Fibro Flares · Getting Organized · Keepin' it real

Day 825: Cross-training

There are so many active things I want to do—biking, kayaking, swimming, trampolining—but I have a history of overdoing it in one activity or another, prompting a flare that puts me on the sidelines of everything. You all know how bummed out I get when I can’t do any of my favourite activities. I hope this is the summer that I finally learn to do a bit and then back off.

Here’s my plan: I won’t do the same activity two days in a row. And if I do something that’s hard on the legs, like biking or trampolining, I’ll try to do something that’s more arm-intensive, like swimming or kayaking, the next day. This week I biked on Monday, kayaked on Tuesday, and swam today (Wednesday, in case you’re reading this in the future sometime.)

It might be too soon to tell, but nothing bad has happened yet, so that’s encouraging. I just have to remember that even if my brain says “yes, please!” my body might disagree after the fact. I’ll have to dampen my “all or nothing” impulse and take a longer view: if I want to enjoy all these activities all summer long, I have to do it in moderation.

None of this is revolutionary thinking; athletes have been cross-training and taking rest days since before I was born. I’m just really, really slow to learn these things.

Image of a page in my bullet journal, with simple icons for each activity down the side and days of the week across the top.
I have one of these on the weekly spread in my bullet journal. Important rule: only one item per column.
bikes planes and automobiles · Camping it up · Fibro Flares · Kids

Day 822: Gone.

E’s Kobo is dead. It can’t charge at all and a hard reset proved impossible. Fortunately, it’s still under warranty. I’ll send it back and Kobo will send us a new one. In the meantime, though, this puts a serious crimp in E’s routine.

Her routine is about to change anyhow: day camp starts tomorrow. I had prepared by buying some packaged (red: labelled nut-free) snacks for her to pack in her lunch. Today we prepared her backpack and went to pack the nonperishable part of her lunch, only to discover all of the packaging and none of the snacks.

Now, it’s not like they gorged themselves. Between my four kids and the three friends they had over yesterday, it’s easy to see how there’s nothing left. But I needed it for tomorrow, and they ate it all. Maybe it’s my fault for not wrapping it in yellow police tape that reads: SNACK LINE. DO NOT CROSS.

The day camp is an easy 12-minute bike ride, slightly downhill along the trail—almost no streets at all. It’s a more challenging ride home, of course, because what goes down must come up, if you’re taking the same route to and fro. I’ll ride her there in the morning; if I need to get her by car in the afternoon I will, but maybe Mr. December or K will decide they feel like a nice easy bike ride. I hope they do.

Going to sleep now. I felt better today, though still not 100%, but I can’t say that my brain has caught up to my body yet. Maybe another 10-hour stretch will do it.

Fibro Flares · gardening

Day 821: Can’t decide.

TL:DR: Brain fog. Still alive, but eloquence is lacking.

Another 9-hour sleep last night. I woke up and joined the kids at the nearby park: they were volunteering in the community orchard’s pollinator garden. I volunteered to do something physically easy, but I soon realized that my brain was still foggy—making decisions about which flowers were spent and should be deadheaded was far, far beyond my decision-making capabilities.

This leaves me in a strange place: I’m better in terms of pain and mobility, but still fatigued and brain-fogged. I can’t really decide what needs to be done or how to do it. I’m second-guessing my decisions about when to rest and when to push myself, which is an odd process when I know that my decision-making apparatus isn’t at its best (or even, let’s face it, at its average.)

Fibro Flares

Day 819: Same flare, different day.

It took me hours to fall asleep last night. Mr. December thinks it probably didn’t take as long as I think, but I was there, and I know.

For the first hour and a half I lay there with my eyes closed. I was just too tired to open my eyes and read something—but apparently not tired enough to ignore the pain and fall asleep.

Eventually I decided to open my eyes and not try to sleep. I didn’t feel like hauling my achy self out of bed, though, so I read on my Kobo for a while. I might have watched something boring on my phone, too. I eventually fell asleep, but I definitely didn’t get the amount of sleep my body needed to repair itself.

TL:DR: Still hurting, more tired than yesterday.

Fibro Flares · whine and cheese

Day 818: Mama Shark (do-do, do-do-do)

We walked a lot in Israel. To the shuk and back, to the park and back, from the train to the Jaffa gate, up and down the steps of the old city, up the hill from the bus stop. It was wonderful, but exhausting; and every day I wondered if I’d be able to do it the next.

Every morning I woke up with heavy limbs and an ache in my legs, but I got up and kept moving, and the if the ache didn’t improve, it didn’t get any worse, either.

“I feel like a shark,” I told Mr. December. “As long as I don’t stop to rest, I can keep on going without triggering a fibro flare. I wonder how long I can do this for before it catches up with me?”

I got my answer this morning: I can do it for a month plus three days before it catches up to me. I tried to keep moving, but after some yoga stretches and a bike ride I had to admit that my shark theory didn’t hold water.

Now I’m curled up on the couch, binge-watching Outlander. I don’t know how long this flare will last, but Netflix says there are five seasons of this show, so at least I’ll have hours of distraction at the ready.

family fun · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · Travelogue

Day 728: I win at packing.

Forgive me for feeling a bit smug at the moment; I’m feeling rather proud of myself as I embark on my second hour of packing us up to leave Guanajuato tomorrow.

What did I do that was so great anyway?

I packed extra luggage. When we left home, I packed a foldable duffle bag and a foldable backpack (both of these turn into their own little pouches.) Tonight I pulled out the duffel bag and now we have plenty of room for everything we brought and all the stuff we bought today… and there’s still room for more.

It’s especially important because Mr. December is heading home while the rest of us continue on to Cancun. I’m sending with him all of the souvenirs we’ve acquired so far. One of those souvenirs is a Molcajete made of volcanic rock; it’s so heavy that I can’t pack all of Mr. December’s clothes in the same suitcase, even though it would probably fit. His clothes, as well as all the vanilla essence we’ve bought so far, and the kids’ workbooks that we barely used, are going in a duffel bag while the molcajete goes with our towels, the kids’ hollow plastic clipboards, the painting R bought for herself, and a whole bunch of empty water bottles serving as cushioning.

This morning’s cooking class was fun, and I’ll tell you all about it when K has sent me the photos. But we walked home because of a lack of cabs in that area, and then Mr. December and I went for a walk, and then I took R to the main street to get her painting, and finally I went clothes shopping with K. My legs are exhausted and I haven’t even hit an airport yet. I’m honestly not sure whether I asked for a wheelchair, which won’t matter much in Guanajuato’s tiny airport, but might make a difference when we change planes in Mexico City.

Both Mr. December and I agree that we’d stay here longer if I didn’t have a prior engagement. We might have to come back—we’ve barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do in Guanajuato. For now, though, it’s adios to Guanajuato and hola to Cancun.

Fibro Flares · Kids · Travelogue · Worldschooling

Day 727: Splash!

I woke up in a full-on fibro flare this morning—there’s been a lot of walking (and boy, is this town hilly) and going up and down stairs, and I haven’t gotten my necessary 10 hours of sleep every night, so it might have been inevitable.

I would have stayed in bed longer, but today’s outing was to a waterpark. The kids were excited and Mr. December took the afternoon off work. I decided I could go and just veg out on a lawn chair or sit in a hot tub the whole time.

It was a good thought, but my plan met with two obstacles: no hot tub, and no lawn chair. The only seating available was the type of plastic chair you might buy from Home Depot for $5: White, armless, slightly flimsy, and not particularly comfortable. I opted to sit in the very shallow end of the warmest pool in the park while E cavorted in the water with her friends.

The park itself felt a bit like a ghost town: half of the rides were closed, the lazy river was empty, there were no attendants or lifeguards to be seen, and there were no lineups for any of the waterslides (or for anything, really.) Our friends reported that the wave pool was lame, and in any case it was only open for one hour (3-4 p.m.) Who has a wave pool that only operates a single hour out of a 7-hour day?

Despite all that, the kids had fun. They went down some huge waterslides one right behind the other, which is a huge no-no at every water park I’ve been to before this one, but which is way more fun than sliding alone. R got over her anxiety and went down a super-tall, super-fast slide multiple times; K played beach volleyball with the other teens; N played Monkey in the Middle in the warm pool and joined his sisters and friends on the big slides; E was one of the big kids for the first time, running to and fro with the whole pack of them between the pool and the slides.

I didn’t especially enjoy it, nor did I hate it. I found myself a grassy, shady spot, spread out my towel, and lay down for a bit of a rest. It was good, but not quite enough. I’m going to bed soon so that I can be awake and alert for tomorrow morning’s cooking class.

crafty · family fun · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · Kids · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 695: Scribbles and Schadenfreude

“I’m fatigued,” Mr. December admitted. “Everything is just so… relentless.”

He wasn’t talking about COVID fatigue. He’s talking about that deep-soul weariness where we’re sick of everything and desperately need a break. And I’m feeling it too, in addition to the post-COVID fatigue. I’m simultaneously loathing the computers for the amount of time the kids spend on them, and thankful to Roblox for keeping the kids occupied when I can’t bring myself to interact with other human beings. Because—let’s face it—I’ve been interacting closely with the same five human beings every single day for the last six hundred and ninety-five days. That’s a lot of days.

I feel so mentally fried that board games feel too complicated. I don’t want to do any more puzzles. And sitting at the computer often makes my fatigue worse, not better, no matter whether I’m working or playing or writing on it. It was minus 11 degrees celsius out today, and my legs are hurting (fibro pain, not COVID aches) and the cold makes the pain worse, so no outdoor fun is happening for us.

I had no idea what to do this afternoon. To avoid the decision, I napped for an hour, but—wouldn’t you know it—there are several hours in an afternoon.

A book in the living room caught my eye. It’s called “1, 2, 3, Draw!” and consists of drawing prompts in the form of photographs and illustrations. Like, it has a page of identical snail shells, and you can turn them into… anything, really. I got to work, and soon the kids were sitting around me, shouting suggestions.

“Turn the duck into a pirate!”

“No, a cowboy! Riding a horse!”

“You should do a giant horse eating that box of matches!”

“Turn the hacksaw into a horse!”

I don’t know why horses have become so popular over here. Maybe it’s because they’re an animal that I truly cannot draw well, and the kids find that hilarious. A little bit of schadenfreude now and then isn’t going to hurt anyone, I guess.

Except for those poor ear-less, one-eyed horses, which I didn’t include in the photos below, because I really am terrible at drawing them.

Fibro Flares · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · mental health · whine and cheese

Day 674: The sun is a liar.

There’s a phrase in Hebrew: Shemesh shakranit, which means “a lying sun.” Back when we had an Israeli nanny part-time, she said it all through the winter. The notion that it can be sunny and way below freezing was a novel one to our nanny.

So was the idea that it can—and does—rain in the summer. In Israel rain is strictly a winter thing, so much so that they actually have special words for the first and last rains of the season. This baffled me as a Canadian child: how do you know which rain is the first? The answer is that in Israel, it’s obvious—as is the idea that sun means warm temperatures (or if not warm, at least not cold.)

The sun is shining brightly today and I vaguely remembered seeing that the temperature was -4C, which isn’t that cold; so when Mr. December invited me to go for a walk with him, I said yes.

It did not feel like minus four. It was bitingly, bitterly cold. I could feel my thighs freezing through my jeans; my warm winter jacket wasn’t keeping me so warm. The only parts of me that felt nice and cozy were my feet, and I have my alpaca-wool socks to thank for that.

“Thawed thighs” sounds like part of a recipe, as in “take the thawed thighs and season with salt and pepper before browning.” Sadly, my thawed thighs are nowhere near that appealing. I had forgotten how my muscles contract and tense up in the cold, and leave me sore and achy for the rest of the day. Ouch.

Only nine more days until I can escape the walk-in freezer that is this city. I think I’ll go pack.

Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Kids

Day 663: Cinderella, you slut.

E has been on a “finishing workbooks” kick lately. Last week she completed her cursive writing book. Today she worked for four hours (or so) on finishing her Kumon math book. I didn’t interrupt her for other things like reading or social studies; just like you should not wake a sleeping baby (unless you have to for specific medical reasons, obviously,) you should not interrupt a kid who’s intently focussed on working towards a goal. There’s something magical about letting kids finish what they started instead of switching subjects every forty minutes.

Long story short: she finished her Grade 2: Measurement and Geometry workbook today.

Math workbook opened to a page titled, "Counting money". Next to it on the table, there are Canadian coins with a child's hand pointing to one of them.

Actually, we did sneak in some social studies: when E’s book got to the “counting money” section it was all in American currency. I pointed that out to her, then went to dig up some change and a few bills so I could show E what Canadian money looks like (and the denominations for the coins.) After looking at the bills, we watched “Heritage Minute” videos related to the subject of each bill. So E learned a bit about Viola Davis, Vimy Ridge, Canadarm, and the invention of insulin; we also watched a video about all the neat features of our banknotes.

I’m fibro-flaring again, possibly because I had a couple of late nights in a row. So I wasn’t as quick to fill the children’s time as I might have been otherwise. In the absence of instructions, N sat down with his sheet music and figured out all the notes to Waving Through a Window, then went and practiced playing it. He also helped E with her math work.

In the afternoon I read them two versions of Cinderella: the first written version by Perrault (published in 1697) and then a version by The Brothers Grimm. R was most displeased that at the end of both versions, Cinderella forgives her stepsisters wholeheartedly. K was amused that the eighteenth-century translation used the phrased “decked out” to describe the stepsisters all dressed up for the ball. We also encountered the archaic use of the word “slut” as in, “A slut like you can’t go to a ball!”

I preemptively explained that “slut” used to mean “messy” or “dirty.”

“Okay,” Rebecca said, “but what does it mean now?”

(I guess my explanation hadn’t preempted anything after all; sometimes I forget how young my kids are.)

“A sexually promiscuous woman,” I told her.

“Which means…?” she pressed.

This sort of exchange is probably why my kids have such expansive vocabularies.