altarflame: (deluge)
Last night I took a lot of care to make Grant a food/drink bag to take to work. Note: this is not a standard thing, as 1.) he works from home 3/5 days each week, 2.) he likes to go out to lunch, and 3.) he does half the shopping and cooking and would be as likely as me to pack stuff if he wanted stuff packed. But he wanted some leftovers and went to bed too tired to put it together. He's gone ALL DAY when he goes in, since the commute is so intense.

Anyway, I was smiling as I packaged him up a container of chili with a tiny tupperware of shredded cheddar, a ziploc of crackers, and a tiny tupperware of cream cheese to go on them, since this is how we garnish chili around here. Then a container of kale and bean soup, with an extra side tiny tupperware of parmesan cheese. Spoon, butter knife. Found and filled up his water bottle and put it all in the bag in the fridge.

It was very satisfying this morning when he texted that he'd been forced to smile against his will at an ungodly morning hour when he saw it all, and accused me of grin-rape <3




I started seeing a new doctor today, because the levels of disorganization at my old doctor reached new heights. They don't answer the phone or return calls (ever - I always end up just driving over after several days' efforts to reach them), they don't even return faxes from the pharmacy when I need a refill on my B-12 vials. They don't draw blood in the office and TWICE now they've told me they sent in an order for me to have blood drawn and then when I get to the lab, sign in and wait to be called, I find out they actually forgot to send the order. So I just have to leave. Worst of all, especially with reference to all these other things I'm describing, they are only open for a few hours 3 times a week since their old office had a fire a year ago. They've been sharing space with another office ever since and I was trying to hang in there for them, but man. It's a shit show. Totally representative of the whole place that the empty water cooler has had a paper sign taped on for months that says, "Please buy water!"

Anyway, this new place is (of course) half an hour up the road, but anytime I leave town for any kind of medical care, it's a revelation and I'm glad I did. When I got to this new place today, they had a personalized stack of forms waiting for me that had been printed already including all the info I gave them over the phone when I made the appointment. Can you imagine? They also drew blood right there in the office, which was generally much nicer, more spacious, and full of friendly people acting like I was a human being.

I really don't love giving new people my medical history because the shock value is too high and they always go on and on about it. However, the doctor today was a former OR nurse and actually cried and apologized on behalf of the medical establishment, for my retained surgical instrument. Simultaneously kinda ridiculous and kinda amazing.

It's good that things can be efficient. I was really clinging to the old doc being half a mile from my house (we have to get on the highway for SO MANY THINGS already) but it's clear this will actually save me time and energy, backwards as that might be.

Tangent: It was getting seriously old with the other doctor, feeling I was hassling them and getting so many suspicious looks and questions from the office staff every time I was "back about the shots again." Seriously, who the fuck has a B-12 problem? It's not exactly a controlled substance. Over and over the secretaries acted like I wanted it for weight loss, asked if it was helping me lose weight, etc, and over and over I had to explain that I have a diagnosed malabsorption condition and need it for basic functioning/survival. UGH.

Sometimes it's still wild to me that I have this chronic condition and need these shots forever, and yet I could easily just stop going to get them. Nobody's gonna make me - nobody official is keeping track of whether I do or don't. Quite the opposite; I often have to fight through red tape for them. The gastroenterologist who diagnosed me acts outraged every time I express any of this to him and offers to fax my lab results to more places, but it's not like he does continuing/follow-up care himself.
altarflame: (deluge)
We had what is becoming our annual 4th of July party, yesterday, and I think we're all still (figuratively) hungover. We collectively slept until afternoon, ate leftover cake for breakfast, putzed around, watched shows, and then ordered chinese takeout.

It had been way too long since we had a party, as evidenced by the intense need for deep cleaning everywhere I attempted to look through outsider eyes. Good grief. I actually painted 3 interior doors and doorframes as part of my blitz cleaning/slave driving, early yesterday. I don't know why it takes a gathering to motivate us, but I definitely don't think anyone has taken the knobs off the stove to wash or scrubbed behind the toilets since the last one.

It is satisfying that, for instance, Aaron can sweep and scrub the kitchen floor while Annie sweeps and scrubs the dining room floor, Elise vacuums the library, Jake stands on bathroom counters washing mirrors, and Isaac takes out trash. We've also reached a point where I can delegate things that are actually a pain, like, "Jake figure out where that giant ice bucket is and hose it out, and see if you can find a good place to set it up," or "Annie and Aaron, go outside with the step ladder and figure out how to get this shutter off the bathroom window, Dad thinks he threw away the poles that propped it up before."

It was a pretty good and very long party. Grant outdid himself cooking. He made salsa and guacamole from scratch, and sea salt "freedom caramels," and chili to go on hot dogs. He made beef and portabello burgers. It was all awesome and appropriately (patriotically?) fattening, along with grapes, fries, watermelon, pickles, iced tea and cases of ciders and sodas and bottles of wine, and of course the requisite flag cake... Mia brought Miguel, and soon after Kathy and Rey came with their two kids. LJ brought his girlfriend Diana, and this guy Joe who adopted a kitten that appeared in our driveway (via facebook) came with his teenage son. Shaun and Cristy were here.

Along with eating like gluttons, we had a big pile of fireworks, a bizarre screening of Too Many Cooks followed by the first 5 episodes of Salad Fingers, and an hour+ long game of Cards Against Humanity. I went to bed around 5am after posting this gif on facebook:






This was a long weekend for us. Annie stayed over at Izzy's Thurs-Fri, and Grant had Friday off. We took the four kids we had with us up to brunch and then Venetian Pool, before we went and got her.

Grant and I are also in a nonstop Sexathon phase that I am eating up in a very Thursday night, Friday morning, Friday afternoon, Saturday morning, etc sort of way. Mega epic and sometimes lazy, sometimes kinky, sometimes going on forever. Oooooom.

Tomorrow is back to reality with him at work literal hours away, and lots of nonsense errands and calls and studying and so on to do on my part.

I'm feeling pretty good about most things. Extremely motivated for positive life changes.
altarflame: (deluge)
So, I failed my Stats class. Had a massive anxiety/depression spiral that lasted a week, and on the other side of it now I can see the good parts - in that I really do have an epic support system. The day of my final, after the test, I was sitting in my car in the parking garage at FIU feeling like death and despair, and I had a new, lengthy fb message from my friend Jenny about how wonderful it had been to see me while we were in Tampa, and how great my kids are. On the drive home, I got a random "I love you and am so glad you're my friend" text from someone else. When I unlocked my front door, Jake was standing there asking how I'd done, and when I said, "pretty horrible" he gave me a hug and pat my back.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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


And this is Elise, showin' off her skillz. Facebook tells me that anyone who has the link can see it, so hopefully that works despite my generally locked down facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Tina.Hernandez.Walker/videos/10153019627983262/?l=6152874696235359619
altarflame: (deluge)
It's January 1, 2015. <--I'm sitting with that sentence for a bit, trying to take it in.

I ate two eggs on toast with some iced coffee from our fridge, for breakfast, at the picnic table outside. Then I wrote a 3 page long poem, and then I took Ananda and went on a BJ's run.


I'm very happy, which tends to scare me. I'm learning to be happy and scared about the happiness at the same time, which is possibly the most important life skill I could master.

In the process of trying to fill out that end of the year meme, I read back over some old entries for the first time in a long time. I remembered how much I love having them to look back on, and decided I need to blog more, or at least more honestly. I'm not dishonest, here, but sometimes I'm less honest, if that makes any sense.

For instance, I feel wildly head over heels in love with Grant. I fell in love with him either for the first real time or on some whole other level, in late 2013/early 2014. And I'm embarrassed, to say that, and I don't know why. It's just so much. I wasn't even willing to let him know yet, a year ago today.

I was sitting in a coffee shop with him yesterday and I looked up at him, feeling my heart swell, and I thought Oh this is terrible. How do people live like this?

The night before he'd told me, holding me, "I know the sex must have been really good if you're crying about how I can die afterward."

It's really sweet and torturous and awful, and silly, and wonderful.

And I feel like it, in addition to my peaceful and conscious choice to just be monogamous, are both somehow sprung from the total freedom he extended to me to do whatever I wanted. The level of honesty we were able to achieve with no assumptions and wiping the slate clean. The understanding that we could make our own rules for our marriage. His exploration and humble tackling of his own faults, and willingness to change, and my own realizations about shit that is just my own but I unfairly blame on him. I could just work on me without blaming him forever, you know? Most of the time that's actually more productive, for me AND for us.

All of it somehow added up to me feeling like the luckiest woman in the world for what I've already got, and really not wanting anything else. Even though that's terrifying and means he can leave me and devastate me, he can be with other people if he wants because I'm not gonna close that door on him just because I changed my own mind, he can die and I'll have "nothing" (not exactly true, but love-relationship true), just... I'm gonna get old, right here. And I can smile and cry about it at the same time. The hardest part is how good it is. It's so much to lose.

I have a really hard time with vulnerability. What a stupid sentence that is. Nevertheless... I crave it and I seek it, but I struggle with it, bigtime. I didn't want Grant to know I was falling so much more in love with him, butterflies-kinda-love, because what if he's too far past that phase with me and I'll just be a big idiot. What if he's tired of my shit and our neverending, tedious as all fuck "Conversation" (about our sex issues, our interests-are-diverging issues, our he's-codependent issues, blah blah blah). I spent weeks thinking sadly that I was going to be really totally in love with him right as he decided he was finally and completely done, with me. It would all be a tragedy of timing.

It was actually FAR easier for me to say, "I don't know if I've ever really been in-love with you," than "I've fallen in-love with you." It was far easier to get to, "maybe we should be open to outside relationships," than to take it back with a "I only want to be with you. No matter what you choose, for yourself, I mean." It was far easier for me in years past, when I was keeping our problems to myself, and I had my private doubts, to go on and on about Grant's (valid) good points online. To convince myself? To make up for some of what was missing? I was also hugely distracted by and focused on pregnancies and babies and toddlers, of course. And Grant and I make great partners, as parents, and are very good at piloting a family together. The point is that now that the kids are older and we're standing here as individuals who've had to re-evaluate who we even are, I'm often too overwhelmed by his good points to share them.

The other day I had this ridiculous "you are the reason I'm smiling when there's no reason to smile" pic on my phone that I wanted to put on his facebook wall, and it took me the whole day to do it, and then I was BLUSHING when I did. Because...I don't know why. Because it's so true that it hurts. Because I'm afraid of it disappearing and so I hold it close.

I also didn't want to tell Grant, initially, because I didn't know how to blend our prioritizing of our individual selves (hobbies, friendships, time alone, etc) with being "in-love." And I didn't want to fuck anything up either, because clearly the individual self prioritizing ALLOWED the love blossoming.

I wrote a whole lot about this, just not publicly. It was all for me, and later, him. I deleted my OkCupid account. I did weird shit like avoid him at all costs and refuse to make eye contact and sob with relief in our kitchen when he was like, "Dude, it's really ok, let's just be monogamous, why are you freaking out? I'm glad you're in love with me. How did you think I would react?"


We're just so much better like this, good lord. And it's this balancing act and I don't want to like, LOSE the total, raw, sometimes painful honesty that asking hard questions and opening up the marriage and all that caused, or start taking each other for granted and acting codependent again, but for the last, I dunno, uh...6 months? 8? We've done a really great job of walking the line. Even when he got depressed, or I stayed sick, or whatever...

He'll give me this knowing look with a pat and tell me polyamory can come back into the conversation and he sort of assumes it will one day in the future. Maybe he's even right. We make a lot of casual jokes we never could have made years ago, like about how we'll have a bed and breakfast and I'll sleep with guys passing through.

More likely I'll be spending too much money on flowers to put everywhere and wasting a lot of tea and baked goods because I always over prepare.




This Christmas break has been some of the best days of my entire life. I'm not kidding even a little. It's just perfect. Sleeping in every day til whenever I feel like getting up, taking one kid at a time out places, lying in cuddle piles with all of them, having SO MUCH EPIC SEX ALL THE TIME THERE IS NO OVERSTATING THIS - Grant took a week and a half of their 2 weeks off, so it's been all of us, unstructured, nowhere to go. I've got hickies and feel like I've had a professional massage or something, most of the time. Lots of coffee here and at Starbucks and at other shops, lots of wine in the evenings - Christmas was beautiful. Everything is beautiful. The weather is good. The house is a mess and nobody gives a shit.

One day I was standing by the mailbox and said, "Wait, is it Saturday or Sunday?" and Grant said, "It's Tuesday."

We went out to the Everglades the other night to just look at stars on a whim, after Annie suggested it. Jake complained the whole time, and I got mosquito bites on my feet, but it was still perfect.

I spent a whole evening texting with Kristin.
I've caught up with Jess.
Kathy sent me a picture of her out with her new baby in our Kozy carrier that made me warm.
I was going to send Laura a picture of her (awesome) cheese grater, that she left here after Thanksgiving, with a big red bow on it, and say "Thanks so much for the present, we all love it!" but she's giving us a fat credit they had leftover somehow at a school uniform store, which is pretty sweet and honestly makes my gift for her (a dark chocolate bar with orange bits in it) seem hilariously lacking.

Grant gave me Amanda Palmer's "Art of Asking" book for Christmas, since he had just finished listening to the audio version, loved it, and REALLY wanted to talk about it all with me. I'm done with the whole thing and started on a new book already, since this is surreal-heaven-timeless time. It was great, btw, and I highly recommend it, though all the notes and afterwards at the very end got kind of redundant.

The other night in bed, I dozed off and dreamed the beginning of a story. I woke up excited, tapped it all into Evernote on my phone, and have been fleshing it out ever since.

I also went to FIU and worked out my Fall Failures. Since Elise needs me here for some unknown time and I do not have any older kids about the place during the school day for times I might need to go in when Grant can't be home, I'm contemplating switching to FIU fully online for the rest of my bachelors. That's simultaneously really disappointing and also no big deal. I've loved and gotten a lot out of my on campus classes, but it's really far for the kind of logistical things we're dealing with re: kids, school, etc. And I've had some online classes that I got a lot out of too, even back at MDC, so we'll see.

Yesterday Isaac, Jake and Elise took bags and a stepladder across to our neighbor with a starfruit tree, since it was dropping fruit everywhere again and he encourages them to do this. Whenever they knock he says to take what they want, and will even come with trimmers to help them get high ones. They've been eating starfruit basically anytime I look at them ever since. Elise has probably had 10 today. I tried to get Shaun to take some home last night.

A couple of days ago we had pizza out, all 7 of us, after shopping at Get Smart.
Then hit a park.
This morning while we were snuggling in my bed, Elise said, "Can we have dinner at the beach?" and I was like, "Hmm. Ok!" It will probably actually end up happening tomorrow, because of how the hours are passing, which is also ok.

The kids are all having so much fun all the time with their new (presents) stuff. Building with legos and clay, painting, Aaron sometimes seems to never get off his new unicycle. The old one looks so tiny next to it, it's no wonder he couldn't use it anymore, he's SOOOO much taller now.

We watched "Her" (the Joaquin Phoenix movie). It was really thought provoking and strange.

We might all go and see "Into The Woods" soon.

It's really almost too awesome, right? I mean I'll be back in the whirlwind of our normal schedule soon, but I'm considering taking this semester off, and with Elise home life is just way simpler even when we're not enjoying a holiday. And I love teaching her. She keeps talking about how she can talk silently inside her mind now, and sound things out in her head, and I love the window into her development that she gives me. She's so eager and interested.

I had counseling yesterday. We talked about new years resolutions. I'm still getting mine together. I like to make them realistic and planned out in some detail, so that they actually happen.

I will stop gushing and go back to luxuriating, now, because at the moment a mountain of dirty dishes and NPR really sounds like more luxuriating. I'll water all my plants. Whatever I decide to make for dinner on no specific timeline. Grant and Jake are almost done sanding a desk they made, out back. Tonight might be a bubble bath night. I haven't had one in I don't know how many months.

I even have period cramps today. But coupled with a massive capacity to savor small pleasures and a good perspective? Or maybe I just really hate structure and schedules. Maybe it's LOVE. Ooooor all the sex.

I'll take it. And try not to get caught up in the poignancy of existential crises too often.
altarflame: (deluge)
Well, I've got several half done LJ entries that have been sitting around open for various periods of time, a lot of it the kind of thing I often just delete rather than finish. I'm going to cut some of it below.

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Old partial nonsense rambling entries!

#1, some thoughts on biking )

Much )

thoughts on birth control, and risk )
altarflame: (deluge)
Discussing how they kinda missed the puppy that was taken to a shelter, yesterday morning, Jake tried to comfort Elise by saying, "Don't worry, it's the one where they find them homes, not the one where they turn them into burgers." Possibly I shouldn't have laughed so hard. I did explain that the burger thing is not really true of any shelter, but then he wanted to know what the kill shelters DO do, with the bodies of the animals. He seemed to have real indignation that they "waste" them and just be horrified that they basically get thrown away, or burned, when maybe they could feed hungry people. I was at a loss about how to continue to navigate that conversation.

Jake is weird, and wonderful. He's so tall now that when I hug him, I can just look down and have my face in his curls. I love the way his head smells, and that he's so affectionate with me. Even when he's rough housing with Grant, he's super careful with me when he gets close to where I am. I can't think of a time when he's ever lost his temper and hit me or pushed me or even been rough, even as a baby (and he has a serious temper, and gets in minor physical fights with other kids pretty often). He's careful and sweet like that with his little-girl cousins, too (Elizabeth and Isabelle, 3 and 2), always running to do them favors and eager to help them with anything they need.

My sister is looking at a house for sale a few blocks from us, that's in a great location, big and nice with a huge yard...that has a Santeria shed in the back. Weird shit painted on the walls, stained up bathtub used for draining dead animals of blood, you know, the works. It really adds to the "mystique" of the dozens of giant criss-crossing banana spider webs in the overgrowth and power lines right above the property. She's talking about destroying the shed and then having her bible study group come and do a prayer circle around where it used to be, and getting some kind of priest to come bless the yard afterward.

I am so so so tired, tonight.

Isaac stayed home for Take Your Child To Work Day, today, which was a little weird since Grant works from home solely on the computer and phone on Thursdays, and I am not employed. He was writing about it, for school, this evening. He decided to do his writing about a day he actually spent at Grant's office, since he figured that would be, "more interesting than just talking about how Mom does a lot of dishes."

I mean, really. *sigh* Parenthood robs you of all dignity! Never mind the meals (and coconut brownies) I made them today, or the chapter of Harry Potter that we read together, or the ride and support I provided for him, Jake and Elise to go perform in their recital, or even the work I did on plants this afternoon. The math help with Aaron? Washing Elise's hair? No, no...I am but a dishwasher.

Grant and I laughed about it a lot, but - I swear.

Grant and I also agonized over which new benefits package to choose, this evening, because his company is changing their offerings and we have to be ready to switch by June 1. It sucks. The old benefits we're used to were amazing. The new ones are still competitive, but they're nowhere near as good. For health insurance premiums, we're going to go from paying $250 in, to paying $384 in, per month. Our yearly individual and family deductibles will nearly double. Our co-pays are jumping from $10 and $20, respectively, for regular doctors and specialists, to $20 and $50. And, our HSA account, rather than being something the company puts $200 per month in, will now be a setup where we put in $150 and they match it, each month. So really we're putting in $384+150, or $534. It will be more than double what usually gets deducted from his check - so that we can pay higher co-pays... after reaching our higher deductibles. It's still not terrible, for a family of 7, particularly as much as we use it. We get to pick our providers, and things like mental health and speech therapy are included. Gah, though.

Dental's staying the same, vision is being added for free (none of us need that), and we're getting "Teledoc," now - somehow they've actually set up a (free, included) service where you call a number and people call in prescriptions for whatever you need (for many situations) over the phone. They'll also advise you about whether something requires a visit, what you should know about your symptoms, etc. They've even got Skype built in, in some magical way that complies with HIPAA regulations. Because of my husband's general career path in health care IT, I can only imagine the entire industry springing up around the security involved with HIPAA compliant Skype consultations.




It's interesting how polyamory has changed everything and nothing, about my relationship. For instance, when Grant was in Missouri for a week recently, he asked what I would think if he were to try to find someone via OkCupid to go to a movie with him. He was bored and alone and constantly aghast at the Missouri-ness of the place. I laid out my hesitations, which were all centered around his personal safety getting rides from strangers, and then we laughed a lot two days later about how he ALMOST got a male gas station attendant to agree to go see Captain America together as bros, but that was about it.

Meanwhile, I passed on a lot of his Missouri complaints to a guy I talk to online who used to live in Missouri, and who was eager to weigh in on just how terrible it can be there. We laughed too, via fb messages.

Pretty edgy, eh?

I think the best and most tangible change, for Grant and me, is just how completely honest we are with each other. About pornographic things we look at/read on our own time, and fantasies we have, and people we think are attractive. I feel like I can just TALK to him so freely about the never ending perversity running through my head like a ticker tape, with no filter, and that's...amazing. Sometimes I think back to the times when we kept so much shit quiet in the interest of sparing each other's feelings, and it almost seems like we didn't really know each other at all. Because really, I have a LOT of sexual thoughts and feelings, and they make up a huge proportion of the things I talk about with my FRIENDS, so...how weirdly absent were they all, with Grant, and for how long? Sheesh. Him, too, there's a huge element of "private life that gets shared with nobody" that is now shared, and it's sweet, and I feel a whole lot closer and also REALer, with him, as a result...




This day - what I want to call tomorrow, that begins in 5 hours - is going to start way too soon, and go nonstop. Argh. I promise to actually put pictures here, though! I have a ton.
altarflame: (deluge)
It's starting to rain again. There are some real issues this brings up for us - the van has a leak, and the deck needs to be resurfaced kinda badly, and those things are easy to ignore during the half of the year when it never rains, but are gonna become mega issues soon if we don't attend to them. And, with rain comes mosquitoes.

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




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




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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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




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




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

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

I've also made a lot of use of tumblr for personal posts lately, particularly picture posts, since it's so easy to make them directly from my phone with one step.
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1.) Studying made me cry, tonight. It was the Health Psychology chapter, "Psychological Effects of Terminal Illness and Death." I made it through the SIDs section, I gritted my teeth through the Causes of Death Among 1-15 Year Olds. I already knew everything they had to say about the Kubler-Ross Model, and palliative and hospice care, mostly because of friends and real life situations. I actually laughed about the nonsensical, bullet formatted lists in our power point describing the pros and cons of dying young vs dying old*. But somewhere in between how confusing impending death is to hospitalized children, who can't really grasp that their lives are going to end, and the bit about conflicts that arise when an older person refuses treatment and their spouse or kids bitterly protest... I was just done.




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

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




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


*The most dryly existential hilarity was how young people might feel bitterly upset that they have not realized their life goals, whereas older adults may have accepted that they did not realize their life goals and made peace with that. My text book scoffs at the notion that anyone might ever actually realize any goals; that's not even a possible outcome.

DrunkCast

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

:)

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



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

altarflame: (deluge)
I'm really, really excited about Thanksgiving :D Everything is coming up Millhouse, in that regard. My Dad got the time off to come up from Key West, which I am so happy about. Nancy managed to get out of Massachusetts on time (she was waiting on very overdue babies) and is now in Florida in time to be here, which I am so happy about. I spent an hour on the phone and computer with Robby helping him find the right combination of rides and busses and trains to get here from Lake City, which I am so happy about. Gloria and Shaun will also be here :D Laura will be here with her kids for at least part of the evening :) Grant's got this whole week off of work, and the weather is taking a dip down into the 70s Thursday. Just... ANTICIPATION! My kids are all counting down and the recipes are piling up. We've got all these white Christmas lights and candles ready for the deck.




BUT. Today was sort of a drag. I stayed up very, very late (2-3) listening to Robby because he's having a hard time and just needs to vent. Which is ok, I love him, but made getting up to take Isaac to school and write a theater paper more challenging. Today was also my group's theater presentation, for that class - Grant came along with me to carry big props and watch our play (skit, really...) I was a drunken, pregnant Texan, which was fun and funny for a little while. He enjoyed laughing and taking pictures while someone did my makeup with a pillow stuffed in my shirt, and we all got As and decent comments afterward... then Grant and I went to eat thai for lunch, which was also nice.

After that, though, I sat around for the entire afternoon AND INTO THE EVENING, at my doctors office. Never mind that I am frantic to be cleaning and cooking at home while also simultaneously struggling to keep my eyes open.

Eventually I saw the doctor - I was back at my MD to see my latest set of labs and get my referral, today, and she tells me this:

SED rate: 70, up from 60
Rheumatoid Factor: 11, up from 7 (but still neg by this office's scale - old rheumy said over 10 was positive)
C reactive protein: positive, present, don't know/remember details

So for all of that she's sending me on to a new rheumatologist (old one closed, which is why I'm there with her), but - I'm apparently SEVERELY deficient in B-12 and folate. Which is not something I'd even considered or previously heard anything about. She actually said my numbers are the worst she's ever seen, and I've been going to this same MD since I was 5 years old so I would assume she's seen many. She said she doesn't know how I'm getting out of bed with levels this low, which is incredibly validating, because IT'S FUCKING HARD.

So I got a B-12 shot before I left the office (which made me pretty nauseus, and gave me an immediate headache), and have to get them weekly, and was prescribed folic acid to take every day, but clearly we need to find out why those numbers are so low.

I of course came home to try to e-search all of this myself, and what the e-searching keeps coming back around to is...Celiac disease O_o I don't know. But that would certainly explain why quitting gluten* made such a wildly crazy difference, and cheating has caused me to take such a turn for the worse :/ It's clearly just another avenue to pursue and talk about with doctors, but, damn - the symptom list, with the destruction of tooth enamel**, joint pain, heartburn, and the way surgeries can trigger it (I did have intestinal surgery...), just, bleh.

That's a whole other ball of complications and long term plans to consider. I'm going to talk to my MD about it tomorrow, since Celiac is a totally different specialist and I (clearly) don't know what the hell is happening in my body, but - I'm kind of up in the air about how all the advice out there is like, "IF YOU THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE CELIAC, DO NOT STOP EATING GLUTEN SINCE THAT WILL SKEW YOUR TEST RESULTS - oh but if you do have celiac, by all means stop eating even trace amounts right this second since it's causing terrible damage to your body and could even kill you if left untreated." Uh - ? I get it, but, I'm having a hard time anyway. Thinking "out loud."

There's also something called Pernicious Anemia that is terrifying in a whole other way, that is a contender as it is an autoimmune disorder that destroys your ability to absorb B-12 and folate, too. I'm definitely not doing any more independent research until after I've been to a specialist or two because it will just drive me crazy.

Here's hoping I have some renewed energy from the shots, soon, anyway.




*which I did because of rumors and hypothetical alternative theories about gluten agitating/causing RA, which my father has, and I was afraid I was getting due to my new joint pain and fatigue

**see a couple of entries down, when I explained that I need FIFTEEN FILLINGS due to demineralization?!
altarflame: (deluge)
As a blogger, it can be hard to know when to explain yourself, or defend yourself against criticisms, and when you just shouldn't have to/refuse to/don't have the energy for it. This is not of any particular relevance to my life right now, which is why it's easy to write about it - when I'm actually struggling with it, I generally just don't blog at all. Someone else that I follow appalled a lot of people earlier and has been answering the "But why"s, this evening, so it's on my mind as a philosophical subject.

There are, usually, people who just seem to have missed some information...or, might be trying to stir up trouble by spreading lies on purpose, troll-style. That can be hard to separate! There are the commenters who contradict each other, saying opposing things at the same time. There are the ones who really were happy and supportive readers, but then misinterpreted something. And finally, there are people who understand you perfectly and just disagree because you're wrong and/or everybody's different - that is something that just has to be accepted.

For instance, plugging these types into an example that's on my mind today because I was at the doctor today: there are the people who seem to skip over my many doctors' visits and all my talk of my therapist, and act as though I've "self diagnosed" my arthritis and/or PTSD. Then, there are also the times I'm simultaneously hearing them and the people who are very aware of all the visits and describe them as a kind of hypochondria or drama-seeking behavior. AND THEN, there are the people who think I've self-diagnosed the kids with anything I say they "have," so they are genuinely horrified that I'm short changing my poor poor children. OR, the people who think my kids are less-than or I'm a bad mom if they "have" anything. And, last, there are people who just don't take mental illness seriously or believe in autoimmune disorders (LAME), or who "get it" but don't have the energy or desire to follow complicated stories that involve people who have problems (totally understandable).

Do I owe any of them explanations? Not really, no. Trying to engage some of them in conversation is clearly just pointless arguing. Can it be helpful and ok to dole out explanations, when I have the energy for that? Sometimes... I think. Ultimately, if you have enough readers, you have to ignore most of it or all available blogging time will start to go towards trying to placate everyone, without any more actual substantive posts being possible.

Speaking of which!




Things I'm Thankful For, 11/13-19

11/13. The bursts of cooler weather we keep having. It's hard to explain to someone who HASN'T existed in sweltering heat and heavy humidity year round, but for us, it's almost impossible to NOT feel happy and light and wonderful when you step outside and it's unexpectedly 20 degrees cooler with a breeze :) And once that happens a couple of times, you get to placate yourself when it IS in the 90s again, that you will get be getting breaks from that now and then for MONTHS!

11/14. Roller derby, and what it's done for Annie. Fitness, confidence, coming out of her social anxiety shell, positive role models (in the adult team members who coach the juniors) - it's just a really good thing.

11/15. Her amazing (non-derby) friends, and their parents, who I trust with her <--a big deal!

11/16. That Grant is always warm, and never minds my freezing hands (or entire ice block of a self) pressed against him.

11/17. Elise's positive energy. Watching her bound out of a Girl Scout meeting bursting to tell me all about it, or RUN up the stairs to violin class, or sing and dance because she gets to be my helper...is awesome. She is just fucking awesome, and I think about it every single day.

11/18. That Grant and I are so good at giving each other space, and support, when one of us is having a hard time. He gets terrible headaches, and has mood swings sometimes, and I don't hold those things against him. He eats it up, if I encourage a nap or make him tea or even just turn his fan on and kiss his forehead. He responds to my irritability with humoring me and extra affection. I can walk into the kitchen and punch Grant in the arm as he's cooking, and he will turn to me and pull me into a hug and say, "What's wrong?" It's really priceless.

11/19. Our hammock. Like our gorgeous garden tub, 6 months can pass without me getting in it, and then there are weeks when I use it every day. There are times when I'm extremely stressed, and it's just... exactly right. And then, I'm very very grateful, that it's there.




I usually avoid facebook memes and games like the plague (/obligatory disclaimer), but I loved this "Things You Might Not Know About Me" one that just went around - people on my feed really put themselves out there, and I learned a lot about some of them that I didn't already know. It makes me want to start a "Confessions" blog feature to get passed around. Anyway, if you'd like to read my possibly-unknown-fb-things, you can click here and read them. )
altarflame: (deluge)
It's an ongoing source of angst that I am not "devoted" enough to any of my kids' various extracurricular activities, and thus get all kinds of complaints and tension. For instance, just today Aaron's solo rehearsal, which was scheduled from 3-4pm, ran AN HOUR over. I don't get an explanation or an apology - I get a side eye for questioning why I've been chilling in the parking lot for so long, since none of the other parents were questioning why all the solos were running late today (apparently they all had to be judged and rated, but it was completely impromptu - like how they schedule things THE NIGHT BEFORE via 11 pm email, and I'm supposed to just "make that work" the following afternoon regularly...but worse!). The full time "dance moms" who hang out in the lobby for hours on end do a kind of, "Oh, how typical, hahaha" chuckle and that's the end of it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

I've only ever been this consistently exhausted, before, last fall-February (i.e., before I changed my diet to more anti-inflammatory stuff, which it still is primarily made up of) and in early pregnancy (that is not a possibility).

I just went and got blood drawn today for a new SED rate, and am going back to my rheumatologist Monday. I don't even know what I expect, though - my pain levels/mobility troubles are not bad enough for me to embark on the sort of drugs arthritis patients are offered (steroids and immunosuppresants, for the most part)... they're "just" really annoying. I suppose I'd like some validation.

And additional documentation, for my professors, would be nice. *sigh*




Today was actually a pretty ok day, overall. I went to a rehearsal that my group, from our theater class, had scheduled. That was actually really fun, we laughed a lot. Then I talked on the phone with Robby, catching up, on my way to get my blood work done - and they were very fast and efficient at Quest, and only needed one vial. All of that was finished very early.

I did a lot of scolding and reprimanding here at home, which I hate, but I'm trying to orchestrate a really massive whole-house deep cleaning because, 1. we're having a LOT of Thankgsiving guests, and 2. we're actually moving sometime in the coming months. All week has been a lot of guiding, cajoling, threatening, time-outing, praising, and so on... Ananda and Elise actually have their room spotless, including things like their closets and drawers, and Isaac is close, but Aaron and Jake are being ridiculous about it. Normal everyday chores are a battle now because we're doing so much OTHER cleaning that they can't believe I still expect those to get done, too. The other day Jake actually said to me, with the hot water running behind me and a sponge in my hand, "Why don't YOU have chores?!" He'd just been in the next room in plain sight as I cleared and scrubbed the bar and counters, and then swept the floor, before I started on the dishes. Aside from the whole "stfu I'm your mother" factor. I gave him a toned-down version of all that and he was like, "But nobody bugs you about it!" I was like, "Right, because I DO THESE THINGS without being 'bugged'! If you woke up in the morning and did your chores right away without being told, I assure you I would never mention them again, except perhaps to say, 'Jake, you deserve an allowance!'"

That kid can really scowl.

Aaron also did more of his ridiculous, oblivious, maddening Aaron sort of crap this evening. He had solo rehearsal tonight, and I'd been reminding him of that in a countdown way all day long. He needed his knee pads for this. He never found the knee pads, and for whatever reason right after I said, "We're leaving in 7 minutes" he decided to get in the shower. I realized this 10 minutes later, when I'd been yelling for 3 minutes for him to get out here and come on, and he wasn't coming.

The weather, driving him, was lovely though - and I took the other four kids to BJ's after we dropped him off, and was happy to see they've added more really surprising items I won't have to go elsewhere for anymore. There have been a lot of these kinds of additions in recent months - I can get gluten free cookies and crackers there, and really good bulk grape seed oil. They've expanded their organic apples to a bunch of different varieties now (Grant is some kind of bizarre apple connoisseur - I don't even like apples at all). This time they actually had organic virgin coconut oil and gluten free pasta.




Prior to today, I've had a lot of the inverse - the kids being the only good thing, and/or thing I'm doing well at. Grant just got back from a week out of town for work and the whole time he was gone I was doing what they needed aaaaaand...that was pretty much it. Also pondering how I really don't give myself credit for "just" mothering, anymore - I feel as though I've done absolutely nothing if I was a great mom all day, cooking for them, reading to them, teaching them and driving them places, settling the petty squabbles and soothing the minor injuries...if there is still a backlog of undone assignments, of my own, and a mess all over the place, I feel like I've just done NOTHING. Which is clearly not true, but...I dunno.

Some highlights from the week:

-Finishing the Prisoner of Azkaban, and starting Goblet of Fire, with Isaac. Sheesh it's fun reading to him, now. He was soooo caught up in the tension and drama of the Shrieking Shack scenes, and laughing so hard at all the cool happy last chapter moments. Then, starting the new one, I was watching him figure it all out and just...it's great. Really great, to where I have to make myself stop where we should and march out of his room (because his bedtime is important since he goes to school, and since I have other people waiting on me to read to them).

-Making Elise bed-curtains. She has a bottom bunk, below Annie's, and saw some Pinterest style picture of a little girl with drawn curtains over her bed-area in an attic and just fell in love. I was like, YOU KNOW, it would be reeeeally easy to do that to your bed! So we went over to Opa's (Grant Sr's) house, and got the unused curtains I bought fabric for and sewed years ago, that were just sitting around, and came home and used camping rope and strung them up. Now - she is so. happy. She has a little table Grant made her in there, and I let her take the lamp from the tv room. She talks about it nonstop.

-Everything, ever, with Annie. But especially - last night, cooking dinner together and talking, while she made brownies and sat on the counter. And reading, all the time. And snuggling like we've done a lot of, in my bed and in the "round spinny chair" (we've really never thought of anything better to call it...)

-Aaron is playing Sail, by Awolnation, on the piano all the time. He's camera shy so I can't share the video *stomping my foot*

-We went and did PATH's "Scientifically Speaking" event: the four homeschooled kids each dressed up as a scientist, and presented as though they were that person ("I'm _____, I was born in _____ and....") Elise was Mary Treat, Jake Albert Einstein, Aaron Carl Sagan, and Ananda Hank Green. Jakey froze up a bit but saved it in the end. Elise's little spiel was intentionally very short, but she did well with it. Aaron is actually a performer and spoke with a voice and gestures designed to mimic. Annie had the most real information. I was super happy with the stuff I managed to find at Goodwill and in the clearance/Halloween section of Party City for them, for this.




I am, as I am every night, FREEZING shivery cold in my 70+ degree house, with goosebumps and a fever and all. Gah. It's a good thing I've been making some real counseling strides, or just the recurring fever would be giving me panic attacks (it's normally a definitive sign I look for, to mean "Yes, I may have a strangulating hernia making me septic again," partially because it's unusual and the lack of it keeps me from misinterpreting stupid minor things like indigestion for a reason to worry).

The good news is my husband is actually waiting for me in our bed again, all furnace-warm as he tends to be and sweet enough to reach out and pull me in, in his sleep :)
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)
-Got a credit card for the first time in over a decade, now that a lot of very old shit is off my credit and I can do that.

-Ordered a dress I've lusted over for months, that was suddenly marked down to clearance, i.e. half price (not with the credit card...reverse order and within budget).

-Did about 3 hours of homework, at Starbucks.

-Two hours at home, too...5 classes and all that.

-Went and had thai food with my kids, Gloria, and LJ, after a fortuituous budgeting error in our favor was reconciled.

-Bled way too much, took a very long nap, drank lots of clorophyll, ate a fine ass grilled steak and lots and lots of green veggies in the name of not dying re: anemia.

-Learned the basics about Syria and what the hell is going on over there.

-Went to a park with my sister and her kids, and a couple of mine, for a walkabout, animal-feeding sort of playdate...too many cramps, but the rain was pretty.

-Programmed a million dates into my phone, re: dance carpool, dentist appointments, GMYS, derby practices, my classes, etc.

-Watched the first episode of "Orange is the New Black," with Grant (2nd forthcoming).

-Felt way too lonely and weirdly isolated in my day to day life.

-Had some regenerative and fucking amazing sex.

-Clipped coupons and grocery shopped.



That is all I have time to remember. I really love those of you who continue to hang onto LJ as a sharing medium :) The ones on my friends page, and the ones coming and reading. I like that this still exists <3
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.
altarflame: (deluge)
Over the weekend, Grant and I marathon'd Game of Thrones to catch up with the cah-razy events being alluded to all over facebook. We also took the snack up to Annie's derby practice even though she was too sick to skate, and harvested our first lettuce from the garden. I weeded outside, watered houseplants and did online school work while he mowed grass and edged outside. He went out with Shaun and made some Cajun food, I sent out 700 million messages to hopefully get carpooling, babysitting, rides and more worked out for the coming weeks. I made a lot of fancy salads for a lot of hungry people. And, I gloried in Asos Curve.

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

This day has contained:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is my friend Angela's painting blog, where she posts and sells her work. Angela is a bit of a starving artist, living in a super cool, dilapidated little house on the edge of the Gables that was inherited from some relative - she and her App-designing husband live with her unschooled teenagers, one of whom is Izzy, Annie's friend and our babysitter.
http://angelaooghepainting.blogspot.com/
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
One of my favorite things is to be cooking something delicious in my kitchen, with a glass of wine and music playing. Tonight it's a couple of whole chickens being roasted different ways - one dry roasted with onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots and salt, and the other cooked with lots of butter under the skin and along with broccoli and mushrooms. And Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and Regina Spektor.

Today was pretty good. Grant went and got our three littles from his father's, where they spent the night, at 10. They were thrilled with their time and told us so many stories that you'd think they'd been there for a week.

I went and got Ananda and Aaron from Cybele's, where they spent the night, in the afternoon. On the way back the three of us stopped at Whole Foods for kefir and at Tim's (oriental grocery) for rice paper wrappers and more boba. Back home I made everyone bubble tea and did a ton of work for my Sensation and Perception class - we have three of these massive 50 point assignments that use three different websites and software, and involve printing and filling in 9 pages each. One down, two to go O_o I also have an exam (and he's warned us they're vicious) on Thursday, in that class, and a research project to get out of the way soon now that we're somehow already in week 3 of 6...the summer semester is kinda intense with everything crammed in.

Grant and I went up to Publix in the rain when I was finished, since they had a great deal on this tea I love that adds up if you buy it at Starbucks or on campus. It's nice to just sit in the dry, quiet car with him and talk about sensation and perception and research and cooking and whether we should move somewhere more urban or not.


This three day weekend has involved:

-swimming at the Y, twice - and all of a sudden (just when I was finally about to resort to lessons) Isaac, Jake and Elise are all swimming! And floating! And super excited about it!

-observing both the southbound (Friday) and northbound (this afternoon) highway traffic coming and going from the Keys for the holiday - it was thickly boat laden, with a lot of jet skis, bicycles and tow behinds, and at least one car pulled over with people sitting on the ground playing guitar in the median - and overall this always tends to remind me of this.

-sitting in my car* reading about Alfred Adler and taking notes on my phone while Annie had roller derby practice

-two solid hours talking with her and hugging her and trying to encourage her as she talked about how much she hates being upset for no reason and how freaked out she feels by things that aren't freaky and otherwise cried and raved about the general bullshit that is her age...it is really, REALLY AWESOME to me that she can talk about any of this with me, now...I eat it up, actually. I'm so glad we got a lot of her communication troubles out of the way before adolescence kicked in and over complicated things more.

-dropping/picking up Aaron at dance for the millionth time this month (recital and company show coming up...)

-seeing Brian Viglione post that the Coney Island Mermaid Parade (which I have always had on my bucket list) is in danger in the post-Hurricane-Sandy reality up there, and that he would be playing with Amanda Palmer the following night in a "Save the Mermaids" benefit. I wanted to go to this SO BADLY, like Grant has so many frequent flyer miles and hotel points saved up from business trips that we actually researched flight schedules and ticket prices and hotel locations and I was flipping my shit with longing. I was manic about it. It was a really sucky letdown when it all proved impossible, and then I spent awhile the following morning being very emo about it. Tears. I think it represented something larger to me, about personal freedom and living in the moment - I haven't really went nuts trying to make something impossible like that happen in several years. Sometimes it works, is the thing :p This just would have been TOO inconsiderate, though, unfortunately :/

-so much sex. Really, this was so overdue, and it's been awesome and I am not slowing down anytime soon. HEDONISTIC FRENZY FTW

-also, last night Grant and I had a date out alone, for probably the third time in the past couple of months...it was good, we ate at Outback and saw Hangover 3 - I was very very aware that the movie could go either way (too dumb to even deal with, or hilarious), but aside from some problematic shit I could do without** - it was pretty funny for what it was.

-a bubble bath and textathon Saturday night, while G was out with Shaun

-about 4 hours spent naked that ended with eating gelato straight from the container, with a spare plate, so that I could pull it out, pick through it for chunks and put it back. Because that's how I roll.

-a nap-too-long at an odd time that I woke from confused about day, place, and general life.

-tacos and cider for lunch in our dining room


I've done so many step-by-step pictures as my days progress, either for Jake to see one day while I was in school (he demanded to know what the heck I mean by, "going to college" and why he can't come - Grant works from home on days I go to school but he's fairly distracted with the "working" part), or for Grant when he's at the office and wants to see what we're up to at home. I keep thinking I should just put a DITL together and then realizing that what I get with them in mind is not what I'd put on the internet at all. For instance, Jake's report featured lots of stuff like escalators and elevators and riding in a golf cart, and banks of vending machines, and some guy on a skateboard, and all the sort of things a 7 year old would think was cool.

This weekend was great for the most part, but I get really lonely, sometimes. I have one budding friendship in one of my classes and my sister and I keep having these times when she's like, standing around my front yard with her kids in the car and we talk because she's passing through my side of town for something (they've been mildly sick for weeks with something she's afraid to pass on because it's so hard to kick). But way too many of the people I care about are really far away and only available through my phone.


*We got a second car about 10 days ago! It's such a relief. It's a 2011 Ford Fiesta, which is not really something we're "excited" about in and of itself, but we picked it because it has excellent safety ratings and amazing gas mileage (better than the Prius did - 29/38 city/highway). Already it seems like we'll be saving the payment each month in gas savings and breaking even, it's crazy what a different it is to have a "commuter" for work/school...

**Really, it's 2013 and we're laughing at a "Chinaman" with an exaggerated accent who speaks bad english? *wince* Also, what IS this weird Hollywood insistence that fat people can't have chemistry/fall in love/get it on? The whole idea that it's supposed to be inherently hilarious for fat people to act like human beings is fucking ridiciulous, and obviously has nothing to do with reality.
altarflame: (deluge)
It's really *gag* SUMMER, now. I have to keep all my windows and doors closed again, FOR MONTHS, and worry that our chickens will die if they don't have water in the afternoon, and avoid fun outdoor activities completely between 11-3 so nobody gets burnt to a crisp by accident just playing in the yard. There are flies and mosquitoes and gnats everywhere (although to be fair, also dragonflies, purple martins and lightning bugs at night). To make this bitter pill extra hard to choke down, our van AC is not working O_O E-freakin-gads. We have missed our chance, at livable camping! I took Jake and Elise with me to get Isaac from school this afternoon and all three of them arrived home red faced and collapsed with shocked looks on their faces. I went around to each of them in turn and made them drink big cups of water. It felt like keeping my plants from shrivelling away!




A tumblr post on wage disparity between the sexes had commentary below it about how women are PARTIALLY held back naturally, by their own choice to prioritize childrearing over climbing corporate ladders; I agree with this for the most part (and think women are free to choose whatever they want). I think, though, that the tiny tiny amount of female executives doesn't match up very well with the growing numbers of childless, educated women in the workforce. I keep wondering whether anyone is officially quantifying what I see anecdotally... because what I see is a greater prevalence of LARGE families, and a greater prevalence of childless and childfree people, but less and less of the "average" 2.whatever kids per household. Maybe this is just me?

I started mentally adding up all the women I know without kids, and realized it's a big number. It's definitely MOST women I know. Lots of women in my life (feel free to skim or skip the list), like...

-all the early 20s college students I met at my FIU orientation yesterday, and talked with about our lives
-the 20+ member adult roller derby team, -2 that have kids, all 25-35
-my friends Jenny, Angie and Courtney, from teen camps, who I keep in touch with (all early 30s) along with some faces I see on facebook in similar age ranges from camp who are friends of friends
-my good friend Jess from high school, along with at least a dozen nameable acquaintances from those days in school
-my x-step-aunt Joan (40something) and my actual Aunt Michelle (50)
-my former nanny turned friend (a nanny and doula), Gloria (3...6? I think?)
-literally every rotating NICU nurse we had at 3 different hospitals O_o I think this is a weird demographic thing
-my two favorite PATH Moms' sisters (both in their 50s) and my good friend Kristin's sister, Keegan (33)
-my first english professor; this 40+ woman who was a counselor when G and I were in school and is now a fb friend; one of his middle aged female coworkers; the waittress we had on our anniversary date; the trainer at the gym where my sister worked; Alex - this list could just go on for a very long time if I kept trying to include everyone, is the point.

When I think of families I know, online and IRL, I can think of a few examples with three kids, quite a lot with four, another fiver like us, and a handful in the "really big" category (6-12). Of the ones with three, one lost a child tragically and another couple are still aspiring to many many kids but just aren't there yet. Racking my brain for examples of two child families I come up with absolutely nobody, although I did remember that I know/know of at least half a dozen with singletons.

I now regrettfully inform you I am not getting to a point. Just thinking "out loud." Please forgive me :p

Pictures are exciting, right? Food! And, our anniversary! )

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