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 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 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.
altarflame: (Default)
UGH, I am such a MESS right now!

My mother just called me, my grandfather (Pa of Nana and Pa) had his heart surgery today and there were touch and go complications, and now they're in "wait and see" mode, and dude:

1. She just described surgery and the ICU setup and procedures and complications in depth to me, which is not something I really enjoy, and she is obviously needing me to make it better, tell her what to do next, and so on, which is something I try hard to avoid these days.

2. I'm really not ready for Pa to die :/

3. Nana is on pins and needles in a nursing home and can basically never go home if he's gone

4. I'm not sure I can fucking handle it if someone's else's planned surgery goes radically awry. Keeping in mind that my Nana only had strokes because they screwed up hers. And I still need more. Because someone screwed up some of mine in the past.

This really sucks.
altarflame: (Default)
Ok, I need your help guys!

My grandparents live in Lakeland, Fl. Nana is unable to stand or walk on her own at all, use the bathroom normally, or see consistently, since she had strokes - but she still lives at home because Pa, her wonderful husband, cares for her fulltime (with the help of my mother). My mom lives nearby and comes everyday as her work hours allow because many things about Nana's care - mostly centered around moving her from chair to bed or in and out of a vehicle - require two people, or are just exhausting with only one. Pa has managed to get the whole house and vehicle set up such that they still go out to lunch together a few times a week, she gets her hair and nails done, and so on - it's incredibly moving, actually, to watch them laugh as he feeds her when she's having a hard time and I think again and again that they are the sweetest thing in the world.

Here's the hard part. Pa needs heart surgery. He's 78 and they say he has to have it before he's 80, and it's going to take 4-6 months for him to recover to where he can go back to "fulltime caregiver" mode. My mother cannot do it by herself, partially because of her need to work/pay bills and partially because it's just impossible for one person. Pa is a retired veteran with TriCare insurance and Nana has some kind of disability and Medicare as well, but none of that is offering a short term care solution.

They've actually been told that in-home care for Nana would run $20 per HOUR and an in-patient stay somewhere would be $225 per DAY. Neither of those are feasible options (by a long shot).

We're wondering if anybody reading this knows of any kind of program, grant, organization or service that has resources for people in their situation. Pa HAS to have this done and so far, the only options that have been presented to them are awful (basically, put her away forever in a "long term care" facility that is not nearly up to the therapy and living standards of short term places, or try to get her in an ER "for something" and then hope for a transfer that wouldn't last as long as his recovery anyway) that would be covered.

I feel like they can't be the only people who have encountered this problem, and there must be something out there they can take advantage of to make a solution possible.

altarflame: (Default)
So. Making Christmas awesome and meaningful for five very different kids of varying ages is some damned hard work, particularly on a budget. But I think we did a pretty great job :)

It involved a lot of shennanigans and acrobatics on our parts, like driving 5 hours north to Lakeland, staying for 8 hours, driving 3 more hours north to Lake City, sleeping overnight and staying part of the day, and then driving the 8+ hours home. That's right - we left early Friday morning, got back late Saturday night, and traversed the entire freaking state in the meantime. This enabled us to spend Christmas Eve-Eve with my Nana and Pa, mother, Laura and Frank, Bob + his girlfriend, etc, and then Christmas Eve with my mother in law, Robby, Patrice and Nadia - including going to mil's Christmas Eve family renunion. We had a packed cooler and ate at peoples' houses; no hotels, no restaurants, only gas money. The kids watched Redbox dvds in the van, and played an "interactive Harry Potter dvd game" that we got for 4.99 in a clearance bin FOR HOURS. Elise also dressed a chicken via a free iphone app FOR HOURS. I didn't realize until I got my phone back that she was taking screen captures. I have many shots of a chicken in various states of dress. I used to really be against electronics for roadtrips and I still usually think it's a lame idea but, well, we needed them to sit in the van for 16 out of 36 hours, and it's getting pretty cramped in that 3rd row as they get bigger. Extenuating circumstances if there ever were.

We also did things like breathe a sigh of relief that my (textbooks, college money) book advance was several hundred dollars more than my textbooks cost, since the college book store sells things like Skull Candy headphones, Kindles, children's books, mp3 players, batteries, PAJAMAS - basically they know a lot of people are coming through with extra grant money that can only be spent there and take full advantage with a huge inventory of non-college-related products. Board games, greeting cards, earrings, hoodies, cool bags and journals of all shapes and sizes, candy of every sort - it's ridiculous. And awesome. And really helped us round out our gifts for them. I have a daughter who asks for things like rainbow packs of sharpies and G2 Pilot pens, after all. Eventually if you don't spend all of your book advance, you get back the extra in a refund check, but until then it's only available electronically for purchases there, and this time it came through just in time for us to buy things we couldn't have afforded otherwise.

You can generally spot the people going to school at Miami Dade on grant money because they're the only ones walking around in head to toe overpriced MDC gear, since they bought it with "fake money". I have no interest in college sweats, shoelaces or headbands, but I'd like to think this is pretty close to the intended purpose of the grant as it really is helping me go to school rather than having to work instead. Which we were getting really close to the point of, when I went back (that was before Grant's new job, which pays more than the previous one).

So, yeah.

Our time with Nana and Pa was great. It was hard, at times, because it's really different with her disabled, but I was so glad to be able to rub her back and make her happy and talk to her, and make Pa obviously happy, and just BE there. She burst into tears when she saw Ananda because, well, Annie is basically a woman at this point and it means time just keeps passing. I had a good time sitting around like a lazy bum while Laura cooked and prepped for the party, talking and laughing with her. Grant took all the kids and Brian to the park while I entertained Elizabeth and Frank got hilariously buzzed. I really think I like him better drinking, it's pretty funny. Bob hung all over Gloraly, his girlfriend, while they muttered to each other, and my mom seemed thrilled to have us there in an exhausted sort of way. The food was good; the presents were wonderful; the kids said we need to go back soon and I agree. I took a ton of pics I'll post sometime soon.

Teresa (mil) was SO sweet and so happy to have us, and Robbie came home from some friends' houses to be there with us, and IS TALLER AGAIN - he's seriously like 6'4" at this point, it's getting crazy - and made me laugh, and Nadia is out of her shell and Patrice is great. I wished we could have stayed for days and days. It was so easy and natural, sitting on their porch with Grant watching cousins kick a ball around in their currently-dry retention pond, or watching Elise and Oma (Teresa) play on her bed while Grant fixed her computer. The reunion thing we went to was crazy; Grant is descended from hillbillies, this is the second reunion I've went to that was in a (different!) barn. The variety of American flag tshirts was astounding - one actually featured an eagle riding a harley davidson. Crazy. It was very sad leaving. I somehow took zero pictures that day, though Grant got a couple I'll try to pilfer.

The ride back was...uh...trying, let's say. And we got back at about 3 am with a couple of people getting sick and Jake having an accident.

But, Christmas day here at home was awesome. Ananda got boots and headphones and pajamas she loved (all picked out by Daddy, which I find super impressive), and restocked underwear and bras, and a Kindle that made her lose her mind with glee, and an epic stocking full of all kinds of goodies. Aaron got the remote control helicopter he wanted, and a new cheapy phone since his old one stopped working and sneakers that actually fit and new super soft pillows from BJ's because I knew he'd not stop rubbing himself on them and acting like he was stoned for days. Elise got Ananda's ENTIRE old Groovy Girl doll collection, including accessories, among other things, and Jake and Isaac got walkie talkies and art supplies to share as well as a bunch of individual things (games, puzzles, legos, books) that made them happy.

They came home from the roadtrip with crazy relative presents - knee high converse Ananda had been dying for, new Calvin and Hobbes collections for Aaron, a Super Mario Kart K'nex racing set for the little boys that really works, an 18" doll for Elise, a bike for Jake, just all kinds of stuff.

THEN back home Opa gave them a new trampoline, as a group (the old one got taken apart when it started popping springs, months ago), and $50 each.

They're completely drowning in loot.

Our Christmas dinner was a roast with lots of onions, garlic, and mushrooms; roasted potatoes, and green beans, with rolls. We had Izze and wine with it, and Shaun was over. Everyone was stuffed by the end.

Then we all got sick for real, and have spent the past two days alternately feeling better and relapsing by turn.

Today Grant went back to work and I started cleaning in ernest; Christmas presents, road tripping and family-wide illness have NOT been kind to my house and HOURS of solid work in, I still have at least another full day to log before it looks passable. But I took a lot of reading and kid-conversation breaks, and we're still in this insular, surreal holiday mode without preschool or activities, as everyone explores their new stuff, and I'm cherishing that.

Our house feels like home to me in the best way, after travelling. Messy or otherwise. And I'm so glad we didn't get sick until it was all over.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
-walking a little girl to and from preschool
-riding my bike to the bank and to go pay a bill
-frying (a dozen) eggs and (a pound of) mushrooms to go on (a loaf of) toast
-bossing some people around (chores, schoolwork)
-hopefully, getting some sewing done
-thinking I left my phone in the van and Grant has it at work now O_o
-making two dozen christmas cupcakes for a preschool christmas show I'm eagerly anticipating, this evening (her preschool director asked for 2 dozen like it was a burden...I was like, lady, I make four dozen for MY HOUSE)
-making gingerbread and shortbread dough for fridge/freezer, with children
-making a roast chicken, baby carrots and twice baked potatoes for dinner
-sex date (because it's come to that :p)

One thing I really like about being back in school, is how when I have a semester end now, it's like this wild freedom to just relax and be at home. "All this time" I didn't appreciate when I didn't have to.

I am really sad and stressed about how impossible it seems to get to Nana and Pa's house for Christmas Eve, now that they've approved it as back on and my sister may be going and Grant got the time off approved. Money is just SO non-existent right's very difficult to let go of, though. We keep exploring hair brained options like driving to and from Lakeland in one day and just spending the hours with them, so that we don't have to pay for accomadations or extra meals (sandwiches in the van, kids sleep at night on the way back....) Even that is $130 in gas and tolls, as I struggle to figure out how to finish Christmas shopping, let alone handle bill problems... *sigh* We really thought Christmas Eve with them (something I did every year of my life until I was 27) was over forever, since Nana had strokes that left her disabled, and now Pa is having health problems that scare me re: how much longer he's gonna be with us, and WITHOUT Christmas as the fallback guaranteed visit it's way too easy to let YEARS just pass without visits...

And I'm having some Advent angst, because I love Advent (the Christian season leading up to Christmas....4 weeks anticipating Christ's birth). I keep saying I'm going to start lighting candles at home with the kids or going to Sunday Mass until Christmas and not quite doing it. Advent seems really beautiful and comforting to me. I suppose I need to be proactive and plan it out today so it really happens.

Isaac's counseling went REALLY well yesterday. It was just an intake/interview "Getting to know you" with he and I, but it couldn't have been better. My biggest fears were that, with limited financial options, we would get stuck with someone we had a communication barrier with, or who didn't approve of how we live. By that I mean, someone who doesn't speak english well or understandably (this is very common here, even in professional and business circles, and something I had to work around when looking for my own counseling), and/or someone who would see a lot of non-mainstream things about our family (homeschool, selective/delayed vaccines, Annie is a vegetarian, Elise still nurses, whatever) as red flags. Neither of those things were even remotely true though - we were paired with a really intelligent, easy to talk to, great guy who I think Isaac already really likes and who acted extremely impressed with certain aspects of our life (that we sit down and eat dinner together, that I read to them, that Isaac is learning violin, that I have a real RELATIONSHIP with our pediatrician that has been ongoing for many years...) We met in a room filled with toys and after Isaac signed some consent forms himself alongside me and answered some questions he was allowed to play while I talked to the counselor. Our initial approval is for a three month program of weekly sessions - 3 just with Isaac and one with Isaac and various family members is the initial monthly setup. At the end of the time period, it isn't over, just evaluated to see if it should be over, transferred or continued. We're going to talk on the phone later this week so I can tell him things without being overheard (by Isaac) and the appointments begin after the new year. I feel very positive about the whole thing.

Alright, time to make all this domesticity happen...I think I'm gonna torture my big kids and thrill the littles with ♪ Christmas pandora ♪

P.S. It is so great to have Annie back home ♥
altarflame: (Default)
This is an intense and focused time for us, in a positive way.

Grant is abstaining from all secular media all this month. So that is almost over, I suppose. But it has been really big for him. He was getting to be a complete video game addict, and having trouble managing time around shows, funny sites, movies, etc, on Saturdays at work, which were basically 12 hour shifts involving only 5 hours of actual work (mainly just "manning the phones" in case someone called in with a problem), that would get left until he had only 3 hours remaining. Also, we just have too much going on to spend time at home watching movies, and he's also going through some serious discernment about whether or not he wants to be Catholic, and there is a TON of relevant reading, there...and there were personal reasons he thought were most important. There've been a lot of perks and good things about it. Like playing chess together and building awesome robot toys out of wood and nails out in the shed, and so much accomplished around the house.

I had a major fit of despair the other night about my insane out of control food addiction/compulsive overeating. It is really dangerous with an entrapped intestinal hernia, to gorge myself on food...I've landed myself in the ER once already (months ago), and I am supposed to be losing a lot of weight so I can safely get my whole abdomen fixed. This is insanely emotional for me. And I've ignored it for too long already. But I kind of broke down the other night, in the middle of the night, about how I am going to DIE from my own gluttony and junky crap and looked at the situation dead on and prayed with great sincerity and focus for God to help me with this. I felt very "heard" and fell asleep trying not to doubt. And woke up praying, basically, and looking for an optimal solution for someone in my situation - that is, serious medical need to lose a lot of weight asap, safely. I'm at the end of my 3rd day on a barely modified version of Dr Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live diet. I've lost a pound each day so far. It is weird to be eating different things than everyone else in the family at every meal but Grant is TOTALLY on board and 100% supportive, Elise and Jake are eating uber-healthy things off my plate, and Ananda and Aaron completely understand why I'm doing it. Isaac is indifferent, I think. For those unfamiliar with it, this Eat to Live deal has done everything from reverse diabetes to helping OVER 600 PATIENTS who've come to this guy desperate because they're about to undergo a scheduled angioplasty or bypass and decide to try his drastic healthy lifestyle as a last resort instead - of those patients, one went on to have the surgery and nobody had a heart attack. I am stepping one minute at a time here and praying often because this is a RADICAL departure from the amounts and types of food I was eating before. But so far, so good, and I am carefully considering making it a lifelong committment, which is what he is really advocating anyway. Basically the guidelines for the aggessive weight loss portion is eating ONLY raw and cooked veggies (goal - one pound of each per day), healthy whole grains (one cup per day of things like steel cut oats or barley), beans (one cup per day), fruit (goal being four per day) and seeds and nuts (one ounce per day). Then you move on to a maintenance plan and eventually a life plan that are less stringent but very much based on the same principles (so you get small amounts of meat and oil for instance, but WAY less than normal Americans would consume). As a nursing mother I'm allowing myself the small amounts of meat every couple of days now. Go read the Amazon reviews or visit his site. Even on totally unafilliated messageboards you don't see anyone refuting his claims - only saying "it's hard". I am ready for hard, I think. It is a really strange thing to be physically full with no emotional satisfaction, if that makes any sense. But I need that, because my emotional satisfaction is NOT supposed to be coming from food...

We've gotten a tremendous amount of things accomplished around the house in the past few weeks. I've hung wallpaper trim in the kids' bathroom, printed tons of pictures and meticulously filled regular and big collage frames, and reorganized our library and done a LOT of deep cleaning. Including rearranging Jake and Isaac's room and going through it to the tune of tossing/donating 2.5 big garbage bags of stuff we just don't need. Grant finally finished the flooring in Ananda and Aaron's closets, which had been waiting for months, as well as re-hanging their closet doors and hanging all the pictures and an alphabet we got, up high in the dining room (where we do school) and just all kinds of crap...He's replaced lightbulbs and fixed minor things and I am actually excited again about our house, like it's really coming along, for the first time in awhile after a long stall that followed our initial 3 month renovating blitz.

I'm buckling down as a, writing more than once a week, and aggresively persuing publishing opportunities small and large.

Ananda and Aaron are in dance 3 nights a week right now. They live dance. Aaron is doing these insane things, like standing on his hands, touching his toes to his face, and then standing back upright normally again, all with grace, and managing challenging ballet turns after 2 classes. Everytime we go in, we hear his hip hop teacher making everyone stop, telling them, "No no no, you all watch Aaron - Aaron do it" or I get called into the little office to hear someone tell me he has a FUTURE, a BIG FUTURE in dance. I'm not sure what to say to them. I see the positive effect on him, and I agree he has talent. But the financial part of it is daunting AT BEST. He's getting some free classes right now, but everything from aaaaaaall the recital costumes they're going to want us to order to the expensive intensives and far-off competitions they want him at seem impossible. Even with some scholarship assistance. Just the shoes he needs this week seem impossible right now. Grant is being switched to salary, which is going to interfere with his ability to make extra money through consulting, which is part of why I'm aggresively persuing publishing opportunities...Signing up for another year of PATH and paying for their kick-off party (admittedly awesome at John Pennekamp this time around), getting Jake and Isaac's books and vests for a new year of AWANA, and paying Dance Empire's registration and first month fee for two kids have not been kind to us, all at the same time. Related - I have never seen Ananda focus this way on dance before, in a GOOD way...I think it's been helpful for her to see how Aaron is totally unafraid to make a fool of himself and gives his all every minute, even when it means he falls or can't do something, and it pays off and nobody is laughing at him.

And one of the biggest things happening for/to us right now is that we have found a church home and made the decision to become a Catholic family. I feel a strange combination of excitement and total peace about this. We're joining St Louis Catholic Church in Pinecrest asap and have already spoken with a priest about a custom plan for our family, that can cover education and sacraments for each of us in an involved and familial way, which I think is AMAZING. There is a lot...baptism classes for Ananda and Aaron and possibly Isaac, baptism itself for all five, convalidation of marriage, general faith education and confirmation/first communion for Grant and I - the basic goal as it stands is to plan for most all of this to be actually happening by Easter Vigil.

Ananda is PASSIONATELY eager for this and has been literally begging me to let her be Catholic for almost a year now. I think it's driven her nuts that I wasn't sure about it. She was actually asking me if she could get baptised, like, 4 years ago, but we really didn't have roots anywhere at any church. Aaron likes Mass and thinks it's all good, but not with the fervor that Annie has. Isaac says he thinks Mass is really boring, but he wants to go a lot, because he is trying to learn about God, which blows my mind. He kneels there in the pews with his eyes squeezed shut and his mouth moving rapidly, it is the cutest and also most heart-rending thing - I really believe he has the most intimately close personal relationship with God of all my kids because he is the one who seems to need the most help with everyday life. Like, he invents things like "hugging God" in his bed because he has nightmares on a somewhat regular basis. Jake and Elise love going to Catholic church because we basically dress them up, faun over them, and then snuggle and cuddle with them for an hour and then leave and go do something fun. There is something really beautiful and perfect about all the children in Mass with their families that I didn't realize I was missing in Protestant churches where all the kids are in fun nursery programs somewhere else while grown-ups worship.

My Nana - my Nana who had the two strokes due to malpractice at just 61 years old, back in April, and has been in the hospital or the home ever since - is going home. She is not "well"; it's more a decision by my Pa and my mother to care for her at her own house rather than spending days with her at a facility that is depressing and awful for all three of them. I still see it as a really happy thing, though. And my mother is thrilled. Nana HAS had a lot of progress - she can move and use her left hand and arm now, when they were totally frozen for a couple of months. She can feed herself most things fairly well, and sit up on the edge of the bed with just a hand to hold (this is compared to when she needed all kinds of special security to not slide helplessly out of a wheelchair). She is not having the violent mood swings anymore and is mostly rational, with some harmless nonsense still thrown in. The fact that a doctor tried to tell my Mom and Pa they should starve her to death is disgusting and just...WRONG. On so many levels. I'm just saying, she is not going home because she's all better...she's going home with a hospital bed, a lift to help get her into a wheelchair, diapers, a home care nurse, and so on...but I think it will still be a hugely positive change for her, and my mom and Pa. And I am really, really happy to think of my sister being able to go and do some Christmas decorating for her and us go be with her for Christmas Eve. I am still trying to convince Pa that no, REALLY, we do NOT NEED PRESENTS, because he is not at all interested in trying to do this Nana thing without Nana...and I think he is scared, of being devastated by such a "her" thing with her so totally changed for it...but I really believe that if we can pull it off, with the same food and music and her laughing at stuff and kids hugging him, it can be a good thing.

And I think that is it. I can't usually update the way I used to, anymore, because I'm really making sleep a priority. It's crazy to me how I've clung to this idea that I have to have this extended time to myself at night to be sane and healthy, when really it does about exactly the opposite - staying up way too late screws up my metabolism AND makes me way more likely to eat a lot of extra crap in the middle of the night, as well as making me a tired mess the next day. And I get loopy late at night and freak myself out with thoughts of future surgery, and any and every other thing you can imagine. I still get what is so hard about just letting go and surrenduring to the end of the evening...but it's really kind of freeing to be ABLE to do that.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Today is my Nana's 61st birthday. She's moving her left arm well and consistently, and learning to sit balanced on the edge of her bed. So far she can do about 20 seconds before she starts to tip one way or the other. The kids and I sent her a birthday card that says something about her deserving a wonderful birthday on the front, and when you open it, it plays that oldie that goes, Do you believe in magic? This made me cry, because that was the theme song of the oldies station that was always playing in her house and car as I grew up - Magic 102.7 - but also because we are all hoping for miracles with her.

I am not even thinking it's weird anymore to do things like email petitions to the International Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago so they can dedicate Masses to her and light candles in her name.

My mother almost died laughing on the phone with me today, because this whole left arm usage is brand new still and things are still connecting. So my Nana had a twizzler in her right hand, eating it, and reached up and pulled it out of that hand with the left hand, and then looked around confused because her twizzler was gone and said, "What in the hell just happened?" The amazing part of this is, my Nana can laugh about it with her and knows it's ridiculous. She was yelling through the phone from the other side of the room, chuckling herself - "This damn thing has a mind of it's own!"

We have been sick. Off and on, one at a time and sometimes in pairs, sick. I was lucky in that when I got it, Grant was off and so I was able to sleep in, take naps and have tea delivered to me. Somehow, through who knows what kind of rare serendipity, everyone seemed all better yesterday afternoon and so Grant and I were able to drop all the kids off with the sitter and go see Tori Amos live last night without incident. Then we got home, put everyone to bed, and a few hours later...Elise had it. And so that has been the main theme of my day today - holding, carrying, laying under, nursing, giving juice to and sometime passing off to Annie, Elise. She seems to be doing better now - sleeping soundly for a couple of hours and her fever has finally broken. <3

The Tori Amos concert - I don't know. Pros:

-We were really close, and it's just awesome to be standing like 40 feet from Tori Amos while she plays and sings
-when we walked in, she was starting "Cornflake Girl".
-she kicked it old school a lot, including Spacedog and Winter, which made me cry. Winter ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY, but this time I got to cry right along with a flamboyantly gay and exceedingly drunk guy next to me who then applauded so enthusiastically through his sobbing that he spilled beer all over my foot/shoe. This could also be a con :p
-I got to hear Carbon live. Then she ended on Bouncing Off Clouds, which was great, we were standing right up front at that point because it was an encore and security had only eyed us suspiciously when we approached. I walked out feeling high energy.


-Grant wasn't like "Woo HOO let's go see Tori Amos!!" he was like, "Yeah sure I'll go see her with you. I guess." So it was really different than being there with, say, Jess and squealing and jumping around and being all enthusiastic together.
-she didn't talk. This is the 3rd time I've seen her live and she just, like, does not talk anymore. WTH.
-we were in a pretty ridiculous section of people, just in that they were getting up and down and going and coming and posing for group photos and dancing/clapping as though they were listening to a completely different song than what the rest of us were. I can mostly ignore this, I think it effected G more than me.
-it's irritating how you can be that close and still not get anything like a decent picture. Grant took this and posted it during -


These produce boxes we're picking up, from our organic co-op, are awesome.

1. We save a lot of money buying it this way.
2. We save even more money because we aren't making the extra trips to the grocery store that would lead to buying unnecessary other stuff while we were there, and
3. We're getting all kinds of stuff that we would never have tried otherwise.
-fingerling potatoes are, apparently, awesome and don't even require milk for creamy goodness when mashed
-champagne grapes are both tinier than blueberries by about half, and literally sweet as candy. Unbelievably good. I had never heard of such a thing.
-fresh peas both lead to an afternoon shelling peas with the kids, and are SOOOO incredibly much better when cooked up!
-my kids all adore pluots. Who knew?
-kale and chard can lead to some delicious and hearty soups that the entire family actually eats

Also we've been having salad 1-3 times per week because we tend to get at least one big head of romaine every time, and other than Isaac all the kids will tear up salad. Elise will eat 3 bowls of salad and fill up on just that. As someone who is not so into salad myself, I never would have started trying this without the boxes (we don't get to choose what is in them, we just pay our money and then get a guarantee of a ton of fresh organic variety that has to be worth x amount retail).

So - the kale soup was just a kale and bean soup I found online, you can google and there are tons of recipes. This involved an olive oil and chicken broth base with some italian seasonings, and pureeing some of the beans towards the end to thicken it with.

But this crazy scandalous one I came up with today!

1. Cook a package of turkey bacon on the George Foreman. Crumble it all up on a plate, big pieces are fine.
2. Pour the grease catcher in a stockpot with 2 sticks of butter and heat on medium (I did say scandalous. I was not kidding around.)
3. Add a couple of diced celery stalks, a bunch of chopped spring onions and some diced yellow onion. Cook it while you mince like 6 cloves of garlic, then throw that in, too.
4. THINLY slice about 5-6 yellow potatoes, yukon gold ideally, Throw in, salt and pepper it like crazy, stir often.
5. Next is all the chard - we had a huge bundle of it and I just ripped it all off the stalks and into the biggest pieces I can deal with. Throw it in and stir til it's good and wilted.
6. about a dozen fresh basil leaves and a big handful of chopped italian parsley, both fresh in this case from our garden and the produce box, and all the crumbled turkey bacon.
7. 8 cups of water and cook it til the starch has done something obvious. OM NOM NOM.

Ananda and Jake couldn't get enough of this, and I ate 3 bowls over the course of the night.

14 pictures, unicycle stunts, chickens, there's a tiger and some stained glass and some pigtails... )

I am eating, breathing, and dreaming Catholicism lately.

Since finishing that Anne Rice book Called Out of Darkness, I've burned through Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, which is a lot less of a personal account and a lot more of an in-depth theological defense of every Catholic thing that seems "weird" to Protestants - statues, Confession, saints, Mary, the Pope, approcryphal books in the Bible, and so on. It is unreal the number of things that are falling into place in my mind and making me run and explain things to Grant, that I have ignorantly spouted off against in the past. AT LENGTH. Without knowing anything about them except hearsay. Hearsay, heresy, hahaha.

Except it is not funny. My head is spinning with this stuff. I got "caught" on my way out of Mass this past Sunday (I take the 3 oldest to Mass before we all go to City Church) by the Priest for the first time. He is incredibly approachably nice and sincere-seeming. But it still made me all nervous and weirded out in some way I don't know how to explain, but I think is good? I also have my old Catholic friend Matt who some of you will remember as the one willing to stand up and righteously denounce abortion at length while remaining anti-war and pro-justice, etc, in comment threads here - he's messaging me on facebook about Catholicism and I am just. Waiting til I have the time and energy, I guess.

Meanwhile I have all these friends online who are Orthodox. I spent hours today, with Elise hot on my lap and semi-conscious, reading about the great Schism that split the ancient church and the different sides of every issue. It seems almost impossible to discern this much later in history who was "right" and what is facts. I think it made a lot of sense when JP II talked about the East and the West being like the two breathing lungs of the Body of Christ. I see a ton of Truth on both sides and don't feel at all qualified to deem one of them TruER than the other one! I read some things about moves towards reconciliation in recent years that made me think, hey. Maybe commonreader is right. Maybe that will happen in our lifetimes.

For now, I have to go to bed.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET THIS LATE? I've been writing this update for like 2.5 hours, counting the photo editing and uploading. Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, no wonder my eyes are blurring.
altarflame: (Minivan)
-Friday we got the oil changed in the van. Which for whatever reason took approximately FOUR HOURS. I think maybe they had to pull the engine out and tip it upside down to pour out the old oil? Yeah. So the kids and I walked to my old chiropractor, to give him BirthGirlz propaganda to distribute and solicit him for sponsorship. I got them treats from a Cuban bakery right there and was rewarded for my own resistance to sugar temptations by their A-MAY-ZING chicken fricasse, I mean damn. We discovered a Hurricane Andrew Memorial I'd never known existed and then hung out at the bookstore until it was done, at which time Laura and Frank met us at my house so we could watch Brian while they went to see HP and the Half Blood Prince. Which they loved, and Brian was pretty darn good aside from a single injury-related meltdown (over the course of 4 hours I thought that signified progress).

-We had Paige/[ profile] likeinabook here with her three youngest kids for 3 days :) I think she really needed it, and it was nice to stay up super late talking theology, and go out just the two of us to the bookstore. That was actually hilarious; she hadn't previously been exposed to all the lustrous offerings of local, self-published Homestead authors with pixelated cover art (and I found French Women Don't Get Fat in the used section for $1). I think she also had the general reaction I do to City Church - moved by the message, impressed by the sincerity, enjoying the music a lot and then left feeling as though you still sort of need to go to church afterwards. Sidenote - I approached the cellist about the string quartet playing an upcoming BirthGirlz event and he is not only totally on board, he is apparently a "big supporter of natural birth and midwives" and thinks they may be able to do it for FREE! WHAT?!

I always love it when there are extra people here and we can bring extra chairs to the table and all sit down to dinner.

I do not love it when Elise is totally unhinged by insecurity in the prescence of a younger child and turns bully. She was seriously off her gourd that Paige's youngest was here to replace her, I was going to nurse her, Annie was going to be her sister - she actually expressed these concerns to me on a regular basis, and pushed 15 month old Clara down any chance she got. And then pulled her hair. And smacked her while she cried. She was trying to sneak off to climb in the playpen with her to abuse her, as though she were a threat from another room. I swear, she is the rottenest miracle I know, and neither lavish reassurance nor multiple timeouts were going to dissuade her.

-My Natural Parenting Group had another potluck and I. LOVED. IT. I love cooking a lot of food and taking it to appreciative people; I love having tons of yummy things OTHER people cooked with no refined sugar or white flour available, like amazing chocolate chip cookies, and seeing my kids tear into fresh homemade ice cream; I love catching up with Michelle and Kristin and feeling as though Dana and Jackie are becoming friends; I love all the kid friends my kids have; I love the FEELING of being in that house with all those like minded families laughing and talking with good music on and everybody relaxed. It's just great for me when there are strangers all around but everyone is smiling, friendly and easy to talk to. Michelle and Hubert, the hosts, are so freaking awesome and we think we're actually going to do a "whole family sleepover" soon wherein all 7 of us go to their house to spend the night, rather than just Ananda and Aaron (they have 6 kids ranging from 4 to 17).

-We got our new chicks in the mail! The mail lady was so exasperated with the chirping for the previous two hours in her truck, but seemed to think it was more worthwhile when we got the scissors and showed her the tiny fluffballs. She has apparently been driving lots of chicks around for years now, but nobody else has ever asked if she wanted to see them, which I think is crazy. Anyway I thought one of our 5 had a potentially serious problem, but with some e-search discovered she just still had her UMBILICAL CORD attached. From her yolk, in her egg, the day before! Who knew such a thing was possible? So far we've had them for 3 days and they're doing well. We've taken them outside for holding and are beginning to see personalities. I will probably post pics soon. It is way cooler, with this batch of chicks, to be able to just glance at them and tell exactly what kind they are and know what they grow up to be. Isaac has named his plymouth white rock "Rockstar"; Aaron is calling his "Harry, which is short for Harrietta and long for H"; Ananda's is Lily, I think because of Harry Potter; Elise's is "Blue" and she's being surprisingly gentle; and Jake is saying his "orpington is named Belina". Like the talking chicken in Return to Oz.

-A and A had their homeschool evaluation on Monday. It went well, they are "officially" in 3rd and 4th grades now. This particular evaluator is Catholic and sent me home with reading material (after I expressed my own interest, she wasn't being pushy). And Paige brought a small stack of books down to leave here, after reading some of my previous entries. So there is a lot of reading about all of this going down. This evaluation was An Event because Ananda, Aaron and I rode our bikes to it and it's the first time Ananda has really left our block on her bike (it's about a mile away). She feels like this whole world has opened up to her, because normally I go off on bikes with Aaron for 45 minutes at a time and she is just stuck here. Since then 1-3 long rides a day can barely satisfy her, and my legs hurt, in a good way (I pretty much always also have Jake or Elise on the back of my bike). She rides around our street half the day while I'm too busy to go. I think between being able to read really well and ride a bike the world is her oyster. ....So to speak? O_o What the hell does that even MEAN? The point is, she is experiencing what seem to her to be huge levels of independence because she can do these things.

-Grant has been what I can only describe as a surly motherfucker lately. Ok, that is actually said partially in humor and it's an exaggeration. He still does things like fix the a/c and garbage disposal promptly while we have company and babysit all 8 small children with grace so we can go out, he is awesome. But he is spending an uncharacteristic lot of time off on his own knowing he is impatient and irritable from caffeine and sugar withdrawal and not wanting to deal with things. I come find him playing video games or some other mindless distraction and say hey baby. And he acts grumpy. And I say, in a googoo gaga baby talk voice as I scratch his chin, "Ooooh, are you a surly motherfucker?" and he starts to reply back in kind and then we just laugh hysterically.

Life really is challenging for him right now, though, and I'm proud of how well he's doing. And happy to see him getting SOOOOOO many less headaches, the migraines were coming like 3-4 bad ones per week before he changed his eating, and lowgrade headaches were just constant. He took the day off yesterday and it was the first day that it was back to being just us in the house, and it was just great. We walked the four blocks over to Grant Sr's like some kind of traveling performance group...Ananda on her bike riding circles around everyone, Aaron on his unicycle, Jake riding Elise's tricycle with her standing on the deck and holding onto his shoulders, and Isaac on his scooter. I got to catch up with my old across-the-street neighbor Aracelia, who rushed out when she saw us all in what was our front yard with $25 for us to buy the kids treats with and a pen and paper for my new number and ridiculous stories of how she planted yuca in the backyard and the neighbors thought it was pot and called the police. So this 79 year old Cuban lady with her freaking garden and trees has a bunch of cop cars out front ringing her bell at 6 am. I don't even know. Two of the cops were cuban so they recognized yuca right away. So silly.

-I have craft opportunities galore. Melissa brought my sewing machine back (she had borrowed it, and then it was in her trunk when they were rear-ended by a large truck so I was afraid it would be beyond repair, but it seems fine), and my next batch of yarn for Isaac's ripple blanket came in the mail last week. I was on fire about that blanket before I ran out of supplies. But I feel as though I should resist both. *sigh* ....aside from my kids needing to be educated and sleep I should be getting at night, I am just haunted 24/7 by the obligation to write. Because I get so much urging to from birth-type people who think it's important; because it's been my life-long dream; because with the settlement long gone and Grant's job making a lot of changes and his side-jobs scaling back, we could use some extra income. Also because in the scant two hour time slot I'm allowed to write uninterrupted each week - while I sit in Starbucks with my laptop near Dance Empire as Ananda and Aaron take two classes in a row each - what gets done is really good. It's flowing. I can make this happen.

I always know I can make journal entries or fiction happen. I even feel confident about nonfiction with a poetic license and dry humor and a generally informal tone. But I was getting intimidated about the c/s book, because it has to be different. I know I can do it now, though, it's slower going but it is going.

-Perhaps the biggest thing to happen this Nana has moved the fingers of her left hand, and then moved her whole left hand, and then been able to pick her left arm up and move the left toes...she's actually done the knee, and scratched her nose, and done a boxing motion of throwing punches on both sides.


It gives me goosebumps. She is not all better or anything like that...they are still feeding her, she is still not seeing everything and still confused about reality. But her disposition has improved mightily and SHE'S USING HER LEFT SIDE.

I am totally giving thanks to St. Jude and Jesus Christ about this.

.......and feeling almost scarily boxed into a corner about converting to Catholicism, with regards to what is right, what is real... G and I have been talking about it a lot.

I feel scared in general that anytime I have ever been on a spiritual high, it's generally preceeded Terrible Things. I found God, and like 2 months later my mother moved away and I was left at my Nana's house. Or I just get back into studying scripture regularly, and suddenly I'm having nightmares again. I really believe in a spiritual war, and there is a certain (cowardly) comfort in "laying low", for me. This time at least I feel scared in an at peace with it, this is how it's supposed to be sort of way.

That's doins, folks.
altarflame: (wild things)
Sunday I took Ananda, Aaron and Isaac to Mass at 8:00 at Sacred Heart, then came home and the 7 of us all went to City Church. Mass included Here I Am, Lord as the communion hymn, which some people who know me in real life will realize instantly melts me into a gooey puddle. It was just a Good Thing, all around. City Church was fun for the kids - the message gave me a lot to think about. Apparently City Church is operating, as part of some branch or other of Presbyterians, under the assumption that we are living in a post-Christian America and that, as such, their primary job is to reach the unchurched locals (rather than going overseas on mission trips or catering to established Christians who are already here). They seek to do this through creating what sociologists call "the third place", i.e., what Starbucks or the sports bar is to people. This is why they have cooking classes, agnostic art hanging everywhere, and play music that is not specifically categorized as Christian, and they are taking it to the extent of saying, we will have communion and hymns at special believers-only worship services, but in the main this church is for this city, not for us in-crowd Christians. And that we Christians have to be in the culture and not segregated and a whole lot more stuff. I really do believe they're coming from a prayerful and sincere place and that they are doing something good, but I am not always sure if it is something Holy or even big g Good.

Anyway the Catholics were certainly up in the culture and reaching out to the city when they were paying my electric bill and giving me bags of groceries while I was a confused, Protestant, 19 year old single mother. Without any sermons or judgement or even the kind of proof of need that the government programs require.

I've been thinking about this kind of stuff a lot. Catholic Hospice here in the greater Miami area is a free service to people of all faiths, no strings or dirty looks attached. The Vatican has embraced Harry Potter as a story that teaches children that there is a difference between good and evil and that we all face temptations and choices, and that love conquers all and sacrifice and mothers and blah blah blah. Evangelical right-wing so and sos are the ones warning parents their kids will be led astray by J.K.Rowling.

I am, like, 5 minutes from deciding I am becoming a Catholic. I may also keep going to City Church indefinitely in addition, and supporting their ministry, because I certainly was led to God through loving people in a really liberal Protestant denomination who appealed to me as an "unchurched person". I do think that is important. And City Church IS becoming an amazing cultural center, and it's also like 5 blocks away from my house.

I've also finished reading Called Out of Darkness, Anne Rice's "spiritual confession" of her conversion, or really return, to faith. I relate to SO MUCH SHE HAS TO SAY HERE. I know what it's like to question for the reasons she did, to see the ultimate GOOD in non-Christian people with moral compasses that have nothing to do with God, to grapple with gay loved ones vs church teachings and all of it - her faithful explanations of how Christian holidays can tie in with pre-dating Pagan rituals and. Just wow. Not to mention, I read all those Vampire books, and I have made up my own fictional characters, and I can FEEL how intensely difficult it would be to LET GO of something like Lestat, just let go after 8 books and 27 years - after major Hollywood movies and a critically acclaimed Broadway musical and Fan Clubs to your idea by the dozen - and say...that's all. I'm writing for God. Most of my fans will hate it and it's not going to be nearly so easy as slipping into this dark delicious world of yours, but you aren't even real. This is real.

I'm trying to wade through copious amounts of reviews to see whether or not I should read her Christ the Lord series (so far there are two - Out of Egypt and The Road to Cana). On the one hand, I do believe she is coming from a real experience of God to make this decision to write about the Life of Christ with deep research and Orthodox theology backing up her fictional fill in details. On the other hand, Life of Christ + Fictional Fill in details = Does not compute. She's writing in first person AS GOD. The lay people and the clergy both seem split on this, as far as I can tell, some wholeheartedly endorsing and others totally against it.

Meanwhile, I've begun doing things like asking for the intercession of St Jude, patron saint of lost and impossible causes, on behalf of my Nana, and putting the Lives of the Saints on my Amazon wishlist, and trying not to project onto Grant that he sees me as a silly superstitious twit.

My Pa - my healthy, white Pa, other half of "Nana and" - came down here for a visit. It's the first time he's been back since they sold their house and moved away 5 years ago, and so he was blown away by the enormous amount of new housing and shopping and the expanded hospital and the restaurants and theater and really, there are just whole new sections of town that didn't exist 5 years ago. We have traffic now. Anyway, I spent a lot of Sunday showing him around, having lunch with him at Gusto's, and taking him to visit with Laura and Brian (Frank was on shift). Then most of Monday was spent taking the kids and meeting Laura's family and him at the zoo, where we spent the afternoon, and then having thai food. I posted pics from that zoo trip. The thai food, I do not even know, I am ADDICTED to this panang curry with lamb at Stir Moon, it's a coconut curry full of lime leaves and read chilies that I spoon all over the bowl of brown rice it comes with...*shudders of bliss*

Pa and I had some time spent talking about Nana, and he had a private trip to the cemetary to view their plots (still here from when they bought them years ago before they moved away) and go over paperwork. Mostly though I was so happy to see him able to be cheered up by his grandkids and distracted by good food and willing to laugh at jokes and things. I wish he would consider moving down here.

Monday night I had a Birthgirlz meeting. It was energizing, and exciting, and FREAKING AWESOME. I'm going to be dropping a stack of handouts out at my old chiropractor's office about this upcoming event they're having - As well as asking him to become a sponsor of it.

AND I'm going to be talking with the bookstore family about having the next Soap Box Derby there.

AND I'm going to talk to Schnebly about sponsoring their fundraising gala, AND talk to the string quartet that plays at City Church about playing there.

AND that "Pusing for VBACs" thing I urged people to donate to awhile ago? Over $10,000 has poured in. They're hiring the litigation attorney, with enough for his retainer and a bit more - they will need more money before it's all over as it's about a $15,000 journey all told. So if you'd like to help them get through this end game with the total, here is the link -

And/or, if you'd like to help us establish the FIRST Mother-Friendly hospital in Miami-Dade county, you can sign this petition we're working on - Jackson South's maternal care model is currently being revamped so this is the perfect time and they are actually acting receptive, and anyone anywhere can sign this - PLEASE DO!

AND, I have to find out what if anything Nancy is going to charge us to speak at our Birth Film Festival in February.

AND, they have ACTUALLY GOTTEN A HEAD OF A LOCAL UNIVERSITY TO AGREE TO HAVE MED STUDENTS SHADOW MIDWIVES AND DOULAS AS PART OF THEIR INTERNSHIP HOURS. This is so huge, I teared up with goosebumps when I heard it. What a massive difference it could make.

And...I have to write this whole c/s book because I am tired of telling the story of why I appear to be pregnant to people who gasp with horror and urge me to please, PLEASE WRITE A BOOK ABOUT THIS.

At that meeting, my friend Michelle gave me a free pass to an advance screening of Julie and Julia for Tuesday night. She somehow got many of these. And I met a big old group of peeps at CocoWalk in the Grove to see it, and sat next to my friend Kristin and laughed my head off during the HOUR we waited for it to start because someone important who had flown in for it was late? Anyway, yeah, the movie was really good, too, and perfect for right then. I had left italian pot roast loaded with (3) onions, (25+ cloves) garlic, (3 crates of) mushrooms, broth and stock and (lots of) basil from the garden baking for hours and hours at 250 degrees after being browned in olive oil, for my family's dinner. So watching AAAaaall those shots of beef bourginon(sp?) had me AMPED to get home and have leftovers. Meryl Streep WAS that woman, she is incredible. Kristin was like, "I want that bag!" "I want that car!" etc, throughout the whole vintage looking movie, and we were moaning at the rasberry cream and recoiling in horror about the beef flavored jello that solidifies in the fridge after you boil a hoof for long enough. Good times.

Then today while Shaun watched the younger 3, Grant and I took Ananda and Aaron to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. I should note that yesterday Isaac asked if he could go see it too and I told him I needed to watch it to see if it was too scary first. He said, well, what about Annie and Aaron? I told him that they are so deeply invested at this point that even if they do have nightmares for the next 6 months, it is worth it to them. Both of them were instantly like, "Yep."

They liked it. We all jumped at one point, laughed at others. I cried a little. Aaron got really sad and came out subdued. Annie was walking on air. As usual I am bemused by the spectacle of 3 previously unknown kids who can't really act getting to star in front of millions of dollars of special effects and an INCREDIBLE, widely respected supporting cast. They're doing better, though. Kind of. I was impressed with how much of the book was in it but baffled by the extraneous extra scene they threw in.

Grant and I both burst into hysterical laughter at the ridiculous New Moon trailer, but we are all psyched to see this new Where the Wild Things Are when it comes out. That trailer actually gives me goosebumps. We've been watching the old Scholastic dvd version with barely-animated book pages for years. G was actually coincidentally wearing a WTWTA shirt in the theater today.

To Conclude:
-Ananda is actually getting to a point now with daily practice where I think we can say "she knows how to ride a bike". This is so long in coming. I'm very proud of her uncharacteristic perseverance - today even when she had a bleeding arm. Well, once she got past her initial near faiting due to seeing her own blood. She walked it for about two blocks, but then rode home with me, even though her face was the wrong color.
-My left wrist has been hurting when used for anything much for a couple of weeks, but has started this new trick where it swells all the way to my fingers or hurts terribly when I'm doing nothing at all. My paranoia coupled with amateur googling has me half-convinced it's diabetes related gout, which would be sucky because, you know, that would mean I am diabetic.
-BUT. I've lost 5 pounds already since quitting sugar and white flour. And I'm being a stickler to bike or walk or somehow excercise every single day. Which aside from making me less fat can also often stop/reverse new cases of diabetes.
altarflame: (Default)
I am alternating between, "Happy, in a subdued, heavy and calm way" and "sad, in a loved and blessed but still down" way.

The pediatrician called back and my Jakey is ok, just a flu and he's been seeing fevers go for days and days with this flu. Lots of fluids, keep on nursing. Jake's in sweet sleepy spirits most of the time.

My Mom talked with the neurologist and he's saying my mom and Pa need to make a decision about whether or not to "let" my Nana die by no longer feeding her.

Elise is stringing words together and wants nothing more than to kiss me 500 times a day. She makes hilariously confused faces at me when she sees me crying my eyes out.

My Nana is only 61. She was in good health with a full time job 3 months ago. She was going in for a planned, scheduled preventative surgery.

Aaron is not only riding all over the house on his back-from-the-shop unicycle (and the repair was free as it's under warranty, woo-hoo!) but he's done little HOPS on it twice now that I've seen, AND he just finished his first chapter book. He also teared up with me in the kitchen discussing Nana, he understands so well. "This is how it would be for me and Annie if Laura died, isn't it?".

My Mom will be so alone if my Nana is gone, she's newly separated from her douchebag husband and her father just died a couple of months ago, TOTALLY unexpectedly and out of nowhere. She's lived at the bedside for the past 2+ months...

Grant is holding strong not eating sugar or white flour with me. The last time we did this particular thing together was late 2004, and we lost a ton of weight and it was great. We're also doing Wii Fit together and watching this new to us show Kings that is a great thing to cuddle up with when the kids are in bed, while I work on Isaac's ripple blanket. I'm going to need more yarn soon. My blasted cat has learned to cut my strand in half with her teeth, too, which is hilarious yet irritating.

We all had so much HOPE because of this hydrocephalus thing, they were putting in a drain to take out excess fluid and that would explain how she was acting, it would FIX how she was acting, but instead she now talks in what my Pa calls a "Linda Blair voice" and has conspiracy theories and has lost what little vision and short term memory she seemed to have.

Numb and heavy, I worked with A and A to clean out their entire room this afternoon. I feel better just knowing that room is squared completely away, it was HORRENDOUS. Tonight, slightly lighter from Grant being home to talk with for awhile, we put their faces in the Daily Prophet on the Harry Potter website, complete with swirling mist and captions like, "Newest Azkaban Resident".

I had this ridiculous thought today, so shallow and dumb but it just cracked me in two to think, when thinking of Nana actually DYING, "I should have written her secret barbecue sauce recipe down somewhere safer..." I cried until I could laugh at myself. I think I keep blocking it out, because she is in the back of my mind all the time now.

I reach up for a loaf of bread and remember reaching into the pantry pregnant with Annie and her warning me the baby's umbilical cord would get strangled around it's neck if I reached up that way.

I see that the top is off the cannister of oats and remember her warning me about oat bugs.

I pick up a package of sausage and remember the weird Pennsylvania Dutch accent that made her say it weird. Summer sausage, usually. Or "Keeyoobossa".

And I always come back around to the ironing board outside of the utility room, popsicles with the wrappers around the sticks delivered straight to the pool (Don't let those stick end up in the drain, Pa will have a fit!) and then I end up leaning against the sink with Grant holding me and it just sucks, you know?

My Nana made a lot of wacky mistakes, she cut our hair while it was in ponytails? She said rooms "reemed" of smells, she drank too much when I was younger.

But she stopped, because I was going to have a baby.

I took showers with her, when I was little, light streaming in the window and Pa mowing outside.

We made fun of her too much. She said, "If you keep eating that way the whole pregnancy, you're gonna be as big as a house!" and Laura said, "SHE HAS A TENANT!" She said, when I started my period for the first time, to "wipe until it's ALL GONE" and Laura and I talked years later about how it just keeps coming, Laura said, "Does she want me to light myself on fire?" and we almost died laughing. She was always leaning her head into the dark room threatening us with some imaginary dire consequence if we didn't hush and go to sleep, because we spent all weekend there so many weekends.

Bows stuck on her head at Christmas Eve (27 Christmas Eves), my horrible menopausal overbearingly temperamental boss at the warehouse as a teenager, I told her I was pregnant and she actually stood up and yelled, "DON'T EVEN TELL ME IT'S FUCKING BOBBY!" But we laughed about that years later. She laughed about it with me last year.

She grilled us steaks every Saturday night and she is why I love Elvis and why I hate Savage Garden and newer Cher. She dusts the lightbulbs and the top of the fridge religiously. She made me use a damp cloth to go over trailing philodendrons LEAF BY LEAF to pull tiny little white bugs off by the hundreds so the plants wouldn't die.

She is why I always had good bras and Laura got braces. And she tried, so hard, standing in the bathroom with Frank with the light off to see his glow in the dark tongue ring. "Man, that is SO NEAT".

When my Nana wants to pull something off the front of your shirt, first she has to say, "Now, I'm not getting fresh with you" and she still holds a grudge, I'll bet from her bed in Lakeland Regional, that I bit her so badly when I was 2.

When we stopped on the way back from Boston she told me "that baby is just fine. There is not one thing wrong with her, you can see it plain as day. She is perfect, Nana has spoken".

And she is perfect, and as Ananda pointed out today, she will probably never remember those first two Christmas Eves.

Writing this all down makes Nana seem so close that it makes me nervous, like I need to keep glancing behind me in the too-quiet house and I just want to close this and run and dive into my bed with Grant and Elise.

How are they supposed to make this kind of decision? To give up? It is wild, just wild, how different the rollercoaster of ongoing hospital stay and shifting updates is, than the finality of death. Part of me thinks it's right, that she would not have wanted to be this way, me wondering whether it's right to take the kids around her how she is and my mom a mess taking her abuse day in and day out. Diapers and can't move one side at all and spoonfed by other people. Another part of me thinks, what is wrong with this neurologist? She's not hooked to life support machines. Or anything like that. The only drugs she takes are psych meds, xanex and wellbutrin and sometimes sleeping pills. There's a new anti-hallucination one, that is obviously not working. Part of me thinks, take her off all the drugs and see if her brain does any better. What is there to lose? I mean he says 60 years ago she would have already been dead, but what does that even mean - 60 years ago there wasn't enough compassion to feed a person or change their diapers? They didn't have spoons back then? I'm recommending a second opinion. I'm trying to let Pa know we love him even if he is not part of "Nana and". I'm trying to be there for my Mom. I'm trying to block it out, unsuccessfully. I'm doing not enough, because I am too far away. I feel guilty, because it is easier being far away.

*heaving sigh*
altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday I made steel cut strawberry oatmeal for breakfast, everyone foraged for lunch and we had tacos for dinner. Today they had granola for breakfast, I made whole wheat blueberry pancakes for lunch, and then roast chicken, steamed broccoli, mashed potatoes and salad for dinner. Tomorrow is a wild card.

My house is getting clean. It is bizarre. First I cleaned out our massively, horrifically messy bedroom - hung all the clean clothes sitting around in baskets, got all the dirty laundry out, all the toys back in the kids' rooms and books back in the library, picked all our shoes up out of their piles on our closet floors and put them up on the closet shelves. Got the odd socks and old mail off our dresser and even dusted it. I managed through some feat of who knows what to go back in two days later and do maintenance cleaning to keep it that way, and then I went into the library and tv room and while they weren't NEARLY so backed up (they are much closer to the front door, and part of the main public house and so they never get ignored for so long) it was still overdue to really clean them right, like down to vaccuming.

I realized today that I've put away clean laundry as it comes out of the laundry room three times in a row now before it piles into a 10 load mountain....and that the dishes haven't piled up for days.

I was actually able to devote energy today not only to sweeping before it became a Situation, but also to getting Jake and Isaac's room cleaned, and toilet scrubbing, both of which are always low level priorities around here. All with our bedroom, library and tv room maintained as clean spaces!

There is only one thing I can think of that has facilitated all of this - well, technically it is two very related things. Elise has potty trained, and Jake now wipes himself up after using the toilet.

I thought while I was cutting up potatoes and broccoli and tearing romaine leaves about how that could possibly translate into a sudden ability to keep the entire house so much cleaner at once. It seemed nutty to even consider. Then I started calculating.

Time spent actually changing diapers - let's say a cumulative hour per day, including finding all supplies as a chronically disorganized person and baby wrangling and such
diaper laundry - including putting them away, hanging covers and Fuzzi Bunz shells to dry, handwashing wool covers - an hour or more per week of active duty plus about 4 hours of double cycles in the machines every 3 or 4 days when nothing else can be washed
being prepared while we're out - an extra couple of minutes before we go anywhere
cleaning up naked baby accidents - I'd say 20 minutes per day on average when you include major carpet scrubbing once a week and the occasional Serious Situation every couple of days that involves cleaning off soiled items or...trails.
Jake calling me to come clean him up - 1-3 times per day, just interrupting whatever else I was doing

So, yeah. I am some kind of free wheeling woman now, apparently. All of that was squeezed in and around other things in such a way that it didn't FEEL as though it took up a significant chunk of time, but damn if I don't have a lot more time now! And solid time...because all of those things but the laundry were immediate things I had to tend to just as they suddenly happened regardless of what else was going on. And diapers had to take precedence over all other laundry regardless of what else I had to wash.

This is sort of wild. I had two in diapers for so long that just having "only one" wearing them felt like it was easy, and nothing really. Ha!

It has also contributed hugely to this feeling of overhauling our living that Grant has tackled tons of backed up yardwork and cleaned out and vaccumed the gross van very thoroughly this week. I am loving it.

Today was day 4 of me not eating any refined flour or sugar, or dairy. The first day was easy. Days 2 and 3 featured increased moodiness and major exhaustion (Grant's been off, and I fell asleep on the couch with Elise and stayed there for 2 hours, one day, and took an afternoon nap the other - neither of which are exactly typical). Today was a little easier overall but this evening, man. I don't know if it's just my internal sense of balance kicking in to compensate or if I'm beginning to feel better but WOW I am happy and content! I was reading to the four older kids in the tv room tonight (classic Pooh and The Mysterious Benedict Society), after Grant and Elise had gone to bed, and just feeling so incredibly blessed and fulfilled. Then, as I shoo'd them off to bed, I found myself feeling so EXCITED about these very mundane things that will happen tomorrow - like I just can't wait! Watching Aaron make progress on his unicycle, getting more areas of the house cleaned out and looking good, Annie's book reports and Isaac drinking more water. Doing Elise's hair and the blanket I'm making.

We've been having the best conversations, about immunity and vaccinations and chicken pox parties, and why so many children could be being diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders, and risks and dangers of counterfeiting money - all kinds of stuff.

Ananda will probably be going to creative arts camp next week at ArtSouth - we found out that her twin friends from the bookstore family (10) and her twin cousins (11) are all going, and it is very reasonably priced and has a fun-looking Facebook photo album of pics full of familiar faces. *I* am kind of freaked about leaving her anywhere from 9am to 4pm (!!) but she is 9 and will have people she knows and be right here in town...or so I tell myself.

My Nana has been transferred back from the rehab center to the hospital for chest pains, but once there they saw that she has fluid built up in her brain. Except then it was maybe just swelling and not fluid, and anyway they couldn't drain the fluid because her blood thinners make the SKULL DRILLING that drains it too risky. And so today they did a spinal tap to measure pressure that didn't seem to indicate excess fluid. Even though her otherwise inexplicable symptoms perfectly match those of hydrocephalus.

It seems like a lot of circular confusion and no continuity of care and I am not always sure how much more MY mother can take, of watching and caring for her mother in this state. The phone calls every day, are a huge part of my day.
altarflame: (MollyWeasley)
Lately, it has been in the high 90s around here from around 11-3. With a "feels like" in the low hundreds. It does this every summer, though, and you can't just not leave the air conditioned house for months at a time. If you wait until later in the day when it's slightly cooler, the bugs are out in full force, which gets prohibitive.

So today while Ananda, Aaron and Isaac were at VBS, I took Jake and Elise on a walk. We saw butterflies, splashed in a puddle, picked a couple of flowers, pointed out some types of trees, as well as how people put their boats on trailer hitches so they can pull them behind their cars to the water, noted various sorts of customized mailboxes, turned bright red, sweated, panted, and came home. All in under 15 minutes. I really, really need excercise, and I really, really hate repetetive indoor excercising...I can't stand gym-type crap you sit and do over and over in one spot, it realy makes me nuts. So, I gave Elise a snack and made her drink a lot of water, pulled her hair back from her face and stuck her in her seat on the back of my bike. The bike at least lets you have some breeze of your own making. Grant took Jake to go pick up the other kids and Elise and I did our thing.

I went pretty far. I'm sure it was more than a couple of miles, and I kept getting to that point where it hurts a lot, and then past it to where it feels good again, which I love. I've taken plenty of 30-40 minute bike rides with Aaron riding alongside. In the later part of the day. With Elise on the back (which makes it considerably harder) I usually just ride around for 15 minutes or so. In the later part of the day.

So...yeah. I was really feeling good about pushing myself and straining through it the last 10 or so minutes, today. It was over half an hour, I don't know exactly how long. She fell asleep. I rode into our yard, where Grant had gotten back with the kids awhile before, and stopped and found that it was damn near impossible to get my leg up over the bar from the far pedal so that I could get off the bike. I was like, huh. Right. Interesting. Then I was standing on two feet, and suddenly very, very nearly vomiting. The nausea just hit me all at once like a wave. Grant came out and as he got Elise off the bike I stumbled in and collapsed into a red, sweaty heap and waited to feel even moderately normal again. After he went and put my bike away, since I am a ninny, and a couple more minutes passed, he looked at me and got alarmed, saying my face "shouldn't be that color" and I got into the shower. Where it occured to me that Elise could have fallen asleep, or could have passed out from heat stroke. *headdesk* On the one hand, she wasn't pedaling, had just drank a lot of water, and like I said, there is that minor biking breeze. On the other hand, she was wearing a damn helmet (I, bad person that I am, do not wear a helmet). A vented helmet with her hair pulled back from her face. But. I don't know. *sigh*

I can't decide if,
A. I need to be like my friends Alice and Kristin and just not use air conditioning anymore, so our bodies acclimatize to the actual environment we live in (THE HORROR!) - as it is my entire life has been mostly lived in ac'd houses and cars and buildings with the heat something you just run through on the way to and from the ac
B. It is obviously stupid to do anything strenuous outside in that kind of heat, wtf was I thinking (we had sunscreen on?)
C. I am just really out of shape (which is true regardless)

I feel really productive this week. I've...

-cleaned three long out-of-control rooms of our house into spotlessness, and maintained them
-talked with Nancy and gotten her to agree to speak at a birthgirlz event, which is a huge boon for birthgirlz that caused much excitement
-studied the technique of rippling, in crochet, until it clicked in my head and I could do it without following patterns, and started a ripple blanket for Isaac (which he's been asking for, for months...)
-mailed things I needed to
-emailed long overdue things that took a load off my conscience
-had multiple opportunities to be generous and help someone that made me feel good
-made it to church as a family for the first time in way too long
-written a new short story

And we're all on a totally re-vamped early schedule because of preparing for and then going to VBS, for the first time in forever. And I'm the go-between setting up (HOPEFUL! potential...) sponsorship of the Great Green Family Festival by the winery. And we went back to the zoo and did new things we'd never done before in their Amazon exhibit, which seriously took my breath away with giant sea turtles swimming in a massive floor to ceiling aquarium and sting rays that swim up in a smaller pool so that you can touch them, and a jaguar THREE FEET AWAY FROM ME, at my same ground level, through nothing but a couple of rows of metal poles...and more. It was cool.

HUGE BOON: Grant managed to find a tutorial online and fix the dishwasher today! This is huge, I do a ton of cooking and we have a big family here...and, well, I HATE DISHES. I did enough dishes as a kid to last me a lifetime. And we have this high capacity awesome KitchenAid dishwasher we bought new when we moved in here, so wtf? They were piling up terribly over the past week. I am really thankful for WikiBooks, and my husband.

Little things...
*we found an area that has dozens of wild rabbits and field mice running around at dusk, and the kids think it's awesome. We can't get out of the van or they scatter, but we can pull up and open the side door and they just go about their business close by.
*Ananda keeps going to her dance classes in, like, shorts and tshirts, and I don't say anything because they aren't saying anything and there are a lot of other girls coming in and out of DE with similarly casual clothes on. She mostly wore shorts and tanks to class all last year, and only dressed up for the recital. Yesterday when it was time to go she came out in knee length JEAN shorts, though, hair down, and I was like, "Really? You're going to wear that to ballet and jazz?" and she was like, "Look at this" and lifted her leg up parallel with her torso so that her foot was over her head, and I was like, alright. Whatever. Talk about it with your teachers. So I went and wrote while she was in class and when I came back to get her, her hair was in a bun and she said, in a deadpan voice, "I have to get another leotard." I laughed and laughed. Apparently all three girls in this intermediate ballet showed up in street clothes with hair down today and Candace (her teacher) brought down the gauntlet. And also did Annie and another girl's hair when they each tried to say theirs wasn't long enough for a bun.
*between church, VBS (which they're all three LOVING), dance classes, Grant taking Aaron and Isaac out to the movies and a 5 hour long playdate at Michelle's that A and A had on Sunday, I am starting to feel as though I don't see my oldest kids anymore

Cut for logistical ponderings on possible travel - very boring )


We ended up going with strapless bras for Annie from Macy's online. They were $11 each, came today, and not only do they fit like a dream but still with lots of room to grow, but they are insanely comfortable for her and look like they'll last a long time. And they're totally not slipping or shifting. Also, the camisoles they sell for girls that I thought were $6.95 each? It's actually $6.95 per two pack, which is great because Annie really likes them, too.
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 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 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 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 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 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: (Bloody Hell)
I'm waiting, waiting all the time for a call to come that means Pa is dead. And wondering if my Dad will be able to call right away, or if he'll want to calm down first, or...

And thinking how glad I am that we got pictures and a card sent before it was too late, and that I got to visit him at the hospital before it was over, but mostly thinking about the huge chasm between the close interaction and looming significance of him, when we were kids...and this little bit of something, re-established at the very end. In between...well, I went to Key West three times in a month this year and I never stopped to see him :/ I mean it was special circumstances...the death of my other grandfather with my grief stricken mother in tow, a first weekend away for Grant and I wherein I saw no relatives and was on vacation, and a day trip for a baby shower that meant we only had a few hours on the island. Still and all. Bah. It starts to seem so hard - without Ma there to make it "Ma and Pa" there was no constant flow of relatives in and out, no endless interrupting-each-other conversation, no loud arguments to roll your eyes at, or huge meals always ready to be served up on plates...just him, chain smoking, hard of hearing and not one to intiate conversation much, in his tiny efficiency apartment with the tv always on. And that should be enough...I would want it to be enough, if it were me. If it is me.

He was the Easter Bunny, sneaking out to hide treasure and then telling us it was out there. He had a riding lawn mower I drove. He used to wake us at dawn so we could sneak to the windows and see deer in the yard, when they lived in central Florida. He made us "snack plates" that Laura and I both think of as perfectly current and appealing food. He LOVED Elise, the single time he met her, which was just last week. And told my Dad over the phone all about her, right down to how soft her hair is.

I felt really heavy and awful all evening. Grant was home late, again, he stops at his mom's on the way and checks on her. He doesn't really understand her condition because she wants to downplay it or talk about other things and Mindy exaggerates and dramatizes to the point of being fantasy... Somewhere in the middle it seems like she absolutely must quit smoking, needs to get away from her job and from stress asap, is having more doctor's appointments than usual and is taking new medications. She went back to work yesterday. I seriously cannot stand it for her to be in danger, too. From my perspective or Grant's.

My Nana got denied entry to the rehab place they were all so excited about, because based on doctors' reports they don't think she can handle the intensive therapy they offer :/ It leaves her with really unappealing options like going home unable to move one side of her body aside from a hand and wrist, yet, still with vision impaired and some major confusion, or checking into a nursing home, which is not really an option for them...they're trying to appeal. I selfishly think of how Christmas is never going to be the same as though it is a blow to my stomach. Perhaps I'm wrong about that.

Grant led me to bed after dinner and we layed together and I cried and he talked and I talked and we kissed and so on and so forth and by the time I came out shaky legged and warm to get kids into bed (he has to be up ultra early...) I felt like I lost 50 pounds of foreboding. I love that man.

This is the second night in a row that, with everyone else long sleeping, I have stayed up until past one am with Ananda and Aaron, reading 3 chapters at a time of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in my office. It takes longer than normal Harry Potter because we have to stop almost every page while Aaron works out a plot point that's giving him trouble, Annie excitedly expounds on some theory or other she thinks she has that explains every mystery, or we deal with something incredibly scary/sad/angering. We read The Tales of Beedle the Bard between Half Blood Prince and DH and they liked that and I was trying to stall, but really, it was so, SO fast. And between the harrowing ending and the trailers they're addicted to, for #6, I couldn't torture them anymore. I love it that they know those Tales, now, though, because it makes book 7 all fall into place so much better to be familiar with them first...Their room is plastered in HP posters from a book they bought with their own money, and Ananda is already asking me if I can make her bigger robes so she can be Ginny or Tonks for Halloween (they've long outgrown the ones I did for a costume 3 years ago...though the scarves still work, and that was the time consuming part).

We have to get the invitations and solid date and time and all ready, tomorrow, for her birthday party...she's having a formal tea for her birthday, of all things. Like, gloves and hats and I imagine I can find a lace tablecloth at a thrift store somewhere...I can't believe she's going to be NINE. 9. I have very clear memories of my own time being nine. I read Beaches, Stephen King's Misery and a Jim Morrison biography and went from a New Kids on the Block obsession to a burdgeoning interest in Motley Crue, that year. I wore pink flamingo earrings made of foam, that actually laid on my shoulders, and ripped up jeans, and those slap bracelets...I had a crush on a girl named Lula and nightmares about my mother dying. I stayed late after school to play chess with my teacher and won an award for a poem I wrote. I called everyone "Babe" and wrote "Tonight Hernandez" on my school work, insisting that was my name.

Obviously she is not me O_o (THANK GOD)

So far, for her presents, I've gotten her a vibrating, snarling Monster Book of Monsters that opens or belts closed from Amazon, a blue tshirt that says "I", then a picture of an owl, and then "U", and a silver fairy ring. It's all en route to our house.
altarflame: (Default)
So, I couldn't write about it here because I didn't want her to see it, but yesterday (Monday) afternoon I drove up to Lakeland for my Mother's birthday. She is 45, and seeings how she is newly separated from her cheating and cowardly husband, her father just died a month ago, and she is living at the hospital with her mom who just had two strokes and is now brain injured...well, let's just say "What a shitty birthday".

-It was very bizarre to have an overnight trip BY MYSELF, I just went, without Grant or Laura or kids or anything
-I am really glad the Prius is so easy on gas
-I adore my iPod and like talking hands free with Grant's phone (Blackberry, he's such a...blackberry...owner :P)
-my mother is EVEN THINNER...she's dropped from 165 to 118 through stress-induced starvation over the course of 6's really crazy. In jeans and a hoodie when I got to the hospital I felt like I almost looked older than her.
-she was really happy to see me, and I was so glad :D
-I was very happy to be able to send her to Nana and Pa's house to sleep in a bed for the night while I stayed with Nana - she needed it.
-I was really shocked at how hard it hit me to try to spend the night in a hospital room, and how much crap it stirred up for me :x
-I was very happy with how easy it was for me to get into my Nana's head and understand what she's thinking and make her laugh and things...
-VERY VERY moved to watch Pa kiss her, do her therapies, feed her breakfast one bite at a time, encourage her, and generally just embody what marriage should be. I teared up over and over, even though he is going through these motions with no drama or sentimentality at all.
-intrigued to watch her make new milestones...she's gradually using her left hand again, and now the wrist.
-heartbroken in general to watch her call the cat and warn me about wildebeasts and see her doing random repetetive motions she doesn't realize
-humbled at how grateful I was that *I* am not the one there 24/7, because it is so, so mother is basically giving her a sip of something, answering her questions or adjusting her blankets as she goes from hot flashes to cold spells EVERY MINUTE.
-it kept striking me over and over how radically different I apparently eat than other people...I've just tried to keep moving in a healthier and more energetic and weight loss oriented direction, and nutrient dense because I'm tandem nursing still and can't take supplemental iron anymore and all...basically I usually eat a lot of fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in various forms every day, only whole grains, only trace amounts of dairy and limited meats, heavy on the nuts and beans and olives. Fats are either smart balance or olive oil. We use sea salt. And, well, there are inordinate amounts of fair trade chocolate ;) Which really does taste better! I love food and eat a lot and it's all really good...I don't ever feel, like, deprived. Then I set foot in a Denny's? A hospital cafeteria? Or I go driving down the street looking at drive thrus? Let's just say, holy shit. It's impossible. There are NO truly healthy mainstream choices for a person on the go. It's easy to integrate however many standards or caveats you want to into what you eat at home, but then you go back out into society at large, and, geez. I felt so heavy and awful by the time I was headed back, and sniffling and sneezing and I even have new pimples where there were none. I've gotten to some kind of point where everything processed or "Fast" or fried at a diner has the same/no taste and just seems disgusting, which on the one hand is obviously positive...but on the other hand leaves you feeling like a seriously elitist fool when surrounded by grief and rednecks in a central Florida town. I thought about this kind of stuff a lot...I was in a hospital where most nurses and visitors I saw were very morbidly obese and I'm watching my relatives (and Grant's :/)all fall apart mostly due to cigarettes, alcoholism, diabetes and so on related why do I still feel guilty when my mom is trying to convince me that some peppers in a cheese smothered omelette with hashbrowns and reheated sausage "are vegetables"? Like there's no way I could possibly argue? Blah. I tried to find a Whole Foods with the navigation as I was leaving and the closest one was FIFTY EIGHT MILES AWAY.
-Central Florida in general is so not my Florida, food and crap totally aside...egads. I feel like I'm on another planet or something.

Other Updates:
-my Pa, my Dad's dad, has been denied the triple bypass he needs because his heart and lungs are too weak to manage it...they've basically sent him home to die :/ My Dad has been having a really hard time with this, and I am preoccupied with it, and him...
-Teresa, my mother in law, is no longer able to have pain relievers she desperately needs for a bad neck thing because they're causing bad side effects, and can't have surgery for it because of a degenerative bone disease, and is in a brace and it's just scary :/ Scary scary, she is a wonderful woman and a great mom to Grant and a kickass Grandmother and, also, is raising Mindy's kids and has been pretty much since birth...*sigh*

It was so nice to get home. So many small excited people happy to see me, such a warm yummy husband and a nice old house. We had tacos for dinner. And for the record if you fill a taco shell with refried beans, sliced avocado, sliced black olives and diced tomato, it will be really good and really good for you and *I* won't wake up in the middle of the night with allergy attacks or be eating 25 weight watchers points at once like if it were mainly meat and cheese with sour cream on it.
altarflame: (Alice)
I'm in a somewhat disconnected, dissociated state all the time lately. Because my Grandpa (mom's bio dad) died three weeks ago and I took her to see his body while she was completely broken down and grieving hard. And my Nana (her bio mom) is in the hospital now, with brain damage. She - my mother - is at the bedside 24/7 and it's wearing her down. Nana is in the ICU, the swelling in her brain just won't quit, she is continuously calling her cat from the bed and saying she's in Pennsylvania (they're in central Florida) and alternating between laughing at how she can't formulate a sentence...and getting really frustrated that she can't express herself, and that something is wrong with her. My mom has to leave when they do physical therapy because she cries the whole time from the pain. Nana's house was my only permanent home growing up, Nana was the boss at the warehouse where I did most of my teenage employment time, Nana is only 61 and is missing work right now, and probably won't ever be able to go back...

And, my Pa (Dad's bio dad) has now been airlifted to Baptist Kendall (here, in Miami) for a heart attack...from Key West...I've been to see him, and I've talked with him on the phone, and Laura is going and we're trying to take him food. All day everyday Laura and I wait for the phone to ring. Nana updates. Pa updates. Mom updates. My Dad is a wreck, he channels his vulnerability into anger and so when I say, "But if they can't give him blood thinners with the will they do the triple bypass?" he explodes, "I don't fucking know, Tina!"

He's 77. Pa. And he is so small now, still the thick head of jet black hair because come on, he's Cuban, but jeeeeeeeeeez the bones. Still saying "I love you Dahlin, you don't have to stay long" and trying to serve me his ice water and make sure I can hear the tv, like he's hosting me in his freaking room in the cardiac ward. I start to wonder horrible ethical questions like whether or not they're feeling very urgent about keeping a 77 year old alive anyway.

Death and life and time passing is this very tangible thing around here lately...I look at Grant with his toothache and his aches and pains and I think of our parents with their complications and...I don't know. I just don't know.

I have these crystal clear moments of raw emotion when I cry the whole day's worth of tears in 10 minutes and pray very fervently. Then I slip back, again.

I'm trying to step back and enjoy my very young, very healthy, very oblivious children, particularly the youngest and healthiest and most miraculous, who is just turning two...we've thrown together a party on short notice and I'm up at this hour baking and cleaning after the kids and I tackled the deck and yard and walls and toilets and things all day...and hit the store for food supplies...and I am happy. And Elise is so excited about having a birthday, she flips when we talk about it.

...And I feel guilty. I know my Mom needs me in Lakeland. I know my Dad is stuck in Key West and expects me to be with Pa more often. I know I'm planning a big celebration in the midst of all this crap, the ICU just keeps rolling 24/7 while we pick out candles and craft supplies and blah blah blah. All day long I have this hum in the back of my mind of needing to make phone calls, at war with this more surface level dread of any more phone calls.

I'm glad I have Annie and Aaron to get goosebumps with, and just FREAK OUT about the Half Blood Prince trailers on the Apple website (GO SEE THEM...seriously), and my amazing good friends to distract and invite and vent with me. I went to pick up an organic produce share from my friend Kristin, who runs a co-op and had extra, and we ended up talking about her life and her issues, which have nothing to do with death or loss of identity or crushing hospital obligation bullshit. Just all the kids playing and her chickens and my chickens and her stand mixer is lime green. And she has normal stuff, LIVE life stuff, issues that don't imply any sort of impermanence...We have a lot of good people coming over here tomorrow, for the party, too.

My husband sends me emails in the middle of his workday telling me how looking up the Sarah Mclachlan lyrics to "Answer" make him think of us. "I love you dearly" as the subject. Then he comes home and uses boiling water on the nasty floors and let's each kid run and leap into his arms in turn. They form a line :)

Just pulling in the parking lot of Baptist makes my mind slip further, and further, and further back. It's like what I do right before surgery - "I'm not really here. I'm completely calm. No feelings."

I have pictures to share...

The chicks are growing up.

And this is what I did with some of that giant flat of fresh picked strawberries we had...that filling is strawberries that have been cut up and soaking in sugar for 2 days as I stir, add more, and repeat. Chocolate buttercream. Om nom nom.

Cheeseless pizza for my dairy free, allergy free lifestyle...the picture does not do it justice. I was upset when I saw it, but ENRAPTURED WHEN I TASTED IT. What does Professor Snape say about potions to that first year class? "Bewitch the mind, ensnare the senses..." yeah, that was this pizza. But really.

It's puttanesca sauce, thin sliced vine ripe tomato, and chopped kalamata olives on the bottom. Then olive oil and salt roasted red peppers, zuccinni and mushrooms, whole black olives, squeezes of lemon juice, and seasoned salt on the whole thing. Thin whole wheat crust. HOLY CRAP JUST TRUST ME AND DO THIS.

A and A having ice cream cake at the Earthday thing we went to, which was also a birthday party. Earthday is my birthday, sponsored by Whole Foods, because my friends manage crap like that.

All the free watered down carrot juice we could drink ;)

And my office...nowhere NEAR DONE, not even painted after months of "we need to..." but how I love it anyway.

My taste in lamps, much like my taste in beds, runs towards "sex den".

I am going to make a ripple blanket for Isaac out of all this, and it's just what he wants. I would never normally have these colors anywhere in my possession, and so I'm practically drinking all the pretty yarn in the yarn bag, everyday...

You see where my color choices for my normal projects tend to go...

Messy desk with roses from my love. All phone calls are better taken that way, btw.

And A and A come to me to show me this "museum" they built.

I really, really wish I had made captions for this the minute they showed it to me, because to hear them narrate what each and every one of those exhibits is (including the cryogenic chamber in the middle) was pretty damned astounding.

While crafting this entry I've also baked two round cakes, 28 large cupcakes and a dozen mini cupcakes. All carrot. And realized, as I tend to when I start quantifying, just how much goodness I have and how lucky I am and how thankful I ought to be.

Also awesome - being able to call my sister up and make her watch this on the phone with me and have us all laugh hysterically. Because somewhere in the middle of all this hysteria there has got to be some laughter.
(MAJOR LANGUAGE WARNINGS, I just don't care about it.) (blast it all ,embedding is disabled)
altarflame: (Alice)
Aaron's cat, Peter, is still acting as though he just got back from 'Nam around everyone in the house - leaping from a litter box amidst a fine spray and diving under furniture as soon as anyone enters the room, and so on. Except with Aaron, of course, who he nuzzles and loves on and purrs loudly with. The other night I peeked in his room and Peter was in some kind of state, I could hear him purring from the hallway and he was acting like he wanted to fuse himself to Aaron's shoulder and face. He was laughing and scratching him and said, "Look Mom! Peter's in love with me! He wants to marry me, and make millions and millions of little cumans!" Oh, Aaron.

So. This has been Surreal Week for the Walker family. I have been having extreme dizziness from antihistamine withdrawal (OF ALL THINGS), Grant is in Tooth Pain Hell, and so both of us are largely useless as my mother calls with updates every few hours because my Nana is in the hospital. She had aneurysm (sp?) surgery a few weeks ago, and it seemed to go very well. We sent flowers and called her and it seemed all good. But it turns out that some thing they did wrong in there was blocking an artery from supplying blood to her kidneys. Two weeks of undiagnosed kidney failure later...and we're dealing with all kinds of horrible effects. She's in the ICU, with my poor mother who is still horribly grieving for her Dad that JUST DIED two weeks ago (her parents are/were only 61 years old here...) Nana has significant neurological damage from swelling around her brain from excess fluid buildup while her kidneys weren't working. She can't move one leg, can't see well, and doesn't know what year it is...this is my Nana who I lived with throughout high school, who we go to be with every year for Christmas Eve, who has a full time job and takes vacations...who's husband that is still fit and active is 18 years older than her.

As I've sat in my office with the room spinning, trying to avoid standing, trying not to dwell, trying to help Grant feel better with heating pads and liquid tylenol and chewable Motrin because he can't take pills and hot tea and distractions of every womanly sort that can be mustered when one feels that they're falling down while just sitting there...I've been doing a lot of browsing around online.

And I've found some awesome stuff! For instance. Alexander McQueen, who I think rocks, has designed some clothes for Beth Ditto. Who is fat. And unashamed of it. And beautiful anyway, in a way that SHOULDN'T BE SO SHOCKING. Like...ok. I am not someone who thinks all fat is good fat or that it's awesome to be huge, I understand there are real health risks and it's important not to forget that. But, I also know that you can take two people and feed them both the same thing every day, and one will get fat while the other stays thin. And I know that a large proportion of Americans are overweight, and yet we continue to idolize EXTREME thinness as the only thing fit to be displayed in any arena, and eating disorders and our young girls and blah blah blah. So anyway this singer who has so many cool things to say has nude magazine covers, she has spandex costumes for onstage, she says that growing up her mom and grandmother would tell her not to wear a bikini but SHE never thought she shouldn't wear a bikini. She thought she wanted to wear a bikini. She thought it was just her body and not so different from a lot of other bodies and what the heck was the big deal that the mere sight of her could offend?
Cut cuz there are four fairly large pics here, including some non-graphic nudity )

Even though I am not really into nudity on magazine covers in general...I can't help but think how AMAZING it would be if there were more like THAT in the grocery store checkout lines. How different all the ladies might feel as they checked out. I mean, wtf, there are guys that like this. This is what was being painted as the pinnacle of beauty for, oh, THOUSANDS OF YEARS. Why do we try to program everyone to think only one thing is beautiful now?

I am also really hoping my kids join forces and buy me this for Mother's Day:

Browsing through it on Amazon is an ethereal experience.

It is really horrible to imagine my Nana permanently mentally impaired. I know so much about neuroplasticity because of all the lay reading I did when Elise was born, and I have some hope, but she has a lot of strikes against her...age, sedentary lifestyle, lack of enthusiasm for new/challenging activities. Still and all the word is that she is in a fighting mood and they'll be starting physical therapy. *sigh*

Aside from being freaked out that my grandparents suddenly appear to be dropping like flies just because I love THEM in their own rights (my Dad's dad has also recently been hospitalized, and I've been talking with him as well...) it's also terrifying to me to feel as though there is some buffer being removed that protects MY parents. Like...once my parents' parents are gone...they're next.

*sigh again*

I set up a flickr account to chronicle my stolen images, btw. I doubt I'll be posting them all here. I'm just altarflame there, too, like most everywhere.

I'm also doing incredibly well with super healthy eating, and feeling good about that...I'm sure I'll expound soon, probably with pictures of weird and wonderful things like cheeseless pizza.

Lastly, Elise's 2nd birthday is May 1. And I am very excited about it. How many THOUSANDS OF TIMES have the Boston peds' words rung through my head? We'll know more in a year - we'll know A LOT MORE in two years, that is huge... And the first, oh, five thousand of them, two years seemed impossible to wait for. "One day at a time", like being boiled in oil to wait and to see what would happen. I am ready to celebrate this miracle child.
altarflame: (Elise genius.)
To everyone who replied to the national debt post: Thank you :) I really appreciate your input, and it actually helped a lot.

Grant and I spent his off-days cleaning the heck out of this house, from vaccuming under furniture we don't normally move to getting the chicks out of my office and into the yard in a temporary coop. There was also closet cleanup, and bar clearing (it was piled so high, just ridiculous...) and bathtub scrubbing, and so on.

I also crocheted like a maniac, for this new blanket idea I had, and will hopefully have pics to post of that soon.

My Nana had surgery on an aneurism she's had for a few years now. An abdominal one. It went really well, and they were able to clean a lot of plaque out of the artery as a bonus while they were in there, which is supposed to help her circulation once she's up and around again. She lives in Lakeland. My mother and uncle went to be with her in the hospital. I'm sure a "Nana" seems really, really old to most people for an adult to have, but really, she's only 59. I was very relieved it all went well, as I'm not AT ALL ready to deal with anything happening to her... This by the way is the one we go spend Christmas Eve with every year, and who I was so upset moved away a few years back.

My cousin Christina - this is a cousin on my father's/cuban side - is pregnant, and the first of her siblings to get pregnant, so it's A Big Dealtm. Her baby shower is this weekend and her mother/my aunt is EXTEMELY EXCITED and sent out handmade invitations to everyone. She's also emailed us ultrasound pictures and an entire slideshow of the very detailed nursery stenciling she's done for this granddaughter. Laura and I are going, Grant and Frank were able to orchestrate days off and it'll be a chance to see aunts and cousins I haven't seen in a couple of years. And my Dad, too, albeit separately due to...uh...relational tensions on that side of my family. I haven't went anywhere ALONE with my sister, with no kids, for...however old Brian (her son) is? At least. I guess I've seen her in a hospital room by ourselves, but I hardly think that counts. This is going to be awesome, just she and I in the Prius. We'll actually be in the Prius A LOT - it's in Key West (2.5 hours away) and we are leaving early and getting back late on the same day. It's so bizarre that Christina, Annette and Andrea (the close older cousins we grew up spending time around every year as kids) are all still childless, when they're all at least 5 year older than me, at least 8 years older than Laura. It's funny to go see this woman I grew up seeing as a way older and more mature kid who was ahead of me, having her first baby shower, when I'm leaving my 5 kids at home to go. I'm trying hard to not have too much of an "agenda" in my gift-giving (i.e., not giving her cloth diapers and a guide to why co-sleeping is best but actual things off her registry) :p

I've been having MAJOR allergies for the past couple of weeks...waking up in the middle of the night with watering eyes and sneezing fits, spending the days sniffling with a sinus headache...and nothing helps. We've changed the AC filter out, removed the chicks (even though they were behind a closed door in a pen, with a closed AC vent, and still very small, and not at all effecting the rest of the house), cleaned our bedroom fan, changed our diets. I've gotten desperate in the past few days from ALWAYS feeling run down and miserable, and taken loratadine meltaways, nose sprays, and started up again with a Vicks inhaler. It's just getting worse and worse. I did some research tonight and went to Walgreens after midnight for 24 hour, used-to-be-only-by-prescription-strength Zyrtec that I've been waiting to kick in for about an hour now. It better work, by golly...

My last couple of days have been totally dominated by Elise being sick. She's the only one, just her. She got a sudden high fever yesterday that stuck around all day long, leaving her either sleeping or borderline lethargic, and puking once, until evening, when she perked up a little and then slipped back into misery. Slept through the night. Nursing almmost constantly, though, and hot "in places". Today was more of the same.

Her only real remaining neuro quirk is that when she has a fever, it's a wack fever, where say like today - the whole right side of her body is burning hot. The left side is room temperature. Her feet freezing, like ice cubes, to where I can feel their coldness through my pants O_o Really strange. I spent awhile on the phone with the ped and felt so, so relieved, after I'd spent too long with google and was half-convinced she had FREAKING MENINGITIS and would be losing all of her progress and abilities anytime.

I think it's just really triggering to me to see her so limp and exhausted and constantly sleeping, and be in contact with doctors. She jerks in her sleep and I think of seizures for the first time in months. Ugh. The idea of putting her through more spinal taps, or spending more nights in hospitals. Ugh ugh.

She was better today than yesterday, with SOME walking around and personality amidst the sicky sickness, so I am strongly hoping she is better tomorrow than today. I can't leave her like this on Saturday to go to Key West :/ I mean they think it sounds like she just has some normal infection like kids get, she was in the church nursery on Sunday and Aaron had some mysterious one-night-only puking thing last week. It's just...different...when it's her.

Either way I am totally going to be screwed that after months of nursing 3-5 times in a 24 hour period, she'll have been nursing around the clock for days due to illness...and then I'll go away for 12 or more hours straight and be engorged and soaking my shirt. Blah. I'm glad I have a ped who can appreciate how important breast milk can be for a sick toddler, and even said how these are the one's she never has to worry about getting dehydrated from fevers because they'll always at least take that.

I was going to make this big food logging post because I'm back to meal planning and grocery budgeting again and so it's on my mind and I like getting ideas and sharing recipes. Like yesterday we had apple cinnamon and raisin steel cut oats for breakfast; long, drained ramen noodles mixed with sauteed garlic, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil, for lunch; and southwestern quesadillas with cilantro from the garden for dinner.

But then today we ate all the carrot cupcakes I made late last night for breakfast, lunch and snacks until I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner because all I could do all day with Grant working was pace with or nurse with miserable sick Elise and play phone tag with the doctor. While all the others watched too many movies and played in the yard. You win some, you lose some.
altarflame: (jay)
I am planning on getting a copper IUD (paragard). Which is somewhat huge for me.

I have always been tempted to, when I've thought of birth control, because

-they're not hormonal
-you don't really have to think about them aside from initial insertion by a doctor and then removal TEN YEARS LATER (or whenever you choose, whichever comes first)
-totally cool with breastfeeding
-I hate barrier methods
-extremely economical
-very effective

But I have never actually done it, because

-they can make your period HEAVIER and mine is already somewhat frightening
-if anyone WOULD get pregnant with an IUD in place, it would be me, and then removing it is dangerous for the baby, which I wouldn't want to deal with
-I have historically been confused about whether or not it's an "abortifacent", meaning that sperms fertilize eggs but then the fertilized eggs can't implant, and die...I actually thought that that was the only way they functioned

However, I've recently been talking some with a friend who has one and LOVES it, and

-her previously insanely heavy periods are actually never know how you will react, and if you can't deal with the periods, you can just get it taken back out again. Also, the heavy periods are usually something that only effect you much in the early months before your body adjusts to having the IUD. And, my own periods have gone from "...should I go to the ER?" to "This is annoying" in recent months, since I've figured out that tampons and excessive nursing sessions make it way worse. Without those two things, it's a lot less nuts.
-she also talked a lot about hers with a midwife who has delivered babies with IUDs and upon much research I've decided I'd leave mine in, too, if that happened. It carries some risks, but they are relatively small - definitely way smaller than getting it taken out with a pregnancy present
-There is a CHANCE that an egg could be fertilized and then fail to implant due to the IUD. But it's small, and that happens ALL THE TIME without an IUD in place, just as nature taking it's course in a woman's body. The primary means of preventing pregnancy with it is that the copper changes the acidity in the uterus and creates an environment hostile to sperm, and they die.
Also, I've been doing a lot of soul searching. And, I really think almost all birth control could be viewed as abortifacents on some level...and I really am normally against all birth control FOR MYSELF, because of my own beliefs about my body and what I, personally, am comfortable with, as well as how I view my sexuality and my hopes for my family...
But I'm in a really crappy position now where a pregnancy could be truly dangerous. And I've had everyone from Catholic and Orthodox friends to my husband to my doctor trying to tell me how important it is for me to make SURE I don't get pregnant.

There are some other weird side effects I'm not too keen on, like the slight possibility based on anecdotal hoohaw that there could be a toxic buildup of copper in my system (though that seems mostly paranoid after a ton of reading), the purely philophical objection I have as a naturalist to having a foreign object existing in my body at all times, and who knows what vague or significant cancer threats for the future...but I'm trying to be objective and think, well, let's weigh risk vs benefit here.

We've been very successful so far at an annoying program of doing "Everything but" unless it's the day before or the day after my period, with occasional condom use...but that isn't much of a permanent plan with the stakes we have in place. Or my libido :x

We were somewhat set on vasectomy for awhile, but I am SO WIGGED OUT by permanently altering Grant's body. If one of the rare things comes about from that (like the increased risk of prostate cancer, or post vasectomy pain syndrome) you can't just get the vas removed.

Hilarious semi-related sidenote: Apparently my sister was in Lakeland with my Nana, reading my journal entry about going away for a weekend alone with Grant, and my Nana was like "She better not get pregnant! Beds on the beach and everything else!"


Nana, I hate to break it to you...but we have sex right here at home. ON A REGULAR BASIS. Hahaha.

This reminds me of when Nana didn't want me to have Grant over when her and Pa went on vacation, when I was in high school - because she thought we'd turn the stereo up, and slow dance by the pool, and then I'd just "lose all my inhibitions".

As if I had sexual inhibitions, or we would have wasted time fiddling around with dances and the stereo. ROFL, which means "Rolling On the Floor Laughing" in case you don't know.

You asked for it, Nana.

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