Oct. 2nd, 2015 09:00 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of days ago, laid out on the table for a pap smear, my gynecologist said, "Have you seen a dietitician? Skinny people live better, longer lives." This seems underhanded, no pun intended, when said by someone who is pushing your soft inner thigh fat around.

I don't really deny she's right, although the "better" part is subjective, and some might argue that life is better with cheese fries and alcoholic milkshakes. Healthwise, and social-advantage wise, the evidence is clear that she's speaking truth.

I am starting to doubt it's possible for me to be thin, though. Certainly not "skinny," as she referenced. I've never been skinny in my life - I was born 10 pounds, 4 ounces, and am chubby in my kindergarten graduation cap and gown pics. I've been hot and healthy and curvy, as a teenager, but I was never a thin girl - let alone skinny.

Maybe you watch SciShow and you've seen how Hank Green says in his obesity video that being fat is objectively bad, but also that it's caused by everything from genetics to industrial chemicals, and linked as much or more to gut bacteria as diet and exercise. That is a heavily researched and cited video that is hard to refute. Many other scientific voices are saying the same things as Hank.

Or maybe you saw that Salon article quoting a bunch of new research, earlier this year:
If you’re one of the 45 million Americans who plan to go on a diet this year, I’ve got one word of advice for you: Don’t.

You’ll likely lose weight in the short term, but your chance of keeping if off for five years or more is about the same as your chance of surviving metastatic lung cancer: 5 percent. And when you do gain back the weight, everyone will blame you. Including you.

This isn’t breaking news; doctors know the holy trinity of obesity treatments—diet, exercise, and medication—don’t work. They know yo-yo dieting is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, inflammation, and, ironically, long-term weight gain. Still, they push the same ineffective treatments, insisting they’ll make you not just thinner but healthier.

In reality, 97 percent of dieters regain everything they lost and then some within three years. Obesity research fails to reflect this truth because it rarely follows people for more than 18 months. This makes most weight-loss studies disingenuous at best and downright deceptive at worst.

There's a great docuseries called The Weight of a Nation that also explores how cultural forces, environmental factors, and more, are combining to make us fatter and make it really, really hard to lose weight and keep it off. I believe it was the 3rd episode that explored metabolic changes that happen when you lose a great deal of weight, that make it much harder to maintain a weight afterward than it is for someone of a similar weight who had never been morbidly obese. As in, the person who lost the weight would need to consume about 300 less calories per day, vs the person who'd always been thin, when controlling for every other variable.

All of that (frustratingly) backs up Grant's and my experience these past couple of years. We both lost around 30 pounds, and then promptly gained it all back plus some, to be at mutually all-time-highest weights. We're both looking at round 2 - which is more like round 22, let's be real - and feeling more than a little disheartened.

Part of me really, REALLY responds to fat- and body positivity campaigns. I have a bathingsuit I think is super flattering, and I swim in public. I live in public. I have a husband who thinks I'm ravishing. I've found a few places I can reliably shop for clothes I genuinely like, on and off. I'm not afraid to do just about anything, and get pretty shocked when I find out other overweight people avoid being SEEN in public, eating in public, etc. I've got a good and full life, over here.

And my blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol are all still awesome - probably due at least in part to us cooking from scratch often and eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Aside from the occasional coffee, tea, or wine, I only drink water. Don't be fooled, now, I eat A LOT and I know it, and I eat a lot of fat - even when I'm eating very healthy, I just want fat all the time (olives, avocado, whole eggs, cheeses, etc). But I also think I eat a lot of healthy foods, and that helps me out in the body chemistry department vs someone fat who chows down on more cake, coke, and McDonald's? Who knows, maybe I've just been lucky.

Except that I get sick - a lot.
And I stay sick for a long time, when I do.

I never really connected that to being fat. Just now I was reading online, though, and I saw that a really disproportionate number of those hospitalized for flu are obese. Obesity was proven to be an independent risk factor for getting the flu, in 2009.

Basically, being fat screws up your immune system. You get sick more - in general, not just with the flu - and you get sicker when you get sick. Here's the National Institute of Health, explaining it in more technical terms via PubMed. The
CDC actually lists those with body mass index greater than 40
as one of the subsets of people who need a flu shot, along with infants and the elderly and immunocompromised!

But, guess what? Flu shots don't work as well for the obese.

Kinda like how the morning-after pill doesn't work as well for overweight women. And who knows how many other medications.

I know someone (online) who is super active, fat positive, and strong. She bikes and walks often, is in circus school for crying out loud - she's also got a badass career and is a great mother. She had a terrifying pulmonary embolism a couple of years ago, related to the Nuva ring - which is much more likely, if you're fat. Like how ovarian cancer is more likely if you're fat. And about a million other things. I don't have the will to keep linking everything, but I assure you, this shit is easy to find if you go looking independently.

Basically, obese is not something you want to be. These health risks are freaking me out tonight on a level that nothing else I know about my weight ever has. This is going to be on my mind in a big way now, every time I come down with anything.

What good is my full life, if it's cut short? By infirmity or death, or both (one after the other)?

So... do I just believe I can be in that tiny sliver of people who manages what is basically statistically impossible? Even if the reality is that losing and regaining over and over is much worse for you than just staying the same amount of fat, over time? My therapist, annoying ass that he is, really likes to say it's just a matter of "making a decision, and sticking to it." Which is sort of hilarious, since he's a type 2 diabetic with a pot belly that's been on some diet or other as long as I've been going to see him (about 2 years now) with little if any result. Obviously everyone does better at doling out accurate advice than following it?

I'd give a long sigh right now, but I'd go into a coughing fit.


Jan. 6th, 2014 04:28 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
I just got diagnosed over the phone with pernicious anemia.

Basically that means my body can't absorb B12 from food anymore. So, I have to get B12 shots and/or take oral megadoses of B12 for the rest of my life, because symptoms of serious B12 deficiency are straight up terrible - everything from exhaustion to dangerously enlarged liver - painful joints, nerve damage and "impaired cognition," and heart arrhythmia, weakened bones...generally speaking, though, as long as you get your shots you're fine. "Pernicious" means deadly, because this used to be a death sentence, before it was so easy to supplement the B12.

Causes can be autoimmune, wherein your immune system is attacking a protein your stomach normally makes called intrinsic factor, which enables your digestive system to process B12. Eventually your stomach lining gives up even trying to make more intrinsic factor and you just don't have any. And I do have inflammation, which points to autoimmune issues.

It can also be because you've had part of your small intestine removed, which I obviously have.

It is scary as hell to think that I've been falling down stairs and unable to move myself around and CONFUSED all the time, because of this. My numb, tingling, weak hands... I am trying to just console myself that lifelong B12 shots are wildly less terrible than the colostomy bag I was warned I might need (in 2007, pre-op). And, pernicious anemia is not degenerative as long as it's treated, so obviously that is a much better option than RA, which I was very afraid of...

People with pernicious anemia are about 3 times more likely than the general population to develop stomach cancer. The normal odds are very very good/small, though, so that is still "only" about 4 out of every 100 people who have pernicious anemia that are getting it. Except that being hispanic also doubles (or more) your risk factor for stomach cancer. And that is like, basically the least survivable cancer, since it's almost impossible to catch early. NO WORRIES THERE O_O

And so I am trying to console myself that I really could have died in the ICU, and I didn't. Instead I have somewhat increased odds of one day developing a rare cancer. WAY BETTER, right? I mean I'll probably die on a Miami highway before that could ever happen.

Pernicious anemia is also called megaloblastic anemia, because what it really is, is an inability by your body to produce enough healthy red blood cells, since B12 is used in the production of red blood cells. Instead you have these huge, too-few red blood cells. Which effects you systemically, until you start supplementing.

Apparently there is irreversible and reversible damage happening leading up to diagnosis, while your blood is all wack - brain, nerve, organ, bone, TEETH (I've gotten 10 of my 15 fillings done so far), etc...and this varies for everyone. The earlier you catch it the better, though, as far as what goes back to normal, and it seems from my reading that most people are way worse off than I am before they do figure out this is what's going on.

I would like to think this is related to surgery partially because otherwise it is very hereditary; one of the things on the list of things to do is tell my kids and siblings all about it, since any of them may also have or develop it.

Five minutes of crying, half an hour on the phone with my sister and some distractions later, I am ok with this situation. There was still some part of me hoping that the potentially subjective things I was suffering from could add up to be, you know...nothing. Something that passed unexplained, or was at least curable. But (like Laura said, and is obvious...) things have been way TOO wrong for that. So! This it is :p It means doctors appointments forever and explaining this to people over and over and over, and all in all it's not so bad. It shouldn't be hard to get my disability allowance for last semester when I explain WHY I was a wreck with a firm diagnosis, either. And it should also not be too hard to get back to being a better student.

I am slightly squinty eyed with suspicion about how this can sometimes be a piggybacking disorder that coincides with some other problem (like RA), but, you know...we'll cross that bridge if we come to it.
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: (boomdeyada)
This has been largely a day of recovering from a crazily busy and sleep-deprived week; Grant's spent most of the afternoon napping after handling some work emails this morning. I've got the remnants of an awful head cold/sinus infection/whatever it is I'm ready for it to be over, and aside from a half hour of budgeting I slept the whole morning away and spent the afternoon texting and reading fanfiction.

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

It's actually kinda great.

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

47 pictures from this Summer 2012 )
altarflame: (Default)
Today turned out not to be a total bust, despite my being a bleary eyed mess and then taking a necessary nap.

The little kids got to camp, breakfast eaten, lunches packed, wearing clean clothes, and with instruments and folders in tow.

I mailed belated birthday cards to my Nana and brother, and a postcard to my friend who is still waiting on the Epic-est Letter of all Time. This was all bleary eyed. Then nap.

Then Aaron and I had about an hour and a half of really good, continuing talk about ideas that just keep stringing together...the other night this began with a discussion on the Anais Nin quote, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are", along with the concept of curiosity before judgement. Today this somehow led into the placebo effect, and self fulfilling prophecies, and finally the evolution in how our culture handles dead bodies and the myriad options open to people for what they wish to be done with their own bodies (which Ananda joined us for).

This was also the 6th time in the last few months that I've made contact with Dr Geraldi re: Aaron's persistently swollen glands and constant low level sickness. We just talked today; there have been 3 office visits and other phone conversations. He's referring us out to infectious disease at Miami Children's Hospital - doc is thinking mono, which makes an awful lot of sense and could conceivably have been picked up during some kind of gross sharing of wind instruments (Aaron plays flute with GMYS).

Several emails later, the chair of math is going to be working out my Statistics grade at the beginning of the fall semester, so I signed up to take the class again just in case. He sounds like he'll have the situation worked out to where my grade is raised and I can drop the repeat class in the first week without penalty, but it will be there in case. My understanding is that my teacher is impossible to reach on vacation or something.

I need a different book for that repeat course, so I went and sold my old one back.

I also talked to someone at Florida Virtual Schools about the forms I have to turn in for Ananda and Aaron as homeschoolers, and to someone at the charter school about the uniforms Isaac and Elise need.

And I had a really fabulous lunch, involving french bread I browned in a pan of melted butter, bacon, avocado and tomato. Please feel free to peruse Ananda's and my fabulous dinner from last night, here (pictures are clickable, albeit camera phone quality), and the ridiculously fulfilling splendour that is my bathroom, here. It's the little things ;)

Grant is out of state for work and, as usual, I find my web activity expands without another adult about the place in the evenings.

Last night I did have a half hour talk in our front yard with our (very, very nice) plumber neighbor, about the small leak that persists despite all he's done...somewhere (based on the meter continuing to spin). He'll be back some evening this week to investigate further, which has given me the opportunity to clear a path through our laundry room to the water heater.

And, Ananda and I watched Julie and Julia last night, after everyone else was in bed, which was inspired in part by these drool-worthy and luscious tumblr posts:
Boef Bourgignon
Chocolate Mousse
French Onion Soup

Hence, our dinner.

I've already decided Julia's old PBS shows (along with Carl Sagan's Cosmos) are gonna be part of our homeschool year - AND DID YOU KNOW that Cosmos is coming back on the air, but will now be hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson??

This is getting disjointed, but it's cool to me to think of these Food Network kids seeing how it all started.

I will leave you now with two great videos from these wonderful little boys, who are growing and changing so much and are really not so "little" at all anymore.

Jake "cooking" last week - could use some editing, but I was impressed. It was one shot, no input from me, his idea. He's kind of a natural:

Isaac playing the recorder very well, albeit for just a short while, this afternoon:

He's getting ready for the performance at the end of their camp in a couple of days :)
altarflame: (Default)
So, I can't really tell if I'm depressed, or profoundly disabled, or just bad at life.

I'm not teaching my kids very much. But I teach them sometimes, and they do a lot of independent learning and use educational websites, and I can just order Annie to go do work on her own, and Elise goes to preschool, and I still take them to their activities?

I don't really clean anything. But I've never been very good at that.

It adds up to a lot of just hanging around in a messy house 0_o

I have really, REALLY low energy. I mean I just want to take a nap, like, all day every day. A clear and likely explanation for this is that I'm recovering from a pervasive illness that has dropped everyone I know for long periods of time and am still on antibiotics and cough medicine, BUT - how can I deal with that, and be ok with it, when:
-I was sick for like, weeks following Christmas
-then I got whiplash in a car accident
-and now I've been ill since mid March
-all the while with this chronic back pain and weird stomach discomfort from major hernia, which I was just in the ER for again not long ago
-and with my deblitating periods still happening monthly
I mean wtf?

I'm slacking off bigtime in school this semester. I'm always making something up or turning it in at the last minute, spotty attendance, or being like "Well a 50 averages in far better than a zero, mission accomplished". And it's like, well, this semester I've been sick as hell twice, I've had my bike (i.e. transporation to and from school) stolen, and I had a crazy lot of stuff to deal with re: Isaac. Or, maybe I just got a bunch of As and a couple of Bs in summer and fall and now I'm burnt out. Or, maybe I'm self sabotaging because I don't know how to be successful at things. Or, blah blah blah.

I'm also doing this stupid shit where I don't cook anything and I'm starving and the kids are like, spilling cinnamon sugar everywhere making too much toast and leaving milk out on the counter after they get cereal and taking two bites out of apples that turn brown on the table after that, all day long, and I feel progressively worse and worse from not eating until eventually I end up having, like, a can of black olives for lunch.

This afternoon the phone rang, and when I found it on my bed I flopped down and answered it and it was just a recording, and then it felt so hard to get up that I just stayed there and took a nap. Sometimes, I feel profoundly hassled just because one of my kids is talking to me, and I find myself squinting more and more until I say something like, "I really need some space right now. Go find something to do."

I might just be a selfish person, because I still get a whole lot of enjoyment out of little things like flowers and phone conversations I choose, and funny things on tumblr. I was, dareIsay, enchanted by this AMAZING park we went to yesterday, and I still have a lot of fun doing things like staying out til 4 am with Jess two nights in one week. I sat on a couch at Cybele's excitedly raving about my writing career for half an hour last night and that was great. On the other hand, that's what I do when I'm sick, or depressed, or stressed or whatever - I try hard to be nice to myself so it doesn't spiral into something worse. I indulge and tread gently until I come out of it.

I'm most successful, lately, when I find ways to combine productivity with self indulgence. For instance, if I can watch a show or movie I also dig with my kids, or lay in the hammock looking at clouds/stars with one of them, and they feel like they're getting quality interaction, everybody wins. I love congratulating them lavishly on art, projects, schoolwork or cooperation they accomplish totally autonomously and telling myself that it's because I've invested so much effort in the past.

Sometimes, I can trick myself into going to school by making eating something really good or putting on makeup and painting my nails part of getting ready.

Hopefully I'll be rich and famous soon so I just come off as eccentric, and can hire staff. Or, more likely and possibly even more immediate, I could GET BETTER and BE HEALTHY.

Seriously though it sounds like some kind of miraculous parting of the clouds to me to just be healthy and well and not hurt anywhere or have any kind of ailment. I vacillate all day long between thinking I need to fling myself headlong into some sort of exercise regimen to jumpstart my metabolism and thinking I just have to give myself time to get better and eventually I'll come out of it.

altarflame: (Default)
ETA: To everyone up in arms about this post: Please be advised that Oliver has free run of our entire house when we're home, is fed a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, is taken outside regularly, gets his wings and nails clipped every couple of months, and gets carried/pet/talked to A LOT. I did not even wet the damned bird, let alone hit him with anything substantial; as I said, I have no aim whatsoever. Also, I didn't really intend to hurt him. Also also, it was (as stated) REALLY OUT OF CHARACTER ON MY PART, not so different from stories I've read of mothers yelling right back at screaming toddlers and then stepping back to go "Whoa" and laugh at themselves as they realize that is obviously out of line. Seriously. Get a grip everybody. We've had him for nearly a year and he is fully feathered and gorgeous, which everyone who knows about cokatoos knows would not be the case if he were unhappy, abused or neglected. I just spent half an hour on the couch petting him under his wings as he nuzzled my neck and was thinking maybe I should clarify for whatever person is actually concerned and not just trying to be an asshole.

Yesterday Oliver, who I am constantly bringing pasta and peanut butter and vegetables and cereal to and taking out into the sunshine, bit the living fuck out of my finger. Oliver is Aaron's cockatoo. The way his previous owners disciplined him was with a spray bottle, and he hates/understands that, so we typically do the same thing (if he's screaming, or tearing up furniture, for instance). Anyway recently the spray bottle was lost, so there I am trying to be nice to him and see if he'd like to come around town with us when he lays into me. There was blood everywhere, running down my hand and dripping on the floor, and my finger was just throbbing. The kids were already out in the van waiting for me so we could take Isaac to counseling and then go to PATH, and I had my bag on my arm.

I grabbed a mug off the bar, and threw the water in it at him, and he was giving me this super aggressive attitude continuing to lunge at me with an open beak. He is really smart and has a major power struggle thing going on sometimes and I felt so irrationally pissed at him, I went and filled the mug up with water again to come back and throw that on him, too. Something in between how he was hissing and snake-striking in my direction and how I have no aim whatsoever was making me so infuriated (combined with my pulse-throbbing hand), I actually went back a third time, filled it up again, came back (dripping blood everywhere) and threw the whole mug at him. As I said, I have no aim, but at least he startled as it shattered on the floor and then I felt satisfied.

If you know me at all, you know this is extremely out of character. I was actually standing there afterward like, "Uh...." and ended up laughing hysterically about the whole situation. Stupid bird.

I'm still finding blood around!

Izzy and Miguel (a couple of Ananda's TLC friends) have organized some kind of "let's go chalk bomb all the sidewalks in this one park on Sunday as an April Fools thing" event, and I have decided to be philanthropic as all get out and offer up my big box of amazing oil based super vibrant chalk to them. I don't really have a sidewalk anymore so they've only come out of my closet like twice in the last 3 years. I'm still having pangs, realizing that I will probably not get anything returned to me once a group of 10 teenagers takes them for an afternoon. I can't really think of a better use, though :)

Other news:

-there are flowers everywhere. I adore it <3

-I'm on antibiotics, an inhaler and some kind of ridiculous narcotic cough medicine, for what turns out to be "acute bronchitis with broncheospasms". Already somewhat improved. Weeks of coughing fits are not hernia-friendly.

-It gets SO OLD navigating the line of keeping Memo working on my stuff but not offending his hyper divo sensibilities. We've always been like this, getting on each others' nerves but it being worth it. Ugh. He lives in this never-ending maelstrom of drama. I'm also starting to hate the line of "you are my illustrator but you're also my friend"....I do love him outside of artistry, after all. We've got a couple of pieces of his in the running to possibly be the cover of my (short stories) book about to come out and he's doing some paintings inspired by it and I love all of that, I love that I can inspire him and he thinks they're so good, but part of me is like WHY DID I SHOW HIM THE PSYCHO SHORT STORIES I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN HE WOULD COMPLETELY LOSE INTEREST IN THE CHILDRENS BOOK...which is what I really want him to work on. Nevermind my tattoo design (that was a whole argument unto itself because I hated what he sent me and he is like ADAMANT that nobody else is tattooing me). I'm layering on a lot of (honest) flattery and offering him cuts and credit but sometimes I think I need to move him into my house and feed him/give him an allowance. Somehow I don't know if that level of proximity would do us any favors.

I absolutely LOVE what he's done, though...love-love. Or else I would have fired him a long time ago :p

-I am reminding myself upteen times a day that it is a miracle that Elise talks, because BOY DOES SHE TALK. The talking does not stop. Ever. She's sitting in a chair next to me right now prattling on and on about how I need to get her more probiotics because she just ran out and wondering where I got her some sunglasses because she can't remember and asking about flavors of ice cream and the lecture she gave Sophie (cat) on not eating people food anymore because it's making her REALLY REALLY FAT. It's really like it confuses or even hurts her, to just hush for a little while because I want to concentrate on something or am talking to somebody else. There are a few repetitive things - like counting down to her birthday and how I love her because she's my little Beastie - that she wants to talk about over and over and over. She also tries to dive in and photo bomb every pic I ever take of the other kids.

Yesterday morning she had something stuck in the bottom of her hair. I'd been wanting to trim it for awhile anyway, so I just cut off the bottom inch but she was like 10 minutes late to preschool as a result. She stomped in ahead of me, threw open the door such that it banged into the wall, and Boomed out over Ms Denise reading to everyone on the carpet, "I'm LATE, because I HAD A HAIRCUT!" before plopping down with them. Ms Karla (the aid) was laughing hysterically and Ms Denise was like, well, she isn't shy anymore 0_o

-Ananda and I have finished all 19 episodes of My So-Called Life

-I want to throw out another whole-hearted endorsement of Kumon workbooks - Aaron and Isaac are both burning through the 3rd grade multiplication and Jake is burning through the 4-5-6 "Rhyming Words and Phrases", and Elise is using Upper and Lower Case letters ones as well as the cutting book.

Spectrum spelling is also better than I would have expected for Annie. Sylvan Learning language arts is really valuable but also tedious for Isaac.

-I'm trying to prioritize and figure out what kind of activities we're doing over the coming months...PATH is offering a 5 week mini-semester of enrichment classes that look great (looking at things like creative writing, ceramics, chess, guitar and biology/life science), and Greater Miami Youth Symphony camps are coming up, and those are the main things on the table. Finances, how I loathe them.

Elise is still talking, to my left. Wondering aloud about how the hat for this doll was made and remarking on how it matches the dress and asking my opinion on "fragile" (porcelain) vs Barbie dolls and what my favorite doll clothes are and GOOD GRIEF MY EYES JUST KEEP GETTING BIGGER AS I ANSWER EACH NEW QUESTION! Sheesh.

I've already decided I'm going to be listed on this book, and any ensuing also-crazy books, under my maiden name. Because I want to write childrens, young adult and nonfiction under my current name. But I'm being very candid and open, obviously, online about being both and so I'm not sure how much value it has. I mean...you can only achieve a certain level of success before this sort of thing is known, anyway, but..whatever.

I've been collecting poetry and trying to get it all in one place. I know poetry is not something anyone could really hope to successfully market, I just like gathering it up and reliving phrases and playing with words. I've always wanted to publish a bunch of poetry on a small scale such that I could donate copies to libraries and used book stores, just leave them around and give them away because I know there are individuals out there who enjoy it, even though it's not at all a commercial thing.

There is a certain level of deeply shameful trauma involved with sifting through old poetry. I started writing it at like, 8, and everything from then through about 15-16 is painfully terrible. Just humiliatingly melodramatic and twee. I mean...*dead*
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If you are someone relatively educated on healthy eating, I'd like your opinion on the same issue in two parts:

1. How often do you think it's safe to eat wild-caught Pacific salmon?
2. Is it really possible that a giant nuclear reactor melted down into the Pacific last year and has not effected what we're getting out of that water and eating? I mean...someone has to be testing for this...right?

Seafood and honey are really the only animal products I'm eating anymore. I know wild-caught Pacific salmon is both a "superfood" and included on every list of safest, lowest-pcb, practically-mercury-free list out there. I love it, and can get it really cheap in bulk in several different ways at BJ's. But whenever I find an actual solid guideline somewhere it says something like "once a month" which I feel is both suspiciously low and also a drag ;)

Safe seafood guidelines are really hard for me in general, I grew up eating fresh yellowtail, snapper and dolphin my father caught and grilled the same day pretty often (less often shrimp and lobster he grabbed out of the water himself...literally). Restaurants and other people where I live often act as though seafood is pretty much a consideration for every freakin' meal. When Grant had his own business he was once paid for setting up a network with a bag of fresh lobsters. But if I do e-search I always come up against articles talking about how Americans don't eat enough fish and blah blah blah canned tuna (I don't even consider that seafood!).

Sometimes I find myself justifying by saying, "Uh, nobody is worried about the health dangers of eating McDonalds more than once a month or quantifying how often weird dye is safe relative to eventual cancer risk - at least seafood is very good for you and very low fat and actual real food!" (note: I do realize Some People are worried about those things. I give myself license to be less than meticulous when thinking) I adore that there is no factory farming involved with (the kind of) seafood (I eat); I can consume an animal that has lived a free and happy life!

Then other times I think about how catching some things kills other things that are endangered and we're polluting my beloved ocean and Gulf oil spill in my dinner but DAMNIT THIS CRAB LEG IS DELICIOUS OK?!

Feel free to prattle on about this issue (I certainly do) in the comments.

It feels very taboo to me lately to admit that I really enjoy time spent away from my children. This is because I hang out, literally and figuratively, with people who really enjoy spending time with their children - which I also do! I get nothing but awe and admiration - and suspicion, and raised eyebrows - from people who parent in more "mainstream" ways and can't believe I seriously have afternoon tea with my kids, dates with my daughter, bike rides with my 10 year old, etc.

But sometimes I am left looking around in frustration, like, "Really??? Nobody else who wears and co-sleeps with their babies, nurses them past their toddler years and even keeps them home from school finds themselves in need of a freaking BREAK sometimes??" I've been doing this fulltime for ELEVEN AND A HALF YEARS NOW and I'm gonna continue doing it for, oh, at least THIRTEEN MORE.

The overwhelming, resounding answer when I say (or type) things like that seems to be, "Oh no totally, I know what you mean, I have to have a break! That's why I enjoy my half hour in the car alone while they're at dance class" or "my husband is awesome - three weeks ago I went out shopping for a whole Saturday afternoon alone and I just feel so much better!"


Color me neglectful, but this is not any sort of break in my worldview. It's annoying to be stuck in the car during kids' activities, barring rare exceptions, and my period of feeling refreshed from a Saturday afternoon alone would not really extend past Monday or Tuesday. On a bad week it wouldn't survive the evening back at the ranch executing dinner and bedtime.

When I was a kid, my sister and I spent every weekend of summer vacation with my Nana and Pa. We loved it. We watched Nickelodeon, swam in pools that morphed from baby to above ground to in ground as we grew, ate popsicles, laughed with our grandparents, rolled our eyes at our Nana. They took us out to cool places occasionally, like to see hot air balloon launches or out for breakfast; more often Nana ironed and dusted Saturday afternoon away while we swam and made up stories.

Twice a year, for Thanksgiving and Easter break, we spent a whole week at our Ma and Pa's. We played pretend games, went along on grocery runs, bonded with cousins, and ate SO MUCH GOOD FOOD Pa made us. We were always happy to go and sad to leave, and not just because we lived in nuthouses normally.

I feel like these are things my parents did right <---I don't say that very often.

And I cannot even IMAGINE the glory and splendor of having somewhere for my kids to disappear to for love and nurture with people I trust, for whole weekends and even weeks on a regular basis! I mean...WOW, you know? You might be thinking, well, since I can't imagine it I don't know how hard it is! If I experienced it, I would be in anguish!

You are wrong :)

I think back to the weekend away Grant and I had for Valentine's Day a couple of years ago. I got told things like, "Man, you must not have known what to do with yourself! I'll bet you just missed them the whole time!" NOPE. I knew exactly what to do. I had a super hot bath with my husband and ate amazing food and went parasailing and snorkeling and generally felt desolate to have to return to a life of dishes and laundry from the moment I opened the door to being smothered in clingy people whining about petty complaints. I was EXTREMELY ANNOYED when my (poor, sweet) sister called me to give me updates on how they were doing like, dude, I get 40 hours away and I have to have play by plays of what's going on in Homestead the whole time? Call if there's a problem!

Likewise the weekend last year, in a resort Grant's job was paying for. I was swimming at night with a pina colada in my hand! I was sleeping with the doors to the ocean front balcony open! I was laughing my head off that we managed to flood the entire bathroom by accident! IT DID NOT LAST LONG ENOUGH AND THEN I GOT IN THE FIRST CAR ACCIDENT OF MY LIFE ON THE DRIVE BACK, so we missed this PATH field trip and I had to call Elise's preschool and wait for State Troopers and blah blah blah, so it goes.

I have missed the older kids when I'm stuck here at home and they dissapear for more than 3 consecutive days at a time, though I also am happy for them and it helps that I get emailed pics and they text now. It's a subtle thing, like I'm really glad to have them back but really glad they got to go as well.

I didn't miss anyone the whole week Aaron and I spent in NYC.

Anyway. I just wish these two things - that I am overwhelmed with love for my kids and do meaningful stuff with them every day, and also that I am a person who really enjoys autonomous experiences - weren't so mutually exclusive.

How do people who can't deal with separation from their older children (I never left an exlusive nursling without me AT ALL, and would have worried about a toddler beyond a few hours apart) for a day or two cope with them growing up and moving out? It seems like a really natural progression to me, to gradually "detach".

Me, while trying to write this entry: What's up, Isaac?
Isaac: I can't read what the game says is the next step.
Me: Can you ask Annie to read it to you?
Isaac: I did, she said, "She didn't say I HAD TO, did she?"
Me: Oh good grief, tell her to come here.
Annie: What?
Me: Why can't you just help your brother when you're out there with him and he needs help, or even when I ask nicely? Why does it have to be an ORDER?
Annie, bursting into tears: Because it's HARD for me to read out loud, I hate it, I'm dyslexic ok and -
Me: WHOA! Ok, come here. I did not know this. Isaac, go tell Aaron I said he has to read it to you. Annie, is it only when you look up at things to read or is it any time you try to read out loud?
Annie, sniffling: Anytime.
Me: Alright. I didn't know that. You burn through all your schoolwork and take down novels so quick. I thought you were just being a brat.
Annie: *laughs*
Isaac: MOM, Aaron read something to me but then he said, "Mom didn't say I had to not lie to you about what it said, did she?!" so now I don't know if that's what it really says or not!
Isaac: Mom why are you laughing, this is serious!

Yesterday Aaron asked to go swim in Emily's new above ground pool. Emily lives a few houses down; he sold her his old bike once upon a time, they traded shoes once (only Aaron, I'm telling you) and Annie sold her mom Girl Scout cookies last month. Most of the kids who play basketball on our corner were going swimming there, too - it's within shouting distance if I needed to call him. So I said yeah, get a towel and go, it's Spring Break and your local friends are home during the weekdays - awesome. He confirmed my idea that it's one of those pop-up pools you can buy at Target.

He came home about an hour and a half later and basically collapsed on the tv room floor (Aaron has only slept in weird places pretty much since he was mobile - I have a picture of him sleeping with his head under Elise's bed?), and slept the afternoon and half the evening away. Then he threw up several times in the night. I stayed up with him, rubbed his head, talked to him, got him drinks. Today he coughed up a bunch of weird crap but mostly seems better. Variably sweaty and glassy eyed.

I expressed my suspicion that this could be pool-related and he acted like that was an epiphany, since the pool "was basically sludge". He told me the diameter was about from my bedroom desk to the door, i.e, 10 feet, and that when swimming under in a mask you couldn't see the opposite side at all from the murk.

When I managed to close my mouth and stop staring, we had a long, long talk about urine, sweat, snot, saliva, skin cells and other slow-rotting organic materials such as bird poop, bugs, dead leaves and so forth. We went into canals vs rivers and stagnant water, the purpose of chlorine, MY GOD WHAT IS WRONG WITH HIM HOW COULD HE NOT SEE THIS POOL AND IMMEDIATELY GO OOOOOH NEVERMIND. This potentially parasitic protozoa had better not be contagious in any way.

I'm picturing this damned pool as something with lilypads on top, now, with a raccoon corpse somewhere down below the opaque depths.

This is the second absurd health hazard we've had this month; previously we found dozens of wrappers under the couch and Elise confessed that she had snuck and eaten (as in swallowed) ALL the gum Isaac got for his birthday. As in, all 6 packs of 5 pieces of fat Bubble Yum each. I waited until her fifth day of constipation to start reading terrifying case studies and talking to the doctor on the phone, after which she immediately began pooping.
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-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.
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Yesterday I went to my gyn for my IUD string check and she couldn't find it, so today I'm going in for an ultrasound to make sure it is indeed still in there. Apparently during heavy bleeding it's not unheard of to lose one in the toilet and not know? I feel like I would know. And I don't want to pay $70 for an ultrasound at the diagnostic center when I just payed $25 for the string check yesterday, and it BETTER be in there because the stupid thing itself was $400 less than 2 months ago.

We discussed the possibility of checking my thyroid but decided to hold off until Grant has insurance through the new job. Because of my incessant bitching about my weight gain, I'm sure, she quietly slipped me a sheet on my way out with info on all the local Weight Watchers groups, Overeaters Anonymous and a dietician. She is a good doctor and I might persue something. *sigh*

I also got a nice letter yesterday. Like, in the mail.

And, went to my first cheapo counseling appt at UM's psych clinic. It was definitely something. A student conducts your session on camera and then goes over the tapes with their supervising clinician as part of their training o_O The guy seemed really awkward and new to this, and it is definitely a first for me to be in counseling with someone YOUNGER THAN I AM (wut). But...he warmed up and I like participating in this program. It's really interesting to imagine I could be on his end of it in a few years. And, I left feeling good.


-went out for pizza as a family
-long walk "suited up" in sneakers
-nursed/cuddled Elise, hugged everyone
-oversaw chores
-read to children

AND finished Ananda's hair. We bleached strips of it day before yesterday, and colored them last night. She is thrilled with how it came out.

modeled here with her "pachyderm pajamas"

It's a weird day, I feel really unproductive even though all those things sound like so much. I'm still feeling kind of sick and blah, and I slept in really late today feeling sick in bed, and it's very gray and raining out and dim inside. Grant is using up his PTO (paid time off) at the old job before he leaves so he's here, too, just basically playing computer games with the kids crowded around his chair complaining about how bored they are. I managed to kick the burdgeoning ear infection last week with a twice-daily regimen of emergen-c to wash down a handful of echinacea, probiotics, raw garlic cut into chunks and anti-inflammatories. I'm back on that routine again now to try to fend off this crap everyone (Laura's family, PATH, Kristin's kids) seems to be passing around (sore throat, sore joints, cough, intermittent misery). Ugh. All I want lately is fruits and vegetables (and coffee and alcohol, haha). Yesterday I ate a piece of bruschetta with tomato PILED on, a slice of triple mushroom pizza, a massive salad (spring mix, peas, tomatoes, mushrooms, seeds, almond slivers, craisins, kalamata olives and bits of chicken), a mango, and I had a caramel macchiato.

G and I watched Black Swan really late last night. It was stunning cinematography, truly freaky in spots, amazing acting, and...overall sort of pointless in a way that made us look at each other and roll our eyes as the credits started.

AND THEN!! My sleepy, up-too-late self scratched somewhere and caught a glimpse of my suddenly bloody looking fingers and had a split second freakout before I realized I'm just stained from Annie's hair dye and lol'd.

Ok, so...the kids are done with their chores. I guess I'm gonna make us all salads again and go to this ultrasound with homework in tow because they said to anticipate a 40 minute wait. English tonight.

I am REALLY excited about my own non-school writing. Things are so much closer and more real than they've been before!
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I'm starting to think that outside of any religious education or spiritual value, church is important for my kids just so that they know how to sit down and take something seriously. There really seems to be a coorespondence with when we last went, and how long they can sit and pay attention to anything I or anyone else has to say to them.

I also really value it when they can attend a concert or be out to dinner or what have you without completing losing it or embarassing me (and those sorts of things are normally assumed, I get compliments often), but today what I'm specifically thinking about is how I'm ready to let Isaac, Jake and Elise HAVE. IT. because throughout our (super interesting, discussion-based, with pictures and BRIEF) lesson on the fourth of July (WHICH INCLUDED DECORATING A CAKE WITH BERRIES, that we then took to share with the kids at the bookstore) they were giggling, purposely distracting and whispering to each other, DOING SOMERSAULTS, leaving the room -

I have a hard time dealing with it when my kids act like they have no standards of behavior or attention span whatsoever. I think that in addition to going back to weekly mass, it's definitely past time to turn the tv off again.

This three day weekend has been all over the place. My favorite parts:

-potluck at Kristin's Friday night - she made these DELICIOUS fat, fresh spring rolls we were dipping in soy sauce, and Laura (MY PREGNANT SISTER DID I MENTION SHE'S PREGNANT AGAIN) brought lots of strawberries and nutella, and Grant made a big pot of jambalaya, and...it was just fun. All my boys stayed there overnight and we just brought the girls home.

-being out with just Grant, Saturday night. The outing involved three kinds of alcohol, loud music, and swimming in the warm ocean naked at 2 am. I haven't been in the ocean naked since I was, oh...three weeks old? Shrieking about seaweed on my legs, hoping nothing would eat me, laughter and floating around. Laying on a blanket wet and sandy looking at stars for a long time afterwards. Shared candlelit bath when we got home. Super awesome.

-sitting around with Grant, Shaun, Bob and the kids in camping chairs, with bottles of water, after the fireworks show tonight - lots of laughter and nonsense, lots of good talking, perfect weather. The hoardes of people all bottlenecking out of there at once were getting uncomfortably close to us until Grant got the Traffic Triangle out and made us a space bubble - then we could chill and do gymnastics and play fighting and so on until everyone else was out of there :p

Least favorite:

-I was sick all day yesterday (Sunday). Nauseus and weak. Layed around and slept until I was sore from laying around sleeping. Thought I was better this morning, and turned into a dizzy coughing sweat pile an hour into being out and about. I think I'm REALLY mostly better now, I just had to kind of take it easy and drink more fluids than normal and hopefully it's run it's course...

I'm looking at Ananda, standing there 5'2" or whatever she is now, with her very-there curves and her converse and attitude style and her bleaching kit to put streaks in her hair, and I'm thinking, what? Is that what I looked like to Jean-Paul, when he asked me out at that age? In one year, is she going to look like I looked to Grant and David and all the Riverwalk boys I hung around all the time, who all had crushes on me? It blows my mind. I just framed a couple of her latest paintings and hung them in the dining room :) She has this whole plan mapped out for the next decade of her life that involves burning through grade levels, doing dual enrollment at MDC, working at Starbucks after she graduates, and then deciding whether to go to culinary school or major in astronomy first. She did a month's worth of math last week because she wants to be totally over decimals, fractions and beginning geometry and move on to the next things, and the next, and the next. Her math and writing were the last things she was behind in a year ago, though she's advanced to grade level and is about to lap it, now, in math, and is approaching grade level in writing. For a super dyslexic chicky who was totally stuck on things like place value and spelling it's awesome to see how hard she's worked. Her reading, science and history are way ahead. And she's really set on cello with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, we'll see how that goes.

Aaron is beside himself with obsession about the Vibram Five Fingers shoes he HAD TO HAVE that Opa (Grant Sr) got him for his birthday (I was not spending $110 on a pair of shoes he'll outgrow within the year...I was gagging about spending $80 at the Crocs store for Isaac, Jake AND Elise a couple of weeks ago and seriously thought Ananda's $45 chucks were pushing it even though her feet are almost done growing). His friends Logan and Adrian (the Ninja Dolphins) have them. We finally exchanged his birthday pair for the right size today and he's like a walking commercial for them, nonstop praise and trivia and perks and - I am so over it. He always fixates like this.

Isaac is...really unhappy :/ We did serious elimination diets for gluten and dairy in the past months with no results. I put him in enrichment classes he really enjoyed. His arm in the sling was hard to deal with, though that's been better for awhile. I just...don't know what to do with him. He finds things to complain about all day long. He still cries about things the younger kids are long past crying over. Several times a day. At the end of a day where he got to play with his best friend at the park for hours, eat his favorite food for breakfast and go to the movies, he'll say it was the worst day ever and list things like how the quarter machines didn't work at the theater and the park was hot and he didn't get as much breakfast as others did. All day every day, that is his attitude, and sometimes we feel like we bend over backwards to make him happy and he's still totally ungrateful. Other times I feel like I'm done with it and he just has to roll with us, but it's not like that helps anything. He's just so anxious about something so often. I'm always outwardly assuming the sale but inwardly cringing, waiting for the next bout of misery. I got him a book called "14,000 things to be happy about" that is just a giant list and am reading it to him gradually, but I know that's silly. We're talking together about actually making a list he writes and I transcribe called "x number of things to grump about", which he thinks is hilarious. His reading confidence is improving and I keep wondering if maybe chapter books could open up a whole new world for him, the way they have Ananda.

Jake is...wonderful. He's gentle and patient with Elizabeth (18 month old niece) and eager to build her towers to knock down or otherwise make her happy. He volunteers to help other kids with their chores or finding clothes when they don't want to deal with those things. He wolfs down all the fruits and veggies we can sling his way and is so chill. He draws great pictures and brings me flowers and asks to do schoolwork all the time. He still has a temper and a huge appetite.

Elise is so out there, so over the top - she's the most uninhibited, confident, happy child I think I've ever beheld. She's also willful and defiant to a degree that is borderline terrifying. I'm really hoping we're going through a phase, here. This is the first kid I've had that's made me think "What am I going to do when she is a teenager?!" It's all wrapped up together in the "who she is" package, which I love dearly and think is positive overall.

Grant has taken the higher paying Ft Lauderdale job and put in his notice at the lower paying local one. So that's scary-exciting-insertothervariableshere. We'll see!
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The other day, when we were all sick with sore throats, I kept going back out to the deck and picking lemon balm to make us tea. And I was struck by how my basil is sprouting up, and my tree is covered in mangoes, and I have bananas coming in two different yards, and eggs in the coop every day. Walking around with the camera today, I found a pumpkin vine in and amongst the weeds sprouting on some bricks in the backyard! I weeded everything else out, pruned it a little, watered it and am happy as heck. The kids are also excited. I am thinking white pumpkins based on a similar vine my friend Kristin had magically appear in her yard a couple of years ago.

Photographic Tour of my productive land )

I woke up from a nap the other day, and Ananda and Aaron had made a band:

There's a girl with a ponytail and one of them has a mike on a stand in front of them.

I was amazed. Mohawk guy with guitar on stand:

Keyboard player:

I have done so much Usborne work this week, it is where every spare moment has gone. Productivity is lucrative. Some points:
-We're having a show at our local bookstore, and my mil (who works at the paper) is getting a write-up done about Aaron for publicity - "Local boy dancing in NYC competition" or something like that to drum people up.
-I met with two people from the Miami Children's Hospital Foundation yesterday afternoon and have a meeting with the head of their library next Monday afternoon.
-I've got home shows coming up out in the Redlands, down in the Keys and up in Miami, as well as three others "in the works" (they want to do it in the Fall, or haven't said for sure yet)

I'm also advertising a yard sale in the paper and planning it for next Saturday morning. Gathering stuff...I've mostly got a few outgrown bikes and a ton of disguarded purses, along with some outgrown kids' clothes and a tiny but of miscellany. I'm also going to be selling baked goods and possibly Usborne books, though.

Basically I am in super crazy hyper must-make-money mode. I was praying the other morning, up before everyone else to drive around having meetings - I was down to the wire with getting Ananda's registration in for girl scout day camp by the deadline. Two weeks of camp, already picked from all the themes - $130 each. AND THEN I REMEMBERED! I payed for this big old chiropractic package and then went to just one visit and found out that due to my "structural deformities" (diastasis, hernia) he can't help me. This was a long time ago actually. I drove over there and got my refund check - and it was $260! I was like, alright. Thank you very much. And sent off my forms.

I am about to shift from Usborne All The Time to Agents All The Time for a few days. I look at it as short term and long term financial planning.

A )

I cooked up a storm last night so we could eat all day without my cooking anything. We had chocolate cupcakes for breakfast, curried chickpeas on jasmine rice for lunch, and lentil soup for dinner.

Tomorrow Ananda's going to Christina's house and Aaron and Isaac are going to a birthday party, for most of the day. Grant and I will probably take Jake and Elise swimming somewhere, like over at Laura's or in Grant Sr's new above-ground. Every now and then I entertain the idea of getting one of those cheapy "everything in a box" above ground pools for like, 5 seconds, and then come back around to the image of Elise floating face down in water and figure we can wait a few years. This is why one of our criteria for home buying was "does not have a pool".

Other than all that:
-Elise is currently right on the line between "low end of normal speech development" and "speech delayed". I am trying to take it upon myself to have more conversations with her, as well as prompting her to use more "connecting" words - because she has a massive and ever-growing vocabulary. But she doesn't really form sentences. She'll come to me and say, "Mama bathroom, chichens, me see!" Not, "I'm going to see the chickens in your bathroom!" Everything is like that. She'll come to me saying "Dada phone, me hi" (I want to call Dad on the phone and say hi) and when she gets it, she'll tell him "Me sick. Miss, my Dad. Love, my Dad. But - mama home, me! Mama lap now. Dada home, hug! Bye." She has way above average comprehension, whether for pointing things out in books or performing complex tasks. She will sit and listen as I read chapter books to Ananda and Aaron and suddenly interject and shock me - "Boy sad, no more eat?" That's right, he's sad because he's hungry and all the food is gone. She also counts and knows all of her colors well (and has done both for quite awhile) as well as singing along with most of the alphabet. We'll see I guess.

-I am tired AS HELL of this sinus headache, sore throat sickness. OVER it. It's turning my already abysmal attempts at sleeping into miserable failures.

-Season 3 of Weeds has not been as good as Season 2.

-I am experiencing a great deal of anxiety when I think about this oil spill, and an uncommonly high level of (obviously related) guilt and confusion about my own priorities re: oil consumption. I am really caught in the middle, not nearly apathetic enough to just be blissfully driving everywhere all the time - but also too selfish to stop driving all the time. I want things for my children, and myself, and our family - like going to top dance schools and NYC competitions but also having chickens and a garden - that are not part of a sustainable model. I want my husband to work where he can make enough money for a certain lifestyle that involves internet, cell phones, movies and dinners out at times, and me staying home - but I don't want to live anywhere NEAR where those jobs are... I live in the absolute worst part of the country for car-reliance and suburban sprawl, and so it is heartbreaking, gut-wrenching justice of sorts for us to see all the beaches and reefs and animals and jobs destroyed :/ *big fucking sigh* I keep wishing desperately for things that seem like partial or complete solutions - a way more reliable, quicker, safer public transit system that runs 24 hours, for instance. Hybrid and electric minivans. We looked for them when we had the settlement, they were (are) only available in Japan. To some degree it seems like the only answer is to move away, but that is not even an option I can consider - this is and has always been home, it is where my and Grant's entire families are.
But something has to happen. I have to start writing letters, and voting for the right things, and taking the bus sometimes, and SHIT I really don't think people understand how big this is. How huge. How many people are unemployed. How they're BURNING ENDANGERED SEA TURTLES ALIVE. How the loop current is going to catch hold of all this and take it all the way to the Carolinas. How they don't know what happens when a hurricane hits a billion gallons of oil. How we can't replace the reefs, or the Everglades. Ever. Just gone forever if they're gone once...

I wonder how much more painful and personal this all seems to me because I've been looking at this water and going on glass bottom boats and wading out on sandbars my whole life. We hang out in the everglades as a thing to do. But...your seafood's going to cost more. Your taxes are going to go up. Your vacation plans are going to change. Your air is going to be dirtier. Your kids will never get to see things my kids have taken for granted. The Bahamas, Cuba, so much gorgeous blue-green-gray-and previously CLEAR is seeming so temporary right now. So surreal.

So I'm sitting here with Google Maps open looking at how Dance Empire goes from 29 minutes by car to an hour and 2 minutes by bus, how it goes from Elise taking a nap to us all walking several blocks on roads without sidewalks in the sweltering heat. On the other hand, I could use more excercise and we could sure save on gas and it might be kind of awesome to actually be able to like, hang out with and engage my kids while traveling. I think we have to at least try it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then my cookies came out like round rocks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some kid quotes from this week:

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

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

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

Thanks Andrea/[livejournal.com profile] custard_kisses
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I was so sick yesterday. Like, couldn't hold my head up or my eyes open but couldn't sleep because I was too nauseus, sick. When I wasn't actually puking. Little things like being able to HAVE A CONVERSATION feel novel again, today.

We had an a-ma-zing get together the night before, and I'm really hoping nobody went home with germs and is suffering now. Grant dug a firepit with Bob and the kids and gathered materials and hosed down the grass around it, and it was really just meant to be a s'more party, but we ended up having the Wii set up on a projector in the side yard and sitting around in various rooms talking and also just hanging out around the fire warming our feet - as it was actually a chilly night. It was Laura and Frank for awhile, with Brian for longer (he stayed while they went to a wedding), Kristin and her kids Naja and Darrien, Shaun, my nephew Robby (14), and all of us. It was just one of those times that clicks and everyone enjoys every minute like it's magic. I had made a big pot of chicken and yellow rice earlier in the evening and had a lot of leftover strawberry and chocolate chip muffins, and pitchers of cold iced tea. Laura and Frank were gone by 11:30-ish, Kristin and her kids and Shaun left at like 3 in the morning and Robby spent the night. I think by the time he, Annie and Aaron went to bed their Rock Band band had achieved "Legend" status in San Fransisco.

Christmas Eve kind of sucked a lot, until the end. I had a lot of way-too-emotional talking with Grant and my sister about my mom, and my brother, and my journal entries, and history, and blah blah blah. I was mostly locked in my bedroom all day, wrapping presents and crying on the phone. BUT THEN we went over to Laura's, once Grant and Frank were off, and that ended up being kind of awesome. L and F had bought aaaaaalll this food - honeybaked ham and turkey from the honeybaked ham place, meat and cheese platters, pickle and olive platters, cheeseball with crackers, chips with cheese dip, huge fruit salad, just a ton of stuff. We played Pandora carols and Frank's sister, Linda, came with her kids, too, and it was fun. After Linda and the kids left I gave Laura, Frank and Brian their presents from us and felt really happy that they were all perfect, and then my 5 + Brian opened everything we'd gotten in the mail from Nana and Pa, and my Mom.

AND WHOA. My Nana and Pa sent each kid a gift bag full of small things, with an envelope with $50 in it stapled to the side. My Mom sent each kid a wallet full of gift cards. So they have major shopping adventures ahead. Ananda is talking about saving for either an iPod or spending money for Harry Potter World, and I'm looking forward to getting Elise some new clothes because she's starting to run low, but otherwise I think it's a free for all for the boys. I think Jake got gift cards to Coldstone Creamery, Toys R Us and Target, for instance. Annie got them to Starbucks, Target and Barnes and Noble. She actually told me, "I think since I got a Barnes and Noble gift card and have a library card now, I might actually be able to save my money".

We got out of there too late to make it to Midnight Mass at St Louis, so we rushed to Sacred Heart...where the Midnight Mass was in creole. Their english one was at 10. So, we ended up coming home and reading the Christmas story from the bible and saying the Lord's Prayer. And then they all opened their Christmas pajamas to sleep in.

Still half in their fancy getups:

Rest of the post, pictures throughout )
altarflame: (CharlieBrownChristmas)
I have been hoarse and sleepy for over a week now.

Within the last 2 days we've made Pandora stations and CDs for the van, of Christmas music, and gotten a tree, and put it up and strung lights on it, and gotten things from the attic, and hung the stockings, and went driving around to look at lights, and been to Mass. All of a sudden it feels like we are in the middle of Advent. I really love it. I also drove by my Nana and Pa's old house on the way back from lights and burst into tears.


It's getting "cold" again.

Last night I made a ton of my chocolate banana cake. My recipe. A loaf for Robby, a loaf for Shaun, a loaf for us that dissapeared within MINUTES of being out of the oven, and a big bundt cake that is still in my kitchen waiting for a tea time.

I was laying in bed with Isaac last night, forehead to forehead, for a long time. We talked about so many things. I realized the perfect Christmas present for him would be a St Nicholas picture to hang on the wall by his bed - his medal gets lost all the time and he's always frantic to find it at bedtime.

He came out of the room the other morning, crying, telling me he had this horrible nightmare. He said he dreamed that all the other kids were having treats, and he wanted a treat, too, but he only had pie, and it was good pie but not as good as the treats. O_O That is Isaac for you.

I found out from someone who commented here that there have to be recessive genes for red hair on both sides, for a redheaded child to be born. I was like, "What?" about this at first, because I have no memories at all of any redheaded relatives ever and was just thinking it was from Grant's side. Then I remembered that everyone called my Nana's father "Pappy Red". He was old and gray when I knew him...but not always. We started spiking Isaac's hair up some, and it makes him look EXACTLY like Grant as a kid, coloring aside...it's nuts.

The night before last I was up with Ananda, in her bed. I read her almost all of Sarah, Plain and Tall - she wants the sequels now. But the big thing was...she talked to me. Like, really talked. My close-mouthed, dyslexic, cannot express herself daughter who I've fought and fought and finally given up on ever REALLY talking to me.

She told me about the kinds of things her friends Joanne and Karen were saying at Game Night, and what they're reading now, and what her friend Christina from PATH wanted to do on Thursday, and why it's hard to make friends at Dance Empire because there just isn't unstructured time. She told me what her brothers do that drives her crazy and how she really needs us to go back to being more scheduled like before Thanksgiving and when I got sick because she "just feels a lot happier" when we are. How mad she is at her bunnies for eating part of her wooden owl and then brainstorming how we could fix it. She told me she didn't want me to spend the night because she likes having the bed to herself, and how her strapless bras are the best ones but they're a pain because after one wear they've gotta go through the wash again to fit right.

She never talks to me. She tells on people, answers my questions, asks for stuff, says the prayer at dinner if it's her turn. Sometimes she'll interrupt Aaron to quote a movie or recount something from earlier in the day RIGHT (because he's doing it wrong). That's like...it.

There've been some little things since then. Like she admitted to me this afternoon that she doesn't want to ride bikes together anymore because her seat is hurting her. That's really simple stuff, but not something she would normally tell me. She just quit riding a couple of weeks ago and has refused and gotten silent and tried to leave whenever I bring it up, even though it used to be a favorite activity. I ask why and she makes depressed sounds that add up to "I don't know" or "I just don't".

I really want this to be the dam breaking SO. BAD.

...I heard this accoustic rendition on that XM Radio station "The Coffee House" the other day. Natalie Merchant's "Wonder". I used to hear that all the time when I was a teenager, but not really since. It's Elise all over, I've been singing it with her.

Doctors have come
from distant cities
just to see me
stand over my bed
disbelieving what they're seeing

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

newspapers ask
intimate questions
want confessions
they reach into my head
to steal the glory
of my story

they say I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as they see they can offer
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith
she'll make her way"

people see me
I'm a challenge
to your balance
I'm over your heads
how I confound you
and astound you
to know I must be one of the wonders
of god's own creation
and as far as you see you can offer me
no explanation

I believe
fate smiled and destiny
laughed as she came to my cradle
"know this child will be able"
laughed as she came to my mother
"know this child will not suffer"
laughed as my body she lifted
"know this child will be gifted
with love, with patience
and with faith
she'll make her way"

I suppose I should be helping my children turn candy canes into reindeer ornaments now.
altarflame: (Default)
First of all, comments - to everyone who talked about priestly celibacy, thanks for your links/input. My Dad wasn't researched at all, he was theorizing, and as he is somewhat infamous for wild conspiracy theories of all sorts I assumed this was more of the same.

And everyone, thank you so much for the birthday wishes ♥

My head is all over the place lately.

There is a constant, low-grade strain added to everything that is just me not eating as a coping mechanism, or for emotional reasons at all, anymore. It's offset by happiness as I weigh myself every morning (22 pounds lost so far...) but added to by the anxiety that is beginning to creep in, about my surgery to come. Every day I'm kind of astounded by how much of my mental and emotional energy goes into willpower, constant reliance on and communication with God, figuring out/preparing what I am going to eat (because it's rarely what everyone else is eating), pushing terrible thoughts about dying on the operating table away so I can sleep at night...all that. I can waste hours and hours bs'ing and still feel as though I am worn out at the end of it. Which is ridiculous.

Physically, I have a lot more energy. A lot less hernia pain. A bit more confidence. New sorts of back pain pretty much every day, too, as my abdomen continues to morph into something new on the daily.

I've been feeling pulled thinner and thinner this past week, by my regular responsibilities, because in addition to Grant being pretty much never here, the kids have been sick. Isaac's croup became Elise's flu-like-whatever it is which has now debilitated Jake. Just as Elise got sick, she got stung on the bottom of her foot by a bee or wasp, right in the arch. It's been swollen and painful and she's been refusing to walk except *sometimes* on her toes, ever since. Other times she just sits calling to be picked up or, most pitifully, walks on her knees :/ I think a stinger may have been left behind, but if so it's down very deep, and from what I've read it will work itself out or be absorbed soon if that is the case. The hysteria when G or I even try to look at it is intense so I am sure as hell not trying to dig or squeeze anything out anytime soon. It was a humidifier refilling, Vicks rubbing, tea distributing, scarcely sleeping sort of week...

I woke up on my birthday at 7:20 to Elise frantic in bed that she had to poop. I rushed her to the toilet. I am not supposed to lift her, but, wtf am I supposed to do when she is not just ill but has a foot out of commission, too? It was great to see the surprise decorations everywhere, and the cards, and the flowers. It buoyed me up in a big way while she was screaming, crying, or fussing, alternately, in my arms and in my lap, for about 2 solid hours as I tried to nurse her, get her drinks, bounce, sing to, etc her. I kept picturing Grant hurrying to blow up balloons and cut stems of roses and tape streamers, as we all slept. Eventually Elise settled in next to Ananda in a zombie-trance to watch tv. The boys were all still sleeping and I set the cordless phone by Annie, grabbed my cell, set the house alarm, and bolted to the grocery store 5 blocks away for supplies for the day. Got back, somewhat frantically, to just what I had left, and saw all the facebook and lj birthday wishes. Grant had also emailed me from work. I smiled. Isaac woke up then, hysterical from the just-waking-up intensity of fading croup, and by the time I had him calmed down Elise was a wreck again. I basically spent the entire day either carrying her or trapped under her as she nursed or slept, aside from a soup-making stint I handed her off to Annie for. There were probably 2 total hours of her, greasy and reeking of Vicks, sweating against me, too snotty-nosed to nurse properly and just licking the nipple for comfort. Throughout the day and night I read The Lovely Bones in it's bizarre entirety, and developed a major neck/shoulder/backache.

My Dad called, and sounded like he isn't going to make it for Thanksgiving with us, which shouldn't surprise me anymore but what can I say, I really wish he would come. My mom is having a really hard time with my Nana. Between talking to them both Laura told me she didn't think she would be able to babysit the following day when Grant was home if kids were sick, which makes perfect sense but was still devastating in the moment to hear. I was REALLY looking forward to that. Dinner was this insane battle of wills wherein I had made a big pot of kale and bean soup and Ananda, Aaron, Jake and Elise were tearing up seconds but Isaac refused to even try it. I really just wanted him to TRY it, and was trying to tell him Elise was sick, it was my birthday and I was not cooking a second dinner without him even tasting option #1. I also reminded him that they are all always allowed to grab an apple, a banana, or a yogurt if they are hungry, without even asking. Well. He cried and whimpered and whined about how starving he was, while ignoring all that, until I told him to go to his bedroom unless he could quit it, and then he howled and yelled as loudly as he could from his bedroom, until he thought enough time had passed to come out and start over with the whimpering. This happened, what, 3 or 4 times? An hour of crying at least about trying some soup, all while I try to tend to Elise and wonder where the hell my husband is and wish his office building would dissapear into a sinkhole sometime while nobody is there, leaving us to collect some sort of worker's compensation while they struggle to rebuild. 9 pm came and went without Grant home. Then I started my period and a little bit of my bitter hopelessness started to fall into place as hormonal...I get wicked PMS for the last few years. That was yesterday.

Today started out sucky because: Elise was too sick/handicapped to go to Mass, and everyone else was too slow and disorganized and (*$&%)(*#)@* for me to just take some people and make it on time; Grant woke with a headache and a desire for a nap, on the ONE day off he gets this week; I discovered the cats are making a habit of peeing in the clean laundry, which is completely NOT acceptable; I just generally felt very overwhelmed and shitty about the horrifically messy house, my cramping uterus, my birthday plans gone awry, and it all led me into pointless and ungrateful "Where is the meaning in my life?" territory.

Then Grant told my sister how badly I need a break, and she said she would come and he and I could go, and Elise started acting normal. I bribed Annie so she would be responsible for her to the best of her ability while we were gone (Elise adores her; my sister is heavily pregnant, has a cold and brought her own nearly 3 year old son over). We all worked together to get the house so much cleaner it's incredible, in record time, and with a pact that the laundry room door stays closed so the cats can't get in. By the time Laura got here with Brian the floors were cleared and swept/vaccumed, all laundry was put away, the surfaces all made sense, there were scented candles burning and I felt like I was walking on air in a flattering outfit with my hair doing something cool.

I almost feel guilty about how good it felt to drive AWAY from the house today without any kids in the vehicle. Almost. First stop - buying some Aleve.

And then we went to Samurai, which is basically just Benihana, and then Barnes and Noble where I got the 2010 Writer's Market, and we browsed through Michael's where we found Ananda this awesome little $4 owl she has hanging in the middle of her room now. It didn't matter what we did, really, it was just Grant's so incredibly warm hand in mine, or on my back, or stroking my arm, and soft little kisses and talking and laughing and sharing and being together, I mean geez. I felt so light and airy just getting out of the Prius with him at a gas station without anyone in the car to worry about leaving unattended.

It's occuring to me that his drastically increased work schedule has been something of an adjustment. <- sarcasm

So yeah. That was all awesome. Then we got back and Jake was sick - crazily upset about being sick, my sister had a hard time with him for the whole last hour and Jake is normally the easiest one by far. Apparently they spent about 3 hours drawing pictures and playing outside, and then for the last hour he just suddenly got sick and wasn't having anything after that. We walked in to find him inconsolable, which made me feel so weirdly helpless because, for one, Jake is just barely newly weaned as of his birthday, and normally that is how I care for sick little ones, and 2, I sure as HELL can't pick HIM up at all without major pain and risk...he's like 45 pounds now. Grant put him on in the kozy carrier and paced with him and got him drinks and sat with him and got him to sleep until he woke up crying again, etc. While I nursed Elise over and over and got her to sleep until she woke up again crying. Blah. Right now he's asleep in the tv room with them both, under blankets, with Loony Tunes streaming endlessly on the tv. I made the bigger 3 brush their teeth and turn off their lights and turn on their fans and put away their rabbits, but am not even attempting to keep them from giggling or making lite brite pictures.

I actually think the kind of sneaky late night fun that happens when kids are supposed to be getting to sleep is really valuable bonding. *shrug*

So. I am trying to get some perspective back. About how my husband is so awesome that he works hard to support us so I can stay home and homeschool and we can have this great house. And how he's so awesome that he sneakily buys me decorations and flowers and records his own voice on a card and sets everything up as I sleep, before dawn. And how my prayers have been answered and I've found an eating plan that actually works for me and the ability to stick with it. I've got a real structured writing schedule, great leads and connections, material I believe in, and now I have the Writer's Market as a kickass resource, too. I mean what the hell, I weigh 22 pounds less than I did a month ago, how can I bitch about anything?

One thing that has been bothering me is, BECAUSE Grant and I click so well and understand each other so deeply, and have historically been together so much, I haven't really invested much in other relationships. I feel REALLY lonely and isolated sometimes, now that he's never available. I have...uh...probably 3 real FRIEND friends who I've had deep conversations and laughter with and have been to their house more than once, as well as at least 5 other more general "friends" who I see semi-regularly at meetings and events and can have a decent conversation with. But I don't have any friends who I feel like I can call on the phone out of nowhere and dump on. I have Grant for that, and Laura. But with them increasingly off limits (Laura has transportation issues and a life that revolves around her own husband's crazy work schedule) I'm really feeling how nice it would be to get to a point of just-showing-up-without-calling-first with some other people. Or at least a spontaneously-calling-to-make-plans-for-today point. My closest, best friends are long distance - either high school friends who don't live in Homestead anymore who I only see once a year or internet people who've deepened into mattering beyond the internet. I write a lot of postcards and things lately.

Speaking of internet people who've come to matter beyond the internet, DAMA will be here next Saturday...it seems surreal that it's so close, whenever I think that they are already in Florida (at Disney) I almost can't believe it. My kids get bug-eyed and grinning whenever we tell them how soon it is now :D

My To-Do List for Tomorrow

-up at a decent time, use the Wii fit
-get everyone dressed, do hair
-prayer/devotional time
-enforce chores
-make a list for Halloween costume supplies
-call exterminator

-set a date for potluck we're hosting; email Michelle
-persue Kristin
-do Right Start Math with A and A
-abeka with Isaac
-read to everyone in the afternoon if possible
-work on expectations/guidelines for Bob; email whatever I have to Grant to see what he thinks
-get A and A to dance classes on time (4:45)
-shop for halloween stuff with little 3
-Whole Foods while we're out
-get Tide before we come home
-and hay
-try to have dinner at a decent time, once we're back
-everyone work together to clean up - including starting more laundry
-bed for them by 9:30ish
-hang up clean stuff in my room
-try to write from 10-2am.
altarflame: (Time is coming for me.)
Today is my Nana's 61st birthday. She's moving her left arm well and consistently, and learning to sit balanced on the edge of her bed. So far she can do about 20 seconds before she starts to tip one way or the other. The kids and I sent her a birthday card that says something about her deserving a wonderful birthday on the front, and when you open it, it plays that oldie that goes, Do you believe in magic? This made me cry, because that was the theme song of the oldies station that was always playing in her house and car as I grew up - Magic 102.7 - but also because we are all hoping for miracles with her.

I am not even thinking it's weird anymore to do things like email petitions to the International Shrine of St. Jude in Chicago so they can dedicate Masses to her and light candles in her name.

My mother almost died laughing on the phone with me today, because this whole left arm usage is brand new still and things are still connecting. So my Nana had a twizzler in her right hand, eating it, and reached up and pulled it out of that hand with the left hand, and then looked around confused because her twizzler was gone and said, "What in the hell just happened?" The amazing part of this is, my Nana can laugh about it with her and knows it's ridiculous. She was yelling through the phone from the other side of the room, chuckling herself - "This damn thing has a mind of it's own!"

We have been sick. Off and on, one at a time and sometimes in pairs, sick. I was lucky in that when I got it, Grant was off and so I was able to sleep in, take naps and have tea delivered to me. Somehow, through who knows what kind of rare serendipity, everyone seemed all better yesterday afternoon and so Grant and I were able to drop all the kids off with the sitter and go see Tori Amos live last night without incident. Then we got home, put everyone to bed, and a few hours later...Elise had it. And so that has been the main theme of my day today - holding, carrying, laying under, nursing, giving juice to and sometime passing off to Annie, Elise. She seems to be doing better now - sleeping soundly for a couple of hours and her fever has finally broken. <3

The Tori Amos concert - I don't know. Pros:

-We were really close, and it's just awesome to be standing like 40 feet from Tori Amos while she plays and sings
-when we walked in, she was starting "Cornflake Girl".
-she kicked it old school a lot, including Spacedog and Winter, which made me cry. Winter ALWAYS MAKES ME CRY, but this time I got to cry right along with a flamboyantly gay and exceedingly drunk guy next to me who then applauded so enthusiastically through his sobbing that he spilled beer all over my foot/shoe. This could also be a con :p
-I got to hear Carbon live. Then she ended on Bouncing Off Clouds, which was great, we were standing right up front at that point because it was an encore and security had only eyed us suspiciously when we approached. I walked out feeling high energy.


-Grant wasn't like "Woo HOO let's go see Tori Amos!!" he was like, "Yeah sure I'll go see her with you. I guess." So it was really different than being there with, say, Jess and squealing and jumping around and being all enthusiastic together.
-she didn't talk. This is the 3rd time I've seen her live and she just, like, does not talk anymore. WTH.
-we were in a pretty ridiculous section of people, just in that they were getting up and down and going and coming and posing for group photos and dancing/clapping as though they were listening to a completely different song than what the rest of us were. I can mostly ignore this, I think it effected G more than me.
-it's irritating how you can be that close and still not get anything like a decent picture. Grant took this and posted it during - http://twitpic.com/c2wvi


These produce boxes we're picking up, from our organic co-op, are awesome.

1. We save a lot of money buying it this way.
2. We save even more money because we aren't making the extra trips to the grocery store that would lead to buying unnecessary other stuff while we were there, and
3. We're getting all kinds of stuff that we would never have tried otherwise.
-fingerling potatoes are, apparently, awesome and don't even require milk for creamy goodness when mashed
-champagne grapes are both tinier than blueberries by about half, and literally sweet as candy. Unbelievably good. I had never heard of such a thing.
-fresh peas both lead to an afternoon shelling peas with the kids, and are SOOOO incredibly much better when cooked up!
-my kids all adore pluots. Who knew?
-kale and chard can lead to some delicious and hearty soups that the entire family actually eats

Also we've been having salad 1-3 times per week because we tend to get at least one big head of romaine every time, and other than Isaac all the kids will tear up salad. Elise will eat 3 bowls of salad and fill up on just that. As someone who is not so into salad myself, I never would have started trying this without the boxes (we don't get to choose what is in them, we just pay our money and then get a guarantee of a ton of fresh organic variety that has to be worth x amount retail).

So - the kale soup was just a kale and bean soup I found online, you can google and there are tons of recipes. This involved an olive oil and chicken broth base with some italian seasonings, and pureeing some of the beans towards the end to thicken it with.

But this crazy scandalous one I came up with today!

1. Cook a package of turkey bacon on the George Foreman. Crumble it all up on a plate, big pieces are fine.
2. Pour the grease catcher in a stockpot with 2 sticks of butter and heat on medium (I did say scandalous. I was not kidding around.)
3. Add a couple of diced celery stalks, a bunch of chopped spring onions and some diced yellow onion. Cook it while you mince like 6 cloves of garlic, then throw that in, too.
4. THINLY slice about 5-6 yellow potatoes, yukon gold ideally, Throw in, salt and pepper it like crazy, stir often.
5. Next is all the chard - we had a huge bundle of it and I just ripped it all off the stalks and into the biggest pieces I can deal with. Throw it in and stir til it's good and wilted.
6. about a dozen fresh basil leaves and a big handful of chopped italian parsley, both fresh in this case from our garden and the produce box, and all the crumbled turkey bacon.
7. 8 cups of water and cook it til the starch has done something obvious. OM NOM NOM.

Ananda and Jake couldn't get enough of this, and I ate 3 bowls over the course of the night.

14 pictures, unicycle stunts, chickens, there's a tiger and some stained glass and some pigtails... )

I am eating, breathing, and dreaming Catholicism lately.

Since finishing that Anne Rice book Called Out of Darkness, I've burned through Born Fundamentalist, Born Again Catholic, which is a lot less of a personal account and a lot more of an in-depth theological defense of every Catholic thing that seems "weird" to Protestants - statues, Confession, saints, Mary, the Pope, approcryphal books in the Bible, and so on. It is unreal the number of things that are falling into place in my mind and making me run and explain things to Grant, that I have ignorantly spouted off against in the past. AT LENGTH. Without knowing anything about them except hearsay. Hearsay, heresy, hahaha.

Except it is not funny. My head is spinning with this stuff. I got "caught" on my way out of Mass this past Sunday (I take the 3 oldest to Mass before we all go to City Church) by the Priest for the first time. He is incredibly approachably nice and sincere-seeming. But it still made me all nervous and weirded out in some way I don't know how to explain, but I think is good? I also have my old Catholic friend Matt who some of you will remember as the one willing to stand up and righteously denounce abortion at length while remaining anti-war and pro-justice, etc, in comment threads here - he's messaging me on facebook about Catholicism and I am just. Waiting til I have the time and energy, I guess.

Meanwhile I have all these friends online who are Orthodox. I spent hours today, with Elise hot on my lap and semi-conscious, reading about the great Schism that split the ancient church and the different sides of every issue. It seems almost impossible to discern this much later in history who was "right" and what is facts. I think it made a lot of sense when JP II talked about the East and the West being like the two breathing lungs of the Body of Christ. I see a ton of Truth on both sides and don't feel at all qualified to deem one of them TruER than the other one! I read some things about moves towards reconciliation in recent years that made me think, hey. Maybe commonreader is right. Maybe that will happen in our lifetimes.

For now, I have to go to bed.

HOW IN THE WORLD DID IT GET THIS LATE? I've been writing this update for like 2.5 hours, counting the photo editing and uploading. Geeeeeeeeeeeeeeeez, no wonder my eyes are blurring.
altarflame: (Elise genius.)
To everyone who replied to the national debt post: Thank you :) I really appreciate your input, and it actually helped a lot.

Grant and I spent his off-days cleaning the heck out of this house, from vaccuming under furniture we don't normally move to getting the chicks out of my office and into the yard in a temporary coop. There was also closet cleanup, and bar clearing (it was piled so high, just ridiculous...) and bathtub scrubbing, and so on.

I also crocheted like a maniac, for this new blanket idea I had, and will hopefully have pics to post of that soon.

My Nana had surgery on an aneurism she's had for a few years now. An abdominal one. It went really well, and they were able to clean a lot of plaque out of the artery as a bonus while they were in there, which is supposed to help her circulation once she's up and around again. She lives in Lakeland. My mother and uncle went to be with her in the hospital. I'm sure a "Nana" seems really, really old to most people for an adult to have, but really, she's only 59. I was very relieved it all went well, as I'm not AT ALL ready to deal with anything happening to her... This by the way is the one we go spend Christmas Eve with every year, and who I was so upset moved away a few years back.

My cousin Christina - this is a cousin on my father's/cuban side - is pregnant, and the first of her siblings to get pregnant, so it's A Big Dealtm. Her baby shower is this weekend and her mother/my aunt is EXTEMELY EXCITED and sent out handmade invitations to everyone. She's also emailed us ultrasound pictures and an entire slideshow of the very detailed nursery stenciling she's done for this granddaughter. Laura and I are going, Grant and Frank were able to orchestrate days off and it'll be a chance to see aunts and cousins I haven't seen in a couple of years. And my Dad, too, albeit separately due to...uh...relational tensions on that side of my family. I haven't went anywhere ALONE with my sister, with no kids, for...however old Brian (her son) is? At least. I guess I've seen her in a hospital room by ourselves, but I hardly think that counts. This is going to be awesome, just she and I in the Prius. We'll actually be in the Prius A LOT - it's in Key West (2.5 hours away) and we are leaving early and getting back late on the same day. It's so bizarre that Christina, Annette and Andrea (the close older cousins we grew up spending time around every year as kids) are all still childless, when they're all at least 5 year older than me, at least 8 years older than Laura. It's funny to go see this woman I grew up seeing as a way older and more mature kid who was ahead of me, having her first baby shower, when I'm leaving my 5 kids at home to go. I'm trying hard to not have too much of an "agenda" in my gift-giving (i.e., not giving her cloth diapers and a guide to why co-sleeping is best but actual things off her registry) :p

I've been having MAJOR allergies for the past couple of weeks...waking up in the middle of the night with watering eyes and sneezing fits, spending the days sniffling with a sinus headache...and nothing helps. We've changed the AC filter out, removed the chicks (even though they were behind a closed door in a pen, with a closed AC vent, and still very small, and not at all effecting the rest of the house), cleaned our bedroom fan, changed our diets. I've gotten desperate in the past few days from ALWAYS feeling run down and miserable, and taken loratadine meltaways, nose sprays, and started up again with a Vicks inhaler. It's just getting worse and worse. I did some research tonight and went to Walgreens after midnight for 24 hour, used-to-be-only-by-prescription-strength Zyrtec that I've been waiting to kick in for about an hour now. It better work, by golly...

My last couple of days have been totally dominated by Elise being sick. She's the only one, just her. She got a sudden high fever yesterday that stuck around all day long, leaving her either sleeping or borderline lethargic, and puking once, until evening, when she perked up a little and then slipped back into misery. Slept through the night. Nursing almmost constantly, though, and hot "in places". Today was more of the same.

Her only real remaining neuro quirk is that when she has a fever, it's a wack fever, where say like today - the whole right side of her body is burning hot. The left side is room temperature. Her feet freezing, like ice cubes, to where I can feel their coldness through my pants O_o Really strange. I spent awhile on the phone with the ped and felt so, so relieved, after I'd spent too long with google and was half-convinced she had FREAKING MENINGITIS and would be losing all of her progress and abilities anytime.

I think it's just really triggering to me to see her so limp and exhausted and constantly sleeping, and be in contact with doctors. She jerks in her sleep and I think of seizures for the first time in months. Ugh. The idea of putting her through more spinal taps, or spending more nights in hospitals. Ugh ugh.

She was better today than yesterday, with SOME walking around and personality amidst the sicky sickness, so I am strongly hoping she is better tomorrow than today. I can't leave her like this on Saturday to go to Key West :/ I mean they think it sounds like she just has some normal infection like kids get, she was in the church nursery on Sunday and Aaron had some mysterious one-night-only puking thing last week. It's just...different...when it's her.

Either way I am totally going to be screwed that after months of nursing 3-5 times in a 24 hour period, she'll have been nursing around the clock for days due to illness...and then I'll go away for 12 or more hours straight and be engorged and soaking my shirt. Blah. I'm glad I have a ped who can appreciate how important breast milk can be for a sick toddler, and even said how these are the one's she never has to worry about getting dehydrated from fevers because they'll always at least take that.

I was going to make this big food logging post because I'm back to meal planning and grocery budgeting again and so it's on my mind and I like getting ideas and sharing recipes. Like yesterday we had apple cinnamon and raisin steel cut oats for breakfast; long, drained ramen noodles mixed with sauteed garlic, mushrooms and spinach in olive oil, for lunch; and southwestern quesadillas with cilantro from the garden for dinner.

But then today we ate all the carrot cupcakes I made late last night for breakfast, lunch and snacks until I ordered Chinese takeout for dinner because all I could do all day with Grant working was pace with or nurse with miserable sick Elise and play phone tag with the doctor. While all the others watched too many movies and played in the yard. You win some, you lose some.


Aug. 27th, 2005 11:46 pm
altarflame: (Default)
We're in post-hurricane state, which means that there is debris from trees and/or flooding anywhere you go, people with trucks handing out free ice/water, and I still have relatives calling everyday to find out how we're doing. Plus half the shutters are still down, you have to call before you go anywhere to check that things are open, and my sister and Shaun are both still out of electricity. Shaun's sleeping on the couch right now - he couldn't really leave until they got the roads cleared out in the redlands. I'm SO GLAD our power came back on so soon - I think I would have lost my mind in the heat, and the dark boredom that is lightless insomnia....My sister has been told it could be anywhere from next Friday til September 10 before they have power again! And their phones aren't working either. They're so disconnected that they didn't even KNOW there is a boil-water order in effect, they were drinking contaminated hoohaw from the taps. It's so lame, because it's TOTALLY a socio-economic/ethnic thing. I was out of power for 16 hours...and I live in a middle class white neighborhood. She lives with her husband's family in a Mexican migrant worker community, surrounded by fields and near a prison. It's lame. They pay for their electricity, too. I gave her my cell phone and our car charger, a spare radio, and some board games to take home when she stopped in today. (Sidenote - how can anyone not have a radio or a cell phone, down here?)

Anyway...I caught Isaac's head cold with a vengeance, now that he's almost better. A couple of days of extra nursing and he's basically good as new...but I'm, like, SUPER disoriented and surreal, with this non-stop nose dripping and eye running and sinus headache going on all day. It occured to me AFTER I got home from the store with the kids earlier, that I really shouldn't be driving. Luckily it's only 3 blocks away. But yeah, that would be my first tip-off, that I didn't feel I could walk 3 blocks.

I'm going to go watch Dead Poet's Society with Grant now and try not to feel greedy for guzzling up so much of the bottled water...I have perpetual cotton mouth from the nurse-a-thon and nasal drip. And the whole "fetus now absorbs a gallon of water a day and has to have totally new replenished amniotic fluid every 3 hours" thing. (THAT'S why baby skin is so soft...)

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