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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I'd give a long sigh right now, but I'd go into a coughing fit.
altarflame: (deluge)
After a long stall in my weight loss, during which my hernia grew and my back pain increased and my eagerness to get in the freaking OR started to actually exist... I somehow felt incapable of (and/or uninterested in) putting any limitations on my eating. Too anxious about school, too sleep deprived to deal with any form of diet, too many roadtrips and whole days out of the house and too many priorities all around to make this tired issue another one.

The point is, I realized it sounded doable out of all the options, so I've went flour-free again. This is day 6, I believe, and the process has followed the same pattern I've experienced before - I get really depressed around day 3, less so on day 4, and then that part is mostly over. I feel way less bloated and experience less of the constant stomach discomfort I generally experience otherwise. I am hungry more often, and eat more overall. And, I lose at least half a pound every day, regardless of how I glut myself on meats, dairy, sugar, etc (in addition to produce, I mean, but nobody would expect produce to inhibit weight loss). I tend to feel way more flexible and comfortable when I haven't had glutinous things in awhile, and then I realize how used to feeling sluggish and hurting in ways that make me more sedentary I often am. It's also not hard at all, to just not eat the stuff. Considering how difficult most dietary restrictions are for me, that's pretty significant. Usually between 10-15 pounds down the effortless weight loss stops and I have to try in other ways, for that, though it is easier than it would be since floury shit is a lot of weight watchers points and I don't mind exercising as much when I'm not bloated all the time.

I was trying to figure out why I went back to eating flour last time, after about 5-6 months off that left me thinner and more energetic, and then I remembered - I was on vacation with Grant, just the two of us. We discovered a fabulous local farmer's market near our hotel, with fresh loaves of french bread, fresh mozzarella from some small farm, fresh organic herbs, heirloom tomatoes, artisinal salami, and great wine. It all seemed so wholesome and natural and irresistable, and it was a special occasion, so we bought it all and had it for lunch in the park, and then as a picnic dinner in the hotel room later.

And then, legit, it was NOT ROMANTIC AT ALL when I was in terrible pain and could barely button my pants, for the next 3 days. Also not romantic spending way too long in the bathroom over and over. But I had already messed up my system, so when we went to my friend Kristin's house up there and she started cooking me homemade pies and putting eggs and avocado on toast I went with it. By the time I got home from that trip, I was already getting used to my old-normal level of gastric discomfort, using the bathroom way less regularly, and regaining weight.

Then, in my quest to figure out pernicious anemia, my gastro tested me for celiac and I didn't have it, and some scientific articles came out that said the gluten free craze was a placebo-esque fad and I basically said, "oh, fuck it. Hand me a brownie."

Well. Whatever. This is very clearly a real and significant improvement, and if it's just a leap in the nutrient density of everything I eat and a reduction in empty carbs, so be it. If gluten really is an inflammatory substance that contributes to the horror show that is my leaky gut, well, I've got my bases covered.

Anyway, food related: I've been making frittatas 3-5 times per week, lately. I wilt a bunch of baby kale and spinach in irish butter, get it out of the pan, spray the pan (I don't have anything nonstick so this is necessary), put in a mix of 10 beaten eggs, almond milk, salt, fresh basil leaves, and tons of good shaved parmesan. Dump/spread all the wilted greens back in. Put more basil and parm on top. Move to the preheated oven til it's cooked through. Cut and serve with a pizza cutter. SO good. Ananda, Aaron, and Jake love it and tear it up every time. Isaac will eat a piece in a pinch. I tend to set it out for everyone with a lot of cut and salted tomatoes and avocados, knowing that is the only part Elise is ever interested in. Along with a huge freezer bag of belgium waffles from the last time we intentionally made way too much so they could be toasted as needed, greek yogurt, leftovers from whatever we most recently had for dinner, and a neverending stream of clementines and blueberries, this is what my kids subsist on until dinner every day.

Dinner tonight was Grant's creamy potato leek soup, which is really fucking good, but as he made some jazzed up cheesy herb bread for everyone else and I'm not eating bread I browned mushrooms and steamed/buttered broccoli, to throw in my bowl(s). Yum. I also ate a bunch of riesen while they had milano cookies. I'm telling you, this is really not hard ;)

My day was great!
-Last night I met Kathy and her kids at Laura's, and we all had dinner/talked/generally hung out until late, when I returned home and watched shows and ate things with Annie until way too late, and it was all without consequence becaaaaause...
-Grant took Elise to Girl Scout Camp this morning so I could sleep in. She loves it there and does great stuff like swim, hike, craft, and sing songs all day, so I don't feel guilty at all watching Stats lecture videos, washing dishes, and watering/pruning plants for most of the afternoon after sleeping the morning away. She is the needy, energetic, more chronically bored child when home, who feels like she's really suffered if 10 minutes have passed entertaining herself, and the three little kids just bicker a lot when they're all here without structure and then tell on each other constantly. Her being at camp has made the days seem SO simple. Jake and Isaac just read their latest library books, play Minecraft, and build with Legos the whole day. They also took a walk and got some starfruit from one of our neighbors that is always giving us excess fruit off of his trees. I think Isaac + Elise is the killer combo, because usually Jake can get along fine with either of them for extended periods. And, picking her up is fun because she's exuberant and bouncy and full of stories about how amazing and wonderful camp was.
-I took the time to notice how pampered and generally blessed I am that I can do things like decide on a whim to go browse around one of my favorite stores for awhile, and swing by somewhere to pick up a few groceries on the way home from grabbing Elise. I also generally enjoy it a lot when Grant's working from home and I can take the car wherever I have to go, because it has air conditioning (moment of respect; this is serious - AIR. CONDITIONING.) and I'm just so over the van.
-SEX. Finally. So much better.
-Reading to the littles was fun at bedtime. I read Elise The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman, which I'd actually never read before even though we've had it here for years. She was almost absurdly into it. I should take video of her some time, she is truly hilarious. Jake and I are to the Department of Mysteries in The Order of the Phoenix, which means Shit Is Getting Real but also that's just a fascinating chapter as they move between all the rooms full of bizarre experimental magic. Isaac and I have started The Magician's Nephew, aka Narnia #1, and he is talking me into extra pages every time because (BWAHAHAHA) despite his concerns that they were going to be "kind of boring and dumb" he's been totally sucked in from the first night.
-I sat down with the big wall calendar and wrote all over it, and there is just something cathartic about putting it all down where everyone can see and feeling like I've got something under control.
-Jake finally agreed that I could trim his bangs, so he has eyes again.

My day was kind of awful!
-I'm really worried about Aaron. This is every day, as he's seemed chemically depressed for a long time, and before we figured out it was depression I thought he had some kind of chronic illness and was taking him from doctor to doctor because he gives himself tons of seemingly medical symptoms (periodic low grade fever, frequent swollen glands, stomach aches, headaches) with his misery. But every non-mental possibility has been ruled out. He is totally against therapy or medication and we've been skating a line that makes me feel obligated to force him against his will for a year or more, now. We talk about it increasingly often, even though I am normally dead against forcing anyone into talk therapy because that seems pointlessly ineffective. At 14, I also feel like he has a real say in the meds decision... He does everything you're "supposed" to do - go out in the sunshine, drag himself around to exercise, stick with things like dance and join roller derby even though he's sometimes loathing them because he knows exercise is important. He seeks social interaction and will sometimes just write everything he's thinking and feeling down, so that's good. He still likes talking with Grant and with me (about things other than his misery, which he never wants to talk about) and doing things with us. I struggle to get him to take every supplement ever shown to combat depression (probiotics, fish oil, folic acid). But...he cries randomly all the time, often at the drop of a hat, sometimes for long periods. Like there are never more than a few hours between his crying spells. He can't sleep at night. He feels and looks very, very, very sad almost all the time. The heaviness just radiates off of him in waves. Ananda has found ways to make fun of him for it that make him laugh in spite of himself, and Isaac and Jake tiptoe where they used to irritate him in little brother ways because they're actually worried about him. His girlfriend broke up with him and that set off this latest crescendo, but it's been over a month straight of this now, and he was also like this before that relationship (which really only existed via texting and only for like 2 months, not that 2 months of texting and a few hugs in the hallways don't matter when you're in 8th grade), too. Crying in classes at school. He's never mentioned anything suicidal but I really don't think he would, either. I waver constantly between thinking he'll be ok, he still has interests and hobbies and gets excited about some things, still smiles and laughs every day as well, he's a teenager...and thinking, fuck, should I like him checked in somewhere? I mean that's crazy and way too drastic, right? I've talked to my therapist about Aaron, and to Isaac's. They agree it's subjective and basically tell me stuff I already know (keep the lines of communication open, encourage him to blah blah blah, try framing x and y this way or that way). He's going to start dance intensives soon so he'll at least be having a better sleep schedule and more structure enforced, as I don't think this lounging and wandering sort of summer he's having is really doing him any favors.
-I have a deep crack on the outside of my left heel that's SO PAINFUL every time I step with that foot. I'm favoring it like crazy. I've ped-egg'd and buffed it down twice, and keep slathering it in lotion, but it's terrible. I toe walk on that side and limp around, when home. I grimace and walk normally out places. That foot is just a damn mess, I broke a toe last year and never went in for it and I think it healed badly. Ever since I have all sorts of stupid issues, a strange little new bump here and a really tender spot there. I suppose at some point I'm going to have to buckle down and go to a podiatrist but the thought of seeking out a new specialist and making more appointments for myself (I already get a b-12 shot and go to counseling every week, in addition to all the kid things I cart people to) is so unappealing that I'd honestly rather just limp and hope, for now at least.
-Also sat down with the budget today, after getting a bill from Isaac's psych and just...GAAAAH. So many extra things all piling up at once :/
-I'm basically ignoring texts from some of my favorite people because I just don't want to start a catch up conversation right now.

Ananda came to me out of nowhere and asked if she can be homeschooled again and start dual enrollment at the college this fall. There are so many pros and cons involved. We've had two talks now, and I've hashed it out a bit with Grant. She's not 100% sure that's what she wants, and I'm not 100% sure I'm willing to do it, but it's looking like a possibility. She has places she wants to volunteer, and has spent a lot of time this summer with homeschooled friends who did/are doing dual enrollment. It will be a massive logistical pain in the ass for me if it goes this way, as homeschooled high schoolers who want real diplomas have to have real transcripts detailing every credit they complete, and must earn traditional grades that get averaged - otherwise, you can basically take the GED whenever you want. Between that and my not really knowing all the ins and outs of dual enrollment (credit minimums and maximums, what you have to fill out for the financial vouchers, who at the county approves it all, etc) it's fairly tedious before we get into things like me NOT wanting to have it out with her about completing work for me again, as I've gotten spoiled on that being between her and other teachers - and she "performs" for her teachers and does well as though there's no other option, unlike the endless procrastination and whining it started to be with me towards the end. And, it would mean acquiring outside help teaching her higher maths, when she has a great math teacher at her school, and that we'll be adding extra variables to daily life in the form of places she must physically get to regularly that other people aren't already going to.

I try very hard not to let things like "what is more convenient for me" play in to our choices for them. I'm not sure this is best for her on a purely "about her" level either, though. She LOVES her art teacher at school and the things she learns in his class, for instance, and the week of sleep away camp they do, and has a whole squad there that energizes her. I keep wondering how much of this is about relatively dumb shit, in the grand scheme of things, like not wanting to start getting up really early every day again, or enjoying having her hair dyed crazy colors for a couple of months and not wanting to switch back. Mostly when we talk it seems to be about a desire to have a diploma and AA sooner than she otherwise could, which, you know, why? Slow down. Enjoy your damn youth. Except that, obviously, nobody can learn to do that without hindsight. We have to decide before it's time to buy all the back to school stuff.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'd like to say, first, that I don't think there's anything wrong with loving yourself just as you are, thin, fat or otherwise. I OFTEN see weight loss before and afters where I feel the before pics are more attractive, to my own subjective tastes. We're all much more than our looks, and don't owe looking a certain way to anyone, regardless. And I know health can be - and is often - very unrelated to size. So this entry is in no way meant as a scolding or a prod at anyone. Nobody is under any obligation to be trying to lose weight, and I think it's important to say that sometimes because there's this subtle but constant pressure on women to feel like they are.

I always feel uncomfortable about adding to the omnipresent cloud of "diet talk" that permeates every corner of modern society, because, eww.

That said, if you are someone who is trying to change your body, for whatever personal reasons, or you are just curious about what I'm doing with mine and how it's working out - here we go...

I've been using Weight Watchers for 5 1/2 months now. As longtime readers know, I've tried a lot of strict and rigid restriction-style diet plans over the years (being vegan, or on the Eat To Live program that is basically fat free vegan, going gluten free, saying no sugar or white flour ever, etc). They all work well but none of them have been sustainable for me. I am too much of a foodie to cope with knowing any sort of lovely indulgent thing is off limits permanently. Or even semi-permanently. In some health and ethics related ways, this is definitely a flaw - BUT. It is what it is, for now at least.

I feel like I could do this - Weight Watchers - basically forever.

I have a long history of compulsive and emotional eating and really lost any ability to regulate food intake by hunger cues as a child. As a result, this points-system guidance is extremely helpful. It actually feels like magic that I can use this tool to change my body. All I have to do is stay the course and be patient.

I have tried just counting calories before, and had the (free) MyFitnessPal app at the suggestion of my therapist for that last year, but I hated it for a few reasons:

-*way* more math and research time on my part, vs the simple and built in points system for everything from restaurant menus to my own recipes that I put in.

-no differentiation between healthy and non-healthy calories; WW has made daily points limits lower than they used to be because unlimited fruits and vegetables are now zero points, which automatically encourages you to eat healthier. They are also calculating points values for other things on an algorithm that involves fat, carbs, fiber and protein, rather than just calories.

-I didn't like it just being on me to feel like I failed when I occasionally decided to splurge. WW has 49 "weekly points" built into the program that are above and beyond your daily point limits - you can eat them all at once as one crazy buffet dinner, or spread them out as glasses of wine and scoops of ice cream throughout the week. I suppose I could have worked out some sort of similar system for myself, but instead I usually just figured a day or week was shot and gave up on it, when I went over my max calories. With WW I really feel like there's nothing I can't have. This is hokey, but I often think "I can eat anything I want, I just can't eat everything I want."

-This may be bs, but a lot of research suggests that people actually lose weight much more often when they use a program that costs money, because the investment gives the whole effort more accountability. It would be nice to just psych myself out that I'm smarter than that and can milk a free program, but I think it's true. Subscribing to this plan that charges our bank account makes me feel like it's real and not just in my head (or my phone, or whatever).

I also enjoy all sorts of things Weight Watchers offers, like the weigh in days, chart that shows my weight loss over time, the recipes searchable by point values, and the forums. Those things are sort of incidental, though. I do not go to meetings or buy any WW brand products (which honestly seem pretty gimmicky and silly to me, and often not very healthy at all). I am also aware that Weight Watchers may well be the least punk thing I've ever done in my life.

I've lost 29 pounds so far, since late February. I feel better, which I've written about before, but there are other tangible differences too that have been noticeable, lately:

-My ASOS plus leggings are now baggy around the knees and over, for me (which is actually a tragedy, I don't have many clothes, love them, and can't really afford more at the moment).
-Bras I was using band extenders for, for years, can now be worn on their own again.
-My hip measurement, which includes my hernia bump, has gone down 7.5 inches.
-I can actually see it when I compare old pictures to new, now, which is wild for me since I really haven't felt I can SEE much difference in the day to day.

Currently, my daily points target is 35. Under the cut is me describing everything I ate today, and some other eating things from this week, in case you want to see just how this actually works in the day to day in my case. )

There are still times when I get anxious or moody because I can't just binge eat - I do think going through counseling as I do this is part of my success thus far. Intensive counseling before I even started has been pivotal, because I really understand that I was self sabotaging like a motherfucker since I know that losing weight is a path that ends in the OR, for me.

I've learned, partially through the points system, that I don't actually enjoy food at all when I eat compulsively or binge. I enjoy the lead up sometimes? But it's this mindless hand-to-mouth thing that's very disconnected from enjoying anything, I almost feel dissociative when it's happening. I suspect this is similar for addicts of all types. For me, though, I FEEL like I'm really enjoying food much more because I'm enjoying all the food I have, rather than just some of it, or enjoying it in my mouth but not my stuffed stomatch, or liking it but feeling emotionally bad about it, etc etc.

Also, it's important to point out that I got my B-12 levels back up before I started... deficiencies like that, as well as all kinds of hormonal and thyroid troubles, and med side effects, can make weight loss REALLY FUCKING HARD/semi-impossible, even when you are "doing everything right."

I saw someone on facebook the other day who has lost over a hundred pounds and kept it off for several years talking about how he hates when people make excuses - you just have to want to do it. He talked about how walking is free, and jump ropes are cheap, and it was just too angering (and complicated) for me to even go into there. Obviously chronic health conditions and mental health conditions can be huge obstacles that require MEGA RESOURCES to tackle, that not everybody has got. Ultimately that's about him anyway, and not anyone else.

I read a lot for my Health Psych class about how the most successful treatments for people with obesity involve cognitive behavioral therapy that starts with writing down every single thing that you eat. I reminded myself of that often in the early weeks of Weight Watchers, when logging points ANYTIME I ate ANYTHING still seemed like a hassle. I do think it's part of what's helpful and what works, about the program (built in food journaling). These days it's very automatic and not a big deal at all.

altarflame: (deluge)
Well, I've got several half done LJ entries that have been sitting around open for various periods of time, a lot of it the kind of thing I often just delete rather than finish. I'm going to cut some of it below.

Life is pretty good :) I'm listening to a ton of Vampire Weekend pretty reglularly - this week's favorites are Horchata and Step, last week it was Walcott all the time, the week before that I was focused on White Sky and Oxford Comma. My Vampire Weekend Pandora station is a thing of beauty and joy, and has temporarily displaced NPR in our kitchen.

It's probably strange how relevant various iPhone apps are to my daily life. There is Pandora and NPR, and I use the Weight Watchers app anytime I eat or exercise, the C25K app 3 times a week at the Y, my camera very often. Texting throughout the day with Laura and Kristin, and Grant when he's at work, is pretty ongoing. I watch Khan Academy math videos and do Duolingo french lessons basically anytime I'm somewhere waiting. This of course does not count the goofing off that is Tumblr and Facebook.

I realized this weekend that I'm probably going to hit 500 tumblr followers anyday now. I suppose a lot of people like plants, and food, and my random pictures/bizarre sense of humor.

I'm also going to be down in the 230s this week. I started this ~*~weight loss journey~*~ in the 260s.

Elise had a neurological evaluation up at Miami Children's Hospital yesterday. The PA that worked with us was very nice, she interviewed me for a long time and then examined Elise. Next she had Elise write her name, draw a person, identify various letters and their sounds, and then try repeatedly and without success to sound out a simple word (sit) whose letters and sounds she obviously is very familiar with. She's 7 and going into 2nd grade, and this is her first formal evaluation since mid-year during preschool, fyi. She actually had three evals during preschool, that went "barely behind in a couple of areas, ahead in others" then "pretty behind in speech and writing and patterns, but ok otherwise," and then "average to above average across the board." Then in Kindergarten it was clear she couldn't move at a standard academic pace, and I took her out mid-year. Throughout the last year+, for first grade, it's been very obvious that she has some short term memory issues, but they manifest in this maddeningly inconsistent way that's very hard to pin down.

I know from working with Ananda and Isaac that Elise definitely has some kind of reading disability - it is just a whole different world than teaching neurotypical kids. Aaron and Jake practically seemed to teach THEMSELVES compared to Annie and Isaac, and Elise is very much like they were - doesn't recognize a word we just did repeated exercises with a minute before, can't even string the sounds together mentally when I say them out loud one after the other, and even start to blend them out loud - and makes wild guesses that come out of absolutely NOWHERE ("igloo" for sit, since there's an i in the middle). There is this frustrating disparity that happens in these learning disability situations, where you have a kid who seems brilliant in conversation and who you watch figure out all sorts of complex concepts, who then cannot do this seemingly simple task.

Anyway, the PA also had her walk a straight line, hop a lot of each foot, follow her finger with eye but not head movement, and some other things. She seems confident that Elise no longer has any real neurological problems, but does have some kind or kinds of learning disability. Our next steps are an "N-met" test back at this same office, on a computer in a couple of weeks, to test her attention and focus, and then a psycho-ed eval at a university department. Hopefully that will be sooner than the N-Met, but I keep getting a voicemail and leaving messages so we'll see.

We've been waiting since late March for the appt she had yesterday, so I'm glad the other appointments are seeming soon. My goal here is to get her some concrete diagnoses to enter school with on August 18, so that she can get an IEP asap. The school she's going to is the one that did wonders for Isaac - he was in a class with 2 fulltime teachers and an aid for 22 kids, and he was getting before and after school tutoring in addition to having lot of "Reading Plus" work to do online at home, via their subscription.

Really what I've seen with Annie at home and Isaac at school is that, with a smart kid with a reading disorder, you keep trying new things until eventually something just clicks in a way that leaves you wondering whether it was the actual last method, or just them getting old enough. Annie and Isaac both read chapter books for pleasure regularly now, but I still feel nervous about Elise because of her history making it all seem like new territory.

And, it is still on the table whether or not Elise will be staying in school at all. But I want to give it a chance, and she is excited. I think the main variable is honestly whose class she ends up in.

She was excited to do the evaluation yesterday morning, and loved it, so that's helpful. There were stickers and a trip to Starbucks involved, too.

Old partial nonsense rambling entries!

#1, some thoughts on biking )

Much )

thoughts on birth control, and risk )
altarflame: (Default)
So I'm just sittin here, waitin for my quinoa to get done, hanging around on AIM, thinking WHAT IN THE ACTUAL FUCK IS GOING ON WITH THESE TUMBLR QUESTIONS - I can't tell to what degree people (or person) are just trying to draw me out of my relative quiet or. uh. geez.

I am kind of a mess. I don't know why. It is not related to questions anyway. I just have no energy, and no motivation, I mean. It's bad. Really really bad, like my limbs are too heavy and I'd rather have to pee painfully bad then go to the bathroom. And I'm getting headaches, and I'm sick too much. I think I'm gonna make a doctor's appt tomorrow to check my thyroid and all that jazz...I just don't understand.

I got up this morning, right? You know what I did? I had a bowl of frosted mini wheats with blueberries and coconut milk. I walked my daughter to preschool (6 blocks each way) after getting her ready. I convened with my neighbors in the street about this douchebag who knocked on every one of our doors last night telling a different sob story and referenced each of us to others of us but none of us have ever seen before.

I biked to my college, which I had to struggle not to fall asleep for over an hour, and I took the 3 flights of stairs rather than the elevator to my class, which was a SUPREME act of will. Went downstairs and met my friend Kristin at the bike rack. Rode the bike home. Made a big salad and salmon as my lunch, and called my sister to eat it while laughing with her about my brother - motherfucker shows up at my house sunburned all over his body yesterday from having sex and then falling asleep on the roof of winn dixie - but I ended up lazing horizontally on the loveseat and whining to my sister on the phone until I couldn't hold my eyes open and was late to head out the door again.

Walked and picked up Elise, almost unable to bear the glare of the sun. I took emergen-C with probiotics since I'm just getting over something from last week and because I'm trying to give myself some kind of edge here. I drank plenty of water. The weather is nice. I ate a little ice cream to console myself, sat around playing Tetris and being on tumblr and almost dozing off nearly all afternoon. Made my kids do their chores without ever getting up.

Then I got it together enough to assign them all some rudimentary schoolwork, my husband gets home and I'm like, crying about how I don't want to do the dishes or cook dinner, and he eventually lets me just go to sleep while he feeds everyone and gets everyone to bed. I'm only up again because I realized at 10:30 that I had bulletin board assignments due in an online class by 11, and I was starving since I missed dinner.

WHY AM I SO MISERABLE? I'm eating really well, I'm getting fresh air, sunshine and exercise, I'm socializing, I'm even taking B vitamins and shit. I'm so over feeling like crap ALL. THE. TIME. and gaining weight out of control no matter what I do (but not losing it no matter how I try). I'm making a doctors' appt tomorrow because this has been going on to some degree for way too long. I had two really good days last week that were AWESOME where I just felt freakin' normal and that was like being on freaking hallucinogenic speed or something. I had a good week in between whiplash and bronchitis, in February.

This is dumb.

I did talk to Aaron and he was shocked and aghast and dumbfounded that the noises were sex and did not understand that and said things like, "But it went on for like half an hour". Poor kid. We did laugh together.
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My hernia is always getting worse (bigger, more uncomfortable when I lay down or change positions, harder to accommodate with clothing, worse on my back) but for the last month, it's been getting worse at a scarier, more noticeable and much more rapid pace than normal. Obviously this is all subjective and hard to evaluate, but long story short is that I ended up in the ER for my annual "Am I dying NOW?" CT scan last night. This time, though, I got an exceptionally knowledgeable and interested staff of doctors and nurses who really heard me out and discussed my case at length. In the end, while my CT scan did not show a bowel obstruction/incarceration it did show a great big mess that (while not a dire emergency) really does need to be cleaned up as soon as possible for many reasons that could lead to a dire emergency. I had a long meeting with a couple of them before I was discharged that has put me on a totally new course. I am trying to laugh at the irony, here.

Points that were addressed:

-the general surgeon who did my small bowel resection and has been advising me on this hernia really doesn't know much about hernias and did, to some indirect degree, contribute to my having it since his sutures didn't hold my muscles together to begin with

-he is an older guy who really doesn't follow the latest procedures

-basically, never listen to that guy or my MD who trusts him so deeply ever again

-it's been getting worse because I've lost some weight and continuing to lose weight could rapidly lead to very dangerous crap as fat stops supporting and cushioning the intestines that protrude through my muscle wall and my muscles start coming back together around them. My weight is actually protecting me from incarceration now and it's imperative that I get this fixed BEFORE losing any significant amount so as to avoid dire consequences. SURGERY HAS TO COME FIRST, BEFORE WEIGHT LOSS. STOP TRYING TO LOSE WEIGHT, IT COULD KILL YOU.

-I have the name of a hernia institute where they do nothing else and actually worked on one of the doctors I had last night who had a hernia fixed there and highly recommends them as industry leaders, cutting edge (harharhar), blah blah blah. I have crappy insurance but maybe between that and financing, we'll see

What the hell, you know?

They gave me dilaudid after I said I didn't need pain meds and before I realized what was happening. Holy hell that crap is strong. GEEZ. I was there most of the night and slept most of the day (Grant took the day off). I feel ok in the "constant pain as a lifestyle" way I always do lately. Mostly I feel bemused and also like Aaron must have when he used to crawl rapidly towards something dangerous and we'd pick him up (still crawling in the air), turn him in a new direction, and he'd take off that way.
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ETA: I fixed the html so the entry actually appears under the cut now. Sorry about that.

An entry I wrote most of Thursday before last and then let go... )

I'm up and down.

-my sister's seeming so close to having her baby

-Nancy is in town and we're going to visit today

-still eating vegan, excercising more - still at (at least) 6.5 pounds lost.

-A small press publisher wants my short stories and is putting together an offer for me.

-I sat around working on my IEP and I'll have my AA by the end of the year.

-Isaac LOVED his evaluation, continues to love counseling and having his own room too...

-In place of my normal PMS I had a crazy intense PMDD type 3 day misery-fest. After research I think this could be because I've been vegan and not supplementing correctly, because B6 is being used for treatment of PMDD and my symptoms went away almost immediately when I started taking lots of B vitamins. I guess it may have just been B12 deficiency misery? In general I've felt much better than usual these past 3+ weeks. It was very, very bad those 3 days, though, I truly felt mentally ill and a bit out of control :/

-a million other things. I'll do a real update soon.

I really really love Spandy Andy and have had this absolute bullshit song by VAMPIRE WEEKEND called "Oxford Comma" caught in my head all week.

I am desperately sick of being in our van and my favorite times are the ones spent in my bed snuggling with one or more of these lovely people I share a home with.


Feb. 7th, 2012 12:01 am
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So now that I've been at it for a bit and it's remaining something I feel good about, I'm "coming out" as a for health, for now, flexible-ish vegan. I don't like sabotaging myself by spreading the word about weight loss efforts that fail. This is a weight loss and digestive health and overall health effort...meat and dairy both make my whole entrapped hernia thing way more uncomfortable, dairy in general makes it like I have a cold and am itchy all over all the time. And both of those things (along with many other things) make me continually get fatter. So. This is my indefinite experiment.

So far it's working out really well and is almost shockingly easy (especially compared to the strict rigidity of Eat to Live). I have coconut ice cream in the freezer and coconut milk and creamer in the fridge, and dark chocolate is hidden in a closet. Neither coffee nor alcohol contain animal products of any kind ;) I will continue to consume honey, to eat animals at holidays and special occasions, and to not be hard to accommodate when I'm someone's guest.

The rest of the family is still eating whatever they want, though I feel this is only having a positive effect on what my kids eat.

Anyway, this has been about a week and a half now and I've already lost 5 pounds. I'm also "going to the bathroom" at least 5 times as much as I was before...frequency and quantity, good grief, I mean damn. It makes me feel SO MUCH LESS freaked about my hernia! Constant reassurance that I am nowhere near needing emergency surgery ;) Really, though.

And, I'm kind of shocked by how much LESS I'm eating. I mean I'm not putting any restrictions on myself at all as far as how often or much I eat, and I think it's still probably more than most people eat. And sometimes reactionary/not hunger related...it's just ending up being a lot less. Because it's more filling stuff? Because it's more nutritionally dense so my body wants less? Maybe both? Or maybe there aren't as many rich things to entice me ;) Sort of irrelevant.

I'm posting all that because I want to write about my menu plans re: tonight's grocery shopping. I'm psyched! I've been eating a lot of standard fare of ours, like kale and bean soup, salads, fruit, chips and salsa, curried chickpeas with brown rice, lentils, carrots and peanut butter, and oatmeal. But I've decided to branch out based on some experiments I've done, recipes I've looked up and things I've had out places. Some of the things I'm planning to do include:

-quinoa with a bunch of little sauteed junk thrown in, i.e., corn, peas, diced red and green bell pepper, onions, garlic and black olives
-coconut curry of onions, carrots, celery, broccoli and who knows what else, with rice
-sweet potato and black bean enchiladas with green chile sauce on top
-cauliflower tacos

I'm also mixing salsa into hummus because I'm weird like that, and bringing back the old but good waheni and wild rice mix that's loaded with mushrooms and cooked in broth that I used to make all the time. And non-dairy risotto full of mushrooms and almond slivers.

I am soy-phobic in addition to having a legitimate nasty reaction to concentrated soy protein, and Elise is out and out allergic, so standard "vegan alternatives" and manufactured fake foods don't work (or appeal, honestly). I've been doing some (non-protein) Odwalla bars and toasted edamame here and there and things like that seem to agree with me ok, as does soy sauce as a condiment. Also taking B12 every day, and I use nutritional yeast which has it.

Very much kicking around making this a permanent change. A real lifestyle change is what I need, and if I am not in a position to really alter my trigger-y and emotional eating, I can at least make sure I'm eating way better stuff. It's green and factory farming is horrifically disgusting. I've gone through weird meat aversions before and not eaten dairy for months at a time since I know it messes with me - it seems doable in many ways and much less restrictive than stopping to add up every calorie on Weight Watchers or stick to some precise very difficult formula with ETL.

I am totally reserving my right to watch Earthlings if I start to slip up too often, because I've been avoiding that, knowing it will ruin meat and cheese for me, like, forever.

I also think I found the place I'd like to get my surgery done when the time comes. It's in freakin' NYC, but having spent a week there that seems a lot more doable than it did when New York was like the moon to me. If I can go to Boston for months to have a baby, I can spend a week in New York for a surgery, right? It's not like it's happening tomorrow. They cater to and specialize in hispanic women, meaning this body type and this skin type. The galleries are SO much more things I can relate to (and would desire) than typical plastic surgery before and after galleries, I mean, gah. So while I don't feel GOOD about it...I feel better than I have.

It's interesting, not living in denial about my body. I have the peace that comes from accepting that I'm a work in progress and the hope that comes from knowing I'm doing things differently. But those are mixed in with the soul killing sight of myself as I actually am, rather than my standard idealized version. Don't get me wrong, I think in many ways I still have more confidence in my looks than many women do...but it's a whole hell of a lot less than I typically would. Being present in my own skin to experience my back aches and foot pain and hip weirdness is as jarring as looking in the mirror honestly is.

Also - I realize I'm "supposed" to be against street harassment, but damned if it isn't exactly the boost I need sometimes when men are telling me I'm beautiful or asking if I'll stop and talk as I ride by on my bike.
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This day, like every other freakin' day lately, can best be described as "gah" and best be handled through coffee.

I took Grant to the train station.
Got Elise to preschool. And because I went to the Health Department the other day she finally has her permanent vaccine exemption so I was able to be like "I got you that form!" rather than "Oh dear, I am gonna do that, I swear I am".
Am now texting Annie's GS troop leader about cookie/money exchange later today since I forgot it conflicts with Isaac's counseling.
I have a humanities quiz and humanities bulletin board posts due today in one of my online classes, that have to be done before I get Elise from preschool (at noon). I'm going to be squeezing them around getting something out for dinner, and making the remaining kids do various enriching or house cleaning things.
Then cookies, and counseling.
Then PATH. Where Annie can sell cookies and I can talk with Karen about A and A doing two days with her kids next week like we previously mentioned.
Then picking Grant up from the train station.
Then dinner, dishes, reading to everyone, their bedtime.
My bedtime, which will, I imagine, be far too close to my wake time (5:45am to drive Grant to the train station again tomorrow, so I can have the van to take the kids to GMYS since Annie still doesn't have a case for her cello and I am not taking a cello with no case for blocks of walking and then a trolley ride through rough parts of town).

Yesterday I filled out an insane stack of printed (registration and scholarship) forms for over an HOUR, so that all five kids can go to GMYS music camp this summer. They're sitting in a manila envelope with our printed taxes from last year until A and A can get their teachers to sign off on them doing intermediate rather than beginners this time around, tomorrow. It was interesting picking preferred electives out with them. And this is an interesting add on to my filling out and submitting applications galore for charter schools for the fall just in case and to keep options open, and the preview to picking Girl Scout camp weeks and locations for Ananda, and deciding whether or not to do VBS O_O It's crazy to me that in order for these things to happen in 6 months, I have to worry about them NOW before everything is full and deadlines are past.

I have to do the math tonight so that if I don't understand it I have tomorrow and the next day to go to the learning support lab before my test Sunday.

I'm on my stupid (torrential) period.

I have a meeting with a complete fruit bat this Saturday, to talk about whether or not she (as a groupless leader) and I (as an interested party) will start duo-style Overeaters Anonymous meetings. She's just a harmless garden variety Florida Keys fruit bat, saying a local bar would be the perfect place to meet and telling me about all the nice Hell's Angels in her area, including her podiatrist. She has that weird Keys accent that means "everyone here is from a different part of the country if not the world and it blends into a mush". I am extremely comfortable around people like this.

The place recommended by the therapist who told me I have too severe of an eating disorder for him, as a student-therapist, to possibly help me with? That place is a freaking RESIDENTIAL TREATMENT CENTER with a spa-like website. Right.

My high school best friend, who is also Ananda's first GS troop leader, and who's wedding I attended last year, wants a case of cookies. I'm meeting up with her after Algebra on Sunday, and I'm glad. We really don't see each other enough.

I managed to cram in an hour and a half with Kristin two nights ago, during which she fed me fabulous things, we showed each other way too many texts and pictures on our phones, and there was a lot of laughter.

However, I realized on the drive to the train this morning - which Grant passed sleeping in the second row of the van under a blanket since he feels like crap and it's an hour drive - that I have still not managed to find an opportunity to talk to my husband this week about things that happened on MONDAY.

I'm buying a french press because otherwise the next time someone outgrows their shoes I'm gonna have to be like, "sorry guys, from now on you wear old Starbucks cups on your feet".
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So, this week has been kind of a bust. Or not, depending on how you look at it. I can look back and name off the meals I cooked and the things I cleaned and the time I spent with Aaron or reading to the little kids, or the hours and hours and hours sleeping in and laying around with my illnesses. I read a book and two epic length fanfiction stories and took a great bath and wrote poetry for the first time in a year or more. I feel decidedly crusty - nose, eyes, throat, eww.

I'm thinking about New Years Resolutions. I made a LOT of them last year, and I think i did pretty well with them. I mean I had a fucking ton of really drastic resolutions and reiterated many times that it would be "my year", and I have to say that while I didn't do everything I wanted and see more to improve on...I am no longer the creature I was this time last year, hiding inside of myself. Keeping huge secrets from my husband in an increasingly unhappy marriage, wondering what I was supposed to be DOING with myself all the long hours of everyday, feeling hopeless and helpless. Uh-uh. Big shit for me, after 3.5 years spent just trying to hang on and survive following 2007.

2011 Resolutions:

-to be totally honest with Grant and fix this shit even if we kill it in the effort

I was definitely totally honest. About how woefully unsatisfied I was and trapped I felt and the massive doubts that were obsessing me. Through the help of objective friends, counseling on both of our parts, and hitting rock bottom, as it were (I think that was the day he spent sobbing and screaming while I took the kids to a party feeling like I wanted to die), we came to some huge conclusions. He realized he's got a major problem with codependency and we both realized what that actually is. He read books about it, joined web forums, started going to meetings. This was massive. Grant hadn't ever done any "work" on or for himself. He had to accept that it might be for himself because we might not pull through it. We started having fun, realizing our youngest kid is definitely old enough to be left for a few hours every week - doing stuff we've never ever done for no damned reason but that we hadn't, like taking baths together and going to the beach at night and walking around Miami on Saturday evenings and blaring music together blasting over causeways. I think I freaked him out a bunch of times telling him fantasies and wants I hadn't ever felt like there was any point saying to him, things I didn't feel like he could deal with, let alone relate to - I had this whole GIANT ENORMOUS ALWAYS ON MY MIND secret part of myself that I was just keeping for myself, like as though I was going to get a chance to utilize it with somebody else one day or something? Subconsciously though. And we broke through a ton of it and spent a ridiculous amount of money at the sex store and he actually found some independent desire and motivation to get it on that was really amazing for me. Is really amazing for me. He also realized he has dietary intolerances that were making him grumpy and tired all the time, and fixing that...there is really no way to explain it. It's like the best of Grant I ever got, is Grant all the time without corn O_o We thought it was sugar, like, forever, but I think retrospectively that's just because corn syrup=sugar so often. And that explains why going off "refined" sugars always made such an obvious, positive difference to him. I had to fess up a lot too, that I had tons of energy and passion that I just had to find my own way to channel and address because it isn't his job to regulate my moods all the time, and that shouldn't be threatening for him. I needed/wanted a social life outside of our family, and to do things for my own sense of identity (like school, and writing, and even silly things like tumblr). He had (sometimes has) this idea that if I'm having a bad day, he's failing or sucks, and it drives us both nuts. Suffice to say...Grant has always been a good friend to me, a great support system and provider and a kickass Dad for our kids. He's always been an ideal partner in times of crisis, which we've had aplenty. But the last 6-8 months of our relationship have without question been the best time we've ever had, personal relationship-wise. I was so desperately hopeless once we settled into no more babies, no more emergencies life and I felt completely unengaged and stifled as a woman...this is badass. We still stumble, both of us, in different ways, but overall I can't believe how this has all turned out vs where we were a year ago.

-to actually make birth control happen and stop courting fate
I sucked it up and got the copper IUD. Which was surprisingly empowering and also required jumping through an awful lot of hoops (multiple exams, around $700 all told for the device and insertion which I really had to go against Grant on, financially, an ultrasound a month in when my strings had dissapeared, a hellaciously painful first period). I really love it and feel very good about it at this point. I keep meaning to post an update - my bleeding is not changed at all from what it was, I haven't had increased pain since that first month, no spotting mid cycle. It's really like it's not there. I forget about it for weeks at a time.

-to step outside my own box and do things and live my freaking life
I don't know how to explain the level to which I spent 2008, 09 and 10 and sitting around in the house, talking about how one day I'd do something, hoping I wouldn't suddenly die everytime I got a little bloated. I mean. Damn. I guess I also spent a lot of time driving the van, taking kids to activities and hoping I wouldn't die. But I definitely didn't talk to people much anymore, and just. Ugh. Aaron and I going to NYC was sort of my first taste of "WTF have I been DOING? I didn't ACTUALLY DIE IN THE ICU, gah!!" Anyway, I think I did pretty well. I went out in the evening with Kristin alone, up into the city, multiple times. I had Jess here for a week and we went out and got my nose pierced. I took walks and lunch dates just Gloria and I, and met Dana for coffee. I talked to David and Memo on the phone and Heather online again, and texted the heck out of Sara and Robby at different points. I got closer to Cybele and Karen at PATH to where they're actual real friends and not just moms I talk to at meetings. I got past this weird irrational alcohol stigma I've had my entire life from my weird childhood and discovered drinking (at 29...I swear).

-to establish real social lives for my kids
Most definitely. Every one of them has real, good friends now that they see regularly, and A and A have the kind of fun and adventures up the road that make me kind of jealous remembering being their age. We got to TLC and PATH every week now, too, in addition to Elise being in preschool.

-go back to college
This is my most measurable success, I guess. Or obvious or whatever - I think the real biggest is Grant and I. But this is still big! I spent months and literally dozens of visits to advisement, financial aid, the bursar, and registration at two campuses, filled out tons of paperwork, gathered documents, filed appeals, and generally bent over backwards and got all my financial aid in place and schedule set up for summer. Still more logistics and bureaucracy for fall. But yeah between having something for me, being challenged with deadlines, having structure, talking to other students, it's been a really positive thing. We've also gotten refund money that's been helpful for us. And I'm off academic probation now, and about halfway done with my AA :)

-finish, edit and publish my short stories, and edit, get illustrations for and publish my children's book
This is about a half success. I did a lot of stuff I might not have without the goal in place. I finished the short stories (which feels very good to me...there are 20 of them, written over 3 years), solicited great editors who did a lot of helpful work for me, got an illustrator working on the kids' book who has done a bunch of good sketches and a couple of real drawings, and did TONS and tons of research on agents, self publishing, the changing industry, book length limitations, genres, etc. My artist flaked out in a "beyond my control" sort of way due to his life circumstances and that pushed his dates back by a whole lot, and I haven't actually finished making the changes on the short stories - this is what fell by the wayside once I was back in school. But I still feel like it moved forward in exciting ways and is all much closer to fruition now as a result. It's real, all but done and I know what to do next.

-lose weight
I had a plan for this. ETL one month, off the next. I thought I had it all worked out, like I'd be off October (Grant's, Jake's and my birthday, potential trip to New Orleans, Halloween candy) and December (Christmas season). I planned to "cheat" only for Thanksgiving day. And I was on ETL faithfully MOST of January, and lost 13 pounds. Then I started doing some horseshit like I do, like well ok I'll eat whatever I want this weekend and then go back on, but be on for SIX WEEKS rather than just a month, to make up for it. But then at the end of the weekend I'm like, well, maybe I should just do 3 weeks on (like I had already accomplished), 3 weeks off (which would be immediately advantageous). Except then when the 3 weeks off was over, I was like hey why don't I try Weight Watchers instead just as a trial and see if it works as good or better? There's an iPhone app! And it didn't. And I gave up. And I was so emotional about how many times I've failed at this and how I just keep gaining gradually year by year and how I'm gonna be either in emergency surgery for my hernia or a 400 pound diabetic with black feet like my Ma, that I was like, Ok. I can't even think about this anymore. It's seriously driving me insane. I'm going to cry and have a nervous breakdown if I think about losing weight anymore. So I didn't. I ate whatever the fuck I wanted for the rest of the year. I got pissed when I would note that, say, when I started sleeping at night again (part of Grant and I's relationship improvement plan) and not eating at night anymore for the first time in my LIFE, it made no difference. Or that when school and preschool started and I had to walk and ride my bike miles regularly, it made no difference. Au Contraire, I've gained back the 13 pound loss plus an extra 20. Or so. I just got on the scale this morning for the first time in 2 weeks and I'm up another 5. AWESOME. I talked to my gynecologist about testing my thyroid when I was getting the IUD since thyroid troubles run up the same side of my family the weight comes from, but since I was getting ready to be on Grant's new job's insurance plan we decided to wait so that it wouldn't be a pre-existing thing and we could potentially get it for free. I don't have other thyroid symptoms anymore, though. I'm just fatter all the damn time. And, I didn't talk about it here because it was too painful and awful, but I was in counseling a few months ago - a low cost study program thing the UM psych dept does, I wrote about that at first - video cameras and supervisors and things, remember? Well. After a couple of sessions the guy called me and told me I have a serious eating disorder that's beyond their ability to treat so he couldn't see me anymore. They gave me a name and number to some place I never called and I freaked out and just kind of dropped that whole experience down the well, so to speak. Filed it somewhere way back in the back of my mind to hopefully never think about again, basically. I just...fuck, you know? So clearly this is something I NEED to tackle, but I really don't even know where to begin. If I think about giving up just about anything I regularly eat or drink I just immediately feel like crying and like it isn't worth it because life wouldn't be worth living anymore if I couldn't drink coffee or couldn't stay up late snacking on bullshit with Grant on the weekends or couldn't have alcohol a couple of times a month or whatever the hell. I NEED a steak when I'm on my period, blah blah blah. *sigh* My sister is apparently really concerned about how much I've gained and talked to my mother about it and UGH. Ugh ugh ugh.

So, yeah. Lots of huge success, some partial success, and some mega fail. I'm trying to map out what I want to do with this coming year, now.
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I'm trying to just be present in the moment.
When it works, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm a really good mother and we have great school and other time.
When it doesn't, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm extremely lonely.

Evenings are a heavy and somber mix of hard talks and hopeful times, with Grant.

Nights involve a lot of up by myself, unable to sleep.

Let me break down things I'm excited about, here:

1. Writing, in three parts -
a. Memo has sent me 8 sketches now for illustrations for my childrens' book, which is finished, and the two of us plan to self-publish together through amazon on demand.
b. My surgery book is half-finished, Nancy is thinking about what she's doing for the forward now as I email another (famous, not my friend) artists back and forth about the logistics of using her art in it, and receive peoples' stories of traumatic surgery (thank you, everyone who has submitted...I am definitely going to get back to everybody and am still open to more). I've got a lot of research to go right now, with citing studies properly and having my information straight.
c. My collection of fictional short stories is almost done - 19 out of 20 are finished and I think it's really good.

2. College, in two parts -
a. Everyone got a "pay by" extension for the summer semester since Miami Dade is slacking on getting the awards handed out, so I have a little more breathing room to have my appeal filed in time, and also got some good advice from the last person I spoke with there.
b. I am thinking more and more that my major is going to be switching to either social work or counseling. This is mildly dissapointing in an unimportant way (I love psych and don't like the image that comes into my mind when I think "social worker") but much more profitable and still in line with the kind of work I actually want to be doing on the day to day.

My house has been much cleaner than usual in a way I'm really enjoying.

I'm seriously wondering if I have a thyroid disorder (hypo), because of how my weight just keeps creeping up and up and up and it's so hard to lose any even when I'm really doing things right. I have almost every symptom and have for some time. I actually perfectly fit the bill for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome but I don't want to be a crazy self-diagnosing hippy...oh wait it's too late to avoid that, isn't it? Anyway I'm looking at natural ways to improve thyroid function because we don't have insurance right now and I don't even want to deal with extra doctors in general. B vitamins and coconut oil are where I'm starting, along with more excercise. It's not like any of that is gonna hurt anything if I'm wrong, and it could really help even if I'm just in the low-normal thyroid range.

I laughed so hard at this website: Calories Burned During Sex".

Also, Tumblr tag searches are highly entertaining. It's like the dumping ground of the entire internet, the ultimate stockpile of every gif and macro and comixed hoozawatsit ever made.

Grant wants me to drop out of RCIA. I don't think that's a good idea. His reason(ing)s are that I'm questioning my faith and not sure how I feel about Catholicism and so I shouldn't be there. My reasoning is that it's something I've wanted for years, and I've come this far, and I don't want to just drop out now because I'm unsure about everything - I still have until May 12 to decide how I feel one way or the other. In the meantime, Mass and RCIA every week is really the only thread my faith life is hanging from, here. I also really like a few of my classmates and my sponsor, and love the community of St Louis. I frequently dread going, but I'm always glad I went afterwards, and it's something I have for myself.

Part of his thought process here is that he'd like to go back to Protestant church of some kind, which I understand (RCIA kind of monopolizes Sunday mornings, especially now that we're down to one vehicle...Mass I could go to Saturday or Sunday nights but not the class itself). But I told him, honestly, that I don't want to ever go back to Protestant church. I mean I wouldn't mind visiting and I don't have anything against Protestants, but I don't want to join or belong to one. I feel like Christianity very obviously leads anyone who digs deeper and keeps learning and yearning for more back to the higher churches, where you see that they've existed since Christ started them 2000 years ago, whereas all these little offshoot branches that broke away a couple hundred years ago have diluted it down to something lacking much of what was originally there.

Aaaaaaaanyway, this has been sitting open forever, so I guess Imma post it now.

P.S. We saw Sucker Punch last night, and it was definitely a super gritty concentration of special effects and false eyelashes. But, it was also a uniquely done comic book style look into mental escapism, mental institutions, abuse and being held against your will. Dissociation in as Big Hollywood a way as possible, I guess, with amazing music. All in all I was entertained throughout.

P.P.S. I've decided I'm naming "my" cat (one of the two kittens we kept) Elvis. This way, I get to say things like "Why is The King in my bathroom sink?", "Elvis has left the building!" and "Aww, aren't you just such a cute furry hunka hunka burning love???" Should he misbehave I get to yell ELVIS PRESLEY!!! Also this way when he eventually dies, we can just pretend he's actually still out there somewhere and it's a conspiracy.
altarflame: (Converse)
I think I'm gonna get to a point that I post here and it cross posts to the blog, so both places get all the entries. For now this is all that's happening (lj only).

Bizarre experiences in blogging:

1. David, my old friend who recently got back in touch? He's living with his brother and sister in law on the other side of the country. Botched surgeries came up in conversation and David said, "Yeah my friend had a sponge left in her during a c-section in Boston" and the sister in law said (this is paraphased) "Wut you know altarflame?" Basically she was reading my lj the whole time we were going through our myriad fiascos that year! She educated him on booju, which makes me lol forever at the craziness of our small small world.

2. Apparently my grandfather is reading with a great deal of skepticism (this is me waving at you, Pa!). My mother keeps calling me saying things like, "Pa printed out pages of your journal and highlighted parts that he thinks mean you and Grant are in trouble", and "He doesn't understand how you can afford x, y and z". Pa, print and question all you need to, just stop sending her my way about it so I don't have to hear. Or, write me an email, I am always happy to talk to you. I love you but this thing where she calls me up because people are up in arms and want further explanations is getting annoying.

Grant has two very promising interviews tomorrow. He also has a job lined up to start February 1 if they both fall through, and nothing else comes up, but we are really hoping something else does work out because the fall back job - though positive in some ways - also has some issues.

Overall I am feeling pretty good about money. With the Carmax check for the Prius cleared we've been able to pay December, January and February's mortgage payments and catch up the electric bill to a zero balance and do all sorts of things we've been putting off (like getting 5 birth certificates at $45 per copy so that they're here for school records in a few months, and spaying the cat). There is still a lot left for living off of and getting a less cool second car, and Grant is making more money at his part time job than usual as the guy is being nice giving him extra hours while he's "unemployed".

Grant is also being nice - awesome, in fact - giving me many hours each evening to focus on market research, combing agent listings and crafting query letters. I really appreciate this as we aren't usually in a situation, with available time, for it to be possible, and we may be back in a place where it isn't again soon. For now, though, I am making really exciting progress.

Writing a query letter to an agent is like writing a research paper for school - they want to know comparative titles in the genre as well as what makes your book different from the others already out there in that genre. They want a tantalizing description of your work that would be appropriate for the back of the book on a shelf. They want compelling bio information and proof that you are marketable and they want it spaced properly, and it has to all fit on one page, with a wowing sample attached. It is really exhaustive work rewriting and editing queries for a project for the first time (or in this case four completely different projects), BUT - I have a lot of hope about it, because once you have that first draft at a point you feel good about, you can basically just customize the queries you have written to send out over and over to different people. So even assuming the agent I am querying first here rejects me, it will be a simple thing to keep sending queries out to new people constantly until someone eventually accepts something.

I'm grateful for email - this was a much more time consuming practice (as in waiting for replies) as well as way more expensive, when it all had to be done through the post office.

I've lost 13.6 pounds this month. Still holding strong with Eat to Live. ETL kind of flip flopped with writing and is now the thing I'm 2nd most excited about, because I plateaued for a few days. Then I lost another half pound, though, and am hoping I'm out the other side of the dead spell and about to see daily decreases again...I'm torn every day between not being able to WAIT for it to be February so I can eat what I want to eat, and really not wanting it to be February yet because I need to lose way more weight before the end of January :p Grant being home is wonderful because he cooks all kinds of awesome things for the rest of the family and I don't have to deal with that; but it's also terrible because he COOKS ALL KINDS OF AWESOME THINGS FOR THE REST OF THE FAMILY! He made these tantalizing loaded potato skins today and I had to ask Aaron to eat one, and moan, and tell me about how awesome it was so I could live vicariously.

Today was a day for reorganizing the library with extra shelving units we brought over from Grant Sr's (things we left there when we moved out that have been sitting empty) - our books had exceeded shelving capacity. It was a day to listen to a lot of Sublime and Prodigy. G and I took just Ananda and Elise out for a bit, and when they were all in bed the two of us went for one of our late night, half hour long power walks... one thing I really love about Bob living here is being able to do things like that.

Kid Updates:

-Ananda is 5' even now, suddenly curvier, and basically has her earbuds in and a book in her hand 24/7. She does all of her chores without complaint and looks forward to Annoying Orange updates on Fridays. She does a lot of independent Abeka and Kumon schoolwork and is frequently either carrying, playing with, reading to, or helping Elise...otherwise she's locking her out of her bedroom.

-Aaron has found some new friends down the block and is over there with them everyday now. It's an 11 year old girl and 8 year old boy who seem REALLY nice (way nicer than the bullying across the street neighbor that is the bane of this property...) They play basketball and box ball and dodge ball and man hunt and sometimes 1-3 other kids from around here join them. This has totally revitalized him - he's like a different kid all of a sudden. He was having sleepovers twice a month with some friends and having Darian over here or going to PATH every week, but clearly he needs a lot more kid time with kids who don't make him miserable. I think he felt trapped in our yard like he had to hide behind the bushes by across-the-street bully kid :/

The two of them have had their biking horizons expanded to include a great big 6 block grid, when they're together, and are loving it.

-Isaac has regressed to a level of misery and nonsense that has me wracking my brain like "IS THIS A GLUTEN ISSUE? IS THIS SOME UNDER STIMULATION? WHAT IS THE PROBLEM I THOUGHT TYRANNY WAS PAST!!!" Basically he cries about everything, often for long and exagerated time periods, and he is randomly mean to his siblings again, and...I don't know. Maybe it's just the Isaac cycle I used to always talk about in a downswing and I should be thankful it's been so long. Perk: He's more affectionate than he has ever been.

-Jake is wonderful. He does his chores consistently and relatively easily, now, finally, and he tears up big plates of raw vegetables and loves doing schoolwork and is generally the freaking bees' knees. He's good to our pets and to his siblings and still has this grumpy edge and scowl of doom that are to die for adorable.

-Elise is a nightmare at bedtime, and extremely hyper/loud sometimes, but she's talking more everyday, and she's ADORABLE, and I can't believe she's really the youngest and getting so big. She talks about wanting to go to school everyday and plays independently or with Jake and Isaac (unless she's harassing Annie) constantly. She's VERY strong willed and stubborn.

The three little kids are always doing something together. Today they each had bags full of random things and were pretending to travel and have travelling adventures, all day. Last night Jake and Isaac had an epic plastic sword fight battle while she stood by dressed as a princess and cheered them on alternately.

Alright, I am OUT. It is way too late and I'm far too tired.
altarflame: (boomdeyada)
I don't even know why exactly but it probably has something to do with, A., how whenever I post private to do lists here it feels all familiar and homey and like why don't I post here more often and, B., how Jenne (the_waker) is gonna start posting here at my suggestion and it makes me feel like I want to be a part of the in club.


2011 is shaping up to be so vastly, wildly, wtf-ly different for me, in good ways mostly. I was telling Dama that I've begun to think I can't assume anything anymore. I remember having so many convictions and sureties that are long gone and far away at this point in my life.

Some wild departures I'm taking:
-I, former smack talking Pope-bashing Protestant, will be a confirmed and communing Catholic in like 3 months.
-I, passionate advocate of homeschooling who gets frustrated whenever anyone suggests sending my kids to school, am mostly likely having all five of my kids in school this fall. AND REALLY EXCITED ABOUT IT.
-I, person who is 29 years old and has never been drunk, who never even HAD ALCOHOL at all before like 28, am like "I want to get drunk".

I'm also one of these impossible chicks who thinks that overnight separation from a spouse is out of the question; many of you probably remember me damned near dying last summer when Grant was in the mountains with Shaun - and now I'm like, you know. I think we should both take trips by ourselves all the time with other people. I'll start, me and Jess are going to New Orleans, bye!!

That's a few months off, it will be a car trip when Grant's settled into a new job and we're not in such dire financial straits. David is from Louisiana and used to go and as soon as I said "New Orleans" he launched into a massive list of things I had to do, see, eat, etc similar to what I would do if someone said they were going to Key West. This is helpful and awesome.

And I'm getting an IUD (we've been doing NFP) (this is assuming I can clear the normal paps necessary, as I failed one a couple back and it's what held me up before), which will be wildly liberating and different. (I only failed the pap for the stupid reason that is usually tampon fibers or something, it wasn't any suspected Serious Thing).

I've finally reached a point where I feel good about the IUD, though. Or at least ok. Faith-wise I have a lot of confidence but also period-wise (as I have torrential, potentially dangerous periods already and copper IUDs increase flow) I've learned a lot of things I have to do to keep it reasonable. For anyone out there that has crazy periods, naproxen (like Aleve) will reduce it. I learned this from a nurse midwife a couple of cycles ago and it helps. Also, anecdotally, many women including myself have seen that using tampons radically increases their flow - I theorize that this is for the same reason the IUD does. Basically, your body is trying to get everything out and it works harder at it, contracting more and pushing out more blood, when you have something foreign lodged in there. My own irritable uterus (diagnosed in pregnancy) also seems to apply here - physical activity increases flow. So if I have to lay around on Aleve a lot and only use pads, I will, basically, and hopefully that will be "good enough".

As far as personal departures. I'm thinking about (reconstructive) plastic surgery a lot. Since I'm actually losing weight now in a way I feel good about and see continuing, I'm thinking a lot about fixing my stomach. I mean, that is medically necessary, but I really am looking to lose a lot of weight. Like I'm getting on the scale thinking "13.4 pounds down, 76.6 pounds to go". This is controversial in my circle of friends because nobody thought I looked like I had 90 pounds to lose to begin with; Kristin exclaimed "WHERE WILL YOU GO?!" But...I know that though I carry weight well, I am still REALLY HEAVY. I don't know. We'll see how it is when I'm a few "on" months into Eat to Live (I'm doing one month on, one month off, and you lose 20-30 pounds in a month on ETL) - how I look and feel and how the losing is or is not slowing down. But I mean, I started out at 238. Just because my face and neck don't get the weight and I can kind of dress to hide it doesn't mean that's not still ridiculous. I'm 5'4"!! The first time Grant ever saw me naked, I was 136 pounds. I mean...I was also 14, but I was THE SAME HEIGHT. So even losing 90 pounds, I'd still be 148 pounds. Which is more than a lot of women my height want to weigh. I don't want to ever be skinny - I have huge size 10 feet and giant hair and like my curves. But I do want to be able to buy regular clothes at regular stores and feel good about myself and blah blah blah.

SO. When a person who is turning 30 soon loses that much weight there can be some dire consequences re: gravity. And if I have to go to the OR for this stomach crap that seriously scares the HELL out of me, anyway, regardless, well. Why not come out actually liking myself? With like whatever the hell lifted that needs to be? I mean I have some optimism here but really, when thighs have been rubbing together as long as mine have I imagine some sort of horrific after effect following "deflation" :p Also at the moment I have, if I do say so, FABULOUS breasts, that still sit only about an inch or less lower overall than they ever did and face front and forward (which for DD+ boobs is impressive, damnitt). I'm kind of scared of what will happen when I stop this 7-solid-year nursathon I've been doing, like are they just going to shrivel into nothing?! (THE HORROR) On the other hand, I have very little milk anymore. Elise nurses once a day. I left her for 3 days and 7 days, respectively, in the last year, without ever getting to a painful level of engorgement. I have this idea that I can somehow "trick" my body into keeping some breast mass around by losing all the other weight before she weans, but I also have hopes of the milk not being all I have going on here. We'll see. The point of this shallow ramble is that I don't think it's out of my realm of possibilities to get a breast lift if I decide I need one when I'm going under the knife.


Cutting off that train of thought...

This entry has been interrupted by Kristin calling; she is going to come pick me up and we're driving off into the night. So, I will write more later.
altarflame: (Default)
My hair makes sense up in a clip and piled on top of my head, with the curly bangs pushed to the sides, in a way that is kind of relieving. A girl cannot live in a headband indefinitely and I was getting tired of my family members bursting into uncontrollable laughter as I came around corners.

I feel accomplished because tonight is the first night this week that I've managed to get the little kids to sleep without any of them screaming, injuring each other or running out 50 million times. It's really very simple...if I take the time to read to them all in there, they go to sleep like decent children. If I skimp out on them and just yell "Get back in bed!" down the hall when I hear giggling, I'll be yelling for hours. The not-so-simple simple part of this comes into play when Grant is working night shifts and I'm sick with a messed up hand and DON'T WANT TO READ TO ANYONE. It is one of those things that is always great and easy once I get in there. I just don't always want to go in.

I feel like a failure because my bathrooms are disgusting. Deplorable. Awful. Like, wow, I think I'd rather go pee at a gas station. All this from one evening with them running amok. Aaron did stupid things like leave an empty AND A FULL toilet paper roll and MY BOOK on the edge of the tub as he took a bath, getting everything soaked and shreddable, so that Isaac and Jake went in next, and the pulp was EVERYWHERE by the time I came in to check their water level and bring towels. You may or may not know this, but wet paper is my ultimate weakness. I can deal with puke, snot, poop, headlice, giant palmetto bugs, but I seriously gag about wet, mushy paper. *shudders* I made Aaron get everything out of the actual tub, since we couldn't pull the plug otherwise, but the rest is waiting for me.

The other bathroom suffered some kind of Isaac poop fiasco coupled with an Elise pouring cups of water disaster.

Yeah. I'll be in there working on all that...in a minute. *sigh*

Ananda is on her first solo sleepover tonight. Her and Aaron have went together and spent the night with their friends Grace and Kai (sister and brother, 2 of my friend Michelle's 6 kids) a couple of times...but that's different. On the way there she was sitting in the front with me, which is a new thing. She was sitting with her (also-new) thinness folded into casual indian style, perfect posture, and I said, "You look like you feel tall". "I do!" she told me, surprised. With her bag that she packed herself and I didn't even influence beyond "You got clothes for tomorrow and pjs and something to do in case you end up awake later than Christina, right? And a toothbrush?" It's also different because unlike most of the playdates and friends they have, Christina's mom is just someone I kind of know. I mean I've kind of known her for years and trust her, but we only really talk to coordinate their get-togethers or finalize details for PATH activities. She's really nice, we just don't "click". Which means I stand in the doorway for a minute and she's very polite, and then I leave, if Annie is spending the night. Whereas I hang out until 9 when they stay at Michelle's, and we were all just there for dinner the evening before anyway.

When we drive places now, we listen to Y-100 on mute, watching the display to say "Bad Romance" is playing. Which usually takes under 10 minutes. Aaron and I both do the cat-scratch motion 3 times as we sing, "lahv, lahv, lahv". He is really, really interested in Lady GaGa as a person. He wants to know WHY she wears crazy outfits and what these songs are supposed to mean. We've done a lot of side-by-side, somewhat screened viewing of interviews and appearances together. What I find is that her song Speechless is about her Dad refusing to undergo heart surgery that would save his life, and how she wrote it to change his mind (it worked). That she and all the other dancers stand in a circle and pray before each show. That all her proceeds from her upcoming appearance in NYC are going to Haiti, along with her "HaitiLadyGaGa" shirt sales. That she was a total nerd in school and never felt like she could be herself and totally can't do relationships or men and her fans are everything to her to probably an unhealthy degree, but many many "different" people who are her fans are ravenous and passionate about her, the devotion is insane. She's also got a lot of songs nobody in this house is gonna be listening to anytime soon, as I don't need Isaac asking me what she means "take a ride on his disco stick". We're sticking to the radio edits of singles at this point. And my 8 year old son, who has one black temporary tattoo that says "Rock n Roll" surrounding his eye and another strip one across his neck (both done without consulting us, from a pack Annie got for Christmas, I assure you) says he is a Little Monster, too. That's what she calls her fans (after her Fame Monster album and Monster Ball concerts). He says he's been inducted into the Haus of GaGa. We watch as she breaks the glass case surrounding her piano, which is then on fire as she begins to play, and he shakes his head - "She's fearless." Marilyn Manson has a crush on her and says she's brought Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali to the mainstream pop world. I watched her swinging a spikey ball on a chain into a taxi windshield on Oprah earlier.


Speaking of fearless, and Aaron:

Also, here he is working his magic on baby Elizabeth like I mentioned a few posts back:


That's really...really...REALLY FREAKING CUTE. Do you SEE that LITTLE BABY? *explodes* Brian says the marker on his face spells out his name, so consider it a label. I think it would make more sense for him to be named random scribbles, honestly, knowing him as I do.

I've been reading a book of Mother Angelica's writing that Paige/[livejournal.com profile] likeinabook left here for me. I really, really love it and am getting a LOT out of it. Some of the talk about living with God in the moment and praying in the present seriously got me through my follow up ER-trip, which was in a room almost exactly like the one I was in, in the ICU, down to the freaky dentist style chair and surrounding noises.

I want to read so much fiction right now. The Thirteenth Tale on [livejournal.com profile] custard_kisses's reccomendations, Jane Austen because, well...I've never read any Jane Austen, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as I never understood what that book was about and now that I do, I'm really intrigued...alas, there is no time for leisurely reading of fiction anywhere I can detect in my life. I suppose I could use the 30 minutes every couple of days that I take to write a journal update but I do not have the kind of discipline to come up for air from a book I like. Books swallow my whole life. The Mother Angelica book is short bits that I read in the bathroom.

Today is my fourth day back on (my adapted) strict Eat To Live. So far I've lost a pound a day, again. It is nuts. Today I had one of my frou frou Liberte yoghourt's, full of grains and pear, for breakfast, and then very soon after half an avocado and a tomato diced up and salted and eaten on sesame terragon Back to Nature crackers. Note that both of those are things I ADORE and would eat all the time anyway. Laaaate lunch was my now-adapted white chicken chili, which no longer contains any oil, butter or other off limits things but is still awesome - I make it with coconut milk and cumin and and it is freaking delicious, loaded with onions, garlic, and 3-4 colors of bell peppers.... Dinner was a whole romaine heart ripped up with a sprinkle of almonds, dried cranberries and bleu cheese tossed throughout, and 4 bay scallops roasted up in the toaster oven alongside. I snacked on baby carrots and blueberries throughout the day. Antibiotics and probiotics. Voila.

I've developed this crazy goal that I don't think could ever be healthy or normal by regular dieting standards but is almost...modest...by Eat to Live standards, that I will try to be my pre-pregnancy weight by Annie's 10th birthday. I'm talking my OG pre-pregnancy weight, like when I was not yet a mother and got pregnant for the first time. I haven't been there in a decade. Heck, slightly more.

I'm so gonna do it.

For the record, that would be 168. I started Eat to Live at 233, was on it for 6 weeks and lost 26 pounds. So I was 207. Over the course of 2.5 months of free-for-all'ing I gained back 6 of those pounds. That I only gained back 6 having whole bags of Riesen on the first day of my period and pigging out on holiday food and things kind of blows my mind. Anyway, so I started this time at 213.8. So far my 3 morning weights have been 212.8, 211.8, and 210.8 -
Here I go, baby.

Sunday is my cheating day, which will slow things up a bit, but I can handle it. Ananda's birthday is June 1.

THIS Sunday, I have big plans involving lasagna, and another fire-gathering with s'mores ;) But I am not going to go CRAZY on Sundays, just do what I want in something like moderation. We're burning our Christmas trees for this fire, and I've sent out a facebook invite to a bunch of people. The weekend will be largely devoted to cleaning.

LAST THING! The cold weather that you all love to make fun of me for complaining about. My aunt sent me email pictures that I thought made a statement about WHY I get to bitch when it's record lows here. It was a picture of a green tree covered in ice, and I though - Exactly. THAT is the problem.

We don't have a season of getting cooler and easing into winter. We have 90 degree days aplenty in December.

When we actually HAVE a freeze:
-homeless people get sick and/or die, because they don't have the gear for it, and we don't have the shelters in place
-farmers' lose all of their crops - I live in an agricultural community
-peoples' homes (like my friend Kristin, and my sister!) aren't even equipped with working heat, and everyone's floors are tile, and you seriously shiver yourself silly inside
-you see the damage around for weeks afterwards - all the grass in my backyard is suddenly brown and crispy, and my banana trees look like they might not recover
-the reptiles actually FREEZE, like iguanas and small lizards and snakes and everything FALL, solid, from the trees, and lay there vulnerable until it warms up again

I really think it is different than what people experience when they're used to, acclimatized, and outfitted for "real" winters. My PATH friend Michelle walked out of her house this past weekend, slipped in ice that had literally NEVER BEEN THERE BEFORE, and busted out her kneecap...she spent most of the week in hospital after surgery and I'm taking her dinners because she can't even get around the house with crutches. It snowed in places this week that they don't even have snow tires available for sale, let alone do people know how to drive on roads with ice.

Anyway. I'm just saying. People are always like, stfu that's not even REAL cold, but I think if those people experienced a sudden drop down into the low 30s in the middle of summer they'd freak out and take to their blogs. THAT IS WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE when that happens.
altarflame: (chalk)
It is really, really weird to me that Johnny Depp just got announced as Sexiest Man Alive (for the second time!). Don't get me wrong, ok, Johnny Depp is really fascinating to look at, he really captivates in every role he plays, and his transformative abilities are mindblowing - my kids' minds were blown awhile back when they found out Willy Wonka and Captain Jack Sparrow were the same guy. So then I showed them pictures of Edward Scissorhands and the Mad Hatter to really explode their heads.

But...sexiest man in the whole world? Really? Johnny Depp has to have a significant amount of facial hair to even appear masculine, and he needs giant dreads and baggy clothes to camouflage his tiny scrawniness into something substantial. Also, and mainly, I've just never seen him act or seem to feel sexy. He's shy and awkward in real life and generally deeply into a character who seems asexual as all get out (Edward S, Willy Wonka, Sweeny Todd, even Captain Jack is too ridiculous and self absorbed and oblivious to really seem very interested in sex, or passionate...)

Also can I just say, Captain Jack only SEEMS attractive because we can't smell him through the screen. I've known a sea-faring, rum drinking, scurvy infested pirate type and let me tell you, it does not smell pretty.

When I think of the other sort of man who generally gets this title from People Magazine - Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Colin Farell - it really gets confusing. The other guys are generally square jawed, 5 o'clock shadow types who are old Hollywood male at a glance. Again, do not get me wrong, I cannot take my eyes off of J.D. on the screen either. But I also cannot imagine actual chemistry with him, like...at all.

Ugh, now this is caught in my head again. It's like a 6 month run every time I think of it, before I can shake it off again!

When I first started thinking of submitting my writing formally, I had this very healthy and realistic perspective about how the publishing industry is loaded with rejection and everyone gets plenty of it. I mean...everyone-everyone, Harry Potter was rejected over and over before anyone took it, and countless "classics" were written by people nobody would give the time of day to until they had died. I was thinking my goals would not be about how many acceptances I got, but rather how many queries and submissions I sent out, as I know that persistence is a huge part of success in writing.

Then I sent out my first short article and it immediately got accepted.
I sent the same trade journal's layout department artwork and a separate person accepted that, too, another couple of days later.
And so I sent out my first novel query to an agency, all high and flying and, honestly, starting to harbor this ridiculous unspoken hope that maybe this was going to be like a hole in one for me, maybe I would beat all the odds and bypass the normal system completely.
And they said no, very politely and with a compliment.
And so I got all sensitive and irritable and proceeded to spend a whole week wasting all my writing career time on re-reading the stupid Twilight novels and making fun of them with Grant. Until today, when I realized I was getting my panties in a bunch and NOT being AT ALL perseverant.

So. Back to submitting I shall go, with Plan A back in mind re:rejection.

Poor Isaac put his hand down on a hot stove burner tonight, right after I moved a boiling pot off of it to drain some pasta. His fingertips blistered. He was screaming HYSTERICALLY, often while panicking and hopping around, for like...half an hour. He completely refused butter, running water and frozen peas and barely allowed me to get some neosporin on the burns after a LOT OF COAXING. Then he gradually got to the "let's take deep breaths together" part of the experience, and finally turned zombie in front of Aladdin while I paced, bug-eyed, trying to shake off the anxiety. I haven't ever seen him so freaked except when he had appendicitis. And it was very random, too, I don't know what was going through his head because all of my kids help in the kitchen - where I cook constantly - basically from day 1. They know stoves are hot and you don't touch them, even if you think they're off, but sure as hell not when they're blazing red... He was sitting on counters and standing on chairs to "help" from toddlerhood just like the rest. I wonder if it was one of those compulsive things, where a kid knows something is a very bad idea but just has to set it in motion anyway, or something.

After my month of procrastinating and plateau'ing, I've been strictly back on Eat to Live for a few short days in row. They've went 210, 209, 208, 207, each morning. So now I've lost 26 pounds from my original 233 a couple of months back. It's very heartening to have seen myself just plateau, and not re-gain anything, during my off-time.

I'm having some body issues in general, though...the last time I weighed 207, size 18 jeans fit fine. Now, with my bulging, messed up belly, I can't even wear 20s comfortably. I'm stuck in maternity jeans. I keep thinking, "SOON my old pants are gonna fit again...right?" and I think I'm not gonna be able to wear normal pants at all...until I get more surgery.

It's pretty bizarre, I appear to be a somewhat hot hourglass shape from the exact front, and from the exact back. Then I turn to the side, at all, and look obviously pregnant. I was thinking of taking some pictures to illustrate how drastically different I look head-on vs in profile, because it's kind of ridiculous.

I still FEEL really energetic and good about the weight loss, though, and I can see changes in my face and upper body as well as in how shirts fit and things. My Dad will be here day after tomorrow for Thanksgiving and he hasn't seen me since two months ago, I'm sure he will notice. My sister's husband flipped last time I went over there, because I haven't seen him so it was drastic rather than gradual for him. Which is cool. He's a brutally honest sort we say is not named "Frank" for nothing, so his compliments count more.

Ananda especially, but also Aaron, are having a TON of success with Kumon workbooks for math. Like...Aaron has went from chronically distracted and/or begging to not have to do schoolwork to just getting it done with no arguments. Ananda has went from doing it with some complaints, when I make her, to asking to do math all day long on her own when it's not schooltime. <---- Seriously. I really love how independent it is for them, too, because as much as I believe in Right Start Math I just can't do an intensely interactive 30 minute math lesson with them - that requires 30 minutes of gathering materials, scanning and printing and planning ahead beforehand on my part - everyday. I don't HAVE a solid, undistracted hour to give to their math all the time. Isaac is also loving Kumon math, though. It is a winner around here for sure, and I've reccomended it to my mother in law for my nieces (who she raises).

Isaac is also loving the Abeka Handbook for Reading that I used with A and A. He can't get enough of it, and I find it easy to work with together out on the deck swing as we watch Elise and Jake play, or on the counter by the stove as I cook dinner. Burning aside. *sigh*

A and A have their first company production, in dance, coming up. It's not the end of the year recital that all of Dance Empire does. From what I understand Ananda will be dancing in a group, and Aaron will be doing a bunch of round offs across the stage at some point, followed by a girl who does back flips.

Grant took them to dance this evening, then they went and had pizza and drove up to Santa's by themselves. They seemed ridiculously happy when I was reading to them and praying with them before bed.

My brother has been here for a week now. In some ways he's already very helpful - just taking out trash, moving laundry through, putting away clean dishes, making it possible for me to take a bike ride with a small child while Grant's at work or for Grant and I to go see a movie while they're all in bed. And I'm dealing ok with the hard parts I knew would come - giving up the office, extra groceries. BUT, what I did not think about enough and should have was just...having him around me all day every day. Like, I don't get any time alone at night anymore, because he will outlast me everytime. When I find time in the afternoon while my kids are all occupied, to read, he comes and sits down and starts talking like I'm not holding a book. We have an argument about whether or not we're going to listen to the death metal on his iPod everytime we get in the van to go anywhere. And then I have to hear my music through his poor tortured ears and it kind of ruins it for me. He's completely obsessed with music and really emotional about it, so it is A Big Deal and sure to visibly anger him when I tell him, no, I don't like this song actually, or that one either.

In general though I've been relieved that he's not NEARLY so angry as he used to be. Way more under control and way less volatile. I think the last year taught him something about rolling with the punches.

I'm very inordinately irritated with all the little irritating things he does, though. Like put his constantly-frozen water bottle on parts of unsuspecting peoples' bodies to startle them, and fart and then giggle...both all day long. Purposely burping as loud as possible and with an air of knowing he's pretty impressive. Teaching my kids to say "Duh". It probably doesn't help that he arrived with my period and as I went back to the strict eating regimen, but oh my gosh, sometimes it's like...gtfo.

I'm just kind of introverted and haven't dealt with living with other peoples for awhile. I really kind of don't like it. I can't help but feel awkward when he just comes and hovers in the doorway as I read to the kids before bed, and I HATE HATE HATE having to deal with him asking if it's ok to do things we already agreed he wouldn't do before he came - like playing video games in the main part of the house, or on the main computer (he has his own setups for that in his room). I just really loathe having authority over other grown people, it makes me tired and I don't see why we have to talk about this when it was already settled via email 2 weeks ago. This is why we stopped having a part time nanny, I totally cannot stand telling other adults what to do in my house, setting boundaries and all that crap.

His weird standards for everything are also really exasperating. Like, to him, REALLY baggy and somewhat faded black jeans ARE "nice pants" for a job interview...compared to his Hot Topic jeans which have buckles, chains and red lacing all over, or his "old jeans" that are ripped from thigh to calf. He expects some kind of validation and affirmation because he got up at noon rather than 2 or 3, like that is early. And he genuinely believes I should be proud because he puts half a banana into a smoothie that otherwise consists of corn syrup-y sherbert and caramel sauce.

We've had at least one late night, hours-long conversation that I feel really good about, though. And I feel good when I see him taking walks, or outside on the trampoline with A and A. Elise seriously ADORES him and he carries her around a lot, which I think is good for both of them (I can't carry her at all, due to herniation).

Probably he wanted to open up his skull and bleach his brain the other day when G and I got in the shower together and then locked the bedroom door for an hour after we got out. I pretty much refuse to just never do that again since he's here indefinitely, though. I mean, this is what keeps me waiting all week for Grant's days off.

He also shuddered, blinked 3 times and then burst into hysterical laughter the first time he walked in on my belly cast, and covers his eyes asking "Are you decent?" when he suspects Elise could be nursing.

Tomorrow is the first day of all sorts of "conditions" kicking in...we agreed to a week of him hanging out and chilling, but then him spending at least 3 days per week out actively looking for a job and making follow-up calls and all that, with the deal being that he will have a job within a month. Maybe a crappy job while he continues looking for something better, but a job. My mother sent money for him to get better clothes with, which I'm sure will be...interesting, to negotiate with him. I think it will be ok. He seems to respond well to being initially horrified, like for instance when I suggested bow ties and suspenders in plaids it made him much more open to black polos. There have to be some sort of beige penny loafers out there that can terrify open him up to plain old dark dress shoes.

He says things sometimes that strongly imply him being here forever. I've had to gently remind him several times that he shouldn't look at this as his home for the rest of his life - even if he needs to make a 5 year plan or a 3 year plan or something, this is not the place to plan on being when he's 30. He kind of laughed nervously when I told him he has to move out before my kids do.

It's too damned late, and I have to do a marathon run of blitz-cleaning tomorrow for when my father arrives the next day, and then the house just kind of fills up for Thanksgiving...I think I'm going to put Isaac in A and A's room, bring Jake and Elise in our room, stick Bob in the emptied out little kids' room, and let my Dad have Bob's room, for the one night he's here. My sister and I are coordinating the menu and double-teaming the cooking. Oh, damnitt...I have to pick up my produce share all early in the morning because the turkey I pre-ordered is going to be in it, and the lady I pick up from doesn't have room in her fridge for everyone's turkeys...blargh.

That's it, I'm out.
altarflame: (a whole part of the year)
I have barely ever been online, because I've had company come into town; Dama and her daughters are here ♥

I was honestly really freaked before they got here about them coming. I was so stressed about all these ridiculous asinine things I'd convinced myself had to be done before they arrived - like scrubbing the couch and cleaning out the van and making sure all the towels in the house were clean and put away - and it was completely impossible to do any of that while teaching Ananda and Aaron math, taking all of them to their activities, making Halloween costumes for all five, and, you know, THE USUAL cooking and cleaning for all of us. It crescendo'd into this anxiety that almost had me wishing we hadn't scheduled a visit.

Then they got here and the kids all dissapeared to play and she and I started talking and I chilled the fuck out and now I really DO NOT understand what my problem was. I think part of it is because she was bringing Brad, the military husband with the perfectionist cleaning standards, to my house, but it came to a point where I was like, dude. This man has been to war. He can handle the unmopped floor, I'm sure he can.

Anyway. They arrived on Halloween, and that night everyone dressed up and we all went trick or treating together. Her Zoe was Hermione, and she had braided her hair into a bunch of strands and so when she undid it, Zoe really had Hermione hair. Aaron found her a cauldron, Annie lent her a Gryffindor scarf and Isaac's clip on tie really rounded it out (she already had a robe and wand). Definitely a winner.

My kids, the Insects...


I am so incredibly thrilled with how the two little kids' costumes came out. Totally satisfying.


The fluffy boas mean he's poisonous.


This looked so much better the first time he wore it, to his dance class party. He had bigger, browner sunglasses, black shoes, and the extra arms were sticking out properly.


Epic wings.

I've been thinking a lot about "the past". Everything: sibling dynamics when I was young, history with relatives, including Jud the evil x-x-stepdad, everything that went down with Bobby and I, how my mothering has evolved over time, things I'm mortified by now, things I didn't even realize I'd forgotten.

Two things teenage Tina did that I would never do now, with kids:
1. Take babies to the grocery store, to sit in the cart, wearing nothing but a diaper.
2. Allow the infant tylenol bottle's rubbery dropper top - attached to a full (if childproof) bottle to become baby's favorite chew toy. It's in, like, every picture of Ananda under a year old.

It's kind of insane how I look back at pictures of this hairless, bird-chested 16 year old holding a baby...or Grant, narrow and smooth faced...and I have a hard time, even just where I'm at now, thinking, "Oh yeah, obviously these sorts of people should be entrusted with raising children". When I went to the hospital for 3 days to have Aaron - by scheduled repeat cesarean, how times change - Laura stayed with Ananda. My sister Laura. She was the most qualified, I thought, she did a great job. But...Laura was like 14? Alone in my apartment for 3 days and nights with a young toddler. What the hell were any of us thinking? How did this work out? Because it really DID, is the thing.

How does God trust us with each other?

Moving on. Dama and I have...well, let me say this differently, I have held Dama prisoner and forced her to view 700000 pictures. Including this one...

That's my Nana in the front, the one who just had strokes this year. And me in the red pants. My mom by the swing with Laura in it.

I don't know what Christmas Eve is going to be this year. I need to talk to my grandfather about it. He wants to just call it off, and I kind of don't get that. She's home. *frustrated shrug*

My good friend Heather's baby was born, and died, on November 1, 4 years ago. I was very aware of his birthday this year, and grappled hopelessly for something to say. I remember so clearly going through those pregnancies together; knowing we were having black haired boys, who would be so much calmer than our red headed tyrants, together; picking J-names we felt were chosen for us. I felt so miserably sad about my Jake being in the NICU, and then I came home one night and I saw her entry.

Heather - I will never forget your beautiful son.

Shaun has been over a lot.

I'm inordinately frustrated by the lack of sugar pumpkins available in stores right now. We were all getting addicted to pumpkin bread. It better be back soon.

I've been eating things, here and there, that I shouldn't. I have kept my 22 pounds lost off, but I've kind of plateau'd at that weight because of the cheats. On the one hand this is comforting because, well, I'm having an easier time BY FAR of creating balance for myself without weird addictive extremes and it gives me confidence about keeping weight off in the future. On the other hand I do still have a lot more to lose. My 6 weeks on the "Aggressive weight loss plan" were up right as Dama arrived and obviously she needed to sample the organic fair trade hazelnut chocolate I used to be addicted to and should experience the soft garlic cheese, pesto and prosciutto sandwich I invented a few months back, and, you get the picture. *sigh* We just picked up our produce this morning and I'm fairly confident I can continue to make this ETL business happen. Tomorrow is basically a new day 1 for another 6 weeks, we'll see how this one goes. I feel a lot more confident that I can do it - in a humble, because God really can do anything, way - just also very resigned that it's going to feel really straining again at first. Whatevs. I haven't abandoned the program, just need to tighten things up again...

Aaron and Zoe are so freaking cute together. Sometimes I think they are really destined to be together, which I know is ludicrous because they're 7 and 8 years old. But Aaron has had a special face-hiding, blushing, lip-biting place in his heart for her for almost 3 years now, already. She threw up today, from this med she was taking for flu - it's a long story but anyway she threw up, in the van next to him where she was sitting. He did things like open her window for her and bring us her puke bag. He's so...innocent and sincere and totally abashed about this. She can hold his crazy ass cat that nobody can get near but him, and they spent a whole afternoon catching lizards and frogs from (what we call) the alley.

It's really WEIRD in general how Dama's oldest, Maria, is SO MUCH LIKE our oldest, Ananda - they are in the office blaring Taylor Swift and Kelly Clarkson and dancing and singing, and being sarcastic with the other kids. Then Aaron and Zoe are the two who care about the egrets and crabs at Anne's Beach, and can really get super sad and glassy eyed about any cruelty, and are OBLIVIOUS to a hilarious extreme. And then our third(s), Isaac and Luci, are the stand-out light featured ones who whine and cry about things with Ws for Rs. It works out. Elise really loves Dama.

I like giving her a vacation. She was getting Zoe the medication at the Urgent Care clinic and she took her blood pressure, and it was the lowest it's been in years. I like the idea that my house lowers peoples' blood pressure.

My brother started emailing me. We have to get down to the nitty gritty of his contract/guidelines/whatever. I am not especially enthusiastic about that, but, it is what it is.

I got a letter from my forever-friend Jess last week. Will be writing back soon. I hope she is down this way before the year is out.

I wrote another short story, and I'm really happy with it. I'm thinking about trying to get myself a test audience for some of the writing I want to submit, mostly for editing purposes.

And my birthday packages are trickling in. Dama got me an icon! It arrived a couple of days after her, a Theotokos and Christ icon I'll hang somewhere in the library, which I'm trying to kind of theme as our Christian art room.

So yeah.

It's late.

I'm out.
altarflame: (Default)
First of all, comments - to everyone who talked about priestly celibacy, thanks for your links/input. My Dad wasn't researched at all, he was theorizing, and as he is somewhat infamous for wild conspiracy theories of all sorts I assumed this was more of the same.

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

My head is all over the place lately.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My To-Do List for Tomorrow

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

-set a date for potluck we're hosting; email Michelle
-persue Kristin
-do Right Start Math with A and A
-abeka with Isaac
-read to everyone in the afternoon if possible
-work on expectations/guidelines for Bob; email whatever I have to Grant to see what he thinks
-get A and A to dance classes on time (4:45)
-shop for halloween stuff with little 3
-Whole Foods while we're out
-get Tide before we come home
-and hay
-try to have dinner at a decent time, once we're back
-everyone work together to clean up - including starting more laundry
-bed for them by 9:30ish
-hang up clean stuff in my room
-try to write from 10-2am.
altarflame: (Default)
I had a good and productive day. I did just about everything I set out to do.

Got up early, took a shower, stuck to my eating plan. Did two math lessons with Ananda and Aaron - we're doing double math and little else for a short while because they have some holes in their math knowledge and I'm trying to get them up to speed there. I baked a couple of pumpkins and made pumpkin bread with the resulting puree, for tea. We went and got our produce in the morning, deposited checks in the bank, and Aaron got to his evening dance class on time. Also I finally remembered to get our toothpaste, which is only really at Whole Foods, while we were up there today.

Robby came over for tea. He had planned it with me last night over AIM. He showed up, almost 15, with his big hair with it's growing-out-highlights, extremely skinny jeans, 2 layered tops, and what for all the world appeared to be Ugg boots. Yes, yes, it is in the upper 80s here again - ah to be young, gay, and going to the redneck highschool. He was texting me from school today.

(for background, the other day he updated his facebook to say he just heard a teacher tell a kid who had his phone under the desk messing with it, "Either you're playing with your penis, or you're texting - either way, put it away son")
Robby's text: Ugh, they're doing FCAT reviews and I'm stuck in the same class all day, craving your cooking.
Me: Aren't you worried your teacher is going to accuse you of something embarassing in class for texting right now?
Robby: I've got it out, it's ok with him.
Robby: lol, wow.

Most of our conversations are not nearly so ridiculous.

I pulled out all the stops for tea, with sugar cubes and honey in our silly honeycomb and coconut milk to pour into ginger peach tea in the little creamer. And the pumpkin bread, a big fancy bundt cake. We had it all on a huge red quilt in the sideyard with the rabbits hopping around in a pen nearby and chickens pecking crumbs off our plates and drinking from our teacups. The kids made him watch them do a ton of tricks and stunts and view an assortment of lego creations, and he helped me hang a Fisher Price swing I got for Elise off of freecycle the other day (as in, he climbed the tree to hang knots). He told us he was telling everyone at school today, in a British accent, that he was "having afternoon tea with the chickens later" and nobody believed it.

I invited him back for Friday, to come to game night at the bookstore with us. It's really, REALLY weird how Ananda and Aaron are at the super annoying tween age he used to be when he irritated me half to death. THEY are irritating me like that now. I really don't care for this stage of false bravado and general distain for everything. Give me infant-to-preschoolers or teens any day.

I talked to my friend Michelle...one of my friends Michelle, I actually have 3 Michelles in my phone now counting my aunt...and she got me all excited about planning Nancy's Birthgirlz event and selling books of my own and things like that.

I talked to my Dad for awhile and he told me this INSANE theory he has about how the Catholic Church doesn't allow priests to marry because that way the church can have all their stuff when they die, since they don't have any heirs to inherit it all. "Think about it, multiplied over all the priests - that's a lot of money, Tina". SO CRAZY.

He also told me less crazy and much more intense things, like about how his dad - my Pa - called him up and said he was going to kick the bucket and he had to teach him to cook some things first, so he went down there and cooked things with Pa's directions and really, he is glad he knows how to now. Pa always took care of all of us with food. I'm doing my annual "Scramble to get my paternal family together for Thanksgiving" thing. It's worked 3 times in my adult life, but none of those were last year or the year before...I wish it was easier to get everyone HERE from Key West, because I have room to put people up and to serve a huge meal. Everyone is down there, though, where there's no room for anything.

Having a reeeeeeeeeeaaally hard time not buying stuff. My birthday is 4 days away and I keep putting things in my Amazon cart, searching eBay auctions...I had an original birthday budget I was looking forward to spending, but since then some changes have occured that make that budget not such a good idea :/ I think that because I'm not eating constantly like normal, and also because I'm giving up a lot lately (my office for Bob to move in, pretty much all my normal time and attention from Grant because of his work schedule), I want more STUFF.

Also because a lot of this stuff is either Catholic/Orthodox books, art, or prayer aids, it is hard to feel like it could really be so "wrong" to get them. Blah. And I find such good DEEEEEEEAAALLS!!

My last few days have been full of:

-Isaac's croup. This is awful. I'm trying to keep the humidifier filled and supplemented with Vicks liquid at night, and his chest smeared with Vicks, and we're letting him sleep in the tv room propped up nearly to a sitting position. Taking turns being out there with him. We were absolutely freaked a couple of nights ago, he was coughing himself purple, vomiting from coughing...the doctor thinks it's the weather. We had the first cold front of the season the other day and it was the first major drop in humidity in like 8 months, which is huge for kids predisposed to this kind of stuff. I'm trying to keep him full of liquids. He actually wants cuddles, which is rare for him - and is enjoying the ripple blanket I made him, that just got done last week.

-that weather was awesome...aside from the croup :/ Isaac enjoyed going out with hot cocoa, popcorn, and "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown" on the projector, in the backyard. It was 58 that night, which is A Big Deal here. We've been spending a lot of time outside. A and A have been taking nighttime bike rides with me to see peoples' lit Halloween decorations.

-I'm just losing more and more weight. I'm down 19 pounds now, from 233 to 214. In ONE MONTH. And right now, at 214, I'm due to start my period tomorrow..so by all rights I should be bloated and up a few pounds by my normal patterns. I think it just appeared to slow my rate of loss, this time. This is great because, you know, it's just great. It's also starting to suck a lot though, because it's really messing up my belly bigtime to have all the fat melting away. Just...yuck. The hanging and sagging, the protruding and freakiness, also I have new and previously unexperienced sorts of back pain almost every day now. But none of the accute hernia pain I used to have semi-regularly? So...I dunno.

-This also makes my impending surgery seem more and more immediate and terrifyingly real. I'm having trouble sleeping again. Then today I saw this great article about how much more likely people with PTSD are to die after major surgery because of how the stress and triggers impede their healing and even blood flow. Really, it was so awesome. *this is me stabbing myself in the eye*

I miss Grant so much. Even when he's here, he's not usually here. On the way home from church, or laying in bed cuddling, ANYTIME I ask him my standard, "What are you thinking about?" ...it's something about work. Always. I can't tell to what degree he has to work as much as he is, and to what degree he is a workaholic. He can't either. It's kind of making me nuts, when he's here. When he's gone, I have a fair amount of peace about doing the best I can with my day to day life regardless. Sleeping separately to care for Isaac is not helping our strain any. We sat on the deck watching stuff on the laptop tonight, and layed together for just a few minutes after he had to go to bed. He is supposed to be meeting me around Dance Empire tomorrow afternoon to trade vehicles, take the little kids, and allow me to go write for the 3 hour block of A and A's classes. It's like a partnership between people with separate lives. I'll take my deeply entwined and codependent constant intimacy back now, please.

The thing is I can try to give him all the space he needs to try to get promoted and try to make more money for us. I really can, I was doing that for a couple of weeks. We talked about it just a little, though, and he adamantly doesn't want me to NOT tell him about my day or when he's being kind of an asshole or when I'm thinking something he's not equipped to deal with at the moment. He says we've been making this work really well for a long long time because we are completely open and share every tiniest detail. He's right. But - ? How do I maintain that when he gets home for the first time all day at nearly 9 pm, in a bad mood and needing to be in bed by 10:30, having not even had dinner yet? *sigh*

I am mostly content and grateful.

I am constantly reminded of others' around me who have much larger problems to deal with than I do. And grateful for my ability to give my kids this life and to reach out and help some extras, as well.
altarflame: (burning bush)
I've discovered that I have a much easier time sticking to my (modified) Eat to Live ideals AND staying close to God if I go outside. Staying inside all day, like sitting around on the computer too much or being awake until 5 am, only has a negative effect on my whole life.

So I take my breakfast and lunch outside and eat on the deck most of the time now, on my shady bench swing. This is especially awesome if it's pouring down rain several feet away. Today was like:

-One of my plain yogurts with a few grains and pears stirred in. I REALLY love this.
-half a peach (split with Elise)

-bruschetta - whole wheat toast rubbed with cut garlic, topped with sliced tomatoes, lots of fresh basil, and salt - seems decadent at this point
-scallops because I can buy big bags and thaw them 3-4 at a time and they're basically fat free...I bake them with seasoned salt and lemon juice on them
-a massively giant pile of steamed green beans with whole garlic cloves and slivered almonds

-big bowl of leftover kale and bean soup with a ton of nutritional yeast in it
-pile of raw sugar snap peas in the pod
-half a pomegranate

I also did 42 minutes of excercise on the Wii Fit, which is almost twice my normal 20 minute Wii workout. And included a newly-unlocked 15 minute run. Fifteen minutes straight of running...after 27 minutes of yoga poses, hula hoop and "basic step"ping...is kind of intense. But really gratifying. My Wii is consistently like, "I'm worried about you! You're losing weight really fast!" and I'm like, bwahahaha.

Grant's work schedule is ridiculous and insane. I don't think he's gotten home from work before 8:30 once in the past 2 weeks unless it was because he HAD to leave "early" that day, to pick up kids from dance, at like 6:30/7 (his scheduled hours are 8-5). There is a serious bitterness to unpaid "overtime", particularly when it goes down like it did last Saturday, and he arrives home at 4 am. Or the Saturday before, when he got here just before midnight. Probably half of all our communication now takes place via phone and email. Sunday we all go to church together, but then within an hour of being home he has to be working for the winery for hours, which continues late that night, culminating in a meeting Monday morning and then minutes, billing, updates, etc from that meeting in the afternoon. Then his actual workweek restarts Tuesday morning.

We've been managing some pretty great single-hour time slots alone together in the bedroom...we get the kids either asleep or in front of a movie and we can take a laptop in there and watch something on hulu, lay together and talk about aaaaaaall the crap that went down that day for each of us, or what have you ♥ It's a novelty to have the bedroom to ourselves...Elise is all moved out and until sometime while we're sleeping when her and Jake sneak in, it's the two of us. We've literally never had that before.

Honestly the kids and I have been doing great this week, having good days. Spending the afternoon at Laura's or at PATH, having tea outside with the chickens, painting and baking and reading. Everyone is old enough to give me some space if I just want to be left alone to read or knit or talk on the phone for awhile, or for them to all GET OUT so I can use the Wii without having to deal with endless questions and running commentary. We're way past the "can't take a shower without another adult home" phase. It's just so jarringly STRANGE to have this sensation of G and I having...completely separate lives. Just coming together for updates. Little stuff like packaging up leftovers for his lunch the next day and leaving reminder notes, or ironing his clothes for the next day, are how I'm "taking care of him" from afar.

He told me tonight, during our hour, that he's actually been thinking fondly of our time in Boston just because he wasn't working at all and had nowhere to be but with us. BEFORE Elise was born, of course... all those parks, and him taking A and A up a little mountain with a map and some supplies, and him and Aaron walking through the woods. The two of us just up alone by a window late, watching snowflakes fall.

It was totally different when we got back home...even at Grant Sr's house, we were deeply in debt from the extra time and expenses and his business was damaged, and he was working 7 (long) days then, too, pretty much until I went into the hospital and he HAD to stop. Completely.

This is all coming at me from all sides, bottle-necking me down the only narrow path I feel is left - him gone all the time to make enough money, the kids able to leave me be for periods of time, the fond remembrance of times with less working. Basically I feel like it's now or never and I have to start not just writing, but laboriously researching and sending my stuff out, too. Not when he can let me, but every single day. I've already talked to Ananda and Aaron about it. I'm going to try to explain it to Isaac, Jake and Elise tomorrow. And when Bob is living here, he can probably help with this. I am thinking of doing it either as 1.5 hours right after we all go outside and sit and talk together and have tea for awhile, or after a whole long day when everyone is beat anyway. I can set the alarm so that I'll know in case anyone tries to go outside, set them up with an activity, lunch, craft, or movie beforehand, and put myself behind a locked door. The tv thing being in the rotation won't be too bad, because we've really wittled the tv viewing down to only about 3 movies or shows per week with them for quite awhile now so that can just be then. There is a chance that Elise is just not ready for this yet, but I THINK that with her four older siblings right there and some sort of structured thing for them to start out with, it could work. It'll have to be experimental at first. But there are plenty of times throughout normal days when I don't see her for 45 minutes at a stretch just because she's playing with the other kids in another part of the house or the other yard.

I'd also like to devote a half hour of my normal day to this in ways that I can with them hanging around me - editing, addressing envelopes, that kind of stuff.

I feel so calm lately. About everything. Losing a ton of weight really quickly? Calm. Grant being gone all the time? Calm. Starting to send out my writing for publication? Calm. I know I can do this, with the weight. I know he'll be home later. I know I'll get rejected a million times, at least initially, but eventually somebody will take something. I mean, I get happy, I miss him, I get excited. But there is this deeply rooted calmness under all of it.

I highly suspect this is the "Peace in Christ" Catholics offer each other during Mass.

Aaron asked me tonight if we're becoming poor. I was like, what are you talking about? He said we keep talking about the budget and saying we don't have any money for every little thing and he feels bad like we're poor now. We ARE on a budget and not buying all kinds of things. But I'm trying to explain to him that people who own their own home, and have a couple of nice cars, and play Wii and have a kitchen always stocked with mostly organic groceries, are not poor. I was trying to explain to him how expensive things like cake and presents for Jake's birthday and dance classes for him and Ananda are. How we just went out and bought them all new clothes because they were outgrowing everything at once. I don't understand how a kid who owns his own drum set, accoustic and electric guitar, bike, skateboard and unicycle can feel sad about being poor. His eyes get all big when I tell him we never could have had a piano at home, when I was growing up, or even a bunch of pets because things like hay and litter and vet bills cost extra money. He seemed really confused as he walked off, which I do not get.

We do try to be frugal to some degree. It's a Craigslist'd, upright piano. The new clothes were all bought off clearance racks. But they're still NEW clothes, for 5 kids! We've gotten some of their dance class fees reduced or waived this year, but we're still paying for a bunch of dance classes. We haven't fixed a dented fender in the van because the insurance has a $500 deductible. But I don't think Aaron even knows about any of these sorts of things I'm talking about. They act excited as heck to shop at Goodwill and are perfectly aware that people starve to death in this world. Where is the perspective? *sigh*

I have been writing this as I wait up for Dama on AIM, because I want to dissect this whole Catholic Vs Orthodox thing a lot more, with a bunch of points I thought of today in mind. It's too obscure (and lengthy) to post about and I don't have time to even get started, with Grant. Ah, well.

A couple of people have told me they couldn't get into flickr because they don't have accounts. So. Here is my wild thing, Jake, in the costume Laura got him for his 4th birthday:

And here is the robot cake I made him:
altarflame: (Default)
They're becoming one and the same for me.

Sometimes I get kind of freaked by the "results" of this (modified!) Eat to Live program. Like...I lost 4 pounds in two days. I've lost 13 pounds in 11 days. That's insane! It's unhealthy! It's NOT OK, or sustainable!! But...yesterday's menu:

-breakfast was a BIG bowl (like 2 cups-ish?) of steel cut oats, with half a banana, some blueberries, a handful of raisins, a splash of coconut milk and about 2 tbs of flax seed meal mixed into it, making it a massive bowl all told. With a couple of slices of blood orange.
-lunch was a plate of raw veggies (half a red pepper, a couple of baby carrots, handful of sugar snap peas, tomato slices) and a handful of walnuts, with a couple of figs
-dinner was a biggish salad of spinach, blueberries, a full cup of chickpeas, cherry tomatoes, and lemon juice squeezed over top, with a plate on the side of plain steamed broccoli and garlic cloves - last 3 figs for dessert


-breakfast was lowfat plain yogurt I buy that comes with chunks of pear and some grains at the bottom, with fresh pineapple and a handfull of mixed raw nuts
-lunch was a heaping bowl of black beans with chunk tomato stirred in and about a third of a raw red pepper on the side, and about a cup's worth of plain baked sweet potato
-dinner was this stuff I made in the oven - layered sliced eggplant, sliced mushrooms, spinach, diced canned tomatoes, fresh basil leaves, sliced garlic cloves, a little salt. I ate a ton of it, like almost a whole baking pan's worth? With half a banana.

So yeah. Not starving myself (actually getting full at every meal). Definitely getting plenty of nutrition. I'm sure part of it is that I've started off with SO much to lose, and that I was eating such a RIDICULOUS quantity of almost exclusively high fat foods before that this is a radical change. I don't know though - I've done a ton of recon on crazily varied messageboards where people are following this initial 6 week program (everything from MDC to weight lifting sites) and it seems as though a pound a day is average throughout it...there are tons of people saying they lost 35-40 pounds in the 6 weeks, and kept it off even after abandoning the program altogether.

*shrug* I'll take it.

I am going to be making an entire post about The Silent Mountain sometime soon. It is taking me much, much longer to read than books normally do, for a variety of reasons, but there is no way to explain how many different profound effects it's having on me.

At the same time, I continue to lean heavily on God and be amazed at Grace as I actually..don't eat stuff I shouldn't. Day after day.

And Anne Rice, who I follow on Facebook, keeps posting relevant things just as I get to parts of the book that are about them, and my head is just spinning in so many directions at once.

I'm doing a poor job of condensing this. Condensing, it's not really what I do ;) But...I'll expand it later.

For now, what I really wanted to share here is how deeply I'm delving into both Catholic and Orothodox theology and how strongly it all resonates, and how INCREDIBLY emotionally invested in reconcilliation I am becoming. A Catholic Archbishop in Russia just said, in September, that he thinks we may only be "months away" - this was after meeting with an Orthodox leader, and was published in various Catholic newspapers. Read about it here - http://www.ncregister.com/daily/catholic-orthodox_unity_in_sight/#When:15:10:59Z The SSPX bishops are also meeting with the Vatican this month. I WANT UNIFICATION SO BADLY. It is intense.

Orthodox Priest laments the disorganized state of Orthodoxy in general as being in the way of reconciliation - http://palamas.info/?p=870?a9e7f9e0

Catholic blogger talks about the differences in perception of reconcilliation between the Catholic and Orthodox - http://ericsammons.com/blog/2009/09/15/catholic-orthodox-unity-within-a-few-months/

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