crafty · DIY · Fibro Flares · lists

Day 414: Don’t overdo it.

I haven’t said anything, because I didn’t want to jinx it, but my fibro flare seems to have ended last Monday or so. I’m trying not to overdo things lest I throw myself into a relapse. As you might imagine, it’s not easy. There are things I want to do… and worse, things I have to do.

It’s almost summer, which means it’s the right time to be thinking about the landscaping improvements we wanted to make. Unfortunately the landscaper we had hired seems to have dropped off the face of the earth (I really hope he’s ok; we are in the middle of a pandemic, after all.) I still want to put up a shed so I can move my big saws in there and have them set up to use at a moment’s notice. We also need a sturdier swingset: ours is twelve years old and everytime K swings on it (for several hours every day) it looks like it’s going to tip right over.

Summer also means that the sun comes up really early and shines straight at my bedroom window. The full-length blackout curtains I made don’t manage to block out all the light, so something needs to be done. I think I’ll try a simple valence to see if it works well. This needs to be my top priority, because it’s waking both Mr. December and me every morning and we need more sleep.

Speaking of windows, I need to put some kind of window treatment on the library windows. They face full west, as Jane Austen might have said, making the library very hot in the afternoons. I’m hoping I can find something ready-made that works in the space.

And then there are all the little things: figuring out how to replace our HEPA filter; installing the shelves that I bought for N’s and E’s rooms; painting the porch wall; getting the kids ready for camp (that’s not actually a little thing, there’s a lot of packing to be done); and the small matter of, you know, staying on top of their homeschool progress.

Just writing this list has me all tired out. I think I’ll take tomorrow off—it’s Mothers’ Day anyhow—and let the kids do everything, including my blog post. I can’t wait to see what they think of.

DIY · el cheapo · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · whine and cheese

Day 412: The Devil’s in the Details

Fun fact: in Hebrew, “shed” is the word for “demon.”

Not-so-fun fact: It’s pretty much impossible to find a prefab shed that meets my needs.

Coincidence? I think not.

Last autumn and over the winter, Mr. December and I discussed having the kids design and build a shed with us as part of their homeschooling: it would involve geometry, arithmetic, and physics, and they’d get firsthand experience in how houses are built. But that plan seems a bit laughable right now, when just installing three display cubes on N’s bedroom wall has resulted in more elbow pain… and we still have another five to install. Don’t get me started on the pile of IKEA furniture in E’s bedroom that has yet to be assembled and mounted on the wall.

It’s an odd twist on one’s eyes being bigger than one’s stomach. The idea of building a shed from scratch excites me, but these days it’s feeling pretty likely that I’d go into a fibro flare somewhere around the second or third day of construction and be unable to finish the job. A prefab shed seems like a decent compromise: we’d get to do some building without having to think about (and then execute) things like stud spacing and roof pitch.

I’m encouraged by the fact that my kids now do useful work without arguing about it first. Tonight K finished cutting up all the branches Mr. December pruned off our plum tree; N bundled them neatly, tied them with twine, and put them at the curb for pickup. Their competence gives me just a little hope that they could make themselves useful for shed building, too.

But first I’ll have to find a shed to build, which is harder than it sounds. Most of the prefab sheds have six-foot sidewalls, which is a bit low for my purposes (woodworking; using giant saws on big, long pieces of wood.) For eight-foot walls I’d have to go to a custom shed place, which puts the price up around $10K for a 108 square foot shed. Or we could go with the alternative: build our own shed from scratch… which I’m pretty sure would be its own unique form of torture.

crafty · DIY · Homeschool · Keepin' it real

Day 409: Success or Failure?

I’d like to thank you all for your input on yesterday’s rug dilemma. I’d like to thank you, but in reality Mr. December is thanking you… because the overwhelming majority chose the navy blue rug, which he likes. I prefer the bright colours of the other rug, and I feel like the busyness of the pattern would fade into the background after a while. The navy rug has a lot of this dusty rose colour and burnt orange, neither of which I’m fond of.

Oh, well. Back goes the pretty rug, and my green couch will remain completely unrelated to anything else in the room. I tried.


And for those of you who recognized the title of yesterday’s post, this nostalgic little video is for you. But it’s one heck of an earworm—don’t say I didn’t warn you.


Since the term began, we’ve been working on pottery in art class. My brilliant idea was for us to make replicas of Greek pottery including the meandros ornamentation and the images from Greek myths.

So far it’s been a flop. Literally. I’ve tried a few different things now, and every piece I’ve made has cracked or collapsed. So has N’s amphora, which for a while looked like a success.

But as N pointed out, maybe our pottery pieces are a success… as in, we’ve successfully recreated broken pieces of ancient pottery. Maybe we should just decorate them anyway, display them in a museum-style shadow box with numbered labels, and call it a win.

It used to be centred. Really. Then it flopped over, and now it’s just a flop.

DIY · family fun · Kids · The COVID files

Day 403: Is it haircut day already?

“Eema, will you cut my hair?” R asked. “I want it shorter.”

So I did what any parent does in these locked-down times: I sent her for my hair-cutting scissors, thinning shears, and a comb.

I chatted as I worked. It sounded a bit like this:

“Okay, you wanted it just past your shoulders? Here. That’s how long it’ll be.”

“Hmmm… I think the left side is shorter than the right. I’d better straighten it out.”

“Um, R? You’d better have a look in the mirror before I keep going.”

I held my breath as she ran inside (we cut hair on the front porch) to check my work. She emerged from the bathroom smiling. “It’s perfect!” she enthused as she posed for the obligatory post-cut pictures.

Then K approached me and said, “Actually, I was wondering if you could just cut the back of mine. It’s too long and it’s annoying me.”

“Just the back?” I confirmed. “Sure. Have a seat.”

I have to say, I’m pleased with the results. I’m also pleased with how we managed to fill an evening without screens.


Speaking of evenings without screens, I’m without my computer for the next day and a half. Mine kept dying on us while warning me that “battery requires service.” So I took it in to the geniuses at Apple. Is it just me, or does calling it the “genius bar” kind of dilute the meaning of “genius”? I’m sure there are bona-fide geniuses working for apple—I know a couple personally—but mostly as programmers rather than storefront employees.

Anyhow, they ran some tests and the only thing wrong with my laptop is the battery. Apparently they consider this a “quality” issue, so they’re replacing it for free… which takes up to 48 hours. Looks like I have some free time in my immediate future.

DIY · Fibro Flares · it's my potty

Day 397: For want of a flapper

Am I dating myself when I reference old nursery rhymes in my title? If you said “yes,” then get a haircut and get off my lawn, you reckless kids!

For want of a flapper, E’s bedroom got flooded.

Yes, there were a few intermediate steps involved: because the flapper was defective, water kept flowing into the toilet bowl from the tank. That’s not usually a problem, but one of the kids had clogged the toilet and forgot to tell us. No water was getting through that clog, so instead of just flowing through and out of the toilet bowl and running up my water bill, the constant flow ended up overflowing the toilet bowl. By the time someone went upstairs and noticed it, there was a large puddle on the hallway floor outside the bathroom, stealthily creeping into E’s room and covering half of the floor.

The good news was that the clog seemed to be mostly toilet paper, not poop, and because there was so much running water any grossness was pretty diluted anyway. We still disinfected the heck out of the floor, don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t a stinking pool of raw sewage. It was just a lot of water that looked and smelled like water, and that took more than ten beach towels to sop up (said towels then went into the washing machine on the “sanitary” cycle.)

I really should have replaced that flapper months ago. Shoulda, woulda, coulda.

Or as Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel says, “Shoulda, but didn’ta.”


And now, the daily update: Last night I finally found my moist-heat heating pad in a corner of K’s bedroom. Using it helped me to fall asleep easily despite the pain in my legs. Today my legs are still painful and fatigued, but my brain seems to have been spared the usual fibro-fog™.

There’s a 14-day series of talks called Love How You Look Now that I’ve been watching for the past three days. I think it’s beyond time to put in the work of getting past my body image issues, if not for myself then for my kids. The sessions so far have been eye opening and thought provoking. I don’t think that my thoughts are coherent enough to explain them here, but I will one day.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to teach my kids how to replace the toilet flapper; and then we’ll have a little lesson on “Why you shouldn’t keep Eema’s heating pad in your room for months on end.”

Darn Tootin' · DIY · family fun · Homeschool · Resorting to Violins

Day 395: Finally, the Payoff

Yesterday I used my Music Therapy degree for the first time in what feels like ages.

I painstakingly transcribed the main theme of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (aka Ode to Joy) using some musical notation software. Then I listened over and over again to the original orchestral piece, stopping every few bars, humming, transcribing the parts to solfege, and then notating them in C major, the only key in which E can play her flute.

It brought back memories of a fourth-year assignment we had in one of our Music Therapy classes: to take a piece of orchestral music and arrange it for a hypothetical group of clients, using common music therapy instruments. I chose Also Sprach Zarathustra (a.k.a. the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and arranged it for three reed horns, metallophone, bass drum, and piano.

This time I’m arranging a piece for my family to play; the kids all seem to enjoy playing music together and it teaches them how to listen and respond to each other, so I’ve made it my goal to do some ensemble work with them. Several hours spent on a musical arrangement seems excessive—but then again, how else will I be able to get an arrangement for flute, clarinet, guitar, viola, and piano? And if I could find such a thing, I highly doubt that the parts would be perfectly matched to the kids’ disparate levels.

No, this was definitely a job I had to do myself. Finally, all those years of musical dictation and transposition have paid off!

DIY · family fun · what's cookin'

Day 394: Sweet

Hey, look what we made! From scratch!

Image description: a small glass bowl being held in someone’s hand. The bowl has a small amount of brown liquid in it. Wooden countertop in background.

Yup, that’s maple syrup. Remember when we tapped a maple tree in my parents’ backyard? We ended up collecting about 500mL (roughly 2 cups) of sap. Yesterday we put it into our makeshift double-boiler (metal mixing bowl resting on top of a pot of boiling water) and let it evaporate for most of the afternoon. We could see by the residue on the sides of the bowl just how much water had already evaporated.

We ended up with maybe 20 mL of maple syrup… but it looks and tastes like real maple syrup. Even though we knew this was how it was made, it still feels a bit magical and unreal to have made it ourselves from start to finish.

Now the question remains: who gets the privilege of using this syrup on their pancakes?

blogging · crafty · DIY · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real

Day 376: Coming Attractions

My elbow hurts pretty badly right now, so I’ll make this brief. Over the next week or so, you can expect to see some of the following posts:

  • Further Adventures with Epoxy
  • Stuffed Animal Upholstered Bed Tutorial
  • Make a Dollhouse Nightstand out of a Feta Cheese Container Tutorial
  • Holy Hell, my Elbow Still Hurts
  • Planned Boredom
  • Close Encounters with Customer Service
  • This Term in Homeschool
  • Did we really make our own maple syrup?

Of course, if my elbow doesn’t get some relief soon, you’ll likely be subjected treated to a string of guest posts by everyone from Mr. December right on down to E. If nothing else, it’ll be highly entertaining.

crafty · DIY

Day 375: We tried this at home.

“Clothing worn during the process should not be removed from the work area? Do not inhale? Avoid contact with skin?!?” K looked up from the label she was reading and asked me, “Why do they even make this stuff if it’s so toxic?”

We were getting ready to make our mini river table to test the effect of heat and general abuse on the epoxy. I’ll admit to some trepidation when I read “for professional use only” on the epoxy bucket; when it comes to building stuff I’m definitely more dilettante than professional.

We did it anyway.

Yesterday I cut two scraps of kiln-dried live-edge wood, along with some particle board to make a mould. This morning I assembled the mould around my two pieces of wood, using clamps to hold everything in place while I drilled.

Then I took out the wood pieces and lined the whole box with packing tape. That should make it easier to release the epoxy from the mould later on.

After reading the alarming safety warnings, K and I got suited up (this is where Mr. December’s university engineering coveralls come in handy) and took the supplies outside. We mixed some colour into this batch of epoxy; the second batch will be clear, allowing us to see some of the live edge of the wood.

Then we poured, at which point I realized exactly how off-level our table was. I carried the mould downstairs and made sure it was in a level place to dry. It soon became apparent that the epoxy was flowing under the wood pieces—not the look I was going for—so I used my clamps to hold the wood down to the bottom of the mould.

And now we wait 21 more hours before we can pour the second layer of epoxy.

DIY · family fun · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Jewy goodness · Kids · what's cookin'

Day 372: Everybody helps

One of my favourite memories of Passover as a child is actually a composite of pretty much every Passover until I left my parents’ house. What I remember most isn’t the seder itself, or the food we made; it’s that everybody was involved in making it together.

Mum and Dad have always hosted at least one seder (and usually both,) and the last couple of days leading up to Passover (as well as the day of Passover itself) were spent in the kitchen, all of us rotating in or out, with Mum and sometimes an Aunty giving instructions. Kids were put to work peeling boiled eggs, making charoset, chopping horseradish for maror, setting the table, and sticking our little thumbs into balls of cookie dough so we could fill the indentations with jam. Dad would usually be busy running to the store for last-minute ingredients or bringing folding tables and chairs up from the basement to accommodate the twenty-or-so people who were invited to the seder.

I want my kids to look back at Passover and feel the same warm fuzzy feeling I do when they think of the preparation. So I give them jobs to do, even when those jobs take them twice as long and leave twice as much mess than if I’d done it myself.

Today K grated apples for charoset and then passed them off to E, who mixed in all the other ingredients before spooning it onto tiny individual appetizer plates. N made a batch of flourless brownies (although I did have to get involved quite a bit at the end.) And Mr. December did his part to keep things moving smoothly by taking apart our kettle.

Yeah, you read that right. Our kettle stopped working two days ago, and Mr. December ordered a set of special screwdrivers so he could take it apart and see if maybe he could fix it. Turns out he couldn’t fix it, but at least the kids got to see how a kettle is made.

Chag Sameach to all my family, friends, and readers. May you have a meaningful seder, and may your matzah never be soggy.