community · Just the two of us · Kids · love and marriage · waxing philosophical

Day 540: A love letter.

This is my favourite time of year.

Not for the insanity of the Jewish holidays (5 in one month!) or for the end of the summer break; no, I love it for the weather. Cool (but not too cold) at night and warm (but not too hot) during the day. It’s shorts-and-a-sweatshirt weather. The sky is clear and blue, the trees still have their leaves. It’s just a pleasure to be outside these days.

Actually, there are a lot of pleasures these days; More and more I’m noticing my feelings of contentment at odd times of the day and night. I’ll be reading in the back-porch hammock, or turning off lights someone left on in the library, or even emptying the dishwasher, and suddenly I’ll stop and think, “I love our life.”

I love Mr. December, of course, and I love how great a team we are. I love the house we’ve built together—seriously, I love this house so much—and the family we have together. I adore the kids and what’s more, I love seeing them together and I love watching them grow up. Our parents are all alive and well and living in the same city, and they’re a tremendous help and support to us. We have very good friends and neighbours.

We live in a neighbourhood that’s beautiful and safe, with public parks and a subway and shops nearby. We have biking paths, a community orchard, and a local farmers’ market.

I am, in short, lucky. Insanely, improbably so. I’ll be the first to acknowledge that life is completely unfair and often random; and it’s generally been unfair in my favour, which I appreciate every day.

There’s really nothing like this sense of great contentment, especially at this time of year. So if you’ll excuse me, I’m going outside in my shorts and sweatshirt to sit in a hammock and sip some tea, and contemplate how very much I love this life.

Just the two of us · love and marriage

Day 457: Seventeen

It’s our seventeenth wedding anniversary today; and just like our wedding day, we’re sharing it with Fathers’ Day.

I have no idea how we have seventeen years of marriage under our belts. I don’t feel old enough, somehow. But I also feel like we’ve been together forever. Which we kind of have, since I met Mr. December when I was fifteen and started dating him when I was seventeen.

I was going to tell you about how I predicted that we’d get married before we’d properly met; then I realized I told you the story last year. The downside of having celebrated so many anniversaries is that I’m running out of material. It’s a great problem to have.

Seventeen years of marriage—which I once described as “like having a sleepover with your best friend every night, except you’re both exhausted because you stay up way too late talking. Every night.”

Seventeen years of him making me laugh at his antics and elaborate pranks.

Did I tell you about the time we went to an open house for a school we were considering? There we were, in the classroom, a teacher standing at the board talking at us about something or other. Suddenly I heard, “PSSST!” and turned to see him passing me a note. It was like he’d never left grade five. When I opened the note to see what was so important he couldn’t wait five minutes, it read: “I think you’re cute.”

I think he’s cute, too. Always have, always will.

Happy anniversary, my love!

Not a wedding picture. But here we are, roughly eighteen years ago, celebrating our engagement.
family fun · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage · snarky · whine and cheese

Day 442: Conflicted

I was conflicted.

On the one hand, I wanted to ask my husband to go on without me, finish the hike, and then come pick me up with the car.

On the other hand, I wanted to kill him.

I was crouched on a hillside, trying to scoot my way down the hill without sliding in the mud or twisting an ankle. The ground was covered in thin pieces of stone, most of which were very loose. To make matters worse, the leaves on the ground made it nigh on impossible to tell where the ground was stable and where there were big holes. And did I mention that there was broken glass on the ground, too?

Eight kilometres doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it wouldn’t be if the path were both even and relatively flat. It wasn’t. The elevation map warned us of all the uphill and downhill sections, but the worst part of it was that most of the trail was very rocky. My ankle stability has never been good and my balance has been a bit off ever since my concussion; so you can imagine why I was already a bit peeved by the time Mr. December led us down this steep hill that was almost certainly NOT part of the trail.

Granted, there were a few fun moments; when we took the wrong path and ended up across the road from a country market and bakery, where we bought a strawberry-rhubarb pie and ate it with our bare hands; when we crossed the river near the top of the falls and I took off my shirt, soaked it in the water, and put it back on (aaaahhh, that’s better); when R and I walked along singing our favourite round:

“Black socks, they never get dirty!
The longer you wear them, the blacker they get.
Sometimes I think I should launder them;
Something inside me says ‘don’t wash them yet.’
Not yet… Not yet… Not yet… Not yet.”

But there were far too many sections of trail where it was all I could do to focus on my footing. About halfway back to the car my legs were hurting and my balance was suffering. Of course, N was pretty miserable at this point, so I tried very hard to be positive and cheerful: “See, kiddo? We’re almost there. Soon we’ll be back at the car where there’s plenty of bottled water and air conditioning. Then we can kill Abba.”

As a parent, I want to model grit and mental toughness to my kids. I try not to wimp out of challenging activities. This hike may have broken me of that tendency.

“From now on,” I told him as I drove home, “I’ll walk in with you guys for about fifteen minutes. Then I’ll turn around and go back to the car, drive to the end point of the hike, and walk in about fifteen minutes to meet you.”

“That’s probably for the best,” he agreed, obviously trying to placate his wife who had only just stopped threatening murder.

“And now,” I intoned, “Let us never speak of this again.”

Early morning musings · Keepin' it real · love and marriage

Day 425: Curtain Call

Every marriage has its bone of contention. Ours is curtains: specifically those in our bedroom.

Mr. December needs complete darkness to sleep; if light filters in around the edges of our full-length blackout curtains in the morning, he’s up. And once he’s awake, he’s up for the day. Not everyone has been gifted the ability to fall asleep at the drop of a hat (an ability that has earned me a nickname around here: “Sleep-a-pillar”.)

During the winter it doesn’t matter so much. The sun comes up late enough that if it wakes us up, it was probably time to get up anyway. But from May to August, the sun shines straight at our many windows (I stand by that design decision despite the apparent downsides) and brightens up the room at five or six in the morning. Way too early.

It’s that time of year again and Mr. December has been terribly tired for the last few days. It’s not like we’re going to sleep particularly late, it’s just that he’s waking up extremely early. So tonight we’ve declared an ETB (Early To Bed) just like they do at summer camp when it’s five days to visiting day and the kids all have dark circles under their eyes (what, didn’t they do that at every camp?). The kids are already in their beds. I’m waiting for Mr. December’s evening meeting to end, and then we’ll head on upstairs too.

Tomorrow morning you can expect me to be trying to figure out how to trap those last little rays of sunshine so that we don’t have to keep having this discussion every year for the next fifty or sixty years. I’d rather have a recurring argument that’s a little more interesting. So if you see me trying to fashion a mock-up of a cornice moulding or a valence out of the cardboard box from our new TV, you’ll understand that I’m doing it in the name of Shalom Bayit, peace in the home.

Because there’s nothing more peaceful than sleep. Right?

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?)

Just the two of us · love and marriage · The COVID files

Day 406: Shots, Dinner, and a Movie

I got shot today.

Mr. December and I shot up together today.

Shoot me now.

The Mr. and I got our COVID vaccines today (AstraZenica, just like everyone else in our age bracket.) Getting shots is not as much fun as doing shots, but it was still more fun to do together than it would have been alone. It’s also easier to get a good angle on the obligatory vaccination selfie. The pharmacist assured me that the vaccine works just as well if you don’t take a selfie and post it online, but I’m not taking any chances. Can’t hurt, might help. Right?

Image description: a woman with brown hair, green glasses, a tie-dye face mask, and a green sweater. Her left shoulder is exposed and she is getting an injection.

Tonight we (as in, just the two of us) watched A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood. So now I have the friendliest earworm stuck in my head (“Please won’t you be my neighbour?”) and am thinking that my kids haven’t seen nearly enough Mr. Rogers.

It’s late and my arm is achy, but I’m thankful for the vaccine and for Mr. December. There’s nobody I’d rather do get shots with.

Early morning musings · Fibro Flares · Kids · love and marriage · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 384: Is *that* why I’m so happy?

Yesterday when I hauled my achy body downstairs in the morning, a full, fresh pot of hazelnut coffee was a very welcome sight. Mr. December had gotten downstairs before me.

“Kids,” I said after I’d had my first sip, “Your father is a prince among men.”

“Why?” They asked.

“Because he makes me coffee in the mornings; When I come downstairs I can have a nice warm drink right away.” I said.

“And that makes him a prince?” K inquired.

I nodded.

“Because he made you coffee, which he was making for himself anyway?” She prodded further.

“Because he makes enough coffee for us both to have refills. And he does it every time without my having to even ask. Besides, it’s not the grand romantic gestures that make love last. It’s all the little things you do to make each other’s day even just a bit better.” I’ll admit I was pretty proud of squeezing in an important life lesson before we’d even had breakfast. I looked over the rim of my coffee cup at the kids, watching to see how they digested what I’d said. K spoke up first.

“Eema…” she paused as if looking for the right words, “I think maybe your standards are too low.”

family fun · love and marriage · The COVID files

Day 364: Like Father, Like Daughter

Tonight R asked me to braid her hair before bed. She might have just been looking for a reason to watch The Simpsons, but I’ll take that over her dreadlocks any day. Since they were all sitting side-by-side I braided R’s hair, then E’s, and then I started working on Mr. December. He’s such a good sport.

Guys with ponytails are old news, and now we have the man bun… how long before French braids become the new trend for men with COVID hair?

Kids · love and marriage · parenting · The COVID files · waxing philosophical

Day 353: Re-evaluating

I’m moving into a different phase of life, it seems. E isn’t a baby anymore. Gone are the days of endless diapers and drooly kisses. I realized only today that it’s time to re-evaluate some of my personal rules that have served me well since 2008. Among them:

Only buying super cheap clothes because “someone is going to vomit all over it or flick paint at it or touch it with greasy little hands, and I’ll be sad if I spent more than $5 on my shirt and only wore it twice before it was ruined.”

Not using any kind of face moisturizer because my toddlers’ idea of a kiss involved a very open mouth and far more tongue than is appropriate for a non-romantic relationship.

Not wearing jewellery because it would scratch my babies’ faces when I held them, or because the kids would chew on it and get who-knows-what metals in their mouths (especially in the case of costume jewellery.)

See what I mean? Those rules need to change.

I’m actually entering a phase of buying more expensive clothes because I finally feel confident that I’ll be able to wear the same things for years. These days the only person getting paint on my clothes is me, and if I can’t take two minutes to change or put on a smock before painting, I can only blame myself for the resulting stains. And Mr. December and I are increasingly trying to buy clothes (and other things) produced by people who were actually paid a living wage. Locally made clothes, too, if possible. That stuff doesn’t come cheap.

On the moisturizer front, well, when I decided to stop using it I was twenty-eight years old. Now I’m forty-one and my skin isn’t as elastic as it used to be. It’s also brutally dry here in the winter and it shows on my face, which gets itchy when it’s dry. The no-moisturizer rule should probably be retired, at least until I have grandbabies who want to lick my face (yes, that’s way off in the future. Yes, I’m looking forward to it.)

And jewellery… that’s kind of laughable these days, when I have zero special occasions to attend and therefore very little need to dress up; I haven’t yet become so bored and despondent as to dress up in formalwear to take out the garbage. I guess I could wear jewellery just because, but that’s not really me. I’m much more practical and streamlined on an average day.

A few of my personal rules that are definitely keepers:

Anybody who wakes me up on a weekend had better be having an emergency. I need my sleep. And my kids need to learn what constitutes an “emergency” lest they become adults who call 911 because their neighbour was rude.

The kids’ job is to play. I’m the mom, and my job is to do mom stuff. I’m not the cruise director or the playmate. Even with older kids—especially with older kids—I assert my right to not have to play games that make me long for the sweet succor of the dentist’s chair.

My marriage predates my kids, and it needs to outlast their childhoods. That’s basically my catchphrase when one of the kids is trying to interrupt a hug or kiss between me and Mr. December. “My marriage predates you,” I say to the kids, “wait your turn.” I sure as heck hope that’s a good way to model marital felicity, because I don’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

What are your personal rules? And how often do they change?

family fun · Kids · love and marriage · snarky · well *I* think it's funny... · whine and cheese

Day 312: Tough Crowd.

Word to the wise: don’t try to watch movies with my kids. Just don’t.

They’re their father’s children, that’s for sure. If there’s a plot hole or inconsistency, or if a character makes a stupid decision, they’ll shout at the screen. A couple of weeks ago K watched Contagion with Mr. December. Do you know what she took away from that movie? The fact that the doctors were doing an autopsy protected only by regular surgical masks, not N95 masks and plastic face shields.

“What were they thinking?” she ranted for days afterwards. “There’s an unknown pathogen that’s killing people, but hey, just the minimal PPE should protect us even though we don’t know how it’s transmitted. These people are idiots! They should have been wearing hazmat suits!

She’s not wrong. But no matter how many times I explain suspension of disbelief, she just won’t turn off the analytical voice in her head. Maybe she can’t—like her father. One of the big lessons he’s taught me is not to watch movies with an engineer who has a penchant for strategy games, at least not in private. In the theatres he at least keeps quiet for the benefit of people who aren’t married to him.

Tonight we watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It’s possibly the worst movie we could have watched from a wife-and-mom-of-a-highly-critical-audience perspective. I’m sure there was some vaguely amusing dialogue, but I could barely hear it for these bon mots:

“Now is NOT the time to stop for a snack!” N screamed when a dinosaur—who had just eaten two people—stopped to eat another dino instead of running from the erupting volcano.

“You know,” Mr. December opined later, “he should probably have called the police as soon as he knew he’d been betrayed instead of waiting to confront his betrayer in person.”

“Why isn’t there a lock on the cage of the most dangerous dinosaur ever?” R asked; then Mr. December chimed in, “You guys should at least buy a $2 padlock from the dollar store and slap it on there!”

“There wasn’t even ONE INCOMPETENT GUARD! What were they thinking? They deserved to be eaten by those dinosaurs for being so stupid!” K crowed.

“Yeah, you should probably just stand there and look for the source of the terrifying sound instead of GETTING IN YOUR CAR AND DRIVING AWAY AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!!!!” was one of K’s many other contributions.

Did I mention how great they are? They’re the best. They’re also reading over my shoulder as I type this post. They’re so awesome. Especially when they stop reading over my shoulder and Go. To. Sleep.