altarflame: (deluge)
ETA!! This was going to be a fb status, but on second thought - can you guys give me some packed lunch suggestions for my various kids? I'm really at a loss as to how not to just give them hundreds of pbjs all summer for their various day camps. Ananda is a vegetarian and got REALLY sick of packed salads last summer, and says she doesn't want to go there again O_o Jake and Elise are very open to super healthy stuff like raw carrots and hummus, my main challenge there is that Jake needs a LOT of food and eats ridiculous amounts. Isaac is very very picky but claims to hate sandwiches altogether - he and Aaron both would be happiest with a lot of little packaged snacks, which I don't really feel very keen on. One thing I'm sure of for Isaac is he adores cheese and crackers, although he sometimes gets weird about "how cheese is when it gets packed," even with a cold pack. And Aaron actually needs two packed meals per day, for Mondays and Wednesdays, and I have a hard time not giving him double of the same thing and/or not enough. Aside from really expensive stuff in small packages (pistachios) nuts tend to come home uneaten.

This is where I realize how often I make a big pot of oatmeal for breakfast and a big pot of soup for lunch, and/or just let them graze all day here at the house, neither of which are feasible options for this. I mean soup in thermoses might work, for some of them? Gah. It seems kind of messy and the boys are all sort of ridiculous about things being heated enough. I'm very spoiled on keeping our house stocked and telling them to just grab things themselves, and/or find something else themselves if they don't like what I'm making, when we're here...

Additional Notes:

-A and A love Asian stuff like spring rolls and sushi, but that's complicated/expensive to maintain (I'm not a maker of sushi, the spring rolls Annie likes are very time consuming)
-Isaac can't have anything with corn in it

Now then - Parenting Stages

Or, "Things That Occur to me as I Drive all Over God's Green Earth..."

I really love babies, toddlers and preschoolers. They're huge amounts of work, and often involve tedious amounts of repetitive tedium (getting them down off the table AGAIN, cleaning up pee AGAIN, reading that board book AGAIN). But they're adorable and fleeting for every moment of it, and often deeply engaging of my hormones as well as hugely emotionally embroiled with me. You have to take a picture to not lose how they look THAT WEEK forever, and they are just constantly doing something brand new. You see the emergence of personalities for the first time as a new human being unfolds. I love nursing, cloth diapers, slings, cuddling with sleeping little people, sick slow small folks wanting extra love, introducing NEW everything (from walking and talking to taking newborns outside to getting to show them EVERYTHING - the zoo is a thing! Parks exist! Fruit is awesome! Holidays happen!). It's really sweet and exciting and kinda amazing. I love wooden stacking toys and silly poems and how easy it is to just make them SO HAPPY (most of the time...) by announcing outings or trips or treats or game times, or, anything. It's very simple to exist completely in the house and yard, or around town in your life rhythm, without fighting to protect that dynamic.

I do not love latency, or tweens/preteens. I find this whole phase irritating beyond belief. Most kids go through several awkward phases, in looks and behavior, during this time. Whether my own kids or other kids, I just don't enjoy interacting with (often sarcastic) children who act put upon about chores, argue with words and rationales about bedtimes, and constantly try not to act like they like anything TOO much. They are as picky about food and ridiculous about everything as toddlers are, except they're supposed to know better and are sullen. They tell horrifyingly not funny jokes all day every day for months at a time, and show me staggeringly complicated lego creations with many weapon features HOURLY for years, and beg for tv and other screen time way too often regardless of how I consistently limit those things. These kids are suddenly hyper-modest even though they haven't hit puberty yet (give me a naked 3 year old on a trampoline any day...) Mostly, they school their features too often to not get excited about exciting things, or show sincere enthusiasm too often, and I hate that shit. Tiny little precocious hipsters, refusing to wear clothes you buy them out of nowhere and all too cool for Sesame Street, let's just fast forward this nonsense :p I feel obligated to have them in activities, but have to practically drag them to the damn things half the time, and they just change their minds and stop being interested in things they thought they had to do the week before.

I have these memories of myself that make me want to die, 9 years olds and calling everyone "Babe" in a condescending tone, and 11, flipping my hair and asking if everyone thought my (jeans and a tshirt) outfit was "just too polyester." GAAAAAAAAH. I don't know to this day how nobody stabbed me in the eye.

I love adolescents, though. There was a period of time when (nephew, lived with us at the time) Robbie was a preteen while Ananda and Aaron were preschoolers, and I thought Robbie and I had intrinsically clashing personalities and my kids were these sweet easy angels. Then, a few years later, Robbie was a teenager and even though he was kind of a mess - I was visiting him in the psych ward after faked suicide attempts and things - we could talk for hours about his life and interests and family issues. I brought him over, sometimes, for the selfish reason of enjoying his company. Suddenly we were sitting in the front seat listening to Regina Spektor and Kid Cudi together while Ananda and Aaron were unbearably eye rolly and obnoxious, behind us, so awkward and trying so hard that it was cringeworthy and PAINFUL.

At PATH, the preteens stand around refusing to dance at the dances. The teenagers get up and freely make fools of themselves and have a good time. The preteens stand around at the park dodging the little kids, not wanting to be seen interacting with them. The teenagers give the little kids piggy back rides and include them in their conversations because they're adorable (and often unintentionally hilarious).

Anyway, Ananda and Aaron are (FINALLY O_O) moving out of the preteen bullshit phase, and I am SO glad. It seems like the first initial year of puberty has to be out of the way before we can actually talk and hang out easily again and they can react naturally to things and, geez! There are, of course, pain in the butt teenager things - they are much harder to get out of bed early, sometimes, and I always feel like we're about an hour away from them managing to somehow become addicted to internet porn without me ever realizing they've even seen it, and I get SCARED about the independence they need and have as they skate off around the corner together or decide they want to do things like play roller derby with ambulances standing by or go en pointe and potentially ruin their feet...

But I ENJOY them again in a way that I haven't for years (Ananda for about a year and a half now, Aaron for the last couple of months). They're great to be around. They autonomously take showers on their own because they don't like stinking or having gross oily hair, and brush their teeth because they don't want them to be yellow (I am so glad to not be fighting those battles anymore like we ALWAYS were when the BO and greasiness started...), and they clean and organize their stuff without me even knowing they did it O_O Not all of their stuff, their rooms can still be ridiculous and they will totally "forget" their chores exist if I don't remind them, but then they do them as though they'd just forgotten, when I remind them, rather than going into histrionics like did for several years - Ananda would drop her head backward and moan, Aaron would actually lay down on the floor from the crushing weight of the injustice. KILL ME NOW :p

They have this grace and ease with Isaac, Jake and Elise that is really different than the screechy "don't touch my stuff!" and "stay out of my room!" and "I will not play Monopoly with you" that we were dealing with as normative for so long, too. The little kids bicker and tell on each other and A and A roll their eyes in a GOOD way, with a smile, and share a knowing look with me. If I pull them aside and ask nicely they'll usually say yes to doing enriching things with them as though it was their own idea ;)

We have these great, quiet conversations about ideas they have, about things to potentially do with their lives, and where they want to go with their current interests and hobbies. I also LIKE THEIR FRIENDS - let me tell you, I am a sort of horrible person about not being into "other people's kids." When I have babies, other babies are cute but overwhelming because my own baby(ies) is so all encompassing. It's often frustrating to deal with outside toddlers and preschoolers because of the inevitable violence, stealing and angst, and the irrational favoring of my own kid/desire to dropkick the other one :p As you may have guessed, without the unconditional love of parenting to gloss over the whole annoying preteen thing, it's damn near intolerable for me personally to be around.

But now my (older) kids' friends are discussing which are the best book series and favorite vloggers and telling me how awesome my belly cast is when they come over. They have tumblrs and love sushi and Starbucks and have an interesting array of activities they do. They're planning cosplays for cons and say things like, "is there anything I can do to help with dinner?" and "thanks for driving me" without any guardian around to prompt them.

Sometimes, Ananda or Aaron spend an hour and a half in the bathroom, or are way too self depricating, or I wonder about their increasingly complex internal lives. I am revoking privileges to get them back on track with schoolwork very regularly. But I would so, so much rather deal with this kind of stuff than, like, standing people in the corner for slapping each other or calling each other butt faces. They can walk along with me in a store, without asking when we can leave the store, ducking under racks or around aisles making me panic, or running around me in circles. We're just walking through the freakin' store together. In between "kid is in the sling/cart" and this, there is a barren wasteland of frustration in taking kids out!

ON THE OTHER HAND, Jake is deep into annoying-as-shit tweendom, and Elise is starting. *sigh* He wants to interrupt with the devil's advocate position for every single thing anyone says, and can only respond competitively to anyone else's achievements ("Didn't Isaac do great in the school talen show?" gets met with, "So what, I blah blah blah" and then we have a lecture on being considerate and supportive that he grudingly suffers through before saying "But I really can blah blah blah"). He corrects Elise's grammar constantly when she talks, and is weirdly self conscious about making any mistakes in his schoolwork. It's like all conversation with him is through the lens of subtle defensive hostility. He suddenly finds it humiliating for us to look at or even have baby pictures of him and thinks I'm purposely insulting him if I reference those days. He's still pretty affectionate, and adorable, and fairly independent, but he also has a too-long, too-loud, obviously fake laugh that he forces out about things that are not even remotely funny until I want to wring his neck punish him for having a bad personality :p

Isaac is a whole other animal and an exception to every rule I've ever had - he was so difficult and troubled in so many ways for the first 7-8 years of his life that I am in a constant state of happy amazement at how much better he's doing. He is a preteenish sort of 9.5 year old, but he's so calm and thoughtful and kind and healthy and just holy shit *OK* compared to how he's ever, ever been before. I love it. And am kinda nervous about him hitting puberty since I worry that he might have some dormant mental health issues that get exacerbated when his pituitary goes crazy :/ Here's hoping that goes smoothly...
altarflame: (Default)
I am so excited, like starry eyed and GIDDY, that I have NO REASON WHATSOEVER to get up early tomorrow, and nowhere to be during the day. The only thing I have to do before evening is feed us.

*sigh of happiness*

My whole life tends to be such a constant tug-a-war between a whole lot of different things that all present as top priorities.

I feel like if I was you, I would hate this; but since I'm me, it's helpful and affirmative, so. You have to look at it, at least until you can rapid-scroll or close the tab:

TODAY, I got up in a flash of despair at 6 am, but somewhere in the trip to take Grant to the train station ended up making jokes and ok, and after a lot of really questionable LOUD music once it was just me in the van (Skrillex White Zombie, I was really out of it ok?) I felt alright.

Came home, washed some dishes, made coffee, cooked bacon and eggs, washed more dishes, went around the house waking up all my kids, sat down to breakfast with them, got Elise ready, took her and Isaac to her preschool drop off. Because today was her last day - a Thursday? The week after graduation? Don't ask me. They had a party, though, and Ms Denise was crying at pick up time and we're going to frame her little diploma :)

I took Isaac to exchange his dollar for quarters and then use them at the quarter machines like he's been BEGGING TO for days, and bought a money order I needed, and then we went through the drive thru atm and then the drive thru bank lines...because the way student aid money is deposited is really convoluted to get out of the very inconvenient account and you have to jump through a lot of hoops to move it around. But there are a lot of free lollipops involved.

Had a phone call with my publisher about copyright and DBAs and pseudonyms and galley copies and headshot pics and took Isaac home. Putzed around the tiniest bit in and amongst browsing used cars on craigslist, and making several car-related phone calls, sending a few texts and an email. My mother called with more harrowing stories of my Nana's seeming journey into delusional's really awful to witness, even if it is not first person.

Took Ananda to go pick Elise up, and the three of us went to the DMV, to get her picture ID so that the tattoo parlor will do an actual needle (as opposed to gun; see previous entry) piercing on her ears. Came home and dropped them and took Aaron, who came with me to BJ's to do heavy lifting and hang out together, and have a detour for a treat from the health food store.

Rushed home making calls to the kids to be ready, put away cold groceries only, and sped up to PATH JUST in time due to needing more gas, for Isaac to make it to his PE class. Kids had fun and I sat texting with (seriously) my mom, Grant's mom, Dama, Nancy, Kathy, Jess, and Kristin. I had a good phone conversation with Kristin too and think I have a couple of weekend dates, now. Jake's friend Jake brought them all party favor bags from a party last Saturday that were pretty impressive.

Left slightly early, took Annie and got her ears done - she did great, though I thought she might pass out for a minute there. Another publisher convo about my bio information, the merits of tweeting (THEY REALLY WANT ME ON TWITTER) and a couple of other things. Got a replacement nose screw because mine fell out while I was drying my face, the other night, and I never found it and have been using a much more fiddlesome and annoying ring ever since as a placeholder. Though the ring is growing on me.

Got Grant from the train station. Drove home talking about his day and news of my friends (Jess is platinum blonde?) Washed some dishes while he cooked (french dip loaded with seared mushrooms and cold cranberry pomegranate juice - BRING IT). Then set kids up with movies and he and I watched Game of Thrones while he was all nice and massaging me, and then we had some Private Time, and then I came out here to get the kids in bed and to waste time on tumblr and just bask in the freedom that is NOT ONE DAMNED THING TO BOTHER WITH TOMORROW!!!!

Really, though. Can you imagine?

It's just so wonderful.
altarflame: (Default)
I'm finally starting to sort of, almost be able to bear this "up early, bed at a decent hour" (day in and day out, the horror) shit. Clearly, I still haven't figured out how to update my lj while on this schedule, but I've stopped constantly feeling depressed and surreal about it in the back of my mind. Keeping in mind that I am someone who didn't even sleep at night much as a kid and that my long term life plans involve having an afternoon-evening psych practice and/or writing books late at night.

Sometimes, like yesterday as I served all of my kids breakfast and assigned their schoolwork before leaving the house at 8:30 AM to bike Elise to preschool and myself to biology, I swear I can hear Rocky music drifting into my house from somewhere.

Today I got up early enough to take a shower and study before I woke them, which was before preschool and biology O_o I even crocheted a chain for a pendant I thought would go with my outfit, on my way out the door ;)

Biology in 6 weeks is pretty intense. We had a test on an entire chapter when we arrived today, then an entire chapter's worth of lecture for an hour and a half (the kind where you have to scramble and flip around in the book and still can't copy all the notes effectively), and got the test on that before we left. I felt like a complete badass because even though I was last to receive the 2nd test (sitting so far from the teacher), I had finished it, gotten my stuff together and was out the door while everyone else was still frowning down at their papers.

FYI, teacher-guy has added lawsuits leveled against the FDA, various senators personally fearing him and how he used to irrigate his farm to his list of accomplishments. I actually found one the lawsuits via google.

I'm on my way out the door with Aaron to walk and get my Beastie right now, and then Jake and I are gonna walk to the store for some lunch/tea things, so...I think I'm just going to end this, because if I try to leave it open to finish later it's going to go the way of the last three entries I tried that with and fade into oblivion.
altarflame: (Default)
It's ridiculous to feel so relieved that a weekend is over. But, DAMN! Friday was all, preschool, pay bills, driving Grant to and from wherever, take the kids to Greater Miami Youth Symphony and email your professors about makeups and Aaron has acting and get Ananda and Aaron all the way out to Long Pine Key for a big group campout/birthday party in the Everglades (are they packed? are their chores done/animals cared for/schoolwork finished/phones charged??). Horseshit!

And that evening the illustrious Gloria and Lj took the littles and Grant and I went and ate out and had some time on the beach even though this couldn't BEGIN until after 9... uninterrupted time in the car was even sweet...and that was all great! And the littles had a great time, including very late and not expected Christmas present unwrapping since we (apparently? What?) haven't seen them since before Christmas. But it meant that we got to bed at like 2:30 am. Which meant that the next morning, when Elise had to be dressed, fed and ready at a parade float by 10:30, still felt awfully early.

She loved it. We watched the parade laughing hysterically at Homestead's over the top pride in it's own "culture"...from kids in fatigues leading a jitne-tank (no really) all labeled as "The Lord's Army" to girls atop airboats with taxidermied alligators and fake shotguns, it was just really something. What do you expect from a Rodeo Parade? Between Kristin, Cheri, Grant and I someone said something about an act going by often enough that we never stopped laughing. My favorite parts were the lady in a Mustang that was wearing a horse head over her own, and the little kid in the back of a pickup truck wailing on a drum set.

Did I mention the people behind and above us were watching through a window...naked?

Because they were.

Isaac, Jake, Naja, Darrien, Keri and Erin got lots and lots of candy and we got a bunch of propaganda (mostly sale ads and church invites), and I'll probably post pics of Elise. She was really happy.

Then we took them and went straight out to Long Pine Key (half an hour west, or "into the swamp" each way) to pick up A and A - which is a nice ride through farm country for the most part - and man. A&A had a really great time. It was ridiculously awesome, one of those things that make me feel jealous of their social lives (in a good way). We unloaded most of our little kids' parade candy on the teenagers there, and took Annie straight to her book club meeting smelling of campfires.

Got lunch for us all, dropped Aaron off at acting, ate in the park with the littles. Picked Annie up and went to pick up a card table for her to sell GS cookies off of, from Kristin. Picked Aaron up. Did cookie booth outside of Publix with my two GS (Elise is a Daisy now).

They sold 48 boxes in 2 hours O_o People were buying them out of the hatch of our van as we tried to set up, and following us back to the car as we broke it down.

But yeah I had to do all my way-postponed algebra studying that night so I could wake up early to go take my test in Kendall :/ SO STRESSFUL, and for some reason I got all stomach-sick in class and kept having to rush to the bathroom, and totally MISSED my sister's baptism because I needed to go collapse into bed instead.

Despite being warned of possible airborne bacteria, Kathy came over as planned, and we talked and laughed and generally caught up until we realized it was 9pm. So then it's Grant and I doing this rapid grocery store thing after she took her case of GS cookies, and got everyone's teeth brushed and do you see what I'm talking about? Things are wonderful, and I appreciate Grant being around to help and to enjoy with us hugely, but sheesh.

Today is kind of a "mental health day" (paying no mind to how I had to bike over to pay a bill and take a class and arrange a makeup exam this morning, and have to get a bunch of humanities work done online tonight). I've realized I have to take them*. They involve zoning out on the computer, laying in bed reading, afternoon naps, bubble baths, ignoring whatever pending responsibilities I'll be kicking myself in the ass about tomorrow, etc. I mean damn, after the last month or so with Isaac and counseling and craziness, I have twice as many gray hairs and LOOK tired all the time. Ugh.

So yeah. That's doins, and I'll post pics soon.

*I'm constantly fighting this internal battle over how important preschool attendance is or is not. I don't see Elise being in preschool as "she's in school now", like her lead in to starting school and being in it from here on out - rather, it's "her extracurricular", because they all have enriching things they do. She has some friends, gets assessed in ways I value, plays outside with other kids and does little silly crafts and periodically learns something. And, it allows me to have her out of the house so I can teach the other kids or get my own work done or both, without her constant meddling. She'll be homeschooled when it's over. We do not pay for it, and she doesn't seem to fall behind in any way from missing days. But there are SO MANY REASONS for her to miss days... from drop off and pick up conflicting with other things we have to do, to getting stuck in traffic on the way to or from taking Grant to the train station such that she would be like an hour late by the time I could get her there (when it's only 3 hours in the mornings), and most often that she needs to get enough sleep...generally, she takes a long nap in the afternoon to compensate for how she doesn't (and really can't) go to bed as early as she should to be getting up for preschool the next day, and it works out well. But on days when she misses the nap or after a weekend when our bedtimes got especially wonky, I feel like it's just cruel to drag her out of bed and force her to get ready. I like preschool being a fun and voluntary thing she enjoys. She's 4 and sleep is important! But giving her those "mental health days" of her own, to ensure she gets enough rest or make it so we can go on a PATH field trip up in Miami or whatever - they seem to tend to add up to her missing a day out of every week. And then I get self conscious because while her teacher (our neighbor) loves our family and sees her in the evenings all the time and doesn't seem to care, there are other people there who clearly see being there consistently as some Big Serious Shit, "school attendance" after all. I got called in to talk about how VPK funding gets pulled at the end of the year and we could end up paying for her to go during the last month or more if she should fall to or below 80% attendance. Which is, you know, being there four out of every five days. I dunno, man.
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I am eating it up! Sometimes literally. Right now I'm having a gingerbread man :D

Last Thursday evening was Elise's preschool Christmas show. It was hilarous and awesome. We brought cupcakes.

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Because we left in a flurry of "can't be late" with baking stuff everywhere, and forgot to lock up Oliver (Aaron's cockatoo), we arrived home to find him on the kitchen counter and a GIANT mess all over the counter and floor...the contents of 4 different jars of sprinkles, the empty jars themselves, the mixer bowl with frosting coming out of it, spatula and spoon and cups including the water they'd had in them, stuff from the junk drawer that had been left ajar, the shredded remains of a printed recipe...having a parrot is like having a toddler that never grows up. FOR SEVENTY YEARS.

Ananda managed to rook Grant out of FIVE DOLLARS for the cleanup (I usually offer one or at most two for a single cleaning job...but she's shifty and saving for a guitar :p). She did a great job, too, that whole room was sparkling the next day.

Friday, my Beast had "Pajama Day" at school. She was thrilled to go in wearing a nightgown and slippers to watch movies and eat popcorn. Ms Denise was all teary eyed saying she's one of her favorites ♥ I love that woman.

I feel really good about her and preschool. Sometimes I wonder how Isaac and Jake would have done, but then I remember how impossibly difficult Isaac was at her age, and how different Jake's temperament could be...I think AWANA and VBS were good to them, let's just say ;)

While she was there the rest of us went to Miami Children's Hospital and got Aaron's cast off (FINALLY, geez). The smell...I mean...there is no way to describe how terrible it smelled in that room when his five-weeks-insulated foot was unleashed on the air. I seriously almost ran from the room. I was still feeling ill an hour later. I mean...*shudder* The doc knew - he looked up at me and said "Get ready" right before it came off, and had alcohol there ready that he immediately handed him, saying "Clean your foot!"

I ALSO crammed a trip to BJ's during their music classes and going to pick up Grant into that day, before dinner...this is why we sometimes end up having dinner at 10 pm. After which, on Friday nght, we watched Home Alone with all the kids - a first for the three littles and the first time in years for the older ones. I really forgot how impossibly, ridiculously cute Macaulay Culkin used to be. Jake was cracking us up laughing hysterically at the burglars walking into traps...Kids beating grownups; the ultimate crowd pleaser.

Saturday night was Grant's company Christmas party (way the hell in BOCA). I was not sure what to expect, kind of anticipating a lot of "small talk" and some awkwardness. It was a lot of fun, though! We were at a table with great people - a guy from the Ukraine who kept asking me language questions and telling me cool cultural things; the most BEAUTFUL Haitian woman, like, I almost felt I was being rude staring at her; a couple of hilarious aging platinum blondes who had too much to drink and were not afraid to mock yawn and roll their eyes during speeches; and Grant and his boss. The food was out of control - I skipped the salads and bread but this fish covered in capers and tomatoes and spinach, mmmmmmmmm, and chicken marsala with lots of mushrooms, and shrimp linguini, and so much apple crisp and tiramisu, and tiny cake truffles, just OM. The combination of ornate, gothic detailing in the swanky room and the four very large glasses of merlot I had (they kept coming around pouring!) make it all very surreal and enjoyable in my memory.

We spent an hour talking and walking and snacking around the city part of Miami Beach - taking Shaun extra cake truffles from the party since his place is right there, sitting at a picnic table...I was getting all existential and Grant kept asking questions since he could tell I was gonna be raw and poetic with answers, until I started laughing about how I am not Ernest Hemingway and really can't be getting drunk and spouting life philosophy until I have some cred. Then we went to the beach-Beach and slept on the sand until it was too chilly, and then went home :)

Yesterday was a day of baking cookies for our tree and doing last minute shopping for presents.

Rolling pins for all sizes!

My brother's girlfriend was over for part of it (they mostly "played video games" and "watched movies" in his room...eww). Grant did some yardwork with a few different littles, and took Annie out once. Totally relaxed Sunday.

Then today - TODAY!!! I slept in...on a weekday. This has not happened in months and months and I am so psyched to continue it :) No homework due for me, no schoolwork for the kids, no preschool to get Elise to...we're still going to TLC tomorrow but whatevs.

Also, I logged into the college site, and got nothing but good news.
1. Two As and a B for this past semester.
2. Overall GPA now such that I can apply for the MDC scholarship that will mean more money in our pockets.
3. EVERYTHING all set and ready to go re: my Spring schedule, financial aid and book advance O_O NO calling in...NO seeing an advisor...NO standing in lines...NO logistical hoops to jump through?!? Being off of academic probation rocks.

SIDENOTE: The FREE music classes my children receive, along with many others in multiple locations around the county, with FREE loaned instruments and FREE songbooks, and truly dedicated, caring teachers, are all through the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and funded through the Children's Trust. GMYS is having an instrument drive you can donate any amount of money to, no matter how small, and there is an organization matching donatons so you get double impact when you donate following this link: Tax deductible and a GREAT way to pay it forward and promote the arts :)
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
-walking a little girl to and from preschool
-riding my bike to the bank and to go pay a bill
-frying (a dozen) eggs and (a pound of) mushrooms to go on (a loaf of) toast
-bossing some people around (chores, schoolwork)
-hopefully, getting some sewing done
-thinking I left my phone in the van and Grant has it at work now O_o
-making two dozen christmas cupcakes for a preschool christmas show I'm eagerly anticipating, this evening (her preschool director asked for 2 dozen like it was a burden...I was like, lady, I make four dozen for MY HOUSE)
-making gingerbread and shortbread dough for fridge/freezer, with children
-making a roast chicken, baby carrots and twice baked potatoes for dinner
-sex date (because it's come to that :p)

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

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

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

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

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

P.S. It is so great to have Annie back home ♥
altarflame: (Default)
It's 10:00 AM, and seems like I'm on a pretty good roll here, considering that today seemed like it would be impossible chaos as we tried to plan it out last night.

Of the options I was given by a help line I called, I had contacted two groups about counseling for Isaac. One of those happened to have a new batch of funding and slots for 24 kids (FREE) through a grant program. I was told yesterday afternoon that I'd get a call in early to mid-January, to set up an appointment. Then I got a call a few hours later, while we were at TLC, saying that they had a cancellation and so I could bring him today at 12:15. Today, when I would normally not have the van; when Grant was trying to figure out his own gas money two days before pay day (we spend about $30 a day on gas with his new job commute - or $15ish and $8.25 in train fare!); when Elise needs to be picked up from preschool at noon, half an hour south of where the appt is :/ But how could we pass up an opportunity like this?! I agreed to bring him. Somehow.

So I woke up this morning and called Elise's preschool director, and got permission for her to stay late with the other "full day" kids, packed her a lunch and a blanket, pillow and favorite doll for naptime, talked to her about it, and took her in. Her teacher is so sweet and wonderful (and a neighbor, and Aaron's friend's mom) and said if she feels nervous at naptime she'll lay down with her ♥ Then I came home, got my textbooks from this past semester that I remembered I can now sell, and went and sold them ($93.25 and I can still bring in another to sell in a few days...). Came home again, fried a bunch of eggs and toasted a bunch of bread and woke up my boys to eat and get ready. Grant is getting ready; he's going in to work late.

Ananda is still at Cybele's. She was supposed to come home from TLC with us yesterday afternoon but was texting me yesterday morning "Can I have more time? Our virtual school isn't functioning and the economy isn't sustainable yet - every time we let the city run for 5 minutes it goes bankrupt!" (except all spelled wrong, of course :p) (and they're doing a SimCity for the Future City competition) Also "Can you bring me more underwear?" We have to pick her up on the way from getting Grant, this evening, because I told her she has to be home tomorrow evening for Elise's preschool's Christmas show. Elise is SO EXCITED about it, dancing and singing carols all over the house for us for the last 2 weeks. The Future City promo is due Thursday anyway (they have to build a scale model that's due months from now, but the initial promo is done with Sims).

I told Isaac he was going to start counseling over lentil soup last night. He seemed really pleased to have something of his own to be doing; I really can't think of a kid that would enjoy a captive adult audience more. I basically explained that it's a grownup you talk to, and that I was in counseling for awhile and Annie and Dad have both done it. He was like, "So now it's my turn?" and I thought that was simple so I took the easy out and just answered, "Yep."

I had this idea that while Ananda was out of the house for 4 (5...6...) days, I was going to get all this Christmas crafting for her done. Ha! Really I took a final exam, and went to traffic court for that accident months ago (all charges dismissed!), and didn't get enough sleep between staying up reading to kids and getting up driving Grant, and had an unexpected dinner party over the weekend...I do have a lot of fabric all over the library and my sewing machine on the dining room floor, but that's as far as it's gotten so far O_o
altarflame: (Default)
Sometimes I really feel like we are part of a local community in a way that makes me happy. It took a long time to reach this point because we don't live in a world where neighbors routinely talk to each other or it's simple to find every resource where you live. I remember the years when it was just the kids and I - even before the internet, with Ananda and Aaron - fondly, but this is a whole different kind of great, too.

Last Friday, I walked Elise the few blocks to her preschool in the morning. When I went to pick her up a couple of hours later, I brought Aaron with his bird on his shoulder. Not long after she got home, Elise was SO EXCITED because her teacher, who lives about a block from us, was outside our yard where they were all playing (she had come looking for her 10 year old son, who is a friend of Aaron's - and because there are similarly aged kids in three of the four homes at this intersection all the kids gather).

(they found a moth, that Aaron immediately went to his giant reference book of butterflies and moths to classify)

Then all the kids and I walked up to the trolley stop. I said hi to an artist from ArtSouth and a woman I used to go to church with, who were coming in and out of the community center where the trolley stop is. Then we rode it over to ArtSouth for the kids' music lessons - my friend Kristin was there picking up her kids and we stood around talking for a few minutes. She and her housemate Carina are throwing a Halloween party we're invited to. Ligia, Ananda's Girl Scout Troop leader, has kids in GMYS too and we stood around talking about curricula (she also homeschools). I think Jake is trying to chat up her youngest in the cutest possible way.

(who can resist a boy with a violin on his back?)

When music lessons were over, Aaron had to go one block over to where his acting group is meeting. Nearby on the sidewalk, a tourist asked which is THE BEST Mexican food and THE BEST antique shop, because that's what we have "downtown"...a lot of both of those things. So I pointed her towards Casita Tejas (where we eat) and Jacobsens (where we've bought half a dozen things for our house).

I love PATH and TLC and our pediatrician and so on, but all of those things are 30+ minutes north by highway. Sometimes it seems like a miracle to have discovered real resources HERE in my little town that exists as part of the worst area of suburban sprawl in the entire country. Like that I can get on my bike and ride a mile or so to my college classes, taught by good teachers at a big campus with funky architecture and lots of green space, is almost surreal. We ride our bikes to get our homeschool evaluations! The days where we go eat at Mama Mia's and walk to the grocery store can really be the best days. Sidenote for locals: I HIGHLY recommend both the bruschetta and the cappuccino at Mama Mia's.

Tangenitally, if you're local and reading this, the Sleeper family's bookstore (formerly Spellbound Books) has moved to a WAY superior location across from the old bowling alley in the strip mall, next to a karate studio. WORLDS apart from the crappy place they were in for awhile there.

The kids and I talked a lot last week about the Occupy______ movements, and the concept of the 99% (then we saw Occupy Miami tent campers in a park over the weekend, on the way to the Spooky Symphony). Describing those things to children of course requires a lot of talk about the economy, a review of basic economic principles, an overview of what the stock market is and what Wall St is (Aaron remembers seeing it when we were in New York), as well as talk of banks and lending standards, mortgages and foreclosures, student loans, health care, outsourcing, China, and euros challenging dollars as the Gold Standard. I always try to teach a very unbiased version of politics, for the record, though they generally know where I stand (as well as where others do, and why). Anyway, even though all five kids were there for these conversations as we sat down to lunch, I was mostly talking to Ananda and Aaron, since they were the ones interested in what I was blogging about and who I felt could most understand what I was saying.

Then yesterday, Isaac and Grant found a dollar in the road. Isaac was hoping there would be more, but it was just the one. He made some jokes about dollars blowing around in the wind because people were burying them to try to grow money trees, and then said how crazy it would be if he could really grow money trees. Then he floored Grant by adding, "but I guess then everyone would grow money trees, and there would be so much money that it would start to be worth less and that wouldn't work at all".

I thought it was amazing that Isaac not only understood my economics lesson well enough to absorb that but was also able to apply it in context that way!

I continue to believe that our long meandering discussions teach them far more than any book work does.

The Spooky Symphony was great :) I think it's exciting in a different way this year, since my kids are all in (or will be in) Greater Miami Youth Symphony themselves and so they know they could be up there alongside the Alhambra people in a few years if they excel.

(from the balcony of the Gusman Theater)
altarflame: (Default)
-get up with Elise at 7:45; dress, breakfast, hair etc her and bike her up to preschool by 9 (She spends most of this time playing with Annie's cat)
-pay for her extra shirts; let Jen know Grant's coming to the open house
-deposit money in the bank

-keep up with Aleve and locate the rest of my underwear so I can make this period happen with minimal angst
-do algebra even though it's terrible and burns like fire
-make all the other kids breakfast and make them do their chores
-new fitted sheets on all the kids' beds
-school for them - nonfiction reading and book report plus Brainquest, for Aaron; writing and Kumon math, for Annie; reading, money math and handwriting, for Isaac; phonics and addition for Jake
-pick Elise up
-more school for big kids (finishing everything not done yet)
-call Grant about me having the van for tomorrow, him getting ferret litter on the way home, and a reminder about the open house, as well as dinner instructions...

-bracelet making for everyone (occupational therapist tells me "bilateral activities" like stringing beads are good for strengthening Elise's weaker side, and we have a lot of beads about the place)
-movie and nap for E
-my english and speech homework
-plan/prep dinner; text Bob reminder about being home in time for me to leave for class
-bike to college

Nights like these I sort of don't want to go to bed because once I do, I'll wake up, and then I'm screwed ;) Really it wouldn't be so bad if not for this head cold/first day of the period combo I'm dealing with. They make me just want to lay around all day indulging in self-indulgent pleasantries.

Though I have to say my IUD periods have WAY tapered off after that first one, they're actually seeming far more reasonable than they were pre-insertion which is great. More crampy the first day but less hemoraging than I would just normally have.

Really, though, tonight, tonight can last as long as I want it to and be filled with things like espresso brownies, Great Expectations, knitting, singing along with Pandora, putzing around on Tumblr, facebook chatting, tea and biscotti, fanfiction, washing and moisturizing my face, daydreaming...

The head cold and blood loss are gonna have me nodding off within the hour, though. Blah. I suppose I should move Grant's laundry through before I forget all about it.

What the hell is for breakfast? We have all this cereal and no milk damnitt, eggs everyone is sick of, they decimated the massive amounts of banana bread I made yesterday and have demolished the fruit and my stockpile of oats is even gone (goes to explore kitchen). Oh, we still have waffles and maple syrup and veggie sausage. That's for breakfast. Lunch will be plates set out with baby carrots and peanut butter, sugar snap peas, tomato and avocado on corn chips, and cut up cheddar. I took a whole chicken out of the freezer for dinner, that's easy to get ready for the oven and Grant can just stick it in. All this talk of food reminds me I also have to write Grant a note reminding him to take the lunch meat and bread so he has lunch at work tomorrow.

Did I mention I made the Dean's List for the summer semester? Because I made the fucking Dean's List like a boss. I have the congratulatory letter from the college hanging on the fridge, all Boss-like.

ETA: I realized I can get Twinings decaf english breakfast tea, which is our sort of go-to staple tea around here and we go through TONS of, SO MUCH CHEAPER THROUGH AMAZON! A box of 20 bags usually costs me $4 and change at the grocery store. Getting a subscription through Amazon, though, I can get 6 boxes with 50 bags each for only $24.95 - 300 teabags for 25 bucks, delivered to the house so I never have to think about running out! I'm thinking of doing the same at alternating intervals with Tazo chai and then I'll only be paying normal prices for the supplementary extra teas we end up getting here and there.
altarflame: (Default)
One of the reasons that I wanted to put Elise in preschool is because I need objective feedback on whether there is anything I should be noticing about her development. Which is in stark contrast to how little I wanted to hear strangers' opinions on my older four kids' development ;) But with Elise, it's different, and an ER doctor once caught me totally off guard telling me she only looked in one direction (this was in infancy). I realized after that, that he was totally right, and I had completely never noticed it. And we did therapies and got it worked out, but I always wondered if I would have "seen" that myself eventually or what.

Her preschool in particular does some really comprehensive developmental assessments that sounded great to me, twice during the year.

Anyway today one of her teachers pulled me aside at dismissal to tell me they've noticed she "kind of walks sideways". At first I asked if this was only inside, since their classroom is a little cramped when they do circle time and she tries to shimmy around, but she said no, it's totally outside too, and both teachers have spotted it. So, I told her about Elise's history (the preschool director knows all about it, and she is there all the time and they only have two classes, but the teachers didn't know, which I kind of liked in a way). She was really surprised, went on about how Elise was writing letters on the chalkboard and finger painted an actual thing and loves playing "Duck, duck, goose" and is really social, etc.

We do a lot of walking but I'm next to her with a whole group of kids....I just have to try to make an effort to see her walking from a little ways away from me and try to observe what they're talking about, I guess. She goes to the doctor on the 13th and he's a very neuro-experienced ped so I'll talk to him about whether he thinks we should go back to the neuro and what I could be doing.

I'd been planning to ask him about how extremely right handed she is (I recently noticed she'll sometimes tuck something in her right hand into the crook of her arm to have it free for grabbing when you go to hand her something, even though her left hand is empty). It makes a lot of sense for her to favor her right side, since her left hemisphere has way more good tissue.

We'll see I guess....

Alright I have a lot of homework to do, for three classes, so...I guess I should get off the internet, now....right? :p
altarflame: (Default)
First day of preschool - my..."baby"?

She's been there for two days now, from 9-12, and she LOVES IT. Aaron and I went and picked her up on bikes today :) School with the others is going a lot better without her sitting there trying to do school, too, and she is so adorable it is killing me.

Isaac's "Big Size Block Domino Video":

Aaron's song of the day; this is so beautiful it kind of hurts me:

*Please pardon my messy's the first week back to school for everyone so I've been lesson planning, teaching, in class myself, trying to get my financial aid worked out, getting her little tshirts, etc etc etc and housekeeping has momentarily fallen by the wayside. I HAVE been cooking quite a lot, and will be posting some step by step pics of a couple of recipes soon :) And probably also some yarn and tea pictures.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
I am really, really busy. I have too much time to think because I'm often busy in idle ways - driving people to far flung locations, sweeping the floor, sitting in a boring class, etc. But as far as sitting down to make a big entry? Not so simple lately...

I got an actual ring for my nose piercing.

I really like writing papers and analyzing literature again, for english.

Grant went to his interview for the other job and got an official offer, that he's trying to leverage to get a fat raise at his current one...but he doesn't really think that'll happen.

I made my YouTube obsessed son this cake for his 10th birthday:

Tonight, when I went and picked the two of them up from the third extended, four hour long Lord of the Rings movie (they've been showing them in theaters...) I had to listen to the most absurd conversations ever the whole way home.

Me: Logan likes Lord of the Rings?
Ananda: NO! But I'm going to make him listen anyway! I made Aaron listen for half an hour!
Aaron: It's really weird how for this, she's the hyper crazy one and I'm the calm one.
Ananda: He's the only one who'll listen!
Aaron: Sometimes I just have to play along.
Ananda: You remember the Nazgul?
Aaron: The what?
Ananda: The nazgul, come on Aaron!
Aaron: The Nashew?
Ananda: *rolling her eyes* I forget you don't speak elvish.
Aaron: Not everyone SPEAKS ELVISH ANNIE.
Ananda: Ok, well, the NAZ-GUL -
Aaron: Nah-hooey?
Ananda: NAZ-GUL!!
Aaron: Naz*raspberry fart noise*fahoohoo?
Me: Bursting into hysterical laughter as I drive
Ananda: MOM you're encouraging him!
Me: nearly wrecking as tears start to fall
Aaron: I know what you're talking about. The leader of the ring wraiths.
Ananda: You KNEW?!?!

She's absconded the ring from our Lord of the Rings monopoly and is wearing it around her neck all the time on a chain, which causes Aaron to constantly talk in a horribly accurate Gollem voice about The Precious and randomly tackle her for it.

Jake has been walking around with a giant straw, sucking up air and then burping loudly.

My kids, I tell you.

I think everyone is mostly doing well, although I am periodically at a serious loss about my lack of downtime. Today I spent a lot of time on hold on the phone, I taught everyone and had them do tons of schoolwork, I read to A and A, I cooked lunch, I did my homework, I went to class, I picked them up from their movie. I'm starting an EARLY MORNING EXCERCISE ROUTINE that sounds like serving myself up a big plate of death for breakfast each day because I've gained weight and am at an all time high and really not happy about it.

I'm loving Florence and the Machine's live performances on KEXP (easily found on YouTube), and this enormous insane ring I got the other day, I mean, it's just ridiculous. I'm a giant piece of red glass that I texted a pic of to [ profile] rainingkisses and she was just like, that is gaudy. I'm getting another God forsaken piece of shit ear infection (I'm not happy about this, can you tell?) and even though I've been CHUGGING emergen-C, raw garlic, probiotics and anti-inflammatories, and using the alcohol and vinegar spray my ENT had me whip up to keep in a spray bottle, I can tell I'm gonna have to go to in. I don't have TIME for the ENT. My next few days are like, sell my summer a course textbook back for gas money, get my new financial aid appeal filed, take the kids to this beach day we have scheduled with some other families, TLC at the Pinecrest Library, potluck at Kristin's house, homework, 3 online quizzes for social science, another english class, water all my plants, clean this pig sty again, teach everyone read to everyone love everyone cook a lot - this is all before the weekend. I do not have time for doctor's appointments.

But I can tell the pain is gonna go through the roof sometime in the next 3 days :/

I also need to go back to my gynecologist all post-period and have her check that my IUD is still positioned correctly and give me a green light to not think about it again until my next pap smear.

Tangent: I went to the orientation for Elise's preschool and really loved it. I'm super excited for her. Ananda, Aaron, Isaac and Jake are all gonna be in the Greater Miami Youth Symphony beginner's camp from 9am-3pm for 3 weeks this summer, which is a TON of time for just Elise and I. Then when the school year starts, she'll be in pre-k from 9am-noon and I imagine it'll give me a good opportunity to take advantage of doing school with the older four without her constant show stealing interruptions. I'm considering how many mornings per week I want this to be for; I'd just assumed it would be all five but as I was selecting options on paper the other day I realized it might be better in several ways to just make it M-T-W.

Ananda had her Girl Scout award ceremony for the end of the year. She's a cadette now. I sewed everything on her new vest for the event and she made brownies and lemonade herself to take. I also surprised her with an audaciously enormous owl ring from the same place I bought this absurd ring I'm wearing.

Grant and I keep doing this touch base on the phone or in the car or over email or as we drowsily lay in the bed thing that involves a lot of furrowed brow-ing and "we're making it all work, we can do this"ing. Sometimes we get kind of scared that we need more time together or are drifting apart, especially as we only just did some major relationship repair work - he is really freaked about taking this new job and committing to so much time apart and it having devastating irreparable effects :/ I feel like we're trying to accomplish massive, enormous amounts of things (me getting a degree and publishing books; us educating and raising our kids well, and paying all the bills we have; him climbing a corporate ladder) all at once and that we just have to sort of buckle down and deal for a year or two and then things will ease up a little on several levels. Hopefully o_O
altarflame: (GothMaryPoppins)
Yesterday was terrible, and lasted 24 (conscious) hours. Highlights:

-I went to the college FOUR TIMES, speaking to multiple people each time, and STILL don't have everything I need to sorted out. I went to advisement twice, testing once, financial aid three times and registration twice. I took them our tax returns from 2010 and 2009, Grant's W2 and 1099 from this year, and so many forms printed off their website. I was told that I did, didn't, did and didn't have to take the CPT, that the emails I'd received actually said the wrong things, I mean - WTF?!

-As I was running back and forth in and out of my house, my sister was good enough to be here hanging around with my kids. I really appreciate this, as I live only about a mile from the college and so it was quick to keep coming back to print/dig through the fire safe/etc but would have been ridiculous to tote all the kids in and out of the van for each time. BUT, she noticed right away that my hernia was sticking out way more than usual, and was way more noticeable in general, and kept saying I need to get it checked out, need to go to the doctor, etc. I of course realize this is nothing wrong on her part. It's just hard for me to hear, and I knew she was right.

-One of our chickens randomly died of unknown causes. It was Belina, the buff orpington and my favorite. Ananda found her and was grossed out but ok, Aaron and Isaac were fine with it, but Jake (the owner) was very sad for a few minutes and Elise was HYSTERICAL when Grant was removing the body because, we found, she just had no idea what death really meant :/ Her brothers and sisters "die" in video games. So we had to have this horrible talk about the permanency of death, and how it happens to everyone, that made her cry hard. And made me cry. FYI, I have been reading that apparently buff orpingtons sometimes have trouble with heat? It's not summer here yet and she made it through last year but Belina was always noticeably warmer to the touch than all the other chickens, so, who knows...makes me think we shouldn't get more orps like I was kind of planning to, to replace her with.

-I went to the hospital with Grant. We spent about 10 hours there, re-hashing our thoroughly hashed marital strife when we weren't playing hangman, trying not to fall asleep in front of the tv, or worried sick. I had a CT scan and they do think I need to get this business fixed asap, and it is worse, but that it is not an emergency thus far and there is no current blockage or tissue necrosis. Great, but terrible, basically. Also, I got a lovely lecture from the doctor about how I could lose weight by eating smaller portion sizes, or eating more often so I don't feel hungry. Wow, thank you doctor. O_O

Basically it was not fun, or even ok. We got home at like 6 am and I had to take a shower to get all the hospital tape glue and potential MRSA off of me, whilst trying to forget the lovely way my mouth fills with a metallic taste everytime I have an IV flushed (3 times, last night) and the way it makes my previous epidural site go crazy and trigger me into a tightly tense, cold, withdrawn mess.

Today, I woke up at 2 in the afternoon, feeling way more relaxed than I consciously had in what felt like forever.

The weather was perfect. My children were happy to see me. I took just Ananda and Aaron and we returned Annie's library books, ordered a new one she wants from Spellbound Books, and went out to Knaus Berry where Aaron bought cinnamon rolls for the family. Then we went in the back to investigate their U-Pic, since it's something we've never done. I think I'll be taking the little kids, soon. Lots of good conversation while driving :)

Back at the ranch, I escorted the little kids around the block on their various wheels (trike, bike, scooter) and cuddled Elise and explained why she can't nurse today ("Mommy's blood is fully of radioactive contrast fluid today, sweetie"...that's not really what I said). Talked phonics with Isaac.

Grant was miserably depressed and had a headache. I felt guilty for feeling happy. He encouraged me not to, blah blah blah...

Later in the evening, after some grocery shopping just-us-and-Elise, the two of us went and saw "Limitless" and it was pretty good. ALSO, we went on the way and got chinese takeout and drinks and snacks from a CVS, and my (homemade, sugar skull, bottomless pit of a) purse is so big that we put ALL of that in there, and consumed it during the movie.

I am kind of freaking about how my emotional eating might actually kill me sometime soon and how I don't know how to stop it and how it's a downward spiral that makes me want to eat a lot. Grant and my problems also make me want to eat.

On the plus side, Memo...I am tired of taking the time to call him "my old artist friend, the one who does tattoos now"...Memo has sketches done already, for illustrations for my childrens' book, and is telling me I have to wait to see the cover for last, and in general his interest and enthusiasm are contagious and make me feel really excited about the whole thing :)

I'm also hopeful about school, and income a few years down the line, and supplemental income we'll have in the meantime just from financial aid while I'm attending...but I am also seriously bitterly suspicious that just when I get my stuff all worked out and settled in so I can start in good standing...I will be re-hospitalized for who knows how long and screw up my whole record and attendance again and go from "getting off academic probation from the last time the shit hit the fan" to "seriously even more complicated to ever try to go back".

I'm very up in the air about school for the kids, too. I know Elise is going to be going to preschool in the mornings in the fall, because she's insanely excited and got in and can go free and it's super close and well recommended and I think it will be good for her speech. It's just 9-12 am and is mostly playing with other kids, i.e. her favorite activity on earth. Ananda and Aaron will be taking a writing and a science class, respectively, offered via PATH enrichment over a 6 week period, starting in May. Other than that? BAH.

Let me tell you a couple of things that have happened:
A and A conquered their biggest worry-me hurdles on their own. She writes willingly now, and he socializes constantly. They really reassured me that homeschoolers allowed to do their own thing generally progress just fine, and that if you don't turn everything into a battle or force it, kids will move forward because they want to, which is so much better. I am scared to lose that with school. I was thinking of how if Annie had been in school all day, busy with school things, and being forced to write a lot of stuff she didn't want to, she (likely) never would have come up with a whole big long story in her head, or had the (time/energy)resources or desire to painstakingly record it all...likewise if Aaron had been surrounded by other kids, possibly getting picked on, at his most awkward, I am not sure he would have found his way so happily into a crowd by now.

Also, Ananda is pouring over astronomy books and websites constantly lately, anytime she isn't reading pretty advanced fiction (like the Lord of the Rings trilogy). She tells me things I didn't know constantly. She searches out constellations and is asking for a telescope. She's saying she wants to be a chef and/or an astronomer. I just love it. This is another one of those things, those "child-led learning" things that come from kids not having their natural love of learning destroyed by a lot of worksheets, waiting and moving onto the next subject when they're really into something they aren't anywhere near done with yet.

The various crises in Japan have really sparked Aaron's interest. We spent almost 2 hours straight the other night watching videos, drawing diagrams and pouring over articles together, until my brain was nearly dripping out of my ears - but he kept pace with me every step of the way, and now both of us understand atomic structure, molecular structure, fusion, fission, how a nuclear bomb detonates and what happens afterward, how nuclear power is generated, half lives, radioactive decay, radiation sickness, and so much more. This has continued to be built on every day, and has led into study of things like Chernobyl, Turkey Point (our local nuclear power plant), coal burning plants, alternative energy - it just never ends. I love learning like this.

I really believe that in one evening he learned more than most kids do in all of elementary school science, and that it will stick better because he was really into it, having a one on one conversation and struggling to understand with his whole focus the entire time.

I don't want to lose, or limit this. Grant and I are talking a lot about him supporting and helping with me going to school while keeping them home (something he is fully on board for - Grant REALLY wants them homeschooled, I am the one who wanted to send them because I wanted to have that huge chunk of independence in my own life...which I still kind of do. Grappling, like I said). I'm still waiting to see whether they got into the charter school, but more and more I am just grossed out by the whole issue and kind of amazed by how well they do just as they are. even when we "aren't doing much" they are CONSTANTLY learning.

I am also tossing around "just giving it a semester", "just giving it a year", and sending the little kids but keeping the big ones home. I still think the cultural experience of attending school is valuable. Just not sure if it's any more so than the greatness that is never having been to school. Still think structure and schedules can be important. *shrug* I found out if they got in at the end of next month, it could all be a moot point I suppose.

Slightly off-topic: Ananda and Aaron had another epic sleepover up at Cybele's, and LOVED IT and came home ultra-excited and can't wait to go back next weekend. Cybele has a house on a big canal (full of manatees) up in the Gables, with a pool and canoes docked there, and a dog and cat, and a vegetarian daughter for Annie and a juggling son for Aaron. They went and met like 10 other PATH kids to see Rango the first day, and did some charitable ice cream event on Sunday, and generally just have a blast.

We decided, at the end of a neverendingly long decision process, to re-home Chrysanthemum and keep 2 kittens in her stead. We just don't have the resources to own so many cats, at least not with any level of responsibility, and 1. we are much more emotionally attached to the kittens, as well as 2. a pure bread, $500 maine coon is much easier to find a home for than a mixed breed, "run of the mill" cat. I submitted her case to a maine coon rescue organization and sure enough, she was wanted by someone within 2 days.

I felt way more sad than I expected to when I dropped her off. And now I am unduly irritated by how the new owner (in emails I keep getting copied on) has already re-named her "Isabella" and is calling her Bella. Grumblegrumble...

We are tentatively planning for me to get my stomach fixed in 5-ish months. That's when Grant's new job will be offering him health insurance. There's no guarantee we can get all or even some of my junk covered, but we can't try until we have coverage in place. I'm also going to be looking at the college schedule and all that. We can get a loan or something if we have to...but I think having a date in mind for when go-time is will help me to lose weight. As it's been not knowing has made it seem so open ended and like I can get around to buckling down in a vague and hazy future that'll eventually arrive.

...or having a date will cause me to raid the fridge late at night out of terror of going back into major surgery. We'll see, won't we?

I have counseling again on Friday. I think Grant is going back Thursday.

Aaron: Mom, if we knew the things to make little firecrackers, would you make them with me?
Me: Sure.
Aaron: First I thought about tiny nuclear bombs but then I realized, no way, that's just too powerful.

Also: Ananda recently made these Nutella Cheesecake Gooey Cakebars. They are something to behold.

And, I never got around to posting this here, but man I love it. We all piled in this little photobooth at the bowling alley :D

In total contrast, look at these two beautiful children totally peaceful:

And in total contrast to how identical they look, look at this old shot...6 years ago, I suppose:

Crazy stuff. I will never quite grasp how that happened :p

Anyway, back to recent shots - when we were in Lakeland Elise picked out a "princess kit" she wanted, and she REALLY, REALLY LOVED IT.

Somebody traded some arcade tickets for this. It's like this concept was designed with Jake in mind, I think...

He was in his carseat and Grant was pretending to not know who he was or where Jake actually went, and Jake said, "Dad, it's just me in a disguise!" It was really funny.

altarflame: (Default)
Yesterday was interesting.

When I first got up I was doing my great torrential hemmorage first period day thing, so I got in the shower. And with some quiet uninterrupted time, after making that big entry the day before, I realized something:

I may have ptsd from the whole emergency c/s, brain injury thing, with Elise.
I may have ptsd from septic shock, small bowel resection and the ICU.

But I DEFINITELY have ptsd from having Jake.

I was looking around doing e-search (can I coin that term? Is it taken? Does it make sense? I like it, by golly) for a long time, night before last, and it seems there are three types of ptsd. There's "avoidant", where you, you know, AVOID thoughts, place or talking about the thing in question, the people connected, etc. There's...uh...ok, give me a minute...RELIVING! That's the second one :p Where you have nightmares, flashbacks, frequently feel back in the situation, etc. And then there's arousal or reactionary or some bs like that, I can't remember what it's called but basically you get super irritable, or have spurts of irrational anger, or both, and things give you heart palpitations and so on.

Well, I spent that whole night (e-searching! haha!) thinking that I see a bajillion symptoms in myself of the second two, but I have no problems with avoiding - I've talked about, thought about and wrote about everything with Elise and the sponge so much!

But then in the shower the next morning I realized how I never talk about or think about Jake. And how it kind of slipped into that entry in a weird way. It was bizarre, I stopped shampooing to feel totally shocked as it all slipped into (very frightening) place.

Cut for triggering the hell out of me to some ridiculous extent I'm kind of ashamed of, but don't want to have to see on my journal )

I really didn't think it was going to be like that. There are a bunch of other horrible things about that experience that the normal, writing, purging, emotional-exhibitionist part of me wants to go through to justify my feelings, but it's, like...not worth it. Huh.


Anyway, the rest of my day was interesting too. And productive. First off, Grant was getting (very understandably) REALLY overwhelmed with the new house...there are just so, so, SO many things to do over there and a lot of it falls to him. I was happy to come up with the idea of walking through the house with him, listing every single thing by room, and then coming home and putting it all in priority order for moving in so that he could say, "Alright. I need to do this, and then I'll move on to that" and check things off systematically. It seems to have worked nicely, since yesterday not a lot happened but today he's over there with an electrician, a plumber, an AC guy and a Lowe's delivery man O_o It was also nice to be there and see things and think about it coming together...the new dishwasher and fridge are installed and working now, and the double oven and toaster oven and microwave are sitting there, albeit on the floor.

Ananda and Aaron did a good chunk of schoolwork. We're doing a lot of intensive spanish right now.

And I focused a LOT of attention on preschool for Isaac, and soccer for Annie...after copious amounts of googling and phone calls, the concensus is:

-Isaac is either not going to go to preschool, or he's going to go to the same private christian preschool I did, but that costs $3200 for the year so it's kind of contingent on several factors. The good public school near me doesn't offer preschool, the ones that do are the worst graded schools in the really dangerous neighborhoods, the freestanding "preschools" are really just daycare that goes up to 4 year olds. Jillene, feel free to stick your tongue out at me, because even the private school vouchers that Florida has readily available in large numbers don't apply until Kindergarden. But this half day program near us is great...they have a snack and play outside, they do art and music and library and computer time, they have bible lessons and they do Abeka all year and come out reading. They have small classes and teachers' aides. It's really nearby, and I went there. Thinking about all this has made me look at all of my kids and think how I will probably send Jake to Preschool and Kindergarden, too. Ananda and Aaron had a lot of weird quirks - she stuttered so badly at Isaac's age, was so shy and self conscious, and yet was totally CRAZILY advanced...Aaron could hardly talk in a "Decipherable to strangers" way at 4, couldn't even listen in a group setting, there was no way. I'm realizing that a whole lot of my intuitively knowing they'd do better at home was about them NOT being "neurotypical". I still think homeschool is the way to go, and that middle school especially is a social disaster in most school settings, but I also think preschool and kindergarden will be great, enriching things for Jake and Isaac that will do them a lot of good. Obviously I don't know yet, with Elise.
-Ananda will start AYSO soccer in the fall, we'll go get her registration done at the Nike Outlet Store in a couple of weeks, and the practice days don't seem to conflict with AWANA. It's only $85 for the season and that includes her uniform, so that's not too bad. I like their "positive coaching" philosophy and their balanced teams and all that. I think it's really interesting how, in studies, the single most important factor in girls waiting longer to have sex as teens, is involvement in sports. Body confidence and good self esteem and all that. Anyway, she's psyched. It was kind of hard for me to let her just let go of ballet after all this time, and we're still sort of considering letting her do it as well, but that might be really difficult...she really wanted soccer more, though, so there it is.

We also watched Brian for 2.5 hour for Laura and Frank, which is sort of a revolution for them - they, like, NEVER leave him anywhere. I watched Brian for an hour once one other time, and that is it.

I've done a whole lot of other crap while typing this, now it's time to get everyone ready and go drop them off at the new house with G and all these experts, so I can go to my ENT appt...I really, really want my ears to be all better. They feel a lot better, and I finished my antibiotics yesterday, so here's hoping, anyway.

Geez, I really have to rush out the door now and didn't even realize this was still open! I made an appt, though...with a therapist, I mean. She's "only" a LCSW, but she's been practicing for 20 years, specializes in ptsd, and is certified for emdr. Mostly, she looks and sounds a lot like Nancy, and I think that's a lot of what I chose her based on.
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? ;)

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