family fun · Kids · whine and cheese

Day 75: At least the kids had fun

By 1:00 p.m. today our “foster trampoline” was fully assembled, positioned, and ready for action. R and N earned the privilege of the first jump, since they helped me and the movers yesterday by holding and handing us tools and parts.

We all took turns, and then at one point it was just me and E on the trampoline. We were bouncing around, minding our business, when I suddenly felt a stinging whiplike blow to my head. For a minute I thought maybe one of the rods that hold up the safety net had snapped or come loose (they’re under a lot of tension). As it turned out, a branch had fallen… right on my head.

I put my hand to my aching head and it came away stained with blood. I sent E running for Mr. December, and after making sure I was mostly okay, he examined the branch. He concluded that since it was barkless and very dry, it must have been stuck in the branches of our maple tree and then dislodged by today’s wind. Before we allowed the kids to jump, we had both examined the branches above the trampoline for dead or falling branches and found neither. I have no idea where that branch came from.

I spent the rest of the afternoon lying on the couch, feeling woozy. I napped for several hours. I still feel a little weird, but not even close to how I felt when I got a concussion in January of 2019. I’ll be fine.

In the meantime, the kids were on the trampoline all afternoon long. K was giving the younger ones lessons in how to execute different kinds of jumps and drops; then she choreographed a routine that involved music, costumes, trampoline skills, and dance. The children performed it for us at 8:00 tonight. I was impressed — not necessarily at the skill they displayed (though it was good), but at K’s leadership, their teamwork, and their creativity.

They bounced for at least 5 hours today. That means they should fall asleep instantly, right?

“Eema!”

Oh, come on!

better homes than yours · education · family fun · Kids

Day 74: Lady and the Tramp(oline)

So I ended up going to sleep around 2 a.m. last night. Woke up at 8:45, only because my alarm went off. Six and a half hours of sleep is not enough sleep for me. I function best on nine or ten. But let’s get on with the real news, shall we?

First of all, I’d like to congratulate Mr. December on winning his office’s “Working from home” photo contest. I only found out about it when his prize arrived yesterday. It had a “best before” date on it and a label that said “Vegan Box.” Looks like the classic joke applies here too: How do you know if your box is vegan? Don’t worry, it’ll tell you.

We’re fostering a homeless trampoline now. It basically fell into my lap — the mom of a friend of a friend (got that? Me neither) was downsizing and obviously couldn’t take her ten-by-thirteen-feet trampoline to her condo. Her daughter lives in a condo, but hopes to buy a house soon-ish and would really love to have the trampoline in her yard when she finally does; she was looking for a family who had space for the trampoline and would use it, but be willing to give it back to her when she finally has space. That family is us.

I really have to hand it to the movers who delivered the trampoline to us. We had to take off three of the legs, and putting them back on proved to be extremely difficult — it took an hour, a couple of four-foot bar clamps, two ratcheting tie-down straps (one snapped in the process), and a whole lot of brute force, but it’s now standing in our backyard, waiting for me to tighten all the nuts and bolts before letting my kids loose on it.

Their grit and determination was impressive; I wish my kids had stayed and watched how many things the movers had to try before they succeeded. Around here, any work that’s even a little bit difficult results in a meltdown complete with throwing things, thrashing around, and wailing, “I CAN’T DOOOO IT!”

“But you just did a question that is almost identical!”

“NOOO! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND!”

Darn right I don’t. Is a little grit and stick-to-it-iveness too much to expect? I don’t think so.

education · family fun · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Jewy goodness

Day 73: Time to pull an all-nighter!

Shavuot begins tonight. It’s both a religious festival (celebrating the giving of the Torah) as well as an agricultural one (celebrating the first fruits, and the wheat harvest.) Difficult as it is to imagine harvesting fruit and wheat when only two weeks ago we were wearing winter coats, Jewish festivals are based on the agricultural cycle in Israel; so we in Canada have to get used to celebrating trees in January, spring in March (when it’s often still winter,) and the wheat harvest right about now.

My favourite part of Shavuot (aside from the tradition of eating cheesecake) is usually the customary all-night Jewish learning. In non-pandemic times the downtown Jewish Community Centre ran a really awesome program with many different classes, panel discussions, choirs, and book talks — at least three or four to choose from in each hour-long slot — punctuated by breaks for ice cream and cheesecake.

Last year K joined me and enjoyed herself so much that she begged me to stay all night. I said no — I’m not twenty anymore and my body does not handle all-nighters very well — but I plan to do something like it at home. I may join one of the dozens of online sessions that are happening tonight; First, though, I’ll do something for the kids. Staying up late is exciting; how much better is it if you’re staying up late to eat cheesecake or ice cream and have a reading party?

So here’s the plan: after dinner, I’ll sit down with my kids (particularly R and E) and a pile of books about Shavuot or about Jewish values in general. We’ll read them all, eat some dairy desserts, and have a very late bedtime. With K and N I might either read to them or find some engaging videos we can watch together (I’m thinking that clips from The Jews are Coming, my favourite Israeli comedy sketch show, might be good for both Torah stories and Hebrew.) It’s not an all-nighter of Torah Study, but I’m hoping it will be interesting and memorable.


Speaking of memorable (and Shavuot, come to think of it,) today I learned that N knows little to nothing about Shavuot. I didn’t expect a long, detailed explanation, but he didn’t seem to know the basics! This is disturbing on a few levels, not least of which is because he attended Jewish day schools from the age of 2 until he turned 8. They taught the kids about Shavuot every single year; there were Shavuot celebrations at school with flower crowns, baskets of fruits, and torah-themed activities; and this was in addition to whatever we did at home. How does he not know any of it?

I suspect that, as my Dad has said on many occasions, N didn’t want to learn it, so he didn’t. It’s a timely (for me, embroiled as I am in homeschooling) reminder that just because a school teaches something, it doesn’t always follow that the child learned it.


In the end, we had a festive dinner and then sat down with the kids and watched videos about Shavuot, starting with Shalom Sesame (it’s Sesame Street about Israel, for Jewish kids in North America.) Then I unearthed a board game called “Mitzvah Millionaire,” which is all about doing good deeds, donating to charity, giving interest-free loans, and answering trivia questions about Jewish religious observance. There’s also a square for a chesed (kindness) bonus — if you get up and do something kind for someone else right away, you get extra merit points. I don’t know how much the kids learned from it, but at least it was relevant to the holidays, and they might even remember some of the concepts tomorrow.

We broke for cheesecake, and then it was back to YouTube to watch Hayehudim Ba’im (The Jews are Coming.) If you haven’t seen it, you should (Search YouTube for “The Jews are Coming Comedy English”.)

It’s 10:30, the kids are in bed, ice cream is calling, and there are many cool study sessions on the internet tonight. This will be my first almost-all-nighter in a few years… wish me luck and stamina!

education · family fun · Kids · The COVID files · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 73: Reset

It’s the most effective solution to most computer problems: unplug it, wait ten seconds, and plug it back in. I’m starting to feel like it might be an effective solution to a lot of life problems, too.

I’m really enjoying life these days. I generally wake up when my body is ready. So does everyone else in this house. We all sit down and eat breakfast (not necessarily at the same time.) Mr. December goes to work. K spends some time in the tree swing. Around 9:45 the kids are settling into their schoolwork and I’m circulating between them. They take breaks as they need them. Lunch is unhurried and is often child-made. School work only takes a few hours; the rest of the day is for playing. We’re getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, if not a ton of exercise. We all eat dinner together, the children do dinnertime chores, and we read or play until bedtime.

When we venture out the front door there are people — actual people! — on their front porches. I’ve found that our neighbours are quite neighbourly when they’re not rushing off to this class or that event. Sometimes I even have time to call friends I haven’t spoken with in months or even years. I’m not driving my kids all over the place every day, and I don’t have to do the annoying pickup at our large school with zero parking spaces and no traffic circle.

N is still having piano lessons on Zoom, but the girls’ violin teacher has been unable to do online lessons. R sometimes participates in the online classes from her dance school, but there’s no stress if we miss it. When online schooling became a problem for us I felt no compunctions about telling the school that we just weren’t going to do it. If we can’t make it work for us, it’s out.

A few weeks ago I remarked that I actually felt very free, not having to feel bad about not going places or doing things. Before COVID, I would have felt guilty RSVP’ing “No” to an event that I could attend, but didn’t want to.

It’s true that the kids miss their friends, although that loss hasn’t affected them in any catastrophic way (that I can see.) In fact, I’m starting to see them really bonding with each other, kind of like they did on our 2-week road trip last summer (I’ll have to tell you about that another time, if you want to hear about it.)

So when people talk about getting life back to “normal” or “opening up”, I cringe a little inside. Right now it’s easy to live this simple life: we have no choice, since there’s nowhere to go and nothing to do. But when the lockdown is over and we have long days at school, long days at work, bumper-to-bumper traffic through endless construction zones… will I be able to make the difficult decisions and just say no to everything but the things we really value? Or will I revert to my old exhausted, road-raging, guilt-ridden self?

Good Grief · waxing philosophical

Day 72: Aunty Leah and Me

We finally buried my aunt today. When I say “we,” I actually mean “The ten people who were allowed at the grave, the nearly two hundred people who joined in on zoom, and I, who was standing in a school parking lot on the other side of the fence from the cemetery.” The last time I was at that cemetery was about a year after my grandfather died. At his funeral I gave a speech. As I stood in the parking lot today getting sunburned, I thought about what I might have said about Aunty Leah had I been given the chance.

When I was three months old, Aunty Leah took me down to the ocean just behind her house, and helped me “swim” in the tidal pools.

When I was four (or so) years old, she assigned me the job of pasting the Gold Bond stamps from “Big B” (grocery store) into the stamp book. She left me to it and came back to a garbage pail full of single stamps. “Why on earth are you throwing these out?” she asked. “They didn’t fit on the line, so I had to take them off before I glued the others in,” I responded. Then Aunty, exasperated, taught me that it was, indeed, possible to use stamps that weren’t all in one strip to fill a line, and that the overflow from long strips could be used in the next line. It seems stupidly obvious now, but I truly hadn’t thought of it.

When I was nine, my Mum made some comment about my crooked tooth (yes, singular. They were all straight, except for this one tooth that was perpendicular to the rest.) I was particularly sensitive about it; I ran crying from the Shabbat table. Aunty followed me into the kitchen and told me about how parents sometimes say and do things that aren’t intended to be hurtful, but somehow end up that way. She shared some of her own perceived parenting misses. She taught me that even adults make mistakes and admit them.

When I was eleven, Aunty and Uncle came to stay with us while my parents traveled to Norway and Sweden for a conference. Over those three weeks Aunty taught me yoga (I still think of her every time I do a Sun Salutation) and the importance of doing a “dry run” (in this case for carpool, but it’s applicable to many things.)

Many of these stories make Aunty Leah sound like a sweet, empathetic soul. She was, but you wouldn’t know it at first sight. She was scary. I mean, every kid and some adults were scared of her, probably because she always spoke frankly. If you were doing something she didn’t like, boy, would she make sure you knew it! She opined about everything, including the reluctance of Torontonians to respond to a simple “Good Morning!” Growing up and living in Barbados, which is (or was) a perfect illustration of how the village raises the child, she didn’t hesitate to teach her sons’ friends such things as how to blow one’s nose properly.

Aunty taught me that it’s possible to disagree with someone and still love and be proud of them. When I was twelve, I celebrated my Bat Mitzvah by chanting the entire Torah portion and the Haftarah (for those who don’t know, that’s a lot of material, and many B’nei Mitzvah do less.) After the service Aunty hugged and kissed me and said, “Mazel Tov, Lovey. You were wonderful. But you know, if you were my daughter, you wouldn’t have had a Bat Mitzvah.” Feeling cocky, I shot back: “Guess it’s a good thing I’m your niece and not your daughter then!”

Aunty taught me the importance of maintaining friendships. Every time she came into Toronto, I’d watch as she pulled the stool up to the kitchen counter, opened up her phone book, and started calling everyone she knew in Toronto. It was always, “Hello! It’s Leah. We’re in Toronto and I just wanted to call and say hello…” now it seems like a quaint thing to do — long distance calling is relatively cheap and everyone is just a Zoom call away — but for much of Aunty’s life, that was the way to keep in touch with your long-distance friends.

It wasn’t just when she came to Toronto, either. Aunty had friends all over the world. I suspect it was her tendency to talk to everyone, coupled with her frankness, that let her make friends easily. Once you were her friend you learned how generous, hospitable, and loving Aunty was to everyone in her sphere.

I had many examples of good marriages growing up, most notably my parents’, but also Aunty Leah and Uncle Benny. It was clear to everyone that they adored each other. It was also clear that they argued on occasion and that Aunty would snap at Uncle. And despite the exasperation, you could always see their love underneath everything else. Five years ago we celebrated their fiftieth anniversary with a big brunch party; the looks they gave each other as they danced to “The Anniversary Waltz” are etched in my mind.

I have so many memories of Aunty Leah that I could fill a book. When we were together for Pesach, she showed me how to make raisin wine; Her banana bread was the first food Mr. December and I ate together right after our wedding ceremony; We swam distances together in the ocean and she taught me how to position my tongue so that I wouldn’t swallow salt water. I could go on and on, but for the sake of brevity I’ll stop here.

The last time I spoke to Aunty was on Pesach; I phoned to say Chag Sameach and she told me stories about how the average Bajan was reacting to COVID. She asked about the children. I asked when we would see her next, and she said it was a bit up in the air and depended largely on Uncle’s health. “Goodbye, Lovey,” she said before hanging up, “I’m looking forward to seeing you next time.”

There won’t be a next time, a fact that makes me cry whenever I contemplate it. But there were so very many times in the last forty years that Aunty and I saw each other and laughed, ate, swam, and talked together, and for those times I am very grateful. Her memory will be a blessing, just as her influence in my life has always been.

education · family fun · gardening · Independence · Kids

Day 71: Garden schooling

I’m getting accustomed to the possibility that my kids might not be going back to school in September, possibly because schools won’t be open, but more likely because schools will open with so many restrictions that they’ll be a waste of time at best and damaging to children at worst. And so we’ve started researching how we might accomplish homeschooling our four children (with four distinct learning profiles) without going mad.

Math is pretty much already solved: we’ve found that we like the Kumon workbooks. They’re clear, simple, and the kids can mostly work through them independently, which is essential for us. Of course we check in on them many times in a work period, and take time to explain things, but we can’t (and don’t) sit beside them and teach them one on one for an hour. They are making good progress so far, so we went and bought all of the grade 5 and 6 books (N’s self-stated goal is to finish grade 6 math by the end of August) as well as all the grade 4 books for R.

The other core subject we dare not ignore is Language Arts. If you couldn’t tell from Day 61: People of the Book Room (house tour!) (our library), we read a lot. Separately, together, quietly, out loud, over tea, in the garden, on the subway. We read. I’m more concerned with the writing aspect — I’m not impressed with the quality of my children’s writing — so I’m working on finding a curriculum that they can work their way through mostly independently, the way they do with math.

All of those issues really don’t apply to E yet. Besides, her school is doing a really great job of online schooling, which surprises me because Montessori is a particularly hands-on style of education. Today E took her one-on-one zoom math tutorial out on the back porch; she learned how to write the numerals 1 through 9.

The rest of our morning was what I always imagined homeschooling to be. Mr. December and I biked out early this morning to get some seedlings (note to self: don’t go to the garden centre after a weekend of beautiful summery weather. They’ll have almost none of what you want.) Then he went back to his work and I mobilized my child labour force again.

First, I had them measure and mark one-foot increments in the garden bed, which was great for reviewing the 12-times tables (“so we have to put the stakes in at 12, 24, 36, and 48…”). Then we used sticks to create a grid of one-foot squares, at which point I asked N to count the rows and the columns and calculate the area of our veggie garden. He answered; I had R and E verify it by counting all the squares. Voilà — measuring length, width, and area!

We then sat on the porch and planned where to put everything. This involved reading the little instruction cards from each plant to determine the correct spacing and positioning in terms of sunlight needs. Then they had to figure out how many plants they could put into a square foot and calculated how many squares we needed to allot to each type of vegetable.

N and R took turns reading the cards and writing the vegetable names down on our diagram, spelling words like kohlrabi, thyme, lavender, and canteloupe in the process.

Then they worked together as a team, checking the diagram and planting the correct type and number of seedlings. I didn’t participate, just answered questions and gently guided them.

So our homeschool morning was a great success, in my view. Everyone participated without coercion (by which I mean revoking privileges or bribing), everyone enjoyed themselves, and they connected what they’re learning at their desks to what we do in our everyday lives. Oh, and our family vegetable garden got planted. I love child labour!

family fun · gardening · Independence · Kids

Day 70: Family Time

Day 70? Really? It feels like we’ve been in lockdown forever, and like it’s been just a couple of weeks. Time is weird.

This weekend has been an exercise in family time. The weather was good, both Mr. December and I were free to be with the kids all day, and we had a great time.

Yesterday we went to my parents’ place for a swim and a picnic. They live on a ravine, so it was like being in the woods. The kids used the swing set and hammock while we lay on a picnic blanket under the trees and spoke to my parents, who were sitting ten feet away.

Today we mobilized our child labour force to help us prepare the soil for our vegetable garden. Many hands make light work, it’s true, but many of our hands drifted away and had to be brought back. There’s clearly room for improvement when it comes to work ethic, although to be fair R went back inside because her allergies were bad; she did her part for the family by cleaning up the kitchen. K, on the other hand, had to be called back several times to finish mowing the lawn, then again to put the lawnmower away.

After the gardening, we finally cracked open the package of hair chalk that I bought at Dollarama months ago. We all took turns colouring each other’s hair, and everyone ganged up on Mr. December — his beard was too tempting a canvas to pass up.

K and I both lamented the fact that the chalk really doesn’t show on our dark hair, which gave me an idea that I hope I’ll have the guts to do one day: when my hair is more grey then brown, I’m going to start dyeing it bright, fun hues instead of trying to recreate my natural colour. Who’s with me? Is the world ready for awesome old ladies with colourful hair?

The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxed and fun. I made pita from scratch (incidentally, anybody who actually knows how to shape it properly and get it thin enough, please teach me.) We ate in the backyard and the kids played until bedtime — the kind of play where they’re barefoot and playing with nothing but sticks, logs, a single tree swing, and their imaginations. I love when they do that.

R has been asking me all day to play a game with her. Tonight was our chance, in the magical forty-five minutes between E’s bedtime and R’s own. I trounced her at Chinese Checkers and Hey! That’s My Fish before tucking R into bed. Two kids down, two to go… and then I can go to sleep, at which I am a champion.

better homes than yours · crafty · DIY · quilty pleasures · Renovation

Day 69: Welcome to the Messy Place!

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s here. Welcome to the Makery!

Prior to our renovation, I wanted a space for my sewing and woodworking projects. Then it dawned on me that my kids should have a place to work on projects where it would be okay to not clean up every single time. We needed a messy space, and my concept for the Makery was born.

Not long after the concept, I came up with a motto for our Makery: “Don’t just stand there… make something!” Our good friend Tanya very kindly used her vinyl-cutting machine to make the letters for us. The plan was for each of us to make one letter from the word “Makery” so that we’d have the whole word, made in six different media, on the wall. That hasn’t happened yet, but I remain hopeful.

Here’s my sewing area. It’s in what I’ve dubbed the “clean” half of the room. The IKEA Trofast bins on the right of the photo are full of quilting fabrics in every colour imaginable. I’ve got my threads all lined up nicely and all the tools and notions are close at hand while I sew. My favourite practical detail here has got to be the huge jars across the top of the shelf — those are my scrap jars. I fell in love with scrap projects a while ago, and even when I’m not opening them up regularly, these jars are pretty and cheerful.

I have tons of these bins. Starting under the window (everything before the window is fabric), everything above table height is my hardware or household supplies, all organized by material or purpose. Below table height is where I keep some of the craft materials that the kids are allowed to access: modelling clay, beads, boondoggle, stamps, paints, papercrafting supplies, and stickers.

Now let’s shift to the “messy” side of the Makery. The white cabinets are from our old kitchen — we removed and salvaged them ourselves. Now they’re home to my collection of non-quilting fabrics: minky, fleece, chenille, flannel, and a bunch of other stuff I couldn’t even name. It’s all in there. Below the fabric cabinet is a desk for the kids. You see it here in its natural state, which is to say, covered in stuff. To the left of the desk, open shelves (also from our old kitchen) hold more craft supplies. The blue cart in the foreground has containers of tools: clay tools, pencils, markers, pens, scissors.

Our printer lives in the corner, along with many reams of paper. You would not believe how much paper and ink we’ve gone through since the lockdown started. We also have a set of laundry machines here: these are our old washer and dryer. They were already ten years old when we were moving back in, and I didn’t want to build our laundry room upstairs around machines that could die in just a few years; so we have this set downstairs and another set upstairs. This set is supposed to be for things that are gross or that we don’t want to carry upstairs to wash. I doubt we’ll replace them when they go.

To the right of the laundry machines, under the window, we have a run of cabinets from, you guessed it, our old kitchen. The sink is fabulous for soaking brushes and washing out paint trays. My favourite thing about it is the lack of pressure to clean the sink itself. I like to think of the paint drips as decoration.

In the drawers I’ve stashed more materials. The large bottom drawer holds all kinds of small scraps of wood. The top large drawer holds cardboard for the kids to use in their crafts. You can see my paintbrushes, paint trays, and spray bottles all stored on the wall rail above the sink. The toaster oven on the counter is for crafts like Fimo and Shrinky Dinks, which need to be baked as part of the process.

My workbench is on the same wall as my sewing room, but on opposite sides of the “clean/messy” line. The two chunky base units were my kitchen island in our first apartment on Charles Street; we added a long countertop and then I hacked a couple of drawers from our old PAX wardrobes to hold my screws, nails, and other hardware, as well as sets of drill bits and other small tool accessories. Magnetic strips on the wall are a handy place to throw things that I haven’t had a chance to sort yet, and all my tools are hanging right in front of me. It’s a great setup.

In the centre of the room stands our old dining room table. At 5 feet by 7 feet, it’s got enough room for many crafters at once, or for huge projects. You can also see our kids’ easel, which gets moved around as needed.

So that’s it. The messy, the clean… well, in theory, anyhow. It’s all pretty messy, which is how I always thought it would be. It’s a workspace, not a showpiece… although I do like to use my work to decorate the space whenever possible, which is why this unfinished quilt top is just hanging on the wall, waiting to be completed.

blogging · education · snarky

Day 68: Clinging to the old ways

Earlier today we were speaking with my in-laws, and my father-in-law told us that he was at the post office because he needed to mail his taxes in.

“You mailed your taxes in?” Mr. December guffawed. “Why not just send them by autogyro? Or maybe a nice carrier pigeon?”

He probably should have ditched the mocking tone of voice. After all, we’ll be old one day too, and then we’ll cling to the way we’ve always done things. I’m starting tonight, in fact. WordPress just changed its publishing interface, and I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it. Apparently there are blocks and containers that you can automatically fit text to? Where do I get a container? And what the heck is a block? I just want my old-fashioned WordPress back.

_______________

Speaking of clinging to the old ways, I discovered today that Mr. December is pretty old-school when it comes to homeschooling. While I think part of the beauty of homeschooling is the flexibility to make each day work for you, he feels that we need a rigid structure, including an early start. My argument, “Why would we not let our kids get however much sleep their bodies need whenever they need it?” was neatly parried with: “The kids are usually up and milling around for at least an hour before you wake up. This isn’t about them.” Mostly true, and a fair point.

We have, however, decided to set some academic goals for our kids over the summer. We’ve gone ahead and ordered several grades’ worth of Kumon workbooks, and I’m curating a summer reading list. Anybody have any suggestions? The only kids’ books I’m familiar with are the ones I read as a kid. I’m sure there’s some great new stuff out there among all the junk reading I’ve seen my kids devour.

Junk reading or great literature? You decide.

(Not that I have anything against junk reading; I’m a prime offender in that department. I’ve never met an R-rated Pride and Prejudice fanfic I didn’t like — Except for the ones that were just badly written, with terrible punctuation and the misuse of words. I don’t know how many times I have to yell at my phone screen about these egregious errors before the writers agree to read a grammar manual or two. I’m amazed at how many writers seem to think that Darcy could possibly decompose Elizabeth (I suspect they meant discompose), or how Lydia flaunting society’s rules does not mean the same thing as her flouting them. Yeesh.)

Right. So, non-junk reading — Suggestions are welcome. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some serious junk reading to attend to.

Shabbat Shalom!

family fun · Kids · parenting · Resorting to Violins

Day 67: Oh, those summer nights

I’m sure a bunch of stuff happened today, but my memories of it have been completely wiped out by the gentle loveliness of this evening.

It was finally, finally warm enough to eat dinner outside. We barbecued our dinner, ate on the patio, and then played in the backyard until E’s bedtime (which is to say that Mr. December and the kids played. I sat in the hammock outside and read the new book I picked up from the Little Free Library down the street.)

I’ve just started reading The Trumpet of the Swan to E, one chapter a night, and tonight Mr. December got her ready for bed and did the reading. At the same time, R asked me to help with her violin practice. We had done maybe four minutes when I looked out the window and gasped.

“Hey, R,” I whispered, “There’s a whole family of bunnies on the lawn!” Why did I whisper? I have no idea. It’s not like I could have startled or spooked the bunnies from twenty feet away and through the window.

R adores bunnies. She says they’re her spirit animal. And seven or eight at once! She put down her violin and bow and ran out to the garden, barefoot, where she slowly tiptoed toward the bunnies to see if she could get a closer look. IMG_3883

Eventually she came running back, a huge grin on her face: “Eema! I saw one little bunny’s butt sticking out of a hole in the ground! And then a bunch of them hopped over into the hedge and when I held the branches apart I SAW THEM!!!”

Is there anything better for a parent than seeing your kid’s eyes light up in wonder? Okay, maybe snuggles. But it’s close.

Our front porch is the nicest place to be on a summer evening. The stone wall of our house and the concrete of the porch radiate the sun’s heat long after sunset, and everything is bathed in golden light.

IMG_3892

And when I came inside, N asked me to sing him to sleep. I haven’t done that in a couple of years, and yet he purred or squealed happily every time I started another song. “I remember this one, you sang it to me when I was a baby!” he’d exclaim, snuggling into my side.

You probably understand why whatever happened earlier today (good and bad) just doesn’t matter after the kind of evening it’s been. I’m happy, and I’m going to bed now.

(And yes, the Fibro is still flaring. But life goes on.)