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.

DIY · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · mental health · quilty pleasures

Day 644: Doing Stuff

I love the feeling of getting stuff done.

Yesterday I bought a giant chair for our library, rented a van, and drove it home myself.

Today I divided and repotted my snake plant into self-watering pots that fit along the ledge in my office (aka the stair landing.)

I’ve also made progress on N’s quilt, which I’ve been wanting to make for the last four years and haven’t made time for yet. No pics ’til it’s done, though.

My self-worth isn’t wrapped up in my productivity (okay, fine, I’m working on making that a true statement,) but the dopamine hit I get when I look at something I’ve made is a great defense against seasonal depression.

(Speaking of which, what did Canada do with the sun? I haven’t seen it since I got back from Ecuador. Where are you guys hiding it?)

It’s a bit chicken-and-egg: I feel depressed, so I can’t motivate myself to do anything… and then I feel useless and pathetic because I’m not doing anything… but I can’t motivate myself to do anything, so…

I’m wondering if maybe the key to staving off the worst of SAD (great acronym, isn’t it?) is having enough projects that can be tackled in small, easy steps—and can be finished in a single afternoon.

All that being said, I was definitely feeling achy and exhausted this afternoon when I finished with the plants. Fibro flare is definitely not over yet. Maybe I’ll sit in my new comfy chair with a book and tell myself that reading is productivity too.

bikes planes and automobiles · Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · Travelogue · whine and cheese

Day 642: Choosing (and using) the Chair

I know, I know: I haven’t blogged in days. We made it home from Galapagos without any major flight disruptions, but the two days of airports and travel led to a lovely fibro-flare (on top of the cold I already had,) and then I spent most of last night throwing up (not fibro-related.) So, you know, I’ve been busy.

I’m still not sure why I can hike up a volcano at high altitude but not manage two days of travel through airports. By the end of the second flight, though, my legs were painful and shaky; and we were in MIA again, which is miles of walking from one terminal to another. I told Mr. December to request wheelchair assistance for our next flight.

That’s where our travel went downhill: apparently, wheelchairs are commonly M.I.A. at MIA. Surprised? I’m not. We waited an hour for a wheelchair, despite the fact that there were forty or fifty of them not far away—apparently they’re owned by private companies and you have to wait for an attendant to push you the whole way. I’m not saying that’s an inefficient way to do things, but don’t you think it would be better if you could just rent a wheelchair the way you rent a luggage cart, and return it at the gate?

I really need to get over myself and the perceived awkwardness, and request a wheelchair before I start feeling crappy, as a preventative measure. I don’t have to be wincing in pain and limping in order to use a chair, I know, but somehow it feels like I do. When I got out of the wheelchair at the curb in Toronto, Mr. December chided me:

“You can’t just get up and walk away like that! You have to wait for me to shout, ‘BEGONE, ACCURSED DEMONS! I CAST YOU OUT IN THE NAME OF JEBUS! ARISE AND WALK! JEBUS HEALS YOU!’

I think that illustrates the problem nicely: we (as a society) still have a perception that if you get up from a wheelchair and start to walk, you were faking. So if I, feeling perfectly fine, walk up to a chair and get in… and then get up at the other end of the building and walk away, still feeling fine… did I really need that chair?

Yes, I did. I can say that because I didn’t take the chair from the outset, and I’m still suffering the consequences. My brain is foggy, my limbs are heavy, and all I want to do is go back to bed. I don’t even have the wherewithal to edit this post—sorry bout that.

Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · mental health · waxing philosophical

Day 532: S*** happens…

I’m sure you’ve heard it from me quite a few times: it’s always something. I get injured and then I can’t bike for a while. I get a concussion and have to step away from absolutely everything for a few months. One of the kids gets sick, and I have to pause whatever I’m doing to get them to a doctor. A new virus becomes a global pandemic and my dance troupe has to stop rehearsing. Seriously, it’s always something.

I had a bit of an epiphany yesterday: if it’s always something, and I know it will always be something, it shouldn’t be a surprise. Like, if I know something will happen to derail my life in some tiny or huge way, then shouldn’t I be able plan for such an eventuality?

It’s like when we were chronically late getting the kids to school every day. It was never for quite the same reason: K wouldn’t take her medicine; N forgot his backpack and we had to drive back around the block to get it; R couldn’t find her socks. It really didn’t matter what the holdup was; we didn’t have to solve each and every problem in our way. We were always ten minutes late, ergo, leaving the house ten minutes earlier would solve the problem.

This injury to my hand is pretty darn annoying. The weather is perfect for kayaking and biking: not too hot, not too cold, just beautiful. It doesn’t matter, because I can’t do either of those two things while this wound is healing. I don’t need to enumerate all the other things I can’t do because of this injury: I listed them in my post a few nights ago. The salient point here is that, once again, something is preventing me from doing most of the activities that make me happy. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last; it’s about time I developed a contingency plan.

What would that plan look like? I have no idea. I need to come up with activities I can enjoy when I’m incapacitated, instead of just moping around thinking of everything I can’t do. I am—as Jane Austen’s Lady Catherine DeBurgh would say—an active, useful sort, which makes it challenging to think of less-active, less useful pastimes. I have to, though. My sanity might one day depend on it.

So far my very short list includes Sudoku, walking (a very pale shadow of biking and kayaking, but what are you gonna do,) reading romance novels (don’t knock it ’til you’ve really tried it,) sketching (if my right hand is unaffected,) and hanging out with friends. That’s all. So… I turn to my readers (all seven of you.) Any suggestions?

bikes planes and automobiles · family fun · Fibro Flares · Sartorial stuff · The COVID files

Day 443: A pain in the…

My legs hurt. I mean they really, really, really hurt. I’m thrilled, though, because it’s not fibromyalgia pain. No, my leg muscles are killing me in the way any muscle protests overexertion. If I rest and then stand up, my legs scream at me; if I keep moving them, they gradually downgrade the screaming to a pitiful whine. Once I had figured this out, I committed to a six kilometre bike ride with R. My legs felt better while biking. Now that I’m sitting down they’ve decided to scream again, but that’s okay. As the song says, it hurts so good.

I forgot to tell you that the real winner of yesterday’s debacle was…

(drumroll)

My new pants. They were everything they promised to be: stretchy, comfortable, lightweight, and—best of all—aside from the patch of dirt on the back, dirt-resistant: after I had brushed them off with my hands I could have worn them to a restaurant with a nice blouse. I mean, if a restaurant near me was actually open, which reportedly won’t happen until at least June 14. Anyhow, my pants were so great that Mr. December noticed and asked me to buy him a similar pair.

(He probably wouldn’t have noticed my pants at all except that the shorts he was wearing had inferior pockets that didn’t hold his phone securely enough. I ended up with the important stuff in my (roomy, zippered) pockets. It was quite the role reversal, I tell you.)

In the meantime, we got the Keens sandals I ordered for everyone on Friday. After carefully measuring each person’s feet and matching the measurements up on the sizing guide, the shoes were all one size too big for their respective owners. So back they go, and we’ll have to try ordering a size down.

(Look, I get that shoe stores weren’t essential during the first wave of COVID, but it’s been fifteen months and my running shoes have holes in them. If they don’t open shoe stores soon, I’ll just have to hire my own personal courier to take care of all the back-and-forth returns and exchanges. I may be adept at online shopping, but I need to actually try on several pairs of running shoes before making my choice.)

On the whole I have to say that it wasn’t a terrible weekend as long as you don’t count the hike. The weather was nice and warm, the sun was shining, I had a lovely bike ride today, and the pain in my legs isn’t a fibro flare. In the words of my late neighbour, Olga, I am thankful.

bikes planes and automobiles · DIY · Fibro Flares · hackin' it

Day 432: Comebacks

Our trampoline mat ripped in April. I called the company immediately to order a replacement part, which was backordered until June. Happily, it didn’t take that long; it arrived at our house a few days ago.

Be proud of me: I recognized that if Mr. December and I tried to replace the mat ourselves, it would take several hours of sweating and swearing, and there was a very real possibility that someone would get whacked in the head with one of the tension rods. We decided to hire a professional. He did the job this morning in twenty minutes.

So now the trampoline is back after a month and a half.

I’m back, too, I think. I jumped on the trampoline a very little bit today, something I was previously unable to do without bringing on post-concussion symptoms (the concussion was two years ago, but some effects still linger.) It was exhilarating. Tomorrow I’ll jump just a bit longer and before you know it, trampolining will be my daily workout.

I’ve also been biking more this past week, and I’ve been able to go on short rides without triggering another fibro flare. The rides are far shorter than what I used to do at my peak, but my body is just happy to be moving again, and I can’t expect to go from a six-week flare and a year of lockdowns into fourteen kilometres with a loaded 100-pound cargo bike overnight, can I?

As reluctant as I am to admit it, Mr. December was kind of right about the light situation in our bedroom. After a blowout “fix this now!” argument, I stomped upstairs and blocked the windows completely with cardboard. It looks pretty awful from outside, but it definitely creates blackout conditions. Last night I slept a lot later than I have the past couple of weeks. We’ve also been going to sleep a bit earlier, and I know that the increased sleep is likely keeping me from flaring again.

I’m not okay with having cardboard in my windows all the time, though. The extra hardware for our new curtain rod has come in, and so has the black adhesive-backed felt I ordered (to stick to the ceiling between the wall and the curtains, because otherwise the light just reflects off the ceiling and straight into our eyes.) Mr. December will help me install everything this weekend. It had better work. If it doesn’t, I’m sure you’ll be able to hear my scream of frustration no matter where in the world you are.

bikes planes and automobiles · family fun · Fibro Flares

Day 417: Where has he been all this time?

Mr. December is currently out with all four kids, biking to a bubble tea place to celebrate R’s finishing all the grade five Kumon workbooks. Grade six math, here she comes!

Everyone was running to and fro, looking for socks and masks and helmets, as I stood on the front porch and watched.

“You’re not coming?” Mr. December looked puzzled.

“I’m already feeling pain in my legs,” I said. “If I come with you I might not be functional tomorrow. I’m not sure that’s worth it. Just get me a bubble tea.”

He frowned, “Wow, you really can’t go anywhere! That sucks!” He said it as if this was the first time he’d ever noticed my limitations.

“No kidding,” I deadpanned, channeling my late Buby. I wanted to say something a bit more colourful, but there were children present.


It’s not that I’m in a flare—I’m not—and it’s not like I can’t do anything. After all, we started this morning with a workout that included holding a wall sit for 75 seconds, doing a bunch of squats, a full minute-long plank followed by another thirty seconds, and push-ups. I sweated, I felt the burn, it felt great.

OOH, LOOK! BUNNIES! I’m not kidding! I just looked out my window and noticed two adorable bunnies eating our lawn. I wonder if I can attract more of them—it might save us having to mow the lawn!

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Exercise, feeling the burn, not completely incapacitated. But it’s so hard to know what kind of effect the 4K bike ride will have on my legs if they’re already sore. I figured it’s safer to stay back, if a bit disappointing and a lot less fun. At least K promised to bring me my bubble tea.

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.

Fibro Flares · Jewy goodness · Just the two of us · love and marriage · The COVID files

Day 407: Netflix and Chills

As many people warned me, today I felt pretty icky in the aftermath of my COVID shot. The good news is that my immune system is doing its job. The bad news is that I felt fluish and everything hurt—which I thought wouldn’t be a big deal since I’m used to everything hurting, but this pain was sharper and just… more, somehow.

We still managed to have a pretty nice evening, the Mr. and I. I popped Advil and Tylenol and then snuggled on the couch with Mr. December to watch On the Basis of Sex, the film about Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

On the one hand, it was really nice to watch a movie about a Jewish woman as the hero of the story. On the other hand… would it have killed the writers and producers to let her say “L’chaim” instead of “Cheers” as she and her husband toasted her new job? Or for her husband to refer to her mom as “Bubbie” instead of “Grandma” when telling their daughter about her?

But I’m quibbling over minutiae. The bottom line is that we had a lovely date night of Netflix and chills. (That is what the kids call it nowadays, right?)