Archive for July, 2012

July 26, 2012

The backpack

by Decemberbaby

I don’t fully understand my children’s obsession with bags and backpacks. As someone who avoids carrying a purse whenever possible, I just don’t get why they want to walk around with a bag on their backs when they don’t have to. But no matter, it’s their choice.

The other thing I don’t completely identify with? The need for parents to give their child birthday gifts for their first and second birthdays. The first time someone asked, “What are you giving K for her first birthday?” I guffawed and replied, “I gave her life.”  Really, the kids don’t know it’s their birthday.

But we do. And so, as the end of June approached, I decided I would give N something handmade… a backpack. I scoured the internet for patterns, failed to find one that was both simple enough and fancy enough, and designed my own.

N loves it. See how proud he is?

He wears it constantly. Don’t you agree that gardening is much easier when you have a backpack with a zippered pocket?

It’s also great for urban “nature hikes”…

And cavorting with his big sister.

It’s the perfect size – big enough for a board book and some crackers, and small enough to prevent him from packing up a load that’s too heavy for his little body. And it has trucks on it. Or as N says… “truck. back. pack.”

Know what else it’s good for? Stumping blog readers. It was item #2 in my giveaway post. Remember this?

Yup, that’s Orit’s “oatmeal belt.” What looks like oatmeal is actually a digger full of dirt.

I predict this backpack has plenty of adventures ahead of it. Good luck, little backpack. With N as your owner, you’ll need it!

July 22, 2012

So, who won?

by Decemberbaby

It seems that in all the mishegas of getting rear-ended and looking for a new car, I forgot to announce winners for my first ever giveaway. To be perfectly honest, not many of you were willing to hazard a guess… so I’ve decided that, in a way, all three of you are winners. But in another, more accuarate way…

… Orit is the winner. Not because she was right about each of the pictures (nobody was,) but because she made me laugh with her suggestion of “Oatmeal Belt.” Seriously, I laughed so hard I almost choked on my oatmeal. Good thing Orit lives nearby and is a doctor and could therefore have saved my life. Making me laugh is dangerous, y’all. Anyhow, Orit wins a toy torah for her kids… and an oatmeal belt. I’ve never made one before, but after an answer like that, how could I not?

In second place we have BallisticMushu, who was very, very close with her guess of “sandbox.” BallisticMushu wins two hours of my time, during which I will lovingly pad and upholster a toddler bed (her husband will build the frame before I get there) in her toddler’s choice of fabric.

Honourable mention goes to Elizabeth. I haven’t yet decided on her prize (Elizabeth, any suggestions?) but it will probably be something sewn.

Oh, bedtime. I will post photos of the real answers, but not now. I’m tired.

Congratulations to all the winners… and to the rest of you, comment more often. You might win something 🙂

July 17, 2012

Dear automakers and brochure copy writers…

by Decemberbaby

I love the exhaustive list of a vehicle’s features. Honestly, though, you could definitely edit the list so that customers don’t have to search for the stuff that matters. I’d suggest not bothering to mention such features as: “Door Ajar, low fuel, and driver and passenger seat belt indicators.” ‘Cause you know, every car has that. Ditto door map pockets and cup holders. And, you know, DOORS.

And another thing: why do I have to go up an entire trim level just to get a power liftgate? I want one, but there’s no way I’ll pay seven thousand dollars for it. I mean really, how stupid do you think we are?

(Answer: “apparently, very.”)

“Wheels? The brochure doesn’t list wheels for this model. You want wheels, you gotta move up to our BS model, that’ll get you some wheels.”

July 16, 2012

Deciding factors

by Decemberbaby

Forgive my absence – I’ve been immersed in all things automotive for the last week.

After our adjustor confirmed that our Yaris is a total loss, we started investigating minivans and minivan alternatives. We compared features, costs, financing, and purchase strategies (buy the minivan now, or buy something smaller and trade up if and when kid #4 comes along? We’re undecided.) Ever the engineer, Mr. December created a spreadsheet to model all of our options, taking into account things like convenience, fuel consumption, and (of course) cost. We have a list of further research we need to do. We may be overthinking our next car, but it’s not every day that we spend more than thirty thousand dollars in one fell swoop.

Taking a break from our obsessive analysis, we drive to Mississauga (in my dad’s Camry) for a birthday party. So there we are in the Camry, on the way back at 7 p.m. R is desperately tired and trying to sleep. K is tickling R and making squeaky noises that are probably intended to amuse R, but that mostly just irritate me. N is being a complete angel – if you overlook the fact that he keeps sticking his foot into R’s face (the perils of having a rear-facing infant next to a forward-facing toddler) and making her scream.  I reach back from the front passenger seat (Mr. D was driving, for a change) and grab N’s foot, announcing, “If you can’t use your foot responsibly, then I’m going to have to hold onto it for you.” He screams. R screams. K squeaks and chirps. R screams.

In that instant, I’m decided. I look over at Mr. December, he looks at me, and we say in unison, “It’s time for a minivan.”


July 10, 2012

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi…

by Decemberbaby

See what I did there? In the title? Sic transit! In a post about my car!

Bah, whatever. That’s about all the humour you’ll get in this post. Consider yourselves warned.


I got rear-ended on highway 401 on Friday morning. Suffice it to say that I had three options, two of which would have resulted in me rear-ending someone else, and so I took the third, which relied on another driver to be paying attention.

He wasn’t.


I can tell you that crumple zones really do crumple impressively. I can also tell you that people’s exhortations to put all loose items into a secured glove compartment or something similar are well-intentioned but poorly informed; all of the latched compartments in my car sprang open on impact, belching their contents all over my car. My poor, poor, car.

Brace yourselves, it ain’t pretty.

Yes, the impact was hard enough to break the rear windshield. It’s obvious what happened: the stroller saw a big grey pickup truck bearing down on it and, in a moment of sheer panic, punched through the windshield in an attempt to escape. Good thing, since we couldn’t open the tailgate at all. There was probably no point in pulling it out anyhow, since the seat is now studded with tiny shards of glass. I think we’ll be getting a new stroller.

Speaking of things that can’t be opened, get a load of my rear passenger side door. No amount of brute force could open this door. I’m doubly thankful that the kids weren’t in the car, because being unable to free my kids from the car is not on my bucket list. seriously.

Where were the kids, you ask? Ah, the kids: the reason I was on the 401 in the first place. I was on my way back from dropping K and N off at my in-laws’ home for the day. I had big plans for the day that included some blogging, some sewing, and some napping. Oh, the plans I had!

But you know what they say: Mensch tracht und Gott lacht. That’s (probably slightly incorrect) Yiddish for “Man plans, and God laughs.”

Back to the kids. They would have been physically fine. The carseats weren’t crushed or squished or anything. See?

Although on second inspection they do seem to be a little… crooked, or something. But anyhow, plenty of space for the kids inside the seats, and no protruding metal or projectiles. No squished-kid potential whatsoever. Thank God.

Anyhow, the first thing I did (after sighing, wiggling my toes, turning my head, and sitting completely still for two full minutes to collect myself) was call the OPP. Yeah, you know me. Oh, wait… I called the other OPP – Ontario Provincial Police. Even though I was well inside city limits, the 401 is a provincial road. Toronto police don’t have jurisdiction on the 401, apparently.

So the dispatcher told me that she could see the collision (yep, big brother is watching the traffic) and that we’d have to pull over if at all possible. Apparently they don’t like it when accidents block two lanes of a busy sixteen-lane freeway. So I turned on the engine and tried to accelerate. Nothing but noise. Eventually I was able to move the car by absolutely flooring the pedal, and I figured there was probably something wrong with the engine or the fuel delivery system or the dinglehopper or something. Then I got out of the car and saw exactly why it wouldn’t move:

That’s right, the rear wheel couldn’t turn, being blocked as it was by all that crumpled metal (or whatever cars are made of these days.) My car was rendered undriveable.

And yet I walked away with only a small bruise where the lower change compartment hit my shin as it popped open (the compartment popped open; my shin did not.) I am otherwise fine, an observation which seems to baffle a great many people. Even the guy at the auto-body shop, when I called to inquire as to the status of my car, said, “First I have to know – are you all right?” Apparently he had driven past my car on his way out of the lot on Friday and thought to himself, “Wow, somebody must have gotten hurt pretty badly.” Nope. Apparently automotive engineering is remarkably advanced. I tip my hat to the fine people at Toyota. And I thank God about fifty million times a day. Really.

There are other events upon which I could elaborate: my sympathy for the other driver, who was fine but who was driving his employer’s truck on company time and was about to miss a service call, it would seem; my good fortune in getting rear-ended so close to my parents’ home on a day when my dad was still home at 10:30 in the morning; my appreciation of my dad’s ability to drop everything and come get me so I wouldn’t have to go to the collision reporting centre by myself; the extremely unimportant serendipity of having my car rendered unusable with only $4 worth of gas in the tank (as if the $50 invested in a full tank would have mattered.) I can tell  you that my mother took care of R so that I could sleep in the afternoon.

(And for those of you wondering where Mr. December was during all this, he did offer to come right away, but he works downtown and has no car. I couldn’t see the point of him taking the subway up and then… what? Taking a cab to come get me? Picking up a zipcar and racing to a crash site from which I’d long since been towed? Nope. He came home at his usual time, my in-laws dropped off K and N, and we had a lovely Shabbat dinner at my parents’ house.)

I still don’t know whether the insurance company will decide to fix my car or whether they’ll just call it a write-off. I do know that they won’t let us use those car seats ever again (though I’d like to harvest them for parts so that I can add some more harnesses to the Bakfiets) but won’t pay the replacement cost – they calculate 10% depreciation for every year since you bought the seat. I also know that I’m not ready to move on to another car. Our Yaris is tiny, but it has served us very well. It has hauled IKEA furniture, three dozen balloons, my mountain bike, three carseats and a double stroller, renovation materials… at times I’m convinced that it’s a pickup truck masquerading as a tiny hatchback. And yet if we had to buy a new car right now, how could I justify not buying something bigger? I have three small children who won’t always be quite so small, and our next car really should reflect that. It’s just that I’d hoped our next car wouldn’t be making an appearance for another few years yet. I love our Yaris.

And that, as Forrest Gump would say, is all I have to say about that.


July 3, 2012

Menu plan Monday (on Tuesday!) – July 2 edition

by Decemberbaby

How is it already July? It seems very, very wrong somehow… nevertheless, we need to eat dinner. Here’s the menu for this week:



Monday -bbq chicken, sweet potato oven fries, grilled red peppers

Tuesday – taco night

Wednesday -Tilapia Parmesan

Thursday – chickpeas in tandoori sauce; basmati rice; cucumber salad

Friday -Roast turkey breast, potato wedges, challah, garlic broccoli, salad

Saturday – cold turkey sandwiches

Sunday – homemade pizza

Monday – falafel sandwiches (picnic at the park)

Well, that was easy. What are you eating this week? (Check out Menu Plan Monday over at Organizing Junkie if you’re fresh out of ideas.)

July 2, 2012

I’ve been busy.

by Decemberbaby

No, really. It’s not a blogging excuse. With the start of summer vacation, a heat wave, and N’s birthday all coinciding, I’ve been churning out projects left, right, and centre. I have a whole pile more in the queue. And I really want to post all of those projects, and I will, but it’s almost bedtime. So for you, dear readers, a guessing game: can you identify each of my recent projects?







Let’s make it interesting: whoever can guess them all correctly (or if nobody guesses correctly whoever is closest) wins… something handmade by me! Probably something small, but something. Leave your guesses in the comments.

Fine print: certain friends of mine have already seen these projects and are therefore, unfortunately, not eligible to win. Jennifer, Lisa, and Lisa… I’m looking at you.