altarflame: (deluge)
It's funny how wholesome and nurturing I can feel for providing tons of carbs and sugar to my kids, that I don't actually think are objectively good. Tonight I laid out a loaf of italian bread on some racks to get stale for french toast in the morning, baked an apple pie that we'll have for tea tomorrow afternoon, and baked brownies and then bagged them up to go with school lunches throughout the week. So motherly; so organized; so diabetic.

We did have a high protein dinner?

I've really loved our long Thanksgiving weekend. Every little bit of it. It went about as good as it possibly could have in just about every way. Weather cool to cold with a breeze and clear skies, food all turned out yummy... My mother actually seemed happy almost all of the time - happier than I've seen her in years. My Dad made it, which was in question (we basically always have good visits when he comes). He got along with my mom, and it's hilarious how the two of them kept pulling me aside to tell me HOW OLD the other one is looking.

Counseling has done wonders for my ability to NOT be emotionally exhausted by being around my mom. There was a moment when my sister and I were sitting on my deck swing, and I gestured toward what had been the fire, out in the yard - "Is that smoking again?" My mom turned around from her spot off to the right, holding a cigarette, and defensively said, "This is only my second one all day!" We laughed until we cried.

My brother and his girlfriend were semi-social and rarely dramatic. They even played Apples to Apples with my mom and a rotating group of kids for about 2 hours, one afternoon. Shaun and Cristy came, loved the food, told me interesting things about the art world and attacked us with silly string.

I stayed up late and slept in, with nowhere outside the house to be, for several days in a row. That in itself really seems like a miracle. Grant is still somewhat depressed, but was absolutely heroic as a facilitator - doing everything from multiple loads of dishes for days as I continuously cooked, to setting up and breaking down projector movie night for a big group of kids, and running out for takeout at 3 different places one evening. And, we had a pretty sweet date, today.

Aaron is coming out of a short phase of being depressed, and it's awesome. I love it when he's just bubbly and happy. I think he's going to struggle back and forth throughout his life. He never stops talking and trying to connect, which seems crucial to me. We stayed up really late alone last night, watching an SNL Thanksgiving Special on Hulu and laughing our heads off. There have been a lot of cuddle piles with kids, one notable one with ALL of my kids, which is increasingly rare.

I posted some highlights.

The only off point is that I've felt uncomfortably bloated or had some kind of vague indigestion for about 5 solid days now. I think I've just splurged on nonstop dairy and fattening rich bs, and eaten way too MUCH (I give myself a break from Weight Watchers for holidays). It's also been a pretty sedentary time. My body will be happy to return to it's previous lifestyle.

Additional glitch: my mom put our electric kettle on the stove, and then went back outside with all of us, figuring she'd go check on it in 10 minutes. Luckily, I went in for something else after just 4 or 5, at which point there was already smoke billowing everywhere and sparks were flying. I lunged to turn off the stove and grab the kettle off the burner - the bottom of it had melted to the point that it fell off as I picked it up, and much of it fell to the floor as a tarry black mess that splattered the cabinets. The thing in my hand had exposed wires throwing sparks at that point, and the stuff left on the burner burst into flames.

After some smothering, an evacuation period with fans, lots of razor scraping and some magic eraser-ing, we were left with a good story and a terribly guilt stricken grandma. I tried to assure her it is ok and everyone makes mistakes, and I tried not to tell her - when she said her phone was dying - to please not charge it in the toaster oven. She was mostly able to joke about how this is going to be one of those things she never lives down, like when she lit her hair on fire trying to light her cigarette, when I was 10. Or when she accidentally took a sip of her bottle of ashes-in-water, a couple of years ago. But come on, who even remembers that stuff?

We started "the Christmas season" all at once, as of last night. With Christmas pandora in the evening, Christmas movies to fall asleep in front of with bedding on the floor at night, and then today we all went and got a tree. I wholeheartedly love this time of year.




We are definitely back to the grind, tomorrow. After the french toast and drop offs, I'm going in the little kids' school in the morning with field trip money, and holiday show ticket money, and a letter withdrawing Elise (that's a long story for another entry, maybe). I have to write a letter to the school board re-establishing her as homeschooled, and do schoolwork with her, obviously, like we started last Mon-Wed. I've got a special trip planned for us. After school, Aaron has an allergist appointment and I have a homework date with Jake. If we have time, we will decorate our hedges and make a big ol' batch of gingerbread dough to turn into tree ornaments. All that may end up pushed back to next weekend, which is fine.

Note: we finally got around to renewing our picture hosting domain, so I will actually put pictures here sometimes, too. It's still harder than tumblr or facebook makes it, but it will at least be possible again :)
altarflame: (deluge)
My husband, who is at work, has slow cooker boeuf bourgignon going. Late last night while he was frying bacon and onions and searing the steak and reducing wine and all, this whole house was smelling so luscious. I bought a giant baguette and some brie to go with it, today. Having dinner taken care of clears the way for me to bake pies and make cranberry sauce and pre-cook some vegetables that will go into things later this week.

I have so much going on in my own little world, thinking about all our trips to the allergist and what they might mean, trying to do stupid amounts of cooking, cleaning, shopping and phone arrangements for Thanksgiving... I simultaneously crave that escape and love it, retreat into it even, and also feel ill at ease that things are so good and so easy for me while so much unrest is happening in the rest of the world.

I'm trying to make some decisions, based on my facebook wall (of course), about whether or not it's becoming appropriate to unfriend people for being racists. Before you say, OF COURSE IT IS, Grant and I were both raised by casual racists (subconscious attitudes, "I had a black friend once" type people) who were raised by seriously fucked up racists (people that said the "n" word and are openly disgusted by non-whites). I have a long history of having to reconcile that, for instance, my deceased paternal grandmother who read us Mother Goose and gave us quarters to rub lotion on her feet also CRIED when they hired black assistants on The Price is Right. My Nana and Pa who took me in when my mother moved away, hosted fabulous Christmases for everyone every year and did things like make sure I had bras that fit...well, it's pretty bad. They taught me that brazil nuts were called "n____ toes" as a kid and thought mixed race couples were "such a damn shame."

All our assorted relatives - along with half the people we went to school with - fall along that spectrum. My incredibly sweet and giving mother in law called us in a panic when she was down last year, to say there was "a black man standing across the street, just standing in the yard, he's been there for awhile now and isn't going away!" She claimed to be really scared and very creeped out, and wondered if she should call the police. We were like, "Um...that's his house. He lives there? Our neighbor is black..."

Actually two people I've been close to for many years are worse than anything on that spectrum, it just rarely comes up and we have so much else in common. Because I have been on a personal mission to weed out my own casual and ingrained societal racism for a few years, I'm aware of nobody being perfect and usually hope that everyone is gradually waking up to this business together. It seems counter productive to just cut people off because they haven't "evolved" and begun to question this stuff.

I am the lone voice crying in the wilderness on many comment threads where I dare to say, "Uh, seriously guys?" to the worst of it all. Which I do. It's really terrible, though. I suppose it's the ultimate in my own privilege, that I've actually been more personally upset by the ugliness people are spewing about Ferguson, than by the situation itself. Food for thought, eh?

Speaking of strange and potentially tense relations...Thanksgiving is shaping up to be really interesting around here. I'm actually pretty excited about it, even though it's hard to actually picture and Grant has reserved the right to hide in our room go to bed very very early. My sister and her kids are coming...with Frank. Frank hasn't been inside my house in 2 or 3 years, at least. Before that, it was another 2 or 3. He did stop by and hang out in the yard at the end of the night for Thanksgiving last year, drunk as all get out (and entertaining, not like terrible drunk). We get along a lot better than we used to, it's just very unusual. My kids were confused that this is a possibility.

My mother is most likely coming... and so is my Dad. Those two were both in my vicinity at once last when I lay dying. Because, you know, that's the level of severity necessary to bring them together. I woke up in the ICU like "OH MAN IT'S THAT BAD?! YOU'RE STANDING THERE NEXT TO EACH OTHER?" Before that, the last time was when Grant and I were teenagers participating in a live nativity roadside scene. I remember crying out, "It's a real Christmas miracle!" When I was a little kid, the agreement was that I spent Thanksgiving with my Dad's family, and Christmas with my Mom's.

My brother is also a likely candidate. I've texted with him for birthdays and holidays, and given him a gift through my mom, since I kicked him out of my house two years ago. He might be bringing his girlfriend of 3 years, who texted my sister this afternoon, "I'm still not sure about you people." He's definitely bringing his 3 snakes, since he's afraid they'll die without him in the cold of his uninsulated home.

So that's some real holiday movie shit, eh? It actually makes me laugh hysterically to read over, but I'm usually game for an adventure.

Off I go to continue readying everything... It's actually supposed to be cold that evening (for us), and we always eat outside, so Grant's planning a fire and homemade marshmallows. I bought cider to heat up, today. All of my kids are half amped, and half already done with the endless list of extra tasks I'm giving them.

Food!

Nov. 28th, 2013 12:34 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
I realized last night that we were relatively light (for us) on savory options - apparently, I've basically been planning a booze and dessert menu for the past two weeks. Somehow, I doubt anyone would mind that.

Anyway I am throwing together a couple of last minute, additional savory things, since I realized, such as a mushroom and sage stuffing and roasting the Neville Squash we've had on the counter all week. I had actually NOT EVEN CONSIDERED stuffing?!

So now, dinner will be:

-turkey, brined and roasted a la Alton Brown, which is really the only way I make turkey
-garlic mashed potatoes
-gravy, also a la Alton, like this
-sweet potato casserole
-green bean casserole that I've made with actual Julia Child, from scratch cream of mushroom soup this year :)
-mushroom and sage stuffing
-roasted butternut squash (I do it with a lot of butter and salt and pepper, and a tiny bit of brown sugar)
-baked brie with cranberries, pecans and honey, served with gluten free crackers
-cranberry sauce (I have a vat of it, albeit not a full on cauldron like last year)
-rolls from Knaus Berry Farm
-and Gloria's bringing these amazing brussels sprouts I adore

Drinks:

-Ananda's iced tea
-sparkling grape juice galore
-various hard ciders
-4 different kinds of wine

Desserts:

-Clementine Cakes
-raspberry and coconut macaroons
-warm pumpkin puddings ^<--All 3 (gluten free!) recipes easy to find via Smitten Kitchen with fresh whipped cream
-Knaus cinnamon rolls, that Grant and the kids stood in line for 2.5 hours to get yesterday


My house is not as clean as I wanted it to be, but it is much cleaner than it was last week and I am just not gonna worry about it beyond that. My Dad got here last night, and we stayed up telling stories while I cooked things until about 5am. Luckily I was still the one waking up all the kids at 11 (they'd stayed up with us til about 2). My nocturnal father is still sleeping :) We're planning to actually eat at around 6, so obviously the big thing to do for now was BLOG ABOUT FOOD, because Mmmmmm. It's nice, the kids are outside playing and all the doors are open with lots of wind chime noise.

I am also trying to suspend my disbelief about eating some gluten, because, you know, I have to before I go get more tests done next week. *shrug*
altarflame: (deluge)
I talked to my Dad on the phone for the first time in awhile, tonight. It was good, and terrible, and...really fucking awful.

I just don't understand how my parents have painted themselves into such corners, and are falling apart to such a degree. It makes me sad for them, and sad that they aren't available to my kids as grandparents, and terrified that I don't want to ever be in the sort of positions they are :/

I don't know how you can just not consider going back to school or trying out a different industry, year after miserable struggling year, not eventually think to prioritize dental care as things deteriorate, not even contemplate counseling as decades pass and you get more and more muddled up and avoidant about all sorts of things.

My Dad has got approximately 4 teeth left. He's worried that he feels sick a lot of the time partially from decayed pieces of teeth gone by, that are still in his gums. He's embarrassed. He doesn't have any insurance - health or dental - and he lives paycheck to paycheck in a way that's very dependent on tourist (and hurricane) season. He's viciously dreading Obamacare because he works as an independent contractor - and hasn't filed taxes in over 10 years.

My Dad is only 53, guys. His arthritis is terrible, and he's never had any treatment or meds for it aside from self medicating (he was diagnosed at 20), and...oh God I just don't even know how to deal with it. He's living in near isolation and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. He absolutely will not accept help of any kind from me, either - even right after we got the settlement when I tried to gift him with something he'd wanted for a long time, he refused, and to this day if I mention ANYTHING the kids need or that costs more than I expected during our conversations, he says, "Aren't you glad you didn't spend that money on me?" :x

He is still him, with all these visible and invisible issues, and he wants to tell me hilarious stories that really make me laugh, and he sounds like he sounded when I was little - meaning, strong. Invincible. Really, really smart.

There are good things, my Dad has a few things - he lives on a canal his boat is parked in, so he can take it out whenever he wants and he gets a lot out of that. That sounds really glamorous, ok, but anyone can have an old, used boat in the keys and the canals are NOT glamorous where he is. I mean he literally has a 700 square foot duplex he's in with his girlfriend, and a car that breaks down parked out front, and lives on a canal with a boat, just like everybody else in the neighborhood. He's a mechanic and works on it himself. I'm just saying, it makes me happy that there are a few ways in which he is still living his life. He really seems to enjoy his job, too, which is kinda perfect for him.

He just also has this shame, about being broke (regardless of what I say about how I could give a shit less how much money anyone has) and his health, and the brokeness and the health also truly limit his options, and so we almost never see him :/ I feel like he is the person who taught me to advocate for myself, whether in fighting my way through the financial aid office and appeals process to go back to school or hunting down resources for my kids...but the whole concept of him advocating for himself seems too foreign. He truly acts like I just don't get it, and/or am living in a dream world, when I suggest options or avenues for him to improve any aspect of his life. It's so heavy, to think of what it must feel like to be really sad about all sorts of things that you've also just given up on ever improving.


My mother was recently diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), i.e., the precursor to emphysema. This explains her quarterly ER trips for bronchitis, and her need for albuterol (as a non-asthmatic person) to always be nearby, and has in no way slowed down her smoking. It's an interesting combo, to go with the Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIA)s, or pre/mini strokes, she's had several times in the last few years. She does not exercise in even minor ways, and barely eats food. Really - one small meal or two snacks in a day feel like a lot, to her.

My mother is 49, ya'll. She's the age many of my kids' friends' parents are - and my kids' friends parents are vibrantly healthy people who take vacations, join yoga classes, knit things, have social lives and/or church communities...my mom lives in this teeny tiny place, in a crime ridden yet rural area, with a car always on the verge of breaking down. She has this night shift security job she's struggled by with for the past 5 or more years, where there is no opportunity for advancement. She reads the Twilight books over, and over, and OVER in a way that is probably not ok.


When I was growing up, my various houses (we moved...a lot) could be pretty terrible, but my grandparents were all very good, and actively engaged grandparents. My Dad's parents had some health issues at times, and didn't work, but they lived on their own, had enough money to get us (small) birthday and Christmas presents and leave $20 bills under our pillow if we lost a tooth while we were visiting overnight. They left baggies full of quarters around "from the Easter Bunny." They came along on Disney World trips, when I was little. They cooked us delicious meals and read us stories, when we stayed with them for weeks at a time. Took us in their above ground pool and on their riding lawn mower. We crouched in their windows at dawn with them, watching for deer and rabbits. I have nothing but good memories.

My mother's mom and stepdad (her "real" dad was the "pirate" - read, "international drug smuggler" I'm descended from), who were married from before my birth, both worked full-time until about 5 years ago. They always provided huge Christmas Eve celebrations for the family, including my own children for quite awhile. Laura and I spent every weekend there, as little kids, and weeks of the summer later on. When my mom checked out, that was where each of us ended up living for our high school years. I was driving Nana's car when I learned to drive, on the weekends, and they got me my own phone line and just...

I heard all kinds of stories, from my parents, about how their parents were shitty when they were young. Inconsistent, borderline neglectful, functioning alcoholics, broke as hell, etc etc. What I inferred as the natural order of things, is that people may be kinda derelict, as young parents, but then they get it together enough to take care of themselves, and pick up the grandkid slack, at some point in middle age. This seemed to be the way of the world, a pattern that could be counted on. My various stepdads and their parents seemed to follow this same trend - adults who played too many video games, smoked too much weed, got fired a lot...and their parents, older people who owned homes others could go back to in times of need, and never yelled at children who came over, despite the terrible abuse of yore that would be referenced at times. A need to size up in bras, or to get braces or have wisdom teeth pulled, was something taken to grandparents for review, when I was a kid.


The point is, my parents have not held up their end of this bargain at all. They eagerly accepted the help from their own parents, and talked shit about how their parents had sucked back in the day, and then they just kept on being total derelicts with no self-awareness, once we were grown. I mean. Do you know what I mean?

Grant's parents are not in much better shape, healthwise, though they are engaged grandparents and fully realized human beings - by which I mean, they have friends, and interests, and hobbies, and are living their lives. "Opa" provided half a house for us to live in for 5 years, too, allowing me to stay home with babies and toddlers while Grant built his resume, which is (beyond WAY above and beyond) priceless and lovely and I will never be able to adequately thank him for it. Oma has always been a great place to visit, a sure call and card on birthdays, she stayed with them all while we went out of town to Maryland in August. More importantly, since those kids needed them so much more, they have full on RAISED my sister in law's kids from day 1 of their lives - which has often been an awful lot of very complicated work.

So, I don't mean it as any reflection on their characters, when I say that it is still so scary and awful, what poor health they're in, and how totally without financial resources they are :/ My mother in law has a degenerative bone condition that causes chronic pain and a gradual loss of mobility. She and her husband have also been utterly financially devastated by him getting cancer, losing his business as a result, etc. They're in such a vulnerable position...my father in law has untreated back issues that nobody knew were debilitating him to the degree they apparently have been for a decade, until very recently. The amazing government job he had for a long long time, is no more.

Both of them, like my parents, have moved hundreds of miles away in recent years, and so are not at all easy to help out. There is also a scary, fast-forward effect, wherein more times passes between visits and thus their aging seems to happen in rapid fits and starts since they've moved. Grant and I have rarely gotten used to how old any of them looked the LAST visit, before we're seeing them again and it's progressed...

His parents are early 50s, too. It makes me wonder if maybe that's just how it is - time, and our bodies gradually falling apart.


My sister is really angry about how uninvolved our father is with our children. She remembers how great HIS dad was with us, and wants that for our kids. I get it, I really do, and I also think about it sometimes - but I don't feel mad at him. I feel like our kids (Laura's and mine) are in a totally different situation than she and I were, and NEED external relatives so, so much less. WE read to our own kids, and look at animals together, and take them swimming ourselves, and buy them their bras and their braces...they're safe, at home. They would love him, and they do love him, when he's around, but. Their lives are full, either way. Likewise with how my mother beats herself up semi-annually and vows in a passionate way to be more involved as a grandmother. I just kinda smile and nod. It's not something I'm very invested in. They don't really notice her coming and going.

My anger towards the both of them is more like, "WHAT THE FRESH HELL IS YOU FOOL'S PLAN, for 10 years down the line when you're utterly incapacitated? You're just gonna leave it in my hands, to either take your care on full time or put you in some state run, Medicare type home somewhere? Drink some water, put on some supportive shoes and go for a walk, and start repairing your credit, you assholes!"

That is partially me railing at mortality, and inevitability, as I am wont to do. Mom, Dad and the Grim Reaper all collectively piss me off.

I don't want them to die. Even more than that, I don't want them tottering around suffering and decrepit for long, torturous decades that are not much of a life.


I have these beacons, these inspirations that I look to as role models (and for hope).

Nancy is one. 65, travelling, attending births, speaking at conferences, working on her next book. She gets up every single day and walks or swims for 30 minutes. She has a great haircut, can laugh at Louis CK and is always searching for new music. Her clothes are mostly from Etsy. She really listens, when people talk. Nancy's bringing her mother (who lives alone, drives, etc) to our house for Thanksgiving.

Our pediatrician is another. He's 70, and spends every summer in South America doing charity work and care for brain injured kids. He moves with purpose and energy but stops and takes his very patient time with everyone who comes to see him. He and his wife have adopted over a dozen special needs kids over the years. His jeans are ripped up and he has a long rat tail and the embossed wooden sign hanging out in the strip mall outside his office says, "Dr Spiderman." I was actually shocked to learn his age just a couple of months ago, after going to him for many years and several kids, and then thought, oh yeah. Liver spots on the hands. Around his eyes. I can see it.

I think about my Cuban great grandmother, my Abuela, jogging around the island each morning into her 90s.


I am very aware of how much I'd like to age well - meaning, with tears and laughter but not bitterness or denial, without too much loss of mobility, with introspection and honesty. I would choose pain over loss of cognition, given the choice (which nobody is). Financial security, at least enough to cover essentials like my Nana and Pa have, would be nice.

One thing my "pirate" grandfather had that I think is enviable, is a quick death following a life lived just as he wanted it to be. The man drank all his waking hours, slept on couches (and boats) all over town, told jokes, collected stories, had affairs, got high, hung out with his dog and so forth literally until the night before his liver quit and then he spent a few unconscious hours puking up blood, and died without waking up.

My Nana, by contrast, my poor Nana, following surgery gone wrong, has been wearing diapers and struggling to discern reality from hallucinations for 4 years now, as people spoon feed her in the bed she can't get out of :/ I love her, but she can't stand to have us around and I can't help but wonder at times whether she would have wanted it this way, if she'd had a choice (which nobody does).

Both of them were, I believe, 62 years old - his death, her strokes. It was the same year. They were only 15, when my mother was born. My mother's stepdad, my Pa since I was born, is 80 and caring for Nana. He's starting to fall apart, now, but it's very recent and obviously somewhat related to the enormous burden of her care. All throughout his 60s and early 70s he was walking, dreaming, doing yard work, telling old stories, planning and executing their vacations. He took us out to see hot air balloons take off at dawn, and drug us to hot, bright, dusty things I didn't care too much about (rodeos, air shows with the Blue Angels) that were still better that NOT seeing things or going places. The world has always been very big to him, since he traveled all over it for most of his life before he married my Nana as a retiree and started a kind of second life.

I suppose the lesson to take from every really vital and with it old person I could aspire to be like is, MOVE YOUR BODY AROUND. Every day. Get out of the chair, up off the couch, etc. Keep learning, yes, and keep feeling and communicating, but also keep moving. It's mandatory.


It is so past my bedtime.
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I like to act like I don't really care what my mom thinks because my mom is crazy anyway. I know she thinks my house is too messy and my kids are too numerously chaotic and that I weigh too much, and she sort of runs everything I've ever done for my brother through a strainer such that what comes out the other side is me really failing him at every turn, but, you know, whatever. She's nuts! She's always made nutso decisions. She doesn't even read this anymore - for quite awhile now - because she just can't handle my rare, completely honest, fleeting references to my childhood. *shrug*

Likewise, I like to act like I'm totally cool with my Dad, like he's the not-crazy one, the one I can call for advice when the toilet is overflowing or for a recipe when I can't remember how to make something, and he'll show up for Thanksgiving and since he works graveyard shifts he's available when everybody else is asleep. So he has no relationship whatsoever with my kids, doesn't know their middle names or birthdays or favorite things; so his place is not the kind of place we could ever go to visit. I love my Dad and he did some things right with us! I'm sticking with that. I'm nostalgic when I hear Pink Floyd and I'm eager to hear the latest jokes some cab fare told him.

Then every now and then I can't deal anymore and I start throwing a giant tantrum like a giant baby about how I HAVE PARENTS, live, virile, healthy, YOUNG parents and I want to be able to, you know, GO TO THEM for things! Like, "Hey guys, my book is getting published!!!" for instance. I mean they're only right around 50 (him just over, her a bit under). I want them to care that I'm back in college and burning through this first degree. I want them to SEE how hard it is to do good things for all these different kids and that I do it pretty damned well. I just can't imagine being so apathetic and disconnected from the lives of my grown children if they wanted me in them!

I really feel like a flailing melodramatic first world toddler right now, too, because I can call either of my parents up to say, "I'm in the hospital" or "I don't know what to do about Grant and I" or "money is really bad" and they'll lend me an ear all afternoon and call back to check in two days later. That is good; I recognize that. I appreciate it.

But no...I want them to be proud of me.

I'm even worse than that, because my Dad has always been proud of me and does tell me how great my home/family/kids are and how it sets his mind at ease and how great I cook and whatever. But he has no earthly idea who I am. We were light years apart when I was growing up since I was on my mom's "side" and to this day, I mean...I would be really shocked if he knew any of my favorite movies or music or books or "got" my humor or felt like we could "hang out" without it being super awkward. He just does not have a clue what I'm about, and that's kind of frustrating. He thinks the entire field of psychology is quackery and it's my major and also the lens I view the whole world through. I think his eyes would get as big as plates and a vein in his forehead would start pulsing if I admitted to him that I voted for Obama.

My mother has some kind of distorted and infuriating but closer-to-right concept of me as a person, but she's just never been proud of me. She was the mom who skipped school award ceremonies the rest of my relatives came to, stayed home when I was getting baptised, and could never remember the name of the organization I was travelling the country with.

Two things set this off:

1. She called on Isaac's birthday to cry and passive-aggressively make inappropriate requests of me re: a big blowout drama situation with my brother getting kicked out of JobCorps that I'm not gonna go into and never wrote about because, geez man, living it outside the computer was enough. I told her someone wanted a book of mine and I was getting published. At no point did this conversation EVER drift into Isaac's birthday (what grandmother doesn't send a card? HER PARENTS send a card) or did she even mention the publishing. It was like she hadn't heard me. This was sort of the sequel to the call I made to her in January, at my wits end about Isaac's issues/counseling/resulting investigations into our family/etc. She listened and changed the subject to her life.

2. Later the same week of Isaac's birthday, she posts on facebook that Bob made it to Lakeland on the Greyhound "all by himself" and she's "so proud" of him...my brother is TWENTY ONE YEARS OLD. How is that level of patronizing bs not embarrassing at that point in life? I was taking the Greyhound to go see her in Jacksonville when I was 16, and she sure as hell never said she was "proud of me" for it. Or anything else.

Blargh.

My Dad had really interesting and helpful things to say about Isaac in January, especially as relates to our genes. I cannot imagine trying to call him and explain this small press publisher, though, or the actual collection of utter insanity they're currently editing of mine... On the one hand, he's the one who spoonfed me Stephen King my whole childhood. On the other - Just, no.

Hopefully I have this out of my system, now, and can go back to not caring again. I am 30 freaking years old, after all.
altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday I was driving down a 2-lanes-each-way road with a median, when a dog ran right out in front of me. I slammed on the brakes, and heard screams, and then a bunch of other brakes as a woman rat out in the road in front of my lanes and then across the median into the others - after a second dog, that I saw was twitching and lying on it's side, with some blood :/ She was hysterical, and kept screaming, picking up this very large dog in both arms frantically as a little girl I sort of assumed was her daughter ran around in front of me and the lane next to me, crying, trying to catch the second dog as cars backed up...it was really intense. And I can't help but note that though I sometimes find my faith in question, I involuntarily, automatically start sincerely praying for people in moments like that.

THEN, on the 4-lanes-each-way highway about 30 minutes later, the car right next to me suddenly slammed on the brakes for no apparent reason. In retrospect, I wonder if the driver had a heart attack or seizure. In any case it was 70 to nothing in a couple of seconds, and he was in the on-ramp, merging in lane, and I was aghast watching my rearview mirror as an instant pileup went down. Loudly. Again with the snap-reaction shock prayers, and wondering if I was in "skirting disaster" mode and this hoohaw would continue throughout the night.

Definitely the most intense drive to Miami Beach I've had thus far.




We spent this evening with Pandora carols, getting our Christmas stuff down from the attic. Grant got colored lights up on the house with big kids, on the roof, while I assembled this small fake tree we have with white lights, bird ornaments and little kids. We've become "those people" - each of my kids' bedrooms has a small fake tree in it, which meant we had to get Elise a $5 one today since she's commandeered the big closet as her room. And we have this bird tree. And then we get a real tree that is the Actual Christmas Tree (though I can't ever bring myself to go buy one until the prices come down a week into December). All the giant fleece stockings I've sewn over the years are hanging around the library and we have some big gingerbread and shortbread dough plans for next week.

I'm really psyched about Ananda's Christmas presents this year - we got her the big old headphones she's been begging for, with SKULLS even, and some boots I think she'll love, and ridiculous emo feather hair extensions for her stocking, and pajama pants she needs, and THIS SEWING MACHINE - that was $50 purchased at midnight Black Friday sale style, and very highly reviewed, and a Brother. It looks perfect for beginning.

I'm making her and Elise quilts based off of fabric I already have here, and doing some other crafty things for both of them as well. I linked my mother to the Harry Potter jewelry tag on Etsy for Annie, and told her Aaron wants more Calvin and Hobbes collections (she's REPEATEDLY begged for lists and ideas). Elise's 18" dolls will most likely get replaced between us and relatives - she left them at the park after PATH a month or more ago and we didn't realize until bedtime :/ She used to carry them everywhere. It looks like fil is gifting all the kids another trampoline, which is awesome (our old one started popping springs a couple of months ago and we took it down). I have Christmas pjs for all the boys. ♥

I really love this time of year. I love baking and decorating and horrible Christmas music and travelling to see family, which we are for the first time since my Nana had her stroke. I feel ridiculously blessed, even though we are really struggling with a lot of bills, because we're also doing most everything we want to and my kids have lives that make me "Squee!" all the time.

Speaking of which: Thanksgiving pictures. I really didn't get any of the ones I'd want to have, looking back, but I was busy, man!

The day before, Isaac got a haircut.


That night my Dad got here, and regaled us with wild stories like he always does, until almost 4 am.

He is a really good storyteller. The next day Aaron said, "I can't tell when Grandpa Arthur is telling just the truth...but I really like listening to him." Wise boy, that Aaron. I can listen to my Dad for days even though I've heard most of his stories a dozen times now.

Waiting for the feast: my three youngest, and my sister's two born children (she's due in February).

Left to right, Jake, Brian, Elise, Isaac, Elizabeth. I was teasing Laura the other day that I'm waiting to see what Jane Austen shit she whips out next; Brian Alexander and Elizabeth Marie? What? :p

Grant did a great job out here. He's still setting up the buffet tables (Bob's desk and the boys' play table, both made by him) with table cloths (our tv room curtains) on the right. That's most of Ananda's desk lamp hanging above the table, and lanterns we got as party favors after a friend's wedding last year scattered around with my bath candles in them :)




Laura, Grant Sr and his girlfriend dishing up plates.


My Dad and Aaron.


I don't think I got any pictures of Shaun, or of everyone together, or all sorts of other things. When I think back what I want to remember is cooking with Laura, and laying around in the hammock in the chill with kids after we were all stuffed. I'd like to forget having to force my exhausted self to PUT AWAY ALL THOSE LEFTOVERS WUT O_O

We got plastic cups at BJ's (meaning, a CRAZY FUCKTON OF PLASTIC CUPS) and every day now I see something like this at some point.



I have a couple of major things due tomorrow, and lots of other major things due soon, as 2 of my 3 classes are the "nothing is due until the end of the semester, when you must turn in MANY HUGE THINGS ALL AT ONCE" sort. And I am the procrastinating sort. I have to fit all my homework doing in around walking Elise to and from preschool at 9 and noon, riding my bike to the insurance place, feeding everyone and making them do their chores and schoolwork, and having a dinner plan. PIECE OF CAKE, RIGHT? Honestly the immediate stuff is doable (and not at night...I have to make phone contacts). I'm mostly still up to do necessary laundry for Grant's work clothes and Elise's preschool tshirt, and towels for morning showers...At least there's caffeine about the place.
altarflame: (Default)
We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. Grant surprised me by staying home from work the day before and helping me with cleaning, and he outdid himself with the setup he put together on the deck. I cooked and laughed and talked shit with my sister in the kitchen for several awesome hours. The weather was perfect, and it was great to laze about on the hammock with a blanket under many assorted children (including niece and nephew) when everyone was stuffed. We had several guests, including my father, who it was great to hang around with. I may or may not have drank an entire bottle of sangria between afternoon and midnight, along with at least 1.5 hard ciders. Thank goodness it was proportionate to the 17 meals worth of food I put away :p

Menu:

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

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

And Annie made some great iced tea.

I have some pics that I'll post sometime soon. Today was a day of leftovers, naps, lounging around outside, and taking a lot of tupperwares over to Kristin's for her annual Black Friday Potluck. Aaron stayed. Grant is up the road with Shaun. And I'm going to bed.
altarflame: (chalk)
This was a really calm and peaceful day which is something I needed a lot.

I slept in, spent a long time on the phone with my Dad. He detailed the pirate memorial they staged with my grandfather's ashes, on his boat down near Key West today. It included things like pouring beer and corn flakes into the water, playing a soundtrack including "Free Bird", "Knocking on Heaven's Door", "Ride Captain Ride" and a lot of Bob Marley. He believes my mother did do some real letting go and that it's what Grandpa would have wanted.

I think my Dad's pretty great. He even took a bunch of napkins out there in a ziploc to hand over when my mother started crying. There was also a (lighthearted) wake-style story-telling session that involved much laughter.

I also found out my "three century man" (as named by the Key West newspaper) great (great-great?) uncle is 114 this year O_O He lives in his own house, the one he was BORN IN, IN 1897, and he drives himself to the store once a week. Apparently we don't know him better because he's "a mean old conch". The only other detail I got is that the first three fingers of both of his hands are stained orange from camel no-filters.

I swept, mopped, vaccumed, watered plants, led the kids in all kinds of chores. My house is feeling like a nice good place to be again. I am really appreciating it immensely lately - the individual spaces that are each so good as well as the amount of space over all.

We did a lot of schoolwork. Aaron is starting on fractions and reviewing graphs and he actually did his work with no trouble today. Did you read that? I still almost can't believe it. He's also got a YouTube account through me, that he's eager to work on, and sits with me and reads about the latest in the nuclear crisis in Japan every day. Annie made sense of number lines and adding decimals. She's nearly done with the last Lord of the Rings book and is reading Artemis Fowl as a "breather" because it's less challenging. Isaac worked on filling in ending consonants, and we talked about sperm and eggs and babies. Jake worked on sorting and matching and more clocks/time. He floored me this morning saying things about how four numbers mean thousands and three numbers mean hundreds - I didn't know he knew that. It came about because my scale does "pounds point partial extra ounces" and he saw the ".6" at the end as a fourth digit and went "YOU WEIGH A THOUSAND POUNDS?!" Elise did pre-handwriting (tracing, coloring), and cooking with me in the kitchen.

Our Dover Sampler for this week came with tons of cool astronomy things I saved to print for reading and coloring. Annie is already psyched, she's on a huge astronomy kick lately.

I also realized today I need to make them Easter baskets and got kind of excited about that.

They make me really happy. I found out Fairchild Farm has a summer (day) camp with scholarships available through the Children's Trust and am applying for the three older kids (it's for 6-10 year olds).

I made chicken and yellow rice for dinner, traded texts with David, read a choose-your-own-adventure robot book with Jake and a lot of Shel Silverstein poems to Aaron, and started a new Anne Rice book. Blood Canticle. I am beyond excited because this one is actually BY LESTAT AS HIMSELF IN FIRST PERSON AGAIN and already in the first 5 pages reads faster and better than the whole entirety of Blackwood Farm ever was.

I'm gonna start the Oz books with the little kids tomorrow night.


I'm at a bit of a frustrated stand still with writing as my files and stored links are mostly on laptops that are being repaired (by Grant, who is very busy). I decided I tonight that I just have to quit waiting for that and work around it as best I can for now, which there are some ways to do.

Also a standstill I've made peace with, with college, as my financial aid has still not gone through but neither has anyone elses' and the "pay by" deadline has been extended universally so getting my appeal processed is not as much of an emergent issue.

Weight loss is not going well. I am sticking with my thyroid/metabolism/energy/kill my yeast support regimen (coconut oil, B-12, probiotics and no or low mercury fish daily), keeping what I eat reasonable and better than normal although not at Eat To Live standards, really, and trying to excercise, but, uh. My stupid ass shin splints that I got in NY last summer still act up really badly if I walk quickly or for long, particularly in the shin attached to the ankle I sprained? So what is that about? I mean walking is supposed to be my fail safe excercise as a person who medically can't do ANYTHING to strain my abs even peripherally (straining to open a jar strains them peripherally, it's ridiculous)...the shin pain gradually amplifies to "debilitating". I think I'm going to try stretching a lot before I leave and wearing my expensive NY New Balance sneakers...because, yeah, I'm an idiot and try to just walk in flip flops like I ALWAYS HAVE THE WHOLE REST OF MY LIFE before I was a super fat person with a bad ankle and shin problems due to the aforementioned time in non-supportive shoes... Those $80 sneakers have really just sat in my closet ever since I got back home many months ago... Now that my nose piercing is totally healed and infection-free I'm going to go back to the Y for swimming again, too.

Grant and I are scarily strained at times, though still seeking each other for comfort. I realized today that though we're counting down for Easter, Elise's birthday, and Ananda and Aaron's birthdays, and planning things for them all the time, we both completely forgot our anniversary is coming up (again) - and sooner than any of that other stuff. Not sure what if anything will be planned...finances could really be better at the moment. On the one hand, we could maybe benefit from some shared one on one that was positive. On the other hand, we've been getting an awful lot of shared one on one time that does not end up positive lately :/ I'm trying to focus on things we both know we're really good at together...for instance, we could stay at a hotel overnight somewhere just a couple of hours away and even if all we do is watch movies, swim in the pool and eat something delicious, hey, that could be worse, right?


I'm hoping to post a bunch of pictures tomorrow.




This is my favorite Shel Silverstein poem:

Rain

I opened my eyes
And looked up at the rain,
And it dripped in my head
And flowed into my brain,
And all that I hear as I lie in my bed
Is the slishity-slosh of the rain in my head.

I step very softly,
I walk very slow,
I can't do a handstand--
I might overflow,
So pardon the wild crazy thing I just said--
I'm just not the same since there's rain in my head.




I saw this awhile back and LOVE. IT. I don't normally like Ted Talks. At all. But this is different, profound and fundamental and I really think it's worth your time to watch.

altarflame: (eat lard)
Long post, photos throughout, mildly Elise-centric )

For those of you waiting on an Andrea update, I don't have one. The last thing that was posted on facebook, I posted on the previous comment thread. As soon as I know something, I will relay it.
altarflame: (nicoletta)
I went ice skating yesterday. It rocked. At first I was shaky, but then something clicked from when I used to ice skate all the time and I was FLYING, and all that cold air in your face...♥ It was Grant and Aaron and I. Aaron got really fast, too. And then he was jumping and spinning, because he is Aaron. Probably if we took him everyday he'd be in the Olympics by the time he was 15. Sometimes I feel remiss for not pushing him in one focused direction whether he likes it or not. Mostly I'm just sure he would not.

Really though, disco ball colors on ice, and Lady Gaga's Paparazzi -

Wait, I don't like Lady Gaga? Right? Don't'nt I? Well, I went doing some e-search and found that...I sort of do. At least insofar as I didn't realize she actually has a pretty strong voice and can play piano and writes her own songs (all surprises) and then I saw her interviews on Ellen and realized she is a total nerd and sounds so likeable. And I like Speechless too. So there it is. I inadvertently found out that Madonna took (her 13 year old daughter) Lourdes to a Gaga concert and Lourdes was dancing on tables and things because she is this huge Lady Gaga fan.

Aaaaaaanyway. I found as I left the skating rink that the cold was not bothering me on some deep emotional PTSD level, and that was pretty rad. I think it might be worthwhile for me to do that more often just for the positive associations to build up.

Speaking of which - it is IN THE 30S HERE, tonight and tomorrow night. This is intense for us. All our blankets go in the dryer before we head to bed.

We've been on a 13 hour odyssey of watching The Lord of the Rings with Ananda and Aaron this Christmas holiday. Which is about to come to an end when Grant goes back to work, and chores and schoolwork resume - tomorrow. They love it. We do about an hour a night, with an average of I'd say two pauses for explanations and making sure they understand what's going on. It's weird how...mockable and ridiculous...parts of it seem to me now. It was the movie that invented Epic, back in the day, but now..I don't know. It's good! But. *shrug*

Today, Grant took Ananda, Aaron and Isaac to Mass while Jake, Elise and I did a mass cleanup of my bedroom and bathroom. It was way overdue. Then I took the two littles and drove up to meet G and the bigger ones at his mom's house. She sat with them all while he and I shot over to the farmer's market and got tons and tons of produce for next to nothing. Then we went back and Grant and his mom made salsa. We all drove down from there to the park to meet my Dad, who had come from Key West for the day to meet Laura's new baby. It's cool that my kids are starting to really know and be comfortable around him. And I like being honest with my Dad. There's more honesty between us since Thanksgiving. Like I told him today that I feel like Grant and I must be the stiffest squares ever in his eyes, and he was interrupting me, appalled, at how he feels like he did something right because hopefully some of the talking we did when I was young made me the way I am, yada yada yada.

I gave my brother the task of making a plan for the coming week, today. It's supposed to tell what he's going to do each day. I asked him if he had worked on it and he said, "Oh yeah. I put 'Get a job' for one day and 'spend time with kids' for another". Totally sincere. *headdesk* So yeah, we went over how breaking down things like "Get a job" into individual steps could help his success. Things like, "Spend this afternoon mastering the bus scheduling and fare system" and "this is the morning I go tour JobCorps - approve with whoever is taking me ahead of time" and so on.

I've stalled long enough with the massive kitchen cleanup that needs to be happening...So off I go. BUT!

I have this new thing. By following this link, you can "ask me anything". Obviously you could also do that in the comments of any entry or via email, except that to others, apparently, that is not obvious at all. Also you can be anonymous, which I know by now is the only way many people know how to operate honestly. I don't mean for that to sound so snippy. Whatevs. Anyway, I've enjoyed watching the questions roll in on a couple of other peoples', so here is mine -
http://www.formspring.me/altarflame
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.
Me: WHOA.
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 Michelle...one 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 tomorrow..so 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?" ...it'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.
altarflame: (nosering)
Today was a horrible day.

I had everything going against me from the get go - very little sleep last night, back to eating healthy and in moderation (i.e., goodbye coping mechanism), and Ananda is having a "birthday tea" on Sunday and so begins the Clean Up For The Party shannanigans, which always leave me somewhat overwhelmed...

Still and all. I was trying, I really was.

My Dad called, crying - and it kills me, I cannot stand my Dad crying, I have heard my Dad crying more in the last month than I previously have in my entire life, I think - because, 1. Madie (his very very long term girlfriend) is...wait for it...in the hospital. She had a heart attack and then lolled there in his arms while he tried to force feed her aspirins while they waited for the ambulance. She was admitted yesterday. Then, 2. today my Aunt DD, who is now caring for his dying father (who I call Pa), called him...Pa is getting out of the hospital again in central Florida but they want him to go to a convalescent home. DD says it is a nice one. But Pa doesn't want to go, he wants DD to take him home. But if DD does that, Pa loses his insurance coverage (Medicaid) by going AMA. And there is no question he'll end up back in need of hospitalization very soon. He says - Pa says - why can't I just go to Arthur's and die there? I'm dying either way, I don't want to be in a convalescent home. Arthur is my Dad, Pa's son, DD's brother. Arthur also has to work 12 hour shifts driving a cab to even eat right now, and his girlfriend is in the hospital...so he has to say no. Because Pa would be alone, all the time. And isn't even supposed to be alone for, like, an hour. And this really sucks.

Then I talked to my Mom. Who is still camped out with my stroke-damaged Nana, mourning her Dad, skinny from the misery of new divorce, and damn it all...I don't know. I wrote THAT Pa, Nana's Pa (I grew up with a Ma and Pa, who were Cuban and paternal, and a Nana and Pa, white and maternal....) - I wrote him this big long email about my own neurology references and links and book titles and therapy knowledge and blah blah blah...they are facing some very heavy, heavy choices about whether or not anyone with the resources to do it has the wherewithal to bear tedious, frustrating, seemingly endless hours every day of helping her to get better...or whether they are going to accept her as she is now. Meanwhile, he's made the decision to sell her car, which is effecting my Mom badly. And my brother still being in Titusville, sort of stranded at my aunt and uncle's house is also effecting her badly, as he wears on them and they wear on him...my brother is kind of irritating as a houseguest, let me tell you, and old enough to be WAY more independant than he is (he'll be 19 in July)...and yet, I know how she feels, because he is woefully unprepared to magically turn into an...adult. All of a sudden. Now. Out of necessity because my mother in indefinitely indisposed.

And my Nana gets snippy and mean and argumentative with my Mom, who takes it personally, and feels terrible, terrible guilt when she loses her patience in any small way.

Such a lot of heavy crap.

Let me state for the record - if we all lived closer together - I would be visiting my Nana and my Pa all the time in hospital. I'd be cooking meals for my non-hospitalized Pa. I'd be making my mother laugh in person. I'd be helping to motivate and guide my brother. My sister would also be doing all of these things. And, our kids would cheer up my father and give his life meaning where all the other meaning seems to be slipping away from him. As it is, though, we act as though this entire state is our hometown and so everything is 3 to 7 hours in the car. And the strain is so much more, on everybody, as a result. I hate feeling helpless and far away. And I can't help but feel resentful, sometimes, that my grandparents and parents all chose to raise us HERE, and then scatter, themselves.




Completely obsessed with this song, which makes everything better for 4 minutes and 27 seconds.





Also, in far too much of a way for me to just not ever mention it...it is insane the degree to which really emotionally connected and intense sex fixes EVERYTHING, for me. I don't know what my deal is, if it's good or it's bad or it makes perfect sense. I am the emodiment of Theology of the Body. But geez, this has sat open for a nice long while and now I feel like a warm, safe bowl of pudding. With a hickey.
altarflame: (chalk)
I feel psyched about life in general tonight.

My dad called me to tell me he was an hour from my house this morning, and thus ensued a mad-dash rapid cleaning spree. Aaron cleared all the toy-clutter from the front yard, took out the trash, cleared and scrubbed the dining table and moved laundry through. Ananda picked up all the clutter off the carpet so I could vaccum, put away the clean dishes, scrubbed all the ($#@! again!!!) toothpaste off the toilet lid and mirror and sink in the bathroom with a rag, and shadowed Elise so I could do things. Isaac picked up the hallway, got trash and cups off my desk and took laundry from their room. Jake did whatever I pointed at and asked him to. While I did more dishes, more laundry, sweeping and swiffering and trash bag replacing and vaccuming and then got Isaac, Jake and Elise dressed for the first time in the day, as well as finding Annie a clean shirt and Aaron all new clean clothes.

The result of this was that I got to chill in a clean house with kids that looked presentable, and combined with the visit from my dad it made the day better. Even if I know it doesn't last more than a couple of hours tops.

Laura and Brian were here, as per usual. Isaac, of course, hammed it up for Grandpa, asked him questions, showed him things and demanded to be pushed on the swing by him. Elise looked shy and said monosyllabic things in a Pebbles Flintstone voice. She allowed him to hold her rather grudgingly, twice, for about two minutes each. Ananda said hi, gave a cursory hug and hung back suspiciously, and Aaron showed off on hig pogo stick. Jake scowled at him a lot and ran away whenever my dad said anything to him. Laura hung out with everyone while I drove him over to (!) our new house, to see.

When they left Laura and I had a good lunch and sat around on the floor for a long time letting Isaac, Jake, Elise and Brian play around and between us...first they did ball type playing, for like half an hour during which Jake blew my mind with how good he is at sharing and taking turns and how much he watches out for his baby sister, and Isaac and Brian threw a lot of fits. Then they got out the instrument box and loudly did all they could with a drum, a xylophone, a xylophone style mini-piano, an accordian and a tambourine, for about 15 minutes (which was my limit, not theirs).

Ananda and Aaron have been enjoying Mario Kart on the Wii with the wiimotes dropped into the steering wheel accessories...they try to tell Laura and I things about Mario Kart, as if we could not school them thoroughly. Mario in his many forms was our entire childhood, honestly. It's worse than when Annie was trying to tell me who Sonic the Hedgehog was.


Tonight was Game Night at the bookstore so we were over there, too, and I'm excited about the stuff that I bought. They are probably excited everytime they see me walk in the door at this point, I may be their best customer :p There was...

-Mama's Milk and a glitter board book about colors with touch and feel, for Elise - these are from Nana and Pa, who sent her a birthday card with money in it that arrived yesterday.
-The boy version of Usborne's What's Happening to Me? and A Light in the Attic, which is the only Shel Silverstein poetry collection he doesn't already have, for Aaron's birthday next month.
-And homeschool supplies - we're getting ready to have a period of intense spanish language study and a neurology unit study we've been planning forever, as well as starting to "do school" with Isaac, too. We got Usborne's Understanding the Brain (to supplement things we already got at Get Smart for this many months ago), a big board book with a clock with moveable hands called Telling the Time, a big, multi-subject kindergarden level workbook that is all in english and spanish, as well as ordering the 2nd and 3rd grade versions of it, How Will we Get to the Beach?/Como iremos a la playa?, which is "an english-spanish guessing game story", and a big hardcover "I Can Read and Speak in English and Spanish" book that comes with perforated flash cards, stickers, and a cd.
-and for me, "Annie John" by Jamaica Kincaid, from the used bins

We just had one of those big pasta, chicken and vegetable meals that comes frozen in a bag for dinner, since which I've been researching schools a lot online...Isaac is SO EXCITED about doing half-day preschool this Fall. Every single day he asks me if he can go to preschool yet. I think it will be a great thing for him, although it brings up the obvious and strange questions about whether or not he'll want to continue going to "Regular" school afterwards while everyone else is homeschooled. He really, really thrives in structured, out of home environments - he comes home from AWANA every Wednesday night so, so thrilled and just raving about the time he had. Schools down here are not really an option for us, though...most of them, anyway. I really can't handle the idea of him studying for the FCAT all year long, in a crowded class, with hours of homework nightly by the time he reaches 2nd grade. My tentative plan is that he'll go to preschool half days, and if he really loves it and wants to continue he can do Kindergarden too, but from there we have to either find some sort of perfect school I'm not sure exists, or just put him in some cool extracurriculars. The place I'm planning on putting him in preschool is really close to where we live, and I went there, too - they have a good "Grade" and, more importantly to me, really excellent parent reviews from recent years on various websites where parents can review local schools...it's going to be so incredibly weird to drop him off somewhere for hours every weekday. How will I not think, what if he is throwing a huge fit right now and they can't make sense of him? He poops his pants, he's clumsier than any other kid I've ever seen. He's definitely, hands down the hardest BY FAR to wake up for anything in the morning. It's a strange dichotomy with him, that he is the least independant of my kids, and the least "simple" to expect someone else to deal with, but also the one who seems to need it the most.

It's almost time for the PATH end of the year party - it's at a water park this year, in South Broward. Grant is going to try to switch out his shifts to come with us. And it's almost time to get Annie evaluated again, and Aaron evaluated for the first time.

We're supposed to be closing on our house on Tuesday, but it looks like it might end up being Wednesday based on complications with clearing the title or some such thing. The periods of waiting without bank communication are so frustrating.

I'm freaking tired from being consistent with a 2 year old. Jake is a great 2 year old, you know, as they go, but he's already got that 3 year old force of will and desire to "win", and there are just so many times that he's testing, and pushing, and it's a really big thing with me to ALWAYS be consistent...he's just at that phase when every single time, he tests. I can tell him 500 times to stop hitting the wind chime display at the bookstore - he doesn't stop until I actually make good on my threats and strap him into the stroller. I can yell louder and louder and louder, but he's not coming back from the neighbors yard until I go and physically retrieve him. He WILL NOT stay in the room with us to go to sleep unless we go get the doorknob guard off an exterior door and put it on ours, so he CAN'T leave. Etc. Right now this kid would rather throw his food in the trash than eat it at the table like I insist (and insist, and demand, and remind). He absolutely cannot be trusted in the main part of the house while adults are in bedrooms or bathrooms for one minute, or he's got stuff out of the fridge and freezer and is grabbing things off the counter he shouldn't have, with the help of a kitchen chair.

It does not help that Elise is already at the point where she has to have her hands pulled off someone's hair that she's pulling hourly, and needs to be removed from a table top she's dancing on every 20 minutes.

*sigh*

Elise's birthday was nice. It was very low-key; My sister brought her a singing card that she danced to in an adorable way, flowers for her to rip up and eat, which she did happily, and a ball that she's REALLY in love with. We got a card from my Nana and Pa with some money in it, that I used tonight at the bookstore. And my mother in law brought over a little bag of sundresses from Target that are ADORABLE, but need to be exchanged - apparently little miss is too big for 18 month sizes already, and needs a 2T O_o When Daddy got home she had a carrot cupcake with a candle in it, after we sang to her and her siblings helped her blow it out. Grant took video, that we'll probably be uploading soon. She was really confused - "Why is my food on fire, and who turned out the lights?" But she LOVED eating it. When, at 2:45 am, she was still shrieking, laughing and jumping all over us, I was like, "Yeah, no more cake for you Miss. Geez." Whenever we finally close for sure, I'll set a date for the birthday and housewarming blowout :)

Tomorrow is a day for exchanging at Target, cleaning out and organizing the dining room shelves (where we keep all our school and art supplies, and games), and glorying in Grant about to get home and stay home for four whole days, before he dissapears to work again for another long block of long shifts. He met us at the bookstore tonight with roses for me and for Annie, and made me feel giddy about him going to sleep and leaving me out here alone with everyone by cuddling and snuggling with me for half an hour in bed before I had to get up and come back out. The only thing bad about Grant is that sometimes I feel guilty like I can't talk too much about how awesome he is, because a lot of guys are assholes :/

HOWEVER - I saw a magnet that has a man staring into a STUFFED FULL fridge, confused with his hands thrown into the air in frustration (very "There's nothing to eat!" looking). It said, "Male refrigerator blindness strikes again". Grant didn't even get what the joke was, which made me laugh my head off because really, he is so that guy. 6 years into full time co-parenting, with plenty of time alone with them under his belt, he still asks me, "But what am I supposed to feed (whichever one)? There's nothing here." It gets a little old saying, yogurt? Fruit? Crackers? Cereal? ;)
altarflame: (this is serious)
Good stuff...

-Our dinner was so damn good. I made bite-sized chicken chunks and shittake mushrooms with ginger, garlic and terriyaki, along with steamed brocoli, sliced tomatoes and Amazing Rice. It's a wild rice and wehani blend that I cook up with garlic and onions, in mushroom broth, with a bunch of sliced baby bella mushrooms in it. And some salt, and I let some butter melt in at the end. Holy moly, it's so great.

-I got another piece of mail from the hospital down here again today. I was just going to chuck it into the trash unopened, to be honest, because hey, I have like a dozen of those already and they all say the same thing - You owe us $111,000+. I've been meaning to call them for payment arrangements and the number's on the other bills in my desk. But I opened it for the heck of it and - lo and behold - it was not a bill. It was a letter telling me my bill has been paid in full by some charitable organization.

!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It's like I landed on Community Chest or something! "Charitable Organization"? I'll take it, by God!

-The quarantine has been lifted. Laura and Brian came over for the first time in a couple of weeks. During a walk, I may have even found them a house. A block from (what will be) mine! Bwahahaha. It's a "fixer upper" which means HUGE yard in very nice neighborhood for not much money at all. It has a new roof and comes with shutters, and those are what really counts down here.

Bad stuff...

-That walk was so hot I almost died. Isaac was about to need an ambulance when I realized what was happening, slathered him in sunblock, drizzled him with water and let him ride in the cargo bin under the double stroller. Laura and I were talking about friends I have coming in from the (extreme) North melting as soon as they get off the plane. I'm going to have to get them "Squeeze Breezes" - one each. For those who don't know, a Squeeze Breeze is a tiny battery powered fan hooked up to a bottle, that sprays water when you squeeze the handle. When Ananda was a baby we were always having to drive her places in this old crappy jeep with no AC, and one of us would always have to sit in the back with her and keep the Squeeze Breeze on her the whole time so she wouldn't overheat.

-I am a freaking NINNY. I was feeling like I had things all together, you know, I got Ananda, Aaron and Isaac all in their AWANA vests with their dues and their books and everyone had their shoes on, and I dropped the three big kids off on time. Then I took Jake and Elise to Publix to do some grocery shopping. Before we started we had to take a bathroom run, and clean some faces, but it all went very smoothly...I got back out to the van and was rummaging far too long through my purse for the keys. I was starting to think I'd need to go back in the store and find them or something. I realized I didn't remember locking the van, really, so I checked to see if it was unlocked - it was. So I put the groceries in the hatch and then realized something was weird.

The van was ON. It was unlocked, keys in ignition, running. I LEFT THE VAN RUNNING AND WENT AND DID GROCERY SHOPPING AND DIDN'T EVEN KNOW. Our brand new van, even.

I slapped myself in the forehead, screamed a little and then tried to play it off to surrounding peeps, like oh, nothing here is amiss. Definitely no fucking morons leaving their running vehicles unattended, no no, only sane, fit adults who definitely deserve to have these little children in their care.

*sigh*

-also my father called me, crying, which just breaks my heart, because this girl he's been unofficial stepfather to since she was born and her mother didn't want her, is turning on him and becoming a CRAZY nutcase of an adolescent....she's 11 and is just rebelling so hard, she even hid in a school dance she'd been restricted from going to and made up lies to teachers and the police that she was afraid to leave the dance because my dad would beat her like he always does. My dad never, ever hits kids - not me and Laura, not her either. More like, he gets visciously pissed whenever he finds out anyone else is hitting kids. Eventually, after my dad had been accused and questioned and the cops realized she had no marks at all and that my dad goes to like, every school funtion, she changed her story and admitted she just didn't want to face being on restriction. But now my dad is really disillutioned about the whole situation and wondering if everything he's ever done for her is for nothing. He found her myspace in her web history, and she's advertising herself as 28 and looking for dating. There are just a lot of things, that I don't want to go into. It's so suddenly glaring that even though he financially supports her and is responsible for her well being much of the time, he has no legal custody or blood relation or real say at all, in the end...it's a very crappy situation, and one I'm tired of watching, what with Mindy's kids getting passed around and making trouble all the time. It blows my mind for people to just NOT RAISE THEIR OWN DAMN KIDS.


Tomorrow, Elise will be a whole year old. I'm going to make her a cupcake, I think - a carrot cupcake with a candle in it. And take a lot of pictures. Grant works all day long. I'm planning a combination housewarming party and first birthday blowout for sometime in the middle of next month :D I've never had a party for a baby before, but man, I just have to celebrate this baby.

And we are scheduled to close on our new house on TUESDAY!
altarflame: (Default)
There is a news story on the Yahoo! homepage that is titled, "Atlantic Hurricanes Could Rev Up Anytime". Is it just me, or does this imply that there is REALLY nothing happening in the world right now? I mean geez, they are digging for news, aren't they?

My father came into town on Friday. He hung out for awhile at my house with all of us, then we went out to dinner - the kids and I, him and my sister. Saturday/yesterday, we swam at his hotel's pool for hours in the afternoon (Grant, again, had to work). Isaac had such an insane, HOURS LONG meltdown due to missing his nap that eventually I called Shaun to come get him, wrestled him kicking and screaming into his carseat, and Grant stayed here with him while he fell asleep. He came with us today, though, AFTER his nap, and was quite charming, albeit in his standard scene-dominating way. With his little orange and blue checked, collared, button up shirt, and a backpack full of books, cars and dolls on, he's basically irresistable. Jake LOVES the water, he swam naked like a little chubby fish. It was wonderful to reconnect with my dad, and this is really the first time that my kids have ever spent getting to know him. They played with him so much, he was throwing A and A in, spinning them, making them laugh their heads off. The last time I saw him, he was seemingly dying in the hospital.

Ananda is having a big spiritual time. She came to me asking to be baptised last night, completely out of the blue, and basically just keeps flooring me with statements and questions that strongly imply she has a very close relationship with Jesus. She is initiating bible study at every turn.

I think a lot about what "their education" encompasses, to me, lately. Because it is not really the same thing as what the local public schools consider to be education. For instance I think personal responsibility - in the form of accountability for actions, dressing and hygiene, chores that contribute to the household, and helping each other when needed - is a huge thing. I always want to write in their portfolio in the evening, that the school board says I must keep, that they did all their morning chores and said Thank You to the waiter, and this and that. To me those things "count". And then there is their christian education, which is only "valid" at private schools, and Fresh Air and Excercise, which I can at least disguise as P.E. and get some satisfaction out of. Really, though, I think that Personal Responsibility, Christian Education and Fresh Air and Excercise are probably their core subjects, as far as I'm concerned. I mean what is really important for 5 and 6 year olds to know? They are learning to read and write, and to add and subtract, each on advanced levels no less, but that's not what we work on all day or even what I think is the top priority. If we talk extensively about kindness and then they have to clean up the huge mess they made, one piece at a time, and then we go swim for two hours, and then come home and read the bible and pray together - I feel like we've been having school all day. I also notice that homeschool naturally lends itself to a strong emphasis on science, which public schools basically don't even feature for elementary school. The nature specials on tv, the field trips to the zoo and pet stores, the experiments they want to try and just kids' natural curiosity about the world all scream science. And we personally tend to spend a significant amount of time on world history and literature, which are also mostly skipped over until the teen years. They could listen to poetry and burial beliefs of ancient Egyptians and chapters of Narnia books all day long.

I don't know man, when I re-read that last paragraph it makes me think they're getting a hugely better education than they would if I sent them to school. BTW, anyone who is homeschooling, I strongly reccomend the book What Your First Grader Needs to Know.

Completely shifting gears, I LOVE the name Griet. It's an old dutch name, and yes I got it out of Girl With a Pearl Earring. Really though, I think it's lovely. Ananda and I were sitting at the dining table having tea and dark chocolate earlier and talking, and she loves it too. Grant acutally laughed out loud and asked if I was serious, though, when I mentioned it, so we'll see about that O_o Griet Amelia Walker, that would be beautiful! Damnitt.

May 2017

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