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This month has been extremely productive and overall wonderful.

My semester end was hectic, with finals and papers (I turned in a 35 page paper full of statistical analyses, with various graphs and SPSS readouts in the appendix, for my Research Methods class...) coming fast and furious as soon as we got back into town. I felt a bit rushed about the Christmas season - we never got decorations up on the outside of the house at all, and it's the first year my kids haven't had little mini trees in their bedrooms. We baked a scant, single batch of gingerbread cookies before Christmas Eve!

And, I had some intense sadness about Christmas Eve, and my incapacitated Nana, and lost traditions and family gatherings gone by.

But, in the end it all turned out pretty great, and we've been coasting on the Twelve Days of Christmas ever since.

Grant and the kids all have two full weeks off, and I'm now "only" in this one mini-session course (online). It requires working every day, but is very manageable. Overall this is an unstructured and luxuriant time full of visits from out of town friends and relatives galore, with dates and cuddle sessions and repotting plants and so on. G is doing half of the cooking, cleaning, and parenting. Everybody's got a ton of new stuff, so there's a lot of taking Elise out on her new bike, and taking various people one at a time to spend their various gift cards, and viewing and videotaping the K'Nex roller coaster Jake worked on for hours. Life is pretty sweet.

Grant and I gifted each other an espresso machine, and the coffee around here has improved dramatically as a result. He also got me some essential oils, dark chocolate, and a new teacup and saucer. I got him Dune magnets and buttons and a new water bottle (that he'd been asking for), and some caramels and cookies.

I actually got the old granny square pattern book back out and looked up the one I was using for a blanket I had half finished, earlier in the year. My (very dusty) sewing machine was brought out for the first time in some 8 months.

Kid Updates!

Elise (8.5) just got a (requested) haircut that I think makes her look like an elegant mushroom. It's a short bob, longer in the front.






She is very high energy and usually really happy. She had a major breakthrough a few months back that shoved her forward in many areas - she could suddenly listen to more complex chapter books with thorough understanding, play Minecraft by herself, speak with less hesitations and searching for words. I think another of those is happening, now. She's also growing RAPIDLY - on December 11 I stood her against our height wall and she'd grown at entire INCH since December 2! At which point, she was a centimeter taller than a week before that! She's still obsessed with My Little Ponies, and plays with hers on the library carpet every single day. I don't know how much longer we can stretch this sweet innocent period of bath toys and "underwear girl" running around the house in the evenings, but I'll savor it while I can.

Jake (10) is hitting the slightly chubby phase that happens before the big puberty growth spurt. He reads a lot and usually has a pile of books next to him when he falls asleep. He's still affectionate and sweet with me, still moody and stoic in general. He's not as quick to anger as he used to be. I think he's going through a fearful period - scared of death, of fair rides, of social awkwardness. He's got some friends in the neighborhood but still seems restless and lonely at times. I think he's in a transitional phase. He still spends a lot of time building/innovating/drawing/etc. He is so in love with his cat, Jake Jr, the fluffy demon who rules us all, and says nonsense like, "how does it feel to be a grandmother?" He'll carry her up to Elise and tell him, "that's your Aunt, Jr." He's also a total sucker for any kind of cute animal video, and has this involuntary giggle that reminds me of a hamster.

Isaac (almost 12) looks an awful lot like a teenager all of a sudden. He's also really quick to assure us that he understands complex things and knows about everything. He's got a kind of image conscious defensiveness that wasn't there before, and is almost strangely matter of fact about the girl he has a crush on. He and Jake sometimes have a great time together, but Isaac is more and more likely to want to go somewhere with friends or just Dad and/or me, or close his bedroom door to be alone (a brand new thing). His anxiety seems to be mostly under control, but there was a relapse recently and I'm eager for him to get into a couple of programs that currently have him wait listed. He continues to be more "together" (organized, prepared, able to easily find misplaced items, etc) than the rest of us. His vibrancy - bright blue eyes, freckles, white eyebrows, etc - is stunning these days.

Aaron (14) is over the moon that he got a Wii U for Christmas. At school, the various art areas recently did performances during the school day for other students in other art areas, and it was the first time he danced for peers who are not dancers (including his siblings, and girls he likes, and friends/acquaintances/etc, and there were also core subject teachers in the audience...) This seems to have really changed his life. People who had never seen him dance were in awe of him and he said getting up there was the scariest stage fright he'd ever experienced. Typically recitals have been just for parents of dancers and dance teachers, and competitions or like the Hammerstein Ballroom thing in NY were for strangers - this was some whole other deal and he says he almost didn't do it. Just wearing tights on stage at 14 in front of your whole school of band kids and theater kids and writer kids, etc, is a lot! His tarantula, Tulip, is about half grown now. He's not depressed lately and I'm eating it up. He's still awkward and sensitive. He makes me laugh whether I like it or not pretty often. He's fucking obsessed with Chipotle and drives us all nuts wanting to go there constantly.

Ananda (15) is the bee's knees. She's so comfortable in her own skin and brilliant. I feel really proud of her almost all the time, lately. She has this horrible ironic fashion - like she just got SHINY GOLD HEELIES for Christmas like she wanted, and she's pairing them with these light wash, high waist mom jeans she had to have - it's painful! But she kinda pulls anything off. We talk a lot and I drive her friends places with her and we show each other things we find online. I betray her any time I get a note from a teacher that she should come to math tutoring or retake a spanish test, by immediately telling them she can do tutoring every day and this is my number, etc. She groans and says "THE WORST!" but with a smile, and then worries about how she's gonna do stuff like that in college without me forcing her to. Her teachers adore her. She has chai with the one she has an aid period with. We have a lot of fun eating gourmet food and exclaiming about science. She adopted some elderly rats a friend of hers needed to rehome and she's completely smitten with them, constantly feeding them vegetables and carrying them around.

So, that is them, and they are epic :) I'm gonna edit this entry to throw some pics in, since that's so much easier to do on a phone now.

These are their Christmas Even pajamas - Jake got a Gryffindor robe instead of regular PJs and immediately ran to grab the cinnamon broom, to go with it. He's trying to somehow be "in character" in the first shots :p



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Ananda and Aaron arrived home last Friday night from their high school's annual fine arts camp - 4 days, 3 nights. They told us stories for hours.

I felt so proud of Aaron (who had never been there before, and was texting me the first night that he couldn't sleep and didn't like it). He ended up having a great time and being really glad he went. He spent some time playing a tall console piano that he's still missing, in a room with 3 other students, and said all of them cried. Which is basically exactly how his piano playing effects me. Ananda then had to hear about it all week from them :p She only gets excited if he's playing something recognizable that she's into, like the theme from Howl's Moving Castle or Carol of the Bells, around Christmas.

The photography teacher apparently saw him for the first time and immediately asked if she could take pictures of him, and now wants to try to get him modeling contracts.

Aaron2 Aaron1

^Those are pics I took of him after he got his ears pierced.^

The biggest thing, though, is that Annie's gay friend E asked Aaron out, the night of the bonfire (Aaron is straight). He turned E down by saying, "I wish I could be into you because you're a great guy. I'm sorry it's not that easy - I'm really proud of you for going out on a limb, that had to be really hard." E went back to Annie and said, "your brother just didn't date me in the most epic way imagineable."

He is still him, and so he had a story about a panic stricken old guy screaming "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT OF THAT TREE, NOW! FEET FIRST!" I nearly killed him myself after he described going back alone to examine a yellow jacket hive after the swarm fell upon a girl who had to be taken to the hospital. I mean... he has seen My Girl. Get it together, Aaron.

He also came home WITHOUT his @&#)($ dance bag (that had jazz pants and shoes, ballet shoes, dance belt, dance tights, tank tops and more in it...)

Anyway. Ananda mostly laughed hysterically describing cabin antics, prank wars, and inside jokes. She also came home sore from moving constantly the entire evening of their dance, and knowing some new dances. She liked it better than last year, which was her first year, and that is saying something.

All in all it seems to have been money well spent.




Saturday was a complete fiasco that involved things like Aaron coming in my room with skates and pads in hand at 3:56 saying, "Mom, I'm supposed to be at Super Wheels at 4:00!" and Annie realizing, while we were out, that her iPhone had vanished. Teenagers, man.

Sunday was sleeping in and french toast brunch.

frenchtoast

Then Grant and I went, alone, and got iced coffee from the farmer's market, and walked around Pinecrest Gardens for a good long time.

Aaaaand Sunday night, the seven of us met Shaun and my friend Kristin's mom, Melanie, on the beach - where HUNDREDS of others were as well, including fire twirlers and drummers - and watched the moonrise/eclipse. It was great. We had an awesome view, bags of food, spent hours in the water. I drank too much wine - or perhaps just the right amount.

The weird thing is that when I got home, my bathingsuit bottoms were FULL OF SAND - like, between the layers of fabric there is a TON of sand. You can gather it up into a big ball. I mean wth. I guess I'm going to have to cut the lining open to get it out? Sheesh.

Yesterday/Monday was good. Highlight of homeschooling was probably when Elise wanted all the details of how doctors get to people's brains, to operate, and Jake had to leave the room for that explanation... she is very consistently fascinated by death, medical procedures, anatomy, etc, and almost never upset by any of it. He is extremely sensitive to those kinds of things, and really irritated by her fascination. The last time I had a blood draw, he stayed in the waiting room and she was so inquisitive that the phlebotomist enlisted her help with things like swabbing the area and feeling the vein as it puffed up o_O

Annie had an orthodontist appointment in the afternoon - her impacted canines are STILL not out, though they're much lower down now than before. I also officially made our last payment on her braces, yesterday. Gooooood lord. Between pulling the baby canines (dentist), the braces themselves (ortho) and her oral surgery (specialist), we and our insurance have paid something like $13,000 toward her mouth in the past couple of years! So glad Aaron and Isaac don't need orthodontics.

IMG_5423
Annie's mouth, day 1.

IMG_5422
Annie's mouth, yesterday.

Her bottom teeth are so much straighter now! It's weird how clearly you can see the tiny chains from the impacted teeth (which get shortened gradually at every visit now).

I had to invest a chunk of the evening to my own school work - I had a French test, a Research Methods quiz, and a Research Methods lab assignment due last night. As soon as I finished Annie and I hit it out the door to go to a free outdoor Jose Gonzalez show featuring our favorite food trucks.

jose
Cristy, me, Jose Gonzalez, and Annie, after the show was long over.

Cristy's Shaun's girlfriend and has only known us for a year or two. Elise hogs her bigtime when she's around, but she adores Isaac. Ananda and I realized as we talked after the show that she had no idea Isaac was ever in any way difficult or complicated. He's come so far and is doing so well that just seeing him now, she was thrown to learn he was a high needs baby, tyrannical toddler/preschooler, etc. I love it. Just telling her a couple of stories, I could see Shaun get the war-torn look of someone who has had to be in a restaurant when someone starts screaming, and has had the movie paused for half an hour every 10 minutes further in so we could try to wrangle Isaac...for years. It really impacted our ability to do anything, we always had to plan for Isaac - from bringing an inflatable dingy for Isaac to be pulled in because he wouldn't wade through the sandbars with us because he hated water, to... everything. It's impossible to overstate. It's so great that he's where he's at. I love that he can be happier now, and that we don't have to struggle all the freakin' time. The transformation over the past couple of years has been so radical.

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
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Today, I read Jake and Elise 1.5 chapters of The Goblet of Fire. I read Elise The Long Forgotten Doll. I read Jake Never Too Little To Love and I Love You More.

I didn't actually read to Ananda and Aaron, today, but the three of us did watch both the first and second updates on the Reading Rainbow kickstarter (along with contributing with them sitting next to me, all of us emotional), and this Mental Floss video that they recognized just about every single thing from (including the author narrating):



This is how I found Isaac sleeping last night, not long after I left his room following our HP chapter:


The child that I was so freaked about being unable to read, just 2 years ago. I've lost count of his re-readings of those Diary of a Wimpy Kid books. Other than that, there's a very battered copy of The Order of the Phoenix, and an Archie comic, on his bed there...

I have some parenting regrets, and some parenting insecurities, but I feel really good knowing that I've done this right, with them.




Once we got to the pool yesterday, I took this:






This weekend, I think that all seven of us are going to go see Maleficent together, which is exciting. We also have a birthday party for a friend, and Ananda is turning 14. She's electing to have an outing rather than a party - we'll see where that goes. I've got tons of stuff stashed away for her. FOURTEEN!

I feel like absolute crap today, physically. I don't know what's going on, but ever since we got back from swimming yesterday I've been semi-nauseous with a low grade headache. I can't shake the feeling that the pool made me sick, even though everyone else is fine and that doesn't even make sense. Just, ugh. It rained a lot today though, so I didn't have to go outside to water anything, and it felt very cozy and nice in the house. Annie made us chai and a big plate of mozzarella, tomato slices and basil leaves, this afternoon. Grant took care of dinner after I washed yet another epic mountain of dishes.

Bleh, I do not feel like I'm going to be able to sleep at all (because horizontal=more nauseous), but clearly it's past time to do so. I developed the ability, while I felt like shit CONSTANTLY, to be physically upset and emotionally happy at the same time. It's weird how that can happen. I mean when pain really amps up or exhaustion really kicks in, they can take over everything, but my baseline was so awful for awhile there that little things like "kinda sick" still don't really effect my mood overly much.

I've been having THE WEIRDEST and most vivid dreams every night. I mean everything from summoning demons with a big group in an abandoned house, to slow dancing on a stage in the middle of a crowded stadium, with John Goodman? Seriously wtf. And, I've been waking up 1-2 minutes before my alarm is set to go off for about a week now - which is really fucking bizarre, because I set my alarm for totally different times on different days and have nothing even vaguely resembling a regular bedtime. This even happened at the end of a nap over the weekend - normally I have to set alarms for naps because otherwise I'll just sleep for hours and hours. It's starting to be almost expected, though, that I'll suddenly wake up, grab my phone off the windowsill and see that my alarm is about to go off O_o

Tomorrow morning, after I take Isaac to school and pay some bills, I s'pose I've gotta schedule an eye exam for Aaron (based on some complaints he had today) and my annual pap/IUD check (since I realized that's about 6 months overdue). And get my supah-late shot. And do my laundry. And then basically concentrate on Elise learning to read, all day long.

I'll leave you with this video my friend Kristin made - it's a contest entry for the Tour de Fat car to bike trade, and she won. That means she'll get to donate her only-barely-sellable car to be auctioned off for charities she likes, as a tax deduction, and will get thousands of dollars to spend at a bike shop to outfit herself and her kids with bikes/gear. She's been planning to go car free for a long time, so she wasn't as upset as she would have been otherwise about her car's new problems. But finding and winning this contest is such a KRISTIN thing to do - I swear she can just manifest...anything.

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I decided while we were working on breakfast that maybe I would do something like a ditl. It didn't end up being complete, but it mostly worked for a few hours and hey, this means I'm actually posting pictures (a couple of hours after...) the day I took them!

many many pics, from today )
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I was really going to do the New Years pics, but then I was thinking I never posted Christmas pics, and I've just made so many yummy things this week that it started me looking back at other yummy things...I'm sure you get the idea :)

Best of eatin' in late November, December and early January )

Catching Up

Dec. 2nd, 2013 03:30 am
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I'm up late, lingering over the very last of the lovely holiday...in the beginning it was honestly sort of hell. I was just totally overwhelmed with trying to get the entire house clean and cooking so much, with company coming and time limits. I was doing school presentations and things the day before my Dad arrived, and I'm so freaking exhausted. I was taking 20 minutes once an hour to lie down, for an entire evening. Once things were underway, though, and it was too late to do any more than was done, I started coasting, and that has been wonderful most of the time since...

And Grant has had 9 days off in a row, Isaac 4, we've had so much cool intermittent company, put up Christmas trees, and blargh. This week is gonna be wall to wall, as all weeks tend to be lately. It's the end of the semester, and today I did two quizzes, some discussion board stuff and submitted a 5 page paper, online. The beginning of the end of the all too brief peace and lazing about. After we grocery/Christmas shopped, this afternoon, Grant took Ananda and Aaron to see Gravity, and I put a movie on for the littles and took the quiet hours for schoolwork...

Tomorrow I have to get Isaac to school; go by my doctor's office; go spend two hours getting fillings; then go to the school to make-up a theater exam, give the disability services people more documentation, and sell my textbooks back; make a power point presentation; write another paper; drive Aaron to dance; make dinner; read to everyone before bed... Tuesday I have classes, then a B-12 injection, driving people, feeding them, readings. Wednesday is counseling, gastroenterologist, blah blah blah. The three littles have a holiday concert instead of their normal music classes, after my classes, on Thursday. I'm trying to figure out with Nancy when we can see each other again before she leaves town in a couple of weeks, and with my sister when I can babysit so SHE can go to the doctor. Both of which are important to me, and more "good" than "work".

I make a point of scheduling leisure and downtime, lately. Tuesday evening, Grant will be here since he works from home Tues/Thurs, and we're going to watch a movie. Wednesday there are a lot of activities, but they're spaced out and local to where I can get a lot of quiet time at home with just Isaac and Jake, which is an unusual combination of kids to have home alone. Friday-day we will do nothing but guided schoolwork that they can't auto-pilot or do on the computer or whatever, since the rest of this week is low on that.

I'm just SO. fucking. TIRED. All the time. Friday, Saturday and today/Sunday, I've been going to bed around 1-2am, and sleeping until 1-3pm. Then I drink a lot of caffeine, and...take a nap. Still, I end up dozing off around 10 or 11. Second wind til bedtime.

I spent awhile up troubleshooting Ananda's chocolate chip cookies, with her, tonight, while everyone else was in bed. They came out hard as rocks and completely stuck on the pan, and she's very spoiled on early successes since she's made some challenging stuff like cheesecake and had it come out perfect. We talked a lot about the French law against face coverings for Muslim women, too, since I had to write about that earlier for school and she was interested - so many layers of racism and freedom and religious expression, etc...

I wrote another poem the other day. I've written a lot of poetry these past few months, for the first time in awhile. It's under here. )

Continuing with getting all of my November pictures posted!

Ananda's derby team had their first home bout this month, which was the first time I got to see her actually playing (not just practicing) in person - Grant and Gloria had previously taken her to away bouts. We got a lot of people to come out, including old high school friends of mine who are not pictured, and some of Annie's friends. Pre-bout tailgating included a big taco spread we brought along. Derby makeup, and nerves:


Gloria and LJ, excited:


Shaun and Cristy:


Aaron:


Possibly tipsy Grant, and Elise in mini-derby makeup Annie put on her:


I dressed up.


Half-time.


With Miguel and Izzy, all trying to look tough and then bursting out laughing as soon as the picture had clicked.


#1 fan.




It was fun. One of her coaches, who is on the adult team that had a bout after theirs, told her how well she'd done. She TOTALLY hero-worships this woman, and it made her flip. She was silly-stupid-happy for two days after :)

Back at the ranch - the chickens have finally started laying, as Jake and Elise wasted no time in RUSHING in SCREAMING to tell me ;)

Yes, it is a blue egg. And they roam free a lot, so it's like an Easter hunt every day :p

I randomly went outside for something else and found them wearing cut up cups as crowns.


Elise watching TV with Tom:


Isaac, sleeping with a special shell his penpal sent him :D


The cats use his bed, when he's at school.


One night, we had Miguel and Izzy and Izzy's brother Francois over, for dinner and a projector movie/sleepover. After the movie, Grant sat at the laptop projecting things on to peoples' faces. Like sunglasses, and clown noses, and celebrities.

Much laughter all around.

Next day:


New closed coils post-extractions, and new colors:


Our little Beasty's Girl Scout troop was in a parade up at the Falls - her shirt says "Keep Calm and Camp On," from this summer at GS camp.

Her brother's saved her a bubble necklace they'd gotten while watching the parade. You can see highlights from the rest of the parade (I didn't get any good shots of her group, unfortunately, and it seemed more important to scream and wave anyway) are here. <--They all get bigger. It's wild how the quality and variety of what is in a parade goes up, driving 30 minutes north :p

Sisters...


Some Thanksgiving pictures...it seems somehow ironic that these cuddly chickens were safely hanging out in the kitchen for part of the afternoon. They all just walk up to people and fall asleep in your arms, making little happy noises. It's ridiculous.



We were all SO. STUFFED. Nancy and Steve and their little dog Sundae, and my father, and Laura and Frank and their kids, and Gloria, and Shaun, and Grant and I and our kids. Delicious. And stuffed. And haha, you can see the picking my kids had done off of the edge of my clementine cakes.

Hours later:

That's Elise, (niece) Elizabeth, me, and Isaac.


You can see Gloria, Ananda, and Frank...we were still outside at 1am.

The only black Friday shopping we did was at Guitar Center...

Aaron, in Grant's hoodie and his new hip hop sneakers, drooling over expensive headphones.

Saturday was the Greater Miami Youth Symphony's 55th Anniversary Concert. Grant took Annie, and sent me these, while Aaron hung out with his friend Adrian and I took the littles to my sister's, since our mother was in town. I pretty much spent the whole visit catching my mother up on my latest lab results and apologizing to everyone for my brain fog and sleepiness. Sometimes, right in the middle of visits like that, I do stupid shit like tell everyone I'll run to Publix for a few things and then burst into tears and rant to my husband on my cell phone in the parking lot for 15 minutes until I feel like I can stay awake long enough to continue, uh, living.




Well hello, 3:30 O_o
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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 did...here'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.


Waiting


Jake and Elise had a lot of fun.


Clearly, I forgot something, though :/


Waiting with me, at my dentist.


BJ's.


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 )
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It's finally happened!



I understand her angst and woe; being the oldest means being the biggest for so long, and then one day they start outpacing you, one by one, the braggarts. *shaking my fist at the sky and cursing Laura and Bob, how dare you grow taller than me, HOW DARE YOU*

In other news, I have been damn spoiled by Ananda and Aaron's shoe sizes being relatively stable for a couple of years now. Aaron is in this megagrowthspurt though, it's kinda insane, and now...his shoes don't fit. That means, the $100 Vibrams his Opa bought him don't fit. The (nice) skates I got him for his birthday in late July, only used a handful of times, don't fit.

NONE OF HIS VARIOUS DANCE SHOES FIT O_O Not the hip hop sneakers, the ballet shoes, the jazz shoes (all purchased new in September, for the school/dance year). Not the vented, lightweight combat boots Tawanna ordered for them all to take to competition in the Spring, that will probably be needed again if they use that dance again.

I am not really sure how to go about covering his feet at the moment, because it seems extremely foolish to buy anything immediately - it'll obviously only be transitional. Blargh.

Isaac's outgrown his sneakers, too, but that seems so much simpler. His Crocs still fit. He's growing at a nice even pace and the new sneakers will last a decent amount of time.




Our All Hallow's Read books are all here, ready to go! I am excited.

Books to Buy Next (probably as Christmas presents):

-The Thief of Always, by Clive Barker
-Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
-Alice in Tumblrland by Tim Manley

I will, ideally, come back and edit that list as time passes.
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How my kids spent most of the evening:


These three watched Toy Story 3 in a heap in this round thing while the couch sat nearby, empty.


And these two played Magic: The Gathering as they have all day long, excepting meals and chores. Now that Jake can read well enough to keep up with him, Isaac never has to try to trail after the oldest kids begging for a partner.

In between online tests and making dinner, I got on skype behind a locked door with a woman who has a YouTube channel and soon-to-be podcast of authors reading their stories. Normally, the stories are lesbian erotica. For Halloween, she's doing a horror special, of which I am a part. <--These are the kind of gigs my publisher lands me, no doubt partially because my editor is a LAMDA recognized, multiple award winning author of...lesbian erotica. She also writes full-time for the (Miami) New Times, which means lots and lots of free food and events for her, and sometimes, Grant and I. He is more impressed with VIP passes and the like than I am, but it's nice.

I felt grateful for aaaaaaall the hours I log regularly, reading aloud. It was fun. I'll post a link when there is one.




It's so important to me to protect quiet time with my kids, and unstructured time, and time to talk. We have so many things happening these days, and it can be really challenging. I spend 30 minutes in bed with Isaac EVERY single week night, no matter what, talking and reading to him regardless of how late it gets or how tired I am - because he goes to school all day every day, and thus misses SO MANY "moments" I automatically get with the others...even if they are only Monday, Wednesday and Friday (the school days when I am not in school). I say, "yes, of course" when Jake asks to go around the side of library and look at a spider web as we're leaving, even when I really, really don't want to. I sit in the dark of the tv room listening to Aaron play piano, for long minutes, and tell him how great he is. But it's hard! I'm always saying things like, "Elise, what if you come with me to BJ's, just you and I, to shop?" and trying to milk the ride to cello class or derby practice for all the catching up I can with Ananda. I don't ever want our interactions to be dominated by me assigning school work or asking why x, y or z isn't done.

I think we're still doing pretty damn well. I'm just also aware of how easy it would be, to not be.




Amanda Palmer reblogged my post about the concert, with commentary. Just sayin' :)
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The birthday boy himself, first thing in the morning as a newly 8 year old person.


And, the next afternoon, ready to host a pajama party :) Few people really honored it being a pajama party, but he didn't care at all.


This is actually from BEFORE the party started, or guests began to arrive...just my sister Laura, surrounded by our collective 8 kids, in our library with a balloon animal kit. It's Laura, Elizabeth (3), Isabelle (almost 2), Jake (8), Aaron (12), Elise (6), Isaac (9), Brian (7 next month), and Ananda (13).


Jakey and (cousin) Elizabeth ♥

We had a lot of people show up, aided in part because two other women brought THEIR collective eight kids. Along with Shaun, and Izzy being over.






It was good stuff, even if my formatting is wonky as ever ;)


This is a random pic I just loved, the other day during violin class.

Aaron is in a period of RAPID change. It's what happened to Ananda a couple of years ago, when she jumped 7 inches in height and 3.5 shoe sizes during a single year. He's suddenly only about an inch shorter than me - he looked different when I got back from Boston, vs when I'd left 4 days earlier O_o I am just waiting to wake up one morning and find he's taller than me.




The rest of these are from today. Here are my girls, waiting for Annie to get called back to get braces put on.





She got RAINBOW braces. That weird bar is to hold open a big enough space for the adult teeth to erupt through. The (3) teeth without brackets are baby teeth that will be pulled next month. She kinda loves the way they look, though she is (of course) hating the constant discomfort. Laura showed up today with flowers and gelato for her, having had braces herself. It was really sweet.

I've been getting all pictures of her approved for about a year now, and she was adamant that the braces were ok cropped but terrible with her whole face in the shot. Similarly, Aaron came out to the deck for pictures shirtless but then demanded I crop out everything from the nipples down :p I would have anyway, most likely, even if he does have a bizarre lot of defined abs from dancing/studio exercise.


Laura took Jake and Elise with her when she left, and this is Ananda, Aaron and I rolling around laughing about nonsense for an hour afterward.


Isaac tried out for the cheerleading squad last month. He loves it. He's the only boy on the team, but mostly hangs out with girls at school anyway. I think it's fitting that the uniform is the colors we've been dressing him in since birth.



And one more Jakey and Elizabeth shot, from this afternoon:

They have something special. We're always lamenting that they're related and can't grow up and get married.
altarflame: (MeandJakesleeping)
Today is Jake's birthday - my fourth child, my afro boy, my Jakey Bakey Pudding and Pie, is EIGHT years old. Eight!

We took him out shopping for his party (tomorrow), and I took him out for a treat, just the two of us. We gave him his small presents (a new sketchpad, and an over-the-bedroom-door basketball hoop with small ball). We cleaned and did yard work. Grant took him, Isaac, and Elise to go see Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2, this evening. I stuffed goody bags, while they were gone.

I'm having some pretty major pain issues. And what seems from googling to be a baker's cyst, on the back of my right knee. You know, to go with the ganglioic cyst on my left wrist. It's weird to be so physically out of it and so happy, at the same time. Also weird to feel it's obvious I need to go to the doctor, and also obvious that the doctor can't really do anything. I'm going anyway, but...bleh.




The friend time, in Boston, was fucking amazing. I loved it so much.

Nancy picked us up at the airport, she took us out to dinner, she loaned us her boyfriend's car (we did make sure he was ok with it, but it totally went down just like that) and subway pass (he had nowhere to go that weekend, and she has a vehicle he can drive). She made us breakfast, gave us a bedroom and bathroom for the time we were there.

More than any of that, though - a lot more - she is just so easy to be with, listens so well, says things I truly care about, i.e., anything she does...she also showed me emails from people she's given my book to, discussing the book. Because she has a stack of them in her house, on top of a shelf of books just like how they are at my house, and she gives them out constantly.



She showed me an email from an 80 year old friend of her mother's who was horrified, said I must be "sick...sick...SICK" and that she couldn't even get through it - and then the follow-up, apologizing, saying she read it and was so glad she did, and that I was saying things all women think and feel and are afraid to share, and all kinds of really dumbfounding things I didn't even know how to reply to.

Another person had just finished the first 3 stories, and said they were "completely bizarre, but in a very good way" which is, I hope, the truth. It's so insanely emotional to me, to hear peoples' opinions. I brought my own stack with me and gave out 7 while I was in town, and it's this urgent combination of excitement and anxiety as I imagine them being read (or forgotten all about) and loved, hated, cast off as boring...whatever.

Nancy and I talk about everything. Sex, sickness, therapy, exercise, recipes. She's 65 and she is not very internet savvy, but she wants to know who the Dresden Dolls and Amanda Palmer are, when she knows I'm interested, and she loves the videos I show her. She wants to know where to get the glitter cream eye shadow I'm wearing. She walks so fast I can't keep up. She's doing important work every day, in both the lives of individuals and for people in general. She is such an inspiration overall, still learning and researching and GOING and DOING, every day, much more than most people half her age. She has amazing stuff all over her house that is from Etsy or friends of hers, and there were house guests leaving the day before us, and other guests coming in the day after we left. She sent me home with bags of jewelry she doesn't want anymore, for Ananda and Elise, that both of them were SO EXCITED to get, because they're FROM NANCY :D

Perhaps best of all, she's coming to our house for Thanksgiving ♥ I am SO EXCITED, too, about that :D So is Gloria, since Gloria's here with us for Thanksgiving every year and is a total fangirl for Nancy, as a doula and aspiring midwife. It's funny; I tend to leave the room when Nancy gets a birth call because I don't want to end up triggered all to hell and back. We don't talk about that very much, aside from indirect things like birth laws and interesting clients - we tend to fixate more on her relationship ups and downs, though, and her kids and granddaughter, and paint choices for her new walls, and how she's training her little dog.

Grant and I agree she is an uncanny combination of me, and his mother (who I adore).

This is beautiful, though: http://www.bostonbirthphotographer.com/a-home-water-birth-with-5-siblings-and-a-lot-of-love/

Another book Nancy has in her house:

I did a double take, because Kristin - who is a bona fide chicken nerd - also has it, and has made me read and look at most of it several times over. IS THIS THE SORT OF COMMON DENOMINATOR THAT WILL DEFINE MANY OF MY BEST FRIENDS?! :p

I texted Kristin that pic and she was like, "No, I have a different edition." O_o Like that negates the silliness.


Nancy's deaf cat, who I kept psst-pssting before checking myself. And her dog, who Grant played with almost nonstop the entire visit. His name is Sir Chocolate Sundae With Sprinkles, though the sprinkles were cut off by a groomer soon before this was taken.

Grant made her one of the little pumpkins he does with the kids every year.


And she left these Happy Birthday notes for him, and scattered kisses, in "our" bathroom, for us to come back and find very late, after our concert was over (the 7th was his birthday, and this was a joint birthday trip for the two of us).



There was also our Sunday afternoon visit with Julie/[livejournal.com profile] emeraldrabbit. I've "known" Julie online for a lot of years, and met up with her briefly in Boston before Elise was born, but this was so much better. We traipsed there via train, bus and short walk, on a cool and rainy afternoon. It was slightly awkward for about as long as it took to climb their stairs and say hi. After that, I basically felt like I could talk and stuff my face with them forever :) It's awfully easy to imagine living closer and seeing her and Mark all the time, and how Elise would drag their twins around in ways they would hate, and how Annie would join in the adult conversations and Isaac would make Julie laugh. Grant and Mark could become real friends really quick. It almost happened in the time it took them to go get some donuts for all of us. I felt sad that I hadn't started visiting sooner, so that I could have done it twice. *distancesigh*

Monday afternoon I had a shorter visit at a bookstore with [livejournal.com profile] idiolecto. We've read each other for lots of years, too, though I'd never met her before. She is ravishingly beautiful and super easy to talk to - if we hadn't been on our way to something else I could have easily kept that conversation going for several more hours. She had an Iowa friend with her and had given her some kind of altarflame debriefing similar to the idiolecto synopsis I lectured Grant with, as we all headed in the direction of our meet up spot. It's so funny, talking livejournal nonsense with other LJ'ers IRL.

She also brought Grant a delicious looking pastry as a birthday gift, which you can see him enjoying here:


There are a lot of reasons for me to go back to Boston again!


We spent the middle night of our 3 nights in a hotel, to try to have some "Grant and I" time. With the last of his work travel points, we were able to spend only $50 to stay in the W, where this is the lobby:

That pink is illuminating moving water, and the curtains are chain mail. It's just ridiculous, I mean -


This is part of the room service menu.


And this is the floor to ceiling, repeating wallpaper in the halls? I just do not even know.

So anyway, because he does travel so much, Grant is considered a "Gold Member," one perk of which is that he gets any available room upgrades they can give him. Which, this particular night, was a freakin' "WOW Suite" that normally rents for over $1,000 per night. It was insane, and we had to sign a liability waiver before we were allowed into it. This is the living room, curtains closed:


And open:





Before we even had time to look at everything properly, someone was knocking on the door to deliver these :) Sometimes really good things come from talking to strangers!















That is a stainless steel kaleidescope, next to a glass prism puzzle O_o The room was filled with little things like that, such as a (not pictured) wooden block puzzle, and a stack of art magazines...



We went out for thai food, and he had to sleep off a persistent headache for a bit. A lot of my accumulated tensions from the frenetic week before caught up with me, along with some (non kid related) drama I'd had with Gloria (who was with our kids - and we worked it out)... and I had to cry my eyes out to let it all go, which thankfully he totally understands and can even guide me to before I get it.

This tumblr post from a pretty cool guy I like a lot was very timely - the quote is, "Most people think happiness is about gaining something, but it’s not. It’s all about getting rid of the darkness you accumulate." Basically, this amazing hotel suite was real neat but I still felt awful in it until I cried, and he still felt awful in it until he napped - then we were both happy, and then we would have been happy no matter where we were.

Not that it wasn't still badass. That bed was really something.

So we watched more episodes of Louie (the show we're currently working our way through), and got it on, and generally didn't sleep much but were better off for it.

It was kinda showing the next morning over breakfast.


Good stuff all around. Like this, that we got via facebook :D



I was so happy that his birthday was acknowledged over and over in so many cool ways. Otherwise I don't think I could have dealt with not being in a position to bake him a cake :)
altarflame: (deluge)
Isaac, night before last: My head is hurting.
Me: Have you been drinking enough water? Annie gets headaches if she gets dehydrated.
Isaac: I just drank a whole lot of water.
Me: But what about earlier - maybe you drank a whole lot because you hadn't been drinking enough and were very thirsty, and in a little while when it's had time to move through your system you'll feel better?
Isaac: I think my head is hurting because I fell out of a cooler and hit it on the wall.
Me: Uh. Oh. Ok...how did that happen?
Isaac: Well, I was trying to sneak into Annie and Elise's room to steal one of Annie's sharpies.
Me: Go on.
Isaac: Well, she caught me and did tickle torture to punish me, and then locked me in the bathroom for 10 minutes.
Me: She locked you in the bathroom for ten minutes?!
Isaac: Well, probably it was only a minute or less because I was fighting on the other side of the door to get out and we were laughing a lot.
Me: What is "tickle torture"?
Isaac: It means she tickled me until I was on the ground. ANYWAY, Jake and Elise were going to help me, so Jake got the ice chest from outside and I got in, and Elise was sliding it into the room so Annie wouldn't know I was there.
Me: *laughing uncontrollably*
Isaac: But she was suspicious right away, and came over and spilled me out and my head hit the wall a little.

Being home is nice.




It was Fall, in Boston. I had counted on cooler weather while we were there, but completely forgot that things look different during the Fall up north. I haven't seen trees change color since I was 6 years old (and that was a single day of seeing it).

I think a lot about this, lately - how people don't understand what I'm on about, when I go on and on about the different and amazing things I experience other places, that seem so normal to the people reading. Miami is different! Americans tend to feel as though they are in a foreign country, when they visit South Florida. If you only lived on flat land below sea level, surrounded by concrete, your entire life, and then you went somewhere very hilly with lots of bricks - it would feel surreal and interesting for awhile. *shrug*

Fall:


Flying in and thinking, "Oooooh yeah!!!!"


Rainy first couple of (lovely) days.






Showing the kids Christmas trees that grow in the ground ;)


I don't even know what these vibrant things are.


And I actually stopped our borrowed car and jumped out to grab one of these from the many on the ground, in amazement. It turns out they're "crab" apples O_o I brought this one home for my children to laugh at.


Prolific, those crab apple trees.


There was still a lot of lush green around. Everything about being outside seems idyllic, when it's only 70 degrees :)
altarflame: (deluge)
This evening, while Grant got the grill going, I ran up to the store for a couple of dinner ingredients we were missing. Got home, and Elise had on dark sunglasses and a jacket tied around her waist. Arms crossed over her chest, she started doing squats and chanting in a deep voice, "Emo, emo, emo!" Meanwhile, Jake ran past me with a hamster puppet on a wooden sword, yelling, "We're having roast hamster tonight!!!!" Then Aaron appeared, asking if I wanted to see how deep he'd cut his finger while he and Adrian were whittling with Adrian's homemade knives as though I was going to be REALLY impressed.

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )
altarflame: (deluge)
I have not had much time for actual writing, lately. I wrote two poems I'm happy with, while I was in Maryland, but other than that I am just so busy with school and life at the moment. I worked on the nieces and nephews children's books, and looked over my novel plans, between semesters.

There is still a lot of "writer stuff," though. This past week...

-I awarded a new contest winner, on tumblr.

-I got an email from Nancy, saying she ordered "another 6 copies," as she's continuously giving them out as gifts ♥

-I got an email from a former english professor of mine, saying she loves it, and asking my permission (as if I would say no!) to make it one of the 8 books her students choose from, to read and then write a major paper about! I was with my sister when it came in, and pointed out my leg goosebumps to her :p

-I got more painting-progress text images, from my wayward Illustrator.




We had the first round of follow-up dentistry, today - Ananda and Isaac. She had sealants put on all of her teeth, and an extraction of a baby tooth that was not going anywhere on it's own. He got his first 5 fillings, which covers one side of his mouth :/ They both did great, though - she has a cold, so lying back with a nitrous nose bulb thing was no fun. Isaac really blew them away. They normally give one or two "Main Street Dollars" to kids who do well during procedures, that can be accumulated and traded for movie tickets, but he got three. Sometimes I am still shocked by how calm and mature my former-tyrant is, these days.


Isaac, watching the Chipmunks while the gas kicked in. The sunglasses are so the exam lights don't blind you with glare :)


Yes, that is my 13 year old with the sides of her head shaved, wearing the skateboarding shirt, listening to Bach's cello suites while she waits...


You can see the tiny bit of her tooth that was actually sticking out, and the (comparatively) giant roots O_o

Jake let her know that the tooth fairy gave HIM $20 for an extracted tooth with big roots attached, years ago, so now I'm screwed, which Ananda clearly thinks is awesome, although she is definitely not letting on that she KNOWS there is no tooth fairy (since that would negate all benefits ever after). It's pretty funny.
altarflame: (deluge)
I do not even know where to begin. I've let this thing go for too long.

It's wild, just nuts, how different I feel when I'm really engaged with people and the world (as opposed to spending all my time alone with my kids in our house, with very minimal adult interaction). It is truly the difference between feeling mentally ill, as opposed to being like, "Wait what? I have PTSD? I guess technically I do." Sometimes I feel sad about this, because I used to be so (relatively) content to be home alone with my children. Other times - like now - I feel really happy that such a simple thing can make such a huge difference. Things get complicated because I can be very picky about who I really want to spend time with...

Many things have changed over the years on my Myers Briggs test results, but the most significant and startling was definitely watching my stubborn, moderate "i" turn to a just-over-the-line "e," last year.


I'm sitting here tonight, agitated and stressed with everyone else asleep, wondering what the hell my problem is - and it occurs to me that this is the first day in weeks that I haven't seen anyone that doesn't live in my house. There were other reasons to be stressed: a bank error I had to spend awhile on the phone about, some tedious crafting time with Elise that really took a tremendous amount of patience, realizing at the last minute during cooking that I was missing a crucial dinner ingredient... But all that is just life, it's the kind of shit that happens every day and hasn't been tying my shoulders in knots until today. Maybe it's isolation. Maybe it's not. There was a lot of arguing with Aaron about cleaning his room, and a lot of moodiness out of Jake, and a lot of Annie eye rolling and Isaac homework procrastination.

Still and all, I could list three times as many positive things about each of them. So. *shrug*




Previous non-isolation:
G and I had an awesome trip to Maryland ♥ Grant had enough flyer miles and hotel points stored up from business trips that we could fly and stay for free, and his mom was here in town with a friend for a couple of weeks, and spent those days with our kids. So, all we had to pay for was food! Totally awesome, and he has a ridiculous amount of paid time off accrued since he rarely uses it. We spent Friday, Saturday and Sunday exploring Maryland together, which was just fucking great. It was all awesome sex and sweet cuddling and a picnic in the park and a picnic on our hotel room floor. We walked all over and found great farmer's markets and a cool Thai restaurant and an interesting Ethopian place. The weather was lovely, we laughed a ton - it was really cool to be on foot and transit for a few days with no car whatsoever attached to me. Talk about a paradigm shift.

Then he left, Sunday night, to come home, and I stayed at my friend Kristin's house Sunday night, Monday and Tuesday. She works in the evenings, so I was free for those hours. One evening I took Jenne/[livejournal.com profile] the_waker to that Thai place I mentioned, which was awesome. I hadn't seen her since she came by Dama/[livejournal.com profile] mommydama's place while we were there with newborn Elise in 2007. I think we could be really close friends if we just lived closer together. Totally easy and natural to hang out with her and talk about ANYTHING.

Another evening I met Amy/tumblr user Bohemianelitist, with her kids and Kristin's kids (who I love, and have known for a decade...they're like family and only moved up there 6 months ago). We had great food and then moved over to a playground. The time went too fast.

I was going to meet Ruth/former lj'er "meileki," but she got too booked up at the last minute by a high needs kid and study demands, which was disappointing but I totally understand (obviously).

Staying up til 4am laughing with Kristin after she got off was great, as it always is. And her brunch spreads were fantastic. And her kids are pretty much what I would call friends, 8 and 11 though they may be :)

The week+ since we've been back from Maryland has also been a connected, networking sort of week. I didn't really experience the coming down of a vacation being over, because:

-My mother in law was still down and visiting and wonderful until a couple of days ago. She is really great. I got so lucky in the mother in law department.
-I spent a half hour at our evaluator's house talking when I picked up all our forms. We have enough in common that this can be an actual good time.
-Cybele and I caught up for at least that long, when I dropped Aaron off to hang out with Adrian. They've been gone all summer.
-The most recent weekend at home Grant and I had was riding high on the utopic chemistry of the previous weekend away (we barely see each other during the work week, it's mostly texting honestly).
-Laura brought the kids over one afternoon and we all sat around the bar eating and the library floor talking.
-Shaun came to dinner last night, with his new girlfriend. We pulled out all the stops (my husband actually made two different meals) and it was a pretty cool time.
-Aaaaaand a bunch of little things - needing to run errands and interact in small ways, meeting Isaac's new teacher, bringing the snack for Annie's derby team this last practice, all that sort of stuff that I don't even think I care about, but, what do I know. It probably makes a difference.

Tomorrow, my Fall semester begins. We had a big family meeting tonight before bed about the kids' meals and activities (Grant is working from home when I'm in school, so though here we need to have enough stuff set up in advance that they aren't constantly interrupting him).

I'm sure I was going to say more. Sure I gotta go to bed.

I'll leave this with a bunch of pics that will be outdated, if I don't hurry...

I had to take a picture one day when I realized that I was treading water in the deep end, with all five of my kids nearby - not a flotation device in sight - and we were all just hanging out, casually having a conversation.

It really hit me like, "Whoa." I kept counting them, unable to process that they were all there and everything was so simple and easy.



Diner (breakfast for) dinner.



Yes, that diner is actually in a pharmacy O_o

This is Elise before GMYS camp one morning, Isaac the day they were going to perform, and the three of them after the performance...


My "little kids," at 7, 9 and 6...

This is Elise after she went around and found all the pieces of that table, reassembled it, and started doing her art outside, and Jake doing a trick he learned at camp with water and vinegar (making tones sound by running his finger along the tope of the glass...pitch changes based on water level).


Ananda and Aaron, after breakfast one morning and waiting for me in the FIU library while I took a makeup exam.


Ananda came home from Mia's house with this lovely hair...we were at a coffee shop in the Gables that afternoon :)


We kinda look alike.


More than 5 years, we've had Aaron's cat, Peter...and finally he's starting to almost, sort of trust me.

I honestly think it's because I quit acting like it's preposterous and just accepted that he understands English, and speaking to him like I do people. Now, I can put him at ease. He is the weirdest and most complicated animal I've ever known, and the 11 year old cat I had who died, before we moved into this house - was a pretty developed personality.

Three thirsty chickens.


There are a lot of pictures of everything from Elise's doodles and her and Jake's cross stitching, to Maryland trip pics galore, on my tumblr in the personal tag. On the second page there's also a montage of my trip to Fairchild Tropical Gardens, with the big kids and our friends Gloria and LJ, a screencap of my grades and some degree planning, and many other random things :)
altarflame: (After the kiss)
Pretty sweet weekend, although I am still lingeringly sick and I have my FIU fall registration date looming over my head - basically, classes I need to take asap to keep my graduation on schedule are rapidly filling up and I fully anticipate an immediate system crash when my wave of students is able to log in and start picking things. Sometime this week, I have to sit down and do what my advisor suggested - come up with several alternate schedules that will work as plans b, c and d. There is also a rumor that a particular professor will override his maximum number of students to let in an almost unlimited number of people, for his online classes only. We'll see...

Yesterday morning was sweltering hot and comprised of standing in a long but fun line with Grant at an adopt-a-tree event, taking a bunch of stuff (GMYS forms, birthday cards for my Nana, books for contest winners, things G sold on eBay) to the post office, and grocery/school supply shopping. Afternoon was all storms and downpouring - I spent a chunk of it in the kitchen, making hot tea, iced tea, coffee and a smoothie for various peeps, in and around chicken and mushroom sauteeing, and egg boiling. It was cozy and lovely, to have Jake and Elise playing out on the deck in the water while Grant and Isaac played cards. REM and Simon and Garfunkel. We measured everyone again, too :)

Later when it was dark Grant made pasta and sauce for the kids and then he and I ate loaded potato skins in bed, while watching several episodes of Seinfeld on the laptop - all in all an A+ evening for someone coughing and lethargic who was about to shame herself by downloading Bejeweled.

Grant is unbelievably sweet, and made bacon and eggs, with mushrooms and sliced tomatoes, for breakfast today, which I had in bed before a bath. I think I actually have stuff in my lungs, and may degenerate to the point of having to go to the doctor. I'm hoping not, though, for a variety of reasons ranging from FINALS WEEK to UGH THAT WOULD BLOW.

He stayed home with Aaron, and cooked and cleaned and things, while I took all the other kids around to their various crap - Isaac and Jake had a swimming and movie playdate at a friend's house that seems like it ended up being a lot of fun. Annie needed to exchange some bras we'd ordered online that didn't fit, which went well (we got 3 bras AND fancy chocolate for the price of the 2 we were taking back). Then she had derby practice. During which I took Elise and had a just-the-two-of-us bubble tea date. The three of us spent awhile at a nice park before it was time to grab the boys.

After bringing everyone home, and unloading their wet things and new things and stinky things from the car, Elise and I did schoolwork for an hour or so while Grant grilled his amazing steaks and made sweet potato fries, and portabello caps for Annie. I had malbec in the cabinet, too. Mmm.

He took Ananda to see The Conjuring while I got all the littles in bed and then stayed up with Aaron. Aaron wanted to talk about kids at the dance studio, and songs stuck in his head, and spiders, while I did my new pedicure routine and painted my nails. Then we researched spiders and packaged up some dinner leftovers and I sent him to bed.


My Beasty's lovely hazel eyes.


Talking after music camp; finishing her third mango one afternoon; bubble tea; the park today; workbook time.




This frittata was amazing. One of the breakfasts Ananda and I split last week when we had the house to ourselves.


Paper writing while out the other day; the 3 bags I end up carrying some college days due to how many places I'm going, poor planning and just too many things to carry.


Free mango trees!




Cozy kitchen; playing in the rain; warming up inside with coffee; War and 21.



Aaron took this - it's his golden orb weaver. He also "has" a garden orb weaver, and several spiny orb weavers....this one is about palm sized.

I have had to rush outside to view it's newly shed skin, sudden growth spurt, newly arrived mates, and so on, pretty much every day for weeks.

I also had to talk him down gently (so as not to urge him to sneak or disregard what I was saying) on why it would be very very bad to bring her egg sac in and hatch it in his bed. *sigh*

I'm really proud of her, even if she does make the car nauseating to co-exist in after practice.

Beautiful grown looking thing...

Conditioner of the gods.

I always feel like I can see just how I felt in my pictures, but can't ever really tell if that's really true for other people looking at them. Here for instance it seems obvious to me that I'm feeling achey and tired from illness, even though it's also a good day. But that might just be my memory (and, you know, current feeling) coloring things.
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of my friends who live up in Miami like to say I live in "the sticks," which I always protest, because, what? This is not the sticks! Sure, I get the occasional possum and raccoon on the deck, and yeah, we can walk past a tomato field to feed a horse some carrots, but what of that? :p Then I am actually up around Miami, and come back home, and see this as our highway exit...


Isaac (scooter), Jake (bike), and Elise (running) in our obviously not rural area ;) I'm on a bike, and you'll just have to take my word for it.


I thought it was funny, in an "of course" sort of way, when I got to Girl Scout camp a little late to pick these two up one day, and this is how they were using their time:

She was so thrilled to have people at camp (albeit more counselors than campers) who understood her excitement about the Neil Gaiman signing, and SuperCon :)

Pictures from Dance Empire's (public, widely promoted) Instagram, obviously screencapped from my phone - I had resisted Instagram successfully for so long, but then when Aaron basically started LIVING at the studio and they were posting pics all day, I had to do it. He's in both of those groups, doing ab exercises. Because DE actually takes their company dancers to the beach, since it's harder to run on sand and harder to maintain balance in the water O_o


The thrown together Peter pan costume I mentioned.

Sometimes, there's no living with this kid. Who happened to be turning 12, the day these were taken.

I actually made the entire hat for that ensemble before I realized I'd used a toddler pattern as a guide. It WAS 1 in the morning... Beary got a hat.

Jake is so touched, whenever anyone does anything FOR Beary.

Isaac, with his clarinet (that seems as big as he is, to me) and after he was done riding on Jake's shoulders.


He got pretty darn good on the recorder last year, but this is obviously next level - it's more complicated fingering patterns, harder to make the sound with the reed, and WAY heavier and harder to hold up on his thumbs.

That (Hot Cross Buns) was from yesterday, and he's already doing it more smoothly and also playing Mary Had a Little Lamb, today :D

GMYS posted this one a couple of places. Jake in black on flute near the camera, and Isaac in red down on the end, with his clarinet. They elected to quit violin and switch, this year - Elise is still playing violin.


Sorry this is awkward, it's a screencap from my facebook app, but look at them last year, in their camp shirts, on their way out the door one morning...


And this year:

The biggest difference I see, aside from how badly our mat has aged and how much less hair Jake and Elise are sporting, is in my Beasty's height - I didn't notice at first, but she's on the step in pic 1, and standing on the porch with the boys in pic 2. She's grown so much!


Best ever. Lettuce wraps and bubble tea from Stir Moon, which INCLUDING A 25% TIP is $13. So yummy.


My lovely Ananda baked a cake and made the frosting totally on her own, for the first time.

She thought it tasted "weird," but I could tell she was somewhat proud of it as she served it up to a line of eager siblings.

Photobombing, separate days.


My Elisey Beast.




Math, yesterday after dancing. You can see the progression from, "ok, multiplication review" to "WHAT'S THAT?! A CAMERA?!" pretty clearly, I think.


Ananda, sciencing (really, that's a word) in her laboratory room.
altarflame: (deluge)
I've been doing a tumblr contest for the past couple of months, where if people reblog a post about my book, they can win a signed copy of the book. It's gotten about 30 entries and it resets every month, so there have been a couple of winners, which is fun. I know a lot of people don't have a tumblr, though, and I get a lot more hits here - so I've been thinking of doing something similar on lj. Sharing a description and image of the book that I make easy to copy (with contest explanation, you don't have to pretend to parrot my information for fun :p) would count as an entry. It could be on your facebook, twitter, your own lj/other external blog, tumblr would still count - as long as it's some established place that you have that is not just made up and blank for the purpose of the contest. You'd have to let me know you shared it, either in the comments or in my email, to enter.

[Poll #1919205]

#ETA: You can leave your answer in the comments if you don't have an LJ. I wasn't thinking of how non-LJ'ers can't participate in polls.




I've had the shittiest most terrible double ear infection. The most painful, throbbing, fuzzy headed, muffled hearing lot of swelling. The whole right side of my tongue (closest to the worst ear) has been shredded from my TEETH being shoved over. I've been sleeping with the help of hydrocodone and exhaustion - and hydrocodone takes like three Arrested Developments one and a half Game of Thrones an hour and a half to kick in.

Anyway, it's finally going away, and while I'm grateful this hasn't happened in a few years, the steady ringing sound constantly reminds me of my deepening hearing loss and really...it's not cool. I don't know how I got so comfortable with so much soft dairy again (the runnier and more frequent, the worst, seems to be the case with me, in terms of consequences...) but it's basically come down to "do I want a frappuccino or do I want to be able to hear people talking to me, listen to music, and otherwise experience reality through one of my only five mechanisms to do so?"

*sigh* These are the thoughts of someone sitting still with their head turned sideways and drops in their swollen ears, as small people run past on mute.




I've bought a lot of books, in the past couple of days. For school, I got my Summer B textbooks - "Theories of Personality" and "Intro to Social Psych". I won't bore you with the gouging agony of what they cost. I will say that I was so pissed that the DSM-5 was $200 at my FIU's Barnes & Noble that I opted out and instead went with, "The Book of Woe - The DSM and the Unmaking of Pyschiatry." Which I've already read 2 chapters of as my cold, cold ear drops gradually sink down into the center of my tortured noggin'. When I relayed that information at home, however, Grant said the government is giving me a lot of money for my education, which more or less requires that book, and Amazon said they would send it to me for "only" $118. So I got it from them, along with (for continued balance in perspective), "Saving Normal: An Insider's Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life."

Because Amazon offers that tantalizing, "buy new and used from ____" option, and I DO have government education money, I also got "Toxic Psychiatry: Why Therapy, Empathy and Love Must Replace the Drugs, Electroshock, and Biochemical Theories of the 'New Psychiatry'" and, in neuroplasticity, "Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One." Along with replacing my old copies (loned out and lost forever) of "Neuroplasticity: The Brain's Ability to Change Itself," and "Prozac Diary" (literary nonfiction by one of my favorites, Lauren Slater).

All of them together add up to about what I would have paid for just the DSM at school, which ties into this whole issue I have as a bibliophile and author about people (like me) buying these bargain basement priced used books - I don't think it's as "bad" as just torrenting and illegally downloading ebooks (which I never do), but it's clearly doing nothing for writers and little for the industry. Sort of. I mean I guess it gets writers read, and keeps used book merchants in business, both of which I see value in. I DIGRESS (<---What a surprise).




42 pictures )

Links of the Day!

Link 1.) NPR discusses the nearly complete absence of women from movies. "I want to stress this again: In many, many parts of the country right now, if you want to go to see a movie in the theater and see a current movie about a woman — any story about any woman that isn't a documentary or a cartoon — you can't. You cannot. There are not any. You cannot take yourself to one, take your friend to one, take your daughter to one.

There are not any.

...Dudes in capes, dudes in cars, dudes in space, dudes drinking, dudes smoking, dudes doing magic tricks, dudes being funny, dudes being dramatic, dudes flying through the air, dudes blowing up, dudes getting killed, dudes saving and kissing women and children, and dudes glowering at each other."

I wrote about this here two years ago, in this post, saying all this )

Link 2.) http://www.michelecarragherembroidery.com/ The woman who hand embroiders the costumes for Game of Thrones. This is mind blowing stuff! I love fabric ♥

Link 3.) Florida: Black Woman Gets 20 Years for Firing Warning Shot - White Man Kills and Goes Free The title kinda says it all, unfortunately.

Link 4.) Florida: 17 year old girl who has been in a consensual relationship for a year or more with another, 15 year old girl who was on the varsity basketball team with her, gets into serious legal trouble the minute she turns 18 and the younger girl's parents have legal recourse. Younger girl's parents are deeply homophobic and claim the older girl is turning their daughter gay. Now this honor student, who is active in her community, is facing lifelong sexual predator status, multiple felonies...it's crazy. That link is to the change.org petition that over 300,000 people have already signed, asking that the case against her be dropped and the laws re-examined.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Fucking GAH.

Ok! In the past 24 hours:

-a woman was thrown in a van and kidnapped in the parking lot of Grant's job; he and some other people in the office heard her screaming from upstairs. Cops were called. There is video footage, but it's not clear or close enough for identifying the victim or perpetrator :/ For what it's worth, he works adjacent to a nice hotel in a 7 story office building on a main road and this was broad daylight. I'm doing that thing people do, where you hope there's a lot more to this story and it wasn't totally random because then it could be anyone...like, alright, it's possible this is some kinky consensual shit arranged via Craigslist...right?!?!

-we found our missing cat, Elvis. Dead, under our deck :/ I have no idea what happened to him, and it was not something we could discern looking at him. He hadn't acted strangely, he just went missing and aside from looking for him a lot we didn't know what to do...then it started stinking out there. Elvis was born on my bed three years ago, and used to ride around in my cleavage. He slept with Annie most nights, but Isaac sometimes. Ugh. Grant buried him and it was horrific, just, it is really hot and really rainy and nobody was allowed outside until he was done. G's felt sick all day since. Sophie, Ananda's cat, was at the doors yowling and acting disturbed the whole time he was working and has been lying in Elvis's "spots" around the house all day, since.

-someone whose life I have been following online for about 7 years, and vice versa, announced on facebook that her husband had a stroke driving their son home after work/school yesterday. They're 33. The guy managed to pull over and call for help and seems as ok as he can be, even joking a little in the ICU, but... O_O It's so terrifying and seemingly random :/ This family lives in the greater Boston area and are just getting over the whole city wide terror shit from the Marathon bombers.

I have already been in a state of thinking of my stroke-addled Nana and aging Pa daily, since Aaron and I went up there for the dance convention last month, and have spent the past couple of weeks forcing away shitty thoughts about the abducted women found in Ohio as I allow my kids to branch out and do things. Now my terrible, raised-on-horror writer's mind is seeing all our cats as potentially rotting carcasses and not wanting to handle raw meat. It's pretty terrible.

In an effort to distract myself, while cuddling with Grant, I somehow got sucked into a ridiculous New Times article about a cult based out of central Florida and the crimes, abuse, rape, and so forth they're being accused of now that their guru has died and people are bringing all the stories to light.

How is any of this shit real life? How is ALL OF IT real life? I mean when I was a teenager/young adult I knew of a local cult with a weird prophet-guru, one of our best friends was in a serious relationship with a member and they collectively owned a business we went to a lot. But they were totally peaceful cultists.

Then I start thinking of how people are so desperate for meaning and long for systems of continuity that distract us from the impermanence of everything and how every single thing we do is a way to fill the time we have and make the best of it, O_O You know, as I cuddle and console Elise while she sobs about Elvis being dead.




After writing that first bit - I actually forgot all this crap for half an hour and laughed hysterically just by forcing myself through several pages of okcupidgoldmine.tumblr.com - you see what a paragon of depth and meaning I am, over here?

*sigh*

...ah-ight, more pictures from the vault...


these are all from the weekend of the dance convention, away and home... )

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