altarflame: (deluge)
Actually I was with a wide array of people I love being with, but I didn't have any kids or a husband along. Just me in our smaller car, accumulating varied messes and then cleaning them out at a trash can every few hundred miles/couple of days.

I find myself at a place where I'm not sure I want to use real names to talk about people online anymore? That's weird. IS THIS THE END OF... whatever this is? Or, was.

For my own records, for the handful of people that are rooting for me or just clicking for content they've been skimming for years, for the couple of RL lurkers that read this instead of calling me on the phone - perpetuity:

I stopped in central Fl on day 1/my way up, to meet a guy I'd talked to a lot on fb (he's a friend of RL friends) and his girlfriend. They were both great - we went out for Indian food and it was a little like, "I don't actually know these people," but really not so bad, and then when we went back to their place there was a distinct, "I could easily have kept talking to them for many more hours" vibe. I really only eventually left when I did because it was so late and I had 2.5 more hours of driving to do that night.

Also - she is SO MUCH like my friend Kristin, and he is so like Grant in certain ways, and she and I have some fundamental stuff in common; it makes me feel like maybe there are just a few prototypes of people, like cats (white, black, ginger, calico, tabby, etc).

When I went to leave their place, I saw their cat on the roof of my car, but you know. Cats jump off. RIGHT? I didn't even think about it. I sat in my car for a few, programming the GPS and updating some people on times, and then I drove off. The whole way through town. ONTO THE HIGHWAY. I was driving on the highway for a few when I sat up straighter, adjusted my rearview mirror a bit, and spotted their damned cat on the trunk of my car. Casual, if slightly hunched, in that cat loaf position. I thought "if I just pull over, she'll immediately be ran over...but I can't leave her there!"

Anyway I made a big illegal u-turn when there was a huge gap in traffic to stop at the most secluded area possible, in case she bolted. But she just sat there on the trunk looking at me. So I put her in the car and texted them, "headed back to your place...you guys aren't going to believe this shit."

EXCEPT THEY TOTALLY DID. They were relieved she was ok and thankful I'd brought her back, but also like, "Oh yeah she does this, that's why she has a GPS collar. You've got to shove her off the roof of your car."

On my way to Tallahassee, I texted Grant and Co pics of the cat screaming at me in the car (because apparently she's just like other cats in not being into regular, inside-vehicle travel) and told them the story over speakerphone. They were dying of laughter.
IMG_1765[1]

Sooooo I stayed up a bit with Jess and Cale when I finally got to Tallahassee, but mostly was exhausted and on day 1 (uterus trying to kill me) of my period.

Bedtime was the beginning of me trying to reconcile my normal Princess and the Pea ways with travelling. Gah. I LOVE Jess and Cale, and their place is mostly awesome (decor, space, cats, food, etc), buuuuut they don't have allergies or asthma of any kind to contend with. I myself am a slob, but an allergic slob, so there are certain things that have to be in place - like no wall to wall carpet, seriously high tech vacuum, periodic intentional dusting, etc. Also they just have different cats than I'm used to? And their futon has a big bar sticking up in the middle of it. Anyway I basically tossed and turned for hours and then woke up far too early with my eyes crusted over, coughing and sneezing, each morning. By day 4 I was dizzy and light headed and tight in the chest, and had to do a lot of phone tag with pharmacies and Teledoc to eventually get an inhaler before I passed out in the middle of CVS. I've been on a steady cocktail of claritin and/or benadryl with albuterol, ever since.

I could spend the rest of my life talking to Jess, though. Two different days, we went out to coffee shops and just talked for hours while I methodically shredded my styrofoam cup. One day Cale came too, and I got a bunch of nonsense out of my purse (mushroom playing cards, tarot cards, various seashells) so everyone could fidget with things and look through stuff while we talked.

Sidenote: It's so epic that Cale is someone I get along so well with, and could easily be good friends with in his own right. It would be so different to continue on with her and our 20 year friendship, with someone I felt awkward around inserted into our visits. Even when Jess was in the hospital and rehab last year, after surgical complications, it was easy to talk to and stay with Cale just the two of us. It makes me really happy for her, that he is as good as he is.

One day the 3 of us went on an hour+ drive to Withlacoochie (really) Florida, to swim in a cold spring. We stopped in the last available store, on the way, to get some food to take - the place seriously had gallon sized cans of boiled peanuts with faded labels and rusty tops. The vending machine outside only sold Faygo (.35 cents - quarters only!). The friendly cashier had a southern accent and just a couple of teeth. It was the pinnacle of "I hear banjos, paddle faster!" and one of many times I felt like I was in not just a different city, but a different country. I feel so distinctly Cuban once I'm outside of Miami-Dade County (where I feel white).

The Springs were AMAZING. Beyond amazing. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and something about the cold shock of water and the physical exertion was the perfect antidote to all the driving I'd been doing, and the lack of physical affection I'd started to feel like I might shrivel up and die from.

Really - I am suddenly quantifying how touchy each of my kids are and wondering wth I'm going to DO, when they're all grown up.

The Springs were even better because we got there when it was storming, and walked through the woods in the rain, and after we waited out the park ranger's orders not to get in due to lightning, we had the place to ourselves for a bit since the park had mostly cleared out.

Eventually it was time to I-10 it over to Jacksonville for the second half of this trip. Which sounded a lot like this:



Jean-Paul is doing great on all fronts, really having a kind of all-around upswing in love, career, mental health, errythang, so that's obviously cool. He's also the best kind of host, from not caring when or how I come and go and giving me my own key, to washing my allergen-coated bedding, and frequently having cookies or (gluten free even) brownies there when I'd get back. He's a host with lots of fluffy towels, and great conversation at the end of every day.

If anyone who reads this doesn't already know, he's both my 6th grade boyfriend/long time long distance friend, and Grant's cousin. So I get to do fun stuff like list our relationship as exes and relatives, on facebook :p

He's also an IT guy, like Grant, so the guest bed was just like my own in that it was near a computer used for working from home on double monitors.

Him: I can't believe you slept through that conference call.
Me: You have no idea.

Jacksonville is a sprawling place that's woven it's way through various parts of my life. I lived in a huge, dilapidated, old house in "historic" San Marco when I was 10-11, until we were evicted. Then I lived in a tiny, dilapidated, old trailer in Sin City, until we were evicted, and then turned 12 living in a roadside motel on Phillips Highway. There was a westside trailer's spare room and a beach apartment's couch in there, somewhere. When I was 19 or 20, Bobby and I moved up there with baby Annie and newborn Aaron and lived for a few difficult months with my mom in Mayport, before getting a nice house in Mandarin that was working out well, aside from the whole "second trimester miscarriage/fetus buried in the backyard" ordeal, until that whole relationship blew up.

The point is that Jacksonville in it's entirety is like a mesh patchwork of different kinds of mixed nostalgia. I generally avoid chasing ghosts when I'm there, but I decided for some reason to go find the two story house (from when I was 10-11). The path Laura and I used to walk to our bus stop is blocked now, so you have to go a few blocks out of your way to continue down the street the house is on. It looks the same, when you get there. Who cares, right? Except apparently I do, because I went and wrote a freakin' 4+ page long poem about this fucking house.

On that note - I used to say I felt six deep down inside, and weird little anecdotes about things that happened when I was 6 would come out in my (fictional) writing. My most private inner self, was the me that laid awake night after night in bed with Laura sleeping nearby, eavesdropping and making up stories about fairies.

At some point that changed, though, and for the past few years if I were to be so silly as to talk about my "inner child," I'd have listed her as being 9. The me that lived in LuMar apartments and read Stephen King books I didn't quite understand all of, and had a baby brother, and a big imaginary world behind a closed bedroom door. "Recently molested, still happiest at Nana and Pa's house" Tina has been who I am under the exterior.

Well, during this trip I realized that's not really the case anymore. My deep down, vulnerable, kid self has somehow evolved into the 11 year old hiding behind a building when the school bus came, and then spending the day sticking my feet in a fountain and stealing books from the library. Down a few layers I'm now that me, simultaneously venturing out into the world and also extremely isolated. Menstruating and starting to think obsessively about sex, and crushed that my sister is moving away.

I don't expect this to exactly make sense. I realize it sounds pretty kooky. But I think it's interesting, anyway, that it isn't (as I once thought, in my mid-twenties) that a part of me is just gonna be 6 forever. Apparently that formative, private, underneath part of me is growing older, too, albeit much slower than the rest of me and for reasons I don't fully (consciously?) understand.

After I spent the whole afternoon in a coffee shop full of man buns, writing and editing this poem and talking to a woman nearby about Pokemon, and feeling sick, I went out to dinner with Kristin! And heard all about her recent adventures in Micronesia, and laughed about god knows what. Definitely the best part of the day. We took a horrible selfie that screams her jet lag and my allergy and asthma troubles.

The next day, I drove back down to central Florida to hang out with the new guy again. Girlfriend was at work. We went and swam in one of his friend's pool, and ate mangoes and played music, for hours, and told each other a bunch of shit about our lives. Then when she was off work, we met his girlfriend for Korean barbecue, the highlight of which is that he apparently walked in and claimed someone else's reservation. He said this was a panic reaction, and it caused a lot of laughter when the waiter approached us with the party whose reservation it actually was. Seems relevant that our group and theirs were literally the only people in the place, so it's not like anyone was getting turned away.

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I spent a whole day with Kristin, her sister (who I've met several times), her mom (who I've hung out with lots), and her kids (who my own consider family). I adore all of them, individually and as a group. Sent plenty of pics back to my house. We walked up to a brunch place and then hung around sister's apartment until she had to go to work. Then Kristin and I drove down to St Augustine, where her fiance/love of her life was finishing up with his conference for the day and becoming available.

Man oh man. One, much as I love them all, just her (or her and her guy) is better. Two, we went to the most off the hook AMAZING restaurant (The Black Fly, on Anastasia Island). The three of us split three dinners and three desserts. Luscious crab cakes. Blissful scallops. Mushroom medley in puff pastry. Chocolate mousse cake with hazelnuts, coconut lime creme brulee, and bourbon pecan ice cream. Every single bite was moaning and heaven. They're grossly in love and infectious in their happiness. And, since he hasn't heard them all before, we get to tell him all of our old stories :D

IMG_1892[1] IMG_1888[1]

We went back to their hotel and swam in their warm, salty pool, which was hilariously close to frequently passing freight trains. Lots of laughing, and everyone finding my hairs wrapped around them (which was an ongoing theme of the whole trip... it's almost as though I was on a mission to clog every shower in Florida). She's a bug scientist and he studies mangrove conditions around the world, so nothing I have to say about plants will ever seem inconsequential to either of them. Yet we can also be aghast together about tumblr porn that involves eyeballs being pushed out of assholes. THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE, I TELL YOU.

I went back through central Florida on the way home, specifically stopping in to spend an hour with this guy I only met this trip. It was an interesting conversation on a couch, and then I gave him a ride to work. He (like Cale, and Jean-Paul, and practically every other man I ever talk to apparently?) is an IT guy, and was tense about a problem he was having trouble solving at this new job. I was like, well, you sound like Charlie Brown's parents to me, buuuuut I'm willing to bet I know someone who can help with that issue. So Grant and him skyped through it.

IT guys are interesting, and a bunch of the ones I know don't really identify as IT guys. Cale was going to be an attorney and this is just a way to pay the bills, Grant would rather see himself as a photographer or dad, this other guy would rather be around kids and has worked with kids at times. Jean-Paul is adamant that work doesn't define people and anti-capitalism in general. Like even when they make a ton of money (which is frequently the case) and enjoy their jobs, there's still this vague unease at being seen AS that job, which I suspect is partially because none of them seem to consciously choose it. It's a whole generational phenomenon where smart underachievers stayed up on computers instead of doing their homework, and missed a lot of high school/dropped out entirely, and then that somehow turned out to give them a super profitable skill set.

Back to my timeline here, my last stop was to see Samara, Bobby's wife (who I think is the bee's knees), about my allergies and general malaise. She sells and markets and graphic designs for some pretty natural and well planned out supplements, and I have been dead against hearing about them (or any other direct sales) before. But I basically walked in and said, "Clearly I need help. I am now ready to receive your wisdom." She's got grace for days so this was actually not awkward, and involved laughter and hugs as I told her about the Herbal Conference I went to in February, and how I stopped eating grains for months but just cheated a ton while travelling, and don't know if I can cut sugar at all, and so on... she's the most calming presence. I don't even know how to describe her energy.

I even had a long, civil conversation with Bobby before I finally headed out towards home o_O


So here I am. It's been a restorative sort of weekend featuring lots and lots of sleeping in my LUSCIOUS KING SIZED BED, lots of showing my kids pictures, and cuddle piles, and just a few occasions of venturing out with a couple of them at a time. Aaron, Jake, Elise and I went to a cafe and down to the ocean to look at jellyfish, yesterday. Later I'm probably taking some people to see The Secret Life of Pets. I arrived home broken out, with canker sores in my mouth, tired like I haven't been since I had babies and still reliant on a couple of meds - so while I really did have a great time, it was good to get back to my nest. Definitely gonna be brainstorming ways to make future travel less physically stressful. When I went to Lakeland a few weeks back to visit my grandparents and other family, it was sort of perfect because I stayed at my friend Cindi's place (which is far cleaner than my own, and pet free) where I had my own room with a good bed, and limitless access to a bathroom nobody else was waiting on. Obviously it's not reasonable to expect everyone I know to be able to provide that kind of guest space :p I wonder how much of my trouble was about NOT bringing all my normal supplements with me (because they're for the whole family, some require refrigeration, etc). I usually take a LOT of shit every day, and strongly suspect I'm counteracting some malabsorption issues that way. I'm also kinda flabbergasted by how cavalier other people my age act about chronic extreme sleep deprivation? Jean-Paul acts like that's just "being an adult," and even Jess and Cale "can't sleep past 9am" (even if we're staying up talking til 3-4am?!). Kristin is basically ideologically opposed to naps. I'm just like, guys. GUYS! SLEEP IS A WELLSPRING OF GOODNESS AND LIGHT!




I also got back to the news that I'm getting a $5,000 grant I hadn't counted on, for this first upcoming year of grad school! I have a mandatory orientation for that next month, and I'm getting pumped about the whole situation. I met with my advisor and got my schedule sorted out a few weeks ago. Also exciting that the average age of FIU grad students is 31, so hopefully I can actually make some friends other than the teachers.

Not ready to let go of summer yet, though... bookstores are throwing Harry Potter parties; Grant, me, and Ananda are going to NYC next month. And, Kristin is coming here for a couple of days. I am failing abysmally at prioritizing book writing. Today I had to make a million appointments, take Isaac to counseling, drive Elise to and from camp, wash a mountain of dishes, cook us all dinner, and more. It took me 3 days to write this entry! This weekend seemed promising, but someone wants to come over, and I've been asked if I can cover some hours at the crisis call center.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
altarflame: (deluge)
I spent way too much of today trying to sort out a logistical hassle with the school board re: somebody's missing evaluation from 2010-2011 (their error, which has somehow suddenly become a time sensitive emergency). Sooooo many emails (with our internet connection randomly crashing every 5 minutes) and phone calls. Ugh.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


This is a good thing for me right now:



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

For now...stretching and sleep.
altarflame: (deluge)
Well, I've got several half done LJ entries that have been sitting around open for various periods of time, a lot of it the kind of thing I often just delete rather than finish. I'm going to cut some of it below.

Life is pretty good :) I'm listening to a ton of Vampire Weekend pretty reglularly - this week's favorites are Horchata and Step, last week it was Walcott all the time, the week before that I was focused on White Sky and Oxford Comma. My Vampire Weekend Pandora station is a thing of beauty and joy, and has temporarily displaced NPR in our kitchen.

It's probably strange how relevant various iPhone apps are to my daily life. There is Pandora and NPR, and I use the Weight Watchers app anytime I eat or exercise, the C25K app 3 times a week at the Y, my camera very often. Texting throughout the day with Laura and Kristin, and Grant when he's at work, is pretty ongoing. I watch Khan Academy math videos and do Duolingo french lessons basically anytime I'm somewhere waiting. This of course does not count the goofing off that is Tumblr and Facebook.

I realized this weekend that I'm probably going to hit 500 tumblr followers anyday now. I suppose a lot of people like plants, and food, and my random pictures/bizarre sense of humor.

I'm also going to be down in the 230s this week. I started this ~*~weight loss journey~*~ in the 260s.




Elise had a neurological evaluation up at Miami Children's Hospital yesterday. The PA that worked with us was very nice, she interviewed me for a long time and then examined Elise. Next she had Elise write her name, draw a person, identify various letters and their sounds, and then try repeatedly and without success to sound out a simple word (sit) whose letters and sounds she obviously is very familiar with. She's 7 and going into 2nd grade, and this is her first formal evaluation since mid-year during preschool, fyi. She actually had three evals during preschool, that went "barely behind in a couple of areas, ahead in others" then "pretty behind in speech and writing and patterns, but ok otherwise," and then "average to above average across the board." Then in Kindergarten it was clear she couldn't move at a standard academic pace, and I took her out mid-year. Throughout the last year+, for first grade, it's been very obvious that she has some short term memory issues, but they manifest in this maddeningly inconsistent way that's very hard to pin down.

I know from working with Ananda and Isaac that Elise definitely has some kind of reading disability - it is just a whole different world than teaching neurotypical kids. Aaron and Jake practically seemed to teach THEMSELVES compared to Annie and Isaac, and Elise is very much like they were - doesn't recognize a word we just did repeated exercises with a minute before, can't even string the sounds together mentally when I say them out loud one after the other, and even start to blend them out loud - and makes wild guesses that come out of absolutely NOWHERE ("igloo" for sit, since there's an i in the middle). There is this frustrating disparity that happens in these learning disability situations, where you have a kid who seems brilliant in conversation and who you watch figure out all sorts of complex concepts, who then cannot do this seemingly simple task.

Anyway, the PA also had her walk a straight line, hop a lot of each foot, follow her finger with eye but not head movement, and some other things. She seems confident that Elise no longer has any real neurological problems, but does have some kind or kinds of learning disability. Our next steps are an "N-met" test back at this same office, on a computer in a couple of weeks, to test her attention and focus, and then a psycho-ed eval at a university department. Hopefully that will be sooner than the N-Met, but I keep getting a voicemail and leaving messages so we'll see.

We've been waiting since late March for the appt she had yesterday, so I'm glad the other appointments are seeming soon. My goal here is to get her some concrete diagnoses to enter school with on August 18, so that she can get an IEP asap. The school she's going to is the one that did wonders for Isaac - he was in a class with 2 fulltime teachers and an aid for 22 kids, and he was getting before and after school tutoring in addition to having lot of "Reading Plus" work to do online at home, via their subscription.

Really what I've seen with Annie at home and Isaac at school is that, with a smart kid with a reading disorder, you keep trying new things until eventually something just clicks in a way that leaves you wondering whether it was the actual last method, or just them getting old enough. Annie and Isaac both read chapter books for pleasure regularly now, but I still feel nervous about Elise because of her history making it all seem like new territory.

And, it is still on the table whether or not Elise will be staying in school at all. But I want to give it a chance, and she is excited. I think the main variable is honestly whose class she ends up in.

She was excited to do the evaluation yesterday morning, and loved it, so that's helpful. There were stickers and a trip to Starbucks involved, too.




Old partial nonsense rambling entries!

#1, some thoughts on biking )

Much )

thoughts on birth control, and risk )
altarflame: (deluge)
Food

In the last 48 hours I've made and eaten:

1.) Delicious Quinoa

-boil it in broth and lemon juice
-while it cooks, cut up some good fresh tomatoes, add a bunch of frozen peas, slather that all in olive oil, salt and pepper
-combine
-optional black olives on the side or sliced in are nice

I'm the only person in this house who likes quinoa, so I got to eat it for dinner, breakfast and lunch.

2.) Kale, potato and sausage soup

This was inspired by my browsing many similar recipes. What I came up with involved onions and garlic cooking in butter and olive oil, then adding lots of diced potatoes and some salt, stirring often. Next a huge lot of ripped up kale - I really put a ton of it, it filled the stock pot before wilting down. I ended up adding about 12 cups of chicken broth, about 1/2 cup of cream, a couple of (drained) cans of chickpeas (although I pulverized half of one of the cans into a thickening liquid first), and frying sausage on the side and adding it in after I took Annie's bowl out. Really yummy and very filling, everybody loved it and got seconds except for Isaac.

3.) Brussels sprout and mushroom hash with fried eggs on top.

Recipe here. I will be making this again, possibly tomorrow morning. Grant, Ananda, Jake and I liked it a lot, and I'm used to doing some supplementary fried potatoes and/or scrambled eggs for people who aren't into my more adventurous brunch concoctions.


Music

This week, there are the things I like in the background for hours, at home, like:

-Turnabout Jazz Soul, like this particular "Godot - The Fragrance of Dark Coffee" track http://endlessvideo.com/watch?v=HMnrl0tmd3k

-my "Classical Christmas" Pandora station, and you can see and hear samples of thumbs-up'd tracks here, how awesome is that: http://www.pandora.com/station/163185568826481172

And then there are things I keep going and seeking out to hear individually, especially when I'm driving, like:



and



and of course



We're just coming out of a big Les Mis soundtrack phase, around here, although Annie is trying to drag it out (she's also the one who started it). Last night I kept hitting play on this:

altarflame: (Default)
The weather is so beautiful today and yesterday! 60s-70s with tons of wind. This cold front took us totally by surprise. Ananda and I were on a date on Lincoln Rd yesterday, laughing and laughing because there were all these people taken off guard - basically everyone was ducking into places like CVS to just get anything to cover up with because tank tops and flip flops weren't cutting it, and a jacket in that area would be a serious and mostly useless investment. We saw a woman wrapped in a baby blanket, several people with beach towels around them, and a lady using a cheap drugstore American flag.

Also, I cleaned the living daylights out of my long-neglected bedroom this weekend, and am really loving it in here, again :)

Medical Update:
Well, the Hernia Institute said the Homestead Hospital ER docs' theorizing was just that...wild theorizing, of the sort they've never heard before. Losing weight is definitely in order. Blah blah blah. Eating well and not too much is feeling a lot easier to me than it ever has before, so that's good, and Vegan is coming (almost) naturally. I had a sort of awful debacle with trying to wear binders as recommended to hold the hernia in, and dude, that is really not doable for me. Just...ugh. The way my back arches/butt goes out/whatever causes them to push in and bunch at the spot on my spine that is really triggering and basically within 5 minutes in either of two kinds I tried, I felt like an insane person. Grant said I looked like a deer in the headlights. Geez! I mean I've been going around with no binder for 4+ years now, if I can lose weight and have surgery in the next few months, screw the binders. Incidentally, this is the first time in that 4+ years that I have been eager for the surgery. I was actually disappointed when they didn't take me back to the OR from the ER. I was there with an IV, laying on the slidy board part of the CT scan machine, looking up at the fake sky and trees scene on the ceiling that I have seen several times before, thinking, ok. I can give myself to this. I surrender. Can we please just get it over with?

AAAAaaaand, I got hit-and-run rear ended on the highway a week and a half ago and have been suffering whiplash. It's driving me nuts. I think it's actually what sent me to the ER, because the headaches and neck stiffness cause nausea and the other side effects - like sleepiness, irritability - make me feel "off" and nausea and feeling off both make me think something is wrong with the thing they would usually indicate is wrong (hernia). Looking to the left or up repetitively causes intense, sharp headaches (so like browsing the grocery store, checking my blind spot on long drives or taking notes off a classroom board, for instance), and my neck itself gradually stiffens through the course of each day. I'm taking ibuprofen intermittently, arnica that I suspect does nothing, seeing a chiropractor and having wine more often. I really hope this is whiplash of the "3 months" variety and not the "chronic pain and residual issues" sort. It's also making me crazily lethargic at times, which is apparently to be expected? What? I've been taking more naps and going to bed early more often, and trying not to feel guilty for either in spite of having SO MUCH TO DO. Grant took two days off last week because of all this. We also spent...uh (calculating)...almost $500 on all of it. Don't get me started on "how we'll pay for the surgery" (we are insured, but it's crappy insurance).

I have moments when I feel really hopeless and helpless about how this is the only body I get and it's kind of falling apart, here.




Moving Update:
We talk about moving a lot. We've started the process of "Getting to know Ft Lauderdale" in an effort to better understand real estate listings. Basically we've got Pros:

-Grant would no longer have to drive TWO HOURS EACH WAY EVERY DAY (or drive an hour and take the train an hour) to work. This is the mother of all other pros, like
*Grant's happiness and quality of life
*seeing my husband
*kids with their awesome dad
*putting an end to the time/money/happiness sucking insanity of accidents, tickets, traffic court, maintenance and so on that has consumed so much of our lives for the last 6 months he's had this job
*no longer spending about $800 per month on gas O_O
-but there is also how Ft Lauderdale is a more diverse, prettier place with way more to do and far better walkability (and bike/public transit-ability), great beaches right there, an ART DISTRICT, and so on
-and if he loses or hates this job, there are other jobs UP THERE, near where we'd be living
-our electric bill would also presumably go down a lot - we're currently part of a small nook still served by the antiquated City of Homestead power plant, which is ludicrously expensive compared to FPL (where most of the state gets power). I've gotten bills over $600 in the summer months more than once. $450 is about a median "any time of year" bill for this neighborhood.

And maybe our van would commence with lasting a few more years as it should rather than being driven into the ground as it currently is. Because we are not really looking to add payments.

It seems from my e-search that property crime is somewhat higher in Ft Lauderdale than here, but violent crime is significantly lower, so hey. There is a wildly awesome nature center there that I've looked at longingly online more than once, that offers FREE classes and camps.

We've been hesitating a lot to even consider it because we have very bad credit and so it would be really hard to own a home again, and I am not eager to (try to) rent with a bunch of kids and pets and the ability to be kicked out so easily - eviction is way more immediate and scary than foreclosure, there is a security bubble in owning your own place (in addition to the freedom to have a turquoise bedroom and a coop full of chickens). It seemed silly to move for a brand new job with a small company just starting out that might not even last, but signs increasingly point to him staying there and getting promoted.

Now that we are considering it, there are also the Cons:

-not living in the same city with my sister anymore (we do a lot of spontaneous getting together that would not be possible anymore), when she has a BRAND NEW BABY even :/
-losing Homestead, which encompasses a whole bunch of stuff like
*walking a few blocks to Elise's preschool, which is adjacent to the charter school I know enough about to trust and have applied at for my three youngest, and where her teacher is a neighbor we see when we go in the front yard
*my college and the gynecologist I really like being a 5 minute bike ride from where I live
*free music lessons/loaned instruments with great teachers a mile away
*"cultural" stuff like Knaus opening every fall, lychee season around the corner, going to Royal Palm Grille (the weirdest oldest diner ever) to eat and see basically everyone we've ever known, my kids being in the same parades I've been going to see my whole life
*"people" stuff like my friend Kristin being a fixture in our lives and Theresa, the lady who does my kids' evaluations every year and lives right over there
*"nostalgia" stuff like just living in this neighborhood I've lived in forever - I already did the coming of age move away/come back thing :p
-OUR HOUSE because, wut, I LOVE this house.... It's so perfect for us - this is really a bit gut wrenching for me at times. Other times I think, well, we probably wouldn't stay here FOREVER regardless, but I really seem to be getting the impression that we'd be taking steps down in one if not many ways, when we move :/ Ft Lauderdale seems to have somewhat smaller average square footage and WAY smaller average yards, as well as bigger price hikes for things we take for granted (roman tubs in double vanity bathrooms and enormous kitchens, for instance)

I sort of assume we would continue to drive south for certain things that we now drive north for - like Ananda and Aaron's established group of (awesome) friends, and Isaac's counseling.

From the first mention, Ananda and Isaac have wanted to move. Aaron went from not wanting to, to wanting to once we spent some time on Las Olas Blvd and the beach, up there (Annie went from wanting to, to REALLY WANTING TO once she saw that they have baby sea turtle season with lots of viewing opportunities). Jake is the hold out that desperately doesn't want to go. Elise doesn't seem to care.

I alternate between spending time browsing real estate and thinking it's really exciting to this sense of despair that there MUST be a JOB SOMEWHERE in HOMESTEAD for him.




School Update:

Homeschool - we just ordered about $200 in new materials everyone was ready for even though we're sort of in the middle of the school year. My main "problem areas" right now are getting Ananda's spelling and grammar where they should be, getting Aaron to do more work each day, getting Isaac to really take off reading (rather than this low confidence, lazy thing he's doing now) and getting Elise to write letters. Other than those particulars, I think everyone is doing great. Some of my favorites of the educational conversations we've had recently have been about the Republican primaries, voting fraud, genres of literature and satire. My favorite new thing from the past few months is probably the website readingeggs.com, which my younger ones all love and there are many available free coupons for on retailmenot.com If we stay here and they get in, I am strongly considering putting Isaac, Jake and Elise in the charter school down the street next year. I'm really happy with either choice for them in different ways. Ananda is looking towards being ready for dual enrollment by the time that is possible for her.

College - I only need 6 more classes after this semester to have my AA, which I'm really happy with considering I just started last summer. I've fallen behind in a lot of ways recently, between Isaac's issues and mine..this has definitely been my slackest semester so far :/ Understandable but still needing change...I'm not past the point of being able to catch up, I just have to buckle down and do it. I have a dangerous amount of flexibility, between taking two of these classes online and having another only once a week (with holidays making it more like three times a month). My fourth class I have twice a week but with the spaciest, craziest, most wackadoodle teacher ever, so I can basically come and go as I want - and she ONLY grades tests, so the rest of the time we're learning or studying. Theoretically. *sigh*




FINALLY - the important part of the entry!

This is the best song to blare through your open windows as your drive over intercoastal waterways, this week:


And this is the current reigning champion of candlelit bubble baths:





I'm still waiting on the finalized contract for my book, but it's been thoroughly negotiated and talked through, so. Presumably, I'll be getting it, printing it, signing it, scanning it and sending it back posthaste.

I'm continuously blown away by how well Grant and I work together...we went out Friday night and ate, and just had a great time. Last weekend we were making out everywhere and bowling and I just am so HAPPY when I'm around him. I feel guilty sometimes lately for being a medical burden or a whiny baby, and frustrated that we see each other way less than I'd like. Also sometimes worried he's going to die on the highway (especially when I am in a vehicle he's piloting, because, well, that can be scary...) Mostly I'm grateful. I wait for his train outside of the van (or wait for his van out on the porch) so we can hug and kiss and I can grab his butt and feel him all warm and smell him, and it's the best part of my day.

Sometime soon - most likely very soon, since I should be doing schoolwork - I'll be posting many pictures.
altarflame: (Default)
This big dork personifies pubescent awkwardness, and I love her for it ♥ That's the caution tape we had blocking the redone driveway (some guys came knocking that they'd done other peoples' and had leftover materials so they'd do ours ultracheap) and a shirt she bought with her own money.

When she spotted that one in the pile at Hot Topic she was like, "Is that Lucius Malfoy?!" at first glance. Grant said, "That's Lucius Malfoy 1.0" and I laughed, remembering this:


The King (Elvis) has been making Isaac really happy keeping him company at night. The sling makes it harder for him to get to sleep so he ends up feeling alone after the other kids are down.

He's also had a lot of hunting to do...last week he brought me two dead palmetto bugs, and then woke us in the night...he'd knocked over a chair and was apparently playing with a SCREAMING mouse...I shook Grant awake telling him it sounded like someone had broken in and was robbing us with a rubber duckie, and he ran out to see what was going on.

Beautiful girl.


Our new ultrablack driveway is really awesome for my super fancy mail ordered ultra vibrant chalk. That is oily and messier than normal chalk. We came out and found them this way today.
















She was making iced tea to go with dinner, from some loose leaf blood orange tea, and kept finding bits of real peel that seemed to impress her.


I was making the rest of dinner. And having cinnamon cardamon tea with almond milk and lychee honey in it. It was SO YUMMY.


And Grant made this little table for Elise's Princess Palace. I had my doubts about where in the hell he was going to fit a TABLE, but he obviously had the concept well developed. She's getting a little chair to slide in under it tomorrow. The (sewn by Kristin) cat family is living under it for now.



I leave you with two AMAZING Florence and the Machine songs that Grant and I had left undiscovered on the CD for months because we didn't understand they have to be played LOUD. Seriously, if you are in a position to play something LOUD, try these :D

(Grant and I BOTH got speeding tickets in the van, separately, the other day, while blaring this damned song...so maybe listening to it up loud while driving it TOO good...)


And then this one was part of our "magical night" and just...I love this woman :D


I really cannot emphasize the LOUD part enough, though. There are Florence songs that sound great low but these aren't them.
altarflame: (Default)
Man. I am really glad for a lot of things but sometimes I feel like I'm smothering/drowning/suffocating/desperate under the triple whammy that is marital strife, doubting my faith and having this major surgery/medical issues hanging over my head. Any one of those things is really an awful lot to deal with and sometimes I feel the ball of tense hard coiled muscle where my shoulders meet my neck, or I am sitting up in bed unable to sleep again, or I am dragging and without energy during the day, and it's like...I don't know if I can do this. UGH!

If you want to read this part feel free:
I don't talk about it a lot here, my medical stuff (severe intestinal hernia, major abdominal diastastis) )

I've started this whole metabolic/thyroid/anti-yeast support regimen to try to jump start my energy levels and weight losing...it involves B vitamins, probiotics and coconut oil every day, way more low/no mercury seafood, eating more early in the day, and excercising a ton. I'm always doing these things that I feel I can do to control some part of my life and in a way they help - in another they just seem pathetic. Like I'm using whitestrips on my teeth because all that Starbucks was starting to stain them yellowy. Great, you know, I can't actually afford a dentist right now and think I need a couple of fillings and I have this massive squared lumpy jutting belly but hey, my smile will be white! I've got some great LUSH conditioner (R&B) that I think is really helping my hair too. And it smells great.

I only think like that in my more cynical moments. That I have every day ;)

Kids are doing great, and making me happy. A couple of days ago I had an unnanounced emotional meltdown/nap. When I came out of my bedroom and hour and a half later, Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were playing monopoly in the library and Jake and Elise were playing Candy Land in the tv room. Jake and Elise voluntarily cleaned up their game and then it started raining. They asked to play in the rain and when I said, "Yeah, sure" they ran for the BACK OF THE HOUSE FOR TOWELS AND A CHANGE OF CLOTHES before they went outside. I am amazed by them everyday.

There have been many epic Jenga throwdowns. It gets pretty hilarious.


Lesson on primary colors today. She really REALLY likes making orange, purple and green.


Aaron's new tomato hornworm caterpillar. This thing is a beast, and apparently it's also eating potato and pooping all over my dining table. He has to have a few inches of dirt ready for it in it's (huge) jar because they burrow down and bury the crysalis they make. But first they turn a yellowy peach tinted color.




She's gonna be spending the weekend at the Seaquarium with her Girl Scout troop. She's got her whole packing list packed and ready. They made tshirts for the event at the meeting on Monday evening.


You can't really see the pencil drawing he's interspersing paint with, but the two little boys learned about "mixed media".





I feel like I live in a montessori school :p I can see astronomy cards, sequencing cards, a pencil, a workbook on a piano and wooden blocks in this shot...I didn't realize the dragon could hold math gnomes.


I keep thinking about new things from Sucker Punch night before last. My mind is blown that that was Violet Baudelaire a la Series of Unfortunate Events playing the lead role, and also that she was actually the one singing on many of the crazy awesome remade tracks (like the Eurythmic's "Sweet Dreams" and the Pixies' "Where is my Mind?") The whole soundtrack to that movie is BAD.ASS. and all I've been listening to today (via YouTube). After a brief re-cap of the plotline and some comparative photo viewing (since they've seen Violet in SOUE many a time) A and A are DYING to see the damn movie, and I am like. No. No way. I do let them hear the mind-blowing songs though, like this cah-razy Armageddon and Queen "I Want it All/We Will Rock You" mashup:


They recognize most of those songs from original versions, like all the ones mentioned here, and the Bjork one. They didn't know "White Rabbit" but do know Emiliana Torrini (who covers it), and the fact that it references Alice in Wonderland is good enough for them.

I totally think Sucker Punch has got cult classic all over it, though. It's got so much room for analysis and so many critics arguing over whether it's garbage or great. And would probably be great fun for my oldest two to see when they're like...12 and 13 or something. I think it was actually only rated PG-13?


Random: I'm really glad that Ananda seems to be past the worst of her place value troubles, FINALLY. Geeeeeeez that was one of the last big dyslexia struggles we were dealing with but it has been a math issue in all kinds of ways for years. Now she really seems cool with it, up into the millions, and it is awesome to see her doing assignments that involve rounding and estimates to the ten thousands or whatever with no trouble at all. We just started doing a math review period as a break from division - which she is super good at, no troubles at all - and I was pleasantly surprised to find this just...isn't hard anymore. Like when I suddenly noticed last year that she never wrote numerals backwards anymore.
altarflame: (Default)
Last night Grant and I had a night of pseudo-debauchery. First, we went up to a tattoo place to ask how much - in time and money - this thing I'm thinking of would be. This turns out to be for naught as my friend Memo has turned tattoo artist (and is really good) and demands to be the only one who does it. It's actually a condition of him cranking out my original idea in some kind of stunning sketch. Fine with me. It will probably end up being at my house with my kids all gathered round and Memo doing it? That's got to be the most wholesome tattooing scenario in the history of the world.

Then G and I saw Season of the Witch, aka The Most Boring Movie of all Time. Seriously, I was LAUGHING OUT LOUD at the demon scenes 10 minutes after Grant fell asleep in the theater. *sigh*

Sidenote: Damn this movie The Rite coming out! It is the sort of thing I DO NOT want to see but will HAVE TO SEE and it will HAUNT ME FOREVER. It's like they took every "scariest thing ever" and put them in one movie: demon possession? Check. Satan being sneaky and manipulative? Check. Priests trying to help people being overtaken and still having authority? Check. Pregnancy and babies involved? Yup. ANTHONY FUCKING HOPKINS? YOU BETCHA!

Silence of the Lambs, it tormented me. It was so so bad. This one has a bonus "Based on a true story" tagline.

Moving on. Then we went to some 24 hour sex store. I haven't been in a sex store since my first 5 minute "Because I can" jaunt as a newly 18 year old. We were looking to browse things I can normally only view online that we could use together, and what's funny is that this was very reminiscent of the sort of excitement I had at seeing REAL LIVE CLOTH DIAPERS I COULD BROWSE AND TOUCH NOT ON THE INTERNET. Poor Grant was doing this super uncomfortable tunnel vision thing whilst I cackled madly at, for instance, the giant posters for XXX spoofs of the Twilight movies. Porn just...doesn't do it for me. I kind of don't get how anyone takes it seriously. I mean, are there really people who buy a dvd with a stretched out anus on the front cover that's called "Shitholes"? Like, not as a joke?

I was joking with the cashier as Grant looked at the floor and held out the credit card. Anyway, we got a bag full of goodies and so far they're pretty good.

There are at least a few people on lj I've talked about sex toys with extensively but I am not so sure about broadcasting when, for instance, my grandparents are reading every entry. Feel free to contribute to the discussion as you wish.




Today was productive. I did a TON of cleaning, read to the little kids, kept to my Eat to Live eating plan, and sewed a purse I bought the fabric for a couple of weeks ago. It came out pretty well. I also finally got to talk to Dama again, an actual significant conversation that "counts" :)

I am in love with this song by Florence and the Machine....Dog Days are Over and Kiss With a Fist are great, too, but I think this is my current favorite off the album (Lungs):


I think I'm doing that thing people do where they get a morbid fascination with death because they are too aware of their own mortality. I usually think that's a really melodramatic and lame thing to do - especially when it leads to things like skull tattoos that have some kind of "deeep meaning, maaaaan" - but it seems to be involuntary when it happens to you. So I suppose I'll just run with it.




CAMPING PICTURES!























altarflame: (burning bush)
I would like to thank everyone who was posting on livejournal and facebook throughout Lent, and especially on Good Friday, and Easter/Pacha, with Christian meditations, scriptures, links, thoughts, and so on. I've been wayward and out of it and really would have missed the whole journey this year if it weren't for those of you who were sharing on the internet. I like it that this wheel keeps on turning even when I'm too self-absorbed or "in between" to bother to take notice. And I like it when I do notice.

Aaron has laryngitis. I'm not surprised, as it's been going around like crazy. He keeps rasping out things like "The germ-uhs, the germs ah messin around with mah voy-ace!" in a crazy accent.

My brother starts at JobCorps tomorrow. I feel just a little bit guilty about how insanely excited I am at the prospect of him NOT BEING IN THE HOUSE for many hours out of every week day. Mostly though I'm just insanely excited, guilt be damned. Seriously, OH HAPPY DAY!!! Aside from my own selfish glee, this is a huge positive step for him and I'm proud of him as I've watched him do all of his laundry and take a shower and get his things in order tonight. He's been out there 3 times in the last 2 weeks at meetings and appointments, and doing bizarre things before each one like shaving, and asking my brother in law to cut his hair and such. He's taken pains to brush his teeth tonight; I nearly knocked on his head to ask who was in there hijacking his brain.

She came out this way, thinking she was ready to go to the store with Daddy.


Om nom nom. Sugar snap peas sauteed in a little oil with brown sugar and soy sauce are SO GOOD.


This is our new weekday schedule.


Ananda is going to be cutting her hair into a chin-length bob again soon, and so we've let her run amock with the hair that's going to be cut off. This pic is when we first did the bleaching. It was like this for about two days.

The stuff we used was a bleaching and dying kit, and after I put the bleaching part all over her hair I tied it up in a plastic shopping bag because it has to sit for a long time and she didn't want to be paranoid about the furniture. That's what I did the last time we did this with her hair, because it was reccomended by the company on the packaging. This was a different brand, though, and after a few minutes she came to me - "Mom, it's burning my back through my shirt!" "What?" Sure enough, the bag was HOT hot to the touch, and when I took it off, her hair was SMOKING. All I could think was...people put this on their scalps?! Or hair they intend to keep?!


She liked the ponytail being a different color than the head hair.

But she LOVES this...+the rest of the entry and more pics )

For me, personally:

-I realized I lost a lot of weight and had a lot of success with Eat to Live's 6 week plan, seeing it as a 6 week plan, but trying to go back to doing the "maintenance" diet after the holidays was just impossible to me; it's too strict for me to have that kind of permanence in mind with it and persevere. I NEED AN END IN SIGHT. But, I lost 27 pounds that first 6 weeks and have only gained back 16 of them in the 5 months since, during which I have been glutting myself on Starbucks, cheesecakes, restaurant meals, and late night cooking. So Grant and I have concocted a 6 week on, 12 weeks off plan for me that will be indefinite for as long as it works and I continue to need it. Tomorrow is day 1 of the first 6 week period, and I feel really good about it. The first couple of months OFF ETL were even healthy ones where I didn't gain back at all; eating so healthfully and in moderation put me in the mindset of not WANTING to eat way too much of all the wrong stuff. But I've gradually beaten that mindset back and resumed pigging out, since. So I think if I keep it to 12 weeks off, this could really be a healthy way to live.

-Grant and I are at a bit of a faith impasse that is really frustrating. We've both sort of "slipped" - he interprets that as needing to go back to the beginning, i.e. "remedial christianity". Like very salvation based protestant services loaded with praise and worship music. I understand where he is coming from completely, and respect it. But I also feel like, for me, I need to get back to the deep theology and catholic ritual I let fall by the wayside, because it holds me up so that I DON'T slip. Neither of us are going to push the other one to do something they're not comfortable with, or pull the family in a direction without the other. And I am so FREAKING. TIRED. of this conundrum.

-we're planning a potluck for this weekend. It's a facebook event at this point. I'm psyched.

-and really needing more time to write. And really tired of talking about that, saying it, my gosh haven't we heard this before?! I just hit this wall, this stir crazy wall of pent up mental energy where I always realize, that would help.

-I am BLOWN. AWAY. by my girls' birthdays coming up. My little girl is going to be THREE. And my big girl is going to be TEN. I don't know which of those shocks me more. On so many different levels. Five children, and the youngest one three? Our baby is three (how in the hell have I not gotten pregnant for this long, how nuts)? It feels like we just had her huge celebratory 2nd birthday - JUST. And then Annie in double digits? It feels like we just had her big tea party birthday...just, just. I got my period at ten. Went through Hurricane Andrew. Moved to Jacksonville. Had a journal with long entries. May 1 and then June 1. My daughters, three and ten. *sigh* Then Aaron is June 27, he'll by 9. For months he's been saying he wants a violin and cologne (wth?). Tawanna, his hip hop teacher, thinks that's the sweetest thing she's ever heard and has volunteered to get him the cologne if we take care of the rest.

Today has been a good day. Patrice spent the day since it was a teacher's work day. No dance classes for the same reason. Lots of watching things online with sick Aaron, and laying and reading with Ananda, and cuddling with Elise and Jake, and talking to Isaac (who is way less of a cuddler). It was a sweet, slow day. Tomorrow is the beginning; back to activities, on our new schedule, day 1 of Eat to Live, day 1 of JobCorps for Bob (which will change the whole house for all of us).

This is definitely the song for the week:


I downloaded the whole album. Massachusetts bluegrass quartet. Aaron's watching it too much, with that look on his face. Next thing I know he'll be asking for a cello.
altarflame: (GaGa)

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


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


And this is us, pretty frequently.


Isaac turned 6, as previously documented only through text.


Brian, Darrien, Jake and Naja wanted to help.




And that is my feet by the faucet.


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


Aaron being Aaron.



Also Aaron (hip hop class):

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

Elise watching him.


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


Goofing around in the van.


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


Flash does funny things to Elise and I both.


All five of my kids at the zoo.


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My brother is pushing it, though.
altarflame: (Epic Shit)
EPIC MULTIMEDIA EXTRAVAGANZA!!!

First off, we spent last weekend camping with PATH. This was an epic PITA that involved jumping hurdles ranging from my brother killing our van's battery by playing music in it while we weren't home to thunderstorms when we were supposed to be setting up our tent. BUT WE PERSEVERED. And in the end, Aaron got to play Capture the Flag in the dark, in the wilderness, with teams color coded by their glowstick necklaces, so I suppose it all came out in the wash. I also got to see a lot of homeschooling moms drunk - and apparently they bring, like, steaks and brie with crackers and bake cakes in dutch ovens over the fires? And Ananda had some time with her friends down by the river by themselves, so whatevs. It is good that we were already outfitted for cold camping with electric blankets, heating pads and "hot hands" packs.

Also: there was a raccoon who sat around the fire with us. The kids toasted him marshmallows and he ate them with his little raccoon hands. It was kind of awesome, until we went to the bathroom and he went in our cooler, stole our bacon and opened the pack and ate it. This raccoon ate our unpreserved, free ranging ethical bacon! Let me tell you how we found this out.

*we go to the bathroom en masse, get back, an hour passes, Grant goes in the cooler for something random*
Grant: Where is the bacon?
Ananda: Oh, by the road.
Me: WHAT?!
Ananda: I don't care for bacon.
Me: O_O Are you serious?

I assure you, if our snide little vegetarian had spotted the fucking s'mores chocolate by the road, she would have alerted us immediately. ANYWAY. I found out the next day that the raccoons had went in some other campers tents, gotten soda cans and punctured them open with their claws. W. T. F.

Pictures:

(breakfast over the camp stove)




(Annie and Christina)









Johnathan Dickinson State Park in Jupiter, Fl is the ugliest camping experience I've ever had. But not the worst. Overall I am glad we went.




Last night, as Shaun left our house, he said to me "Make sure you lock the door, so I can't sneak back in". I don't know why but I laughed about this off and on for the rest of the night.




Tonight I took off my pants. To change pants. But I couldn't find the pants I wanted in my room. Then I spotted them under my desk, like they fell behind it after I had draped them over. So I crawled under the desk wearing only a tshirt, and Elise dove down and started sucking on the side of my butt and then jumped off laughing and said "No milk, butt!"

I banged my head so hard on the underside of the desk, jumping. These types of things are withering away what is left of my dignity.




Grant took this video of Elise last night, and it is awesome.





I have been really stressed out about this BirthGirlz event happening tomorrow, for a variety of reasons, but now that it's upon me I'm just mostly relieved. Nancy will be there and I am happy to be seeing her, Laura is probably coming with me, and then I WON'T EVER HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT IT AGAIN. Also the food is likely to be good. More info at vbacsummit.org, if you are so inclined. People like Sarah Dotson should consider going. I am sorry I suck to have not invited people sooner. Partial day attendance is fine, and all I am doing. There will be reporters from Miami Herald there so that is cool.




I am still flying high from my time writing at Starbucks earlier. IT HAS BEEN SO LONG. I had so much cooped up, pent up creative energy, it's been driving me CRAZY. I am thrilled with what I accomplished and can't wait to get back to it, now :D Everything is a process but every baby step further I get in this one just makes me feel like I could explode with happiness.




The songs for this week are Jem's They, and Regina Spektor's Samson and On The Radio - all 3 videos embedded behind the cut )

This is how it works
You're young until you're not
You love until you don't
You try until you can't
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe,
Until their dying breath
This is how it works -
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And you took the love you made
And stick it into some -
Someone else's heart
Pumping someone else's blood

...And on the radio
You hear "November Rain"
That solo's really long
But it's a good refrain
And you'll listen to it twice
Cuz the DJ was asleep
On the radio
On the radio





Grant is filling out Ananda and Aaron's books of things to do for tomorrow, second day in a row. Today his included clearing the table, silent reading and building a small rocket ship to fly to the moon in before dinner was ready. Ananda's was getting the tv room ready for vaccuming, putting away the dishes and digging a hole to China. Tomorrow the first thing on Aaron's list is to immediately poke Annie 10 times in a row. The last thing on hers is to make sure she doesn't let Aaron poke her. It's all good.
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...

Anyway.

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 name...is 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. But...in 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: (Default)
1. I made chicken fried steak fingers, mashed potatoes full of milk and butter, gravy, green bean casserole, sliced tomatoes and sweet iced tea for dinner tonight, and thought of you, [livejournal.com profile] circumlocutory

2. This is awesome.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
I was in this ridiculous funk during his last group of work days (he does either 3 or 4 12 hour shift days - plus commute - in a row each week, then is off for 3 or 4 days until the next week's shifts start up). He and I had stuff to work through...not horrible stuff, but stuff causing tension, and it's really hard to do that through email and the occasional interrupted phone call. I'm really sensitive to any slight problem we're having and it just eats away at me all day long to know there's something being left there to fester.

I also have a hard time reverting back from active days - last week for instance I biked with Aaron for 40 minutes Sunday, walked for an hour with the double stroller Monday, and swam with Ananda for an hour on Tuesday. Then Grant went to work and W-S I had no way to break from having all five kids and so it gets really complicated trying to do any kind of continuous excercise. I have a really, really hard time with recorded workouts and floor excercises, or any kind of gym type repetetive indoor junk. The best I manage with the kids is slower walks, often shorter; whole afternoons cleaning; and sometimes danceathons with them. The point is, I can start to feel really sedentary and cooped up. I spend tons more time stuck in the van on his work days, too, as that's when pretty much all of their activities happen to fall.

AND, it was a nice sleep-free 4 days between late night allergy attacks waking me and Elise's increasing failure to co-sleep like a rational human being (she's being transferred to the toddler bed now).

All of this culminated in me irreparably burning soup I was making for a potluck we were already running late for while I typed another emotional email back to Grant at some frantic pace - I smelled it and ran for the kitchen...just as Jake peed in the clean clothes I had set out for the little kids to wear when we left and I dunno. A friend posted this, and I really needed it -



I pretty much could have written those lyrics, and the energy, it was perfect. The video is a huge part of my perception of the song. I called to cancel our potluck attendance, and cried, and had a danceathon with Jake and Elise, and then Grant came home. Since then, the songs for living by are;

-That one, Feist's "I Feel it All"
-Feist's "1234"
-MGMT's "Kids"
-MGMT's "Time to Pretend"

The last two are not songs I'd have written the lyrics to ;) The videos are also ridiculous. Great for turning dishes into a danceathon, though. G and I are pretty much keeping that playlist on repeat in every room of the house and both vehicles.

SO.

We all went to church Sunday, and it was good, and then we dropped Ananda, Aaron and Elise off with my sister, and Jake and Isaac off with my mother in law, and hit it up to the metrorail station just the two of us, where we caught a train to Viscaya...

(camera phone)

I'd never been before. It was pretty awesome. I was excited to see, as we turned one corner of the place, that we were on the ocean...I'd had no idea and oh my how I love being near/in the ocean. The place is just incredible. We spent about 6 hours out alone together with what I would call the ideal balance between Serious Talk and Laughing Our Heads Off, with some nice food and kissing breaks. Also both of us had sore legs from all the stairs everywhere - wth, when did we get so out of shape?

We watched Appaloosa one of these nights, and started The Fall tonight. Pretty great stuff.

Some "out by ourself" or "with just one kid" times for each of us. Some really great extended and miraculously uninterrupted lovemaking.

I'm normal again.

I want to talk about a billion other things, but I'm going to be scattering about 20 pictures through it all, so you'll have to Join Me Behind This Cut )




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