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

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

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

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

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

Spoiler: "whatever"=sex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Very pleased with how spring seems to be shaping up for me, re: part time internships and other professional opportunities, as well as my determination to use it to write. Hopefully this triggery bs will be long past by then, but if not writing is about the best purge there is. Just sitting down to write this nonsense has lifted me up significantly since I sat down to start it.
altarflame: (MeandJakesleeping)
Today is Jake's birthday - my fourth child, my afro boy, my Jakey Bakey Pudding and Pie, is EIGHT years old. Eight!

We took him out shopping for his party (tomorrow), and I took him out for a treat, just the two of us. We gave him his small presents (a new sketchpad, and an over-the-bedroom-door basketball hoop with small ball). We cleaned and did yard work. Grant took him, Isaac, and Elise to go see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, this evening. I stuffed goody bags, while they were gone.

I'm having some pretty major pain issues. And what seems from googling to be a baker's cyst, on the back of my right knee. You know, to go with the ganglioic cyst on my left wrist. It's weird to be so physically out of it and so happy, at the same time. Also weird to feel it's obvious I need to go to the doctor, and also obvious that the doctor can't really do anything. I'm going anyway, but...bleh.




The friend time, in Boston, was fucking amazing. I loved it so much.

Nancy picked us up at the airport, she took us out to dinner, she loaned us her boyfriend's car (we did make sure he was ok with it, but it totally went down just like that) and subway pass (he had nowhere to go that weekend, and she has a vehicle he can drive). She made us breakfast, gave us a bedroom and bathroom for the time we were there.

More than any of that, though - a lot more - she is just so easy to be with, listens so well, says things I truly care about, i.e., anything she does...she also showed me emails from people she's given my book to, discussing the book. Because she has a stack of them in her house, on top of a shelf of books just like how they are at my house, and she gives them out constantly.



She showed me an email from an 80 year old friend of her mother's who was horrified, said I must be "sick...sick...SICK" and that she couldn't even get through it - and then the follow-up, apologizing, saying she read it and was so glad she did, and that I was saying things all women think and feel and are afraid to share, and all kinds of really dumbfounding things I didn't even know how to reply to.

Another person had just finished the first 3 stories, and said they were "completely bizarre, but in a very good way" which is, I hope, the truth. It's so insanely emotional to me, to hear peoples' opinions. I brought my own stack with me and gave out 7 while I was in town, and it's this urgent combination of excitement and anxiety as I imagine them being read (or forgotten all about) and loved, hated, cast off as boring...whatever.

Nancy and I talk about everything. Sex, sickness, therapy, exercise, recipes. She's 65 and she is not very internet savvy, but she wants to know who the Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer are, when she knows I'm interested, and she loves the videos I show her. She wants to know where to get the glitter cream eye shadow I'm wearing. She walks so fast I can't keep up. She's doing important work every day, in both the lives of individuals and for people in general. She is such an inspiration overall, still learning and researching and GOING and DOING, every day, much more than most people half her age. She has amazing stuff all over her house that is from Etsy or friends of hers, and there were house guests leaving the day before us, and other guests coming in the day after we left. She sent me home with bags of jewelry she doesn't want anymore, for Ananda and Elise, that both of them were SO EXCITED to get, because they're FROM NANCY :D

Perhaps best of all, she's coming to our house for Thanksgiving ♥ I am SO EXCITED, too, about that :D So is Gloria, since Gloria's here with us for Thanksgiving every year and is a total fangirl for Nancy, as a doula and aspiring midwife. It's funny; I tend to leave the room when Nancy gets a birth call because I don't want to end up triggered all to hell and back. We don't talk about that very much, aside from indirect things like birth laws and interesting clients - we tend to fixate more on her relationship ups and downs, though, and her kids and granddaughter, and paint choices for her new walls, and how she's training her little dog.

Grant and I agree she is an uncanny combination of me, and his mother (who I adore).

This is beautiful, though: http://www.bostonbirthphotographer.com/a-home-water-birth-with-5-siblings-and-a-lot-of-love/

Another book Nancy has in her house:

I did a double take, because Kristin - who is a bona fide chicken nerd - also has it, and has made me read and look at most of it several times over. IS THIS THE SORT OF COMMON DENOMINATOR THAT WILL DEFINE MANY OF MY BEST FRIENDS?! :p

I texted Kristin that pic and she was like, "No, I have a different edition." O_o Like that negates the silliness.


Nancy's deaf cat, who I kept psst-pssting before checking myself. And her dog, who Grant played with almost nonstop the entire visit. His name is Sir Chocolate Sundae With Sprinkles, though the sprinkles were cut off by a groomer soon before this was taken.

Grant made her one of the little pumpkins he does with the kids every year.


And she left these Happy Birthday notes for him, and scattered kisses, in "our" bathroom, for us to come back and find very late, after our concert was over (the 7th was his birthday, and this was a joint birthday trip for the two of us).



There was also our Sunday afternoon visit with Julie/[livejournal.com profile] emeraldrabbit. I've "known" Julie online for a lot of years, and met up with her briefly in Boston before Elise was born, but this was so much better. We traipsed there via train, bus and short walk, on a cool and rainy afternoon. It was slightly awkward for about as long as it took to climb their stairs and say hi. After that, I basically felt like I could talk and stuff my face with them forever :) It's awfully easy to imagine living closer and seeing her and Mark all the time, and how Elise would drag their twins around in ways they would hate, and how Annie would join in the adult conversations and Isaac would make Julie laugh. Grant and Mark could become real friends really quick. It almost happened in the time it took them to go get some donuts for all of us. I felt sad that I hadn't started visiting sooner, so that I could have done it twice. *distancesigh*

Monday afternoon I had a shorter visit at a bookstore with [livejournal.com profile] idiolecto. We've read each other for lots of years, too, though I'd never met her before. She is ravishingly beautiful and super easy to talk to - if we hadn't been on our way to something else I could have easily kept that conversation going for several more hours. She had an Iowa friend with her and had given her some kind of altarflame debriefing similar to the idiolecto synopsis I lectured Grant with, as we all headed in the direction of our meet up spot. It's so funny, talking livejournal nonsense with other LJ'ers IRL.

She also brought Grant a delicious looking pastry as a birthday gift, which you can see him enjoying here:


There are a lot of reasons for me to go back to Boston again!


We spent the middle night of our 3 nights in a hotel, to try to have some "Grant and I" time. With the last of his work travel points, we were able to spend only $50 to stay in the W, where this is the lobby:

That pink is illuminating moving water, and the curtains are chain mail. It's just ridiculous, I mean -


This is part of the room service menu.


And this is the floor to ceiling, repeating wallpaper in the halls? I just do not even know.

So anyway, because he does travel so much, Grant is considered a "Gold Member," one perk of which is that he gets any available room upgrades they can give him. Which, this particular night, was a freakin' "WOW Suite" that normally rents for over $1,000 per night. It was insane, and we had to sign a liability waiver before we were allowed into it. This is the living room, curtains closed:


And open:





Before we even had time to look at everything properly, someone was knocking on the door to deliver these :) Sometimes really good things come from talking to strangers!















That is a stainless steel kaleidescope, next to a glass prism puzzle O_o The room was filled with little things like that, such as a (not pictured) wooden block puzzle, and a stack of art magazines...



We went out for thai food, and he had to sleep off a persistent headache for a bit. A lot of my accumulated tensions from the frenetic week before caught up with me, along with some (non kid related) drama I'd had with Gloria (who was with our kids - and we worked it out)... and I had to cry my eyes out to let it all go, which thankfully he totally understands and can even guide me to before I get it.

This tumblr post from a pretty cool guy I like a lot was very timely - the quote is, "Most people think happiness is about gaining something, but it’s not. It’s all about getting rid of the darkness you accumulate." Basically, this amazing hotel suite was real neat but I still felt awful in it until I cried, and he still felt awful in it until he napped - then we were both happy, and then we would have been happy no matter where we were.

Not that it wasn't still badass. That bed was really something.

So we watched more episodes of Louie (the show we're currently working our way through), and got it on, and generally didn't sleep much but were better off for it.

It was kinda showing the next morning over breakfast.


Good stuff all around. Like this, that we got via facebook :D



I was so happy that his birthday was acknowledged over and over in so many cool ways. Otherwise I don't think I could have dealt with not being in a position to bake him a cake :)
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)
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)
Stayed up with biggest kids, i.e., latest bedtime stragglers, til 1:30, making their to-do lists for today and also reading to them.

Grant went to bed earlier after getting home from his long day last night, and got up at 7:15 to get Isaac ready, take him to school, and start his working from home.

I was up at 8:15, for
-printing study guides
-making morning smoothies
-taking a bath and studying, simultaneously
-waking all the other children
-making eggs while Ananda made coffee and Aaron made bacon
-breakfast with everyone
-packing giant bag o' stuff
-rushing out the door and up to my 10:50 class (Childhood Psychopathology)

That was an exam, which was maddeningly subjective but I feel fairly confident about overall, then a break since I finished early, then an hour of lecture about ADHD that was pretty interesting, and finally a teacher's assistant telling us all about their clinical and research opportunities for psych majors.

I ran over to the library mini-store for green tea, and ate my tupperware of leftover dinner, and then went into my 3.5 hours of my much more brain-stretching Sensation and Perception class. Slightly easier than normal as we're moving away from neurobiology and eyeball anatomy and into psychological stuff. My hand is turning red at the joints from note taking, though O_o I have a friend in there at this point, and we shared some cheetos.

Half hour drive home, gas station, stopping at someone's house for a freecycle load of books. Grant had left with Jake, for special the-two-of-them time, and to drop off and pick up Aaron at dance, about 10 minutes before I got home. Ananda and I looked through the books and went over her checklist, Elise immediately got injured and needed a lot of cuddling, and Isaac wants money to take flowers to one of his teachers tomorrow for her birthday.

I think Ananda and I are gonna make Julia Child's cream of mushroom soup for dinner, along with a lot of roast broccoli. She's currently sprawled on my bed with the cookbook making suggestions, having just finished putting away the mountain of laundry. She thinks we need a blowtorch. Also, apparently her substitute Marine Science teacher (regular is on vacation) is a total flake :p We sent Elise out to water the garden and check on the chickens food/water levels...

All my days feel kinda like this lately - very busy, but pretty good busy. Somehow, between red lights and classroom downtimes and calm moments, I still manage to keep up with Facebook and Tumblr and have some kind of constant unfulfilled longing mixed with dramatic adolescent-style fantasy. I would really like to find the weirdos at school, but apparently weirdos are slightly more below the radar at universities. I do a lot of texting in the parking garage and scrolling in the bathroom and loud-music-blaring on the highways.

Hopefully one of these days it'll be me taking Aaron to dance alone, and I'll get some decent writing time in, because I have an awful lot bubbling below the surface.

Tomorrow we'll probably swim at the Y, mega-grocery-shop at BJ's, do schoolwork (mine and theirs), and sew some stuff while Grant's at the office. Jake's got two favorite stuffed animals that need mending and Annie's pestering me about the quilt that's been barely-started since, you know, December. Aaron has hours of dancing again (every day) because the recital and company show are coming up.

He's not depressed anymore! It's so much better. All of a sudden he's taller, with armpit hair, and cheerful and energetic again, joking around all the time and - this is probably the weirdest part - doing the things he needs to do without much hassle. I keep being shocked by it, even though really we're weeks in... I love him so much. I don't even know how to explain how happy I am about this. Jake is the miserable one now? Never a dull moment.

Over and out.
altarflame: (Default)
Grant was in Maryland every other week of November, and most of December, before taking a Christmas break that involved actual days off (because even when he's "in town", he works long hours, 2 hours away...) At the beginning of January I was dropping him back off at the airport again for 5 days (and another 4 soon after).

It's been a lot of solo parenting, and because my best local friend Kristin moved away in early November, and I won't leave the kids alone at night to go visit Laura like I can do when G's home in bed, I've been feeling pretty isolated a lot of the time.

I even graduated from Miami Dade College in December (going back to university in the fall) - I would kill for some classroom discussions, some afternoons.

Loneliness anecdote: My awesome friend Jess came down with her boyfriend Cale, to see her Dad and also me. We agreed to meet up on Lincoln Rd up in Miami Beach one Friday night. I put on earrings, and makeup and junk, and Grant was here manning the fort, so off I went...only to get stuck in THE WORST traffic of my entire life, literally. I was stuck on causeways and bridges where you can't make a u-turn or get off for hours. Eventually, Jess and Cale had to give up and leave our meeting place, since they had hours of driving to do that night - I just barely managed not to run out of gas.

I have a good sense of humor. I was texting them all the while, about for instance these people who got off a city bus and started walking, and this girl who peed in the emergency lane. At one point, I was like, "Merge, loser!" and the person I'd been talking to had his window down too and actually heard me and replied, and I lol'd in surprise. I watched a drug deal go down under the overpass I was stuck on and marveled that this dude was just standing there in the dark counting stacks of cash like a block from where that guy got his face eaten off a few months ago.

After getting my just-in-time gas I called Shaun, who lives right around there, but he was off at some other thing with some other person. I ended up hanging out with the bartender at Burger and Beer Joint, critiquing the hair band music they were playing (that I unfortunately know all the lyrics to and trivia about). It was actually sort of fun, but THIS IS MY LIFE.

I did manage to meet Jess and Cale for a pretty kickass brunch at a local diner before they headed back to north Florida. But that was THE ONE TIME in January that I hung out with a friend, you know?

Sometimes I just pace around here when everyone's asleep feeling like a caged animal. I actually got on chatroulette one night...and promptly remembered why THAT is a bad idea O_o

Anyway.

I had some pretty intense cramps, one of these isolated sort of days, and grit my teeth through all the homeschooling, chore enforcing, cooking, etc until I could get to this:




Brownies with homemade chocolate sauce and freshly whipped cream, plus blackberries. Yessssss...

I find there are few things that attempting to boil myself alive in hot water won't fix.

Look at this girl - sun burned, COVERED in mosquito bites. This is how I found her, happy as a clam, when I picked her and Aaron up out in the Everglades from Izzy's annual birthday camp out. She told me stories of charades and being doused in midnight rain while I made us breakfast.


Nigella's blackberry and apple kuchen, and coffee with coconut milk and turbinado sugar.

I don't think we were really supposed to whole wheat that. Oh well.

Elise has rediscovered her photobook, and keeps it with her when she's sad and missing Daddy.


Tellin' me all about it, one afternoon.


My napping view, from my bed.

That's two pictures, side by side, lookin' all wonky.

Carrot cupcakes for tea.


The meal Jake laid out for me one afternoon, while I ran around doing errands. It was a surprise.


This is the look I get for peeking in her french doors and snapping pics while she works on a book report at her desk.


Part of Ananda and Elise's room, from outside on the deck.


And mine.

We keep all the doors open (dining room and tv room have french doors, too) lately, it's always lovely - even if it does mean Jake and Isaac invariably end up running circles from inside to outside in rowdy games of tag.

View from my hammock.


Our last night at Santa's, before they closed.


My Beast got a haircut! She demanded it, one afternoon. I love it, and so does she. She ran around ultra hyper exclaiming about it all that first day, and keeps saying hilarious adorable things... "I know I'm still me, but I feel like a different person!" "This outfit looks even better with my haircut!"






Sometimes having the doors open at night leads to weird problems.

That's Annie screaming. We initially thought it was a bird or a bat O_o

It wouldn't get off of him, once he had it. He had to basically shove it off and run, after awhile.


Salad of the gods; I've been combining these two things every day and tearing it up. Mmm....


Copied and Pasted facebook stuff:

January 29:
So apparently I've probably got a ganglyonic cyst on my wrist (pending x-ray). Ow. If I can get out of here in time, I got invited JUST NOW via email to the 2:30 meeting of Miami Dade College's literary magazine, as a guest of honor (former student/published author)

Later:
Hmm, I should have known that "special guest invitation" to the college literary magazine meeting was just a way to try to rope me into volunteer writing/editing/etc.... Now to decide whether or not I'm going to do it.

January 30:
So I have to follow up with a specialist. A couple of things about my hand/wrist lumps aren't consistent with ganglyonic cysts (heightened inflammation on blood tests and pain). Based on many things I've felt and researched in the past few months, my father's medical history (I TOTALLY take after him physically), and things said while we were there, I'm pretty sure I have some kind of autoimmune disorder, most likely of the arthritic variety...it would definitely explain the crazy fatigue I've been having and trying everything to combat, for quite awhile now. I've decided to give that poor bastard Google a break from my ceaseless interrogating and just act super zen until I can speak to some experts.

Comment downthread in there:
my weird painful wrists only started about 3-4 years ago, and it's very intermittent - usually triggered by stress on the joints. I've also been waking up REALLY stiff (like sort of hobbling from the bed to the bathroom and then feeling totally normal within a couple of minutes) for the last few months, and just...I don't know. There are a lot of weird things that point in this direction. 6 months ago my feet suddenly hurt terribly and seemed misshapen, with funky lumps, and Grant was massaging them at night a lot, and one day that stopped and went away - I attributed it to my funky hips, as though I was out of alignment and it had effected how I walked badly, but looking back that seems really silly. The whole episode was similar to what's happening with my wrist and hand now. When I wake up in the morning, for the past couple of months, I can't grip half the time...like AT ALL. Like, my iPhone alarm starts going off and I can't grab the damn thing to turn it off O_o All year last year I was semi-alarmed by how tired I often was...I've never taken so many naps, and am no longer an insomniac for the first time in my life. I kept getting confused because I'm not depressed, and I have this link in my mind that people who don't want to get out of bed in the morning are depressed. I'm actually pretty stoked about life over all, I just want to sleep half of it away :p

My father has semi-intense rheumatoid arthritis that started in his 20s. I've kind of been in denial about this, I think, getting my thyroid tested and saying I need to get to the chiropractor more often. I don't know.
altarflame: (deluge)
Today, meaning Saturday even though it's now after midnight, was pretty good stuff. There was some fallout - Grant and I continued ongoing difficult conversations, mostly just about his own struggles to balance a life of his own, time for us, and work. Mostly, work takes all these days, and he gives us the dribs and drabs that are left over, with nothing at all for himself. There isn't really a resolution in sight here - basically, that's gonna get worse before it gets better, based on various projects and developments at his company :/ And, also to some smaller degree, Grant's own tendency to fixate on work makes it harder.

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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







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

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


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

And, some things are worth staying up for.



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

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

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

And...I think that's it. I'm out of words and I think my body is through with consciousness.
altarflame: (Default)
I don't understand households where the beds are made first thing in the morning, and then everybody stays away from them all day.

When I was a kid/teenager, my bedroom was my entire universe, and so my bed was, like, my only chair, my couch, etc, as well as the place that I slept. That was where I read, and pet my cat, and sat talking with friends who came over.

Having a boyfriend meant spending an awful lot of time lying around kissing and wanting or, later, doin' it. But I mean when Grant and I were really young we sat on his bed playing video games and watching movies and talking and having tickle fights, and sometimes just looking up at the glow in the dark stars on the ceiling with the blinds shut.

Once I had kids, which if you recall overlaps with when I was a teenager (see boyfriend portion of this entry), I co-slept. And when you have a newborn, they take a lot of naps. I didn't have or know about slings with Ananda or Aaron, and I only ever really mastered side-lying nursing with them, so yeah. We spent a lot of time in bed. They both learned how to sit up and how to roll over on my bed, with me there with a camera. I would lounge near them propped up on pillows, reading books, as they napped.

With my later kids, I did have slings, and a busier house, but there was still always a time or two (or three) spent lying in bed attempting to nurse someone down for a nap during the day.

Now, my kids are older, obviously, and we have way more communal living space. But Jake comes to me begging to have "love in the bed" every day at some point, which means, "curl up under a blanket and snuggle with me and talk, for awhile!" If my kids bring me books, they always want to go dive under a blanket to listen as I read it. Grant and I take afternoon naps together every weekend. And we lay in our bed and watch shows on a laptop a couple of evenings a week.

Something I really love is when people just totally get this. When I go to Kristin's, I end up on her bed with her looking through sewing projects. When Kathy or Gloria comes over here, they don't even hesitate to hug my pillows as they cozy in while we're talking. Years ago, when I would be lying in my bed nursing Elise down to sleep, and Laura would be sitting in my computer chair at the desk in my bedroom nursing Brian, I was like, "this is perfect." Going to Laura's now always means I sit on the edge of her bed while she nurses Isabelle down for a nap and we talk.

All that said, here's 38 pictures...warning for a skinned up knee, I guess, if you need a warning for that )
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This morning, after I took Grant to the train and Elise to preschool, Aaron woke in terrible pain - crying uncontrollably, even yelling. It was his swollen glands.

Aaron got what was diagnosed as mumps (he was fully vaccinated at this point and there was some argument among professionals) at 3, his face swelled up like a chipmunk, and ever since whenever he gets ill, his glands get big and tender. Throughout the last year or so, though, they seem to swell and feel tender more often - almost continuously at times. It's been hard to decipher what's going on with them since Christmas, since we have had two different illnesses that have lasted weeks and they're often subtly enlarged or slightly sensitive.

Four days ago, though, with all of us better, his glands suddenly got huge like I haven't seen them in a long time. It was a Saturday and I didn't think it was worth the ER. He layed around a lot. Sunday (Easter) was the same - he layed on a couch under a blanket while the rest of us dyed eggs on the deck, and didn't eat much candy since he can barely chew :/ Yesterday it seemed a lot better - they'd gone way down and hurt a bit less. No fever.

Then today, wailing and gnashing of teeth first thing. It takes a LOT for Aaron to act like that. The silver lining in this situation is that it snapped me immediately out of my funk and into focused action. Also, Dr Geraldi was able to see us this morning and Ms Denise didn't mind keeping Elise longer.

My pediatrician - this guy -


He has a bit of a fixation.

(I apologize for my nausea-inducing angles, I didn't really get it until I saw it myself)

And we love him, and he is amazing. He came in, with his gray braided rat tail and his heavily embroidered and colorfully sewn jeans, in his Spiderman lab coat, knowing us well enough on sight to ask about all my other kids by name. This is the guy my Aunt DeeDee used to drive all the way from Key West to see, for my twin cousins, and there was actually someone there from Orlando today. He checks Annie for anemia via nail beds and eye lids rather than doing bloodwork, he diagnosed Isaac's appendicitis in his office, and he's been cheering for Elise from day 1.

So, it's a little disconcerting to see him calling in his assistant, trading notes, looking things up on his iPhone, and hypothesizing.

Anyway his leading theory is that the glands are catching a lot of drainage from the illnesses and Aaron's allergies and they're clogged and possibly now colonizing bacteria the same way our ears can. So we're doing allergy meds, decongestants and antibiotics - and he's gotta stay on ibuprofen and pedialyte around the clock so as not to get super dehydrated, since it was hurting too much for him to eat or drink and that was becoming a problem :/ He goes back Friday.

With all that in him, he was like a new albeit low energy man and wanted to go to TLC like usual.

Again I enjoyed a good day...good as in, I felt like myself and was able to do things and act human. We picked up Elise, filled prescriptions, had pasta and sauce for lunch, went to TLC. I did some dishes and had a dinner plan. I'm enjoying Grant's company.

Somebody last night left a lengthy comment suggesting she thinks I'm bipolar. Having known several bipolar people well over the years, online and IRL, my first instinct was to say "No way", but I do spend an awful lot of time thinking I need to come back and explain how good things actually are and how excited I am about x, y and z, as well as thinking it's important to emphasize just how awful it is and how I can't deal anymore. So for the hell of it, I took an online assessment that seems to be relatively widely accepted and hosted by fairly respectable looking sites, and was like, wtf?! I got a 51 and a 48 the two times I did it, 53 being the highest possible most bipolar score O_o Lots of words like severe and where to start to get help.

I talked with Grant about this for awhile. I know a LOT about bipolar because of the people I've interacted with over the years who suffer from/through it, and if that is me I think that I either have a higher set point, mood-wise, than what I've seen in others, or else I don't have the piggy backing disorders, or it's a newer development...or all three? I'm going to the doctor either way, I had already decided I want my thyroid tested because, truly, I fit that picture to a T as well. Who the hell knows.




Tonight, I want to tell you how incredibly cheap it is to make a big pot of lentil soup for dinner with a bunch of chilled pineapple for dessert. Onions, (tons of) garlic, carrots, celery, chicken and beef broth (cubes for me), tomato juice (I use some from canned tomatoes and then save the actual tomatoes for something else), lentils, water, salt, seasoned salt. It's so delicious! You can garnish it so many ways and serve it with bread or salad or bruschetta or antipasto or nothing. All of my kids tear it up, and a pot big enough for all 7 of us plus lunch for a couple of people the next day is only ~$4 with me buying all the ingredients at BJ's.

Then 3 big cans of pineapple out of a case into the freezer and that's about a $2.50 dessert for all the kids. Ran through the food processor frozen and eaten with a spoon they go crazy.

And I'd like to mention, in case anyone hasn't realized this yet, that you can google image search coupons for any restaurant you're going in, pull them up on your phone, and the waittress/cashier can scan it. The 7 of us consistently do healthy all you can eat at Sweet Tomatoes for $21 this way (it would be about $58 without the coupon deals they keep renewing).




Last, look at my hot husband sweeping the bedroom floor after putting away tons of laundry and making the kids laugh the whole drive home:
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After biking to my class in the frigid record breaking cold snap (it was like Xzibit had heard I liked to get dressed, so he put pants under my pants and shirts under my shirts, so I could wear clothes while I wore clothes) for my spanish class (because I am gonna be fluent, damnitt), which was awesomely diverse (thugged out thugs of many colors, flamboyantly made up gay dude with lots of flower tattoos - I was sitting between a blond redneck and a Phillipino, wut?)...alright this sentence is too long. Anyway I biked over to the health food store and got more priobiotics. I logged into my virtual classes and viewed their syllabi (<-- pfft) and did my dumb intros on the messageboards as required*.

I found out Elise's preschool teacher, Denise, who I ADORE and who is Aaron's friend's mom and our neighbor, has been out because she was hospitalized for e. coli and had to get a blood transfusion :/ She just got home Sunday. We're making her cards and baking her something. I feel so awful for her, and her family.

*Hi, everybody! I'm Cuban, from Key West, and live in Homestead. I'm a writer and a psych major. My husband is in I.T. and we have five closely spaced kids, aged 4-11. I've stayed home with them full time for the last decade - basically since high school graduation - but now that my youngest is in preschool it feels good to think about my own future again. I blog, have a childrens book that's being illustrated, and some short stories I'm self publishing for e-readers. This is my 3rd full time semester at Miami Dade College and I'm still trying to decide exactly what direction I'm going in with psychology. There are a lot of really great options to choose from and I still have a little while to decide.
I like cooking, mermaids, rum, thunderstorms, staying up too late, going to the beach at night, antique jewelry, roadtrips, bubble baths and Starbucks. I'm drawn towards the gothic and sensual, as a general rule. I dislike trips to the grocery store, my husband's very long commute, the sun shining directly on my face, and when people act as though curse words are really terrible. I'm very patient and my children make me happy, but I hate hearing nagging coming out of my mouth. We have afternoon tea outside most days, and I read to them before bed most nights. I love music and am a big fan of Florence and the Machine, Mumford and Sons, Queen, Vivaldi, and Bach. I'm extremely disgusted by wet paper, cigarettes, and ranch dressing.
I find it convenient that this course will force me to attend places and events I want to anyway but might have a hard time justifying otherwise.





1. This house is WAY too quiet, too simple, too empty, without Aaron. He's been at Cybele's house since Sunday and I really, really miss him. He's having the time of his life. And apparently EFFORTLESSLY doing all his multiplication and creative writing every day, while Adrian does his schoolwork O_O The two of them are kayaking around in the canal full of manatees behind their house every day - since it's so cold, the manatees have had to swim inland and so they're actually kind of dense. They can feed them vegetables and pet them when they come up to breathe. Kayak battles in the swimming pool are also much more high stakes with the water so cold.

2. I spent quite awhile going over my degree audit, MDC's course sheets, FIU's psych dept transfer requirements, and ways to improve my GPA. My semester GPAs have been great but dropping out midway through classes years ago and getting a couple of Fs has made my cumulative abysmal :/ I just have to retake those two classes to replace the grades; both of them are courses I think I could ace fairly easily. THE POINT IS that after quite a lot of research, thought, conversation with Ananda since we were sitting at the dining table working on our separate things alone in the room, and so on...I am seriously considering going for my bachelor's in neuroscience at UM. Their neuroscience program is rigorous and I'd have to have a 3.8 to transfer in (which is possible if I do really really well for the second half of this AA, and replace those grades I mentioned, according to my calculations). You can choose a psychobiology or a neurobiology track for your bachelors, and your coursework is partially in their medical school, which is attached to teaching hospitals. It sounds so engaging, fascinating and challenging and just, wow. I've been seeking out neurology articles and books for 15 years, but really thinking about neuroplasticity specifically almost daily since Elise was born. You can go on from a bachelors in neuroscience to get a masters in psych, which has been my plan all along. It's just a masters in psych that allows you to be a lot more well versed in what is going on, on a physiological level, than a normal psych masters might - and to have more clout should you choose to research or write about your work in the field. It is not a math-centric curriculum at all, or I wouldn't even really consider it. Electrifying considerations!




Last night I experienced one of the greatest moments of my life. I realize that is going to sound extremely melodramatic as you continue reading, but I am dead serious. I was feeling VERY overwhelmed about everything I'm working on right now. Good and capable, but also like it can be heavy and I might need to cry myself to sleep before getting up to start again. It was also colder than it's been in at least a year - "record breaking cold snap" is what everyone is saying, freeze warning, etc. I was very low on sleep, staring at my bed, shivering, thinking how early I was going to have to wake up and how difficult some of the things I'm committing myself to are going to be (non-educational things I haven't written about yet). I'm triggered by the cold. I can never sleep lately, either. And then Grant came in with a giant comforter hot out of the dryer and wrapped me in it from behind before I knew what was happening. I went into an uncontrollable giggling fit. Being surrounded in soft heat was like sudden euphoria. He also changed our sheets to fleece ones we had from a winter camping trip and had an electric blanket going on top of them; I stripped off all my clothes and lay down on all that, under this hot blanket, and seriously just laughed and rolled around in complete bliss for about 10 minutes.

I felt a lot better, and slept well, after that. The man is amazing. I was smiling about it on my way to class, this morning.




2 am all to myself.


The view as I make dinner.


Twilight.


This kid's fashion sense always involves being in some kind of full-on get-up. He has a yellow and a purple bandanna that get used sometimes, several jackets that he creatively buttons (WHY WHY WHY), various gloves (some manufactured fingerless, others altered to be that way), and spends a crazy, obsessive amount of time on his hair every day. What you can't see in this pick is that he has on a sparkly purple and black striped nylon shirt from a previous dance performance. Grant keeps finding his mousse bottle empty.


Sisters listening to Charlotte's Web.


Starbucks bathroom and the outfit I'm living in.


A rare picture of my face that I don't think is horrible. I like my face in mirrors just fine, don't even bother with makeup - but I am NOT photogenic. Maybe I can print and cut this out tiny and paste it over my drivers' license shot...


Grant and I went and saw Sherlock Holmes the other night (which I recommend) and when we got back, Ananda was showing Elise songs and dresses and things.


We took the children to the zoo for the first time in almost a year (minus Aaron, since he's been gone). The first thing I thought when I saw them playing was how shockingly THIN they are. All my previous pictures of them playing in water feature poochy toddler/preschooler bellies!








Oh, Isaac. This is because he got "sprayed in the head" (and Grant was tending him, I was only slyly taking a picture not being neglectful).


And this is what Annie does while they play in the water.

What in the name of all that is holy is going on in this picture?! My 11 year old daughter is a woman.

A woman who still wears her Girl Scout shirt and likes milk and cookies.

They're getting ready to start selling cookies.
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So far it's went:

-Sleep in while Grant takes Elise to preschool and goes out to the store
-wake up to breakfast pizzas & oj, flowers, hugs from Ananda and Aaron, a homemade necklace from Jake, and dozens of well wishes on facebook
-take a nap with Grant, til he goes to get Elise and then comes back and crawls in bed with me, and Isaac, and Elise
-bedroom door closes for highly satisfactory Mommy and Daddy time
-talk of him grilling me a marinated steak and shrooms later
-trip out to Mama Mia's for bruschetta and cappuccino, in the beautiful weather
-MORE NAPPING
-sister shows up to deliver lovely edible arrangement ordered by my mother, which I happily share with children and niece and nephew

(this is where I'm at now)

I mean honestly if this is my thirties I'll take it.

Tangent: this past weekend G and I went up to Winn DIxie in the BEAUTIFUL gorgeous weather on a bike and a skateboard, racing down the same streets we have since we were 13 years old, and it struck me that we were racing down the same streets together that we have since we were 13 years old.

PostScript: Guys, seriously, why can't we talk about whether or not you like it when people talk about sex on the internet, or my weird mood swings, or the pictures I post, or my crazy friends, or college - ? These exploding political threads busting my inbox at the seams, honestly people, sigh. I mean I think about current events at some point every day but I wish I could get a quarter the input and involvement on everyday posts. Ultimately, heated debate of any kind just makes me tired of the subject of debate. <--This is me flippantly whining with a chuckle, ok? So don't come in here like OH MY GOSH YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT THE SUFFERING or I'm just gonna link you to a Rick Astley video.
altarflame: (Me and Annie)
I have far too much to be doing today to take a nap, which is extremely irritating.

But the weather is perfect. Do you know what "low 80s with wind" feels like after four solid months of "mid to upper nineties with humidity"?? Heaven, is the answer. Suddenly we're having tea outside again, the bike ride to Elise's preschool is not torture, getting in the van is not a cruelty I spare the children until I've had the AC on for 10 minutes. I've been doing things like sitting out on the deck and watching the leaves move in the breeze. Everyone I know has been, at the least, in a better mood than they would otherwise be in, because of the weather shift.

Today is Grant's birthday. He's 30 years old, which is proving to be harder for him than for me (my birthday is in a couple of weeks). I feel like, oh come on, we've lived through and done SO MUCH, now the number will match up with who we actually are a little bit better. It's not like I see 30 as old anymore (anymore, in this case, meaning "since I was 8"). I keep pointing out his 50(ish) year old Dad who's happy with a new girlfriend and his wave runner and in better shape than either of us, traveling all the time. Pretty much all of our friends and acquaintances aside from my sister and Shaun are older than we are and none of them seem old (including Nancy...who is 67).

But I did say, in the kitchen yesterday, that it's kind of amazing to me that we managed to spend our teenage years and our twenties together and now we're embarking on the 30s. I mean, that hit me in a different kind of way, and made me panic just a little, like, wait - our teens and twenties...are...gone, and now we just have 30s, 40s, 50s etc left in this life?

...whoa ;)

Not that I haven't been receiving clues that some kind of major time is passing without me even realizing.

First of all, this is how the tray looks now when Laura and her kids are over and we have tea. I got done with this and was like, uh, that's actually FAR TOO HEAVY.

When she has this next baby I think we're gonna need to get a rolling cart or something, I don't know :p

Anyway...HOW IN THE HELL CAN ELISE BE THIS MUCH TALLER THAN ANY STANDING PERSON?!?!

I feel like I'm looking at a scene from "Honey I Blew up the Kids" or something O_o

She wanted me to take a picture of her "fancy french ponytail" (after 2 hours of playing at the park).


I think Isaac was taller yesterday than he'd been the day before.





Aaron had an audition last week for a local kids' acting group - and he made it! We got the callback yesterday :) The first part of the audition was filling out a questionnaire that asked everything from "What did you do yesterday?" to "How do you define the word 'audience'?" It was interesting to me to see how he defines himself in 3 words and why he wants to be an actor and all that...


But this.


This girl, woman, child, chick.


Be still my pounding heart.


She takes my breath away.

I am so proud of her.

She talked the whole way to PATH yesterday about how glad she is that she's not traumatized anymore, and how good it is to be able to talk about things *tears* <---of mine

She was just glowing, running around with her friends, talking animatedly to a whole group of people at once and making them laugh, just giddy and glowing around the boy I know she has a huge crush on, in the new cooler weather.

For the last couple of months, she's been set on an eventual triple degree - cooking, astronomy and cello ;) She plans to get part of her AA done through dual enrollment and then work at Starbucks while she finishes it. She's writing a story that I'm not allowed to see yet but is many front-and-back pages long. When it's done I'm supposed to edit it for her before she uses her friends as a test audience and then sumbits it to places like Stone Soup (the Cricket magazine literary mag full of kids' writing). I try hard to stay out of her sketch book because I can tell she considers it private.

She clears, scrubs and dries the dining table and kids' bathroom counter every day, and puts away all the clean dishes. She takes complete care of her own cat, litter box and food/water and even scrubbing it's gross bathtub toilet habits away.

She's up in Miami since yesterday, she went with Cybele after PATH for a (science competition, in theater) robotics movie and pizza party/sleepover. I texted her, reminding her to text Dad Happy Birthday, awhile ago. After crying my eyes out for awhile, looking at those pics above, about MY BABY. My very first baby.

The one born years before I ever had a digital camera.


(that's me, 18 years old and living in overalls)




The first time she sat.

*sigh*

We're probably going to end up getting advanced degrees at around the same time. As it is, she comes to the college with me sometimes when I'm there for bureaucratic tedium, looking around at it as a place she wants to be in 4-5 years (and MDC is a "cool" community college, huge with lots of green space and buildings loaded with glass and color and experimental architecture). Years which are, apparently, nothing. She can drive in 4 years.

I asked her if she did her chores recently and got a sheepish look and replied "Youse a might too previous for that", after which I told her she needs to stop sitting around on her royal diasticuctis, at which point Laura was like, "She's already reading Their Eyes are Watching God?" I'm actually reading it to her. And picking out (appropriate, my God) Harry Potter fanfiction for her to read herself.

Ok I have to go do a speech outline, email it to the learning support lab at that college, bake Grant's birthday (pineapple upside down) cakes, and walk these kids up to the trolley to go to music classes this afternoon O_O I had to take a blogging break and jump on my bike when I realized I was 10 minutes late to pick up Elise from preschool. THIS DAY, geez, if I was gonna blog away the morning I COULD have taken a nap :p
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-get up with Elise at 7:45; dress, breakfast, hair etc her and bike her up to preschool by 9 (She spends most of this time playing with Annie's cat)
-pay for her extra shirts; let Jen know Grant's coming to the open house
-deposit money in the bank

-keep up with Aleve and locate the rest of my underwear so I can make this period happen with minimal angst
-do algebra even though it's terrible and burns like fire
-make all the other kids breakfast and make them do their chores
-new fitted sheets on all the kids' beds
-school for them - nonfiction reading and book report plus Brainquest, for Aaron; writing and Kumon math, for Annie; reading, money math and handwriting, for Isaac; phonics and addition for Jake
-pick Elise up
-lunch
-more school for big kids (finishing everything not done yet)
-call Grant about me having the van for tomorrow, him getting ferret litter on the way home, and a reminder about the open house, as well as dinner instructions...

-bracelet making for everyone (occupational therapist tells me "bilateral activities" like stringing beads are good for strengthening Elise's weaker side, and we have a lot of beads about the place)
-movie and nap for E
-my english and speech homework
-plan/prep dinner; text Bob reminder about being home in time for me to leave for class
-bike to college


Nights like these I sort of don't want to go to bed because once I do, I'll wake up, and then I'm screwed ;) Really it wouldn't be so bad if not for this head cold/first day of the period combo I'm dealing with. They make me just want to lay around all day indulging in self-indulgent pleasantries.

Though I have to say my IUD periods have WAY tapered off after that first one, they're actually seeming far more reasonable than they were pre-insertion which is great. More crampy the first day but less hemoraging than I would just normally have.


Really, though, tonight, tonight can last as long as I want it to and be filled with things like espresso brownies, Great Expectations, knitting, singing along with Pandora, putzing around on Tumblr, facebook chatting, tea and biscotti, fanfiction, washing and moisturizing my face, daydreaming...

The head cold and blood loss are gonna have me nodding off within the hour, though. Blah. I suppose I should move Grant's laundry through before I forget all about it.


What the hell is for breakfast? We have all this cereal and no milk damnitt, eggs everyone is sick of, they decimated the massive amounts of banana bread I made yesterday and have demolished the fruit and my stockpile of oats is even gone (goes to explore kitchen). Oh, we still have waffles and maple syrup and veggie sausage. That's for breakfast. Lunch will be plates set out with baby carrots and peanut butter, sugar snap peas, tomato and avocado on corn chips, and cut up cheddar. I took a whole chicken out of the freezer for dinner, that's easy to get ready for the oven and Grant can just stick it in. All this talk of food reminds me I also have to write Grant a note reminding him to take the lunch meat and bread so he has lunch at work tomorrow.


Did I mention I made the Dean's List for the summer semester? Because I made the fucking Dean's List like a boss. I have the congratulatory letter from the college hanging on the fridge, all Boss-like.




ETA: I realized I can get Twinings decaf english breakfast tea, which is our sort of go-to staple tea around here and we go through TONS of, SO MUCH CHEAPER THROUGH AMAZON! A box of 20 bags usually costs me $4 and change at the grocery store. Getting a subscription through Amazon, though, I can get 6 boxes with 50 bags each for only $24.95 - 300 teabags for 25 bucks, delivered to the house so I never have to think about running out! I'm thinking of doing the same at alternating intervals with Tazo chai and then I'll only be paying normal prices for the supplementary extra teas we end up getting here and there.
altarflame: (Default)
This big dork personifies pubescent awkwardness, and I love her for it ♥ That's the caution tape we had blocking the redone driveway (some guys came knocking that they'd done other peoples' and had leftover materials so they'd do ours ultracheap) and a shirt she bought with her own money.

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


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

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

Beautiful girl.


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
















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


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


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



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

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


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


I really cannot emphasize the LOUD part enough, though. There are Florence songs that sound great low but these aren't them.
altarflame: (Oldschool)
Bob: Where can I put this (cannister of pringles), so Grant won't forget it in the morning?
Me: Nowhere. He will forget it.
Bob: lol
Me: I'm being serious. If you want to make sure he takes something, I usually put it under his wallet or tape it to the front door, but neither of those strategies is guaranteed.

The other morning I walked around looking at the lunch he'd left in the fridge, and the iPod he'd loaded with music but then left, and his bathroom disarray. I sent him an amused email saying that while I can walk around and laugh lovingly about my absent minded husband, I think if he were anyone else I'd assume he'd been abducted while in the middle of getting ready for work and call the police.




I got a lot of nothing done today. Meaning I accomplished most everything on my to-do list but none of it amounted to anything.

-I swept as I often do and mopped for the first time in forever, but the floor is already messed up again
-I made phone calls I've been needing to, but just left messages and got lackluster results
-Went to take the CPT with Laura in place to babysit only to find the testing hours I'd double checked were actually only for all the other campuses

I cried a lot. About my faith issues and my marriage issues. And felt better about both, and then worse, and then better again. Grant is more than willing to talk/cry with me. This is best when it merges into ultra-lovey sex.

I have an appt on Friday, with the therapist he started seeing on Saturday.
And a study guide, for the CPT, so maybe I can brush up some math skills (HAHA) before I take it.

I'm eating WAY TOO MUCH as a coping technique and keep thinking I have to stop that immediately. Burying the gonna-puke anxiety feeling is not working; I just add indigestion. Then eat more.

Hopefully I'm gonna go to bed now, and actually be able to sleep. Because today, I really can't tell what is really my thoughts and makes sense, and what is just sleep deprivation because last night, I just hurt too much to sleep.
altarflame: (Team Jacob)
Something about the sounds AIM makes always makes me feel like I'm in 11th grade again.

This house is getting to me tonight. There's a lot of oppressive heaviness in the evenings lately. Breaking it down:

-Ananda is depressed. We've talked about it extensively, and I'm pretty sure it's an age/stage thing. At least, it's when I suggest that as a possibility that she goes from teary eyed to crying uncontrollably and when I make jokes about that, that she laughs through the tears and seems lighter. It's hard to tell with Annie; she doesn't talk (like actual diagnosed by therapist "selective mutism" doesn't talk). I can tell it helps her, a lot, when we have the "talks" where I do all the talking and don't demand anything of her...*sigh* The thing with Annie is I have to MAKE her do anything other than read books, listen to her iPod or go to Starbucks. Also certain schoolwork. I mean seriously, she will get visibly excited about like...a proposed outing with the family to one of a few select places she likes, or the new Harry Potter movie coming out in a few months. But I have to drag her out of bed. Force her off of me as she stands there crying to drop her off at Girl Scout Camp.

And she really likes Girl Scout Camp! She comes home with stories of specific friends and the games they played everyday. She likes the lunches we pack her and she's happy that the field trip this week is to see Beezus and Ramona, which she's read. She's greeted happily by name by adults and kids as soon as they see her.

But when the sign-in time actually comes, she freezes up and physically clings to me and cries until I realize that all the back rubbing and there there'ing in the world isn't ever going to be enough, and detach her arms, and tell her I'll pick her up later, feeling like the meanest meanie ever...then she kind of takes a deep breath and I sit outside the building praying for her and spying from the car as she goes with her group to their activities. And then later I pick her up and she's happy. And smug to Aaron about how she gets to go to camp and he doesn't, because he really wishes he did.

She moans and clicks her teeth and actually shuffles her feet around, when I say to do her VERY CONSISTENLY ENFORCED chores...every single day.

She spent 35 minutes tonight, wandering in depressed circles and muttering and frowning because when I told her to brush her teeth and get ready for bed, she said she was hungry. But she didn't like any of the (plentiful) options for a before-bed snack, all of which she's eaten just fine before.

Everything is just like this with her...so I spend half an hour in my bed alone with her, talking for us both, trying to leave long silent spaces for her to just be quiet...or maybe even talk to me. And then I read her a couple of chapters and finally she seems ok-ish and goes to bed.

We did establish that she's terrified of adulthood as some looming doom on the horizon, scared of her period coming, does not see the use in boobs, and really, really wishes she hadn't shaved off half of one of her eyebrows while I was in New York. I've tried to offer to help her fill it in with an eyeliner pencil but she just changes the subject immediately. I think this is a really impossibly hard phase for her, it's PAINFUL to see the awkwardness. And she has style! She has pizazz! The other girls at camp, and the friends who want her to come over from PATH, and the bookstore girls, they all LOVE her and act like she's so awesome with her two tone hair and her wild colors and her height and she's just like...so freaked out by how she doesn't want to want a social life outside of the house, but DOES want it. Yikes man!

I wonder how much dance has to do with this. A lack of dance. I don't have to force her to dance, it's something her and Aaron do outside of the house together and most of all, it's about 6 hours per week of real high energy excercise that she just doesn't get otherwise...

I do wonder at what point I can definitely say, "this is way beyond hormonal issues or transitional states, she has inherited some serious depression and might need some help".

-AARON is depressed, which is a brand new, cast-related thing. He does not know how to deal with not being able to flip and do hand stands and climb things all day long. It's driving him crazy. He doesn't know how to not take a bath when he's itchy (SID thing) or play in the rain when he sees it start (every day). He does a lot of pacing and a lot of flopping down with big loud sighs and he can't fall asleep at night because he isn't burning off the ten million calories he usually does in a day. Instead, he spends HOURS wandering back out to me saying, "I'm sad, Mom." and "Mom, I'm depressed" and "I just don't think I can deal with this." in an Eeyore voice.

The first night, I read him extra, hung out with him extra, sent him back to bed extra.

The second night I let him have top secret (fresh baked chocoloate chip) cookies and milk with Grant and I, and then research caterpillars with him.

But it's never enough. Both of those nights I still eventually had to say GO TO BED, NOW. DO NOT GET UP AGAIN NO MATTER HOW SAD YOU FEEL. Tonight I've said that like 6 times. I'm not used to having to like, force Aaron to deal with his misery and just get and give me some space.

At least Peter infallibly follows after him, purring and rubbing.

BIG HEAVING SIGH ABOUT MY ULTRA DRAMATIC AND GENUINELY COMPLEX PRE TEENS
It is a whole different world than little kids who cry for a reason you can figure out, and then fix. That cast is stuck, and I can't magically make Ananda short enough for the mall play area again.




18 random pictures, some everyday stuff, some from a particular afternoon )




So...my lj has over 4000 pageloads for the last recorded week. That's kind of insane. I don't usually keep track of these things, but Grant has a hit counter on it and he forwarded me his latest email about it because it was a new record. I get the suggestion on a somewhat regular basis to move it and put ads on it. I feel like it isn't a "real" blog, though - it isn't thematic and I don't update in a consistent/regular way. It's very much my online journal. My archive when I can't remember what we did for Mother's Day last year or when such and such happened or I want to review a year. Monetizing hobbies doesn't tend to work out for me (see: http://textile_junkie.livejournal.com ).

But I'm thinking about various things anyway. Like making it available for Kindles and Nooks since apparently a lot of people who read here have or want one of those, and that is an easy thing to do without changing anything (like the url). I found the way to do that by accident while browsing Kindle features and pricing with Ananda this morning over breakfast.

And...I don't know. Maybe it makes sense to put ads on it. I'm going to do this all the time whether it's making money or not, so why not make money? YOU TELL ME.

[Poll #1601068]
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
I am so over everything right now, SO READY for it to be like several months from now already :/

I've spent so much time in (3 ER trips at 2 different) hospitals this week, for Aaron's foot and Aaron's arm, and I spent 4 hours at the dentist yesterday with everyone and we found out Elise and Jake both need extensive dental work. I'm talking about EXTENSIVE, like knock Elise out in a hospital setting and extract several teeth and apply crowns to a few more and then get a couple of fillings. There's no brown or black, but there's a lot of aggressive irregular SHRINKING of her teeth that is obviously decay that is going to get into her gums and cause major problems eventually. Jake is not that bad but needs a couple of in-office extractions of back teeth and is on antibiotics right now for an infected cavity that was keeping him up at night :/

Grant feels insanely crushed about this as he has some ptsd-like trauma related to HORRIBLE BAD dentistry that's been practiced on him, and he has just also always had major dental problems and so he's blaming himself for passing it on and also dealing with the idea that it's going to be a part of their lives the way it's been a part of his. I'm trying to tell him it will be somewhat different and significantly better; they're not going to psycho dentist. They walked out of the office yesterday holding stickers and new little toys, excited about how brave they were. Jake likes taking "the pink stuff". We'll take care of it and not allow them to go on with terrible rotting teeth for ten years of (pre and) adolescence, which he did.

I've spent two hours arguing with insurance companies, in one go, it was HORRIBlE and so many phone calls and logic loops (our provider assigned our kids to a dentist who doesn't see children; the only way to get the coverage to a pediatric dentist is to get a referral; but this dentist can only refer someone they've seen, and they DON'T SEE CHILDREN; etc).

I've made a trip to the Office of Vital Statistics and filled out at least 30 pages of paperwork and had 2 Usborne shows and you know what I'm not doing? SLEEPING. Seeing my husband. Eating right.

I also keep getting back to my house and being like O_O and kind of tottering on my feet about the mess and then spending brief periods in hyper cleaning mode.

I have another hellacious ear infection, in the same one that just went wild a couple of months ago - I think probably the fluid never drained and so it was just waiting for more bacteria. The whole side of my face hurts, it hurts to chew, I can't hear on that side.

I'm on my period, too, and as I have really heavy, anemia-inducing periods I'm always extra tired this time of the month even when I'm loading up on supplements and things.

I have really been devoting a lot of mental energy to NOT THINKING about lumbar punctures, NICUs, how it feels to be in a hospital bed, and many other things that are triggering me like crazy the past few days just from signs on doors and things nurses are saying in hallways.

And then again in an interconnected way, Elise not having her front teeth, her smile, Elise's unforseeable reaction to something like general anesthesia....I feel like I could really freak out if I wasn't checking out, mentally.

And let me tell you...this shit is expensive. Everything is so expensive. Just filling two prescriptions and getting more children's motrin and tylenol and the calcium paste the dentist wants us to use every night and having to eat on the fly because we're stranded at Miami Children's Hospital for 6 hours is expensive, without actual medical bills factored in :/ We really needed to kind of lay low financially for awhile post-NY, not have a massive blowout of sudden huge expenses. (Jake's next office visit will be $100 even with insurance covering like 90%, and they're talking about 18 month financing for Elise...as though we had credit).


I am really getting to a point today where I just want to be like YOU KNOW WHAT? You guys make brownies all day and have them for breakfast lunch and dinner while I stare at the wall, KAY?! I tried to take a nap after I got back from the book fair with Isaac (who did have a good time)and it was a nonstop stream of questions and requests until I just gave up and got out of bed.

There are just too many things right now. Aaron is depressed and I can't tell how much is the cast limiting his mobility and his ability to get wet and just being annoying, and how much is SO MANY PEOPLE calling him "Jones" for the first time in years when he (apparently) didn't even understand that was still his legal last name anymore, as we use Walker in the community.

SO.

END RANT.

The good news is supportive people who love us, and the love we have for each other.

So I am thankful for:

-the fact that my kids don't act like fucking maniacs in waiting rooms and behave through exams and so on, as that would be way too much compounded
-that we can all veg out in the van listening to soft music and feeling sleepy the whole way home together
-that I'm not having to PESTER Aaron about keeping his arm elevated overhead or sleeping with it on his chest or whatever; he's (WHO KNEW?) mature enough to just keep on it himself
-the fact that Usborne Books is starting to seem like it will be a real source of supplementary income. Not like if I was working at a full time job or something; but it's increasingly realistic that I'll make at least a few extra hundred dollars per month to cover school supplies and field trips and outgrown shoes this way without having to try overly hard
-that my husband DOES NOT stomp around angry or put us all on eggshells when he's stressed; I know he's cracking up when, rather than going to his part-time on the side gig, he's got part of a halloween costume tied around his head and is coloring with the kids at the dining table
-Gloria and Lj came to MCH last night and hung out with the non-Aaron kids for a couple of hours, took them to eat in the cafeteria, and made them laugh and have fun as we left, which was more than I was up for at that point ♥
-Ananda really can make (damn fine) brownies with no help or input whatsoever, and I am eating some right now
-my sister is on her way here, armed with treats, kids to distract my kids, the ability to talk all night, and her own set of rants





ETA

VERY FREAKING GOOD NEWS: My ENT's after-hours service agreed to call in prescriptions for me so I didn't have to go to the ER or try to wait this crap out. So I've already got the first dose or oral antibiotics and ear drops and hopefully will be feeling better sometime soon. Also I remembered that I'm allowed to alternate Tylenol, ibuprofen 2 hours later, then tylenol 2 hours after that, etc, when the pain is this bad so hopefully I'll be getting some relief tonight and maybe (PLEASE?!) be able to sleep. It really interferes with sleep at this level :/

Crappy News: WITH OUR INSURANCE I still paid about $130 for the prescriptions and right now? And for the past few hours? I'm gritting my teeth and tensing my shoulders and squinting to try to deal with how bad this hurts. I paid Ananda $2 to read to the little kids tonight at bedtime. Ugh.

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