Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 946: Interruptus

We were watching Outlander last night, K and I, in our hotel room (we were on a mini-vacation at a waterpark resort.) It was the episode where Claire and Jamie were finally reunited after a 20-year separation, and things were getting a bit heated. They kissed. She undid his neckcloth. He reached for the buttons on her dress, and then—


The door. It was E. I paused the action to help her find her Kobo, then sent her back to her room. K and I turned back to the screen and pressed play.

“It’s always been forever for me, Sassenach,” Jamie was saying, onscreen, while attacking Claire’s neck. She was down to her stays and shift by now, and he was about to lose his breeks. We heard a sigh, then a gasp, then—


N’s knock, and his voice: “Guys? Can I come in? I need hugs!”

So I paused the show again and let N into the room. He got hugs… and snuggles… and then was firmly directed to go to bed. As soon as he left the room, we pressed play again.

Jamie was ever-so-slowly untying the bow at the top of Claire’s shift. A moment later, they tumbled into bed, and Claire whispered—

“Eema? I can’t find my phone!” This from R, who loses her phone once every few hours.

“Oh, for crying out loud!” I threw my hands up, exasperated.

K piped up: “It’s probably under your clothes.”

R went over to her bed and rummaged around for a bit. K looked at me, and I seized the teachable moment: “This is a perfect illustration of how difficult it can be to carve out time with your partner once you have kids.”

“Why did you have so many of us?” K wondered.

Why? I thought to myself. After this demonstration, I’m wondering HOW.

Just the two of us · Kids · love and marriage · Sartorial stuff

Day 932: Getting Dressed

Mr. December and I went to a wedding today. I haven’t attended a formal event since way before COVID, so the “Black Tie Optional” on the invitation had me stumped as to what I could wear. In the end, I fell back on my full-length purple Henkaa dress, styled with a halter top and a sash at the waist.

But what to do with my hair? My kids seem to have taken my hair with them when they were born, and I just don’t seem to have very much of it. Thinking back, though, my hair always looks amazing at the beach—so I mixed some salt water with a bit of coconut oil and sprayed it all over my hair. Voila! Curls, volume, everything I could want.

I wore contact lenses for the first time in years, and makeup, too. K helped me style my dress and choose the perfect jewellery.

When R saw me, she gasped and then gushed about how amazing I looked. Then Mr. December stepped into the room and said, “Whoa…” so clearly K and I nailed the look.

Of course, none of the pictures of me in the full outfit are on my phone, so I’m waiting for my dad to send them from his phone. In the meantime, I tried to take a selfie so you can see my hair.

Selfie of me with a curly, tousled-looking updo.

The wedding itself was beautiful; it was even more special to see a roomful of people dancing and celebrating together. I haven’t seen that in a very, very long time.

Just the two of us · Kids · love and marriage · Worldschooling

Day 913: Midnight Monologue

Thursday night was a total bust, in terms of sleep. I think I might have gotten four hours, if that. Mr. December didn’t fare much better (except that he handles sleep deprivation way better than I do); when I realized he was still awake, I scooted over to him and snuggled into his side. Then I started talking.

“Did you get my email tonight? The one about traveling? I looked at Vietnam and it looks so cool—they have these entire villages, each of which specializes in a different handicraft! We could do a tour of them… pottery, bronze casting, conical-hat-making, woodcarving… the kids would love it. I would love it. We should do that, okay?”

“Mmph,” he grunted. I took that for assent… and encouragement to continue.

“Oh, and I found a program in Thailand where you do a four-day homestay in a remote village, learn their weaving technique, do some cultural exchange, and observe the elephants. Doesn’t that sound cool? You don’t have to sleep in someone’s house—there’s a lodge you can stay in instead, but you still get assigned a host family and you eat with them and stuff. We should do that. The cultural exchange stuff is always the best part of a trip, right?”

“Mmph-hmm.” Seriously, if he didn’t occasionally grunt or squeeze my hand, I’d have thought he was asleep. But he was listening.

“The driveway contractor said he had a cancellation tomorrow afternoon and might be able to squeeze us in. Isn’t that exciting? I guess I need to figure out how to get permission to park overnight when we have to stay off the asphalt. That won’t happen for a few weeks yet… first they have to lay down the gravel base and let it settle… but I should get it figured out anyway. Oh, and I think we should do a concrete walkway with embedded objects or a mosaic or something between the driveway and the front steps. Wouldn’t that be cool?”

“Could be…” he mumbled.

“I am so proud of E! She dictated a whole story—three pages of text—to me today! And did you see the adorable pics we took of her stuffies? We’ll use those as the illustrations for her book. I looked into Amazon self-publishing and I think that would be way cheaper than having it printed as a photo book. Besides, then we can get more copies whenever we want to…

“Oh, and N did amazing with his Hebrew work today. He was answering a question in the workbook, and you know they give you all the vocabulary you’ll need, but he wanted to say something different, and he just made up the spelling for “trampoline” and he was mostly right! I had to teach him the spelling rule about the difference between tet and tav, but isn’t it great that he branched out and didn’t just write the easiest answer?”

“Hmmmm…” a hum of agreement from my bed buddy.

“I love you,” I said. “We’re so lucky.”

He nodded and squeezed my hand.

“I don’t think I can sleep yet,” I sighed, “but you probably should. Goodnight, love. Sleep well.”

And then I continued silently, in my head:

Man, it’s so true what I used to say about marriage being a sleepover with your best friend every night. Speaking of best friends, I should call S and see how her family is doing… and I haven’t called L in a while. Did I remember to reschedule that doctor’s appointment? Ugh, I’d better check tomorrow…

My brain is a noisy place at night, I tell you.

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.

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?

Homeschool · Keepin' it real · love and marriage · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 671: Books

Progress, not perfection. Right?

I’m working on a family photobook (from 2019-2020) and I keep thinking, “Just slap some photos on the page and move on. In twenty years you’ll just be happy you have the book.”

Uh, Mr. December? GET OUT OF MY HEAD!

As I was saying, it’s hard to resist my perfectionist tendencies. I’ve spent far too much time looking for more photos because, as I mutter to myself, “There must be more from that day!”

Tonight I finished this two-page spread:

A book, open to two pages. On the left side, photos of my family in a bin full of dried corn. On the right, kids trying on a beekeper's hat, a ring of challah buns for Rosh Hashana, and a cartoon spoon with honey dripping off it. The spread is titled, "Apples and honey for Rosh Hashana."

See? I resisted the urge to put the perfect frames with shadows around each photo. I didn’t even go overboard with the layout (although now that I’m thinking of it, I really want to.)

Oops. I did it again.

I stayed up way too late reading a romance novel, and the next morning (which was yesterday,) I was struggling to keep my eyes open as I read to E from the Percy Jackson book she’s now reading. After the fifth (maybe twentieth?) time I yawned, E said, “Want me to read to you for a while, Eema?”

I nodded sleepily and snuggled down in the window seat. E tucked me under a cozy blanket and kissed my cheek. She then proceeded to read to me from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, pausing about once every page or two, at which juncture I popped my eyes open to read a multisyllabic word that she couldn’t manage; then back to sleep until the next difficult word. I figure I had a fifteen-minute power nap.

I confessed this to Mr. December last night. I thought he’d roll his eyes and sternly insist on early bedtimes for the next week; instead he said, “Sounds like a great lesson! She was reading to you for fifteen minutes! You’re doing a great job teaching her to read, honey.”

Now—if you’ll excuse me—I’m going to tuck in my children with a stern admonition to “put down your book and sleep”; and then I have a date with my Kobo.

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?