altarflame: (deluge)
Today, I read Jake and Elise 1.5 chapters of The Goblet of Fire. I read Elise The Long Forgotten Doll. I read Jake Never Too Little To Love and I Love You More.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My house :)

Right this way to the pictures (and one short video)... )
altarflame: (deluge)
A couple of my friends who live up in Miami like to say I live in "the sticks," which I always protest, because, what? This is not the sticks! Sure, I get the occasional possum and raccoon on the deck, and yeah, we can walk past a tomato field to feed a horse some carrots, but what of that? :p Then I am actually up around Miami, and come back home, and see this as our highway exit...

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

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

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

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

The thrown together Peter pan costume I mentioned.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And this year:

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

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

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

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

Photobombing, separate days.

My Elisey Beast.

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

Ananda, sciencing (really, that's a word) in her laboratory room.
altarflame: (Jakeonthego)
I've been complaining/in shock about Jake's eating pretty much since he started solids (he's 7.5 now, and eats far more than Grant or I do in a given day). I've taken him to the doctor for it twice over the years. Basically, he's always hungry and never gets full. You can't take Jake anywhere for any period of time without considering this (even if all 6 of the rest of us will be fine, because we just had a meal or it's a short trip). He eats ALL DAY LONG, EVERY DAY.

He doesn't have a tape worm or even a blood sugar issue. He's totally healthy, and HUGE for his age (as has always been the case) - he's never been overweight for his height. He was born at one ounce under 10 pounds and has been off the growth charts ever since - I actually had problems with strangers thinking he was mentally handicapped as a baby and toddler because he appeared so much older than he actually was that he seemed to be "behind."

I charted him the week he turned 7, and he was the average height and weight of a 9.5 year old. Isaac, who is a 9.5 year old, is used to being exactly his height but slightly lighter (Isaac is a little skinny, and Jake has an unusual amount of muscle and is REALLY strong - I can't hold him down to tickle him anymore...).

I am (again? still?) at a loss, because this food issue seems so unmanageable, with him...and unreasonable.

If we're driving to drop off or pick up Ananda or Aaron 30 minutes away, he has to have a snack for that hour in the car or else he feels terribly sick, often crying and sometimes even throwing up. Part of that is a motion sickness issue. Eating settles his stomach while driving. But still! It's part of this whole larger thing, that we say, "everybody find your shoes! Jake, grab some food!" anytime we're leaving the house O_o It was a running theme at PATH meetings last year that it wasn't possible for me to bring a big enough food bag that he wasn't miserable by the time we were leaving.

I've had to talk to his music camp directors every year (this is the third summer running) because he can't eat breakfast and then wait until lunch, like EVERYBODY ELSE, or else he totally melts down every single day. So, he's basically carrying his lunchbox around day camp all day, instead, eating nonstop. It doesn't seem to interfere with his ability to practice and learn his instrument, write out time lines and staffs, and do singalongs. He's eating as they transition between activities and during recess and things like that, which the adults seem ok with - but I pack him between 2-3 times what Isaac and Elise take. Then, he literally walks in the front door and heads straight to the kitchen when I bring them home in the afternoon, and happily tells me about his day. While eating.

This is the situation:
-He eats really, really well. Like raw bell peppers and other vegetables, pitas and hummus, fresh fruit, nuts, etc - he's not at all picky about things we cook, and only drinks water most of the time.
-He's very independent and doesn't bother anyone about it, when home - I'm always seeing that he's heating leftovers in the toaster oven or making himself a sandwich/salad, or mixing honey and granola into yogurt. Point being, it's not like him eating nonstop is any "bother," or infringement on my time when it gets crazy.
-He doesn't make himself sick, or act sluggish or overfull, and this doesn't interfere with him eating at mealtimes. He goes to the bathroom normally and his belly is flat.
-He doesn't obsess about food when it's there - he just eats a lot. He still builds with legos and K'Nex, writes and draws, plays outside, watches movies, etc all day everyday. He only seems preoccupied with food when it's limited or unavailable.
-He's a REALLY chill, calm, good kid...that turns into a complete angry crying nutcase when hungry. There's almost never a reason to intervene with what Jake is doing when he's regulating his own food, but if he's been unable to eat for a couple of hours he's an inconsolable nightmare. It is irrational and out of bounds.
-We can afford this. Mostly. I mean, sometimes it gets stressful, but it doesn't cause us the stress or urgency it might other people. We've long accepted the grocery bill as our biggest expense around here. I guess the point is, money is not the issue here for me, with this.

I'm worried that he has a total emotional dependence on food! Or, a health issue we aren't picking up on. Or, is totally fine FOR NOW but will grow to be one of those 500 pound adults that has to be lifted out of their house by a crane (obesity and diabetes run up and down both sides of his family tree, and he's definitely got two overweight parents - although all four of his grandparents are normal weight).

I mean, no joke guys, this is what Jake ate yesterday:

-BIG (what most people would call double or triple sized) bowl of oatmeal for breakfast...this is steel cut oats with fruit and milk, it's really filling stuff I can't eat that much of. And 3-4 pieces of "healthy" bacon (haha, I mean that no sulfite/sulfate stuff that's preserved in celery juice, and we cook it on the george foreman).

-in his lunch, he had/ate a tupperware with about another cup of that oatmeal in it, a PBJ, a clementine, a fruit leather, a granola bar and a chocolate pudding. He ate it all at camp.

-When he got home, I lost track. I know I heated him two full bowls of leftover kale and bean soup at different points, he got himself at least a couple of snacks like bell peppers and apples and chips with salsa, I saw some peanut butter toast, and he had a piece of spinach and feta pizza and some cereal before bed.

I mean...that's insane, right? It seems disturbing to me that I'm pretty sure this would present major problems if we tried to put him in school. We aren't planning to, and we're homeschooling for reasons that have nothing to do with eating, but - that's fucking weird, the idea that a school day would be unmanageable because he needs to eat near-constantly.

We put a lot of effort in, last year, to get him to STOP identifying as a "hungry boy," to make the other kids quit going on and on about how much he eats, and to not anticipate him taking down mass quantities of food at each meal in how we serve his (initial) plates, because we started to worry that maybe we had set up some kind of self-fulfilling prophecy by going on too much about his eating. Like he could internalize it as part of his identity? He wanted to be the Very Hungry Caterpillar for Halloween one year! I don't really know if that's a part of this or not - he definitely ate like a trash compactor for awhile before we all saw him that way - but we've definitely shifted the talk and the visible expectations around significantly, anyway. He still goes back for thirds and ends up having 5 or more huge tacos total, at dinner. Which, again...he is chowing down on a small amount of meat buried under greens, beans, avocado, tomatoes, and sharp cheddar. With multiple cups of water. Just. WTF?!

Here's a video from yesterday, of Jake carrying Isaac on his shoulders:

Their camp has a field trip to see a play today. A flyer was actually sent home asking to make sure all the kids had a big breakfast since lunch would be slightly delayed. Last year, the highway bus ride and length of the play they went and saw caused major meltdown problems for Jake, and he was talking about how horrible it had been and how he'd just cried and cried in his seat in the audience for like 2 weeks afterward. I made him change into cargo shorts and load his pockets with emergency snacks, this morning. I tried to at least make it non-crinkly-sounding, quiet, non-crumby things so that he wouldn't be a disturbance? I figure it's less of a disturbance for him to quietly eat something now and then, than it would be for him to cry and get up to find a teacher and explain how miserable he is :p But it underlies the ridiculousness of the whole situation!

What is the deal with him?!
altarflame: (Default)
Grant was in Maryland every other week of November, and most of December, before taking a Christmas break that involved actual days off (because even when he's "in town", he works long hours, 2 hours away...) At the beginning of January I was dropping him back off at the airport again for 5 days (and another 4 soon after).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tellin' me all about it, one afternoon.

My napping view, from my bed.

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

Carrot cupcakes for tea.

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

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

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

And mine.

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

View from my hammock.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copied and Pasted facebook stuff:

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

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

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

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

My father has semi-intense rheumatoid arthritis that started in his 20s. I've kind of been in denial about this, I think, getting my thyroid tested and saying I need to get to the chiropractor more often. I don't know.
altarflame: (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)
This morning, after I took Grant to the train and Elise to preschool, Aaron woke in terrible pain - crying uncontrollably, even yelling. It was his swollen glands.

Aaron got what was diagnosed as mumps (he was fully vaccinated at this point and there was some argument among professionals) at 3, his face swelled up like a chipmunk, and ever since whenever he gets ill, his glands get big and tender. Throughout the last year or so, though, they seem to swell and feel tender more often - almost continuously at times. It's been hard to decipher what's going on with them since Christmas, since we have had two different illnesses that have lasted weeks and they're often subtly enlarged or slightly sensitive.

Four days ago, though, with all of us better, his glands suddenly got huge like I haven't seen them in a long time. It was a Saturday and I didn't think it was worth the ER. He layed around a lot. Sunday (Easter) was the same - he layed on a couch under a blanket while the rest of us dyed eggs on the deck, and didn't eat much candy since he can barely chew :/ Yesterday it seemed a lot better - they'd gone way down and hurt a bit less. No fever.

Then today, wailing and gnashing of teeth first thing. It takes a LOT for Aaron to act like that. The silver lining in this situation is that it snapped me immediately out of my funk and into focused action. Also, Dr Geraldi was able to see us this morning and Ms Denise didn't mind keeping Elise longer.

My pediatrician - this guy -

He has a bit of a fixation.

(I apologize for my nausea-inducing angles, I didn't really get it until I saw it myself)

And we love him, and he is amazing. He came in, with his gray braided rat tail and his heavily embroidered and colorfully sewn jeans, in his Spiderman lab coat, knowing us well enough on sight to ask about all my other kids by name. This is the guy my Aunt DeeDee used to drive all the way from Key West to see, for my twin cousins, and there was actually someone there from Orlando today. He checks Annie for anemia via nail beds and eye lids rather than doing bloodwork, he diagnosed Isaac's appendicitis in his office, and he's been cheering for Elise from day 1.

So, it's a little disconcerting to see him calling in his assistant, trading notes, looking things up on his iPhone, and hypothesizing.

Anyway his leading theory is that the glands are catching a lot of drainage from the illnesses and Aaron's allergies and they're clogged and possibly now colonizing bacteria the same way our ears can. So we're doing allergy meds, decongestants and antibiotics - and he's gotta stay on ibuprofen and pedialyte around the clock so as not to get super dehydrated, since it was hurting too much for him to eat or drink and that was becoming a problem :/ He goes back Friday.

With all that in him, he was like a new albeit low energy man and wanted to go to TLC like usual.

Again I enjoyed a good day...good as in, I felt like myself and was able to do things and act human. We picked up Elise, filled prescriptions, had pasta and sauce for lunch, went to TLC. I did some dishes and had a dinner plan. I'm enjoying Grant's company.

Somebody last night left a lengthy comment suggesting she thinks I'm bipolar. Having known several bipolar people well over the years, online and IRL, my first instinct was to say "No way", but I do spend an awful lot of time thinking I need to come back and explain how good things actually are and how excited I am about x, y and z, as well as thinking it's important to emphasize just how awful it is and how I can't deal anymore. So for the hell of it, I took an online assessment that seems to be relatively widely accepted and hosted by fairly respectable looking sites, and was like, wtf?! I got a 51 and a 48 the two times I did it, 53 being the highest possible most bipolar score O_o Lots of words like severe and where to start to get help.

I talked with Grant about this for awhile. I know a LOT about bipolar because of the people I've interacted with over the years who suffer from/through it, and if that is me I think that I either have a higher set point, mood-wise, than what I've seen in others, or else I don't have the piggy backing disorders, or it's a newer development...or all three? I'm going to the doctor either way, I had already decided I want my thyroid tested because, truly, I fit that picture to a T as well. Who the hell knows.

Tonight, I want to tell you how incredibly cheap it is to make a big pot of lentil soup for dinner with a bunch of chilled pineapple for dessert. Onions, (tons of) garlic, carrots, celery, chicken and beef broth (cubes for me), tomato juice (I use some from canned tomatoes and then save the actual tomatoes for something else), lentils, water, salt, seasoned salt. It's so delicious! You can garnish it so many ways and serve it with bread or salad or bruschetta or antipasto or nothing. All of my kids tear it up, and a pot big enough for all 7 of us plus lunch for a couple of people the next day is only ~$4 with me buying all the ingredients at BJ's.

Then 3 big cans of pineapple out of a case into the freezer and that's about a $2.50 dessert for all the kids. Ran through the food processor frozen and eaten with a spoon they go crazy.

And I'd like to mention, in case anyone hasn't realized this yet, that you can google image search coupons for any restaurant you're going in, pull them up on your phone, and the waittress/cashier can scan it. The 7 of us consistently do healthy all you can eat at Sweet Tomatoes for $21 this way (it would be about $58 without the coupon deals they keep renewing).

Last, look at my hot husband sweeping the bedroom floor after putting away tons of laundry and making the kids laugh the whole drive home:
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I am eating it up! Sometimes literally. Right now I'm having a gingerbread man :D

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rolling pins for all sizes!

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

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

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

SIDENOTE: The FREE music classes my children receive, along with many others in multiple locations around the county, with FREE loaned instruments and FREE songbooks, and truly dedicated, caring teachers, are all through the Greater Miami Youth Symphony and funded through the Children's Trust. GMYS is having an instrument drive you can donate any amount of money to, no matter how small, and there is an organization matching donatons so you get double impact when you donate following this link: Tax deductible and a GREAT way to pay it forward and promote the arts :)
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First day of preschool - my..."baby"?

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

Isaac's "Big Size Block Domino Video":

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

*Please pardon my messy's the first week back to school for everyone so I've been lesson planning, teaching, in class myself, trying to get my financial aid worked out, getting her little tshirts, etc etc etc and housekeeping has momentarily fallen by the wayside. I HAVE been cooking quite a lot, and will be posting some step by step pics of a couple of recipes soon :) And probably also some yarn and tea pictures.
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Sometimes, when everyone is trying to talk to me at once or I'm on the phone or I'm just frazzled trying to cook dinner...oh hell all the time, but especially in the van when he's two rows behind me and hard to hear or I'm yelling "What?!" through the locked door while Grant and I have "adult time" makes me NUTS how Isaac overtalks. He runs everything he has to say through a filter that multiplies it by 5. For instance, when someone else might say, "Can I have a popsicle?" Isaac will say, "Hey Mom, I was wondering, and I know I already had a treat this morning, but I just LOVE the flavor you have when I saw it in the freezer and I PROMISE I will eat my dinner so do you think that just MAYBE please please please I could have a popsicle, and I promise I'll throw away the wrapper and not leave the stick on the table?"

I am not exaggerating. I'm not even doing what is phonetically exaggerating but spelled correctly, however that works. Most of what Isaac says to me tends to be asking for something. It's especially exasperating because, 1. he tends to just not hear my "yes" and ask again in a minute, in ways that make NO SENSE, 2. I am not some hardass he has to manipulate by any stretch of the imagination. He really could just ask and get the same damn results. And 3., I have talked to him about it several times.

Typical conversation starts with me doing homework or editing at the main computer:

Isaac: "Mom?"
Me: "Mmhmm?"
Isaac: "I wanted to ask you a question, and I know you're doing something, and I know it isn't dark yet and we can't usually use computers before it gets dark, but -"
Jake, who is eavesdropping and sees where this is going and wants to get the drop on Isaac: "MOM CAN I USE THE LAPTOP?!"
Isaac: "Mom no don't listen to Jake, that isn't fair at all, I was just getting ready to ask you a question and Jakey heard me and so he's trying to cheat, but I was already going to tell you that I was wondering - "
Elise, who heard Jake: "NO MOM LET ME USE THE LAPTOP!!"
Isaac (getting frantic, near tears): "Elise is doing the same thing Jake is doing, they're mean and we're a family and they're supposed to be nice, I just wanted to ask you a question and they're ruining everything, can you please send them out of the room so I can ask you without anyone else interrupting?"
Me: "Isaac, I know you want to use the laptop. You can. Next time just ask without the big leadup."
Jake: "Can I be after him?"
Me: "Sure."
Jake: "Yay! I get to use the laptop!"
Isaac: "Wait, what? He can use the laptop? I wanted to use the laptop! I know it isn't dark yet and we usually have to wait until it's dark but - "
Elise: "Me being after Jake?"
Isaac: "NO! No, it's not jake, it's me, Mom tell them to leave I can't even ask you anything -"
Me: "Isaac I said YOU CAN USE THE LAPTOP. YOU CAN USE THE LAPTOP. The answer is YES! Ok?"
Isaac: "...oh. Alright! Thank you mommy, I'll set a timer so Jake knows when it's his turn and then Elise can set a timer for Jake, I'm just gonna get on or starfall and I'll see you in a little while!"


Isaac has so much anxiety, and I feel bad because it's gotten to where, at times, it is the other day when he was sobbing and going crazy because someone else got to the rocket Grant helped the kids' launch before him to bring it back, and Jake casually said "Somebody's making a fussy wussy again". *sigh* I don't know how to not laugh about that. It doesn't help him any that everybody else in the house is unusually chill, I guess.

Isaac is really the only one who seems to feel as though he's in competition with the other kids or like he is threatened by being one of several. I really don't think we favor anyone in daily life but...I don't know, I guess when I think of it Isaac has such a low threshold for EVERYTHING and really, sibling issues are just one tiny part of the complex web that is "life's frustrations".

On to pics and daily life:
This little dog followed us to and from the trolley both trips one day last week. Elise also played with him in our front yard for about half an hour, before his owner came home and called him (with plenty of scolding for escaping again).

Necessary supplies for trolley riding.

She and I waited for TWO AND A HALF HOURS outside of advisement at the college. I downloaded three different pbskids games for her to play during much of the time. I am really feeling like "How did I live before an iPhone?" increasingly often.

What I see when I try to take an afternoon nap.

Grant had the day off Thursday and was able to come with us to the kids' symphony camp's end-of-camp show. Jake ended up grouped in with some older kids and actually playing songs on his tiny violin, and Aaron had a flute solo. Annie and Isaac did great, too, they knew their parts very well and you can really see everyone learned a lot...Grant took more videos and things that will be forthcoming.

Not long after bringing them home, I drove Grant to the airport - he's been in California for work and is getting back late tomorrow. He's been taking and uploading pics here -

In the meantime, I have other lovers.


This was Elise and my lunch Friday while the kids were at their last day of camp - eaten salted, on crackers.

We have thunderstorms rolling in every afternoon now.

I let my kids jump on the trampoline in thunderstorms, which is something I remember doing with much fondness. It's kind of hilarious because I've taught them to count the seconds between the lightning and the thunder to know how close it is, and to come in if the lightning gets too close. So I'll walk out there under the deck roof to peak at them and see everyone stop jumping and laughing when there's a flash, and counting on their fingers until the thunder, and then basically being like "GAME ON!"

The parking lot of the library where we go for TLC is SO BEAUTIFUL.

I mean, as parking lots go, you know?

Ananda. *sigh*

Little kids waving to Daddy. There's been a lot of texting going on.

Laura brought Brian and Elizabeth and they all hung out with Karen and I, and Georgia (Karen's little daughter/Elise's best friend). The big kids always vanish to the connected community center to socialize as though their parents aren't in the next building over the whole time.

Outside of Whole Foods eating Rice Dream pies.

Gorgeous tomatoes.


I spent a long time on phone calls yesterday morning - to get everything in order for my older four kids' homeschool evaluations (and letters of intent, for the little boys), and Elise's doctor paperwork and VPK hoohaw, for preschool in the mornings. We're just about ready to go and everyone will be (re/)starting next Monday, the 22nd.

I'm taking everyone up to St Louis for church in the morning. Church is actually way easier WITHOUT Grant, because he is just way more stressed by having them all in Mass, and more distracted by trying to parent in church, than I am. I've suggested he sit on the other side of the sanctuary from us several times :p

This is a little 20 second clip of the latest thing Aaron's come up with lately, on the piano:

I'm trying to figure out what to do with Ananda re: music and art...her GMYS (Greater Miami Youth Symphony) teacher from camp is suggesting we take her up to the Miami Dade Kendall campus on Sunday afternoons, where they have a specific cello and bass teacher, for cello, rather than bringing her to the local Friday afternoon lessons her brothers will be continuing at - since they don't really have a teacher that is a cellist, so they can only get her so far. As it is, I will be at the Kendall campus on Saturday mornings for class (it's about half an hour away); I don't know how much of our weekends I want to commit, here...weekends are seeming more precious lately what with Grant's work weeks leaving him little time at home. But I think that would be really good for Annie, and it's FREE (aside from gas, I guess).

Her art therapist just moved to a neighborhood that's half an hour away, rather than >15, like it has been (we go to her). So that will be more of a drive, though it is flexible scheduling. I could presumably set it up so that her cello and art therapy are both on Sundays to save on gas and hassle but then that is gonna eat up all of Sunday afternoon every week.

I was also perusing the Dance Empire fall schedule, since I still get the registration emails, and it kind of sucks that we really can't put them in anything even if we can afford it...they aren't offering anything for the ages/levels that A and A are on, on days we could actually do it. Year before last, they rearranged their whole schedule for Aaron's availability...but I'm not really willing to have dance take over our entire lives again (they did that because they knew he'd give them an edge competing; it's not worth it to them if we aren't going to do a lot of travelling with them and have them there for a lot of special rehearsals). I alternately think it is just fine that we aren't doing that anymore...and literally gut-wrenching :/ Parenting is hard, man! I feel such guilt when I think of how Tawanna especially taught Aaron for free, paid his way to competitions, etc as an investment, and how she was SO HAPPY and hugging and thanking me at the end of the Broadway show...but it's like...the little kids and I were spending OUR LIVES in the car and twiddling our thumbs at the park between driving, and it got so unmanageable so fast (we paid $600 just for recital costumes that year, and hundreds more for tickets and dvds of shows, and let's just not discuss New York). Both of them miss it a lot. But they also have instruments and scouting and social lives they didn't then, now. Ananda gets zero excercise, though. But she really doesn't have a dance body type. Argh.

Soooo yeah, over and out.
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"Why Being Wrong is Good for You", by Kathryn Schultz for (text follows; actual site is loaded with embedded ads)

Why is it so fun to be right? As pleasures go, it is, after all, a second-order one at best. Unlike many of life's other delights -- chocolate, surfing, kissing -- it doesn't enjoy any mainline access to our biochemistry: to our appetites, our adrenal glands, our limbic systems, our swoony hearts.

And yet, the thrill of being right is undeniable, universal, and (perhaps most oddly) almost entirely undiscriminating. The stakes don't seem to matter much; it is more important to bet on the right foreign policy than the right racehorse, but we are equally capable of gloating over either one.

Nor does subject matter; we can be just as pleased about correctly identifying an orange-crowned warbler or correctly identifying the sexual orientation of our co-worker. Stranger still, we're perfectly capable of deriving satisfaction from being right about disagreeable things: the downturn in the stock market, say, or the demise of a friend's relationship, or the fact that, at our spouse's insistence, we just spent 15 minutes schlepping our suitcase in exactly the opposite direction from our hotel.

Like most delectable experiences, rightness isn't ours to enjoy all the time. Sometimes, we're the one who loses the bet (or the hotel). And sometimes, too, we suffer grave doubts about the correct answer or course of action -- an anxiety that, itself, reflects our desire to be right.

On the whole, though, and notwithstanding these lapses and qualms, our indiscriminate enjoyment of being right is matched by an almost equally indiscriminate feeling that we are right.

At times, this feeling spills into the foreground, as when we argue or evangelize, make predictions or place bets. Often, though, it is just psychological backdrop. Most of us go through life assuming that we are basically right, basically all the time, about basically everything: about our political and intellectual convictions, our religious and moral beliefs, our assessment of other people, our memories, our grasp of facts.

As absurd as it sounds when we stop to think about it, our steady state seems to be one of unconsciously assuming that we are very close to omniscient.

This serene faith in our own rightness is often warranted. Most of us navigate day-to-day life fairly well, after all, which suggests that we are routinely right about a great many things. And sometimes we are not just routinely right but spectacularly right: right about the orbit of the planets (mathematically derived long before the technology existed to track them); right about the healing properties of aspirin (known since at least 3000 BC); right to track down that woman who smiled at you in the caf├ę (now your wife of 20 years).

Taken together, these moments of rightness represent both the high-water marks of human endeavor and the source of countless small joys. They affirm our sense of being smart, competent, trustworthy, and in tune with our environment. More important, they keep us alive.

Individually and collectively, our very existence depends on our ability to reach accurate conclusions about the world around us. In short, the experience of being right is imperative for our survival, gratifying for our ego, and, overall, one of life's cheapest and keenest satisfactions.

I am interested -- perversely -- in the opposite of all that. I am interested in being wrong: in how we as a culture think about error, and how we as individuals cope when our convictions collapse out from under us. If we relish being right and regard it as our natural state, you can guess how we feel about being wrong.

For one thing, we tend to view it as rare and bizarre -- an inexplicable aberration in the normal order of things. For another, it leaves us feeling idiotic and ashamed. Like the term paper returned to us covered in red ink, being wrong makes us cringe and slouch down in our seats; it makes our heart sink and our dander rise.

At best we regard it as a nuisance, at worst a nightmare, but in either case -- and quite unlike the gleeful little rush of being right -- we experience our errors as deflating and embarrassing.

And it gets worse. In our collective imagination, error is associated not just with shame and stupidity but also with ignorance, indolence, psychopathology, and moral degeneracy.

This set of associations was nicely summed up by the Italian cognitive scientist Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, who noted that we err because of (among other things) "inattention, distraction, lack of interest, poor preparation, genuine stupidity, timidity, braggadocio, emotional imbalance, ... ideological, racial, social or chauvinistic prejudices, as well as aggressive or prevaricatory instincts."

In this view -- and it is the common one -- our errors are evidence of our gravest social, intellectual, and moral failings.

Of all the things we are wrong about, this idea of error might well top the list. It is our meta-mistake: We are wrong about what it means to be wrong. Far from being a sign of intellectual inferiority, the capacity to err is crucial to human cognition. Far from being a moral flaw, it is inextricable from some of our most humane and honorable qualities: empathy, optimism, imagination, conviction and courage. And far from being a mark of indifference or intolerance, wrongness is a vital part of how we learn and change. Thanks to error, we can revise our understanding of ourselves and amend our ideas about the world.

Given this centrality to both our intellectual and emotional development, error shouldn't be an embarrassment, and cannot be an aberration. On the contrary. As Benjamin Franklin once observed, "the history of the errors of mankind, all things considered, is more valuable and interesting than that of their discoveries."

Through our errors, he felt, "the soul has room enough to expand herself, to display all her boundless faculties, and all her beautiful and interesting extravagancies and absurdities."

To my mind, the healthiest and most productive attitude we can have about error must take as its starting place Franklin's proposition that however disorienting, difficult or humbling our mistakes might be, it is ultimately wrongness, not rightness, that can teach us who we are.

I think (that I'm right about...) it's really, REALLY important for people to be able to admit they're wrong about things. I also think it's sort of empowering to take the viewpoint offered at the end of this article.I've had some serious personal crises over some things I've been hugely, massively wrong about (Things with Bobby will work! I can give birth THIS time!).

Generally I do pretty good with the little wrongs that happen basically every day, and am actually perpetually amused by how many things I've changed my mind about in the middle grade:

-I remember being GROSSED. OUT. ranting about the horror of cloth diapers actually being real in this day and age on a message board once (last 3 kids were only in cloth and I'm some sort of cloth diaper evangelist now)
-there was a time when I talked crap about extended breastfeeding, at least in the whisper to my sister "HOW OLD IS THAT KID??" or laugh at "if they can ask for it in words, they're too old" jokes (Jake stopped on his fourth birthday; Elise is 4 and nursing)
-spent years talking crap about the Catholic Church on a surface level before I delved deeper, learned more and started defending it to everyone on that deeper level. Now I'm asking the deeper questions I've been wishing people would stop asking.

There are lots of these. I thought it was silly to think you could form meaningful relationships through the internet (HAHAHA), I thought I would never contemplate sending my kids to school, I thought Grant and my relationship would always be cake and gravy (but not together...that's gross).

Here is the same CNN contributor doing a talk on the subject...I found her to be kind of irritating in voice and speech mannerisms and such but was still interested enough in what she had to say to deal with it:

I have done the same thing she describes, with the misinterpretation of sign symbols...we have a lot of those sort of things. There are no words for how confused I was by the "boat ramp" sign - - I wondered allowed if it was some kind of cart rolling onto an upside down alligator once? Yeah. Grant thought that was a riot.

This stuff is sort of timely for me because I think Grant and I both have come full circle to a freaking AMAZING place in our relationship, and we're both sometimes afraid of how to "hold onto it"...and I suspect that maybe we just have to stay in that place of wonderment, without assumptions setting in. I mean we can assume we'll stay married and that we have each others' backs but I'm more speaking of the bajillion little assumptions that take over daily life and get oppressive and terrible.

I also wonder, though, if what this lady is talking about is AT ALL compatible with religious beliefs of any sort aside from, like, Buddhism. It's in pretty much direct opposition to this blog post [ profile] hearts_refuge linked me to, about how doubt is not a virtue. (See, lady, I did pay attention to that...sorry I didn't reply right away, I had many thoughts...) It was really hard for me to deal with though...I don't understand advocating blind faith even though...I get it. It's hard to explain.

And the truth is I really love "big personalities", I love extremists and nutcases and obviously they have to be very confident in their "rightness" to be so entertaining and bold and irresistable.

/my thoughts on this whole thing for tonight
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UGH I am so depressed!

*giant heaving sigh*

However...this is awesome.

We just got back into town from visiting my mother and Nana and Pa up in Lakeland late last night. Today sucked.

I got up and went to RCIA and the teacher was just giving me a really hard time about missing last week the entire meeting. I called her in advance for permission to be out and she acted like it was between me and God, basically, and lots of people are out all the time for work or a cruise in one case or whatever. Anyway she kept singling me out and referencing it and making penance jokes and all this crap the whole time today and at least twice she got really mad at me in ways that made other people visibly uncomfortable. I mean, COME ON.

Then I stayed after to meet with her; I assumed we would be making up last week's content. Rather, I got a long long lecture/interrogation about whether or not I'm committed enough. I confessed to her that I do think I've had a sort of prideful sin of feeling that I have done so much independent reading and research over several years that I already know most of what is being taught in RCIA, which in turn has made me feel like it wouldn't be a huge deal to miss one week to go camping; they're often doing things like "The Bible is divided into many smaller 'books' and they can be categorized as gospels, poetry, prophecy" etc - stuff I learned in Baptist kintergarden, basically. I told her I realized it's not really right for me to think that way because often I DO learn great things and I realize I have to come regardless and that there is a seminarian coming every week. I thought I was being honest and trying to bridge a gap between the two of us but I guess I just irritated her more because she got downright threatening about whether or not she would approve me and telling me she doesn't see the conversion, the true spiritual growth in my eyes during mass and things like that. It's like, lady, I have been attending Mass on my own as a non-Catholic for the last 3 years. I was crying at Midnight Mass on Christmas. I didn't realize you had to be there to catch and count the tears in a little tally bottle to approve me.

I know I should not be so bitter. I like her on a lot of levels. It's just very frustrating to have her be the gate through which we must all pass to enter The Church. Today she made us close our eyes and listen to Elvis again (How Great Thou Art, on cassette).

But, next week we are going up to the "Vatican Splendours" exhibit at the Ft Lauderdale Museum of Art and I am really happy about that. We're going to have headsets to listen to some hour and a half long thing explaining everything we see and I'll be driving a bunch of people in my van. There's also a free art exhibit here in Homestead on Saturday that I'll probably be taking the kids to.

I still have to go make up the lesson from last week separately as well as seeing a video I missed since I started late in the Fall rather than when everyone else did, and I have extra reading for this is probably a good thing for me on some levels. I have some abivalence about Lent and my first confession and things like that right now.

Anyway. That was RCIA, and then I felt like I just couldn't write and just...overwhelmed by so many issues, large and small, that have been getting to me lately. Grant and I are definitely in some kind of rough patch, and it's punctuated by lots of good moments and I think it will be ok, but in the meantime I am so emotionally exhausted and weary of hashing out the same damn things over and over and OVER.

I think I'm having something like a really early nonsensical midlife crisis. I spent my childhood and adolescence taking care of my siblings and holding my mother together and working and then I started having babies...and now, NOW that I am here in this financially precarious situation, married with five children and a great big house to keep clean - I want to be young. I'm ready for something wild and new every day and it never comes. I'm really, really restless and NOT content with my life as it is, and...I don't know. I've had a million theories for why this is over the past 6 months, some of which I've written about:

We had a lot of drama and upheaval as I was growing up so maybe I don't know how to have everything stay ok and the same.

I can't have babies anymore so I'm getting bored now that my youngest is gonna be 4.

I'm coming out of a fog from all the pregnancies, labors, surgeries and trauma and am "waking up".

I've just been attachment parenting and/or homeschooling five children for the past 10 years and so this was bound to happen eventually.

I started my family very young and never ever "partied" beforehand, at all, or even just lived on my own or traveled or...whatever.

I'm trying to channel my energy in productive directions - succeeding sometimes, failing others. Trying to remember what is good and rewarding and joyful about my domestic life as a wife and mother, trying to think about how much better I have it than so many other people and how my whole world seemed to dangle by a thread when my various kids were in various dangers and they're ok, now! They're all ok so...what is my problem?

I want to get tattoos and piercings and go on roadtrips with friends and get drunk and have really amazing sex pretty much constantly. I need to have too much music up way too loud and often and I am driving too fast and getting speeding tickets and I'm too distracted by facebook chat and phone conversations with people outside of the house. All of this scares the living shit out of Grant. I confessed to him today, lying on our bed with tears all over my pillow, that what sounds better to me than anything is if I just had a pause button I could push on my family, such that I could go off and do what I want to do for some indefinite period of time and then come back and find them all just the same waiting for me.

Obviously this is not really plausible. And what scares the living shit out of ME is the idea that by time I can act young or do what I want to do, it will be "too late".

*sigh again*

I am trying to remember that most of the things I crave lately have little to nothing to do with lasting happiness and find some kind of middle ground - wherein I go out and talk on the phone more with friends but also read to my kids and cook something decent here and there and plan out a tattoo as I sweep the floor....argh.

I feel silly right now for even bringing any of this up. I just got back from a camping and a hotel road trip. But they were both trips with kids that centered around family and extended family and both of them also featured quite a lot of those capital T Talks Grant and I have been having.

Anyway. After he and I talked, earlier, he went over to Shaun's to watch the Super Bowl and seemed to have a pretty good time and then came back and played ping pong with Shaun however many hours later. He starts his new job tomorrow and I hope it's good for him.

I think he's been having some good stuff for himself...taking the bigger kids swimming or to Bingo while I hang with littles, sitting in the back of the van watching a movie while I do the driving, things like that. I feel so insanely guilty for how stressed he gets about my malaise.

Career/job/educational choices for myself, as well as schooling stuff for the kids, have been looming large for me...Ananda and Aaron have self-corrected what I've been seeing as their biggest problems in recent weeks, which makes homeschooling seem really great and makes me second guess everything I've been saying about putting them in the charter school. Sometimes lately the pressure of making these sorts of decisions for other people is seeming a bit heavy. There are a lot of ins and a lot of outs with this business. Annie found a $4, clearanced Nightmare Before Christmas lunchbox at an FYE while we were out of town and ended up getting it in a "might go to school in the Fall" way.

I considered filling it with rocks to beat (bil) Frank over the head with this afternoon when he was trying to threaten to take all of Elise's old shoes over to Goodwill if I didn't come get them within the hour since Elizabeth keeps scattering them about their house :p

WTF'ery: whilst we were on the highway starving one day, we pulled over at a McDonald's. Hashing out how many of us there were and how many nuggets we should get, the cashier was like "You want to just get the 50 piece?" THE WHAT, we asked?? That's right. She said fifty. We got a 50 piece chicken nugget. AND TOOK IT DOWN. THE WHOLE THING. ALL FIFTY. Afterwards Grant was like, "Damnitt I only got two of those!"

I ultimately believe that most of the angst I'm dealing with at the moment is the result of really seeing how poorly I've been doing in many areas and striving to change it. The changing it part is great but it's hard to see how far I have to go instead of just living in denial (like with my weight, or doing independent things with my life like a writing career or going back to school). It's hard to know that I'm turning 30 this year and just sort of haven't accomplished anything for almost 4 years, since I failed bigtime. Even though I know it isn't quite that simple - in another way, it is. I'm sure it's good and transformative to be struggling with things and pushing for progress, it just feels like pulling teeth in the meantime...and drudges up all kinds of hoohaw in the bargain. This will still ultimately be my year, if for no other reason than IT HAS TO BE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

For instance, you can:

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

Or here, for fairies!

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

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

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

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

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

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

new Chapter books and adapted classics for older readers

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

Spanish language!

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

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

Unrelated, picture video and blurb from our week )


May. 10th, 2010 08:25 pm
altarflame: (Default)
We were wrong about Vimeo's maximums, so we ended up uploading the Formspring Video as FIVE separate videos, all embedded in order behind this cut )
altarflame: (mamaandjakey)
pictures from PATH this afternoon )

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Grant should be here any minute. That's a wrap.
altarflame: (chalk)
Tomorrow is this little girl's birthday. THREE.

I have been in a bit of a doll making frenzy, for her main from-us gift, and am only somewhat ok with the results so far.

This is obviously just the head. Body and clothes sewing has been today/tonight. I am seriously considering ripping out the eyes and doing them over at about half that size. Opinions?

Is it only unendurably creepy because of the bodiless...ness? Or is it because I find dolls creepy in general? Or is it because it's creepy as shit? TELL ME, I CAN TAKE IT!

I feel like if worse comes to worse, SHE loves it...and the other kids seem impressed...and I never claimed to be much for sewing, damnitt. I've never embroidered ANYTHING before. Blah. I keep thinking it looks like That doll of Lilo's in Lilo and Stitch".

I will soon be making this for a tiny niece of mine. CROCHETING I can do >:O

And possibly an entire line of animal bibs. It will be fierce.

The other day I woke up to house-shaking thunder and window-lashing downpour.

Our banana tree was doing that thing that is the international, multi-lingual symbol for "HURRICANE!!" When we went out that afternoon, our gate was open because the wood that latches it had SNAPPED. WTF? I went on facebook and local neighbors were saying things like, "I can't find our patio umbrella! It's not even rainy season yet!" I called my sister to tell her all about it...and she told me the roof to Brian's (Playskool, standard plastic) playhouse was in a tree near their property, and her neighbor's plywood (which had been set out by the trash to be hauled off) had floated away in the flooding on her street. Again...WTF?!

The rest of this entry is in two parts.
1. Science Fair )

2. Cool New Place We Found! )
altarflame: (chalk)
Grant uploaded this, it's about a month old and is a pretty good representation of everyday - it's only too bad he didn't get a shot of Ananda off in some corner reading a book, which is probably just where she was.

The best is when all 5 of them and he play Hide and Seek (or tag), of the indoor and outdoor variety - we have 4 sets of french doors leading out onto the deck (and the front door, and the laundry room door out to the alley...) so there is a lot of shrieking and slamming involved, but hey, nobody has called the cops yet :p
altarflame: (Staring)
Comment on a random YouTube video:
I should have known better than to read the comments for anything on YouTube, you inbred imbeciles. Stop pissing in the wind for a minute and you might not smell like asparagus´╗┐ all the time.

20 Pictures )

Today is Robby's 15th birthday. When I saw him last night he was really, really happy, like happier than I've seen him in a long time. It was kind of hilarious actually. I am baking him muffins and making him cds. Robby, if you're reading this, forget that last part - you know nothing!

My brother managed somehow to cut his finger badly enough that he had to involve Frank, my paramedic brother in law. He is conveniently unable to wash the dishes while he keeps the area dry, now, and I am highly suspicious :p I also strongly suspect the whole injury had something to do with my poor battered palm tree in the front yard. *shaking head*

I had someone else who I really respect read my WRITING writing and be all, raving and gushing about how great it is, and I'm still sort of riding that wave. The other day, digging in my laptop case, which I only use when I go out to write, I found all this crap I'd been looking for...lip balm, necklace, money. I concluded that the answer to every problem in my life is to write more.

Aaaaaaaaaaand...that's a wrap.

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