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.


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)
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, 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)
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 )

Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely 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:


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

I dressed up.


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


Some Thanksgiving 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's Annie, as Hank Green:

Aaron, as Carl Sagan:

Jake as Albert Einstein:

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

And Elise, as Mary Treat:

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

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

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

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

Pre-parade traffic jam.


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.

Clearly, I forgot something, though :/

Waiting with me, at my dentist.


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

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

Last: a )
altarflame: (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: (MeandJakesleeping)
Today is Jake's birthday - my fourth child, my afro boy, my Jakey Bakey Pudding and Pie, is EIGHT years old. Eight!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is beautiful, though:

Another book Nancy has in her house:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is part of the room service menu.

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

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

And open:

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

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

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

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

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

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

It was kinda showing the next morning over breakfast.

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

I was so happy that his birthday was acknowledged over and over in so many cool ways. Otherwise I don't think I could have dealt with not being in a position to bake him a cake :)
altarflame: (deluge)
This evening, while Grant got the grill going, I ran up to the store for a couple of dinner ingredients we were missing. Got home, and Elise had on dark sunglasses and a jacket tied around her waist. Arms crossed over her chest, she started doing squats and chanting in a deep voice, "Emo, emo, emo!" Meanwhile, Jake ran past me with a hamster puppet on a wooden sword, yelling, "We're having roast hamster tonight!!!!" Then Aaron appeared, asking if I wanted to see how deep he'd cut his finger while he and Adrian were whittling with Adrian's homemade knives as though I was going to be REALLY impressed.

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )
altarflame: (After the kiss)
Pretty sweet weekend, although I am still lingeringly sick and I have my FIU fall registration date looming over my head - basically, classes I need to take asap to keep my graduation on schedule are rapidly filling up and I fully anticipate an immediate system crash when my wave of students is able to log in and start picking things. Sometime this week, I have to sit down and do what my advisor suggested - come up with several alternate schedules that will work as plans b, c and d. There is also a rumor that a particular professor will override his maximum number of students to let in an almost unlimited number of people, for his online classes only. We'll see...

Yesterday morning was sweltering hot and comprised of standing in a long but fun line with Grant at an adopt-a-tree event, taking a bunch of stuff (GMYS forms, birthday cards for my Nana, books for contest winners, things G sold on eBay) to the post office, and grocery/school supply shopping. Afternoon was all storms and downpouring - I spent a chunk of it in the kitchen, making hot tea, iced tea, coffee and a smoothie for various peeps, in and around chicken and mushroom sauteeing, and egg boiling. It was cozy and lovely, to have Jake and Elise playing out on the deck in the water while Grant and Isaac played cards. REM and Simon and Garfunkel. We measured everyone again, too :)

Later when it was dark Grant made pasta and sauce for the kids and then he and I ate loaded potato skins in bed, while watching several episodes of Seinfeld on the laptop - all in all an A+ evening for someone coughing and lethargic who was about to shame herself by downloading Bejeweled.

Grant is unbelievably sweet, and made bacon and eggs, with mushrooms and sliced tomatoes, for breakfast today, which I had in bed before a bath. I think I actually have stuff in my lungs, and may degenerate to the point of having to go to the doctor. I'm hoping not, though, for a variety of reasons ranging from FINALS WEEK to UGH THAT WOULD BLOW.

He stayed home with Aaron, and cooked and cleaned and things, while I took all the other kids around to their various crap - Isaac and Jake had a swimming and movie playdate at a friend's house that seems like it ended up being a lot of fun. Annie needed to exchange some bras we'd ordered online that didn't fit, which went well (we got 3 bras AND fancy chocolate for the price of the 2 we were taking back). Then she had derby practice. During which I took Elise and had a just-the-two-of-us bubble tea date. The three of us spent awhile at a nice park before it was time to grab the boys.

After bringing everyone home, and unloading their wet things and new things and stinky things from the car, Elise and I did schoolwork for an hour or so while Grant grilled his amazing steaks and made sweet potato fries, and portabello caps for Annie. I had malbec in the cabinet, too. Mmm.

He took Ananda to see The Conjuring while I got all the littles in bed and then stayed up with Aaron. Aaron wanted to talk about kids at the dance studio, and songs stuck in his head, and spiders, while I did my new pedicure routine and painted my nails. Then we researched spiders and packaged up some dinner leftovers and I sent him to bed.

My Beasty's lovely hazel eyes.

Talking after music camp; finishing her third mango one afternoon; bubble tea; the park today; workbook time.

This frittata was amazing. One of the breakfasts Ananda and I split last week when we had the house to ourselves.

Paper writing while out the other day; the 3 bags I end up carrying some college days due to how many places I'm going, poor planning and just too many things to carry.

Free mango trees!

Cozy kitchen; playing in the rain; warming up inside with coffee; War and 21.

Aaron took this - it's his golden orb weaver. He also "has" a garden orb weaver, and several spiny orb weavers....this one is about palm sized.

I have had to rush outside to view it's newly shed skin, sudden growth spurt, newly arrived mates, and so on, pretty much every day for weeks.

I also had to talk him down gently (so as not to urge him to sneak or disregard what I was saying) on why it would be very very bad to bring her egg sac in and hatch it in his bed. *sigh*

I'm really proud of her, even if she does make the car nauseating to co-exist in after practice.

Beautiful grown looking thing...

Conditioner of the gods.

I always feel like I can see just how I felt in my pictures, but can't ever really tell if that's really true for other people looking at them. Here for instance it seems obvious to me that I'm feeling achey and tired from illness, even though it's also a good day. But that might just be my memory (and, you know, current feeling) coloring things.
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of my friends who live up in Miami like to say I live in "the sticks," which I always protest, because, what? This is not the sticks! Sure, I get the occasional possum and raccoon on the deck, and yeah, we can walk past a tomato field to feed a horse some carrots, but what of that? :p Then I am actually up around Miami, and come back home, and see this as our highway exit...

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

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

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

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

The thrown together Peter pan costume I mentioned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this year:

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

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

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

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

Photobombing, separate days.

My Elisey Beast.

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

Ananda, sciencing (really, that's a word) in her laboratory room.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
I've been complaining/in shock about Jake's eating pretty much since he started solids (he's 7.5 now, and eats far more than Grant or I do in a given day). I've taken him to the doctor for it twice over the years. Basically, he's always hungry and never gets full. You can't take Jake anywhere for any period of time without considering this (even if all 6 of the rest of us will be fine, because we just had a meal or it's a short trip). He eats ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY.

He doesn't have a tape worm or even a blood sugar issue. He's totally healthy, and HUGE for his age (as has always been the case) - he's never been overweight for his height. He was born at one ounce under 10 pounds and has been off the growth charts ever since - I actually had problems with strangers thinking he was mentally handicapped as a baby and toddler because he appeared so much older than he actually was that he seemed to be "behind."

I charted him the week he turned 7, and he was the average height and weight of a 9.5 year old. Isaac, who is a 9.5 year old, is used to being exactly his height but slightly lighter (Isaac is a little skinny, and Jake has an unusual amount of muscle and is REALLY strong - I can't hold him down to tickle him anymore...).

I am (again? still?) at a loss, because this food issue seems so unmanageable, with him...and unreasonable.

If we're driving to drop off or pick up Ananda or Aaron 30 minutes away, he has to have a snack for that hour in the car or else he feels terribly sick, often crying and sometimes even throwing up. Part of that is a motion sickness issue. Eating settles his stomach while driving. But still! It's part of this whole larger thing, that we say, "everybody find your shoes! Jake, grab some food!" anytime we're leaving the house O_o It was a running theme at PATH meetings last year that it wasn't possible for me to bring a big enough food bag that he wasn't miserable by the time we were leaving.

I've had to talk to his music camp directors every year (this is the third summer running) because he can't eat breakfast and then wait until lunch, like EVERYBODY ELSE, or else he totally melts down every single day. So, he's basically carrying his lunchbox around day camp all day, instead, eating nonstop. It doesn't seem to interfere with his ability to practice and learn his instrument, write out time lines and staffs, and do singalongs. He's eating as they transition between activities and during recess and things like that, which the adults seem ok with - but I pack him between 2-3 times what Isaac and Elise take. Then, he literally walks in the front door and heads straight to the kitchen when I bring them home in the afternoon, and happily tells me about his day. While eating.

This is the situation:
-He eats really, really well. Like raw bell peppers and other vegetables, pitas and hummus, fresh fruit, nuts, etc - he's not at all picky about things we cook, and only drinks water most of the time.
-He's very independent and doesn't bother anyone about it, when home - I'm always seeing that he's heating leftovers in the toaster oven or making himself a sandwich/salad, or mixing honey and granola into yogurt. Point being, it's not like him eating nonstop is any "bother," or infringement on my time when it gets crazy.
-He doesn't make himself sick, or act sluggish or overfull, and this doesn't interfere with him eating at mealtimes. He goes to the bathroom normally and his belly is flat.
-He doesn't obsess about food when it's there - he just eats a lot. He still builds with legos and K'Nex, writes and draws, plays outside, watches movies, etc all day everyday. He only seems preoccupied with food when it's limited or unavailable.
-He's a REALLY chill, calm, good kid...that turns into a complete angry crying nutcase when hungry. There's almost never a reason to intervene with what Jake is doing when he's regulating his own food, but if he's been unable to eat for a couple of hours he's an inconsolable nightmare. It is irrational and out of bounds.
-We can afford this. Mostly. I mean, sometimes it gets stressful, but it doesn't cause us the stress or urgency it might other people. We've long accepted the grocery bill as our biggest expense around here. I guess the point is, money is not the issue here for me, with this.

I'm worried that he has a total emotional dependence on food! Or, a health issue we aren't picking up on. Or, is totally fine FOR NOW but will grow to be one of those 500 pound adults that has to be lifted out of their house by a crane (obesity and diabetes run up and down both sides of his family tree, and he's definitely got two overweight parents - although all four of his grandparents are normal weight).

I mean, no joke guys, this is what Jake ate yesterday:

-BIG (what most people would call double or triple sized) bowl of oatmeal for breakfast...this is steel cut oats with fruit and milk, it's really filling stuff I can't eat that much of. And 3-4 pieces of "healthy" bacon (haha, I mean that no sulfite/sulfate stuff that's preserved in celery juice, and we cook it on the george foreman).

-in his lunch, he had/ate a tupperware with about another cup of that oatmeal in it, a PBJ, a clementine, a fruit leather, a granola bar and a chocolate pudding. He ate it all at camp.

-When he got home, I lost track. I know I heated him two full bowls of leftover kale and bean soup at different points, he got himself at least a couple of snacks like bell peppers and apples and chips with salsa, I saw some peanut butter toast, and he had a piece of spinach and feta pizza and some cereal before bed.

I mean...that's insane, right? It seems disturbing to me that I'm pretty sure this would present major problems if we tried to put him in school. We aren't planning to, and we're homeschooling for reasons that have nothing to do with eating, but - that's fucking weird, the idea that a school day would be unmanageable because he needs to eat near-constantly.

We put a lot of effort in, last year, to get him to STOP identifying as a "hungry boy," to make the other kids quit going on and on about how much he eats, and to not anticipate him taking down mass quantities of food at each meal in how we serve his (initial) plates, because we started to worry that maybe we had set up some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy by going on too much about his eating. Like he could internalize it as part of his identity? He wanted to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar for Halloween one year! I don't really know if that's a part of this or not - he definitely ate like a trash compactor for awhile before we all saw him that way - but we've definitely shifted the talk and the visible expectations around significantly, anyway. He still goes back for thirds and ends up having 5 or more huge tacos total, at dinner. Which, again...he is chowing down on a small amount of meat buried under greens, beans, avocado, tomatoes, and sharp cheddar. With multiple cups of water. Just. WTF?!

Here's a video from yesterday, of Jake carrying Isaac on his shoulders:

Their camp has a field trip to see a play today. A flyer was actually sent home asking to make sure all the kids had a big breakfast since lunch would be slightly delayed. Last year, the highway bus ride and length of the play they went and saw caused major meltdown problems for Jake, and he was talking about how horrible it had been and how he'd just cried and cried in his seat in the audience for like 2 weeks afterward. I made him change into cargo shorts and load his pockets with emergency snacks, this morning. I tried to at least make it non-crinkly-sounding, quiet, non-crumby things so that he wouldn't be a disturbance? I figure it's less of a disturbance for him to quietly eat something now and then, than it would be for him to cry and get up to find a teacher and explain how miserable he is :p But it underlies the ridiculousness of the whole situation!

What is the deal with him?!
altarflame: (deluge)
ETA!! This was going to be a fb status, but on second thought - can you guys give me some packed lunch suggestions for my various kids? I'm really at a loss as to how not to just give them hundreds of pbjs all summer for their various day camps. Ananda is a vegetarian and got REALLY sick of packed salads last summer, and says she doesn't want to go there again O_o Jake and Elise are very open to super healthy stuff like raw carrots and hummus, my main challenge there is that Jake needs a LOT of food and eats ridiculous amounts. Isaac is very very picky but claims to hate sandwiches altogether - he and Aaron both would be happiest with a lot of little packaged snacks, which I don't really feel very keen on. One thing I'm sure of for Isaac is he adores cheese and crackers, although he sometimes gets weird about "how cheese is when it gets packed," even with a cold pack. And Aaron actually needs two packed meals per day, for Mondays and Wednesdays, and I have a hard time not giving him double of the same thing and/or not enough. Aside from really expensive stuff in small packages (pistachios) nuts tend to come home uneaten.

This is where I realize how often I make a big pot of oatmeal for breakfast and a big pot of soup for lunch, and/or just let them graze all day here at the house, neither of which are feasible options for this. I mean soup in thermoses might work, for some of them? Gah. It seems kind of messy and the boys are all sort of ridiculous about things being heated enough. I'm very spoiled on keeping our house stocked and telling them to just grab things themselves, and/or find something else themselves if they don't like what I'm making, when we're here...

Additional Notes:

-A and A love Asian stuff like spring rolls and sushi, but that's complicated/expensive to maintain (I'm not a maker of sushi, the spring rolls Annie likes are very time consuming)
-Isaac can't have anything with corn in it

Now then - Parenting Stages

Or, "Things That Occur to me as I Drive all Over God's Green Earth..."

I really love babies, toddlers and preschoolers. They're huge amounts of work, and often involve tedious amounts of repetitive tedium (getting them down off the table AGAIN, cleaning up pee AGAIN, reading that board book AGAIN). But they're adorable and fleeting for every moment of it, and often deeply engaging of my hormones as well as hugely emotionally embroiled with me. You have to take a picture to not lose how they look THAT WEEK forever, and they are just constantly doing something brand new. You see the emergence of personalities for the first time as a new human being unfolds. I love nursing, cloth diapers, slings, cuddling with sleeping little people, sick slow small folks wanting extra love, introducing NEW everything (from walking and talking to taking newborns outside to getting to show them EVERYTHING - the zoo is a thing! Parks exist! Fruit is awesome! Holidays happen!). It's really sweet and exciting and kinda amazing. I love wooden stacking toys and silly poems and how easy it is to just make them SO HAPPY (most of the time...) by announcing outings or trips or treats or game times, or, anything. It's very simple to exist completely in the house and yard, or around town in your life rhythm, without fighting to protect that dynamic.

I do not love latency, or tweens/preteens. I find this whole phase irritating beyond belief. Most kids go through several awkward phases, in looks and behavior, during this time. Whether my own kids or other kids, I just don't enjoy interacting with (often sarcastic) children who act put upon about chores, argue with words and rationales about bedtimes, and constantly try not to act like they like anything TOO much. They are as picky about food and ridiculous about everything as toddlers are, except they're supposed to know better and are sullen. They tell horrifyingly not funny jokes all day every day for months at a time, and show me staggeringly complicated lego creations with many weapon features HOURLY for years, and beg for tv and other screen time way too often regardless of how I consistently limit those things. These kids are suddenly hyper-modest even though they haven't hit puberty yet (give me a naked 3 year old on a trampoline any day...) Mostly, they school their features too often to not get excited about exciting things, or show sincere enthusiasm too often, and I hate that shit. Tiny little precocious hipsters, refusing to wear clothes you buy them out of nowhere and all too cool for Sesame Street, let's just fast forward this nonsense :p I feel obligated to have them in activities, but have to practically drag them to the damn things half the time, and they just change their minds and stop being interested in things they thought they had to do the week before.

I have these memories of myself that make me want to die, 9 years olds and calling everyone "Babe" in a condescending tone, and 11, flipping my hair and asking if everyone thought my (jeans and a tshirt) outfit was "just too polyester." GAAAAAAAAH. I don't know to this day how nobody stabbed me in the eye.

I love adolescents, though. There was a period of time when (nephew, lived with us at the time) Robbie was a preteen while Ananda and Aaron were preschoolers, and I thought Robbie and I had intrinsically clashing personalities and my kids were these sweet easy angels. Then, a few years later, Robbie was a teenager and even though he was kind of a mess - I was visiting him in the psych ward after faked suicide attempts and things - we could talk for hours about his life and interests and family issues. I brought him over, sometimes, for the selfish reason of enjoying his company. Suddenly we were sitting in the front seat listening to Regina Spektor and Kid Cudi together while Ananda and Aaron were unbearably eye rolly and obnoxious, behind us, so awkward and trying so hard that it was cringeworthy and PAINFUL.

At PATH, the preteens stand around refusing to dance at the dances. The teenagers get up and freely make fools of themselves and have a good time. The preteens stand around at the park dodging the little kids, not wanting to be seen interacting with them. The teenagers give the little kids piggy back rides and include them in their conversations because they're adorable (and often unintentionally hilarious).

Anyway, Ananda and Aaron are (FINALLY O_O) moving out of the preteen bullshit phase, and I am SO glad. It seems like the first initial year of puberty has to be out of the way before we can actually talk and hang out easily again and they can react naturally to things and, geez! There are, of course, pain in the butt teenager things - they are much harder to get out of bed early, sometimes, and I always feel like we're about an hour away from them managing to somehow become addicted to internet porn without me ever realizing they've even seen it, and I get SCARED about the independence they need and have as they skate off around the corner together or decide they want to do things like play roller derby with ambulances standing by or go en pointe and potentially ruin their feet...

But I ENJOY them again in a way that I haven't for years (Ananda for about a year and a half now, Aaron for the last couple of months). They're great to be around. They autonomously take showers on their own because they don't like stinking or having gross oily hair, and brush their teeth because they don't want them to be yellow (I am so glad to not be fighting those battles anymore like we ALWAYS were when the BO and greasiness started...), and they clean and organize their stuff without me even knowing they did it O_O Not all of their stuff, their rooms can still be ridiculous and they will totally "forget" their chores exist if I don't remind them, but then they do them as though they'd just forgotten, when I remind them, rather than going into histrionics like did for several years - Ananda would drop her head backward and moan, Aaron would actually lay down on the floor from the crushing weight of the injustice. KILL ME NOW :p

They have this grace and ease with Isaac, Jake and Elise that is really different than the screechy "don't touch my stuff!" and "stay out of my room!" and "I will not play Monopoly with you" that we were dealing with as normative for so long, too. The little kids bicker and tell on each other and A and A roll their eyes in a GOOD way, with a smile, and share a knowing look with me. If I pull them aside and ask nicely they'll usually say yes to doing enriching things with them as though it was their own idea ;)

We have these great, quiet conversations about ideas they have, about things to potentially do with their lives, and where they want to go with their current interests and hobbies. I also LIKE THEIR FRIENDS - let me tell you, I am a sort of horrible person about not being into "other people's kids." When I have babies, other babies are cute but overwhelming because my own baby(ies) is so all encompassing. It's often frustrating to deal with outside toddlers and preschoolers because of the inevitable violence, stealing and angst, and the irrational favoring of my own kid/desire to dropkick the other one :p As you may have guessed, without the unconditional love of parenting to gloss over the whole annoying preteen thing, it's damn near intolerable for me personally to be around.

But now my (older) kids' friends are discussing which are the best book series and favorite vloggers and telling me how awesome my belly cast is when they come over. They have tumblrs and love sushi and Starbucks and have an interesting array of activities they do. They're planning cosplays for cons and say things like, "is there anything I can do to help with dinner?" and "thanks for driving me" without any guardian around to prompt them.

Sometimes, Ananda or Aaron spend an hour and a half in the bathroom, or are way too self depricating, or I wonder about their increasingly complex internal lives. I am revoking privileges to get them back on track with schoolwork very regularly. But I would so, so much rather deal with this kind of stuff than, like, standing people in the corner for slapping each other or calling each other butt faces. They can walk along with me in a store, without asking when we can leave the store, ducking under racks or around aisles making me panic, or running around me in circles. We're just walking through the freakin' store together. In between "kid is in the sling/cart" and this, there is a barren wasteland of frustration in taking kids out!

ON THE OTHER HAND, Jake is deep into annoying-as-shit tweendom, and Elise is starting. *sigh* He wants to interrupt with the devil's advocate position for every single thing anyone says, and can only respond competitively to anyone else's achievements ("Didn't Isaac do great in the school talen show?" gets met with, "So what, I blah blah blah" and then we have a lecture on being considerate and supportive that he grudingly suffers through before saying "But I really can blah blah blah"). He corrects Elise's grammar constantly when she talks, and is weirdly self conscious about making any mistakes in his schoolwork. It's like all conversation with him is through the lens of subtle defensive hostility. He suddenly finds it humiliating for us to look at or even have baby pictures of him and thinks I'm purposely insulting him if I reference those days. He's still pretty affectionate, and adorable, and fairly independent, but he also has a too-long, too-loud, obviously fake laugh that he forces out about things that are not even remotely funny until I want to wring his neck punish him for having a bad personality :p

Isaac is a whole other animal and an exception to every rule I've ever had - he was so difficult and troubled in so many ways for the first 7-8 years of his life that I am in a constant state of happy amazement at how much better he's doing. He is a preteenish sort of 9.5 year old, but he's so calm and thoughtful and kind and healthy and just holy shit *OK* compared to how he's ever, ever been before. I love it. And am kinda nervous about him hitting puberty since I worry that he might have some dormant mental health issues that get exacerbated when his pituitary goes crazy :/ Here's hoping that goes smoothly...
altarflame: (deluge)
I've been doing a tumblr contest for the past couple of months, where if people reblog a post about my book, they can win a signed copy of the book. It's gotten about 30 entries and it resets every month, so there have been a couple of winners, which is fun. I know a lot of people don't have a tumblr, though, and I get a lot more hits here - so I've been thinking of doing something similar on lj. Sharing a description and image of the book that I make easy to copy (with contest explanation, you don't have to pretend to parrot my information for fun :p) would count as an entry. It could be on your facebook, twitter, your own lj/other external blog, tumblr would still count - as long as it's some established place that you have that is not just made up and blank for the purpose of the contest. You'd have to let me know you shared it, either in the comments or in my email, to enter.

[Poll #1919205]

#ETA: You can leave your answer in the comments if you don't have an LJ. I wasn't thinking of how non-LJ'ers can't participate in polls.

I've had the shittiest most terrible double ear infection. The most painful, throbbing, fuzzy headed, muffled hearing lot of swelling. The whole right side of my tongue (closest to the worst ear) has been shredded from my TEETH being shoved over. I've been sleeping with the help of hydrocodone and exhaustion - and hydrocodone takes like three Arrested Developments one and a half Game of Thrones an hour and a half to kick in.

Anyway, it's finally going away, and while I'm grateful this hasn't happened in a few years, the steady ringing sound constantly reminds me of my deepening hearing loss and's not cool. I don't know how I got so comfortable with so much soft dairy again (the runnier and more frequent, the worst, seems to be the case with me, in terms of consequences...) but it's basically come down to "do I want a frappuccino or do I want to be able to hear people talking to me, listen to music, and otherwise experience reality through one of my only five mechanisms to do so?"

*sigh* These are the thoughts of someone sitting still with their head turned sideways and drops in their swollen ears, as small people run past on mute.

I've bought a lot of books, in the past couple of days. For school, I got my Summer B textbooks - "Theories of Personality" and "Intro to Social Psych". I won't bore you with the gouging agony of what they cost. I will say that I was so pissed that the DSM-5 was $200 at my FIU's Barnes & Noble that I opted out and instead went with, "The Book of Woe - The DSM and the Unmaking of Pyschiatry." Which I've already read 2 chapters of as my cold, cold ear drops gradually sink down into the center of my tortured noggin'. When I relayed that information at home, however, Grant said the government is giving me a lot of money for my education, which more or less requires that book, and Amazon said they would send it to me for "only" $118. So I got it from them, along with (for continued balance in perspective), "Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life."

Because Amazon offers that tantalizing, "buy new and used from ____" option, and I DO have government education money, I also got "Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the 'New Psychiatry'" and, in neuroplasticity, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One." Along with replacing my old copies (loned out and lost forever) of "Neuroplasticity: The Brain's Ability to Change Itself," and "Prozac Diary" (literary nonfiction by one of my favorites, Lauren Slater).

All of them together add up to about what I would have paid for just the DSM at school, which ties into this whole issue I have as a bibliophile and author about people (like me) buying these bargain basement priced used books - I don't think it's as "bad" as just torrenting and illegally downloading ebooks (which I never do), but it's clearly doing nothing for writers and little for the industry. Sort of. I mean I guess it gets writers read, and keeps used book merchants in business, both of which I see value in. I DIGRESS (<---What a surprise).

42 pictures )

Links of the Day!

Link 1.) NPR discusses the nearly complete absence of women from movies. "I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn't a documentary or a cartoon — you can't. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

...Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other."

I wrote about this here two years ago, in this post, saying all this )

Link 2.) The woman who hand embroiders the costumes for Game of Thrones. This is mind blowing stuff! I love fabric ♥

Link 3.) Florida: Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot - White Man Kills and Goes Free The title kinda says it all, unfortunately.

Link 4.) Florida: 17 year old girl who has been in a consensual relationship for a year or more with another, 15 year old girl who was on the varsity basketball team with her, gets into serious legal trouble the minute she turns 18 and the younger girl's parents have legal recourse. Younger girl's parents are deeply homophobic and claim the older girl is turning their daughter gay. Now this honor student, who is active in her community, is facing lifelong sexual predator status, multiple's crazy. That link is to the petition that over 300,000 people have already signed, asking that the case against her be dropped and the laws re-examined.
altarflame: (Ahem (sebastion))
One of my favorite things is to be cooking something delicious in my kitchen, with a glass of wine and music playing. Tonight it's a couple of whole chickens being roasted different ways - one dry roasted with onions, potatoes, garlic, carrots and salt, and the other cooked with lots of butter under the skin and along with broccoli and mushrooms. And Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, and Regina Spektor.

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

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

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

This three day weekend has involved:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-tacos and cider for lunch in our dining room

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

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

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

**Really, it's 2013 and we're laughing at a "Chinaman" with an exaggerated accent who speaks bad english? *wince* Also, what IS this weird Hollywood insistence that fat people can't have chemistry/fall in love/get it on? The whole idea that it's supposed to be inherently hilarious for fat people to act like human beings is fucking ridiciulous, and obviously has nothing to do with reality.
altarflame: (deluge)
Stayed up with biggest kids, i.e., latest bedtime stragglers, til 1:30, making their to-do lists for today and also reading to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Over and out.

May 2017

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