altarflame: (deluge)
Written early yesterday evening:

Adapting to life without school in it is weird.

I didn't have to do it in January or February because I had 40 hours of crisis counselor training (plus commute times...) and grad school app shenanigans to take up the hours I might have spent on academics, over the last couple of years.

Also, re: applying to a, single, grad school... I had to get stamped and addressed envelopes, with forms I'd printed, to 3 different people who had agreed to recommend me via emails. I had to apply electronically to the university and via paper to the particular grad school. And, I had to submit an 8 page (minimum) Personal Narrative Statement, addressing various questions. I'm not complaining, I'm just kind of astounded by how people recommend you apply to as many grad schools as possible. You're supposed to have fail safe schools and high hope schools, with mid-range options in between. Aside from how this guideline does not really apply to me as someone who doesn't want to just move my whole family anywhere in the country, on a whim once we hear back - wow, that sounds like a full time job! To fulfill the application process for a bunch of different schools. Not to mention non-refundable application fees (mine was $30, and I've seen several listed at $50, so they would add up quickly). It just really rams home the idea of "privilege," I guess, which is something I think about a lot, lately.

Aaaaanyway. Life without school in it. I'm supposed to be using it to write, and that's not really happening thus far, which is absurd because I NEED to write and that manifests in stupid ways. For instance, picking fights with Grant.

Today I made a bunch of vegetables held together by eggs and asiago, for Ananda, Jake, Elise, and myself. We ate out on the deck, as is the habit lately. The deck picnic table is literally rotting in several places and will need to be thrown out soon, but for now we're enjoying watching the fungus change (really). Grant made fantastic coffee like he does every day since we got each other/ourselves an espresso machine for Christmas and he set out to master it. He works from home 3 days per week now, which is kinda huge since his commute is so intense.

Jake, Elise, and I skipped watering our various plants and flowers, which is normally A Thing each morning, since it unexpectedly rained so much yesterday.

I took Ananda to the Orthodontist at 11, which is the reason why she was home. The wait was kinda ridic, and I spent too much of it pointlessly arguing on facebook about a meme I disagree with. On the way back we drove through Starbucks for green tea, which was an excuse to put Bernie Sanders stickers on their drive-thru stickering spots. I do try to pick places that accumulate stickers and are (hopefully) not obviously the bane of employees forced to scrub them off.

I weeded our hibiscus while talking with Annie about getting our soil tested because I'd like to know it's safe to make tea out of that hibiscus and this is an old house that's liable to have lead in the soil. Especially there, where there are pipes present.

Grant and I worked on a budget for the next couple of pay periods, including the STEM and yoga classes Jake and Elise are in, and these other class I'd really like to put them in. Among many many other things. We've had a never ending stream of home repairs - the AC, the dryer, the kitchen sink, the house's water pressure, more Septic Tank Saga. The front door and deck are next up but it's kinda intimidating/never ending.

I picked up Aaron and Isaac from school, and took them with Ananda to Michael's, to get her the pens and ink she needed for art class.

I talked to Aaron about the new rouge plant (Rivina Humilis L.) that's sprung up at the corner of our house, as it fits in with our mutual goal of providing habitat for birds and butterflies. He's got milkweed seeds that will be planted soon. We've also been rolling pinecones in bird seed and hanging them around. Sometimes I wonder if I'm just baiting them to be killed by our cats, though the cats seem to rarely if ever go after them.

Jake and I talked more about limericks. He wrote a couple, and did some multiplication assignments, which I checked. Elise and I reviewed all the words and sentences in her handwriting book, once she was done working on today's pages. I read him more of The Magician's Nephew, in the hammock, and her more of The Prisoner of Azkaban. She's the last one still listening to Harry Potter.

I made a big caprese salad for me, Grant, and Ananda. I cut up a loaf of sourdough and set it out with the most delicious honey. Everyone is in love with that honey, Aaron raves about it like someone describing wine for a magazine.

I thinned out and repotted all my tiny chard seedlings, and brainstormed with Grant about how to build more draining tables or raised beds.

Written Tonight:

While I was typing that yesterday, my sister was calling and texting my cell phone over and over. It was forgotten in my locked car in the front yard, and she needed me to give her a ride to the hospital ASAP. WTH, you know? My phone is almost always in arm's reach - as I type now, I realized it's actually under my wrist on the desk.

So I spent 7 hours at the hospital ER with Laura, and then awhile at the pharmacy, and we managed to laugh a lot and she's ok. She's in a lot of pain but it's nothing dangerous, just something to get through. I'll be taking her school kids to and from school along with mine, tomorrow.

TODAY, after I took my school kids in and made sure breakfast and activities were available, I slept for a couple of hours. When I got up Jake and Elise showed me all their new lego creations and drawings, and told me about the dreams they had last night. We ate together and took care of our plants and watched videos about parasitic fungus taking over carpenter ants in a rain forest, pausing to talk often. We also talked about the democratic primary states that were up today, and native plants we could put in our yard that would take minimal upkeep, and ideas for inventions... our good friends who are in Hawaii sent us tons of pictures of black beaches, sea turtles, and more, that got us talking about and e-searching all sorts of other things... basically until it was time to pick kids up from school.

On the way I played a song I'd never heard before, and lo and behold, it made me cry continuously. And laugh out loud several times. I had to pull over to keep paying attention and crying as it's 10.5 minutes long:

I sat there in a parking spot and shared it on facebook, tagging the first half dozen or so moms I could think of, before continuing with my day.

I'd promised all my kids Chipotle after school, so off we went, and while we ate there was somber talk of our (beloved) pediatrician, who recently died. We're attending the memorial service in a few days.

Then we made a list of ingredients for a bunch of soups I'll be cooking in the coming days:
-french onion
-butternut squash
-kale and bean
-italian (italian sausage, vegetables, tomato-olive oi-broth base, beans)
-cream of mushroom
-zuppa toscana

Two grocery stores and lots of good talk with Annie in the car later, after I'd put everything away and made sure Isaac took his meds and checked in with Laura about tomorrow and argued for continued political hope, on facebook...

Here I am.

The point of listing what I did, yesterday, was supposed to be to show how it really is a lot, added up, and yet it's not nearly enough to fill the time. The crisis counselor gig is 4 hours once a week. My kids are great company, though the amount of food they eat drives me to distraction lately. I have a lot of long distance communication with some great people I really care about. I'm fairly happy. It's kinda drifty, though. Kinda unfocused and diffuse. Which is...ok? It's temporary, on several levels, and... I'm not even sure what my point is. Except that sometimes I'm so aware of myself twiddling my thumbs between tasks.

I took Jake and Elise to a 3 day, 2 night herbal conference a couple of weeks ago and (partially because I was so ready for it, and it fit with the place where I was anyway), it really changed my life. It's not something I've talked about online anywhere, but I guess I probably will at some point. I'm not sure where to begin. I took a ton of notes, during classes. We camped. They had a great kids' program and a good meal plan. I made friends and got their contact information. I joined groups like United Plant Savers and Florida Native Plant Society. I spent time alone by water and under stars. When I got home, I changed the way I eat completely and totally, and without any of the angst or struggle that usually accompanies that. That transition has already altered the way I feel, physically, SO MUCH. Emotionally, I feel quieter and slower in a peaceful way, most of the time.

I'm very aware on many levels of meaningful change and growth being slow processes. Somehow that seems ok, now, though, when it really never has before.

I think about age all the time - how I feel so young, but I had to get older TO feel young?

While I was away, my bachelors degree arrived in the mail. I was extremely on edge about it coming whenever I thought about it, as though I hadn't really finished it until the paper showed up at my door and I wasn't ready to face finishing it at all. I have a fear of success that is hard to explain. Not the possibility of failing... success, itself.

When I had The Paper here, though, it was just nice. Kinda like the difference between the frenetic energy and near terror as my wedding approached, compared to the peace and contentment of realizing I was married. Or the anxiety and pseudo-despair of going through the editing and type setting and cover choosing aspects with my book publisher, vs the happy pride when I received a box of copies. I think that once something is finalized I relax into knowing that it can't be taken away. Even if things change in the future, _____ was real and happened.

Grant insisted we buy a frame straightaway, but honestly, where do you hang your own college degree in your own home? It makes perfect sense to me to display in an office setting but seems silly to put up in our hallway or something. He thinks differently; that I'm the first in my family to do this and that it's a good thing for our kids to see. I'm sort of mortified by the idea, though. I think if the home office we originally planned for my writing existed, it would make a little bit of sense there.

I have to go to bed now, so that will have to do.

I have continued to update my tumblr with personal stuff pretty regularly.
altarflame: (deluge)
This has been a really, really hard month or so.

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

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

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

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

Spoiler: "whatever"=sex.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron2 Aaron1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday was sleeping in and french toast brunch.


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

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

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

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

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

Annie's mouth, day 1.

Annie's mouth, yesterday.

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

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

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

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

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
altarflame: (deluge)
I feel so challenged AND so capable, both in the best ways!

My days are very, very full right now, and I'm actually sleeping at night, but much less is mindless activity and much more is deeply engaging, which I love.

A typical day, lately, involves getting everyone up and fed breakfast, rounding up food for the school kids to take, and driving them to school with some talk about what's going on at school that day. Then, I come home with Jake and Elise, and we work on months of the year and multiplication tables (combination of looking at things we have hung up, reciting, and sometimes grabbing manipulatives). We look at things they've been interested in or curious about online (like looking up "what is the most dangerous animal on land" and "can you pee in a spacesuit") and then they do their chores while I grab some coffee and check some stuff online.

Over the next few hours, there are times when I work on a laptop while they do their workbook or other sit-down work; times when they have free play or work on projects while I either take high-pressure tests/quizzes or do french work that requires me to record myself or log on and speak with a teacher; and times when I take them out places like the library, or to the ocean, or on an exploratory walk, or the Frost museum. We'll probably be getting a zoo membership and hitting Pinecrest Gardens, soon. They both have lists of things on hold, at the library, too. I recently posted some videos and pictures from one of these "field trips" on my tumblr, under the "personal" tag.

The three of us always sit down and eat lunch together. Sometimes Elise makes the 3 of us sandwiches, or Jake uses the toaster oven and leftovers to make us all nachos, but usually I cook. One day last week, I guided them through the process of making several loaves of banana bread - the only things I actually did was chop nuts and move the loaf pans to the oven. So, they got to brag to their older siblings (who devoured most of it) that THEY made that.

In the evenings here and there I give them supplemental things, but mostly they log into their Reading Rainbow and Animal Jam accounts online or color. There's a strict "no screens" rule in effect during the actual school day. I'm glad Elise is excited about Girl Scouts and Jake has some friends in the neighborhood, because the only thing I ever really worry about with them is that they're more isolated than any of my other homeschooled kids have ever been. They just don't have an extracurricular passion or motivation for a particular sport or whatever. They enjoy groups that are just for hanging out or arts and crafts, and they like classes when PATH offers them.

They're getting along so well. I really cherish their innocence and unselfconsciousness.

I also eat up the way the big kids are changing. Aaron's jawline could cut glass. Annie makes me laugh constantly. Isaac LOVES his new school.

I love hearing about their days. I try to rotate taking them out solo as much as possible on the evenings and weekends. We have a lot of sleepy cuddle piles in the evenings.

Our calendar is ABSURD, between Grant's business trips, things I have to go to campus for, the kids' various open house and art dept nights and field trips, everyone's various appts for health, dental, and psych - absurd. We have 3 birthdays and Halloween, in October. I have a friend getting married out of town this fall, and we're starting to plan for that whole-family travel. There's also going to be an Ani Difranco concert for a few of us, and G was selected to be a part of a live NPR event he's pretty excited about.

Grant and I keep finding ourselves standing in front of our big wall calendar suggesting different things that don't work over and over.

I've already had a prolonged cold. I do wish I had more regular, built-in time to socialize with people outside this immediate little group I'm cocooned with, IRL. I am heavily utilizing text and fb messenger lately, and my friend Kathy comes with her kids once evening a week and they have dinner with us, but I still start crawling out of my skin for real life grownup interactions.

My classes are so fucking intense! First of all my stats teacher recommended I take Research Methods co-currently, rather than after Stats is over, since he's designed his course for that to work and I just got a 64% in his class during Summer B. After a silly amount of messaging, email, calls, trips to campus, forms, and financial aid snags, I am back in a position of being able to graduate in December - assuming they offer the very last, 2 credit thing I need in the mini-term during December. They usually do, but it's not guaranteed yet. So that is great, complicated though it's been to work out!

For having ONLINE classes, these feel much less strictly online than I'm used to. My BioPsych class has mandatory groups you have to meet with in the community, throughout the semester. French requires logging in for skype-like sessions with the teacher once a week, for 45 minutes, as well as recording myself talking quite a bit. All 5 of my Statistics exams are on campus, proctored.

Aside from that, though, the workloads are just rigorous. My BioPsych discussion board posts - normally the most banal of tasks in any online class - require a thesis statement, a word count, and APA citations. My french discussion board posts (you guessed it) have to be in french. This french class has DOZENS of assignments per unit, and about 10 days per unit! Research Methods has several big papers throughout the semester. And, of course - Stats. Though so far at least, I'm feeling way better about that. At least the first third of the course seems to be something I have down at this point (not a moment to freakin' soon, eh?).

I'm currently working my way through all the modules and quizzes necessary to get a certification that will allow me to do Human Behavioral Research - both through my Research Methods class this semester, in the future in the FIU labs, and also at other institutions. It's very interesting and almost embarrassingly exciting - sharing my account is illegal! The modules are called things like, "Assessing Risk," "Informed Consent," "Federal Regulations," and "Working With Prisoners!"

Get a load of these BioPsych calendar segments:

08/31 Anatomy of the Nervous System 3.0-3.4
09/07 Anatomy of the Brain 3.5 & 3.6
09/14 Neural Conduction & Synaptic Transmission I 4.0-4.4
09/21 Neural Conduction & Synaptic Transmission II 4.5-4.7
09/28 Development of The Nervous System Chapter 9
10/05 Review & Midterm Exam
10/12 Hunger & Eating 12.0-12.4
10/19 Hunger & Eating 12.5-12.7; Hunger Project due
10/26 Hormones & Sex 13.3-13.7
11/02 Sleep I 14.0-14.3; Sex Project due
11/09 Sleep II 14.4-14.8
11/16 Addiction 15.0-15.3; Sleep Project due

To say I am eating it up is putting it lightly.

I'm also juggling an agenda with 6 colors of highlighters, and making massive lists before I go to bed each night, for the following day. Two weeks in, though, I feel really good about everything. I get completely fried periodically, and can find myself REALLY enjoying my time out with Jake and Elise during the school day as a break for me as much as something good for them. And, Grant helps a lot, when he's in the state and not involved with all day training for his own certifications. We were out on a date this morning for a couple of hours. He's currently coloring at the dining table behind me.

And I guess I'm gonna go to sleep now and not make any promises about when I'll get back to this next.
altarflame: (deluge)
I spent way too much of today trying to sort out a logistical hassle with the school board re: somebody's missing evaluation from 2010-2011 (their error, which has somehow suddenly become a time sensitive emergency). Sooooo many emails (with our internet connection randomly crashing every 5 minutes) and phone calls. Ugh.

I woke up Jake and Elise with surprise Starbucks breakfasts: chocolate croissants and chai tea lattes. Very out of the ordinary and well received, on this cold cold (for us) day. We sat and talked for awhile, and then looked at some old pictures together, and then they were largely left to their own devices while I dealt with the school board crap for hours.

First, they bundled up and let the chickens out in the side yard to run around under their supervision. Elise has been inexplicably terrified of our chickens for the last year or two, and normally doesn't even want to be outside if they're out, but Jake somehow reassured and coaxed her into first being near, and then touching, and then HOLDING them (they're super sweet and docile). She was very proud of herself. They came and told me someone was near our yard, and when I saw it was a neighbor and talked to her about her missing dog, they were allowed to go follow her down the road and help get the dog back while I continued pacing the deck on the phone.

Then, they played a game that involved taking turns tying and gagging each other with copious amounts of scotch tape, and a ton of hopping around the library laughing uncontrollably. I mostly grimaced and turned a blind eye to this, continuing to write emails with the occasional raised eyebrow.

After that they decided they wanted to scrub a bathroom with before and after pictures. They actually worked hard for like an hour and made a real difference on the tub, mirrors and walls. I...honestly thought it was weirder than the kidnapping game.

When they got very very quiet, I went and found them playing Minecraft in the tv room - Jake was teaching her to build different things and when/how to dodge various creatures. I love their camaraderie. I have a feeling it will not become so painfully awkward and sad as A&A's did, in the coming years, since Jake is older - Ananda hitting puberty so much sooner, as a girl, really threw a huge wedge between her and Aaron for awhile.

I love the ways that they use their time. It's days like these that make me think that, while I'm not really comfortable with it, unschooling is really a great way to grow up.

Eventually they accompanied me to pick up Isaac, drive through the bank, pick up A&A, and go to the grocery store. Dishes, dinner, bedtime reading, I am.

Tonight's dinner - which was all demolished right away - included:
-8 cloves of garlic
-basically every leaf off of an entire basil plant
-8 big tomatoes, a couple of romas, and a handful of cherry ones
-two containers of baby bella mushrooms
-about 4 heaping handfuls of kale
-two whole boxes of Orzo pasta
-a whole wedge of parmesan cheese
-"extra" stuff; several tablespoons each of olive oil and butter, half a lemon, a couple of splashes of white wine, a chicken broth cube, and salt

I used to do this regularly, but it had been awhile.

I am trying not to completely panic about how tomorrow is Isaac's birthday and thus includes things like getting up early to cook a special breakfast, making trips to pick up various things throughout the day, and spending the evening out with him and Grant... aaaaand I have a TON of homework and a test due by midnight tomorrow night :/ These things aside from Jake and Elise being home, and cleaning being way backed up, and the cold I have.

I think the key is to NOT become paralyzed by all of it and just keep moving through tasks one minute at a time. Which would be simpler if the test and homework were not math.

This is a good thing for me right now:

I have an almost finished, MEGA picture post I've been gradually editing and uploading for days, chronicling an amazing trip we took last Friday-Monday. It was really great, and I think there are going to be about 80 pictures in the damn thing when I'm done.

For now...stretching and sleep.
altarflame: (deluge)
Friday (a teacher's work day for the school kids), I spent the first half of the day feeling like I was about to have an accident, or sitting on the toilet irritated that I could only force myself to pee approximately 3 drops. This was a rapidly escalating situation that had started to be annoying on Wednesday but hadn't previously taken over my life. Friday, it was neverending anxiety and discomfort that was distracting enough that I felt incapable of studying, or cleaning, or basically anything but orbiting the bathroom and scouring WebMD.

At one point Elise and I walked up to the bank to get a money order, which is about a 1/2 mile walk - I (barely, sort of) peed before we left, did kegels the entire way there, peed(ish) in their bathroom, did kegels the entire way home, ran back to our bathroom, aaaaand saw blood. I was like, ok, MAYBE this is not urethra oriented? Maybe it's not about peeing? Maybe? But then the next time I had to go (you know...7 minutes later when I couldn't stand it anymore), I was careful in my inspection and, yeah, it was "from there." Tiny amounts, but peeing blood is not something I have any experience with or feel even a little bit ok about.

My doctor's office isn't open after noon on Friday, and the local Urgent Care places are out of network for Cigna. So I went to the stupid ER, and spent hours waiting around for the lab to get results on my urine. They were all really nice, honestly, and I got in quickly, and Grant was able to come home from work early. I had an outlet for my phone, so hey. When I peed in the cup, there was way more blood and I tried to just take a deep breath like, "I am currently in the hospital. This will be ok. This is why I'm here." Anyway, it was/is my first UTI. The nurses acted amazed that I made it to 33 years old without a UTI. So here I am on antibiotics again for the second time in just a few months. What can you do, I guess... Also taking a ton of probiotics so I don't have to tell you all about another yeast infection, and chugging tons of water constantly, sometimes with cranberry pills, to possibly be rid of this bs faster...

I think I haven't been drinking nearly enough water, lately, especially considering how much coffee I drink when I first wake up and that I have a glass of wine almost every night in the evening. I know from a friend and female relatives who get UTIs all the time that they pee after sex, which is not something I've ever even thought about? Hopefully I can just go back to drinking enough water, and easing up on the caffeine/alcohol, and all will be well.

Saturday I was scheduled to be on the Rink Rash Radio show I linked here previously - and YouTube put that back up for some reason I don't understand. So you can watch that if you feel like it. I considered not going, because I woke up tired and really not wanting to squirm around in my seat dying of discomfort in the studio for an hour, but Annie was counting on me for a ride and the team had it planned that I would be a guest and Grant would call in, and I felt a little better - I had this pyridium stuff that makes your bladder stop spasming and numbs your urethra, until your antibiotics work, with bonus bright red/orange pee, and it's pretty effective. Plus, it functions as an anti-anxiety med, since with the red/orange effect you can't see if you're still peeing blood (yay?). So we went. It didn't end up being too bad, and the show itself was a lot of fun. I was glad I went. They were thrilled with everything I had to say, which is cool. Annie and I went to lunch afterward.

That night, Grant and I drove up to an improv comedy show, with no idea what to expect. He's been talking about trying stand up for awhile and we used to be big "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" fans. It ended up being pretty good - a few points that drug, but also lots of laughing out loud, and it was fun overall. Tons of audience participation. The place was full of good energy, if that makes any sense. And, for liking their page on fb during an intermission, I was randomly picked to come up and get free tickets to a future show :)

Then we went on a dumb mission that involved paying for parking twice, walking right out of a place that was WAY too loud, and finally settling at a place that was outside and had an interesting menu, but was way too expensive. I was freezing (since it was an arctic 70 and I AM A TROPICAL CREATURE), and tired, but Grant was sweet and talking was good. Food was ok - we get in a situation A LOT where we go out somewhere to eat, and it's not as good as the things we cook at home. To some degree the experience and not having to do anything are worth it, but other times it's just disappointing. Still came home happy overall. After I scrubbed them, Grant gave me a foot massage that was just...ecstasy.

Sunday, we had to take Isaac up to (clarinet) mentoring at UM. He likes his mentor and is into it. We were distributing derby propaganda everywhere we went, too. We took him to the farmer's market afterward, which is heaven - and made the restaurant the night before seem even more overpriced and lackluster. We ran into Mia and her parents, and our old neighbors, in addition to all the vendors we know and love :)

If you ever go to Pinecrest Gardens Farmer's Market, the Imperial Roasts booth there has THE BEST iced coffee - it is hands down the best coffee I've ever had in my life. It is so good that I was drinking it with my damned UTI, I just chugged a whole glass of water before and after and made sure it was my only coffee of the weekend. The woman that runs that booth is SO sweet, and warm, and just fucking perfect. She sells bagged coffee too and we've asked what she uses in the iced coffee, but she won't tell us. "It's a special blend." Clearly, it's witchcraft. Voodoo. And, probably, cream.

Also at the farmer's market, I was flagged down by the sausage lady, because they'd used my pun in their latest silly booth poster, which means I won a free breakfast sandwich. They're breakfast sandwiches are TO DIE FOR. Thick cut, fresh bacon on brioche with perfectly fried eggs and lotsa cheddah. Normally $7, so hey. The pun was "Don't go bacon my heart," which is now displayed with a picture of Elton John.

Later in the afternoon, Grant took the 4 kids who are now in derby up to derby practice. I took Jake for a walk. It ended up being almost ridiculously epic. We saw puppies (behind a chain link fence with their mama dog), kittens (running around - they're fed ferals...) and chicks galore (in an avocado grove where they also keep chickens). The sunset was not fucking around, either, and somehow we ended up having this whole existential talk - Jake can just drop bombs on you. On this walk he said, "I just don't understand what the point of living is. You go to school, you go to college, you work, and you die. You die at the end no matter what and then you're dead, so what's the point?"

It was a long talk. About making art and having babies, about friends and travelling, and beauty around us, and the value of experiences even when they end - as well as all the different religious and scientific theories about what death even is. The legacies we leave behind. This talk featured me attempting to express to him what a big silhouetted tree against the colorful darkening sky does for me, and actually weeping like a ninny. He chuckled at me and put his arm around my waist. He is great.

He also said, at one point, "When you die, I'm going to have a heart attack. Then we'll be together?" I could tell this was actually heavy for him, though he was trying to act light hearted. I talked about life expectancies, and some of my very old Cuban relatives, and what actually sort of helped him was the idea (that had never occurred to him) of how old HE would be, by the time I was really old.

I was exhausted by Sunday night, but this woman down the street, who is pretty cool, had been texting me since Thursday to try to take Isaac to her house, and drop her daughter off with us - there are a lot of friendships between our groups of kids and we have pretty compatible parenting styles. They all love each other. I have a hard time with her kids and feel very shitty for it because she's so hospitable and generous with mine. She's had Isaac, Jake and Elise at her house for more than 24 hours more than once, and she's had Isaac for days on end when it's summer vacation. She feeds them pretty well, takes them out to fun places, and always tells me how impressed with them she is. *sigh* I just don't enjoy being with most other peoples' kids. It's something I struggle with. Her house/their house/whatever is this very free and easy, "more the merrier" kind of place, and I always WANT to be that way... But I only really manage it with teenagers and adults :/

When her youngest comes over (this daughter that spent the night Sunday), she talks SO. LOUDLY. I can hear her talking in our tv room when I'm in our bedroom - that's like, 4 rooms and a hallway away, around 2 corners, and the tv room is carpeted and has pocket doors. My kids can't hear me when they're in there and I call for them, from my room. Being in the same room with her is earsplitting. As in, it actually echoes off the tile. And she's one of those kids who just interrupts and talks over everyone constantly with a lack of self awareness, as a way of existing from moment to moment, which is something I tediously correct ANY TIME my kids do it, because that makes me nuts. But, she's also a kid who will freeze and then burst into sobbing over the littlest things. So like, when Grant very gently asked if she could please lower her voice a little? Or when he asked again, an hour later? Or when he tried to have a talk with her about inside voices and how it was getting late, an hour after that? I finally was like, "please just stop, she's going to leave traumatized or something. For whatever reason she just can't follow those directions or cope with you giving them." I think talking really loud and interrupting a lot are things you can't just ask someone to stop doing when it's deeply ingrained stuff they've always done. This is a fourth grader though, so she's probably just destined to be a much more loud and extroverted adult than I am.

On a previous sleepover, Grant was playing music they were dancing to, and when he picked "Gangnam Style" she ran to the other end of the house and slammed/locked herself behind a door, sobbing and (really) screaming. When I finally coaxed her out and asked what was wrong, she said the song reminded her of a friend that "ended badly."

She's not a bad kid, at all. Just kind of thoughtlessly rude by "quiet people" standards, and extremely sensitive. It all makes me tired. She gets along great with Jake and Elise, who take turns with her and seem to naturally take little breaks to chill on their own. I kind of get the picture that she does better with younger kids. She's almost the same age as Isaac, who views her as a "little kid."

The best part of Sunday night was splitting some Ben & Jerry's with Grant and Ananda while I got the last of my schoolwork turned in online and they sat nearby, laughing and distracting me. It was relatively autopilot kind of stuff. In general, I am a little worried about how to make my schoolwork fit into everything else.

Monday was Day 4 of the weekend, Martin Luther King Day. I spent obscene and luscious amounts of it just texting with Kristin, facebook messaging with friends, and cuddling with Elise. Our guest situation also worked out, when I suggested she, Jake and Elise could have a picnic and tea party out in the yard. They stayed out there for hours, happy as clams, so it was perfect. I cleaned the kitchen and listened to NPR for most of the afternoon.

Isaac did something that's been happening when he comes home from there, and that I don't really understand aside from his maybe getting overwhelmed - he has a great time, is in good spirits when we grab him, tells us all about it on the way home, and then gets very grumpy and hostile within about 15 minutes of walking in the door. This culminates in him crying and locking himself in his room, and needing to either take a nap or just let enough time pass awake that he's over it. They have a lot of kids too, but a much louder household, and from what I gather he's not sleeping much (they stay up goofing around like typical kids at a sleepover, but then those kids still get up early when they go to bed late, which is something I've never understood - my kids sleep late when they go to bed late...) Isaac also has to put more effort than a lot of kids into NOT being anxious around others. Sometimes I think he's just "on" for too long at a time, and then needs to be as grumpy and pissy as he needs to be for a little while when he gets back home. He generally puts on an uber responsible and polite face at school or around other parents. People tend to be totally shocked if I need to talk to them about his issues for some reason...

Monday evening Shaun came over, and I made lasagnas for the first time in forever. Also, Isaac and I started Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I really can't over emphasize how much fun reading this series to him is, and re-experiencing everything from his perspective. He is so into it, and he's smart enough to really get it all as I go and be emotionally invested every step of the way. Reading these books together has totally brought us closer than we ever were before, partially because they provide such a calming distraction for him before bed, or when he's otherwise freaking out. It's one of the only times in his life I've really felt like I know exactly what to do and how to help him, and it basically always works. I've been TRYING desperately his whole life, but he's rebuffed so many of my efforts, and it's generally been Grant who comes up with the perfect bedtime routine or just the right thing to say as he's melting down, or what have you...

Also, Chapter 2 of that book is BRILLIANT and one of my favorite chapters in the whole series. small cut for spoiler-y talk )

Today, Tuesday, the first day back to school and work (from home, for G) was nonstop in a nice way. I have a lot of great things I'm very grateful for, that keep me busy.

I made Elisey and I salads, and heated up lasagna for Jake. After we ate, I took them for a walk, to get my shot. Elise LOVES to watch me get shots. She's totally fascinated. Jake will not look. On the way, we pet a cat, inspected lots of dropped fruit from a mahogany tree, and took pictures of a simple swing set we might want to build one like. We noted the mango trees about to make fruit again, everywhere. Introduced new concepts like duplexes, and Episcopalianism, and what information goes on a dog collar. We're definitely going to make long slow walks with lots of talking part of our's something Ananda and Aaron got a ton out of, years ago. Those walks and our open ended late night conversations are some of the most valuable times I think I've given them.

When we got home, because of conversations we'd had while we were out, we watched videos of clams burrowing under sand, of scallops running along the ground underwater, and of how oysters make pearls (and how we then harvest those pearls, and how to tell real pearls from fake). I think they're going to be seeing shells at the beach a lot differently, now. Jake wants a real pearl for his birthday.

I set him up with a cursive assignment and put her on Reading Eggs. Washed dishes.

Read him the rest of Goblet of Fire. Read her a pile of books she picked out. Listened and coaxed as she painstakingly made her way through reading one to me.

Eventually it was time to pick kids up. Aaron had an awful day all around, and forgot his lunch, and was tired and very down. I made him fried eggs on buttered toast with sausages, and a big cup of chai, and he looked from it to me, when I called him out of his room, and then gave me a giant hug. I love him so much. He took it all outside to eat, which I think is one of the best ways to clear your head. For me, anyway... I measured that kid the other day again, on a lark, and it was ANOTHER INCH. He's so damned big! 5'7" the last time I actually got out a measuring tape rather than just making another mark on the wall. Which was awhile ago.

Isaac had a headache. He feels like he's getting sick...I gave him tylenol, and Grant went and got him ramen from Tim's (oriental grocery). Read him another chapter and a half. Grant took the other boys to Game Stop to search for some used thing they want to get with their own pooled money. G also did all the prep work for some lentil soup I then finished.

I hang out with Annie in the kitchen a lot. She sits on the counter if I'm cleaning, or sous chefs if I'm cooking. Last night she was searching for a dessert recipe for the leftover ricotta, with a laptop. Today she was showing me art (hers, and other peoples'). And talking about horrific pregnancy things she heard about that resolidify her decision to NEVER HAVE CHILDREN, EVER. Many times she walks in while I have NPR on and we pause it, and then end up talking about whatever story I was listening to. Jake Jr (the cat) is generally laid out across the middle of the floor, I don't know, apparently hoping to be stepped on? He's like an irresistible bear trap, with all his belly fluff up in the air, and his claws and teeth ready if you dare to touch it. We say, "What a bad cat" about a hundred times a day.

We had some stupid Wii remote battery dispute situation and had to tell people to go to bed too many times, but overall I think I'll keep them.

The problem is that I want to chronicle all this. And I want to write creatively. And I have to do my schoolwork.

Tonight, right now, I have to eat something so I can take my antibiotics with a big glass of water. And tomorrow I have to make a big BJ's run AND take everyone up to derby...between that and the school drop offs/pick ups, and getting Jake and Elise taught things in between, I'm already feeling like I can't possibly sleep enough tonight. WHAT THE FUCK WILL BE FOR DINNER WITH THE DERBY TIMELINES? I don't read to anyone before bed after that because it's just too late.

But when I get this feeling, I also can't just go to's hard to explain, I guess. I have to have space to decompress and time to zone out, or else I'll start to hate everything and be unproductive as all hell. On the weekend days, I can just go to bed at a normal hour when I get tired, and that's fine, because enough of the day was very chill or about things I wanted that it feels easy to do that. But on weekdays where I never stop attending to other people for a minute, and Grant and I "partner" but barely connect at all? I dunno mang. I can't go to bed and wake up and do it again, over and over, without some winding down in between. I've never been able to.

There are so many appointments coming up. A filling for Elise, and her pediatrician follow-up, Isaac starting new counseling, Aaron starting allergy shots, my weekly counseling, my shots, Annie's oral surgeon consult. We're bailing on the radio show this coming Saturday (or Annie is, she's the only recurring guest) because my little niece Elizabeth is going to be in a parade and we obviously have to be there, for that. In a good way, I mean.

Next month ISAAC - just Isaac - has got an out of town overnight field trip, an audition (for next year) at A&A's school, his birthday, and the Valentine's dance (that he's been counting down to forever, since there's a girl he has in mind).

Here's to coming up with some kind of workable game plan that involves more hours than actually exist. Somehow things always work out and years continue to pass, so that's generally what I keep in mind. Also - Isaac will be 11, on his birthday next month. It seems monumental to me somehow. The really big ones in my mind this year are him turning 11, and Annie turning 15.
altarflame: (deluge)
Our lentil soup recipe (this makes about half of a big stock pot):

Sautee in a small amount of water or olive oil, all diced up small,
-half a big yellow onion
-about 6 cloves of garlic
-4 large carrots
-4 celery ribs

Then to that, add,
-either a can of tomato juice or a couple of liquified tomatoes (we use the magic bullet)
-3 or 4 chicken broth cubes and 1 or 2 beef cubes. This is your call. I'm sure vegetable broth would be fine, and obviously actual broth as opposed to cubes would also work.
-24 oz of dried lentils, which I usually get as 2 12 ounce bags
-a lot of water - I fill the stock pot until it's about 2 inches from the top

Cook that on low-medium heat, stirring now and then, until it's reduced a couple of inches and is noticeably thickened.

Really, it's unbelievably delicious, REALLY cheap, and very good for you. We like to serve it with optional parmesan cheese on top, and a big bowl of salted diced tomato and avocado that can be eaten on crackers. I think white wine is a nice touch if you're into that.

Isaac has this horrible joke book Frank got him a couple of birthdays ago, and he reads it out loud to us at the dining table sometimes. Today over tacos, random guesses at answers seemed to provide bizarre and potentially unsettling insights into my children's minds :p

Isaac: What has holes but can hold water?
Elise: Bubbles!
Isaac: What gets bigger as you take from it?
Aaron: Reading?
Isaac: What gets taken before you get it?
Jake: Innocence!

*blink blink*

I took Annie tonight, and we watched The Fault in Our Stars. Before we headed north, we went through Checkers and got cheese fries. I ate WAY too many cheese fries when I was pregnant with her, and she is aware of that and it's totally a vice and a joke of both of ours. She says very right-on things whenever she has any (which is probably twice a year), like "These are way, way too good." Basically, we get extremely excited whenever one of us reminds the other that cheese fries exist and are out there, available. May we never remember more frequently.

It was interesting seeing what was left in the movie and taken out, vs the book. Overall they did a great job, and she and I were actually the only two people in our whole theater, which was really nice on a few occassions. Twice I said something that made us both laugh a lot. One, "You're only 14 and I'm pretty sure we've already surpassed your lifetime quota of 'how many sex scenes you're supposed to watch with your parents'," and two, "oh my gosh I'm just so relieved I don't have to deal with seeing him in that suit." *sigh*

While we were out, Grant posted this on facebook:

Isaac (10): Ahhh!!! A big palmetto bug! Elise, come get it!!
Elise (7): *sigh* Where is it?... There, OK... I got it! You can come out!
Issac: Phew!

Hmm, I'm trying to think of significant things from the past week or so.

I've gotten a lot of (Weight Watchers) Activity Points. I try to accrue but not actually eat the Activity Points. I did about an hour of walking Sunday, swam laps Wednesday morning, and did jogging intervals today.

I also fell for the first time in quite awhile today, outside the grocery store, but it felt like my standard clumsy semi-annual fall, rather than the scary B-12 deficient falls I was experiencing weekly for a few months there. Off the curb and onto the parking lot. I happily realized I hadn't fallen down since January, as I looked at my skinned knee and bruised hand. It was definitely a "lost my footing/can't walk straight" thing, rather than a "my legs stopped working" thing, so...hooray?

I scored some really cheap wardrobe staples from Forever 21 plus, via mail order. Great long-enough, flattering tank tops in good colors for $4.80 apiece, and leggings for $10, with free shipping and a discount code applied on top even. Also a jumper/pantsuit thing that looks HORRIBLE, though. Maybe in another 20 or 30 pounds it will be ok - we'll see.

Also got about $300 in science equipment totally free through another homeschooling family on our email list! SO MUCH STUFF. A dissection kit and manual that Elise is far more excited about than I am, and huge cases of everything from chemicals and reactants (carefully inventoried) to a compass, iron filings, magnets, scales, microscope slides, safety goggles, rubber gloves, sterno, a big 1 1/2 volt battery, alligator clips - just so so much. We're still going through it all and trying to make plans for it.

The same family also gave us a ridiculously gorgeous silver plated candelabra, the greatest hits of Tchaikovsky, and an illustrated children's dictionary, while we were there. Because homeschoolers ;)
altarflame: (deluge)
I am really at a loss as to how I can slow down, be happier, relax, and still give all of my kids everything that they need. Stretching helps. Meditating helps. Drinking enough water and making sure I step outside often enough is nice. Lots of things help for anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes.

It's WONDERFUL to be able to go and go and go, again, now that my shots have taken effect and I'm no longer sick, exhausted, and in pain. But I don't know how to relax, now. Part of that is that there is so much to do, part is that I was pushing myself through much worse conditions than "plain old" mental exhaustion and tension, and so my cues for when to scale back are totally screwed up now.

There is also a combination of real backed up work (at school, with our house, mostly with each kid) that snowballed while I was napping, weeping, and/or sitting in waiting rooms, and my own terrible self conscious guilt about how much of that all backed up. I think on some emotional level I feel like however much it hurt, however hard it was to cope with, however terrible living at doctor's offices can be, I focused on me a whole lot for a long time. And it worked! I'm better now! But it seems selfish to focus on me anymore, at all, as a result.

And I'm...frenetic. There may be an element of my body and brain readjusting to having ENOUGH B-12 again? Because I feel almost jittery at times, like a constant caffeine buzz. I can't stop moving my feet around when I'm sitting there. I was really in a fog for months, so, it's got it's benefits as I DO ALL THE THINGS, but O_O

I have also turned a significant corner, in therapy, as of about 2 months ago, and I feel radically less triggery and ptsd'd out ever since. It's there, but it's so much less a hindrance than it's been in years past that I Normal? It's big. And, again, that's great. But, again, without having terrible depression or internal freakouts when I don't take care of myself...I just kinda don't take care of myself. I'm realizing things randomly, like, wow, I haven't spoken to a friend, any friend, even online or in text, in a WEEK. Or, I haven't went and exercised in...TWO WEEKS?!

All my resources are just going to this deficit I've built up, since I can attend to that deficit now.

After teaching my kids all Friday morning; taking all 5 of my kids to the dentist Friday afternoon; blitz-cleaning with them for a frantic hour; and then hosting Laura and her kids and Shaun and his girlfriend, plus baking and frosting a big cake that night (Grant cooked dinner) - then I woke up super early Saturday morning and took A&A with all their supplies up to audition at the arts charter. It's far, it took many hours. When we were back home I tried to chill out and just water and prune all my plants, talk to Elise, enjoy Grant making soup, but it's like I can't kick the manic anxiety of having already pushed myself too hard. Because this is just a close-up example of how ALL THE DAYS, strung together, with no rest days, have been for weeks. Last night at the "end" of obligations, he and I got in a stressful conversation about his work stress, his self esteem issues, his generalized fears and things that do and don't effect our relationship. I cleaned our entire (gross) bathroom to take a bath and relax, and then laid awake in bed until 3 am. This morning, I had to be up by 8 making a huge breakfast for everyone before taking Annie up to her end-of-the-year mentoring showcase performance, where the rest of the family eventually met us.

I don't even wanna list it all, everything we've done today. Or Thursday, before I arbitrarily started the last paragraph. Every day lately is too much, never stopping. It makes my head hurt to even start with the listing. Last Wednesday, which was overwhelming, Grant wanted to budget and then plan the logistics of how today would go, and by the time we were almost done I felt like I was going to cry. "Normally," historically, things might SOUND overwhelming on paper but in each moment I was chill and ok and so things really did just SOUND that way. I don't know why that seems so challenging now. It's like the last piece of the puzzle I'm just not getting - how to be present and enjoy stuff as it's happening. How to ride the wave. I've been riding the wave by coping with things that are NOT getting done, for too long :/

I'm not yelling or angry. I do probably seem hyper or irritable at times, though often I keep that together, too, and it's just an internalized pressure buildup as I stretch further and further.

I go in these circles, that are comprised partially of these things:

-what can I let go of?
-part of the problem is definitely all the driving
-we can't afford to live closer to things
-I'm not willing to let things go
-I feel like it's totally unacceptable to punish any one of our kids for how many kids we have. Like that is not even an option. Whatever they need individually is irrelevant to our family size, in my mind.
-is it fair, right, natural or ok, for parents to sacrifice SO MUCH of their entire adult lives for their kids? For how many years? It wasn't expected or common until very recently; kids fit into existing adult lives. Not the other way around. I don't want to be that parent. They need to see a model of a wholly realized person who is happy in their own life...don't they?
-but, yeah, that is on me, that I had 5 of them, of course that will be massive and often take over my life completely for long periods.
-and they each have a LOT of unattended, unstructured time. There are just a lot of them, so it adds up quickly when the attention and structure is so often coming from me. I don't have even one overbooked kid who doesn't get hours to do whatever they want at home, every single day. It is truly just cumulative effort because of the number of kids.
-this is going to get harder before it gets easier, I just know it is.
-can we afford a housekeeper?

I don't know how much it plays in, but Grant thinks it's HUGE and not something I'm giving myself enough credit for, that I've been strictly on weight watchers for over a month. I normally (my entire life...) do a lot more food-for-coping. He's probably right. I chew absurd amounts of gum.

I have a couple of hours here alone right now. Before opening this, I was using them to read health psych (heart disease and diabetes chapter). But I am so keyed up, sore, unrested, I don't know HOW to relax.

I don't know HOW to be happy. Like I know all the reasons why I should be happy and I'm not sad, exactly, just frustrated with... I don't even know what :/ "Just" frustrated. Random frustration.

I mean I'm playing Enya, naked, drinking hibiscus tea. Attempting to very leisurely read my chapter's slide show. And I'm a kinked-muscle mess (eventually giving up and composing this entry).

I suppose that, taken as a whole, the problems I have are about getting better in huge ways and transitioning to improvements. I just have to zoom out and see it that way intentionally, at times.

*deep breaths*

One thing I really, really need is more breaks AWAY from my children. ALL of them. Grant's talking about giving me a couple of hours each Tuesday evening. I sometimes have Sunday afternoons, though they are (supposed to be) for studying and cleaning.

I can't do what I did when they were much younger and just stay up half the night by myself every night, any more, and without that break in between the sort of days we have I start to crack up. Maybe I'll use those Tuesday night hours to host a "book" (wine) club, or something that is easy but would actually gain me some adult interaction. I really, really need adult interaction.
altarflame: (deluge)
Maaaaan I really needed a weekend to hurry up and happen, so, hurray for that.

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

Biggest tedious/draining weekday things, lately:

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

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

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

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

Some good "weekend" things, this weekend:

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

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

...I just realized I never went and got my shot last week. What the heck. I carry the injectables around in my purse and refer to them as my arc reactor, because I still can't believe I'm really back to normal - HOW could I forget that?
altarflame: (deluge)
I used my commute-from-school to talk, again. About our coming weekend, but also a lot of meandering thoughts about homeschooling teenagers - mine, and in general.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

many many pics, from today )
altarflame: (deluge)
I've had a kind of "what is my life" morning. It's featured calling what will hopefully be my new rheumatologist a half dozen times before I could get through, scheduling their soonest appointment (mid January - this is actually the first group I started calling a week ago, but I assumed I'd be able to find someone else to see me such luck, so mid January it is). And calling and then emailing the Disability Services guy I've been meeting with, at school. And wincing and grimacing my way through my stool sample kit instructions *dies*

Mostly I've been like, ok, here, double dose of b-12, prescription folic acid, second cup of coffee...I'll This has involved much forgetting what I was doing and sitting back down at the computer, trying to keep my eyes open. Attempting all the while to force myself out the door to go do 30 minutes of cardio that might perk me up, and/or get started on formulating my answers for the final I have tomorrow (she gave us 5 essay questions, and 3 will actually be on the exam).

I feel entirely too confused and startled by the requests and interjections of Jake and Elise, but also grateful for them because, you know - they're awesome. And otherwise, today, I feel as though I'd just refresh facebook and tumblr with a furrowed brow every few minutes until it was time to make dinner. Even if I don't feel like getting up to see how cute Tom looks under the Christmas tree or coming to check out the stuffed animal classroom they've set up, it ends up being (mostly!) worth it. Soon we'll be sewing poor battered Beary up again and putting yarn loops through the million gingerbread cookies to hang on the tree, and it's them dragging me along and asking to open the doors since the weather is nice and the fact that I'll be carting people all over for activities in a few hours that are probably keeping me from turning into some sort of drooling lump. I have to squint and concentrate and explain why it's important to water the Christmas tree, and how the wooden bench will warp if we keep it outside, and show them what guava fruit actually looks like since the paste is in everything down here. They really are so awesome, so curious and questioning and aware, all five of them.

This morning I stumbled out of my room to wake Isaac up for school, and he was sitting at the dining table in his school uniform, with his backpack on and his packed lunch next to his chair, reading on Jake's Nook. I was like, "Wow. Good morning." He smiled and said it back in a distracted way, obviously absorbed. On the way to school he told me Jake had read this same book, and told him he should read it, and then went on about how he's not so sure books are actually always longer than their movie versions anymore because of some comparison he did with Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

Vaguely related: There are a lot of things I don't like about his school, like the standard overbearing focus on the FCAT and the gross Common Core emphasis. But something I love is that his class last year and his class this year have read novels as a class that Isaac really loved and talked about often, and they did a lot of projects around the books. His favorites have probably been Because of Winn Dixie and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane.

He's going to be in 4 different parts of their holiday show, this year - dancing with the cheerleaders, playing the recorder, singing with his class, and something else he refuses to tell me because it's a surprise. And, I learned my lesson last year about ordering tickets early, so I won't have to stand around outside dealing with scalper auctioneering and then get in late (that actually happened!).

Yesterday afternoon, I went and picked up Ananda from a friend's house - she'd went with three people, Saturday night, to see Catching Fire and then sleep over. She was going on and on about everything they'd talked about the night before, like North Korea, the possibility of Amazon shipping packages via drones, Kanye West's hilarious narcissism, how to put together Les Mis cosplays, and the music one of them is writing. Her friends are so fucking priceless.

I just love giving them (all 5 of them) space, and then seeing what they do with it. Elise is always taking this little notebook and a pencil up into the mango tree to "write down observations."

Anyway, back to my muddled morning - I also have Kristin texting me and a date to schedule with Nancy, so those are good things, even if good through a sort of haze. Ugh.

Here's hoping crafty time and more hours lift me up a little, sometimes it's like that and I just have a hard time getting going. Otherwise, well, here's hoping the nap I succumb to works.
altarflame: (deluge)
I've got a whole month's worth of pictures, maybe more, and plan to work through at least most of them in batches in the coming days. Early November, here...

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

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

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

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

Aaron, as Carl Sagan:

Jake as Albert Einstein:

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

And Elise, as Mary Treat:

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

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

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

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

Pre-parade traffic jam.


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.

Clearly, I forgot something, though :/

Waiting with me, at my dentist.


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

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

Last: a )
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
WHOA I'm suddenly feeling completely overwhelmed by an avalanche of what seems, at the moment, to be totally unmanageable. Kid things, homeschool things, college things, house things, holiday things, doctor things, activity things, health things, budget things, just. *deep breath*

I remember a time when list making and pre-scheduling was a way to procrastinate. Now, if I DON'T do it - thoroughly - I'm totally screwed. There's just no other way to keep it all straight. Just this morning I got an email from Isaac's cheerleading coach that I didn't bring in the October payment (already sent apology) and then realized I had entered a due date for an online exam wrong and, as a result, had missed the deadline (still working out how to approach that issue with professor). I'm also realizing I have to let the woman I carpool with for dance know that I can't do the northward trip Wednesday afternoon, and really frustrated that the receptionist at my rheumatologist cannot get my email address right so that I actually receive some blood test orders NO MATTER HOW MANY TIMES I CALL AND REPEAT IT, LETTER BY LETTER, VERY VERY SLOWLY. It's just altarflame, fyi. Not super complicated. So far we've gotten altarslame, altarflane and that old classic, alterflame. I've spoken with this woman 3 times, and left her 2 messages, starting last Monday morning.

A friend of mine is asking to come over and I sat and thought, and thought, and could not think of a single time when I could invite her that wasn't either scheduled in some way, or necessary to use for things I have to prioritize (kids' school work, the dishes, my homework, reading to kids, etc) then since so much time IS scheduled. Part of why I'm screwed at the moment is because I chose to spend good time with my husband, ignoring everything else, for too much of the weekend. We're at a place where to procrastinate is to court doom, and I started procrastinating late last week when I just felt triggered, and done, and everything seemed to double in weight for a couple of days. Overall, I am happy to report that counseling is going well and I feel less nuts all the time :p

Just a few random tidbits from my swirling thoughts:

-We've spent over $3,000 out of pocket at the pediatric dentist and orthodontist, since August, which has only really been possible because August was when Grant received a quarterly bonus and I got my student aid refunds. Annie still needs her last 3 baby teeth extracted this month, before our monthly ortho financing payments kick in (for her braces). I'm happy to report that EVERYTHING that was wrong with Isaac and Jake's teeth has been fixed, Elise's one cavity is filled, Annie's big ortho mess is well on it's way to being better, and all five of them have sealants on, now.

-But I went to the dentist last week, for the first time in what turned out (somehow) to be FIVE YEARS. My teeth look pretty good at a glance, and never hurt, but apparently I have some fierce demineralization around the gum lines from the "antibiotics of last resort" I was given while septic - dentist said he sees that and it's a thing, apparently...and, thus. I NEED FIFTEEN FILLINGS. FIFTEEN. As my sister so aptly put it, "that is basically dentures." I'm torn between being horrified and being really, really grateful that I got in there before the need was for root canals or worse.

That is the tip of the iceberg of the swirling thoughts, but if I really start writing I will write for a very long time, and I just don't have the time to do that, unfortunately. I have to go write various tiered and prioritized plans, turn off all social media, hide my phone, and systematically work through as many things as possible until, you know, I lose consciousness or something.

My tumblr queue is very full and will be posting automatically for at least a week, and I have some great pictures that I'll hopefully find time to throw up here at some point in the next few days :)
altarflame: (deluge)
-the latest in a string of really productive and helpful counseling sessions

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

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

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

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

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

-installing the C25K app

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

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

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

-two trips to the airport

-two dance rehearsals for Aaron

-one grocery run

-one gas station

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

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

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

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

-4 hours of late night studying

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

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

-selling my textbooks back

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

-starting my period

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

-scheduling our homeschool evaluations

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

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

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


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

-cathartic and wonderful welcome home sex leading directly to blacking out and then sleeping in
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of my friends who live up in Miami like to say I live in "the sticks," which I always protest, because, what? This is not the sticks! Sure, I get the occasional possum and raccoon on the deck, and yeah, we can walk past a tomato field to feed a horse some carrots, but what of that? :p Then I am actually up around Miami, and come back home, and see this as our highway exit...

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

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

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

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

The thrown together Peter pan costume I mentioned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this year:

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

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

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

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

Photobombing, separate days.

My Elisey Beast.

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

Ananda, sciencing (really, that's a word) in her laboratory room.
altarflame: (deluge)
Today, it was just Jacob, Elise and I at home during the school day. Grant was up at his office, A&A were at a friend's, and Isaac was at school. We sat around the table eating snack plates* and playing with Story Cubes for awhile. I'm teaching both of them to knit, this week, which is tedious as all hell but they always seem eager to get back to. We've also been working a lot with their Starfall writing journals and tear out, fold up books. The ones the two of them have are the last of my free pack of Starfall first grade workbooks and art books from 10 years ago when Starfall was giving them out free to educators and I ordered some.

After we got Isaac from school and collectively collapsed from near heat stroke, the four of us packed a swim bag and a snack bag and set out to walk up to the Y to swim. Two blocks out, though, Ms Denise (Elise's fabulous former preschool teacher) pulled over and gave us a ride in her giant SUV, which was sweet and thrilled Elise. She lives about a block from us so we knock on her door and sell her Girl Scout cookies and she always waves when Elise is playing outside as she's passing.

Anyway, swimming was cool. It's always weird for me how any mom within 75 pounds of my weight who is there with their kids is sitting on the sidelines fully clothed. I'm in a bikini, having fun in the pool. Usually after the first few minutes and/or whenever I'm not up on the deck, people stop staring. The lifeguard was fun and uncovered the diving board and encouraged kids to get on and try it - Elise is on cloud 9 for doing it when her big brothers (although she actually calls Isaac and Jake her "little brothers" and Aaron her big brother) were afraid to. The walk back was ok, it was cloudy and near sunset so aside from swarming clouds of gnats it wasn't too summer-ish.

I'm looking forward to the weekend, even though tomorrow's kinda ridic: Ananda has Girl Scout program aid training (for summer camps) from 10-4. Aaron has hip hop from 11-12:30. They both need to be picked up from Cybele's before any of that, and in the evening all 7 of us are going (and meeting various friends**) to the derby match, where Annie's junior team will be carrying the flag and generally skating around acting like they rock.

Derby matches are usually a lot of fun. And then SUNDAY!! Bwahaha, Sunday is Mother's Day, i.e. MY DAY, i.e. I will be sleeping in late, demanding all sorts of ludicrous pampering from everyone and going out alone for prolonged dates with my husband without any sort of bs guilt.

No, I am not kidding. I bought us gift cards to Outback and the movies, and new wine glasses (they were all broken over the past several months). I was just on the phone with my sister today, comparing the gifts we got ourselves - in advance of the day, obviously :p She went with clothes and a book.

*snack plates were started by my paternal, Cuban grandfather, who always gave my sister Laura and I, along with all our (all female) cousins plates of rolled lunch meat, tomato slices, olives, pickles, sometimes cheese and usually crackers. Jake and Elise are my first children to enjoy snack plates since every other kid I have hates at least one core component.

**I met this chick at the FIU transfer orientation the other day, very boho mismatched clothes, wild hair, piercings, interesting bracelets. I walked up to her and said, "I realize you shouldn't really judge people based solely off of their appearances. But you really look like we ought to be friends." This worked out very well, and before long we were deep into each others' life histories/aspirations, and planning for her to come to the match. She's a child psych major who wants to work with deaf kids :)

+5 pics from last Sunday afternoon, which was event-laden... )


Apr. 23rd, 2013 10:03 am
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
This summer's shaping up to have a lot of cool opportunities and interesting stuff for everybody. I've been in a frenzy of emails, calls, forms and combing the calendar for the last two days, as always happens this time of year. And then again before fall.

So far this is what we've got on the table as probable, counting summer as basically anything that happens after today since a lot of it begins in May:


-5 classes at FIU, broken into 3 for Summer A term and 2 for Summer B. I actually have my schedule and financial aid in place since getting accepted, and am now setting up incidentals like going to get my student ID, having my parking pass mailed to me and acquiring my book advance/books.
-gardening - currently I have 3 flowering plants on the front porch, succulents and basil on the deck, about 40 houseplants, and a whole mess of seedlings in the house that will be transitioned to a raised bed in the coming weeks: white and flamingo chard, spinach, red and romaine lettuce, and lavender (for Isaac's anxiety, we're talking about it all along the way...we also have a "life cycle of a seed" poster hanging in our dining room these days).
-counseling. I finally made contact with somebody yesterday, like nails on a chalkboard though it was, and she's supposed to be calling me back about our insurance today. This is actually Grant and I both, separately and then together
-Writing dammit. It might be more like 2 hours per weekend rather than the hour per day I've been trying to strive for, but I can live with that if all this other stuff is happening.
-also with Grant, and "hopefully" - acquiring a second car, again (we sold the Civic awhile back, too many problems)


-regularly scheduled cello rehearsals on Sundays, and derby practice Sundays and Wednesdays, for awhile more at least
-6 hour training to be a program aide for girl scout camps, in May
-part of the color guard made up of junior derby players for the adult bout on the same day in May O_o
-GMYS finale concert THE NEXT DAMN DAY good grief
-going paintballing with her derby team later on in the month
-3 weeks of Girl Scout camp in June and July, 2 as a Program Aide (volunteer/helper basically, then next year she'll get to be a Counselor In Training) and one as a regular ol' Girl Scout
-Somewhere in the midst of that, attending the Southern Regional Junior Derby...whatever it's called, rally or some shit up in central Florida - this will involve her team being in their first two bouts!*
-auditioning into whatever ensemble for GMYS for the fall, before the summer is over - I'd also like to try to get her some kind of supplemental cello learnin' but it basically has to be free so either a public school program, a magnet she only goes to the music portion of, or this Frost mentor program...we'll see
-she also wants to look into starting to volunteer at the library, we'll see, and has a goal of "being at sleepovers as often as possible this summer"
-which could be related to the whole "SHE'S TURNING 13 ON JUNE 1!!!!" thing


-hip hop on Saturdays and jazz dance on Thursdays**, til the eventual Dance Empire end of year recital
-I'm basically trying to decide whether to try to get him into a camp at Dance Empire or just sign him up for their intensive weeks, and/or their summer classes
-either way he wants to do ballet technique classes again, which is interesting to me and they're offered on Saturdays in one big block so yeah sure he doesn't have to pay ~shrug~ They're offering 7-15 yo barre and stretch, 7-15 yo turn and jump, 7-15 yo open ballet and pre-point for 10-16 year olds as a 4 hour long extravanganza, and he's aghast at how inflexible he's supposedly become ever since someone complimented him on his extensions (?) last week. Dancers!
-I'm sure there will be some epic TLC party before a couple of families leave town for the summer as they generally do, and he will be in like flynn
-whatever we decide to do for his birthday on June 27th (he'll be 12)


-the rest of the school year obviously, which features the talent show he's doing a jump rope act in this Friday
-GMYS camp for a month***, now on clarinet
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves


-GMYS camp for a month, hopefully playing drums (HE HATES THE VIOLIN SO MUCH)
-birthday party in June for a PATH kid he loves


-turning SIX on May 1 - we're going to the Seaquarium**** because she had no idea such wonders existed, but we have been on a big Squid YouTube kick that's somehow led into whales, and she is PSYCHED. Also, she keeps asking for a science lab so we're going to do our best to set that up as her birthday present with like, basic common kitchen ingredients common to many experiments and a space allocated in the house with a table Grant's made, and some little accessories - she will love it
-those 3 weeks of Girl Scout camps that Annie will be at, albeit in separate age groups of course
-GMYS camp for a month, back on violin

All Kids:

-(well, minus Isaac in this instance) homeschool yearly evaluations
-(and plus me in this one) dental checkups/cleanings

*It will probably be Grant taking her to paintballing and the rally, for a variety of reasons - also, Grant is not travelling anymore in the forseeable immediate future, under his new supervisor that's looking like a more quarterly sort of thing...and he works from home on the days I'll be in school.

**I actually found another Dance Empire parent IN HOMESTEAD who is WILLING AND ABLE TO CARPOOL, this is life changing people, seriously, wow. I am excited.

***the little kids' camp is actually IN HOMESTEAD, good grief A&A's was insanely far last summer, that was a circus

****If you are a AAA member, in the month of May you can go to the AAA office and get a (discounted!) Seaquarium ticket, and then take it to the Seaquarium, and they will give you another one free. Since the Seaquarium is absurdly, disgustingly, prohibitively overpriced, this is a big deal that can potentially make it possible to go. It ends up being $36 plus tax for two adults, rather than $80.
altarflame: (deluge)
-the color of brains
-the concept of short term memory
-why so many cats look so similar
-how we manage to stop bleeding, once we've started
-what the deal is with absorbing some food and pooping out other food, and what goes where

Among countless other things I can't remember because I'm too tired and was just totally sidetracked by the GIANT FREAKY-CREEPY POSSUM on our deck. Gah.

The point was, she is asking these things so thoughtfully, and the major differences between answering her questions now vs any other time in her verbal life are, 1.) she actually listens carefully to my answers without interrupting, and 2.) she is remembering when we've already discussed something and not needing me to repetitively explain the same concepts (or plans we have, or things I've said she's allowed to do, and so on) again and again. One subject just naturally leads to (and ties in with) another, and I can watch her mentally connecting everything new to things she already knew.

It's pretty awesome. She's definitely in a huge cognitive leap, it is a wonder to behold :)

It also makes me nostalgic for the days when Ananda and Aaron did this, I guess because they were my first highly inquisitive children that wanted to constantly engage in grown up conversation...and also because Isaac has asked me a fraction what any of the other kids have, and Jake is much more of a quiet observer than a talker in general. I watched him from outside the kitchen today, as he got leftovers out of the fridge, found a metal pan under the oven, and then got his plate and fork ready after he got his stuff heating. Then he ate it all (rice and beans) while sitting behind Isaac, watching him play Mario on the computer. That is the sort of kid Jake often is. Both of them want us to "look" and to "come see" pretty often, usually things they built or tricks they can do, but they rarely ask us for information. If Jake does ask, it's usually for me to read to him or to cook something together. With Isaac, it's usually to go to the store (the quarter machines at Winn Dixie, or Party City where they have bins of things that cost under $1, are his favorites - it's a source of contention for us because Grant got him into those sorts of things and I would really rather he learned to save money at least for something that isn't sugar/going to be broken within the HOUR, but Isaac totally obsesses/begs/loses his damn mind if he's got so much as a dime to his name...whenever he does get to go, the requests to go again start within 24 hours).

Last week, Elise asked if there was really such a thing as an octopus, because D.W. and Arthur had been arguing about it, on PBSKids. We ended up watching hours of octopi, cuttlefish and squid (cephalopods) changing their colors, shapes, and textures, in the ocean and also in labs with scientists "testing" them and putting their skin under microscopes to try to explain what's going on as they change. She was amused by the serendipity that the next letter page in her Brainquest workbook's alphabet section was O, and she had to do a color by number that turned out to be an octopus, and write the word "octopus" a couple of times :)

Yesterday I showed her close up pictures of cat tongues when we were talking about how they bathe, and today she was lying on the floor inches from Tom, watching him clean himself, and excitedly yelling to me that she could actually see the little spikes on his tongue.

I have the same thoughts with her that I did with A&A; that homeschooling her very well is almost effortless and that I totally understand how complete (proactive, parent-facilitated) unschooling can work for a lot of kids out there. Isaac has learning and anxiety disorders that make it a little harder for me to teach him at all (along, unfortunately, with a personality clash that basically amounts to him hating my desire to talk to him for long periods, about anything, and almost always getting very distracted and interrupting me to ask questions about other stuff... I have to do things totally different with Isaac). Jake is easy to teach and relatively compliant about learning in general, but I have to have a plan and implement it, or it won't happen; it isn't like the way Elise follows me around the house nonstop, demanding to learn regardless of what I'm doing.

She literally has a notebook and pencil in her hands MOST hours of the day, for some whole weeks at a time - when she's in that phase, she just asks how to spell things one word at a time nonstop until she's spelled out messages for people, sentences she thought up, signs she can hang, etc. The best part of this for me is that by the end of every day that goes by like that, she knows new words by heart. Months ago it was only her name, then it was her name and simple things like "I," "a," "the," and "see." Now, she's starting to have an actual (small) working vocabulary of things she can write on her own :)

A lot of things have contributed to my being emotionally FRAZZLED, in recent months. The marriage problems are a big factor; the constant husband travelling, which leaves me here alone with all the kids, is another. I am definitely still always learning how to deal with life in general, without "leaning on God," although that alternates between being hard and being simple. And these past months, I've had double whammy health issues - constant pain and inflammation-exhaustion being one major challenge, and having to go through a lot of medical tests and visits for it triggering the shit out of my PTSD being another. That last one has been intense, and I don't think I realized how heavily it was playing in. I never do, at least right away, because the whole thing with PTSD is that you block everything related to it out as much as you can, with and without trying to. I actually wonder to what degree I've been blowing up any and every other issue in my life to explain the levels of anxiety and dissociation I've been dealing with, due to PTSD alone*.

I'm tired of trying to figure it out, though. I'm tired of attempting to unravel it all in general. I don't feel qualified to answer my husband's questions about how I feel about "us" - I don't KNOW how I feel, and I don't know WHY I don't know! I've been too checked out and too irritable, throughout March at least, but probably more like mid-January through 3 days ago.

So. I committed to prioritizing getting back into therapy with someone new who actually works, and to not thinking about this shit otherwise - any of it. I'm "saving it" until I'm in the company of a professional who can help me wade through all of it. Until then, my only task re: all that personal crap, is to find a counselor and make an appointment.

I've spent the couple of days since realizing that and reorienting myself feeling WAY more present with (and enjoying of) my kids. I've also done a lot of things like take a detox bath, and meditate with yoga breathing, and thoroughly clean my bedroom and bathroom so they feel better to be in.

A little thing that makes me really happy, is having something like 45 plants at this point, all alive. I think they're ranging from about 2 months to over a year old, at this point :) Mostly more than happy I'm grateful for something like peace, even if it is a "time out! Pause!" sort of interim peace.

*I've also completely changed my eating in a way I hadn't tried before, and almost a month in, feel very in control of some very big, sustainable changes, which causes sugar/grain withdrawal crap AND removes one of my biggest coping mechanisms. The trade off is, my pain is way faded and my exhaustion is almost completely gone, for a couple of weeks now (I've been eating differently and supplementing flax, fish oil and probiotics for about 3 weeks). It could just be a flare ending; or it could be a big ass deal that I've stumbled onto in my physiology. Meaning, a way to help minimize my autoimmune problems and a way to be less of a compulsive eater. It is a good thing that I feel great about, but I haven't wanted to share about it...


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.

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