altarflame: (deluge)
I've got a whole month's worth of pictures, maybe more, and plan to work through at least most of them in batches in the coming days. Early November, here...

Under $12 total for both, at the new Trader Joe's:

A completely gluten free afternoon tea - cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate almond biscotti. And some random remnants of cantaloupe and tomatoes that my children were eating, for good measure.

Ananda, Jacob and I worked for more than half an hour putting that together and it was all gone in less than 5 minutes. It makes everyone happy, though, and we linger around the table talking for half the afternoon afterward, so it ends up feeling worth it.

My 4 homeschooled children, for the "Scientifically Speaking" event PATH's Annie, as Hank Green:

Aaron, as Carl Sagan:

Jake as Albert Einstein:

and Haha, he looks more like Juan Valdez, but the gray we'd sprayed on his hair and mustache just would not stay vibrant, and the mustache re-flattened everytime we tried to mess it up.

And Elise, as Mary Treat:

Budding Scientists, in the meeting room of the library :)

The product of a delirious late night laugh-fest with A&A, while Grant was in Maryland:

Every single time I go shopping I have to put my Tetris skills to work.

Isaac, nervous before the Veteran's Day parade (his cheerleading squad was in it).

Pre-parade traffic jam.


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.

Clearly, I forgot something, though :/

Waiting with me, at my dentist.


The aversion to sunlight must be hereditary; Grant and Elise, taking a nap.

I was like, "What are you guys DOING?" when I found them in there. "Bobbing for apples," they said.

Last: a )
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)
Ananda and I went out shopping for a dress for her, for the PATH end of year dance that's tomorrow night. This dance is a plot hatched by moms partially just to give them all the experience of hating/standing around at a dance, which is sort of a quintessential teenage experience (we even hired a dj that's gonna make them LINE DANCE!!), but it's backfired - as I type Annie is spending the night with Izzy and Mia and her curling iron and a lot of nail polish and excitement and so on.

Izzy's house is AWESOME, btw, like wut. It's a tiny place in an overgrown tropical sort of lot on the outskirts of the gables, all jalacy windows and every floor, wall, and built-in shelf made of different sorts of wood. You have to step over the boat that they're refinishing, as you come in the front door, and her mom is a painter and her work is all over the house, and they have a freakin' house ferret running around on the floor, and skulls on the kitchen counter, and steps either up or down for every single room, and Ananda was thrilled.

ANYWAY, we went shopping for a dress for her, remember that part? We found one at Goodwill for $6. Fits amazingly - though I had to shorten the straps - and she loves it. She is adamant that she's wearing her Converse with it, and my mother and husband assure me I have no room to complain since I tortured everyone by pairing all my own dresses with combat boots as a teenager.

The dress is blue velvet with a shiny purple edging, and straps, and it's pretty modest and age appropriate - goes up past the tops of boobs and down to the tops of knees and isn't tight on the butt or anything...but...she's just so beautiful and she's some kind of WOMAN in it.

All these PATH boys used to seeing her in baggy tie dyed tshirts, I dunno, I think it's gonna be like Hermione at the Yule Ball for them.

It makes me REALLY happy for her, that she can actually enjoy dressing up and get excited about it. There are so many things that were this huge big deal for her, a couple of years ago, that are just not even issues at all, anymore.

I had the feedback session with Isaac's psych evaluator, FINALLY, late this afternoon.

It made me sad - to hear his synposes of things Grant and I were concerned about, and Laura in her packet of paperwork, and to learn the somewhat disturbing question-answers and short stories Isaac came up with during the sessions, and to sit and ponder the lengthy list of recommendations.

I also sat and felt good, though, that Isaac is happier and doing better right now than he ever has before, by a long shot, and is still only just 8 years old.

Actual diagnoses, right now, are:

-high-average and above average intelligence, respectively, based on two different tests
-reading disorder
-at and above grade level math skils
-anxiety disorder, NOS
-borderline clinical childhood depression - this had to be administered orally since Isaac can't read, which, owing to how self conscious and guarded he can be, most likely skewed the results to "less depressed" based on the moderate answers he would give out loud

Other observations include:
-uncomfortable in social situations
-gastrointestinal discomfort (needs more medical research)
-very unusually self-conscious and guarded
-articulate and verbose
-lack of empathy

It's a whole lot and it's also nothing, since none of it exactly surprises me.

I really like Isaac's therapist, and this evaluator guy is ok, but I have had an ongoing tense conversation with both of them about homeschooling. They are so quick to say, "Isaac needs to go to school," and you know what? I think Isaac probably needs to go to school. Isaac is currently #3 on the waiting list for a 3rd grade spot, this fall, at a local charter. However, the counselor and psychologist are basing their opinions on horseshit - it's a knee-jerk reaction wherein they go, "Hmm, kid's acting weird - oh, he's homeschooled. Homeschooling is weird. Probably that's not helpin'!" I would like to know when the last time was that anyone at their institute recommended that a kid be taken out of school, or suspected school was the problem.

One example of this ridiculous attitude they have is that both of them have said multiple times that Isaac has to have opportunities to get out of the house and to socialize with peers, over and over. EACH AND EVERY SINGLE TIME this comes up, I say, "well you know Isaac does have a couple of hours at a library doing indoor play with one group of kids every Tuesday afternoon, and 3-4 hours every Thursday at a park playing outside with another group of kids, and he is in violin classes every Friday. He's going to a music day camp this summer at the same place where his classes are, and where he had day camp last summer." EACH AND EVERY SINGLE TIME, they go oh! That's awesome then. Cool, keep up the good work. But then without fail the Homeschooling Issue comes back up again, and they say it again - well, he really needs to be socialized, he really needs to get out of the house and see other kids. And I repeat myself and they stand corrected. I mean, wtf?

Likewise they act as though he doesn't read because he's homeschooled. I bring up the fact that I've got a severely dyslexic daughter, a boy with SID, and a 6 year old and they're all reading really freakin' well. I talk about how I have a lot more time and energy to devote to Isaac learning to read than a teacher of an entire class would, and how I spend a lot of time just reading TO him to preserve his love of books, and can step back and give him time when he is too stressed about it, and they have nothing to say, except some vague crap about how he could be in classes for kids with special needs - because, oh yeah, above average intelligence kids do GREAT in public school LD classes <----ugh. Just ugh. They go on about this critical point of early intervention that we can never get back and it's like, how does me sticking him in school all day where they're gonna devote a tiny portion to GROUP reading stuff equal "tackling this head on" whereas me painstakingly working with him one on one and trying different approaches and getting him software he enjoys, etc, does not? It's just stupid, to say it like that, to have that close minded attitude. They don't think his advanced math skills are because of being homeschooled or that my other kids' outgoing personalities are because of being homeschooled. They just stared at me when I asked if they realized that all over this country people are paying thousands of dollars a year to enroll their kids in waldorf schools that preach that you should not even BEGIN to teach boys to read until they're 7 or 8 years old.

Anyway, as I said, I would like to put Isaac in school - for reasons like, he is really manipulative and has a scary amount of influence on and lack of empathy for Jake, and so homeschooling is magnifying that situation in ways I fear are not healthy. I also think it's unfair for Isaac to spend so much time around siblings that have stigmatized him as various annoying caricatures of himself. He also tends to thrive on more structure than I am good at being consistent with.

But I can't have a real conversation with these mental health professionals about my concerns that Isaac will fall FURTHER behind in language arts and/or miss out on really valuable enriching homeschooling activities we partake in with PATH, or be left out of our group dynamic in another way when he already is the odd one out in so many ways, etc - because they're too busy parroting this "oh homeschooling's a variable let's pare this down to the status quo" bs around. I can't expect their help evaluating the pros and cons, at all.

Additionally, they're both really big on this "You (meaning I) can't do everything, it's too much" stuff. They say it over me, they interrupt me to say it because just the fact that I have FIVE KIDS is so overwhelming to their mindsets, and homeschooling is just an avalanche of holy shit we have to save this poor woman before she drowns. Fernando in particular will lay a hand on my knee and say, "Tina, it's too much. You have to be able to get a break, too." I can tell he means this very sincerely as someone who works at a place that emphasizes the whole family of each child, and he wants to give me some relief.

But, how do they presume to know what is a burden to me? Picking up and dropping off Elise at specific times, along with forcing her out of bed early and trying to get her in bed on time, and finding her clean preschool tshirts, and dealing with all the colds and flus she's brought home and the time she got lice and the nickle and dime expenses and special activities we have to come in for - all of that has been way, WAY more work for me this year than just having Elise at home those three hours on weekdays would have been. Like, by a landslide. I think just getting her physical and her medical exemption and her county forms in order were probably more trouble than just having her home would have been. Likewise, forcing Isaac to go to school when nobody else has to and arranging that drop off and pick up around our homeschooling activities and dealing with homework in the evenings when we're eating dinner sounds like a NIGHTMARE lot of work to me - sitting down with him with workbooks and activities when we're here in the afternoons, and curling up on the couch with books together and bringing him along to plays and beach days and PE class we're all doing, sounds EASY AS HELL.

I feel like I can honestly open myself to the possibility of school for him, and of what is truly beneficial. I just don't think they can.

Speaking of "how badly I need a break," I had one badass lot of great weekend. I wrote about our beach day (Sunday) already, but Memorial Day was also amazing. Highlights:

-really good sex followed by collapsing into a two hour nap.
-standing around with a glass of wine on my christmas-light strung deck, talking with kids and cats on the trampoline, feeling blessed in the night
-eating amazing - I'm talkin' AMAZING - steak and shrooms Grant grilled. There are not words for this steak, people, I'm serious. I was freaking out.
-talking and laughing and watching Antiques Roadshow and drinking an awful lot of wine, with Shaun and my kids (they had lemonade).
-great bubble bath with Grant, and even better sex


It was interesting but worth it, sitting around in biology with what I believe to have been my first hangover, this morning. At least I had the van today.
altarflame: (NewFive)
I made Ananda and I a separate, vegetarian dinner tonight (usually she just doesn't eat the meat in whatever is for dinner). Mushroom bisque, curried chickpeas and tomato slices I dolled up. Hers had salt, pepper, basil, olive oil and parmesean. She was in heaven.

I'm contemplating whether I should reconsider our Friday afternoons...we're not going to TLC (a purely social homeschooling meetup at a library half an hour north of us, the day after PATH which is the same thing with many of the same kids but at a park) because we're doing Greater Miami Youth Symphony in that time slot (local, free, and a continuation of their summer music camp). Clearly, in theory, there is no contest here. Jake and Isaac with violins, Aaron with a flute! But, in practice, I'm not so sure.

TLC was really satifying, decompressing socializing time for me, and all the kids had a great time at it, too, all summer...there are more older kids for Ananda and Aaron there (vs PATH), in a setting where they can branch off more than at the park (by going to the adjacent community center or out to the walking path while adults stay in the library) and it's pivotal to a lot of larger social interactions (sleepover pick ups and drop offs, mostly, but also things the teens toss around there like having a book club or doing an ongoing art project for someone who's moved out of state). Meanwhile, the weekly classes at GMYS seem a little less fabulous than the intensive camp was; very crowded, only 30-45 minutes of instruction in a large group setting. Still, because of different start times and general disorganization, we have to all be there for at least an hour and a half that involves me sitting around in a REALLY mosquito infested courtyard with the girls, trying not to be bored. Aaron is learning all sorts of things on the flute by ear, and is so good at that, that he never has to actually learn to read music to follow along with the class on paper. So it's sort of pointless to send him to try to do Mary Had a Little Lamb when, A, he will not learn it by notes and they can't really make him or even test him on sheet music skills, and B, he's here at home mastering piccolo songs from the Lord of the Rings soundtrack....

Jake and Isaac like having violins and want to learn to play them but we've been kind of lacking in enforcing daily practice, which is really necessary here if they're gonna excel.I guess what I really need to do is commit to practicing, and to planning activities for those of us waiting, or just drop out, since there's little point in fretting over keeping the instruments in good condition and making it to the classes on time if they don't end up able to play an instrument (Ananda is doing a cello class that's up in Kendall on Sunday afternoons, so irrelevant here except to say she is the one who sparked the family GMYS action by suddenly really wanting to take up cello).

Elise could join GMYS next year and have a little 1/4 sized violin and that tugs at me in a hard to deny way ;) I also know they'd love to go back to camp next summer. And I really want them playing instruments.

I'm really only thinking about this because last week Elise's physical took most of the afternoon (largely in waiting room time) and so we missed GMYS and went to TLC since we were up there anyway; everyone loved it, in such a lower stress way. Cybele, Karen and I laughed SO MUCH.

Isaac, Elise, Georgia and Jake at TLC last Friday.

We spend a couple of hours on Thursday evenings killing time up north between "PATH is over" and "time to pick up Daddy at the train station". Previously this has mostly been spent helping to clean out the local Borders -

(I got this pile for $16 last Friday!)
-but now Borders is closed. So this past Friday, we went to Party City's Halloween section in Hialeah.

Wait, let me tell you, Hialeah - it's meant some interesting discussions with my kids about the difference between the ghetto, and the barrio :p And it's yielded a lot of O_O reactions from them about, say, the way store mannequins in normal clothing boutiques in nice strip malls look.

(Standard Hialeah Mannequin)

And we had Oliver with us at Party City, because he is an official PATH member and joins us at the park every week now.

(Logan with Oliver, Cooper, Ananda holding Elise's hand, and Adrian)

Anyway, entertaining ourselves at Party City:

The costumes Jake and Isaac desperately want.

It occurs to me that my taste in shoes might be "Halloween".

I lol'd.

altarflame: (Default)
Grant has an IT conference he has to attend next week, for four days. His job is paying for his accomadations and meals. The accomadations are a two room suite and we already got permission for him to bring us along; there's a pool, it's near a beach, there's wifi for my laptop (virtual college course, Craigslist job hunting, etc).

Pros: Paid hotel stay, we always want to do that! Chances to swim for free daily with ease. We only have one vehicle and can't really afford a rental so if only Grant goes I have to drive him the two hours there and then come back 2 hours, same for picking him up, and he has no transporation in between. I've already approved this with my Tues and Thurs class professor, Bob is here to keep the animals alive, and the kids got told and are eager to do it. I don't want to sleep without Grant for several nights either, I'm bad at that.

Cons: We really aren't sure the room is equipped for all of us, I mean we camp in a damned tent and could bring sleeping bags and things but truly, it could end up cramped, and nobody seems to know details about the accomadations (the hotel website is sparse on pictures and doesn't include floor plans). We also really can't afford for all of us to be eating out of town for 3-4 days, even if we do try to keep some fruit and sandwich supplies in the room to cut costs. And, although I can meet some minimum productivity requirements with the laptop, I could be more productive at home and there's a lot of productivity to be engaging in at the moment. It's also a pain in the ass to pack and try to clean beforehand.

Should we all go? What do you think, internet?

What I'm really doing online right now is procrastinating because once I STOP procrastinating, I have to

make oatmeal
make sure Ananda and Aaron have their bags packed and supplies ready to be at Cybele's for 3 days, starting at the PATH handoff this afternoon
get the ferrets packed up with supplies in the big dog crate because they're the little boys' show and tell in their class today
make sure A and A and I and J (haha) have their folders and bags for their classes this afternoon
have everyone in clean clothes and shoes and out the door with their hands and faces washed to go to art therapy for Annie (the rest of us play at the nearby mall play area while Annie's in there)
then their classes
then lunch at the park
then PATH and the handoff
then picking Grant up

So oh yeah I also have to pack lunch before we leave, and make sure I have the $20 cash for the art therapist (woot sliding scale), and the carrying case for the ferrets so we can have them in that to go into the classroom since the big dog carrier is only for during transport and other activities.

I have some good ideas for how to make the most of this day, like watching the kids' documentary on Brazil we have out from the library in the van (this is a follow up to going to see Rio) and walking around the track at PATH a couple of times to get some excercise in. Elise and I have good one on one time while the other four are in classes, too - last week we found her an AMAZING $9 dress on the clearance rack at Macy's and the week before we sat in a bakery together in a booth talking. She's pretty great.

(OT) Annie's making a doll in art therapy which I think is coming out great.

Over and out, internet, my clock is ticking.
altarflame: (Mermaid)
I am sore and shivering with the worst freaking sunburn I've ever had in my life. I don't think I was aware I could get this sunburned. Apparently my Cuban skin has gotten used to a nocturnal lifestyle and 10-4 on a Miami beach was not in it's cards. I slathered all of my children in sunblock, and then maniacally reapplied it to Isaac every hour...putting any on myself never even occured to me o_O

The beach today was wonderful, though. It was the PATH year end party. Ananda ran around with 3-5 girls her age or older without even speaking to me for five hours straight, and Aaron found a few boys to hunt sea creatures with; they got urchins, slugs, a baby jellyfish and some sort of albino crab. All of the little kids had a blast, and I was SO PROUD OF ISAAC!! He had a great time playing in the water all day, which is just amazing for him. I kept having to call him back so he wouldn't drift out too far or run off beyond where I could see him. Which is...quite a change.

Perhaps best of all, I had a couple of really wonderful conversations. My (PATH...there are several) friend Michelle was there and it's just so easy, with her, we have so much in common but she also just exudes peace and welcome in this way I don't even know how to describe. I don't even have to think as things exit my mouth around her.

Then I talked in depth with a newer mom there for the first time, and it was just...incredible. One of those rare moments of deep connection. She is an unlikely, won't-live-on-base military wife who seeks out Orthodox priests within the bases and overwhelmingly reminds me of Dama. She has four kids. I DO NOT MEET Orthodox Christians IRL, people. But this particular one is in a huge crisis of faith because her oldest has had leukemia...twice. And both times it's been a 3 year rollercoaster (he's 14) of epic, gut wrenching proportions, and she is now at a point in life where she can't even say the Lord's Prayer without crying at the "Thy will be done" line. I know exactly what she means, because I had some serious trust/faith/anger issues when Elise was very small, that are still not completely worked out. But being so candid, and getting goosebumps for each other, to see her son digging a big trench in the beach as Elise runs up to me asking for more carrots, but mostly just LAUGHING. Is great. I was "testing the waters" today, with her and with a 3rd mom I have liked for awhile, to see what would happen if I started cursing and gossiping a bit, and was happy with what I found ;) In my natural parenting group that is par for the course but in PATH I usually keep it a little more professional because I go there more for the kids.

Pics From Today )

Some of my favorite things from this week include:

-Ananda has been giving Isaac "art classes" every morning after they've had breakfast and done their chores. Sometimes this is just her guiding him through a step by step drawing challenge from one of the learn to draw books we have. One day they made faces out of sequins on paper, with glue sticks. The best was probably the day that made sun prints. It's so good for both of them.
-Jake is all about his Kumon First Book of Cutting. He has these little red safety scissors and he takes it so seriously with his folder to put all his cut pages in.
-Ananda and Aaron's Tuesday science class was great (again!). They RAN from the van when I dropped them off and came back talking a mile a minute. When I asked Aaron what they learned about this week, he answered, "Mass, and force, and how they combine to make acceleration". I was impressed.
-Elise keeps randomly, casually saying things I had no idea she could say in ways that make me laugh...I said, hmm, I haven't seen your baby today and she said "Me either!" She fell down and hurt her face at the playground on Monday, and then fell out of the bench she was sitting on with me, afterwards, and RANTED, "Me hurt and hurt more more more MORE! No play! Go, car, now!"
-Aaron is taking an empty glass bottle - an izze bottle, so similar to a beer bottle - outside and coming in with it inhabited. He's gotten moths, a butterfly, a lizard, FOUR BEES AT ONCE (??). It's his new favorite thing.
-We're listening to an audiobook in the van whenever we're driving places. I, Coriander. It's very enveloping and well done, in writing and in voice work. Ananda and Isaac like it best, but Aaron and I do too. Jake hates it but just kind of has to deal.
-Isaac had a quarter the other day, and we were at Party City looking for little rubber snakes for Ananda's Medusa costume. They had big bins of candies and lollipops and things for .07 each. SEVEN CENTRS APIECE! He was able to get himself, Jacob and Elise each their own chosen thing, and then get 3 pennies back as change. It was like his dream come true. I also had to laugh a lot in Party City when he asked, as he does everywhere he goes, if they had quarter machines, and I said no...but then pointed out the WALL of quarter bins. Leaping plastic frogs, tops, small rubber frogs, bouncy balls, tiny pads of paper, you know...but 30 choices. He started jumping up and down with his eyes bulging, unable to believe it.
-we have their costumes all done for Historically Speaking tomorrow...Ananda will be in head to toe black (including gloves and socks) with snakes pinned throughout her hair. She will, at one point, look at Aaron,a nd he will stiffen and fall over. Aaron, as Orpheus, will have a sheet toga look with people helping him act out his story (i.e., Ananda and Isaac holding tree branches and following him around, and me rolling a rock towards him from the audience). Isaac's cracks me up the most, as Narcissus he's going to be holding this little hand mirror and gazing at himself lovingly. Which actually comes very natural to him ;)
-I'm finally, actually reading A Tree Grows In Brooklyn and really digging it. I can be seen lolling about on park benches reading when I've finished whatever phase of Annie's birthday sewing I brought with me
-Grant and I watched Sherlock Holmes. It is silly and Hollywood but totally entertaining the whole way through. I could have DONE WITHOUT THE PIG SCENE *surgical shudder*

This is big!! I will probably be talking it up semi-often in the coming weeks so bear with me, ok? I'm now selling Usborne Books! Usborne publishes books with vivid, awesome illustrations, wording really geared to pulling reluctant readers in, and nothing "commercial" - there are no tv, movie or video game characters to lead your kid back to a screen. They range from board books to chapter books, with lots of fairy tales, science and everything you can think of in between. We have plenty, purchased from our hometown bookstore over the last couple of years. I'm seriously considering doing this indefinitely, but for now it is a marvelous fundraiser set up by the illustrious [ profile] mommydama. All profits are going to help Aaron get to New York, so his Hip Hop class can compete in Break the Floor's JUMP finale. This is the link to my store:

Usborne is loved by homeschoolers, but NOT exclusively. They often make great gifts because some are loaded with "extras" - pull out posters, general "features" kids love. And they are very reasonably priced, I think - my mother in law bought a big "Illustrated Dictionary of Math" for my niece the other night, and it was $12.99. Anyway, feel free to ask any questions you may have here or by emailing me. Please feel free to pass that link on!!
altarflame: (mamaandjakey)
pictures from PATH this afternoon )

There were a lot of pictures I wanted to take but couldn't, because not everyone in PATH is ok with pictures of their kids appearing publically on the internet :p So I had to steer clear of big group shots and things with people in the background.

Anyway. I was talking to this new woman today, and she shocked me again and again. I think I managed to keep it together and she is nice, but...what?
-she's new to homeschooling, granted, but REALLY FREAKED OUT by things like her daughter doing one side of a worksheet one day and the other side the next day. HOW DO THEY FILE THAT? WHICH DAY DOES IT COUNT AS? Also, any sort of lesson that doesn't involve written work is just being skipped because "THERE'S NO END RESULT!" for record-keeping. She claims to be ultra-paranoid because her daughter got an IEP while still in school, and so she thinks, as a result, that "they'll be examining her more closely". She's planning to try to file her evaluation at a precise peak day so it arrives with as many others as possible to catch as little attention as it can, and all this...really weird stuff. I mean what you submit from an evaluation is a paper that says, "I, _______, a certified teacher (see attached) have found this student _________ to have satisfactorily completed x grade on this date _______". "Signature". I'm so used to extremely laid back parents - who do tons of hands on and interactive stuff and write things like "played outside for one hour - P.E.; "counted their money and shopped for half an hour - math" on their daily logs if they even keep them that it was really o_O
-she paid $18,000 for a 9 week tutoring course prior to resorting to homeschool...even though her child was attending school on scholarship. EIGHTEEN THOUSAND DOLLARS FOR A NINE WEEK SUPPLEMENTARY COURSE.
-she is Catholic and kept saying really exclusionary things to me, like I was explaining that I wasn't raised Christian at all and am in the process of converting to Catholicism and she was like, really gaspingly aghast that I could have agnostic parents and even said "Thank goodness you turned out alright!!" with this obvious shock. I didn't have the heart to tell her she was sitting in a group of very mixed-belief people at that moment.
-at the beginning of the meeting, it was "oh, your daughter's in a tie dye shirt. I think I saw someone else in tie dye..." and towards the end, "Wow...two kids in tie dye, huh". She also made a point of talking about how her daughter had said how she would love pink hair after seeing Annie last time and she told her NO WAY. This was not a laughing haha thing, it was a firm decree that no child of hers will have pink hair.
-she was very upset that I let any of my kids out of my sight at all, at this upscale playground that is completely fenced and where they know, like, every other adult and kid there. She kept jumping up out of her seat and yelping about Isaac riding his bike on the part of the sidewalk that is parallel to the parking lot. Which nobody was even driving in.

It's bizarre, I really want to like this woman - she is a really committed parent and was super nice without being at all wack the first week I talked to her. She cried when somebody told her about our 2007 after some reference to Elise wasn't understood! I am definitely not used to having anyone at park who I think it crazy. Whatevs man. Believe it or not, I don't meet "weird" homeschoolers very often. It stands out to me when a kid seems stunted or sheltered or a parent is neurotic or judgemental.

Speaking of homeschool, A and A started this science enrichment class on Tuesday that will be every Tuesday afternoon for 6 weeks. I am psyched about it, a former middle school science teacher - the same one who organizes the Physical Fitness Testing - is teaching it and the curriculum is awesome, it's all stuff it would be hard to do at home. Dry ice and liquid nitrogen, simple machines, all kinds of cumulative tie together things that amount to "mini physical science". A and A are saying things like, "Can you believe every single thing we can see right now is made out of atoms, and all the electrons are MOVING?" randomly. Asking me to research whether this or that could be true since electrons speed up when things heat up, I love watching them. I debated this because between the two of them it came to $90 and while that is a great value (they're renting a space, using tons of materials and obviously Katie is taking the time) we are SO STRAPPED right now...I'm really glad we went for it.

AND, I highly reccomend Brain Quest workbooks. The big fat grade leveled multi-subject ones. Ananda is claiming her new favorite subject is Probability and Data because of Brain Quest, and they helped me realize that Aaron had completely forgotten how to read "regular" (non-digital) clocks since he never sees them IRL, apparently. They have so much real information, the kids have to actually learn interesting things in order to complete the assignments - say, it's a grammar assignment, but all the sentences involved are about a historical event. Or the word problems all relate to real astronomy. They're kind of pricey ($11 each) but FAT and come with stickers and pull out maps.

I'm in a transitional place, personally. Struggling to make ETL work. Returning to a deeper faith life. Getting back into regular touch with some old friends. Waiting to hear from agents and contests and editors...

I got triggered really badly a month ago and realized I do still have PTSD, after all...on our way back from our anniversay date, we drove past the place I was tortured and ridiculedJackson Hospital. I silently untied the straps to my wrap dress, as the knot presses against the spot on my back where I had epidurals done, and had a hematoma. Only slightly frantically. I used to not be able to wear that dress at all, back when I couldn't sleep and cried too often and didn't have any patience for my kids. Grant had the good grace to acknowledge that I did not want to talk about it as the car swerved (I was driving) and the belt things slapped over his lap (they're really long). We went on about other things and I was like, "See, I forgot all about it, I'm not even thinking about that anymore" to myself most of the way home. Then we got home and I really did forget about it, as I'd had a great night and we had a lot of happy people to greet us at the door.

Two nights later on LOST that damned Jack had to be doing spinal surgery on somebody, and I hate OR scenes, and I hate the idea of backs being opened up, and I really hate when Grant is like "Can you handle this?" or "Don't look" because I am FINE, damnitt, I am just fucking fine, it has been a long time and I'm not, like...crazy, or something. I'm not some little kid who can't handle scary movies!

So then I spent a couple of nights dodging sleep and a couple of nights having nightmares - albeit not THAT nightmare - and finally I realized all this stuff was connected and ever since then I've been like, does my hernia seem to be bigger to you? Do you think my belly is sticking out further? How do I turn off images so I can google things without seeing horrible shit? And then Death Cab For Cutie comes on and they're like, "And it came to me then, that every plan is a tiny prayer to father Time - as I stared at my shoes in the ICU that reeked of piss and 409", and I'm like fuck this song, fuck this band, fuck this whole iPod.

That happened in the parking lot where I was buying, like, the fifth (dollar store, at least) pregnancy test in a week when my period wasn't even due yet, because I had this mad terror I could be pregnant and if I WAS! Then what?! Then fucking WHAT?! And everytime this anxiety would start I would rush off and get one so I could just KNOW right then and not lose my mind completely...even though there is, like, no way I could actually be pregnant.

I wrote a lot, I wrote, of all things, the preface and the epilogue to my surgery book (main body still a work in progress).

So. That seems to have mostly passed, for now. More of a swell than a big wave, Thank God. I'd really like it if PTSD weren't so much like being an alcoholic, where even if you haven't drank in 10're still an alcoholic. I am really not so keen on having a diagnosed mental illness. Condition. However they term it.

On the way to Anne's Beach on Elise's birthday it was beginning to fade away again, and Grant and I talked about it a lot. PTSD is when traumatic memories are stored in the short term memory part of your brain, rather than the long term memory part, such that when you are reminded of them it FEELS as if you are back in the situation - currently experiencing it. For instance when I talk about Elise's birth or the sponge incident, it gives me pause, it makes me somber, it really kind of bugs my eyes out how bad that year was.

But when I remember anything about Jake's, I immediately start uncontrollably crying, and getting waves of nausea. As such my subconscious does all sorts of tricks to keep that from happening, like I blank out and can't find words to talk about it or to write down. Over and over, even when I'm concentrating hard with my eyes shut and my fingers on my temples.

It makes me analyze...I've been through a lot of potentially traumatic things. Epic weather disaster that leveled my town, molestation, my mother leaving me as a teenager, abuse of my infant, DEATH of a second trimester fetus that came out of me decayed in a bathtub. I have a little bit of street cred here and I wasn't crazied up from any of that other hoohaw.

I think that being in (hard, intense, 90% on a monitor, every couple of minute contractions) labor for 3 days and 3 nights, with Jake...all that pain, the extreme sleep deprivation...I think it completely stripped me of all my normal mental defences. Such that I walked into that hospital raw, and vulnerable in a way I hadn't ever been in my life. And so...

I was going to talk about details of what happened at Jackson to do this, but my mind is blanking out so badly I can't find the words or memories. I am not going there tonight, I guess. I don't really want to be crying anyway, honestly, I feel nice and analytical right now.

It's just interesting. And pissy. 2007 compounded things for sure because I already had surgery related PTSD and...well, it was horrible...but judging from the levels of reaction I have to it now and how I've worked through so much of it, I think I would be a heck of a lot more ALRIGHT with 2007 if it weren't for October of 2005.

EMDR, the type of therapy I was having when I was in therapy, really helped me tremendously. The theory is that it moves the traumatic events from your short term memory, where it is misplaced, to your long term, where it belongs. You still remember it all, but as a memory. Not as something with any current power over you to where you sweat and your stomach clenches and you get a sudden headache, in the grocery store, because it passes through your mind.

When I do get triggered badly enough for it to disrupt my life in some way (loss of sleep, altered state of dress :p), it reminds me that it's been months since that happened, and...well...years since the Really Bad Time. That seems almost impossible, but it's true, it's been about 2 years now since I was terrible screwed up and unable to function to normal capacity. I think back to the nightmare I was living in the first half of 2008 and it only makes me glad I get reminded of all this, because I take the time to appreciate how far I am from that wrecktastic bs. I can't even imagine calling G at work hyterically, now, begging him to come home, telling him he had no idea how bad it was, how hopeless I was...and I was doing that on a regular basis. I can't imagine interpreting every approach of my kids as a chink in the thin facade holding me together, and just doing whatever I could to get them to leave me alone.

So yeah. I don't know how much of EMDR was placebo for me, because I did (do) really believe in it. I don't think this really matters anyway (placebo or not). Damn it was awesome either way. I had extremely consistent, distressing physical symptoms that just DISSAPEARED after some guided visualizations!

Grant's weeklong trip to the Smoky Mountains starts in just over a week. I am excited for him, and also feeling sad...he is amazing and I don't know how to sleep without him. In a sweet testament to how groovy long term relationships can be, he somehow found some new magical spot on me a few nights ago - basically he can stroke my inner wrist in a way that almost instantly takes me from chatty/insomnia to so sleepy I can't do more than grunt. He also helps me channel all my frazzled, stir crazy, creative/sexual energy and I don't know how to GET RID OF IT without him, gets really big. He can bite me and surprise me and give me goosebumps and make all my thoughts dissapear until I'm a happy pile of mush. A WEEK IS A LONG TIME!

As I'll be taking Aaron to NYC at the end of July (assuming we magically manage to afford it all somehow), we'll be spending two different entire weeks apart this summer. It makes me furrow my eyebrows, even though that NY trip is also something I'm excited about.

I cannot get enough of this. I will never get enough of this. It is one of the best cinematic ventures of the twentieth century:

And. Formspring. I think I'm closing it down soon, because it takes up too much time in addition to other crap I do online, and it's too much typing for a format that isn't searchable or tagged or archived in any decent way. I've been asked several times if I would consider doing something where I answer questions on video. So yeah sure. I'll actually do it this time instead of just saying "ok". Basically at some point in the next 24-48 hours I'm going to take all the questions in my inbox and answer them on video. Exciting, I know :p I'll probably post the video here and there, now that I know YouTube videos will embed in a formspring answer.

This should be obvious, but I somehow feel I have to say, anyway, that I reserve the right NOT to answer your question. If you come masquerading as part of babyslime's family, if you are just blatantly being dumb like the person who said Quick! What's 9x9? Can you really teach your kids? and then baited me "You really didn't know 9x9??" - your question might not get posted ;) In general I am ok with sincere honesty even when it's challenging or potentially offensive.

I am also not likely to talk as much as I type because that's just how I am.

Grant should be here any minute. That's a wrap.
altarflame: (babylegsIsaac)
Monday - Don't remember.

Tuesday - got up early-early, drove to Delray Beach, hung out with Nancy. We walked on boardwalks in wetland preserves, had lunch at a little natural market, and visited this new women's center called The Red Tent (!) that was awesome. It was a really great time, we caught up on everything in each others' lives and cried almost anytime we weren't laughing. She has such an uplifting spirit, and loves in this way you can just feel rolling off of her <3 On the way home it was me, a grande caramel macchiato, some really good music and then...I was almost out of gas. And stopped for gas. And my card wouldn't work. I'd checked the bank that morning - what I think must have happened is a security check since I was out of town and had already used it a couple of times? Anyway the (very cool) cashier chick had somehow let me pump the gas without paying yet and so I was standing there, like, uh....I can't pay you? She ended up paying for it herself and I wrote her a check. This is many in a long recent line of incidents that add up to what I believe to be lesbians hitting on me increasingly often. Trust me, you had to be there. Back at the ranch, I was so happy to take Elise and then Jake on bike rides, read to kids, generally get back into them and find them so happy to see me.

Wednesday - Normal Wed. chaotic lot of schoolwork and activities EXCEPT that Aaron told me his dance teacher wanted to talk to me, after I picked them up. So I went in by myself and we sat on the floor, and geeeeeeez people...she was tearing up twice talking about my son. Tawanna has choreographed awards shows, she's been on Arsenio Hall and danced with P. Diddy at the VMAs; she taught Usher how to dance. And she really, REALLY believes in my son, to the tune of "we'll pay for this convention it's a part of for him, but he has to compete with us in Orlando next month". O_O

Thursday - PATH was really great. Kristin and my sister were both there. PATH involves a 10 minute each way walk to and from my friend Michelle's car, these days, as she leans on me with her messed up knee. We laugh the whole way about the curbs being mountains and how I need to quit trying to make her sprint (like when I take a normal sized step). I did about 5 solid hours of house cleaning that night, with all the troops mobilized and helping.

Friday - Kristin's kids, Darrien and Naja, were dropped off at 9 am (second night this week that I was in bed for 4 hours). Elise idolizes Naja and A and A have a lot of fun with D, who also adores Grant and Bob. It was easy and I did A LOT of cooking in the AM - a VAT of strawberry oatmeal for everyone, big pots each of white bean chicken chili and kale and bean soup, a huge spinach and chicken salad for Grant and I. Kristin ended up staying after she came to get them - after a massive round of crude jokes and uproarous gossip (her own) - partially because they did not want to leave and partially because we had a date with "The Big Lebowski". Shaun came over to, we all had cheesecake, and then halfway through the movie people were falling asleep and it broke up.

Saturday - ISAAC'S BIRTHDAY! I have some pics and video I will post when I can. It was really good. I cannot believe one of my LITTLE kids is SIX! Aaron had a rehearsal for the competition and I drove him to that. While he rehearsed, I went to Lush again with money my Mama sent in my Valentine's Day card and got more awesome goodies, including Curly Wurly shampoo. We stopped to pick up party supplies on the way home. Isaac really wanted a store cake he had spotted, this year. Grant cleaned a ton while Aaron and I were gone, it looked great when we got back. And Isaac looooooved his party. Opa came with Patrice with presents, Oma came with Chuck and Robby and presents, my sister brought her kids, Kristin came back with Darrien and Naja, Shaun was over again, and he was basically in sugar and gift heaven all day long. We made his requested birthday dinner of shrimp, macaraoni and cheese and sparkling grape juice for a table of 11, as Patrice and Robby ended up spending the night. It is so fun to watch him receive things, he is so genuinely thrilled with each thing. For those who know what it means, his love language is TOTALLY gifts, and it really shows.

They are all out there now, it sounds like they've transitioned from making birthday cakes and cookies out of playdoh on the deck to indoor hide and seek. Robby is playing computer RPGs with my brother. He's wearing gray SPANDEX JEANS, with a black tshirt with neon pink and green designs on it, and a black suit jacket. And Ugg-ish black boots. All his hair is chemically straightened but thick and shaggy. And he's like 9 feet tall. Really though, he's towering over Grant and Bob at this (very narrow) point. It's crazy. He really dug looking through all my Lush goodies with me, as I suspected he would.

Grant is currently retrieving my sister's car key from her house so he can go to the fire station where Frank has parked their vehicle, with all the slings and the Kozy carrier in it, leaving my sister stranded.

I am hoping this day includes a long bike ride, and a good bath. Our tax return is in so we have some budgeting to do. And, it's Sunday, so I can eat chocolate, which I gave up for Lent. So far I had a breakfast of a soft cheese, pesto and prosciutto sandwich, leftover roasted broccoli and two cadburry cream eggs. Yeah, definitely a long bike ride ;)

I am going to leave you with this crazy video that Shaun showed me last night. Having watched it all the way through, I thought it was worth it.
altarflame: (Epic Shit)

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

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

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

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


(breakfast over the camp stove)

(Annie and Christina)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grant is filling out Ananda and Aaron's books of things to do for tomorrow, second day in a row. Today his included clearing the table, silent reading and building a small rocket ship to fly to the moon in before dinner was ready. Ananda's was getting the tv room ready for vaccuming, putting away the dishes and digging a hole to China. Tomorrow the first thing on Aaron's list is to immediately poke Annie 10 times in a row. The last thing on hers is to make sure she doesn't let Aaron poke her. It's all good.
altarflame: (this is serious)
OH MAN Grant and I splurged and went out to Stir Moon tonight, with Shaun. Panang Curry, I COULD DIE. I really love that stuff. It's a coconut milk curry with lime leaves throughout, served over brown rice with lamb. Om. It's been several months since we went out to eat together.

Speaking of indulgence, I'm also getting increasingly interested in frequent baths in my awesome giant tub, and am becoming immersed in The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield, often while laying on an electric blanket and listening to Pandora once my kids are in bed.

*sigh of contentment*

Aaaanyway. I had a great night with the kids out at my friend Kristin's two nights ago. She just took her two kids and moved out of her shared marital home a week ago, so this new place is a Big Deal for them, and pretty cool. They have the sloped-ceiling, balcony'd upstairs of another single mom's large house. There is even a big enough property that she was able to bring their playsets and chickens for outside, and this other mom's lone child (a 4 year old boy) is thrilled with the company (Kristin's kids are a 7 year old boy and a 4 year old girl). While we were there, he eagerly asked if we were also moving in. I think he was about to explode with joy from having SEVEN other kids in his normally-quiet house to play with :)

I like having friends where a night in means calling owls down from the trees, browsing books full of beetles with the kids and telling increasingly wild stories to much laughter. Also they had tons of food made from organic co-op shares, like cheese stuffed peppers, freshly fried plantains and apple crisp. We got home at about 1:30 am, Isaac, Jake and Elise covered in makeup.

AND THEN HEARD WHAT SOUNDED LIKE A HIT AND RUN FROM OUR FRONT YARD. Like, squeeeeeeealing tires, CRASH, someone screaming and screaming as the squealing tires start going again. Then a silver camaro passed by us at top speeds without even pausing at our stop sign. Grant went out in the Prius to try and find out if anyone needed help and possibly call the cops, but the only thing he found was a big party going on with a lot of people outdoors two blocks down? I have no idea.


-I am depressed that our local family-owned bookstore was forced to move because the building changed hands, and the new location is TINY with no meeting space in the back, with no parking, in a shadier area. I just feel like I'm not going to want to go there much, even though I really want to support them and my kids love their kids :/ It felt cramped and frustrating just to WALK IN, with no customers present, the other night, and Aaron ranted the whole way home about how he didn't like it there and doesn't want to go back :/

-NANCY will be here SO SOON!! I'm super excited that February is upon us

-which also means the PATH campout (3 days 2 nights) is next weekend :D It's about an hour and a half north.

-And then Valentine's Day weekend, maybe we'll really get out of here

-And, Isaac's birthday is the 20th. He is psyched. Ananda found this book holder...thing...I don't know how to describe it, she won it somewhere...basically it's like a fabric book cover with handles for carrying? Anyway it's lime green and she was thinking how Isaac has to take his bible to AWANA every Wednesday and drops it a lot and he could use that, so we took her to Michael's and she used her money for fabric paints and used orange and purple (this is so Isaac) to write his name and draw a bunch of stuff on it, like flowers, and a cross, and a peace sign, and hearts. That will be her present to him, and I think it's really thoughtful and perfect. I can't believe ISAAC will be SIX!

-Also, if Chrysanthemum is in the family way we will have kittens in February. I haven't noticed any weight changes or significant teets or anything, but she has not gone back into heat and is being more affectionate and sleeping more often? We'll see. Every day I ask her, "Do you have more cats inside of you?", and she looks at me like I am a complete idiot, so that is fairly noncommital :p She's being...MUM...on the subject. Ok I'll stop this.

-That's all.
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: (gangster)
Remember when I told you what you should do if you ever find yourself in possession of a roast? Here are the illustrations...

And here is Aaron as Harry Houdini.

And Ananda as Amelia Earhart.

PATH did this event at a local library auditorium called "Historically Speaking" where each kid dresses up as a historical character and then gets up and talks about "themselves". It was pretty cool. We read biographies that actually taught them A LOT - for instance while learning about Houdini Aaron ended up learning all about immigrants seeing Ellis Island from their ships as they arrived here, Vaudeville, and what it meant to be famous before tv or the internet. Ananda and I ended up talking all about feminism, World War 1 and Spanish Flu. And she pieced her costume together completely from stuff we had here! Aaron's handcuffs are trick handcuffs, he asked for a volunteer at the end of his spiel and then escaped from them to much applause. We'll definitely be doing that next year. Of the other 14 kids participating, there were peeps represented like George Washington, Helen Keller, and...Batman. I love homeschooling.

I really want to show you some other how much our chicks have grown.

They're only like 5.5 weeks old! Sheesh.

And that I got my nose pierced when I was back in Key West with Laura, this past weekend.

The baby shower was so much fun, I LOVE MY AUNTS AND COUSINS, GEEZ! My kids need more contact with them. So much food, oh my gosh, you have not eaten until you've been to a baby shower that a bunch of Cuban ladies are hosting. It was painful towards the end. But so fun. So much laughing. And, my Dad took L and I out on his boat for sunset, it was awesome.

The guy who pierced my nose looked and acted A LOT like Bobby (J). Except 6 inches taller, MORE pierced, plugged and tattood, MORE orange beardy and straggly haired, and styled as "I work at a tattoo shop in Key West" (boots with heels, etc). UnCatholic Bobby with more vertical genes, in 10 years. He was enjoying my nervousness too much and really liked not warning me about anything. After it was over Laura was like, "I didn't want to tell you while you were still at that guy's mercy, but he reminded me so much of Bobby" and I was like, oh really? OF COURSE HE DID.

But I imagine that's enough without a cut so if you want to see the rest you have to click this thing )
altarflame: (bleeding roses)
Which is true?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I hope she is not in the hospital or anything, in a "but it better be something awful!" way. It reminds me of the horrible way I've heard people say, "There better be one huge pile-up ahead of us!" after sitting in stopped highway traffic for half an hour.
altarflame: (Default)
We're busy bees.

Tuesday (the 13th): Got up at 8:30 and had everyone else up by 9, as part of our new Earlier Scheduling. Breakfast and over to the new house to meet with people, bleary-eyed. Found out our home inspector has very little roofing knowledge and that, no, actually it is not a $1500 roof repair that we need, but a $15,000 brand new roof. This was confirmed by a handyman with no personal bias and an unrelated roofer who my mother in law trusts. As it is, "a Category 3 storm would rip it right off" and there are multiple code violations. This is also the day we realized the great, new looking stainless steel fridge...doesn't work. We started using our new Abeka english curricula and I was really, really happy with that - Elise sat happily in her little feeding chair while we worked, A and A were into it, seemed effective to me. Felt incredibly burnt out by the end of the longer day. Sick to death of trying to figure out what's for dinner.

Wednesday: Grant back at work for a few days. Got up at 8 and got them up at 8:30 (see how this is getting earlier as time passes?) We did more Abeka schoolwork - this time with Elise driving us crazy and Isaac whining a lot, but still, I was really happy with the schooltime. The materials are great. We did some shopping at Target for the new house's cleaning supplies and bathroom outfitting and things, which was a little bit fun but tempered by Target's system being down for over an hour and checkout consequently taking most of the afternoon. I got my own belated Mother's Day presents: A "Gryson for Target" purse, a green paisley tote bag I've been using for diapers and snacks ever since, sunglasses and a hat since I've finally given in and surrendured, in this heat, and two shirts for myself. Capped sleeves, almost but not quite puff sleaves...really not something I ever thought I would do, but here I am. Big kids went to AWANA while Isaac continued to recover from appendectomy. Dinner was kind of a bust because Isaac, Jake and Elise fell asleep between dropping A and A off and getting to the grocery store, and I was not at all in the mood to wake them all up and drag them in...Bedtime reading has been great and eagerly anticipated as we're almost to the end of HP#3. Cried my eyes out to G in bed (where he was going to sleep, but I was getting up to go watch Jake and Elise until I could make them sleep) about how I'm having an identity crisis and don't know who I am anymore. He was comforting but also surprised me by acting like my identity crisis is old news to him and I've been having it for awhile, and that it's way bigger than capped sleeves and an obsession with handbags. Then we had passionate, emotionally connected loving, but just barely before it was time to haul myself back into the grind because there was entirely too much shrieking going on in the living room...

Thursday: Got up at 7:30, had them up at 8. Jake helps me wake up Elise every day, and then they freaking CUDDLE and LAUGH for a while...I die. He's so protective of her, and careful of her, they wrestle all over the place and she pulls his hair and pokes his eyes and claws at him, and he just squints or moves her hands or whatever, and does everything in ways that don't hurt her. I'm so proud of him lately. How they sleep:

Excuse the uncovered pillow, it was a bad laundry day a couple of weeks ago after we were de-lousing and there was a case shortage that actually prompted a shopping trip.
Still enjoying renewed closeness with Isaac after the whole appendix thing.
We had awesome schooltime, Thursday, A and A were asking for it and everything. It felt like a lot of balls in the air and of course I was all fuzzy headed from lack of sleep, but I also felt super productive and satisfied with all the cleaning, meals, waking up, educating, everything. Isaac even did some Handwriting Without Tears, and Jake colored. *Great* PATH meeting. Ananda hung out with her new "secret club" again, Aaron was up a tree or riding scooters with boys that are starting to be real friends, and Isaac played slow, invalid soccer with a really nice teenage guy. His favorite thing is having an older person faun over him, so this made his afternoon. I really, really like a couple of the other moms at this (new to me) park group and am glad we started going to it. It's actually a social outlet for me, too, not just a thing for the kids. Unfortunately in the evening I had to remove the dressing on his "tummy" (NOT my belly, my TUMMY, Mom), which ordeal.

Friday Up at 7:30 and them up at 8, again. I felt incredibly vindicated when Ananda told me she doesn't know what the big deal with reading was, and how she reads great, while we were doing school. I WAS SO DEAD ON ABOUT HER JUST NEEDING TO GET HER CONFIDENCE BACK, and this is the perfect system for that, between the copious, thorough and methodical review, and the slow advancement forward. "Spiraling", I think they call it. Barely missed a flooring person at the new house due to our cordless phone dying, my cell phone being lost, and general frustration about times - it was a lot of hectic planning all for nothing, and caused the kids to get the snack they were supposed to have here over there and make a huge ass mess (no dining table, no feeding seats, just strawberries and nutella as promised...) Only Laura and Brian showing up over there to keep me company and provide adult conversation kept me from losing my mind. We went to Game Night at Spellbound in the evening. After an initial good time for the first half hour, it got reeeeeeeeeally stressful as Jake and Elise were just into absolutely everything. I had no stroller with me and ended up leaving the big kids in the store and imposing timeouts for Jake in the van with Elise on my hip. No good, it was awful, and bedtime was later than I wanted it to be. Realized that I really will LOSE MY MIND if I don't have some hours to myself at night to break up the neverending mothering during the days, it makes a big difference for me. I didn't just suddenly go insane, I lost my coping skill when I started going down with the babies.

Saturday: Got up early despite later bedtimes, cursed these weeks that Grant has 4 12 hour shifts instead of 3. Was thrilled when Ananda asked to please, please do schoolwork today too? I got an email from my friend Jess, who lives down in Marathon, saying she unexpectedly got the whole weekend off from work and would love to come up here and hang out -! So we drove on down there and grabbed her. The ride up was fun, talking and laughing and catching up, and we stopped at a state park to let the kids run around and eat and play for awhile to break up the drive (it's about 2 hours each way). Then in the evening my sister called and said she was really, actually, definitely, no backing out singing at Open Mic Night, so we hit it over to Spellbound again...Grant met us there, done with work for another few days, and, well, she sang. It was dead, which was dissapointing, but honestly - I was blown away. I didn't know my sister could sing. I've never really heard her sing before. I was very afraid the honest critique she expected from me would be soul crushing :x I spent the first half of the first song looking into my lap so I wouldn't make her laugh or make her uncomfortable, thinking it was gonna suck to tell her that the vocal track was still on her cd and nobody could hear HER at all...but then I realized it was her I was hearing, when I looked up for the first time, which was WEIRD. That "real singer" sounding singing, was her. It was also fun to tell her, after she was done with her two songs, that she was being broadcast on the big speakers out front of the place and Grant could still hear her when he got to our van half a block away to change Elise.

I told her she had to buy Brian a book they sell called "Hands are not for Hitting" before she could bring him back to my house ;) and we laughed at Frank and Grant commiserating about the "I got up early for work and now my stir crazy wife is dragging me around town blues". Jess found some good used books for practically nothing and called my sister's voice "velvety".

Sunday was JAMP PACKED craziness: We were all up between 8 and 8:30 again, and G and I double-teamed a waffles, eggs and turkey bacon breakfast. I swept and swiffered, did the dishes and scrubbed the bathroom while he vaccumed and sorted/put away what has to have been at least 6 loads of laundry. He took Elise and spent a long time at Lowe's, asking questions, calling me to confer, and having me look up online reviews of products, while I cooked. I made (packaged) tortellini with some organic red sauce, totally from scratch brown and wild rice with wehani, cooked in broth and loaded with mushrooms and salt and a little butter, two loaves of banana bread and a pitcher of iced tea, and we took it all over to Kristin's house for Darien and Naja's joint potluck birthday pool party. G ended up staying here with Jake and Elise, who were napping, and Jess and I took Ananda, Aaron and Isaac over there. Highlights include:
-the snow cone machine
-laughing hysterically with Kristin about our kids' most recent antics
-feeling awkward because Jess didn't really feel a part of things, being childless and not knowing people - she didn't complain and said it was ok, but you know, once the person you brought to a social event is reading a book off in a corner it makes you feel bad
-Isaac being the star of the show with his little marked up belly in his swimming trunks...nobody could believe we just had ANOTHER hospital thing. Least of all me.
-Isaac nearly DROWNING when after an hour playing on the steps with A and A swimming nearby, he drifted off and I suddenly heard Aaron screaming, Mom! Isaac! Mom! Isaac! Turning to look at him - not ten feet from where I was standing, mind you - the top of his head was at the surface of the water and his arms were working uselessly. So I dove into the pool fully dressed and fished him out, and he was hysterical because I grabbed him without considering his sore tummy :/ It wasn't until I was adjusting my dripping shirt and getting him a candy necklace to soothe his troubles that I realized the whole party had gone silent and then breathed a sigh of relief as they saw he was alright. I dried gradually over the next couple of hours :p
-He also managed to fall into her bathtub and bruise his arm while going to pee (?)
-the food I made was awesome, as was a lot of the other food.
-my finished belly cast looks good
-a total stranger held me by the arm and told me how great it is that Elise is doing so well and we're getting a house, because she reads the blog every day
-Kristin's very cool under-the-sea mural'd bathroom inspired us for the kids' bathroom. Annie is psyched.
We left there and all met up with Grant, Jake and Elise at Lowe's. There was some big sale ending yesterday that we've been watching, but forgot the deadline for. We ordered our dishwasher and double oven :D - both KitchenAid stainless steel - and our cooktop, and he bought a grill and his woodworking tools, as well as browsing flooring and countertop options, and fridges, and microwaves...I left A and A with him and took the younger 3 home with us.

Gave Jake and Elise an adorable bath. They are so, so good together, I melt. And the fat clean naked squish, oh my.

Once he was home, Jess and I went up to Wild Oats alone for his natural soda and non-refined sugar cookies, where I also found some great silvery lime green nail polish, and then hit it up to Barnes and Noble. This was a little before 10pm. I ended up buying the latest Elle, a really inspiring Crochet magazine, and the new Mothering, which has Ani Difranco on the cover with her daughter :D Also bought Virginia Woolf's A Room of One's Own, because I've never gotten around to reading it, and I like keeping things like that around since we're homeschooling. I'm reading a LOT lately - in the bathroom, at the hospital, while I nurse people to sleep. Jess got her dad drumming and other specialty magazines for Father's Day, that aren't available down in the Keys.
And then we were home, reading HP to A and A again, laying with Annie for awhile because she was feeling down, getting Jake to sleep with Elise crawling on him, eating an amazing spinach salad full of warm chicken cooked in lots of olive oil with seasoned salt, in one big bowl Grant and I were sharing...

And today, Monday: Waking up felt kind of...easy. Ananda and I planned her birthday cake and used my new nail polish on our fingers and toes, and then we woke up everyone else. Grant met with flooring people, and roofing people who say we DON'T need a new roof and that's ridiculous and the home inspector was right O_o I don't know what to think, obviously it would be great to save the money, how does one make this sort of call? I took all the kids up to Target with Jess, who really wanted to shop before she left as there is nothing like that down where she lives. She tried on clothes and picked through racks while I got a bunch of things I've been planning on getting -
-a handheld vac for the van, which is entirely too full of crumbs and/or sand all of the time
-a 4 cup glass measuring cup, since our old plastic one with the markings rubbed mostly away finally melted in the dishwasher
-springform pans for Ananda's special birthday cake
-divided trays for when I'm serving the kids buffet-style finger food lunches
-giant hair claw, since mine busted yesterday
-mini-loaf pans because that rocks

I nursed Elise and then Jake in the van, then G got in it and Jess, Ananda and I took the Prius to take Jess home. The ride down was hard...she's going through a lot of trouble with her bipolar meds, and just where she's at in her life, that make her pretty sensitive and emotional and I couldn't shake the feeling that it's become a little more of a gap between us, that I have a bunch of kids and a husband and she just feels alone in the world sometimes :/ It's seriously NEVER felt like an issue before, not since day 1 when I told her I was pregnant, back in 12th grade. But usually when she visits or I visit, it's a lot less "involved" with the whole staying up late for many hours with her to watch movies and eat food, or going out alone with her. This was more like, what my sister gets. Me talking and trying to pay attention, but as I cook, sweep, bathe, change, etc - as long as you don't mind me not looking at you and 15 million interruptions, it's all good ;) I almost feel as though she maybe didn't realize the reality of what my day-to-day life actually is, and is alienated now, but I could be projecting that. We hugged and I'm sure we'll continue to write, I guess I just wish I could do more for her, and see her more often.

Ananda and I had a great time on the way back up. We stopped at the Dolphin Research Center together, and then had lunch and walked down to the ocean for a few minutes. I feel like she's practically in my lap sitting in the back of the Prius, it's so different than having her in the 3rd row of the van.

After catching up with G and tandem nursing my thrilled-to-see-me littlest ones, he took A and A to the batting cages, where they presumably are now?


Bedtimes have moved back from around 2 am to 11:30, so far, for Jake and Elise, and from around 12:30 to around 11, for the other 3. The babies are slower going because they make it up with naps during the day no matter what I do, especially with lots of van time. But we're getting there...I'd really like to get all five of them down by 10:30 tonight so I can start waking them up at 7:30 tomorrow morning...that is my goal time, that will make things like zoo camp, VBS and preschool seem far easier when they come around, and will hopefully make a 10 o'clock bedtime possible?

We've been doing GREAT with chores, Ananda tidies up the bathroom and puts away the clean dishes and Aaron clears anything that might be on the dining table, opens the blinds and takes out accumulated recycling, each morning. In the afternoon we have a general cleanup of common areas, mostly clutter, that includes Isaac and Jake, and then in the evening, Aaron closes blinds and takes out the next load of accumulated recycling, and Ananda clears the dining table (which is usually a formidable task in the evening...) I've fallen into a routine of cleaning up their room every morning while I'm in there waking them up and we're talking about plans for the day, that usually includes sending everyone out on their way with a pile of something - clothes, water cups, things to be thrown away, books that go in my room...

I got enough socializing, shopping and "out of the house" over the weekend, along with G helping so much, that my malaise of last week is mostly gone. I feel good again about just being here with my little family and and doing our thing.

Moving into this house feels a million years away. The people today who said we just need roof repair, said they can START in 3 weeks :/ And we're waiting for that to be done to do other things, and...argh. It is just like extremely late pregnancy, when every day that actually brings you closer just makes you FEEL like you're further than ever before.

a couple of mediocre pics of Isaac in the hospital, that I never had time to post )
altarflame: (chalk)
I feel psyched about life in general tonight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

HOWEVER - I saw a magnet that has a man staring into a STUFFED FULL fridge, confused with his hands thrown into the air in frustration (very "There's nothing to eat!" looking). It said, "Male refrigerator blindness strikes again". Grant didn't even get what the joke was, which made me laugh my head off because really, he is so that guy. 6 years into full time co-parenting, with plenty of time alone with them under his belt, he still asks me, "But what am I supposed to feed (whichever one)? There's nothing here." It gets a little old saying, yogurt? Fruit? Crackers? Cereal? ;)
altarflame: (Default)
Bad news is, Elise is teething, and as such she is restless all night long, thusly driving me crazy with the sleep deprivation. I am having a hard time feeling motivated to do much beyond feeding my kids and shooing them away, today, because I just feel so freaking heavy and tired all the time.

Worse news is, I keep getting scared about my...uh...internal condition, I guess? I just really don't understand what's going on with my body, and it's easy to jump at shadows now that I had such a close call. I'm nervous about my freaky weird menstrual cycle but scared to death about any kind of post-surgical intestinal problems I might be having. I mean, if I feel a little bloated I think "Am I developing scar tissue that's creating a blockage?!" (I was actually warned about that, it's a possibility for some people) and if there's any irregularity I think back to LAST time there I had irregularity and...bah. My belly seemed big to me yesterday and then I felt constipated and bam...unable to sleep when I layed down. Freaking out. Watching Elise sleep on Grant and thinking about how she was with him every second while I was in the hospital and would be again if I went back and then I'm crying like a ninny and up, out here, writing in a journal and trying to pray and calm down. *sigh* It would be nice to sleep when I CAN, you know? And then I wonder, what if the sluggish feeling is NOT just sleep deprivation, but the depression-like malaise of sepsis? And could I survive a second bout with sepsis? I'm going in for a follow-up exam on Tuesday.

The good news is stuff to do!

-Yesterday we went to the Rodeo Fun Day. It was all free, and there was a petting zoo, horse riding, bull riding, a helicopter and a racecar to get in, animal crackers and drinks, etc - all free! Kristin and Michelle were there with their kids, too. It was great.
-Tomorrow is the Rodeo Parade, which is huge - it passes by your spot for about an hour. The kids are excited.
-Sunday a PATH mom is hosting a big Eagle's Nest Camp open house thing, at her house, with food and drinks and friends to play with. She also lives on a canal that has manatees in it, so how cool is that?
-Then early next month we have Homestead's version of Mardi Gras (which is way more family friendly than the real thing)
-And G is taking our 3 biggest and what I'm calling "The Spellbound Books' Family" (the owners' kids) 3 youngest, to a PATH field trip to see The Wizard of Oz at Actor's Playhouse

The better news comes in 3, it's a trinity of money:

1. Grant got a pretty amazing job offer for a 36 hour a week gig that pays $38,000 a year plus regular full time benefits (vacation, sick leave, overtime pay rates, health insurance). It's 3 12-hour graveyard shifts in a row, doing IT for a non-profit healthcare company that started out to get all the migrant farmworkers in the area healthcare, and also does software and tech support for free clinics. It wouldn't interfere with him keeping his last three really profitable clients that he's been doing on an independant-contractor basis since the business folded (VeriFone, the bank and the winery). I think this might do more good for us than just money, actually, because in the process of working out how to accomadate night-shifts as a family, a lot of really great scheduling ideas came to me that might get us on a better track.

2. We have good communication and high hopes for working out a medical settlement soon. This is far bigger than this tiny section would imply. Did you guys know that the sponge left in me was not a 2x2 or 4x4 gauze pad, folded - it was what they call a lap sponge, meaning, gigantic. I saw pictures of the surgery to get it out (when a nurse showed me without my asking - I didn't even know they were taking pictures during the operation) and it was like over 2 feet long from one corner to the oposite one.

3. I'm pumped about this tax benefit thing - the economic stimulus package? I don't know what the hell it's called, I just know it's worth $2700 for us. Although we'd only get $1200 and give Sr the other $1500 in kid credits (he wouldn't receive anything otherwise). I have some political questions about how much it will really benefit us if everyone takes their gifted money and buys a bunch of stuff imported from China, like they usually do, and how maybe it would be better for us as a country if they, say, imposed higher taxes on imports so that we could reap that money and encourage more domestic manufacturing...but I can still be pumped to get $2700 in the mail from the government and, hey, the analysts probably understand this better than I do :p We're not getting any of our tax return this year as it's all owed to Shaun - who totally saved us when I was recovering with a huge loan - but now there's a second tax return, so how serendipidous is that.


Jun. 29th, 2007 05:31 am
altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday was Aaron's 6th birthday. I knew it was coming, and Ananda's birthday was weeks ago...and yet I spent the whole day feeling completely caught off guard by the idea that Ananda and Aaron are 7 and 6. Not babies, or toddlers, or preschoolers - not even kindergardeners...they're just kids. Big old kids. My dynamic duo is going to be grown before I know it. I HAVE A 7 AND A 6 YEAR OLD.

Aaron had a GREAT day. The night before, in bed, he asked me "You know what I want more than anything else?" in a wistful tone. The answer was, "Time alone with Dad, every day." I repeated that to Grant who replied, "Yeah, but no pressure, right?"

He had time with Dad. They went out and had lunch and got his presents and Aaron was freaking thrilled. When he got home we had his cake ready and the dining room decorated. Ananda and Robbie had collaborated on both. Laura was here with Brian, as well.

That's Darth Vader as the biggest candle in the center.

For anyone who hasn't seen Grant's amazing video gift to Aaron, you can see it at his lj - [ profile] theneolistickid. I think Aaron must like it more than his material gifts, since he wants to sit and watch it ALL DAY LONG. I cap individual sessions watching it at 10 minutes, mostly because I get tired of hearing the sound over and over.

I thought so much about this 7 and 6 thing, that I had to go looking through all my old pictures - and because they're just SO OLD that back when I used to take pictures of them as "little kids" we used film, and got it developed only on hard copy, I had to scan some things in to share.

memory lane with A and A )

While Aaron was out shopping with Daddy and Annie decorated with Robbie, we had Baby Bonding Time with Elise and Brian.

more )

Things are up and down with me. Isaac is behaving better than he ever has in his life, and I'm starting to stop being suspicious about it. Pray for me, everyone ;) Really though it's cool. He is very, very whiny and I think on some level that just might be who he is going to be...but he's also really articulate and cute and generally a nice kid, albeit in a very wimpy and easily upset way. The same way he surprised me by knowing how to count and say his ABCs with no help from me, over 6 months ago, he's now shocked me by being able to recognize written numbers reliably (single digit, of course). He came to my sister to "read her this book, Curious George". He sat down and opened it up and made sure she was paying full attention, and said, "This is a monkey..his name is George............Maaa-AAN, can you help me with these words?!" As if he forgot he can't actually read, and was super dissapointed by it O_o

Ananda is manifesting some moodiness that is easily remedied whenever it comes up, so long as I address it. I'm glad she's finally showing something. She's acted all this time as if nothing - waking up to find me gone and in hospital for 6 days, seeing her baby sister covered in tubes and wires and unconscious, me crying in front of them and explaining brain damage and then the ER last week - has effected her, when I KNOW it does, and A LOT, probably more than any of the others. It's scary to walk in on your dad stuffing gauze into an open wound in your mom's belly, especially when you faint at the sight of a drizzle of your own blood. It's totally her style to not let on that she's phased by anything until it's safe again. So, it is a very good thing to me that she is starting to feel safe enough to express some negativity and let on that this has been hard. Now I'll find her, tall as my armpits, draped over the computer chair in the office wearing jeans and a tie dye tshirt and looking distant. I wonder when she got that old. She's always been that complex, but traditionally it looks very out of place because you aren't used to seeing an introspective 3 year old or a brooding, contemplating toddler or whatever. Now it's like...I can see the teenager coming. I am afraid for the woman she'll be, because if I were her, after everything she's seen me go through...I'd be TERRIFIED of ever getting pregnant :/ As it is, being me, I am TERRIFIED of ever getting pregnant again. I HOOOOOOIIIST her up into my lap (she is so freakin heavy now) and if I talk long enough, she'll start to talk back, and then in under half an hour she's back to her old self. By which I mean, her pre-Elise self, not the quieter and almost freakishly obedient kid she's been for the past few weeks. It's funny, she wanted a sister so badly, but the boys are all much more taken with Elise than she is. Annie doesn't have the energy to care about a baby right now. She says dutiful things about her clothes being adorable or smiles back at her in the van, when Elise is cooing at her, but there is this heaviness. Like she's weary of all this baby hooplaw and just wants to get on with life. I suppose I would be too, and hope that I can manifest that for her as a mom (getting on with life, now). Not to spoil the surprise, as I assume the Mommy in question won't spill the beans, but tomorrow we're making a half-birthday card for her new penpal.

Kristin called earlier, it's the first time I've talked to her since my blessingway. She'd heard and then read what was going on, though, from Laura. It was a great conversation, and I'm going to a triple Blessingway at her house for three of my favorite LLL members, this Saturday. Kristin throws THE BEST parties, she's just the perfect balance of funky, hilarious, unique, genuinely fun but still kid friendly and health conscious...she just rocks. I have a ton of adorable already-outgrown newborn diapers and clothes and so on, to give the expectant mamas, and some new stuff we never even got the chance to use. I'm trying to think of the perfect thing to make (food). That will be just Elise and I, and then on Tuesday she's going to come over and pick up A and A and take them back to her place. Ananda LOVES her, and Aaron loves her son, and she has a pool, so I hope they have a blast. I'm planning on getting them a playdate a couple of doors down this weekend, and we're going back to the church with the great kids' program on Sunday.

Tomorrow a PATH mama is bringing us dinner, since it's Friday. And let me tell you, when I saw who it is, I felt like a total LOSER! I mean, ok, not really because I understand that I'm in that transitional new baby period, and that I'll find my groove and that Elise has had special needs...but this woman who's cooking for US, and bringing our food from a town half an hour away, and all joyously and as her own voluntary idea...has 9 kids. Seriously. She's also slender and consistently dresses fashionably. And when they show up, all of them, at PATH events, those kids are SO GOOD, and polite, and so happy and healthy and gorgeous looking, and clean and neat - Laura told me when she walks in the door, I need to lock it behind her and demand she be my personal life coach. I may do just that. It was our old babysitter and her mom who brought us our last PATH dinner, and she volunteered to help me out anytime this summer while she was here, so maybe I'm going to end up getting a lot more than just food out of these dinners ;)

Huge plus - Jake and I are back to running through metaphorical meadows arm and arm again. Slow motion and dandelion fluff all the way. Just getting his nap routine back in place, with that afternoon nursing and sleep time, has been HUGE. And then making the ten minutes when he firsts wakes up strictly for cuddling with him or carrying him around. That is enough to carry him through the rest of the day as he runs around barely taking notice of me. The morning nursing and cuddling has worked out for awhile, since he wakes up earlier than Elise, and that helped, but the afternoons are the pivotal thing.

It's occuring to me that this particular entry might be innapropriately long. I apologize, if so. The "sleeplessness" side effect of phenobarbital withdrawal is starting to manifest in Elise, and I've been walking back and forth between two computers on our network and writing this in between rockings, pattings, talking, trying to lay her down, getting back up, nursing and typing with one hand, for...uh...a long time.

The only other things I'd like to say, to any interested parties, are that, 1. Grant's newest contract is working out REALLY well so far - it's easily fit in between and around other obligations, is well within his skill set, and pays very well for the time required, and 2. I was having some major mother stress, but it is resolved. She had medical tests that came back just fine, and emotional stuff that I think we've mostly resolved. I am ready to get back to daily phone check ins that hopefully continue for the next half century...or so ;)
altarflame: (closeupAnnie)
We had the weirdest experience tonight. Ananda has these little wart things that have just recently developed on her knee. I was actually just telling Grant today that I want to take her in to Dr Geraldi and have them looked at, since they're multiplying and growing and she probably just needs some cream to get rid of them. Anyway we were out shopping, and her and Aaron were sort of horsing around in the aisles. Not too bad, but something on one of them scraped the edge of a wart up or off. It proceeded to bleed way too much - she kept soaking it up with the edge of her skirt and when it was obvious that it wasn't just going to instantly stop or be done, we went over to get a box of bandaids, so we could use one immediately. By that point it was down her leg and pooling in her sandal! I don't think she was in any danger from blood loss or anything, but still, what the heck. We had her hold onto the edge of the cart on the way over to bandaids so she wouldn't be walking and making it bleed more, and she was looking REALLY freaked. It was hard for me to not laugh at her a little because this little trickle of blood had her all hyped up dramatic, moaning and making these fish gasping motions with her mouth. But then I got in the bathroom with her and she got completely unresponsive and fell down. Her face was too pale already, with big dark circles having appeared under her eyes, but as I was watching her the circles went away and her lips even lightened. Her face was completely white. The bleeding had stopped by this point, but I had to carry her from the bathroom, and really thought she was going to lose consciousness. Once I had her sitting in a little chair and got her leg cleaned and bandaged she gradually regained the ability to talk and little by little her color came back. Sheesh. She is the one who CANNOT see my c-section scar - she'll run from the room gulping if Aaron is looking at it - but...I'm starting to have my doubts about her witnessing this upcoming birth, you know? Poor kid. I layed down with her for a bit before bed talking about it, and she was saying it was like she just couldn't breathe at all, and was too tired to move. She said she kept reminding herself that she bled more than that when she split her chin open as a toddler (but that's not something she remembers; it's a story she's heard).

We had a really great weekend. The PATH camping trip was SO COOL for the kids - the rangers at Castellow Hammock had all sorts of presentations and games set up for them, and they provided a campfire, marshmallows and s'mores, led them on an owl walk through the woods, and so on. A and A really had a blast. I think they especially liked camping in a group of tents wherein 30 kids all yell "GOODNIGHT!" back and forth to each other for half an hour O_o I was kind of shocked to get any rest at all on an air mattress, after the way I've been struggling to sleep lately, but it wasn't that bad. I hurt a LOT when I woke up, but only for about 10 minutes. I get stiff and sore really quick lately. Aaron, my budding zoologist, made a friend of this dog that came over to the campground in the morning - it was a really big, fluffy, all white thing with a collar that was obviously used to people, and all the kids were trying to get close enough to it to pet it, but it kept running away from everyone at the last second. Adults couldn't get close enough to touch, either. Next thing I know, I look over and Aaron is sitting a ways off with it's head in his lap, and it's on it's back with it's paws in the air while he pets it. He's always like that with animals.

And we got out of there early enough to go to church Sunday - this Christ Fellowship place I talked up last week starts at 11:30, so it wasn't too hard. The children's program is REALLY amazing there. The staff to kid ratio is incredible, this time around Isaac and Jake were fine the whole time, because an adult took each of them one on one for the entire service. I still have things that I miss, being there - communion, for one, and just...kneeling and crossing myself and other such things that mean worship to me, on some level. But there is nothing about this place that I don't like, if that makes sense. I really, really, REALLY wish there was a way to have both the moving sermons full of real life things that impact you, and the rituals. The music we love and want, as well as Lent. The connectedness AND the sense of reverence. As it is, I'm just happy that we've found a church where Grant feels really happy and at home and touched, that I am getting good stuff out of, and all of our kids are enjoying and learning from.

Can you believe I'm 36 weeks pregnant? We leave for Boston in 15 days. I looked at the 10 day forecast for there, today, and was like...Wow. The highest high is in the 50s. There is one day with a *high* of 33. There are SNOW SHOWERS predicted 6 days before we leave. About a week ago I was on the phone with Nancy, and it was 5 there. FIVE! I don't even register 5 as a temperature; 5 is a freaking TIME. A child's age. Not a temperature.
altarflame: (Just the six of us...)
Busy busy busy. But in a good, recreative way.

Friday night was a meeting of PATH's chess team, followed by pool and pizza party. We were dissapointed at first when we got there, it just seemed kind of small and intimate and we didn't know ANYONE there - people we knew were supposed to come, but couldn't at the last minute. It was really good though, in that the pool was SO WARM (heated), the kids all had fun, and Ananda loosened up enough to play chess with another father who was there. I met a wonderful Swiss mom named Beatrice - she has 4 kids and was knitting, and filled me in on all kinds of local stuff to do that I hadn't known about. Also Grant picked up a potential customer. And they had a ton of fresh fruit and 100% juice type options, along with the brownie and soda options. We left around 10.

Then the next morning was the PATH executive board meeting, at 7:30 in the damned morning. I am not even kidding - SHEER INSANITY. But I was there, and many of the people from the chess thing were, too (all griping with a fair amount of good nature about the time), so that worked out. We talked over pre-meeting breakfast about birth and 3 of them floored me by interrupting me in unison to say, "You need Shari Daniels!!" Ha!

That meeting drug on forever, but was productive, and I got home around noon. We got our stuff together and went camping. We went to the Big Cypress Nature Preserve for the first time, which is a bit NorthWest of the Everglades. A high school group was there giving a projector presentation on the watershed, which was cool. It was weird - it was FREEZING last night. I mean, nice curled up 3 to an air mattress under covers, but not nice at all out in our shorts and tank tops during the evening cooking dinner on the grill and whatnot. Then today was unusually sweltering hot for this time of year, out on the trails O_o But only during the afternoon...the morning hours were great, perfect in between weather for driving around these old canopied "scenic roads". Around 3-ish, though, Grant got a call from the Winery that they were having the busiest, best weekend they've ever had and their computers were down. Lines backed out the door with customers trying to pay, and no way to ring any of them up. So we headed back a little earlier than expected, to the real world. Luckily the real world pays $75 an hour when it intrudes on "After hours" time, and this job took 4+.

Pictures! Like...24 of them. Exactly 24 of them, actually )
altarflame: (Me and Annie)
PATH ended up really good today. It was a nice break from the rest of the day, rather than "one more thing". The weather was shockingly reasonable, first of all; after weeks in the mid to upper 80s, it was like 72 when I went outside, and I hadn't been expecting that at all. The company and conversation were great, and the kids had a good time. I'm going to be leading some homeschool orientations, starting with one this month up at Barnes and Noble, and coming up with a newspaper ad for PATH, as well. Our membership is ebbing as families outgrow the group - we need more young kids.

Ananda is going to be going to her friend Kayla's house tomorrow. Kayla and her mom came here for our knitting circle, when we were doing it, a couple of times over last summer, and I talk to her mom - Yoli - every week at the park. They've also gone on a couple of field trips where our two families end up merging for the trip. She has a 3 year old girl who is SO ISAAC IN FEMALE FORM, and a 14 year old boy who is the most polite, easy going teenager I've ever met. So I feel like I know them well and all. Still, it's weird because I've never driven Ananda to someone's house and dropped her off for hours, or not had her around for dinner, or had another family driving her somewhere - she's going over at 2, staying for dinner and then they're taking her up to the kids' program they go to every Wednesday night, at church. Annie was SCREAMING and clapping with excitement, while Kayla turned cartwheels and yelled - they're both insanely giddy. I mean Yoli is VERY willing to supply information, like that she stays there at the church with them, and what sorts of things they do and teach there, and different things the girls will be keeping busy with at her house...all that kind of stuff. I still feel like I'm having growing pains, though.

Every girl Ananda gets along with and really seems to make a friend of, is 8 or 9 (Kayla just turned 9). She can't seem to relate to other 6 year olds at all. Sometimes I almost feel like I've done something wrong, because when the 6 year old girls who live on our street are around her, they can't even understand the things she says. Two doors down we have some really nice neighbors, and she's spent the afternoon there on a couple of different Saturdays; it's always supposed to be to hang out with Isobel, their 6 year old. But she invariably ends up playing with Sydney, their 8 year old, instead, and Isobel ends up left out the whole time. Similarly at Kristin's party last Saturday, she didn't glance twice at the girls her own age - it was like her and the 8 year old she hung out with dancing were the only "big kids" there. I used to think she was just super shy, in dance class, but in retrospect I think she just didn't know how to make friends with what she saw as "little kids". It's different with boys; she's used to roughhousing and nonsense with her little brothers and so she can have a blast with Aaron's 4 and 5 year old friends Darian and Eli - they just run in circles screaming and wrestle on the floor and act like superheroes jumping off of things, the whole time. How weird is that?

Earlier this evening Aaron was holding Lima Bean (our new lovebird). He for some reason thought it would be a good idea to kneel down and pet Sebastion (our viscious, semi-wild breed cat who kills birds, lizards and rats outside all the time and has even killed another cat before; my grandmother once needed stitches after she tried to hold him down to brush him, and he's even declawed). Sebastion has been VERY good about leaving Lima Bean alone, and he never messed with Sammy, either, when we had him. Still and all we try to make sure he's out when we get Lima Bean out of his cage just to be safe. Anyway, Lima Bean, being the feathered ball of fiery fury that lovebirds are around larger animals, immediately flew claws first into Sebastion's face, chirping wild battle cries. The next thing I know, as I'm trying to stir some spaghetti sauce, Sebastion goes shooting past with him in his mouth and Grant hot on his heels. Aaron was already semi-hysterical as Grant threw the dining table aside to get to the cat before it was too late; he dropped the bird, which Grant picked up...I went and picked Sebastion up by the scruff of his neck and threw him out, feeling guilty because really, how much do we expect him to put up with? He WAS here first and he was basically defending himself. But I have to discourage that kind of thing so he knows our other pet is off limits...

The bird is somehow miraculously fine. We checked him over again and again for blood or puncture, but he was just a bit ruffled. He ate his last handfeeding of the day like usual minutes later and went happily to his cage. I fear he has definitely NOT "learned his lesson". I'm also a little worried because I've heard cat saliva is toxic to birds :/ It was one thing I was asked about when Sammy got the infection that killed him; "Could the cat have gotten to him?" I guess only time can tell. Whatever happens, I'm *really* glad we didn't find a mangled gory lump of feathers under the dining table. For Aaron's sake if nothing else.

There's so much more I could say right now, much of it running deeper than what I've typed here, but I'm just too tired with too many more "before bed" things to do as it is.

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