altarflame: (deluge)
I go through this cyclical thing where I consider self publishing erotic fiction, because it would be so easy to write and the standards for what sells are so low in the genre. It can be a real money maker, especially if you write a series and/or are prolific. I basically fantasize about sex constantly, and over the years I've had several major story lines I return to over and over, mentally, adding plot twists and developing characters just because it entertains me while I wash dishes or sit in stopped traffic. I don't think it would be for everyone, but it really doesn't have to be. On some level, the more ridiculous and outlandish erotic fiction is, the more likely it is that the people who do like it will love it. I think one of the biggest criteria is just committing and writing fearlessly about what's hot to you (the author). Probably there's almost nothing REALLY HOT to anyone out there that isn't hysterically funny bs to a lot of other people. Sex is kinda just like that, I think...

It's such an awful, sellout sort of thing though. I mean I'd be so embarrassed about it that I'd - ME - write under a pseudonym. And I do not mean "altarflame" :p

One thing it has on it's side is that I wouldn't feel this deep sense of high-stakes investment that I do with a couple of major projects I want to write in a more serious way (and, uh, as myself)... if I get interrupted a lot and lose my train of thought, or if I have to shelve it for a month during finals - well, who even cares, you know? It would also be a lot of fun. Though I'd want to die even from Grant reading it, and I would have to put a lot of thought into who to reveal myself to as people close to me ask what I'm up to.


One wall of random countertop outlets stopped working, in our kitchen, about a month or so ago - though the big appliances on that side (stove, ovens, toaster oven) still work. So now we have all the electrical gadgetry we keep out crammed on one side, next to the fridge - that's the magic bullet base, the Ninja top, the Kitchenaid (stand mixer), the George Foreman (and ours is huge), the can opener, and the speaker system I connect my phone to. All in approximately 3x2 feet of counter.

Today, while I cooked two loaves' worth of challah french toast on one side of the kitchen, Grant made bacon behind me. At some point the magic bullet cord, which was plugged in, laid against the black (hot) part of the grill, which was turned on. Then a blue flash happened ON THE STOVE where I was working, and the outlets we've been counting on, near him, stopped working. So now we have no available outlets in the kitchen, and Grant is going to attempt amateur electrical work, against all my warnings. He is turning off the breakers first, and he does have a semi-solid simple plan - replace the outlets, see if that works, if not we call someone. Still, gah. This played often enough in our house that he should know better...

Seven years into home ownership, everything is sort of falling apart at once. In the last 6 months we've had an emergency plumber out, had to replace our entire septic tank (those are two separate and unrelated issues), replaced the refrigerator, had the AC coils professionally cleaned when the unit froze solid, had this electrical kitchen thing, and realized our deck is in dire need of resurfacing - it's gone beyond "potential splinter hazard" and entered, "one more rainy season and we might not be structurally sound" territory. We also had to replace some wood planks on the picnic table, though that's not exactly "the house." The front door is on it's last leg, too, and it's a pita sort with an irregular measurement and built in side panel that makes it really expensive - and we are not handy enough to install a new door, extra segment, and frame ourselves...

It really gives me a new perspective on landlords. When you rent, it's really easy to be like, "Oh geez this guy is the WORST, he takes forever, he does everything so cheaply, am I supposed to just LIVE with x, y, and z?!" But when you live in a house you own, especially an old house, you almost always do end up living with some variation on x, y, and z, regardless of how fastidious you are. We had to go over a week between our old fridge breaking and the new fridge being in here, because of all kinds of factors - how long the repair guys took, how long Lowe's takes to deliver, and deliberating about whether we wanted to drop $500 to repair a seven year old fridge vs over a grand to replace it. That was super inconvenient, we're feeding 7 people up in here, but we weren't, like, blaming anybody else for it. I am 100% sure that if almost anyone I knew in a rental had to go without a fridge for over a week, they would be livid, and expect pro-rated rent that month, etc. Likewise, we probably need a new AC unit, as a couple of rooms of our house that are additions are never as cool as the rest of the house is, and periodically in the summer it makes random hellacious noises. But HELL NO we weren't going to try to replace a central AC unit when we could just clean the coils and keep truckin along indefinitely. I think it's easy to get entitled, when these things are on somebody else!

Related: It would be pretty sweet to be able to just demand of someone else that the front door get replaced, or the deck be resurfaced, rather than prioritizing the thousands of dollars ourselves when there's so much else we'd rather spend that money on. Like we could prooooobably afford to do those things, if we took them one at a time, and skipped celebrating birthdays or letting anyone go to summer camps, and we ate rice and beans for months, but... nuh-uh. We will probably spend about $400 on buckets of this stuff that fills in cracks and smooths out the surface, for the deck, and revisit the door issue the next time we have a tax return. Everybody's used to having to shove and lift to lock or unlock it, so eh.

It would at least be super satisfying to bitch about how someone else let these things get so bad :p
altarflame: (deluge)
It's starting to rain again. There are some real issues this brings up for us - the van has a leak, and the deck needs to be resurfaced kinda badly, and those things are easy to ignore during the half of the year when it never rains, but are gonna become mega issues soon if we don't attend to them. And, with rain comes mosquitoes.

Still...I love it, and am eager for storms.

Every single day, I go to the FIU website and search for available Stats II and Botany 1010 courses for the fall that may have opened up, and I go to my FIU email to see if my disability appeals have been approved. This has been going on for approximately 2 weeks now, as part of my morning and evening routines. So far I've received a maddening email about the appeals, stating that they've been received and are being processed, which will take up to 6-8 more weeks - and I've gotten into a Stats II class that is with a teacher that is rated terribly on ...I don't really expect any resolution of these issues anytime soon, I just know from past semesters that Constant Vigilance is the only way to get into certain classes. I will lurk, and lunge when appropriate.

Today marks the end of a couple of ongoing situations I'm glad to be done with. First, I actually have the van back, running. Eleven days in the shop, DOZENS of phone calls and one reasonably entertaining shuttle ride up to the dealer later, it turns out to have been the computer system they just replaced having gone bad again - maybe because it was a bad computer, maybe because we had a wire shorted out in the dash. It was covered by warranty.

Second situation, there is this puppy that showed up on our front porch last Friday. She was clean, clearly used to attention/affection, adorable, had no collar, and refused to leave. We played with her in the yard in full view of the street for hours, until dark, and I expected every car that pulled up to our corner and every person who walked by to stop and say, "there she is, that's my dog!" but...nobody did. I called around and borrowed a crate she could spend the night in, and posted about her on a local rescue's facebook page as a lost dog (nothing). We took her, Saturday morning, to an animal hospital to be scanned for a microchip (nothing) and to look for lost dogs they have notices about (nothing). Around Saturday afternoon, I started to panic a little, because really, we are at capacity around here and I don't have room for puppy training or dog ownership in my life. Or budget. Or yards. But I didn't want to just call animal control, as they were clear that they only give a few days for adoption or claiming before they kill the dogs they take in.

We considered fostering her for the rescue organization, as that's something they encourage and help people with, but she destroyed one of my plants and a toy of Elise's inside an hour that involved all of us home and attempting to watch her... and we're gone so much! Grant and I both also got really sick of cleaning pee/poop up really quickly. More importantly, in addition to the cats being violently opposed, Isaac is TERRIFIED of her (for his own anti-dog reasons; she is not mean, but her normal puppy behavior of jumping and chasing is panic inducing for him). He even came in our bed last night saying he had a nightmare that the dog was attacking him :/ I mean Isaac has a long history of bad dreams about all manner of things, but, I feel really bad for how stressed it's been making him. Relegated to the yard, she's been going from terrorizing the chickens to finding a dead rat under the deck and dragging it up to our doors, when she isn't digging up my new planter full of flowers. It's beyond "not cute" and into DEAR GOD MAN. I am clearly spoiled on the low maintenance of cats.

ANYWAY finally, today, after a LOT of back and forth texting with people I know who are deeply involved with the rescue, they've got an opening at a no-kill shelter for her. It's a long drive but I'm ok with that at this point. Jake's in love with her and would be all about keeping her forever - he's going to be the one person who really misses her like crazy, but at least I can tell him she's going somewhere safe, now.

In addition to getting the van in and the dog out, today, and continuing my vigil at the FIU sites, I walked Isaac to school (which is worth 4 Weight Watchers Activity Points), fried a lot of eggs, made some milkshakes, made tacos, and baked some lemon syrup loaf cakes - that's a Nigella recipe that is a regular, around here. I am trying cold brewing coffee here myself for the first time, and will see how it's turned out tomorrow. I also washed seven hundred million dishes, and continued forcing leading my kids in cleaning their rooms out and organizing them thoroughly, since we have a realtor coming sometime in the next week to tell us what he thinks we could get if we decided to sell the house. I don't know that we are going to sell the house, but he seems like a decent guy who answers our questions quickly and thoroughly so I'm interested in what he has to say. There are a lot of factors that make me think our Zestimate is probably inaccurate. I read another chapter to Jake and Elise. Aaaaand I worked on the budget for a little while.

Overall I'm sort of confused that it all sounds so good "on paper," since I spent the majority of the entire day loafing around (napping, fantasizing, internet), and the majority of the night...loafing around (shows with Grant and later Annie).

I've been doing entirely too much loafing around, in general. Something about my school semester ending and a lot of my kids' activities wrapping up for the school year, along with restricted transportation, has left me feeling like I'm floating along in some vague and timeless way. Everything from the past couple of weeks kind of blurs together, with little standout times - like when Gloria brought James over so they could use our kitchen all day to bake for a fundraiser, and Elise's birthday, and this neato hour long phone call with someone whose voice I hadn't heard in a decade. I mailed a card to my Nana and a letter to my mom, for Mother's Day? I've planted a LOT of seeds and some other stuff. Pruned and watered a ton. Isaac's talent show at school went REALLY well, and we finished reading Goblet of Fire, which he loved, so he got to watch that movie. Overall I just feel really....vague and timeless.

I made a friend (GMYS parent) who is also a nursery inspector, and gifted me some hibiscus. Between him and his family, and this cool chick (and her family) who runs what was Elise's preschool that I have ran into here and there over the years but am now planning to have over for dinner, it seems like I might have real prospects for new local friends. I was starting to think that was impossible, that I had exhausted my town's possibilities or something.

I am really, really excited that new episodes of Louie are happening.

Grant was in Missouri last week, for work. When I picked him up, Friday, I don't know what clicked into place but we had the craziest nonstop ultra hot sex weekend ever. I spent all of Monday somewhat sore and goofy-happy, after a night I think I grinned through in my sleep (Happy Mother's Day to meeeee). We're doing a lot of emotional evening cuddling and ooey gooey afternoon texting, this week.

I've lost 18 pounds, now. It's feeling very doable and real.

I've had some interesting little things happen, with my book - a small bookstore owner took a couple of copies earmarked for particular readers to read, review and bring back, so that she can move on to more and more handpicked regular customers with the same copies...she's just doing it because she believes in local authors, which I thought was pretty great. Then the other day I realized I have list additions, ratings and reviews on Goodreads - I had no idea :)

I've also made a lot of use of tumblr for personal posts lately, particularly picture posts, since it's so easy to make them directly from my phone with one step.
altarflame: (Default)
Grant was in Maryland every other week of November, and most of December, before taking a Christmas break that involved actual days off (because even when he's "in town", he works long hours, 2 hours away...) At the beginning of January I was dropping him back off at the airport again for 5 days (and another 4 soon after).

It's been a lot of solo parenting, and because my best local friend Kristin moved away in early November, and I won't leave the kids alone at night to go visit Laura like I can do when G's home in bed, I've been feeling pretty isolated a lot of the time.

I even graduated from Miami Dade College in December (going back to university in the fall) - I would kill for some classroom discussions, some afternoons.

Loneliness anecdote: My awesome friend Jess came down with her boyfriend Cale, to see her Dad and also me. We agreed to meet up on Lincoln Rd up in Miami Beach one Friday night. I put on earrings, and makeup and junk, and Grant was here manning the fort, so off I went...only to get stuck in THE WORST traffic of my entire life, literally. I was stuck on causeways and bridges where you can't make a u-turn or get off for hours. Eventually, Jess and Cale had to give up and leave our meeting place, since they had hours of driving to do that night - I just barely managed not to run out of gas.

I have a good sense of humor. I was texting them all the while, about for instance these people who got off a city bus and started walking, and this girl who peed in the emergency lane. At one point, I was like, "Merge, loser!" and the person I'd been talking to had his window down too and actually heard me and replied, and I lol'd in surprise. I watched a drug deal go down under the overpass I was stuck on and marveled that this dude was just standing there in the dark counting stacks of cash like a block from where that guy got his face eaten off a few months ago.

After getting my just-in-time gas I called Shaun, who lives right around there, but he was off at some other thing with some other person. I ended up hanging out with the bartender at Burger and Beer Joint, critiquing the hair band music they were playing (that I unfortunately know all the lyrics to and trivia about). It was actually sort of fun, but THIS IS MY LIFE.

I did manage to meet Jess and Cale for a pretty kickass brunch at a local diner before they headed back to north Florida. But that was THE ONE TIME in January that I hung out with a friend, you know?

Sometimes I just pace around here when everyone's asleep feeling like a caged animal. I actually got on chatroulette one night...and promptly remembered why THAT is a bad idea O_o


I had some pretty intense cramps, one of these isolated sort of days, and grit my teeth through all the homeschooling, chore enforcing, cooking, etc until I could get to this:

Brownies with homemade chocolate sauce and freshly whipped cream, plus blackberries. Yessssss...

I find there are few things that attempting to boil myself alive in hot water won't fix.

Look at this girl - sun burned, COVERED in mosquito bites. This is how I found her, happy as a clam, when I picked her and Aaron up out in the Everglades from Izzy's annual birthday camp out. She told me stories of charades and being doused in midnight rain while I made us breakfast.

Nigella's blackberry and apple kuchen, and coffee with coconut milk and turbinado sugar.

I don't think we were really supposed to whole wheat that. Oh well.

Elise has rediscovered her photobook, and keeps it with her when she's sad and missing Daddy.

Tellin' me all about it, one afternoon.

My napping view, from my bed.

That's two pictures, side by side, lookin' all wonky.

Carrot cupcakes for tea.

The meal Jake laid out for me one afternoon, while I ran around doing errands. It was a surprise.

This is the look I get for peeking in her french doors and snapping pics while she works on a book report at her desk.

Part of Ananda and Elise's room, from outside on the deck.

And mine.

We keep all the doors open (dining room and tv room have french doors, too) lately, it's always lovely - even if it does mean Jake and Isaac invariably end up running circles from inside to outside in rowdy games of tag.

View from my hammock.

Our last night at Santa's, before they closed.

My Beast got a haircut! She demanded it, one afternoon. I love it, and so does she. She ran around ultra hyper exclaiming about it all that first day, and keeps saying hilarious adorable things... "I know I'm still me, but I feel like a different person!" "This outfit looks even better with my haircut!"

Sometimes having the doors open at night leads to weird problems.

That's Annie screaming. We initially thought it was a bird or a bat O_o

It wouldn't get off of him, once he had it. He had to basically shove it off and run, after awhile.

Salad of the gods; I've been combining these two things every day and tearing it up. Mmm....

Copied and Pasted facebook stuff:

January 29:
So apparently I've probably got a ganglyonic cyst on my wrist (pending x-ray). Ow. If I can get out of here in time, I got invited JUST NOW via email to the 2:30 meeting of Miami Dade College's literary magazine, as a guest of honor (former student/published author)

Hmm, I should have known that "special guest invitation" to the college literary magazine meeting was just a way to try to rope me into volunteer writing/editing/etc.... Now to decide whether or not I'm going to do it.

January 30:
So I have to follow up with a specialist. A couple of things about my hand/wrist lumps aren't consistent with ganglyonic cysts (heightened inflammation on blood tests and pain). Based on many things I've felt and researched in the past few months, my father's medical history (I TOTALLY take after him physically), and things said while we were there, I'm pretty sure I have some kind of autoimmune disorder, most likely of the arthritic would definitely explain the crazy fatigue I've been having and trying everything to combat, for quite awhile now. I've decided to give that poor bastard Google a break from my ceaseless interrogating and just act super zen until I can speak to some experts.

Comment downthread in there:
my weird painful wrists only started about 3-4 years ago, and it's very intermittent - usually triggered by stress on the joints. I've also been waking up REALLY stiff (like sort of hobbling from the bed to the bathroom and then feeling totally normal within a couple of minutes) for the last few months, and just...I don't know. There are a lot of weird things that point in this direction. 6 months ago my feet suddenly hurt terribly and seemed misshapen, with funky lumps, and Grant was massaging them at night a lot, and one day that stopped and went away - I attributed it to my funky hips, as though I was out of alignment and it had effected how I walked badly, but looking back that seems really silly. The whole episode was similar to what's happening with my wrist and hand now. When I wake up in the morning, for the past couple of months, I can't grip half the AT ALL. Like, my iPhone alarm starts going off and I can't grab the damn thing to turn it off O_o All year last year I was semi-alarmed by how tired I often was...I've never taken so many naps, and am no longer an insomniac for the first time in my life. I kept getting confused because I'm not depressed, and I have this link in my mind that people who don't want to get out of bed in the morning are depressed. I'm actually pretty stoked about life over all, I just want to sleep half of it away :p

My father has semi-intense rheumatoid arthritis that started in his 20s. I've kind of been in denial about this, I think, getting my thyroid tested and saying I need to get to the chiropractor more often. I don't know.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
We have Christmas pandora playing, and just finished putting lights, a star and a few things on our Christmas tree - which we purchased earlier today from some Methodist kids who are doing great things for foster children in central Florida's DCF system. Their explanations of their work made me cry, after I had written the check, such that I ended up rushing back to the van, Grant and my purse to find stray dollars for their tip jar.

Our Christmas tree is always a little barren at first, since we have to string up and bake most of our ornaments (popcorn, cranberries, gingerbread and stained glass cookies...and candy canes we just haven't bought yet since we have to find corn free ones).

Izzy is over and helping Annie string ribbon on baskets, and using it to attach pine cones to wreaths. Jake and Elise are mostly using the ribbon to get cats to chase after them.

Our Thanksgiving was pretty great :) It was smaller than some years - we "only" had Shaun, Robbie and Correy, and Gloria and LJ here. My Dad is really sick and couldn't come, and Laura got too excited about finally having a big kitchen and space for real meals, and did her own thing. She and Brian and Isabel are also all sick, now - we took her some drinks and popsicles and things earlier because Frank's back on shifts...

Last night, though - I get pretty overwhelmed with how wonderful it is to be able to host a big feast, and with our resources for making it special. Grant always does a ton of yard work, deck cleaning and furniture moving beforehand.

I snagged this "almost ready" picture from inside the dining room:

And then Grant took this after people had started to arrive:

Neither shows the food tables set up with plants, candles and a ton of stuff. I was all silly-satisfied with it :)

Interestingly, I didn't feel the horror of moving that I expected to - I felt like this is great, and having an adventure and finding other great things is cool, too.

It was really cold (for us: 57 - keep in mind everyone is barefoot in totally inappropriate clothing) outside, and as the evening wore on we decided on a projector movie in the yard, so in addition to being the AV guy G set up electric blankets on the trampoline, hammock and bench swing, and passed out little "hot hands" packs. He even put a bunch things in the dryer for people. I made a big pot of hot chocolate and ladeled it for a line.

Great stuff :)

I keep having these horrible, epic-length (feeling) dreams about people close to me dying. It happened again today, during a nap. They twist and turn through so much plot. I had one where Grant died, and I had time within this freakin' dream to cry until I threw up, and have to talk to our kids, and be so so freaked by having to call his mother, and discover some tampering with our back windows (we lived in some other house) that made me think he'd been murdered and get scared that there might be a killer out there - just FUCKING UGH. Today's was about being told by one of my mom's exes that my brother was dead up in Lakeland and some other ex of hers was responsible. Again I had the burden of sharing news with people who could not cope with it, in addition to dealing with my own grief, and again the fear of somebody dangerous still possibly being out there. There was another one in between them that sucked, but the details faded with time. I wake up from these with a stomachache, feeling tired inside.

I swear.

Grant and I are at such a weird point, as a couple, and sometimes I really want to write about it. But I don't know how to convey it properly, and always come back around to it not being anybody's business, anyway. We love each other, and say that a lot - we talk honestly and enjoy each other's company. We're both also in separate individual counseling, and unsure about whether or not the two of us make a lot of sense together outside of the context of the family. There's a lot of affection, but no sex, and (surprise!) this time it's me that just isn't into it. I think each of us is growing, as a person, and we're both thankful for the other...neither of us has given up on the marriage, either... but we're both really thoughtful, and open to a lot of options we haven't been in the past, and - taking it one day at a time? I guess? With the understanding that we both need a lot of patience and that the one day at a time is gonna go on for months. Neither of us can tell if all the traveling he has to do in the coming weeks, for work (and has been doing) is a good, serendipitous thing because we each need some space...or kinda horrible because we never have any time for "us," and are having to learn to live without each other whether we like it or not.

There is no doubt whatsoever that we make a great team.

I am really, really enjoying "the holidays" already, and it's a good thing to share.
altarflame: (Default)
Times like this evening, when the weather is nice and the french doors are thrown open all over the house, with some kids playing on the trampoline and Grant grilling dinner on the deck, are some of my favorite times.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
This has been largely a day of recovering from a crazily busy and sleep-deprived week; Grant's spent most of the afternoon napping after handling some work emails this morning. I've got the remnants of an awful head cold/sinus infection/whatever it is I'm ready for it to be over, and aside from a half hour of budgeting I slept the whole morning away and spent the afternoon texting and reading fanfiction.

I'm really grateful for downtime when it comes. Ananda and Aaron are at Cybele's with a bunch of other friends from noon yesterday until noon tomorrow, and I periodically get emailed a water balloon fight video or picture of them over breakfast, laughing. Isaac, Jake and Elise have either been playing hilariously silly games a couple of rooms over or jumping on the trampoline, most of the day. So I can sniffle and rub my temples and eat a lot of sliced tomatoes on crackers in peace knowing everybody's doing well, while Grant snores softly in the background.

It's actually kinda great.

Aaaaanyway, the other night I realized I have a ton of pictures from this summer that I never posted. At least not here - a few of them may have ended up on tumblr or facebook. So, here they are all gonna be, behind a cut:

47 pictures from this Summer 2012 )
altarflame: (Default)
My last week was characterized in many ways by our fridge being broken. It's kind of unreal what an upset to life it was. Financially, ugh, it was awful tossing hundreds of dollars in food in the trash (after a day of bizarre hodge podge "don't let things go to waste!!" eating) - and then buying by the meal for a family of 7 is so crazily expensive. I spent what I usually would on three weeks worth of groceries. Finally, going shopping today with it fixed, I was starting from scratch and had to spend way more than normal to replenish. My sister was absolutely wonderful despite having an (attachment parented) infant, an (intense) toddler and a (high needs) preschooler; she came over with everything necessary and helped cook us dinner one night, brought me $40 out of the blue another day because she unexpectedly won money from a scratch-off, and then today when we were talking about shopping on the phone she had me run by her house for her surplus carrots, celery, butter and olive oil...apparently shopping in bulk for a smaller, younger family yields "extra," a concept I'm unfamiliar with.

I still spent $705 at BJ's today...despite $50 worth of coupons...but we'll come to that later.

Logistically, I was going to the store 1-3 times per day, starting first thing in the morning before kids were up, as well as dealing with lovely side effects like the cooler I filled with ice leaking all over our dining room, and scrubbing out our fridge and freezer which STANK once they'd been sealed up room temperature for 2 days. There was also the 2 hour google-a-thon researching what we could do to fix it...because we really could not afford to call someone out, at all -

Which is partially because of things like how we had to have the van and the car at Goodyear TWICE EACH last month, and still the car has NO AC O_O - and we got a letter on the front door one day, saying the city had detected a huge spike in our water consumption due to a 3 gallon per minute leak on our side that we were responsible for both fixing, and paying for the inflated use bill they'd be sending us...that one was enough to send a cold chill down my spine. THREE GALLONS PER MINUTE? Luckily we have a plumber neighbor who helped us out...and luckily they know us at Goodyear and the biggest car repair bill...was able to be put on a payment plan. Suffice to say it is not a happy money time.

Grant is also working extreme hours, with his extreme commute, so for the most part I'm on my own with the kids. And, this week, the fridge.

Which is why I feel like some kind of awesome fucking ninja because I was able to diagnose our problem (pull-out bottom freezer was off track, leading to an insufficient seal when closed, causing the compressor to go crazy and freeze through all the pipes and tubes), do the initial experimental cure (get the fridge unplugged and then watch as, sure enough, copious amounts of gross water pooled under it over the next 24 hours), and then put the freezer back together properly so that it wouldn't happen again.

I do not normally stop to appreciate refrigeration unless we've just had a hurricane. And there is a possible one on the way - that would hit while my husband is out of the state for his job - and so I'm familiarizing myself with our shutters and lining up a mental list of people to call if I need help.

Anyway, I really appreciate my fridge right now. It seems especially luxurious, being sparkling clean on the inside and only filled with brand new things we really wanted in there.

I've been devoting a lot of mental energy, research, conversation, paperwork and calls/emails to the kids' educations for the coming year, too. I'm outsourcing more than I ever have before, but I feel really good about each of them getting stuff that's really tailored to their best interests. I also feel some level of relief that I'm not solely responsible for all of it, especially since the coming school year features my surgery.

Ananda - Staying homeschooled, but now with Marine Science, U.S. Government, Latin and guitar online via Florida Virtual Schools K-12 program, which is a pretty cool resource. She'll have teachers she's emailing and talking to on the phone and be responsible for turning in a certain amount of work per week, which for guitar will include audio and video recording. The science course has a lot of multimedia content, library reading and a field trip. She's using Grant's guitar for this. We're sticking with Kumon math, since she loves it, and will be focusing most of language arts on book reports and analyses, since she reads constantly. She was able to audition into GMYS's Young Mozarts during camp this summer, so I'm trying to figure out some wild way to get a freakin' cello of her own now (they're only provided by GMYS during the preparatory classes and beginner camps). There are some rent to own programs in the area that might work...sort of...since I'm gonna make them. I'm also making her take long walks and bike rides with me often because she can get really, reeeeally sedentary if I let her. I'm on the lookout for a PE program for her, actually, much to her dismay.

Aaron - Staying homeschooled, but doing Earth Science, U.S. Government, latin and (standard 6th grade) math online via Virtual School. I've been stocking him up throughout the summer with reading he likes, so he can do more writing for me based off of it - Aaron hates fiction but loves poetry, comics and general nonfiction. Right now he has a lot of new Shel Silverstein and Calvin and Hobbes, a thick stack of National Geographic back issues, and a few other odd things (like the Book of Useful Information). He's been promised science experiments and will be auditioning for Young Sousas and Concert Band with GMYS later this month, on flute. He also wants to take their new percussion prep class, and we're still up in the air about him dancing. I'm planning to make him utilize his camera and YouTube account, as well, in several different ways.

Isaac is going to third grade at a local charter school. He's extremely happy to have been placed in a combined 2nd and 3rd grade class with his friend Naja (Kristin's daughter), and one of their two teachers comes very well recommended (don't know the other one). He's going to keep playing violin with GMYS, and is supposed to start counseling again in October (grant funding/rotating sessions and breaks thing...).

Jake is doing 1st grade at home. He's very academically advanced and really creative with his time, and so at 6 I don't plan on doing a ton of structured stuff with him. We have some new BrainQuest and Kumon books we'll work through together, and we'll talk and go out places and all the things we always do. I am trying to get him into martial arts; he does NOT want to do music anymore, and is really eager to do that instead. I've found a place funded by the Children's Trust, which kind of blows my mind - they fund GMYS, and the Institute where Isaac's been evaluated and gotten counseling, AND this? If my books ever get big and I am rolling in cash, they're gonna get a whole lot of it. These martial arts classes still cost money, but it's extremely reasonable.

Elise is attending Kindergarten at the same school as Isaac (and our friends Darrien and Naja, and some of our neighbors, and some of her preschool class...) - it's until 2 instead of 3 like normal school. I wish they offered a half day option, but as it is they do have a lot of early release days throughout the year that are half days (I think I counted 16 on the calendar?). She's also going to start ballet through - GET THIS - a free local outreach of the Thomas Armour Youth Ballet, i.e. the MIAMI CONSERVATORY, like, how is this free and local? The Miami Conservatory is extremely prestigious! And, up in Miami! Anyway, Kristin found out about this and Naj has been going and loving it. Elise has been talking whimsically about ballet for 6 months now, mostly just because it's pretty, and I'm sure she'll have fun. She's also sticking with violin and will be going to those weekly prep classes with Isaac now that she's 5 (she's in beginner GMYS camp with Isaac and Jake right now and doing really well, though she's been home sick mostly cuddling with me and Annie, nursing and reading books for the past two days due to some feverish illness she caught there).

I'm doing my last semester at Miami Dade College this fall, graduating in December. And, we're gonna be continuing with TLC and PATH. We are probably starting the ball rolling to move sometime soon, but it's gonna be a slow rolling ball that involves decisions about selling the house, actually selling a house in this market, finding a new place, etc...I don't expect this to be upon us before New Years at the very earliest, if then. Surgery in the Spring, and I'm applying to UM and FIU to start in the fall of 2013.

Ananda and Aaron and I sat around the dining table for an hour or so the other night, talking about personality. How so much of it is innate - I was cracking them up with examples of how each of the kids in this family is still so much like they were as an infant, and they were filling me on an episode of Radiolab they listened to with Grant on dna in pregnancy and personality formation - how they think it's really interesting, how exposure to radiation changes your dna and can, thus, change your personality.

I was telling them how after I got out of the hospital last, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was "different." That I thought and felt differently about many things than I had before, far beyond PTSD symptoms. It's harder for me to concentrate now, and yet I have to concentrate much more to accomplish things that didn't use to require focus. My belief systems are different, partially because the whole experience left me questioning everything, down to my identity and the purpose of my life.

There came a point when I started researching sepsis and brain damage, and found tons and tons of information because that is a real thing - an infection travelling through your blood stream means there are a bunch of dangerous bacterium flowing through your brain and trying to take over, just like every other part of your body. Apparently many people have much worse trouble than I do with this; I mean I can still wonder about it, research it, understand what's going on and then make a relevant blog post.

These things are hard to quantify, obviously - we're all getting older and growing and changing as people all the time. But life - not aspects of it, LIFE - feels different to me, now. Since then.

I was telling the kids how I remember very clearly how satisfied and fulfilled I was by cooking big breakfasts and lunches, baking for tea and changing and washing diapers, reading to everyone and sitting by the bathtub while kids played. But I don't feel satisfied and fulfilled that way, anymore. I feel bored out of my mind in the house a lot of the time, restless and angsty, or I get really frustrated with my inability to create structure from thin air without accountability and just waste hours and hours for weeks unless I force myself into some kind of outside-the-house thing. It isn't depression; I'm very happy out of the house doing things and sometimes I'm having a good time, here, too - sometimes a really great time, joy comes from different places, now.

Sepsis brain damage, that's a big thing to consider or take on, I mean...ok...maybe being forced to stop having kids, or maybe my existing kids getting bigger, or maybe so much time doing the same things until it was wearisome, or even having a lot of my autonomy as a mother threatened and taken away (through enforced separation, the inability to lift, etc) have altered my perceptions. Maybe it's all these things!

But Ananda and Aaron knew exactly what I was talking about and thought it made an awful lot of sense. Which is a little sad, and makes me stop and ponder how TERRIBLY TRAGIC and awful it would seem to "old me," that new me is...different. But new me, being different, is pretty ok with the change.

Grant nodded like it wasn't even a surprise as we talked about this, saying "Yeah you're a totally different person," as though that's just very obvious.

Sometimes, here on Livejournal, I worry that I'm going to be disappointing or at least disillusioning to my long term readers - I feel like an imposter in certain ways. But, it is what it is.

I have tons more to say, but my eyes are nearly crossing from tiredness AND my sister has completely distracted me via facebook chat :p
altarflame: (Default)
So. Making Christmas awesome and meaningful for five very different kids of varying ages is some damned hard work, particularly on a budget. But I think we did a pretty great job :)

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

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

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

So, yeah.

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

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

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

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

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

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

They're completely drowning in loot.

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

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

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

Our house feels like home to me in the best way, after travelling. Messy or otherwise. And I'm so glad we didn't get sick until it was all over.
altarflame: (Team Jacob)
Something about the sounds AIM makes always makes me feel like I'm in 11th grade again.

This house is getting to me tonight. There's a lot of oppressive heaviness in the evenings lately. Breaking it down:

-Ananda is depressed. We've talked about it extensively, and I'm pretty sure it's an age/stage thing. At least, it's when I suggest that as a possibility that she goes from teary eyed to crying uncontrollably and when I make jokes about that, that she laughs through the tears and seems lighter. It's hard to tell with Annie; she doesn't talk (like actual diagnosed by therapist "selective mutism" doesn't talk). I can tell it helps her, a lot, when we have the "talks" where I do all the talking and don't demand anything of her...*sigh* The thing with Annie is I have to MAKE her do anything other than read books, listen to her iPod or go to Starbucks. Also certain schoolwork. I mean seriously, she will get visibly excited about like...a proposed outing with the family to one of a few select places she likes, or the new Harry Potter movie coming out in a few months. But I have to drag her out of bed. Force her off of me as she stands there crying to drop her off at Girl Scout Camp.

And she really likes Girl Scout Camp! She comes home with stories of specific friends and the games they played everyday. She likes the lunches we pack her and she's happy that the field trip this week is to see Beezus and Ramona, which she's read. She's greeted happily by name by adults and kids as soon as they see her.

But when the sign-in time actually comes, she freezes up and physically clings to me and cries until I realize that all the back rubbing and there there'ing in the world isn't ever going to be enough, and detach her arms, and tell her I'll pick her up later, feeling like the meanest meanie ever...then she kind of takes a deep breath and I sit outside the building praying for her and spying from the car as she goes with her group to their activities. And then later I pick her up and she's happy. And smug to Aaron about how she gets to go to camp and he doesn't, because he really wishes he did.

She moans and clicks her teeth and actually shuffles her feet around, when I say to do her VERY CONSISTENLY ENFORCED chores...every single day.

She spent 35 minutes tonight, wandering in depressed circles and muttering and frowning because when I told her to brush her teeth and get ready for bed, she said she was hungry. But she didn't like any of the (plentiful) options for a before-bed snack, all of which she's eaten just fine before.

Everything is just like this with I spend half an hour in my bed alone with her, talking for us both, trying to leave long silent spaces for her to just be quiet...or maybe even talk to me. And then I read her a couple of chapters and finally she seems ok-ish and goes to bed.

We did establish that she's terrified of adulthood as some looming doom on the horizon, scared of her period coming, does not see the use in boobs, and really, really wishes she hadn't shaved off half of one of her eyebrows while I was in New York. I've tried to offer to help her fill it in with an eyeliner pencil but she just changes the subject immediately. I think this is a really impossibly hard phase for her, it's PAINFUL to see the awkwardness. And she has style! She has pizazz! The other girls at camp, and the friends who want her to come over from PATH, and the bookstore girls, they all LOVE her and act like she's so awesome with her two tone hair and her wild colors and her height and she's just freaked out by how she doesn't want to want a social life outside of the house, but DOES want it. Yikes man!

I wonder how much dance has to do with this. A lack of dance. I don't have to force her to dance, it's something her and Aaron do outside of the house together and most of all, it's about 6 hours per week of real high energy excercise that she just doesn't get otherwise...

I do wonder at what point I can definitely say, "this is way beyond hormonal issues or transitional states, she has inherited some serious depression and might need some help".

-AARON is depressed, which is a brand new, cast-related thing. He does not know how to deal with not being able to flip and do hand stands and climb things all day long. It's driving him crazy. He doesn't know how to not take a bath when he's itchy (SID thing) or play in the rain when he sees it start (every day). He does a lot of pacing and a lot of flopping down with big loud sighs and he can't fall asleep at night because he isn't burning off the ten million calories he usually does in a day. Instead, he spends HOURS wandering back out to me saying, "I'm sad, Mom." and "Mom, I'm depressed" and "I just don't think I can deal with this." in an Eeyore voice.

The first night, I read him extra, hung out with him extra, sent him back to bed extra.

The second night I let him have top secret (fresh baked chocoloate chip) cookies and milk with Grant and I, and then research caterpillars with him.

But it's never enough. Both of those nights I still eventually had to say GO TO BED, NOW. DO NOT GET UP AGAIN NO MATTER HOW SAD YOU FEEL. Tonight I've said that like 6 times. I'm not used to having to like, force Aaron to deal with his misery and just get and give me some space.

At least Peter infallibly follows after him, purring and rubbing.

It is a whole different world than little kids who cry for a reason you can figure out, and then fix. That cast is stuck, and I can't magically make Ananda short enough for the mall play area again.

18 random pictures, some everyday stuff, some from a particular afternoon ) lj has over 4000 pageloads for the last recorded week. That's kind of insane. I don't usually keep track of these things, but Grant has a hit counter on it and he forwarded me his latest email about it because it was a new record. I get the suggestion on a somewhat regular basis to move it and put ads on it. I feel like it isn't a "real" blog, though - it isn't thematic and I don't update in a consistent/regular way. It's very much my online journal. My archive when I can't remember what we did for Mother's Day last year or when such and such happened or I want to review a year. Monetizing hobbies doesn't tend to work out for me (see: ).

But I'm thinking about various things anyway. Like making it available for Kindles and Nooks since apparently a lot of people who read here have or want one of those, and that is an easy thing to do without changing anything (like the url). I found the way to do that by accident while browsing Kindle features and pricing with Ananda this morning over breakfast.

And...I don't know. Maybe it makes sense to put ads on it. I'm going to do this all the time whether it's making money or not, so why not make money? YOU TELL ME.

[Poll #1601068]
altarflame: (this is serious)
Here, at my house.

Since I've been home Grant and I have had some new, electrified chemistry that's fucking awesome. He's posting things on his facebook like, "Five in a row last night; that's a new record for me". This is when we are not giggling and talking...we're going to go see Inception in about an hour.

Isaac is drawing incredible stuff all the time. Robots, space ships, monsters, airplanes. He built a sailboat from some foam, a pencil, paper and tape. He builds obstacle courses for his toys with wooden blocks, and sits around painstakingly writing things and then coming to ask how he did. Fuzz, Zac is a rat, random stuff. He is so awesome. I can't believe how GREAT he's doing. He's coming out of a phase of crying 15 times a day (again).

I've been sleeping and sleeping and sleeping. I was at a serious deficit. I wake up, and come out, and Grant and the kids are watching Alton Brown and doing puzzles. I put some spinach and feta pizzas in the oven, sweep up a bit, check in on facebook. Read to Ananda. Go back to sleep. Wake up, find Grant cutting apart an old mattress and gathering all the big and small springs for something. Then he's painting shelves, and Aaron is holding banana spiders, and Jake is making me laugh, and Elise wants tons of affection. Back to sleep.

Yesterday Aaron stepped on a nail in the yard. It went up through his shoe and into his foot - a rusty nail. We scrubbed it out, poured peroxide over it, put on neosporin and a bandaid. It swelled up pretty badly over the next couple of hours, albeit not in a red or hot way, and our ped wasn't calling back adn finally I just took him in to the ER. He was hopping on one foot the whole time, and Ananda had put fake tattoos on the side of his mohawk'd head. They were all very impressed with his behavior and explanations of what happened, though I could tell he was super nervous. He got a tetanus booster and an antibiotic prescription and some ibuprofen.

Then we came home and ate leftover tacos and all the kids went to bed and Grant and I played Family Feud on facebook and rolled around in bed laughing and talking about nonsense and then went to sleep.


My sister gave us two giant loaves of homemade blueberry and zucchini bread; I keep making giant replicas of an amazing salad I had in NY (romaine, tomatos, peas, seeds, grilled portabello, chicken, kalamata olives, dried cranberries, croutons). I've lost 3 pounds since I got back home - apparently training for an olympic medal in sleep is the way to lose weight :p

I spent 20 minutes with Elise, carefully, gradually brushing out her matted curls (she got pilfered, contraband GUM in her hair), until it was a fluffy frizzy puff of detangled crazy, and then smoothed a bunch of leave in conditioner into it, and then she put some flashy sunglasses on, pooched out her butt, stuck her fists on her hips, and demanded we take a picture. I die :D

This weekend can just keep on keepin' on. I think I have tremendous levels of responsibility to attend to on Monday. Monday can be a whole other life.
altarflame: (Default)
-A bedroom with turquoise walls that call up the ocean that might not be permanent, after all, for me. Full of plants and antique telephones and prints of things like Cuban women dancing and my gorgeous Spanish grandmother in her pin-up lovely days. With a four poster bed hung with red and purple blankets to make a cave where Aaron and Elise are asleep, surrounded by books. Could I be richer?

-my bathroom, full of mermaids and the soft, sleepy peeping of silkie bantam chicks under their heat lamp, where I can soak in the hottest largest bath full of the best smelling, most enormous mounds of bubbles as I read poetry in soft lights

-a broad expanse of clean carpet I can do fiften minutes of stretching on in silence, once everyone is asleep

-MIA's "Paper Planes" and dancing away the evening in a kitchen big enough to dance in with five children who all want to dance with me

-my henna-painting, root beer making friend Kristin, with her foul mouth and her groovy music and her irresponsible, irresistable urges to come to NY with Aaron and I just to share a SoHo studio

-my little sister who sends me home with risotto, mushroom-shrimp-red pepper yum, and red chilean wine even when I just stop by for a minute


-my old high school AP English teacher, a literary snob who leaves scathing critiques and rare praise on the poems I post to facebook and has offered to peruse my short stories

Jacob is not easily explained, but I always wish I could conjure him up well for people reading. He is fiercely, shockingly independent. He is only what most people think of as "a good kid" because most of his own spontaneous urges are good ones; definitely not because he listens to or obeys adults. He also has a strong policy of asking for forgiveness rather than permission.

The other day he said, "Dad, what would you do if you were a fire-breathing dragon?"
Grant: I'd try really hard to be careful with you guys.
Jake: No, I mean a MEAN, HUNGRY fire breathing dragon!
Grant: I guess I'd eat you all.
Jake: Oh no you wouldn't, because I would kill you, and then I'd be famous for killing the fire breathing dragon and everyone would like me.
Grant: But wouldn't you be sad because you didn't have a dad anymore?
Jake: No. I'd just go knock on some house's door and ask the people there to be my new Dad.

Tonight, I was sitting at the dining table doing school work with Isaac and Elise when there was a loud, sudden beating on the front door. I got up to go look and the door slammed open - Jake stepped into the house wearing sunglasses and shoes (he doesn't typically put on shoes to play in the yard), his arms up and spread out wide holding my cat, Chrysanthemum. Her fluffly belly was covering his face almost completely. "I got her, Mom!"
Me: What were you doing out there? You know you're not allowed out front without a grown up.
Jake: I was in the side yard and I saw Creesanamum get out, and RUN OUT FRONT, so I followed her, but she went in Rita and Ken's yard! So I got my shoes and my glasses on and I knocked on Rita and Ken's door and they came, and I asked them if I could go in their backyard because my cat was in there, and they said yes. But I needed help with the gate."
For reference, I have only knocked on Rita and Ken's door three times in the two years we've lived here - I've never been inside, and went in the backyard only once, with Rita. Jake has met them once previously.

One day recently I took the kids to my sister's and they were eating her out of house and home. She had already given them ham rolls, apples and cheddar cheese, along with some crackers and who knows what. I was like, listen, enough! I fed you before we left our house; I'll feed you again when we get home! After about 15 minutes passed, Aaron came to Laura and I where we were sitting and asked if he could have an apple sauce, which he was holding. I said no, and to please not get food out of her fridge at all - he could ask without going and getting the thing. Just as I was saying this, Jake walked past us all nonchalantly, eating an opened and half-finished apple sauce with one of Laura's spoons. She and I looked at each other and burst out laughing (before I went and talked with him about this). This is what I'm talking about.

Teaching all five kids on a regular basis is still new and I'm in a transitional phase with it, for sure. Ananda is largely self-motivated and needs minimal intervention for her grammar/spelling, math review and handwriting type stuff. Aaron and I are constantly struggling to get him doing as much as he should be, and finding creative ways to get everything in...later this week he's going to be assigned doubling a baking recipe to serve us all and making it the whole way through, and figuring out measurements to then build something, because I'm tired of trying to force him through boring math drills at the moment. He is THRILLED about this. The two of them still love Right Start Math lessons, I just don't get to them daily. They, and Isaac, love and adore History of the World history when we do it all together, but that is about once a week. Isaac, Jake and Elise are doing workbook-work at good levels I'm happy with, but it's the kind of hovering constant interaction stuff that is tedious, especially when all three of them are working simultaneously and I keep having to tell someone not to interrupt someone else and it all seems to be echoing off the tiles.

Mostly this week I enjoyed explaining the Fourth of July to them, and the lyrics to the Star Spangled Banner, and then playing it as we decorated our annual flag cake with berries. It was also good exploring Sunset Place (as many stairs as Jared's palace at the end of Labrynth, but vine-covered rather than MC Escher'd) with Elise, and I'm liking reading Schooled to Ananda.

Money stress has been fierce.
Usborne work has been constant.
Grant is getting us reimbursements for everything from an eye exam Aaron needs to vet exams for the cats by being an increasingly dedicated mystery shopper. It's also provided free gas, pizza and snacks - you know, in addition to the actual payment. We sat the kids down in a circle on the deck with some brownies last weekend and explained to them Daddy's new a spy.

I am really torn between being scared, and dismissive, about threats that various scientists are talking about the oil spill - and the vast amounts of methane gas trapped underneath it - posing to Florida. Everything from Super Hurricanes to clouds of poisoned gas to a fucking tsunami (that was even in the Time NewsFeed after being reported independently by two non-affiliated science-guy sources, at the Huffington Post and some other place I can't recall). On the one hand, I really don't think we have enough information to take any sort of drastic fear-based action. On the other hand, I really don't believe we would ever get that much information if the threats were real, as our nation doesn't really have the resources to simultaneously evacuate the entire state and quell the resulting hysteria.

altarflame: (AaronMohawk)
In a way, we are almost there - Shaun and some Dance Empire parents joined forces to buy the plane tickets, and Bobby is sending me a $300 check that will also help.

In another way, we have a LONG WAY TO GO, because 7 days of eating and lodging in NYC is (while not some exact number at this point) a heck of a lot more than $300. So, a lot of it is falling to my Usborne book sales.

The good news is, I've sold $300 in person so far - which amounts to a $75 commission and $80 in free books, which I can sell for increased profits or keep for the family. I have a feeling I'll be getting a lot more RL sales as I am just getting started networking within our various groups. I am also going to start going to schools and churches to try to get some big accounts.

The bad news is, I was really hoping to get most of my sales online, and thus far there has not been one. single. one.

I was trying to figure out how in the world this could be, with the level of traffic this lj gets, and I am pretty sure it's because my default Usborne site is ABYSMAL. The books are wonderful, when I carry the samples and nice glossy catalogues around people genuinely want them and this is easy. But you click the url and your eyes kind of cross and then you just navigate away as quickly as possible, I think. The horrible lack of web quality probably even makes people nervous about the quality of the books, which is a shame, because I've been buying Usborne at Spellbound Books and Barnes and Noble for years and they are some of my kids' favorites.

Having a (VERY BUSY) web designer for a husband, I am hoping to make the site more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing the meantime, I am here to MAKE THIS EASIER FOR PEOPLE who might want to help, with this post ;) Because I genuinely believe there are people out there who would want something(s) for children they know if it were not such a headache to try to find on that site.

For instance, you can:

Click here for all the pirate-related kids' books!

Or here, for fairies!

Three pages of science books They range from elementary to advanced, everything from Growing Up books to Forensics, with DNA, electricity, magnets, experiment ideas and a lot of other stuff in between.

Hitler, Anne Frank, Baba Yaga and the Witch, Around the World in Eighty Days, Black Beauty; all kinds of great stuff in this long section

The Gas We Pass, subtitled The Story of Farts - only 7.99

This is funny stuff, I have seen it at Barnes and Nobles.

For a great pair, also try:
Everyone Poops
Both of those links (and many others on the site) have "Peek Inside This Book" features available, similar to Amazon's.

For all the lactivists out there, the same series includes the book Breasts which is very breastfeeding-normative as well as just funny - you can see the positive reviews for it at amazon, but DON'T BUY IT THERE!! :p

new Chapter books and adapted classics for older readers

Picture books for young kids as well as several pages of "kid kits" that include extras; guides to card games that come with a deck, magic tricks with accessories, craft guides with yarn or paint included, and so on. Great gifts, in other words ;)

Spanish language!

Many of the books on the site are award winners, and I really think they are reasonably priced. These are the internet-only specials, many of which are under $5. Because I am in my first 90 days as a rep and doing this as an "eshow" and several other factors, I'm getting 25% commission and double free books - which is incredible.

So, if you are in the market for childrens' books - be they toddler board books or The Illustrated Dictionary of Math for school kids (we have that and Annie reads it for fun...) I would really appreciate it if you would consider helping us fundraise :)

Unrelated, picture video and blurb from our week )
altarflame: (Default)
I really wanted to be this strong independent woman while Grant was gone, and do all our normal activities and lessons and meals and things, and clean the whole house spotless in a deep and organizing way that would be a big surprise when he got home. I even had grand ideas about writing and crafting in the late night hours I'd normally spend with him. There was this whole plan where each kid would cheerfully tell him about their day over the phone in the evenings and he would feel free to gallavant around knowing we were doing great.

Instead I was miserably sad and overanalyzing my sadness for the first and second day. He's been working so much that he walked out the door just as I was dying for my weekend help/break/company, and so it sucked a lot to think that rather than getting that, I'd spend a whole next week totally alone and then...he'd go back to work. This trip was my idea; my present to him; I really did/do want him to have a good time and yet I felt like I didn't know how much I could deal. I hate feeling sick of my kids, but it happens, usually around the end of the week at a time when everyone is asking me for things at once, in the evening when I'm feeling done for the day.

But then the third day, I really did it. Cleaned and taught and went places and cooked good food and felt fine. I was like, alright, a speed bump at first but now we're off. I even did some deep organizational work and sat all the kids down for an apology and talk about how I'd been depressed over the weekend and why.

It was still super crappy trying to go to sleep that night, it was the first night I had the bed to myself when laying down. Eventually Peter (Aaron's cat) came and curled up with me.

Then on day 4, as I flipped pancakes, Elise suddenly threw herself down in hysterics screaming "DADDY HOME!!! My DADDY HOME!!" over and over. We called him, which she usually loves, and she refused to talk. I apologized for making him feel bad. We had a really good breakfast around the table together.

And then Ananda said their bathtub was mysteriously filling up with green water. It began to storm, and just as I went to google info on septic tanks, the power went out.

And then my cookies came out like round rocks.

We packed up the rock cookies (seriously, ROCKS) and piled towels in the bathroom in case the tub kept backing up and headed out.

And then Jake threw up A LOT in the van while we were up in Miami and A and A were in science class. It could have been worse: I happened to have a change of clothes for him, and some bottled water and a towel to clean him up (thanks frequent trips to the beach and my own slovenliness with the van...)

While I was standing there in a church parking lot flinging excess vomit off of things into the grass, my brother called, asking if I'd seen the news. THE NEWS?! What? Terrorists, oil spills, what?! "There are like 20 or 30 cop cars here at JobCorps" he said, "Can you guys come and get me? It's kind of freaking me out" "I wish I could Bob, I'm half an hour away with puke everywhere, and Ananda and Aaron don't get out of their class for 40 minutes". (He never did figure out what was going on at JobCorps that day and came home as usual on the bus later)

Jake was very sweet and patient and seemed like he felt better as I strapped him back in. They all watched a movie as I bagged up everything disgusting and put it all in the hatch. A and A came out super excited, they loved their class. Jake was acting totally normal.

We went to a nearby picnic area with the rock cookies and some chocolate almond milk. Aaron announced he could not handle hip hop because he was feeling sick. Then Isaac said he was feeling sick. Then Jake threw up a whole lot more and I couldn't do much beyond telling him we'd be home soon.

Back at the ranch, Jake and Isaac continued throwing up all as I worked on dinner for the rest of us. My brother was doing dishes next to me, and when he turned on the garbage disposal, there was an insane racket and then water started pouring onto the floor from under the counter. Twenty minutes of frantic phone calls to Grant and my father in law and finding things to wedge in there to keep stuff from falling out and breaking pipes...the meat I had thawed for dinner turned out to be rotten.

So I had to rush out to the store for more. When I got in the van to go, THE FLAT TIRE LIGHT CAME ON. I ranted and raved about voodoo dolls and curses.

Eventually I got dinner made, baked bread with it that came out really well, FAR TOO LATE and even though only a couple of us ate anything. I was consistently soothingly talking to someone as they vomited, wiping it off the tile, scrubbing it out of carpet and couches, washing it out of bowls, putting on new movies and running for cups of water and more laundry until about 6 am. I stopped many times to think how lucky I am that both of them were handling it very well. Because there was almost no crying, or complaints, really, it was kind of amazing - Jake kept leaning way out from himself to keep his pajamas dry and things like that. *sigh*

Then at 6/6:30 I layed down to try to sleep but was immediately overwhelmed by nausea. Do you see where this is going? In and out of the bathroom and trying to sleep totally upright and reading even though I was barely able to hold my eyes open because it distracted me from the nausea.

From like noon (when my kids were waking up) until 4 I dozed when they weren't fighting, saying the movie was over, asking for something to eat, etc. Then Aaron came in and told me he just passed out and slept in his puke in the night because he didn't have the energy to get up after he threw up for the first time. Could I come help him with his bedding? And Annie told me she had forgotten to tell me she threw up THE PREVIOUS MORNING and could I please clean it off the wood of her bed? So I was getting up and down slowly, taking a lot of breaks, and finally around 7 pm broke down and wrote Grant the epoch of dramatic, woebegone emails telling him I couldn't take it anymore. And cried hysterically on the phone to my sister and tried to act like I wasn't crying hysterically on the phone with my sister when Gloria, bless her heart, called to say she had seen my lj and thought maybe I could use some help. I COULD use some help, but Gloria, if you came over you would just end up vomiting everywhere and/or I feel better about being a total mess in privacy even though that makes no sense :/ I keep meaning to write you a grateful email. I will do that in a minute.

So yeah. I made dinner eventually last night, the first food anybody had really eaten all day. We were all ravenous but ate like, a few bites and then kind of pushed our plates away. I stayed up late even through crazy exhaustion to take a long bath and get all my sheets, pillowcases and blanket through the washer and dryer because really, EWW I felt so gross. Went to sleep at like 3 am feeling grateful for cleanness with the phone by me cuz I'd been semi-conscious talking to G for awhile.

Woke up covered in the stinky sweat of "now you're not sick anymore" and feeling extremely irritated. Everyone starving, nothing in the house except things I have to cook. So not going to PATH today.

I did not want to be the fragile wilting flower, pining away and waiting for her man to return home. TOO BAD, I am.

So I'm sitting here feeling so irritable and tense with my peeling sunburn and my lack of appetite and thinking of all the cleaning I need to do as kids come to me ONE AFTER THE OTHER repeating pleas for me to hurry up and bake the muffins as though I did not just boil them eggs within the last 15 minutes. He's supposed to be back late, late tonight. And it sounds like the greatest thing in the whole world to just have him here to watch LOST (I'm 2 weeks behind now...) and The Office with and talk to and go to sleep in his arms. I told him on fb chat that he is going to pull me into him in bed and start trying to talk to me about his time and I'm gonna be like "Mmmhmmmmmzzzzzzzzzz".

Some kid quotes from this week:

Me: You are a gimp.
Aaron: *gesture where finger snapping turns into finger gun pointed at me* I think you mean pimp *then looking down blushing and biting his lip in humilation*

Isaac: (miserable, in the dining room) I'm tired! I don't want to walk!
Me: So sit down.
Isaac: (whining) But I want to eat some raisins, and I have to walk to the raisins to do that.

*Aaron is standing on the step stool, which is near the stove*
*Elise walks up and lets out an ear-splitting high pitched scream*
*Aaron leaps off and runs out of the kitchen, fingers in her ears*
*Elise climbs up on the stool happily to see what's cooking*

Thanks Andrea/[ profile] custard_kisses
altarflame: (Default)
Someone on formspring asked if I have anything new in the collection, and I'm sure I do, but I can't remember what all I had the last time I "documented" it. So...

This is a 10x13.

They're painted on pages from Hamlet, which made me think of Ophelia, because I'm like that.

Towel hooks (metal or something?). We keep saying we're going to make paper speech bubbles to put by their heads that say, "Hey Sailor".

I LOVE. THIS. Should have got a bigger picture for details. Love love love. She has a fetal mermaid in the bubble and is watching with this enrapt expression.

Need to replace the glass :/ And yes, these are the things I use my big double vanity space for.

The little metal one on top of the facial scrub used to be a magnet from Weeki Wachi, but the magnet part fell out.

Front two are containers, little round thing at the top is a button.

That's all in the outer part of my bathroom, where there is are two sinks, giant mirrors and a linen closet. The rest is from the other half behind the door, where the tub and toilet are...

This is an 8x10.

This is a HUGE oil painting I got rolled up from eBay and then framed. It's least 3 feet high and across from the toilet. Ananda says she thinks this is what mermaids in the Asian ocean look like.

Contrast sucks here, but someone sent me this <3

Soap and not much bigger than soap.

But these are over 10" tall. The colorful one was a gift from my mil.

Grant sometimes says something along the lines of, "I thought you were talking about a subtle motif...." when we reference the heavy handed theme :p
altarflame: (Oldschool)
This financial crisis we're having is highlighting key differences in the way Grant and I were raised. It's bothering me, too, really it is, but it is making him completely insane with anxiety and stress. I know that part of this is that he is the breadwinner but I really don't think that's all of it by a long shot.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

I'm basically rambling here until my FREAKING KIDS GO TO SLEEP - the little ones - so I can go take a long luxurious bath in my seldom-used garden tub. I'm starting to think I'll have to give it up, as they've been arguing and getting into things in their darkened rooms at top volume for TWO HOURS NOW. Improved Schedule: Night One is always so much fun. I'll send Darien and Naja in there to wake them up bright and early. I have too much before-bed cleaning to do to fit it and the bath in before I go down :/
altarflame: (Default)
This is an intense and focused time for us, in a positive way.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And I think that is it. I can't usually update the way I used to, anymore, because I'm really making sleep a priority. It's crazy to me how I've clung to this idea that I have to have this extended time to myself at night to be sane and healthy, when really it does about exactly the opposite - staying up way too late screws up my metabolism AND makes me way more likely to eat a lot of extra crap in the middle of the night, as well as making me a tired mess the next day. And I get loopy late at night and freak myself out with thoughts of future surgery, and any and every other thing you can imagine. I still get what is so hard about just letting go and surrenduring to the end of the evening...but it's really kind of freeing to be ABLE to do that.
altarflame: (burning bush)
There's been a lot of construction in my backyard the past few days. We almost have a chicken coop and run :)

The coop part is the upper floors there on the's enclosed now and will have a hole to get in with a ramp for the chickens to walk up. Then they can walk around under it or in any of the other free space, and we'll put a couple of perches up high as well, once all the chicken wire is secured on it. It has a hinged door at this point for us to walk in and out of.

(definitely gonna be moving the firepit...)

Mr Shaun Wright, who's been staying late to help.

We've had two false alarms this week.

1. Elise had been playing in the sideyard (connected to backyard) with the other kids, then came to us with a blue streaked mouth. Grant had torn out some weeds sprouting suspicious purple-y berries and we were both instantly terrified she had eaten some wild poison. Robbie, our 14 year old nephew, was in the ER for hours last year after eating some crappy berries on a dare from one of his friends. Luckily, no, there were no more berries Grant had missed along the fence - we are lame enough to have a rainbow striped hackey sack laying around and it was wet with drool, and the ink from the blue part had run as she chewed on it.

2. The chickens have been in a temporary coop on the deck, that has a towel layed down in it (we're rotating all our old and raggedy, horrible towels that have been used for rabbits for months now for this purpose...)It's better for them to walk and nestle down to sleep on than the deck slats and keeps some of the poop off the deck (though we can hose the rest). Anyway, one of the chickens had some fraying string wrapped around it's ankle tight enough that it's foot was swelling and it was laying there looking alarmed and making a big racket. It limped and hopped it's way through the rest of the day, when not laying around looking shocked, after we freed it and threw that towel out...I had to give A and A a "this chicken might die or be crippled forever" talk but when we woke up to go *gulp* check, the chicken was fine. We can't even tell which of them it was now.

We have got tomatoes like crazy. Peppers too. And mangos like mad ripening on our tree.

Elise right after the rain.

Elise right after a hair brushing.

Being read to by Jakey.

Oh, my sweet sweet Jakey.

I just want to say, WHAT is going on with our weather? It was 94 degrees on Monday afternoon. Then Tuesday night, down in the 40s?! That's a cold front for us in January.

My sister's birthday was the 7th. She said she can't remember it ever being cold on her birthday in her life ( the shade of my deck we were sitting in rocking chairs bundled in blankets from the wind). Her husband decided to be all dashing and drive the fire engine to her house during his shift to deliver her roses and then drive off in uniform leaving her all a-flutter. Then I came and got her and we went and picked up her ultimate dream cake from the Publix bakery, an Outback giftcard and made some promises of babysitting that were fulfilled today.


I feel better. I'm definitely NOT following Weight Watchers. But I don't care that much at the moment, either? I think that makes it not that bad?

Spending a lot of time crocheting this blanket I'm making, that's basically a series of 3-repeating-color's like I made a red-pink-fuschia-red-pink-fuschia-red-pink-fuschia scarf, and then a beige-brown-purple-beige-brown-purple-beige-brown-purple scarf, and now I'm doing a black-burgundy-brown-black-burgundy-brown-black-burgundy-brown one. At the end I sew all the scarves together and it's a big blanket made of all these stripes of squares centered around browns and reds. I'm using a wool blend that can go in the washer. When I'm not doing that I'm making kitchen mats out of a variegated green cotton.

Or editing and writing short stories.

Or talking with or reading to kids.

Or loading the dishwasher or washing machine.

Or fiddling with, taping up, sneezing out(!THISREALLYHAPPENED!), or cleaning my nosering (I know, Melissa, I know...) I left the paper tape I'd been keeping it from sinking into the hole with off for 24 hours last week and my skin grew completely over the stupid thing, it was totally gone in my nose and I had to like re-pop it out? So I've been all uber vigilant about it again. And I think it's healed enough at the right size that it doesn't need the paper tape anymore? But who knows. (for those who don't know, I found some reputable piercing info that said if you have a stud sinking into a hole you can use micropore paper tape, like my surgical wounds have been dressed in, cut a tiny slit in it, and basically make a sort of buttonhole where the tape is between the hole and the piercing so it can't slip down anymore. You just change it when you clean the new piercing, twice a day. It seems to work pretty well, i think I just got a really tiny stud for the needle size the guy used, or else I'm weird, or whatever)

I really, really love our house and yards and kids and pets and how well it all works together. I love the giant kitchen and big dining room, connected and right in the middle of the house - that now have a wall under the bar where kids are allowed to write, color and paint whatever they like. I love my big old turquoise master bedroom with flowy white curtains, his and her closets, king sized dark wood four poster bed, and massive two room bathroom with a garden tub and a couple of sinks and a linen closet all it's own, and mermaids all over it all. I love that we have A LIBRARY, and so much comfortable furniture in there and the tv room with this insane flat screen set up and this kickass antique light on the PIANO.

It's just pretty much badass and I sort of can't believe it every damned day.

I made turkey burgers for dinner and lemon bars for dessert, tonight.

I had a really nice, GOOD cry about feeling the Holy Spirit and presence of God for the first time in awhile, set to Third Day's "Show Me Your Glory", that I needed pretty badly. We are still going to City Church and liking it, but "charismatic" Protestant worship is so kind of...spectator-y? That I can block it out very easily or keep my distance with minimal effort. I CAN also choose to pay attention and be prayerful and get something out of it. But if I'm feeling like I like my distance and want to be a sinner without remorse, I can do that too. It's hard to not be mentally involved in Catholic church when you're getting down on your knees, reciting things along with everyone else, crossing yourself at the right times, getting up and down, etc. There was a Sunday at City Church with (walking up for) communion and actual congregational singing (rather than just the admittedly very cool concert deal) and it just undid me at the seams.

I have got a huge stash of Easter surprises for my kids. They're going to have amazing grass and candy free baskets filled with awesome sauce. And there will be candy on the hunt and undoubtedly candy from the in-laws, so don't get your panties in a bunch. We're going to be talking about Maundy Thursday and Good Friday over the next couple of days...I need to have Easter in some kind of context here...and then I'm psyched about Sunday. It's all under a sheet in my office.

I'm so tired, I haven't done a 3 am update in awhile.


Feb. 27th, 2009 12:52 am
altarflame: (DeathbyChores)
The kids and I spent the entire day out today, going from store to store with stops to have lunch on our front porch, to address and send mail, and to eat dinner, and now we are set to start gardening. We really wanted to get a raised-bed system or parts to make one ourselves, but there is any place we went to. And we were being very inventive, more than ready to use an old-school plastic baby pool even, once we saw that outdoor ponds were too unevenly deep at their centers, (but nobody sells those anymore, now that the giant inflatable pools have taken over...) So Grant is going to bust out the Big Man Tools (TM) and make one, at some point in the next couple of weeks when he's off, and in the meantime we got containers to put seeds and seedlings in for now. They'll probably be reused for flowers or put on freecycle once our permanent setup is in place. There are lots of places online to get raised bed systems or pieces to be assembled, but they're all hundreds of dollars plus shipping, which seems kind of ridiculous to me O_o The sandbox may be delegated as a garden, too, now that the sand is gone (AND GOOD RIDDANCE I WAS SO TIRED OF SAND!).

We're growing red and green bell peppers, and poblano and jalapeno peppers; grape, cherry, roma, heirloom and beefsteak tomatoes; and various herbs, namely mint, oregano, basil and cilantro. These are all things we use in great enough abundance, and that are pricey enough in stores, that I think they make sense to devote some effort and maintenance to. They're also crops that do well in our blazing, incessant sun and heat. Oh, I forgot broccoli! Ananda and Aaron got some strawberries and lavender as their own side project, and are going to research ways to use the lavender (like making satchels or soap or something). She already wants her own etsy store, ever since Gloria taught her how to finger knit she's been a scarf-making fool.

When I consider that we'll be able to go into our backyard for not just vegetables and herbs, as we have at various points in the past, but also EGGS...I eat it up, no pun intended :p How awesome is this? We will have a suburban farm, bwahahaha.

I can imagine myself getting a sheep sometime in the future. To sheer and make yarn from. I mean "10 years from now" future, though...a golden retriever in a couple of years will probably be the only animal addition over the next decade, because while I love having pets around, I really dislike a lot of constant maintenance and the way they complicate road trips...Everything we have now is perfectly fine if we set them up with self-feeders and dissapear for the weekend, and none of them intimidate potential animal-sitters for longer time periods.

Yesterday was also a good day, I got a lot of writing I'm very happy about done while Grant took the kids to the park, and before that they and I just had another good day...and tomorrow we're all set to spend the whole day transplanting seedlings and planting seeds, and researching their "historical characters" - Ananda and Aaron are participating in an event called "Historically Speaking" wherein they learn all about, and then dress up as and get up and talk as though they ARE, some historical character of their choosing. Annie picked Amelia Earhart, and Aaron Harry Houdini.

We also got a mini, cushy toilet seat to fit on a big toilet, for Elise, and a step stool, and she is excitedly making every member of the house go in with her to look at it, in turn, so she can point excitedly and yell, "PEE!" and then point towards where her pee comes out. She has not actually peed on a toilet, ever, but asks me to sit her on one and tries to fairly regularly, so this seemed better than me holding her there while she looks nervous about falling in.

So this is all great, right? Except...

My house is a giant disaster. Every single room is completely trashed. The library table is PILED with books that are slipping off onto the floor as new ones are added, the tv room has megablocks and the contents of a sock basket strewn all over it, the kitchen sink and counters have been swallowed by dishes, the laundry room is an absolute avalanche...etc. Every single room.

And honestly? I don't care that much. We're all happy, it's not a gross mess, we do have clean clothes to wear and the table clean for each meal and furniture available to sit on, and it's not as though ANYONE other than me seems to notice the grit on the tile or smudges on the walls...

But. My Aunt Deana is supposed to be dropping by tomorrow. I see her in the "every couple of years" range, and she's never been to our new house before. *sigh*

I imagine that if I get Isaac to clean out the big closet, Aaron the kids' bathroom, Annie the tv room and library clutter, and Jake and Elise random things I hand them to take to their right places, I could manage to sweep, swiffer, vaccum, do a million dishes, scrub counters, organize shelves and tackle our bedroom in...a couple of hours? :x

I know it has to be done. And I even have some added motivation now because [ profile] babyslime is demanding a video tour. But uuuuuugggh.

I'm ordering multi-disk sets of Reading Rainbow and Postcards From Buster from tonight, to keep in the van, where we have a dvd player that I've decided is conveniently ok for educational purposes. Both of those shows are beyond words, by the way, and just priceless.

I'm still reading, and reading about, Edna St Vincent Millay in my spare time, i.e., while on the toilet and/or when nursing Elise to sleep in the afternoon. I have enough to read about and by her that I imagine I'll be doing it for awhile. Elise loves it when I get to verse in one of the books, and read it out loud. All of my kids have had such a love for listening to poetry, and yet it still always surprises me when I see it.

It's Lent, and I am aware of that, and I have a devotional book to read one day at a time - Show Me the Way by Orthodox writer Henri J. M. Nouwen - but I am not really giving anything up, this year. And was taken woefully by surprise, by Ash Wednesday. If nothing else comes of this season, this year, at least I am thinking about my faith that much more often, from the awareness that it's happening...

I found an old friend on Facebook and it made me really happy.

I bought this dress while we were at Target on garden detail, and am wearing it now:

I'm using the hangy things in front to tie around my neck, and it works out.

Food. Hmm.

I have serious emotional eating problems that go way, way back into childhood. Weight Watchers has been surpringly doable for me, because of the way you can work the points system, but. Well. Honesty.

I've been between 223-229 lbs ever since I got out of the hospital last. 2007 totally ballooned my weight, the multiple 6 week recovery periods from surgeries just turned me into some sort of blob...and left me with a lot more emotion to eat over.

When I started WW, I listed my activity level as "mostly standing" and my breastfeeding status as "exclusively nursing", because Grant really didn't think "nursing with supplementation" covered what my 3 year old and 21 month old were sucking down on-demand, daily. That gave me 40 points per day, that I was allowed to consume (a big banana, or slice of turkey bacon, or girl scout cookie, would be 2 points, for reference).

I realized very quickly when I started calculating, that I have been in the habit of consuming over a HUNDRED points per day. And I am admitting on the internet to Anonymous and everyone that my binge eating plays into my intermittent blockage in a big, scary way and my ER trip for the pain was a humiliating turning point.

So. My first month on WW I was allowed 40 points per day, plus 35 weekly flex points to be used at any time throughout the week (but not rolled over). And I cheated a little somewhat frequently. I stayed between 222 and 224 the whole time, which I guess is technically a noticeable improvement. 222-224 for a month after a year of 223-229. Still REEEALLY frustrating when you've more than halved the amount you eat each day, and keep waiting a whole week to weigh in again, just to see the same damned thing. I've been way more active than usual lately, too, to the point that some suggested I could be accumulating muscle (from canoeing for hours, bike riding semi-regularly, more walks, snorkeling for almost an hour, etc)

All of this is totally disgusting to me. Before Elise, I had never even reached 220 when PREGNANT. I was actually 217 the day each of my first 4 children were born, oddly enough. And my jutting, herniated diastasis totally ruins my proportions.

Anyway...I made a decision based on their ages, my energy and time constraints, when my next surgery will be, etc, to scale way back on nursing. Jake is having milk about every other morning at this point, only. Elise is basically nursing when she first wakes up, before her afternoon nap, and before bed, only. Nursing sessions are not exceeding 10 minutes. He is none the worse for wear; she is a little clingier. I changed my ww status to "nursing with supplementation". I also "got real" about how much time I spend driving the van, folding laundry on the tv room floor, sitting on the computer, reading someone a book on the couch, etc, and changed my activity level from "mostly standing" to "mostly sitting". Especially seeings how you can count everything from cleaning to shopping towards more activity points, this is really fair.

My points allowance went from 40, to 33 per day, based on those two changes. I still get the 35 weekly flex points (everyone does) and still earn activity points for activity. I don't think I could have handled it when I first started WW and 40 was so constricting...but after over a month in, it's doable. I just have to think about things. A handful of raw mushrooms or some baby carrots are totally free. Or like if I make roasted cauliflower, steamed broccoli and sliced tomatoes with dinner, those are all free (although the olive oil and smart balance involved add a menial couple of points). And I love all that sort of stuff. I mean, a tall frappuccino with whipped cream and everything is only 7, which I can totally plan ahead for and work in without even dipping into flex points.

So this is my first week "doing it right", I guess, with the lowered point number and really staying within my point allowance. This is only day 4 of the first week of that. But I got on the scale this morning. I'm not "supposed" to get on the scale unless it's my scheduled weigh-in day (monday) but I did, because I am a masochist? Because I like feeling hopelessly frustrated and like even if my life is on the line I will still just eat myself literally to death?

It said 219. TWO NINETEEN.

I never thought I'd be psyched about 219. But wtf, I haven't been under 220 in a year and a half or more.

It just gives me a lot of new motivation and ease for sticking with it. Like, geez, if that is what 4 days on the plan can do, let's bring on some whole months and see what happens.

Everyone around here is growing so quickly. Isaac is FIVE. I found a picture of all of them together by the tree at Opa's house, the other day, and while Isaac and Jake look almost the same, Elise is a COMPLETELY different little girl, now, and Aaron is very noticeably different, too.

Our chicks already have real feathers on their wings! Instead of just fluff. And Isaac's seeds have turned into real seedlings of several inches, in under a week. A and A and I were just talking in their room about how Hoppy and Shadow (rabbits) were fluffly little round babies and how weird that seems now.

Time, I tell you what.
altarflame: (chalk)
I really love my house. This house. Our house.

I'm glad it stopped feeling creepy and scary when it's nighttime and/or when I'm here by myself. It's just perfect. For me, for Grant, for us, for the kids, for the animals and on the outside.

I love our animals. My beautiful, regal, spoiled rotten and constantly on the prowl cat Chrysanthemum, who sleeps between our feet and sits on the dining table while we have dinner, and Aaron's terrified, battle-scarred, shelter rescued cat, Peter, who is always madly diving away or leaping into the air as if whoever is approaching his vicinity is going to drop kick him or something. Accidentally cornering him, by sheer coincidence, induces such a frenzy that I can't help but laugh. And Aaron, my cat-whisperer, CARRIES HIM AROUND. Grant can't even touch him, not with treats or toys or coaxing, but he will get under a blanket with Aaron and just purr.

I'm considering naming our four chickens Edna, Saint, Vincent and Millay. I've also considered theme names like "kid names we never used" (Talula, Jellybean, Clementine, Amelia) and "herbs and spices and...etc" (Basil, Clove, Paprika and Marmalade). But they might not think that's funny :p Not that we would ever eat these chickens.

It's crazy to even call these fuzzy fluff balls that hop and peck with tiny little beaks, chickens.

But yeah. Love. I love having a whole big library and I love homeschooling and all of it. I love my awesome husband.

The only thing I don't like about this house, is that because it is pretty big and has many additions from various decades, there are a lot of (solid concrete) exterior walls within the interior of the house, and so it is basically impossible to yell to or for anyone who is more than a room away. Let alone on the other end of the place. This is inconvenient to me at many points throughout every day. I've joked about getting an intercom system to the point that it's something to maybe consider. But I have no idea how much that costs? Particularly with the laundry room right in the middle of everything and washer and dryer ALWAYS going, it gets to be a pretty big pain in the butt. I already feel extravagant about having an alarm system, but the little beepbeepbeep whenever anyone opens or closes one of the (SIX DIFFERENT) doors is kind of necessary with tiny escape artists around.

This makes it seem like I live in a mansion. I really don't. It's a 2,550 square foot house. There ARE seven of us and I'm sure it will be barely adequate when I have five teenagers trying to stake out their own rooms by commandeering my office and our giant closet and things. It's just that it's single story right now. I'm in the dining room. The next room over is technically Ananda and Aaron's room. But there are two LARGE closets (one has the computer desk built in) that way here in the dining room, and then Annie and Aaron's big organizational his-and-hers closets, next, between us. Not just a normal single wall.

When we lived at Grant Sr's, I could knock on our bedroom wall for Grant and he would come see what was up (this was usually when I was nursing someone down for nap or bed and didn't want to yell and ruin it). That would be completely impossible here, from anywhere I could reach a wall.

But man. It is just perfect perfect perfect otherwise. We're in the process of hanging maps all over the dining room, some mounted on cork board so we can push pins into places on them. And putting raised gardens (along with the chicken coop) in the backyard.

Just having a backyard for grownups (shed, garden, chickens) and a separate fenced side yard for kids (climbing toys and tree, trampoline, kiddy pools, free space) is crazy awesome.

Anyway. I have such a busy day coming tomorrow I'm insane to be up at this hour.
altarflame: (Default)
I've been having a lot of fun this week.

You see that suspicious kitten? She's saying, "Look lady, I know you want more babies and you're out of luck - don't even TRY slipping me that titty."

I've had great phone conversations with Laura,

We talked again. We're not "not talking" but we're also not talking very much, if that makes any sense... She told me I should look up Kelly Clarkson's video "Because of You" on YouTube because it makes her think of me singing to her. I was like...I don't know. Sort of rolling my eyes? My mom has horrible suspect taste in music, for the past couple of years. She cried, though, telling me.

And then I cried a lot watching it.

Mom, when did you get all intuitive and full of hindsight?

I've also had great emails from Nancy, who's coming down, and met with a plastic surgeon, which was nerve wracking and shaky legged but reassuring in the end...

I found a new livejournaler I'm obsessed with and I'm reading her lj backwards as though it were a novel. I'm 500 entries in. Grant has to hear about her all day and into the night.

I have a lot of new music, through either rediscovering things in our old files from former computers, downloads off iTunes of stuff I forgot about, and reccomendations from that aforementioned ljer.

February is a cram-packed month for us this year. Ultra condensed short month.

You see that calendar above their heads?
There is...
-Hoppy (the other bunny) having her turn at spaying, tomorrow. The other bunny was also spayed, btw. Because it was a girl after all. So there will be no baby bunnies, and I have to say I am relieved. Apparently female bunnies have visible, external vulvas, and I mistook them for something more after watching them acting...suspiciously.
-Grant is out back digging a fire pit right now...we need a fire pit. Edit: It's mostly done. The grass inside the safety ring is all wet now.

-Ananda and Aaron going together to their first sleepover, at my friend Michelle's house, with their friends (2 of her 6 kids) Grace and Kai - this is Saturday night
-them going to a free ballet with Laura next Saturday day
-the 7 of us camping at Peace River, up in Arcadia, Sunday-Tuesday. Three days two nights. We're getting a small propane tent heater because it's supposed to be in the 50s at night. It's exciting, though, the river is really low this time of year and you can find all kind of ox fossils and shark teeth and things on the canoe rides, if you get out where it's very shallow
-Grant and I are going away together overnight for the first time ever, for Valentine's Day. Laura will be here with the kids. We're going to Dry Tortugas National Park. I've been really fascinated with the Dry Tortugas for months now, I got a book about the's been a prison, and a pirate stop. There are shipwrecks and coral reefs to see with snorkels, and baby turtles hatching, and a big old fort to climb up in.
-I'm (presumably, with everything fine at my exam for the go-ahead) getting an IUD
-ISAAC IS TURNING FIVE. Isaac - 5. O_O He says "Hi!"

Jake wanted to say hi too..

-between the 22nd-24th our chickens will be arriving! Well, chicks. One day old female chicks :)

Grant's shed:

The weird seasonal thing our mango tree is doing (along with all the other ones in the neighborhood):

I've been drawing sometimes. I'm not an artist, it's childish colored pencil stuff, but it's therapeutic. And a little nuts.
Don't say I didn't warn you )

I've been thinking a lot about all the different versions of my self that are out there. Because on Facebook, I have high school friends, PATH moms, (rl) naturalfamily group people, x-boyfriend, church camp peeps,'s weird sometimes to see what I say to one and then imagine them all seeing it. Something really good for me has been the church we're going to. They tell it like it is, with lots of scriptural reference and theologically helpful points...and lots of Tolkien and C.S Lewis references...and lots of science and philosophy...and lots of not normally Christian music...all reinforcing the truth of God, the presence of the Spirit, the life of Christ. I can't really get into it here and now, at the end of an already-gargantuan entry, but there doesn't seem to be anyone there who has a "church self" and a "the rest of the time self". It's very raw. They're really trying to go back to the beginning and do it the way it was done in the Gospels, with our particular community in mind.

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