blogging · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · lists · whine and cheese

Day 573: Brain Dump

I barely slept last night. I could blame Mr. December’s late-night meeting (it ended at 12:30,) but even after I was in bed with the lights turned off, I couldn’t sleep. I was exhausted, my eyes were closed, and I was lying fairly still, but I was still very much aware of ambient noises (thanks a lot, Metrolinx,) and I tossed and turned a whole lot. I woke up before 7, which in my world is pretty early, and I couldn’t fall back asleep.

The point is, I’m so tired that I can barely think. I have a vague feeling of panic—we leave in less than a week and I just know I’m forgetting something. But my thoughts are going around in circles (kind of like dogs, actually. Three circles and then they lie down and go to sleep.) Unfortunately for you, I need to use tonight’s post as a brain dump so when I wake up rested tomorrow, I’ll have a sense of what’s going on.

Today Mr. December decided that we all need hiking boots because we’ll be in some rainy parts of Costa Rica and the hikes will be muddy. After spending a lot of time on the Keen website (because we just bought shoes from them a few months ago so I’m sure of the fit and sizing) I decided that the most sensible course of action would be to just go to a store, all of us, and buy everyone shoes. Guess what, kids! We’re going on a field trip to MEC (Mountain Equipment Co-op)! Feel free to place bets on how much unnecessary-but-really-nifty stuff we’ll come home with.

I’m working on picking out the elements of our Biology curriculum that I think will be most relevant on our trip. The evolution unit will probably be covered pretty thoroughly in the Galapagos; I think it could be neat to record observations of the different biomes we visit and compare them to our biome here in Toronto; I’ve got a few chapters of the history curriculum that discuss ancient Mesoamerican history; and I should probably choose a novel for us to read for literature. And I have no idea what I’m going to do with E for reading—I love the program we’re using but it has a lot of parts and we want to minimize stuff.

I definitely need to print off copies of all our reservations, as well as photocopies of our passports, and stash it away in one of the suitcases.

I now have two (count ’em, two!) bikinis that fit nicely and a third that needs to be tried on. I’d better try it tomorrow and then return it if it’s no good.

I managed to forget about E’s flute lesson today (not our usual day and time) and we missed N’s piano lesson. I’d better make sure I’ve told all our music teachers that we won’t have any more lessons until the end of December.

I need to take down the sukkah. Also, the kayaks need to be wiped down, folded, and packed away for the winter.

We need to start packing this week. I particularly want to see how many devices we have that will need chargers so that I can decide whether it makes sense to take our 6-port charging hub (readers, I’m pretty sure it makes sense. Mr. December seems to think that it makes more sense to have ten different adapters—hence the need to have a look in advance.) We also need to see whose carry-on has space in it, because R is taking her guitar as a carry-on and will need someone to take her other stuff in their bag.

K has asked me to head over to the optician tomorrow and get her glasses adjusted—apparently they’re feeling loose; it occurs to me now that if we’re ziplining and such, we should probably have some secure sport straps to keep our glasses on.

If my writing is still coherent, I’ll be amazed. My head is lolling back on my neck as I type. E is standing by, ready to tuck me in. I go shower now. ‘Night.

blogging · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · whine and cheese

Day 542: #NotAllBedtimes

Some parents love bedtime: “It’s such a cozy, quiet time of day,” they gush. “We read stories and sing songs and snuggle.” Sounds nice, but that description doesn’t really capture what bedtime is like in our house. Right at the point where I’m finally craving some alone time, the kids—egged on by Mr. December—engage in all kinds of shenanigans.

As I type this, N is talking endlessly about his new Pok√©mon cards. It’s an assault on my ears and brain and I can’t focus on writing my blog post. “STOP TALKING AND GO TO SLEEP!” I call up the stairs.

Oh, look: here comes Mr. December, staggering out of the kids’ rooms with his shirt untucked and his hair disheveled. He looks pitiful, but I have zero pity for him.

Five minutes ago I got a FaceTime call from him. When I answered, R’s face filled the screen for a moment… and then suddenly morphed into a cow face, an octopus, and back to a cow. She giggled uncontrollably but said nothing intelligible. Then I saw another call come in, this time from R’s phone.

“Please stop,” I said, tapping decline on the new call.

She didn’t stop. She rang again. I declined. She rang, I declined. Ring. Decline. Ring. Decline. Ring. Decline. Ri—slide to power off. I hung up on her. The entire time Mr. December could be heard in the background, alternately laughing and protesting while the kids jumped all over him.

This is what passes for bedtime in our house. I hate it—which is why I generally opt out. My rules for bedtime are as follows:

  1. I don’t tuck you in unless you’ve changed into clean clothes (or pyjamas) and brushed your teeth properly.
  2. I’m happy to hug and snuggle, but do NOT try to grab at me when I finally tell you it’s time to sleep. Grabbing hurts.
  3. You get one tuck in. That’s it, just one. I am not going to tuck you in repeatedly if you keep popping out of bed.

In contrast, Mr. December’s rules of bedtime seem to be:

  1. Have lots of rowdy fun so that the kids get worn out and exhausted.
  2. Someone must pretend to be at least three different kinds of barnyard animal.
  3. If the kids aren’t laughing hysterically, he’s doing it wrong

I used to resent having to be the Bad Cop who stomps into the room and orders everyone to sleep right now… I mean it… DON’T MAKE ME COME IN THERE. But now I just resent the fact that bedtime takes forty minutes, leaving me with very little grownup time at the end of the day. Believe it or not, I do need time to decompress after a full day of parenting.

“Is it really 9:40?” Mr. December asked twenty minutes ago. “That bedtime took way too long!”

“NO KIDDING!” I tried to deadpan. It came out more like a yell than anything else, though.

“You seem upset,” he said mildly as he jogged down the stairs to his office.

I hate bedtime.

blogging · family fun · Homeschool · water you paddling?

Day 526: I’m not Mr. December

I forgot to ask Mr. December to be my guest blogger tonight, and now he’s gone to sleep so it’s too late. Once again, you’re stuck with me. Sorry ’bout that.

It was a very relaxed day for us: E is the only child at home right now, and she’s been begging me to take her to the beach all week, so this morning I dragged myself (and Mr. December) out of bed and we went down to Cherry Beach first thing in the morning. Mind you, “first thing” on a Saturday for us is 8:30 a.m. By the time we got to the beach the parking lot was already surprisingly full, given how few people were actually on the beach. I suppose most of those cars belonged to the many people swimming, kayaking, sailing, and parasailing on the water.

I joined the ranks of boaters and went for a nice long paddle by myself. I really want to do that more often, but I really need to do it with a better kayak. Something to keep googling when I’m not wrapped up in other plans. Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed our time at the beach this morning, especially the paddling and swimming, despite the fact that it was kind of chilly out.

The temperature differential between the lakeshore and midtown surprises me every time. When we left the beach it was getting a bit warmer, but wasn’t hot by any stretch of the imagination. Half an hour later we stepped out of our car and into some very hot sunshine on our driveway.

The rest of the day involved me lazing around, watching Hamilton with E, and visiting a neighbourhood lemonade stand being run by friends of ours. And then the fun began, as I learned how to move assignments around in Homeschool Planet—with many stops, starts, and deleted classes, of course. I think I’ve got History sorted out for E and R now. So that’s one class down and… some number to go. Six? Seven? I really couldn’t tell you.

I’m also trying to buy a trampoline to replace our foster trampoline that went back to its original family. And, of course, I’m working on planning our trip—which is firming up nicely—and generally trying to be ready for the beginning of our new school year, which we’re starting on Wednesday (earlier than the schools around here, so we’ll see if the kids give us any flak.) Oh, and did I mention that Rosh Hashana is in just over a week?

ADHD · blogging · Camping it up · Keepin' it real · parenting · whine and cheese

Day 515: I had it a minute ago…

I need an office with a door.

I was just thinking up a blog post about something that’s been percolating in the back of my mind for a few days—

“Eema? Next time you go shopping you should buy more peaches.”

I look at the interloper and say, “I’m sorry, I’m working on something. Is this a time-sensitive issue? Because if not, now is not the time.”

“Oh, yeah. Sorry. It was kind of random.”

So anyhow, I was thinking of this blog post and then realizing that the kids go to music camp for a week starting on Sunday, and I have to book them in for COVID tests—

“Hey, Eema? You know how I told you my friend Noa will be visiting from Montreal in September? Well, she’s actually coming tomorrow.”

“Have you made any plans? No? Okay, keep me posted.”

Back to work. Our home insurance company changed names and account numbers on us when I wasn’t looking and so now I have to straighten out the whole mess before our insurance gets terminated. I’ve already emailed and called our insurance broker, but it seems that I’m going to have to—

“Look! Do you like what I made?” A craft of some sort is thrust into my face at close range. I can’t even see what it is.

“I’m trying to work. Can I see it later?”

“Okaay…” says the young artist.

Oh, crud. I just remembered that I have a few online purchases to return. I keep deferring it, but I should definitely get that ball rolling today, before the return window closes. I’ll start with the lucite rods from Amazon—

“Eema, will you brush my hair?” a freshly-bathed E inquires from the top of the stairs.

“I’m trying to work. Can you ask someone else?”

It’s pretty obvious that I won’t get anything done sitting at my desk. I might as well go work on the drawer fronts I need to build for the library. After some frustrating measuring, during which I discover that the drawers will need to be slightly out of square to fill the space correctly, I finally realize that I can solve the problem by just removing the central part of the face frame. I’m hammering at the back of it, trying not to wreck anything else—

“Eema?”

“WHAT?” I huff, putting my hammer down with exaggerated care.

“Um, I was just going to ask if you’re not doing anything, could you finish making the Wacky Mac I started? But I can see that you’re doing something, so I guess I’ll just do it myself.”

And so on… all. day. long… Which is why you’re getting this narrative of my day instead of a thoughtful piece about raising kids who are impervious to peer pressure (it’s not all it’s cracked up to be.) It’s 10:10 p.m. and the kids just finally—

“EEMA! Are you coming to tuck us in or not?”

Ugh. Just once I want to finish my thought process without interruption. It’s past bedtime and I didn’t actually finish doing any of the things I mentioned above. Some of them didn’t even get past the conceptual stage. And I’m sure that for every one thing I remembered to think about doing, there are two more that just completely slipped my mind.

Tune in tomorrow, when I start packing the kids up for camp and they all disappear for several hours so they don’t have to help. Maybe if I take my laptop into their rooms and surround myself with piles of clothes and towels, they’ll scatter to avoid having to help… and I’ll be able to get something done.

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.