blogging

Day 846: More Excuses

I wanted to write an interesting, engaging blog post tonight, but I didn’t. Please pick from the following list of excuses:

Jamie Fraser, folks. It’s not just the kilt—it’s also the eyes. And the accent.

A dog ate my blog post.

My knee is aching.

I can’t take my eyes off of Jamie Fraser.

I can’t take my eyes off Mr. December (especially with the hair down. Very sexy.)

I’m busy binge-watching Outlander.

I’m busy binge-reading Outlander.

It’s my bedtime.


(I’ll try to do better tomorrow.)

bikes planes and automobiles · blogging · Travelogue

Day 815: Where did the time go?

I didn’t blog on Friday—we were busy soaking up every last moment in Jerusalem. We went to Sacher Park after Shabbat dinner and stayed until 10:30 at night.

(It’s another odd cultural difference between Israel and Canada. There were plenty of families with kids playing at the park until ten at night in Israel. In Canada, the parks are deserted much earlier than that. Israeli kids seem to exist on far less sleep than Canadians. I don’t really know why.)

Anyhow, we were at the park. We capped off the evening by climbing the giant tower—yes, all six of us—and hanging out at the very top for a while to reminisce about the trip.

Saturday we were invited out for lunch, to friends who live on the outskirts of Jerusalem. Everyone had a good time. The kids all hit it off; K refused to leave and her three new friends (our friends’ daughter and two other girls from the neighbourhood) all tried to hide her from us. It was adorable. In the end, they walked out with us to show us the way back to the city centre via a valley that featured an abandoned village. The kids and I went as far as the park and then took a cab home while Mr. December walked the whole way back to our place. There was a flurry of packing, and then Shabbat was over and we headed to the airport.

The check-in process was a total farce. We arrived at the airport three and a half hours before our departure time, and we ended up running for the gate as they held the plane for us. It was a perfect storm of system malfunction, dilatory workers, and bad packing, and the net effect was that we had zero time to go to the bathroom, buy snacks for the plane, or (in my case) bang out a quick blog post to tell you all that we were getting on the plane.

So after a late night on Friday, a busy Saturday including a very frustrating check-in process, a mostly sleepless night on a plane, and a day of trying to stay awake, I’m practically falling asleep at the computer. It’s currently 2:38 a.m. in Jerusalem and I’m feeling the jet lag. G’night.

blogging · family fun · Travelogue

Day 797: Low Battery

We had a great day in Tel Aviv; I’ll gladly tell you all about it tomorrow, because we just got home and we’re all exhausted. To top it all off, my laptop battery is at 5%.

Speaking of batteries, my iPhone battery was being drained remarkably quickly today. K seems to think it has something to do with the latest OS update. All I know is that it went from 77% to 59% in about five minutes. That just isn’t right!

Will update you and share pics from yesterday… tomorrow. Let’s hope this thing posts before my computer dies.

blogging · family fun · Keepin' it real

Day 698: Just what I need

Because there aren’t enough things distracting me from stuff I actually need to do, the world had to go and embrace a new addictive game that’s right up my alley.

I’m talking about Wordle, of course. For a while I tried to resist it—because I need another distraction like a hole in the head, as we say—but I finally clicked over there to see what the hype was about.

It’s a fun game, and even though there’s only one daily puzzle, there are enough spinoffs for me to play for hours if I’m not careful. I especially love Quordle, which is like Wordle but you have to guess four different words simultaneously.

In fact, Wordle and Quordle are the reason this post is so short: I started writing, then I had to go to the quordle website to copy the link so I could include it in my post… and then some time later I realized that I’d solved multiple puzzles but still hadn’t finished my blog post.


We watched Come From Away again tonight. Now I’m on a mission to show my kids as many Broadway musicals as I can find online. So… where do I find Broadway musicals online? Anybody know?

blogging · crafty · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · whine and cheese

Day 658: Same Day Two Ways

It was lunchtime, and I was sitting at my desk researching art markers for R. It was taking me forever—not because of the sheer number of choices (although that was staggering,) but because kids kept coming over and making demands:

N: “Eema, can you please do my Hebrew reading with me now so I can finish all my work sooner?”

K: “Eema, I want to do more viola practice… and I need you to help me.”

R: “Eema, tune my guitar?”

I kept begging them to leave me alone and let me think my own thoughts for five consecutive minutes. Eventually I just snapped.

“GO AWAY!”


OR


It was lunchtime, and I was sitting at my desk researching art markers for R. It was taking me forever—not because of the sheer number of choices (although that was staggering,) but because each of the kids was eager to do something semi-independently, and they needed me to help them get started.

N had a goal: to finish school early today. To that end, he took the initiative to find the Hebrew reading book and bring it to me, asking me to please listen to his reading now.

R wanted to learn a new song on her guitar, and she needed me to tune it first. Then she went off happily with the chord sheet in one hand and the guitar in the other.

K was feeling inspired to do some extra viola practice (she already did one session with me in the morning.) She invited me to come and help her.

I was still in the middle of purchasing R’s art markers, so I encouraged them to work independently for a while. Next thing I knew, all four kids were in the library, taking turns helping each other with their music practice.


AND THEN…


We got almost no work done this afternoon. Writing got pushed aside because the kids were hyperfocused on their music; Hebrew didn’t happen, either. When I joined them in the library and started explaining some of the music theory that would make N’s piece easier for him, they complained about it being too complicated or too useless. In art, N flatly refused to work, and E cried about how she needed me to draw the picture she wanted so she could colour it in.


OR


Our afternoon took an unexpected turn: when I joined the kids in the library, they asked me to help N figure out the chords for Twinkle. Some debate about which key it should be in led to me explaining some music theory, with N demonstrating on the piano. In art, N didn’t want to draw at first. He couldn’t resist just trying out the oil pastels when I unboxed them for the first time, though. He experimented with blending and shading and ended up drawing a very credible likeness of his new octopus stuffie. K really got into it too, staying at the table long past our usual ending time so that she could perfect the colours in her sketch.


It’s all true, you know. My day was a little chaotic and I had to be flexible and follow the children’s lead. I also had a chance to relax my expectation and use some of my expert knowledge (I do have a degree in music, after all) to help them with something they were trying to do together. They exasperated me with their repeated interruptions; they sought my help and guidance to further their own learning goals. The day’s events were simultaneously frustrating and exciting, so much so that I couldn’t decide which angle I wanted to write for this post… so I wrote you both.

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.