family fun · Fibro Flares · goodbye clutter! · Jewy goodness · The COVID files · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 286: The Kitchen Sink

Sorry I missed yesterday, everyone. I was in pain and having trouble focusing enough to write. I’m a bit better today.


Is it weird that after I finish loading the dishwasher, I tidy up the sink and then stack any remaining dishes neatly inside? Because I do. If those dishes have to sit there for a few more hours, I’d at least like it to not look completely disgusting.

If my family could be taught to stack dishes neatly in the sink, I wouldn’t have to do it myself. Unfortunately, no matter how many times we’ve discussed it, they often leave their dishes on the counter. This drives me slightly nutty.

The counter is a work surface; it’s best to keep it as clear as possible. It’s not a resting place for dirty dishes. The sink, on the other hand, is a perfect place for dirty dishes: the dishes are less visible, for starters, and take up less space when stacked inside the sink. Besides, you can fill the dishes with a bit of water so whatever is on them doesn’t ossify. What else is a sink for?

I’ve never been told this explicitly, but after twenty years of observation, I believe my inlaws prefer to leave the dirty dishes on the counter to the left of the sink. I have no idea why, but hey, it’s not my kitchen. Nevertheless, I’m baffled as to what else the sink is for.

When I was in first-year university, I had an ongoing dispute with one of my suitemates (apartment style residence) over where to keep the dish soap. She wanted us all to put the bottle of dish soap away in the cabinet underneath the sink when we weren’t using it (because it looked neater that way.) I, on the other hand, felt that was a stupid place for dish soap: it added unnecessary steps to the dishwashing process (including bending down and opening the cabinet door.) Besides, a kitchen sink is a workspace, isn’t it? In what world do you not keep the appropriate tools in the workspace where they’re used?

Now that I’ve unloaded all my kitchen sink baggage, I can move on. But I’d love to hear you weigh in on the kitchen sink and its purpose. Seriously.


Our linen closet has been on my to-do list for a long time. Finally, after wasting a ton of time trying to find the right size and configuration of wire shelving, I gave up and ordered a set of modular metal mesh cubes from Amazon.

This morning I was feeling marginally better than yesterday, so I decided to take out a few of the components and set them up. Two hours later, I had Mr. December helping me assemble the top shelves. I still have to trim the zip ties (I don’t trust those connectors to stand up to heavy use) and attach the cubes to the wall (so they don’t topple forward,) and then it’ll be ready.


I spent most of this afternoon creating a website for K’s Bat Mitzvah. Since lockdown rules limit religious ceremonies to ten people, and we—Mr. D and I, the four kids, and all our parents—add up to ten, K decided to do the ceremony at home rather than in the synagogue with our rabbi (because then the rabbi counts as one, and somebody would have to be left out.) Since we’re at home, we’ll be able to livestream or zoom the service so that family and friends can join us.

I also spent a long time this evening with R, N, and E, getting some things ready for K’s birthday tomorrow. We did have a few mishaps involving confetti-filled balloons, but in the end there’s a balloon bouquet, a string of balloons that reads “Happy Birthday,” and a whole lot of rubber duckies hiding in my closet. I’d say more, but I don’t want to ruin the surprise in case K reads this tonight.

blogging · DIY · education · family fun · goodbye clutter! · Homeschool · Infertility · love and marriage · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 224: Thriving

It’s a beautiful morning. Sure, it’s cold and cloudy, but I stand by my statement.

I’m writing this at 9:45 and this morning I’ve already enjoyed a dance party with E, a walk with my sweetheart, two cups of coffee, some snuggles, and a hot breakfast. In fact, all of those things happened before we started homeschool at 9:00.

We called the kids together for our morning stand-up meeting. As we waited, Mr. December commented, “Every school day should start like this.”

Yes. Yes, it should.



Happiness is a clear desk.

After my highly successful IKEA hack for cable management, I was feeling inspired; I spent an hour and a half yesterday clearing my desk and getting all the cables neatly tucked away. I finished the job and even did the unthinkable (for me): I cleaned up every last tool and speck of sawdust before I allowed myself to start something new.

“Is this some kind of ketone-fuelled cleaning spree?” Mr. December wanted to know (we recently started intermittent fasting again.) Maybe he’s right: maybe my fabulous mood and my productivity are the results of what I’m eating (or not eating) these days. Or maybe they’re just a function of the fact that right now, I’m living my best life; and right now that means working at a clean desk.

There’s definitely a part of me that feels a bit guilty about thriving right now; I know that many, many people—some of whom are people near and dear to me—have been doing worse and worse as the pandemic stretches on. And yet, as I learned when I was dealing with infertility and everybody else’s pregnancy was a dagger in my heart, happiness is not a zero sum game.


Something interesting is happening here: every weekday I wake up and get ready for the day, take a walk with Mr. December, and homeschool the kids. Many days, yesterday included, I’m working all day long, either teaching the kids or preparing materials for them, or sometimes doing things around the house. Mr. December and I usually try to go to bed right after we tuck the kids in. There’s not a whole lot of leisure time, and not much fun as most people would define it. I don’t take a lot of breaks.

You’d think this would be a recipe for burnout, right? I’d have thought so too. But I don’t feel burned out or run down. I feel energized. Focused. Productive.

I feel happy.

DIY · goodbye clutter! · hackin' it · IKEA · Kids

Day 223: Can’t hack it? Think again.

Sometimes the solution to a problem is just staring you in the face, and you don’t see it for what it is.

This weekend I decided to clean up one of the desks in our living room—the one where the family laptop is supposed to live. I started with the clutter, obviously: old papers, cups that should have gone back to the kitchen (even though there’s a no-drinking-near-the-computer rule,) and a mess of cables that weren’t even connected to anything. With those gone, I was dismayed to find that it still looked messy. I may have gotten rid of the unconnected cables, but there were still plenty of cables all over the place. It was still a mess. Sigh.

I decided to accept the mess for now and set about connecting the laptop to a full-size keyboard (better for typing practice) and a mouse. It became obvious that the laptop needed to be raised a bit for the screen to be properly positioned. Immediately my mind turned to how I could build a platform: I could use some of my scrap plywood, or maybe just some stiff cardboard, or maybe I should buy a fancy laptop dock…

I looked up for a moment, and the answer was staring back at me.

I had these two wooden magazine files (from IKEA, naturally) being used to hold some of my homeschooling papers and booklets. Those are basically boxes, I mused, and they have convenient holes on both sides… and I bet they’ll interlock nicely… a minute later I was emptying them and finding somewhere to stash the papers (if you visit my house, please don’t open the cabinet between the desks—you’ll cause an avalanche.)

As I suspected, the two magazine files fit together to create one long, rectangular box. I ran the power cord in through one rear hole and out through the other, to the USB-port side of the laptop. I ran the cords for the keyboard and the mouse through the front holes of the box and then out through the hole closest to a USB hub I scrounged up from the basement. Then I set the computer on top and hooked it up to the hub. Here’s how it looks now:

Much better. The best part is that it required absolutely no cutting, drilling, gluing, or screwing. It was fast, clean, and completely reversible anytime I want. And the worst part? These magazine files have been discontinued in Canada. What a shame—I have so many cool ideas for them now.

DIY · education · goodbye clutter! · Homeschool · Jewy goodness · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage

Day 207: It’s so quiet in here!

My parents and my in-laws joined us for Shabbat dinner in the sukkah tonight. A good time was had by all (BY ALL!), and then I pulled an Oprah.

“Thanks so much for coming. Tonight I’m sending you home with a special loot bag… everyone gets a kid! YOU get a kid! And YOU get a kid! And YOU get a kid!”

Yes, I farmed my kids out to their grandparents tonight. Mr. December and I are alone in the house, just the two of us.

“You two behave yourselves while you’re alone together in this house!” My mom joked as she buckled E into dad’s car.

“I’ll try,” I shot back jovially, “but I’m not sure I can resist a man who’s up to his ears in math curriculum.”

This is adulthood, isn’t it? There’s nobody here but me and my husband, and we’ve got big plans for the weekend, all of which involve homeschool planning. There’s a notable absence of romance in our itinerary. We’re going to be getting stuff done this weekend—and we’re happy about that. Welcome to middle age. Population: me and my Mr.

Speaking of getting things done, today I snatched my week from the jaws of procrastination. I made challah, printed and cut all the magnets for the kids’ schedule boards, ordered groceries online (they were delivered two hours later), and organized my command centre shelf that’s been a dumping ground for a long time now. Mr. December mentioned a few times this week that the mess was annoying and he couldn’t find anything.

“Wait a minute,” I said, “whose command centre is it?”

“Everyone’s.” He seemed sure of his answer, but I set him straight.

Anyhow, I’m wishing I had taken a “before” picture, but I didn’t even think of blogging about it until much later. The “after” is pretty cool, though. Check it out:

This is a fabulous example of why I don’t throw out leftovers from my projects. The pegboard is made up of two offcuts from when I organized my sewing space; it just so happened that they fit this cabinet perfectly. The various cups, hooks, and rods were leftovers and rejects from my pantry, but I never bothered returning them to IKEA. It’s so nice to be able to decide spontaneously to organize a space right now, and just go downstairs to get everything I need.

All in all, the project took an hour and a half, which included carefully going through all of the kids’ weekly charts for the last six months before unceremoniously dumping them in the recycling (who am I kidding? I’m never going to read those.) I found five pairs of scissors (big apologies to my kids, whom I accused of taking all the scissors and losing them), three calculators, and four boxes of staples in the clutter. I felt so productive.

I still haven’t called the window company about replacing the broken attic window, though. I guess I can’t do that until Tuesday (Monday is a holiday here, for those of you outside of Canada). In the meantime, I’m going to turn the lights down low, pour some Bailey’s into my vanilla tea, sit down next to Mr. December… and start working out our plans for the next three weeks.

crafty · DIY · education · goodbye clutter! · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 206: Why do I do this to myself?

It’s 9:12 p.m. and I’m only just starting my daily blog post. Okay, you may be thinking, you’ve got four kids. I’m sure you were busy all day. Well, yes… if going down an internet rabbit hole counts as busy.

You see, yesterday I was at the fabric store getting hooks for my bedroom curtains when I saw an adhesive chalkboard calendar on sale. It seemed like a decent idea, given some of Mr. December’s ideas about scheduling, so I bought it.

Today I took it out of the package and discovered there was no place I particularly wanted to put it. On the one hand, we need a family calendar where everyone can see it, and on the other hand, I don’t need everyone to see my calendar if they don’t live here.

(Of course, with COVID it’s a pretty sure thing that we won’t be having guests anytime soon, but still…)

I have a thing about being able to hide the chaos in my house. That’s why the command centre in the corner of my dining room has a door that, when closed, hides all the stuff and camouflages the cupboard. If you hadn’t seen it open, you wouldn’t know it was there. It’s exactly what I like: accessible and visible to people who need it, invisible when there are guests.

So this morning I sat down at the computer and tried to figure out how to hide this calendar decal when I want to. I thought of a reversible picture frame with the calendar on one side and a nice family photo on another… which led me into the photo program on my computer, hunting for a beautiful family photo I could print… but then I realized that we don’t really have any great family photos. So I went back to the internet and looked for a nice art poster instead. This made me realized that those wooden magnetic poster hangers are easy to reverse, so I should get those instead of a heavy frame… and I could just make a poster, or maybe a watercolour painting… which led me to look for extra-large watercolour paper.

I suddenly just how much time had passed and how useless an exercise it was. We already have a family calendar: it’s in the command centre. Of course, it’s on the back wall of the cabinet, so it’s not super obvious. But that’s easily fixed: I hung it on the inside of the cabinet door with the clips that used to hold the kids’ checklists… the clips aren’t needed for anything else, because the checklists will be on magnetic boards this year. So now the family calendar is easy to see, and still easy to hide, and I could have just done that in the first place instead of going down a three-hour rabbit hole.

Then tonight, I was messaging with a friend and mentioned that I miss the cottage. I wondered what it would be like to be able to go up to a house on the lake anytime I wanted, and have my stuff there waiting for me, and be able to sit by the lake and not have constant construction noise outside my house day and night. So I hopped onto a real estate website and started looking at cottages. The kids got into it, too—now I know that K would happily live in a small bunkie, and E just really wants a bunk bed—and an hour later, Mr. December came upstairs from his meeting and said, “We’re not buying a cottage. We don’t need one. Get on AirBnB and I’ll find you a cottage you can go to tomorrow.” Thus ended my second rabbit hole of the day.

Here’s what I didn’t do today: I didn’t finish organizing my curriculum materials. I also didn’t make sure that the kids’ pencil boxes have all the school supplies they need and are accessible. I didn’t get the kids to help me clean out their cubbies in preparation for new materials. And I didn’t call the window company about replacing the attic window that’s broken again.

Why do I keep doing this to myself?

crafty · DIY · el cheapo · goodbye clutter!

Day 163: Closets Big and Small

Apparently my kids are interested in cleaning up their closets; all it took was a few bags of new clothes, and suddenly I had both R and N asking me to help them sort out their closets. If I had known that was all it would take I’d have dragged them to Value Village years ago.

They filled up a total of four laundry baskets full of stuff they can’t or won’t wear anymore. N’s closet went from being an avalanche every time we opened the doors to a neat and orderly wardrobe. He asked for hooks for his ties and hoodies, so I made him some s-hooks out of a nice blue coat hanger I had, and attached them to his pull-down closet rod.

I used up a couple more wire hangers in R’s room, but not for her closet. It seems that her dolls were jealous of R’s tidy wardrobe and wanted a place to store their clothes neatly — or so R told me. It just so happened that the ends of the wire hangers fit perfectly into the pre-drilled holes in the bookcase that we’ve been slowly turning into a doll house. Two hangers and a bit of duck tape later, I had fashioned some little shelves and installed them in the dolls’ bedroom. Have a look:

This dollhouse has been one of my proudest IKEA-hacking moments. R desperately wanted bunk beds for her dolls, but the ones for sale in the stores were upwards of $120 each. On top of that, they would have taken up the entire room in her dollhouse — the proportions would have been all wrong. I mulled over it for a couple of days and then, after looking very closely, I realized that there’s an extra row of holes in the sides of the bookcase about six inches from the back. I realized that IKEA had very shallow shelves for these units too, and that two such shelves could be dressed up to look like bunk beds.

I bought some doll bedding on sale and then cut it in half, creating two sets of bedding that fit the narrow shelves perfectly. Then, Because my motto is (according to my best friend since childhood) “Go big or go home,” I went a step further: I cut and glued some very small pieces of trim to make a bunk bed façade that attached to the front of the shelves.

There are six dolls and three bedrooms, so I still need to build two more of these façades — not to mention some more of those neat little shelves. I look forward to seeing whose rooms stay neat longer: R’s or the dolls’?

DIY · education · goodbye clutter! · Homeschool · Kids · love and marriage

Day 147: The Evolution of our Homeschool

Hey, wanna know what I admire most about Mr. December? It’s his willingness to change based on data and experimentation. I don’t know anyone else who can so quickly change his mind when presented with incontrovertible evidence. Well, he’s pretty immovable on rowdy horseplay at bedtime no matter how many experts I throw at him, but otherwise he’s open to changing things up when the need arises.

I’ve changed a few things about how we homeschool starting today. First off, we actually have a daily schedule/routine posted. I’m not sure how the kids feel about it, but it certainly helped me stay on task today. I’m sure we’ll be a bit flexible with the times, but I think the structure could be a winner. As Mr. December always says, we’ll try it and see.

Remember our checklists? I’ve revamped them. They now have separate sections for daily and weekly tasks, a space for appointments and special events, and a space to record the kids’ own personal or academic goals for the week. On the weekly task section there’s space for me and Mr. December to write each day’s assignment or lesson next to the check box. Alternately, if we do something that we hadn’t planned on, we can write it in so that we know what we did. Ontario’s Ministry of Education doesn’t require any documentation or reporting from homeschoolers, but I’d still like to keep some records. I plan to file these in a binder when each week is over.

Finally, I’ve organized K’s materials so that they won’t be all over the library. Since she’s very distractible and sensitive to sound, she has claimed the library (with its sound attenuation and two doors between it and the rest of the house) as her study space. Unfortunately, that means that the entire window seat, her retractible desk, and the small ledge in front of the instrument cabinet were littered with her papers, binders, and pens… until today.

I can understand why: although she has her own cubbies where her binders and books should live, those are in the living room. Who wants to have their materials so far from their workstation? So I liberated a wheeled cart from the Makery, brought it upstairs, and set it up so that there’s space for her binders, workbooks, clipboard with her checklist, pens and pencils, pencil box of supplies, and whatever book she’s currently reading. Oh, and her timer happens to have a magnet on the back, so it sticks right to the side of the cart.

She was pleased when I showed her the new cart this afternoon. “You don’t have to clean up or organize your stuff,” I told her, “I did that part for you. Just put things back at the end of every day and it’ll stay neat.” For the first time in months, our library is tidy this evening. I can even see the windowsill. I wonder: will the neater space help K focus and work more efficiently? I’ll keep you posted.

DIY · el cheapo · goodbye clutter! · Work-in-progress Wednesday

Day 59: Procraftination (a DIY tutorial)

I procraftinated today.

Yesterday I spent quite a lot of time trying to figure out how to organize the paper drawer in our living room. We use this one drawer to store four or five different kinds of paper: GOOS (Good On One Side), lined 3-hole looseleaf, graph, and plain printer paper. Up until now we’ve just piled the different papers on top of each other and sifted through them every time we needed something that wasn’t at the top of the pile.

I thought about plastic paper trays. I tried a few that I had in the house; didn’t work. I have a three-tiered IKEA mail sorter, but it was too tall for the drawer and doesn’t have enough sections for what we want to store. I searched online and found a wall-mount magazine file that could probably just be laid flat inside the drawer… for $100. Nope.

So I started thinking about how I could make something like that magazine file by myself. Thin plywood seemed to be the obvious answer, but I would want to use my miter saw which is still in a box in my parents’ house. After a few more failed ideas (corrugated cardboard held on a slant by thick cardboard wedges? Hanging files?) I decided to try using wire hangers, cardboard, and some fabric to make a slanted paper organizer.

(In case you didn’t know, I love wire hangers. They’re a cheap source of wire that’s strong but easily shaped with pliers and a good strong wire cutter. I used them for my violin and viola hanging rack that we’re still using. I’d use wire hangers more often, but we don’t use the dry cleaners often enough to have a big stash of them. I had to raid my kids’ closets just to come up with four hangers.)

Once I started working on it, I realized this plan could also be used to make a drawer organizer to hold cookie sheets and muffin pans, or anything else flat.

Here’s how to do it:

DIY paper divider

First, cut your dividers. I used corrugated cardboard for strength and rigidity. Make sure that the corrugation lines are going to be vertical in the drawer instead of horizontal; this will keep your tray from sagging under the weight of the paper.

You’ll have to do some trial-and-error here to find the right shape and size for your drawer. My drawers have slightly rounded sides, so I had to figure out the right shape. If your drawers are square, you can just cut a rectangle. Either way, your dividers should be the width of your drawer by 11 inches high. If you don’t already have a fold in your cardboard, you’ll need to score it 2 inches from one side. If you have cardboard with a fold, make sure you cut it so that you have 2 inches above the fold and 9 inches below.

 

IMG_3728

Second, decide whether you want them to look nicer than plain old cardboard. I decided to cover mine in fabric, which I think is better than paint in this case because it won’t rub off on the paper.  Fabric also provides friction so the paper doesn’t slide around.

Cut the fabric to the exact size and shape of the cardboard divider. Then brush ModPodge or clear school glue mixed with water all over the front (the side that will be facing up). Smooth the fabric over the glue and then brush another layer of glue on top of the fabric. Set it aside to let it dry. I moved mine to the front porch so they could dry more quickly.

 

While the dividers are drying, make the wire rods that will support the dividers. Use pliers to straighten out the wire hangers and wire cutters to cut them to the width of the drawer plus 4 inches.

Create a 90-degree angle 2 inches from one end of the hanger. Rest that corner on top of one of the drawer sides and pull it tight. Mark where the bend should be on the other side, then bend it into a 90-degree angle. My drawer sides are actually square rods, so I was able to wrap the ends of my wires around underneath as well. Do your best to keep the wires in place (if your drawer sides are wood, a staple gun could be useful here.)

Here’s how I determined the spacing for the dividers: I took one divider and held it so that the bottom of the divider was touching the back bottom corner of the drawer, and the fold of the divider was flush with the top of the drawer sides. That gave me the position of the first wire (closest to the back of the drawer.)

Then, measure the distance between the first wire and the front of the drawer. Divide it so that your wires (however many you want) are evenly spaced. Alternately, decide on the spacing you want between the first and second dividers, and then mark that same distance along the drawer sides for all of the rest.

In order to get a sense of how wide the gaps between the dividers, I hung pocket folders from the wires. I chose to have 3 inches between dividers.

To keep the wires in place I used what I had: clear silicone bumpers, the kind you might put just inside your cabinet doors so they don’t slam too loudly. I placed one bumper on either side of each wire and tested to make sure the wire wouldn’t jump out of place when the drawer is opened or closed.

 

IMG_3770

With all of the wires in place, I brought the now-dry dividers inside and installed them. First I hung each one by the fold on its own wire. Next, I used double-sided mounting tape to stick the folded portion to the back of the main part of the divider. When necessary, I used my pliers to bend the wire so that it would fit between the two layers of cardboard.

That’s pretty much it. Some of the dividers look a bit bubbly or wrinkled, but I figure that once they have paper in them I won’t see it anyway. Another minor detail: see how the second divider from the top looks a lot less neat across the fold? That’s the only one where I used an existing fold in the cardboard. All of the other ones I scored and folded myself, and they look a lot cleaner.

IMG_3776

I think it looks pretty great when it’s filled with paper. Most importantly, the days of a massive jumble of different papers are over!

IMG_3779

education · goodbye clutter! · Kids · parenting · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 58: It gets worse before it gets better

After I posted my tour of the living room I decided it was past time to take everything out of the drawers under the window and get them organized. Today I worked my tail off for 6 hours, and the drawers look great.

The rest of the living room does not.

IMG_3723

As Mr. December came out of his office this evening I met him as he walked through the Makery to get to the stairs.

“I spent today throwing out papers and reorganizing,” I said.

“Wow,” He said, looking around the makery with all of its surfaces covered in stuff. “Well, I guess it has to look worse before it looks better!”

“I wasn’t cleaning up in here.” I said flatly. “I did the drawers upstairs in the living room.”

“Ohhhhh…” He said. “I think you should probably do down here, too.”

Thanks, Captain Obvious. Once again, you have saved our village.

~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~<>~

We have a wonderful, unique opportunity this week to focus our attention on K. All three of her siblings are staying with grandparents for a couple of weeks, which means she’s an only child. Last night she thought that was a good thing. Today she seems less sure.

When I’m running between four children’s academic activities I don’t have time to sit and deal with the resistance K puts up every time something is difficult. I mostly say something like, “Sulk if you want, but get it done,” and then I leave the room to check on someone else. Very often she spends the next hour listening to music, swinging to calm down, or reading her current book until I check on her again. Then we repeat that cycle until dinnertime.

But now I have time to sit on her. As the excuses roll off her tongue, the tough love rolls off mine: “Nobody cares about excuses. You have to get your work done. If there are problems, try different things until you solve them, or ask us for help. But get your work done. I’ll sit here and wait.”

In a way, K making academic progress is like decluttering and organizing my drawers. It initially looks like everything is ok because she’s sitting at a desk in the library with a pencil in hand. Then I get involved and start to ask questions and see what’s actually going on. Now we’re at the stage where it’s all a mess: she’s getting worked up about the uselessness of an assignment and nothing is getting done.  That’s where we’ve left it for tonight… just like the living room.

 

bikes planes and automobiles · DIY · family fun · goodbye clutter! · Jewy goodness · Kids · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 22: [insert clever title here]

This morning I led a passover-themed music program online. Wanting to look professional (I do want to work for this synagogue again in the future), I had to clear a space that looked professional and didn’t have my kids streaking through it.  The library was the obvious answer, since it has not one but two doors between it and the rest of the house. I straightened up the books on the shelves, adding a few children’s passover books, and cleared the floor in a four-foot radius around me. Outside my circle, chaos still reigned; inside the circle I sat serenely in front of neatly-organized bookshelves.

Photo on 2020-04-05 at 10.01 AM

It looked good enough that I finally replaced my old profile picture of me and K in my parents’ pool when she was a baby.

While biking to a friend’s house to pick up some Maror (horseradish, for the seder) from her mailbox, we had a bit of an incident. E was on the tandem trailer attached to my bike, and when I heard her shout, “Wait! I’m off my seat!” I stopped quickly. Mr. December couldn’t stop, and ploughed right into her.

As it turned out, his rear brake cable had snapped, making it harder for him to brake. When we got home I produced an assortment of tools and an extra brake cable and we got to work. Putting away his now-repaired bike, Mr. December asked me to please do something about all the random pieces of wood and drywall that blocked off part of the garage. This was not a new request; I think he’s been asking since we moved in a year and a half ago. What was different this time is that he actually offered to help. Ten minutes later, the garage floor was clear (except for bikes) and we could easily access everything.

Meanwhile, the three younger kids were building blanket forts in E’s room. I was invited up to see them and eagerly agreed (which is unusual for me; I often have to be dragged.) When I got to E’s doorway I saw that the only empty space was on her bed, which was still expanded to a king size from last night’s sibling sleepover.

I guess I could have shouted and yelled about the mess, but instead I was drawn to a tempting patch of sunlight on the bed. “I’m going to just be a cat for a while,” I told the kids as I lay down and closed my eyes. One by one they crawled over to me and snuggled into my side; I rubbed their bellies. It was sweet.

It was the kind of sweet moment I should have tried to remember an hour later, as I yelled at them for fighting, for not having cleaned their paintbrushes, and for touching the paint tubes before I was ready. We worked together on painting our seder plate and I made peace with the fact that it’s going to look like a cross between preschool art and a sloppy henna tattoo. One day I’ll get to design and make my own projects again. One day… but not today. IMG_3045

Tonight being movie night, we watched Airplane with the kids. Do anybody else’s kids ask questions about a movie like they need to know everything upfront?

“Hey, why is he leaving the taxi running?”

“Wait and find out,” we murmur.

“Why are they covered in seaweed?”

“Because it’s a parody,” I said. Now shut up, I thought.

“What are they doing?”

“You know what?” I whine, “You’re supposed to extrapolate from incomplete information! The movie will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it! Now stop talking and watch the movie!”

Silence.

“Ohhhhh… I get it! Am I right? Did I get it?”

“Yes,” I sigh, “now STOP TALKING AND ENJOY THE MOVIE!”

They didn’t stop talking, but they did enjoy the movie — so much so that we promised to show them Airplane 2 next time.

Guys, I’m tired. I’m too tired to come up with a witty ending. Today was good on the whole, with brief moments of despair. Not ideal, but I’ll take it.