altarflame: (deluge)
I think that part of the purpose of school uniforms is supposed to be that they cost less than "designer clothes." But they cost SO MUCH MORE than *I* typically ever spend on clothes! The uniforms I've bought Isaac and Elise DO hold up really well, and I appreciate that about them, but, gah! Elise especially is still at an age when cheap clothes are outgrown before they fall apart, anyway, so if I get her $4 pairs of shorts off the table-shelves at Target that's just fine.

Her preschool had a policy of "just" wearing the preschool's tshirts every day, with whatever bottoms you chose. They were $10 each. So I spent $50 for 5 tshirts for her at the beginning of the year, and then about $30 more throughout fall and winter because some of the originals got so stained up (since, you know, preschooler), and one just vanished. Then in February, I had to spend another $50 because the old shirts suddenly didn't fit anymore. While those costs are not the end of the world, I would straight up never normally spend $130 on tshirts for a 4 year old in one year! This is leaving aside the laundry nightmare of realizing you don't have a clean uniform shirt in the morning and always having to plan for this, or seeing something grimey on one that had just come out of the dryer, and losing your mind that 2 months into ownership you can only find 3 of the 5 shirts no matter how you tear the house apart.

I fantasized regularly about walking in there and dropping hundreds of dollars on shirts so it would never be a problem again. They were stacked up there all tantalizing, behind the desk by the door.

I'm looking at the prices for uniforms for this school Ananda and Aaron just got into, now. Thinking, "WHAT?"

Lately, Ananda normally wears a mixture of stuff she's blatantly stolen from Laura and I (mostly things we don't fit in anymore anyway), 2 giant garbage bags of awesome expensive barely used stuff from her friend Mia, who was going away to college, a few things she's traded with her friend Izzy, Hot Topic shirts she buys herself with saved up allowance money when they're having special promotions, and things we've found at Goodwill. The only clothes I've really bought her new over the last couple of years are the one formal outfit she needs for orchestra performances, $4 blank shirts from craft aisles for her to paint her derby number on for bouts, and really nice socks, bras and underwear. Ok and there were tights and leggings in her Christmas stocking and they all get pajamas on Christmas Eve. You get the point.

How am I supposed to spend much on clothes for her, when we've went from making rent-to-own payments on her cello to financing her braces? We've replaced her skates, upgraded her knee pads and helmet, and taken her on 3 derby trips, this past year. Fancier clothes are obviously not a priority to her, since all she wants for every birthday is more books and art supplies.

Aaron, Isaac and Jake mostly wear trash bag loads of really nice (sometimes still new with tags) clothes from a family we know with three boys who are all a little older than our boys. This past December I did stock them all up when Old Navy was having an absolutely ridiculous sale - I got them something like a dozen outfits (combined) for around $200, to fill in the gaps in their wardrobes. Before that I can't remember the last time I bought them any new clothes but socks and underwear, except for Aaron's dance things, Isaac's cheerleading stuff, Halloween costume pieces, etc.

And also of course about $600 for Isaac's uniforms, for 3rd and 4th grade, counting things he outgrew mid-year in 3rd. I mean, damn!

The point is that I was looking at the required uniforms for this school Ananda and Aaron just got into, and it's even worse than Isaac's school uniform prices. I mean the pants are $25 per pair, and on cold days their only outerwear options are a school hoodie or windbreaker that is $35, either way. Shorts are $22. There are like 5 styles of shirt, all $14-17. Those prices do NOT include getting the school's logo embroidered on all the tops (shirts and outerwear), which it has to be. I guess hey're not super unreasonable prices taken individually, but I'm sitting here thinking that even if I'm VERY modest (like 5 regular shirts, and one long sleeved, 3 pairs of pants, 2 pairs of shorts, and something for cold days, each) it's going to be $500. And I'm really not convinced that will be enough. And I'm damn well certain Aaron is going to outgrow everything I get him by Christmas and need all new stuff. Assuming he doesn't destroy the pants' knees long before that. AND I AM COMPLETELY SURE THAT AS SOON AS HE STARTS THEY'RE GOING TO SEND HOME A LIST OF DANCE CLOTHES AND SHOES HE NEEDS TO WEAR ONLY FOR THOSE HOURS OF THE DAY.

I honestly don't understand how mandated school uniforms can be legal at free public schools. I mean I've always been ideologically opposed to school uniforms regardless, although I'm less vehemently so now than I used to be, but really - I'm 100% sure the cost is not possible for some families out there. What do those parents do? I'm picturing some poor exhausted people having to do school laundry every single night.

Something sucky that has seemed to be the case thus far is that the uniforms don't take the place of "regular" clothes, either - the kids still need just as many of those anyway, since they don't want to wear their uniforms outside of school, and you wouldn't let them even if they did (because then they'd be stained and worn out twice as fast).

Ok, I'm done.

Today was productive without being nuts (roasted chickens, sewed something for Annie, planned out/crafted/rehearsed their Mythologically Speaking presentations with them, grocery shopped, made an appt) and tomorrow is one of our ridiculous nonstop days. But then Friday is almost totally open, and next comes the weekend. For now, sleep sounds luscious.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
WHOA I'm suddenly feeling completely overwhelmed by an avalanche of what seems, at the moment, to be totally unmanageable. Kid things, homeschool things, college things, house things, holiday things, doctor things, activity things, health things, budget things, just. *deep breath*

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

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

Just a few random tidbits from my swirling thoughts:

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

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

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

My tumblr queue is very full and will be posting automatically for at least a week, and I have some great pictures that I'll hopefully find time to throw up here at some point in the next few days :)
altarflame: (deluge)
-Got a credit card for the first time in over a decade, now that a lot of very old shit is off my credit and I can do that.

-Ordered a dress I've lusted over for months, that was suddenly marked down to clearance, i.e. half price (not with the credit card...reverse order and within budget).

-Did about 3 hours of homework, at Starbucks.

-Two hours at home, too...5 classes and all that.

-Went and had thai food with my kids, Gloria, and LJ, after a fortuituous budgeting error in our favor was reconciled.

-Bled way too much, took a very long nap, drank lots of clorophyll, ate a fine ass grilled steak and lots and lots of green veggies in the name of not dying re: anemia.

-Learned the basics about Syria and what the hell is going on over there.

-Went to a park with my sister and her kids, and a couple of mine, for a walkabout, animal-feeding sort of playdate...too many cramps, but the rain was pretty.

-Programmed a million dates into my phone, re: dance carpool, dentist appointments, GMYS, derby practices, my classes, etc.

-Watched the first episode of "Orange is the New Black," with Grant (2nd forthcoming).

-Felt way too lonely and weirdly isolated in my day to day life.

-Had some regenerative and fucking amazing sex.

-Clipped coupons and grocery shopped.

That is all I have time to remember. I really love those of you who continue to hang onto LJ as a sharing medium :) The ones on my friends page, and the ones coming and reading. I like that this still exists <3
altarflame: (deluge)
Rave #1:

A couple of weeks ago I ordered some seriously lovely lingerie from - it was a big splurge that (Grant and) I would do over in a heartbeat. They've very well reviewed around the web, in blogs and videos, as being Agent Provocateur-level awesome, but plus sized. I called and talked to someone about sizing questions (top vs bottom sizing, particular proportions, how various things run) and she was very nice and helpful, we tweaked my existing order, and everything fits great.

Best of all! There are current coupon codes better than anything I've ever seen them offer before.
RMN15 for $15 off of $100+
RMN30 for $30 off $150+
RMN75 for $75 off of $250 or more (all good til 3/31/13).

Also, upon ordering, I found that they offer $5 flat rate US shipping - and my stuff arrived 4 days after I ordered it :D I may or may not have been eagerly refreshing the FedEx tracking page every minute until it arrived.

I've never owned non-practical sexy lingerie before. If you haven't either, GET ON THAT RIGHT AWAY. I was totally blown away by my reflection in the mirror, and my husband approved x10. It was very, uh, inspiring for both of us ♥

I will definitely be a return customer, albeit yearly or something else within the realm of sanity like that.

Rave #2:

I am falling in love with Marshall's. Do you know how they have a gourmet and foodie type aisle of non-perishables, and several aisles of quality kitchenware, all dirt cheap? I've gotten some of my le creuset there in years past, and it's definitely the best place to get a really nice $6 everyday sort of bra or a $3 6-pack of wool blend trouser socks, too (well, not those aisles in particular) - but yesterday! Yesterday I got:

-20 0z (<---!!!) pump-top bottle of fancy-natural olive oil soap that smells like oranges...REAL oranges. Slightly bitter, pithy ones. Every time I wash my hands I'm back in my Nana and Pa's backyard, trying to make a cup of juice from their stubborn-sour tree with my sister (both of us in bathingsuits) $3.99

-9 oz jar of herbs de provence (FROM FRANCE) that doesn't expire until 2016 (sometimes expiration is a concern in this section). Chicken and vegetables roasting currently, white wine on standby... $2.99

-big, 12 oz jar of 4 ingredient (oranges, water, sugar, fruit pectin) marmelade for my pre-existing overabundance of chicken thighs $4.99

-pyrex glass 4 cup measuring cup (because mine has had unreadably invisible markings for years now, and is also chipped sharp these past months...)

-14 oz jar of tomato sauce, ingredients being plum tomatoes, roasted red peppers, olive oil, salt, Cabernet Sauvignon - Ananda and I are going to be roasting eggplant and mushrooms to eat with it and some shaved parmesean, tomorrow, for lunch... $3.99

Rave #3:

Because we stuck it out and waited through our 4 year AT&T contract, it was finally time to be able to get free and ultra-discounted upgrades for our phones with a renewal - I am super happy about this! Grant has been carrying around an Android with a shattered screen that does things like open audio books when he tries to play music and go straight to voicemail for incoming business calls, for the past 6 months. I've been feeling like I'd love to update my iPhone (it was a 3) for camera quality. I was still really happy with it otherwise, but since it's my primary camera these days I get kinda twitchy about it when I look back through my lj and see all my kid-pics looking dull and grainy for the past however long. One day I was sitting in the very back of a big class next to someone with a 5, and she zoomed in on the board every few minutes to photograph our notes as the teacher rapid-scrawled, and I sat there with my mouth open because if you try to zoom the camera on the 3 it turns into blur almost immediately. Now, I can do things like take pictures of a full page of my own writing notes and then easily zoom in later to see my handwriting without any loss of clarity. It's kind of amazing. This phone also has a front view camera so that Grant and I can video chat on our phones when he's travelling (you know, always). And, it's thinner, lighter and generally fits in my painful hands more easily. Grant got the Samsung Galaxy S3 and while it is truly AWESOME, it is way too big for my tiny little hands with the joint issues I'm having. My phone is itty bitty next to his, actually...

I suppose the big winner here is Annie, whose pull-out keyboard samsung phone was glitching so badly that it basically turned off every time she sent a text. She's got my iPhone 3, now, in it's otter box even.

My favorite thing about this entire shift is that NOW I can count on her having her phone nearby and charged 100% of the time, rather than having to say, "Do you have your phone?" whenever we leave the house or I drop her off anywhere.

Aaron, having burned through (damage and loss) 3 different $10 Go-Phones over the course of our contract, no longer has a number at all. We'll try again next time it comes 'round.


-Isaac outgrew his school uniform pants to such a point it could no longer be denied...along with his underwear, and his sneakers and Crocs, and socks. Cha-ching, $150 even at outlet stores...

-Isaac had a birthday (which is awesome - he turned 9 and I can hardly believe that!) and between the chosen menu for the day (for the whole family), his cake and candles, his presents (next Diary of a Wimpy Kid book, lego idea book, more legos, a good jump rope since he's reached the outer limits of what he can do with his ultra light dollar store one, and a couple of toys for him and Jake to shoot water at each other with) - about another $150

-and he didn't have a party, and Daddy wasn't even in town on the day (singing via Skype), so he wanted to go with Jake and Elise to Jumparoos once G was back to take them...that's $30, but Grant took him out to breakfast one-on-one first ($20) plus gas to get there, plus Annie and Aaron getting hungry while we're there and they're bored so I hand them a ten to go grab food at the food court, and then everyone else is STARVING and we're like WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN -

-but that's how it is, all the time. One trip to a restaurant all 7 of us - $90, drinking water, no dessert, oh yeah THIS is why we don't do this let's go to a non-BJ's grocery store just this once so we can hurry and get things for tacos and WHOA OK that's apparently a $60 bill now to get good ground beef, avocados, lemonade to drink, cheese and black olives and tomatoes and lettuce and salsa and tortillas and wow, let's never ever shop one meal at a time non-wholesale again :p

-cello strings - DUDE!! Who could have guessed it's like $120 to replace cello strings?? Those are NOT top of the line strings, either :/ I found out before Christmas when Ananda told me her teachers said she needed new ones and it was mid February before they were replaced (at which point visible fraying and skinny spots were becoming ridiculous) since, you know, they cost $120, and Christmas O_O

-$20 so far on Aaron's obsession - building his own Deadmau5 head (glue gun, sticks, styrofoam balls for eyes, foam board for the ears, other glue for papier mache...he still needs a 14" beach ball, stretch velvet and who knows what else).

-$70 because A&A have outgrown their pads and helmets at a time when they want to go to the skate park and join junior roller derby and so on, and she has these new skates I found at ~*such*~ a good price and she paid for with her own saved allowance... they need teen/adult sized gear now, and the brain-stem-covering stunt helmet styles rather than normal vented bike helmets.

-Ananda is drawing all the time and has burned through another sketch pad and turned at least her black colored pencil into a nub, and learned via YouTube that for GOOD shading and smudging you need SERIOUS colored pencils, and she's seen when I show her that some people are making art on massively huge I go price them at a "discount art supply store"...and a big old sketchpad with 24 prismacolor pencils is (wait for it) $72.

-and she needed new underclothes pretty badly, and ran out of body wash, and used up her razors, oops there goes $100 O_o

-we've had $20 in TOOTH FAIRY expenses in the past couple of weeks, and $10 for a field trip for Isaac, and $15 for another haircut for him, and one night Grant set up the projector on the deck so we could watch movies and then we spent like $30 without even trying on snacks to go with it, at WD? Yeah.

It gets kind of intense. I'm kind of freaked in general by the amounts of money coming in AND out, lately, since his last raise and as the kids get bigger and our regular bills increase and so on. I feel very blessed and a little overwhelmed and pretty glad that I'm (hopefully) going to be working post-degree by the time they're all becoming adults that would like help with, you know, massively enormous impossibly expensive things.

It's just so big and real and wut, that we are planning things like selling our house, an interstate move, applying to universities. Sometimes it still surprises me that the world is just right there to get all mixed up in, and I can really just DO things if I want to.
altarflame: (Default)
It's 10:00 AM, and seems like I'm on a pretty good roll here, considering that today seemed like it would be impossible chaos as we tried to plan it out last night.

Of the options I was given by a help line I called, I had contacted two groups about counseling for Isaac. One of those happened to have a new batch of funding and slots for 24 kids (FREE) through a grant program. I was told yesterday afternoon that I'd get a call in early to mid-January, to set up an appointment. Then I got a call a few hours later, while we were at TLC, saying that they had a cancellation and so I could bring him today at 12:15. Today, when I would normally not have the van; when Grant was trying to figure out his own gas money two days before pay day (we spend about $30 a day on gas with his new job commute - or $15ish and $8.25 in train fare!); when Elise needs to be picked up from preschool at noon, half an hour south of where the appt is :/ But how could we pass up an opportunity like this?! I agreed to bring him. Somehow.

So I woke up this morning and called Elise's preschool director, and got permission for her to stay late with the other "full day" kids, packed her a lunch and a blanket, pillow and favorite doll for naptime, talked to her about it, and took her in. Her teacher is so sweet and wonderful (and a neighbor, and Aaron's friend's mom) and said if she feels nervous at naptime she'll lay down with her ♥ Then I came home, got my textbooks from this past semester that I remembered I can now sell, and went and sold them ($93.25 and I can still bring in another to sell in a few days...). Came home again, fried a bunch of eggs and toasted a bunch of bread and woke up my boys to eat and get ready. Grant is getting ready; he's going in to work late.

Ananda is still at Cybele's. She was supposed to come home from TLC with us yesterday afternoon but was texting me yesterday morning "Can I have more time? Our virtual school isn't functioning and the economy isn't sustainable yet - every time we let the city run for 5 minutes it goes bankrupt!" (except all spelled wrong, of course :p) (and they're doing a SimCity for the Future City competition) Also "Can you bring me more underwear?" We have to pick her up on the way from getting Grant, this evening, because I told her she has to be home tomorrow evening for Elise's preschool's Christmas show. Elise is SO EXCITED about it, dancing and singing carols all over the house for us for the last 2 weeks. The Future City promo is due Thursday anyway (they have to build a scale model that's due months from now, but the initial promo is done with Sims).

I told Isaac he was going to start counseling over lentil soup last night. He seemed really pleased to have something of his own to be doing; I really can't think of a kid that would enjoy a captive adult audience more. I basically explained that it's a grownup you talk to, and that I was in counseling for awhile and Annie and Dad have both done it. He was like, "So now it's my turn?" and I thought that was simple so I took the easy out and just answered, "Yep."

I had this idea that while Ananda was out of the house for 4 (5...6...) days, I was going to get all this Christmas crafting for her done. Ha! Really I took a final exam, and went to traffic court for that accident months ago (all charges dismissed!), and didn't get enough sleep between staying up reading to kids and getting up driving Grant, and had an unexpected dinner party over the weekend...I do have a lot of fabric all over the library and my sewing machine on the dining room floor, but that's as far as it's gotten so far O_o
altarflame: (Default)
Ok, so, MONEY OH MY GOSH....we're in a crazy bottleneck, but, we're climbing out. I don't even want to get into it because, well, I don't like talking about money even when it doesn't involve trolls ;)

Also, ISAAC SHEESH ISAAC....major Isaac stuff happening that I've been writing about on a (tiny, tiny) filter, which is very rare for me...I will feel more comfortable sharing it after he's been through some counseling sessions and I understand it all a little more. PLEASE nobody be offended, there are people I really love who aren't on it right now.

And SCHOOL WTF end of the semester's been like:

2 Saturdays ago: 20 minute group presentation, and 15 minute individual presentation - both requiring field work outside of class and power points (religion).
That Monday: Informative Speech Outline due - 4 pages, cited (speech)
Wednesday: Comparing and contrasting plays paper, cited (english)
Saturday: 7 page term paper (religion)
Monday: Novel presentation including my new book jacket design, and turning in a bunch of "6 word novels" (english)
Wednesday: a speech and a 3 minute commercial for my chosen non-profit (speech), and a paper about the novel I read earlier in the semester (english)
(this coming)Saturday: final exam, and turning in journal we were supposed to have been keeping all semester (oops...) (religion)
Monday: make up final exam only for people who missed a test during the semester (speech)

*this is me doing a dance that looks like a lot of involuntary shuddering, but is actually shaking off the semester*

I'm going to miss a couple of people. I had some really great classmates that I was with in the summer and over the fall, and laughed with excessively, but wouldn't really call friends, and since I'm not doing evening classes in the spring we'll probably lose touch.

All of that up there is why I haven't been posting much, not necessarily in that order.

For anyone who hasn't been watching: Regretsy has officially OWNED Paypal. They (regretsy) did a holiday fundraiser for a bunch of families who submitted info to be a part of it. Regretsy readers sent in THOUSANDS of dollars to help via a "donate" button. And then Paypal froze the Regretsy acct, and told April (Mrs Regretsy) that she had to refund what was basically a bazillion $2 donations, because Regretsy isn't a non-profit. Paypal took fees out of all of it twice (as the money went both ways), and April tried to get all the families connected with their freely given charity other ways, and Paypal blocked it AGAIN, saying in effect "WE ARE ON TO YOU QUIT THIS YOU AREN'T A CHARITY" which is...ridiculous on many levels, along with not actually being in line with paypal policy. April documented all of this as it happened, which led to it spreading around the internet, and NOW!!! Now, Paypal is giving each of those 200 families $100 each as an apology (they are also still getting all the toys/food/gift cards/etc from Regretsians). SO FREAKING AWESOME! I'm used to seeing Regretsy laugh in the face of bogus legal threats from angry Etsy sellers, but to see them saying "Paypal is only doing this because we're giving them a massive public lashing and they want to save their PR - what about little guys who are being cheated?? Corporate logistics suck!" is amazing. It is worth reading back over the last 10 entries, in reverse order, to see. April Winchell officially has the entire internet by the balls.

I think long and often lately about the perks and blessings of having such a great husband. I don't think I could be more glad that we stuck it out and worked through a lot of things, months ago. Do you know what real love is? Real love is when you're eating breakfast in the diner, and he raises an eyebrow at you because you've eaten ALL the orange marmelade out of the big basket on the table for the day, and just saying, "What?"

This evolution that comes from so much time and commitment is SO AWESOME! There are bad times. We've actually had a couple of bad YEARS, as a couple, when I look back. But even the "bad years" with Grant could be a hell of a lot worse. But the evolving - the realizing after a solid 8 years sharing a bed one day, spontaneously, that you both REALLY LIKE IT A LOT when he puts his hand around your neck, so then you start talking about deeper levels of fantasies you've never shared, or the "Why haven't we ever went to the beach alone together at night?" question that spawns the next 3 months worth of Saturday nights on a sandy blanket...I love it. I really love it.

He figured out some kind of massage technique while I was cramping TERRIBLY on my period last week that makes it so my restless legs are GONE and I can actually get comfortable and go to sleep. That seems like a miracle to me. And I could NEVER lie comfortably on my side with my weird belly and a total lack of self consciousness while he did it, with anyone else. I just started doing things to him that I'd never done before, like, this week, that never would have occurred to us as teenagers.

In the spirit of the marmelade gluttony acceptance: Last night started with me ranting and raving about MY CLASSES and MONEY and OUR KIDS and how overwhelmed and horrified I am with my daily life and how there's NO END IN SIGHT ever and finally he was like, ok, I know what this is really about - and put a movie on for the kids, and locked the doors, and turned up music. Last night ENDED with me blindfolded, arms restrained, going from screaming my head off like a really happy murder victim to laughing HYSTERICALLY and shouting "Ok stopstopstop before I die!!!!!" ...and then continuing to laugh, out of control tearful laughter like something unlocked inside of me, for many minutes.

He just chuckles, and takes the blindfold and scarves off with a loving sounding "You pyscho" before setting the alarm for the morning.
altarflame: (WTF is the internet)
I've been really REALLY busy the past two days. But!

I'm actually enrolled in classes for the summer :D I am really psyched about this. Really, really, really psyched. It's been so long since I was in school, and SO LONG since I was in school anything like full time. Two things that are getting me hyped up about it are that, one, I actually managed to get financial aid and everything is paid for plus some(without loans), I mean wow - and two, I'm really confident about the kind of schedule I set up here for myself even with the kids home and Grant working full time.

I'm doing one Tuesday and Thursday evening class the first 6 week session of summer, and another Tues/Thurs evening class the second 6 week session. Then I have one class on Saturday mornings, for the full 12 weeks, and one class through the virtual school (also full 12 weeks). So, 4 classes/12 credits - SO FREAKING MANAGEABLE. It gives me hope that even if the kids don't get into this school or I decide I'm just not sending them, I can still do this. With a quickness.

I'm taking two cats to the Meow Mobile tomorrow morning to get spayed and neutered, respectively. I went and borrowed a couple of cat carriers from a friend today to take them in with, as I found out at the last minute that they don't allow big dog carriers or doubling up, which had been my plan based on what we've got here. They are the two kittens of Chrysanthemum's that we're keeping. One is Ananda's cat Sylvia, the other is mine, and I call him something different everytime I reference him thus far. Two main contenders for permanent names are Archibald and Uncle Cousin.

My life is a lot of really exciting amazing stuff, and a lot of really horrible crap, right now, but at least I have balance?

The good is so good:
-Memo is totally in love with my kids' book now that he's read it and working on sketches and making me wait to see his cover idea because he wants it perfect first...this will definitely be a self published, Amazon on demand thing as it's an irregular length that is no longer marketed (even though I have tons of books with similar formats my kids love from 10+ years ago...)
-I'm emailing an artist back and forth who's work has REALLY moved and hit me, for use in my surgery book, and that is super exciting, too, especially with Nancy already on board to write my forward...that book itself is about half done. This is a book I think I'd like to try to traditionally publish, though I go back and forth.
-my 20-story short story collection is at 19 stories, and formatted, and seeming like, well...a BOOK!
-I'm registered for college full time starting in only about a month! *this is me doing mental backflips, the only sort I could ever manage*
-Grant and I have had a great week minus just a couple of small troubles when the last couple of months hit us again, and are connecting in some really great ways, and...I just appreciate him an awful lot. I find myself getting all excited when he'll be home from work soon, and giddy when I see him standing there so beautiful. I don't think we're just magically past every rough spot but I do think it was super helpful to talk out things that were unsaid and that he is also really making some big efforts at positive changes...this is huge, especially when we're having the most lovey-awesome-boundary-pushing-brand-new sex. I don't know how we're still managing to think of/try new things, but I LOVE IT.
-My plants are still alive! And they make me happy literally every time they're in my field of vision!
-Isaac is reading, Annie has mastered division, Jake's handwriting is off the chain - I'm just feeling really good about their homeschooling lately and sent off the registrations and checks for those enrichment classes yesterday. I just printed out a bunch of book report templates, actually. Aaron is asking questions that blow my mind, science and current event questions, and his reading is so above grade level - we're going back to him doing half an hour of silent reading every day...
-I have so many great people I care about, even outside of this house - my sister is so wonderful and such a part of everyday life, and my friends - from Kristin understanding everything to Jess to laugh with to David who I'm so glad I have again to Memo who I'm collaborating makes me happy. Really happy.

The bad:
-I was just in the ER again last week. I'm triggered as all get out, I'm in pain pretty often. Just remembering that surgery is coming and that it is such a hurdle to get financially is enough to freeze me in my tracks and ruin my entire day.*
-We still have these moments, G and I, when it is really heavy, and really hard, and just unhinges everything and makes me feel bitter. It's still scary and not assumed, sometimes.
-There's never enough sleep or enough hours in the day
-I really am having a hell of a time faith-wise and I think about it A LOT, every day. FEEL it a lot, everyday. I'm still going to Mass and RCIA every week and I still have a mostly Christian worldview but prayer feels impossible and my doubts are just growing exponentially in a way that is sort of heartbreaking, and sort of awful in that it's not heartbreaking, if that makes any sense at all.

Anyway. In frippery news, I got this ring at Target and it is HUGE and I LOVE.IT.

Aaaand, Annie lost a tooth tonight. There is something inherently...jarring... about having a daughter with armpit hair and breasts that is still losing her baby teeth.

*Our plan is to try to have this done, really get it done, at the end of the between summer and fall terms, which is when he'll be able to take time off work...until then it's a mission to lose weight and figure out the money part. Which may involve getting GPs and surgeons to write to an insurance company saying I need the full muscle reconstruction and skin tightening of a tummy tuck to fix my real medical problems, and must get them (this is after I have coverage again...), so they have to cover it. Or finding a co-signer to finance. Or...something I have yet to determine. I'm switching from one month on, one month off Eat to Live, which I had kind of fallen off of anyway, to on during the week and off on the weekends. Having a date in mind makes it way easier to see as emergent and temporary, both of which help me stick to it.

Nevermind how I go into a black depression and tense into a tightly coiled ball of anxiety everytime I think of this surgery. I'm going to focus on the amazingness that will be NOT HAVING IT HANGING OVER MY HEAD ANYMORE.

The End.
altarflame: (poor)
Ananda needed a couple of new pairs of shoes and DESPERATELY needed a new that she's in teen clothes sizes and adult shoe sizes, that means that even bargain shopping, I spent $65.

I also filled in some of the gaps in Elise's wardrobe ($15 at the thrift store) and Jake and Isaac's ($100 at Target - they just don't have little boy stuff at local thrift stores, I suspect because little boys are too hard on clothes for them to make it that far). So that's $180 in the last month and a half or so on kids', uh...apparel-ish things.

Her Girl Scout troop is planning a sleepover event at the Miami Seaquarium - it's a really amazing deal, in that they get pizza for dinner and spend the night and have interaction with dolphins and sea lions when the general public is not there, all for $40 (WOOT). But, that's another $40. We just spent $24 for her and I to join (because this troop does it that way, so the parents are adult members and covered by insurance on trips) and $5 for her monthly dues and $5 for a tshirt and we spent about $20 on Goodwill clothes and art supplies for her Sweden look/flag for the "thinking fair" booth they did. So $94 in GS expenses in about a month and a half.

And we paid off her library fines ($20+, don't remember exactly) last week since they were really my fault and took everyone bowling a couple of weeks back ($150 by the time we were done with two hours on a lane, 7 pairs of shoes and snacks, even with specials and coupons factored in).

I'm planning on having Ananda in a (10-12 yr old) writing class, Aaron in a (9-12) science class, and Jake and Isaac in a (5-10) "adventures in art and literature class" - they're all taught by really great teachers, during the same hour once a week, for 6 weeks. $55 each per $220 that I have to pay pretty soon.

I just finally found real local contacts for boy scouts for Aaron, Isaac and Jake, like they've been asking for forever...and am fully prepared to be nickle and dime'd to death for all three of them.

In a few months I'm either going to have to buy new curricula for another year and pay for more extracurriculars, or get everyone physicals and uniforms and school supplies...either way, they'll need evaluations for this year, for the schoolboard, which are $25 apiece.

Elise's birthday is May 1 and she is begging all day everyday for a bike and an American Girl doll (she intercepted a catalogue when Jake brought in the mail). Annie's birthday is June 1, Aaron's is June 27.

Kids are super expensive BUT...

My IUD costs $400 to order and then $300 to have inserted. So NOT HAVING MORE KIDS is gonna cost me $700 over the next couple of months. O_O

There are SO MANY "extra" expenses lately that seem truly important, if not necessary (Grant just had to pay $70 and gas to and from another county to get his GED because his new job needed to have that on file even though he had several certifications and 10+ years IT experience) - like counseling for both of us ($75 each per week is the sliding scale, adjusted rate - that's $600 per MONTH!...but it was seriously getting vital to prioritize...).

Elise is taking fish oil for speech delays and general brain development ($35 every 3 months), probiotics that have completely cleared up her scalp problems and frequent yeast infections ($13 once a month for her and Isaac to each have one a day) and special $18 a tube re-calcifying paste that we put on every night for her gradually dwindling teeth.

All of this is only possible - particularly in light of Grant being unemployed for a month and a half and then getting a lesser-paying job, all of which started while we were several months behind on major bills - because of a steady stream of one time income sources.

We sold the Prius for $11,000.
We got a refund for escrow overage from our home loan company for $2200 (and our payment lowered, since dipping property values made our taxes cost less).
Our tax return will be $5300, deposited any day (minus some big personal loan paybacks to a couple of people).
We're getting a refund from the title company that did our home loan, because checks to old debtors never went through and they can't contact the companies - $1100.
We're getting the (40%) vested amount we can from Grant's 403b from his old job - $1200.
I'm eligible for financial aid for the summer and fall terms for college that will be hundreds (summer, halftime) to thousands (fall, fulltime) of dollars over what we actually need for tuition and books. This will be the case throughout the time I'm in school, and I may take advantage of small loans down the line depending on various factors, too.

On the one hand, this is great and I'm grateful, that so much good fortune is serendipidously aligning to get us through - hopefully to a time when I am earning some amount of money for writing and/or getting a degree and able to work for significant income. On the other hand, it's kind of nerve wracking that this sort of thing can't be depended on indefinitely or counted on. Can it? It's not as though we have a savings account, or available credit. It IS as though we need many thousands of dollars for a surgery that is increasingly important. The second car thing is just not happening, at least not in the near future. The van has body damage and is due for maintenance.

Overall, I feel really good about all of this. Like we're doing it, one way or another, things are happening and we're taking steps to improve our financial situation. In the meantime, we're getting what we need and some of what we just want.

Little kids are waiting for me to take them a on walk.
altarflame: (Alice)
1. Because the economy is in tatters, or...whatever...our home value has plummeted, WHICH MEANS that our taxes have dropped dramatically, WHICH IN TURN MEANS, that our mortgage payment is dropping from about $1200 a month to $890 a month, WHICH IS AWESOME - and, as a result of this drop or some other economic thing I'm not even pretending to understand we have an "overage" in our escrow account, and are getting a refund check of $2200 in the next 5-7 days. Which is awesome, because 1. Grant's just started his new job and we have a big gap in income and need it a lot and 2. We are idiots and spent too much of the "selling the Prius" money on camping and roadtrips and this will help us to get another, crappier but still necessary second vehicle anyway - BUT WAIT...I can't put numbers within other numbers!

(real and only)2. I am irritated by how the Catholic Church is portrayed in the media. I completely get that they have actually done some horrible shit collectively and that some Catholics continue to perpetuate horrible shittiness, but this media vendetta is still ridiculous. For example, I have been learning in RCIA about the "examination of conscience" that people are urged to do before confession - it's basically a guided meditation on what you might need to bring up or work on, to do privately before you go to confession, a preparation for your own heart. There are specific suggested questions to ask yourself, such as "Have I, intentionally or unintentionally, hurt another person?" and have I been prejudiced or felt superior or neglected my children or ignored stuff I know I should be doing, and so on and so forth, etc. I think it's a good idea and makes sense. SO ANYWAY the Vatican has approved an Examination of Conscience iPhone app for people who do not have a printed out hard copy Examination of Conscience and/or don't have it committed to memory or are on the go - whatever. I think it's a good cool thing even though I don't have an iPhone and it's sort of irrelevant to me. BUT, I keep seeing stuff ALL OVER THE DAMNED INTERNET titled like "Catholics can now confess their sins on their iPhones" and "iPhone absolution" and "Forgiveness App", and often when you read these articles they don't even clarify what this actually is. It's just one in countless examples of how stuff is reported in ways that make the average reader go "GEEZ how is anyone holding onto this archaic dumb BULLSHIT" when if they knew the actual story, it is pretty legit and not nearly so laughable. *sigh*

3. NOT A JOKE. I really believe this is the hottest woman ever, and if I had to pick a style icon, it would be her for sure, as many people who see me in clothes IRL would attest:

I am fully aware she looks like a tacky person in rags to many people. My father generally says my fashion sense could be summed up as "Bum at a yard sale". I am ok with it. It is really not how I perceive it at all.

I could just look at her for hours. I need to learn how to make my big old wild hair a soft fly away pile all over my head that stays up there somehow *scratching head*

It doesn't hurt of course that I love her roles and her husband and all that jazz, or that she is pregnant or holding/caring for a kid in many of these shots.

P.S. I have a gyno appt this afternoon for a repeat pap that will, hopefully, yield clean results and lead up to my IUD insertion.
altarflame: (Converse)
I think I'm gonna get to a point that I post here and it cross posts to the blog, so both places get all the entries. For now this is all that's happening (lj only).

Bizarre experiences in blogging:

1. David, my old friend who recently got back in touch? He's living with his brother and sister in law on the other side of the country. Botched surgeries came up in conversation and David said, "Yeah my friend had a sponge left in her during a c-section in Boston" and the sister in law said (this is paraphased) "Wut you know altarflame?" Basically she was reading my lj the whole time we were going through our myriad fiascos that year! She educated him on booju, which makes me lol forever at the craziness of our small small world.

2. Apparently my grandfather is reading with a great deal of skepticism (this is me waving at you, Pa!). My mother keeps calling me saying things like, "Pa printed out pages of your journal and highlighted parts that he thinks mean you and Grant are in trouble", and "He doesn't understand how you can afford x, y and z". Pa, print and question all you need to, just stop sending her my way about it so I don't have to hear. Or, write me an email, I am always happy to talk to you. I love you but this thing where she calls me up because people are up in arms and want further explanations is getting annoying.

Grant has two very promising interviews tomorrow. He also has a job lined up to start February 1 if they both fall through, and nothing else comes up, but we are really hoping something else does work out because the fall back job - though positive in some ways - also has some issues.

Overall I am feeling pretty good about money. With the Carmax check for the Prius cleared we've been able to pay December, January and February's mortgage payments and catch up the electric bill to a zero balance and do all sorts of things we've been putting off (like getting 5 birth certificates at $45 per copy so that they're here for school records in a few months, and spaying the cat). There is still a lot left for living off of and getting a less cool second car, and Grant is making more money at his part time job than usual as the guy is being nice giving him extra hours while he's "unemployed".

Grant is also being nice - awesome, in fact - giving me many hours each evening to focus on market research, combing agent listings and crafting query letters. I really appreciate this as we aren't usually in a situation, with available time, for it to be possible, and we may be back in a place where it isn't again soon. For now, though, I am making really exciting progress.

Writing a query letter to an agent is like writing a research paper for school - they want to know comparative titles in the genre as well as what makes your book different from the others already out there in that genre. They want a tantalizing description of your work that would be appropriate for the back of the book on a shelf. They want compelling bio information and proof that you are marketable and they want it spaced properly, and it has to all fit on one page, with a wowing sample attached. It is really exhaustive work rewriting and editing queries for a project for the first time (or in this case four completely different projects), BUT - I have a lot of hope about it, because once you have that first draft at a point you feel good about, you can basically just customize the queries you have written to send out over and over to different people. So even assuming the agent I am querying first here rejects me, it will be a simple thing to keep sending queries out to new people constantly until someone eventually accepts something.

I'm grateful for email - this was a much more time consuming practice (as in waiting for replies) as well as way more expensive, when it all had to be done through the post office.

I've lost 13.6 pounds this month. Still holding strong with Eat to Live. ETL kind of flip flopped with writing and is now the thing I'm 2nd most excited about, because I plateaued for a few days. Then I lost another half pound, though, and am hoping I'm out the other side of the dead spell and about to see daily decreases again...I'm torn every day between not being able to WAIT for it to be February so I can eat what I want to eat, and really not wanting it to be February yet because I need to lose way more weight before the end of January :p Grant being home is wonderful because he cooks all kinds of awesome things for the rest of the family and I don't have to deal with that; but it's also terrible because he COOKS ALL KINDS OF AWESOME THINGS FOR THE REST OF THE FAMILY! He made these tantalizing loaded potato skins today and I had to ask Aaron to eat one, and moan, and tell me about how awesome it was so I could live vicariously.

Today was a day for reorganizing the library with extra shelving units we brought over from Grant Sr's (things we left there when we moved out that have been sitting empty) - our books had exceeded shelving capacity. It was a day to listen to a lot of Sublime and Prodigy. G and I took just Ananda and Elise out for a bit, and when they were all in bed the two of us went for one of our late night, half hour long power walks... one thing I really love about Bob living here is being able to do things like that.

Kid Updates:

-Ananda is 5' even now, suddenly curvier, and basically has her earbuds in and a book in her hand 24/7. She does all of her chores without complaint and looks forward to Annoying Orange updates on Fridays. She does a lot of independent Abeka and Kumon schoolwork and is frequently either carrying, playing with, reading to, or helping Elise...otherwise she's locking her out of her bedroom.

-Aaron has found some new friends down the block and is over there with them everyday now. It's an 11 year old girl and 8 year old boy who seem REALLY nice (way nicer than the bullying across the street neighbor that is the bane of this property...) They play basketball and box ball and dodge ball and man hunt and sometimes 1-3 other kids from around here join them. This has totally revitalized him - he's like a different kid all of a sudden. He was having sleepovers twice a month with some friends and having Darian over here or going to PATH every week, but clearly he needs a lot more kid time with kids who don't make him miserable. I think he felt trapped in our yard like he had to hide behind the bushes by across-the-street bully kid :/

The two of them have had their biking horizons expanded to include a great big 6 block grid, when they're together, and are loving it.

-Isaac has regressed to a level of misery and nonsense that has me wracking my brain like "IS THIS A GLUTEN ISSUE? IS THIS SOME UNDER STIMULATION? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM I THOUGHT TYRANNY WAS PAST!!!" Basically he cries about everything, often for long and exagerated time periods, and he is randomly mean to his siblings again, and...I don't know. Maybe it's just the Isaac cycle I used to always talk about in a downswing and I should be thankful it's been so long. Perk: He's more affectionate than he has ever been.

-Jake is wonderful. He does his chores consistently and relatively easily, now, finally, and he tears up big plates of raw vegetables and loves doing schoolwork and is generally the freaking bees' knees. He's good to our pets and to his siblings and still has this grumpy edge and scowl of doom that are to die for adorable.

-Elise is a nightmare at bedtime, and extremely hyper/loud sometimes, but she's talking more everyday, and she's ADORABLE, and I can't believe she's really the youngest and getting so big. She talks about wanting to go to school everyday and plays independently or with Jake and Isaac (unless she's harassing Annie) constantly. She's VERY strong willed and stubborn.

The three little kids are always doing something together. Today they each had bags full of random things and were pretending to travel and have travelling adventures, all day. Last night Jake and Isaac had an epic plastic sword fight battle while she stood by dressed as a princess and cheered them on alternately.

Alright, I am OUT. It is way too late and I'm far too tired.
altarflame: (eat lard)
When we're out of expendable grocery money a couple of days before a pay day, I tend to take stock of my kitchen and find some version of this:

-insane amounts of baking ingredients, because I buy in bulk
-lots of legumes, rice, pastas and canned tomatoes because I buy those in bulk
-also bread - I rarely leave the store without at least 3 loaves, and when it's BOGO I tend to leave with like 8-10
-and like 4 partial jars of peanut butter (BUT NEVER JELLY, WTF)
-root vegetables, because they never go bad (at least on an 8-people-eating-timetable)
-eggs, since we have chickens
-condiments and seasonings

In case you didn't notice, that leaves little to nothing anyone can just grab and eat.

True to form, that is my position here today, two days before payday, with all our fruit, meats, cheeses, crackers, snacks, cereal and more sophisticated veggies (broccoli, mushrooms, green beans, etc) demolished. Fridge, freezer and cabinets are mostly empty and all five of my children had approximately 4 pieces of cinnamon sugar toast apiece in the early hours of the day. So, this is the menu I came up with this afternoon to tide us over (that has now been accomplished after a whole evening cooking).

Dinner - Curried chickpeas and potatoes on jasmine rice, adapted slightly (like I used curry seasoning rather than a couple of separate ones, and I didn't have any chiles). We've made this before when in the same situation and it goes over very well - my insanely picky brother who would live on Totino's pizzas and hot dogs if given the choice even had two bowls.

Dessert - Quaker's Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, which are REALLY GOOD and apparently aren't cursed anymore since you all suggested myriad fixes for my rock cookies ;)

Breakfast Tomorrow - poundcake. That's from my Betty Crocker cookbook, and I substitute almond or coconut or 2% cow's (depending on what I have) milk for the evaporated milk because, well, evaporated milk is disgusting.

Lunch Tomorrow - Lentil Soup a new way, with potatoes and kale added because for whatever reason my kale that was supposed to have expired and I somehow forgot about looks and smells fine and I refuse to just toss it on principle.

Snacks tomorrow - Alton Brown's peanut butter fudge

Dinner Tomorrow - kale and bean soup, which is a favorite of the older kids, with some squash I have in there and some baked beans on the side, for (Isaac) those who opt out

Desserts - will probably already all be gone, and that definitely means nobody needs any more sugar

Thursday morning - IMMEDIATE FRESH PRODUCE RUN BEFORE WE ALL DIE OF DIABETIC COMA...following oatmeal for breakfast.

In this same vein, my husband linked me yesterday to this insane blog by some coupon clipping madman who managed to live for an entire month, getting stuffed and donating copious amounts of extra groceries to a local food bank, on $1 per day. It's here if you wanna check it out. While he is not working with any hard caveats (like a gluten intolerance or dairy allergy or something) and doesn't really care about organics, he does try to include fresh produce and make his diet varied. What I was immediately struck by was a lot of stuff that would make most of what he's doing impossible for me to try and replicate:

-he's single, childless and apparently unemployed? So basically he can spend all day long researching, driving to different stores and going through the same check out line seven times in a row to make these deals possible (not a joke or exaggeration)
-his local stores do a LOT of things mine don't allow, such as allowing him to double and triple up coupons and combine different deals
-I guess that's about it but those are debilitating factors

Actually I was kind of irritated, because I went to Publix's website today to try to see what their coupon policies are and there are actually tons of them (double coupons and penny deal days, for instance) that are allowed except in Florida. Hmph. So maybe other people with Safeways nearby who don't mind buying hundreds of packages of cream cheese with so many coupons that they are actually earning money on each one and able to get a bunch of other stuff for free (HE REALLY DOES THAT, with receipts pictured in the posts!!) can take advantage.

THIS JUST IN: Apparently some of our (on the trees in the yards) bananas are ripe! So rather than being out of bananas, I actually now have to figure out what to do with hundreds of bananas over the next couple of weeks O_o
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Tonight I made one of my Signature Recipes (mmmhmm, with an emphasis on the "mmm") as we had Laura and her two kids, as well as Shaun over.

Elise said, "My Brian, and Liz-beth, my Ora, and Shaun?!?! ALL PEOPLE, my house?!?! No BELIEVE!!!"

She was excited.

If you would like people to come from far and wide (or...close and nothing else to do...) to eat at your house, here is the recipe:


1. sautee a diced yellow onion and some minced garlic in olive oil and butter/your preferred butter alternative

2. throw in a billion (10 roma or 6 full sized) chopped tomatoes - I leave it in pretty big pieces; simmer for a couple of minutes

3. squeeze in juice of half a lemon, sprinkle on a teaspoon of sugar, salt rather heavily, and then throw in a bunch of chopped fresh basil; stir and leave alone for a few minutes

4. add 1-3 (your choice...I veer towards 3) crates of mushrooms and, once they're cooked in, a couple of big handfuls of spinach or arugula (just until wilted)

"chicken" doesn't make sense to have chicken in quotes like that. Oh well.

1. put boneless skinless tenderloins (or whatever you like better) on the George Foreman with a lot of seasoned salt rubbed in, and then lemon juice and season salt it more as you rip it up after it's cooked

"pasta" (again, this system was not thought through well)

1. boil it. I prefer linguini

Pasta, then sauce, then chicken on your plate, followed by mozzarella. It's so good.

Last night I had an Usborne show down is Islamorada. The house turned out to be a mansion by the sea; an entire wall was made of glass. The sun set over the gulf through it as we ate really good appetizers the host (also named Tina Marie) prepared. I saw four living rooms while I was there. Multiple balconies. Finger paint smeared on every wall. It was a whole gathering of women who had waited for education, travel and affluence before having kids, and now they stand around sipping wine and laughing as the toddlers paint on the doors and tiles and expensive furniture. Lots of broad gesturing - they all run a cooperative Montessori school together (where I now have a book fair scheduled in early December).
People were really nice and I made about $100 profit off of 4 hours of work (including the drive there and back). In the bathroom hung a sampler that read, "I dreamed of mermaids, motorcycles and a man who can dance". Other Tina said that was what made her move to Florida, and told us all to go check out the artist's website. Even though I know that most people in the Keys chose to move there at some point in their adult lives, it's still strange to me to really meet and know the transplants, as everyone I've ever been close with or gone to see is native.

Intense Feelings. That is the story of this week. Grant having a sugar deprivation meltdown. Me having random financial stress/PMS/bizarre-side-effects-of-yeast-die-off following-the-end-of-my-antibiotics meltdowns. Total joy and happiness over kittens, driving with loud music and rolled down windows with the ocean outside, and little people love. I'm either crawling through a maze of forts with Gloria, Isaac and Jake, or feeling like I'm about to throw up because the electric bill is too backed up and I really, really am not sure how to fix this...situation...I'm having with some dance studio people and our financed JUMP fees.

-leak from hurricane shutter bolts coming through exterior wall and messing up floor in the officeBob's room, is pours every day this time of year
-a couple of checks bounced and now we have to fix things before that escalates into a nightmare
-major sleep disturbances are making me wonder if it's even possible that I could still be feeling the effects of two days of prednisone from a couple of weeks ago, OR WHAT. I haven't dreaded going to bed like this since the worst of my pre-therapy PTSD junk in 2008
-a situation at the dance studio got out of control and now even though I have not defaulted or done wrong in any way, someone else trying to help us has it coming back on them in a terrible way and I feel SO BADLY and am really, really stressed about it...I can't give details because it's too possible for someone connected to read this but it's just awful the way this has happened
-horrible multi-day allergy attack that's had my eyes swollen and been really irritating
-Aaron's cast depression coupled with a serious rebellious, mischevious phase for Elise are making bedtime a 3 hour ordeal that feels like spinning in over it
-my laptop is broken and I'm worried I've lost some of my most recent, not-yet-backed up writing work as well as MY LAPTOP :/

-Isaac and Jake are both drawing the most clever, hilarious stuff everyday - I'm going to be posting some of it soon, they are amazing and I am loving their explanations as much as their work
-I'm really excited about my new registered and self-hosted wordpress blog, which is almost ready to be unveiled...Grant managed to get my whole 7+ years of LJ onto it, with ALL COMMENTS and pictures and formatting and EVERYTHING, and all my freaking icons and the ability to use them when I post, and tags, and I'm impressed. I'm even happy with how it looks, from our own pictures...super soon.
-our school days are going very well - that is another thing I'll be posting more details about soon. We're going one entry per day through a LIFE "100 People Who Changed the World" book, that always leads to tons of discussion, and doing an anatomy unit that is really fun and I have a lot of great resources here for, and I FINALLY found my Story of the World Teacher's Guide, and Ananda has completed most of the stuff she was most behind in...I'm feeling very good about it all. Jake is writing his name and all letters and numbers, Isaac is copying whole sentences and reading simple books. Aaron has gone beyond one sentence entries in his nature journal and is even trying to be funny.
-the kittens are freaking adorable and doing so well...Chrysanthemum was from what the breeder called "a charmed litter" as all eight of them thrived so much from day 1 and there was never a single complication - that is how this is looking :) We have pretty solid homes lined up for 2 and a maybe for a third, so far, which I think is pretty good considering they're only about 2 1/2 weeks old. I'm way too taken with one little boy that just reminds me a little too much of a cat I used to love...we'll see how that goes. Watching Chrysanthemum carry them back to the nest when they wander off and clean them and things is great. She's earned a new level of respect from my sister, who watches her wearily try to get them all settled with hard earned empathy.
-the house has been pretty consistently cleaner than usual and it's starting to feel like I can keep it that way

Stupid 4am and I'm going to mass in the morning AFTER Cybele comes and picks up her guinea pigs grumblegrumble...

NYC, day 3.

Aug. 1st, 2010 04:20 am
altarflame: (Default)
I'm really glad I took a lot of pictures that are in chronological order and remind me of things...otherwise I'd be screwed by now for day to day order of events. Anyway...

This day started out kind of awesome, as the deli downstairs from us delivered breakfast and they're CHEAP. I mean NYC cheap anyway - I got an omelette and Aaron got french toast and we both had bacon and hash browns and it was like $14, DELIVERED, with the delivery tip? And good. Then we were off.

I was seriously impressed with myself because when we came up out of the subway we were actually AT the entrance of the hotel, like I had to walk 10 steps to climb the stairs to the doors. Dropped Aaron off in classes, talked to a few other dance parents and teachers for a few minutes, and went to the lobby.

Where I felt completely brain dead and unable to write anything. Or edit anything. Or care about writing. I was so freakin' happy to be sitting in this cushy hotel lobby couch with my feet up on a chair and be on the internet with nowhere to be for hours, it was...bliss. Between the plastic subway chairs, our rock-bed at the apt and the wooden seat and stools in the apt, I hadn't actually felt a cushion under me in like 3 days at this point, and I was sore all over. It was challenging not to fall asleep.

Then I realized there were no outlets and my laptop battery was about to die. Oh well.

I went out to explore in the Time Square direction. Where there are a thousand people trying DESPERATELY to sell you something.

Guys trying to appear homeless, with massive trash bags, that are actually full of imitation designer purses - they start this low, aggressive rumble of "Handbag-handbag-HANDBAG!!" if you get close enough and there are no cops around.

Rappers literally putting their cds into your hand as you walk by and then telling you that you owe them $10 and thanking you for helping them promote.

Heavily made up women in fishnets, tiny shorts and elegant up-dos trying to sell you theater tickets.

Chicks in jeans and tshirts trying to sell you scalped tickets cheaper.

Asian dudes yelling and grabbing your arm to drag you into their tourist-item stores.

If you slow down, or stop, you disrupt the flow of pedestrian traffic. If someone grabbed your bag and ran you probably wouldn't even be able to tell for sure who it was. And there is forty story high blinky shit EVERYWHERE.

Rest of the entry, including many many pictures )
altarflame: (fat lard)
We just got home last night, and I have to say - I am so proud of Grant, so THANKFUL for Grant, so unbelievably fucking blessed to have this man as a husband and a Daddy around here. While Aaron and I were gone, they:
-bought a huge piece of plastic tarp at Lowe's and made a slip-n-slide
-went to Shaun's and made tacos for dinner over there with him
-played flash card games
-slept all together in the tv room every night with all the mattresses pushed together
-went swimming at Grant Sr's house
-generally had a great time and were talked with and loved through any upset that occured
-Jake finished his cutting book and has things on the fridge from it
-Elise did workbook pages galore (she loves workbook time, it's insane)

He also gradually adjusted their bedtimes and took Annie to Girl Scout Camp for the first couple of days before I got back, and gave Isaac probiotics and Elise fish oil everyday and is just...such a good partner. I don't have to worry about them AT ALL. There were times when I did; when I'd have a sudden flash of panic like "Are you guys remembering the chicks in my bathroom? The guinea pigs Aaron is pet sitting all summer? Are you remembering to put the notes I left for Annie in her love letter pillow?" but it was always met with reassurance.

First day in pictures - 36 pictures, to be exact )
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


-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 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.

altarflame: (Default)
And there just has not been much room for anything else.

schoolwork at the park, in the humidity, with water poured on our heads under the pavilion to keep from dying of heatstroke (that was the day a rain shower cooled it down from 104 to 95)

Ananda coming out all ready for dance in bright orange boy short bathingsuit bottoms, a jeweltone blue lycra halter, thigh high rainbow striped socks and her new purple and blue velour Pumas - with my giant purple and silver sunglasses, and her pink hair...

taking her shopping everywhere with her birthday money - Michael's for pastels and a sketchbook, Rack Room Shoes for those Pumas and some thong sandals with a big wraparound ankle piece of beading, Hot Topic for a water bottle covered in cartoon monsters and turquoise manic panic and Rock Band themed Silly Bandz

taking her and Aaron shopping at Dance Plus for the recital - black ballet shoes for both, pink for her, black jazz shoes for her, and clip on "diamond" earrings and a dark brown bun net and fishnets and $98 later...

finding Elise a great tank top, a tank dress and bathingsuit for $6 total at the consignment store next door

Jake and Isaac's AWANA awards ceremony

spending a solid hour labeling over 100 individual items and bags to get them ready for the recital with each dance's pieces all assembled in an individual bag that would go in a larger bag...and packing their lunches and rehearsal schedules and lists of phone numbers

getting up early to take them up there for final stage rehearsal, and spend the morning driving all over Miami finding a replacement Bring Em Out jean jacket for Aaron (in JUNE - finally Goodwill worked) because he left his in the Colony Theater last weekend

sitting up in the room with the little kids, reading and reading to them

snuggling in bed with Isaac

laughing my head off because Jake managed to scrunch up his forehead and say "I haven't eaten ANYTHING today" before his eyes were open yesterday morning

cutting three boys' hair with electric clippers

nursing Elise in the chair, on the couch, in the bed, and always both - "TWO milks, mama"

long convoluted talks with Ananda about why she is acting bitter and jaded and lashing out at me so much, because I don't understand, and want to understand, and I love her

laying with her in her bed, snuggled under the covers, reading to her

crawling around in the sand searching for her tooth that just fell out (AND FINDING IT!!)

kayaking around the lake at my sister's with kids

sitting in cramped chairs in a tight crowded row with Grant for FOUR AND A HALF HOURS of recital today, to see his four and her five acts

congratulating them, taking them out to pizza and ice cream afterwards just them

sitting Ananda down on my bed and showing her all the makeup I bought for her for the show and telling her she can keep it all, and borrow my portable purse makeup bag and explaining how to use everything

hugging Aaron on the beach and trying to comisserate about the circle of life because he just watched a malformed duckling die on the shoreline

planning his birthday cake

arguing arguing fighting arguing Elise to GO. TO. SLEEP!!!!! for two to three hours every night

cajoling and bargaining with her to brush her teeth

prodding and nagging 3 bigger kids to do their chores

trying to reason with Isaac about why he can't eat treats all day long

forcing him to take a bath

going with Isaac and Jake (and Brian) to see THE HUMONGOUS ENORMOUS DEAD FISH, THAT WAS DEAD!!!

running out the backdoor behind all five of them because OUR BANANA TREE IS GROWING BANANAS!!

subtraction tedium with Kumon

timers set for everything

laughing and laughing with Grant about their funny things, so many funny things every day

sitting down to breakfast, to lunch, to dinner, sitting down all the time at the dining table with them all and praying and talking, for tea, for snacks, for Jake's cutting book with his little red scissors

Rubbing Aaron's head, Annie's back, pinching Elise's butt, hugging Jakey, kissing Isaac, trying through squinting whoa to figure out why someone is crying so loudly because they somehow got hurt again for the two minutes until they don't even remember they got hurt, and I give up

There haven't really been enough hours. It's mostly good. I'm glad the show is over. Glad they're in bed for now. Glad we have a USB full of Weeds and can sleep in tomorrow.
altarflame: (Default)
This day is Surreal, Incorporated.

It was gray and raining when I woke up far, far earlier than normal and stumbled out into my dim, quiet, sleeping house. I was horrified by my puffy, creased face in the mirror and it occured to me that I might get...old, one day. I applied emergency moisturizer and laid about with cucumber slices on. Then I took care of someone else's kids before my own were awake, and sent out an email about watching someone's children in my house on a regular basis, for pay. This was to my Natural Parenting group. Grant woke up far later than I did for the first time in months, we had lunch with Kristin and her kids, and then I blasted into the past with an hour of convoluted and confusing phone calls that gradually worked me towards the center of the knot which is Temporary and One Time Financial Help in Dade County. I have not visited that network of endless ringing, indefinite hold times and secret contacts you only earn knowledge of through perseverance since I was a single 19 year old with a toddler on each hip. It helps my sense of rightness some that I've donated many times over, by now, to the main organization I am hopeful about (St. Vincent de Paul).

Then I got a fabulous phone call from a local Mama in my group, who is a nurse, and may start leaving her two young daughters - who are, oddly, named Erin and Elise - here with us for her 2-3 12 hour shifts per week. It is great to get a serious reply so quickly, and also an ideal situation in many ways. She is right here in Homestead; her own mother is local and happy to have her grandkids for short periods anytime if, say, we want to go to church on a Sunday or I need to take A and A to dance on a Monday evening (she just can't handle the 2-3 full shifts with them weekly); the kids are very nice (my sister has had them at her house before for playdates). Also this woman is going to be at my house tomorrow anyway, so we can talk about it together, then. Pressure to clean well has increased a thousandfold, but hey, this is still perfect. This woman is newly pregnant and wants to homeschool eventually so she doesn't want a permanent setup, which is another good match as I really don't want to do this forever. But for now? It is a major blessing. With two kids, and those hours, and her used to paying quality daycare prices, it could be a significant source of income over the next six months to a year. We will see. If it doesn't work out and I don't get more replies, I'll probably post on or something.

Then I took a nap. In the middle of the day. Which I desperately needed and Grant was even nice enough to cook some good food while I was out - yet waking halfway through the still-gray day that began too soon was disorienting at best. I finished the postdated "I need an agent" post you all have already seen, changed my journal settings so it will be included in search engine results, and then realized the tornado warning has been lifted and we're going to have a half hour of sun before it's dark out. Weird.

Grant and I also called our loan company's "Lower My Payments" department about paperwork we have pending and now Bob and the kids are in his room playing Monopoly. Minus Jake and Elise, who are using our giant-sized wooden blocks as "skates" and sliding around the tile.

I have a really, really busy evening ahead, that is going to be laden with boiling water, vaccuming, laundry tending, baking for tomorrow's event, surface clearing, toy organizing, and cramming every spare second with writing research and agent queries. I think I might need to begin with a relaxing bath and then move on to the whirlwind activity.

Post Script: I'm kind of losing my mind from the level of anxiety financial stress is putting on Grant. I am devoting a lot of time and energy to helping to solve our crisis, but I don't see what help it is to have a stroke in the meantime. He is almost immobilized to the point of not being able to function by tension about money. I am actually seriously worried about him. I considered begging him to call in sick this evening because he seemed like he shouldn't even get on the highway. I am trying to gauge how much this has to do with his sugar and caffeine rollercoaster, what is stored up stuff he never dealt with, and what I can do anything about on his behalf. We're in the very unusual situation of him genuinely not seeming to be able to HEAR me or process anything I say, when we talk about money - and we always are, because it is literally the only thing he thinks about. There have been a dozen times I've become alarmed when I glanced at his face and asked, "What wrong?!" only to's still that. But so long as we're on this subject, it's like my voice causes him to glaze over completely and then he just repeats himself again. I am starting to imagine him gradually steaming and finally bursting into flames as he pours over excel spreadsheets and analyzes our bank records. Except it isn't funny in my mind. I'm trying to understand how we have different roles here; I feel like my job is done because the children are unphased and doing well, and concern myself about things like their Christmas presents and bedtime reading, while the money burden falls on him. It's easier for me to say, "It will work out", because I am not the one responsible for MAKING IT work out. And yet, that is not completely true...I have always viewed it as "our burden". I am trying to solve the problem, too. And I'll certainly share in the consequences of whatever fallout we may experience. *sigh* I am closer than I've ever been in our marriage to saying, "You really need to just drink a soda, man". I really wish he knew how to just let go for an hour and let me give him a massage while we laugh about things. Maybe we can watch the new episode of The Office when he gets home late tonight...
altarflame: (Oldschool)
This financial crisis we're having is highlighting key differences in the way Grant and I were raised. It's bothering me, too, really it is, but it is making him completely insane with anxiety and stress. I know that part of this is that he is the breadwinner but I really don't think that's all of it by a long shot.

I try to look at bad situations and say, ok, what is the absolute worse thing that could happen? For instance, say we ended up in foreclosure (remember, we took out a home equity loan a year ago to finish renovations...we only owe less than half of what the house is worth since it was bought outright, but it means we can foreclose). Anyway, I don't want to lose our house, obviously. I really hope it doesn't come to anything like that. It makes me feel sick to my stomach to even imagine. But when I look at it realistically and know that we only owe less than half of what the house is worth - even on this market - well, we could sell the place for a point in between and move with many tens of thousands of dollars in our pocket. We would not be homeless, or even back at Grant Sr's. Likewise, we have two paid off cars that are still almost new. So, obviously I'd be taking a big hit to my lifestyle to sell one of them and be homebound when G is not here, or go back to revisiting driving him to work/busses with major commutes - it would be a major pita. BUT WE COULD DO IT, and get around $10,000, if we had to.

It's just nice to know those sorts of cushions are there, for me, because neither of my parents - now, in their mid and late 40s - have anything like that, they live paycheck to paycheck driving battered old things that break down all the time and...that's all I ever knew, for a long time. I don't know. I feel very blessed. We're kind of screwed on some fronts, we budget horribly and make bad decisions and so we were not at all prepared for Grant's job to change him to salary or to lose his main consulting gig but at the end of the day I am comforted and praying about how he's switched to the night shift and persuing other day work (he's already had a meeting about a contract that will be an immediate check), I'm submitting writing like there's no tomorrow, and I'm PSYCHED that due to pre-crisis shopping and our wonderful extended families, the kids will have an awesome Christmas regardless of how we're doing.

Elise is doing great! I'm alive! Grant and I have an amazingly strong marriage and are nuts about each other! My stupid cat even came back.

It does help that I was raised to believe bills sort of work themselves out and it's not worthing bothering over too much :p *sigh* I'm also not above seeking temporary or one time help from whatever agencies offer it, if we need it. I'm also going to start soliciting for watching someone's kid sometimes - if we could get the times right I know that can be really good money and some people out there would be pretty thrilled with our house as an environment...


So tomorrow my friend Kristin is dropping her son, A and A's friend Darien, and her daughter, Elise's hero Naja, off here at 7:30 AM. AM, people! What my sister and I bitterly refer to as the asscrack of dawn. But Kristin got an incredible photography gig she needed a sitter for. And she's coming back with food for lunch afterward. She's doing candids at a super upscale Montessori School. Grant is probably also going to try to get our family Christmas picture in, in the afternoon before he goes to work (4-1).

I have a ton of blitz cleaning to do for an event here this weekend. And Annie is going to go hang out with her friend Christina on Sunday after we get out of church.

Today she came to me for a hug in the kitchen. She rests the top of her head on MY CHEEK when we hug. She was wearing one of my shirts today. She has shot up again and it thinned her out. She's reading a book called "The Day I Dissapeared", about a girl who has flashbacks increasingly often until she's living completely in the past - in her mind - and then wakes up surrounded by people who think she's gone crazy. It's leveled reading for 4th and 5th graders, which she is. It's just crazy. She's calm and beautiful. She's TALKING TO ME. She's walking around with other tall, only-sort-of-children at PATH, not seeming so awkward, and running around at local events independently with friends, while I sit with little kids on our chairs, and she's writing to her penpal without my help and reading novels all the time.

Grant turned from the dishes to say, "I know I've been working a lot, but when did Annie become a young woman?"

I am on a major Fiona Apple kick. It never occured to me until I told Elise her name and she repeated, "Apple?" that her last apple. I've known of her since way before I remember being like, "Huh!" because Gwyneth Paltrow named her baby Apple. *shrug* Anyway yeah. Tymps, Please Please Please, Sullen Girl, Paper Bag, O Sailor, Window - these are my favorites at the moment. I remember a time when I couldn't get enough of Never is a Promise, Criminal and Extraordinary Machine, but I think they're permanently played out for me at this point. I've also got Tori's new "Midwinter Graces" cd in heavy rotation, along with Pandora stations based on Regina Spektor, and Christmas carols. Suffice to say my brother is ready to gouge his ear drums with a knife. a joking way. Because he's in a better mood over all. Frank even said he was really impressed with his attitude when he took him out job hunting yesterday. And I'm glad.

I ended up making pecan shortbread cookies for the exchange at PATH, from some recipe I found in Southern Living, which I unabashedly adore cover to cover each month when it arrives, loaded with butter, twang and diabetes advertisements. Those cookies were boss. (<--- I said boss.) Really though, I was robbed having to exchange them, they were the best ones there and totally worth arriving covered in flour. I even rolled the logs through my best Christmasy sugar before I sliced them out...

I'm basically rambling here until my FREAKING KIDS GO TO SLEEP - the little ones - so I can go take a long luxurious bath in my seldom-used garden tub. I'm starting to think I'll have to give it up, as they've been arguing and getting into things in their darkened rooms at top volume for TWO HOURS NOW. Improved Schedule: Night One is always so much fun. I'll send Darien and Naja in there to wake them up bright and early. I have too much before-bed cleaning to do to fit it and the bath in before I go down :/
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
Jake called out earlier, from the kitchen, "I'm making a Cheerios sandwich!" I was like, uh, and went to see, and sure enough he was pressing individual cheerios, one by one, into pieces of bread and when they were each coated he stuck them together and ate the entire thing. Then he made another one. "Is this good for my body?" he asked me, halfway through #2, and I replied that it was pretty good for energy and but he needed some fruits and vegetables for vitamins and meat or nuts or eggs for protein. "Ok, I'll have a banana and some cashews next", he said, and did. Note that he can take down a bowl's worth of cereal, 4 slices of whole grain bread, a banana and a handful of cashews, as a snack between meals o_O

Last week he followed me into the bathroom, shut the door, locked it, and then told me, "I did that because I know you need privacy!" as he sat down on the edge of the tub with a smile.

I just realized I forgot to say here that MY CAT CAME BACK. Almost a week ago now. I wrote about it on facebook and then made a phone call about it. She is no longer in heat, is puking more than usual (like every other day instead of once a week) and is being super affectionate, all of which leads me to believe we will have kittens. I'm experimenting with a raw food diet for the cats...tons of research into cat pregnancy and kittens led me to it and it really makes sense on a lot of levels. They love it, too.

I went to Starbucks with Ananda today, and asked her to ask me whatever she wanted as we sat together sipping. We do this sometimes - well, her and Aaron and I - the "ask me anything" talk. I feel like I'm very open with them and available, yet there is ALWAYS something they think to ask then as though they've been sitting on it. She asked "what is the story with Nadia". Nadia, her 11 year old cousin, who is a crack baby and is severely bipolar and schizophrenic and in and out of the psych hospitals and rehab places. So I told her those things, with lots and lots of explanations (she already knows what crack is and that Aunt Mindy has had a big problem with it) and we went through some examples of things Nadia has done that flesh these definitions out. Like how when Oma's foot was broken for months, awhile back, it was because Nadia broke it during a manic rage. And how they only put her in the hospital for her own safety, because she'll, say, JUMP OUT OF A MOVING CAR on a main road when she can't control herself. And how none of it is her fault and sometimes medicine can help with these extreme mental illnesses but it's very hard to find the right one for someone's individual body. Ananda was surprised by some of it, but very interested in everything I said and seemed satisfied with the answers. She seemed to feel bad for her, but more for Patrice, her twin, who has to deal with her either being a bit crazy or dissapearing for periods of time. Then she also wanted to know what "Noel" means :p

I had the most amazing conversation on the phone, with my father in law. I was wondering if any of our old Christmas stuff was still over there, and inviting him to dinner next Sunday, and he asked about Christmas presents for the kids. "Is Annie still riding that same little old beat up bike?" "Yeah", I answered, and he said, "Well, that's easy then, I'll get her a bike." WHAT?! And yeah, while he's at it, he'll just go ahead and get one for Aaron who's outgrown his rusting mongoose and Isaac who's never had a bike, too. Uh. THAT IS FUCKING AWESOME. I mean damn.

It really made me happy.

He's also on board to pitch in for the collaborative Christmas present I'm organizing for Grant, which I am really excited about on his behalf.

Grant is starting the night shift tomorrow at his job - 4pm-1am - which means a few things.

-He loses a lot of the probability of promotion and advancement that he has there now
-He loses most of his social interaction, some of which he REALLY digs - there is a lot of joking around and prank wars and whatnot, at his work, and he can't get enough of that
-it will not exactly help us to ever get on a more "normal" schedule, though I've about given up on that with every kids' activity and church service ever being in the evening...

-no more commuting traffic, which helps with his stress as well as shaving over an hour off his total time devoted to that job per day
-WAY LESS overall stress, like hugely so, because he'll be there working on projects and things when almost nobody else is there, rather than rushing around with everyone else as support calls and emails pour in during the day with the boss standing over them freaking out. He has a noticeably calmer temperament when he does evenings there, you can SEE the tension draining away
-he will have to stay late way less often, thus reducing his total hours worked on salary quite significantly
-HE WILL HAVE TIME DURING THE DAYS FOR SIDE WORK!! So, hopefully, assuming several other factors fall into place, we can gradually start pulling ourselves out of this crazy deep hole we're digging right now

Which would be freaking awesome.

I cut pieces for and then sewed almost half of a quilt top I planned out yesterday, while this sat open, just now...Grant was on the computer coding while I sat nearby on the floor puzzling over symmetry and then had the occasional sewing machine snafu - it was a lot of silence with mutters of "Well damnitt what now" or "Why is that..." followed by smatterings of keys or thrum of motor and needle.

I don't have "an ending" so...the end :)
altarflame: (Default)
I had a good and productive day. I did just about everything I set out to do.

Got up early, took a shower, stuck to my eating plan. Did two math lessons with Ananda and Aaron - we're doing double math and little else for a short while because they have some holes in their math knowledge and I'm trying to get them up to speed there. I baked a couple of pumpkins and made pumpkin bread with the resulting puree, for tea. We went and got our produce in the morning, deposited checks in the bank, and Aaron got to his evening dance class on time. Also I finally remembered to get our toothpaste, which is only really at Whole Foods, while we were up there today.

Robby came over for tea. He had planned it with me last night over AIM. He showed up, almost 15, with his big hair with it's growing-out-highlights, extremely skinny jeans, 2 layered tops, and what for all the world appeared to be Ugg boots. Yes, yes, it is in the upper 80s here again - ah to be young, gay, and going to the redneck highschool. He was texting me from school today.

(for background, the other day he updated his facebook to say he just heard a teacher tell a kid who had his phone under the desk messing with it, "Either you're playing with your penis, or you're texting - either way, put it away son")
Robby's text: Ugh, they're doing FCAT reviews and I'm stuck in the same class all day, craving your cooking.
Me: Aren't you worried your teacher is going to accuse you of something embarassing in class for texting right now?
Robby: I've got it out, it's ok with him.
Robby: lol, wow.

Most of our conversations are not nearly so ridiculous.

I pulled out all the stops for tea, with sugar cubes and honey in our silly honeycomb and coconut milk to pour into ginger peach tea in the little creamer. And the pumpkin bread, a big fancy bundt cake. We had it all on a huge red quilt in the sideyard with the rabbits hopping around in a pen nearby and chickens pecking crumbs off our plates and drinking from our teacups. The kids made him watch them do a ton of tricks and stunts and view an assortment of lego creations, and he helped me hang a Fisher Price swing I got for Elise off of freecycle the other day (as in, he climbed the tree to hang knots). He told us he was telling everyone at school today, in a British accent, that he was "having afternoon tea with the chickens later" and nobody believed it.

I invited him back for Friday, to come to game night at the bookstore with us. It's really, REALLY weird how Ananda and Aaron are at the super annoying tween age he used to be when he irritated me half to death. THEY are irritating me like that now. I really don't care for this stage of false bravado and general distain for everything. Give me infant-to-preschoolers or teens any day.

I talked to my friend of my friends Michelle, I actually have 3 Michelles in my phone now counting my aunt...and she got me all excited about planning Nancy's Birthgirlz event and selling books of my own and things like that.

I talked to my Dad for awhile and he told me this INSANE theory he has about how the Catholic Church doesn't allow priests to marry because that way the church can have all their stuff when they die, since they don't have any heirs to inherit it all. "Think about it, multiplied over all the priests - that's a lot of money, Tina". SO CRAZY.

He also told me less crazy and much more intense things, like about how his dad - my Pa - called him up and said he was going to kick the bucket and he had to teach him to cook some things first, so he went down there and cooked things with Pa's directions and really, he is glad he knows how to now. Pa always took care of all of us with food. I'm doing my annual "Scramble to get my paternal family together for Thanksgiving" thing. It's worked 3 times in my adult life, but none of those were last year or the year before...I wish it was easier to get everyone HERE from Key West, because I have room to put people up and to serve a huge meal. Everyone is down there, though, where there's no room for anything.

Having a reeeeeeeeeeaaally hard time not buying stuff. My birthday is 4 days away and I keep putting things in my Amazon cart, searching eBay auctions...I had an original birthday budget I was looking forward to spending, but since then some changes have occured that make that budget not such a good idea :/ I think that because I'm not eating constantly like normal, and also because I'm giving up a lot lately (my office for Bob to move in, pretty much all my normal time and attention from Grant because of his work schedule), I want more STUFF.

Also because a lot of this stuff is either Catholic/Orthodox books, art, or prayer aids, it is hard to feel like it could really be so "wrong" to get them. Blah. And I find such good DEEEEEEEAAALLS!!

My last few days have been full of:

-Isaac's croup. This is awful. I'm trying to keep the humidifier filled and supplemented with Vicks liquid at night, and his chest smeared with Vicks, and we're letting him sleep in the tv room propped up nearly to a sitting position. Taking turns being out there with him. We were absolutely freaked a couple of nights ago, he was coughing himself purple, vomiting from coughing...the doctor thinks it's the weather. We had the first cold front of the season the other day and it was the first major drop in humidity in like 8 months, which is huge for kids predisposed to this kind of stuff. I'm trying to keep him full of liquids. He actually wants cuddles, which is rare for him - and is enjoying the ripple blanket I made him, that just got done last week.

-that weather was awesome...aside from the croup :/ Isaac enjoyed going out with hot cocoa, popcorn, and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on the projector, in the backyard. It was 58 that night, which is A Big Deal here. We've been spending a lot of time outside. A and A have been taking nighttime bike rides with me to see peoples' lit Halloween decorations.

-I'm just losing more and more weight. I'm down 19 pounds now, from 233 to 214. In ONE MONTH. And right now, at 214, I'm due to start my period by all rights I should be bloated and up a few pounds by my normal patterns. I think it just appeared to slow my rate of loss, this time. This is great because, you know, it's just great. It's also starting to suck a lot though, because it's really messing up my belly bigtime to have all the fat melting away. Just...yuck. The hanging and sagging, the protruding and freakiness, also I have new and previously unexperienced sorts of back pain almost every day now. But none of the accute hernia pain I used to have semi-regularly? So...I dunno.

-This also makes my impending surgery seem more and more immediate and terrifyingly real. I'm having trouble sleeping again. Then today I saw this great article about how much more likely people with PTSD are to die after major surgery because of how the stress and triggers impede their healing and even blood flow. Really, it was so awesome. *this is me stabbing myself in the eye*

I miss Grant so much. Even when he's here, he's not usually here. On the way home from church, or laying in bed cuddling, ANYTIME I ask him my standard, "What are you thinking about?"'s something about work. Always. I can't tell to what degree he has to work as much as he is, and to what degree he is a workaholic. He can't either. It's kind of making me nuts, when he's here. When he's gone, I have a fair amount of peace about doing the best I can with my day to day life regardless. Sleeping separately to care for Isaac is not helping our strain any. We sat on the deck watching stuff on the laptop tonight, and layed together for just a few minutes after he had to go to bed. He is supposed to be meeting me around Dance Empire tomorrow afternoon to trade vehicles, take the little kids, and allow me to go write for the 3 hour block of A and A's classes. It's like a partnership between people with separate lives. I'll take my deeply entwined and codependent constant intimacy back now, please.

The thing is I can try to give him all the space he needs to try to get promoted and try to make more money for us. I really can, I was doing that for a couple of weeks. We talked about it just a little, though, and he adamantly doesn't want me to NOT tell him about my day or when he's being kind of an asshole or when I'm thinking something he's not equipped to deal with at the moment. He says we've been making this work really well for a long long time because we are completely open and share every tiniest detail. He's right. But - ? How do I maintain that when he gets home for the first time all day at nearly 9 pm, in a bad mood and needing to be in bed by 10:30, having not even had dinner yet? *sigh*

I am mostly content and grateful.

I am constantly reminded of others' around me who have much larger problems to deal with than I do. And grateful for my ability to give my kids this life and to reach out and help some extras, as well.

May 2017

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