Just the two of us · Uncategorized · whine and cheese

Day 835: Patience

Yesterday a friend told me that she aspires to the level of patience that I have. She must mean when I’m interacting with my kids; there’s no way I could be seen as patient in any other context. My sense of time is very much divided into “now” and “not now.” When is summer? Now. When can I go out and do things? Not now. And since we’re always living in the present moment, “not now” can start to sound a lot like “never.”

I can’t count the number of times Mr. December has said, “Just give it two or three weeks” in response to my speculation on how I might be able to go out in the kayak sooner rather than later. He’s so logical and reasonable—I hate it. He’s often right, and it drives me crazy, because I can see that he’s right, but something in me still disagrees.

That’s probably why my impatience has taken my browsing history in an unusual direction: mobility scooters. Just like in second-year university, when my solution to the problem of a very bad, very long fibro flare was to get myself a wheelchair so I could go back to university and finish the term, I’m looking for a way to reclaim some semblance of the summer I’d planned. A bad knee only stops me from walking, the logic goes, so if I find something to do the walking for me, I can still go places and do things. After all, why should I stay shut inside my house for weeks on end when I could be out and about with my family?

Extreme? Maybe, if you’re the patient type who can wait out an injury without going stir crazy. But for my impatient self, it seems like a decent solution. Too bad Mr. “Just give it two or three weeks” disagrees. But then, as the story of how we started dating illustrates, one of us can bide their time while the other just keeps champing at the bit. Nothing has changed in the last twenty-four years.

Just the two of us · love and marriage

Day 823: Eighteen

The kids like to complain. They keep a few stock complaints in their back pockets, too, just in case they can’t think of one on the fly. When we’re home, it’s boredom; when we’re traveling, it’s bedrooms.

“I don’t want to share a bedroom with her!”

“I don’t want to share a bedroom, period!”

“Why didn’t we get a place with more bedrooms?”

To all of these, I have one answer: “I have no sympathy for you. I haven’t had my own bedroom since I married Abba. You know, a million years ago.”

“Seriously, Eema,” N ventured, “how long have you guys been married?”

“Well, it’s 2022, and we got engaged after I finished my internship… carry the one… multiply by the coefficient of friction… what am I trying to figure out?”

“EEMA!” They groaned.

“Oh, fine. This June twentieth it’ll be… oh… eighteen years.”

Eyes widened. Jaws dropped. “That’s a very long time,” R said. “You guys are OLD!”

Our anniversary was pretty low-key. I asked Mr. December how he wanted to celebrate, and he said, “Ummmm… maybe sleep?”

(We’re so obviously soulmates.)

In the end we had make-your-own-sushi for dinner and R made frozen lemonade slushies as a celebratory treat (I added rum to mine.)

Our make-your-own-sushi spread: a large bowl of rice, small containers of sweet potato, avocado, and cucumber, a bottle of soy sauce, seaweed sheets, a rolling mat, and a small black plate with fancy chopsticks across it.

I was in a silly mood this afternoon, so I got Mr. December this gift:

A plastic bag of carrots, tied with a large gold ribbon bow.

Yes, carrots. Colourful ones, tied with a bow. He was thrilled. This is love.

family fun · Just the two of us · parenting

Day 772: Business Trip

Mr. December left this afternoon for his first business trip since COVID started.

(It really is just since COVID started. When he flew home from San Jose the last time, there were already known cases in California. A few days after he landed we went into lockdown.)

“I’ll miss you so much,” I whispered in his ear.

He looked at me oddly. “I’m only leaving for three days,” he pointed out. Which is all well and good, but when you’ve been together for the last seven hundred and seventy-two days, a three-day trip sounds like an awfully long time.

“I just like having you around,” I told him. After that I couldn’t tell him anything, because the kids had all piled on top of him and it quickly morphed from a group hug to a mosh pit.

Mr. December being hugged by three children. Their legs are braced as if they're trying to push him over.

I know it felt like my recent post about Bridgerton as a jumping-off point was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I’m actually finding myself pausing the film to address the topics that come up. Tonight we discussed why homemade abortifacient concoctions were (and are) a very, very bad idea. We talked a bit about the history of abortion laws and the positive impact of safe abortion options. We also looked up feminine hygiene practices in the Regency period.

“So what you’re saying,” K said slowly, “is that they basically wore diapers. OK.”

What I’m saying to you, dear readers, is that I think I’ve managed to instil an appreciation for the advancements in medicine, science, and menstrual products that we enjoy today. Not bad for a non-school evening in front of the TV.

Homeschool · Just the two of us

Day 764: For the Record

K and I found ourselves together this evening—everyone else was out—and ended up cuddling on the couch in front of the TV. She kept asking questions, though, so there was a lot of pausing to explain. On the upside, I feel like it was a worthwhile effort because she learned about so many different things:

British Parliament, the House of Lords, the House of Commons; Similarities to Canada’s parliamentary system.

Human Geography and Climate Studies
Neighbourhoods and landmarks of early 19th-century London; case study of coal-burning and its effect on air quality.

Queen Charlotte and King George III; the British peerage and aristocracy; laws of primogeniture; status of women in Regency England.

Health and Sex Education
Consent; power dynamics in relationships; common non-pregnancy reasons for missed periods; negative health consequences of aggressive corset use.

Reading the above list, Mr. December ventured, “Are these all the things you can learn from watching Bridgerton?”

“No,” I enthused, “these are just the things you learn from the first episode!”

“Well then,” he nodded, “better put it on her high school transcript.”

Just the two of us · love and marriage

Day 763: Binge

When Bridgerton first came out, I binge-watched it while the kids were with the grandparents for the day. Then I downloaded the books onto my Kobo and read all eight in rapid succession. I must say that Julia Quinn has quite a way with dialogue: her banter between siblings is just so snappy and fun. I finished the series, but I still wanted more.

That was last year. I’ve now read all of Julia Quinn’s published novels, as well as similar ones by many other authors. They’re really well written but demand so little of me. It’s brain candy, really, and I’m addicted.

I’m now binge-watching season two of Bridgerton on Netflix. Mr. December has had to listen to me dissect the music, the storyline, the dialogue, and—of course—all the steamy scenes (though there are almost none in the second season, which makes it way easier to find time to watch since I don’t have to wait for my kids to leave the room.) Tonight R cuddled up to me on the couch and watched episode six; I didn’t stop at one episode, and it was towards the end of episode seven that Mr. December joined me on the couch.

“Who’s that guy? Why is she mad at him? Whose house are they in?”

I had to pause the episode to catch him up. After two minutes of my detailed explanation, he said, “I really just want their names and which family they belong to. That’s all.” I might have gotten a bit carried away in my excitement.

To my surprise, he stayed and watched with me to the end. Mr. December has an extremely low tolerance for TV watching; so if he stayed, it wasn’t just to humour me—he was really enjoying it.

I’m not sure how I feel about that—I do love him, but having Mr. December whisper all of Lord Bridgerton’s romantic lines in my ear while we’re watching is a bit…weird. I feel like I should be swooning at his words and his tone, but what I really want to do is tell him to be quiet and memorize all those passionate lines for later. He should know better than to interrupt a good binge, don’t you think?

Just the two of us · Worldschooling

Day 760: Living on the Edge

“Let’s just book a one-way ticket,” Mr. December told me.

Did he really say that? Yes, as a matter of fact. Did we book the one-way ticket? No—but only because it was $300 per person more to buy it as a one-way trip than as part of a round trip. Go figure.

He wasn’t done surprising me yet, though:

“Why don’t we just book our first few nights’ stay and see where we want to go from there?”

To me, this sounds risky: what if all the good apartments are taken when we’re finally ready to book? Will we be stuck with an apartment that’s insanely expensive or disgustingly run-down? I’d feel much safer knowing that all our places are lined up and booked.

Mr. December sees it a different way: if we book now, and for some reason we end up not being able to even get on our flight, we could stand to lose a lot of the rental fees (the cancellation policies we’re seeing are not at all forgiving.) By only booking a few nights before we arrive, we can be sure that we’ll actually use the reservation. Ditto for the flights: we might not be able to use a refund voucher, so we’re better off only having to cancel one way than both—or we would be, if the one-way ticket wasn’t so much more expensive.

Whether it’s risky or safe, there’s one thing I know: three years ago Mr. December would have insisted on having everything planned and booked ahead of time, leaving nothing to chance. I wonder—did he drink the free-spirit kool-aid at the worldschooling conference? Was he abducted and replaced with a risk-seeking clone?

This could go very well—like it did in Guanajuato, when we scored a 5-bedroom apartment for $85 a night—or very poorly, with us all sleeping on the beach (or, more likely, on our cousins’ rooftop.) It’ll make a great story either way.

Just the two of us · Kids · Travelogue · Worldschooling

Day 745: Another trip?

Mr. December is eager to travel again (I should be used to this by now.) The kids want to go to Japan, but it’s still closed to tourists; our decision was down to either the U.K. and Iceland (yes, I know the UK is a big place. We hadn’t gotten more specific yet) or Israel. The kids were all eager to go to Israel, so now I’m looking at AirBnBs (and other rentals) and flights and all that stuff that ends up being a mostly random choice despite the hours we spend agonizing over every detail.

I haven’t been to Israel in fifteen years. The kids have never been. But they’ve heard me talk about it (gee, I hope I haven’t overhyped it) and are very excited because of…

The food.

N and E are relieved to know that there’s schnitzel and chips and pizza almost everywhere. K is happy that if we’re at a meat restaurant, she doesn’t have to worry about whether her burger will arrive with cheese on it. R loves falafel, schnitzel, pretty much everything, so she’s good to go. All four of them are looking forward to not having to remind waiters and restaurant staff “no ham, no bacon, no pork of any kind…” and wondering if we got it right because of the language barrier.

Ah, language barriers. In Israel there’s not much of one for us: My Hebrew slang might be out of date (although really, isn’t my English slang stuck in the ’90’s?), but Israelis have told me that my Hebrew is excellent. Mr. December can get along in most day-to-day interactions, K understands about 80% of everyday conversation, and the three younger kids… well, they’ll learn. I’m aiming for full immersion this time—hoping, of course, that when I’m surrounded by Hebrew I’ll remember to speak it at home too.

There’s always this strange moment in trip planning when we look at each other and realize the only thing left to do is actually buy the tickets and confirm the apartment. Odd that there’s just a single mouse click between “we’re thinking of traveling…” and “we’re going.” And that click depends entirely on Mr. December and me.

Above left: Me and Mr. December in Netanya, Israel, 2001. Above right: Me at Ein Gedi (near the Dead Sea) sometime in the early 2000’s. Who knows? Both these photos predate my first digital camera.

Homeschool · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real

Day 697: Not my Finest Hours

When we need to schedule things, or split duties in some way, Mr. December and I rely on logic to help us make the right choice. When our kids were newborns who woke up every two hours all night long, it was logical that I should get up with the baby and Mr. December should be allowed to sleep through: he had to go to work the next morning while I could stay in bed and nap if I wanted to. Logical, right?

We divide our homeschooling responsibilities along similar lines: Mr. December still has a day job (although since his boss and many co-workers are mostly in California, his “day” starts pretty late,) so he teaches first thing in the mornings and I take the afternoons. It makes total sense, logistically speaking—but I’d be lying if I said it feels fair.

See, we’re all better in the morning. Sharper, more focused, better attitudes. Mr. December has those hours for his technical subjects—chemistry, physics, and math—which is great. He covers a ton of material with the kids. By the afternoon, though, the kids are a little sluggish and mentally fatigued (no wonder, when they’re learning about math concepts that I can’t wrap my head around.) I am too. Afternoon simply isn’t my best or most productive time. So by the time Mr. December has done 3 hours of technical subjects in the morning and we’ve all taken a break for lunch, I’m lucky if I get an hour and a half of focused work out of the kids before I start to feel exhausted and they get extra fidgety.

By the time we’ve done that hour and a half of schooling, I’m already starting to wilt. I often don’t have the wherewithal to continue teaching with even a modicum of energy. Many times over the last few weeks I’ve either ended school early or said, “It’s still school time, so go do some independent reading. School is over at 3:30,” before disappearing into my room for a nap.

The reality is that as long as Mr. December has a day job, he’ll have the morning homeschool slot. The logic is sound, and it’s not going to change. This is yet another exercise in accepting what is and working with that, instead of wasting energy wishing things were different.

For the next few weeks at least, the last hour of our school day will be dedicated to independent work. We have workbooks, online language learning programs (Mango, not Duolingo,) puzzles of maps and the periodic table, and—of course—more books than we could read in a year. I can be tired, they can be grumpy, and learning will still happen.

Doesn’t stop me from wanting the morning teaching slot, though.

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

Day 674: The sun is a liar.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just the two of us · Keepin' it real

Day 673: Brrrrrr

I opened the door this morning to see what it was like outside.

“Nope,” I said out loud, “nope, nope, nope. No thank you.” And I closed the door.

Five crumpled envelopes, four sticks, and two giant pieces of firewood later, I lay on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire, wrapped in a faux-fur blanket, reading a novel. I got up once, to make some vanilla tea spiked with amaretto, and then settled back into our giant cuddle chair to keep reading. It was bliss.

Later, Mr. December offered to play an online board game with me. I said yes, of course, but then he proceeded to outplay me at every turn. What can I say? He has a killer instinct that I lack. I don’t think I’ll be playing him again anytime soon.

Tomorrow is a school day for us. I’m only teaching if I can do so in front of a roaring fire.