altarflame: (deluge)
I love it when I have lots of leftovers available. I got up this morning and ate cold pumpkin oatmeal right out of the fridge with some seeds sprinkled on top (steel cut oats store pretty well), and now I'm having some cream of mushroom soup I cooked last night. I heated the soup, because I am not a barbarian.

I got the practicum agency placement I wanted, for Spring, so that's exciting. It's hospice work, and my program's rule is that 75% of intern time must be spent directly with clients (we're actually supposed to "inform" them we aren't allowed to do "administrative tasks" if we get assigned things like document shredding or getting a boss's coffee - which doesn't sound awkward at all :p) There was only one on the list of local hospices that was open to students at my level who aren't fluent in spanish, and they were only taking ONE student, so I was afraid I'd be stuck with my backup choices. Which would have been cool in a different way, but, this is better!

My practicum interview, a couple of weeks ago, was interesting - I walked away feeling the faculty member who had interviewed me knew an awful lot about me for us having just met. But that's sort of how it goes in this field of study... I had to lay out that I'm too personally impacted by work with children and REALLY don't want to do that, but am interested in death and passionate about funeral industry reform, for instance. She was obviously seeing it as par for the course.

I also had a big, unidentifiable black smudge on my forehead the whole time and didn't realize until I went to the bathroom on my way out. Of all the nonsense.

Hard to believe there's only about a month left of this semester. I'm getting used to absurd grad school demands, like "15 minutes late counts as absent, and two or more absences means you fail the class," and "bring 6 copies of your paper next week for peer review" - 6 copies of a 14 page paper! Also, professional dress as part of the grading rubric for class presentations.

I have SO MANY REBELLIOUS THOUGHTS about professional dress for social work IN GENERAL, let alone during class time - if you get to the bottom of these standards of what is and is not "appropriate," to wear, isn't it all a lot of classism and bs? Who actually decides these arbitrary standards of what constitutes "appropriate?" And, if we're supposed to be working with the disenfranchised, is it really the best way to build rapport, to always immediately class off from them through appearance? I understand the arguments FOR professional dress - I really do. I just also think there are some legitimate counterarguments that are not being explored.

Tangential, perhaps... the Switchboard is closing. After 45 years. I went through 40 hours of training in January to be a volunteer crisis counselor there, and had a huge array of experiences on the phone in just my short time being a part of it. The good news is that callers' experiences won't really change - the Jewish Community Center is taking over and many of the same people will be working. Calling the National Suicide Lifeline, the Veteran's Crisis Hotline, etc will still (hopefully) be the same experience. Just...wow. That Switchboard awning downtown is such an institution. *I* called the Switchboard when I was 14 and wanted to run away from home, and talked for an hour with someone in the middle of the night. It's hard to believe. But, the JCC has a really stellar financial reputation, and the Switchboard has at least been rumored to be a big mess in that one regard, for some time...




Grant and I are butting heads about stupid little things a lot lately. Not wanting to go the same places, for instance, and having different budgeting priorities, garbage like that. I feel like he's always trying to hug me AS I try to pull on a shirt, which is something that actually happened today and is a little too representative. We're basically NEVER ready for sex at the same time. Sometimes I think we just have too much time together, with him working from home so much while I'm here homeschooling Jake and Elise during the weekdays. And/or, that I'm too isolated and don't have enough local friends. As previously stated, I have lots of people I text with and fb message daily, and now I also have some pretty cool "school friends," but many of them are travelling south to get to the school that is 45 minutes north of me, and we're all trying to work grad school into pre-existing schedules, so. Not a ton of socializing there (outside of the 12+ hours per week we spend together whether we like it or not).

With Grant, I dunno... we still hug a lot, and mean it. We cuddle as we fall asleep most nights. He makes me (DAMN GOOD) coffee every day, left behind in a thermos if he goes to the office. We're like really supportive and affectionate friends who encourage each other, and get on each others' nerves too often, and are both scared shitless at times by how divergent our interests are getting.

Part of the problem may be that he's just gradually coming out of a long, dark depression. He thinks that's most/all of the problem. I dunno. I do think I get more irritated now than I did while he was in a worse place, because I feel like I can. It's not a conscious decision like, "oh if you're not REALLY MISERABLE I can be grumpy with you," but it kinda naturally happens sort of like that as my acute concern recedes. And I have leftover anger I was repressing from when it was worse, and I didn't even realize that until it was "safe" to deal with.

Bleh. In a way I'm bitching about absolutely nothing, since we still work together as well as we do and can be as honest as we are. I mean he came to my Research Methods class with me a couple of weeks ago, and charmed everyone raising his hand to participate and talking with me the whole way home about gaps in literature and motivations for new experiments. I have moments of deep gratitude that we have what we do, that can make me cry with happiness.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯




Random Bits:

I've texted and talked way more than normal lately, with my mom. Which is still not a ton, but for us... There's a small blinking "Danger" light in the back of my mind about it. "We'll see," as she herself would say.

I got plants in the mail, for my birthday, from my friend Jess!! It was epic. I love her so much. And she sent me really great things, after researching my hardiness zone and everything. Beyond adorable <3

I realized there is such a thing as The Society of Professional Obituary Writers, and I will be adding a membership in that organization to my collection of obscure memberships (Medicinal Plant Savers, Florida Native Plant Society, etc) post haste. I wrote my grandfather's obituary for the Key West newspaper and was really happy with how I managed to be totally honest about someone I did not like, and still make the people who loved him very happy with the end result. I also think about writing the story of my other grandparents' lives regularly, a la Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card... you know...)

I also realized that I'm not WRITING-writing because I'm AFRAID TO, which is horrible and also motivating. Anytime I've written things I'm really proud of in the past, I've written them for my own eyes only, often in secret, and with the intention that nobody else will ever see them. Then I'm like, oh, but holy shit - I love this! I have to share it, even if it's excruciating! Now I'm thinking of writing in that deep down, no holds barred way, WITH THE INTENT of sharing, and it's got me at a standstill such that I keep endlessly procrastinating even when I get excited about my ideas. Now that I know I've gotta just fucking do it because art > fear etc etc.

My friend Kathy, who I've had since high school and truly love, and is nearby, is spending a LONG time in-patient for potentially dangerous pregnancy complications. They're hoping to get her to 34 weeks gestation before inducing or doing a c/s, which would make SIX WEEKS in the hospital! I did some research and sent her some links, but man. I am tormented by how terrible I am for not visiting her regularly, and super aware of how triggering it will be for me to do so. She's also aware of that and going out of her way to tell me she doesn't expect me to come. I get mad at myself, I don't WANT to be freaked out by this shit, I don't feel it SHOULD continue to have power over me, it feels so pathetic and even silly, etc etc... It's a merry go round in my head like, oh come on, I do great taking Isaac to the psychiatrist, that's in a children's hospital and it only bothers me if I'm already a mess - but man, I was tense and almost in tears by the time I left MARSHALL'S the other night, because this motherfucker was walking around near me in OR scrubs the whole time I shopped. And she's in the maternity ward, having frustrating arguments with obstetricians (a word I say like a cat hissing), no doubt losing her shit from this long stay WHICH IS WHY I AM UNIQUELY POISED TO RELATE AND HELP!

On the one hand, I might just be able to go in anticipating it being hard for me, and come away journaling about it and processing, and be ok by the end of the night. It's usually only when I really repress that something is triggering me that it becomes an ongoing issue in my day to day life. I keep running into her family around town and talking with them, and her coworkers, about how she's dealing and the latest conflicts and the juggling of her other kids. Argh.




Ananda is doing way better than she was awhile back - general mental health and academic upswing. Which is enormously relieving for me and makes everything else in my life seem easier, like I can at least breathe through it.

Aaron is doing pretty well for quite awhile, too - and I took him out to DRIVE this past weekend. WTF. He goes out skating miles and miles regularly, and then ends up stranded in the rain or hopelessly lost, and sends me a google pin to come pick him up. He's so weird and wonderful. He's always wearing my clothes and lately my jewelry - almost as much as Annie does... he choreographed a dance for some people at school that involved a flowy thin cardigan of mine. He has a YouTube following, making intros for people, and is always on about some contest he's won or placed in...

Isaac is great. He's obsessed with annoying middle schooler shit like dabbing and water bottle flipping. He's always got a long and convoluted story to tell about the latest rounds of gossip in his friend group. He has a ridiculous and unintentionally hilarious Instagram account that absolutely kills me.

Jake is following along in his wake, and half of what comes out of his mouth is "suh dude" and "nah fam I'm good." PRETEENS, OMFG. Give me a teenager any day over this eye rolling, unenthusiastic, painfully awkward phase!

Elise continues to be a ray of sunshine. She is OBSESSED with Uno and we must all play often. She would live on caprese salad if I let her (although she's currently begging me to heat her up some onion soup, so I guess I have to wrap this up soon).

We managed to finish The Order of the Phoenix and go see it in theaters! She was so crazily pumped. She's just so much fun.

Frequent: her and I chasing each other around trying to smack each other's butts, while Ananda says, "Mom, you can't release her into the wild with this value system."
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)
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)
This makes about 12 filling bowls of soup that run about 9 Weight Watchers points apiece.

Ingredients:

-about 6 tablespoons of really good butter - spring for Kerrygold, it's worth it!
-a leek/big yellow onion/shallot (whatever you've got)
-5ish cloves of garlic
-4-5 carrots
-5ish potatoes
-some kind of sausage - I used artichoke parmesan chicken sausage, italian would be good, whatever
-about 6 cups of raw kale (it wilts down SO MUCH it's barely present by the end)
-couple of diced roma tomatoes (or one big one)
-3ish cans of beans - I used cannellini and small red beans
-10 cups of chicken broth
-water, if you feel like it (see Method)
-about 1/2 cup of white wine
-cup of cream
-salt and pepper to taste

Method:

I put my leek, garlic and carrots in the butter to sautee until they started to caramelize. Then deglazed with the wine, added the potatoes, threw in enough of the broth for them to basically braise in covered for a few minutes. At this point I was cooking sausages on the George Foreman - they could also be pan fried or just cooked in the soup, but I was taking Annie's portion out before I added meat to the pot. Following the potatoes, kale went in, and once that was about half wilted, the rest of the broth and the beans. I ended up adding about 3 cups of water somewhere in here, which worked out well. I finished the soup (off the heat) with the tomatoes, cream, salt and pepper.

I had it with the same wine I used in the soup, which happened to be this one but, you know, it probably doesn't matter which you use beyond not pouring pure vinegar in.

Everybody loved it. We had a (somewhat sophisticated, foodie of a) teenage dinner guest, but everybody in my family tore it up. I think Jake actually had fourths, but he was using a pretty small bowl :)
altarflame: (deluge)
It's funny how wholesome and nurturing I can feel for providing tons of carbs and sugar to my kids, that I don't actually think are objectively good. Tonight I laid out a loaf of italian bread on some racks to get stale for french toast in the morning, baked an apple pie that we'll have for tea tomorrow afternoon, and baked brownies and then bagged them up to go with school lunches throughout the week. So motherly; so organized; so diabetic.

We did have a high protein dinner?

I've really loved our long Thanksgiving weekend. Every little bit of it. It went about as good as it possibly could have in just about every way. Weather cool to cold with a breeze and clear skies, food all turned out yummy... My mother actually seemed happy almost all of the time - happier than I've seen her in years. My Dad made it, which was in question (we basically always have good visits when he comes). He got along with my mom, and it's hilarious how the two of them kept pulling me aside to tell me HOW OLD the other one is looking.

Counseling has done wonders for my ability to NOT be emotionally exhausted by being around my mom. There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on my deck swing, and I gestured toward what had been the fire, out in the yard - "Is that smoking again?" My mom turned around from her spot off to the right, holding a cigarette, and defensively said, "This is only my second one all day!" We laughed until we cried.

My brother and his girlfriend were semi-social and rarely dramatic. They even played Apples to Apples with my mom and a rotating group of kids for about 2 hours, one afternoon. Shaun and Cristy came, loved the food, told me interesting things about the art world and attacked us with silly string.

I stayed up late and slept in, with nowhere outside the house to be, for several days in a row. That in itself really seems like a miracle. Grant is still somewhat depressed, but was absolutely heroic as a facilitator - doing everything from multiple loads of dishes for days as I continuously cooked, to setting up and breaking down projector movie night for a big group of kids, and running out for takeout at 3 different places one evening. And, we had a pretty sweet date, today.

Aaron is coming out of a short phase of being depressed, and it's awesome. I love it when he's just bubbly and happy. I think he's going to struggle back and forth throughout his life. He never stops talking and trying to connect, which seems crucial to me. We stayed up really late alone last night, watching an SNL Thanksgiving Special on Hulu and laughing our heads off. There have been a lot of cuddle piles with kids, one notable one with ALL of my kids, which is increasingly rare.

I posted some highlights.

The only off point is that I've felt uncomfortably bloated or had some kind of vague indigestion for about 5 solid days now. I think I've just splurged on nonstop dairy and fattening rich bs, and eaten way too MUCH (I give myself a break from Weight Watchers for holidays). It's also been a pretty sedentary time. My body will be happy to return to it's previous lifestyle.

Additional glitch: my mom put our electric kettle on the stove, and then went back outside with all of us, figuring she'd go check on it in 10 minutes. Luckily, I went in for something else after just 4 or 5, at which point there was already smoke billowing everywhere and sparks were flying. I lunged to turn off the stove and grab the kettle off the burner - the bottom of it had melted to the point that it fell off as I picked it up, and much of it fell to the floor as a tarry black mess that splattered the cabinets. The thing in my hand had exposed wires throwing sparks at that point, and the stuff left on the burner burst into flames.

After some smothering, an evacuation period with fans, lots of razor scraping and some magic eraser-ing, we were left with a good story and a terribly guilt stricken grandma. I tried to assure her it is ok and everyone makes mistakes, and I tried not to tell her - when she said her phone was dying - to please not charge it in the toaster oven. She was mostly able to joke about how this is going to be one of those things she never lives down, like when she lit her hair on fire trying to light her cigarette, when I was 10. Or when she accidentally took a sip of her bottle of ashes-in-water, a couple of years ago. But come on, who even remembers that stuff?

We started "the Christmas season" all at once, as of last night. With Christmas pandora in the evening, Christmas movies to fall asleep in front of with bedding on the floor at night, and then today we all went and got a tree. I wholeheartedly love this time of year.




We are definitely back to the grind, tomorrow. After the french toast and drop offs, I'm going in the little kids' school in the morning with field trip money, and holiday show ticket money, and a letter withdrawing Elise (that's a long story for another entry, maybe). I have to write a letter to the school board re-establishing her as homeschooled, and do schoolwork with her, obviously, like we started last Mon-Wed. I've got a special trip planned for us. After school, Aaron has an allergist appointment and I have a homework date with Jake. If we have time, we will decorate our hedges and make a big ol' batch of gingerbread dough to turn into tree ornaments. All that may end up pushed back to next weekend, which is fine.

Note: we finally got around to renewing our picture hosting domain, so I will actually put pictures here sometimes, too. It's still harder than tumblr or facebook makes it, but it will at least be possible again :)
altarflame: (deluge)
I'd like to say, first, that I don't think there's anything wrong with loving yourself just as you are, thin, fat or otherwise. I OFTEN see weight loss before and afters where I feel the before pics are more attractive, to my own subjective tastes. We're all much more than our looks, and don't owe looking a certain way to anyone, regardless. And I know health can be - and is often - very unrelated to size. So this entry is in no way meant as a scolding or a prod at anyone. Nobody is under any obligation to be trying to lose weight, and I think it's important to say that sometimes because there's this subtle but constant pressure on women to feel like they are.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

:)
altarflame: (deluge)
I wearily added a bunch of greens (basically baby chards and spinach) to my normal smoothie* today, like a packed in handful of them. They made it unusually ugly once blended, and instead of drinking it, at first, I was scowling at it and wondering why I would want to make my life worse with such a thing. People have enough problems, don't they - why do this to themselves, too?

Surprise surprise, somehow this is delicious! I can't even taste a difference o_O I'm so relieved I'm chugging the thing.


*Normal smoothie:

-frozen pineapple/mango chunks
-half a banana, or some berries out of the fridge
-tablespoon-ish of virgin coconut oil, or a quarter of an avocado
-couple spoonfuls of flax seed meal
-couple of tablespoons of (really good) "smoothie" style fish oil (Barlean's)
-tsp of probiotic powder
-2 tbsp+ of coconut water kefir
-B vitamin mix powder
-water necessary to turn it into a drink (not much)

I do this in the magic bullet, so it takes all of 30 seconds for it to be transformed into a fairly tasty, relatively homogeneous something once I get it all in the cup.
altarflame: (deluge)
I was really going to do the New Years pics, but then I was thinking I never posted Christmas pics, and I've just made so many yummy things this week that it started me looking back at other yummy things...I'm sure you get the idea :)

Best of eatin' in late November, December and early January )
altarflame: (deluge)
This 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.
altarflame: (deluge)
Food

In the last 48 hours I've made and eaten:

1.) Delicious Quinoa

-boil it in broth and lemon juice
-while it cooks, cut up some good fresh tomatoes, add a bunch of frozen peas, slather that all in olive oil, salt and pepper
-combine
-optional black olives on the side or sliced in are nice

I'm the only person in this house who likes quinoa, so I got to eat it for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

2.) Kale, potato and sausage soup

This was inspired by my browsing many similar recipes. What I came up with involved onions and garlic cooking in butter and olive oil, then adding lots of diced potatoes and some salt, stirring often. Next a huge lot of ripped up kale - I really put a ton of it, it filled the stock pot before wilting down. I ended up adding about 12 cups of chicken broth, about 1/2 cup of cream, a couple of (drained) cans of chickpeas (although I pulverized half of one of the cans into a thickening liquid first), and frying sausage on the side and adding it in after I took Annie's bowl out. Really yummy and very filling, everybody loved it and got seconds except for Isaac.

3.) Brussels sprout and mushroom hash with fried eggs on top.

Recipe here. I will be making this again, possibly tomorrow morning. Grant, Ananda, Jake and I liked it a lot, and I'm used to doing some supplementary fried potatoes and/or scrambled eggs for people who aren't into my more adventurous brunch concoctions.


Music

This week, there are the things I like in the background for hours, at home, like:

-Turnabout Jazz Soul, like this particular "Godot - The Fragrance of Dark Coffee" track http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=HMnrl0tmd3k

-my "Classical Christmas" Pandora station, and you can see and hear samples of thumbs-up'd tracks here, how awesome is that: http://www.pandora.com/station/163185568826481172

And then there are things I keep going and seeking out to hear individually, especially when I'm driving, like:



and



and of course



We're just coming out of a big Les Mis soundtrack phase, around here, although Annie is trying to drag it out (she's also the one who started it). Last night I kept hitting play on this:

altarflame: (deluge)
I've got a whole month's worth of pictures, maybe more, and plan to work through at least most of them in batches in the coming days. Early November, here...

Under $12 total for both, at the new Trader Joe's:



A completely gluten free afternoon tea - cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate almond biscotti. And some random remnants of cantaloupe and tomatoes that my children were eating, for good measure.

Ananda, Jacob and I worked for more than half an hour putting that together and it was all gone in less than 5 minutes. It makes everyone happy, though, and we linger around the table talking for half the afternoon afterward, so it ends up feeling worth it.

My 4 homeschooled children, for the "Scientifically Speaking" event PATH did...here's Annie, as Hank Green:


Aaron, as Carl Sagan:


Jake as Albert Einstein:

and Haha, he looks more like Juan Valdez, but the gray we'd sprayed on his hair and mustache just would not stay vibrant, and the mustache re-flattened everytime we tried to mess it up.

And Elise, as Mary Treat:



Budding Scientists, in the meeting room of the library :)

The product of a delirious late night laugh-fest with A&A, while Grant was in Maryland:



Every single time I go shopping I have to put my Tetris skills to work.


Isaac, nervous before the Veteran's Day parade (his cheerleading squad was in it).


Pre-parade traffic jam.


Waiting


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.


Clearly, I forgot something, though :/


Waiting with me, at my dentist.


BJ's.


The aversion to sunlight must be hereditary; Grant and Elise, taking a nap.


I was like, "What are you guys DOING?" when I found them in there. "Bobbing for apples," they said.

Last: a )

Food!

Nov. 28th, 2013 12:34 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
I realized last night that we were relatively light (for us) on savory options - apparently, I've basically been planning a booze and dessert menu for the past two weeks. Somehow, I doubt anyone would mind that.

Anyway I am throwing together a couple of last minute, additional savory things, since I realized, such as a mushroom and sage stuffing and roasting the Neville Squash we've had on the counter all week. I had actually NOT EVEN CONSIDERED stuffing?!

So now, dinner will be:

-turkey, brined and roasted a la Alton Brown, which is really the only way I make turkey
-garlic mashed potatoes
-gravy, also a la Alton, like this
-sweet potato casserole
-green bean casserole that I've made with actual Julia Child, from scratch cream of mushroom soup this year :)
-mushroom and sage stuffing
-roasted butternut squash (I do it with a lot of butter and salt and pepper, and a tiny bit of brown sugar)
-baked brie with cranberries, pecans and honey, served with gluten free crackers
-cranberry sauce (I have a vat of it, albeit not a full on cauldron like last year)
-rolls from Knaus Berry Farm
-and Gloria's bringing these amazing brussels sprouts I adore

Drinks:

-Ananda's iced tea
-sparkling grape juice galore
-various hard ciders
-4 different kinds of wine

Desserts:

-Clementine Cakes
-raspberry and coconut macaroons
-warm pumpkin puddings ^<--All 3 (gluten free!) recipes easy to find via Smitten Kitchen with fresh whipped cream
-Knaus cinnamon rolls, that Grant and the kids stood in line for 2.5 hours to get yesterday


My house is not as clean as I wanted it to be, but it is much cleaner than it was last week and I am just not gonna worry about it beyond that. My Dad got here last night, and we stayed up telling stories while I cooked things until about 5am. Luckily I was still the one waking up all the kids at 11 (they'd stayed up with us til about 2). My nocturnal father is still sleeping :) We're planning to actually eat at around 6, so obviously the big thing to do for now was BLOG ABOUT FOOD, because Mmmmmm. It's nice, the kids are outside playing and all the doors are open with lots of wind chime noise.

I am also trying to suspend my disbelief about eating some gluten, because, you know, I have to before I go get more tests done next week. *shrug*
altarflame: (deluge)
This evening, while Grant got the grill going, I ran up to the store for a couple of dinner ingredients we were missing. Got home, and Elise had on dark sunglasses and a jacket tied around her waist. Arms crossed over her chest, she started doing squats and chanting in a deep voice, "Emo, emo, emo!" Meanwhile, Jake ran past me with a hamster puppet on a wooden sword, yelling, "We're having roast hamster tonight!!!!" Then Aaron appeared, asking if I wanted to see how deep he'd cut his finger while he and Adrian were whittling with Adrian's homemade knives as though I was going to be REALLY impressed.

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )
altarflame: (deluge)
-the latest in a string of really productive and helpful counseling sessions

-5 wake up calls, breakfasts served, lunches packed, and camp drop offs, for Isaac, Jake and Elise

-feeling really lonely really often, and getting frustrated with how hard to reach and unable to talk Grant and my sister are

-feeling a spectrum from guilt to irritation about a few people who are calling and texting me really often, that I don't feel up to talking to - like this one chick from school who sent me 8 emails and kept calling til 10:30 the other night, when she was having final exam anxiety, and how my mother and grandfather are really eager for me to talk to my Nana - but only when all the kids are here and not after 8 and my phone gets no reception inside while I try to cook, all these caveats that basically make it really hard

-lots of communication with this new prospective illustrator for my nieces-and-nephews series of children's books

-not enough communication with my editor about where my royalty check is

-installing the C25K app

-making tacos, and a pot of soup, roasting chickens and vegetables, slicing a million tomatoes, browning too many mushrooms, heating frozen pizzas, cooking this stuff, french pressing (never enough) coffee

-hacking my lungs out anytime I talk too loud or too much

-drinking soooo much emergen-C, and forcing it on kids left and right, too

-two trips to the airport

-two dance rehearsals for Aaron

-one grocery run

-one gas station

-a totally creepy late night involving my (exterior) bedroom door being unlocked with my curtains moved, that was probably just about my kids, but also featured me seeing Grant's stupid fake arm and bloody hand sticking out from under the bed, SO I ALMOST DIED BASICALLY

-gratitude for and hosting of Gloria, who picked up the Grant's-in-Maryland slack so we could do what we normally do (mostly rides and supervision while I was in school)

-cumulative hour and a half coaching Annie through GCFs, turning improper fractions into mixed numbers, common multiples, longer division, inverse operations...if we don't work on math concepts for awhile, it seems, she COMPLETELY forgets them as though she never knew...

-triumph when she finished her (high school! as was the guitar class she finished) science class with an improved grade

-4 hours of late night studying

-lots of ongoing thoughts on Robert Maslow and self actualization - I uploaded 10 pages worth of my textbook here hoping other people would want to talk about it

-2 final exams, one other exam, and one quiz

-selling my textbooks back

-accepting my fall financial aid package, getting my disbursement dates, and being totally irritated by how EVERY FUCKING CLASS IS FILLING UP AND THERE WILL BE NOTHING ELSE BY THE TIME I CAN REGISTER ON THE 6TH

-starting my period

-feeling too aroused to live or be in public, too distracted by erotic fantasies, and too foot-stomping OVER sexual frustration (the frustration part, not the sexual part)

-scheduling our homeschool evaluations

-lots of texting about bee keeping resources with a PATH kid

-taking 300 selfies and then deleting 295 of them <--those are slight exaggerations

-conversation with a woman at school about why Santeria means she can't take a class on voodoo

-realizing I blew a speaker in our new car (THANKS FLORENCE I'LL PUT THAT ON YOUR TAB WITH THE DRUMMING SONG SPEEDING TICKETS)

-actually doing a modified day 1 of couch to five k (with sneakers on! Out in public!) and damn near dying

-cathartic and wonderful welcome home sex leading directly to blacking out and then sleeping in
altarflame: (After the kiss)
Pretty sweet weekend, although I am still lingeringly sick and I have my FIU fall registration date looming over my head - basically, classes I need to take asap to keep my graduation on schedule are rapidly filling up and I fully anticipate an immediate system crash when my wave of students is able to log in and start picking things. Sometime this week, I have to sit down and do what my advisor suggested - come up with several alternate schedules that will work as plans b, c and d. There is also a rumor that a particular professor will override his maximum number of students to let in an almost unlimited number of people, for his online classes only. We'll see...

Yesterday morning was sweltering hot and comprised of standing in a long but fun line with Grant at an adopt-a-tree event, taking a bunch of stuff (GMYS forms, birthday cards for my Nana, books for contest winners, things G sold on eBay) to the post office, and grocery/school supply shopping. Afternoon was all storms and downpouring - I spent a chunk of it in the kitchen, making hot tea, iced tea, coffee and a smoothie for various peeps, in and around chicken and mushroom sauteeing, and egg boiling. It was cozy and lovely, to have Jake and Elise playing out on the deck in the water while Grant and Isaac played cards. REM and Simon and Garfunkel. We measured everyone again, too :)

Later when it was dark Grant made pasta and sauce for the kids and then he and I ate loaded potato skins in bed, while watching several episodes of Seinfeld on the laptop - all in all an A+ evening for someone coughing and lethargic who was about to shame herself by downloading Bejeweled.

Grant is unbelievably sweet, and made bacon and eggs, with mushrooms and sliced tomatoes, for breakfast today, which I had in bed before a bath. I think I actually have stuff in my lungs, and may degenerate to the point of having to go to the doctor. I'm hoping not, though, for a variety of reasons ranging from FINALS WEEK to UGH THAT WOULD BLOW.

He stayed home with Aaron, and cooked and cleaned and things, while I took all the other kids around to their various crap - Isaac and Jake had a swimming and movie playdate at a friend's house that seems like it ended up being a lot of fun. Annie needed to exchange some bras we'd ordered online that didn't fit, which went well (we got 3 bras AND fancy chocolate for the price of the 2 we were taking back). Then she had derby practice. During which I took Elise and had a just-the-two-of-us bubble tea date. The three of us spent awhile at a nice park before it was time to grab the boys.

After bringing everyone home, and unloading their wet things and new things and stinky things from the car, Elise and I did schoolwork for an hour or so while Grant grilled his amazing steaks and made sweet potato fries, and portabello caps for Annie. I had malbec in the cabinet, too. Mmm.

He took Ananda to see The Conjuring while I got all the littles in bed and then stayed up with Aaron. Aaron wanted to talk about kids at the dance studio, and songs stuck in his head, and spiders, while I did my new pedicure routine and painted my nails. Then we researched spiders and packaged up some dinner leftovers and I sent him to bed.


My Beasty's lovely hazel eyes.


Talking after music camp; finishing her third mango one afternoon; bubble tea; the park today; workbook time.




This frittata was amazing. One of the breakfasts Ananda and I split last week when we had the house to ourselves.


Paper writing while out the other day; the 3 bags I end up carrying some college days due to how many places I'm going, poor planning and just too many things to carry.


Free mango trees!




Cozy kitchen; playing in the rain; warming up inside with coffee; War and 21.



Aaron took this - it's his golden orb weaver. He also "has" a garden orb weaver, and several spiny orb weavers....this one is about palm sized.

I have had to rush outside to view it's newly shed skin, sudden growth spurt, newly arrived mates, and so on, pretty much every day for weeks.

I also had to talk him down gently (so as not to urge him to sneak or disregard what I was saying) on why it would be very very bad to bring her egg sac in and hatch it in his bed. *sigh*

I'm really proud of her, even if she does make the car nauseating to co-exist in after practice.

Beautiful grown looking thing...

Conditioner of the gods.

I always feel like I can see just how I felt in my pictures, but can't ever really tell if that's really true for other people looking at them. Here for instance it seems obvious to me that I'm feeling achey and tired from illness, even though it's also a good day. But that might just be my memory (and, you know, current feeling) coloring things.

tl;dr

Jul. 27th, 2013 02:36 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm so glad it's the weekend.

I hate waking up in the mornings, and it's been clear for the last couple of years that there is no (weekday) end in sight for as long as I have kids in the house. I am consciously setting up my future so that I can stay up at late as I want and totally avoid mornings, and that is not a joke. My ideal would be to see people for counseling/do a late shift in a mental health facility/teach classes, in the afternoons and evenings, and write at night. I have a personal life goal of not seeing 7 am for an entire decade.

For the last couple of weeks (summer schedule has been constantly in flux), my morning routine has been this nonsense involving waking Aaron up at 7:30, waking Isaac, Jake and Elise up at 8, getting Aaron to a carpooling point in town for his ride by 8:30, and having the little kids to music camp by 9. Somewhere in there I cook and serve some kind of breakfast and pack 4 lunches, and try to give out a lot of hugs and make sure nobody is forgetting anything. Then I come home and wake up Annie, have breakfast with her, and we talk about things she's supposed to get done that day. M, W and F I'm here with her. Tuesday and Thursday I go to college all day, and Grant is here working from home. College feels like a lot at the moment, because I had multiple papers due this week, am participating in a couple of research studies for extra credit, and next week is finals.

I'm also sick with something minor that involves a cough, which has made my coffee reliance reach new heights. The other day Grant laughed when he saw my huge mug and asked if I'm drinking from punch bowls, now.

The revamp of Annie's privileges and guidelines and all, that I mentioned a couple of entries back, is going pretty well. She's burning through a lot more math and science than usual, anyway. Monday when she was done with chores and regular assignments, we watched Slumdog Millionaire together, pausing periodically to convert rupees to dollars on my phone or explain some concept like what the Taj Mahal is. She loved it. It's the sort of thing I can only do when Aaron's out of the house because I am not ready to field the months of woe and sleeplessness when he finds out there are little kids living in trash piles and being purposely disfigured so that they can get more change from tourists :/ We also listened to and read this story on NPR about people in slums using Google Maps to make others aware of the realities of slums, and sometimes advocate for change.

I get really frustrated with how quick Annie is to just do nothing, if people are not on her to do shit, and also how quick she is to do things she is not supposed to, if for one damn minute we are not leaping to capital-C Consequences. She's already got that adolescent dichotomy down pat, where kids are uber helpful and proactive and resourceful OUT of the house but act like butt nuggets for their parents. At Girl Scout camp, she was stacking chairs and sweeping floors and helping little kids with crafts and singalongs all day every day. At derby she does anything Chuck and Vee (coaches) tell her to, for hours of sweaty, bruising relentlessness. This is the case with PATH enrichment classes and cello rehearsals - she is interested in all kinds of volunteer jobs, too. At home, she wants to do nothing.

This is actually one of my biggest areas of skepticism surrounding homeschool; the teenage battle between the adult self (that tends to come out in the world) and the baby self (that tends to dominate at home) really makes me want to drop her off with some other adults she'll be more eager to impress, more often. I hate hawk-watching and I hate nagging, a lot, as a parent. I mean all the kids to some degree try to get away with stuff that is not really ok if they can, but I think it seems more irritating with Ananda because she is so intelligent and well spoken that it seems avoidable (and intentional), in her case. It's also amped up significantly in the last 6 months, like ANYTHING she can manage to do - watching the next episode of a show she's into without asking or me seeming to notice, for instance, leads within one week to me realizing she's streaming whole seasons all day every day, and then trying to play dumb like, "What? You said this show is ok for me to watch" when I question it.

It can be (to me) surprisingly hard to really draw a line in the sand. She is such a whole and complex person, standing there my same height, and we'll have been getting along great and she's so obviously distressed and distant and resentful when I force issues ("you have to ask to watch a show or movie so that I know you have all your chores and schoolwork done first and aren't turning into a mold-covered sloth, this is your warning that the next time it happens without asking your laptop is going in my closet for a week, blah blah blah"). I do it anyway, obviously, it can just blow as much for me as it does for her. Wednesday we had already taken so many things away to get her schoolwork back where it belongs, and her screen time under control, and then I was at this loss when it was DAY TWO of her "putting away the laundry", and hours in, after 3 warnings she was still just sitting out there trying to watch her brothers play or talk to Elise or look at a book or anything but actually sort the piles of clothes she was surrounded by. I had to have her put her phone in my bedroom for the next 24 hours AND threaten that she was not going to be going to meet her friends for lunch like she'd planned, if it wasn't done before a set timer went off, before she would even sigh and get on with it.

I feel like I need a giant spatula to slip under her and flip her onto her damned feet, sometimes.

She made me laugh so hard, the other afternoon. Aaron thought one of our chickens looked sick or something, and she (the hen) was looking kind of bad, but I thought she might be hot and we misted them all with water. I said, "Maybe she has some problem she was born with that we can't help, Aaron, or maybe she ate some bad bugs or developed an issue or who knows..." and Annie said, "Or maybe she's a chicken, and so she just drops dead randomly." I laughed SO hard. It's horrible, I know, but every chicken owner I know has the same issues (any random stray dog or cat or bird of prey or raccoon or ANYTHING wants to eat them, they are so stupid and try to run away from home often, if you don't dip baby chicks' beaks into any new water dish to show them the water they will just dehydrate, sometimes one suddenly kills another one - it's crazy). Aaron was scandalized, and she was like, "Aaron when we went to the feed store looking at chicks we saw a breed you HAVE to kill before it grows up, because they're bred to get so fat that their legs cannot support their weight by the time they're grown." Which is true, and also (really) horrible. I don't know, man.

Her lunch out with people was great. She has amazing friends that I really like and feel good about. I was thinking how fortunate she seems to have found such great WAY OLDER kids, since way older tend to be the only ones she relates to and acts comfortable with. This "lunch followed by pet store followed by Izzy's house" afternoon really underscores this - it was Francois and Izzy (siblings, 18 and 15), Joe (18), Mia (18) - and Annie (13. Barely). They are all teenagers we've known for at least a couple of years, and Izzy is the one in the group that Annie is closest with, but. I dunno. The age gap is going to start to close in the coming years because all the oldest TLC kids are going away to college. Her derby team is all 11-16 year olds, and she tends to hang out with a 10 year old at GMYS. *shrug*

I love that those 18 year olds, and the others she knows, have to study and go to class all the time because they're all in dual enrollment. Most of them also either work or volunteer. Because they're cool people she wants to be like, it's great motivating stuff when we talk about how important it is for her to get used to studying, more assignments, etc NOW.

She totally flipped tonight because we were talking about how she's going into the 8th grade this year, meaning she'll be (in her words) IN HIGH SCHOOL NEXT YEAR. She was slightly disturbed, I think :p




I'm super fucking over our van at the moment, since the AC up front is broken - it works in the back, so the kids have AC, so we've never prioritized fixing it like we would if they were suffering. No, it's just us sweltering in the front on our own (and the smaller car has good AC), so we deal since there's always something we'd rather spend that couple hundred bucks on. There have been way too many times I find myself ripping my wind-tangled hair out brushing it or changing gross clothes as soon as I walk in the door, after being on the highway. It keeps being 97 degrees in the afternoons. The worst is when the pressure and humidity hit their peaks just before it rains. UGH. It's like being squeezed through some kind of vice, and then on the other side when it starts to pour we lose about 20 degrees in just a few minutes.

I took Ananda and Aaron to a new antique store that was pretty great, this afternoon. Here's a tumblr picture entry about it.

I've been thinking a lot about charity we can get involved with as a family, today. Over the last few months I've heard (directly and indirectly) about childhood hunger in our county several times - basically, lots of kids are ONLY reliably eating free breakfast and lunch, at school, and/or their families struggle big time with bills during summer vacation because they have to buy those additional meals. This is something that I'm trying to address with as much sensitivity as possible, with the little kids, since they are having recurring issues with other kids begging for snacks out of their packed lunches at music camp (which also has a free lunch option for people who qualify, that about half the kids there are using). Isaac and Elise both also felt bad for kids who didn't have snacks for snack time in school, last year, and would sometimes take extra for friends. Obviously I cannot always afford to feed every kid in town, but the newspaper ran something not long ago with a long list of food distributors and I think I'm going to call around and see what is needed and how I can include the kids in helping to fill some of those gaps. For now I am proud of them for no longer complaining about being sick of clementines and pistachios and granola bars, and probably giving in more than I really should when they ask to take extra for other people.




I've been having this wack existential crisis bullshit. I don't know what my deal is, but I lie down in bed at night and just get so crushingly sad and feel so freaked out, thinking of how each of my kids are mortal and every single person I know is going to die eventually, and...it's terrible. I move away from Grant's body, imagining it rotting one day, as it is really going to. It's terrible! I can have a great day and still end up reading myself to sleep after I stop crying, just to distract me. On the one hand I think I'm crazy, and on the other hand I think we're all crazy, like - HOW is it that EVERYONE isn't ALWAYS having a crisis about the fact that we're all going to die?! And it can happen anytime?! I understand that it's not productive, but not how we don't do it regardless.

I think the biggest reason I am an Anne Rice fan is that Lestat, one of her most ongoing and recurring characters, had this huge mortality freakout while he was still human that perfectly captured the fears and feelings and melodramatic poetry I already had, then (at 15ish) about time, and death, and impermanence, and...it's like a swelling, desperate longing in the background and a cresting panic in the foreground, all silent in your brain as everything goes on as usual around you, until the sight of a lone tree in a field makes you burst into tears and you don't even know why.

Ananda, for instance, was a baby. A little baby. The other night I laid down with Elise on her bed in their room for awhile, because she wanted me to, and just lying in that very teenage bedroom that Ananda has completely taken dictatorship over - dim with the shifting light of a lava lamp and some emo ass nice music on, with shit all over the walls - took me back to it being ME experiencing everything in the world for the first time, and I see how fast Annie will be through the other side of it, and then my head explodes.

Not helping: Adrian, A&A's good friend from PATH, just fell 20 feet off some cliff and broke both of his lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) - they snapped totally in half, the x-rays are brutal. He spent the afternoon in surgery and now has titanium pins in his leg for the next 6-12 months. Poor Cybele (his mom) was posting the pictures of him lying there on a stretcher, surrounded by paramedics, on facebook, from where she was ACROSS THE COUNTRY (Adrian has been staying at his grandparents' house for a couple of weeks).
AND, a girl from Ananda's roller derby team has been out sick a lot these past months, and is now admitted to Miami Children's Hospital. We don't know what's wrong yet, just that she has had to have fluid drained from her brain and isn't getting out right away :/ Teammates are all meeting up there tomorrow morning, to visit and bring her things...

Those situations were both today, though. My cresting crisis has been all week, and I don't know what's stirring it up.




I'm also trying to have nice, soft feet for the first time in my life. I've typically been barefoot or in flip flops all day erryday, since I was toddlin' along in a diaper, and I usually have really thick callouses that I consider beneficial and a-ok. I can walk around outside and it doesn't hurt, which is cool. Nothing hurts my feet, which almost never seem sweaty or smell bad, since they are encased in their own natural leather, as it were. I have never understood foot fetishes or the idea that your feet, the things you walk on the ground with, are supposed to be pretty. They're feet! Why do you want them all raw and vulnerable? I make fun of Grant for having "tender vittles" (which is actually a kind of cat food). We do too many rocky beaches where the sand is a million degrees!

Anyway. There are two reasons I am conducting this soft experiment now, which thus far involves ped eggs, foot files, heal cream, oil, lotion and (gag) socks.

1.) For the last couple of years, my feet have taken their traditional leathery reptillian qualities to new levels, that are gettin annoying. I get actual deep CRACKS on my heels now, if I don't try not to, which cause irritating problems by catching on the sheets and causing my tights to run, that I am not into. That sharp dinosaur shit is also not nice on the calves of anyone trying to sleep. I don't know why my dumb skin couldn't leave well enough alone.

2.) Ever since I got shin splints in New York, Grant periodically gives me pretty amazing foot rubs that make my eyes roll back in my head. And, I discovered at some point over the last year's worth of mornings, that I wake up with really sensitive and almost erogenous feet. I find myself rubbing the arches, aka the only parts with semi-normal nerve endings, all around the top of the opposite foot and my sheets, thinking, "What the heck is going on here? Why is this so awesome?" I have an online friend who is far more brazenly open than I am about sex on her blog(s), who talked about actually managing to have an orgasm from rubbing the soles of her feet on her bedsheets for a long and patient enough time. I want in on this weird action I didn't know existed. I at least want some full sensation foot rubs.




I made some peach cobbler tonight that I was pretty happy with. We ate it with coconut (So Delicious) vanilla ice cream. Om. Jake actually said to me, "Mom, thank you so much for making this dessert. I really appreciate you cooking this." Elise added, "I've never eaten anything this good in my entire life."
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of my friends who live up in Miami like to say I live in "the sticks," which I always protest, because, what? This is not the sticks! Sure, I get the occasional possum and raccoon on the deck, and yeah, we can walk past a tomato field to feed a horse some carrots, but what of that? :p Then I am actually up around Miami, and come back home, and see this as our highway exit...


Isaac (scooter), Jake (bike), and Elise (running) in our obviously not rural area ;) I'm on a bike, and you'll just have to take my word for it.


I thought it was funny, in an "of course" sort of way, when I got to Girl Scout camp a little late to pick these two up one day, and this is how they were using their time:

She was so thrilled to have people at camp (albeit more counselors than campers) who understood her excitement about the Neil Gaiman signing, and SuperCon :)

Pictures from Dance Empire's (public, widely promoted) Instagram, obviously screencapped from my phone - I had resisted Instagram successfully for so long, but then when Aaron basically started LIVING at the studio and they were posting pics all day, I had to do it. He's in both of those groups, doing ab exercises. Because DE actually takes their company dancers to the beach, since it's harder to run on sand and harder to maintain balance in the water O_o


The thrown together Peter pan costume I mentioned.

Sometimes, there's no living with this kid. Who happened to be turning 12, the day these were taken.

I actually made the entire hat for that ensemble before I realized I'd used a toddler pattern as a guide. It WAS 1 in the morning... Beary got a hat.

Jake is so touched, whenever anyone does anything FOR Beary.

Isaac, with his clarinet (that seems as big as he is, to me) and after he was done riding on Jake's shoulders.


He got pretty darn good on the recorder last year, but this is obviously next level - it's more complicated fingering patterns, harder to make the sound with the reed, and WAY heavier and harder to hold up on his thumbs.

That (Hot Cross Buns) was from yesterday, and he's already doing it more smoothly and also playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, today :D

GMYS posted this one a couple of places. Jake in black on flute near the camera, and Isaac in red down on the end, with his clarinet. They elected to quit violin and switch, this year - Elise is still playing violin.


Sorry this is awkward, it's a screencap from my facebook app, but look at them last year, in their camp shirts, on their way out the door one morning...


And this year:

The biggest difference I see, aside from how badly our mat has aged and how much less hair Jake and Elise are sporting, is in my Beasty's height - I didn't notice at first, but she's on the step in pic 1, and standing on the porch with the boys in pic 2. She's grown so much!


Best ever. Lettuce wraps and bubble tea from Stir Moon, which INCLUDING A 25% TIP is $13. So yummy.


My lovely Ananda baked a cake and made the frosting totally on her own, for the first time.

She thought it tasted "weird," but I could tell she was somewhat proud of it as she served it up to a line of eager siblings.

Photobombing, separate days.


My Elisey Beast.




Math, yesterday after dancing. You can see the progression from, "ok, multiplication review" to "WHAT'S THAT?! A CAMERA?!" pretty clearly, I think.


Ananda, sciencing (really, that's a word) in her laboratory room.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
I've been complaining/in shock about Jake's eating pretty much since he started solids (he's 7.5 now, and eats far more than Grant or I do in a given day). I've taken him to the doctor for it twice over the years. Basically, he's always hungry and never gets full. You can't take Jake anywhere for any period of time without considering this (even if all 6 of the rest of us will be fine, because we just had a meal or it's a short trip). He eats ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY.

He doesn't have a tape worm or even a blood sugar issue. He's totally healthy, and HUGE for his age (as has always been the case) - he's never been overweight for his height. He was born at one ounce under 10 pounds and has been off the growth charts ever since - I actually had problems with strangers thinking he was mentally handicapped as a baby and toddler because he appeared so much older than he actually was that he seemed to be "behind."

I charted him the week he turned 7, and he was the average height and weight of a 9.5 year old. Isaac, who is a 9.5 year old, is used to being exactly his height but slightly lighter (Isaac is a little skinny, and Jake has an unusual amount of muscle and is REALLY strong - I can't hold him down to tickle him anymore...).

I am (again? still?) at a loss, because this food issue seems so unmanageable, with him...and unreasonable.

If we're driving to drop off or pick up Ananda or Aaron 30 minutes away, he has to have a snack for that hour in the car or else he feels terribly sick, often crying and sometimes even throwing up. Part of that is a motion sickness issue. Eating settles his stomach while driving. But still! It's part of this whole larger thing, that we say, "everybody find your shoes! Jake, grab some food!" anytime we're leaving the house O_o It was a running theme at PATH meetings last year that it wasn't possible for me to bring a big enough food bag that he wasn't miserable by the time we were leaving.

I've had to talk to his music camp directors every year (this is the third summer running) because he can't eat breakfast and then wait until lunch, like EVERYBODY ELSE, or else he totally melts down every single day. So, he's basically carrying his lunchbox around day camp all day, instead, eating nonstop. It doesn't seem to interfere with his ability to practice and learn his instrument, write out time lines and staffs, and do singalongs. He's eating as they transition between activities and during recess and things like that, which the adults seem ok with - but I pack him between 2-3 times what Isaac and Elise take. Then, he literally walks in the front door and heads straight to the kitchen when I bring them home in the afternoon, and happily tells me about his day. While eating.

This is the situation:
-He eats really, really well. Like raw bell peppers and other vegetables, pitas and hummus, fresh fruit, nuts, etc - he's not at all picky about things we cook, and only drinks water most of the time.
-He's very independent and doesn't bother anyone about it, when home - I'm always seeing that he's heating leftovers in the toaster oven or making himself a sandwich/salad, or mixing honey and granola into yogurt. Point being, it's not like him eating nonstop is any "bother," or infringement on my time when it gets crazy.
-He doesn't make himself sick, or act sluggish or overfull, and this doesn't interfere with him eating at mealtimes. He goes to the bathroom normally and his belly is flat.
-He doesn't obsess about food when it's there - he just eats a lot. He still builds with legos and K'Nex, writes and draws, plays outside, watches movies, etc all day everyday. He only seems preoccupied with food when it's limited or unavailable.
-He's a REALLY chill, calm, good kid...that turns into a complete angry crying nutcase when hungry. There's almost never a reason to intervene with what Jake is doing when he's regulating his own food, but if he's been unable to eat for a couple of hours he's an inconsolable nightmare. It is irrational and out of bounds.
-We can afford this. Mostly. I mean, sometimes it gets stressful, but it doesn't cause us the stress or urgency it might other people. We've long accepted the grocery bill as our biggest expense around here. I guess the point is, money is not the issue here for me, with this.

I'm worried that he has a total emotional dependence on food! Or, a health issue we aren't picking up on. Or, is totally fine FOR NOW but will grow to be one of those 500 pound adults that has to be lifted out of their house by a crane (obesity and diabetes run up and down both sides of his family tree, and he's definitely got two overweight parents - although all four of his grandparents are normal weight).

I mean, no joke guys, this is what Jake ate yesterday:

-BIG (what most people would call double or triple sized) bowl of oatmeal for breakfast...this is steel cut oats with fruit and milk, it's really filling stuff I can't eat that much of. And 3-4 pieces of "healthy" bacon (haha, I mean that no sulfite/sulfate stuff that's preserved in celery juice, and we cook it on the george foreman).

-in his lunch, he had/ate a tupperware with about another cup of that oatmeal in it, a PBJ, a clementine, a fruit leather, a granola bar and a chocolate pudding. He ate it all at camp.

-When he got home, I lost track. I know I heated him two full bowls of leftover kale and bean soup at different points, he got himself at least a couple of snacks like bell peppers and apples and chips with salsa, I saw some peanut butter toast, and he had a piece of spinach and feta pizza and some cereal before bed.

I mean...that's insane, right? It seems disturbing to me that I'm pretty sure this would present major problems if we tried to put him in school. We aren't planning to, and we're homeschooling for reasons that have nothing to do with eating, but - that's fucking weird, the idea that a school day would be unmanageable because he needs to eat near-constantly.

We put a lot of effort in, last year, to get him to STOP identifying as a "hungry boy," to make the other kids quit going on and on about how much he eats, and to not anticipate him taking down mass quantities of food at each meal in how we serve his (initial) plates, because we started to worry that maybe we had set up some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy by going on too much about his eating. Like he could internalize it as part of his identity? He wanted to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar for Halloween one year! I don't really know if that's a part of this or not - he definitely ate like a trash compactor for awhile before we all saw him that way - but we've definitely shifted the talk and the visible expectations around significantly, anyway. He still goes back for thirds and ends up having 5 or more huge tacos total, at dinner. Which, again...he is chowing down on a small amount of meat buried under greens, beans, avocado, tomatoes, and sharp cheddar. With multiple cups of water. Just. WTF?!

Here's a video from yesterday, of Jake carrying Isaac on his shoulders:


Their camp has a field trip to see a play today. A flyer was actually sent home asking to make sure all the kids had a big breakfast since lunch would be slightly delayed. Last year, the highway bus ride and length of the play they went and saw caused major meltdown problems for Jake, and he was talking about how horrible it had been and how he'd just cried and cried in his seat in the audience for like 2 weeks afterward. I made him change into cargo shorts and load his pockets with emergency snacks, this morning. I tried to at least make it non-crinkly-sounding, quiet, non-crumby things so that he wouldn't be a disturbance? I figure it's less of a disturbance for him to quietly eat something now and then, than it would be for him to cry and get up to find a teacher and explain how miserable he is :p But it underlies the ridiculousness of the whole situation!

What is the deal with him?!
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm in a bit of a whirlwind.

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


*Aaron is doing this summer intensive program, and he's running laps, stretching, doing barre work, taking classes with choreographers in all genres, just - it's all day every day. Monday was 9-8:30. Today was 9-4. Tomorrow is 8-8:30. He loves it, and is focused and determined and obsessed, and already showing marked improvements (these people are crazy, they are even going to the beach every Friday because there are supposedly things you can only learn IN THE WATER? THE MOVING WATER? Hence the sunburn...).
altarflame: (deluge)
I've been doing a tumblr contest for the past couple of months, where if people reblog a post about my book, they can win a signed copy of the book. It's gotten about 30 entries and it resets every month, so there have been a couple of winners, which is fun. I know a lot of people don't have a tumblr, though, and I get a lot more hits here - so I've been thinking of doing something similar on lj. Sharing a description and image of the book that I make easy to copy (with contest explanation, you don't have to pretend to parrot my information for fun :p) would count as an entry. It could be on your facebook, twitter, your own lj/other external blog, tumblr would still count - as long as it's some established place that you have that is not just made up and blank for the purpose of the contest. You'd have to let me know you shared it, either in the comments or in my email, to enter.

[Poll #1919205]

#ETA: You can leave your answer in the comments if you don't have an LJ. I wasn't thinking of how non-LJ'ers can't participate in polls.




I've had the shittiest most terrible double ear infection. The most painful, throbbing, fuzzy headed, muffled hearing lot of swelling. The whole right side of my tongue (closest to the worst ear) has been shredded from my TEETH being shoved over. I've been sleeping with the help of hydrocodone and exhaustion - and hydrocodone takes like three Arrested Developments one and a half Game of Thrones an hour and a half to kick in.

Anyway, it's finally going away, and while I'm grateful this hasn't happened in a few years, the steady ringing sound constantly reminds me of my deepening hearing loss and really...it's not cool. I don't know how I got so comfortable with so much soft dairy again (the runnier and more frequent, the worst, seems to be the case with me, in terms of consequences...) but it's basically come down to "do I want a frappuccino or do I want to be able to hear people talking to me, listen to music, and otherwise experience reality through one of my only five mechanisms to do so?"

*sigh* These are the thoughts of someone sitting still with their head turned sideways and drops in their swollen ears, as small people run past on mute.




I've bought a lot of books, in the past couple of days. For school, I got my Summer B textbooks - "Theories of Personality" and "Intro to Social Psych". I won't bore you with the gouging agony of what they cost. I will say that I was so pissed that the DSM-5 was $200 at my FIU's Barnes & Noble that I opted out and instead went with, "The Book of Woe - The DSM and the Unmaking of Pyschiatry." Which I've already read 2 chapters of as my cold, cold ear drops gradually sink down into the center of my tortured noggin'. When I relayed that information at home, however, Grant said the government is giving me a lot of money for my education, which more or less requires that book, and Amazon said they would send it to me for "only" $118. So I got it from them, along with (for continued balance in perspective), "Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life."

Because Amazon offers that tantalizing, "buy new and used from ____" option, and I DO have government education money, I also got "Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the 'New Psychiatry'" and, in neuroplasticity, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One." Along with replacing my old copies (loned out and lost forever) of "Neuroplasticity: The Brain's Ability to Change Itself," and "Prozac Diary" (literary nonfiction by one of my favorites, Lauren Slater).

All of them together add up to about what I would have paid for just the DSM at school, which ties into this whole issue I have as a bibliophile and author about people (like me) buying these bargain basement priced used books - I don't think it's as "bad" as just torrenting and illegally downloading ebooks (which I never do), but it's clearly doing nothing for writers and little for the industry. Sort of. I mean I guess it gets writers read, and keeps used book merchants in business, both of which I see value in. I DIGRESS (<---What a surprise).




42 pictures )

Links of the Day!

Link 1.) NPR discusses the nearly complete absence of women from movies. "I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn't a documentary or a cartoon — you can't. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

...Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other."

I wrote about this here two years ago, in this post, saying all this )

Link 2.) http://www.michelecarragherembroidery.com/ The woman who hand embroiders the costumes for Game of Thrones. This is mind blowing stuff! I love fabric ♥

Link 3.) Florida: Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot - White Man Kills and Goes Free The title kinda says it all, unfortunately.

Link 4.) Florida: 17 year old girl who has been in a consensual relationship for a year or more with another, 15 year old girl who was on the varsity basketball team with her, gets into serious legal trouble the minute she turns 18 and the younger girl's parents have legal recourse. Younger girl's parents are deeply homophobic and claim the older girl is turning their daughter gay. Now this honor student, who is active in her community, is facing lifelong sexual predator status, multiple felonies...it's crazy. That link is to the change.org petition that over 300,000 people have already signed, asking that the case against her be dropped and the laws re-examined.

May 2017

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