altarflame: (After the kiss)
I responded to a voicemail this afternoon, to call back someone who wanted a reference for our nanny. We've slashed her hours pretty intensely (she comes on Sundays for a 5 hour block so G and I can go out together, and is open to other things that come up rarely on an as needed basis) so she needed some supplemental stuff.

I ended up talking on the phone with the referral woman for over an hour, about personal stuff, once we got the referral part out of the way. She is in counseling, too, for ptsd - she and her children watched her husband be brutally murdered several months back. She wants to homeschool but doesn't know how, but her 7 year old is one of those rare autistic kids with a genius IQ that is floundering in public school, and by the end of the conversation - she's calling me back for homeschool resources, we're getting Aaron and her son together, we've compared notes on trying to find an attorney and on helping kids who are having a hard time with therapy...she referenced things like Dateline NBC doing a special on their family and after we hung up I found the whole story with some quick googling. She'd never heard of emdr for reprocessing but was very interested. She lost an infant way back in the day, too.

She was completely weirded out three quarters of the way through our conversation, by how much she was telling me. I tried to reassure her I'm used to it and people always just sort of walk up to me and start telling me things.




Grant wants to travel, by himself. He's always had a passion to see things he's never seen before, to be in nature...it's how he relates to God best and, well, it's been the biggest thing between us for a few days in a row.

Because I don't want him to go off on his own for days and nights at a time. We've always done things together, I can't even imagine suggesting going off on my own without him. I can't even sleep at night without him in the bed...especially now. We have five young kids that we attachment parent and homeschool, and to me it seems sort of ludicrous to even think that could be an option. I've always valued, SO MUCH, that he is not a man that is going to accept a position with business trips or deployments because family comes first.

He's brought up how as much as we go on trips as a family, it's very limiting to have all the kids with us, and it costs so much more to do it as a group of 7 that it's just not possible to do very often. To that I was thinking, yeah, and feeding us all is a pain in the ass, too - dinner would be so much easier if I just went out and got myself something and then came back when it was bedtime. I mean, really.

And yet...

Grant hasn't gone to counseling, or been swimming at the Y, over the past year. He doesn't have nearly as many real life friends as me, or the online support network that I do. He doesn't write or draw to get things out. He did get a shed and a lot of equipment to do woodworking, with the settlement, and that is good for him, but like my outlets, it's very hit or miss with when we actually have the opportunities to get our creative energy out...

He had to take care of the kids as I recovered and has had to be there for me as I fall apart.

So I'm starting to try to consider this as, maybe this is what HE needs.

Because, honestly, up until now I've just been very hurt, thinking how I can't imagine wanting to go hundreds of miles away from him for days at a time. When I fantasize about getting published, I imagine all of us getting on a plane, or signing things by fax. Yeah, I'm clingy - whatever. He knew I couldn't trust anything or take anything for granted when we fell in love ;) He claims to love me as damaged goods, so it's not like it's any surprise now.

Anyway...I'm working my mental way around to being able to accept him traveling and tell him I'm cool with it. But I have to keep working, or else I'll tell him that and then resent the hell out of him excitedly counting down the days, feel jealous of whatever locale he picks, and then listen bitterly as he tells me what a great time he had, feeling all defensive and overly vulnerable about how much I missed him.

Great mother, sure, Christian keeping the faith through good times and bad, I can do that - but Grant gets one seriously high maintenance mess for a wife. I like to think the lavish meals and fabulous sex offset the long hours he listens and rubs my back as I cry and rant about the jumbled crap in my head.

Honestly I think he has it pretty good and we're both really happy...I'm just emotionally exhausted from going round and round about this - both mentally and out loud with him. We don't fight or yell, we sit and talk calmly and cry and make jokes and break the tension and lay there holding each other talking about why it's hard and have sex and then think of something new to start the cycle over.

For reference: he wants to go set up a tent at the base of some mountains and hike through them and push his body, and rock climb and explore wilderness and take pictures with the fancy camera he's never really gotten to use. He's not at all interested in, like, dining or man made attractions or whatever. Basically, he wants to do things I'm not really physically capable of at the moment, anyway. Which is mostly cool in that it reassures my EXTREMELY jealous and possessive nature that he's aching for solitude, but also sort of awful in that I hate feeling left out or left behind because I "can't" do anything... Like when we went to Bush Gardens and even though I would've been all about the roller coasters a few years ago, now I'm just getting used to life without constant adrenaline from worry and panic again and like things calm. Like how we always wanted to sky dive, and now he's getting impatient to do it right as I'm feeling like I'm not ready yet. He tells me, "it's not like I can only do it once, we can still do it together someday, too", and then I'm torn in half between something like that is NOT the same the SECOND time around, I hate this crap and my desire to not hold him back and have him resenting me.

...This is a long while later. But I'm sitting here now, thinking, and. Come on. The man didn't want cats, or bunnies, but now he's stopping by a pet store after a long work day to pick up a nesting box for baby rabbits. He's building me a chicken coop in our suburban backyard. He's designated Mondays as mine and from now on I get a six hour block during each one to go out by myself...this past one was devoted to swimming, 2 hours of counseling and writing at Atlanta Bread.

The more I think about everything over the years, the more I genuinely want to make a sacrifice for his happiness. Like just thinking of making him happy, makes me happy.

I swear one day he'll have taught me how to love.




Ananda, Aaron and I have devoted a lot of time today to learning all about rabbit pregnancies, baby bunny care, etc. Some of it is really interesting - for instance, countless humans have "rescued" totally healthy newborn rabbits from their "neglectful" mothers out of sheer ignorance. Because it is apparently normal for the mom to only nurse them once or twice a day, when people aren't watching (i.e., late at night and at the crack of dawn). And, they don't hang out in the nest with them - they sit on top of the nesting box or outside of it all day, because in the wild they've got to guard the babies from predators, not entertain them. Likewise unknowing people often sell babies at 4-5 weeks old because they're at peak cuteness then, being ultra tiny yet fully fluffy. BUT, that is the age they're starting solids and are very prone to intestinal disease if not getting the protective elements in mother's milk, too. It's common for commercial breeders to lose half of every litter to this sort of flim flam, whereas if they just left the babies with mom for a full 8 weeks while they made a slow transition to all solid food, it could be almost totally avoided.

We've also had to have a lot of "bucking up" to deal with how one or more is often born dead in a litter, or dies in the first few days of life. I need them to be prepared for that; especially Aaron. And a lot of instruction about scent and keeping our hands off her kits so she keeps caring for them. We put a bunch of nesting materials (strips of old towels, cotton balls, extra hay, etc) in her pen today, for her to drag to the nesting box at her leisure and whim. And moved Shadow to the kids' room with a small litter box and nighttime pen, where he can move freely throughout the day.

I was really surprised to learn, many months back, that rabbits can be litter trained. But it's really effective. Our bunnies are in one of those tall fence style portable playpens with no bottom, on an area rug. We fill a box with hay, then two days later the hay is gone and it's full of poop, and we dump it and add hay again. The rug's been in there for 6 months or more and still vaccums clean and has only a smell of hay about it, that febreezes out pretty well.

Our nanny has a "house rabbit", meaning it roams the house freely like a dog with a litter box, food and water set out. Shadow will be a "room bunny", but shut up at night when A and A's door is open, because I don't think a house bunny would be safe for long with Jake and Elise.

Watching them interact with the cats is awesome: Peter, Aaron's terrified and mostly grown cat, is of course terrified of the rabbits. Chrysanthemum gets along great with Shadow, but chases and pounces on and hunts Hoppy because Hoppy is afraid of her and will run. The best is when Shadow and Chrysanthemum are both curious about the same thing - it's a tiger striped, fluffy kitten with her paws up on something and her head cocked to one side, and a sleak black bunny the same size as her standing on back feet with front paws in the air, sniffing the air and craning forward to see.




I have so much cleaning to do in the morning. Then my friend Kristin is coming over in the afternoon, to measure my kitchen and talk about this mosaic tile I've commissioned her for. It keeps getting so late. I don't want to get up before noon lately if I can help it, but that is rarely an option.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
This is really a great weekend.

Ananda and Aaron had their last soccer games of the season on Friday night. Annie had blue hair for team spirit (they're "Blue Thunder"). Grant got off early so he could go, as he's never been able to before due to work hours. Annie's team tied and Aaron's won, they both got AYSO participation trophies, and THEN - this really awesome old British ref who is Isaac's good friend and recently had a heart attack on the field, showed up and is doing really well. That heart attack deal was a scary night, but there happened to be an EMT on the sidelines and he got to the ER very quickly (and Frank, my brother in law was on shift there that night by odd coincidence), but he's recovered well and Isaac's been asking EVERY time we go out there where Roy is and when he's coming back. I teared up a bit when he told Isaac he's been sick, to see Isaac (and a few other kids) staring up at him grinning - volunteering in kids' sports is this guy's life.

How we met Roy:
We were at the Nike store for AYSO signups, and Isaac went into the spiel he makes ALL adults in his vicinity listen to - he shouts this at passing strangers in the grocery store, neighbors trying to get into their cars, there is no stopping him. It goes:
"Hey, I'm Isaac! I'm 4 years old! My birthday is February 20! I got my appendix out!"
That's the baseline spiel, Roy the ref encouraged him and so they chatted the whole time I filled out paperwork. Weeks passed before soccer started, during which time Isaac told that or much more to about a million other random victims, and then we were at soccer practice for the first time. The third adult he began to accost was Roy, who interrupted him as he opened his mouth to fill in (with a British accent) - "Your name's Isaac! You're 4 years old and you got your appendix out." Isaac's eyes got really big and he took a couple of steps backward looking really freaked out, and I about died laughing. He was bound to hit someone up twice sometime.

So anyway, yeah, soccer was good. Our...uh...friend family? Family of friends? Grant is friends with the husband, I'm friends with the wife, Aaron is friends and teammate with one son and Elise loves their twin infants, so whatever. They were there is the point ;)
Annie before the game:


And Aaron:


Then the next day it was Saturday and I got to sleeeeeep iiiin with all of them and not wake anybody up who didn't want to be and all that jazz, it was sweet, that's not just daily life for us anymore. I paid for Annie's recital costumes at Dance Empire, they're awesome - the lyrical costume is just beautiful, it's this flowy, fairy looking thing in blues and purples, and then the musical theater is hilarious. It's a sparkly gold leotard with a fringe skirt, with a sparkly gold top hat and gloves (this to sing and dance songs from Mama Mia in).
Annie before dance Saturday morning, after much hairspray had rubbed off on her pillow:

I feel like I'm getting flashes of what it will be like when she's 14 O_o

The other kids and I picked up Grant for his lunchbreak at the subshop, and then we picked her back up and came home and did some rapid cooking and blitz cleaning. We got the dishwasher un- and re-loaded, the laundry moved through, Elise changed, floor swept, me changed, pasta puttanesca with fresh parmesean ready in a pot and a big plate of chocolate chip scones baked, in, like, an hour and a half.

We took all the food up to a Christmas party at my friend Michelle's house. She is a pagan, birth activist, doula, yoga teacher mother of 6, and her and her husband co-own and run a dance supply store. Not that you need to know that, just saying - she hosts most of the get togethers for the natural parenting group I'm a part of and this was great...we were only there for 2 hours, but it was time enough for Annie to make a new friend and do crafts, Isaac to find an adult to hold hostage and make teach him things, Elise and Jake to get comfortable enough to run around on their own - oooh and there was a play kitchen, which Jake loved, and it made me happy because my Nana and Pa got him a play kitchen for Christmas and he's going to be extra excited about that, now, after having fun with one all last night - I got to talk to a lot of people I hadn't seen in awhile, and my friend Kristin showed up at the end - WITH HOMEMADE CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT MARSHMALLOWS, can you imagine? Om nom nom. Aaron ate a lot and sat out on the front porch with all the cats that refuse to leave Michelle's yard, I think he was in heaven.

Then when I got back,nanny was here. I changed again, into a red and black pencil skirt, long sleeved clingy black shirt, Steve Madden heels (!! who am I fooling? I shaved my legs for the first time in 3 months, as well), and put on makeup, and then Grant got home and we went out to Christmas at the Winery. Which was nice, but not all we'd hoped it would be. The best part was fresh, Homestead-local LYCHEE SORBET. *shivers of ecstasy* There were chunks, people, chunks! I also found Florida Keys mango honey in their showroom store, oh my.

We ended up spending most of our date time crooning and moaning over turtle cheesecake, cheese soup, and pasta dishes at Atlanta Bread before seeing There's Nothing Like the Holidays at Flagship.

Which made me laugh out loud over and over, and just ACHE for Thanksgiving with my Dad's side of the family :/ Ever since Ma died there is no Matriarch bringing everyone together every year, so it's only happened a handful of times.

When G and I got back home, nanny had all the kids in the front yard wrapped in blankets skywatching. Jake and A and A were asleep within 15 minutes of me nursing him and reading to them, and then Isaac and Elise fell asleep while I nursed her. Which means G and I actually got to go to bed by ourselves, something that happens approximately bi-annually. Curled up together under the blankets, he mustered the strength to mutter, "I wish I wasn't so tired so I could take advantage of this situation", and I grunted my agreement before blacking out peacefully in his arms.


Today I got up early and did a bunch of floor excercise before taking a long fast walk with Ananda for nearly an hour, before breakfast, to make up for all that yum last night...I've lost 6 pounds in the last couple of weeks and am really psyched about how much easier it's getting to NOT stuff my face constantly. I will always love food (A LOT), but I don't have to have thirds and can stay out of the fridge between meals provided I'm doing a lot of prayer and study (to keep from feeling like I need "something more" to fill me up, that is...)

Called up my talented friend Kristin, with 2 propositions. 1. Did she want 900 AOL cds Grant has finally decided he can part with? (NO). 2. Would she like to be commissioned to do our kitchen's mosaic backsplash with recycled materials of her choosing, and help from Annie? (YES) She's coming later this week with her sketchbook to check out our measurements and talk colors and ideas, and meanwhile she's eagerly looking around for things to smash with a hammer and stick to our sheetrock.

Then I spent two solid hours turning 8 Mr Clean Magic Erasers into tattered bits, one by one, to get all the pencil, crayon, fingerprints, footprints, food splatters and who knows what off the walls all over the house. I am sure my arms will be sore tomorrow, all the better to match my bruised up legs that were injured slipping and falling outside Publix (FLIP FLOPS FTW!)

We all sat out on the deck and watched the rain, after I was finished and we had admired our cleared expanses of paint.

Speaking of food ;) I am making BRIE MACARONI AND CHEESE tonight. And gingerbread for cookies to hang on the tree.

Grant is out right now with his sister and her fiancee (yes, she is still married...it's "a long story") at Santa's, taking long exposure pictures and possibly getting on The Slingshot. He'll get back for about an hour before I hit it to my sister's for late night "Girl Night", which we are both raising an eyebrow at as it's a brand new concept...but very eagerly so. We've got The Phantom of the Opera, tea and chocolate on the agenda (Frank is on shift at the fire department and Brian sleeps now).


I have some extra random pictures, like CATS, and Christmas hoohaw - +9 )
altarflame: (Default)
I was irritable all day and depressed all evening. I cried my eyes out all over Grant at the end of it all. This sort of thing is really not at all uncommon anymore.

I remember not eating any white flour or refined sugar for a year and a half - I lost 30 pounds and then had a glowingly healthy pregnancy and a big old baby.

I remember baking every afternoon and having tea outside under the trampoline or in the front yard, on a blanket, all throughout Jake's infancy. Coming up with a new question for each day that we could all go around and answer. Just spending hours outside with a tray.

I remember loading up a bike, a scooter, a big wheel, the double stroller, 4 small kids and my giant PATH notebooks, every Tuesday, for an entire schoolyear. Getting to the park, unloading it all, tying Jake on, and leading a meeting. Getting them all back in. All four of them in the shower with me afterwards, one especially gritty, sandy, sweaty day when PATH had drug on for almost 6 hours. I was so big and pregnant that I couldn't see Jake under my belly. We were just laughing and laughing.

I don't know where I got the strength for any of this. I don't know how to find it again. I can't even imagine getting up and making oatmeal banana pancakes, or sitting around the table with a craft caddy making things.

My children are louder, more argumentative, less patient and generally more annoying, and I know that this is at least partially because I am annoyed with them, now. I want to be left alone.



One thing I never experienced or understood before, was bitterness. I actually thought it was funny, whenever I saw or heard anyone acting bitter, because it just seemed ...theatrical. Like, oh, COME ON. I'm bitter, now. Not like a completely bitter person, but there are a lot of things I'm bitter about. I am theatrical enough that I was telling my wonderful husband tonight that sometimes I think I SHOULD have died, because I am just a shadow of who I used to be before. I can imagine all this as the surreal lull between when I should have died, and when I actually die getting my belly fixed.

Sometimes I hate the nanny when she shows up, or when she's coming, because as we are all running around together cleaning the house, I suddenly, desperately want to have a good day with my kids by myself again. I want to do schoolwork and take a long walk and get a blanket on the ground in the yard, all in our own house with no intrusion. But I can't just turn her back around at the door when she gets there that day; and there are a lot of days when I'm raring to head out the door as soon as she arrives, or NEED help because I can't get to counseling or the chiropractor or another doctor's appt without her help, or whatever. There isn't really a solution. There never seems to be a solution anymore - to organizational challenges, to time management, to weight loss, to my mood swings.

For instance, writing makes me feel good, and excited, in spurts. I still feel truly confident and secure in my abilities there. And also, I was feeling self-motivated and eager about my sewing machine - I took it up to Jo-Ann's and it's being fixed and cleaned out inside and this woman who works there is going to give me lessons on it.

But I feel guilty as hell for those things. Taking up my time and pulling me away from kids I'm already not giving enough to. Kids who are not just dealing with me now, but have also been through the past year and a half right along with us. Kids who will only be young once.

I know...I really, truly know...that this is one of those times when I have to take care of myself so I can get back to the point where I can take care of them. It's just hard to deal with that sometimes, my standards and my abilities don't mesh much anymore.

Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I hand over seasons of my life?

...Time makes you bolder, even children get older -
And I'm getting older, too.




And don't get me wrong...I make dinner (unless Grant does). I nurse Elise a lot and Jake a little, change her, dress them and Isaac and keep the laundry moving through. I still give A and A school assignments and cart them around to their activities and read to them before bed (almost) every night.

But there is no joy or fulfillment in domestic tasks for me anymore. It's not filling me up inside just to have a conversation with one of my kids, I don't run for the camera. And they're all getting clingier because I just really want to push them away and have my own space whenever possible. Rather than getting someone's attention individually or finding a way to distract rowdy little people - or even being happy that they're playing on their own - I yell over all the noise to be heard and ask everyone, over and over, to quiet down. I can't even remember the last time I had someone sitting up on the counter or standing on a chair helping me cook, and that used to be a daily affair.

Grant asked me what it is specifically that I think has changed to make things so different for me.

I thought for awhile. There are two things that I think have been/are at work. Both (until now, at least) unconsciously:
1. I felt last year like however much I did for my kids, could be undone, and whatever I planned for, could go awry, and in the end, I had no control. Elise's birth was a big giant mess that left her hurt, I was hospitalized and away from them for 6 days once and then 10 days another time, I spent a total of 12 weeks recovering from abdominal surgeries without being able to lift people, hug hard, be climbed on, or even deal with much stress period. Not counting the month I was actually dying. My parenting power and autonomy were taken away over and over again - I can't count the number of times I listened to Grant on the other side of a closed door, explaining to someone that mommy needed to lay down, or watched him strap some screaming someone into the stroller again or lead some crying person with feet planted to the floor out of a hotel room. So much for taking advantage of the last of wearing Jake. So much for ever slinging Elise. So much for their secure attachments - Ananda can't even sleep and sulks around miserable and unable to tell me why! She lies in bed in the morning afraid to get up and find me gone again. And, of course, I could just die, leaving them all to go into some kind of frantic shuffle between Oma, Aunt Laura, Opa, Grandma? and Daddy trying to work and grieve and take care of them all himself? It left me feeling decidedly overwhelmed with the burden of protecting them, or guiding them. Frozen and powerless.
2. I am still afraid of dying all the time. Right now I have a new HARD, solid thing protruding from my weird, mishappen abdomen. I had Grant confirm for me that it is in fact new and bizarre. All day every day, I am either uncomfortably shoved into a complex, compressing girdle thing that it hurts to bend in, or my back is absolutely KILLING me and I'm nauseus. I have wack ass periods that my doctor has been sending me for ultrasounds about, she's mentioned hysterectomies. Blah blah blah, etc. I realized that I have spent most of my time - the vast majority of my time - since last Fall, worrying. Lying awake in bed worrying, asleep but having worrisome dreams, making worried LJ posts, talking worriedly to Grant or Laura or a doctor, going to an appt or other because there's something to be worried about. It's just what I do, now. And I think it leaves me feeling too vulnerable to resume life as usual lest I be caught unawares. I have to stand guard every minute against death so it can't sneak up on me.

I'm not saying that makes sense, only that it is how I feel.

There's not exactly a clear answer to any of these dilemmas. Keep going to counseling, keep praying, get tested for whatever I should be, as I am, get my abs fixed when I can - that is quite a subject. Sometimes I want to just do it right now. But I know it's safer and more effective if I lose weight first, I want to let Elise get bigger and Ananda get through some more counseling, first, and I want G to have the vacation time to take off during my recovery.

Not to mention the enormous matter of my hopefully having worked through some of my sheer terror of more surgery in my own counseling by then.

*I* am sick of the redundancy of all this, I cannot imagine how sick of hearing about it other people are.


Speaking of redundant. I am considering going cold turkey off of white/refined/processed again. Grant thinks all the sugar and takeout and crap may be effecting my moods, which is definitely possible. And I would definitely lose weight if I did, even if I continued to eat as much and often as I wanted to within the parameters.

*sigh*
altarflame: (walmart)
Friday:
Grant was at work this day, so it was just me and the kids. Right Start Math with A and A - they LOVE this program, and don't ever want to stop when it's time.

Ananda and Aaron also both had soccer games in the evening. Laura brought Brian and we had a big picnic-y shmorgasborg while they played, with all the little ones. There is this one guy, Ian, who is a dad of one of Aaron's teammates, who has done work with Grant at some time in the past, and over the course of the soccer season we've sort of become friends. His wife hadn't come as they had twins a few weeks back - twins that are co-sleeping and breastfeeding, how awesome is that? Point being, she was there this time and the two of them were each wearing a (tiny! weeks old!) baby in an Ultimate Baby Wrap. So cute.

Then I took my kids and hit it to Game Night at the bookstore, where I found out via cell that my husband had sent my mom more money (hundreds), which freaked me out, because I had just refused to give her more money the day before and then she called him at work - knowing he has a hard time saying no. We had just given her a ton of money to move back to Jax with earlier that week (thousands), all because she was flighty and decided to go back after we had just paid a bunch of money to bring her down here last month (thousands). This most recent bit was supposed to be covered by some check that has still not arrived in the mail. I felt tense, and weird, and confused, and mad, and finally I called her, which was a huge mistake because I cried my eyes out on the phone with my mother right in the middle of the bookstore. Blah. Then my sister beeped through on my mom's end, irate on my behalf for a veritable mountain of reasons I don't even want to get into, and apparently laid into her pretty hard for an extended period of time... I haven't talked to my mom since. I feel guilty everytime I think about this, because it is SO HARD to begrudge my mother anything because, you know, SHE IS MY MOM, and I got a settlement, but damnitt, the settlement is all gone and we're down to Grant's job and a loan against the house. Yeah, the house is still "mostly" paid for, and the cars are paid for, and we have money in the bank - but we still have a lot of bills, and I have medical expenses like whoa to pay and we'd like to have some wiggle room for things like Christmas presents and a vacation without cutting it down to being back to paycheck to paycheck. I mean I know we are better off than a lot of people right now and we buy stuff, and we eat fancy stuff, but the thing that really kills me is my mom is asking for money to pour down a hole. I paid to have her teeth fixed (thousands) and that was totally justified money I felt good to spend and still think was well spent, because that needed to be done and will improve her quality of life. I wish my mom would seek some kind of therapy because I really think she's unstable right now, but she totally tunes me out when I suggest this. I also offered to pay for her therapy, going so far as to prepay the first session and slip her the directions, while she was still down here, but. She ignored me. She only wants money to do crazy things that are going to land her needing more money again.

I discovered and got a book while there, after the phone calls, about Dry Tortugas National Park - it's just Southwest of Key West, and really fascinates me. It's just two tiny islands, one of which is home to a lot of endangered sea turtles and migratory birds and a handfull of employees, and the other of which has some white sandy beaches and a big fort that has been a military base and a prison in the past. It was a MAJOR pirate port for a long time before it was either of those things. It's right in the middle of very dense, gorgeous coral reefs, and there are multiple intact, preserved shipwrecks in the water surrounding it, too. So the snorkeling is basically breathtaking. You can only get there or leave by boat or seaplane. I really want to go at some point.

Saturday:
Ananda took her new Lyrical dance class for the first time, which was a switchover from regular ballet she was bored out of her mind in: this blends jazz dancing with ballet, is more advanced, and has a different teacher, and she loved it. And she's always loved musical theater, afterwards. The boys and I had lunch with Grant on his break while she was dancing. We made cards and letters for people at the dining table, back at the house (you Johnsons have a package coming soon).

Sunday:
Me, Ananda and Aaron went to City Church for the first time. It was awesome in a lot of ways, but the kids' program is really lacking. I found myself wishing all sorts of VERY varied people were there with me, by turn, to listen or give me an opinion about it. I saw Sarah and Melissa for the first time in months, afterwards - they do some of the childcare there, which is kind of weird as they're agnostic, and they think so too? It was good to catch up, though...Grant and I were double teaming a big cleanup when I got back.

Then G, who I'm thinking of just calling Nanny for clarity since I still call Grant G sometimes, came over. She is normally Wed, Thurs and Fri but we're shuffling days for various reasons. Grant and I went and had lunch at Chili's and then saw Sex Drive at the theater. By ourselves! I wasn't sure if the movie was going to just be really dumb but, well, it was hilarious. I mean...it was really secular but SO. FUNNY. We laughed a lot. Grabbed dinner ingredients and came home.

Elise apparently did pretty well with Nanny this time - I always feel bad leaving her. I know she's 17 months old and we're practically joined to the hip most of the week, but...I dunno. It's a new thing for me. Even when I feel great about everything else about it, I'm anxious about her forming an emotional attachment to someone who is here because it's their job. Good outweighs bad, I'm just bitching because I can...

Monday:
Nanny again, Grant still off. Grant and I took Jake and Elise out to lunch at Casita Tejas. Then Ananda and Aaron had homeschool evaluations (way late, they're for last school year, but nobody really cares). We did it at a friend from the bookstore's house - the Catholic mom of 7 kids (they can be evaluated by any certified teacher). Her house is A.MAZ.ING. All wood, old interior, big and rambling, on 3 lots with a pool and a trampoline and a veritable PLAYGROUND of swing sets, and just. I don't know, it was like being at the Weasley's house. We kept seeing a streak past a doorway or hearing footsteps as small people tried to inspect us undetected, until finally two girls stood there with many heads poking out behind them and asked, "Can they come out and play?" The answer was yes and so for the next hour while Theresa and I perused their schoolwork and talked about how their year went, I didn't see them once. At one point she got up and moved a small framed picture off a free floating shelf to adjust the thermostat that was hidden behind it, and that struck me as really funny. We talked long past the evaluation, they were sad to go when it was time, and I went and swam at the Y after I dropped them back off at home. Grant was here working from home in my office most of this time.

The swimming was good - I swam for 15 minutes a week ago and got a big endorphin rush, but this was more like 35 minutes and it kicked my ass. In a good way, though, it makes me want to do it more.

I had a really late counseling appt - 5. We all went, the little ones napped and we went to a big park in the area when I got out. The counseling was ok...nothing especially helpful. The park time was better.

After the park, we ended up having a (luscious, incredible, moan-worthy and totally worth it) dinner at Outback. Coconut shrimp, lobster in butter sauce, creamy onion soup with brown bread and sweet butter, red wine soaked shrooms, Oh my gosh my eyes were rolling up in my head the entire time. CHEESECAKE OLIVIA. I figured, you know, I'm about to go to the cardiologist and find out who knows what - I need to live it up while I still can ;)

And then, with 30 minutes til they closed, we passed through Best Buy on the way home and got the laptop we've long budgeted me getting. So that I can take it and go write, when Nanny is here, and bring it with us to other places and write, and all of that.

We have this dream that by the time a year and a half or two years passes and we wouldn't necessarily be able to keep affording Nanny indefinitely, hopefully by then I'll be making enough with writing profits to keep her here. I am not sure if this is wildly optimistic or totally reasonable, but it's also only a small portion of why I want to write. The short story collection I'm working on has me so excited sometimes. My therapist says it sounds like a bestseller to her, which is nice, but then I think, well, she's my therapist. Not the New York Times.

My laptop is awesome. It's not a crazy expensive one - $650 - but it's got a few little perks that make it seem impressive to me, and hey, I'm looking to write stories not play World of Warcraft or whatever. I've never had my OWN computer, before.

Tuesday:
Nanny, and Grant, Day 3. Talk about spoiled. On this day she blew me away by having Elise reach for her as we left, rather than needing to be peeled off of me, and by getting Jake and Elise to just lay down together in Jake's bed and take a nap while I was gone. I do not understand this voodoo she's using, or what desperate levels my children have sunk to in my absence, but...wow. And when I asked Jake about it later, he was all happy! Talking about how he read to Elise in his bed and he takes good care of his little sister. Elise also didn't shriek or bolt towards me when I walked in, on this day, she was happy to see me but was fine with hanging out with Nanny while I was there in the room and we talked.

It's weird calling her Nanny because I read The Nanny Diaries and, well... *shrug*

Ananda was EXTREMELY depressed all Tuesday. I mean, she didn't want to eat, or go anywhere, or talk to me at all, or receive affection, wouldn't talk about it. She was procrastinating to the point of blatant refusal when I requested anything of her (like her normal chores, really basic stuff that takes very little time). Worried about her, frustrated by her, ugh. Sometimes she just seems like an intense kid, other times she's kind of depressed, and then there are days like Tuesday. I wish I could help her. She has activities she loves outside of the house 4 days out of every week, she has friends that she plays outside with daily, friends she sees at the bookstore weekly, friends who call on the phone regularly, and a penpal. She has a bunny she takes care of. She has brothers and a sister. I gave her a Halloween edition Groovy Girl doll I ordered on eBay that came in the mail, and she perked up for like...2 minutes? She has an active faith in God and a prayer life. She starts each day with morning chores and ends them all with a bedtime routine she loves. She eats copious amounts of vegetables, adequate protein and lots of whole grains. She gets lots of sunshine and regular excercise. I don't know what else to do for her. She is only 8 years old. I think more and more that the GOOD answer is "It will just take time, she's been through a lot" and the bad answer is, "This is just how she is, there's a history of depression in various relatives on both sides of her genetics".

Nanny distracted her pretty well with the big ol' Halloween collage they've been working on this week. I will have to post pictures of that, btw. It rocks.

Grant and I used this babysitting day (she comes for 5 hours at a time, for what it's worth) to go together to lunch at Whole Foods and then my cargiologist appt.

Lunch was good: I had a sandwich of prosciutto, which I'd never had before, fresh mozarella, which I'm not certain I've ever had before, tomato and pesto, which are two of my favorite things. Then I read a magazine cover about how we're living history - this is the Great Depression all over again. And I thought, I guess. I just ate a $10 sandwich and it was sitting in a big stack of $10 sandwiches plenty of other people were eating, too.

It was mostly good news at the cardiologist: my heart sounds totally normal to the guy by stethoscope and my EKG looked good. Perhaps more significant, when I asked him about the possible lasting implications of my extended sepsis and heart trouble last Fall, he said it shouldn't have any lasting implications.

He did prescribe a 24 hour heart monitor, though, which I'm wearing right now after having it put on at Homestead Diagnostic Center earlier, and a sonogram that I'm going back for next week, in order to try to understand these spells I described to him when I either have chest pains or am just sitting there on the couch and can feel my heart pounding in my back like I'm doing something hard.

We had an ADT guy here hooking up our dormant alarm system, most of the afternoon...our across the street neighbors just had their house broken into and 2 weeks before that my friend Kristin's house was broken into, so I'm paranoid to leave all our new junk here unguarded when we go out of town in a couple of days.

ADT guy left pretty much exactly when it was time to leave for soccer practice, I had people strapped into carseats already as he pulled out of my driveway. This was the first practice Grant was able to come to in full, because of work, so he got to meet Aaron's coach and see Annie in action, and also talk with that guy I mentioned who he's worked with before, the other dad from the team with the twin babies? Ian. They've emailed each other since then, so I think this could go somewhere and maybe our families will interact beyond soccer.

Also - I had to almost strong arm Ananda into going to practice, which I wasn't really sure was the right thing, but she was much improved by the end of it so I was glad it seemed like I made the right decision. Both of them have great coaches and love making them proud.

Grant took Isaac out alone for Daddy and Isaac time, after our late post-soccer dinner, which turned out to be "Daddy and Isaac buying surprise presents for all the kids time", which turned into Mommy being really uptight and being like, "I don't understand why you went to Walmart when we don't go there, and why you'd buy G.I. Joes when we don't really agree with what they stand for, and YOU are so the one cleaning up those 50 plastic balls when they are never, ever, ever in that inflatable ball pit". A long conversation and a night's sleep later Elise adores the ball pit, Aaron is playing with G.I. Joe's minus the guns and I'm trying to remember I have a husband who (1) gets great joy out of surprising our children with things from his own childhood, AND (2) seeks out spending special time with our kids one on one...even if they are at The Only Place Open At That Hour (kind of like He Who Must Not Be Named).

Wednesday/Today:
Last day of Grant off and Nanny here.

We took just Annie and Aaron in the Prius. She had a counseling appt at 11:30. Grant, Aaron and I got lunch at Whole Foods with stuff for Annie to-go style - this time I had curried beef sheppard's pie with caramelized garlic green beans - then picked her back up. The four of us went bowling up at the Dolphin Mall's new Lucky Strike. Annie is always really light and happy after counseling, it works wonders for her. I bowled horribly, but got a lot of knitting done. Annie seemed thrilled with herself and Aaron insecure about bowling. They used bumpers in the gutter, which I sort of squint my eyes about (It's cheating!!) but understand. I tried to get them to try throwing Granny Style like I did (very well) at their age, but they were both too self-conscious. In an almost totally deserted bowling alley, even after Daddy demonstrated. I swear.

The four of us came home, found out everyone else did great - they had a bath with all the ball pit balls after a pee incident. They had lunch and tea. Nanny and Isaac finished the Halloween collage and had it hanging up - it's really cool. Really really.

The whole heart monitor thing, I don't know. It wasn't as bad as going to get the ultrasounds done last week because it wasn't at the hospital, but it was one of those situations, since it was at the (far cheaper) Diagnostic Center, where everything is dirty and none of the employees speak much english or act especially polite. I felt like a total tool coming out of there with leads showing above the v-neck of my shirt and my big old fanny pack with the monitor in it bulging under my clothes. The whole thing felt really impossible and like I almost backed out, for about an hour - I was close to just saying "Screw this!" and tearing the thing off... but then I basically forgot I had it on and now I'm not sure what was so freaking bad. I mean it comes off tomorrow.

Tonight was Crazy Hair Night at AWANA for the big kids - Ananda gave herself 3 pigtails with rainbow shoelaces hanging off of them all, Aaron had green and red stripes sprayed into his hair. The Cubbies (Isaac's group) all wore their costumes and had a party, so he went as a knight. I got a TON of desperately needed, backed-up cleaning done while they were gone (Grant took Jake, and Elise slept part of the time). I managed to clear every stinking speck of clutter and toys and hoohaw out of the tv room, library and office, vaccum carpet thoroughly and sweep wood/tile. I also got the dining table cleared, all the dirty laundry out of our bedroom (I swear 2 loads accumulated in 2 days, I don't understand our laundry situation) and the kitchen and dining room swept. When everyone got home, I had them pitch in on some other things and now I'm at a point where I feel I can actually really manage to finish the cleaning and pack tomorrow, while Grant is at work.

Because tomorrow night when he gets off, we're hitting the road and going to stay in Tampa until next Tuesday evening. For his birthday and mine. I want to go to the Salvador Dali museum and he wants to go to Busch Gardens, and both of us are interested in the other person's thing, too. Plus they have Bob Evans up there ;) We'll stop in and visit my Nana and Pa in Lakeland Monday afternoon/evening, while they're both off of work, and probably take the kids to Adventure Island, at some point.

The day after tomorrow is my birthday. 27. It looks like I will probably see it after all ;) I have told my sister that if I die in the next year, I want her to say in my eulogy that I died like a rockstar*.

I really wanted to go to Key West, but Fantasy Fest is in full swing, which means 80,000 tourists, most of them drunk and wearing nothing but paint. Maybe we'll do that another month.


Unrelated to anything: I have developed a theory that, at least in South Florida, there are far more McCain yard signs, but far more Obama bumper stickers, and I think that is an economic divide (who is a homeowner vs who is not too snooty to put a sticker on their car).

*For those who don't know, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain all died at 27 - as did many, many others
altarflame: (TheUniverse)
I had 8 crappy phone conversations today.

Six of them were from and to my doctor's office re: my test results. I have benign tumors on one ovary that they want to follow up on with a second ultrasound in 4-6 weeks, is the gist, but with all the details in hand and too much time googling hemmoragic and free fluid and this and the other thing, I had a lot of questions and basically nobody wants to answer them. As I understand it right now, it's very normal to have cysts on an ovary, though it may be causing some of my abdominal pain and bloating, and it could be either the cause of or the result of my heavy periods. But it's pretty unlikely that it's cancer based on appearance and commonality (not to mention my age and childbearing history). But, they have to look at it again, because there is that very very small chance and because sometimes even benign cysts cause big problems when they get huge or rupture.

Seven was G the nanny calling to update us on The Headlice Situation. Most likely we gave Dama head lice while she was here, just regionally it's very common in South Florida and not so much in Kansas, although it is possible she gave it to us or we all got it from the rented van or whatever. But G has it too, and somehow as a 28 year old Florida native...she's never had it before O_O So she's really freaked about it, she sounds angry and violated as though we did this to her, though she did not actually say that or anything like it (although she did say that in the middle of the night at the height of tedious combing she was telling herself she'd never come back here again). It's just kind of frustrating that she's taking multiple days off and acting so completely "life on hold" about it, since we all knew it was "around" last Friday and so I would have assumed everyone could get rid of it over the weekend and not wait until the night before a shift 6 days later to even check for it...whatever. It was just an awkward conversation. I think we're on the same page now. And hopefully everyone will be totally bug free semi-immediately.

Call eight was my mother going on about how the house they went back to in Jacksonville has been broken into, there's broken glass all over, and the landlord had cleaned it all out for their eviction, and she doesn't have any money or cookware or know what they're going to do because some check didn't come and some other people want a deposit she wasn't prepared for, and I'm just thinking, yeah. Why why WHY did you want to go back to this so badly? How can you sound giddy and happy to be living in a rural part of nowhere with no vehicle, in an empty house with a missing window? Also, I can't handle the unspoken pressure for money. I project that she feels we are rich. She doesn't say this, it's my own idea, but it's hard to shake, because I remember pre-settlement how homeowning people with multiple cars and savings accounts seemed to me. And, having paid for her to get down here and then paid to move her back, it's hard to not feel like she's at least hinting if not manipulating. But damnitt, aside from those moving to and fro expenses, we also gave her a chunk when we first got the settlement, AND gave her $3000 for dental stuff she couldn't afford a couple of months ago.

And I was happy to do that at the time. I still feel like that was money well spent. But it is adding up to a ridiculous extent, at a time when I am concerned my own medical expenses are going to rapidly outpace what we have left.

At least she won't have internet access for awhile ;)




So now I know that some of my big belly, in addition to a diastasis recti, is free floating fluid from the ovarian cysts of yesterday. It makes me feel helpless and hateful about the state of my body. I enjoyed having a typical Cuban body that meant that no matter how much weight I gained, I would always have a defined waist and a relatively flat belly. It was like an expanding hour glass. Now it's like a late pregnancy, if I were pregnant with an upside down triangle.

There is so much wrapped up in my horrible body image. It is not just the aesthetics. It's scars all over that are linked to ptsd and remind me, oh that's where they pulled out the drainage tube and I screamed, that's where Jackson expanded the scar 4 inches in each direction and it started unfolding and opening, that's where they messed up my muscles as they pulled out pieces of dead intestines. Half of it is completely numb. And, the big protrusion and strange shape are future surgery hanging over my head. My back aches don't just hurt, they depress the hell out of me, making me feel like an invalid, like damaged goods, like my days are numbered.

*sigh*

Grant came home this evening as I got back with everyone, from soccer practice, and he cleaned the kitchen around me in silence as I made dinner. Simple dinner...roasted quartered potatoes, boiled corn on the cob, chicken tenderloins rubbed with barbecue sauce and put on the George Foreman. And a little skillet of sauteed mushrooms for Ananda. He cleared the far too cluttered counters, emptied and refilled the dishwasher, took out the trash.

He listened to a medical and weight and so forth rant that expanded on the emails I sent him at work today, and involved tears.

Then he went and got two early birthday presents for me from wherever he had hid them. GORGEOUS beautiful garnet rings. They're meant to be interchangeable with my engagement ring, that I now wear on my right hand, for different outfits and moods. The engagement ring is a ruby, and it's perfect in and of itself, he is just...so good at this. And it made him so visibly happy to give me these things, and they are SO INCREDIBLE.

Dinner was good. Everyone liked everything and nobody was very loud. Then he and I layed together all cuddly and nice while he read and Elise climbed on us, and I felt like, ok. Perhaps things will be ok after all.




On The Agenda For Tomorrow:

-devotion
-Morning and afternoon chores, as per usual
-Rite Start Math
-Phase One of a sheep making kit we got at Target a while back
-Me knitting copiously
-early dinner
-overlapping soccer games at 5:45 and 6:00
-Grant meeting us at the Y for family swimming at 8
-snack, tooth brushing and immediate bedtime for kids
-Hopefully, packages coming in the mail
-Hopefully, mommy and daddy time with kids in bed




Things I'm Thankful For

-living in a time and a place, with the means, that health problems can be detected and treated...it really puts things in perspective to think of how people die in the streets of things they didn't even know they had, in some parts of the world
-ELISE. My laughing, talking, super affectionate adorable warm big ol baby girl
-3 year old Jakey, who asks me every day, "Do you know what we have? ...A LOT OF LOVE!!"
-That counseling is something Ananda loves, that is very obviously helping her big time. I was not at all sure she'd be into it, but this is great.
-Fall...big carving pumpkins, medium pie pumpkins, small decorative pumpkins, Halloween costumes, planning Thanskgiving dinner, major weather improvements (mid to high 80s instead of mid to high 90s, with no more mosquitoes and way less humidity) - I LOVE FALL, even though we don't have apple picking or changing leaves here.
-That Isaac is not only so much easier than he was 6 months ago, but also is trying to be cuddly with me just because "Daddy told me that even though I don't really like hugs and kisses they make you feel special".
-Grant
-this house, a million times over
-yarn, needles and time
-all the signs and nudges I get as a Christian, little though I often deserve them, from God
-discovering Nina Simone, and Justin Roberts

D-Day

Sep. 18th, 2008 12:43 am
altarflame: (chalk)
Or, Deep Discussions Day.

-Woke up, Jake was sprawled out naked, asleep, with a crazily giant toddler erection making me kind of wince, which sparked Ananda and Aaron's laughter and then curiosity. Ended up launching a 30 minute long thing on everything from basic anatomy to how Aaron needs to understand that he won't really have many rights if a girl he's with gets pregnant or much of a say once the baby is born, if there isn't a lot of prior understanding between the two of them before conception... Much emphasis on how much I want them to always be able to talk to me about anything, made real and fun by my some of the ridiculous things I "learned", and didn't, from talking to other kids because I felt uncomfortable asking my parents questions. I actually came out of this feeling really good, and I think they did too.

-G (nanny) arrived, said she'd gotten up this morning, turned on the tv, and seen us on House of Babies. She was going to go into the now defunct midwifery school at Miami Dade College so now she's wondering about doing training at the maternity center (where I went, where the show was filmed, yada yada), which is really the only other local option. So that turned into a big talk about all the good stuff I owe Shari for, and all the things I bitterly resent her for, and the awesome thing she's doing in this community for first time moms who would be left to hospitals with 60% cesarean rates otherwise, vs how she sees any mom who HAS been tainted by an OB as damaged goods that put her center at risk, but of course she has to if she's going to keep it open for the first timers...yeah, geez. I left conflicted and angry, which is usually how I feel when I recall a particularly inflammatory conversation I had with Shari by phone while in the hospital last Fall. I think I came to represent a lot of things that are beyond her control, at some point, because otherwise I really don't understand the open hostility where there was warmth before. * big sigh*

-Then it was time for Ananda's therapy appointment. Last night Ananda woke me up at 3 am because she was so sad she couldn't sleep. No nightmares, no "kid fears", just crushing misery. I brought her into bed with me, cuddled with her, stroked her hair, tried talking with her even though she clams up to the point of no return when upset about anything, tried just saying she didn't need to talk. I woke up every 15-30 minutes with her glassy eyed and tense, most of the night. It was heartbreaking. Frustrating. Confusing. She does this sort of thing a lot while awake, particularly first thing in the morning and at bedtime but also at other points. Anyway...therapy was awesome. AWESOME. She cried, I cried, we hugged through half of it, I understand things I didn't understand before, she feels ok about things she wasn't even aware of being freaked out by before. She left SKIPPING and laughing, we went to have lunch with Daddy afterward and he was like, wow. Look at her. And we both realized how unhappy she's been for so long :/ She's asking for more appointments, which I'm happy to accomadate. Especially with G in the picture helping...
The gist with her is, she woke up on two different mornings last year to be surprised that we were gone. Missing. Didn't come back for days, and major bad stuff happening - her baby sister in the hospital, me in the hospital, seeing us both full of tubes and basically - she is overwhelmed by that feeling when she has to go to bed, or try to sleep in bed, or try to get up in the morning.
Knowing is half the battle?

-Got home, learned that Aaron and G had finally had the "G is not a Christian" talk. She's very respectful and I think it basically went fine. She is not the only person in our lives who isn't Christian, though she is the one with the most face time with the kids at this point. She explained being Pagan in a way made Aaron say, "But we believe all of that, too" (that we have to take care of the Earth, that our bodies are temples, observing seasons, respecting all life, seeing God in everything). I'm sure this will be an ongoing conversation and I'm not going to try to pretend it's all simplicity and ease in my own mind because, well...it isn't. But it works.

-And then G and I talked for the first time about A and A having a different biological father, and how that went down. Boy howdy.

She was hugging me hard when she left.

I recapped all this to my sister, at her new house, while Jake, Brian and Elise played and my bigger three were at AWANA. It was good to be there. Her place is like Healthy Food Paradise, I picked at delicious pinto beans full of onions and broth while she heated up some butternut squash with almonds and mushroom bisque for me. I also sampled Brian's veggie pasta with olives and lemon juice. Yum yum yum. I was telling her I need to move in there, if I really want to be heart healthy. It's a bit too challenging for me lately to go as whole foods as I want to be, myself.

I figured out today that my previously independant and capable baby has turned into a high needs cling monster ever since my mother arrived for what should have been obvious reasons. Basically every time she sees my mom, she shrieks and runs and clings to me desperately. It's insane. If my mom so much as says hi or walks into the room Elise is a wreck. And she is not just anti-social; she lets our counter and drywall guy hold her when he's here working on things around the house, with a smile. She flirts with everyone at the grocery store. So it finally clicked into place for me...the only time Elise has ever been around my mother was when my mother moved into our house for 2.5 weeks because I was in the hospital. So this really scary freaky time when I had either completely vanished or was back but unwilling (unable) to lift her or nurse her at all has apparently left it's mark on her too. And...of course it has. I'm 26 and I'm in therapy myself, right? Still and all it continues to amaze me, how we are still living 2007's trauma day in and day out. I would like so much to just...be done with it all.

I got a cold a few weeks ago and Grant almost had a nervous breakdown when he attemped to go into SuperDaddy mode and let me rest in the bedroom alone.

I had a headache a little while after that and Annie ended up curled up in a fetal position wimpering after I'd spent a few minutes laying down with a rag on my head and Grant asking her to please leave me alone because I don't feel good.

*biggest sigh in the world*

So. I'm happy to be honest, to be getting things out in the open with my children. It's good to understand why Elise is reacting the way she is as it helps me be more patient and stops it from being nonsensical chaos. I wonder more and more if I will come to rue the day I said the settlement amount was enough. *shrug* Neither here nor there I suppose.

I have such a massive to-do list for tomorrow, but with the sort of taks that are on it I think I can mostly accomplish it all if I just keep at it.

-Call Dama about various things re:trip
-Call Alamo about van reservation for trip
-Call Lowe's installation to get floor dates moved up OR ELSE
-finish clearing out the office
-get it painter's taped
-get the first coat of kilz on
-my own therapy appt
-lunch with G
-RightStart Math with A and A
-soccer practice for A and A
-dinner?

The thing is I can ask my brother to do some kilz'ing and/or taping, and/or he and my mother can help me with the kids while I do it. G is here from 10-3 so I can do therapy and lunch and phone calls during that time...I'd like to do the math during that time but don't know if it will work out or not. My mother's been doing a lot of sweeping and dishes and counter clearing, and it's incredible how much time it's freed up for me - I really spend an obscene amount of time on those tasks, normally.
altarflame: (chalk)
G is amazing. She showed up yesterday with a whole plan; she had the kids make "field journals" out of printing paper and yarn, which they took on a long exploratory walk that involved collecting bits of plants and doing tracings and drawings and writing about what they had seen - she told them this week is plants, next week is clouds, week after is rocks. Isaac and Jake are just as into it as A and A. She also made grilled cheese for lunch, and made popsicles with them all individually customized (lemon juice, applesauce, watermelon chunks and yogurt are some of the ingredients they used). She was telling us how her fridge at home is covered in Isaac art. I would say this is definitely working out. I'm so glad I held out for someone with a lot of experience and enthusiasm for kids.

While they did their exploring walk and field journals, I took Elise in a stroller and did excercise walking. While she stayed with the boys, reading books and having lunch, I took Ananda and Elise out and we signed her up for ballet, bought her stuff, and had lunch out at Starbucks. And Elise is so incredible, she hung out with Annie at the ballet place, sat by us at the store watching while the ladies helped Annie, and ate and drank and laughed at the table with us (no high chair) at Starbucks. It would have been a totally different trip with the boys in tow.

Ananda is now at a level and age in dance that her ballet shoes have a split sole, and need custom elastics sewn on to fit her feet O_o She's doing one ballet and one musical theater class this year, which she's really interested in - and it's taught by her favorite ballet teacher at DE.

Last night was her first soccer practice, and I was able to sign Aaron up while we were there and get both of their uniforms. It was hilarious and a little bit awesome that she was WAY confident and thought she was pretty great, in her bermuda jean shorts with rips all over them and Star Wars tshirt. A little bit pudgy, her short hair - I was just waiting for the "What school do you go to?" "I'm homeschooled" conversation, hahaha. I had that Weezer song caught in my head the whole time, I've got a twelve sided die...I've got a dungeon master's guide.... The coach loved her though, and she did a lot of work on the banner the team made together, and is all about their team name being "Blue Thunder" (they have blue and black uniforms).

I am not amused by how their practices start at 7:30 pm. What the hell, don't other kids go to bed like an hour later than that? We usually eat dinner between 8 and 9, with Grant. As it is AWANA is 7-8:30. I wish there were activities for homeschooled kids in the afternoon. Although, the weather is just perfect at the time this is.

So. All this sounds like a lot but I am really pleased with how conveniently their schedules are working out:

-Ananda and Aaron's soccer teams are practicing at the same place and times, so we can go together and they just separate
-their fields are at a very family friendly place with plenty of free space for younger siblings to run around
-the practices are on nights that don't conflict with any other things we normally do
-her 2 dance classes are one right after the other, and on Saturday afternoon when we are normally driving up to Miami anyway to have lunch with Grant

It all falls in, in doable ways. I briefly entertained the idea of Isaac playing soccer just because that would be so damn cute, but decided it probably wouldn't work when I told him, "You know, you could probably play soccer, too" and his response was to back away in a panic, shake his head a lot and ask "WHY?!" in a terrified voice. It would be hard anyway, his time would be different and it would make it too much.




So yeah, hurricanes, wth.

Ike is headed straight for us, like the projected track basically drops it off in Homestead on Tuesday night. Here is the 5 day cone so you can see for yourselves - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at4+shtml/085513.shtml?5day#contents And it's most likely going to be a strong 3 - http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/refresh/graphics_at4+shtml/085513.shtml?table#contents which makes me think it will actually be a 4 because the projected wind speeds always go up as time passes.

I don't know, man. I'm not in the mood to deal with this. It's really stressing me out a little. The last time we got a 3, we lost a small tree and our old trampoline flew over the house and cracked the old van's windshield, and there were power lines and branches down all over for, like, weeks. Also, a couple of days without power. That is for those of you who don't really understand the strength scale to get an idea. I don't want to deal with shutters, or bringing every possible thing inside the house, or losing my flowerbeds, or not having a refrigerator/AC, or any of it, and I have to admit it makes me nervous in the larger bodily harm sense, too. Even though I know this house withstood Andrew, and it has a brand new roof, and high quality shutters installed, I've never atually been in it myself for a big storm. There are always tornadoes in hurricanes and it's the luck of the draw whether or not you get any of them, and if you do, well...that's really bad. I have a lot of little kids to try to keep track of. UGH.

We're having a fence put in right now! A fence I'd like to be there next month >:O


Ok, enough doom and destruction...G will be here in about 35 minutes and I haven't really cleaned enough, Elise is still naked and Jake is still asleep.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
We have all school materials purchased and either ordered or here, for this year. I've never really spent a bunch of money on school materials before, because it was simple not to when they were a little younger; there were less academic demands, I used to have more time and energy to devote to coming up with their curriculum myself, and also of course it would have been harder to front the cash. I'm a little taken aback that I spent like $700 on homeschool supplies...but when you consider that private school for the year for the two of them would have been more like 6 grand you see that it's a bargain for a quality education ;) I suppose I haven't factored in the costs of things like PATH membership and field trips, their magazine subscriptions...still and all I doubt it would top $850 total, so. There you go.

Anyway I am EXCITED about all the stuff we're getting. Tons of Abeka language, grammar, spelling, etc. The whole RightStart Math program. History of the World, with the activity book for all kinds of neato project ideas. I got a cd, some books and a dvd of spanish stuff, as well as some REALLY COOL supplemental materials, like:
-a big book of poetry that also features an audio cd of the actual poets reading their original stuff. Like, ROBERT FROST and Langston Hughes and it's just incredible.
-This in depth historical fiction picture book that teaches all about Tibet, through the eyes of a little girl discovering the country through her father's letters, pictures, etc.
-some very cool black history month stuff, to add to things I already had
-a book called "The Anti-Coloring Book" - and isn't that hilarious, if you've been reading for any length of time, I considered taking a picture of the cover just to stir up some laughs - that is full of activities. A and A are already eagerly waiting for the other to get done so they can have turns - like a blank rectangle and under it, "You've just landed on a new planet. Design it's flag!" or a big sea scene that's blank in the middle, "A new fish has been discovered - what does it look like and what is it called?" One is a frame with a single squiggle in it, it says, "This artist started to draw and then injured his hand. Can you finish the picture for him?" I love it.
-chapter books for Ananda and I to read "together" - taking turns reading to each other - and then her do reports on. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle; Sarah, Plain and Tall; and How to Eat Fried Worms...these of course are separate from us continuing to read this 5th HP book and then probably something else like the next Narnia, at night before bed, and the beginning readers they read on their own and to me.

We still have all the making of a Neurology unit study that we never got around to last year. And we have G here 5 hours a day, 3 days a week, to make it possible for me to get some really good quality one on one school time with Ananda and Aaron.

Her first soccer practice is tomorrow. And she's decided she definitely wants to do Saturday ballet classes at Dance Empire, the sign up is basically immediate. And Aaron also wants to play soccer, and we're down to the wire for that too. I just registered them for the new year of AWANA, with fees and dues and contact forms and all that, tonight.

*gulp*

Really though I am so happy for them, they have real social lives at this point that involve playing outside with neighbors' kids daily, talking on the phone to friends, writing to pen pals, going to the bookstore and hanging out with the wide array of kids there once a week, people at AWANA who want to get together outside of AWANA, old neighbors from our old street who we're setting up playdates with - and PATH meetings starting soon, at the park.

And, they love G (the nanny) and eagerly anticipate her coming.




G is making me happy. It really seems as though she just got truly very very ill, like visit to the hospital and multiple prescriptions including codeine ill, and I am obviously a little bit on guard, but assuming September goes by without a hitch...I am going to relax and just be grateful. That's sort of the earmark I've set for myself, that if she misses any more days for weird unforseen reasons in September, I'll have to re-evaluate, but if not, I'm going to believe that she really just had some extenuating circumstances. I mean she was sniffling and glassy eyed with a BreatheRight strip on the last day before she called in, and still has a lingering cough now, so it is a fairly believable situation and I don't really have a reason to doubt her.

Funny lot of bs: I realized today that all those times I thought she was like 15 minutes late? It's because I was looking at the clock Grant has set 15 minutes ahead, in the tv room where we're temporarily sleeping O_O Yeah, I'm a jackass. Doesn't excuse all the absences or the one really late day, just saying, that's dumb :p To my credit, it's the alarm clock by the window where I would see her car, and I didn't know he had it set fast.

She and I have had a couple of very candid heart to hearts about committment that were reassuring. And also talked more about personal stuff in a way that makes me feel like I like her.

Because of her and regardless of her I'm feeling a little better about a couple of aspects of my life:

-Writing. This is because Grant wrote me an email from an old computer saying how we have to find a way for me to write if for no other reason than he's dying to read more of my stuff, with some unfinished documents of mine attached <3 And then I had dreams of writing that I woke up from, struggling to find the ideas in again, that inspired me. Basically between kids going to bed earlier and G coming for slightly longer periods than we'd planned on before, I think maybe I can really start to try to swing it. Which is...well...invigorating. To say the least. I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS!#@$!%&*!!!!!111!!!1!

-Excercise. I cannot control my eating right now: that is crappy but it's true. I'm just not there yet and trying to get there is just driving me to self loathing anytime I fail. I have hopes for working on this in therapy, but we're not at that point yet. Anyway, I've been thinking of how incredibly sedentary I am. Since my month long bout with depilitating near-death followed by 2nd major surgery in a year and ICU stay followed by 6 week recovery, all culminating in major ab problems...well, I've been slow to ease back into anything too physically grueling, let's say. I have this huge diastasis that makes all kinds of different movements - not to mention even EXISTING without a support garment - uncomfortable and potentially harmful. I have misaligned hips that hurt, sometimes not much, sometimes A LOT. I have two toddlers who expect me to sit still and nurse them for a few hours out of every day, broken up over many hours and big kids who expect me to sit still and read aloud to them for at least an hour or more out of every day. It's just nuts how much I don't move my body around anymore. I mean cleaning and sex are basically the only excercise I get. Ha. True, though. At least I do plenty of both? Changing the subject. So, I've committed to trying to take a long walk with the double stroller or swim for a good long time, every day. By a long time, I mean like 45 minutes. There is only one day out of the week that neither Grant nor G is here at all to help with this, and on that day it's possible I could recruit Laura, more likely I can just make the kids walk too that day - they do fairly well with that. This was day 2 and I tell you, I feel a lot better. It's SICK the degree to which I sweat all over the place and have to force my posture to be better and all, walking briskly with the stroller for 45 minutes. I mean I'm 26, you know? But it just reinforces how important it is to stick with it lest I find myself a debilitated, dangerously obese person at some ridiculously inappropriate age like 30. Extreme fatal obesity and diabetes both run in my family, I definitely have those genes. It's nice to be starting something that feels good and could potentially help me get back in some smaller pants. Have you guys seen those icons that say, "Food has replaced sex in my life - now I can't even get into my own pants!" Yeah, I don't want to be that person :x




DAMA IS COMING DAMA IS COMING DAMA IS COMING!!!!!!

I am so over the moon thrilled about this. This is what REALLY has me using this icon. She's coming the last week of September which is, like, basically right now. We have a date and a time for picking them up at the airport! Aaron spent awhile on the phone with Zoe tonight. He can't wait to show her his rabbit, and the frog that lives on our front porch, and the fairy doors, and all the lizards we have down here. Ananda is also excited, although not so much as Isaac, who could more accurately be described as "frenzied" about Loo-chee being here ;) We are definitely posting a countdown on the wall.

I'm going to have to come up with some kind of detailed agenda, and then go back over it and remove half the stuff so I can make sure there are plenty of large blocks of time for free play and adult conversation.




Some political stuff:

This whole long page about Sarah Palin? I LOVE IT. I don't love some of the kind of horrible phrasing ("Here's Sarah Palin, working without neglecting her children") - but the overall message is really, really awesome.
http://parentingfreedom.com/2008/09/03/sarah-palin-mother-and-first-female-vice-president-pictures-children-parenting/
Again, this is not a statement on her stance on issues or whatever, it's just her, and I can dig it.

This is also not a bash or an endorsement, it's just awesome: The Barack Roll. You have to watch the whole thing.


John McCain's Wiki page is kind of incredible. I never really feel a kinship with anyone in the armed forces, it's just very far removed from my way of thinking and personal set of ideologies, but you have to be amazed at someone who's nearly died that many different ways, had that much of a CRAZY interesting intense life, and now to top it all off at 72 is still running for president. I also have to wonder if someone who was tortured and/or held in solitary confinement for 5 years as a POW can still be sane enough to run - especially, erm, at 72 - but he really does seem like a respectable and intriguing person, politics aside. I mean he crashed 3 airplanes, was shot down in one, was on an aircraft carrier that caught fire - this is all before the POW stuff O_o It's also kind of awe-inspiring that the man was in the House of Representatives in 1982. I mean. I turned 1 in 1982.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_McCain

It is very much my style to be far more interested in these people as people than as candidates.

As soon as we get a candidate who is for small government and against guns, who is anti-war and pro-life and pro-birth freedom, and strongly for the environment, who grants homosexuals all the rights everybody else has and is not trying to gun down immigrants, kill criminals or torture hostages - that's when I'll get all excited like some of you guys are. Unfortunately my political beliefs are not just impossible in the context of our nation's system but in the context of reality, as many of them contradict each other. As it is I'm gonna be really excited but kind of scared regardless of who wins this one, to varying degrees.




Trepidation:

-My mother may be getting a divorce, and temporarily living with us, along with my brother and her dog. I am happy to be able to help, and Grant is totally on board with that too (and the kids are loving the idea), but I can't pretend it won't feel a little crowded and complicate some of the stuff I'm dealing with in counseling. It is a mixed bag featuring very welcome cleaning and child care help, more adult company, particularly of the laughing and board game variety, bad teenage attitude, very stinky boots, cigarettes outside on my deck, plenty of competition for computer time, a depressed person in menopause who is going through a divorce, and who knows how many other factors. My mother is not someone to live with anyone else for long, though, so I imagine it will only be a 1-3 month thing. She will probably be working 2 jobs by the end of the first week. Now if we can just motivate Bob to find some direction it could be a great thing...

-Hurricane Ike is forecasted to be a 3/4 in the next 12 hours and it's headed for us so far, with a landfall somewhere scheduled for around next Tuesday. I AM SO TIRED OF THIS HURRICANE SEASON ALREADY. Geez. I'd like a break, but Hannah is still skirting us and Josephine is right behind Ike. My dad (who drives a cab in Key West and is financially screwed anytime they evacuate) must be having a really, really hard time right about now. I think I'll call him. Even without direct evacuation orders, nobody goes to the island when the News is showing this stuff nonstop, you know?
altarflame: (chocolate can't)
This is what I've cooked/prepared/offered today:

-Made everyone fried eggs on toast with smart balance and (sea) salt for breakfast
-we took "organic lemon wafers" with us up to the therapist, Grant and the kids ate them at a nearby park with nature trails while I was in my (2 hour) session
-apple slices with cheddar and baby carrots with peanut butter, for lunch
-Right now I've got a big old pot of bean soup on the stove, am baking a pound cake, and have a pitcher of sweet iced tea chilling in the fridge (dinner and dessert)

How about you?




G called!! She DID end up in the hospital, she's got a ruptured ear drum, and she was mortified that her partner hadn't called us because she had told her she would. I am not GLAD that she had to go to the ER, but I am really, really happy that there was an extenuating circumstance and she wasn't just blowing us off or whatever. We had decided to give it another week before we decide whether or not there is "a problem", but the lack of phone contact had me feeling like it was just over, so...back to the give it a week, now.




Therapy was really intense and rewarding today. It's strange to have something too personal to write about in my lj, for me at least, but this stuff is. Suffice to say...I feel so lucky to have my husband, and so glad to have my own adult life in general separate from, oh, say, MY X-STEPDAD.




I'm psyched about my flower beds. Yesterday featured a long sweaty evening that ended in me filthy as hell, taking a nice long bath with Jake and Elise in mah huge tub. Very satisfying. I also have some new kitchen window herbs (italian parsley and spearmint added to the basil that was already there), and trasplanted our lychee tree into a bigger pot (we're waiting until the fence is in to plant it in the ground, since the planting spot is very close to where the fence will be).

A random, lone, beautiful purple flower also sprouted up in the middle of the grass, and Grant was due to mow, but Aaron swayed me with his big heart and bigger eyes, so I dug up the roots with him and put it in the old lychee tree pot. I told him there are no guarantees it will do anything but die, but it was worth it for me just to see him standing there cupping the dirt in his hands, talking to the thing "It's ok, Little Flower. We're not mowing you." This from my electric guitar wielding, frequently mohawk'd, karate obsessed flibberdiggibit that can barely pay attention to schoolwork...

The bunnies are doing well, and I am REALLY EXCITED about getting chickens, even if it is still a couple of months off.

/entry
altarflame: (bleeding roses)
Which is true?

A.) All of my children have eaten a good breakfast, healthy snacks and a hearty lunch today. They've all been hugged, and the baby has nursed on demand. Big kids did chores. Ananda, Aaron and Isaac have been making shrinky dinks with some help from me for the oven part, for the past hour and a half or so, and it is looking like it might become an obsession, from their level of enthusiasm. Previously we all played with the very well cared for bunnies. They've made me laugh a dozen or more times. I'm looking forward to our lunch date with Grant and also swimming at Kristin's house, tomorrow.

B.) My house is the messiest it's been since we moved in, we woke up FAR too late, and I am feeling rather desperate and heavy. Having gotten voicemail messages on my sister and my mother's phone, bothered my husband too often at work, and refreshed my email and friends' page right into oblivion, all I have to show for my efforts is crayon on the wall and the tile...and I don't even know who did it. I got a request to please let them know one way or the other whether I can handle the park group for PATH this year as they found a co-leader for me, and I don't even know how to reply regardless of what my answer is. Everytime I try to reply I almost start crying, so I'm letting it go for the moment. I'm also wearing the same clothes I was yesterday, which are very stretched out and unflattering. I am going to have to unsubscribe from the really awesome Miami-based natural parenting email list I'm on because I'm seriously going to have a panic attack if I keep having to see a dozen messages about hospital birth in my inbox every day.

It's a trick quiz! The answer is C.) All of the above.

Everything in life is like this, isn't it? "It's all how you look at it!" as they say on PBSKids.

Here's another riddle I can't solve on my own, internet:

-G didn't come in today either, or call me at all to update me on her condition or whether she'd be here. I got her voicemail, too, and left a message at, oh, 9 am? Haven't heard back yet...
-Since leaving that message, I checked our week old backlog of home voicemails, realizing we hadn't bothered to do that in a long time, and heard messages from her before the tropical storm, calling just to check on us and make sure we had everything we needed to be safe, and offering to help out anyway she could (this was smack in the middle of her 4 days off).

I hope she is not in the hospital or anything, in a "but it better be something awful!" way. It reminds me of the horrible way I've heard people say, "There better be one huge pile-up ahead of us!" after sitting in stopped highway traffic for half an hour.
altarflame: (Crazy O'Clock)
I think I was wrong in my post with/about G, and need to calm down. Let me explain:

I was mad earlier, because I was counting on getting her here and planning my appointment, but we are the ones who got her sick, so...come on. She came in yesterday when it wasn't that bad, just annoying, and did a great, 110% job with a stuffy nose and a sinus headache...I don't/can't expect that when she's feeling truly ill.

The birth thing is also an understandable reason to not come in, I mean yeah I wish I'd understood better up front about her still actively working as a doula, but if I had? It wouldn't have made a difference. I still would have hired her in a heartbeat.

Anyway, that one ultra late day was crappy, but the little tiny bit late as a general rule thing doesn't really bother me, I was just mentioning it because I was irritable about my messed up plans in the moment.

The bottom line that I've realized, after thinking about this, that has lead to my new take:

*I've* been very demanding of flexibility on her part, and she's never complained about that. I picked our initial meeting time and our schedule, and then I called to ask about her coming in the evening instead of the morning one day her first week, and called the day before the first of her 3 shifts this week to change all her hours up to accomadate us sleeping later, and she had no complaints, and I've said from the beginning that we're both "feeling out" these time frames and can "reserve the right to change things if it doesn't work for either of us" - basically I think we're just starting out and I've acted like it's all tentative the whole time. I mean I brought up the thing about having to pay for cancelled appointments and she was very accomadating and let me know as soon as that last Mama delivered so that I could go ahead with scheduling. She didn't even know I had one set up for today.

Anyway. If she calls in for some other random stuff in the next week I'll feel like I need to talk to her about it, but as things stand I really want to give her the benefit of the doubt, both because I've set things up to be kind of shaky and not like solid shifts, and also because she is truly the nanny of my dreams in all other respects. I just need to find friendly ways to make our schedule seem more consistent and solid. As it is I'm not sure she has any indication that I am really planning things around her at all on a day to day basis, most of our talks have been about how weird it is for me to get used to having childcare and how I don't know what to do with it.

I really think the previous post would have seemed less intense to everyone reading if it was taken in the context of the whole situation, and not just my side while I'm frustrated.
altarflame: (Default)
Let me preface this by saying, G is AMAZINGLY PERFECT as a fit for our family, and wonderful with the kids, who are all nuts about her. She has used the words "long term" to describe the kind of gig she wants with a family more than once. And, I am a seriously unreliable and chronically late person myself, when it comes to any obligations outside of my immediate family for the past few years. Those things said...here's the story )
altarflame: (excellent)
I got up, did a lot of whirlwind cleaning, got the kids up and dressed and fed and nursed and all that, and then G (nanny) came over. I had a plan for her "shift" (it is a shift, why am I using quotes, why does that word feel so weird?) today. First I took a shower/bath with Elise; our roman tub has a portable shower head in it, so I sat while she stood and it was some cute fun. Got us both dressed, and came out to find G drawing pictures and stamping and tracing hands and other things, with Ananda, Isaac, and Jake, while teaching them silly songs about fish with pockets to put their stuff in. Made myself a quick egg on toast while listening in as she included Elise and then talked and laughed with her about how totally surreal and bizarre it is that she does things SO SIMILARLY to how I do them, with me in the background making an egg for myself silently - it's just bizarre.

Did a little research, made a list of school supplies we need for this year, took it over to Spellbound Books, with A and A (only). They played with their friends there for about half an hour while I browsed and confirmed what I wanted with the mom/owner lady. I feel really good about where we're going, school-wise, I want to make this whole big detailed plan for the first time and maybe we'll stick to it, even! Ha. But, some of the things I'm excited about are a cd of the actual poets reading their poems - Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, many others, and there is a read along book. The readers that I picked out, from Abeka. Story of the World activity guides. And other things. Lots of other things. We ended up going with RightStart math after I found out that Saxon Math, which I'd planned on, was going to be $850 per kid. Seriously. I laughed out loud when I saw that online.

Got back, and G, Isaac, Jake and Elise showed me the dance and song they'd coordinated while I was gone - SO FUNNY AND COOL. Elise was even getting into it, I could die. Checked in, nursed Elise, talked with G some more, went back out - ALONE - made a couple of phone calls, inquired about YMCA membership, got stuff for our lunch, and came back. They were all playing board games. She left, we ate, and then went over to Kristin's to pick up my long-neglected belly cast.

I realized recently that I've been avoiding Kristin and all PATH people all summer because I'm ashamed of myself and uncomfortable about how I'm...I don't know...not doing well all the time. PTSD in general. I don't want to deal with telling my AP mommy friends or my homeschooling group that I've hired childcare help, am in counseling, and can't sleep at night. So I just haven't. I'm really glad I did, with Kristin, today, though - we just had the best talks for a couple of hours, and all the kids had a blast with her kids and her pool (throwing things in and fishing them out when they bobbed to the edge). We made plans to go back and swim on Saturday, after we go up to Miami and have lunch with Grant.

She's also organizing a co-op for chickens and I cannot WAIT to have chickens!!!! They're like $1.50 per bird this way (plus transport), it's insane, and you get all females still as chicks, so they imprint to your family and property and will neither peck you or run off, when they're older. We have to wait til our fence is done and then plan the chicken run around the garden, which has yet to be in the ground, but she hasn't found enough people yet anyway. So hopefully the timing will work out.

I talked to Dama on the phone and found out she is still coming down here, she just had some temporary glitches with paying for the plane tickets because someone stole their account info online and, thusly, her vacation money. So it's just temporary and not some awful thing, which makes me really happy. They're really coming!!! My kids have been writing her kids a TON of letters, I have two sealed and stamped ones sitting right by my arm right now...and wouldn't it be awesome if we had chickens by the time they got here? Chickens, Dama! I'm getting emails now with subject lines like "Bawk bawk bKAWK!" full of pictures of chicks that look like they're made of fluffed out teased wool, or that seem to have hair rather than feathers, all kinds of fascinating ornamental whatnot.

The AWANA kick-off party was tonight, and that was a mixed bag...Dropping Isaac off was a half hour long affair of tantruming, panic, indecisiveness, etc. He is a lot of work. There was a time when I'd try to explain how I did everything right, but I'm over it. They all had a great time in the end. And I had a really productive grocery shopping trip with Jake and Elise while they were in there. They are both always so good and easy to take out.

I've had someone emailing me for info about Nancy because they want to vbac with her, and just talking about how amazingly supportive, helpful and WONDERFUL it is to have Nancy during pregnancy, labor and even a transfer situation just made me warm all over.

So I've got my belly cast hanging in my room. I've got a date for Saturday, a visit from out of state friends tentatively planned, lots of general stuff on the agenda for the next couple of days (like therapy tomorrow, while G is here with the kids, and then Shrinky Dinks with A and A once I'm back, and game night Friday) and all our school things on their way. I've got a house stocked with food and kids who went to bed at pretty good times. My children just had a nonstop fun fest from waking to sleep, with only chores to break it up. I'll take it.




I had a weird moment this morning when I felt like the settlement has altered my life so completely that I can't even see it from the inside. I was sitting in the giant bathtub in this house I own with my baby, while the nanny played with the other kids. And was like, huh. What the hell is this nonsense :p But then I had another moment, talking with Kristen about how I feel and all I've been dealing with, that I was just blown away that the money is gone and yet I'm going to be living this for a long, long time. She is one of many people who think I was crazy to accept the sum that we did. Which I may as well just say was half a million dollars. My mother was making me crazy, she was so adamant that I deserved millions - and I understand where she was coming from. I had days in the ICU, I nearly died after a month of pain and fear and lots of doctor visits, I was separated from my 6 month old baby who needed special home therapies for a week and a half...and then unable to lift her for weeks, when I returned, which made re-bonding awfully freaking hard. But...Most "retained surgical instrument" cases in the Massachusetts area only get like $250-350k if they go to court - we were told this by multiple, unaffiliated attorneys, and saw it ourselves when we looked up headlines and case histories. You only get a million dollars for dying (no thank you). And, lawyers take like 40%, when you go to court - after YEARS and years of appeals. Whereas we got it all, and very quickly. AND, I wasn't really trying to get rich off of the damn hospital, I felt like the sponge thing was an honest mistake and they treated us - medically and as humans treated us - very, very well otherwise. I would still reccomend that hospital to people. I didn't want to destroy that awesome OBs career because the scrub nurse screwed up. It was an emergency situation, they saved Elise's life, all that. I just wanted to be able to seek counseling, and live with Grant's business killed by the whole affair, and stuff like that. So we got what we wanted...

And yet I have a whole other major surgery hanging over my head to fix my belly, since that bowel resection. I choose every single day, when I wake up - do I want to spend 10 minutes squeezing into this crazy thing and deal with wearing it all day and have to dress around it to hide the weird straps, and be that much hotter in the heat...or do I want to have a very bad back ache, hasten herniation and be asked when I'm due everywhere I go? Bah.




I had some sort of inexplicable epiphany today, wherein I suddenly looked in the mirror naked and thought I was sexy. That has not happened in a LONG TIME. I feel sexy fairly often, without being able to see myself, because I have a really great husband that seems to genuinely think I am, and caters to/reassures my insecurities, and so I can be uninhibited with him in the moment. Sometimes, wearing my big support thing with the right clothes over it, I see myself and think I look good, but I think it's a ruse. I like my face, my hair, my style. My boobs. I have a reeeeeeeeeally hard time with my body, though. My belly has become "my body" for me, it's all I see or something...Could have something to do with the many many scars, the messed up texture, the assymetrical hanging, the fact that my daughter abruptly stops talking and rushes out of the room if I take off my shirt, out of fear from seeing my wounds being gauze-packed so often? :/ Not to mention how, when I turn sideways, this crazy lump protrudes out all disfigured - a hard ball of muscle that there is a dip down behind. *shudder*

Anyway, yeah, I still had the assymetrical hanging and the scars and the texture today, but they were in the context somehow of my exaggerated hourglass figure, and all soft and nice, and...it just didn't seem disgusting. It just seemed like my body, it seemed "ok". The lump was there, but I have more control over those muscles than I did a few months ago, by far, and so it doesn't seem to just be some dead jutting disconnected mass. It's...maybe something healing? Slowly? A girl can dream, anyway.

I went out without wearing my thing and thought I looked good, and have been trying HARD to build up my posture and practice keeping my ab muscles engaged (which over YEARS can pull a severe diastasis back together...mostly...sometimes). It's very difficult, I couldn't even feel them TO engage not so long ago. Tomorrow might be a whole different story where I just can't find the perception I had today again, but this has been good, so again...I'll take it.
altarflame: (Default)
G, the babysitter/nanny, is working out pretty great. Our tentative plan is for her to come on Wednesdays, Thursday and Fridays, from 9-1. So every other week when G is off on Wednesdays, that will give us time to go off on our own and do something together. We also have some Sunday afternoons now that his mom is willing to take them then and they all seem willing to be left there without much drama. Thursdays and Fridays, I'm trying to prioritize...I want to do a lot of schoolwork with A and A during those times, while G's here with the littles, and I'd also like to go swim for an hour at the Y once a week and possibly schedule some of my counseling appointments during her time. Grant really wants me to find a way to write while she's here. I'm having a hard time with the idea...it was such a colossal letdown to NOT get the year or two of full time writing that I've had to shove all that back and just not think about it, again, and so I'm sort of numb to the concept right now and it almost just confuses me when he brings it up. I feel like putting holes in the floodgates for anything less than regular opportunities is just going to have me going nuts with frustration all over again. I'm clinging to the assumption that soon all the kids will be older and I'll be able to write while they sleep, the way I wrote all of Cracked while A and A were in bed at night.

G, though, wow. She talks to them just like I do - no baby talk, and really hearing what they say. She makes eye contact, she squats down, she sits on the floor. She asks leading questions to make them think about things. She also has my exact amount of caution - she's fine with Jake and Isaac jumping on a bed, for instance, but moves in fast if Elise joins them. Things like this were really important to me but I didn't know how to "screen" for them. She handles Isaac so similarly to us, even - last night as she was walking out the door (she'd come later in the day so we could go see "Dark Knight"), Isaac really wanted to open the door for her to go out. But we were doing that hover near the door for half an hour talking thing I always end up doing with guests, before they actually leave, and anytime you open the door Elise makes a beeline for escaping and while you're trying to corral her, Jake shoots out past you. So I told him, G can open the door for herself when she's ready. You can close it behind her. And he was all moody overreacting nonsense, whining and moaning and crying and panicking about it. She said, "You have two choices. You can either close the door behind me like a big boy, or you can do nothing and Jake or I will shut it". He kept repeating that he wanted to open it with a lot of hysterics and she just repeated his options. After the third time, he sucked it up and opted for shutting it. I was impressed.

She also listens to ME, and I really appreciate that...last night she had all five alone for the first time, and I knew Elise would be upset about it at first, and I told her the fail safes for making Elise happy were outside time and the bath. When I got back, I found out she'd cried for the first 20 minutes, off and on, but then G had had her in the (giant) tub with Isaac and Jake or outside with everyone for the rest of the time, and she was fine. Things like this seem obvious but I've had plenty of experience with people acting helpless with one of my stressed kids as if I hadn't given them any options.

My moody and territorial Jake lets her carry him around. She didn't need me to explain about fuzzi bunz or longies because she has plenty of experience with them. She's as comfortable with me sitting there nursing two toddlers as you'd expect a doula who's with naked birthing women every week to be.

It's just really great. We just got two bunnies, and she has one, so it's a bonding point for her and the bigger kids.

She's a lesbian, which is interesting on a few levels. She's in an established, long term live-in relationship and they're planning on her getting pregnant in a year or two via artificial insemination. She'd like to continue working with us long term and possibly bring her own baby along at some point. This is awesome for my weird, insecure self because I don't have to feel any jealousy or insecurity about her around Grant, and yes I am that wack even though I have a completely trustworthy man. It's hilarious because it seems like any time I make a good female friend, all the way back to middle school, they're bi or gay - I even consider "lesbian" to be my musical genre of choice. It's awkward only because we are very obviously practicing, devout Christians. I don't know what G believes, although she's very respectful of our beliefs, but I can't help but hear Ananda's endlessly playing VBS cd through her ears, or wonder what she thinks of some of our art, and wonder if she wonders if I think she's a hellbound freak. It's not something she talks about with the kids, not really because she's actively avoiding the topic but just because it would be weird to bring up your personal relationship with the kids you're watching. I'm sure they'll eventually figure she has a friend and roommate who's a girl, that she mentions here and there to us?

The only thing about her that I don't like isn't her fault at all: it's just strange to have "hired help" with my children. Like, ok, nannies and babysitters do things parents would never deal with, like push a kid on a swing long after the novelty has worn off, or let a preschooler cover them with stickers head to toe and laugh every. single. time. a new one is applied - it's their job, and they go home at the end of it. I used to do these things, when I was a nanny in high school. Play cars on the floor for two solid hours, even though it's just a 30 second loop of play repeating itself 240 times - and never waning in enthusiasm! In a way, this is what I am paying her for and it's how it should be...in another way, I don't know how much I like them being drunk on that kind of power with an adult. Isaac especially cannot get enough of G, this is like his ultimate dream come true.

And, of course, there could easily come a time when Grant and I can't afford her anymore, or just don't need the help anymore, or she could move away or have scheduling conflicts or just get a better gig - basically this is a relationship they're going to get emotionally involved in just like any other, except this is - when you get down to bare bones - a job. She is most likely not going to maintain contact when it's over, you know? It's just kind of strange to me to see my kids all piled on and around someone reading them a story...for hourly pay. It's just weird, like, is she hugging them when she leaves because it's part of the job, or because she wants to hug them? Are there any she's just pretending to like?

Like I said, this is not in any way a reflection on HER, it's just stuff to ponder in any sort of paid childcare arrangement.

I'm still mulling over the idea of cleaning help. I spend A LOT of time cleaning. About an hour out of every day is devoted to floors alone - sweeping, vaccuming, and swiffering. There is at least another hour of "other cleaning" - dishes, laundry, picking up clutter, wiping down counters and tables, all that rot...Once or twice a week I spend 45 minutes just scrubbing the couches and chairs down. The Force Field stain-proofing stuff REALLY works, I've gotten pen marks, lipstick, ground-in cheese that had been stuck on someone's clothing after a meal so it slid past me, all sorts of things out of it - and all with just water and a dish towel! But until I get to it, it really shows every little thing...feet make visible marks on it, sweat discolors it slightly, it's totally gross if Aaron is wiping his nose on things :x I mean, it's beige microfiber, so of course, and yeah it's great to have it looking brand new everytime I clean it, but still it gets old spending 45 minutes going over all the pieces with a fine tooth comb to clean it all off (old stains void the warranty, should you call them about a new stain you can't get out, so I can't let it go or we're out a free couch should we need one...) Sometimes I think I've got it backwards, having hired a person to be my proxy to my kids and then ALSO spending all this time cleaning while they do their own thing later on...shouldn't I be paying someone to clean, so *I* can be mom more often? It's not that simple, though, because I can't afford to have someone coming in and cleaning every day, and they are often doing chores and helping out alongside me, and EVERY cleaning applicant I've had on sittercity is an older lady who can't speak english much, if at all - how in the world can I justify having some 50 year old woman on her hands and knees scrubbing up our messes? And how can I try to convince someone who's been using bleach and who knows what else for 30 years that I don't like chemicals, with a language barrier? I realize they probably really need the work, I don't know, I'm still thinking about it. All of this is just weird, though, having "help" at all is so surreal for me. I really have no idea if I've picked a good schedule out for G or not, as it is - we're both leaving it open for now, to see how we like it...

Counseling is irritating me and making me moody, by dredging up things I don't want dredged up. I think it's for the long term best, but it still mucks up the short term. I mean...it's kind of misleading to even blame "the counseling" when really counseling is gradually fixing things...bah.

I still have a LOT of nightmares. I'm still scared to go to sleep, waking frequently, all that...I'm having the kind of chronic sleep deprivation I've only ever had while Isaac was an infant, or while watching Elise for seizures. And that colors everything, to some degree.

I'm still having trouble not eating my way through every day.

My physical symptoms (discomfort and pain where I had my spinals, tension, sweat and heart palpitations when birth comes up, headaches when I talk about some things, this and that...) are not as severe as they were, but are still there.

The worst ptsd thing, because it's the only thing I can't internalize and deal with by myself, is these crazy ass mood swings that ruin several hours at a time for me/us. It comes out of nowhere, I just suddenly feel so hopeless and bitter and can't even think of anything that would help or make me happy. It annoys me for Grant to try to help, breaks my heart if he doesn't try to help, I want to be left alone and not touched by the kids, I can't stand to stay in but don't want to go out...usually this culminates in some sort of nap (because for whatever reason sleeping during the day is no problem at all), even though I hate that because then I feel like I wasted part of the day sleeping. It's awful. It's never all day long, and it's not every day, but it's a couple of times a week at least and I'm tired of it. Although it seems random, it can also be triggered, and more and more it's triggered by something to do with my diastasis. I increasingly just HATE the thing I have to wear constantly, and yet when I'm not wearing it, I'm so SO aware of this bulbous protruding muscular stuff, and it's all more surgery hanging over my head in the future. It's all the way past surgeries have changed me. It's all scars and violation. I don't yell at people or throw things or go crazy in those sorts of ways...I retreat into mindless cleaning, thinking all the while how I hate it, or find something solitary to do and try to ask all the kids to give me space. I cry at the drop of hat, mostly in a bathroom alone but sometimes in the front seat with Grant. It's ridiculous. don't get sentimental, it always ends up drivel

Other than napping, sometimes I can pray my way out of it, and sometimes Elise pulls me out. It's easy to love HER, even when I am in a bad way. I can just lay there passively with my shirt up and her nursing, and she's thrilled. I can just hold and cuddle her, and she's happy and gets me to smile in spite of myself. It doesn't require any explanations, if I'm obviously miserable, and so I often end up not miserable. I love that I am enough for her, as a baby, by simply existing. Also I feel like we have some level of solidarity, having come out of the fire of last year together. Tinaandelise.com, after all...*sigh*

Therapy is basically chronologically moving through my traumas with talking and emdr. We're about to age 11. Divorce, molestation, kidnapping and hurricane, check check check check. I've actually gained a lot of insight and felt lightened and good about a lot of things, regarding the stuff we've already passed. The problem is that now we're dealing with the whole issue of Jud, my x-stepdad, and I know we're moving towards my mother leaving me, and it just all starts to feel like I'm going to drown in it. Like it's a mountain I can't climb. And of course we divert for things as they happen, currently, and things that are bothering me too much to wait about. I'm glad I'm doing it, in the same way I'd be glad I'm getting a splinter out. I have a half-hearted hope that when I'm done, I'll be able to will myself towards getting my abs fixed. But just typing that puts a lump in my throat, so we'll see. This has been...uh...two months? Or three? I'll go with two and a half months of therapy, and we're at age 11. I'm only 26. I imagine the past few years will take a long time, though. Bah. Other than all the chronological trauma crap, we're looking to "change my belief systems" about certain things, like food and whether or not I can sleep through the night without nightmares. I have a homework assignment of sorts that I need to get to at some point. I keep meaning to stay up to date in a paper therapy journal but it hasn't been working out. There's just too much happening.


Everything with Grant is awesome, except for what I put him through when I'm in a funk. Lots of talking and laughing, lots of helping each other, lots of great sex, lots of mutual attraction and mutual appreciation. He makes me laugh, and makes me believe, and it's so great to have these kids together.

I have some pictures I've been dying to post and I will try to get to that soon...I'm on this new laptop, our old computers are still at Grant Sr's house, and this one has neither an FTP prograp or Paint Shop Pro, and those things are usually my picture posting tools.




I've been thinking some about "my passion for nurturing life". It's so deeply satisfying to me to dig and weed and plant and water, and have filthy hands and sweat all over me afterwards. I love cooking and baking for my family, love nursing and reading to. I love setting up a big pen for the bunnies. It's a good thing. Life, I mean :p It's good to shop for fruit trees in nurseries and to put herbs in my window garden and to see that, somehow, Isaac is writing letters and Aaron is reading books. It's even nice to watch Jake's hair grow back ;)

I think it's really vital to be near kids, once you are no longer a kid. I think it's natural to always have kids around at least in a peripheral way, to remind you of innocence and sincerity and newness. Like Christ said we had to be like little children to see God. I think it's making people cold and depressed, the way it's become normal to spend 10 or 20 years of your adult life around grownups before you decide (maybe) to have a baby. Yeah, I know that's controversial, ask me if I care. People like G our nanny and julierocket make a lot of sense to me, being 20 something childless folks who choose to put themselves around kids as a vocation.

I'd say I'm sorry this is so long, but, well...I'm not.
altarflame: (Default)
Man I should be sleeping right now. But I actually have things I feel like writing about!

Our babysitting ship has come in, and I shall call her G. I put an ad up on this site called sittercity.com awhile back and I've gotten a lot of very mainstream applicants, people who aren't bad but also just aren't what I'm looking for. People who seem surprised and confused that I want to meet with them prior to them doing any babysitting, which kind of blows my mind.

So G. G!! Wait, this will get confusing, because I sometimes call Grant G. Alright, for this entry G is the babysitter.

She's a DOULA, and a lactation consultant, with years of experience as a camp counselor with older kids. This all in and of itself is kind of amazing. Unlike most other applicants she also understands basic laws of punctuation and capitalization, and speaks fluent english. I know, I know, I sound horrible, but in practice those things are important to me - I want someone who can really communicate well with my kids.

So. I talked to her. AND - get ready for this, my gosh - SHE IS FRIENDS WITH NANCY! She lived in Boston for 2 years and worked with her!!!!!!!!!!!! What the heck is this, I get a therapist that read her book and fought for a vbac and then I find this babysitter, I am telling you God put that woman in my life. Nancy I mean, not G, although I'm starting to consider that too.

We spent 45 minutes on the phone on Friday. She and I both love the Ya-Ya books and have solidarity with our siblings after strange childhoods. She is my craft inverse, being better at sewing and just starting out with knit and crochet. She CRIED on the PHONE about my BIRTH STORIES. She's looking to forge a long term relationship with a family, she's read all the detailed info about each of my kids on my profile and...well...

Let's just say I'm excited.




My poor sister has to get her baby root canals at a hospital under general anesthesia, to the tune of $5,000 (with insurance!). It's horrible. But she's really figuring him out, with sensory issues, and all his crazy hoohaw is falling into place nicely. Our ped is impressed with her prowess, I think.




I am kind of freaked out about how much our lives are changing right now...we have some neighbors coming over on Sunday - tomorrow - to help G figure out putting in the wood floors. Really nice guy who is a plumber that's been doing work for us...they have a five year old daughter that's apparently dying to meet our kids. And our other neighbors, their kids went to the same VBS mine did and Aaron's been playing basketball with him outside a lot. So we've got new neighbors in place of the old, we have this babysitter coming for a first face to face on Monday, we're in this house. And -




We bought rabbits today! Two female dwarfs that we're keeping in an outdoor pen on the grass during the day and in a cage on the deck at night. A and A had saved up over $150 combined in Christmas, birthday, tooth and other misc money over the past 8+ months, for this, and so they are "their" rabbits, though of course I have to oversee a lot of care...and will probably be footing the bill for some bug netting and spaying in the next few months, as well. We got them from a local bunny farm, they are only 45 days old and from the same litter. I anticipate them being spoiled rotten on organic spinach and apple slices and too much cuddling.

I have a ton more to say but Elise came and sleep walked onto my lap, and now I'm trying to type one handed on an unfamiliar laptop with a warm baby limp on me and making me sleepy with voodoo...So.

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