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?)

blogging · Fibro Flares · The COVID files

Day 404: Not Found

Sorry, I couldn’t resist. How often do I get to write the number 404?

What actually was found today is a vaccination appointment at my local pharmacy. I’m scheduled for Friday afternoon. It turns out they actually do call people on the waiting list. That’s a relief. And I don’t have to drive out of the city to get it.

Yesterday I felt almost normal. Today, not so much. I was feeling awful just after lunch and ended up actually sleeping an hour or so (often I just lie down to rest but don’t fall asleep.) I rallied a bit by dinnertime, and had a nice time sitting on the front porch with Mr. December, but soon afterwards the kids were tucking me up in the hammock and offering to bring me popsicles. To make up for my lack of ability to engage in anything remotely physical, I spent the evening reading aloud from the hammock: the second Percy Jackson book for R, Jewish folk tales for E, and for N and K, No Coins, Please by Gordon Korman.

Mr. December is in meetings for work. I’m headed up to bed now, hoping that tomorrow is a better day. It has to be—I’ll be getting my computer back, at the very least.

Fibro Flares · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 402: I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

It’s been a week since our provincial government decided to allow people ages 40-55 to get the AstraZeneca vaccine. I’ve seen selfies of one friend after another getting their first shot. Meanwhile, I’m on four (maybe five?) waiting lists for an appointment. We’re not in a hot spot, so I can’t just head over to those clinics; at this point I think I’m going to have to phone every pharmacy every morning until a spot becomes available.

Is this really the best we can do? There has got to be a more sensible way to distribute vaccines. Like, literally any other way. I’m having a hard time imagining a worse system.

I also wonder how many people there are like me—who aren’t bedridden or in a high-risk category—but still don’t have the stamina or strength to go stand in line for two hours outside an arena in hopes of getting one of the day’s coveted 1000 doses. I mean, I guess I could do it, but it would mean worse fibro symptoms for days afterwards with no guarantee of a shot. Doesn’t seem very practical, does it?


In good news, my legs hurt a lot less today and my energy was up. I can also proudly say that I got quite a lot of school done with the kids this afternoon and they actually produced some good writing work. I finished arranging the piano part for our new ensemble piece, and started teaching E how to read music. Vaccine annoyance notwithstanding, today was just fine.

blogging · education · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Kids

Day 398: Writers Craft

If there’s one thing I learned in my OAC (grade 13) year, it’s that nobody wants to hear about your pain. When I wrote yet another angst-ridden piece about the pain in my hands and the feelings of uselessness and hopelessness it prompted, one guy in my Writer’s Craft class said, “Yeah, we get it. Her hands hurt. Can we please move on now?”

Ouch. I mean, I get it: we were all teenagers, which is a nicer way of saying that we were walking egos with relatively low impulse control. But it still stung a little.

Don’t worry: I got him back inadvertently. On my laptop—which I used for note-taking, since it hurt too much to write—I had installed a program called Cartman Speaks, which would play a sound clip from South Park every few minutes or randomly, depending on the setting. I didn’t realize it was open and set to “random,” and one day when that guy was spouting off about something else, we all suddenly heard Eric Cartman’s voice saying, “Oh, would you shut the f*** up? Nobody gives a rat’s a** what you think!”

Sweet, inadvertent revenge.

Anyhooo… the moral of this story is… um… I forget. But the point is… well, I forget that too.

Oh, right, nobody really wants to hear about one’s pain. Which is too bad for you, if you’re reading this, because my blogging habit was born out of pain.

Once again, I digress.

Yes, fibro flare is still here. I did some exercise (don’t want to be deconditioned and in pain) and spent a lot of time in bed. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.

The thing I really wanted to mention today was that K produced what is undoubtedly her best piece of writing, and I’m so thrilled for her. This kid used to scream about having to write anything; but when I gave her this assignment she went to the library and wrote it—painstakingly, by hand—without complaint. Today we had a writers’ meeting (it’s how I imagine writers sitting around in a conference room pitching their stories, except my writers drink hot chocolate instead of coffee) and she asked me to read her piece out loud to everyone. I did.

And when I put it down, all I could say was “…Wow.”

And then she explained to everyone how she didn’t want to keep mentioning the rain, but she wanted the wetness to be felt by the reader, which is why she described shoes as “waterlogged.” She made many other excellent word choices; if it hadn’t been for her messy handwriting, spelling errors, and hit-and-miss punctuation, I could have believed it to be the product of something like my OAC Writers’ Craft class.

Now when she says “I can’t write! I suck at it!” I can wave this piece in her face and say, “You can. Here’s the proof.”

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.”

community · crafty · Darn Tootin' · Fibro Flares · gardening · Homeschool

Day 396: Worth it.

Today was one of those full days that ends with a feeling of great satisfaction. Unfortunately, the fullness of the day has also left me with a feeling of significant pain; still, I feel like I made the right choices.

I can barely believe how much E has been practicing her flute. Anytime nobody else is in the library (which is also our music room,) she’s in there with her music on the stand and her flute at her lips. Her work really shows: she’s sounding better and better every day. Now I just have to teach her about eighth notes.

When I finally got my hands on the three older kids—which is getting to be later and later each day as Mr. December gets carried away with whatever he’s teaching them—I sat them down and assigned them some substantial writing, which they immediately started brainstorming for. Later we had art class, where we once again tried to make pottery in the style of Ancient Greece.

Last week I taught the kids the coil method for making a pot. This week I took a slab-building approach, using balloons as our moulds. It wasn’t particularly successful, and only N’s pot was still standing by the end of the hour. Mine looked beautiful, but I tried to smooth “just one more lump” and… POP. With the balloon gone, my whole pot collapsed in on itself.

Around 5:00 we all went to the park. I was there on a mission: the apricot trees in the community orchard are already in bloom, but tonight’s snow and freezing temperatures threatened to kill all the blossoms and any fruit they might bear this summer. An email went out this morning asking for volunteers to bring tarps, plastic bags, and tie-downs and help cover the trees. That’s why we found ourselves in the park, tying multiple tarps together and then raising them over the trees—like a giant chuppah—before tying them down. The best part was that, once again, my kids were doing useful work to benefit the community they live in. There’s no substitute for that experience.

After dinner we started watching Animal Farm (the 1954 animated film, not the 1999 live-action one.) The kids were riveted. Our next step will be a read-aloud of the book, as part of our literature studies.

And then it was bedtime. I could hardly believe that it was 8:30 already. Where did the day go? Oh, yeah… we did stuff today. Lots and lots of stuff.

I definitely overdid it today. And yet I did it knowingly; sometimes I need to feel normal and functional (especially if I’m not) more than I need to be pain-free. Besides, these past six (or seven?) weeks have taught me that resting won’t guarantee me a pain-free day anyhow, so I might as well do at least some of the things I enjoy.

Now… if anyone needs me, I’ll be in my bed with a heating pad and my banana popsicles for the next day or two.

Image description: three tarps are spread out on the ground, tied together with twist ties and zip ties. A child is squatting near the far corner of the tarp, tying it to a pole. Grass in background.
family fun · Fibro Flares · Jewy goodness · what's cookin'

Day 391: I’ll pay for this tomorrow…

Today was Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. We celebrated in a low-key kind of way. Instead of our usual workout, I taught everyone some Israeli folk dances; we made fresh pita, Israeli salad, and schnitzel with chips for dinner; and we ended the day with more dancing followed by blue-and-white-iced cupcakes.

All of which means that I was on my feet more than usual, what with double dancing sessions and baking pita and cupcakes. Sadly, I suspect that I’ll be paying for it tomorrow. I feel like this flare is better than it was last week, but maybe I’m just getting inured to the constant ache. Anyhow, I think I’d better lay low tomorrow and over the weekend.

Just for the record, though, it was worth it to see Mr. December dancing.