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

Day 186: A Different New Year

Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown today. Normally our family would celebrate with festive meals with the extended family, and five-hour-long services at synagogue (there were always kids’ programs, babysitting, and breakout sessions too.) This year synagogue services aren’t happening in the same way and we’re not even at home; so what are we going to do?

Here’s what I’ve planned:

Friday Night
We’ll have the usual festive meal (minus the extended family) with round challahs, kiddush over the wine (or grape juice,) and sweet foods (for a sweet new year.) We bought five different types of honey from a local honey farm, so we’ll have a honey tasting and see which one is the family favourite. We’ll also have a game that relies on puns and randomly selected foods to create blessings or wishes for the new year. Some ideas I’ve got so far:

  • Peas (May this year bring us world peas)
  • Turnip (May the right opportunities turnip for you this year)
  • Root vegetables (May you have lots of people rooting for you this year)
  • Grapes (May we all have a grape year)
  • Tomatoes (May you be able to say ‘I feel good from my head tomatoes‘)

You get the idea. It’s corny, and the kids will love it — N especially grooves on word play.

We’ll do a few of the Rosh Hashana-specific prayers, including the one on which the Leonard Cohen song “Who by Fire?” is based (and yes, we’ll teach the kids “Who by Fire?”). We’ll discuss one of the Rosh Hashanah Torah readings, probably the one about Akeidat Yitzhak, the “Binding of Isaac.” We’ll bake, decorate, and enjoy a birthday cake for dessert (because in the prayer service we read, “Hayom harat olam,” which has sometimes been interpreted as “Today is the birthday of the world”), and I anticipate reading all of our Rosh Hashana storybooks.

I’ve planned to go hiking at a nearby waterfall. We’ll do tashlich (a ceremony in which we symbolically cast our sins away) with water-soluble paper; we can each write or draw what we want to cast off this year and then watch it dissolve as soon as it touches the water. Another possibility is to write it on leaves using wet-erase markers so that the leaf is washed clean in the river, a play on “turn over a new leaf.” I’ll also blow the shofar over the lake in the morning, and maybe again at the waterfall. We’ll end with havdallah and a campfire.

On a more personal level, I’ve been reflecting on the changes we’ve seen in the past year and what possibilities I want to embrace in the coming year.

I want my life to be joyful when possible, purposeful otherwise, and always intentional. I don’t want to wait til the end of the year to evaluate and change course. If something doesn’t work for me (or for us as a family,) I hope I’ll have the courage to change it.

I’m raising my expectations this year: we should all be able to thrive, and if we’re not, something needs to change. Since the schools closed in March I’ve seen all of my children thrive in ways they hadn’t before. None of us should just be passing the time between waking and going to bed.

I want to express my gratitude more, and in ways that are more evident to my children. I am deeply grateful for everything I’ve been given in life — I certainly didn’t earn it! — and I want them to see and understand the world that way too.

On the physical plane, I will give my body more of what it needs: adequate sleep (we’ve been getting 9 hours a night up at the cottage and I feel great,) food that nourishes me and makes me feel good, and exercise to keep me strong and healthy.

I wish all of my readers, Jewish and not, celebrating and not, a sweet and good year (even if not necessarily happy) in good health. May you have everything you need and most of what you want.

See you next year!

family fun · Jewy goodness · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 180: Ask the 8-Ball

“Am I going to have a fun time at the cottage?”

As I see it, yes.

I only realized after they found it here at the cottage that my kids have never seen a Magic 8-Ball before. They crowded around it, asking all kinds of mundane and fantastical questions.

“Will I be alive in the year 3000?”

Signs point to yes.

They’re adorably serious about it. N likes to close his eyes, put the 8-ball to his forehead, and focus on his question. Then he shakes it violently before checking the answer.

“Is ‘Scrambled Eggs’ a good name for a chicken who looks like scrambled eggs?”

Definitely yes.

I don’t quite understand its appeal. It’s a novelty, isn’t it? Doesn’t that mean that the appeal should wear off? It hasn’t. A week into our time here, they’re still asking the 8-ball every question that crosses their minds.

“Will I start to become my dream self on this trip?”

Definitely yes.

Mr. December and I aren’t exempt from its pronouncements:

“Will Abba ever grow up?”

Don’t count on it.

I got into the spirit tonight and decided to see if the 8-ball knew better than I did. Disappointingly, it totally dodged the question.

“Will K clean up after dinner?”

Better not tell you now.

If not now, when? I can already answer the question myself. We finished eating forty-five minutes ago; the food and dishes are still on the table. Will K clean up? Decidedly no.

(Note: It wasn’t K’s job to clean up after dinner. I was just hoping she’d think it was.)

I find myself thinking about what the 8-Ball might say if it was marketed towards an “ethnic” audience. Is there a Jewish 8-Ball that answers your questions with more questions?

“Hey 8-ball, am I going to have a good time here?”

I should know?

Every good writer should do their research, so I turn to Google. My search reveals that I’m obviously not the first person to think of this. There’s a “Jewish Wisdom Ball” that answers questions with answers like “Feh”, “You call that a question?” and “You should be so lucky!”

“Hey, Jewish Ball of Wisdom, is this a good blog post?”

Better you shouldn’t ask.

Sounds about right. I know what my kids are getting this Hannukah.

DIY · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Jewy goodness

Day 164: Sukkah Building

I put up our sukkah frame today.

(Don’t check your calendars; Sukkot isn’t ’til October 2. I’m trying to build the whole frame so that when we come back from the cottage that day we’ll just have to put up the canvas walls and toss some branches on top, and we’ll be ready in time for the holiday.)

It seems like every year I announce that the current year’s sukkah is so easy and next year it’ll only take two hours to assemble. And every year, we get some kind of storm that causes the sukkah to collapse. So every year I move the sukkah to a slightly different location in the hope that this time it will be sheltered enough to withstand the inevitable autumn wind. I think you can see where I’m going with this: so far it has never taken me just a couple of hours to put up the sukkah.

This year I’ve used the same metal poles as last year, but I’ve moved the frame to be adjacent to the fence and the back of the house so that we can affix the sukkah to something immovable. This required clearing out a patch of hydrangeas that I never really liked anyway, so it’s a sacrifice I was willing to make. I could have taken far less time than the four hours of work I did today if only I’d not been too lazy to go and find my hammer drill. Instead I wasted almost an hour figuring out how to drill holes in the brick wall with my cordless drill and regular old drill bits, and what kind of anchors would work best for repeated installation and removal.

In a similar vein, I knew exactly how I could do the assembly pretty easily without a ladder. Alas, I had already attached one post to the house and another to the fence, and I was too lazy to take those two posts down to assemble everything on the ground. I know that it would have taken less time to do it that way. Why couldn’t I just listen to my better judgment?

crafty · DIY · Jewy goodness · Kids

Day 152: Good thing I kept those DVDs

I finally found a use for that stack of blank DVD-Rs that’s been hanging around our storage room.

When we decluttered our basement playroom five years ago, I said, “You know what, these might come in handy. I’ll hang onto them for now.”

When we packed everything up to put into a storage pod when we renovated I said, “I know it sounds silly, but I really think we’ll use these for a craft someday. I’m keeping them.”

When we unpacked and organized our storage room, I said, “Those would probably make great sukkah decorations. Better keep them. I’ll get around to using them one of these years.”

Today I finally got around to it.

N’s most recent Tinker Crate (like a Kiwi Crate, but for older kids) was a “spin art” box. He built the circuit with a motor and a switch, finished assembling the flat plate to put the paper on, and situated it all in the box. Then the fun began; we were all just a little fixated on the beautiful patterns we made just by switching the motor on and dropping bits of paint onto a piece of paper as it spun.

Today I was looking for sukkah decoration ideas that are waterproof and could be reused year after year. You know, the same search I do every August when I decide to prepare way ahead of time. Pinterest kept showing me repurposed CD crafts, and suddenly my brain switched on and I realized that I should do spin art on the DVDs I’d saved for so many years.

The paint that came with the spin art kit was washable, though, and I had visions of our sukkah as a Salvador Dali painting, with the paint dripping sadly off of the DVDs as it rained. No, washable paint was out — I needed something waterproof. Enter nail polish. It’s not something I usually keep on hand, but I’d just bought a variety of colours for a science experiment. Armed with the spin art Tinker Crate, nail polish, and a stack of DVDs, I went outside with E and R to experiment.

The results are pretty cool. See for yourselves:

Thirteen down, thirty-three to go… and then we’ll do the other side as well, so we can hang these as a mobile in the sukkah.

Of course I need to build the sukkah first. I have to do the bulk of the build before we leave for the cottage, because we’re returning on Erev Sukkot. So I’ll put up the frame before we go, have all the roofing, furnishings, and decoration ready to install, and just put it all together as soon as we get back. It’ll be a challenge, but I think I’m up for it.

Next on my list: Figuring out what to do for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur at the cottage. Any ideas?

family fun · Jewy goodness · Kids · waxing philosophical

Day 145: Spaceballs: The Blog Post

Spaceballs is a good one for family movie night,” Mr. December told me. What did I know? I’d never seen it before, but I knew it starred people like Rick Moranis and John Candy, who I really only knew from family-friendly movies. I deferred to his judgment, and the decision was made. Unfortunately.

Readers, I’m sorry to tell you that Mel Brooks is not aging well. His movies, I mean — he looked hale and hearty last time I saw him on YouTube. But some of the moments in Spaceballs are truly awful: sexist and racist jokes that wouldn’t have passed muster ten years ago, along with all the “Druish princess” gags that reinforce pretty much every Jewish stereotype. While those stereotypes show up in plenty of self-deprecating Jewish jokes, they’re not jokes I would tell in mixed company. There are enough antisemitic tropes flying around these days — no need to add to them ourselves. Every time another “Druish” joke came up, I felt icky.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that my kids didn’t get any of those jokes — but I was. It seems we only see the progress we’ve made if we remember to look behind us. Some of the jokes were so passé that the kids didn’t even realize what they were hearing. When “Dark Helmet” ordered the surgeon to restore the princess’s old nose, Mr. December and I howled with laughter. The kids didn’t get it at all, and I found myself feeling thankful that they’re growing up in a world where people seem to be less and less interested in erasing their “ethnic” features. Maybe not the whole outside world, mind you, but certainly the sphere in which I’m raising my kids.

The Producers aside, I’m putting a moratorium on screening Mel Brooks films in this house unless they’re accompanied by a history lesson explaining why it was funny then, but isn’t anymore. Which is a shame, because I generally like Mel Brooks. His movies, though, are a product of the times in which they were made — times that I don’t remember as being filled with prejudice and misogyny, but apparently were.

(Just so you know, it took me fifteen tries before I spelled misogyny correctly. #notawomensstudiesmajor)

The good news is that apparently we’ve made significant progress. Next time someone tells me that our society is going to hell in a handbasket, I’ll tell them to go watch some old Mel Brooks movies. Those films have not aged well, but at least they make us look pretty darn enlightened.

community · education · Jewy goodness · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Day 144: What’s the Point (of going to shul)?

We are not frequent shul-goers. I wish we were a family that went to synagogue semi-regularly, but wishing something doesn’t make it so, and I guess I haven’t wanted it badly enough to make it happen. Still, in the “before times” I enjoyed services for the singing, the feeling of community, and to some extent, the children’s programming. And I won’t lie, I spent a lot of time in the social hall talking to people I like but don’t see outside of shul.

All that has changed now. Our shul hasn’t had in-person services since early March, but according to the weekly email newsletter they’re starting up again at the end of August. Naturally, there are some strict guidelines in place in the interest of public health. In summary: you have to sign up in advance, stay in your seat 6 feet away from everyone else, bring your own siddur (prayer book), and don’t touch anything. Children’s programs and kiddush luncheon have been axed for now. Oh, and no congregational singing — the leader can sing or chant as required, but the rest of us will have to hum if we want to participate vocally.

My first thought upon reading that email was, What’s the point? Everything I love about shul has been stripped away; what’s left is a bare-bones service that my kids wouldn’t sit still for. And they do have to sit still, because otherwise they might get too close to someone not in our family.

Of course everyone attending the service will be wearing a mask. To be clear, I think this is a good thing. I’m a proponent of masks; In 2003 I was a music therapist in a nursing home during the SARS epidemic. I wore a mask for four hours straight while I sang all the hits of the 1920’s and 30’s. No harm came to me. I’ve been assuming that mask-wearing would be fine for me in 2020 as well — until I went to Lowe’s last week with K. After wearing the mask for forty minutes, my chest was hurting from the effort it took to breathe. The upside was that obviously my mask has a decent seal and is keeping stuff out. The downside? Some of the stuff the mask is keeping out is air that I need to breathe, and my lungs can’t work that hard for that long. I think curbside pickup is going to be my strategy for a long, long time.

Back to the synagogue thing. On one hand, going might be nice — I’d get to see friends at a distance and hear the familiar melodies again. On the other hand, breathing might be a problem for me. On the other other hand, it’s only 90 minutes long, as they’ve cut away all of the preliminary songs, six-sevenths of the Torah reading, and the superfluous-seeming repetition of the silent amidah (for all of my non-Jewish readers, our Saturday morning services usually run at least three hours.) And on the other, other, other hand, it will not be the shul experience I enjoy nor the one I want my children to know and love. If I take them and it’s just depressing and boring, will they go with me again? Or will COVID precautions ruin shul for them forever?

It sounds an awful lot like the debate around returning to school in September. For the record, one of Mr. December’s major reasons for not sending the kids back to school is that he thinks it’s going to be a sucky experience all around. I’m feeling that way about shul right now. I know that some people go specifically to pray and to hear the Torah, and others are in mourning and need a minyan so they can recite the mourners’ kaddish. It’s kind of true that my presence there will help to ensure that there is actually a minyan for the mourners, but realistically it’s not likely to be a problem. So I ask myself, why go to shul? What’s the point?

blogging · education · family fun · Jewy goodness · Kids · parenting · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 136: The Destroyer

When K was born and I announced her name to our parents and brothers, Mr. December’s brother piped up: “Oh, you mean like the Hindu goddess of destruction?”

“What? No!” I said, and shrugged it off. He says a lot of weird things.

A month later, I couldn’t shrug it off anymore. Apparently Mr. December’s friends were all familiar enough with the Hindu pantheon that they recognized K’s name. Then again, maybe they’d just seen Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom a few too many times.

K has lived up to her (unintentional) namesake at various points in her life. There was the time she dumped the canister of flour on the kitchen floor and then crawled through it; the time she clawed her natural latex mattress to shreds while its cover was in the wash; and her treatment of pretty much every duotang she’s ever put in her school bag.

But this summer’s destruction has really taken the cake. K has killed our swingset — twice. And just yesterday, after I’d fixed the swingset for the second time, she broke the attached slide by (can you guess?) swinging too hard.

This shouldn’t surprise me. The swingset is almost as old as K and is probably at the end of its life. K is what folks call a “sensory-seeking kid” — she needs really intense sensory input to calm and organize her system. Things that would make me dizzy — spinning super fast in an office chair, doing 100 back drops in a row on the trampoline — help her to calm down.

A Hindu friend pointed out that K is not just a goddess of destruction; rather, she destroys things in order to make space for something new. If that’s the case, our K is doing a great job — we need a new slide and probably a new swingset. Maybe if it’s broken beyond repair we’ll finally get around to building a new one.

Today was Tisha B’av, a fast day on the Jewish calendar. It’s a day of collective mourning, in memory of the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash (temple) where Jews from all over came on holy days to pray and make sacrifices. When the temple was destroyed, Jewish life as it was known ceased to exist. Without a temple, there were no sacrifices. The Jewish people were exiled. The priests could no longer perform their duties. Everything was ruined.

In the wake of that destruction the Jews had to forge new ways to worship and to remain connected to each other and to their ancestral home. They initiated weekly Torah readings so that the populace would hear the entire Torah read each year; clarified, discussed, and codified Jewish Law; and developed a new form of prayer to stand in for the sacrifices that could no longer be offered.

Most years on Tisha B’av I wonder whether I really am mourning the destruction of the temple. Would I prefer that we were still sacrificing bulls on the temple mount in Jerusalem and relying on a dynastic family of priests to facilitate our relationship with God?

No. I love this Judaism, the one that was built after the destruction of the temple. I love the way we grapple with our holy texts and the way the home is a mikdash me’at (a small temple), the true centre of Jewish life. I love that what distinguishes our leaders is learning, not lineage. I can see so clearly that the Jews of temple times would never have voluntarily destroyed the Beit Hamikdash, but without the destruction, would we ever have dared to eliminate animal sacrifice and adopt a more democratic model of religious leadership?

I doubt it. I couldn’t even pull the trigger on a lifestyle that we lived only because it was the way everyone was living; the children spent all day at school and returned home tired and cranky; Mr. December was at the office all day and got maybe an hour and a half of time with the kids before bedtime; the children had different extracurricular activities at different times in different places, and I was their chauffeur (last year I made six trips every Tuesday evening.)

It’s true that I flirted with the idea of homeschooling, of doing less, of biking more and living a more local lifestyle. But I don’t think I would ever have been able to make that move if COVID hadn’t come along and demolished the existing structure of our lives. Suddenly, Mr. December is working from home and gets to see the kids frequently throughout the day. Extracurriculars might as well not exist for my kids, who don’t like doing things like dance class online. We have all day to be together. Just yesterday I realized that I’m getting to spend some alone time with each child every day. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to do that on weekdays before.

Our swingset is ruined — we’ll likely build a new one that can withstand K’s vigorous swinging, and maybe even includes monkey bars or a ninja line. The temple was destroyed — but we have a beautiful religion and culture based on learning, faith, and the pursuit of justice, with the Jewish home at its centre. Our pre-COVID life has been disrupted — and now we have the incredible opportunity to build a better one.

education · family fun · Jewy goodness · Kids · parenting · The COVID files · what's cookin'

Day 120: This is not what “until 120!” means!

“Until 120!” Is a Jewish greeting at milestones and life-cycle events. It means that we wish the other person a long life (preferably a healthy one.) As I typed out today’s title, I couldn’t help thinking cynically that we’ve made it to day 120 — can we catch a break now?

I guess we sort of did: our nanny’s COVID test results came back negative. FINALLY. It’s only been a week, after all. I think we’ve done pretty well without her this past week, what with the kids doing their own laundry and dinnertime chores, but we’ll all be happy to have her back.

Speaking of kids and household work, tonight R and E made dinner (with very little help from me.) We had vegetarian tacos — my recipe for those is pretty much foolproof. E worked at her low kitchen sink, draining and rinsing the beans and mixing them with veggie “ground beef” and a jar of salsa. I’m still amazed at what little kids can do by themselves when the tools and equipment are the right size for them.

(Oh, and that Henessey box? It’s just a really nice box. One of the kids adopted it from my uncle’s house and it’s come to rest in our kitchen.)

Tonight I was looking online for a cottage to rent in September (if we homeschool, we can take summer break whenever we want, right?) and K elbowed me out of the way. I figured, Why not? She should learn how to research this stuff too. I was off doing something else when she hollered for me.

“Hey, Eema? I found one! It’s perfect!”

“What’s perfect about it?” I shot back.

“It’s so nice!”

“How nice is it?”

“It has a hot tub!”

“No, I mean how nice is it? Is it $500 a night nice? ‘Cause that’s way too nice.”

Turns out it wasn’t quite that far outside of our price range, so now the hot tub cottage is in the running. I also found a less expensive place that has a bunkie (i.e. a tiny shed with a bed inside, for moody tweenagers to hide in.) I may have won K over with that one, not that it’s her decision.

We had a family meeting tonight to discuss home schooling, vacation plans, and personal achievements. K said she was proud of getting most of the way through the grades 6-8 algebra book; N was proud of his math work as well, as was R (whose achievement was that she can now do her division questions in half the time it used to take. I know I shouldn’t belittle that achievement just because ten questions used to take her an hour, but…)

E was proud of having finished reading two boxes of Bob books already. And me? I told the kids that I’m proud of how I was able to get organized and maintain the structure so that we could homeschool. But most of all, I look at how they’re thriving right now, and I’m proud of all of us.

education · family fun · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Jewy goodness

Day 73: Time to pull an all-nighter!

Shavuot begins tonight. It’s both a religious festival (celebrating the giving of the Torah) as well as an agricultural one (celebrating the first fruits, and the wheat harvest.) Difficult as it is to imagine harvesting fruit and wheat when only two weeks ago we were wearing winter coats, Jewish festivals are based on the agricultural cycle in Israel; so we in Canada have to get used to celebrating trees in January, spring in March (when it’s often still winter,) and the wheat harvest right about now.

My favourite part of Shavuot (aside from the tradition of eating cheesecake) is usually the customary all-night Jewish learning. In non-pandemic times the downtown Jewish Community Centre ran a really awesome program with many different classes, panel discussions, choirs, and book talks — at least three or four to choose from in each hour-long slot — punctuated by breaks for ice cream and cheesecake.

Last year K joined me and enjoyed herself so much that she begged me to stay all night. I said no — I’m not twenty anymore and my body does not handle all-nighters very well — but I plan to do something like it at home. I may join one of the dozens of online sessions that are happening tonight; First, though, I’ll do something for the kids. Staying up late is exciting; how much better is it if you’re staying up late to eat cheesecake or ice cream and have a reading party?

So here’s the plan: after dinner, I’ll sit down with my kids (particularly R and E) and a pile of books about Shavuot or about Jewish values in general. We’ll read them all, eat some dairy desserts, and have a very late bedtime. With K and N I might either read to them or find some engaging videos we can watch together (I’m thinking that clips from The Jews are Coming, my favourite Israeli comedy sketch show, might be good for both Torah stories and Hebrew.) It’s not an all-nighter of Torah Study, but I’m hoping it will be interesting and memorable.

Speaking of memorable (and Shavuot, come to think of it,) today I learned that N knows little to nothing about Shavuot. I didn’t expect a long, detailed explanation, but he didn’t seem to know the basics! This is disturbing on a few levels, not least of which is because he attended Jewish day schools from the age of 2 until he turned 8. They taught the kids about Shavuot every single year; there were Shavuot celebrations at school with flower crowns, baskets of fruits, and torah-themed activities; and this was in addition to whatever we did at home. How does he not know any of it?

I suspect that, as my Dad has said on many occasions, N didn’t want to learn it, so he didn’t. It’s a timely (for me, embroiled as I am in homeschooling) reminder that just because a school teaches something, it doesn’t always follow that the child learned it.

In the end, we had a festive dinner and then sat down with the kids and watched videos about Shavuot, starting with Shalom Sesame (it’s Sesame Street about Israel, for Jewish kids in North America.) Then I unearthed a board game called “Mitzvah Millionaire,” which is all about doing good deeds, donating to charity, giving interest-free loans, and answering trivia questions about Jewish religious observance. There’s also a square for a chesed (kindness) bonus — if you get up and do something kind for someone else right away, you get extra merit points. I don’t know how much the kids learned from it, but at least it was relevant to the holidays, and they might even remember some of the concepts tomorrow.

We broke for cheesecake, and then it was back to YouTube to watch Hayehudim Ba’im (The Jews are Coming.) If you haven’t seen it, you should (Search YouTube for “The Jews are Coming Comedy English”.)

It’s 10:30, the kids are in bed, ice cream is calling, and there are many cool study sessions on the internet tonight. This will be my first almost-all-nighter in a few years… wish me luck and stamina!

DIY · education · Jewy goodness · parenting · The COVID files · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 47: What doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.

My Buby, may her memory be a blessing, frequently answered “How are you, Buby?” with the Hy Gardner quote, “Everything hurts, and what doesn’t hurt doesn’t work.”

Not everything hurts today, but let’s just say I’m glad we stockpiled Advil way back in February.

(A side note: if you’re wondering about the difference between “stockpiling” and “hoarding”, I’ll break it down for you. Stockpiling takes place before there’s a crisis or shortage, when there is plenty of a product to go around; hoarding takes place afterwards, when your overbuying causes others to go without. My Father-in-law, who never has fewer than one hundred rolls of toilet paper at a given time, stockpiles toilet paper. That guy in the supermarket who normally buys one pack of toilet paper each week but is now buying eight? Hoarding.)

Where was I? Oh yeah. Advil.

E’s school has been doing a fabulous job of pivoting to online instruction, especially since as a Montessori school it relies heavily on hands-on learning with specific materials. They’ve been uploading all kinds of printables to the Google Classroom site for us to download, cut, and use… which is all fine and good, but that’s a lot of cutting. Even with my sliding paper cutter, I still managed to give myself some kind of repetitive strain injury in one hand. Ow. This whole learning-to-read thing had better be worth it!


I think I may have also killed my knee. Either that, or I’m getting old. Could it be the million times a day I run up and down the stairs to supervise everyone’s learning? Or maybe it’s because I’ve been riding a Razor scooter up and down the road with my kids, and that knee is getting a lot of impact when I use it to step off a scooter that’s still going pretty fast? It’s certainly not just the strain of carrying the extra weight I’ve gained since I started comfort eating my way through a shutdown. Or is it?

Hmm. Probably. Or maybe it’s all three. At least the painful knee is on the same side of my body as the hand that hurts. At this rate, I’ll have the same good side and bad side for everything — although come to think of it, my good ear is on the opposite side from my bad everything else. That means that when I hear someone being obnoxious, I’ll have to turn my body before I can smack them upside the head. That could be problematic.

(I kid, I kid. We don’t hit in this house. Not anymore, anyway – when R and N were very small we gave N a spanking after counting to three (I don’t remember what for); and the next thing we knew, R counted to three, ran to N, and whacked him on the bum. That was the end of corporal punishment around here.)


In terms of what doesn’t hurt, my brain is ok — but as the saying would suggest, it’s not working too well. Take our omer counting calendar, for example: yesterday I realized we had missed a bunch of days (since Aunty died, essentially) and tried to figure out which ones they were. No matter what I did, I could not correctly account for the number of days. I looked at a Jewish calendar and saw that we were supposed to be on day 13, which made no sense because we already had day 15 up. I counted forwards and backwards. The kids suggested that perhaps we did a day or two twice; I checked that against my blog posts and found it not to be the case.

“Whatever,” I sighed, “I give up. I have no idea what happened — let’s just keep posting one good thing a day anyway.”

Going back to look at it before writing this post. I decided to double-check which day of the omer it’s supposed to be. Huh. Apparently today is day 22. That means my counting isn’t off… is it? Is it day 22 before or after sundown? We’re putting up our post-its at the end of each day, not the beginning (which in the Jewish calendar would be the night before.) In any case, it doesn’t matter because we’re only on day 20 today, which means we missed something, somewhere along the line.

“How hard is this?” Mr. December marvelled, shaking his head, “You’re counting one day at a time and putting up a stickie once a day. Counting doesn’t get any easier than this!”

True — but such is the state of my brain right now. Doesn’t hurt; doesn’t work.