altarflame: (deluge)
Stayed up with biggest kids, i.e., latest bedtime stragglers, til 1:30, making their to-do lists for today and also reading to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over and out.
altarflame: (deluge)
If you'd like to see an overwhelmed, long winded ramble about WHAT I CAN DO DIFFERENTLY TO CHANGE MY LIFE, that is under the cut. It is not really something finished, with an ending. I wrote it almost 2 weeks ago and, as so often happens, writing it out and then reading what I'd written made a lot of answers very clear to me. Usually when this happens I just delete the entry without posting; this time though it was saved and when I went to update again, it was here. )

What I wanted to say today, was:
1.) I realized yesterday how huge the backlog of pictures I want to post is becoming, and then spent over an hour selecting, resizing and uploading almost 80 of them. There will be at least a couple of huge picture posts really soon :) I have some great stuff!

2.) Aaron and I have started a documentary unit study. It's micro learning in many senses - 3D printers! What is meth, anyway? Tibetan monks, gun control, Nikola Tesla - but the macro learning is what I'm more interested in, with this. We started with this big talk about how every documentary is made by a person or persons who have some kind of driving agenda, and the totally contradictory yet factual cases one can make for various things. For instance, a hypothetical "FIU is a totally green university" vs a hypothetical "FIU is a university that is destroying the environment"...both are highly defensible and could be made into a convincing hour long presentation. Neither are the whole truth, though. We're also doing a lot of talking about how documentary subjects overlap. They're often organized into groups that include things like, "science" even though technically, "drugs," "the environment," "nature," and "technology" are all also science. There is biography in politics, and politics in conspiracy theories, and conspiracy theories in philosophy, and so on. I want to show him at least a couple of single-topic documentaries that are totally against each other. We're highlighting the ways dramatization can blur the truth or seem persuasive, and I'm asking him to try to see what he can learn from a given documentary as well as what questions he should ask about it's motivations, sourcing, and so on.

Aaaanyway, today he watched the hour long National Geographic special on the Bermuda Triangle (available on YouTube, not actually on that list I linked previously). He was extremely frustrated with how open ended it left the whole issue of WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THE SHIPS AND PLANES AND WHY ("the methane gas bubbles could happen anywhere, it's just a coincidence if they're happening there over and over!") but then he was like, "You know, Mom? It seems like anything 'supernatural' is just peoples' way of explaining things they don't understand yet." And I was like, "Welp. That's a pretty profound statement many other people have also made." Then we talked about that tribes from a movie a generation ago that incorporated found Coke bottles into their religious ceremonies and saw planes flying overhead as God, and he wanted to go back to this big conversation we had weeks ago about placebo and I was like LISTEN KID. I've got stuff to do. Your brain's gonna have to quietly explode in another room while I wash some dishes and figure out what's for dinner :p

I think it's a great supplemental thing for him, that is very very painless compared to, say, getting him up to grade level in math and forcing him to do creative writing. Both of which are deeply painful.

ETA: I've learned that the anti-anxiety med they gave me at the ER - Lorazepam, aka Ativan - is strongly contraindicated for dissociative disorder (which I have) as well as being seriously addictive. Meaning that, you know, maybe the ER nurses shouldn't be able to hand out and advise people on psychiatric medications? This chick sat with me telling me I needed to experience it, see how I felt, if it was something that could help me, she really sat down with me and talked it up for like 15 quiet one on one minutes - and I went home with a prescription for a whole bottle of it (that has just sat). *sigh* This is right on the heels of them trying to refer me out to a cosmetic dentist for the first lump on my wrist, and the year after they gave Aaron DTaP when I asked/signed for a tetanus shot only (an old nail went through his Croc, into his foot). Aaron has had three years of DTaP shots before without incident so for him this is not the end of the world, just a booster. For a kid like my nephew Brian, or Elise, who have had previous seizures, though, and not been vaccinated with DTaP because of it, it could be a big fucking deal to a parent. The fact that they injected a kid with two more things than the parent signed for is a huge liability factor and just another sign of their weird general carelessness :/ I'm starting to feel a burdensome responsibility to write them a letter laying a bunch of this crap out on the table.


Feb. 25th, 2013 03:42 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
Remember ditls? Where you post pics from your whole day waking to going to bed and caption them all and post them as a "day in the life"? I did one at least once, 2 or 3 years ago. Generally speaking it's kind of an intimidating (but really cool!) concept.

Anyway I've been thinking of doing some more basic School Days in the Life. My first attempt was about two weeks ago, and incomplete (I meant to get chores, and Isaac getting ready/dropped off at his away-from-home school, and didn't). It was also a short "school day." But I might start doing this sometimes! Here's what I did get that first go-round...

This is what inspired me - I found Lenny here hanging from our library table by a stack of magnets and decided to try to run with that.

This is Ananda doing Florida Virtual School work on one computer at one messy desk in our dining room, while Jake watches science videos about magnets at the messy desk in my room.

Annie took a Marine Science exam, checked her Civics email and then submitted this assignment for guitar (she's reading tab off the monitor):

Jake is completely obsessed:

Aaron doing math reviews and Elise working on phonics.

I've been keeping all the doors and windows all over the house open as much as possible - it always sounds like wind chimes. We're having the couple of months of idyllic weather that are always sandwiched in between 10 months of living in God's Frying Pan, around here.

Then, we went to the park and met up with Laura and the younger cousins (Brian is in kindergarten - Elizabeth and Isabelle will probably go to school, too, but they're still too young):

I'm always "catching" him doing great stuff like this. He's a really great brother. And, I think she's outgrown that dress O_o She doesn't want to let it go because it's a hand me down from her idol, Naja.

Snack time (applesauce)...

NOBODY but Laura can hold this baby. We were both standing there with our mouths open while he carried her around the playground and took her down the slide over and over.

Ananda and Aaron were off on her skates and a skateboard, mostly at the tennis and basketball courts, dodging my camera and trying to act cool.
altarflame: (Default)
Today, so far, I:

-got Isaac and Elise up, fed, packed, dressed, etc and delivered to school on time

-ate cold leftover grilled chicken and peppers for breakfast, on the library couch, by myself

-rescheduled my pap, IUD check and thyroid blood test for next week, because I'm on my period

-gave a glowing reference for our former nanny turned good friend Gloria, when someone called

-traded a series of calm but emotional emails back and forth, with my husband, about the future of our relationship. This involved having my head down on the desk for a bit, and staring at the wall for awhile.

-pushed Aaron towards Civics and Jacob towards phonics a half dozen times each, and reminded them each about their chores twice

-found an in-network therapist that specializes in all my particular issues (PTSD, dissociating, etc) in ways that I want (non faith-based, cognitive-behavioral therapy, etc)

-helped Ananda with a marine science assignment (sea turtle protection experiment writing; involves demonstrating knowledge of the scientific method)

-walked with Jake to pick up Elise from Kindergarten at 2; talked about her day

-diced up avocado, sliced black olives, shredded the rest of the chicken, poured salsa all over it all, and ate it on corn chips, for lunch

-RSVP'd to my friend Kathy's baby shower and replied to her fb message

-walked with Aaron, to go pick up Isaac at 3; talked about his day

-texted with my sister, about Halloween and Thanksgiving

-had tea and (Extremely Fabulous) gingerbread biscotti on the deck, with my five children and all four cats, during which we talked about our possible impending move to Maryland, and travelling by train in the upcoming weeks to look around the area (IT IS NOT THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS)

My mission objectives for this evening include washing dishes and making some kind of dinner that involves a lot of vegetables (we have a surplus of ripe things), making sure Isaac's homework gets done, helping Aaron learn to navigate his earth science class properly, studying for MY earth science test in the morning, and watching more episodes of Strange Sex (which I discovered through a clip on balloon fetishism shown in my Abnormal Psych class last week) with Grant, via Netflix.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
This has been an extremely fabulous weekend, start to finish. Possibly beginning Thursday evening when I realized pumpkin spice lattes and salted caramel frappuccinos were back. I forgot pumpkins - like, in general.

Friday, Grant worked from home. We took Ananda, Aaron and Jake to eat late breakfast at a little diner down the street while Kristin picked up Isaac and Elise from school. It was a good check in with friends when we all tumbled into the house; she had her two kids, two of mine, and her friend Cheri's with her. She left and G and I had good afternoon sex that left me spent and sleeping for WAY TOO MANY (delicious, wonderful, my God naps are the best sleep in the world) HOURS.

That evening, Grant and I went up to Lincoln Rd and I sat around on couches outside Balans, drinking malbec and eating calamari with lots and lots of lemon and salt. Licking salty sour off my fingers, people watching and laughing at silently broadcasting telenovelas. I was tipsy as we walked around at 3 am, dipping toes in fountains and talking about everything.

Saturday was lazy as all get out, and seemed to last forever. I helped Isaac with a lot of homework in between (his) 15 minute Mario breaks, and looked at funny things on the computer with Annie, and cuddled with Elise. I shared the news with Aaron that now it's not just his (renowned, and dear to me) hip hop teacher; I'm getting texts from the president of the studio that they want to scholarship ALL his dance classes and have him in company full time and since we have two cars now, and due to other reasons I'm not getting into yet, I feel like we just have to do it. He's thrilled to be going back. I'm talking THRILLED.

Saturday night, after I made a quick and easy dinner for everyone (following another luscious co-nap), Kristin and I went out. This means twice in 48 hours, I put on makeup and earrings ;) She wanted to take me to Cervezas and treat me to this beer plate thing they do; we picked out Creme Brulee, PumpKing, some kind of brandy wine beer and something called Old Rasputin, which I cannot say did not made me think it was going to taste like a sagging nutsack. I mean... Old Rasputin? They were all better than any beer I'd had before, but overall I still prefer almost any other alcohol to beer - especially knowing red wine has health benefits and beer is as fattening as it gets. Not a lot of incentive to acquire the taste.

Catching up with Kristin is always great. She's in a legal brawl with her ex over moving away and has a lot to rant about, but we also laugh forever. FOR INSTANCE, Kristin is someone who also has hella heavy periods and we compare notes on the most grotesque details, topping each others' metaphors every time. We were dying because my cloth pads were piled in the bathroom on the edge of my big tub this past week and Grant went in there and - having offered me baskets to put under the sink and things before - this time he said to me, "hey, if I get you a little habachi in there, can you just throw those right into the fire when you're done with them?" Laughing til I cried. Everytime I remember it.

Kristin is someone who, when she coughs up a tonsil stone, saves it to take to school to look at under the miscroscope, and describes the stink of the thing to me. And I get really excited that maybe this weird thing I vurped up recently was a tonsil stone, because it tasted horrible in the way she's describing.

We are also both avowed foodies and were flipping about this burger and "gastropub" we stumbled into, that had an absolutely fabulous menu. We started sharing a fontina and gruyere lobster mac n cheese, and then each did half of a burger with bleu cheese, caramelized onions and exotic mushrooms. And we split a mango mojito. It was out of control, I was moaning over this food and since they were basically empty we did a lot of rhapsodizing with the waitstaff over how awesome it all is and what their favorite things are.

To further grasp this amazing dynamic between Kristin and I, let me tell you how when I slid into her car (a battered, 12 year old Subaru Outback that usually has a kayak on top), she said "I'm sorry your front yard smells like rotten olives." I chuckled and told her that's the best phrasing I've ever heard someone deride my property with, and she said, "no no, I just dumped a bunch of rotten olives out in your palm trees because they were making my car stink." Then I gave her peanut butter fudge I'd made that was full of kid-finger marks.

The whole way back from the burger place, we were going in depth about the variable merit of butt plugs and the functionality of nipple rings. In a clinical way, of course.

Today went by too fast, but what I got of it was sweet. Grant and I had some really good talks, and found each other's grooves and got past our emotional hurdles and managed some pretty amazing loving over and over and over AND OVER. I've been a wet noodle ever since, as I grocery shop, and send out book marketing emails, and do laundry, and read to all the kids before bed.

It is a damned good thing I'm all charged up for a week of epic gross over scheduling and insane overlapping stress.

This is my to-do list for tomorrow:

-Get Elise up at 7 and ready for Kindergarten; nurse her, feed her, pack her lunch, uniform on, I promised we would color in the morning, drop off will be about 8:15.

-Come home and email my professors about how I missed last Thursday due to back to back necessary doctor things for my kids, and do as much crammed in online spanish work as possible

-Get Ananda and Aaron's Virtual School info all set up on their own computers and show them how to work it so they can go through the orientation and sign in to the classes that are ready for them (they were apparently really backed up and we've been waiting for them); assigning Annie to get started revising her book report and Aaron to do his next creative writing assignment

-logging Jake in on, and showing him what BrainQuest work to do today

-wake Isaac and try to coax with through a barrium enema x-ray at one lab in Kendall and then bloodwork, at another, and then take him to some lavish reward that I'll be bribing the hell out of him with, throughout all of that. My hair will be grayer before this is over. He was so incredibly defensive and miserable about procedures at his GI visit last week, even though this new doc is AWESOME :/ Not excited.

-call a bunch of people, like the counselors Isaac's had who are gonna start seeing Jake, and Dance Empire about Aaron's schedule and when he starts and what I need to freakin' buy, and the FREAKING MATH CHAIR about WHY my statistics grade from summer is STILL LISTED AS F even after he promised otherwise Wednesday....

-get checks and paperwork ready, for afterschool extracurriculars that are actually cheap and only a few blocks away since they're at the school. Jake's doing Karate and Isaac, lego club (which Darrien is also in, so that's cool) I'm trying to talk Ananda into Ceramics since shyness is her only objection.

-Elise has to be picked up at 2; Grant may end up doing this if I'm out with Isaac but we have to coordinate it

-Jake and Isaac at the school for the activities at 2:45

-trying to cram in finishing my author website and facebook page and emailing my publisher back

-picking Jake and Isaac up at 4; taking Annie by the library to drop box the overdue book that can't be rechecked anymore

-reading Jake's dinosaur book with him like I promised, while I help Isaac with his homework

-making a pot of lentil soup for dinner, more Isaac homework (it's REALLY slow and arduous for him unless it's math, since his reading is so behind, but he has a pretty good attitude about it)

-driving Grant to the airport because he's going out of state again (this is a 2 hour round trip)

-reading to everyone
so they can go to sleep

-actually finishing the facebook and website, DAMMIT...and studying. While everyone is asleep.

Tuesday is not any better, logistically. It's not as emotionally harrowing since there is no medical stress, but it's jam-fucking-packed with me orchestrating 6 unique individuals' lives, including me having three classes in a row up at the Kendall campus during the school day and us caravaning up to TLC as soon as Isaac and Elise are retrieved from school.

I suppose I need to stop dodging reality to come and get to bed *wince*
altarflame: (Default)
I am feeling pretty overwhelmed. I'm doing things like eating a lot of ice cream and drinking a lot of wine every night, to try to breathe through it or something. I mean.

There's SO MUCH going on. IT'S FUCKING CRAZY. And Grant is out of state all week, and was out of state half of last week, and is like, NOT HERE, when he's "here", for the last few months - I am just so incredibly burnt out, in some ways. I could seriously use a break from being the one in charge of home repair; auto maintenance; all budgeting and bill paying; raising/educating/dealing with medical crap for five kids; cooking, cleaning, and grocery shopping for 7 - while trying to go to school and be a writer....

Then other ways I'm doing really well.

I spent the entire day, today, doing things like sitting on hold with the school board while I tried to figure out Amazon's author page criteria and helped Jake film his K'Nex creation, or going through REALLY CROWDED stores for school supplies and uniforms with everyone while making appointments and realizing my scheduled things overlap.

Kathy's coming to dinner tomorrow night, for instance, but tomorrow night is orientation at Isaac and Elise's school.

That school, and Annie's and Aaron's virtual school both call me twice a day each because the home education office is dragging it's feet getting to me out of the pile, on all kinds of forms various people need.

I realized after the fact that I scheduled Isaac's gastro appt for a time I have class. But I also realized it'll be easy to get all his (NICU, appendectomy, ER) records from Miami Children's Hospital before his appt since Aaron's appt is at Miami Children's, first. Win some and lose some, eh?

I'm really worried about Aaron, he's so uncharacteristically lethargic and low appetite and needy, and has been for awhile, and part of me gets pretty freaked worrying that maybe my non-interventive pediatrician could be a bad thing in this case :/ He needs a lot of extra love. It's only 5 more days til his appt at the Infectious Disease office, is my chanted mantra...

Our van is making a NEW noise. And I am going against all the advice my mechanic father ever gave me, and blatantly ignoring it, because I can't afford to do anything about it for at least another couple of weeks. We're still making payments on the LAST van noise...

My book is sort of out (this is me acting like this isn't a big deal as a defense mechanism). My publisher is ordering a copy of it to test for formatting errors because they had issues with the printer last time and that author ended up with like three unintentionally bolded pages and it was a fiasco to get it all changed (we're using Amazon's Print on Demand for mail order and batches from a printer for events and local book stores). But Grant shared the link I sent him on fb and now, as a result, I've got a ton of people ordering it even though it's not really ready to be ordered, exactly, possibly :p Hopefully it is? And I'm trying to wrap my head around the, "I just ordered it!!" comments rolling in via fb and text from:

-Dance Empire moms
-PATH board members
-my mother
-old high school friends
-old camp friends
-aunts and cousins
-some guy Grant worked with 2 years ago who used to make me nuts

And so on. Each is problematic in it's own way, and the conglomeration felt like I was "coming out" (as a lunatic) and had me cramping and running to the bathroom with stomach problems.

Because, you know, that is the glamorous life of a published author.

I will be pimping this link all over the place soon, here and on tumblr and through various friends and connections...after we've reviewed the proof. There will also be a Kindle version available by then.

This week is so up and down. Today I feel confident that I got a ton accomplished and really made the childrens' day great, too. There have been days when I do almost nothing and hide from reality, though, and/or spend affectionate time with them that involves no productivity and a trip through the Wendy's drive thru at 9pm for dinner.

Ok, I was waylaid by Isaac being adorable - reading in bed and snuggling with cats - he lured me in and now I've spent too long trying to decide whether to go to sleep for the night or do a bunch of cleaning and's time to just sleep so tomorrow isn't a bust.
altarflame: (Default)
Well, I have realized some hard truths today, about some really cowardly and manipulative ways I've been acting. I haven't been doing it consciously, exactly, but I have certainly not been doing a lot of self examining or making a big effort to consider the things coming out of my mouth. *sigh*

I am not proud of my tendency to regress to back pedaling, passive aggressive, overly controlling horseshit. Sometimes I am EXTREMELY over this multi-layered and indirect brain I have.

But I think - I hope...that I'm getting better, as I get older, and weed things out of myself one by one.

Let's just say my day involved some apologies via skype and I'm starting from scratch, in some regards.

I am extremely overwhelmed by Monday being the first day of school. Six days....SIX days, to:

-get Ananda's and Aaron's evaluation stuff together, their evaluations scheduled and paid for
-their homeschool forms submitted to the Florida Virtual School
-buy all of Isaac and Elise's uniforms
-and copious remaining school supplies
-have our homeschool year ready
-work out WHY the independent verification form I submitted MONTHS ago is STILL "received pending verification" holding up my financial aid, such that I cannot acquire my textbooks
-finish printing, filling out and mailing a fucking novel's worth of forms, for Greater Miami Youth Symphony, Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, this martial arts place for Jake....

Ugh. I also have to figure out the name of the really good pediatric gastroenterologist by Baptist, and find our new insurance cards that came in the mail and then disappeared (before Aaron goes to Infectious Disease to get tested for mono on Tuesday).

To say I am off my game is an understatement. My kitchen is actually eating the rest of the house.

I also have all these pending book review site interviews and pictures, to make happen, and my book is supposed to be out, like, in the next 24 hours, and on Saturday I'm supposed to be at the Bird Road Art Walk promoting it with a booth of authors.

I am a little confused. No. I am profoundly, massively confused, about Christianity and religion in general. One thing that is abundantly clear, is that I am a better person when I am a practicing Christian. I don't think practicing Christianity is the only way for me to consistently self examine, or strive to help and to love and to meditate and to find ritual and strength for daily tasks even when those things don't come naturally, or to study wise words often and seek out the sacred - but I haven't found an alternate discipline or methodology as things stand and so without it, I am thus far a less effective person all around.

I'm also radically less conflicted. It's a mixed bag.

I wouldn't really say I'm not Christian anymore, but I have lapsed and that goes deeper than laziness.

SO. It's just me and the kids until Friday, aside from some cool social calls - I went out with Laura for a little while yesterday evening, and then Gloria came over around midnight and we shared a wheel of baked brie and a bottle and a half of wine and talked and laughed and showed each other stupid shit on the internet and periodically cried until 5:30 in the morning, when she went home to feed her hungry cats.

Thursday, Kathy's coming over, for the stated purpose of picking my brain about cloth diapers and slings - but I have no doubt that will turn into a 7 hour conversation, and that I will love it.

We are seriously contemplating moving to Maryland. This is the fourth moving option we've had on the table with Grant's job. Ft. Lauderdale is an ongoing consideration that will probably happen in the next year or so if we stay in Florida. Fargo, ND and Atlanta, GA were both non-considerations because, no. But Maryland? We'd be close to D.C. WAY more walking and public transit. BEAUTIFUL area. LOTS of free stuff to do. And...through who knows what serendipity based on hospital position transfers and housemates...we would be moving to the same subsection of the same town as Kristin and her kids. This is good because they're awesome, but it's also good because Kristin has spent the last several months playing this area up to me, trying to convince me we should visit often, basically gushing about how badass living there is gonna be. So that's somewhat compelling. Grant is at the Maryland office right now.

I have "stuff to do," here in South Florida in the next few months, though. After the ArtWalk I'm supposed to have some kind of Books and Books event and my book has been submitted to the Miami Book Fair - which is AWESOME. I want to get it around to local libraries, too. I suppose it would be nice to do the equivalent sort of local promoting in a new state, as well :) But I also have one more semester at Miami Dade before I graduate in December. I kinda wanted my surgery done down here, as well...when I do research I tend to like the Miami galleries better than general ones from around the country, which may or may not have something to do with hispanic women's bodies/hispanic doctors' preferences...

That DC part of the country, near Dama's house, was my favorite out of the whole eastern seaboard on the way up and down the coast in 2007. It would be neat to have seasons for awhile, WITHOUT that unbearable, still-sleeting-daily-in-May New England business we were dealing with...
altarflame: (Default)
My last week was characterized in many ways by our fridge being broken. It's kind of unreal what an upset to life it was. Financially, ugh, it was awful tossing hundreds of dollars in food in the trash (after a day of bizarre hodge podge "don't let things go to waste!!" eating) - and then buying by the meal for a family of 7 is so crazily expensive. I spent what I usually would on three weeks worth of groceries. Finally, going shopping today with it fixed, I was starting from scratch and had to spend way more than normal to replenish. My sister was absolutely wonderful despite having an (attachment parented) infant, an (intense) toddler and a (high needs) preschooler; she came over with everything necessary and helped cook us dinner one night, brought me $40 out of the blue another day because she unexpectedly won money from a scratch-off, and then today when we were talking about shopping on the phone she had me run by her house for her surplus carrots, celery, butter and olive oil...apparently shopping in bulk for a smaller, younger family yields "extra," a concept I'm unfamiliar with.

I still spent $705 at BJ's today...despite $50 worth of coupons...but we'll come to that later.

Logistically, I was going to the store 1-3 times per day, starting first thing in the morning before kids were up, as well as dealing with lovely side effects like the cooler I filled with ice leaking all over our dining room, and scrubbing out our fridge and freezer which STANK once they'd been sealed up room temperature for 2 days. There was also the 2 hour google-a-thon researching what we could do to fix it...because we really could not afford to call someone out, at all -

Which is partially because of things like how we had to have the van and the car at Goodyear TWICE EACH last month, and still the car has NO AC O_O - and we got a letter on the front door one day, saying the city had detected a huge spike in our water consumption due to a 3 gallon per minute leak on our side that we were responsible for both fixing, and paying for the inflated use bill they'd be sending us...that one was enough to send a cold chill down my spine. THREE GALLONS PER MINUTE? Luckily we have a plumber neighbor who helped us out...and luckily they know us at Goodyear and the biggest car repair bill...was able to be put on a payment plan. Suffice to say it is not a happy money time.

Grant is also working extreme hours, with his extreme commute, so for the most part I'm on my own with the kids. And, this week, the fridge.

Which is why I feel like some kind of awesome fucking ninja because I was able to diagnose our problem (pull-out bottom freezer was off track, leading to an insufficient seal when closed, causing the compressor to go crazy and freeze through all the pipes and tubes), do the initial experimental cure (get the fridge unplugged and then watch as, sure enough, copious amounts of gross water pooled under it over the next 24 hours), and then put the freezer back together properly so that it wouldn't happen again.

I do not normally stop to appreciate refrigeration unless we've just had a hurricane. And there is a possible one on the way - that would hit while my husband is out of the state for his job - and so I'm familiarizing myself with our shutters and lining up a mental list of people to call if I need help.

Anyway, I really appreciate my fridge right now. It seems especially luxurious, being sparkling clean on the inside and only filled with brand new things we really wanted in there.

I've been devoting a lot of mental energy, research, conversation, paperwork and calls/emails to the kids' educations for the coming year, too. I'm outsourcing more than I ever have before, but I feel really good about each of them getting stuff that's really tailored to their best interests. I also feel some level of relief that I'm not solely responsible for all of it, especially since the coming school year features my surgery.

Ananda - Staying homeschooled, but now with Marine Science, U.S. Government, Latin and guitar online via Florida Virtual Schools K-12 program, which is a pretty cool resource. She'll have teachers she's emailing and talking to on the phone and be responsible for turning in a certain amount of work per week, which for guitar will include audio and video recording. The science course has a lot of multimedia content, library reading and a field trip. She's using Grant's guitar for this. We're sticking with Kumon math, since she loves it, and will be focusing most of language arts on book reports and analyses, since she reads constantly. She was able to audition into GMYS's Young Mozarts during camp this summer, so I'm trying to figure out some wild way to get a freakin' cello of her own now (they're only provided by GMYS during the preparatory classes and beginner camps). There are some rent to own programs in the area that might work...sort of...since I'm gonna make them. I'm also making her take long walks and bike rides with me often because she can get really, reeeeally sedentary if I let her. I'm on the lookout for a PE program for her, actually, much to her dismay.

Aaron - Staying homeschooled, but doing Earth Science, U.S. Government, latin and (standard 6th grade) math online via Virtual School. I've been stocking him up throughout the summer with reading he likes, so he can do more writing for me based off of it - Aaron hates fiction but loves poetry, comics and general nonfiction. Right now he has a lot of new Shel Silverstein and Calvin and Hobbes, a thick stack of National Geographic back issues, and a few other odd things (like the Book of Useful Information). He's been promised science experiments and will be auditioning for Young Sousas and Concert Band with GMYS later this month, on flute. He also wants to take their new percussion prep class, and we're still up in the air about him dancing. I'm planning to make him utilize his camera and YouTube account, as well, in several different ways.

Isaac is going to third grade at a local charter school. He's extremely happy to have been placed in a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class with his friend Naja (Kristin's daughter), and one of their two teachers comes very well recommended (don't know the other one). He's going to keep playing violin with GMYS, and is supposed to start counseling again in October (grant funding/rotating sessions and breaks thing...).

Jake is doing 1st grade at home. He's very academically advanced and really creative with his time, and so at 6 I don't plan on doing a ton of structured stuff with him. We have some new BrainQuest and Kumon books we'll work through together, and we'll talk and go out places and all the things we always do. I am trying to get him into martial arts; he does NOT want to do music anymore, and is really eager to do that instead. I've found a place funded by the Children's Trust, which kind of blows my mind - they fund GMYS, and the Institute where Isaac's been evaluated and gotten counseling, AND this? If my books ever get big and I am rolling in cash, they're gonna get a whole lot of it. These martial arts classes still cost money, but it's extremely reasonable.

Elise is attending Kindergarten at the same school as Isaac (and our friends Darrien and Naja, and some of our neighbors, and some of her preschool class...) - it's until 2 instead of 3 like normal school. I wish they offered a half day option, but as it is they do have a lot of early release days throughout the year that are half days (I think I counted 16 on the calendar?). She's also going to start ballet through - GET THIS - a free local outreach of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, i.e. the MIAMI CONSERVATORY, like, how is this free and local? The Miami Conservatory is extremely prestigious! And, up in Miami! Anyway, Kristin found out about this and Naj has been going and loving it. Elise has been talking whimsically about ballet for 6 months now, mostly just because it's pretty, and I'm sure she'll have fun. She's also sticking with violin and will be going to those weekly prep classes with Isaac now that she's 5 (she's in beginner GMYS camp with Isaac and Jake right now and doing really well, though she's been home sick mostly cuddling with me and Annie, nursing and reading books for the past two days due to some feverish illness she caught there).

I'm doing my last semester at Miami Dade College this fall, graduating in December. And, we're gonna be continuing with TLC and PATH. We are probably starting the ball rolling to move sometime soon, but it's gonna be a slow rolling ball that involves decisions about selling the house, actually selling a house in this market, finding a new place, etc...I don't expect this to be upon us before New Years at the very earliest, if then. Surgery in the Spring, and I'm applying to UM and FIU to start in the fall of 2013.

Ananda and Aaron and I sat around the dining table for an hour or so the other night, talking about personality. How so much of it is innate - I was cracking them up with examples of how each of the kids in this family is still so much like they were as an infant, and they were filling me on an episode of Radiolab they listened to with Grant on dna in pregnancy and personality formation - how they think it's really interesting, how exposure to radiation changes your dna and can, thus, change your personality.

I was telling them how after I got out of the hospital last, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was "different." That I thought and felt differently about many things than I had before, far beyond PTSD symptoms. It's harder for me to concentrate now, and yet I have to concentrate much more to accomplish things that didn't use to require focus. My belief systems are different, partially because the whole experience left me questioning everything, down to my identity and the purpose of my life.

There came a point when I started researching sepsis and brain damage, and found tons and tons of information because that is a real thing - an infection travelling through your blood stream means there are a bunch of dangerous bacterium flowing through your brain and trying to take over, just like every other part of your body. Apparently many people have much worse trouble than I do with this; I mean I can still wonder about it, research it, understand what's going on and then make a relevant blog post.

These things are hard to quantify, obviously - we're all getting older and growing and changing as people all the time. But life - not aspects of it, LIFE - feels different to me, now. Since then.

I was telling the kids how I remember very clearly how satisfied and fulfilled I was by cooking big breakfasts and lunches, baking for tea and changing and washing diapers, reading to everyone and sitting by the bathtub while kids played. But I don't feel satisfied and fulfilled that way, anymore. I feel bored out of my mind in the house a lot of the time, restless and angsty, or I get really frustrated with my inability to create structure from thin air without accountability and just waste hours and hours for weeks unless I force myself into some kind of outside-the-house thing. It isn't depression; I'm very happy out of the house doing things and sometimes I'm having a good time, here, too - sometimes a really great time, joy comes from different places, now.

Sepsis brain damage, that's a big thing to consider or take on, I mean...ok...maybe being forced to stop having kids, or maybe my existing kids getting bigger, or maybe so much time doing the same things until it was wearisome, or even having a lot of my autonomy as a mother threatened and taken away (through enforced separation, the inability to lift, etc) have altered my perceptions. Maybe it's all these things!

But Ananda and Aaron knew exactly what I was talking about and thought it made an awful lot of sense. Which is a little sad, and makes me stop and ponder how TERRIBLY TRAGIC and awful it would seem to "old me," that new me is...different. But new me, being different, is pretty ok with the change.

Grant nodded like it wasn't even a surprise as we talked about this, saying "Yeah you're a totally different person," as though that's just very obvious.

Sometimes, here on Livejournal, I worry that I'm going to be disappointing or at least disillusioning to my long term readers - I feel like an imposter in certain ways. But, it is what it is.

I have tons more to say, but my eyes are nearly crossing from tiredness AND my sister has completely distracted me via facebook chat :p
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It's just after noon. Today I've:

-gotten Elise and I ready and fed breakfast, filled out more financial aid crap online for college
-taken her to preschool...her new preferred mode of getting there is for me to bike so she can run the entire way. I'm kind of amazed at how fast she is, I don't ever stop pedaling.
-went to my spanish class, took final exam, consulted with teacher about remaining assignments
-biked home enjoying good weather, and spent some good time with Jakey - he's building cool things with K'Nex every day and we've started taking pictures of all of them to build a K'Nex album
-"morning hug"ed and medicated Aaron, and had a stupid (<---to me, so over the repetition) talk with him about his chores for the day getting done
-been completely confused by Isaac having an insane meltdown about my not making oatmeal was totally irrational and involved things like him going back to bed, screaming at people to get out of his room. I was sitting there rubbing his back trying to get some info out of him and the best he could do is that sometimes he knows things aren't that sad but he can't stop being really sad anyway, which is something I guess.
-consulted with Grant by phone about how crazy he was acting, and left a message with the psychologist about when we get the evaluation results
-baked up 3 dozen strawberry chocolate chip muffins for us to have for tea a couple of days in a row and send with Grant to work, and fried a bunch of eggs, sauteed mushrooms, sliced tomatoes and toasted bread, for lunch - had all the kids make Get Well cards for Pa from the kitchen
-went on the bike, with Ananda on the longboard, and picked Elise up

I keep wanting to do a real update because I have a lot to say. But there is just not a lot of time. I have a MOUNTAIN of online coursework to do today, that is due today, because I've left it for the last minute....I mean damn, this last weekend I spent 4 hours studying and 2.5 hours actually IN algebra, and did a take home spanish test, and watched a play and wrote an essay about it for humanities. The end of the semester is hitting hard I guess. I mostly feel good about it. But I have two local friends I'm blowing off constantly, a publisher that just warned me to prepare for a blitz of calls and emails and we've really been getting good homeschool time in.

Rest of today:
-making a big pitcher of tea, and have Elise make a card too, and demanding that everyone do various schoolwork while Elise lays down for a nap
-package, address and mail the cards
-"Reading Hour" with Isaac, where we read to each other, because he is really having a hard time and very behind in reading and I can't figure out what's going on with that (his vocabulary is advanced, his math is way ahead, he's motivated because he needs things read to him constantly...)
-tea, outside
-By this time it'll be 3 or 3:30...Isaac and everyone else doing some other schoolwork while I start doing my school crap, right up until I need to start making dinner (which really isn't until like 7 for us, so we can eat at 8ish when Grant gets home)

And undoubtedly I'll be doing more of it in a panic after we're done eating (it's usually all due by either 11 or midnight).

In my last entry, in the thread of ridiculously tl;dr comments, I realized that what's been going on with me is OBVIOUSLY that I went to the hospital and have been all messed up ever since...once I realized it was "just" (haha) triggered PTSD - after the HELLO *headdesk* hour - I had some initial adjusting that involved about a dozen bouts of crying, telling Grant a bunch of stuff he already knew, and some insomnia. But since then, I feel so much better...scared as hell sometimes, but also PRESENT and myself. I was dissociating really really bad to not let the ER trips and surgical consults bother me at all, and to try to plan my needed surgery asap, like dissociating to the point that I was basically a zombie. I was also doing this crazy russian roulette style "blame everything" thing, like just ready to pin the misery on ANYTHING (diet, Grant, thyroid, anything) rather than actually process having had tests done and going back into the OR sometime soon. I was seriously more ready to cope with the idea that I might be bipolar, than start facing Real Medical Shit.

The more you know, I guess.

I am so ready to just have this shit DONE. I don't know if it's possible to imagine the degree to which that sounds like heaven to me - to just be like 6 weeks out and healed up and have it be fucking over. If you go to the dentist, or know you have to, the worst part is always the anticipation, right? Well, this is like YEAR FIVE of anticipating O_O. Over it.
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Sometimes my kids are so profoundly misinformed that I can't help but wonder if I've taught them anything at all.

Cases in point:

1. We were at the beach the other night, for picnic dinner/moon rise/etc. Isaac said to me, "You know Mom, I used to wonder why anyone would put salt in water, like what's the point of that? But then I realized, OH, it's because creatures can't live in salt water - so they just put it in the water at the beach since people are swimming there and don't want to swim with fish and things."

2. Jake was schooling Elise on all the middle names in the family, and he told her his was Bluke. Bluke, as in "Jacah Bluke".

These are the times to calmly explain the truth to your children before going behind the nearest closed door and laughing hysterically while calling all your relatives to reiterate.

I've had some really exciting, validating, badass shit go down in the last couple of weeks that are making me feel that all this missed sleep and running in circles is actually accomplishing some stuff. Like:

-Elise went back to preschool after missing 2.5 weeks for head lice, illness and Spring Break, and when I picked her up the first day her teacher raved about how much her handwriting, letter recognition and so on improved while she was out ♥ I ordered her extra Kumon books when I got new school supplies for everyone awhile back because she was struggling and we've been working together.

-I was able to finish my IEP with an advisor and register for graduation in December (after the fall semester is over)

-I spent the weekend reviewing potential book covers and discussing them with my publisher, and getting a REALLY EXCITING HOLY SHIT WHAT person to agree to order/read/support it

-Ananda organized a group trip to the Hunger Games midnight showing, used her own money budgeted over months (she really doesn't get much) to get a HG shirt to wear and her ticket and have funds for snacks, and had a REALLY great time with the girls who went along with. It may not seem like a big deal, but she was just SO shy and introverted and afraid of separating from us for awhile there after all the 2007 trauma we had. I'm perpetually amazed by how vibrant and wonderful she is now, and "out there". It makes me feel really good about the counseling and art therapy I got her but also about the PUSHING her I did, and felt so conflicted about doing. Really glad that didn't backfire ;)

Other news: I'm still sick. Might actually have to go to a doctor and/or get antibiotics or something, but I really don't want to. Ugh.

Isaac had his first solo-session with Fernando (counselor) and seemed to enjoy it. He got to take Jake and Elise in the room and show them Fernando's games and stuff afterwards, too. We should have his psych eval results any day now.
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The weather is so beautiful today and yesterday! 60s-70s with tons of wind. This cold front took us totally by surprise. Ananda and I were on a date on Lincoln Rd yesterday, laughing and laughing because there were all these people taken off guard - basically everyone was ducking into places like CVS to just get anything to cover up with because tank tops and flip flops weren't cutting it, and a jacket in that area would be a serious and mostly useless investment. We saw a woman wrapped in a baby blanket, several people with beach towels around them, and a lady using a cheap drugstore American flag.

Also, I cleaned the living daylights out of my long-neglected bedroom this weekend, and am really loving it in here, again :)

Medical Update:
Well, the Hernia Institute said the Homestead Hospital ER docs' theorizing was just that...wild theorizing, of the sort they've never heard before. Losing weight is definitely in order. Blah blah blah. Eating well and not too much is feeling a lot easier to me than it ever has before, so that's good, and Vegan is coming (almost) naturally. I had a sort of awful debacle with trying to wear binders as recommended to hold the hernia in, and dude, that is really not doable for me. Just...ugh. The way my back arches/butt goes out/whatever causes them to push in and bunch at the spot on my spine that is really triggering and basically within 5 minutes in either of two kinds I tried, I felt like an insane person. Grant said I looked like a deer in the headlights. Geez! I mean I've been going around with no binder for 4+ years now, if I can lose weight and have surgery in the next few months, screw the binders. Incidentally, this is the first time in that 4+ years that I have been eager for the surgery. I was actually disappointed when they didn't take me back to the OR from the ER. I was there with an IV, laying on the slidy board part of the CT scan machine, looking up at the fake sky and trees scene on the ceiling that I have seen several times before, thinking, ok. I can give myself to this. I surrender. Can we please just get it over with?

AAAAaaaand, I got hit-and-run rear ended on the highway a week and a half ago and have been suffering whiplash. It's driving me nuts. I think it's actually what sent me to the ER, because the headaches and neck stiffness cause nausea and the other side effects - like sleepiness, irritability - make me feel "off" and nausea and feeling off both make me think something is wrong with the thing they would usually indicate is wrong (hernia). Looking to the left or up repetitively causes intense, sharp headaches (so like browsing the grocery store, checking my blind spot on long drives or taking notes off a classroom board, for instance), and my neck itself gradually stiffens through the course of each day. I'm taking ibuprofen intermittently, arnica that I suspect does nothing, seeing a chiropractor and having wine more often. I really hope this is whiplash of the "3 months" variety and not the "chronic pain and residual issues" sort. It's also making me crazily lethargic at times, which is apparently to be expected? What? I've been taking more naps and going to bed early more often, and trying not to feel guilty for either in spite of having SO MUCH TO DO. Grant took two days off last week because of all this. We also spent...uh (calculating)...almost $500 on all of it. Don't get me started on "how we'll pay for the surgery" (we are insured, but it's crappy insurance).

I have moments when I feel really hopeless and helpless about how this is the only body I get and it's kind of falling apart, here.

Moving Update:
We talk about moving a lot. We've started the process of "Getting to know Ft Lauderdale" in an effort to better understand real estate listings. Basically we've got Pros:

-Grant would no longer have to drive TWO HOURS EACH WAY EVERY DAY (or drive an hour and take the train an hour) to work. This is the mother of all other pros, like
*Grant's happiness and quality of life
*seeing my husband
*kids with their awesome dad
*putting an end to the time/money/happiness sucking insanity of accidents, tickets, traffic court, maintenance and so on that has consumed so much of our lives for the last 6 months he's had this job
*no longer spending about $800 per month on gas O_O
-but there is also how Ft Lauderdale is a more diverse, prettier place with way more to do and far better walkability (and bike/public transit-ability), great beaches right there, an ART DISTRICT, and so on
-and if he loses or hates this job, there are other jobs UP THERE, near where we'd be living
-our electric bill would also presumably go down a lot - we're currently part of a small nook still served by the antiquated City of Homestead power plant, which is ludicrously expensive compared to FPL (where most of the state gets power). I've gotten bills over $600 in the summer months more than once. $450 is about a median "any time of year" bill for this neighborhood.

And maybe our van would commence with lasting a few more years as it should rather than being driven into the ground as it currently is. Because we are not really looking to add payments.

It seems from my e-search that property crime is somewhat higher in Ft Lauderdale than here, but violent crime is significantly lower, so hey. There is a wildly awesome nature center there that I've looked at longingly online more than once, that offers FREE classes and camps.

We've been hesitating a lot to even consider it because we have very bad credit and so it would be really hard to own a home again, and I am not eager to (try to) rent with a bunch of kids and pets and the ability to be kicked out so easily - eviction is way more immediate and scary than foreclosure, there is a security bubble in owning your own place (in addition to the freedom to have a turquoise bedroom and a coop full of chickens). It seemed silly to move for a brand new job with a small company just starting out that might not even last, but signs increasingly point to him staying there and getting promoted.

Now that we are considering it, there are also the Cons:

-not living in the same city with my sister anymore (we do a lot of spontaneous getting together that would not be possible anymore), when she has a BRAND NEW BABY even :/
-losing Homestead, which encompasses a whole bunch of stuff like
*walking a few blocks to Elise's preschool, which is adjacent to the charter school I know enough about to trust and have applied at for my three youngest, and where her teacher is a neighbor we see when we go in the front yard
*my college and the gynecologist I really like being a 5 minute bike ride from where I live
*free music lessons/loaned instruments with great teachers a mile away
*"cultural" stuff like Knaus opening every fall, lychee season around the corner, going to Royal Palm Grille (the weirdest oldest diner ever) to eat and see basically everyone we've ever known, my kids being in the same parades I've been going to see my whole life
*"people" stuff like my friend Kristin being a fixture in our lives and Theresa, the lady who does my kids' evaluations every year and lives right over there
*"nostalgia" stuff like just living in this neighborhood I've lived in forever - I already did the coming of age move away/come back thing :p
-OUR HOUSE because, wut, I LOVE this house.... It's so perfect for us - this is really a bit gut wrenching for me at times. Other times I think, well, we probably wouldn't stay here FOREVER regardless, but I really seem to be getting the impression that we'd be taking steps down in one if not many ways, when we move :/ Ft Lauderdale seems to have somewhat smaller average square footage and WAY smaller average yards, as well as bigger price hikes for things we take for granted (roman tubs in double vanity bathrooms and enormous kitchens, for instance)

I sort of assume we would continue to drive south for certain things that we now drive north for - like Ananda and Aaron's established group of (awesome) friends, and Isaac's counseling.

From the first mention, Ananda and Isaac have wanted to move. Aaron went from not wanting to, to wanting to once we spent some time on Las Olas Blvd and the beach, up there (Annie went from wanting to, to REALLY WANTING TO once she saw that they have baby sea turtle season with lots of viewing opportunities). Jake is the hold out that desperately doesn't want to go. Elise doesn't seem to care.

I alternate between spending time browsing real estate and thinking it's really exciting to this sense of despair that there MUST be a JOB SOMEWHERE in HOMESTEAD for him.

School Update:

Homeschool - we just ordered about $200 in new materials everyone was ready for even though we're sort of in the middle of the school year. My main "problem areas" right now are getting Ananda's spelling and grammar where they should be, getting Aaron to do more work each day, getting Isaac to really take off reading (rather than this low confidence, lazy thing he's doing now) and getting Elise to write letters. Other than those particulars, I think everyone is doing great. Some of my favorites of the educational conversations we've had recently have been about the Republican primaries, voting fraud, genres of literature and satire. My favorite new thing from the past few months is probably the website, which my younger ones all love and there are many available free coupons for on If we stay here and they get in, I am strongly considering putting Isaac, Jake and Elise in the charter school down the street next year. I'm really happy with either choice for them in different ways. Ananda is looking towards being ready for dual enrollment by the time that is possible for her.

College - I only need 6 more classes after this semester to have my AA, which I'm really happy with considering I just started last summer. I've fallen behind in a lot of ways recently, between Isaac's issues and mine..this has definitely been my slackest semester so far :/ Understandable but still needing change...I'm not past the point of being able to catch up, I just have to buckle down and do it. I have a dangerous amount of flexibility, between taking two of these classes online and having another only once a week (with holidays making it more like three times a month). My fourth class I have twice a week but with the spaciest, craziest, most wackadoodle teacher ever, so I can basically come and go as I want - and she ONLY grades tests, so the rest of the time we're learning or studying. Theoretically. *sigh*

FINALLY - the important part of the entry!

This is the best song to blare through your open windows as your drive over intercoastal waterways, this week:

And this is the current reigning champion of candlelit bubble baths:

I'm still waiting on the finalized contract for my book, but it's been thoroughly negotiated and talked through, so. Presumably, I'll be getting it, printing it, signing it, scanning it and sending it back posthaste.

I'm continuously blown away by how well Grant and I work together...we went out Friday night and ate, and just had a great time. Last weekend we were making out everywhere and bowling and I just am so HAPPY when I'm around him. I feel guilty sometimes lately for being a medical burden or a whiny baby, and frustrated that we see each other way less than I'd like. Also sometimes worried he's going to die on the highway (especially when I am in a vehicle he's piloting, because, well, that can be scary...) Mostly I'm grateful. I wait for his train outside of the van (or wait for his van out on the porch) so we can hug and kiss and I can grab his butt and feel him all warm and smell him, and it's the best part of my day.

Sometime soon - most likely very soon, since I should be doing schoolwork - I'll be posting many pictures.
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FB convo with my sister about Annie's eating )

500 million (26) pictures )

Aaron cried throughout most of an hour long conversation we had last night about how terrible his attention span, ability to concentrate and general coping skills are. He's been acting more like an SID flibberdigibit than ever recently...the past few weeks with him have reminded me of when he was 4 and couldn't talk, or wear short sleeves, or have a mosquito bite that didn't feature a complete breakdown. We talked together about how it was when he was young and things I did that helped him and how it's been lately and how frustrated both of us are, and one thing I always really appreciate about Aaron is how free and easy we communicate and how much he absorbs and listens... There is a deep connection that helps, even if we do have to be alone together in a low-stimulation area for that to happen.

He told me he watches a YouTuber with ADD who talks about his ADD and makes Aaron really thinks he has it, and that guy has part of his segments that are about when he's off his meds and that scares Aaron, like maybe he needs meds, but he doesn't want to take pills. We researched diagnosis and treatment of ADD and med side effects a lot today, and have been talking about using this SID self-management thing for older kids, that my sister found for her son, as well as whether we want to make a trip to the pediatrician/therapist over this. I believe he's old/cognizant enough to have a say every step of the way. Something has to happen, though, because I'm really starting to worry about his inability to do very simple multi-step things and feel kind of freaked about what it means for his long Academics, home management, having relationships. He's VERY "autism spectrum" this past month, not making eye contact or even appearing to hear siblings who talk to him and putting his hands over his ears to block out lectures in this EXTREMELY involuntary way, like he knows he cannot do that but he has to...*sigh* I would not be quite so worried about what could be a temporary setback if it wasn't on the heels of a whole year that made me nervous about his overall progress. And if he wasn't so depressed and anxious about it as often as he is :/

We're going to do an experiment and see how he reacts to coffee before chores/schoolwork, after reading a lot of really interesting studies today about the benefits of self-treating / ADD with caffeine. I'm also instituting a lot more structure for him, that we're planning together this week, that involves breaks for physical activity and some of his learning coming from computer things (watching documentaries, Kahn University, websites that teach typing, stuff like that).

I also introduced the idea to him that he may just be starting puberty and experiencing mood swings and hormonal changes that seem like anxiousness, confusion, heightened stir craziness, etc. It makes a lot of sense as a possible total explanation.

Sometimes the idea that I am managing their educations, extracurricular opportunities and social lives - in such a hands on way - is really like the weight of the whole damned world on my shoulders, as they get older... This isn't preschool anymore, for Ananda and Aaron. I really have to take a step back and breathe, sometimes.

Stress about Isaac over the past couple of months - which I outlined but left quite a lot out of, on tumblr, but you can read the C&P'd outline under this cut )
Anyway, Isaac stress - it has given me aaaall these sudden gray hairs, and this ridiculously tired look that is creating fine lines all over my face, and I'm suddenly looking at myself thinking, damn. You are gonna be old, and that's fine, because I can deal with being old. But FIRST, you are gonna gradually decline and just look like a crappier looking thirty something person, a really haggard young you that's starting to fade. And that is harder for me to deal with. I'm finding myself considering all sorts of things I never thought I would, from dyeing my hair to FREAKING MICRODERMABRASION. It's really sort of nuts how compelling a low cost way to just give you another couple of years of looking like your own traditional self, can be. I find myself thinking things like, "when I go get injections to take care of these spider veins on my legs" and "maybe I should get a thighs/breast lift while I'm on the table anyway because I have to have a stupid tummy tuck I don't even want, and then I can at least like myself in a bathingsuit" (even though this is bizarre "in advance" thinking, since as it stands nothing is in any way hanging but I live in fear that when I lose weight, IT WILL).

And I am losing weight. In this very private, I've hit rock bottom sort of way I'm not ready to talk about.

"Aging," though - on the one hand, I feel beautiful a lot of the time. On the other, I have this sense of myself as a bundle of ok-for-now minor flaws that, if allowed to snowball, could avalanche out of control and then I'll find myself so far gone that it's "too late", whereas if I "kept up" with everything, I'd get another good decade and a half or so in before I have to reconcile myself to major changes.

For now I'm drinking a lot of water, using serum before I go to sleep and really not having time to give too much of a damn. My actual ACHES AND PAINS are too intense for me to get carried away with aesthetics...I have a major foot problem that is escalating, from a combination of my misaligned hips and falling down some stairs two weeks ago. It's getting to the point that I'm actually sucking it up and walking around in supportive sneakers, which means It Is Serious. Making an appt about it tomorrow....I'm sort of grateful that it's all messed up because it contributed to the aforementioned Rock Bottom situation that spurred me back to real changes re: weight.

So, yeah. Grant and I have some really great moments, kisses and laying together times and him rubbing my foot or us in the bath or whatever, when we just look at each other and go, Damn. We are doing an awful lot of shit right. All the kids and I have really great moments, and I don't waste any time. I make sure to enjoy the bike ride in the good weather and to savor the feeling of falling asleep and to spend some of my car rides on the phone laughing with friends. Or crying with them. I have this idea that shit's gonna calm down at some point? But I'm not really sure when that is. I guess the soonest possible calming factors would be:

-taking a break between degrees, like after I get my AA? That's kind of being thought of as "surgery time", though, i.e., not calm. Maybe Spring Break could be a mini break? I was just taking a makeup Spanish exam in the teachers' lounge for an hour, today
-when Grant gets to start telecommuting, finds a closer job or we move north towards his current job. That would be a huge huge factor.
-when some of my kids drive
-when all my kids are grown

But at least I'm not in some gray waiting place anymore, behind my locked bedroom door, wondering how I should start. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans and all that.

My sister thinks it's hilarious that there is now a Kindle in my bathroom where there used to be a book. In the increments that happen when I pee, I'm reading Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality and Great Expectations.

I relate to a degree that is beyond embarrassing and into "I'm not even embarrassed, this is just awesome" to freaking Sixx AM lyrics. I have officially gone from growing up with to growing old with, Nikki Sixx. Blared all too often on my way back into town from the train station:

This is a second coming
This is a call to arms
Your finest hour won't be wasted, wasted
You say it's all a crisis,
You say it's all a blur
There comes a time you gotta face it, face it
Hey, hey - hell is what you make
Rise against your fate
Nothing's gonna keep you down,
Even if it's killing you
Because you know the truth
Listen up, listen up
There's a devil in the church
Got a bullet in the chamber and
This is gonna hurt
Let it out, let it out
You can scream and you can shout
But keep your secrets in the shadows and
You'll be sorry -
Everybody's on the run
And everybody's getting numb
Keep your secrets in the shadows and you'll be sorry


Are you with me now?
Come back from the dead -
You've been inside your head for too long
Are you with me now?
Find the places that scare you -
Come on I dare you
Are you with me?
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Yesterday I took Annie with me to class. Everyone assumed she was like 17, including the 16 year old there for dual enrollment. She sat behind me and continued with the book she's writing while I took my final, and then I took her and her duffle bag up to Cybele's where she staying for 4 days. She, Adrian and Sophia want to get their Future City project ready for submission later this month. I was like, did you remember your iPod and book (because she needs them when she can't sleep and everyone else is out)? And your deodorant (because she has serious BO now and doesn't always remember)? And x, y and z? She said, "I even accounted for the crazy weather Mom, I have a bathingsuit and a sweater." They're going to see the toned down, PG-13 live showing of Avenue Q on Tuesday, before meeting us at TLC.

As I left, her and Adrian were walking off down the street after their family dog that always escapes. Adrian is now taller than me, and she's like an inch shy of my height. And totally at ease, talking and laughing and gesturing.

Grant gave blood for the first time last weekend. I think about giving blood a lot because I received a life saving transfusion in 2007. I figure I should wait until Elise is weaned and make sure it's nowhere near my already-dangerous periods if I do. Apparently I'm also prohibited because I got a piercing in the past year, AND because of said transfusion. The guy said if I had a rare blood type they sometimes overlook transfusions due to need, but I'm AB+.

I don't get this. I really don't. 1. They test the damned blood. 2. There is a blood shortage. 3. The dude even told me they give HIV+ blood to HIV+ people, so there is a need for all blood. I mean...(re: the questionnaire) NO GAY MEN CAN EVER GIVE BLOOD?!?! I am straight up horrified by this. No pun intended :p Truly what is that even about? How can that stand? This is not 1985. I mean, why can women who have had sex with men who have been who knows where give blood, but not men? Peoples lives are at stake, here. This is gross. As a person who would have died without donated blood, it's just gross.

I was thinking about Ananda's various dyslexic "breakthroughs". Based on my reading and my observation of her, I think she is pretty severely dyslexic. She had the speech delays, the stuttering, selective mutism with trauma - words have just not naturally been a part of her thought process at all. And her extreme intelligence and artistic abilities - I think she's traditionally moved things around, mentally, for understanding A LOT. But there have been all these sudden, relatively spontaneous breakthroughs. When she could suddenly read (WELL) at 8. About a year and a half ago she quit writing numerals backwards, which was huge. About 6 months later, place values stopped being hard for her (that had seemed insurmountable for awhile!). For the past 6 months, she doesn't hate writing anymore. She writes A LOT - her creative writing assignments but also secret diary entries and stories she writes for herself and this book she's doing. It's crazy to behold...she writes with a very impressive vocabulary, clever phrasing, good ideas, and NO SPELLING ABILITY WHATSOEVER. A sample:

"She had ben wighting for a fish to come clos enof to cech for awal." (she had been waiting for a fish to come close enough to catch for awhile)

I don't do any correcting of her creative or independent writing (she does have grammar assignments that get corrected, and she understands that her spelling is crazy). I'm just astounded that she's doing it voluntarily. Sometimes pages and pages in a day. It's ridiculous when she's texting - "How do you spell 'was'? 'Will'? What about 'later'?" From the girl who's burned through The Hunger Games at about a book per day.

I feel very, very good about choosing to homeschool her and how she's doing.

Gloria and LJ came by last night. We threw together a pretty fucking awesome impromptu dinner for company - Grant tenderized and marinated skirt steak and chopped a giant bowl of pico de gallo while the grill heated up. He made a REALLY GOOD pitcher of sangria* for the grownups and I made a big jug of Arnold Palmer** for the kids.

I don't know if it's previously come out (haha...ha...ha) but Gloria is a lesbian and Lj is a born female who identifies as a male but doesn't like the trans label (I'm sorry if I totally blew that, Lj...). Anyway I'm mentioning it here because I responded to a freecycle ad for free books and when I went to get them there were, in addition to mysteries and classics and self help, DOZENS UPON DOZENS of gay/trans/genre erotica collections. Bags and bags of, like, "bears" and biker boys and, uh, I honestly didn't know steampunk porn existed? What? So yeah we passed on quite a lot of that :p

Today, I covered some posterboard in black felt I had lying around from a bee costume of some Halloween past (along with yellow for a star), and then cut out a Christmas tree from some green felt I bought for a caterpillar costume, and a bunch of ornaments from red that contributed to a ladybug. Now we have a big Christmas tree feltboard the kids can decorate :) Aaron came up with the idea to paint white stripes on red candy canes and I sewed some little black hooks onto the ball ornaments.

I've also been working on Annie's quilt top (since she's not here) and made some scones we had tea with outside.

*Almost a full bottle of red wine, with a few glugs of rum, half a small bottle of pomegranate juice, couple of splashes of oj, single serving bottle of Sierra Mist, and slices of lemon and oranges floating about.

**Juice of about 10 huge lemons, to which I added a kettle with 8 cups of hot water, 7 bags worth of steeped english breakfast tea, and almost 2 cups of sugar. Added water and ice til it was almost 2 gallons. Came out super yummy.

These two are months old, but I like them :)

Mostly because of Aaron peaking:

And because this is what happens to Elise most every day she gets home from preschool:

More recently - this is how people around here were dressed last week because it got down into the 70s. I'm not kidding, at all. It was 79 as a high, and no wind.

When I dropped Elise off at in shorts and a tshirt, her teacher (in a sweater, in the heated stuffy classroom) said "You guys must be snowbirds!!"

In the blood mobile.

He hates having his picture taken, lately.

So making this for Christmas.

Snuck and took this.

The guitars have been out a lot more lately. Ananda can suddenly read tab? And her and Aaron both want banjos, and they have jam sessions and play Nirvana songs they learned from Rock Band.

Terrible picture of Cybele, but her SHIRT!!

The seemingly brainless cat Elise's tortures daily, and Aaron's highlighter yellow cast.

After tea a few days ago, Elise fell asleep on Ananda's lap, out on the deck. Awhile later I came in for something, and then went back out to see if Annie needed help with her. They were gone. I found them in the library - Annie just carried her in and let her keep sleeping ♥
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I've been SO BUSY homeschooling these kids...but I'm pretty happy with the results. Just this past week, off the top of my head, Ananda mastered more complex operations with fractions, Aaron's learned the 9 times table, A & A both got over a hurdle with creative writing and seem suddenly able to do a lot more of it at a time, Isaac understands and can do alphabetical order, and Jake is reading new words. I also finally got to pick up Ananda's new cello from her teacher and made Aaron stick with a his acting group after a crappy session and then he had a great session and I felt all validated. I feel pretty good about all the kids and their social lives and all of it, Elise LOVES preschool...even if I am DRAINED AS HELL and ready to gouge my own eyes out by the evening most days.

Aaron tried to tell me we had a brown widow spider infestation in the van. I told him he was crazy, stop worrying, quit scaring your brothers and sisters, you want to see poisonous exotic creatures everywhere, etc. HE WAS RIGHT.


1. HOLY SHIT how creepy and scary and terrible is that?!?!?! Grant spent hours yesterday destroying egg sacs up under seats and emptying the glove compartment and things like that, and then bombed it last night, overnight....UGH!

2. I will never, ever live this down. After all, it is not me that combs or the nonfiction section of the library for info on spiders. *headdesk*
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Sometimes I really feel like we are part of a local community in a way that makes me happy. It took a long time to reach this point because we don't live in a world where neighbors routinely talk to each other or it's simple to find every resource where you live. I remember the years when it was just the kids and I - even before the internet, with Ananda and Aaron - fondly, but this is a whole different kind of great, too.

Last Friday, I walked Elise the few blocks to her preschool in the morning. When I went to pick her up a couple of hours later, I brought Aaron with his bird on his shoulder. Not long after she got home, Elise was SO EXCITED because her teacher, who lives about a block from us, was outside our yard where they were all playing (she had come looking for her 10 year old son, who is a friend of Aaron's - and because there are similarly aged kids in three of the four homes at this intersection all the kids gather).

(they found a moth, that Aaron immediately went to his giant reference book of butterflies and moths to classify)

Then all the kids and I walked up to the trolley stop. I said hi to an artist from ArtSouth and a woman I used to go to church with, who were coming in and out of the community center where the trolley stop is. Then we rode it over to ArtSouth for the kids' music lessons - my friend Kristin was there picking up her kids and we stood around talking for a few minutes. She and her housemate Carina are throwing a Halloween party we're invited to. Ligia, Ananda's Girl Scout Troop leader, has kids in GMYS too and we stood around talking about curricula (she also homeschools). I think Jake is trying to chat up her youngest in the cutest possible way.

(who can resist a boy with a violin on his back?)

When music lessons were over, Aaron had to go one block over to where his acting group is meeting. Nearby on the sidewalk, a tourist asked which is THE BEST Mexican food and THE BEST antique shop, because that's what we have "downtown"...a lot of both of those things. So I pointed her towards Casita Tejas (where we eat) and Jacobsens (where we've bought half a dozen things for our house).

I love PATH and TLC and our pediatrician and so on, but all of those things are 30+ minutes north by highway. Sometimes it seems like a miracle to have discovered real resources HERE in my little town that exists as part of the worst area of suburban sprawl in the entire country. Like that I can get on my bike and ride a mile or so to my college classes, taught by good teachers at a big campus with funky architecture and lots of green space, is almost surreal. We ride our bikes to get our homeschool evaluations! The days where we go eat at Mama Mia's and walk to the grocery store can really be the best days. Sidenote for locals: I HIGHLY recommend both the bruschetta and the cappuccino at Mama Mia's.

Tangenitally, if you're local and reading this, the Sleeper family's bookstore (formerly Spellbound Books) has moved to a WAY superior location across from the old bowling alley in the strip mall, next to a karate studio. WORLDS apart from the crappy place they were in for awhile there.

The kids and I talked a lot last week about the Occupy______ movements, and the concept of the 99% (then we saw Occupy Miami tent campers in a park over the weekend, on the way to the Spooky Symphony). Describing those things to children of course requires a lot of talk about the economy, a review of basic economic principles, an overview of what the stock market is and what Wall St is (Aaron remembers seeing it when we were in New York), as well as talk of banks and lending standards, mortgages and foreclosures, student loans, health care, outsourcing, China, and euros challenging dollars as the Gold Standard. I always try to teach a very unbiased version of politics, for the record, though they generally know where I stand (as well as where others do, and why). Anyway, even though all five kids were there for these conversations as we sat down to lunch, I was mostly talking to Ananda and Aaron, since they were the ones interested in what I was blogging about and who I felt could most understand what I was saying.

Then yesterday, Isaac and Grant found a dollar in the road. Isaac was hoping there would be more, but it was just the one. He made some jokes about dollars blowing around in the wind because people were burying them to try to grow money trees, and then said how crazy it would be if he could really grow money trees. Then he floored Grant by adding, "but I guess then everyone would grow money trees, and there would be so much money that it would start to be worth less and that wouldn't work at all".

I thought it was amazing that Isaac not only understood my economics lesson well enough to absorb that but was also able to apply it in context that way!

I continue to believe that our long meandering discussions teach them far more than any book work does.

The Spooky Symphony was great :) I think it's exciting in a different way this year, since my kids are all in (or will be in) Greater Miami Youth Symphony themselves and so they know they could be up there alongside the Alhambra people in a few years if they excel.

(from the balcony of the Gusman Theater)
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1. I am suffering some kind of horrible crotch fire. It's like, a yeast infection UTI bacterial vaginosis wtf why did I google this now I think my IUD is killing me lot of bullshit. After a day of my typical home treatment for such things (suppository garlic and oral probiotics) didn't stop this spark from turning into a forest fire (wait, that sounds...whatever) I bit the bullet and went and got one of those stupid OTC things, and here we are...almost 3 days later...and this still sucks. I'm changing my clothes and washing everything in hot water really often and drinking a lot of water and SUPPOSEDLY the OTC crap can take up to 7 days to work even though it's a single dose (and let me tell you about what google has to say about the single dose OTC treatments O_O)....suffice to say I think I may have to go to THE DOCTOR. UGH do you KNOW how I feel about doctors?? Also do you know how high my annual deductible is and how tapped out our HSA is at the moment? Elise had her physical and I spent $132 on ear drops her ped was kind enough to prescribe me after looking into my poor, poor ears and I have not exactly pencilled more medical expenses into this months' budget (you know, on top of the car accident...and the flat tire we got a few days ago...)

2. That physical Elise had, was awesome. I LOVE our pediatrician SO, so much. And he is a doctor, in case you weren't picking up on that little detail, so earning my love was no easy task. He laughed so hard when he told her to walk down to the end of the hall so he could see her do it (after I told him about what her teachers had said about her walk) and she stuck out a hip, put her hand on it, raised her eyebrows and asked, "Seriously?!" He did see the "walk thing" though, and I walked out with a gastroentologist referral for Isaac, a neuro referral for Elise (because it's been awhile since she went), paperwork for the preschool and ear drops for myself. He also said Jake is the biggest five year old he's seen this decade.

3. A couple of weeks ago Cybele showed my kids, and hers, a 9/11 special. Because it was 9/11 and we're nerdy homeschoolers and the four of them were all at least 10. But it was hours long, and intense, and I'm talking about AARON. So now I am dealing with the most horrible, vivid daily conversations about how there WAS A DAYCARE in that tower, and the recorded phone call just SHUTS OFF IN THE MIDDLE right there because they crashed, and the people were JUMPING FROM THE TOP OF THE BUILDING SO THEY WOULDN'T BURN, and what if that was our Dad working there that day, and he just doesn't know if he could be as brave as he had to be, and boy was he ever disgusted with Ananda and Adrian for goofing around and laughing about other things while this was on. *sigh* He's always obsessed with something horrific (the oil spill, the tsunami/nuclear disaster, the Haulocaust, the plight of factory farmed animals) so I guess in a way this is just the latest thing :/


-Ananda and Aaron are really into the website where you can design your own custom converse

-Isaac is drawing elaborately and making ridiculously intricate things out of clay most of every day. He also likes sitting in front of Between the Lions with a clipboard, paper and the remote, so he can pause it and copy words down over and over, and then come show me the list when it's over

-Jake seems to be super good at math. He spends his free time doing things like writing numbers 1-100, and lists of addition problems that are almost always correct. He's the only child I've had so far that never seems to write any numeral backwards.

-we're trying to get a second car IMMEDIATELY because we're paying $600 a month for GAS with Grant commuting in the van and we figured out that even with a $150 a month payment on a used Corolla or something, we'd be saving significantly

-it was really funny tonight when my speech teacher got educated by the class on the existence of, the many pages of reviews for him, and the chili peppers by his name that indicate he's hot

-I read and loved Moonlight in Odessa, which is whatever you call historical fiction set in 1995. Journalistic fiction? Anyway it follows this one woman through her life in the Ukraine and just...I don't know. It was enveloping and rich and I felt I'd learned something after I was done. It's been a long time since I found a new book that was a real page turner.

I really have to STOP READING anything that isn't a textbook or assigned, for awhile.

On Monday in lit we read and then dissected a story called The Jilting of Granny Weatherall that hit me really hard at the end. I had to check out to not ball my eyes out in class.

It's time for bed, isn't it? Tomorrow's one of those "I need the van, so I have to get up at 5am" sort of days. I hope my kids appreciate continuing to get to see their friends. If not, they'll be educated about how lucky they are in a self righteous rant about it sometime soon :)
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-get up with Elise at 7:45; dress, breakfast, hair etc her and bike her up to preschool by 9 (She spends most of this time playing with Annie's cat)
-pay for her extra shirts; let Jen know Grant's coming to the open house
-deposit money in the bank

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ETA: I realized I can get Twinings decaf english breakfast tea, which is our sort of go-to staple tea around here and we go through TONS of, SO MUCH CHEAPER THROUGH AMAZON! A box of 20 bags usually costs me $4 and change at the grocery store. Getting a subscription through Amazon, though, I can get 6 boxes with 50 bags each for only $24.95 - 300 teabags for 25 bucks, delivered to the house so I never have to think about running out! I'm thinking of doing the same at alternating intervals with Tazo chai and then I'll only be paying normal prices for the supplementary extra teas we end up getting here and there.
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I have a lot of lists in my head, lately.

Academic things even unschooled elementary kids really need to learn whether they like it or not, in a somewhat repetetive, "featuring reviews" sort of structured way that sometimes involves sitting down with a pencil:

-basics of reading (alphabet, letter recognition, letter writing, sounds

letters make, phonics rules) and some handwriting practice

-multiplication tables

-mechanics of carrying over and borrowing for addition and subtraction

-definition of division


-basical physical science principles, with an emphasis on the scientific method

Things random people from the internet have done for me that have radically effected my life:

-some random people on messageboards argued with me about how gross I thought cloth diapers were, until I became a cloth diaper evangelist

-Heather, there is nowhere to start, but I guess I could begin with how she GAVE ME NANCY WAINER'S NAME AND NUMBER, and organized a grocery delivery to our apt in Boston <3 But, wait, there was also that counseling session re: my marriage that literally turned Grant and my relationship around a few months back, I mean holy crap...

-Bicrim told me I had ptsd and needed emdr. THIS IS SO HUGE.

-someone, I'm sorry I forgot your name, led me down the road to fish oil as a supplement for Elise

-many strangers worked together to SEND US $9K in 2007 O_O

-I GOT DAMA, and her daughters, which probably include a spouse for my oldest son :p

That is really scraping the surface of obvious things.

I have a mental list of money/things that cost money that we've sent out to other (individual, not charity) people on the internet, people we've never met, obviously - and I THINK it's around $20,700.

Things I feel at odds about, of late, within the scope of Catholic belief:

-Seriously kinky bdsm sex has brought Grant and I super close and made us stronger, and made me happier and more fulfilled and him less repressed and insecure. I don't feel guilty about this, and even having been a Humanae Vitae afficionado I can't figure out why I would ever think it's wrong to do this with my husband.

-I have a lot of friends with deviant sorts of lifestyles that I don't just feel like "Well that's their business" - I feel like they're right on and awesome just the way they are and couldn't even say "well..." if they tried to ask me if I think they should change.

-I want my kids to have self esteem and ambition - girls and boys, both, here, people - and not suscribe to this modest humility dynamic....basic consideration for other people? OF COURSE! Generosity? YES!! There are times to sacrifice self, and times to forgo instant gratification for responsibility, but I can't handle this "I am nothing, God is everything" vibe that gets amplified into daily life as people who never stand up for themselves or for anything, people who don't even seem to have personalities...

I was also raised around a serious lot of cussing and it comes very naturally to me, is included in all my favorite movies and much of my music, etc, and sometimes it feels truly prohibitive to me to be around people who dissaprove of "bad language" (I cannot even relate to this idea of a "potty mouth", I feel like that is just ridiculous)...this isn't (or is it?) Catholic-belief-specific...but it seems to be an automatic thing that happens around Catholics, or Orthodox people.

Things that keep me coming back at least sporatically, about Catholic belief:

-the feeling of worshipping - of being in the presence of the sacred

-the meditative and "righting" effect of praying the rosary (or any rote prayer, really), lighting candles for things, and having devotional time

-the larger community of the Church, to belong to (locally and globally), particularly in the areas of social justice and helping the poor

-this niggling surety that I have had an awful lot of "proof", over the course of my life, to be having doubts about all this now

-it's really one of the only ways/places to consistently meet non-sarcastic, warm people who are pro-children and big families

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Necessary supplies for trolley riding.

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

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

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

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

In the meantime, I have other lovers.


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

We have thunderstorms rolling in every afternoon now.

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

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

I mean, as parking lots go, you know?

Ananda. *sigh*

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

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

Outside of Whole Foods eating Rice Dream pies.

Gorgeous tomatoes.


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

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

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

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

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

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

Soooo yeah, over and out.
altarflame: (Default)
I'm starting to think that outside of any religious education or spiritual value, church is important for my kids just so that they know how to sit down and take something seriously. There really seems to be a coorespondence with when we last went, and how long they can sit and pay attention to anything I or anyone else has to say to them.

I also really value it when they can attend a concert or be out to dinner or what have you without completing losing it or embarassing me (and those sorts of things are normally assumed, I get compliments often), but today what I'm specifically thinking about is how I'm ready to let Isaac, Jake and Elise HAVE. IT. because throughout our (super interesting, discussion-based, with pictures and BRIEF) lesson on the fourth of July (WHICH INCLUDED DECORATING A CAKE WITH BERRIES, that we then took to share with the kids at the bookstore) they were giggling, purposely distracting and whispering to each other, DOING SOMERSAULTS, leaving the room -

I have a hard time dealing with it when my kids act like they have no standards of behavior or attention span whatsoever. I think that in addition to going back to weekly mass, it's definitely past time to turn the tv off again.

This three day weekend has been all over the place. My favorite parts:

-potluck at Kristin's Friday night - she made these DELICIOUS fat, fresh spring rolls we were dipping in soy sauce, and Laura (MY PREGNANT SISTER DID I MENTION SHE'S PREGNANT AGAIN) brought lots of strawberries and nutella, and Grant made a big pot of jambalaya, was just fun. All my boys stayed there overnight and we just brought the girls home.

-being out with just Grant, Saturday night. The outing involved three kinds of alcohol, loud music, and swimming in the warm ocean naked at 2 am. I haven't been in the ocean naked since I was, oh...three weeks old? Shrieking about seaweed on my legs, hoping nothing would eat me, laughter and floating around. Laying on a blanket wet and sandy looking at stars for a long time afterwards. Shared candlelit bath when we got home. Super awesome.

-sitting around with Grant, Shaun, Bob and the kids in camping chairs, with bottles of water, after the fireworks show tonight - lots of laughter and nonsense, lots of good talking, perfect weather. The hoardes of people all bottlenecking out of there at once were getting uncomfortably close to us until Grant got the Traffic Triangle out and made us a space bubble - then we could chill and do gymnastics and play fighting and so on until everyone else was out of there :p

Least favorite:

-I was sick all day yesterday (Sunday). Nauseus and weak. Layed around and slept until I was sore from laying around sleeping. Thought I was better this morning, and turned into a dizzy coughing sweat pile an hour into being out and about. I think I'm REALLY mostly better now, I just had to kind of take it easy and drink more fluids than normal and hopefully it's run it's course...

I'm looking at Ananda, standing there 5'2" or whatever she is now, with her very-there curves and her converse and attitude style and her bleaching kit to put streaks in her hair, and I'm thinking, what? Is that what I looked like to Jean-Paul, when he asked me out at that age? In one year, is she going to look like I looked to Grant and David and all the Riverwalk boys I hung around all the time, who all had crushes on me? It blows my mind. I just framed a couple of her latest paintings and hung them in the dining room :) She has this whole plan mapped out for the next decade of her life that involves burning through grade levels, doing dual enrollment at MDC, working at Starbucks after she graduates, and then deciding whether to go to culinary school or major in astronomy first. She did a month's worth of math last week because she wants to be totally over decimals, fractions and beginning geometry and move on to the next things, and the next, and the next. Her math and writing were the last things she was behind in a year ago, though she's advanced to grade level and is about to lap it, now, in math, and is approaching grade level in writing. For a super dyslexic chicky who was totally stuck on things like place value and spelling it's awesome to see how hard she's worked. Her reading, science and history are way ahead. And she's really set on cello with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, we'll see how that goes.

Aaron is beside himself with obsession about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes he HAD TO HAVE that Opa (Grant Sr) got him for his birthday (I was not spending $110 on a pair of shoes he'll outgrow within the year...I was gagging about spending $80 at the Crocs store for Isaac, Jake AND Elise a couple of weeks ago and seriously thought Ananda's $45 chucks were pushing it even though her feet are almost done growing). His friends Logan and Adrian (the Ninja Dolphins) have them. We finally exchanged his birthday pair for the right size today and he's like a walking commercial for them, nonstop praise and trivia and perks and - I am so over it. He always fixates like this.

Isaac is...really unhappy :/ We did serious elimination diets for gluten and dairy in the past months with no results. I put him in enrichment classes he really enjoyed. His arm in the sling was hard to deal with, though that's been better for awhile. I just...don't know what to do with him. He finds things to complain about all day long. He still cries about things the younger kids are long past crying over. Several times a day. At the end of a day where he got to play with his best friend at the park for hours, eat his favorite food for breakfast and go to the movies, he'll say it was the worst day ever and list things like how the quarter machines didn't work at the theater and the park was hot and he didn't get as much breakfast as others did. All day every day, that is his attitude, and sometimes we feel like we bend over backwards to make him happy and he's still totally ungrateful. Other times I feel like I'm done with it and he just has to roll with us, but it's not like that helps anything. He's just so anxious about something so often. I'm always outwardly assuming the sale but inwardly cringing, waiting for the next bout of misery. I got him a book called "14,000 things to be happy about" that is just a giant list and am reading it to him gradually, but I know that's silly. We're talking together about actually making a list he writes and I transcribe called "x number of things to grump about", which he thinks is hilarious. His reading confidence is improving and I keep wondering if maybe chapter books could open up a whole new world for him, the way they have Ananda.

Jake is...wonderful. He's gentle and patient with Elizabeth (18 month old niece) and eager to build her towers to knock down or otherwise make her happy. He volunteers to help other kids with their chores or finding clothes when they don't want to deal with those things. He wolfs down all the fruits and veggies we can sling his way and is so chill. He draws great pictures and brings me flowers and asks to do schoolwork all the time. He still has a temper and a huge appetite.

Elise is so out there, so over the top - she's the most uninhibited, confident, happy child I think I've ever beheld. She's also willful and defiant to a degree that is borderline terrifying. I'm really hoping we're going through a phase, here. This is the first kid I've had that's made me think "What am I going to do when she is a teenager?!" It's all wrapped up together in the "who she is" package, which I love dearly and think is positive overall.

Grant has taken the higher paying Ft Lauderdale job and put in his notice at the lower paying local one. So that's scary-exciting-insertothervariableshere. We'll see!

May 2017

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