Archive for January, 2012

January 24, 2012

We interrupt this blog to sleep.

by Decemberbaby

Because we haven’t been sick enough already, I now have bronchitis and strep throat. N has a double ear infection. R has a phlegmy cough (but the doctor assures me that her chest sounds clear), and K’s nose is running like a faucet.

Oh, and our nanny quit.

I plan to go to bed and not blog again until I can sit up without feeling short of breath and nauseated. Thanks for understanding.

January 22, 2012

The Montessori Blog

by Decemberbaby

I’m not going to post over here every time I’ve posted over there, so please either click follow or check back regularly.

Jewish Montessori Mom

January 21, 2012

Why the crying is a blessing

by Decemberbaby

R has been exceptionally needy for the past week or so. She cries whenever I put her down, even in the swing, unless she’s especially in the mood to play with her hanging toy. Then she’ll tolerate about 20 minutes of floor time. Otherwise, forget it. She cries unless she’s being held (or N is climbing on top of her. I used to stop him from doing that, but then I noticed that it makes her smile.) If she falls asleep and I put her down, she’s crying two minutes later. It’s exhausting.

Perversely, though, I won’t wish it away. Every time I pick her up I remind myself that her crying is a blessing. If she wasn’t needy, how easy would it be to neglect her – to park her in the swing or on the floor and then play with the older kids, who will actually remember whether or not I was there for them? R’s crying is a reminder to me that she needs to be kept close. She wants to be in on the action.

Every time I pick her up from crying, she heaves a shuddering sigh and then snuggles into my shoulder. And when I hold her in my arms and look at her she smiles widely, and I see two things: first, that R has a beautiful face, and second, that R has a beautiful soul. I can see it in her eyes.

When I was pregnant with R, a friend lent me a book about Judaism and pregnancy. Several of the women interviewed used a phrase I’ll never forget: “bringing down a neshama (soul)”. What they mean is that pregnancy and birth are a process of bringing a soul down from the spiritual realm into the physical world so that it can fulfill its purpose.

I love this idea. I’m not just having children, passing on my DNA, changing diapers and doing dishes. My children are not just extensions of me, adorable companions, or heirs to the Decemberbaby fortune (if I can remember where I’ve stashed it.) Each child is a unique neshama, a soul with a mission to accomplish. Each one already has the necessary aptitudes and traits to accomplish that mission. My role isn’t to turn the children into the people I think they should be, but to watch carefully and discover who they already are. These souls have been entrusted to me so that I can help them identify, refine, and apply their own gifts.

As I often find myself saying: “My job as a parent is to help my children learn to use their personalities and abilities for good instead of evil.”

R may not be as quiet or as patient as I might want, but her cries and smiles constantly remind me to nurture the soul that she has – and in the process, to refine and develop the gifts that enable me to be a good mother.


I typed most of this post standing up, with R in a sling, swaying to music. R is, at the moment, quite content. Thank God for baby slings!


January 18, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: Bloggy edition

by Decemberbaby

Well, this week has been… interesting… we had a cold, stomach flu, high fevers, and now I think I have pinkeye. I think that my next “in progress” project should be a sign that reads “____ days without an illness”. Don’t you?

Also, our nanny hasn’t been here since last Friday. I’m doing my best to keep up with the laundry and keeping the place from turning into a total sty, and that leaves precious little time for anything else. On the upside, I haven’t had to make dinner – we’re eating our way through the freezer this week. I tell you, everyone should stock up and then have a “freezer week”. It’s low-stress and delicious!

If it sounds like I’m stalling, I am. Here’s why:

STILL not complete: K’s kippah

I don’t think I need to reiterate the reasons why I’ve been tired and busy and unable to get down to the sewing room, but I will say that I’m very unimpressed with my lack of progress. Seriously, I could probably carve out ten minutes. Right? I will try to do better this week.

In progress: weight watchin’

Today ends my second week of Weight Watchers. I lost 1.2 pounds this week, bringing my total to 4.2 pounds. I have to say, doing this program while breastfeeding is really awesome – they insist that nursing mothers add about 50% more points every day, which means that I don’t feel like I’m restricting my eating much. I’m just replacing m&m’s with grapes.

This week I plan to get in some good cardio exercise 4 days out of 7, and some more relaxed walking the other days.

In progress: Photo books

I finally got the license key for the software, so my scrapbook pages no longer say “trial version” on them. I also got to download a whole bunch of free scrapbook elements (images, papers, embellishments, etc) that come with the software. Yippee!

I spent most of last Sunday doing the sample book, and I finished K’s section. Here are two of my favourite spreads:


This week I plan to get all of the photos I’m missing – result of last year’s laptop crash – and finish N’s section of the book. That is, if R stops screaming long enough for me to put her down. It’s just taken me 20 minutes to type this sentence.

In progress: A New Blog!

Big news, y’all: I’ve started a new blog. It’s exclusively focused on the Montessori stuff. I decided to create it after being approached by a few people in the Montessori community about reading more of my writing. I figure they don’t all need to know about my weight loss, our menu plan, or how we found a raccoon sleeping in the bakfiets.

So here’s a question to my readers: do you want me to cross-post everything I write on my Montessori blog so that you don’t have to click over there to read it, or can I just post over there and casually mention it on this blog (maybe with a link)? Please comment and let me know.

Okay, that’s it. What are you planning to accomplish this week?

January 17, 2012

Some days are like that. Even in Australia.

by Decemberbaby

6:30 a.m.: Wake up to R screaming shrilly. Her temperature is 104F (40c).

6:32 a.m.: Dose her with Advil, walk her around a bit.

6:41 a.m.: R falls asleep. Put her in the swing.

6:42 a.m.: In the kitchen getting myself a glass of water.

6:42 a.m.: “Eeeeeeeeemaaaaa… Eeeeeeeeemaaaa…” Good lord, K is awake.

6:44 a.m.: “mamamamamamama!” … and she’s woken N up as well.

6:48 a.m.: Step out of denial and go to greet the kids with a smile. Almost fall asleep standing in their room.

7:00 a.m.: Kids won’t go back to sleep. Get them up, washed and dressed.

7:15 a.m.: Kids have been given food and drink. I lie down on the couch.

7:17 a.m.: “eeeeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:21 a.m.: “eeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:24 a.m.: “eeeeeeeeeemaaaaaaaa…”

7:30 a.m.: It’s too quiet in here. Open eyes, almost have a heart attack. K’s face is inches from my own and she’s just standing there, staring at me.

7:31 a.m.: I beg my child to PLEASE. let. me. rest. PLEASE. I may or may not be whining.

7:32 a.m.: Said child nudges her way onto the couch and insists on lying down with me. I cover her with the blanket and close my eyes.

7:36 a.m.: Almost asleep, drifting in that beautiful spot where you’re aware of how deeply relaxed you are.

7:37 a.m.: “eeeeeeeeemaaaaa…”

7:40 a.m.: Only ten minutes before part-time nanny arrives.

8:00 a.m.: Where is the nanny? No matter, I’ll just sleep a little more.

8:20 a.m.: Mr. December appears and asks where the nanny is. Points out that it’s time to take K to school.

8:22 a.m.: After looking at K and hearing her sneeze and cough, I decide that she should just stay home.

8:30 a.m.: R wakes up hungry. Simultaneously, N fills his diaper and needs a change this instant.

8:31 a.m.: Feed R.

8:32 a.m.: In a tacit acknowledgement of just how rough my day is going to be, Mr. December changes N’s diaper before leaving for work.

8:45 a.m.: Mr. December leaves for work.

8:45 a.m.: Sell my soul to Disney – turn on Youtube and find a Winnie-the-Pooh movie that the kids haven’t seen yet.

8:50 a.m.: Put R on the floor to play with her hanging toy. Settle in on the couch with N on my lap and K snuggled into my side.

8:51 a.m.: Fall asleep sitting up. Wake up periodically to make sure everyone is still present and accounted for.

9:51 a.m.: Wake up, see N sucking his thumb, declare it to be naptime. Give N some milk and then put him to bed.

9:53 a.m.: K refuses to nap. Seriously? Just go to sleep, kid.

9:55 a.m.: Whatever. R and I are going to my bed. K can play quietly by herself for a little while.

9:56 a.m.: In bed. asleep.

1:00 p.m.: Wake up. Realize that K has been playing by herself for the last three hours.

1:02 p.m.: Go to check on K. She’s passed out on the living room couch.

1:05 p.m.: Get N out of bed, change diaper, feed him lunch.

1:25 p.m.: N doesn’t really want lunch. He wants to play with his food. Remove food from table and set him free.

1:37 p.m.: K wakes up. Her pull-up is bulging and saturated gel beads are falling out of it. Instruct K to go directly to the bathroom and take the pull-up off over the potty.

1:39 p.m.: “Eeemaaaa…” K is crying this time. “I need your help…”

1:41 p.m.: Put R on the floor mat for tummy time. Arrive in the bathroom to see a huge pile of pee-soaked gel beads on the floor. N is playing with them.

1:42 p.m.: Sweep N off the floor. Wash his hands. Put him in the hallway and close the bathroom door. N screams.

1:43 p.m.: K is still miserable. Run a warm bath for her. While K is in the bath, clean up gel beads and roll up bath mats to be washed.

1:51 p.m.: Pull N off of R. Repeatedly. I now understand exactly how she got sick.

2:03 p.m.: N is miserable and can’t seem to function. Put him back in bed.

2:04 p.m.: N is crying. I’m sure he’ll fall asleep in a minute.

2:07 p.m.: N is now shrieking. He has thrown up all over himself, his bed, the floor, and parts of the rocking chair.

2:08 p.m.: Run for some cloths to sop up the mess on the floor so I can get to N without stepping in puke.

2:09 p.m.: Get K to vacate the bathtub. Run fresh water to warm up the bath. Strip N’s clothing off and dump him in the tub.

2:10 p.m.: Mop up N’s floor and strip his bed. Take the soiled bedclothes downstairs and start the laundry machine.

2:11 p.m.: Oh, that’s where all the kids’ clothes are… in the dryer. And in the basket on the floor. Waiting to be folded.

2:15 p.m.: N has perked up and is vocally demanding more bath toys.

2:30 p.m.: N is finally ready to get out of the bath. Soap him up quickly, get him out, put on fresh pajamas. Hmmm… something still smells. It’s me. Change clothes.

2:42 p.m.: R is screaming. Tummy time is so over. Her fever is back too.

2:46 p.m.: Dose R with Advil, call a nurse friend for advice, pray that I don’t have to take R to the doctor today because how on earth will I manage three sick kids when I’m sick too?

3:00 p.m.: Give N and K freezies to keep them hydrated.

3:09 p.m.: N is seeking another freezie.

3:19 p.m.: The freezer door alarm keeps going off. Get up and close the freezer door again. Instruct N that freezie time is over.

3:30 p.m.: Let the kids watch the rest of that Winnie-the-Pooh movie.

4:30 p.m.: Movie is over. K requests music. Put on CD from our music class and pull out the instruments. Attempt to fold laundry while K and N use drums and claves to drown out the CD.

5:00 p.m.: Somebody’s stinky. It’s N. Diaper is full – apparently this gastrointestinal virus goes both ways. Change his diaper and his smelly pajamas.

5:25 p.m.: High schooler from down the street shows up for her regular Tuesday evening gig. Leave her with the kids. Take dinner out of the freezer and heat it up. Attempt to clean up the kitchen.

6:00 p.m.: Sit kids down at table. Offer N some plain pita.

6:03 p.m.: N throws up all over himself, the highchair, the floor, and the table leg.

6:04 p.m.: Grab clean cloths for the floor. Whisk N into the bath and leave him there while mopping the dining room floor.

6:10 p.m.: Finish cleaning up puke. N is happily playing with his toy elephant. Suddenly remember that N’s mattress protector needs to go in the dryer.

6:20 p.m.: Mr. December comes home. Get N out of the tub and give to his father for dressing.

6:25 p.m.: Nurse R.

6:30 p.m.: Try to put N in bed. N screams. Hold him and sing while he struggles to get down. Give up and put him back in the crib.

6:35 p.m.: N still crying. Maybe he’s thirsty… give him some pedialyte to drink.

6:40 p.m.: R screaming. Leave N, take care of R. Somehow in the brouhaha get K to go brush her teeth and put on a pull-up. Babysitter empties dishwasher.

7:00 p.m.: Both big kids in bed. Mr. December wants to go downstairs to his man-cave. I give him The Look. He stays upstairs and holds R while I eat my dinner. Sigh. Falafel would be so much better if it was hot.

7:30 p.m.: Mr. December finally gets to do his thing. R and I hang out in the living room. Alternate folding laundry with feeding R, rocking R, holding R, and trying to put her to sleep. The rest of the evening is a blur.

10:34 p.m.: Laundry is still not folded. R has fallen asleep twice and woken up twice. I realize that I should be loading the dishwasher instead of blogging. There’s clean clothing all over the living room, the kitchen is a mess, I think there’s a melted freezie under the couch, and I just heard N whimper.

Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

January 16, 2012

Menu Plan Monday – January 16 edition

by Decemberbaby

This week I’m bringing out the big guns. I have no childcare or housework help for three days, which in my world is a prediction of utter chaos. Fortunately I froze lots of meals last week, so that’s what we’re eating. Let’s just call this the “emptying my freezer” edition.

Monday: Vegetarian pasta sauce with fusilli

Tuesday: Falafel, pita, hummus, Israeli salad, bourekas

Wednesday: Moroccan chicken breasts, rice, broccoli

Thursday: Broccoli and Cheddar quiche

Friday: Chicken soup, challah, brisket, sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas

Saturday: Meatballs and rice

Sunday: Potato-leek soup

Well, that was easy! Only one meal requires anything beyond heating stuff up or boiling pasta. Maybe by the end of this week Mr. December will stop complaining that our freezer is too full.

What are you eating this week? If you need inspiration, check out the other posts at Organizing Junkie.

January 15, 2012


by Decemberbaby

You know, I was all geared up to be productive this week, and then our nanny called to say that she can’t be here on Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. My week is starting to fill up with mountains of laundry instead of sewing and scrapbooking. At least I was organized enough to make a few freezer meals last week. I think we can have a hearty dinner every night this week without having to do anything more than boil some pasta. Who’d’a thunk planning would pay off?

I’ve discovered an upside to digital scrapbooking that I hadn’t thought of before: I can do it while breastfeeding. All it takes is one hand to click and drag, so I can work on the kids’ baby books every time R needs to eat, which is often. Did I mention that she’s doing the three-month growth spurt thing right now? She’s feeding every 90 minutes. She’s got the chubby thighs to prove it.

Where was I? Oh, right. Scrapbooking. I managed a few pages this weekend – nine pages, to be precise. I’ve abandoned N’s book for the time being because Mr. December (rightly) pointed out that I should make a sample book first to make sure that the pages turn out the way I want them and that the print quality is good. Hence my new project: a photo book for my grandmother. It will have a two-page spread for each year of each child’s life, followed by a section of photos of all of us. Here’s the cover of K’s section (which, incidentally, is finished):

And yes, there is a red watermark that reads “trial version”. I paid for the software license on Thursday night, and I’ve yet to receive the email with my license key number. That hasn’t stopped the company from sending me two emails confirming that I’m on their mailing list, though. I guess that’s something else to follow up on this week.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s menu plan post – I’ll reveal exactly which frozen meal I’ll be defrosting each night.

January 11, 2012

Work-in-Progress Wednesday: “OW!” edition

by Decemberbaby

Ow. Ow ow owowowowowow owie ow.

My legs hurt.

N and R and I took the bike to pick K up from school today, which means that I biked 15k today with 70 pounds of kid in the bakfiets, really pushing my speed on a very gradual incline for half of that distance.

(On a side note, is it not obscene that it’s January in Toronto and the weather and roads are good enough for me to confidently bike with little kids? And is it wrong that I’m happy about this weather? Screw global warming, I’m going to be in fabulous shape!)

Anyhow, it was a lot of biking, and I really pushed myself, and now my legs hurt. I had a warm bath (with R – what fun!) but they’re still achy. I know that tomorrow will be worse, but I console myself with the fact that I earned an extra 10 Weight Watchers points if I want to eat something outrageous.

On another note, I lost three pounds this week. Hooray!

But let’s talk tachlis (That’s Yiddish. It means “to the point” or “to the purpose”).

NOT Completed: K’s Kippah

I still haven’t finished that kippah, which is pathetic when you consider that it would take maybe ten minutes to finish. But here’s a list of things I DID finish this week:

  • I adapted our kitchen faucet handle so that K can reach it.
  • Installed touch lights in the children’s closet and wardrobe.
  • Installed a reading light for K.
  • Re-mounted the mirror in the kids’ room so that N can’t pull it off the wall anymore.
  • Swapped out the power bars in the kids’ room for new ones with a flat plug. The furniture is finally flush against the wall again.
  • Nailed in all of the finishing nails that had popped up out of the wood floor.

See? I was productive. And it was a whole lot of stuff that needed to get done and that I can never do in the evenings because the kids are asleep in that room.

In Progress: photo books

I started scrapbooking K’s baby pictures. That was all fine and good, but she’s four years old and my scrapbooking still hasn’t covered the first year of her life. I’ve decided that I’m much likely to get all the kids’ photos in albums if I do it digitally instead of hauling out tons of paper, printed photos, embellishments, tools…

Right. So my major project, probably from now until eternity, is creating digital scrapbooks for each of the kids and then having them printed. Anybody want to recommend a good service that is Mac-compatible?

(Don’t say iPhoto. I need more creative wiggle room than they offer.)

This week I hope to do five pages for N’s baby book. Here’s the first one:

I’d better get to it, then. R is asleep (a rarity at this hour – usually she’s crying from 9 until 1 a.m. and I’m dancing around with her… hence the lack of posts) and I have a golden opportunity to sit at the computer and churn out a page or two before bed.

January 9, 2012

Menu Plan Monday – January 9 edition

by Decemberbaby

This week is my first full week on Weight Watchers, so I’m even more inclined to plan than usual. Last week I actually used three (yes, three) freezer meals (two made by someone else, one made by me) and it was great, so I want to make some easy-freezy stuff this week to replenish my freezer.

For those clicking over from Menu Plan Monday, we’re a family of five – two adults, a preschooler, a toddler, and an infant. We’re blessed in that our kids will eat pretty much everything. Oh, and we’re kosher.

Monday – the kids are at the grandparents’ for dinner, Mr. December is at work late. I have no idea what I’m eating.

Tuesday – feta and spinach quiche (make 2, freeze 1), salad, bread

Wednesday – taco night (vegetarian – and I probably won’t eat the shells, but the filling is very yummy in a bowl with some cheese and veggies)

Thursday – Meatballs in sauce (big-batch cooking with a friend), egg noodles, broccoli

Friday – Shabbat dinner with my parents

Saturday – Citrus-nut couscous, moroccan glazed chicken breasts

Sunday – Lentil soup, pita, Greek salad

Hmm… there we go. Two meals that will be frozen for later, only two meat meals, and yummy food all week.

Question for my readers: What do you (and your family) love to eat for dinner? What recipes do you make that freeze well?

January 9, 2012

The one about the kitchen sink

by Decemberbaby

Over winter break, K started preparing her own snacks independently. There was one hitch, though – we found that she can’t reach the faucet handle, so she needed someone to turn the sink on and off for her when she was rinsing her fruit. Such a simple thing, but it’s an impediment to being completely independent at snacktime.

I posted about this problem on facebook and several people recommended a high stepstool or a learning tower so that K would be able to reach the existing handle. The thing is, our sink is very large (read: deep) and she’d still have to reach about 20 inches back just to get the handle. A step stool isn’t going to cut it for a kid who’s only about three feet tall.

Today I was in Canadian Tire. It just happens to be where I bought our faucet, so I figured I could comb the aisles for possible solutions and then check in the faucet aisle to make sure they fit. I arrived in the plumbing department and I saw it. The perfect solution to my problem:

Clear vinyl tubing.

I bought a small roll of it ($7 plus tax), came home, and pushed the end of the tubing onto the faucet handle. I cut it about 12 inches long. Perfect! It’s a tight fit, so the tubing won’t get pulled off, and the extra-long lever has the added advantage of requiring even less force than usual to turn the water on.

But that wasn’t all. No, that was not all. I grabbed some decorative pebbles that just happened to match the accent tiles in the backsplash (matching is easy when you have a favourite colour) and pushed them down the tube. Now it’s functional and pretty not entirely ugly. Win!