these days around here…

IMG_7382

…loving having a new family member…loving how completely he’s made himself at home…loving his sweet, affectionate personality…not loving that he feels the need to wake me up several times every night to pet him (dude–my sleep problems are epic even without your demands for attention!)…

…listening to “Don’t Fear the Reaper” on repeat…happens every October…who the hell am I kidding–it happens other times of year too…also in heavy rotation at the moment are “Conversation 16” and “Cold October”…what can I say–I’m a creature of habit…

…enjoying the colors of autumn…not to mention the cooler temperatures…and atmospheric skies…and shorter hours of daylight…

…attempting to keep the overwhelmed and panicked feelings in check…what gets done gets done and what doesn’t doesn’t…and fibro fog will lift and that will help immensely…

IMG_7386

…reading too many books at once, some more diligently than others…as usual…oh, and there’s The Twelve by Justin Cronin on audiobook…yep, forever my own worst enemy…

…anticipating Dewey’s 24 Hour Read-a-thon…and a possible girls weekend if the guys take their camping trip (though Annie will probably have to work most of it)…hearing all about Ana’s latest adventures…fall baking…return of The Walking Dead…and more immediately, my second cup of coffee…

IMG_7366

…feeling relieved that Max’s science project is done…he and his partner spent 12 hours over the past week at our house working on it…almost $50 spent between the two families…total of 4 trips to the hardware store…they had 1 1/2 weeks to come up with a project, do their research, design an experiment, perform that experiment, analyze their data, and put together a presentation…

…thinking that it would be an awesome weekend for Rich to make chili…and me to make pumpkin snack cake…

Advertisements

good stuff: early autumn joys…

Oh Debs, you didn’t even get through an entire month of following your blog schedule. But well, that’s hardly the end of the world, is it? Nope. Life, and fibro, just got in the way. So not a big deal. And in this first month, I did learn that I actually like having a schedule set out for myself for the month, and I think I’ll stick with it, at least for the time being. Well, starting this weekend anyway, as I think I’ll just give myself this week offline. But I remembered this draft I had started (that according to my schedule should have gone up yesterday…but you know, I’m trying to get rid of superfluous “shoulds”).

*****

*As much as I love open windows at night, there’s a new sort of giddiness inside me these last few weeks over the fact that we occasionally need to close them because of the temperatures are sometimes getting down into the lowers 40s.

*Oatmeal with dried cranberries for brunch.

IMG_7348

*Wow. I’m now a parent to three pretty damn awesome teenagers! (Happy Birthday, Max!!!) How lucky I am to get to be a part of all of their lives?!! Yep, very blessed indeed.

*Jean. Her generosity and kindness. I got an email from her that utterly left me in tears. Tears of utter gratitude for having her in our lives. It matters less than zero that we didn’t take her up on her unbelievably generous offer.

*Wow. And now another email that made me cry. Ecstatically happy tears. One of the many wonderful things about loving people is getting to share their joys. Even if it’s not in person, but across an ocean and through an email. I feel I was witness, if after the fact, to one of the best moments of Ana’s life to date. The ineffable happiness it brought me feels almost criminal.

*Dmitri. He finally got his clean bill of health and was able to come home with us. And you’d swear he’s always been a part of our family. He’s such a lovable kitty, all 20 pounds of him. Nothing makes him happier than being pampered with endless attention; his purr-er works overtime for sure. Five humans completely smitten with this beautiful nine-year-old cat.

IMG_0881

these days around here…

IMG_7258

THE GOOD: the end of the horrific heat wave…Max’s glasses arrived and he actually loves them enough to wear them…the library book sale…seeing Eva…Gray adapting extremely well to having a stricter school schedule…finding a new go-to recipe…the wonderful chill in the air in the mornings…

THE BAD: Gray’s troubles with studying…the goshdarn chipmunks eating our beautiful tomatoes…

THE UGLY: major fibro flare…the cost of Max’s school trip to DC in the spring…

IMG_7252

IMG_7287

IMG_7298

IMG_7244

IMG_7277

IMG_7247

IMG_7250

IMG_7325

IMG_7346

IMG_7306

IMG_7259

in the kitchen: a lazy kitchen week ahead

I almost blew off writing this week’s “in the kitchen” post. Thanks to a major fibro flare up (major in regards to severity, that is, but hopefully not in regards to length), I am not feeling much like a functioning human being. I do not think I will ever get used to the way flare ups steal your brain function. Anyway, this means that not only will time in the kitchen need to be cut back, but also that it is just extremely hard for me to focus and organize. Nonetheless, I did manage to throw together a very simple menu plan for the week, featuring lots of fresh tomatoes as our garden tomatoes are finally ripening

IMG_7339Breakfasts.

As per usual, a mix and match of eggs, bacon, oatmeal, apple slices with peanut butter, faux sausage, etc. And there are a batch of pumpkin waffles in the freezer, as I made extra when Gray and I had them for supper last Monday. The exception will be on Thursday morning, as that is Max’s birthday. His usual request is donuts and chocolate-dipped strawberries.

Lunches.

Again the usual for Max. The “goodie” needs to be simple this week as I’m not up for making cookies today. So probably just a doctored-up brownie mix. I’m making a huge batch of the new linguine recipe (more on that in a moment) tonight for supper, so there will be leftovers for a few days worth of lunches for Annie and Rich. Will also be making a huge batch of goulash for freezer lunches for Rich. Otherwise, the usual–fruit salad, yogurt, etc.

Supper.

Sunday: linguine with fresh tomatoes, rosemary bread

Monday (the evening that Rich and Annie can’t be home for supper): for Max–mozzarella sticks; for Gray–frozen pizza; for me–probably will just wait to eat chips and fresh homemade salsa with Rich when he gets home at 9:30 and we watch the latest Fear the Walking Dead

Tuesday: faux chicken sandwiches, leftover pizza salad, shoestring fries, key lime pie

Wednesday: chimichangas, quesadillas

Thursday: since it’s Max’s birthday, we’re indulging his Taco Bell obsession

Friday: out to eat to celebrate Max’s birthday (delayed because Annie has to work Thursday)

Saturday: cheesy baked eggs, blueberry pancakes, sausage, orange smoothies

*****

Shocking as it may be, I managed to stick to last week’s plan almost perfectly. I supposed to try a new recipe for rolls on Thursday, but instead had Rich pick up a loaf of Wegmans’ organic rosemary olive oil loaf that we all love so much. I did try the other two new recipes I had on slate–a rice pudding recipe and the linguine with fresh tomatoes. Both were awesome! The rice pudding I made strictly by the recipe, the linguine I fiddled with a bit.

*****

Linguine with Fresh Tomatoes

8 oz. box linguine

3-4 medium tomatoes, chopped

2-3 jalapenos, chopped (original recipe called for 6 green onions instead)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan (original recipe called for 1/2 cup)

4 tsps dried basil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

(original recipe also called for 3 Tbsp butter)

Cook linguine. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, jalapenos, Parmesan, basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.

Drain the pasta. (This is where the butter comes in in the original recipe. You are to toss the pasta with the butter until it’s melted.) Add linguine to tomato mixture; toss.

It was ridiculously good without the butter, but I’m sure it would be with the butter as well.

in the home improvement realm: Max’s room

Honestly, there hasn’t been a lot of home improvement as of late. I had hoped not only to redo Max’s room this summer, but also the little mudroom/porch/whatever-you-call-it. And patch up the wall in our bedroom that was damaged due to ice dams last winter. And finally finish the odds and ends that I never finished in the kitchen and the hallway. I finished exactly none of that. *very sad sigh*

All that I really managed to do was get a start on Max’s room. As in, I did get it painted. The poor kid got stuck with the smallest (and it is small) bedroom in the house. And the previous owners had used it as a nursery, so it was painted baby blue with a wallpaper moon and stars scattered about. Max was such a trooper about it, not complaining a bit.

But he obviously wanted, and deserved, an update. He came up with a few different color combos before finally settling on orange, white, and black. And I think it was a wise idea to go with the white walls, not only for the sake of making the room seem a little bigger, but also because he really wanted us to put up a strip of color-changing LED lights and the white walls show those off.

Our house is odd in a multitude of ways. It’s old, but not old enough to be cool. More like old enough to be a pain in the ass on a regular basis. 😛  The upstairs, which consists only of Max’s tiny room and Annie’s larger room, has walls which are partially wood and partially some textured sort of panels separated by wooden trim. It’s the textured part of the walls that I repainted. The textured material itself wasn’t hard to paint, but as there are 13 (or is it 14?) of these panels, the trim was sort of a nightmare. The taping, while obviously worth, seemed to take forever.

IMG_0546

And as the wall material was that odd texture, there was still a bit of leakage under it, so I did have to go back and do some touch up with an artist’s brush. But I love the finished look. And more importantly, Max loves the finished look!

IMG_6792

We also ordered Max a small computer desk and a cool orange office chair, both of which he put together himself. And we did buy and put up the strip of LED lights. So far, we’ve spent well under $200.

But there’s still work to do:

*make headboard

*make a few big pillows

*make some sort of window covering (Max and I haven’t figured out what quite yet)

*possibly make a rug (We can’t afford to replace the carpet now, but what’s there is so ugly. With some input from Max, I whipped up a design to make a latch hook rug. But Max hasn’t decided if he actually wants it or not, as he fears it might impede his office chair. We’re going to play with a few other ideas before committing.)

*replace the knobs on the built-into-the-walls drawers and cupboard doors

I’d love to say that much of it will be done by this time next month, but I’m just not sure. Fingers crossed though.

these days around here…

IMG_7160

THE GOOD: having all five of us together for several meals…the beautifully clean kitchen floor thanks to Rich’s hands-and-knees scrubbing…Gray trying really hard in a nightmare-for-him situation…Flapjack…Gray’s awesome attitude to the start of the school year…Annie finding that she should have a fairly regular work schedule once the fall semester begins…window fans…Max finding he’s got lots of friends in most of his classes…Gray reconnecting with Jimmy and the way they chatted for hours on speaker phone while playing Minecraft…having a day to hang with Eva (and Thistle and Moth too, of course)…board games…the Genius Bar…exercises helping Annie’s sciatica…

THE BAD: the end of summer break…my computer deciding that it will not allow Airport to be turned on (but, see “the good”)…Annie hurting her back at work and ending up with sciatica (but, see “the good”)…

THE UGLY: the hot, humid weather…

IMG_7173

IMG_7196

IMG_7184

IMG_7164

IMG_7216

IMG_7212

IMG_7179

IMG_7195

IMG_7206

IMG_7235

IMG_7163

IMG_7165

IMG_7185

IMG_7169

in the land of parenthood: on the eve of a new school year…

What I wish for my children: that they be happy, that they be kind, that they be responsible, that they be who they want to be.

I know education plays a part, in ways direct and indirect, in ensuring that my wishes for them come true. Or not.

We’ve gotten a bit of flack over the years for our education choices. From family, from friends, from strangers. From those who are adamantly opposed to public schooling. From those who are adamantly opposed to homeschooling.

Whatever.

We’ve always done our best to give each of the kids as individuals the education that meets their own needs best. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy, or that I don’t worry all the time.

IMG_7152

As we start this new school year…

I worry that instituting a more rigid schedule for our homeschool day is going to lead to a good bit of butting of heads with Gray. It didn’t used to be a big problem when much of our school day was spent together, but now that he’s older and works on his own much of the time, it’s really become an issue. This is SO HARD for him. Asperger’s and time perception/time management–yeah, they generally don’t play well together. How do you manage your time when you can’t even perceive time?!! So yeah, this is going to be big on our agenda this year…and I know he’s just not going to like it.

I worry that Gray, despite his intelligence and his creativity, may never be able to function in the social world. And yet Rich and I and even Gray’s psychologist know public school is not the place for him. His social anxiety is just so overwhelming, despite meds and despite years with his amazing psychologist. It’s not that there hasn’t been improvement. But the improvement is slow and spotty and fickle. And I just worry so much…

I worry that Annie’s got too much on her plate with her very full schedule of courses and what I fear may be too many hours at her job. And I worry about how that might affect her health. That the stress will throw her OCD into a tailspin again. I just can’t bear to think of her going through everything she went through last fall all over again.

I worry that she’ll never focus in on that one thing she most wants to do. I get it (I’m so much like her in this); there’s so many damn options for paths that sound intriguing.

I worry that Max will fall back into his “do as little as I can to get by” attitude when it comes to schoolwork/homework. But things have been getting exponentially harder each grade and he’s not going to be able to keep up his excellent grades if he doesn’t start putting in more effort. And they’ve put him in the advanced math class again, and frankly, that makes me nervous. He struggled so much last year being in the advanced class, but his teacher thinks he’s ready for it, so here’s hoping…

I worry that I will spend too much time frustrated over Max’s lack of organizational skills. I can’t even count how many different strategies we’ve tried; his brain just doesn’t seem wired that way. He lost two lunchbags last year, forgot something at school that he needed for his homework countless times, lost a jacket…yeah, frustration.

I worry about little things. And big things.

I worry too much–I know this.

IMG_7136