altarflame: (deluge)
Today, I read Jake and Elise 1.5 chapters of The Goblet of Fire. I read Elise The Long Forgotten Doll. I read Jake Never Too Little To Love and I Love You More.

I didn't actually read to Ananda and Aaron, today, but the three of us did watch both the first and second updates on the Reading Rainbow kickstarter (along with contributing with them sitting next to me, all of us emotional), and this Mental Floss video that they recognized just about every single thing from (including the author narrating):



This is how I found Isaac sleeping last night, not long after I left his room following our HP chapter:


The child that I was so freaked about being unable to read, just 2 years ago. I've lost count of his re-readings of those Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Other than that, there's a very battered copy of The Order of the Phoenix, and an Archie comic, on his bed there...

I have some parenting regrets, and some parenting insecurities, but I feel really good knowing that I've done this right, with them.




Once we got to the pool yesterday, I took this:






This weekend, I think that all seven of us are going to go see Maleficent together, which is exciting. We also have a birthday party for a friend, and Ananda is turning 14. She's electing to have an outing rather than a party - we'll see where that goes. I've got tons of stuff stashed away for her. FOURTEEN!

I feel like absolute crap today, physically. I don't know what's going on, but ever since we got back from swimming yesterday I've been semi-nauseous with a low grade headache. I can't shake the feeling that the pool made me sick, even though everyone else is fine and that doesn't even make sense. Just, ugh. It rained a lot today though, so I didn't have to go outside to water anything, and it felt very cozy and nice in the house. Annie made us chai and a big plate of mozzarella, tomato slices and basil leaves, this afternoon. Grant took care of dinner after I washed yet another epic mountain of dishes.

Bleh, I do not feel like I'm going to be able to sleep at all (because horizontal=more nauseous), but clearly it's past time to do so. I developed the ability, while I felt like shit CONSTANTLY, to be physically upset and emotionally happy at the same time. It's weird how that can happen. I mean when pain really amps up or exhaustion really kicks in, they can take over everything, but my baseline was so awful for awhile there that little things like "kinda sick" still don't really effect my mood overly much.

I've been having THE WEIRDEST and most vivid dreams every night. I mean everything from summoning demons with a big group in an abandoned house, to slow dancing on a stage in the middle of a crowded stadium, with John Goodman? Seriously wtf. And, I've been waking up 1-2 minutes before my alarm is set to go off for about a week now - which is really fucking bizarre, because I set my alarm for totally different times on different days and have nothing even vaguely resembling a regular bedtime. This even happened at the end of a nap over the weekend - normally I have to set alarms for naps because otherwise I'll just sleep for hours and hours. It's starting to be almost expected, though, that I'll suddenly wake up, grab my phone off the windowsill and see that my alarm is about to go off O_o

Tomorrow morning, after I take Isaac to school and pay some bills, I s'pose I've gotta schedule an eye exam for Aaron (based on some complaints he had today) and my annual pap/IUD check (since I realized that's about 6 months overdue). And get my supah-late shot. And do my laundry. And then basically concentrate on Elise learning to read, all day long.

I'll leave you with this video my friend Kristin made - it's a contest entry for the Tour de Fat car to bike trade, and she won. That means she'll get to donate her only-barely-sellable car to be auctioned off for charities she likes, as a tax deduction, and will get thousands of dollars to spend at a bike shop to outfit herself and her kids with bikes/gear. She's been planning to go car free for a long time, so she wasn't as upset as she would have been otherwise about her car's new problems. But finding and winning this contest is such a KRISTIN thing to do - I swear she can just manifest...anything.

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

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

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




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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

This is beautiful, though: http://www.bostonbirthphotographer.com/a-home-water-birth-with-5-siblings-and-a-lot-of-love/

Another book Nancy has in her house:

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

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


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

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


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



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

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

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


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


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

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


This is part of the room service menu.


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

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


And open:





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















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



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

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

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

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

It was kinda showing the next morning over breakfast.


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



I was so happy that his birthday was acknowledged over and over in so many cool ways. Otherwise I don't think I could have dealt with not being in a position to bake him a cake :)
altarflame: (deluge)
I do not even know where to begin. I've let this thing go for too long.

It's wild, just nuts, how different I feel when I'm really engaged with people and the world (as opposed to spending all my time alone with my kids in our house, with very minimal adult interaction). It is truly the difference between feeling mentally ill, as opposed to being like, "Wait what? I have PTSD? I guess technically I do." Sometimes I feel sad about this, because I used to be so (relatively) content to be home alone with my children. Other times - like now - I feel really happy that such a simple thing can make such a huge difference. Things get complicated because I can be very picky about who I really want to spend time with...

Many things have changed over the years on my Myers Briggs test results, but the most significant and startling was definitely watching my stubborn, moderate "i" turn to a just-over-the-line "e," last year.


I'm sitting here tonight, agitated and stressed with everyone else asleep, wondering what the hell my problem is - and it occurs to me that this is the first day in weeks that I haven't seen anyone that doesn't live in my house. There were other reasons to be stressed: a bank error I had to spend awhile on the phone about, some tedious crafting time with Elise that really took a tremendous amount of patience, realizing at the last minute during cooking that I was missing a crucial dinner ingredient... But all that is just life, it's the kind of shit that happens every day and hasn't been tying my shoulders in knots until today. Maybe it's isolation. Maybe it's not. There was a lot of arguing with Aaron about cleaning his room, and a lot of moodiness out of Jake, and a lot of Annie eye rolling and Isaac homework procrastination.

Still and all, I could list three times as many positive things about each of them. So. *shrug*




Previous non-isolation:
G and I had an awesome trip to Maryland ♥ Grant had enough flyer miles and hotel points stored up from business trips that we could fly and stay for free, and his mom was here in town with a friend for a couple of weeks, and spent those days with our kids. So, all we had to pay for was food! Totally awesome, and he has a ridiculous amount of paid time off accrued since he rarely uses it. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday exploring Maryland together, which was just fucking great. It was all awesome sex and sweet cuddling and a picnic in the park and a picnic on our hotel room floor. We walked all over and found great farmer's markets and a cool Thai restaurant and an interesting Ethopian place. The weather was lovely, we laughed a ton - it was really cool to be on foot and transit for a few days with no car whatsoever attached to me. Talk about a paradigm shift.

Then he left, Sunday night, to come home, and I stayed at my friend Kristin's house Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday. She works in the evenings, so I was free for those hours. One evening I took Jenne/[livejournal.com profile] the_waker to that Thai place I mentioned, which was awesome. I hadn't seen her since she came by Dama/[livejournal.com profile] mommydama's place while we were there with newborn Elise in 2007. I think we could be really close friends if we just lived closer together. Totally easy and natural to hang out with her and talk about ANYTHING.

Another evening I met Amy/tumblr user Bohemianelitist, with her kids and Kristin's kids (who I love, and have known for a decade...they're like family and only moved up there 6 months ago). We had great food and then moved over to a playground. The time went too fast.

I was going to meet Ruth/former lj'er "meileki," but she got too booked up at the last minute by a high needs kid and study demands, which was disappointing but I totally understand (obviously).

Staying up til 4am laughing with Kristin after she got off was great, as it always is. And her brunch spreads were fantastic. And her kids are pretty much what I would call friends, 8 and 11 though they may be :)

The week+ since we've been back from Maryland has also been a connected, networking sort of week. I didn't really experience the coming down of a vacation being over, because:

-My mother in law was still down and visiting and wonderful until a couple of days ago. She is really great. I got so lucky in the mother in law department.
-I spent a half hour at our evaluator's house talking when I picked up all our forms. We have enough in common that this can be an actual good time.
-Cybele and I caught up for at least that long, when I dropped Aaron off to hang out with Adrian. They've been gone all summer.
-The most recent weekend at home Grant and I had was riding high on the utopic chemistry of the previous weekend away (we barely see each other during the work week, it's mostly texting honestly).
-Laura brought the kids over one afternoon and we all sat around the bar eating and the library floor talking.
-Shaun came to dinner last night, with his new girlfriend. We pulled out all the stops (my husband actually made two different meals) and it was a pretty cool time.
-Aaaaaand a bunch of little things - needing to run errands and interact in small ways, meeting Isaac's new teacher, bringing the snack for Annie's derby team this last practice, all that sort of stuff that I don't even think I care about, but, what do I know. It probably makes a difference.

Tomorrow, my Fall semester begins. We had a big family meeting tonight before bed about the kids' meals and activities (Grant is working from home when I'm in school, so though here we need to have enough stuff set up in advance that they aren't constantly interrupting him).

I'm sure I was going to say more. Sure I gotta go to bed.

I'll leave this with a bunch of pics that will be outdated, if I don't hurry...

I had to take a picture one day when I realized that I was treading water in the deep end, with all five of my kids nearby - not a flotation device in sight - and we were all just hanging out, casually having a conversation.

It really hit me like, "Whoa." I kept counting them, unable to process that they were all there and everything was so simple and easy.



Diner (breakfast for) dinner.



Yes, that diner is actually in a pharmacy O_o

This is Elise before GMYS camp one morning, Isaac the day they were going to perform, and the three of them after the performance...


My "little kids," at 7, 9 and 6...

This is Elise after she went around and found all the pieces of that table, reassembled it, and started doing her art outside, and Jake doing a trick he learned at camp with water and vinegar (making tones sound by running his finger along the tope of the glass...pitch changes based on water level).


Ananda and Aaron, after breakfast one morning and waiting for me in the FIU library while I took a makeup exam.


Ananda came home from Mia's house with this lovely hair...we were at a coffee shop in the Gables that afternoon :)


We kinda look alike.


More than 5 years, we've had Aaron's cat, Peter...and finally he's starting to almost, sort of trust me.

I honestly think it's because I quit acting like it's preposterous and just accepted that he understands English, and speaking to him like I do people. Now, I can put him at ease. He is the weirdest and most complicated animal I've ever known, and the 11 year old cat I had who died, before we moved into this house - was a pretty developed personality.

Three thirsty chickens.


There are a lot of pictures of everything from Elise's doodles and her and Jake's cross stitching, to Maryland trip pics galore, on my tumblr in the personal tag. On the second page there's also a montage of my trip to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, with the big kids and our friends Gloria and LJ, a screencap of my grades and some degree planning, and many other random things :)
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
This has been an extremely fabulous weekend, start to finish. Possibly beginning Thursday evening when I realized pumpkin spice lattes and salted caramel frappuccinos were back. I forgot pumpkins - like, in general.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




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

This is my to-do list for tomorrow:

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

-reading to everyone
so they can go to sleep

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


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

I suppose I need to stop dodging reality to come and get to bed *wince*
altarflame: (Default)
This day, like every other freakin' day lately, can best be described as "gah" and best be handled through coffee.

I took Grant to the train station.
Got Elise to preschool. And because I went to the Health Department the other day she finally has her permanent vaccine exemption so I was able to be like "I got you that form!" rather than "Oh dear, I am gonna do that, I swear I am".
Am now texting Annie's GS troop leader about cookie/money exchange later today since I forgot it conflicts with Isaac's counseling.
I have a humanities quiz and humanities bulletin board posts due today in one of my online classes, that have to be done before I get Elise from preschool (at noon). I'm going to be squeezing them around getting something out for dinner, and making the remaining kids do various enriching or house cleaning things.
Then cookies, and counseling.
Then PATH. Where Annie can sell cookies and I can talk with Karen about A and A doing two days with her kids next week like we previously mentioned.
Then picking Grant up from the train station.
Then dinner, dishes, reading to everyone, their bedtime.
MATH.
My bedtime, which will, I imagine, be far too close to my wake time (5:45am to drive Grant to the train station again tomorrow, so I can have the van to take the kids to GMYS since Annie still doesn't have a case for her cello and I am not taking a cello with no case for blocks of walking and then a trolley ride through rough parts of town).

Yesterday I filled out an insane stack of printed (registration and scholarship) forms for over an HOUR, so that all five kids can go to GMYS music camp this summer. They're sitting in a manila envelope with our printed taxes from last year until A and A can get their teachers to sign off on them doing intermediate rather than beginners this time around, tomorrow. It was interesting picking preferred electives out with them. And this is an interesting add on to my filling out and submitting applications galore for charter schools for the fall just in case and to keep options open, and the preview to picking Girl Scout camp weeks and locations for Ananda, and deciding whether or not to do VBS O_O It's crazy to me that in order for these things to happen in 6 months, I have to worry about them NOW before everything is full and deadlines are past.

I have to do the math tonight so that if I don't understand it I have tomorrow and the next day to go to the learning support lab before my test Sunday.

I'm on my stupid (torrential) period.

I have a meeting with a complete fruit bat this Saturday, to talk about whether or not she (as a groupless leader) and I (as an interested party) will start duo-style Overeaters Anonymous meetings. She's just a harmless garden variety Florida Keys fruit bat, saying a local bar would be the perfect place to meet and telling me about all the nice Hell's Angels in her area, including her podiatrist. She has that weird Keys accent that means "everyone here is from a different part of the country if not the world and it blends into a mush". I am extremely comfortable around people like this.

The place recommended by the therapist who told me I have too severe of an eating disorder for him, as a student-therapist, to possibly help me with? That place is a freaking RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTER with a spa-like website. Right.

My high school best friend, who is also Ananda's first GS troop leader, and who's wedding I attended last year, wants a case of cookies. I'm meeting up with her after Algebra on Sunday, and I'm glad. We really don't see each other enough.

I managed to cram in an hour and a half with Kristin two nights ago, during which she fed me fabulous things, we showed each other way too many texts and pictures on our phones, and there was a lot of laughter.

However, I realized on the drive to the train this morning - which Grant passed sleeping in the second row of the van under a blanket since he feels like crap and it's an hour drive - that I have still not managed to find an opportunity to talk to my husband this week about things that happened on MONDAY.

I'm buying a french press because otherwise the next time someone outgrows their shoes I'm gonna have to be like, "sorry guys, from now on you wear old Starbucks cups on your feet".
altarflame: (Default)
We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. Grant surprised me by staying home from work the day before and helping me with cleaning, and he outdid himself with the setup he put together on the deck. I cooked and laughed and talked shit with my sister in the kitchen for several awesome hours. The weather was perfect, and it was great to laze about on the hammock with a blanket under many assorted children (including niece and nephew) when everyone was stuffed. We had several guests, including my father, who it was great to hang around with. I may or may not have drank an entire bottle of sangria between afternoon and midnight, along with at least 1.5 hard ciders. Thank goodness it was proportionate to the 17 meals worth of food I put away :p

Menu:

(me)
-brined and roasted turkey
-garlic mashed potatoes
-green bean casserole
-sweet potato casserole
-Rachel Ray's FABULOUS brussels sprouts with bacon
-corn on the cob
-cranberry sauce
-pineapple upside down cake
-stuffing (stove top...the only thing I "cheat" on because I love stove stop, damnitt)

(Laura, who was also gonna cook separately another day for her own family, and is 6+ months pregnant)
-macaroni and cheese
-gravy
-to die for herb and cheese biscuits
-pumpkin cheesecake

And Annie made some great iced tea.

I have some pics that I'll post sometime soon. Today was a day of leftovers, naps, lounging around outside, and taking a lot of tupperwares over to Kristin's for her annual Black Friday Potluck. Aaron stayed. Grant is up the road with Shaun. And I'm going to bed.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
Robby (my 16 year old nephew, not my 21 year old brother Bob that lives with us) came down for a week ♥ It was really good to see him. He just gets more vertical every time O_o

(walking to the trolley stop to go to GMYS)


Most beautiful roses ever, at BJ's. Sometimes I see flowers and they really take my breath away. Unfortunately flowers like this would be dead approximately 3 hours after purchase, so now they're my iPhone background.

iPhone! People! Last week I managed to completely submerge my phone in a cup of water while turned on and plugged in for like 10 minutes before I even realized. Obviously it was messed up. I went to the AT&T store and they were all "we don't sell the 3G anymore, you have to do a ($400) early upgrade". Anyway, I ended up at the Apple store, where they heard me out and gave me a brand new pre-charged phone that managed to be perfectly sync'd to my old messed up one. I just had to finger-sign on an iPad for it that I understood that my 1 year warantee was now void. HOW AWESOME IS THAT?




We spent most of Friday and Saturday scrubbing the hell out of the entire house, doing yardwork, and cooking and shopping, for Jake's party yesterday afternoon. Which I think was a raging success.

Pinata stuffing at the checkout:


Georgia double fisting cupcakes:


We ended up having 10 kids (not counting ours) and 7 adults (beyond the 3 that always live here). It was a huge success all around, everybody had a great time even though it POURED the entire day so everyone had to stay completely inside. I emphasized to everyone that they didn't have to worry about gifts, but still Jake got such wonderful stuff - K'Nex, a racetrack, art kits, Bakugans, new books. Shaun got him Super Mario Galaxy for the Wii and that was definitely a big hit right away.


3 kids showed up in costume, understandably misunderstanding "Halloween themed", so Grant ended up putting on his as well.


Hence, pinata wielding Jesus.




Big kids are like, pinatas, please. We're intellectuals.




Elizabeth is adorable.


And all the baby lusting mamas that are done can't get enough.


Hipsters talking about bikes for hours. Sheesh.


Although the middle one did make and bring this bread for the party, with some homemade red pepper dipping sauce:

And she tagged it on fb, "Happy Challa-ween!" :p SO YUMMY, it was still warm when she got here.

Naja and Georgia dressed Elise up, haha.


I really, really, REALLY WISH I had gotten pics and video of the awesome parade we did. For months, when we've asked Jake what he wants for his birthday, he tells us "a parade". At first I thought it was just about fanfare, but as time has passed it's come clear that a big part of it is about people "throwing candy at him", which is part of why the pinata only had non-edibles in it. Anyway, the weather was obviously a huge downer, but we made it work like whoa. I set Jake up in a chair in the dining room, with a bag, and we organized in the library and filed past him. It was almost 30 people, single file, each with an instrument of some kind, singing happy birthday and throwing candy at him as they walked by. After I got our guitars, recorders, violins, drums and the flute passed out we resorted to things like "this trail mix is your maraca". Let's just say the hallway was very very crowded afterward :D One grownup refused to participate: Jake didn't notice as he sat there saying "I LOVE THIS! I LOVE THIS!"

Epic.




Last night Adrian spent the night with A and A. All my younger kids were in a state of friend, new toys and sugar high ecstasy. Grant and I went with Shaun to LUSH and then out to dinner. I was laughing to the point that I was crying for like half of the outing. At least twice a waittress tried to talk to us and had to leave and come back a few minutes later because none of us could even speak. This is what happens when they plan videos together. He's spent the day up there with Shaun, today, filming, and I'm eager to see the results. Although I'm thinking he should have taken a ferret like we talked about...
altarflame: (eat lard)
There is a lot of very compelling ecumenism in my religion class - which I raved about here - that makes me think. One Saturday was all about "health and spirituality", citing studies that show things like open heart surgery patients being three times more likely to survive if they depend on a (any) religion, and the increased immune function of people who attend (any) religious services weekly. The lists of pros to being spiritual even in a philosophical (Buddhist, for instance) or solitary (meditation and feng shui) way is extremely long, and significant to (at least what I see as) quality of life - decreased stress, sense of connectedness, supportive community, meaning in loss, and a bunch of other things I can't remember right now.

We watched Baraka, and I was genuinely shocked to find we were looking at the inside of a Sufi (mysticism of Islam) temple in the middle east, because I had been sure it was Orthodox (mysticism of) Christianity - the priests dress the same, with the same hair and beards, and carry the same swinging incense past candles and everyone is kissing things and they have something locked up front that looks just like a tabernacle.

I sometimes find all this not in conflict with Christianity and very comforting overall; other times it seems to speak to a larger truth I can't quite put my finger on, but have been pondering over for years. Then it all blurs.

I'm sitting here staring at the word "larger" in the last paragraph.




(Sorry for the weird angles in a couple of these)

The mushroom soup I mentioned last night, full of spring onions and garlic and chicken and beef broths...I puree some of it and add it back in at the end. Yum.


We went over to Kristin's for the afternoon/evening last Saturday. Grant was working on her chicken coop and she made awesomely delicious spring rolls for us.

Chopped veggies.


Plus sprouts and boiled up rice noodles and a pack of spinach just out of the shot.


Kristin wrapping, Aaron and Oliver soaking more rice paper wrappers.






It's hard to be patient, especially when the cooks are taking their sweet time chatting and changing the music and feeding things to the bird.


She crushed a bunch of garlic and ginger into some soy sauce, too, and got out some rooster sauce. Kristin's big on presentation, there is lots more sauce out of the shot.

Mmm, pocky.



Kids love them!


Especially with fancy little glasses of pink tea.



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

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

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




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

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

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

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

Least favorite:

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




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

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

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

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

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




Grant has taken the higher paying Ft Lauderdale job and put in his notice at the lower paying local one. So that's scary-exciting-insertothervariableshere. We'll see!
altarflame: (Default)
Friday afternoon, Laura and I attended Bob's high school graduation ceremony with our five youngest kids in tow. Grant and Frank were working, A and A were at a friend's house (and the guests per graduate were limited). This was a big deal. Both of us cried at some point. I thought it was hilarious and sort of awesome that while many of the people walking up had a small crowd of adults, Bob got (in addition to Laura and I) five very small people standing on chairs all in a row, screaming and jumping for him.

He wore a cap and gown. He smiled more and more as time went on. I took a lot of video I'm excited about and keep wanting to view, though we keep not having time, and now the video camera battery has to charge again before we can copy the files.

I got him there, dressed and walking, by bribing him with his own batch of peanut butter fudge nobody else was allowed to touch. I made another batch earlier tonight for him to take to his teachers tomorrow (he's still in JobCorp's computer repair trade school and job placement program for 6 months or so...) since he told them about my bribe and they said it must be pretty damn good. This brings my total amount of peanut butter fudge made in the past week to 6 pounds.

Bob and I have had a lot of Seriously Deep Conversations lately. I feel pretty good about all of it.




Ananda and Aaron had such a great weekend that I almost feel jealous of them. No but really, I have been giddily happy for them. They stayed with Cybele (so, with Sophia and Adrian and many other kids passing through the house) from Thursday afternoon until late Saturday night. Friday at Cybele's was the TLC end of the year blowout pool party (TLC being "The Learning Club", the mostly kid organized and totally social homeschool group the 10-17 year old homeschoolers have kept going...) and at least 25 kids showed up.

Anyway Miguel, Cybele's oldest, had downloaded like 13 hours of music. Ananda and Sophia googled a recipe and made a chocolate cake from scratch, that they wrote "TLC" on with M&Ms. Adrian and Aaron went with Cybele to local dollar stores buying out all the glow sticks until they had hundreds. Many laughs about a robber on the roof that was really "that demon tree", a broken hammock that had had 6 teenagers in it, a lot of foosball and dorky references to Harry Potter, LOTR and science things later, the party peaked with all of them covered in glow sticks (chains around waists, glasses, crowns, bracelets and anklets and horns and so on) in the pool in the dark until around midnight. Cybele's pool is right on a canal where all the houses have docks, it's just awesome. She described it to me as "indescribable teenage magic".

The next morning nobody there could eat their breakfast through all the inside jokes referencing things from the night before.

This crush thing I mentioned previously, it's making her all glowy and extra excited but is still so innocent (she wants to shower before things involving him, which is weird and new, but still puts on a baggy tshirt after the shower). I remember GREAT magical times with friends during this transitional period she's at where things are changing...but they haven't really changed too much, yet.


The two of us got out my pregnancy book tonight, from when I was pregnant with her. I haven't looked in it in years. I told her I was one year older than Miguel, just Francois's age, when I was writing it and pregnant with her, which made her eyes bug out.

We have so much easy affection between us right now, it's awesome.




Grant and I took Isaac, Jake and Elise to Naja's birthday Tea on Saturday, and stayed there most of the day. Grant is building Kristin (Naja's mom, our good friend) a chicken coop for pay.

Then Bob stayed with them (he is increasingly capable of things like making everyone beans and rice and then turning on a movie, it's advantageous) and we went with Shaun to the Wynwood Art Walk, and then the Art Center of South Florida and Ghirardeli (sp) before picking up A and A late as heck (pre-approved...they'd only finished dinner on the patio like an hour before).

Today was a lot of cleaning the house in preparation of going out of town. Tomorrow is gonna be whirlwind-busy. I hope this Boca Raton trip is good :)

I got an email from lion brand yarn like I frequently do, and this one had this picture among others:


That struck me as VERY EASY to wing crocheting with no patter and things I have here, so now I'm almost halfway through one for Elise with one for Annie up next. Elise's is a variegated pink to fuschia cotton-kelp yarn (so soft), and I've made the chest start a little higher up and be a bit narrower/shorter in relation to the rest of it. Annie's will be off white and like the picture.

I only get to crochet if we're driving or I'm sitting around in Kristin's kitchen or something. Just like I only get to update this thing if I'm up in the middle of the night AGAIN with an allergy attack.

I have some stress about:
-a good friend in a really bad life situation
-another good friend in a really bad head/emotional space following a life situation change
(with both of those, it's partially that I have real worry for them and partially that conversation with them would normally be a big supplementary part of my social life :/)
-some personal issues re: food, weight, blah blah blah
-my mother
-money, especially as it pertains to a lot of bottle necking expenses with Aaron's birthday and paying on the kids' Youth Symphony camp and this and that

But it's mostly compartmentalized and mixed in with good things. There are a lot of things, every day. Good, bad and in between. I like my life being so full.

Grant and I are still doing very very well and part of not having time for crochet or the internet has to do with free time of any sort being allocated for long baths, trips out or extended time in a locked bedroom with him <3
altarflame: (NewFive)
Ananda and Aaron's social lives are EXPLODING...suddenly Ananda is not at all freaked out about going and spending the afternoon at Christina's or spending two nights in a row at Sophia's (both of which often involve being taken along to movies or stores where other kids they know are meeting up). Aaron whines at her to stay for 3 nights or a week - I think he would move in with Cybele if I wasn't careful O_o Aaron tells me he, Adrian and Logan have formed a gang and they call themselves the Ninja Dolphins. Both of them use the phrase "all my friends", as in, "All my friends are allowed to play Call of Duty!!", or "All my friends have cell phones!", or "Oh thanks for getting me these books all my friends have read them and I've been wanting to!"

They both expect and beg and plead to be able to go to TLC (the learning club, totally kid led and organized and somewhat older than PATH, but with a significant overlap) on Fridays, as well as their classes and PATH on Thursdays (and Girl Scouts on Mondays and Boy Scouts on Tuesdays and peoples' houses on the weekends....) This has led to them making lists of friends when I ask "like who?" about the "all my friends" thing that include names I'm not even familiar with.

At TLC last week I was on some blankets in the shade behind the library with a couple of other moms and little kids (Isaac, Jake, and Elise as well as Elise's best friend Georgia) and we were talking about how obvious it is that ANANDA and another boy who I won't name just in case there is some odd way it's found out...have CRUSHES ON EACH OTHER.

It's so crazily innocently adorable, watching her grin nonstop around him and how the two of them like orbit each other within the group that's walking around the track or nonchalantly sit near each other when everyone's sitting in the meeting rooms.




There have been a lot of really hilarious things said around here lately.

Grant: We're going to be a few blocks away for about an hour tomorrow, but we'll have our phones and I can come back for a minute if you guys need anything. We'll set you up with a movie before we go.
Aaron: Wait, where are you going?
Me: I have a doctor's appointment. You know how close Dr _____ is.
Ananda: She's getting her IUD.
Aaron: What's an "IUD"?
Me: It's a kind of birth control, so I don't get pregnant, since I really shouldn't get pregnant again with my belly messed up and all.
Aaron: *total confusion* How would you get pregnant?
Me: *incredulous* Babe you know how people get pregnant.
Aaron: *suspicious* Yeah, but how would YOU get pregnant?
Me: Uh, you may have noticed I'm married dear?
Aaron: *genuinely confused* So?
Me: So, married people generally have sex.
Aaron: *horrified* But you already did that!
Me: ...What? ...Aaron when people love each other and live together they usually want to "do that" on an ongoing basis.
Aaron: You mean...*shakes his head and walks out of the room, disgusted*

*sigh* Grant and I have been laughing and saying "But you already did that!!!" to each other a lot lately :p And of course Aaron needed a detailed scientific breakdown on how IUDs function in the following days as the initial horror wore off.

The little kids' ferrets usually come out for awhile each day and run around the house with at least loose supervision. During this time they ALWAYS steal all the shoes and hide them, generally under my bed in the corner where someone has to shimmy under there and slide over to collect them all for everyone. I mean it's wild and hilarious how consistent they are about it and to see them dragging shoes across the house, even though it's also somewhat irritating when we need to hurry up and go somewhere. They try to take shoes off of peoples' feet, and will even stand on their hind legs or leap in the air to get at a shoe held over their heads o_O

So anyway the other day we were headed out the door and I told Elise to get her shoes on. A couple of minutes later, from the back of the house I hear her screaming "FERRETS! FERRETS WAKE UP RIGHT NOW! WHERE ME SHOES IS FERRETS?!" This made me lol forever, picturing them napping in their hammock like usual while she stands at cage-height next to them with her bossy little fists on her hips.

When Kristin was here last week, she was commenting on how funny it is, that Elise has relatively complex thought processes that she obviously doesn't have quite the language abilities to express correctly yet. Apparently when Kristin walked in Elise had asked her, "You know nah song, 'Friday, Friday' - me hate nah song, STUCK ME HEAD!!"


Last night Jake was trying to get Isaac to let him in their room. Isaac had locked the door (they'd been playing chasing and hiding games). Jake was laughing and offering different strategies - threats, bribes, ploys, etc. Finally it went quiet for a minute and then G and I heard him knock calmly and say "It's Tina!"
altarflame: (AnniePurple)
I've realized there are a lot of people out there who seem to love our family and love reading my lj but not understand certain things, probably because I haven't explained them well/enough/while they're reading. Usually when this happens my opinion is, "Yeah, it's a blog, how can you assume you have the whole picture?" For whatever reason, though, this is different and makes me want to actually explain some things so people DO get it. In as much as people really can actually get it when they don't even know you.

So.

Ananda is not a brilliant amazing beautiful girl we've robbed of her chances at success by homeschooling her. She is brilliant, and amazing, and beautiful, but she's also complicated, and when I say that it's not me judging her or favoring Aaron - it's my way of shortening some of the following:

She has major social anxiety issues, and has since late infancy. She was a very delayed speaker because she was afraid to perform - when she did start talking, she had what gradually became a severe stutter, that intensified around anyone but us. I freaked about this, I changed pediatricians, I coached my in-laws on how to interact with her, because anytime anybody got impatient or tried to finish her sentences it got drastically worse, and when you could stay totally neutral and pretend it wasn't there, she would "warm up" over the course of a conversation. Thus, speech therapy would have been about the most horrible idea in the world. The ped we switched to was amazed at how well we got her out of stuttering - she continued to do it when she had a developmental leap for awhile, but not in between those leaps.

She was a brilliant artist, incorporating things like long distance perspective and facial expressions into paintings when she was only 2. I used to scan her art in all the time.

Those two things, now, clearly fit into the larger picture of dyslexia, which is not - as many people who are unexposed to it believe - as simple as reversing letters in your mind. It's a whole different way of thinking, her brain works differently. Dyslexic babies can spin objects in their minds to study them from all perspectives. Dyslexic children CAN'T think in words, which is really radical when you study it and consider it - it alters absolutely everything about their experience of daily life vs other kids. Often in good ways, like the artistry and the intuitive understanding of situations - but often in frustrating ways within our society because not thinking in words just does not fit with most traditional schooling methods. It took me a long time to understand that Ananda actually saw letters and numbers (and anything else) moving around on the page. And, of course, whole words and math problems and sentences...

Ananda had amazing visual and listening comprehension and a crazily off the chain attention span from very early, and she was artistic, and she soaked up things like recipes and science and history very easily. I was convinced because of how well she could understand complex things, and her vocabulary, and her exemplary behavior and mature manners, that she was far ahead of the curve when she was 3-5 years old. And she WAS! In those things. But when we started homeschooling she stayed at the same 4 year old level with recognizing and writing letters and numbers, and phonics skills, the whole time she was 5...and 6...and then she turned 7 and still wasn't even beginning to read. As a kid who had poured over book illustrations since infancy and loved to sit at the table and draw it was really counterintuitive to me that she was starting to hate schoolwork. As a well mannered and totally EASY little girl, it was strange to the extreme the way the tears and battles would start over something like, "let's go try to sound out some words". At this point Aaron COULD read, and I was getting kind of freaked out. We were beginning to understand dyslexia after I got a whole thing from PATH about dyslexia, and then talked to our ped about it, and remembered that Bobby (her biological father) is pretty severely dyslexic and it's hereditary.

I believe I helped her conquer her dyslexia and learn to read by systematically applying different approaches with great patience over a period of several months at a time until something worked. I don't believe she would have gotten that sort of treatment in public school. Ultimately, I don't have the foggiest fucking idea how she finally learned to read - she just DID one day. It was like something clicked into place, and bam, she could do it. It was also like a switch was thrown - she started reading, and stopped creating. Before this she was incredible with clay, obsessed with paint, went through crayons like mad...and it switched, no doubt about it. Now, she burns through several chapter books per week at an advanced level but she almost never wants to do any form of art. It still pops out when she's grieving or working through something, but that's kind of it.

I believe the patience, love, and breaks I gave her - along with the consistent chapter per night of reading aloud she's had basically her whole life - while we were working on reading are why she can love it now after such a long struggle, and also why she still feels good about herself and sees herself as a smart kid, even when her little brother was reading first and she would literally sweat and tremble trying to sound words out for years. I have my doubts about whether her self concept and enjoyment of books could have been preserved the same way in a school environment, particularly a school we could afford, in our town.

I have a great book called "The Gift of Dyslexia" that helped me to understand this as not a positive or a negative - but just how she thinks, why she is who she is. I also talked to her about it with an emphasis on the talents and positive quirks and famous dyslexics and read her the book My Name is Brain Brian.

This is one piece of the puzzle I label "complicated".

Then, there is some attachment stuff that is...intense. She lived with Grant as Daddy for months and then it switched very abruptly to Bobby, and then it switched back a year and a half later. My mother lived with us or visited constantly for the first 3 years, and then that stopped abruptly. My sister lived with us for the first year and a half and then Annie saw her twice the following year. I am the constant.

And she has had to deal with me dissapearing into the hospital and coming home incapacitated for weeks five different times during the first 8 years of her life. Most recently, she saw me dying and full of tubes in ICU and walked in on Grant packing my wounds. This was the same year the sister she was so excited about nearly died and we had to tell the kids about her brain and then backtrack and so on.

This shit is partially my fault, partially beyond my control, but all horrible. From the mornings when she wouldn't talk, make eye contact or get out of bed to the clingy and weeping over going to a Girl Scout Camp she loved and enjoyed, EVERY MORNING, and then admitting it was great that afternoon...Annie is different because of this stuff. She spends the night at her friend Christina's and goes over on Saturday afternoons, but Christina's parents needed to have an hour to just talk to me about her after the first time because they were really worried. This is the same for the girl who's house she used to go to all the time when she was younger. It seems like she can go somewhere a time or two or be in a big group like in science classes or at dance or camp or PATH events without attracting attention but anytime adults are around her one on one for awhile - like Grant Sr - I get a lot of "Is she ok?"

When I explained selective mutism to Christina's parents they IMMEDIATELY GOT IT which was a huge relief because I didn't have to explain much more. Their neighbor's boy is apparently the same way and so it clicked right away and they went "oooooh, just like ____, that makes total sense!"

Copy and pasted from Google Health:

Overview
Selective mutism is a condition in which a child who can speak well stops speaking, usually in school or social settings.
Symptoms
•Ability to speak at home with family
•Failure to speak in certain social situations
•Fear of people
•Shyness


Keep in mind this was a professional diagnosis from a licensed therapist, who then worked with her for several months and met with us together to get me to stop being mad at her for a seeming refusal to talk. Which I now feel terrible about. Some more:

Parents often think that the child is refusing to speak, but usually the child is truly unable to speak in certain settings...

This syndrome is not the same as mutism. In selective mutism, the child has the ability to both understand and speak, but fails to speak in certain settings or environments. Children with mutism never speak.


My daughter who just shakes her head and refuses to make eye contact when her friends call on the phone. Or her Grandma for so many years.

Ananda's is not just situational, though, she can participate in a group fairly well under certain conditions, but she absolutely cannot talk about certain things or when she's been thinking about certain things - namely traumas and separations.

I was incredibly proud of Ananda the other day, like crying from happiness holy crap proud, because she was talking about when Elise was in so much danger and then she said, "I didn't use to be able to talk about that. It was like my jaw was just stuck and I couldn't open my mouth no matter what I did." I told her about selective mutism for the first time, then, and gushed to her about what a huge breakthrough that is and how crazily happy for her I am. I saw the lightbulb in her eyes.

Also, three weeks ago I was checking her math work and something was completely changed. It took me a second - she still got something wrong here or there in her work (4 digit subtraction and multiplication, it was separate assignments), and her handwriting was still a bit messy, but...then it HIT ME - nothing was backwards! NOTHING. Not a single digit in either assignment. I blinked and started searching the pages and then went and showed Grant, who was as surprised as me. It's continued since and after the first week I told her, with a strong emphasis on hugs and pride. And she was all giddy-joyful-grins about it.

Both of these breakthrough make me feel very assured (along with her copious reading and her good self concept) that I am very much doing the right thing for her.

I'm sure she would figure out coping mechanisms to eventually deal with life at public school, and get by. I'm sure it would be torturously stressful for her for a very long time, and rob her of the opportunities she has every day to both explore and excel academically in areas she's interested in (because the amount of child-led learning that goes on around here is staggering) and work through and get past her emotional issues.

If you continue to think she would do fine/well/better in public school, good for you, we'll agree to disagree. But this crazily ignorant hoohaw of "kids adapt!" and "your whole family revolves around Aaron!!" (? this is not something anyone who knows us irl would just EVER think, it is so freaking out of left field) I'm seeing was starting to make me want to explode - dyslexia and selective mutism are not things homeschooling causes or that are just magically overcome by a desire to fit in, in a classroom. This is not a case of, "she's behind in some areas now when she would have been ahead in school", it a case of (as much as anyone can reasonably make an educated guess based on evidence at hand) "she's only a little behind in a couple of areas because she was homeschooled, and ahead in everything else, that's so awesome!". When I said I thought she would be the scholastic kid (out of her and Aaron...Isaac is clearly the scholastic kid at this point) was before we understood the things we do now - like, when she was 4. If you've been reading that long, I'd expect more of you.




On a lighter note, when we got to my friend Kristin's tonight, she was like...

Kristin: If you want to try some of that cake out there, it's got rum in it, and rum in the topping, and I poured rum all over the whole thing.
Me: Ah, right, so it's basically tres rums.
Kristin: Is there a spanish word for "rum"?
Keegan: I think it's just (rolling the r and flourishing her arm) Rrrum!!
Me: Sounds good to me. Tres Rrrums.

It was a banana rum cake and O_O it was soooooooooooooooooooooooo good, I was sitting there playing Candy Land with Elise and 4 year old Aidan and Kristen walked by and I was like...

Me: OOS ESS OOH OOT!
Kristin: *lol*
Me: *finger up, swallowing* Really! This...mmm, this is so good.
Kristin: You know WHY it's so good?
Me: ...because it's basically floating in rum?
Kristin: because it has a whole pound of butter in it. Like four sticks.
Me: O_O What have you done to me?
Kristin: Rum on it's own just makes a cake taste like rubbing alcohol but when you mix it up with enough butter and sugar WOO BOY!
Me: *looking warily at my plate*

I really ate too much of it. But. Om nom nom.

And, when we got home (without all the boys, who are spending the night at Kristin's along with about 15 other kids) it was so sweet to sit up with Ananda and Elise cuddling in bed for an hour just reading (D'Aulaire's) Greek myths and the I Love You storybook Nancy gave us as we left Boston ♥
altarflame: (Default)
-A bedroom with turquoise walls that call up the ocean that might not be permanent, after all, for me. Full of plants and antique telephones and prints of things like Cuban women dancing and my gorgeous Spanish grandmother in her pin-up lovely days. With a four poster bed hung with red and purple blankets to make a cave where Aaron and Elise are asleep, surrounded by books. Could I be richer?

-my bathroom, full of mermaids and the soft, sleepy peeping of silkie bantam chicks under their heat lamp, where I can soak in the hottest largest bath full of the best smelling, most enormous mounds of bubbles as I read poetry in soft lights

-a broad expanse of clean carpet I can do fiften minutes of stretching on in silence, once everyone is asleep

-MIA's "Paper Planes" and dancing away the evening in a kitchen big enough to dance in with five children who all want to dance with me

-my henna-painting, root beer making friend Kristin, with her foul mouth and her groovy music and her irresponsible, irresistable urges to come to NY with Aaron and I just to share a SoHo studio

-my little sister who sends me home with risotto, mushroom-shrimp-red pepper yum, and red chilean wine even when I just stop by for a minute

-prayer

-my old high school AP English teacher, a literary snob who leaves scathing critiques and rare praise on the poems I post to facebook and has offered to peruse my short stories




Jacob is not easily explained, but I always wish I could conjure him up well for people reading. He is fiercely, shockingly independent. He is only what most people think of as "a good kid" because most of his own spontaneous urges are good ones; definitely not because he listens to or obeys adults. He also has a strong policy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

The other day he said, "Dad, what would you do if you were a fire-breathing dragon?"
Grant: I'd try really hard to be careful with you guys.
Jake: No, I mean a MEAN, HUNGRY fire breathing dragon!
Grant: I guess I'd eat you all.
Jake: Oh no you wouldn't, because I would kill you, and then I'd be famous for killing the fire breathing dragon and everyone would like me.
Grant: But wouldn't you be sad because you didn't have a dad anymore?
Jake: No. I'd just go knock on some house's door and ask the people there to be my new Dad.

Tonight, I was sitting at the dining table doing school work with Isaac and Elise when there was a loud, sudden beating on the front door. I got up to go look and the door slammed open - Jake stepped into the house wearing sunglasses and shoes (he doesn't typically put on shoes to play in the yard), his arms up and spread out wide holding my cat, Chrysanthemum. Her fluffly belly was covering his face almost completely. "I got her, Mom!"
Me: What were you doing out there? You know you're not allowed out front without a grown up.
Jake: I was in the side yard and I saw Creesanamum get out, and RUN OUT FRONT, so I followed her, but she went in Rita and Ken's yard! So I got my shoes and my glasses on and I knocked on Rita and Ken's door and they came, and I asked them if I could go in their backyard because my cat was in there, and they said yes. But I needed help with the gate."
For reference, I have only knocked on Rita and Ken's door three times in the two years we've lived here - I've never been inside, and went in the backyard only once, with Rita. Jake has met them once previously.

One day recently I took the kids to my sister's and they were eating her out of house and home. She had already given them ham rolls, apples and cheddar cheese, along with some crackers and who knows what. I was like, listen, enough! I fed you before we left our house; I'll feed you again when we get home! After about 15 minutes passed, Aaron came to Laura and I where we were sitting and asked if he could have an apple sauce, which he was holding. I said no, and to please not get food out of her fridge at all - he could ask without going and getting the thing. Just as I was saying this, Jake walked past us all nonchalantly, eating an opened and half-finished apple sauce with one of Laura's spoons. She and I looked at each other and burst out laughing (before I went and talked with him about this). This is what I'm talking about.




Teaching all five kids on a regular basis is still new and I'm in a transitional phase with it, for sure. Ananda is largely self-motivated and needs minimal intervention for her grammar/spelling, math review and handwriting type stuff. Aaron and I are constantly struggling to get him doing as much as he should be, and finding creative ways to get everything in...later this week he's going to be assigned doubling a baking recipe to serve us all and making it the whole way through, and figuring out measurements to then build something, because I'm tired of trying to force him through boring math drills at the moment. He is THRILLED about this. The two of them still love Right Start Math lessons, I just don't get to them daily. They, and Isaac, love and adore History of the World history when we do it all together, but that is about once a week. Isaac, Jake and Elise are doing workbook-work at good levels I'm happy with, but it's the kind of hovering constant interaction stuff that is tedious, especially when all three of them are working simultaneously and I keep having to tell someone not to interrupt someone else and it all seems to be echoing off the tiles.

Mostly this week I enjoyed explaining the Fourth of July to them, and the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, and then playing it as we decorated our annual flag cake with berries. It was also good exploring Sunset Place (as many stairs as Jared's palace at the end of Labrynth, but vine-covered rather than MC Escher'd) with Elise, and I'm liking reading Schooled to Ananda.

Money stress has been fierce.
Usborne work has been constant.
Grant is getting us reimbursements for everything from an eye exam Aaron needs to vet exams for the cats by being an increasingly dedicated mystery shopper. It's also provided free gas, pizza and snacks - you know, in addition to the actual payment. We sat the kids down in a circle on the deck with some brownies last weekend and explained to them Daddy's new role...as a spy.




I am really torn between being scared, and dismissive, about threats that various scientists are talking about the oil spill - and the vast amounts of methane gas trapped underneath it - posing to Florida. Everything from Super Hurricanes to clouds of poisoned gas to a fucking tsunami (that was even in the Time NewsFeed after being reported independently by two non-affiliated science-guy sources, at the Huffington Post and some other place I can't recall). On the one hand, I really don't think we have enough information to take any sort of drastic fear-based action. On the other hand, I really don't believe we would ever get that much information if the threats were real, as our nation doesn't really have the resources to simultaneously evacuate the entire state and quell the resulting hysteria.

*shrug...?*
altarflame: (Bloody Hell)
So far today I've eaten:

-a tiny bit of canteloupe
-a few sugar snap peas
-a bunch of leftover roasted cauliflower from last night
-a donut
-some apple slices with cheddar cheese

It's kind of like that Sesame Street song, One of these things is not like the others...

I am extremely tired. There is not really a way to express this tiredness. I woke up almost panicking about how hard it seemed to get out of bed; "Am I pregnant?! Am I diseased?! Internal bleeding?!" (my guess is no, no and no,btw)

I just...I dunno. Monday was a whirl of blitzcleaning and dropping off our van to be serviced (tires and oil) and getting dropped off back over there to pick it up only to find it needed more work and I was stranded, and more blitzcleaning, and email and phone planning, as I anxiously awaited what Nancy would say about the portion of one of my books that I'd mailed her. Late that night I got replies, she said she was breathless, she'd cried, I gave her goosebumps, it was crazy! Crazily awesome.

Tuesday I got up on almost no sleep and ran out to the store in the prius, and Starbucks for caffeine, and did more last minute cleaning, and got all the kids up and dressed, and Nancy came. And it was a GREAT visit - we went through my partial manuscript and she gave me names and numbers for doctors and nurses she thinks I should quote and even sort of hinted around about writing a foreword for me, it was really exciting, but more than that she is just so WONDERFUL to have around in her own right. We ate and talked and laughed and I got pictures of her reading to all the kids. Grant and I managed to co-cook while she was here and she drove me to get my van out of the shop...where it turns out I had to pay $743. When I had just payed $512 the day before when it hadn't been done. New shocks, new brakes, they fixed the interior lights and on and on. ARGH we were not prepared for almost $1300 in sudden vehicle expenses. And then it was sad to have Nancy leave, but I was still happy. My mother in law called to say that Robby would be getting out of the hospital the next day (Wed) which is WONDERFUL and...I am so proud of him. When I visited him over the weekend we talked so much about how I can't help him if he's in residential treatment,a nd if he keeps taking so many unneeded meds he really will go crazy, and he actually took my advice and broke down and told the people in there that he was exaggerating and trying to get attention and quit acting. I am sure that was extremely difficult to do.

Wednesday is always madness, I have to get A and A to their 3 in a row dance classes up in Tamiami and get Isaac and Jake to AWANA down here in Homestead during the time the classes are going on. Everyone was on time, Ananda with her hair bunned and Aaron with his shoes found...Jake and Isaac with their vests on and books and dues in hand and verses memorized. Elise doesn't want to sit in the van that long - she stayed at my mil's this time, which they all loved. Including Robby, who was home. We worked out that he would come here for the next two days and then spend the weekend with her, when she's off work. So I had to go home and clean clean clean again because Robby's therapist was coming here to meet him, and read to everyone and blah blah blah. And go out and do late night shopping because I was going to have two teenaged boys here for Thursday and Friday, eating. The good news was that my brother's stupid transcripts FINALLY CAME IN THE MAIL FOR JOBCORPS. So he and I made a whole plan for the next day and I tried to get him to go to sleep earlier. He took it upon himself to shave with Grant's trimmers, wonders will never cease. Aaron was finishing all of his schoolwork for several days running, too.

Thursday was like:
-wake up at 7:45 (did I mention I got to sleep around 5 am?), nurse Elise back down to sleep
-take Bob out to JobCorps with bus fare for the return trip and a lot of instructions
-get home in time to meet Robby at the door arriving
-talk with him for half an hour while I made a heaping massive pile of french toast, turkey bacon and sliced oranges - he is very easy to talk with, I really enjoy his company
-get Ananda and Aaron up, the 4 of us had breakfast
-get Jake and Elise up and dressed, and then Isaac up and dressed, and serve the three of them breakfast
-enforce Ananda and Aaron's morning chores
-wake Grant up and get him breakfast and tell him there are frozen pizzas for lunch as I collapse for a nap
-up at 2, take a shower with G, check in with Bob about how it went at JobCorps, then rush everyone out the door along with a bag of packed snacks and some other accessories, to PATH
-Where everyone plays with friends, my kids did more physical fitness testing, I told my friends about Nancy's reaction to my book
-drive to Ron Ehman park, near the location of Aaron's special rehearsal - great driving talk and music with Robby. Tetherball, swinging, it was good, until Elise face planted in the sand off a swing badly - mouth, eyes and nose FULL of sand, one hand swollen and I thought it might be broken until she was nursing and calming down...her and Annie and I walked around the path alone, talking, and then Aaron sat on a bench with Elise and I for awhile talking, and then I snuggled with Jake until it was time to go
-we go drop Aaron off at his special rehearsal (for the dance competition at the end of the month, in Orlando. That his dance teacher is paying for, she wants him competing with her so badly. She begged me with tears in her eyes to let him do it O_O )While he did that, the rest of us made the trek to my mil's and back to get Robby's meds for the night and morning so he could just spend the night instead of coming back all early again. By this point I had a movie on in the van to placate the little ones and Robby was buying their compliance with mini-marshmallows. We talked about the autism spectrum, dairy, Lily Allen lyrics and our mutual... admiration for Taylor Lautner. With him and Taylor it's apparently sort of destiny, since Robby once stumbled upon him signing autographs at a Hot Topic AND he used to watch Sharkboy and Lava Girl when he was a kid. They're basically engaged.
-HOME. Everyone is starving and in and out of the kitchen while I make creamy mushroom chicken, roasted broccoli and some whole grain rice a roni.
-we eat. I give Isaac a bath with the special dyes-the-water-pink things he got for his birthday, and then Jake and Elise a bubble bath, and get them all in footed pajamas. Force Annie to brush her hair. Read to people and they go to sleep. Realize Robby is already out and cover him with a blanket. Argue with my brother about washing dishes.
-read a bunch of fan fiction til Grant gets home from work and we have some unusually strained conversation about his tendency to take after his dad and have expectations of me that lead to scolding when I don't meet standards
-come to some kind of resolution and black out in his arms - this was like, I don't know, 4 am.

Friday, I got woke up by people telling me Darrien and Naja had just arrived at 11:15. They were supposed to arrive at 1 so everyone was asleep and Robby let them in since he was on a couch near the door. They're my friend Kristin's kids and she's going through a divorce and doing CNA school on Fridays - so whenever her mom has something that interferes with her watching them on a Friday, they come here. They are great and no trouble, I just wasn't expecting them yet. Apparently the grandma was confused about a lot of details. This day turned out good though - partially because I went on my second Starbucks run of the week and refueled before I did anything else. We had nowhere to go but a potluck dinner at Kristin's later in the night and it was fun. I had Naja and Elise up on a step stool helping me make scones, Isaac had people to play cards with, Bob even went out and played with Darrien in the yard (Darrien idolizes Bob). I did catch Aaron and Darrien trying to light the grass on fire o_O Mostly it's surprisingly relaxed and not as loud as you would expect - we watched The Office by ourselves before G had to go to work.

When Kristin arrived from school my sister was in normal postpartum sahm crisis on the phone, stranded with no vehicle, and so we rearranged some carseats and rescued her. The potluck ended up awesome...I brought roasted cauliflower, sliced tomatoes and REALLY good lemon butter scallops. Kristin had HOMEMADE BUTTERNUT SQUASH RAVIOLI with a sage butter full of mushrooms on top, and homemade fettucinni with homemade pesto and OM NOM NOM. My sister brought her donut pans and made donuts while we passed Elizabeth around. Jake ate like...15 garlic rolls for dinner, and was in heaven. Brian, my sister's son, even did really well. I felt very useful corralling him off to be alone when he got overstimulated and taking him to the bathroom to "try" every so often.

It was REALLY BIZARRE when we all arrived in the driveway. Kristin's sister was there and they are the same height, same thin build, each wearing tight jeans and a clingy, long sleeved dark green top, with the same assymetrical, shorter in the back haircut. Keegan's is purple, but whatever. Different colored Converse. Laura and I both had on the same jeans, a black shirt, same proportions, basically same height and skin tone, different colored Kinos (flip flops). We're standing across the driveway in pairs aghast before everyone starts laughing. Carina, who's house Kristin is sharing, thought it was kind of hilarious and said if her sister was there it would have been even worse.

By the time the talking, the cooking, the eating, the dessert, and more talking were done, and we had gotten toys squared away and dishes and sweeping done and all of it, my kids and I got home at like 12:30. Snuggling, teeth, books, bed.

I woke up today and Robby had been picked up, people had eaten breakfast. Grant is off. The two of us walked over to a lot a block down and shot arrows. Now he's listening to some educational podcast with the 3 biggest ones.

THIS IS WHY I HAVE NOT BEEN UPDATING. How am I supposed to update?!

I have pictures I want to post and will try to.


IF YOU HOMESCHOOL: I have been meaning to tell everyone that Kumon workbooks, which are AWESOME, are currently 4 for 3 on Amazon, with free shipping. I ordered 14 of them for the older 4 of my kids, mid-week, and it was only $76 total. Which is a really good deal.

Also, if you go to cricketmags.com and use the code N401, you can get year subscriptions to really high quality, no-ad kids' magazines for only $24.95. Usually they are $33 each. I've been wanting a couple for a year now and finally went ahead and got Muse for A and A and Ask for Isaac.
altarflame: (GaGa)

Shaun shaved, and now I think he really screams "filmmaker"


This is Grant, intensifying his hatred for and resentment of our cats (it's his mom's new puppy).


And this is us, pretty frequently.


Isaac turned 6, as previously documented only through text.


Brian, Darrien, Jake and Naja wanted to help.




And that is my feet by the faucet.


Oh yes. I think I need at least three hours watching the steam rise off the water every week lately.


Aaron being Aaron.



Also Aaron (hip hop class):

My video editing program is crashing, so the first minute and 20 seconds of this video is just them standing there. Sorry about that. Feel free to skip ahead to the good part :) I actually think the previous run through was superior, because he didn't know he had a camera trained on him.

Elise watching him.


And Ananda doing schoolwork during her free hour at Dance Empire.


Goofing around in the van.


Jake is wearing his little Cubbies vest back there. He LOVES AWANA so much.


Flash does funny things to Elise and I both.


All five of my kids at the zoo.


There are a lot of parts of my life right now. I'm stretched thinly over a lot of area, mostly in a good way. Obviously not always. Some of it:

I'm getting really close to Kristin, and love it, like we're real friends - the kind you can ask for favors or call up at 10 pm just to talk.

Nancy and I talk and email everyday. She'll be here to spend the day with us on Tuesday. This is wonderful in and of itself and then, also, I emailed her the first 10,000 words of this book I'm writing (!). So I'm waiting to hear back on tenderhooks (...so to speak? wth? tenderhooks, really?) and hoping she will be brutally honest but also REALLY LOVE IT :p

Robby spent the night again last weekend, and was here two days ago. He hugged me and helped with the dishes. Then yesterday he took like 20 Zolofts and now he's back at Miami Children's. My mother in law called me crying her eyes out tonight because none of us feel capable of helping him...they're talking about residential treatment and it kind of breaks my heart. His sister Nadia (11, bipolar, schizophrenic) has been in and out of residential for years; her twin Patrice has never had any mental health issues. Robby is so smart, and he's so...dangling on some precipice...it really gets me.

And I feel like somebody needs to do something for Patrice because holy shit this is too much for her. She spent the night with Robby last weekend. We were all eating dinner and going around asking "What was the best part of the day for you?" and when we got to her, she said "I don't know how to choose! It's all so wonderful!!" with this giddy excuberance like my messy house is some sort of wonderland, and it breaks me heart man! I do not know what to do. Robby specifically requested I be put on his list and given his password so I imagine I will be at Miami Children's this weekend at least once.

I've been listening to a lot of music, downloading a lot of music. I got a beautiful special edition red iPod nano in the mail and I'm kind of in love with it, and then again sort of considering sending it back because, well, that would be a lot of Lush products I could get and I can always burn cds for the van and plug earbuds into my laptop. Lily Allen, Kate Nash, Frou Frou, Cat Power, Regina Spektor (Consequence of Sounds and That Time, this week), Emiliana Torrini, The Blow's "True Affection", Hurts to Purr, A Particularly Vicious Rumor.

I'm having a very hard time with Aaron - as far as getting him to do schoolwork or chores or act "normal" around people. He is incredible at communicating with me one on one and at participating in group activities and at anything musical or physical, but sometimes lately he really seems like a true autistic savant...I haven't felt so stumped and frustrated by his obvious sensory issues since he was 3.

We had tea today, outside, for the first time in what felt like forever. We went around and the questions were, first, what are you looking forward to, and second, what are you dreading.

Ananda is looking forward to Nancy's visit and dreading her period.
Aaron is looking forward to his dance competition next month and dreading his chores tomorrow.
Isaac is looking forward to Easter (because it's a "finding constest" and he's so exceptional at finding things) and dreading his next belly ache (he gets them a lot...he has a really sensitive gut).
Jake and Elise didn't really understand the questions well enough to say things that made sense.

My kids and I joke around almost constantly. They always try to get me to say "What?" when we pull up at the house, so they can answer, "We're home". I refuse if I'm on to them. But they get me kind of a lot, often in hilarious ways. Once in a blue moon I get one of them, but mostly they ban together and warn each other.

Aaron has gotten so good at making me laugh uncontrollably that I have to threaten him through it, when I can breathe, that I can stand him in the corner while I'm laughing, and just because he's funny doesn't mean he's not in trouble.

I frequently call them horrible names like putzes and oozing warts and threaten them with consequences like ripping their arms off and beating them with it. "If you don't get out of that bath, I will go outside, dig a hole under this house, light a fire in it, and make soup out of you".

Me: Don't make me eat you.
Ananda: *rolling her eyes* You can't eat me.
Me: Watch me.
A: It would be gross, and I'm way too big.
Me: Why do you think we have a blender?
A: I know you hate purees.
Aaron: She does have a point about that.
Me: Well, I could use it to thicken soup.
Aaron: she does do that with bean puree.
Ananda: If you eat me, you're gonna have to explain it to Dad.
Aaron: And the police.
Isaac: I would help her keep it a secret.
Jake: GET THE BLENDER!!!!!

I've been in insane hypersexual mode. Not eating especially well and not especially caring. And never ready to get out of bed when it's time. Always grabbing more music off the computer and a bag of snacks as we head out the door, always reading and reading and reading out loud in the dark to someone(s).

I feel very alive and like I can dig this life.

My brother is pushing it, though.
altarflame: (babylegsIsaac)
Monday - Don't remember.

Tuesday - got up early-early, drove to Delray Beach, hung out with Nancy. We walked on boardwalks in wetland preserves, had lunch at a little natural market, and visited this new women's center called The Red Tent (!) that was awesome. It was a really great time, we caught up on everything in each others' lives and cried almost anytime we weren't laughing. She has such an uplifting spirit, and loves in this way you can just feel rolling off of her <3 On the way home it was me, a grande caramel macchiato, some really good music and then...I was almost out of gas. And stopped for gas. And my card wouldn't work. I'd checked the bank that morning - what I think must have happened is a security check since I was out of town and had already used it a couple of times? Anyway the (very cool) cashier chick had somehow let me pump the gas without paying yet and so I was standing there, like, uh....I can't pay you? She ended up paying for it herself and I wrote her a check. This is many in a long recent line of incidents that add up to what I believe to be lesbians hitting on me increasingly often. Trust me, you had to be there. Back at the ranch, I was so happy to take Elise and then Jake on bike rides, read to kids, generally get back into them and find them so happy to see me.

Wednesday - Normal Wed. chaotic lot of schoolwork and activities EXCEPT that Aaron told me his dance teacher wanted to talk to me, after I picked them up. So I went in by myself and we sat on the floor, and geeeeeeez people...she was tearing up twice talking about my son. Tawanna has choreographed awards shows, she's been on Arsenio Hall and danced with P. Diddy at the VMAs; she taught Usher how to dance. And she really, REALLY believes in my son, to the tune of "we'll pay for this convention it's a part of for him, but he has to compete with us in Orlando next month". O_O

Thursday - PATH was really great. Kristin and my sister were both there. PATH involves a 10 minute each way walk to and from my friend Michelle's car, these days, as she leans on me with her messed up knee. We laugh the whole way about the curbs being mountains and how I need to quit trying to make her sprint (like when I take a normal sized step). I did about 5 solid hours of house cleaning that night, with all the troops mobilized and helping.

Friday - Kristin's kids, Darrien and Naja, were dropped off at 9 am (second night this week that I was in bed for 4 hours). Elise idolizes Naja and A and A have a lot of fun with D, who also adores Grant and Bob. It was easy and I did A LOT of cooking in the AM - a VAT of strawberry oatmeal for everyone, big pots each of white bean chicken chili and kale and bean soup, a huge spinach and chicken salad for Grant and I. Kristin ended up staying after she came to get them - after a massive round of crude jokes and uproarous gossip (her own) - partially because they did not want to leave and partially because we had a date with "The Big Lebowski". Shaun came over to, we all had cheesecake, and then halfway through the movie people were falling asleep and it broke up.

Saturday - ISAAC'S BIRTHDAY! I have some pics and video I will post when I can. It was really good. I cannot believe one of my LITTLE kids is SIX! Aaron had a rehearsal for the competition and I drove him to that. While he rehearsed, I went to Lush again with money my Mama sent in my Valentine's Day card and got more awesome goodies, including Curly Wurly shampoo. We stopped to pick up party supplies on the way home. Isaac really wanted a store cake he had spotted, this year. Grant cleaned a ton while Aaron and I were gone, it looked great when we got back. And Isaac looooooved his party. Opa came with Patrice with presents, Oma came with Chuck and Robby and presents, my sister brought her kids, Kristin came back with Darrien and Naja, Shaun was over again, and he was basically in sugar and gift heaven all day long. We made his requested birthday dinner of shrimp, macaraoni and cheese and sparkling grape juice for a table of 11, as Patrice and Robby ended up spending the night. It is so fun to watch him receive things, he is so genuinely thrilled with each thing. For those who know what it means, his love language is TOTALLY gifts, and it really shows.

They are all out there now, it sounds like they've transitioned from making birthday cakes and cookies out of playdoh on the deck to indoor hide and seek. Robby is playing computer RPGs with my brother. He's wearing gray SPANDEX JEANS, with a black tshirt with neon pink and green designs on it, and a black suit jacket. And Ugg-ish black boots. All his hair is chemically straightened but thick and shaggy. And he's like 9 feet tall. Really though, he's towering over Grant and Bob at this (very narrow) point. It's crazy. He really dug looking through all my Lush goodies with me, as I suspected he would.

Grant is currently retrieving my sister's car key from her house so he can go to the fire station where Frank has parked their vehicle, with all the slings and the Kozy carrier in it, leaving my sister stranded.

I am hoping this day includes a long bike ride, and a good bath. Our tax return is in so we have some budgeting to do. And, it's Sunday, so I can eat chocolate, which I gave up for Lent. So far I had a breakfast of a soft cheese, pesto and prosciutto sandwich, leftover roasted broccoli and two cadburry cream eggs. Yeah, definitely a long bike ride ;)

I am going to leave you with this crazy video that Shaun showed me last night. Having watched it all the way through, I thought it was worth it.

May 2017

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