altarflame: (deluge)
feel free to click here for a weeks old entry I forgot about )

(and/)Or, find out how not long after that entry I felt pretty triggered (haha, how ironic).
That led to some serious two steps forward, one step back personal struggles (challenges? INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIERS I'VE SINCE BEEN CHINKING AWAY AT ONE CRUMB AT A TIME?!) with polyamory, as polyamory in general - even in it's infancy - has a way of highlighting every single thing you didn't know you were avoiding dealing with at once. I'm very fortunate to be so deep in a bond that allows for sharing everything patiently, even when that involves stop and starts, and backtracking... Even if we never acted on any of this we know each other so much better, now, and I feel so much closer to him. Paradoxical, I guess, but getting to the "why" underneath every scared and sad feeling is something that's taking us places we might never have gone otherwise. I feel like I'm going to understand life differently and have a different attitude as I get older, because I'm tackling this deep shit inside of me that I've never looked straight at or felt so directly and consciously, before...
I am also pleased to report I can once again take an IQ test without any sense of personal tragedy.

Here are some pics of me and Elise around our neighborhood one weeknight, and some others from a tour G and I took of R.F. Orchids last weekend.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR - I am on a general broad upswing that involves some hard times and is not a simple curve. I travel this path with a bunch of other people who are also all on varying and irregular (usually) upward slopes. I feel good about life, and also get tired.

I will probably make a way shorter update soon, about apps I'm using and things I've recently cooked. Take heart, if this is just too damned long and convoluted and TMI.
altarflame: (deluge)
This month has been extremely productive and overall wonderful.

My semester end was hectic, with finals and papers (I turned in a 35 page paper full of statistical analyses, with various graphs and SPSS readouts in the appendix, for my Research Methods class...) coming fast and furious as soon as we got back into town. I felt a bit rushed about the Christmas season - we never got decorations up on the outside of the house at all, and it's the first year my kids haven't had little mini trees in their bedrooms. We baked a scant, single batch of gingerbread cookies before Christmas Eve!

And, I had some intense sadness about Christmas Eve, and my incapacitated Nana, and lost traditions and family gatherings gone by.

But, in the end it all turned out pretty great, and we've been coasting on the Twelve Days of Christmas ever since.

Grant and the kids all have two full weeks off, and I'm now "only" in this one mini-session course (online). It requires working every day, but is very manageable. Overall this is an unstructured and luxuriant time full of visits from out of town friends and relatives galore, with dates and cuddle sessions and repotting plants and so on. G is doing half of the cooking, cleaning, and parenting. Everybody's got a ton of new stuff, so there's a lot of taking Elise out on her new bike, and taking various people one at a time to spend their various gift cards, and viewing and videotaping the K'Nex roller coaster Jake worked on for hours. Life is pretty sweet.

Grant and I gifted each other an espresso machine, and the coffee around here has improved dramatically as a result. He also got me some essential oils, dark chocolate, and a new teacup and saucer. I got him Dune magnets and buttons and a new water bottle (that he'd been asking for), and some caramels and cookies.

I actually got the old granny square pattern book back out and looked up the one I was using for a blanket I had half finished, earlier in the year. My (very dusty) sewing machine was brought out for the first time in some 8 months.

Kid Updates!

Elise (8.5) just got a (requested) haircut that I think makes her look like an elegant mushroom. It's a short bob, longer in the front.






She is very high energy and usually really happy. She had a major breakthrough a few months back that shoved her forward in many areas - she could suddenly listen to more complex chapter books with thorough understanding, play Minecraft by herself, speak with less hesitations and searching for words. I think another of those is happening, now. She's also growing RAPIDLY - on December 11 I stood her against our height wall and she'd grown at entire INCH since December 2! At which point, she was a centimeter taller than a week before that! She's still obsessed with My Little Ponies, and plays with hers on the library carpet every single day. I don't know how much longer we can stretch this sweet innocent period of bath toys and "underwear girl" running around the house in the evenings, but I'll savor it while I can.

Jake (10) is hitting the slightly chubby phase that happens before the big puberty growth spurt. He reads a lot and usually has a pile of books next to him when he falls asleep. He's still affectionate and sweet with me, still moody and stoic in general. He's not as quick to anger as he used to be. I think he's going through a fearful period - scared of death, of fair rides, of social awkwardness. He's got some friends in the neighborhood but still seems restless and lonely at times. I think he's in a transitional phase. He still spends a lot of time building/innovating/drawing/etc. He is so in love with his cat, Jake Jr, the fluffy demon who rules us all, and says nonsense like, "how does it feel to be a grandmother?" He'll carry her up to Elise and tell him, "that's your Aunt, Jr." He's also a total sucker for any kind of cute animal video, and has this involuntary giggle that reminds me of a hamster.

Isaac (almost 12) looks an awful lot like a teenager all of a sudden. He's also really quick to assure us that he understands complex things and knows about everything. He's got a kind of image conscious defensiveness that wasn't there before, and is almost strangely matter of fact about the girl he has a crush on. He and Jake sometimes have a great time together, but Isaac is more and more likely to want to go somewhere with friends or just Dad and/or me, or close his bedroom door to be alone (a brand new thing). His anxiety seems to be mostly under control, but there was a relapse recently and I'm eager for him to get into a couple of programs that currently have him wait listed. He continues to be more "together" (organized, prepared, able to easily find misplaced items, etc) than the rest of us. His vibrancy - bright blue eyes, freckles, white eyebrows, etc - is stunning these days.

Aaron (14) is over the moon that he got a Wii U for Christmas. At school, the various art areas recently did performances during the school day for other students in other art areas, and it was the first time he danced for peers who are not dancers (including his siblings, and girls he likes, and friends/acquaintances/etc, and there were also core subject teachers in the audience...) This seems to have really changed his life. People who had never seen him dance were in awe of him and he said getting up there was the scariest stage fright he'd ever experienced. Typically recitals have been just for parents of dancers and dance teachers, and competitions or like the Hammerstein Ballroom thing in NY were for strangers - this was some whole other deal and he says he almost didn't do it. Just wearing tights on stage at 14 in front of your whole school of band kids and theater kids and writer kids, etc, is a lot! His tarantula, Tulip, is about half grown now. He's not depressed lately and I'm eating it up. He's still awkward and sensitive. He makes me laugh whether I like it or not pretty often. He's fucking obsessed with Chipotle and drives us all nuts wanting to go there constantly.

Ananda (15) is the bee's knees. She's so comfortable in her own skin and brilliant. I feel really proud of her almost all the time, lately. She has this horrible ironic fashion - like she just got SHINY GOLD HEELIES for Christmas like she wanted, and she's pairing them with these light wash, high waist mom jeans she had to have - it's painful! But she kinda pulls anything off. We talk a lot and I drive her friends places with her and we show each other things we find online. I betray her any time I get a note from a teacher that she should come to math tutoring or retake a spanish test, by immediately telling them she can do tutoring every day and this is my number, etc. She groans and says "THE WORST!" but with a smile, and then worries about how she's gonna do stuff like that in college without me forcing her to. Her teachers adore her. She has chai with the one she has an aid period with. We have a lot of fun eating gourmet food and exclaiming about science. She adopted some elderly rats a friend of hers needed to rehome and she's completely smitten with them, constantly feeding them vegetables and carrying them around.

So, that is them, and they are epic :) I'm gonna edit this entry to throw some pics in, since that's so much easier to do on a phone now.

These are their Christmas Even pajamas - Jake got a Gryffindor robe instead of regular PJs and immediately ran to grab the cinnamon broom, to go with it. He's trying to somehow be "in character" in the first shots :p



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.

frenchtoast

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_5423
Annie's mouth, day 1.

IMG_5422
Annie's mouth, yesterday.

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

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

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

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

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
altarflame: (deluge)
I don't even know where to begin.

I spent the school day continuing to work on our library (literal thousands of books on the floor, as we make donation boxes, dust long neglected shelving units, tape up kids' books that needed repair, and revamp our organizational system so we can actually find things again), washing dishes, and doing schoolwork with Jake and Elise. I really feel like I worked on the library for less than an hour (we started on it over the weekend), washed dishes for maybe 15 minutes, and did schoolwork with them for maybe 30 minutes. But the entire school day was somehow gone at the end of those three things.

Once I got Ananda and Aaron, everything promptly went fucking crazy. On our way home, I finally got through to our pediatrician and made Isaac an appt for tomorrow morning - I started leaving messages last week but he's been out of the office (anxiety, probably meds, Isaac's really been having a hard time). My sister called, saying some cryptic crap about me NOT LEAVING MY HOUSE and then hanging up, almost immediately after which my brother randomly showed up from out of town, with his girlfriend and a giant python, like "Surprise!" I barely got to say hi to them, because when Ananda changed out of her school uniform she was freezing up and panicking that she thinks a derby wound from her last practice is infected, and Aaron was shaking and almost in tears because while he was at school, a little hurt spot we'd seen on (his cat) Peter's forehead had turned into a giant swollen freaky spot emerging up out of his fur. Nancy started texting me loooooong messages continuously, about when we can get together during her visit down.

I started calling emergency vets, ignoring the texts coming in all the while, and had Annie heat water to stir up a salt water solution for me to irrigate her knee with. The first vet was too backed up. Laura arrived, with her kids. She took a picture of the knee wound, and texted it to her (paramedic) husband, who said he was working on an emergency. Bob tried to explain all about the snake, and agreed to pick Isaac up from STEM club, as I found a walk-in clinic to take Peter to. Grant agreed to take Isaac to his first counseling session with a new counselor, after STEM, since I would probably still not be back - even though Grant's supposed to be working from home. Annie cried about the saline on her leg, and fought with me about it, and finally agreed to at least sit with a rag soaked in it on the spot, even if I couldn't actually do any irrigation (which is basically just squirting over and over). Wincing, freaking out, etc. Brother in law texted Laura back to say they'd lost the patient.

The ride to the vet with Aaron and Peter was insane. It's barely over a mile from our house, but Peter somehow managed to get the door OFF the cat carrier we'd put him in, in the back seat. Not open, but off. So then he's running and yowling all over the damn car as I drive - he managed to step on the button to roll the back window down, Aaron was flipping out and yelling, Peter's abscess burst at some point and there was yellow puss dripping everywhere, I mean - this is all almost funny in retrospect, in a "laugh or cry" sort of way. Aaron managed to pin him in his lap and I got the window up and the window lock on.

The vet visit was great. They saw us right away, and since Peter's abscess had already mostly drained they just gave him an antibiotic shot, and us a bottle of antibiotics to keep giving him at home. The guy was nice. We were in and out in under 30 minutes. Aaron felt way better.

Back at the ranch, Bob had just gotten back with Isaac, and Ananda's leg looked a little better (and it looked better today than it did yesterday, when I DID do salt water irrigation that took it from dark pink and a little swollen, to light pink and just sore, around the broken skin - but after the vet it looked better than before the vet, with almost all of the pink gone...she just freaks about injury). While applying Neosporin and some gauze, I apologized to my unexpected guests that I basically had to turn around and walk right back out the door with Isaac, to go to counseling. Younger cousins continued to all play together with frisbies and ponies like they don't care what adults come and go, anyway.

Forms, insurance, and then an hour of "intake," as the counselor took a detailed history. She seems ok, and just needs to fully understand how smart Isaac is. He's very capable of real talk therapy and learning some new coping skills, but it seems like he's going to have to prove that to her before she moves past a "play and art therapy for kids who aren't ready for CBT" model... I hope it works out. It's another place within walking distance of our house, if it does. And he needs it. Play and art are both great and Isaac will like them, I'd just like to have some evidence based best practices going down, too. She kept stopping him to ask if he knew what words that she was using meant, like "stress" and "cognitive." He definitely does.

When we got home, Laura and Bob were gone, to their house and their city, respectively. My phone was still blowing up. Grant and I worked together to get more dishes washed, dinner cooked, figure out what Isaac needs for the rest of his science project, write down when his "family science night" at school is, swing by the store for a can of tuna to hide prescription cat antibiotics in, and make sense of Nancy's texts with our calendar. Planned a visit with her. The kids are very excited to see her - everyone wanted her down for this last Thanksgiving, since she'd been with us for the one before.

We finally sat down with Annie - she's been waiting 2 days since she brought it home, to show us all the art in her school portfolio. It has to go back, tomorrow. That was like half an hour, mostly comprised of her leading up to each piece with lots of disclaimers and then fretting over whether or not to show us the next one. Jake sat nearby with HP#5 in his lap the whole time, waiting pseudo-patiently for me to read to him.

When I was reading to Isaac, in his bed, Grant came in to tell me his mother's coming down in 3 days, with her husband and the twins, to stay here for 5 days. This IS good news... and she's coming to the derby bout Saturday (that Annie is hoping she can actually skate in...) which is great, just, uh - GAH. *sigh* My library is still half shambles, my kitchen is still not really clean, I'm overbooked morning, noon and night til they arrive - AND I HAVE A LOT OF SCHOOLWORK OF MY OWN DUE BY AND THROUGHOUT THE WEEKEND, MAN.

Right now I'm trying to think of how I can even begin to lie down in my bed and just sleep... I have to put away leftovers and then dig through the safe, for Isaac's post-assessment Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis, from a couple of years ago, to take to the doctor tomorrow morning. It's very 50/50 that it will be there, and if it's not I move on to my desk via flashlight, since Grant's asleep in there. I'm supposed to get my shot in the morning - if I can squeeze that in, between the cat antibiotics/taking A&A to school, and getting Isaac up to his appt, with Jake and Elise. The office where I go says I can only show up for shots between 8:30 and 9 now, for some new reason I didn't question. After that appt, I have to get things printed at Office Max because we're out of stupid toner. There are things written on just about every day of our calendar for the next month - aside from things I've mentioned here, and our "regular" stuff, there's a filling, an oral surgeon consult, an out of town fieldtrip, a family roadtrip, a birthday...

I feel like a big scribble on a page. I've got gregorian chants on as I type, and am thinking of doing a stretching and deep breathing session somewhere nearby, before I brush my teeth.
altarflame: (deluge)
I am so mentally exhausted.

Ananda is tired all the time. Part of this may be due to correctable environmental stuff we're learning at the allergist, but part of it is definitely regular ol' insomnia making mornings a drag. She's SO MEAN AND RUDE AND RIDICULOUS, in the mornings. It's really hard to deal with sometimes, as none of my kids normally talk to me like that, but also because she and I especially usually have a great relationship. She's not really saying any terrible words, she's just saying things like, "Give me a minute" and "Hold on" and "I'm trying Mom" in the most accusatory, loud, pissed off ways you can imagine. And if I DON'T nag her (which I viciously loathe doing), she basically won't get ready/she'll make Aaron late. So I do, and she responds as though she feels about me like I feel about the alarm on my phone (perish the thought). She's also been having the nerve to be visibly irritated and eye roll-y and just awful about, say, me having her favorite foods ready for breakfast and/or packed lunch.

When it isn't morning, all is well. She's got a couple of great friends and teachers she raves about, at school. Older, homeschooled weekend friends. Derby practice she adores. She's getting good grades and drawing all the time and eager to show or tell me some hilarious thing pretty often. She's very helpful in the afternoons and evenings, around the house. There IS still the hour-at-a-time in the bathroom issue but overall she's experimenting with makeup and enjoying the only door in the house she can lock and we have another bathroom, so who cares.

I went and got numbing cream for her arm and mine, for tomorrow morning when we both go back to the allergist for intradermal testing (needle instead of plastic thing, deeper in the skin, bleeding, ow). She is putting on a brave face about the whole process for someone who used to be so opposed to anything of the sort.

Recent Convo...
Me: you're not gonna believe what I did today.
Ananda: hmm?
Me: I got a bowl of coffee Heath bar ice cream, and I put a partially frozen chocolate snack pack on it as a topping.
Ananda: MOM!
Me: It was awesome!
Ananda: Well, duh.

In one hour recently, she accidentally called her BFF "Mom" in a conversation and then when her teacher was calling for them to turn in their notes, she accidentally referred to hers as her "manuscript." She was like, "I've been to two author events in the last week! I live with a writer!"

Aaron is super emo about his new (requested) haircut. He actually wore a hood the whole first day back at school, thus prolonging the shocked reactions he then had to deal with today. His chronic disorganization and scatterbrained ways are making me nuts at times.
"Mom, my spider needed to eat like 3 days ago, we have to go get it crickets right now or she'll die!"
"Mom I need a math workbook for class by tomorrow, don't you remember me mentioning this a month ago? I don't know what it's called but I think I'll recognize it if we do a Google image search."
"Mom I'm going to be bringing a note home from my math teacher, because I didn't log any of the time I was supposed to on Kahn Academy over the last few weeks."
"Mom, we have a field trip to somewhere, I don't have the form but I think you should come in the office with me when you drop me off because we were supposed to have it turned in by Friday. It costs some amount of money."

Those are all this week. It's only Wednesday. I THINK I strike a pretty good balance between helping him out and making him face his own consequences. It's this constant battle to guide him into setting up systems to be more on top of things, and then seeing where the holes in the systems are. For what it's worth he's doing more, and better, than he ever has (by a long shot) - he gets up right away and gets ready quickly, keeps track of all his school notebooks/supplies/dance laundry, and takes the right stuff for the day on "A" and "B" days. He's getting good grades and becoming less awkward as he gets used to his height, deep voice, very hairy legs, and so on. He's 5'7", btw.

I actually fantasize about taking his headphones out back and beating them flat with a hammer - I have to either scream myself hoarse, go get him, or send somebody anytime I need him for anything because he's always got them on. He has these cushy big noise cancelling headphones we were foolish enough to buy him for his birthday.

He's also a ball of mucus. It's nonstop nose blowing, sniffling, coughing, repeat, for weeks. I can't even keep track of what is a new illness and what is lingering illness, since the beginning of November. The allergist gave him Nasonex and recommended sinus rinses, which I've taught him to do and helps a lot - for about 10 minutes.

His piano playing has moved from amazing to transcendent. I'm not even kidding. It makes everything better for a little while, anytime he plays.

He's going with his dance class to see The Nutcracker. I'm excited for him. We know a lot of ballet dancers who are in that show year after year, but he's never been before. The last time his dance class took a field trip, it was actually to his old studio, where all his old teachers flipped about his height and his being in school now and generally tried to woo him back (none of us have the resources for that at the moment).

When we're just hanging out, the two of us, like walking back from an appointment or talking in the van on the way over to school, it's unreal how well we get along. If you take all the logistical stuff out of the equation, he and I just have very compatible personalities and have a really easy time being together. Sometimes I have to stay up late with him or take him out somewhere alone just to remember that. I was telling him yesterday how amazing it is that someone ELSE has to try to make him do all his schoolwork, now, and he was saying he likes that better too - and then actually said, "You were so nice, I totally took it for granted how nice you always were about it all."

Isaac is coughing, and coughing, and coughing. He caught whatever Aaron has had over Thanksgiving break. Monday, Tuesday and today I've woken him up, he gets ready, and it's clear by the time I'm driving everyone else that he just can't go to school. He feels ok otherwise, but the booming, violent, uncontrollable coughing fits are just awful. Leaving him gagging and choking sometimes, making him teary often - he coughs like I do :/ He's sleeping semi-upright in the tv room tonight, prescription cough syrup having done nothing, with a humidifier full of Vicks liquid nearby. I read to him for over an hour, during which Grant ran and got him popsicles and some other things, and he's heart breakingly sweet and appreciative about it. There are lots of periods of time when he feels fine, but then the coughing starts again. It's worst in the mornings and at night, like most sickness tends to be.

He is so eager to help out with anything and everything, and so reasonable, and just has such a high threshold for discomfort in general from all the years dealing with his own anxiety and digestive problems - it's kind of unreal. Sometimes I think he's the most mature person in the house.

I am having a GREAT time reading him Order of the Phoenix - he's so into it and this is probably my favorite HP book. He practices his clarinet (and leaves it out all over the house with his stand and case) a lot. He's got music for the GMYS holiday show, music for the school holiday show, and music he just wants to learn on his own.

I went down to their school today, to pay for a field trip of Isaac's, and buy tickets to their holiday show, and get his makeup work for missed days. And I couldn't do any of those things. It was so stupid. Nobody in the office even knew how to help me or where to direct me to, for ANY of my requests. They told me to try to email his teachers about the work, but I don't have email addresses for all 5 of his teachers, only 2 of them. The lady behind the desk didn't have those, and recommended seeing if they're available on the parent portal. Logging into their parent portal requires a student ID for each kid, and my parent PIN for each kid (it's different, I have 5 different parent PINs). I tracked down about 7 of those 10 numbers when I went searching various desks and folders, only actually getting both for two kids. Who were not Isaac. I've never had need of the freakin' portal before, I meet with and talk to their teachers without a portal, some of them even text regularly (though again, not Isaac's).

Jake is all melodrama all the time, lately. I'm trying to ascertain whether or not we need to pull him back out of school, and it's a weird situation with him - he got all As except for one B, and perfect attendance, for the first grading period. Girls like him, teachers like him, he has something he drew or wrote that he wants to show me almost every day. He brings home special treats and rewards for top behavior regularly. Buuuuuuut... he hates it. He desperately wants to stop going. He begs to be homeschooled again - daily. There are many mornings when he cries about going, and many afternoons when he calls from school asking to please, PLEASE be picked up early.

I'm torn between how Jake was the easiest kid in the world to homeschool and used his time well (meaning, he stayed at or above grade level in every subject with almost no effort from me, and then spent all the rest of his time drawing, writing, reading, building, and playing outside), so obviously I should bring him back home if he's that unhappy - and thinking he's doing SO WELL, has such a sweet and cool teacher, and was getting really lonely for friends, here. Also, he is very averse to almost all structured activities (bitching NONSTOP about GMYS til we pulled him out, years into that, even though he had friends and good teachers and his siblings have all also been in it, asking to please be allowed to stop things like Lego Club and Ceramics that he initially asked to sign up for...) and I always have this idea nagging at me that he has to be in SOME kind of structured SOMETHING...doesn't he? Why does he? Maybe he's just a certain kind of weirdo that it's ok to be. A smart, productive, charismatic little weirdo. I mean he is that, whether it's ok or not.

He's always been kind of moody. And it's definitely gotten worse as puberty looms in the distance (he's 9) - he really acts like my son, coming into our room to announce that he just doesn't understand what the purpose of life is, and that you grow up and you learn things and you do things but then you just die at the end so what's the point. Or, that he sometimes thinks maybe it would be better to just die so you don't have to worry about dying, and can see what happens after death.

The biggest complaint he has about school is that he "doesn't have any time to be creative" anymore. When you've got a 9 year old telling you that with tears dripping off his face, you pay attention. Or I do, anyway. He's kinda gutting me over here. FYI, our original agreement was that barring some kind of truly horrible situation, everyone was going to stay in school through Christmas break, when we would evaluate how it was working for everyone. Ananda, Aaron, and Isaac have no desire to leave school, which suits me fine, especially in the cases of Aaron (who was just a huge pita to force to do things and seems to respond much more easily to school structure and accountability) and Isaac (who really does a lot better being at school than he does being home too, in different ways related to his own anxiety, and ambition).

This morning -
Jake: Here, blow these bubbles while I do my homework.
Me: Why?
Jake: It's an ancient tradition.
Me: Well, alright then.

Yesterday Jake asked to go to a cemetery. Elise was psyched that there are REAL GRAVEYARDS and that's not just in movies. Isaac was yelling, "Can we really do that? Can we go right now? Is it far?" So I took them. They were ready with shoes on and out the door faster than I've ever seen them go.

At first they did math and pronounced ages reached, for awhile, looking at headstones. They thought a couple of things were creepy, and asked some funny/weird questions (If you lay down on the ground here do you just automatically die? If a car hits you while you're walking here, do they just bury you immediately? If your ride dies, are you stuck living at the cemetery forever?). Then Jake said that if I died there he'd take my phone and call Dad, they got really sad, Jake announced that he wants to be cremated whenever he dies, and that he never wants to think about me and Dad dying ever, and we left.

Elise loved it. She wrote a letter "to give her grandchildren" that (sort of, to her, almost phonetically) says, "I am dead. I had a good day while I was alive, but I had to move on, and now I am dead. -Elise" For her this is all just very intriguing stuff.

Elise is being homeschooled again. It's a long story I may or may not ever go into here, but for her school was truly horrible and the decision couldn't wait til Christmas break. She is SO HAPPY and it's really nifty to have her one on one, with everyone else at school. That's one reason why I hesitate to say, "yeah, Jake come on back home." She is very behind in some academic ways and was really struggling hard to exist in a 2nd grade classroom. There were things she liked about being there, but nothing she loved, and I have regrets about immersing her in an environment of strictly other 7 year olds...all of whom could read well and write much better than she can. She has some serious doubts about her own abilities and self consciousness about her own intelligence that just weren't ever there before, and probably didn't ever need to be. I could really go my whole life without ever listening to her talk about her Fs on tests, or cry about having to sign the Penalty Pad, again.

It's in my head so often, that Ananda didn't read until she was a whole year older than Elise is now. That never had to involve shame or failure or comparisons, for her. There is a whole schooling movement (Waldorf) based on not even beginning to teach kids to read until they're 7 (Elise's age).

We're doing a lot, at home, but the key is that we can do things that actually help her progress, now, instead of having to devote huge amounts of time to things that just go way way over her head. She can do 3rd-5th grade science and history and art, with 2nd grade math, and K and 1st language arts, and it all works, to move her forward.

We're also moving ahead with the round of private evaluations that were started over the summer. Not the sort she had as a baby or as a preschooler, but the learning disabilities and IQ and so on kinds that they don't do on kids younger than 7. She really enjoyed the parts of the evaluation process that she already experienced, so I hope that stays that way. Isaac always loved it when he was getting evaluated.

Tangential, back to Jake wanting to come home - I have hesitations about him having really given school a fair chance? But I don't even know exactly what that means, either. Or why he has to, or I'd force that issue, when it started out primarily as an experiment, and only because he wanted to try it. Parenting is hard. Sky is blue, water is wet, blah blah blah.

Elise talking to me CONSTANTLY all day every day, while everyone else is gone, is somewhat frazzling. I think it's good for her and one of several things she needs right now - to be able to engage and talk like that (having to sit quietly all day is really sort of the opposite of speech therapy...) It's just also a lot of talking. Did I emphasize "a lot"? I'm not sure you can understand. I'm actually strategizing ways to get her to hush for just a little while, sometimes - like today, when I brightly introduced the idea of audiobooks for car rides. WOULDN'T THAT BE GREAT?! LET'S GET SOME RIGHT NOW! O_O

She really wants to do schoolwork all day and into the evenings, and on the weekends. Her enthusiasm almost never wanes, so that is definitely in our favor. We have handwriting practice and books of number games, as well as a Reading Eggs login, for when she needs to work on her own for awhile and is tired of writing and drawing in her journal. But working with her is really FUN, for me, even though it can sometimes also be tedious as all hell. It's hard to explain, but she just tries so hard and makes so many different kinds of leaps and I do enjoy researching/buying/planning out curriculum materials SO MUCH MORE for the younger grades. I'm truly EXCITED, about the program we have put together for her here.

It is so validating and awesome, btw, how often A&A tell me, or their teachers tell me, how much MORE they know than other kids their age. They consistently wow people with their vocabularies, books they've read, history knowledge, science knowledge, general current event and government understanding, all of it. Other kids ask them to explain things regularly. Both of them have actually thanked me for always taking the time to answer questions and to explain things to them and just generally talk to them about anything and everything. It's pretty great.

Isaac is an A/B student who gets a ton of positive teacher comment codes in the margins next to his grades, on his report cards. Third grade was hard for him, but 4th was easy, and he's eating 5th up. He sometimes gets irritated by his Bs, but with as much school as he's missed this year already? I think As and Bs is incredible.


I'm so tired. I know I started this entry saying this. I know it's late. But I NEED the wind down time, once they're all sleeping, to breathe. Every minute today was cooking, or running to some errand, or teaching/explaining/coaching/asking, or carting people around - I got my shot, picked up prescriptions, went and bought more probiotics, finally got Elise's homeschooling form printed at Office Max (we're out of toner) and mailed, went by the younger kids' school (FOR NOTHING APPARENTLY), took Elise all through a botanical garden and to play at their splash pad, sat with her and worked, ran out this evening with Annie because she needs charcoal pencils and a kneaded (sp) eraser, medicated and sat up with Isaac - my head is just spinning. It never ever ends, and it's all (well mostly...) good stuff, but if I just lie down at the end of it I'm in for hours of tossing and turning. It's hard to let go of this quiet house and surrender, knowing that tomorrow starts early and will be just as relentless.

For whatever reason, I am also feeling pangs over the long lost feeling of nurslings, sling babies, and so on. Not really "baby rabies" feelings, though... it's all very specifically about my own babies gone by. Aaron nursing for an hour and a half at a time. Ananda only sleeping with her face on the "booby pillow." Wrapping my arms around Isaac in the kozy carrier, holding Jake close in the pool while he slept on my shoulder, Elise nursing under a blanket. I think the infinite mama part of me that has to spring eternal for everyone is really thinking it could use a heavy dose of prolactin to offset some of the more stressful moments.

On the (totally) other hand - I have SO MANY different kinds of moments, lately, when I stop and think about something that used to be the bane of my fucking life, and I just almost cannot believe I don't have to deal with it anymore. I don't know why so much of it has been happening, but geez is there a palpable sense of relief when it does. I recently visited a good friend with a new baby, and I have a few online friends who are pregnant, and here are a few of the things they remind me of that just make me think I am glad to say I've DONE MY TIME:
-everything to do with labor, OBs, birth, C-section, midwifery, maternity wards, and so on (picture me heaving a GIANT SIGH of relief, and then behind me a curtain opens and a combination fireworks display/dance party starts)
-pumping breastmilk (which for me is linked to the NICU)
-infants crying in carseats while driving
-the laundry avalanche of having two in cloth diapers while someone else is still wetting the bed
-getting head/face butted (and having a split lip, bloody nose, or just seeing stars...) when a baby/toddler threw their big disproportionate noggin at me...this is one of those things I'm not sure non-parents even know about. Like how I can stretch now, for years, anytime I want, because I am not pregnant. Stretching while pregnant is a recipe for charlie horse disaster.
-sleeping on a mattress on the floor because of co-sleepers/safety
-the struggle to get somebody to take a nap (HOW MANY CUMULATIVE MONTHS OF MY LIFE....)
-pulling teeth to make Aaron do homeschool work (this...this is cloud-parting kind of shit. It was important. It really seems like it was the right thing. BUT NOW THE RIGHT THING IS SOMETHING ELSE! Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat :D)

All in all I'd say the cuddling and kisses and oversized lap loungers I get now - all of whom use toilets and GO TO THEIR OWN BEDS at night, and every one of which can stay away from the street on their own in our front yard - are just about perfect for this stage of my life :) I like kids who can all do part of making dinner, and who each appreciate at least something that's happening on YouTube, and none of whom ever stand on the dining table. It's just a lot of intense, draining, rewarding, amazing, infuriating, affectionate, hilarious, terrifying, high stakes, entertaining, interesting, warm...

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

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

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

I am so so so tired, tonight.

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

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

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

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

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




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

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

Pretty edgy, eh?

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




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

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




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




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

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

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

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




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

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

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

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

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




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




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

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

I've also made a lot of use of tumblr for personal posts lately, particularly picture posts, since it's so easy to make them directly from my phone with one step.
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)
That's what my counselor said today, as a joke attempt, while I was in the middle of listing my current biggest "mom worries."

Annie is probably going to have oral surgery in the coming months, since her impacted canines are not coming down from braces (making space for them) alone. The surgery's not that big of a deal in and of itself, but, geez, general anesthesia? *sigh* For the most part, she's doing really great and I'm pretty much bursting with pride about her at all times. I was very impressed with her team captain skills and skating abilities at the scrimmage in Jacksonville last weekend, but I was just beside myself about her ability to make casual and graceful conversation with Nana, even when Nana's repeating herself, or being semi-delusional. The whole visit was wonderful and a big part of it was only possible because Ananda is somehow, miraculously, mature enough to take the silliness in stride and laugh with her about things that aren't even that funny. I wish I could convey just what I mean here... I just really would have cut her an awful lot of slack, if she'd been uncomfortable with the (Nana's in...) diaper jokes, or if she'd fumbled and stuttered when she got asked the same question for the third time, but I never had to. I think we all managed to have a good time that was very minimally weird, and made everyone feel glad it happened.

Aaron is on a temporary, experimental daily caffeine regimen that I hope might bridge the gap between "this is not sustainable" and "adderall." It seems important to add that this is something his pediatrician and my counselor, who is a licensed clinical psych, recommend as a great next step, along with some dietary alterations. I don't know where to begin, with the schoolwork battles and the all day every day nonsense...both of us are WAY too frustrated. I simultaneously want to throttle him and want him to not feel bad about himself, EVERY DAY. I took him with me to counseling today, and he sat in the waiting room doing his math, and then the two of us went to Galloway Farms Nursery for an hour. He liked it even more than I do, and found big areas I hadn't discovered on my own :) The only problem being that I clearly, completely screwed our first day caffeine "results" by isolating him in a small, quiet space for math and then taking him around a very serene place I knew he'd find ideal to the point of being a utopia. Ah, well. We need a bunch of days in a row to judge anyway, and I want to do as much else as I can to help him cope in general... He is still managing to be EVEN TALLER every freakin' week.

There is an arts magnet opening up that I've applied to for both of them. Annie with her first choice being beginning visual art, and her second advanced cello. Aaron with his first choice being advanced dance, and his second choice being beginning theater. We're taking it as it comes; IF they get in, we can decide whether they want to go, and whether that will be to the arts portion only or to the entire school day. I am cautiously optimistic about the program in general - it's a new location for a very highly reviewed and established main school, up the road. Like, HOLY SHIT the reviews are SO much better than ANYTHING else I've seen for schools locally. So far, we don't even have our audition dates, so, who knows.

Ananda is adamant that she won't go if they don't allow her purple hair. I already happen to know that they don't, on paper at least (Isaac's school claims not to allow all sorts of things that I see there all the time), but I am biding my time.

Isaac is having belly aches and bathroom troubles again :/ I've doubled his probiotics and am pushing water on him a lot, as well as trying to spend a lot of time in our before-bed-calm-reading-together routine - because it really seems like at least part of this is anxiety, like that is what's left of his lifelong belly troubles since we figured out his food stuff and things improved so much. It's hard not to get paranoid that things will rapidly progress to the terrible place he spent so long in before (hospitalization, tests galore, nonstop specialists, meds, etc). He's been doing very, very well belly-wise for almost two years now, so hopefully this will improve soon. I do have some things I can give him if it keeps up... For the most (non-belly) part, I continue to be in an amazed state of NOT worried about Isaac, which still sometimes seems new :)

Something weird that I think about sometimes is just how much Aaron and Isaac open up and act differently (calmer, more at ease, much easier to have a conversation with) when one on one. They seem to suffer much more than the other three for being part of a big family. It's hard for me to ever spend time alone with either of them, see how GREAT it is, and not ache a little for how much simpler, and really possibly happier, their lives would be if they were only children. I know you're "not supposed to say that," and it's not like I'd trade situations - even if I wanted to, two only children is not exactly possible :p - it's just strange to navigate, as a parent of all of them.

With Jake, I really just worry about him falling through the cracks. He's so easy and self-sufficient in so many ways. He does schoolwork very quickly and independently, and is ahead of grade level in pretty much everything with seemingly no effort. He is my least picky eater and the one who is quickest to go get himself something healthy when hungry. He's happy to play independently or with siblings most of the time, and is generally pretty chill. Now and then Isaac or Elise will come "telling" that he hit them or something, if they were play fighting and he got too rough, or if some trampoline-tag type play got out of hand - he does have a temper if someone hurts him first, even when it's an accident. And, he has a tendency to just beg to sleep with Grant and I, at bedtime :/ The combination (periodic aggression and the sleeping alone trouble) make me wonder if he's got some kind of repressed feelings happening, as he trudges along as "the easy one." There are times when he will just randomly tell me he's feeling really sad and doesn't know why. I try to get him to talk about it, and I try to preempt it, but fuck is it hard to always "get to" him in a meaningful way throughout the day when everyone else NEEDS things constantly and he SEEMS, in the moment, to usually be a-ok. I'm actually sitting here re-reading this paragraph right now and thinking dammit, I'm totally making a list right now of little things I HAVE to do with Jake in the coming days, and sticking to it....

Alright. I put a bunch of stuff in my (jam packed) phone calendar. They're small things, but it's meant as extras, beyond the normal "we have tea or dinner all together, and I hug him when he wakes up and tell him what to do with school work, and am around to show stuff to, and usually read to him and Elise together at night" kinds of things. Like having smoothies together while talking about our dreams/lack thereof tomorrow morning, having him help me bake the lemon syrup cake I have planned for Friday, and taking him over to the library for an hour Saturday afternoon.

I have him and Elise in the "lottery" for Isaac's school, for next year. He, Jake, at least, seems to really want to go, and I think it would probably be either a good or neutral thing for him at this point. Elise also wants to go, but I am not sure if she can really thrive in that environment, or not, re: various short term memory things I mentioned in previous entries... my counselor, hearing my descriptions of her issues and knowing her history, immediately suggested I take her in for a neuropsychological eval, at her old neuro practice within Miami Children's Hospital. That made so much clear and obvious sense that I felt irritated that her doc hadn't mentioned that possibility. I wonder if her doc has some kind of reasoning why it's not valuable or something? I mean she had a pretty thorough developmental evaluation during her preschool year (which showed her behind in speech but average or ahead in every other area, including things like comprehension), but testing before the age of 6 is a lot more limited. I called today, after counseling and Aaron time and arts charter applications and lunch, to get her in for that. The receptionist offered me an appt in the middle of July with what seemed like very little understanding of what I actually wanted to happen. Now, I'm waiting on a call back once she can fully explain to me exactly what she is scheduling Elise for. Because I am ok with waiting months for THE RIGHT THING, but...gah. I wish it were more possibly to actually get a doctor on the phone. Ever. Any kind of doctor. About anything. That is one thing I like about their ped - he actually does do that.

It is not outside the realm of possibility that I would have all five kids in school next year, which is a pretty bizarre and surreal concept. But I just don't feel capable of creating the sort of structure and consistency they need, a lot of the time :/ They all need such DIFFERENT things, and their doctors and orthodontist and dentist and extracurriculars, and my counselor and doctors and college and exercising, aaaaaall start to infringe on our school days, in various ways. And all of those things seem too important to just cast aside in the name of a peaceful and uninterrupted home school day. And I think there are trade-offs, and pros and cons, with everything, and that in a ton of ways, homeschool is still the better choice for them. In other ways, though, it's not. I think Jake REALLY needs friends, for instance - everyone else has a pretty solid group of friends that they get a lot out of, between their activities and PATH, etc. Jake really has siblings and cousins and that's it most of the time, though :/ Which is not as ok as it was a couple of years ago, and he's lonely.

Of course, the local schools are mostly ABYSMALLY TERRIBLE, very overcrowded, extremely crime-ridden, rife with language barriers...and so we are definitely at the mercy of charter school spot availability to even consider school as an option. And who knows how that will go. Earlier I had the ridiculous thought that maybe they'll all get in, they'll be doing well....aaaand then we'll have to move for Grant's job o_O

It would be really expensive, to put them in. We would deal, but there would probably be scrambling. When Isaac started 3rd grade and Elise started Kindergarten I was shocked by the prices of their mandated uniforms, and the crazy supply lists. They ask for tons of stuff "normal" public schools don't, it's a 40 item list from big class sets of tissues and many reams of copy paper, to thumb drives and ear buds for each child. He needed things like a spanish-english dictionary; colored pencils, markers, AND crayons; 10 different folders, all in different specific colors; and "at least 200" of those little loops for loom craft kits. They demand sneakers, and Isaac didn't even own them when he started (he had two colors of Crocs, and sandals, because Florida), and you feel like you need to buy your kid good sneakers to be in all day long every day, including PE. Back pack, lunch box, wtf - I spent over $500 for the two of them, all told. The uniforms being a big chunk of that.

I'm also still trying to figure out how to finance and budget all their normal summer activities, with the clock ticking for actually getting THOSE spots.

So yeah, that is a lot. It makes it really hard to care at all about shit like my own homework. Or writing. Which reminds me, my "review episode" recording, for Liz McMullen, is scheduled for the same time as Annie's next bout, and I need to try to move that. And since my editor is sending me another stack of copies, I should try to get that Tumblr contest going again. I don't have hours, you know? I've stolen this journal entry out of my sleep, partially in the hope that it will be easier to sleep once I say all of this.

I definitely have zero resources to expend any effort whatsoever on shit like polyamory (good lord, I'd be so thrilled to actually spend some time WITH GRANT sometime soon...). Once I got off the phone with the neuro office this afternoon, and we all had tea and talked on the deck, and I talked to the coordinator about this "Mythologically Speaking" PATH event they're all going to be in, it was time to take Elise to Girl Scouts and Annie to derby, and while we were out alone the boys and I got her things for the GS sleepover event Elise is doing soon (sleeping bag, raincoat, bug spray, new water bottle). And a few little birthday things for her (shorts, Rainbow Dash shirt, new sheets for her bed) that are stashed away, now. Then we picked her up, and we read, and I cooked, and Grant brought Annie home, and bleeeehh my eyes are seriously crossing.

Elise will be 7 on May 1. I have little chocolate stars for the top of her cake, and we're taking her to High Tea at a local place that does it in an absolutely over the top way she's REALLY EXCITED about, although she can't stop switching back and forth between the two dresses that are in the running for the event.

Annie turns 14 on June 1. She wanted a very low key birthday last year, which kinda makes me want to do something more significant this time around. Though I have no idea what that is, yet.
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)
Harry Potter Pros and Cons:

I LOVE that every time I start reading Goblet of Fire to a new kid(s), they always act interested but uninvested in the first chapter - the story of villagers in Little Hangleton and the abandoned Riddle House, and the gardener Frank Bryce and how this family was killed but nobody gets how since they have no marks.... it's just a story they're blankly listening to, gossip at the pub, whatever, and then I say "Tom Riddle" and something snaps, and they put it all together that THIS IS A HARRY POTTER BOOK and THEY KNOW WHO TOM RIDDLE IS and THEY KNOW HOW THOSE PEOPLE WERE KILLED. Those people are not just regular people, they're MUGGLES! Annie and Aaron fell all over each other interjecting at that point, years ago, and, Isaac jumped up and ran around in circles on his bed when we read it, months ago. Tonight, Jake sat straight up with wide eyes, yelling. It's so much fun.

Unfortunately - Elise didn't get it. Like...after a LOT of explanations, and some YouTube clip refreshers, and Jake losing his mind trying to get her to see reason, she really seems to have no idea who Tom Riddle ever was, what the Chamber of Secrets could be, doesn't remember a basilisk or a diary or... I'm not sure you can understand how often they've watched that movie. I mean I read the entire book to them a couple of books ago, and then they watched the movie 7 million times while we read the 3rd book. When I explained this lack of remembering to Grant and to Aaron, they were grave about it, because it is really, really weird.

This is one in a series of upsetting and somewhat random gaps in her memory that have come up lately. It does not fit the pattern that I've been watching for at all. Normally, when she has a really weird lapse, it's something like, "Mom! You didn't pay for the groceries!" as we walk out of the store (when I totally did, and she helped put them on the conveyor, and is carrying the receipt the cashier handed to her). Part of why I pulled her from kindergarten was because she could remember spelling and sight words from many weeks before, but never from the week they were on, and so she was miserably failing every test each Friday, and they really emphasized those test scores so she was feeling terrible about herself.

Her pediatrician (who has a lot of experience with brain injuries, from international work every summer to his own child) is recommending I try to get her into a local university research program, because unfortunately she does not fit into any standard mold that local therapies are tailored for (speech, ADHD, autism spectrum, 0-3 Head Start, standard learning disabilities, etc). Her neurologist doesn't really do much beyond diagnostics, scans, check-ups, surgeries, and medicating - and his opinion is basically "this child is beyond miraculous, she 'should' be doing nothing but seizing all day long and eating through a g-tube and instead she's raving about her science lab table and birthday plans." Which is nice perspective and I know I have a lot to be thankful for, but it's frustrating how hard it is to know what my next step should be. She's mostly happy, speaks well, writes and reads a couple dozen words each (so that is behind but not horrifically so), thinks deeply about all kinds of complex topics (she often asks me spontaneous questions questions like, "the stars are still out when the sun is up, right, we just can't see them?" and "where does the water go when we flush the toilet?" and "how would anyone KNOW that Jesus ever existed?"). She makes up pretend games with her brothers, is slightly behind but not the last in the class with violin, and does great with Girl Scouts (meetings and camps). I go out on my bike so that she can run, around the neighborhood, regularly. I don't know, man.

Grant got some memory cards and is convinced that while her verbal memory is terrible, she's on point or beyond otherwise. I suppose I just have to start calling random occupational therapists until someone has a lead for me. Along with the uni program.

It just makes me feel really heavy. My little Beasty. At least she's healthy, happy as shit and doesn't know what I'm on about :p




This evening I made a 35 minute voice post as I drove on the highway, that was supposed to be my entire entry. That's something I might start doing sometimes. There is intermittent cursing but nothing in it is too terribly explicit and I think the volume is relatively steady. It's basically just me rambling like I do. For more than half an hour. If you get to the end, let me assure you that neither Grant nor anybody else ever noticed my beeping.

altarflame: (deluge)
This has been a great, easy going weekend! I have a big photo post about our New Years Eve/Day that I will post soon, along with a comment reply that's gotten loooooooong enough to be it's own thing, but this is quick :)

Yesterday and today, I:

-looked at all kinds of crap, mostly cool and sometimes hilarious, all over tumblr and imgur, with Grant.

-also this article <--Go on and read it, you'll gasp and laugh and then feel kinda like crying.

-did another 8ish lessons in Duolingo, mostly comprised of the "food" section. Several of which I needed to do 2-4 times to pass. I'm learning French because I am probably going to France for two weeks this summer, for a school thing (that financial aid pays for! How exciting is this?!) Also to be able to help Ananda, because she wants to learn it and live there for a couple of years when she's in college. I was afraid the similarity to Spanish would be confusing, but it's really not, it's very helpful and I am actually getting better at Spanish because of this - which is great. Highly recommended app!

-realized I can now google foods in french, look at the image search results, and use THAT for cooking inspiration - you may not realize what a difference there is in what google gives you if you type in "croissant egg" vs "croissant oeuf" but it is HUGE!

-power walked 25 minutes on the YMCA treadmills, with Annie, and rode bikes around the neighborhood for 20 minutes, with Aaron...I'm feeling so much better these past couple of weeks :) I don't know if that's an arthritic flare ending or if the B12 shots have really made this much of a difference, since my deficiency was diagnosed, but wow. My only problem now is how weak I feel from a couple of very sedentary months while I was hurting and exhausted, but I'm trying to exercise in short bursts at least a few times a week until I get back to the point where I can really challenge myself again. I was disappointed and a little embarrassed when I went rink-skating with Annie's derby team and a friend, last week, and could only do a couple of 5 minute bursts of fallingskating before my legs were SCREAMING at me...

-dishes

-sweeping

-ordered my new parking pass for the coming semester, and figured out on the map where my new classes are going to be. Entered everything and links into my phone calendar. I feel lately like I couldn't live without my freakin' phone calendar.

-made lots of sauteed vegetables, fried eggs, a pot of soup, two batches of coffee, cups of tea, cut fruit, and so on for various people.

-re-watched the first 10 episodes of Arrested Development, in about hour long bursts, with Ananda (who hasn't seen them) and sometimes Grant (who has).

-helped Grant research recipes and shop for food and a kitchen scale.

-bought leeks and radishes for the first time, and looked through the tumblr tag and our Relic, "The Art of Mastering French Cooking" by Julia Child for ideas on what to do with them (feel free to weigh in!)

-listened endlessly as Elise played this learn-to-read app I got her on my phone, and looked at all of her prolific and steadily improving drawing and coloring projects, and answered many questions from her about everything from what is underneath our house to where tea comes from.

-had a terrible/hilarious misunderstanding with Isaac - I was playing Lorde and dancing in the kitchen this morning and he came in and asked if I could make him something. I told him I was cooking up some sweet dance moves and he could eat those, in a very playful/silly way, and he burst into hysterical tears and ran to his room, slamming the door behind him o_O I followed, apologized, asked what he'd been up to and how he was feeling, blah blah blah but yeah, sometimes you just don't know how someone is going to react *sigh* He actually screamed at me about my "ridiculous nonsense" before he calmed down and decided to take a nap. There are many moods that Isaac gets in and outbursts that come from him that I just cannot imagine from any of my other kids, but I try to remember that he's gotten light years better about that kind of thing and it's a surprise, now, rather than a constant, like it used to be...I think this was the 3rd (and most minor) bizarre freakout in the past 3 months, from him, which is hard to deal with in the moment since he had months with no freakouts, previously - but it's awesome when I remember it used to be bizarre freakouts all day every day, years ago. Now he's mostly burning through books and building with legos quietly, or having truly amazing conversations with me (Isaac is so, so smart, and usually very mature for his age, too, possibly because he's had to overcome his own anxieties and deal with medical issues and all). There is also a lot of bickering/telling between him and the other younger kids, but I feel like that's normal-annoying stuff. Also - he's read THREE Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and at least a dozen picture books, since Christmas!

-read Little Bear, and Olivia books to Elise. And more Harry Potter #3, to her and Jake. And more Harry Potter #4, to Isaac. And poetry, to Ananda.

-knitted about 8 more rows of this sweater back that will be done, oh, probably in 2020 at this rate.

I have really got to stop making this "quick little recap mini entry" before it ends up eating up all the time I planned to spend cooking and posting pictures.

Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely holiday...in the beginning it was honestly sort of hell. I was just totally overwhelmed with trying to get the entire house clean and cooking so much, with company coming and time limits. I was doing school presentations and things the day before my Dad arrived, and I'm so freaking exhausted. I was taking 20 minutes once an hour to lie down, for an entire evening. Once things were underway, though, and it was too late to do any more than was done, I started coasting, and that has been wonderful most of the time since...

And Grant has had 9 days off in a row, Isaac 4, we've had so much cool intermittent company, put up Christmas trees, and blargh. This week is gonna be wall to wall, as all weeks tend to be lately. It's the end of the semester, and today I did two quizzes, some discussion board stuff and submitted a 5 page paper, online. The beginning of the end of the all too brief peace and lazing about. After we grocery/Christmas shopped, this afternoon, Grant took Ananda and Aaron to see Gravity, and I put a movie on for the littles and took the quiet hours for schoolwork...

Tomorrow I have to get Isaac to school; go by my doctor's office; go spend two hours getting fillings; then go to the school to make-up a theater exam, give the disability services people more documentation, and sell my textbooks back; make a power point presentation; write another paper; drive Aaron to dance; make dinner; read to everyone before bed... Tuesday I have classes, then a B-12 injection, driving people, feeding them, readings. Wednesday is counseling, gastroenterologist, blah blah blah. The three littles have a holiday concert instead of their normal music classes, after my classes, on Thursday. I'm trying to figure out with Nancy when we can see each other again before she leaves town in a couple of weeks, and with my sister when I can babysit so SHE can go to the doctor. Both of which are important to me, and more "good" than "work".

I make a point of scheduling leisure and downtime, lately. Tuesday evening, Grant will be here since he works from home Tues/Thurs, and we're going to watch a movie. Wednesday there are a lot of activities, but they're spaced out and local to where I can get a lot of quiet time at home with just Isaac and Jake, which is an unusual combination of kids to have home alone. Friday-day we will do nothing but guided schoolwork that they can't auto-pilot or do on the computer or whatever, since the rest of this week is low on that.

I'm just SO. fucking. TIRED. All the time. Friday, Saturday and today/Sunday, I've been going to bed around 1-2am, and sleeping until 1-3pm. Then I drink a lot of caffeine, and...take a nap. Still, I end up dozing off around 10 or 11. Second wind til bedtime.

I spent awhile up troubleshooting Ananda's chocolate chip cookies, with her, tonight, while everyone else was in bed. They came out hard as rocks and completely stuck on the pan, and she's very spoiled on early successes since she's made some challenging stuff like cheesecake and had it come out perfect. We talked a lot about the French law against face coverings for Muslim women, too, since I had to write about that earlier for school and she was interested - so many layers of racism and freedom and religious expression, etc...

I wrote another poem the other day. I've written a lot of poetry these past few months, for the first time in awhile. It's under here. )

Continuing with getting all of my November pictures posted!

Ananda's derby team had their first home bout this month, which was the first time I got to see her actually playing (not just practicing) in person - Grant and Gloria had previously taken her to away bouts. We got a lot of people to come out, including old high school friends of mine who are not pictured, and some of Annie's friends. Pre-bout tailgating included a big taco spread we brought along. Derby makeup, and nerves:


Gloria and LJ, excited:


Shaun and Cristy:


Aaron:


Possibly tipsy Grant, and Elise in mini-derby makeup Annie put on her:


I dressed up.


Half-time.


With Miguel and Izzy, all trying to look tough and then bursting out laughing as soon as the picture had clicked.


#1 fan.




It was fun. One of her coaches, who is on the adult team that had a bout after theirs, told her how well she'd done. She TOTALLY hero-worships this woman, and it made her flip. She was silly-stupid-happy for two days after :)

Back at the ranch - the chickens have finally started laying, as Jake and Elise wasted no time in RUSHING in SCREAMING to tell me ;)

Yes, it is a blue egg. And they roam free a lot, so it's like an Easter hunt every day :p

I randomly went outside for something else and found them wearing cut up cups as crowns.


Elise watching TV with Tom:


Isaac, sleeping with a special shell his penpal sent him :D


The cats use his bed, when he's at school.


One night, we had Miguel and Izzy and Izzy's brother Francois over, for dinner and a projector movie/sleepover. After the movie, Grant sat at the laptop projecting things on to peoples' faces. Like sunglasses, and clown noses, and celebrities.

Much laughter all around.

Next day:


New closed coils post-extractions, and new colors:


Our little Beasty's Girl Scout troop was in a parade up at the Falls - her shirt says "Keep Calm and Camp On," from this summer at GS camp.

Her brother's saved her a bubble necklace they'd gotten while watching the parade. You can see highlights from the rest of the parade (I didn't get any good shots of her group, unfortunately, and it seemed more important to scream and wave anyway) are here. <--They all get bigger. It's wild how the quality and variety of what is in a parade goes up, driving 30 minutes north :p

Sisters...


Some Thanksgiving pictures...it seems somehow ironic that these cuddly chickens were safely hanging out in the kitchen for part of the afternoon. They all just walk up to people and fall asleep in your arms, making little happy noises. It's ridiculous.



We were all SO. STUFFED. Nancy and Steve and their little dog Sundae, and my father, and Laura and Frank and their kids, and Gloria, and Shaun, and Grant and I and our kids. Delicious. And stuffed. And haha, you can see the picking my kids had done off of the edge of my clementine cakes.

Hours later:

That's Elise, (niece) Elizabeth, me, and Isaac.


You can see Gloria, Ananda, and Frank...we were still outside at 1am.

The only black Friday shopping we did was at Guitar Center...

Aaron, in Grant's hoodie and his new hip hop sneakers, drooling over expensive headphones.

Saturday was the Greater Miami Youth Symphony's 55th Anniversary Concert. Grant took Annie, and sent me these, while Aaron hung out with his friend Adrian and I took the littles to my sister's, since our mother was in town. I pretty much spent the whole visit catching my mother up on my latest lab results and apologizing to everyone for my brain fog and sleepiness. Sometimes, right in the middle of visits like that, I do stupid shit like tell everyone I'll run to Publix for a few things and then burst into tears and rant to my husband on my cell phone in the parking lot for 15 minutes until I feel like I can stay awake long enough to continue, uh, living.




Well hello, 3:30 O_o
altarflame: (deluge)
I've got a whole month's worth of pictures, maybe more, and plan to work through at least most of them in batches in the coming days. Early November, here...

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



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

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

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


Aaron, as Carl Sagan:


Jake as Albert Einstein:

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

And Elise, as Mary Treat:



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

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



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


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


Pre-parade traffic jam.


Waiting


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.


Clearly, I forgot something, though :/


Waiting with me, at my dentist.


BJ's.


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


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

Last: a )
altarflame: (deluge)
I am really struggling.

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

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

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




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

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

That kid can really scowl.

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

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




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

Some highlights from the week:

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

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

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

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

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




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

The good news is my husband is actually waiting for me in our bed again, all furnace-warm as he tends to be and sweet enough to reach out and pull me in, in his sleep :)
altarflame: (deluge)

The birthday boy himself, first thing in the morning as a newly 8 year old person.


And, the next afternoon, ready to host a pajama party :) Few people really honored it being a pajama party, but he didn't care at all.


This is actually from BEFORE the party started, or guests began to arrive...just my sister Laura, surrounded by our collective 8 kids, in our library with a balloon animal kit. It's Laura, Elizabeth (3), Isabelle (almost 2), Jake (8), Aaron (12), Elise (6), Isaac (9), Brian (7 next month), and Ananda (13).


Jakey and (cousin) Elizabeth ♥

We had a lot of people show up, aided in part because two other women brought THEIR collective eight kids. Along with Shaun, and Izzy being over.






It was good stuff, even if my formatting is wonky as ever ;)


This is a random pic I just loved, the other day during violin class.

Aaron is in a period of RAPID change. It's what happened to Ananda a couple of years ago, when she jumped 7 inches in height and 3.5 shoe sizes during a single year. He's suddenly only about an inch shorter than me - he looked different when I got back from Boston, vs when I'd left 4 days earlier O_o I am just waiting to wake up one morning and find he's taller than me.




The rest of these are from today. Here are my girls, waiting for Annie to get called back to get braces put on.





She got RAINBOW braces. That weird bar is to hold open a big enough space for the adult teeth to erupt through. The (3) teeth without brackets are baby teeth that will be pulled next month. She kinda loves the way they look, though she is (of course) hating the constant discomfort. Laura showed up today with flowers and gelato for her, having had braces herself. It was really sweet.

I've been getting all pictures of her approved for about a year now, and she was adamant that the braces were ok cropped but terrible with her whole face in the shot. Similarly, Aaron came out to the deck for pictures shirtless but then demanded I crop out everything from the nipples down :p I would have anyway, most likely, even if he does have a bizarre lot of defined abs from dancing/studio exercise.


Laura took Jake and Elise with her when she left, and this is Ananda, Aaron and I rolling around laughing about nonsense for an hour afterward.


Isaac tried out for the cheerleading squad last month. He loves it. He's the only boy on the team, but mostly hangs out with girls at school anyway. I think it's fitting that the uniform is the colors we've been dressing him in since birth.



And one more Jakey and Elizabeth shot, from this afternoon:

They have something special. We're always lamenting that they're related and can't grow up and get married.
altarflame: (deluge)
Isaac, night before last: My head is hurting.
Me: Have you been drinking enough water? Annie gets headaches if she gets dehydrated.
Isaac: I just drank a whole lot of water.
Me: But what about earlier - maybe you drank a whole lot because you hadn't been drinking enough and were very thirsty, and in a little while when it's had time to move through your system you'll feel better?
Isaac: I think my head is hurting because I fell out of a cooler and hit it on the wall.
Me: Uh. Oh. Ok...how did that happen?
Isaac: Well, I was trying to sneak into Annie and Elise's room to steal one of Annie's sharpies.
Me: Go on.
Isaac: Well, she caught me and did tickle torture to punish me, and then locked me in the bathroom for 10 minutes.
Me: She locked you in the bathroom for ten minutes?!
Isaac: Well, probably it was only a minute or less because I was fighting on the other side of the door to get out and we were laughing a lot.
Me: What is "tickle torture"?
Isaac: It means she tickled me until I was on the ground. ANYWAY, Jake and Elise were going to help me, so Jake got the ice chest from outside and I got in, and Elise was sliding it into the room so Annie wouldn't know I was there.
Me: *laughing uncontrollably*
Isaac: But she was suspicious right away, and came over and spilled me out and my head hit the wall a little.

Being home is nice.




It was Fall, in Boston. I had counted on cooler weather while we were there, but completely forgot that things look different during the Fall up north. I haven't seen trees change color since I was 6 years old (and that was a single day of seeing it).

I think a lot about this, lately - how people don't understand what I'm on about, when I go on and on about the different and amazing things I experience other places, that seem so normal to the people reading. Miami is different! Americans tend to feel as though they are in a foreign country, when they visit South Florida. If you only lived on flat land below sea level, surrounded by concrete, your entire life, and then you went somewhere very hilly with lots of bricks - it would feel surreal and interesting for awhile. *shrug*

Fall:


Flying in and thinking, "Oooooh yeah!!!!"


Rainy first couple of (lovely) days.






Showing the kids Christmas trees that grow in the ground ;)


I don't even know what these vibrant things are.


And I actually stopped our borrowed car and jumped out to grab one of these from the many on the ground, in amazement. It turns out they're "crab" apples O_o I brought this one home for my children to laugh at.


Prolific, those crab apple trees.


There was still a lot of lush green around. Everything about being outside seems idyllic, when it's only 70 degrees :)
altarflame: (deluge)
This evening, while Grant got the grill going, I ran up to the store for a couple of dinner ingredients we were missing. Got home, and Elise had on dark sunglasses and a jacket tied around her waist. Arms crossed over her chest, she started doing squats and chanting in a deep voice, "Emo, emo, emo!" Meanwhile, Jake ran past me with a hamster puppet on a wooden sword, yelling, "We're having roast hamster tonight!!!!" Then Aaron appeared, asking if I wanted to see how deep he'd cut his finger while he and Adrian were whittling with Adrian's homemade knives as though I was going to be REALLY impressed.

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )

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