blogging · education · fame and shame · Homeschool · Jewy goodness · lists · waxing philosophical

Day 455: Not as bad as you think.

I hear a lot of bad things about social media—probably you do, too. And there are a lot of downsides: comparing your imperfect life to someone’s touched-up selfie, getting angry because “someone is wrong on the internet!”, seeing humanity turn ugly behind the anonymity the internet affords. There are definitely days when I think I’d be better off without Facebook.

Duty Calls
You can find an image description here.

On the other hand, Facebook has some very good points:

  1. It’s my proverbial front porch. I sit there in the evening and catch up with the people I know. I get to hear about all the mundane things, all the frustrations, all the celebrations—just like I would if we lived in a close-knit neighbourhood and sat on the front porch every evening, chatting with each other.
  2. It can be a great resource. Both Mr. December and I are members of a few homeschooling groups on Facebook. Through those groups we’ve discovered some of our favourite curricula and courses. We’ve also been able to get a sense of what homeschooling looks like for many different families. I’m also a member of a neighbourhood group, from which I learn about traffic issues, why our city councillor sucks, and who’s giving away free stuff.
  3. It reminds me about birthdays. If I wished you happy birthday this year (or any year, really,) you can thank Facebook for that. Every day it pops up and tells me whose birthday it is. It even lets me post a birthday message directly from the notification. I do realize that some people do this with their own calendar—digital or paper—but Facebook makes it so easy for me.
  4. Some people do use it for the betterment of us all.

Point number four is the one that gives me hope for our society. I’ve recently joined a group dedicated to being a space where people can ask good-faith questions about all kinds of social issues and receive honest, thoughtful answers rather than scorn and derision.

(If you don’t get why a question would be met with scorn or derision, think of someone asking about transgender issues and being labelled a TERF because of that honest question. It happens all the time, and it’s ugly.)

I have learned so much from this group. People have taken the time to post complex answers to questions about racism, gender issues, disabilities, etiquette… it’s an excellent read and very eye-opening, as the group members come from all over the world and from all walks of life. I’m enjoying it immensely. Even more incredible than what I’ve learned from that group is the simple fact that so many people want to ask questions, learn, and improve the way they relate to people who are unlike them.

I have similar feelings about the group where non-Jews can ask questions about Judaism and Jews answer them. I’m fascinated by the things non-Jewish people don’t know about us; from the big stuff, like the fact that we don’t revere Mary, mother of Jesus, to the minutiae of why inviting a Shabbat-observant friend to a wedding on Saturday is more complicated than just making sure they have accommodations within walking distance of the venue. I also enjoy being able to answer people’s questions and see their responses when they’ve read all of the answers.

People are learning, reaching out, connecting, and supporting each other in ways that would never have been possible without the internet (and social media in particular.) To me, that almost makes up for how social media also makes it easy for people to foment hatred, recruit people to radical organizations, and spread misinformation. Almost. Maybe if enough of us participate in groups like the ones I’ve been part of, education and enlightenment will replace the ignorance and hate.

I hope so.

blogging · Homeschool · Keepin' it real

Day 437: Fifteen hours.

I slept fifteen hours last night.

Fifteen.

I’m still tired.

I had a headache all day yesterday that seemed vaguely connected to my sinuses. I spent most of the day sleeping, definitely surpassing my threshold for “sick”: I wasn’t even interested in reading in bed. Head met pillow and just like that, I was out.

You can see why I didn’t post last night.

Today it was sunny out and I woke up feeling just a bit groggy. It was a pretty light day academically, but the kids spent hours running around outside, which made it a great day in my books.

Tomorrow morning I’m having an imaging ultrasound done on my ankle, to try to get to the bottom of this pain and swelling that came out of nowhere. Maybe I’m weird, but I’m looking forward to it: mostly because I’m going to bike there but also because twenty minutes lying down in a dark, quiet room sounds good.

Even after fifteen hours of sleep.

blogging · The COVID files

Day 435: Nothing

“Nothing.”

It’s what the kids were doing alone in the pantry with their hands in a bag of chocolate chips.

“Nothing.”

It’s the disappointed sigh when we check the front porch for packages… for the seventh time in an hour.

“Nothing.”

It’s my go-to plan for the weekends.

“Nothing.”

It’s what’s bothering us.

“Nothing.”

It’s the actual content of this blog post.


In case you missed it in the title, today is day four hundred and thirty-five since Ontario’s first COVID lockdown began. That’s 435 days of daily blog posts. That’s a lot of content.

It’s not easy to write a post every day. I’ve accepted the fact that some posts are going to be absolutely marvellous, but that most of what I write will probably be prosaic at best and filler at worst.

It’s not that it’s hard to think of things to say—I have plenty to say, believe me—but it’s hard to make time to write something well. And some of my best ideas have been simmering on the back burner for months, waiting until I have the time and inclination to write a really good post about them. So tonight, instead of one of those posts (how we talk to kids about food, why retail is for suckers, and the upsides of social media) I’m just venting.

Venting? About what?

Nothing.

blogging · DIY · Keepin' it real · mental health · Renovation

Day 428: Unpublished

I wrote a very long post today. It was full of my anger and pain and frustration (see yesterday’s post if you must.) Then I deleted it, but not before asking a good friend’s opinion. In case you’re wondering, it was a clear, “This is NOT a good idea.” I love and respect this friend, so I took his advice and deleted the draft. Some things should remain unpublished.

Now that I’ve purged all those feelings and consigned them to the dustbin of my computer, all I’m left with is tremendous gratitude for a friend who can read the pain behind the words, acknowledge it, and then keep me from doing something stupid like publishing my brain dump. My friends are such a blessing. I’m lucky and I know it.


On the subject of things that remained unpublished: Last time I told you about our curtain problem, I neglected to mention that this was a deal I made with Mr. December when we designed our house. I wanted all these windows; he pointed out that it would make it very difficult to keep the room dark. I promised that I’d make sure we had a complete blackout solution for the window coverings. He conceded. So far I’ve got my windows, but haven’t managed to block out the light.

That’s why when I wasn’t venting my spleen through my keyboard, I was making a cardboard mock-up (longtime readers know about my passion for mockups) of a valence (or maybe it’s a cornice?) for our bedroom curtains. My hope is that it will eliminate the light leaking around the tops of the curtains. It had better, because it’s my last good idea. Next I’m just going to paint our bedroom windows black; I’ll scrape the paint off after the Autumn Equinox, when mornings are dark again.

blogging · Keepin' it real · mental health · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 424: Public Service Announcement

At times it feels to me like the world has gone just a bit insane. Everybody is outraged about something, it seems. And before you dismiss that as a “privileged” statement, remember: this is my blog, I do have some privilege (but not all, what with being Jewish, female, and not totally able-bodied and all,) and if you don’t want to hear about it nobody’s forcing you to read it in the first place.

Now, with that disclaimer in place, I’ll continue: everybody is outraged about something, everybody thinks the world is going to hell, and if you listen to them long enough, you might start to believe it, too.

So please, take a breath. It’s okay to not “do the work” all the time. There’s plenty of beauty in the world.

There are bunnies living in our garden who hop around in the evenings.

The weather is getting warmer and the days are longer. Flowers are blooming and the bees and butterflies are out.

There are children running around in the park, playing as children have always done.

There is music to be heard, played, and sung—and not just by professionals. Humans are hardwired to participate in music. Try it sometime, if you haven’t lately.

There are “leave a book, take a book” little libraries popping up all over the place. How nice is it that people take the time to build those, and others take the time to drop off books instead of just throwing them in the recycling bin?

People are resilient, and as tired as we all are of this COVID thing, we’ve seen lots of innovative ways to remain part of our extended family and our community. I can attend a Purim party without leaving my comfy chair. What a time to be alive.

It’s okay to stop reading the news, stop “doomscrolling” on social media, stop immersing yourself in other people’s outrage and pain. It really is. The news will still be there tomorrow (and there’s never really anything new) and you can pick it all up again anytime. I promise.

It’s okay to put it down and feel peaceful and happy. Your impotent rage probably won’t change the world (unless you’re actually taking some kind of action) but your happiness, kindness, peacefulness? Those are contagious, and they can change everything.

bikes planes and automobiles · blogging · family fun · Guest Posts · Kids

Day 416: A Review Of Mother’s Day (Guest Post)

Today R decided to write a guest blog post: a behind-the-scenes look at how my Mother’s Day treat got picked up. I did correct the name of the bakery and I did a bit of capitalization clean-up, but all the words (and most of the punctuation, including the semicolon) are R’s. Enjoy.


Yesterday at 8:25 Abba woke me up saying “Were going to pick up scones for mothers day.” We biked to Baker and Scone and stood in a line for what felt like forever. We were only really standing there for fifteen to twenty minutes before we realized we were in the wrong line; apparently, for pick up, you just walked up to the door and they’ll bring you your order. We were standing in the line to order from the store/restaurant. While a worker went to get our order E decided to get off her bike, and tripped over over what I think was the wooden porch and hit her head right over one of the ears (can’t remember if it was the right side or the left.) Once we got our order and made sure it was secured on Abba’s and K’s bikes we headed off. N and Abba went a bit ahead, so me and K stayed with E to make sure she was okay. When we were only a block away from the store I checked on E to make sure she was okay. E said she had a headache, so once we crossed the street and joined Abba and N on the other side E told Abba about her headache and Abba called Ema to pick E up. Despite there being room for one more bike and a person, Abba made me, K and N bike home. When we got home and washed our hands, I went to swing in the attic, only to be called down five minutes later to eat our scones. We had to do school on Sunday because it worked better with Abba’s schedule. Sunday was an all-math day. And I’m almost done grade five in math! Around three we got out of school and I got online with my friends.


There you have it. They all went out to pick up treats and then I got called to drive over and rescue one of them; so not only did I get scones and jam, I also got the gift of feeling needed. Not to mention, of course, the gift of not having to think of what to blog about for two days in a row. Now, that’s really something.

blogging · Fibro Flares · The COVID files

Day 404: Not Found

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. How often do I get to write the number 404?

What actually was found today is a vaccination appointment at my local pharmacy. I’m scheduled for Friday afternoon. It turns out they actually do call people on the waiting list. That’s a relief. And I don’t have to drive out of the city to get it.

Yesterday I felt almost normal. Today, not so much. I was feeling awful just after lunch and ended up actually sleeping an hour or so (often I just lie down to rest but don’t fall asleep.) I rallied a bit by dinnertime, and had a nice time sitting on the front porch with Mr. December, but soon afterwards the kids were tucking me up in the hammock and offering to bring me popsicles. To make up for my lack of ability to engage in anything remotely physical, I spent the evening reading aloud from the hammock: the second Percy Jackson book for R, Jewish folk tales for E, and for N and K, No Coins, Please by Gordon Korman.

Mr. December is in meetings for work. I’m headed up to bed now, hoping that tomorrow is a better day. It has to be—I’ll be getting my computer back, at the very least.

blogging · family fun · Keepin' it real · whine and cheese

Day 401: Noise Pollution

This is my fourth draft for tonight. I’ve been trying to write a heartfelt post about how glad I am that Friday’s post made so many people feel seen and understood. But Mr. December and the kids are watching some foolishness on our the new TV, and it’s way too loud for me to think.

I was afraid of this. We’ve watched far more TV than we would have if we had to watch upstairs in the attic or on one of the computers. It’s too much. Maybe it’s time for me to hide the remote and push everyone outside—although that also has the potential to fail the way it did today.

It’s springtime, which I know not because of the calendar or the weather, but because my neighbour’s lawn care guy is back at it, spending thirty minutes using a leaf blower to make sure there are no grass clippings anywhere on the lawn. It’s the same leaf blower as in years past: gas-powered, smelly, and obnoxiously loud. And it’s the same time slot as last year, too: between 4:30 and 5:30 on Sunday afternoon, A.K.A. right when you want to be outside with your family.

So of course today when I declared that there would be no more screen time until everyone had spent at least an hour outside, we opened the back door to the sound (and smell) of the leaf blower. Grrr.

Short of petitioning City Hall to ban leaf blowers (or at least the gas-powered kind) there’s not much I can do about that; but the TV noise is a problem of my own making. Can anyone remind me why we bought the TV? I can’t remember anymore. Or maybe I just can’t think of it over the sound of YouTube on the big screen.

blogging · education · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Kids

Day 398: Writers Craft

If there’s one thing I learned in my OAC (grade 13) year, it’s that nobody wants to hear about your pain. When I wrote yet another angst-ridden piece about the pain in my hands and the feelings of uselessness and hopelessness it prompted, one guy in my Writer’s Craft class said, “Yeah, we get it. Her hands hurt. Can we please move on now?”

Ouch. I mean, I get it: we were all teenagers, which is a nicer way of saying that we were walking egos with relatively low impulse control. But it still stung a little.

Don’t worry: I got him back inadvertently. On my laptop—which I used for note-taking, since it hurt too much to write—I had installed a program called Cartman Speaks, which would play a sound clip from South Park every few minutes or randomly, depending on the setting. I didn’t realize it was open and set to “random,” and one day when that guy was spouting off about something else, we all suddenly heard Eric Cartman’s voice saying, “Oh, would you shut the f*** up? Nobody gives a rat’s a** what you think!”

Sweet, inadvertent revenge.

Anyhooo… the moral of this story is… um… I forget. But the point is… well, I forget that too.

Oh, right, nobody really wants to hear about one’s pain. Which is too bad for you, if you’re reading this, because my blogging habit was born out of pain.

Once again, I digress.

Yes, fibro flare is still here. I did some exercise (don’t want to be deconditioned and in pain) and spent a lot of time in bed. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The thing I really wanted to mention today was that K produced what is undoubtedly her best piece of writing, and I’m so thrilled for her. This kid used to scream about having to write anything; but when I gave her this assignment she went to the library and wrote it—painstakingly, by hand—without complaint. Today we had a writers’ meeting (it’s how I imagine writers sitting around in a conference room pitching their stories, except my writers drink hot chocolate instead of coffee) and she asked me to read her piece out loud to everyone. I did.

And when I put it down, all I could say was “…Wow.”

And then she explained to everyone how she didn’t want to keep mentioning the rain, but she wanted the wetness to be felt by the reader, which is why she described shoes as “waterlogged.” She made many other excellent word choices; if it hadn’t been for her messy handwriting, spelling errors, and hit-and-miss punctuation, I could have believed it to be the product of something like my OAC Writers’ Craft class.

Now when she says “I can’t write! I suck at it!” I can wave this piece in her face and say, “You can. Here’s the proof.”

bikes planes and automobiles · blogging · Fibro Flares · Kids

Day 385: Failure to Pace

Here we are again. Yesterday was such a beautiful day, and E was especially eager for a family bike ride, and I agreed to a shorter ride than we ended up doing. I overdid it yesterday, even though I biked very slowly on an easy gear and took lots of breaks. As you might guess, today was not a good day, fibro-wise.

Every day has its good parts, though, and yesterday I was tremendously proud of E. She biked six kilometres—three out and three back—on her own bike, entirely unassisted. She’s still too wobbly to do much riding on city sidewalks, but on the trails she’s doing fine. Better yet, she loves biking as much as I do.

It’s very hard to resist such an earnest entreaty from E: “Please, Eema! You said we’d take a bike ride together! We can go slow! I’ll wait for you! Please!” I had said no to her on Wednesday; I didn’t want to say no again.

So right now my legs feel like they’re made of lead (or maybe even Tungsten) and my brain feels slow and foggy. My arms are absurdly tired, too. I did very little teaching today and abandoned any pretense of schooling the kids after lunch. They busied themselves building another epic living-room fort while I zoned out in the back-porch hammock with my fuzzy blanket.

(On a side note, I went outside for some peace and quiet, which is pretty bizarre seeing as I live half a block away from a massive (and noisy) construction site. Still, outside was more peaceful than inside by far.)

I lay down for a while this evening and binge-watched some of Shtisel (season 3), which is just drama upon drama, but which I love because I can understand it without subtitles, even though they switch between Hebrew and Yiddish.

I think this post was supposed to be about how hard it can be to pace myself, but I’m seven (short) paragraphs in and haven’t really gone there yet. My brain feels like it’s been switched off. The kids are talking to me and I might as well be underwater for how much I’m hearing and understanding. Bed now. More blog later.