do actually have to accomplish something in my other, filler class, before it sneaks up on me.

Grant and I are so good at juggling things and being close. At cuddling and murmuring to each other when I climb in bed next to him before I black out, and texting and fb messaging each other throughout the day. We send each other links and listen to podcasts and news stories from the other on rides, and while washing dishes. I found an "I love you" note in his familar-as-my-own handwriting, in my wallet, the other day when I opened it up. So much of what I accomplish would not be possible if he weren't able to work from home some days, and cook dinner many evenings. I felt like he deserved the whole world on Father's Day, though he settled for a family trip out, a bunch of homemade cards, and an elaborate dinner I made him while spending two hours on the phone with my own dad.




This is a video made by our friend Shaun, with a Lego cowboy of Jake's, and an arrow Jake made of Legos. Jake took pictures of both, on green construction paper, and sent them to Shaun to animate "like when you pick a character in a video game." He's THRILLED with the results, particularly the credits:


And this is Elise, showin' off her skillz. Facebook tells me that anyone who has the link can see it, so hopefully that works despite my generally locked down facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Tina.Hernandez.Walker/videos/10153019627983262/?l=6152874696235359619
altarflame: (deluge)
I am so mentally exhausted.

Ananda is tired all the time. Part of this may be due to correctable environmental stuff we're learning at the allergist, but part of it is definitely regular ol' insomnia making mornings a drag. She's SO MEAN AND RUDE AND RIDICULOUS, in the mornings. It's really hard to deal with sometimes, as none of my kids normally talk to me like that, but also because she and I especially usually have a great relationship. She's not really saying any terrible words, she's just saying things like, "Give me a minute" and "Hold on" and "I'm trying Mom" in the most accusatory, loud, pissed off ways you can imagine. And if I DON'T nag her (which I viciously loathe doing), she basically won't get ready/she'll make Aaron late. So I do, and she responds as though she feels about me like I feel about the alarm on my phone (perish the thought). She's also been having the nerve to be visibly irritated and eye roll-y and just awful about, say, me having her favorite foods ready for breakfast and/or packed lunch.

When it isn't morning, all is well. She's got a couple of great friends and teachers she raves about, at school. Older, homeschooled weekend friends. Derby practice she adores. She's getting good grades and drawing all the time and eager to show or tell me some hilarious thing pretty often. She's very helpful in the afternoons and evenings, around the house. There IS still the hour-at-a-time in the bathroom issue but overall she's experimenting with makeup and enjoying the only door in the house she can lock and we have another bathroom, so who cares.

I went and got numbing cream for her arm and mine, for tomorrow morning when we both go back to the allergist for intradermal testing (needle instead of plastic thing, deeper in the skin, bleeding, ow). She is putting on a brave face about the whole process for someone who used to be so opposed to anything of the sort.

Recent Convo...
Me: you're not gonna believe what I did today.
Ananda: hmm?
Me: I got a bowl of coffee Heath bar ice cream, and I put a partially frozen chocolate snack pack on it as a topping.
Ananda: MOM!
Me: It was awesome!
Ananda: Well, duh.

In one hour recently, she accidentally called her BFF "Mom" in a conversation and then when her teacher was calling for them to turn in their notes, she accidentally referred to hers as her "manuscript." She was like, "I've been to two author events in the last week! I live with a writer!"

Aaron is super emo about his new (requested) haircut. He actually wore a hood the whole first day back at school, thus prolonging the shocked reactions he then had to deal with today. His chronic disorganization and scatterbrained ways are making me nuts at times.
"Mom, my spider needed to eat like 3 days ago, we have to go get it crickets right now or she'll die!"
"Mom I need a math workbook for class by tomorrow, don't you remember me mentioning this a month ago? I don't know what it's called but I think I'll recognize it if we do a Google image search."
"Mom I'm going to be bringing a note home from my math teacher, because I didn't log any of the time I was supposed to on Kahn Academy over the last few weeks."
"Mom, we have a field trip to somewhere, I don't have the form but I think you should come in the office with me when you drop me off because we were supposed to have it turned in by Friday. It costs some amount of money."

Those are all this week. It's only Wednesday. I THINK I strike a pretty good balance between helping him out and making him face his own consequences. It's this constant battle to guide him into setting up systems to be more on top of things, and then seeing where the holes in the systems are. For what it's worth he's doing more, and better, than he ever has (by a long shot) - he gets up right away and gets ready quickly, keeps track of all his school notebooks/supplies/dance laundry, and takes the right stuff for the day on "A" and "B" days. He's getting good grades and becoming less awkward as he gets used to his height, deep voice, very hairy legs, and so on. He's 5'7", btw.

I actually fantasize about taking his headphones out back and beating them flat with a hammer - I have to either scream myself hoarse, go get him, or send somebody anytime I need him for anything because he's always got them on. He has these cushy big noise cancelling headphones we were foolish enough to buy him for his birthday.

He's also a ball of mucus. It's nonstop nose blowing, sniffling, coughing, repeat, for weeks. I can't even keep track of what is a new illness and what is lingering illness, since the beginning of November. The allergist gave him Nasonex and recommended sinus rinses, which I've taught him to do and helps a lot - for about 10 minutes.

His piano playing has moved from amazing to transcendent. I'm not even kidding. It makes everything better for a little while, anytime he plays.

He's going with his dance class to see The Nutcracker. I'm excited for him. We know a lot of ballet dancers who are in that show year after year, but he's never been before. The last time his dance class took a field trip, it was actually to his old studio, where all his old teachers flipped about his height and his being in school now and generally tried to woo him back (none of us have the resources for that at the moment).

When we're just hanging out, the two of us, like walking back from an appointment or talking in the van on the way over to school, it's unreal how well we get along. If you take all the logistical stuff out of the equation, he and I just have very compatible personalities and have a really easy time being together. Sometimes I have to stay up late with him or take him out somewhere alone just to remember that. I was telling him yesterday how amazing it is that someone ELSE has to try to make him do all his schoolwork, now, and he was saying he likes that better too - and then actually said, "You were so nice, I totally took it for granted how nice you always were about it all."

Isaac is coughing, and coughing, and coughing. He caught whatever Aaron has had over Thanksgiving break. Monday, Tuesday and today I've woken him up, he gets ready, and it's clear by the time I'm driving everyone else that he just can't go to school. He feels ok otherwise, but the booming, violent, uncontrollable coughing fits are just awful. Leaving him gagging and choking sometimes, making him teary often - he coughs like I do :/ He's sleeping semi-upright in the tv room tonight, prescription cough syrup having done nothing, with a humidifier full of Vicks liquid nearby. I read to him for over an hour, during which Grant ran and got him popsicles and some other things, and he's heart breakingly sweet and appreciative about it. There are lots of periods of time when he feels fine, but then the coughing starts again. It's worst in the mornings and at night, like most sickness tends to be.

He is so eager to help out with anything and everything, and so reasonable, and just has such a high threshold for discomfort in general from all the years dealing with his own anxiety and digestive problems - it's kind of unreal. Sometimes I think he's the most mature person in the house.

I am having a GREAT time reading him Order of the Phoenix - he's so into it and this is probably my favorite HP book. He practices his clarinet (and leaves it out all over the house with his stand and case) a lot. He's got music for the GMYS holiday show, music for the school holiday show, and music he just wants to learn on his own.

I went down to their school today, to pay for a field trip of Isaac's, and buy tickets to their holiday show, and get his makeup work for missed days. And I couldn't do any of those things. It was so stupid. Nobody in the office even knew how to help me or where to direct me to, for ANY of my requests. They told me to try to email his teachers about the work, but I don't have email addresses for all 5 of his teachers, only 2 of them. The lady behind the desk didn't have those, and recommended seeing if they're available on the parent portal. Logging into their parent portal requires a student ID for each kid, and my parent PIN for each kid (it's different, I have 5 different parent PINs). I tracked down about 7 of those 10 numbers when I went searching various desks and folders, only actually getting both for two kids. Who were not Isaac. I've never had need of the freakin' portal before, I meet with and talk to their teachers without a portal, some of them even text regularly (though again, not Isaac's).

Jake is all melodrama all the time, lately. I'm trying to ascertain whether or not we need to pull him back out of school, and it's a weird situation with him - he got all As except for one B, and perfect attendance, for the first grading period. Girls like him, teachers like him, he has something he drew or wrote that he wants to show me almost every day. He brings home special treats and rewards for top behavior regularly. Buuuuuuut... he hates it. He desperately wants to stop going. He begs to be homeschooled again - daily. There are many mornings when he cries about going, and many afternoons when he calls from school asking to please, PLEASE be picked up early.

I'm torn between how Jake was the easiest kid in the world to homeschool and used his time well (meaning, he stayed at or above grade level in every subject with almost no effort from me, and then spent all the rest of his time drawing, writing, reading, building, and playing outside), so obviously I should bring him back home if he's that unhappy - and thinking he's doing SO WELL, has such a sweet and cool teacher, and was getting really lonely for friends, here. Also, he is very averse to almost all structured activities (bitching NONSTOP about GMYS til we pulled him out, years into that, even though he had friends and good teachers and his siblings have all also been in it, asking to please be allowed to stop things like Lego Club and Ceramics that he initially asked to sign up for...) and I always have this idea nagging at me that he has to be in SOME kind of structured SOMETHING...doesn't he? Why does he? Maybe he's just a certain kind of weirdo that it's ok to be. A smart, productive, charismatic little weirdo. I mean he is that, whether it's ok or not.

He's always been kind of moody. And it's definitely gotten worse as puberty looms in the distance (he's 9) - he really acts like my son, coming into our room to announce that he just doesn't understand what the purpose of life is, and that you grow up and you learn things and you do things but then you just die at the end so what's the point. Or, that he sometimes thinks maybe it would be better to just die so you don't have to worry about dying, and can see what happens after death.

The biggest complaint he has about school is that he "doesn't have any time to be creative" anymore. When you've got a 9 year old telling you that with tears dripping off his face, you pay attention. Or I do, anyway. He's kinda gutting me over here. FYI, our original agreement was that barring some kind of truly horrible situation, everyone was going to stay in school through Christmas break, when we would evaluate how it was working for everyone. Ananda, Aaron, and Isaac have no desire to leave school, which suits me fine, especially in the cases of Aaron (who was just a huge pita to force to do things and seems to respond much more easily to school structure and accountability) and Isaac (who really does a lot better being at school than he does being home too, in different ways related to his own anxiety, and ambition).

This morning -
Jake: Here, blow these bubbles while I do my homework.
Me: Why?
Jake: It's an ancient tradition.
Me: Well, alright then.

Yesterday Jake asked to go to a cemetery. Elise was psyched that there are REAL GRAVEYARDS and that's not just in movies. Isaac was yelling, "Can we really do that? Can we go right now? Is it far?" So I took them. They were ready with shoes on and out the door faster than I've ever seen them go.

At first they did math and pronounced ages reached, for awhile, looking at headstones. They thought a couple of things were creepy, and asked some funny/weird questions (If you lay down on the ground here do you just automatically die? If a car hits you while you're walking here, do they just bury you immediately? If your ride dies, are you stuck living at the cemetery forever?). Then Jake said that if I died there he'd take my phone and call Dad, they got really sad, Jake announced that he wants to be cremated whenever he dies, and that he never wants to think about me and Dad dying ever, and we left.

Elise loved it. She wrote a letter "to give her grandchildren" that (sort of, to her, almost phonetically) says, "I am dead. I had a good day while I was alive, but I had to move on, and now I am dead. -Elise" For her this is all just very intriguing stuff.

Elise is being homeschooled again. It's a long story I may or may not ever go into here, but for her school was truly horrible and the decision couldn't wait til Christmas break. She is SO HAPPY and it's really nifty to have her one on one, with everyone else at school. That's one reason why I hesitate to say, "yeah, Jake come on back home." She is very behind in some academic ways and was really struggling hard to exist in a 2nd grade classroom. There were things she liked about being there, but nothing she loved, and I have regrets about immersing her in an environment of strictly other 7 year olds...all of whom could read well and write much better than she can. She has some serious doubts about her own abilities and self consciousness about her own intelligence that just weren't ever there before, and probably didn't ever need to be. I could really go my whole life without ever listening to her talk about her Fs on tests, or cry about having to sign the Penalty Pad, again.

It's in my head so often, that Ananda didn't read until she was a whole year older than Elise is now. That never had to involve shame or failure or comparisons, for her. There is a whole schooling movement (Waldorf) based on not even beginning to teach kids to read until they're 7 (Elise's age).

We're doing a lot, at home, but the key is that we can do things that actually help her progress, now, instead of having to devote huge amounts of time to things that just go way way over her head. She can do 3rd-5th grade science and history and art, with 2nd grade math, and K and 1st language arts, and it all works, to move her forward.

We're also moving ahead with the round of private evaluations that were started over the summer. Not the sort she had as a baby or as a preschooler, but the learning disabilities and IQ and so on kinds that they don't do on kids younger than 7. She really enjoyed the parts of the evaluation process that she already experienced, so I hope that stays that way. Isaac always loved it when he was getting evaluated.

Tangential, back to Jake wanting to come home - I have hesitations about him having really given school a fair chance? But I don't even know exactly what that means, either. Or why he has to, or I'd force that issue, when it started out primarily as an experiment, and only because he wanted to try it. Parenting is hard. Sky is blue, water is wet, blah blah blah.

Elise talking to me CONSTANTLY all day every day, while everyone else is gone, is somewhat frazzling. I think it's good for her and one of several things she needs right now - to be able to engage and talk like that (having to sit quietly all day is really sort of the opposite of speech therapy...) It's just also a lot of talking. Did I emphasize "a lot"? I'm not sure you can understand. I'm actually strategizing ways to get her to hush for just a little while, sometimes - like today, when I brightly introduced the idea of audiobooks for car rides. WOULDN'T THAT BE GREAT?! LET'S GET SOME RIGHT NOW! O_O

She really wants to do schoolwork all day and into the evenings, and on the weekends. Her enthusiasm almost never wanes, so that is definitely in our favor. We have handwriting practice and books of number games, as well as a Reading Eggs login, for when she needs to work on her own for awhile and is tired of writing and drawing in her journal. But working with her is really FUN, for me, even though it can sometimes also be tedious as all hell. It's hard to explain, but she just tries so hard and makes so many different kinds of leaps and I do enjoy researching/buying/planning out curriculum materials SO MUCH MORE for the younger grades. I'm truly EXCITED, about the program we have put together for her here.

It is so validating and awesome, btw, how often A&A tell me, or their teachers tell me, how much MORE they know than other kids their age. They consistently wow people with their vocabularies, books they've read, history knowledge, science knowledge, general current event and government understanding, all of it. Other kids ask them to explain things regularly. Both of them have actually thanked me for always taking the time to answer questions and to explain things to them and just generally talk to them about anything and everything. It's pretty great.

Isaac is an A/B student who gets a ton of positive teacher comment codes in the margins next to his grades, on his report cards. Third grade was hard for him, but 4th was easy, and he's eating 5th up. He sometimes gets irritated by his Bs, but with as much school as he's missed this year already? I think As and Bs is incredible.


I'm so tired. I know I started this entry saying this. I know it's late. But I NEED the wind down time, once they're all sleeping, to breathe. Every minute today was cooking, or running to some errand, or teaching/explaining/coaching/asking, or carting people around - I got my shot, picked up prescriptions, went and bought more probiotics, finally got Elise's homeschooling form printed at Office Max (we're out of toner) and mailed, went by the younger kids' school (FOR NOTHING APPARENTLY), took Elise all through a botanical garden and to play at their splash pad, sat with her and worked, ran out this evening with Annie because she needs charcoal pencils and a kneaded (sp) eraser, medicated and sat up with Isaac - my head is just spinning. It never ever ends, and it's all (well mostly...) good stuff, but if I just lie down at the end of it I'm in for hours of tossing and turning. It's hard to let go of this quiet house and surrender, knowing that tomorrow starts early and will be just as relentless.

For whatever reason, I am also feeling pangs over the long lost feeling of nurslings, sling babies, and so on. Not really "baby rabies" feelings, though... it's all very specifically about my own babies gone by. Aaron nursing for an hour and a half at a time. Ananda only sleeping with her face on the "booby pillow." Wrapping my arms around Isaac in the kozy carrier, holding Jake close in the pool while he slept on my shoulder, Elise nursing under a blanket. I think the infinite mama part of me that has to spring eternal for everyone is really thinking it could use a heavy dose of prolactin to offset some of the more stressful moments.

On the (totally) other hand - I have SO MANY different kinds of moments, lately, when I stop and think about something that used to be the bane of my fucking life, and I just almost cannot believe I don't have to deal with it anymore. I don't know why so much of it has been happening, but geez is there a palpable sense of relief when it does. I recently visited a good friend with a new baby, and I have a few online friends who are pregnant, and here are a few of the things they remind me of that just make me think I am glad to say I've DONE MY TIME:
-everything to do with labor, OBs, birth, C-section, midwifery, maternity wards, and so on (picture me heaving a GIANT SIGH of relief, and then behind me a curtain opens and a combination fireworks display/dance party starts)
-pumping breastmilk (which for me is linked to the NICU)
-infants crying in carseats while driving
-the laundry avalanche of having two in cloth diapers while someone else is still wetting the bed
-getting head/face butted (and having a split lip, bloody nose, or just seeing stars...) when a baby/toddler threw their big disproportionate noggin at me...this is one of those things I'm not sure non-parents even know about. Like how I can stretch now, for years, anytime I want, because I am not pregnant. Stretching while pregnant is a recipe for charlie horse disaster.
-sleeping on a mattress on the floor because of co-sleepers/safety
-the struggle to get somebody to take a nap (HOW MANY CUMULATIVE MONTHS OF MY LIFE....)
-pulling teeth to make Aaron do homeschool work (this...this is cloud-parting kind of shit. It was important. It really seems like it was the right thing. BUT NOW THE RIGHT THING IS SOMETHING ELSE! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat :D)

All in all I'd say the cuddling and kisses and oversized lap loungers I get now - all of whom use toilets and GO TO THEIR OWN BEDS at night, and every one of which can stay away from the street on their own in our front yard - are just about perfect for this stage of my life :) I like kids who can all do part of making dinner, and who each appreciate at least something that's happening on YouTube, and none of whom ever stand on the dining table. It's just a lot of intense, draining, rewarding, amazing, infuriating, affectionate, hilarious, terrifying, high stakes, entertaining, interesting, warm...

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Old partial nonsense rambling entries!

#1, some thoughts on biking )

Much )

thoughts on birth control, and risk )
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up too late, baking Easter cupcakes. Note that carrot cake batter becomes far more delicious when you use coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable or what have you. I can't vouch for the cupcakes themselves at this point, but the batter is on point.

I've had a never ending series of miscommunications, lately, IRL and online. I feel like I've probably hurt or offended way too many people, and in every situation I wish I could just go back to the beginning and not say anything. I kind of want to curl up under a blanket and just stay there, dozing, for a couple of weeks. I have a semi-constant urge to telepathically communicate to those around me that I love them and would just like to cuddle wordlessly, please. Unfortunately, when not speaking, I am just seeming grumpy and irritable in a way that can be taken personally.

Because it's something to do, and it makes me somewhat happy to think about: lists...

Easter stuff for everyone: carrot cupcakes, dozens of white eggs, dyeing kits and subsequent hunting, a biggish chocolate bunny apiece, Cadbury creme eggs for everyone but Isaac - who has a different sort of treat I'd never seen before (without corn), and Lindt springtime chocolate...things. Also rainbow goldfish boxes for the little kids, and chocolate graham goldfish for the big ones. Then they have some little separate nonsense - Lisa Frank stickers for Elise, tiny stuffed animals Jake's been begging for every time we're at BJ's, book of word searches for Isaac, new tiny desk bamboo for Aaron, and more (skate reinforcement) duct tape, for Annie.

They're excited. One of the most exciting parts, for me, is that ALL of Ananda's normal Sunday activities are cancelled. That, I can celebrate.

My facebook wall is RIDICULOUS, and has been all week. For the most part, I have four groups of people:

-Catholic and Orthodox folks who are constantly posting meditations on scripture, pictures of Masses and Liturgies, quotes in Greek and Latin, really elaborate stuff like specially embroidered clothes and symbolic baking for children at midnight services where everyone holds candles...
-Laughing atheists who are constantly posting things about "Zombie Jesus," jokes about Easter being on 4/20 this year (mostly referencing "the most high,") and other stuff that I know would not strike anyone in the first group as funny.
-Pissed off Pagans with infographics and memes re: Christians co-opting all of their holidays, ancient Egyptian roots of parallel stories, etc etc
-Jews debating the necessity and/or elaborateness of their secular observance of a "traditional American holiday."

It's a lot of scrollin' on by, for me, and I feel about as averse to Facebook as I did during the last election.

Additional list: Elise's birthday. It's only 10 days away! My youngest, my fifth child, is turning 7 years old.

Plans:
-high tea at the Biltmore (she's been flipping about this, and changing her mind daily about which dress to wear, since January...)
-some kind of birthday cake that involves these little chocolate stars I bought from Marshall's in December, on top

Presents:
-sheet set for her bed - she will be very pleased about this, she's been using a top sheet as a fitted and complaining constantly
-funky journal I found for her months ago
-The Blue Fairy Book
-one of those big balls with a handle, that you sit on and bounce
-giant felt board with a beach and under water scene on it, and a bajillion little felt pieces to stick on the scene. She used to have a small one with just a few pieces when she was younger that was one of her favorite toys.
-Rainbow Dash tshirt
-couple of pairs of shorts
-a used bike from the flea market, that we're going to take her with us to pick out.

She was so happy at the end of her GS Science Camp day, Friday. I asked her if she had fun, after I signed her out, and she said, "No....I had SUPER FUN!!!" and then prattled on about it the whole way home.


I found out last week that her and Jake got into Isaac's charter school. That means that, at least initially for a trial period, ALL FIVE of my kids are going to school. I'm still trying to digest this idea. Mostly, what to do with ALL THAT CHILDLESS TIME? On the one hand I feel like I have to take 6 classes and get a part time job - on the other, I think that it won't really be all that much time, between drop offs and pick ups if I just keeping going to school twice a week like I do now. I could use the other 3 days for things like grocery shopping, my counseling and shot appts, exercising (then NONE of that would take away from "family time"), chaperoning/volunteering for classrooms and trips, and actually keeping the house clean. (<--super weird idea) I mean, all of that could eat up the 18 "free" hours per week pretty easily.

What I most want to do with the time (around college) is write, and that was Grant's first suggestion, too. I probably will. It's strange how scary and selfish it feels to really take chunks of time for that. Also exciting and wonderful, though.

While it's certainly possible that any of my kids could have issues in school, I think Ananda and Jake will do really really well from the get go. Isaac has adapted and we already know the good way outweighs any bad, for him. Aaron I think could go either way, and it's based on how he reacts to the situation - will the structure and consistency make up for the extra demands and stimulation? We'll see. For Elise, I think it's all about what teacher(s) she gets. My current plan is that barring some sort of truly horrific and unlikely shit, everybody has to really try it out and give it a chance until Christmas break - then, we can talk about options if someone(s) is unhappy in a lasting way.

As it stands, everybody is pretty pumped. Ananda and Aaron auditioned for the arts charter of their own free will and I sat down with Jake and Elise to talk about whether to put them on the list for Isaac's school, and both of them really wanted me to. They were thrilled when I told them they got in. We'll see what happens once they're dealing with tests and grades and getting up earlier day after day. I would really like it to work for them.


Well, the cupcakes are done, and I've ranted on tumblr about how NO DAMMIT MONEY REALLY DOES NOT BUY HAPPINESS IT IS NOT JUST "PRIVILEGE" TALKING TO SAY THAT (probably invoking more misunderstandings and eventually wishing I'd just never said anything...) Off to bed, with me...
altarflame: (deluge)
1.) Studying made me cry, tonight. It was the Health Psychology chapter, "Psychological Effects of Terminal Illness and Death." I made it through the SIDs section, I gritted my teeth through the Causes of Death Among 1-15 Year Olds. I already knew everything they had to say about the Kubler-Ross Model, and palliative and hospice care, mostly because of friends and real life situations. I actually laughed about the nonsensical, bullet formatted lists in our power point describing the pros and cons of dying young vs dying old*. But somewhere in between how confusing impending death is to hospitalized children, who can't really grasp that their lives are going to end, and the bit about conflicts that arise when an older person refuses treatment and their spouse or kids bitterly protest... I was just done.




2.) Earlier, Elise said to me, "You know, my birthday is only 26 days away. That means that your youngest kid, your little baby, is going to be 7 years old. That's pretty crazy."

Yes, Elise. That I can have five kids and the youngest will be 7 - is crazy.




3.) I spent awhile, tonight, in a rolling chair, head leaned on Grant's belly as he stood in front of me and ran his fingers over my neck and my shoulders. We can get to a place very quickly where I'm gasping and making involuntary noises and am COVERED in goose bumps. It occurs to me that I'm glad it was him that taught me, when we were 14, that my shoulders are dense with nerve endings and crazily sensitive. He licked my sunburn, actually, after I got back from a trip to the Keys with my mother, and I went wide eyed and slack jawed and asked him to please do that again. He really likes my shoulders in general, which I suppose is why he's the only person who ever really explored the "hyper sensitive shoulders" thing I have going on. It's really an art form, the way he knows when to bite. There are worse ways to pass half an hour.


*The most dryly existential hilarity was how young people might feel bitterly upset that they have not realized their life goals, whereas older adults may have accepted that they did not realize their life goals and made peace with that. My text book scoffs at the notion that anyone might ever actually realize any goals; that's not even a possible outcome.
altarflame: (deluge)
Maaaaan I really needed a weekend to hurry up and happen, so, hurray for that.

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

Biggest tedious/draining weekday things, lately:

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

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

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

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


Some good "weekend" things, this weekend:

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


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


...I just realized I never went and got my shot last week. What the heck. I carry the injectables around in my purse and refer to them as my arc reactor, because I still can't believe I'm really back to normal - HOW could I forget that?
altarflame: (deluge)
That's what my counselor said today, as a joke attempt, while I was in the middle of listing my current biggest "mom worries."

Annie is probably going to have oral surgery in the coming months, since her impacted canines are not coming down from braces (making space for them) alone. The surgery's not that big of a deal in and of itself, but, geez, general anesthesia? *sigh* For the most part, she's doing really great and I'm pretty much bursting with pride about her at all times. I was very impressed with her team captain skills and skating abilities at the scrimmage in Jacksonville last weekend, but I was just beside myself about her ability to make casual and graceful conversation with Nana, even when Nana's repeating herself, or being semi-delusional. The whole visit was wonderful and a big part of it was only possible because Ananda is somehow, miraculously, mature enough to take the silliness in stride and laugh with her about things that aren't even that funny. I wish I could convey just what I mean here... I just really would have cut her an awful lot of slack, if she'd been uncomfortable with the (Nana's in...) diaper jokes, or if she'd fumbled and stuttered when she got asked the same question for the third time, but I never had to. I think we all managed to have a good time that was very minimally weird, and made everyone feel glad it happened.

Aaron is on a temporary, experimental daily caffeine regimen that I hope might bridge the gap between "this is not sustainable" and "adderall." It seems important to add that this is something his pediatrician and my counselor, who is a licensed clinical psych, recommend as a great next step, along with some dietary alterations. I don't know where to begin, with the schoolwork battles and the all day every day nonsense...both of us are WAY too frustrated. I simultaneously want to throttle him and want him to not feel bad about himself, EVERY DAY. I took him with me to counseling today, and he sat in the waiting room doing his math, and then the two of us went to Galloway Farms Nursery for an hour. He liked it even more than I do, and found big areas I hadn't discovered on my own :) The only problem being that I clearly, completely screwed our first day caffeine "results" by isolating him in a small, quiet space for math and then taking him around a very serene place I knew he'd find ideal to the point of being a utopia. Ah, well. We need a bunch of days in a row to judge anyway, and I want to do as much else as I can to help him cope in general... He is still managing to be EVEN TALLER every freakin' week.

There is an arts magnet opening up that I've applied to for both of them. Annie with her first choice being beginning visual art, and her second advanced cello. Aaron with his first choice being advanced dance, and his second choice being beginning theater. We're taking it as it comes; IF they get in, we can decide whether they want to go, and whether that will be to the arts portion only or to the entire school day. I am cautiously optimistic about the program in general - it's a new location for a very highly reviewed and established main school, up the road. Like, HOLY SHIT the reviews are SO much better than ANYTHING else I've seen for schools locally. So far, we don't even have our audition dates, so, who knows.

Ananda is adamant that she won't go if they don't allow her purple hair. I already happen to know that they don't, on paper at least (Isaac's school claims not to allow all sorts of things that I see there all the time), but I am biding my time.

Isaac is having belly aches and bathroom troubles again :/ I've doubled his probiotics and am pushing water on him a lot, as well as trying to spend a lot of time in our before-bed-calm-reading-together routine - because it really seems like at least part of this is anxiety, like that is what's left of his lifelong belly troubles since we figured out his food stuff and things improved so much. It's hard not to get paranoid that things will rapidly progress to the terrible place he spent so long in before (hospitalization, tests galore, nonstop specialists, meds, etc). He's been doing very, very well belly-wise for almost two years now, so hopefully this will improve soon. I do have some things I can give him if it keeps up... For the most (non-belly) part, I continue to be in an amazed state of NOT worried about Isaac, which still sometimes seems new :)

Something weird that I think about sometimes is just how much Aaron and Isaac open up and act differently (calmer, more at ease, much easier to have a conversation with) when one on one. They seem to suffer much more than the other three for being part of a big family. It's hard for me to ever spend time alone with either of them, see how GREAT it is, and not ache a little for how much simpler, and really possibly happier, their lives would be if they were only children. I know you're "not supposed to say that," and it's not like I'd trade situations - even if I wanted to, two only children is not exactly possible :p - it's just strange to navigate, as a parent of all of them.

With Jake, I really just worry about him falling through the cracks. He's so easy and self-sufficient in so many ways. He does schoolwork very quickly and independently, and is ahead of grade level in pretty much everything with seemingly no effort. He is my least picky eater and the one who is quickest to go get himself something healthy when hungry. He's happy to play independently or with siblings most of the time, and is generally pretty chill. Now and then Isaac or Elise will come "telling" that he hit them or something, if they were play fighting and he got too rough, or if some trampoline-tag type play got out of hand - he does have a temper if someone hurts him first, even when it's an accident. And, he has a tendency to just beg to sleep with Grant and I, at bedtime :/ The combination (periodic aggression and the sleeping alone trouble) make me wonder if he's got some kind of repressed feelings happening, as he trudges along as "the easy one." There are times when he will just randomly tell me he's feeling really sad and doesn't know why. I try to get him to talk about it, and I try to preempt it, but fuck is it hard to always "get to" him in a meaningful way throughout the day when everyone else NEEDS things constantly and he SEEMS, in the moment, to usually be a-ok. I'm actually sitting here re-reading this paragraph right now and thinking dammit, I'm totally making a list right now of little things I HAVE to do with Jake in the coming days, and sticking to it....

Alright. I put a bunch of stuff in my (jam packed) phone calendar. They're small things, but it's meant as extras, beyond the normal "we have tea or dinner all together, and I hug him when he wakes up and tell him what to do with school work, and am around to show stuff to, and usually read to him and Elise together at night" kinds of things. Like having smoothies together while talking about our dreams/lack thereof tomorrow morning, having him help me bake the lemon syrup cake I have planned for Friday, and taking him over to the library for an hour Saturday afternoon.

I have him and Elise in the "lottery" for Isaac's school, for next year. He, Jake, at least, seems to really want to go, and I think it would probably be either a good or neutral thing for him at this point. Elise also wants to go, but I am not sure if she can really thrive in that environment, or not, re: various short term memory things I mentioned in previous entries... my counselor, hearing my descriptions of her issues and knowing her history, immediately suggested I take her in for a neuropsychological eval, at her old neuro practice within Miami Children's Hospital. That made so much clear and obvious sense that I felt irritated that her doc hadn't mentioned that possibility. I wonder if her doc has some kind of reasoning why it's not valuable or something? I mean she had a pretty thorough developmental evaluation during her preschool year (which showed her behind in speech but average or ahead in every other area, including things like comprehension), but testing before the age of 6 is a lot more limited. I called today, after counseling and Aaron time and arts charter applications and lunch, to get her in for that. The receptionist offered me an appt in the middle of July with what seemed like very little understanding of what I actually wanted to happen. Now, I'm waiting on a call back once she can fully explain to me exactly what she is scheduling Elise for. Because I am ok with waiting months for THE RIGHT THING, but...gah. I wish it were more possibly to actually get a doctor on the phone. Ever. Any kind of doctor. About anything. That is one thing I like about their ped - he actually does do that.

It is not outside the realm of possibility that I would have all five kids in school next year, which is a pretty bizarre and surreal concept. But I just don't feel capable of creating the sort of structure and consistency they need, a lot of the time :/ They all need such DIFFERENT things, and their doctors and orthodontist and dentist and extracurriculars, and my counselor and doctors and college and exercising, aaaaaall start to infringe on our school days, in various ways. And all of those things seem too important to just cast aside in the name of a peaceful and uninterrupted home school day. And I think there are trade-offs, and pros and cons, with everything, and that in a ton of ways, homeschool is still the better choice for them. In other ways, though, it's not. I think Jake REALLY needs friends, for instance - everyone else has a pretty solid group of friends that they get a lot out of, between their activities and PATH, etc. Jake really has siblings and cousins and that's it most of the time, though :/ Which is not as ok as it was a couple of years ago, and he's lonely.

Of course, the local schools are mostly ABYSMALLY TERRIBLE, very overcrowded, extremely crime-ridden, rife with language barriers...and so we are definitely at the mercy of charter school spot availability to even consider school as an option. And who knows how that will go. Earlier I had the ridiculous thought that maybe they'll all get in, they'll be doing well....aaaand then we'll have to move for Grant's job o_O

It would be really expensive, to put them in. We would deal, but there would probably be scrambling. When Isaac started 3rd grade and Elise started Kindergarten I was shocked by the prices of their mandated uniforms, and the crazy supply lists. They ask for tons of stuff "normal" public schools don't, it's a 40 item list from big class sets of tissues and many reams of copy paper, to thumb drives and ear buds for each child. He needed things like a spanish-english dictionary; colored pencils, markers, AND crayons; 10 different folders, all in different specific colors; and "at least 200" of those little loops for loom craft kits. They demand sneakers, and Isaac didn't even own them when he started (he had two colors of Crocs, and sandals, because Florida), and you feel like you need to buy your kid good sneakers to be in all day long every day, including PE. Back pack, lunch box, wtf - I spent over $500 for the two of them, all told. The uniforms being a big chunk of that.

I'm also still trying to figure out how to finance and budget all their normal summer activities, with the clock ticking for actually getting THOSE spots.

So yeah, that is a lot. It makes it really hard to care at all about shit like my own homework. Or writing. Which reminds me, my "review episode" recording, for Liz McMullen, is scheduled for the same time as Annie's next bout, and I need to try to move that. And since my editor is sending me another stack of copies, I should try to get that Tumblr contest going again. I don't have hours, you know? I've stolen this journal entry out of my sleep, partially in the hope that it will be easier to sleep once I say all of this.

I definitely have zero resources to expend any effort whatsoever on shit like polyamory (good lord, I'd be so thrilled to actually spend some time WITH GRANT sometime soon...). Once I got off the phone with the neuro office this afternoon, and we all had tea and talked on the deck, and I talked to the coordinator about this "Mythologically Speaking" PATH event they're all going to be in, it was time to take Elise to Girl Scouts and Annie to derby, and while we were out alone the boys and I got her things for the GS sleepover event Elise is doing soon (sleeping bag, raincoat, bug spray, new water bottle). And a few little birthday things for her (shorts, Rainbow Dash shirt, new sheets for her bed) that are stashed away, now. Then we picked her up, and we read, and I cooked, and Grant brought Annie home, and bleeeehh my eyes are seriously crossing.

Elise will be 7 on May 1. I have little chocolate stars for the top of her cake, and we're taking her to High Tea at a local place that does it in an absolutely over the top way she's REALLY EXCITED about, although she can't stop switching back and forth between the two dresses that are in the running for the event.

Annie turns 14 on June 1. She wanted a very low key birthday last year, which kinda makes me want to do something more significant this time around. Though I have no idea what that is, yet.
altarflame: (deluge)
I used my commute-from-school to talk, again. About our coming weekend, but also a lot of meandering thoughts about homeschooling teenagers - mine, and in general.



How perfect, with that recording in mind, that I got a text right before arriving, from Annie, that Aaron had just "stapled his finger." Aaron, who is now (bandaged*) outside, cleaning up all the garbage all over the deck because he accidentally knocked over the trash can, and bellowing in his cracking-cuz-it's-changing voice, "Whine! Whiiiiiine! COMPLAIN! WHINE AND COMPLAIN! Whine and complain a whole looooot so that you will reeeeeaally regret making me DO THIS!"

Ananda re-purpled her hair while I was out, for the bout this weekend. Because the purple she likes only comes with a bleaching kit, she has extra bleach. She explained this as Elise looked up at me with an exaggerated sad lip and her hands knotted together under her chin. So I have finally relented to let Annie bleach and make pink ONLY the bottom inch of Elise's hair (like how Annie had it when she was way younger, such that it can be trimmed off easily). They are ecstatic on the deck with some old towels, both waiting for it to be time for rinsing.

Elise's nails are also freshly-painted-by-Annie. Spoiled little Beast :) Annie had to wait SO LONG for a sister.

We realized the other day that Elise is about to turn 7, which is exactly as old as Annie was in Boston, when Elise was born.







Now Aaron is playing (really beautiful) piano. *deep, non-murdering-him breaths*

I will probably not be around online much until at least Tuesday, beyond the Tumblr robo-queue that's been loaded up for awhile. Possibly more like next Friday. So please don't think I'm just ignoring you if I don't reply to a comment for a week or something :)



*I suppose it's a good thing that he's had plenty of tetanus shots in the past couple of years. Often coupled with casts.
altarflame: (deluge)
I decided while we were working on breakfast that maybe I would do something like a ditl. It didn't end up being complete, but it mostly worked for a few hours and hey, this means I'm actually posting pictures (a couple of hours after...) the day I took them!

many many pics, from today )
altarflame: (deluge)
Harry Potter Pros and Cons:

I LOVE that every time I start reading Goblet of Fire to a new kid(s), they always act interested but uninvested in the first chapter - the story of villagers in Little Hangleton and the abandoned Riddle House, and the gardener Frank Bryce and how this family was killed but nobody gets how since they have no marks.... it's just a story they're blankly listening to, gossip at the pub, whatever, and then I say "Tom Riddle" and something snaps, and they put it all together that THIS IS A HARRY POTTER BOOK and THEY KNOW WHO TOM RIDDLE IS and THEY KNOW HOW THOSE PEOPLE WERE KILLED. Those people are not just regular people, they're MUGGLES! Annie and Aaron fell all over each other interjecting at that point, years ago, and, Isaac jumped up and ran around in circles on his bed when we read it, months ago. Tonight, Jake sat straight up with wide eyes, yelling. It's so much fun.

Unfortunately - Elise didn't get it. Like...after a LOT of explanations, and some YouTube clip refreshers, and Jake losing his mind trying to get her to see reason, she really seems to have no idea who Tom Riddle ever was, what the Chamber of Secrets could be, doesn't remember a basilisk or a diary or... I'm not sure you can understand how often they've watched that movie. I mean I read the entire book to them a couple of books ago, and then they watched the movie 7 million times while we read the 3rd book. When I explained this lack of remembering to Grant and to Aaron, they were grave about it, because it is really, really weird.

This is one in a series of upsetting and somewhat random gaps in her memory that have come up lately. It does not fit the pattern that I've been watching for at all. Normally, when she has a really weird lapse, it's something like, "Mom! You didn't pay for the groceries!" as we walk out of the store (when I totally did, and she helped put them on the conveyor, and is carrying the receipt the cashier handed to her). Part of why I pulled her from kindergarten was because she could remember spelling and sight words from many weeks before, but never from the week they were on, and so she was miserably failing every test each Friday, and they really emphasized those test scores so she was feeling terrible about herself.

Her pediatrician (who has a lot of experience with brain injuries, from international work every summer to his own child) is recommending I try to get her into a local university research program, because unfortunately she does not fit into any standard mold that local therapies are tailored for (speech, ADHD, autism spectrum, 0-3 Head Start, standard learning disabilities, etc). Her neurologist doesn't really do much beyond diagnostics, scans, check-ups, surgeries, and medicating - and his opinion is basically "this child is beyond miraculous, she 'should' be doing nothing but seizing all day long and eating through a g-tube and instead she's raving about her science lab table and birthday plans." Which is nice perspective and I know I have a lot to be thankful for, but it's frustrating how hard it is to know what my next step should be. She's mostly happy, speaks well, writes and reads a couple dozen words each (so that is behind but not horrifically so), thinks deeply about all kinds of complex topics (she often asks me spontaneous questions questions like, "the stars are still out when the sun is up, right, we just can't see them?" and "where does the water go when we flush the toilet?" and "how would anyone KNOW that Jesus ever existed?"). She makes up pretend games with her brothers, is slightly behind but not the last in the class with violin, and does great with Girl Scouts (meetings and camps). I go out on my bike so that she can run, around the neighborhood, regularly. I don't know, man.

Grant got some memory cards and is convinced that while her verbal memory is terrible, she's on point or beyond otherwise. I suppose I just have to start calling random occupational therapists until someone has a lead for me. Along with the uni program.

It just makes me feel really heavy. My little Beasty. At least she's healthy, happy as shit and doesn't know what I'm on about :p




This evening I made a 35 minute voice post as I drove on the highway, that was supposed to be my entire entry. That's something I might start doing sometimes. There is intermittent cursing but nothing in it is too terribly explicit and I think the volume is relatively steady. It's basically just me rambling like I do. For more than half an hour. If you get to the end, let me assure you that neither Grant nor anybody else ever noticed my beeping.

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

Yesterday and today, I:

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

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

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

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

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

-dishes

-sweeping

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely holiday...in the beginning it was honestly sort of hell. I was just totally overwhelmed with trying to get the entire house clean and cooking so much, with company coming and time limits. I was doing school presentations and things the day before my Dad arrived, and I'm so freaking exhausted. I was taking 20 minutes once an hour to lie down, for an entire evening. Once things were underway, though, and it was too late to do any more than was done, I started coasting, and that has been wonderful most of the time since...

And Grant has had 9 days off in a row, Isaac 4, we've had so much cool intermittent company, put up Christmas trees, and blargh. This week is gonna be wall to wall, as all weeks tend to be lately. It's the end of the semester, and today I did two quizzes, some discussion board stuff and submitted a 5 page paper, online. The beginning of the end of the all too brief peace and lazing about. After we grocery/Christmas shopped, this afternoon, Grant took Ananda and Aaron to see Gravity, and I put a movie on for the littles and took the quiet hours for schoolwork...

Tomorrow I have to get Isaac to school; go by my doctor's office; go spend two hours getting fillings; then go to the school to make-up a theater exam, give the disability services people more documentation, and sell my textbooks back; make a power point presentation; write another paper; drive Aaron to dance; make dinner; read to everyone before bed... Tuesday I have classes, then a B-12 injection, driving people, feeding them, readings. Wednesday is counseling, gastroenterologist, blah blah blah. The three littles have a holiday concert instead of their normal music classes, after my classes, on Thursday. I'm trying to figure out with Nancy when we can see each other again before she leaves town in a couple of weeks, and with my sister when I can babysit so SHE can go to the doctor. Both of which are important to me, and more "good" than "work".

I make a point of scheduling leisure and downtime, lately. Tuesday evening, Grant will be here since he works from home Tues/Thurs, and we're going to watch a movie. Wednesday there are a lot of activities, but they're spaced out and local to where I can get a lot of quiet time at home with just Isaac and Jake, which is an unusual combination of kids to have home alone. Friday-day we will do nothing but guided schoolwork that they can't auto-pilot or do on the computer or whatever, since the rest of this week is low on that.

I'm just SO. fucking. TIRED. All the time. Friday, Saturday and today/Sunday, I've been going to bed around 1-2am, and sleeping until 1-3pm. Then I drink a lot of caffeine, and...take a nap. Still, I end up dozing off around 10 or 11. Second wind til bedtime.

I spent awhile up troubleshooting Ananda's chocolate chip cookies, with her, tonight, while everyone else was in bed. They came out hard as rocks and completely stuck on the pan, and she's very spoiled on early successes since she's made some challenging stuff like cheesecake and had it come out perfect. We talked a lot about the French law against face coverings for Muslim women, too, since I had to write about that earlier for school and she was interested - so many layers of racism and freedom and religious expression, etc...

I wrote another poem the other day. I've written a lot of poetry these past few months, for the first time in awhile. It's under here. )

Continuing with getting all of my November pictures posted!

Ananda's derby team had their first home bout this month, which was the first time I got to see her actually playing (not just practicing) in person - Grant and Gloria had previously taken her to away bouts. We got a lot of people to come out, including old high school friends of mine who are not pictured, and some of Annie's friends. Pre-bout tailgating included a big taco spread we brought along. Derby makeup, and nerves:


Gloria and LJ, excited:


Shaun and Cristy:


Aaron:


Possibly tipsy Grant, and Elise in mini-derby makeup Annie put on her:


I dressed up.


Half-time.


With Miguel and Izzy, all trying to look tough and then bursting out laughing as soon as the picture had clicked.


#1 fan.




It was fun. One of her coaches, who is on the adult team that had a bout after theirs, told her how well she'd done. She TOTALLY hero-worships this woman, and it made her flip. She was silly-stupid-happy for two days after :)

Back at the ranch - the chickens have finally started laying, as Jake and Elise wasted no time in RUSHING in SCREAMING to tell me ;)

Yes, it is a blue egg. And they roam free a lot, so it's like an Easter hunt every day :p

I randomly went outside for something else and found them wearing cut up cups as crowns.


Elise watching TV with Tom:


Isaac, sleeping with a special shell his penpal sent him :D


The cats use his bed, when he's at school.


One night, we had Miguel and Izzy and Izzy's brother Francois over, for dinner and a projector movie/sleepover. After the movie, Grant sat at the laptop projecting things on to peoples' faces. Like sunglasses, and clown noses, and celebrities.

Much laughter all around.

Next day:


New closed coils post-extractions, and new colors:


Our little Beasty's Girl Scout troop was in a parade up at the Falls - her shirt says "Keep Calm and Camp On," from this summer at GS camp.

Her brother's saved her a bubble necklace they'd gotten while watching the parade. You can see highlights from the rest of the parade (I didn't get any good shots of her group, unfortunately, and it seemed more important to scream and wave anyway) are here. <--They all get bigger. It's wild how the quality and variety of what is in a parade goes up, driving 30 minutes north :p

Sisters...


Some Thanksgiving pictures...it seems somehow ironic that these cuddly chickens were safely hanging out in the kitchen for part of the afternoon. They all just walk up to people and fall asleep in your arms, making little happy noises. It's ridiculous.



We were all SO. STUFFED. Nancy and Steve and their little dog Sundae, and my father, and Laura and Frank and their kids, and Gloria, and Shaun, and Grant and I and our kids. Delicious. And stuffed. And haha, you can see the picking my kids had done off of the edge of my clementine cakes.

Hours later:

That's Elise, (niece) Elizabeth, me, and Isaac.


You can see Gloria, Ananda, and Frank...we were still outside at 1am.

The only black Friday shopping we did was at Guitar Center...

Aaron, in Grant's hoodie and his new hip hop sneakers, drooling over expensive headphones.

Saturday was the Greater Miami Youth Symphony's 55th Anniversary Concert. Grant took Annie, and sent me these, while Aaron hung out with his friend Adrian and I took the littles to my sister's, since our mother was in town. I pretty much spent the whole visit catching my mother up on my latest lab results and apologizing to everyone for my brain fog and sleepiness. Sometimes, right in the middle of visits like that, I do stupid shit like tell everyone I'll run to Publix for a few things and then burst into tears and rant to my husband on my cell phone in the parking lot for 15 minutes until I feel like I can stay awake long enough to continue, uh, living.




Well hello, 3:30 O_o

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