bikes planes and automobiles · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 879: Time to Say Goodbye

We’ve been together for eleven years now; we’ve been through rain, snow, and blazing heat; you kept me and the kids safe everywhere we went; you gave me the great outdoors, sunny autumn days, and killer glutes. You’ve been amazing, and I love you—but I think it’s time to say goodbye.

It sounds harsh, but I don’t need you anymore. The kids are grown-up enough to go it alone now; When we go out, everyone can see that you’re a little empty inside. But I can’t even remember the last time we went out, you and I. April 2020? Since then, you’ve just kept on accepting everything I dump on you.

There must be someone out there who needs you the way I did; maybe someone with small children who will fill you with joy and goldfish crackers. I know you have a lot of years ahead of you, and I’d hate to see you waste them. I have to let you go so that you can live your best life.

I’ll miss you, my dear bakfiets. I’ll miss the way I could pile four kids into you and then take off for school. I’ll miss the joy of zipping along the street with you. I’ll miss your comfy saddle and your awesome cargo capacity. But we’ll always have the memories.

Thanks for everything.


Keepin' it real · Kids · well *I* think it's funny... · whine and cheese

Day 873: I Got A Trophy?

No, there’s no trophy. I’ve won no prize. In fact, I’ve lost… muscle mass.

Cartoon drawing of a gold trophy. The plaque on its base reads "Biggest Loser... of muscle."

That’s right, I’ve got atrophy. Not a trophy. (Kids, take note: proper spacing between words is important. So is proofreading.)

Today at physiotherapy I learned that traumatic knee injuries cause the brain to send fewer electrical signals to the quadriceps muscle (I kind of want to know why, but I need to go to sleep early tonight—so no rabbit holes for me,) and as a result, there’s muscle loss. It’s visible enough that I was slightly alarmed when my physio pointed it out.

A cursory Googling tells me that this kind of atrophy won’t be reversed by simply exercising the muscle. I’m guessing that’s why I spend half of my physio session with electrodes stuck to my leg, doing squat presses in time with intermittent electric shocks that make my quads contract.

And I thought my knee brace was loose because it had stretched somehow. Nope, my leg really is smaller.

In other news, the kids are big enough to do actual housework now—E took out the garbage, recycling, and compost; N vacuumed the floors (badly, though); R took care of the dishwasher. Of course, they also make 90% of the mess around here. I miss the clean and quiet of my house when I had just one child (while the others were at camp.) I missed the kids more, though, so I guess I’ll keep ’em.

family fun · Homeschool · well *I* think it's funny... · Worldschooling

Day 868: Pole Dancing and Physics

I’ve been working on our homeschool yearbook—I want to finish it before we start a new year. We’ve been so many places and done so many things (and have way, way, waaaay too many pictures) that I had a hard time figuring out how to organize it. By location? By activity type? Some other theme?

You know what, I finally said to myself, it’s a school yearbook. Do it by academic subject.

It was a great idea, if I do say so myself, because it totally appeals to our sense of humour (Mr. December’s and mine.) Homeschoolers and worldschoolers are forever saying that their kids learn school subjects through daily life (“Baking is science! Comparing quantities of chips in two people’s bowls is math!”) —you get the idea, don’t you? By taking this attitude with our yearbook, we can include pictures of everything from pole dancing to petting an alpaca, and call it all school.

I did the physics page just now. It’s not finished, but I’m including the screenshot to give you the general idea:

A two-page spread in a photo book. Title is "Physics---the study of matter, energy, and the relationships between them." Photographs are of kids in hammocks, people ziplining, playing on a slide, leaning into the wind, pole dancing, etc.
Yes, pole dancing involves rotational inertia and angular velocity.
bikes planes and automobiles · snarky · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 847: Getting Back in the Saddle

My physiotherapist has cleared me to ride my bike again. There’s a caveat, of course, which is that I should stay on flat ground, and not go too far from home. Mr. December thought that was a pretty big caveat and maybe I shouldn’t be biking at all yet. I gave him a dirty look.

“This forced inaction is killing me,” I told him. He winced in sympathy.

The upshot is that tomorrow morning I’ll be riding around the block—slowly, carefully, and not for too long.

Have you ever come across a book title and thought, someone ought to write a book with the opposite title? No? Just my family? Okay.

Mr. December was reading The Conscious Parent last night, when I remarked that someone should write The Unconscious Parent, a book about the merits of ignoring your kids or sleeping through their childhoods.

K is determined to (one day) write Non-Essential Knots… containing everything that the author of Essential Knots saw fit to leave out.

The book I’m probably most qualified to write would be the opposite of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. My book,The Power of Later, would discuss the upside of procrastination: that if you put things off long enough, they’ll cease to matter—probably.*

*I know that’s not the opposite of what The Power of Now is about. I’m just riffing off the title, is all. No need to send angry letters.

bikes planes and automobiles · Kids · Teenagers · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 844: Teens and Raccoons

Nothing drives home the fact that you’ve got a teenager quite like this one:

There’s a teenager crashed on my couch and it’s not mine.

K’s friend fell asleep while watching a movie; when we woke her up for dinner, she opened her eyes, looked at K, and went right back to sleep. Just like the raccoon that made our bakfiets its home way back in 2012.

Screenshot of a facebook post. Text reads: "Look what we found in Sara's Bakefits (bike)! No amount of jostling could get it to budge." Photo is of a raccoon sleeping in the box of a cargo bike.
The raccoon lifted its head, looked at me, and went right back to sleep.

You know, this isn’t what the post was supposed to be about, but now I’m thinking about all the ways teenagers are like raccoons:

  • They’re pretty smelly. (Sorry, teens, but you know it’s true—especially when you’re still learning that your sweat stinks.)
  • People who don’t live with them think they’re adorable.
  • You really don’t want to get in a fight with one.
  • They’re territorial, and will snarl at you if not given enough space.
  • When they really want to do something, they’ll figure it out no matter what it takes.
  • Good luck getting them to budge if there’s something you want them to do, though.
  • They go pawing through your stuff looking for something to eat, then leave a mess behind when they’re done.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go leave a snack out for the sleeping creatures so they don’t make a mess of my kitchen.

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

Day 841: Survival Skills

In case you didn’t know, there’s a massive internet outage happening across Canada today. Despite the fact that I pay bills to three different telecommunication companies for various services, they all use the same provider—Rogers.

I found out about it when Mr. December and K came to wake me up this morning. I said something along the lines of, “Well, I guess if we want to know what’s happening we can turn on the radio in our little boom box.”

“What’s a boom box?” K asked.

Mr. December and I exchanged a Look. Then he pointed out that we should probably give the kids lessons in survival. Not wilderness survival, you understand; just information and skills that they’d need to know to function in the 1980s.

Skills like paying for things with cash (always check your change!); tuning a radio and finding the station you want; playing music using tapes or CDs and a boom box; planning ahead to meet friends at a particular time and place; using a corded landline rotary phone; hailing a taxi; using a Perlys map book to find an address and then figure out directions from a map that doesn’t talk to you.

And the classic that I grew up with: calling home from a payphone without having to pay. Anybody else remember that one?*

I started writing this post around 3:30. Six hours later, the Rogers network is still down. If I don’t post tomorrow, don’t worry—I’ll probably be making mix tapes, drinking from the garden hose, and generally floating in a haze of nostalgia.

*For those not in the know, if you dialled for a collect call, it would ask you to say your name after the tone. You could then say—very quickly, of course—a short message like “I’m leaving x station, pick me up in 20.” When the other person picks up on their end, they can hear your message and then hang up immediately, without accepting the charges. Now you know.

Keepin' it real · Kids · well *I* think it's funny... · what's cookin' · whine and cheese

Day 840: The Kids’ Menu

I can feel my blood pressure rising just thinking of dinnertime: a home-cooked meal is laid out on the table before us. Six places are set, the water has been poured, the kids have been called to the table. And then somebody says whines it:

“There’s nothing here for me to eat!”

It doesn’t matter that we’ve deconstructed dinner down to its plainest components: sauces are on the side, there’s always more-seasoned and less-seasoned meat, there’s always a bowl of rice or pasta or potatoes. One or more of my kids will eat absolutely nothing on the table.

Mr. December and I have gone over this so many times. The bottom line is that if the kids aren’t eating the food anyway, it doesn’t matter how healthy the meal I’m serving is. It’s not going to get into their bodies by osmosis. The point of eating dinner as a family is to sit together, eat together, and make conversation. Maybe I need to let go of what I think they should eat, and just serve what they will eat.

(See? I’ve been should-ing all over my kids again. That rarely ends well.)

With that in mind, I’ve developed the following menu:

Image of a fancy menu, text reads as below the image.

Individually-portioned applesauce cups
Freshly caught Goldfish pungent with all-unnatural cheese
Choice of raisins, cranberries, or scurvy

Homestyle Toast Flambé served with an assortment of gourmet spreads
Delicate shards of taco shells masquerading as chips
Tropical-fruit-flavoured Skittles

Assortment of cold cereals with or without fresh milk
Factory-baked bread with salted butter
Ontario’s finest cheapest ice cream

Our favourite frozen oven fries, delicately salted with your tears
Cigar rolls of deli-sliced turkey breast floating in ketchup
Jell-o snack cups garnished with Fruit You Won’t Eat

Challah liberally sprinkled with superfine Redpath sugar
Plate of local basswood honey with an optional side of gefilte fish
Egg noodles and Turmeric-scented mini croutons in a clear chicken broth

Whatever you want, served in whatever dish is still clean
Those three bites of freezer-burned leftover ice cream cake from your last birthday
Leftover challah

Get it your own damn self.

Keepin' it real · water you paddling? · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 837: Exoskeleton!

I think I might be an arthropod now.

(In case you’ve forgotten or never learned, arthropods have exoskeletons. And now, so do I.)

“You’ve sprained your MCL,” they told me at the fracture clinic. “But you should be okay putting more weight on it.”

“Oh, I’m fine putting weight on it… right up until my knee buckles.” I said.

So they put me in a hinged knee brace, which should provide support and stability for my knee. In other words, an exoskeleton.

I have instructions to start trying to walk on it more; start physiotherapy; continue to rest, elevate, and ice my knee; and refrain from biking for at least another two weeks. Swimming is great—although my parents’ pool being down a significant number of steps makes it less great—and I’m cleared to go kayaking, as long as I’m not the person lifting the boat into the water.

In summary, my knee is injured, but not badly. And while I can’t bike, I can kayak. Things are looking up.

Keepin' it real · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 829: Hammock

I’ve always known that hammocks are superior to other kinds of seating—that’s why I have three of them inside my house and one outside—but I never thought about them from the perspective of someone with an injured leg.

Let’s start with support. The hammock allows me to easily switch between putting my feet up and sitting with my feet on the floor, depending on what I need. When my feet are supported by the hammock, I can use it to help me slowly bend and straighten my knees to maintain range of motion. It supports my back, neck, and head, and all without having to rearrange cushions.

When I’m in a chair or on a couch, and I want to get up, I have to push up to standing using mostly the muscles of my good leg. But in a hammock, I just have to hop backwards (while still sitting in the hammock) until I’m nearly upright, then take my crutches and stand up the rest of the way. Far less strenuous.

A hammock increases my reach by quite a bit: I can swing a little to the left, a little back, and pick up whatever I’ve dropped. I can also keep a lot more things close at hand, because I can turn 360 degrees to reach them. It functions like a pocket, too—I have my phone stashed near my right hip, my Kobo stashed on the left, and my water bottle clipped to one of the hammock strings so it doesn’t fall.

Would I rather be up and about? Certainly. I’d rather be biking, or kayaking, or even packing the kids up for camp. But since I can’t do any of those, I’m just hanging around here in the best chair ever invented. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my hammock.

Travelogue · well *I* think it's funny... · Worldschooling

Day 802: Deserters

We’ve deserted Jerusalem for the desert. Don’t worry—it’s only for a couple of days.

Driving down to Mitzpe Ramon was a pleasure. No traffic jams, great scenery, and some road signs we’d never seen before.

Picture taken from the passenger seat in the car. Background is desert. A triangular sign shows a silhouette of a camel. The text reads "Beware of Camels Near The Road" in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
We saw this sign not once, not twice, but at least two dozen times.

I think the kids got sick of my raptures after the third, “Oh! Look at that! I love the desert!”

“It’s just more desert,” one of them said. “It all looks the same. It’s boring.” Then we crested the hill and I gasped again at the sheer beauty of the wilderness while the kids went back to their devices.

In a few minutes we’re going out to stargaze with an astronomer. It’s a new moon tonight and the sky was clear all day. We should have a spectacular view of the night sky.